Reading: The Vor Game

Aug. 19th, 2017 09:12 am
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
In The Vor Game, Miles Vorkosigan has graduated from the the Imperial Military Academy and is taking - or trying to take - the first steps in his military career, steps which are seriously hampered by Miles's tendency to be the best strategic mind in the room and to know it. Instead of managing to fit in to life as a junior officer, Miles solves a mystery, joins a mutiny and ends up stopping an interstellar invasion fleet.

Having taken several tries to actually get into Bujold, I'm now very much enjoying working my way through the Vorkosigan saga; so far, they've all been enjoyable and entertaining and comforting without being fluffy. They may have many of the trappings of standard military SF, but they're really character-driven novels whose military setting is almost incidental. Bujold's characters are delightful and well-rounded, likeable but realistically flawed and sometimes exasperating; in this novel, Miles is continuing to grow and learn from his experience and his fairly frequent mistakes and misjudgements (despite an amazing talent for turning every situation to his advantage he is clearly very young, very inexperienced, and far from perfect), and I particularly loved Gregor, the young Emperor of Barrayar, resenting the weight of the crown he has worn since early childhood and trying to work out who he is and how to be his own person within the limitations of his role. The exploration of what makes a leader, and what it means to be Vor - a member of Barrayar's hereditary military/aristocratic class - is a big part of what makes these books not-fluff for me; they may be fun, but they're also interesting and thought-provoking.

I note that The Vor Game won the Best Novel Hugo*, which surprised me a little, as although I enjoyed it a lot the plotting isn't terribly tight and it doesn't have the "doing something new and interesting" feel I tend to expect from Hugo winners (even if "new and interesting" in 1990 was rather different from "new and interesting" now, it isn't doing anything very different from The Warrior's Apprentice). It's still great fun, though, and probably more enjoyable than many "new and interesting" but more serious books.

*"at the time when good writing and plot were more important than political leaning", says one Goodreaders reviewer, who has clearly failed to spot that the novel has a disabled protagonist, at least two prominent LGBT characters (to be fair, Aral's bisexuality is pretty much blink-and-you'll-miss-it, but Bel Thorne isn't) and more than one woman in typically male command roles.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Marks and Spencer and the National Autistic Society have launched a school uniform range aimed at the parents of autistic children. Note that I say aimed at the parents of autistic children, rather than aimed at autistic children. All the blurb is to do with how easy it is to put on, and how hardwearing it is. The subtext is that it's designed for kids who can't dress themselves. This is clearly aimed at parents.

The other way you can tell that actually autistic people were not involved in this is that if you ask any autistic person what is most important for them in clothing they will tell you it's the fabric it's made of. Many autistic people have comorbid eczema, and a lot of those that don't have sensory issues, which mean that fabric and texture are hugely important in clothing. Something that is in contact with your skin all day needs to be made of something non-irritating; that almost always means 100% natural fibres. Cotton, or bamboo, or silk, or modal. Sometimes wool, but sometimes not. NEVER SODDING POLYESTER. And some of the clothes in that M&S range are 65% polyester. And of course it's very wearying that the only clothing specifically designed to be worn by autistic people is school uniform, because nobody of above school age is autistic, and no autistic child ever wears non-uniform clothing. AND they've "removed pockets for comfort". I have never known an autistic person who didn't want MORE pockets, as long as they are made from 100% natural fibre too.

So what would clothing for autistic people actually look like? Well, from the conversation on twitter today:
  1. Clear, obvious fabric labelling on the rack/shelf. While most of us just want everything 100% cotton, some of us prefer other natural fabrics like linen, and some actively prefer viscose or modal. Some of us can cope with silk or wool, some can't. Every single one of us, though, would like to see fabrics clearly, obviously labelled on the rack, without having to go hunting through the clothes for a tiny illegible care label.

  2. No polyester. Not even a little bit. Not ever. No, not even in linings.

  3. Linings are important! Linings are the bit that is actually in contact with your skin, so they need to be all natural fibres too. Note, though, that this does not mean you can take a garment made out of something horrible and line it with cotton and it will be OK - outer fabrics need to be touchable too.

