Science fiction and transcendence

Mar. 1st, 2015 06:11 pm
nancylebov: (green leaves)
[personal profile] nancylebov¬if_t=feed_comment_reply

I'm going to do a bit of a summary because I realize not everyone reading this is on Facebook, or wants to be.

Alexei Panshin has been discussing on Facebook whether Heinlein was a Sufi. Not to keep you in suspense, but there's no evidence that Heinlein was a Sufi, or even knew about Sufism.

Cory Panshin brought up that Heinlein didn't seem to want the human race to become different, which led to me thinking about sf about transcendence.

Here's something I wrote:

When I was a kid, I really liked Childhood's End, and then it occurred to me that the Overmind might just be eliminating competitors, and the human race was eaten rather than achieving transcendence.

As I recall, humanity was stopped from investigating psychic powers so it wouldn't become "a telepathic cancer spreading through the stars". From one angle, humanity could become just that. From the other angle, the Overmind could already be just that.

It's a gamble in general. True religion or destructive cult?

Which authors see the human race as needing to become something very different?

John Varley ("Persistence of Vision", _The Ophiuchi Hotline).

Sturgeon (_More that Human_, _The Cosmic Rape_, and less drastically "If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?")

John Brunner: (modest levels of change) (_Stand of Zanibar_, _The Stone that Never Came Down_)

Any suggestions for someone more recent?

Alexei Panshin has written The World Beyond the Hill - Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence.

Other Yuletide recommendations

Mar. 1st, 2015 06:39 pm
ceb: (spotty)
[personal profile] ceb
In no particular order, here are a bunch of not-written-for-me Yuletide stories I enjoyed:

Cities: Capital (2048 words) by the_alchemist
The anthropomorphic personification of London has a night out.

Blackadder: Trousers (2589 words) by girl_called_sun
Regency Blackadder to a T, wickedly dry humour.

The Phantom Tollbooth: From the Mountains of Un by Idhren
Academic writing, whimsical Phantom Tollbooth style.

The Muppet Show: The Whole Yule Ball of Wax (1745 words) by Missy
A muppets episode, equal parts touching and madcap.

Watership Down: Fragments of a Life (873 words) by Syksy
A moving set of scenes from Hyzenthlay's life prior to the events in the book.

Ancillary Justice: What's Caught Is Gone (4382 words) by Hokuto
A lovely set of sketches from the downtime between scenes in the Ancillary series.

Amber: Through the Water Brightly (1017 words) by Shadowlover
Duty and wishful thinking. (I was lucky enough to get to beta this one.)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Complete Metamorphosis by resistate
What's the Very Hungry Caterpillar's motivation? Complete genius.

Two Monks Inventing Things: Two Monks Invent Mr. Darcy (1043 words) by Bow
Completely stupid and extremely funny.

Just William: William and the Fond Reunion (8930 words) by halotolerant
Lovely Just William story, very true in style to the original (I kept hearing it in Martin Jarvis' voice), with a sympathetic and unconvential portrait of Ethel.

Sleeping Beauty (Disney): toast and tea, sunshine and shadow (8423 words) by ephemeralblossom
Clever and lovely reimagining of Maleficent's motivation for cursing Aurora.

Cowboy Bebop: Light Fandango (5117 words) by sally
A story narrated by Ed (you have to have seen the original to realise how hard that is and what an achievement this story is!).

The Culture: First Steps (11207 words) by Bagheera
Engaging Culture fic about Demeisen.

Little Red Riding Hood: Rory Red Coat (7340 words) by akamarykate
A fantastic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery!: The Sorcery Cook Book (2491 words) by yhlee
Sorcery! explored through the medium of recipes.

Yuletide gifts

Mar. 1st, 2015 05:15 pm
ceb: (squee)
[personal profile] ceb
Oh I am so organised...

Anyway, I received 4(!) gifts for Yuletide. Requesting Lem's _Cyberiad_ got a particularly good response; I received three stories in this universe, all of them beautifully true to the spirit of the original.

