graculus: (Default)
Nearly at the end of term, thank heavens.

First off, the student teacher did not come back. I'm hoping it's been suggested to her that perhaps teaching is not really her thing and she ought to consider something else, but I have no idea if that's the case or not. I'm currently in the middle of organising and managing exams, not to mention encouraging folks to sign up for classes in September (with 4 of my students joining one of my classes already, which means I'm 25% full on that class with people where I already know what they can and can't do, which makes my life much easier).

I've also managed to snag a few more hours from September of what was going spare, though I didn't want to take on too much and also wanted to keep a day off in the week if I could - in order to manage both of those aims, I've agreed to teach a Saturday morning class, but at a higher level than I've taught before so that's going to be interesting. It's very grammar-heavy at that level, which is no issue for me, except making sure that I know how to explain the rules (which I've discovered is quite a different thing from knowing if something is right or not when I read it). Teaching on a Saturday means that I will now have Thursdays off completely and also no teaching commitments on Mondays before I head off late afternoon to college for a few hours each week.

I realised a few weeks back that if I didn't get a wiggle on, I wasn't going to actually have a holiday this year (since going to Nine Worlds doesn't really count, even if I sneak off to a museum or two instead of going to panels now I'm going to be in central London) so I've been organising to go to Mull for 10 days before the schools all break up. I'm also going to be camping, though camping when you have a car is a little less Spartan since you don't have to carry everything with you wherever you go. I've booked a couple of trips when I'm there, but tried not to organise myself too much just in case - my main plan is books, coffee and beer, and wandering about. It's prime otter territory, apparently, but that's what they said about Skye too and I never saw any otters there!

I also recently took a refresher navigation course, since I live very close to the Peak District National Park but haven't really explored it properly. I'd done map and compass navigation many years ago but had forgotten most of it, so I went off the other Saturday and spent the day re-learning how to do stuff and also would like to get back and do more later on in the year - the same guy does navigation in poor visibility training, which could be very useful in the coming dystopia. ;)

You may notice I have not, to this point, mentioned the referendum. I'm really not sure what there is to say about it, other than that one side was vigorously campaigning on what's turned out (to the surprise of nobody on this side of the situation) to be a tissue of lies and half-truths at best. It's also validated the views of a small bunch of horrible people who now think that the majority agrees with them about 'foreigners' and people who are British but not White, making them feel bolder about being arseholes in public. The folks who 'won' clearly didn't expect to, because they had no plans on what should happen next, so we're stuck in a bit of a limbo at the moment while political power games carry on and everyone on both sides of the House try and jockey for position.

It's all a bit pathetic but also quite worrying because nobody really knows what's going to happen - the referendum was, after all, advisory (another thing that seems to have been glossed over by and to the folks who want to leave the EU) so could be ignored by government if they want to do so, though that would probably require significantly more backbone than most politicians possess when faced with unpopularity. Whether or not I'll have folks to teach in the longer term is another matter, but for now nothing has immediately changed, so we'll have to see just how deep we're all in the shitter.
graculus: (smirk)
Maybe it's because I don't have a commute as such any more, but there's very few out there which can get and keep my interest beyond an episode or two - listening to something sat on your butt at the computer is a very different experience than listening while driving or whatever. I've not tried listening to spoken word stuff at the gym, so if anyone does that can you tell me what it's like for you?

Anyway, these are the ones I'm listening to at the moment, a select bunch:

  • Welcome to Night Vale - yep, it's still going strong!
  • Fangirl Happy Hour - fangirling about SFF & popular culture from a feminist perspective
  • Dan Snow's History Hit - short talks on all sorts of historical subjects
  • Making History - more short history sections, this time from BBC Radio 4
  • The History of English - regularly-updated podcast on the English language, starting with proto-IndoEuropean
  • Life in the Peloton - ever wondered what it's like to be a professional cyclist?

    Anyway, looking for recommendations of similar subjects to the above, particularly new(ish) ones that I might have missed! Also especially looking for history podcasts on non-Western parts of the world...
  • graculus: (Default)
    It's been an interesting couple of years to be a fan of SFF, that's for sure. The latest kerfuffle is over the subject of an award, given by the World Fantasy Con every year, which currently is in the shape of what I can only describe as a caricature of the fizzog of said HP Lovecraft. I'm not going to post a pic here, because it's pretty awful, but if anyone's desperately curious to see it, you can find a pic of it and the man himself here.

    Basically, for the past few years there's been something of a campaign to get this award statue replaced by something a) less awful and b) not representing someone who was a massive racist, even by the standards of his own avowedly-awful period. Naturally, this has seen some pushback - mostly by white men, it has to be said, which will come as no surprise to anyone, I'm sure - because of Lovecraft's influence on the genre. Except that, racist arseholery aside, I'd argue that if there was a competition to say which dead white guy has had the most influence on the Fantasy genre, Tolkien would be a shoo-in.

    Anyway, good news, the award is going to change from this year so we're waiting to see just what replaces it. In the meanwhile, we get to retread the argument about whether you should separate the behaviour and atittudes of the creator of something (whether we're talking books, movies or whatever) from the thing they've created. This becomes more complex, naturally, when you're thinking about past times as the 'but everyone was [insert prejudice of choice here] back then!'.