  4. Care labels to be made of the same fabric as the clothing, not scratchy plastic.

  5. Elastic to be covered with the fabric the clothes are made of, not left to be in contact with your skin.

  6. Flat seams! Or even NO seams!

  7. For Cthulhu's sake, SOMEBODY make some bras we can wear! It is really, really, incredibly difficult to get hold of cotton bras, to the extent that I have considered making my own. And even if/when you DO find them, they are covered in non-cotton frills and lace and fripperies. And have stupid care labels made of plastic right in the middle of your back.

  8. Comfort and fit are much much more important than being on trend. I saw an article the other day that low slung waist trousers are coming back into fashion and actually cried.

  9. Moar pockets, on everything, especially women's clothes - but again, made of the same fabric as the actual clothing

  10. Stop saying things are "cotton touch" or "cotton feel" or "cotton rich". All this does is bugger up searching for cotton things. And actually, make your website searchable by fabric. That would be amazing.
And a clothing store for autistic people?
  1. Would be lit sensibly, not with migraine-inducing lighting.

  2. Would have the afore-mentioned obvious, clear clothing labels on the shelf/rack.

  3. Would sort by size and colour as well as style.

  4. Would have assistants that wait to be approached rather than badgering you the second you enter the shop.

  5. Would not have music at all (many many autistic people love music, but find music that they don't like intensely irritating; whatever music you play some of us will like and some won't) and would ideally have sound baffling so that other people's conversations are not intrusive.

  6. Would open from (say) 12 till 8, rather than 9 to 5. Autistic people are more likely than others to have odd sleep patterns and/or working hours.
Now, if some kind banker or venture capitalist would like to give me a wad of cash to make this a reality... And to M&S and the NAS... I do appreciate that you're trying, and I don't wish to appear ungrateful, but if you consulted any actually autistic people in fomulating that clothing range it's not immediately obvious. Please, please, bear in mind the priorities of actually autistic people, not the parents of autistic children, when making clothing that the autistic people are actually meant to wear. Remember the phrase: nothing about us without us. Thank you.

In chirpier news

Aug. 19th, 2017 10:19 am
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
The day after we got back from Helsinki, I was mucking out Bugsy's stable when I heard a lot of chirping and noticed that there were swallows flying around.

Having raised their first clutch, they've built a second nest. This one is in the rafters above the tack room (and, thankfully, above an open area of floor rather than anything that will take harm from having bird poo all over it!), which they're accessing by flying into Bugsy's stable and through the roof space.

I'm glad they're doing so much better this year!

"Warding gestures*

Aug. 18th, 2017 02:48 pm
rosefox: A person in a gas mask. (safety)
[personal profile] rosefox
My body: A tiny bit of post-nasal drip leading to slight throat soreness, probably just allerg—

Me: NINE HOURS OF SLEEP, STEAMY SHOWER WITH PINE AND MINT ESSENCE, NASAL RINSE, SALT-WATER GARGLE, ANTIHISTAMINE NASAL SPRAY, STEROID NASAL SPRAY, CLARITIN, AGGRESSIVE TOOTHBRUSHING

My body: —look, forget i said anything, okay?


I refuse to get sick. REFUSE. R E F U S E. J has had a horrid cough for a week and is on antibiotics and prednisone (when they prescribe prednisone to the guy with insomnia, you know it's bad), X is wrapping up a course of antibiotics for a throat infection, and J had to do that for his own throat infection last month. So far I've been fighting off all the respiratory bugs Kit brings home from daycare, but I don't take my ability to do that for granted. And I can't take most antibiotics without serious mood effects because apparently I depend on my gut flora for emotional management, so I have to be extremely diligent about my preventive care.

I'm going to go have spicy curry for lunch and drink some ginger honey tea. Fuck off, germs.

PCAH Resigns

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:38 am
elf: Many Americans have all the virtues of civilized people (American virtues)
[personal profile] elf
The entire Presidential Committee on Arts and Humanities a group created by Reagan, has resigned. Politico story, with image of the letter - the first letters in each paragraph spell out "RESIST."

Text of the letter, because I couldn't find any convenient spot online with the whole thing.

"Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion. The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both. ... This does not unify the nation we all love. We know the importance of open and free dialogue through our work in the cultural diplomacy realm, most recently with the first-ever US Government arts and culture delegation to Cuba, a country without the same First Amendment protections we enjoy here. Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed."

WELL

Aug. 18th, 2017 02:27 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I've deleted the post I wrote this morning when I was certain I wouldn't get on the linguistics course, because it would look stupid now that I have been offered a place!