An Academic Question by vombas (with bonus illustrations!) and two stories by CenozoicSynapsid: A Further Sally, or The Miracles of Amentia and The Fundamental Constant of Stories.

My fourth gift was a wonderfully ambiguous villanelle inspired by this painting by Simon Stålenhag:

The whispers of the deep by astrokath
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
The three days training and systems administration on the Pople cluster at the University of Western Australia School of Chemistry and Biochemistry went very well with excellent feedback. It was especially good to catch up with old friend [personal profile] fred_mouse who worked in the same building over lunch. After the third day, caught up with a dozen or so Perth friends at Tak Chee House followed by cocktails at the finely appointed Bar Lafayette at the old Perth Technical College. Some of the staff seemed rather pleased to have a Lafayette visiting their bar, not the least being the waitress from Versailles. As a whole it was quite a wonderful night of good food, good drink, and excellent conversation. The following day managed to catch up for a long lunch with my old mentor, Bruce T., at The Dome in Maylands, site of the historic Peninsula Hotel, which does have a story or two in its own right.

Leaving that afternoon, the flight was relatively quick. Movie was The Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part I which was simply terrible. A stuff-up with luggage meant that we did not return home until after midnight. Whilst well and truly exhausted managed to make it along to Rohan's presentation at The Philosophy Forum on A Phenomenological Ontology of Love: Body, Heart, and Spirit which packed in a lot and generated a great deal of conversation (everyone has at least some idea about the topic). Hopefully will have it online at Lightbringers soon. Afterwards played GURPS Middle-Earth where on a tangential plot, we dealt with Earth Spirits in an old-fashioned D&D-style dungeon crawl (complete with silly monsters).

Whilst in WA received notification that my application to do a Master of Education from the University of Otago had been accepted. I am hoping with prior credit from my relevant Graduate Certificate I should be able to complete the degree with 'just' the dissertation. As part of the application, I have had to submit a propsed thesis abstract of course; I am taking a rather broad brush with The Future of the University in the Age of the Internet, where I will start with the effects of the print revolution on the university system, and look at current and future methods of online learning, and the effects this will have on the university as an physical institution and as a culture. I'm rather looking forward to it.

(no subject)

Mar. 1st, 2015 12:00 am
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1534 aged 11 Henry Brandon(my toy,wikipedia). Son of the sister of Henry VIII. Henry was a strong contender to inherit the throne - alas, he died too young.

Born on this day in 1683 to Margrave John of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Princess Eleonore of Saxe-Eisenach, Caroline of Ansbach(my toy,wikipedia). Caroline married George II.


Feb. 28th, 2015 07:38 pm
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
We had a day of weather bemusement today: it eventually turned out that the Met Office was actually more accurate than the various rain radar services that we also use because (usually) they're more accurate. I suspect that that's because only the Met Office realised that the cloud would be at ground level.... Still, the boys got to go outside for a few hours. There was a bit of eating the grass, and then a bit of scrapping, and then it all went quiet and we relaxed. Until we realised that, somehow, Bugs had managed to get onto the other side of the fence.... (Partly our fault, as we forgot to turn the electric tape back on after we poo picked!)

This morning, as it was wet, I noodled around on the internet looking at sewing projects. It started with a vague thinking that I could make little lavender-filled bags to go into the Christmas hampers this year (oh, shut up), which led me to a very nice blog about sewing, which led me to going "Oooh, pretty!" at a lovely patchwork piece, a digression into how it was made and a sigh as it was hand-sewn, which I like but am not currently after (for reasons below), a read through her other posts and, eventually, a few references to a machine sewing patchwork technique. I then dived off into a bit of research into that (with a side trip to buy a pattern for some terribly cute stuffed felt elephants, which will probably be Baby Next Door's first birthday present) and, eventually, to downloading a pattern and sorting out fabric. There may also have been a bit of eBay in there as well....

(It turns out, I think, that I was conflating two or three different patchwork techniques in my head and thus discounting it as Too Bloody Faffy. I am glad to have learnt my error!)