    I think, as I've got older and thought more about people other than myself (I hope!) then I can empathise with a zero tolerance approach even though I might not maintain it myself. There are certainly creators of modern media who I think are unmitigated arseholes and I choose not to engage with anything they are involved with - if anyone's interested, my list includes but is not limited to Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Steven Moffat, Orson Scott Card and various less well-known folks within the SFF genre who I have seen be arseholes online. I have zero tolerance for people who are either plagiarists or who have been caught being arseholes to anyone who criticises their work (Anne Rice is the first person who leaps to mind, but there are others). There are also folks in fandom who I have seen be arseholes online so I now won't read anything of theirs, even if they happen to be in fandoms I would otherwise read.

    As for historical stuff, that's a little more difficult - apparently, even for his time Lovecraft was considered massively racist, which is saying something. It's an easy out to say 'oh, everyone thought like that' because that's never been true of any time period, since if it was true nothing would ever change because nobody would ever think it needed to. There have and will always be outliers, good and bad, with most folks being somewhere lumped in the middle of whatever opinion is current. Still, we choose what we value and what we give head-space, and I choose to be more selective than that, since there's plenty more out there that isn't produced by arseholes.
    graculus: (Default)
    Since we're almost at the end of the year, I thought I'd post a number of my top 5 lists of things for 2014:

    Top 5 books:

    1. Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - I can have these two as one, can't I? Cracking space opera, first book very rightly won All The Awards, can't wait for book 3.

    2. Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter - a great WorldCon find, again the first of a trilogy, this one about genetic manipulation. Highly recommended.

    3. Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone. IMHO, Max should have won the John W Campbell award this year, as I loved both these books, which are set in a universe where accountancy and magic are very closely related. Again, highly recommended, need to get my hands on book 3 (Full Fathom Five), with book 4 (Last First Snow) also due out soon.

    4. Holy Bones, Holy Dust by Charles Freeman - after all that science fiction and fantasy, how about a little non-fiction for the last 2? First off there's this, an absolutely fascinating look at the business of relics.

    5. To the Edge of the World by Christian Wolmar - this was my other non-fiction highlight of 2014, a history of the building of the Trans-Siberian railway. As with any endeavour of this sort, it's a wonder it ever got built at all, but I hadn't realised that its very building had played such a pivotal part in Russian history.

    E.T.A: Honourable mentions to Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron, among others...

    Top 5 graphic novels:

    1. Saga volumes 1 & 2 - I'd heard a lot of good things about this series, all of which were true. Clever and funny, with some great characters, it's also stunningly drawn.

    2. Hawkeye volumes 1 & 2 - how can anyone not love a series where a storyline is written from the perspective of the hero's dog? Rightly or wrongly, I don't think I can ever divorce this version of Hawkeye from my head-canon regarding that character.

    3. The Wicked and the Divine volume 1 - again with the stunning artwork, can't wait to see where this goes next.

    4. Rat Queens volume 1 - after all those superhero storylines, here's something a little different, described by the publishers as 'sass-and-sorcery'.

    5. Sex Criminals volume 1 - again, something different, this time someone who discovers that when she has sex, time stops. When she meets someone else with the same ability, they decide to use it to rob a bank; naturally, hijinks ensue!

    Honourable mentions to The Fuse volume 1, Captain Marvel volume 1 and Pretty Deadly volume 1, as well as a bunch of stuff I haven't got around to yet (Ms Marvel and Black Widow being primary among them).
    graculus: (Default)
    Five online things:

    Some old, some new...

    1. Welcome to Night Vale - do I really need to explain what this is?

    2. Musketeer Space - currently reading this after briefly meeting the author at WorldCon and hearing about the fact she's writing what it says on the tin, the Musketeers as space opera.

    3. Tea and Jeopardy - another post-WorldCon addition, this time a podcast, hosted by writer Emma Newman with various guests.

    4. Shousetsu BangBang - a regular source of excellent gay and lesbian original fic, highly recommend.

    5. Amuse Your Bouche - one of a number of cookery blogs I follow, this one vegetarian.
    graculus: (Snape)

    • That I have just bought comics for the first time since before the people creating┬áthose comics were probably born (Hawkeye1 - My Life as a Weapon and Captain Marvel 1 - In Pursuit of Flight trade paperbacks, in case anyone was wondering).

    • American-style pancakes. Mmmm. Totally pic-spam related addiction going on there.

    • Significant levels of anticipation for new tv shows that will air in the autumn and be canned by Christmas, since they are on Fox (Almost Human).

    • John Cho. 'Nuff said.

    • That, thanks to a bunch of folks known as Unfuck Your Habitat, my house is probably cleaner and tidier than it's been for quite a while.

    • That I am attempting to grow pumpkins so I can make pie when the inevitable pic-spam rolls around in a few months time, thus preventing a repeat of the American-style pancakes scenario.

    • That my DVR is full of episodes of Young Justice, which the UK channel airing it apparently refuses to air in sequence. Seriously, guys, would it hurt so much?

    graculus: (sarcasm)
    Clearly the fact that I saw [ profile] morganmuffle mention Tom Baker on my friendslist last night was enough for said former-Doctor to make a starring appearance in my dreams, playing professional football and scoring a couple of goals past a zombie goalkeeper.

    In other news, had you ever thought that if humans weren't blessed with binocular vision and instead had their eyes on the sides of their heads like prey animals, popular fiction would be very different? After all, the possibility of bopping someone on the head from behind without them seeing you coming would be gone and where would that leave writers? ;)

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