It still has to be sorted out but I'm making Andrew do all that stuff because I don't actually understand how clearing works. But I had a phone call with a nice person from the department who seemed surprised when I was surprised she said she would like to offer me a place on the course, heh. I don't think I composed myself very well during that conversation, but she didn't change her mind anyway!

Holy shit, you guys, they're letting me do linguistics at Manchester University.

Starting in a month!

I've already enlisted the help of [personal profile] barakta who knows a lot about financing and disability stuff, which is awesome, but really I have no idea how to go to university in this country.

I was pretty sure this wasn't going to work. Not for impostor-syndrome kinds of reasons, real ones. They didn't hide how hesitant they were about me: because I didn't take AP classes (my poor rural school didn't offer any, though I spent all my high school life being told I should have been taking them and I think that'd have worked far better for me anyway), I didn't take the SAT because I'm from the Midwest and was looking at colleges in the Midwest, I didn't have the grades in college because I was so fucking mental but still years away from realizing it.

I was sure this wasn't going to work. Because that's what happens to me: I can do things but can't prove I can do the things. Same with job interviews all the time.

Everyone on Twitter is happy, bless them all, but it still hasn't sunk in for me.
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
Poll #18711 Eye candy
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 41


Which?

View Answers

Vin Diesel
8 (19.5%)

Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock
15 (36.6%)

Yes, yes please
9 (22.0%)

Fast AND furious, hurr hurr
7 (17.1%)

No thanks, fit bald men aren't my thing
13 (31.7%)

I have a really short attention span. What was the question?
5 (12.2%)

Cake, anyone?
21 (51.2%)

Ticky!
13 (31.7%)

Helsinki, Worldcon

Aug. 18th, 2017 12:04 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
That was not the Worldcon I would have liked; I'd hoped to do as several of my friends did, and travel overland and explore some of the region. Or at least to really get immersed in the con itself. And I'd have liked a proper holiday with my partners and their children, which hasn't really happened this year though we've had a few short breaks.

In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.

more details )

More fodder for the book!

Aug. 18th, 2017 10:52 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Yesterday morning I saw I'd been tagged in a tweet where Andrew linked to this, saying "Jesus Christ. By this standard, @hollyamory and I are in a 'marriage of convenience.'"

The article is about a High Court ruling saying that a "genuine couple can enter in a marriage of convenience." Even people who are in a real relationship, not seeking a "sham marriage," can apparently be told that they can't get married because by doing so one of them would attain an "immigration advantage."

Which, yeah. Is exactly what Andrew and I did. With no other avenue of study or work open to us in the mental/physical/financial state we were in at the time (or indeed at any time since), the only way for us to stay in the same country was to get married.

As I pointed out in a series of angry follow-up tweets, the only reason we needed an "immigration advantage" is because being poor and disabled have been declared immigration disadvantages. Marriage is the only route available to current non-EU citizens who don't make £35,000 a year. (Maybe one day that (or its successor at a no-doubt higher salary threshold) will apply to non-EU citizens too.) This is not the fault of any people getting married.

This is not the fault of people getting married.

You may start to see now why I hate the Home Office, why I am the unusual rat who jumped on to the sinking ship of Brexit Britain. Andrew and I both really don't want to but also can't move to the U.S., and there's no other country that will have us both. So if we're going to stay in the same country, it has to be the UK. So I want to feel as secure in that as possible.

When I started talking about this on Twitter, a lot of my friends pointed out that marriage is a legal status so of course people are going to enter into it for legal reasons: tax, inheritance, child guardianship, lots of things. In the UK, increasingly few people get married solely for religious reasons, so legal elements are going to be part of the decision for a lot of people. Yet it's a bad thing if any of those reasons are immigration-related?

Increasingly I'm realizing how much higher a standard immigrants are held to than the native citizens of not just the UK but certainly the U.S. too (where, y'know, immigrants and visitors actually have to say they're not Nazis!) and no doubt other countries as well. It's so frustrating to see this everywhere.

The Blood is the Life for 18-08-2017

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
[personal profile] oursin

Was lately reading something about (male) travellers and those Amazingly Beautiful Women they saw somewhere a long way away after arduous journeying, which might be partly about Exoticising the Other, but also, I think, about there being some place (or time) which is not boring old Here, where things are amazing.