Via a short digression into the manual, and a little playing with exciting new stitches, I have finally actually used the fab new sewing machine that Mike got me for Christmas! (Which is why I was looking for a machine sewing project: I have done a hand sewing project and a weaving one since then!)

And, even better, after I made the square I realised that all I needed to do was stick a square on the back of it and I'd have something that I can stuff with lavender and pop in the Christmas hampers!

It is a very lovely sewing machine. My only non-complaint is that the reverse button is in a different place, so I keep poking the dial above it and wondering why it's not pushing in like it should. It's terribly quiet, and terribly smooth to use compared to my (mother's) old one!

Fluoride and hypothryrodism

Feb. 28th, 2015 12:53 pm
nancylebov: (green leaves)
[personal profile] nancylebov

There's some evidence that the amount of fluoride in tap water and toothpaste is enough to push some people into hypothyrodism.

Could people becoming fatter be related to fluoridated water? I've collected theories about obesity, but I've never seen this one before.

I'll look for links if anyone's interested, but from memory-- hypothyroidism is tricky to diagnose, and fat people frequently have a hard time finding doctors who will do more than tell them to lose weight.

Even if fluoridated water causes hyothyroidism and this is bad for people (being fatter may have little or no effect, but lack of exercise is bad for people, and low thyroid lowers energy levels), I have no idea how to balance that against fewer cavities.

Home filters generally don't remove fluoride. Some brands of bottled water down't have fluoride.

(no subject)

Feb. 27th, 2015 11:30 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
If you're seeing slow page load times, pages not fully loading, missing icons, 'naked' pages (the text of the page only, without any styling, etc): please shift-refresh your browser, clear your browser cache, and then just hang tight. We're switching CDN providers, so your browser may have cached the wrong copy of things.

If the problem hasn't cleared up by tomorrow, then let us know and we'll look into it further!

(no subject)

Feb. 28th, 2015 12:00 am
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1453 aged 53 Duchess Isabella of Lorraine(my
Mother of Margaret who married Henry VI. Isabella was Duchess of
Lorraine in her own right, and married Rene who was Duke of Anjou,
King of Naples, and King of Jerusalem (although it doesn't seem that
they did any Kinging there).

Born on this day in 1155 to King Henry II of England and Eleanor of
Aquitaine, Henry the young king(my
Henry was crowned Junior King of the English following the French
fashion (AFAIK no other English monarch ever was) but died before his
father. He had an important role at the court of his father. He was
betrothed at the age of 5 to the daughter of the King of France and
married her 12 years later. In 1173 though he fell out with his
father and a civil war was started, after they were reconciled he
retreated from politics. Later they were fighting again, and the
young Henry was killed.

Friday health decisions

Feb. 27th, 2015 02:49 pm
silentq: (Death)
[personal profile] silentq
(Mom: nothing serious! :-) )

I always get into a tizzy when I notice something starting to go wrong with my body on a Friday. I have to decide quickly if I need to sort out time off to see the doctor, deal with getting a prescription renewed ASAP, or if it can wait until Monday.
Granted, there are now a few more Urgent Care clinics scattered around, and my prescriptions have been moved to a general CVS affiliated card, but my preferred wait and see method tends to stress me out on Fridays. Having had a few annoying trips to emergency rooms for less than bleeding / losing a body part / about to die reasons, I've come to the point of avoiding them whenever possible and waiting it out until I can see my doctor (see: refusing an ambulance ride to the hospital when I was hit by a car, but I could tell that I was just bruised). I just miss that sense of knowing that there was a plethora of walk in clinics that I could visit in Toronto and be seen within an hour (not sure if that's still the case though).
Today I lucked out since even though there was an unopened piece of mail left on my dining room table from my prescription company, I was organised last month when my new prescription card came in the mail and put it right into my wallet. So, prescription renewed with insurance and I can stop worrying.

But now I'm thinking about how my work is trying to get us all to switch to a certain network of doctors (there's now a three tier charge system), and how my current doc (who I do like) is far enough away that she's not convenient for those incidents where I just feel like crap and need to see her rather than for healthy checkups where it's a convenient bike ride. The office has been less than nice when I've decided to just show up and see if I can see a nurse practitioner instead (because calling for an urgent appointment leads to them saying go to the emergency room). It's mostly that having gone through so many doctors after I first moved here (I picked ones that retired or moved and had to deal with my records being shuffled around a lot) I'm loathe to switch offices again. Granted, my doc personally rescheduled my yearly physical with me but the office wouldn't let me schedule next year's with her because they were being leery of her recovery from an accident. I have a note in my calendar to call and try to get one in June (well, to call in June so I can see her in Sept or so...) so I'm not actually tied to that office right now.
I'm trying to weigh pros and cons about switching to a doctor at my hospital vs staying with the one out near Watertown vs getting one near home. That location was super convenient for the 10 years I lived out there, but now something more S'ville/C'bridge/Boston might be better. But I like my doctor, she's also a biker and understands my focus on mobility. But she's also been dismissive of some other concerns I've had. But it'll be a hassle to move 15 years of records someplace else. But I might save some money if I get an in-in network doc. Close to my house would be good for those rare times I don't want to have to "go to work" to see my doc (also: occ health guidelines on fevers are pretty strict), but one close to my office would be good for not having to take half a day off to go see them. If nothing else, I would like to be going to an office with an easier T ride, just in case (hah) my joints keep giving me problems.
And all of this is before even trying to find someone taking new patients. *sigh*

So, if you have a doctor who you quite like and who might be conveniently located, feel free to ping me with the info.


Feb. 27th, 2015 05:10 pm
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
It's been a tiring few days, and lo: I am tired. And when I'm tired I get even worse about updating LJ, answering emails, and replying to text messages.

We've had various visitors, including my parents, which was nice (but tiring). On the plus side, my father did lots of DIY, which was helpful: Bugs now has a rack for his rugs, so they're not in a heap on the floor of the tack room.

Bugs seems to be settling in, although it was unhelpful of the weather to dump masses of rain on us just when it did: they couldn't go in the field on Friday or Saturday last week, so we had to have them all in the stableyard together, slightly earlier than I'd planned on letting them socialise as a group. There were a few scuffles, but nothing too bad: GB landed a few bites on Bugs, and Bugs landed a few kicks on GB, but no actual injuries. It dried out slightly, so they had three days in the top part of the field, which is now horribly churned up due to a combination of scrapping, Bugs still having shoes on his front feet, and GB being utterly determined to always stay between Bugs and the Baby (he seems to have slackened this policy now, thankfully). Then they had another two days in the stableyard, and transformed it into a good recreation of the Somme, so they just had to stay in their stables or be tied up all day today. They did get a bit of excitement in the form of a visit from the Back Lady, though. She pronounced them all fine, once she'd done a little bit of tweaking of Bugs.

We had a power cut in the early hours of Thursday morning, which Mike discovered was because the breaker had gone on the fish pond circuit and blown the whole thing. Fortunately, Fish Pond Guy was coming on Thursday anyway, to take out the old fountain and put the attachment on the pump to make it make a pretty jet of water. He declared the pump to be bust, which was annoying as it's less than a year old: Mike will be complaining, and then Fish Pond Guy will be back to fit the replacement. We've got a new pond cover as well, but it needs a little fettling to make it work properly: I suspect that we're going to end up removing a strip of grass around the pond and putting pebbles down, to make it possible for Mike to mow the lawn without having to move the cover each time.

Our bins didn't get emptied last Friday, which was annoying: the official reason is because there was -- shock -- a pair of traffic cones on either side of the gate when they arrived. Not blocking it, or anything, just, y'know, existing. The fact that it was raining may also have had something to do with it. There has followed a week of comedy and delight, including a reprise of the old favourite "But you don't have a wheely bin, you have purple sacks", some Twitter action from the local councillor, at least three failed "within two days" and, apparently, they will be emptied tomorrow. Honest.