On the, Not Like The Women I Have To Deal With Here And Now In The Present, a friend of mine has a piece somewhere or other (actually I think it's in a volume in which I too am represented) about certain late C19th French (male) intellectuals complaining that women of their day were by no means comparable to the HOTT witty libertine ladies of the Ancien Regime in their salons.

And this led me to the thought that maybe if you are living in it no time is Perfect and Ideal: some may be better than others, for more people, maybe. Just as there were people who found, for them, good lives in times/places that are not usually thought of as utopian eras and most time-travellers would not put on their bucket lists.

Anything close-up and quotidien is, I depose, something the flaws in which you are going to apprehend fairly acutely. Though possibly the upside of that is, that they are the flaws and hindrances that one has developed work-arounds for (see Katharine Whitehorn on the little niggles about one's house that one hardly notices any more but has to warn visitors about).

"Have I told you lately"

Aug. 17th, 2017 08:38 pm
rosefox: Me looking at Kit and both of us grinning. (me and kit)
[personal profile] rosefox
It's my late night at the office. I videocalled home to say goodnight to the baby. They were tired, so after a while they waved bye-bye. I said "Okay, Kit, bye-bye! I love you!" and signed love you.

And they signed love back.

Me: [tears]
X: [tears]
Kit: [earnestly signing love at the camera]

My baby told me they love me. I'll just be here in a little melted puddle forever.

Getting stuff done

Aug. 17th, 2017 09:17 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I've had a better week this week anyway, but it's also been a busier one.

Monday and Tuesday I got a lot of stuff done around the house: caught up with everything that I let slide over the weekend while I was away and the week or so before when my mental health had been too bad. We're at only normal levels of disorganized and cluttered now, and while it's kind of sad that feels like an achievement, at least it's an achievement.

Tuesday I got a key and directions for feeding a friend's cats while she was away for a couple of days. She kindly paid me very generously for this, which was completely unexpected but so nice. I was worried I'd forget but I didn't! Even managed to feed them at about their usual times, except it was a bit later this morning because I slept badly last night.

Yesterday I had a meeting of the VI steering group I'm no longer running. The team manager who gets paid for it is sorting out the meeting dates and telling everyone about them, which honestly I think works better anyway. I feel bad I'm not doing it, especially since I'm interested in other volunteering things -- at this meeting I met someone from the Disabled People's Access Group who says I'd be good to join in some other stuff she does that did sound interesting to me.

On my bus ride there, I got to hear the finished product of a great fanfic audio story that I did one of the voices for. I wasn't too cringeworthy and the story turned out great. I really hope there are more stories in the series, partly because it'd be fun to play my one again, partly just because I want to see what happens.

Yesterday Andrew also got further in applying me for this university course; he actually talked to the clearing people. They asked for a scan of my high school diploma, which since it's at my parents' I was worried would be quite a challenge, but my dad's e-mailed it over this evening and said it was easy. Well done, clever parents!

This morning I had another meeting about a totally different volunteer thing. It's at Manchester Museum, involves some really cool technology and senior people who are very keen to get the expertise of visually impaired people. I am super excited. That probably won't start for a month at least, so at exactly the same time as Lib Dem Conf and this uni course if I get on it and so I am sure that will be fine. No really, I will make it all work.

And this afternoon my friend Mary was in town, which I hadn't known about until a couple of days ago. She's usually near Norwich so this is quite remarkable. I hadn't seen her in more than a year, since the weekend of falling in the river in Oxford (sadly you can't see the pictures right now; I still need to figure out how to get them off Photobucket and to somewhere useful). A train derailment (not hers!) meant she got in a bit later than planned but we still had time to rush around finding somewhere still open where she could buy euros for her trip to Ireland tomorrow and have dinner in a pub. Battered halloumi and chips for both of us (but I swapped my chips for sweet potato fries because sweet potatoes are great and regular potatoes are not). She'd never had halloumi like that before! We bitched about politics and she taught me some Irish words (I will probably forget them again, like I did last time, except not the one for "penis" because it has a joke as a mneomic device).

Saturday is the "Bi Takeover for Pride" event at the LGBT Foundation, which honestly I am treating like another bit of BiCon, down to going along to see people I know who are going as much as I'm there for any of the workshops. So that should be nice.

So yeah. Good week. Glad to know they're still possible.

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