(The cones, by the by, were put there by the road mending people, and thus the bin lorry would never have got to the reason for them. They've resurfaced a couple of meters of the road, and done the outside two thirds on a fair bit more. There are, of course, still places that need doing but that was the worst stretch. My current theory is that, back in October, the Amazing Vanishing Road Crew were supposed to put patches on all the problems and then these guys were booked to come and do the worst bits properly. Even though the AVRC vanished in an amazing fashion before doing their bit, the second booking still happened. I suppose that we'd better report it all again to see if the same thing happens next winter: there are now some nasty potholes on the flat part of the road as well.)

Project Grow Your Own is moving along, although the next stage is somewhat hampered by the fact that two of the planks in the side of one of the big planters have swelled in the wet and pinged out: I've emailed the people we got them from to complain. We've got to the stage of planting some of the seedlings out in bigger pots to grow on before they go out, although I'm a little worried by the germination rate of the early tomatoes. There is an actual pod on one of the mange tout plants, as well as masses of flowers, which is very silly.

And I am very tired and achy and brainless and tired. Now. Text messages, then at least some of my emails before I give up.
tamaranth: (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2014/41: Cuckoo Song -- Frances Hardinge
you woke up one day and found out that you couldn’t be the person you remembered being, the little girl everybody expected you to be. You just weren’t her any more, and there was nothing you could do about it. So your family decided you were a monster and turned on you…. let me tell you – from one monster to another – that just because somebody tells you you’re a monster, it doesn’t mean you are. [loc. 3769]

non-spoilery review )

"Been a lifetime on deposit"

Feb. 26th, 2015 07:48 pm
rosefox: Me laughing joyfully. (joyous)
[personal profile] rosefox
I am now officially out at work. Pronouns and all. :D :D :D

Here's the letter I sent to my colleagues once I'd personally talked things over with management (who have been super awesome from start to finish) and my team (ditto):
It's a bit long )
And now I collapse in relief.

:D :D :D

(no subject)

Feb. 27th, 2015 12:00 am
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1666 aged 52 Luisa de Guzman(my
Mother of Catherine who married Charles II. Luisa was the daughter of
Spanish nobels, and married the King of Portugal, she was Regent of
Portugal when her son was a child King.

Born on this day in 1370 to King Charles V of France and Joanna of
Bourbon Mary of France(my
Died aged 7. Aunt of Catherine who married Henry V.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously Unread.

So, I've been curious about this book for a long while, after reading a blurb somewhere. And also hesitant, as I have had this nagging feeling that the author is vaguely wrapped up with a movement that makes me queasy. Turns out, he isn't, so that's good (I may actually have seen that and used that as an excuse for "I am now buying the book", come to think of it). If you've been following the SF fandom scene over the last year-or-so, you probably know what I'm talking about.

Anyway... There's this pretty much "now", where magic is happening. Our POV character, Oscar Something-or-other is a heli pilot with USAF and is detailed to assist a SOC (Special Occult something, I think) group capture two "Selfers" (essentially, law-breaking magic users). And shit goes pear-shaped at a frightening pace. And then he starts manifesting forbidden magic. And shit goes even worse. And we're about two chapters in, so "not a spoiler".

On the whole, pretty raw and brutal. But, also very readable.

(no subject)

Feb. 26th, 2015 04:35 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1275 aged 34 Margaret of England(my toy,wikipedia). Daughter of Henry III. Married the King of Scotland when she was 11 and he was 10... they later had 3 children (the first when she was 20).

Born on this day in 1361 to King Charles IV of Bohemia and Anna von Schgweidnitz, King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia(my toy,wikipedia). Half sister of Anne of Bohemia who married Richard II. Bohemia is now (roughly) the Czech Republic, somehow "Bohemia" sounds much more romantic. Wenceslaus was apparently a popular name, and this one is not the one in the song.

I just have to say

Feb. 26th, 2015 09:51 am
the_siobhan: (dinosaur)
[personal profile] the_siobhan
"Man-shaped vitriol sprinkler system" is one of the best descriptors of a right wing talk-show personality I have ever read.


Feb. 26th, 2015 11:55 am
ceb: (jelly angel)
[personal profile] ceb
I have a subscription and thus can buy gems and thus quest scrolls, so if you'd like to join my questing party do say...