vital functions

Apr. 21st, 2019 10:03 pm
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
[personal profile] kaberett
Reading. V excited that I can read physical books at the moment without my hands yelling at me (hurrah for ring splints). Head On (John Scalzi) and record of a spaceborn few (Becky Chambers) in hard copy; I'm now making substantial progress through The Collapsing Empire (also John Scalzi) in ebook, because I got to the top of the library queue. (For reference, also on hold: Feel Free, being collected essays by Zadie Smith; Daring Greatly, Brené Brown, having failed to get together the brain to read it when I got it out the library in hard copy a while back; The Consuming Fire, John Scalzi, sequel to TCE; Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney. There's a fair chance that I'll suspend the holds on both the Smith and the Brown just because they are likely to be fairly heavy going and, as discussed in therapy a few weeks back, it is actually okay for me to read for fun at the moment.)

Details, including spoilers. )

Film/TV. Leverage. It is Leverage. I am still kind of fascinated by it but, like, I cannot quite deal with Eliot, last episode, having... decided that Parker was incompetent? For reasons of plot convenience? Obviously she wasn't, but. Oh children.

Growth. AHAHAHA SO MUCH. Headlines:
  • I've repotted the lemon!
  • I've provided some timelapse photography of the plot!
  • I've borrowed a cordless drill and made significant progress with building my raised bed edging! (This also counts as a Skill Acquisition, especially as I was doing so without more competent supervision.)
  • I've fixed the broken autovent on the roof of the greenhouse! (Ish. It's possible I need to get a new wax cylinder; it's not opening as much as I really feel it ought.)
  • ............ I found the carpet.
  • It is, you see, The Rule that every allotment plot is absolutely chock-full of fundamentally made-of-plastic carpet.
  • I thought I'd got away with it.
  • I tried to dig a hole to put the legs of the raised bed into.
  • ... I hit carpet.
  • I have found at least two layers.
  • I... I think they extend underneath all the raised beds.
  • The raised beds in which I am growing spinach, and fennel, and allium various.
  • The raised beds I weeded thoroughly last year and then manured and then left to get themselves set up with decent soil structure and generally getting going with a no-dig philosophy.
  • That I'm now going to have to dig up.
  • To get out the carpet.

Notable Pokémon. Another (!) shiny Eevee. Hatched a Really Rather Good Beldum. No event-specific shinies yet, of course, but there we go.


Apr. 20th, 2019 10:41 pm
kaberett: A very small snail crawls along the edge of a blue bucket, in three-quarters profile with one eyestalk elegantly extended. (tiny adventure snail)
[personal profile] kaberett
Apparently I haven't posted any photos of the allotment since last August, whoops.

Four photographs. )

I'm really pleased with how it's coming along? This is the very first plot you see when you enter the site, which fact I am occasionally a little daunted by, but I am making progress and I sincerely hope sorting the raised beds out will facilitate a bunch more.

I have a laptop back!

Apr. 19th, 2019 11:49 pm
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
To my disgust this hard drive came with Windows Vista installed, where the previous one had Windows 7; I'm getting an e-mailed receipt tomorrow and might grumble at them. In the meantime, this evening has mostly consisted of getting a usable Debian install set up (because for bonus points, I ended up overwriting my install media on Tuesday before the drive death because that was the convenient USB stick I had on me).

Doubtless I will complain endlessly about sharks, including sharks I'd previously solved but not bothered making a note of.

Other things this evening included: takeaway dinner from Roti King with A, in the vicinity of Granary Square, followed by ice cream, because the shop I got this laptop from in the first place was on Tottenham Court Road, so by the time we'd got there sitting by the canal eating dinner while the sun went down seemed like an excellent idea.

... but for right now probably I should just do some Duolingo quickly and then head to bed...

Short Reviews

Apr. 18th, 2019 02:31 pm
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Posted by David R. MacIver

Short Reviews

I've read a whole bunch of good books recently that I've failed to review. Here are some very short reviews of them, pending possible longer ones later. This post is more by way of an IOU longer reviews and a note to self.

A Slip of the Keyboard, by Terry Pratchett

A collection of nonfiction by Terry Pratchett. It is good, but probably only for Pratchett completionists. Main outcomes of my reading it are impulse buying a copy of Brewer's Encyclopedia of Phrase and Fable despite knowing full well that the last time I owned one I barely ever even opened it, and reminding me that I should have another go at Nation.

At some point I will have read everything Terry Pratchett ever wrote, and I do not look forward to the kick in the feels that day will bring, so I'm rather putting it off.

Teaching What You Don't Know by Therese Huston

This was good, but if you're going in looking for insights on a broader topic, you probably won't get them. This book is very specialised for its problem domain, and quite USA centric in many of the details. Still, this was what I needed (USA centricity aside), so I found it useful. It also contains a bunch of recommendations for other books that I'll be following up on.

The Communication Book: 44 Ideas for Better Conversations Every Day by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler

I don't remember why I own this book, but decided to finally sit down and read it cover to cover. It's fine. There are some neat ideas in there, and it's good for flicking through. I'll probably get some benefit out of it at some point and am going to keep it around, but nothing life changing.

Invitation to Personal Construct Psychology by Trevor Butt and Vivien Burr

This book is very good but also very expensive. I bought it second hand at a much lower price but all the cheap(ish) ones are gone and I'm not sure I can in good conscious recommend spending £44 on it.

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Very good, strongly recommended. I agree with most of it, though I think he oversimplifies in places, and I'm suspicious of how well he really understands technology and/or evolutionary biology (some things where I feel like he's misrepresented the tech side to a degree larger than lies to children would permit, no specific misgivings about the biology side of things it's just a bit pat and that raises alarm bells).

That being said, the model of how idea generation works as an evolutionary process is spot on. It filled in some useful details for me and I think a lot of people would benefit from understanding this better.

The Current Affairs Mindset

A good book of left-wing political writing that isn't afraid of nuance or disagreeing with the consensus. I suspect a lot of people I know would read this and immediately decry some of the authors as horrible centrists, but I don't think that would be an accurate reading.

mixed bags with silver linings

Apr. 17th, 2019 08:59 pm
kaberett: Reflections of a bare tree in river ice in Stockholm somehow end up clad in light. (tree-of-light)
[personal profile] kaberett
  • On Tuesday evening, my laptop ran out of battery, put itself to sleep, and lost its hard drive. I have successfully (1) not panicked much, (2) got on with my life or at least the mass spec, (3) got A to help me do some simple diagnostics, (4) taken it back to the place I got it less than a year ago and got them to order replacement parts because alas they couldn't sell me something on the spot so I could just go home and spend this evening sorting myself back out, which means that (5) I had the opportunity to dig out the 12-month repair warranty and set it to one side to take with me when I go to pick the thing back up, meaning that this Ought To Be Free.
  • On Monday, we had [personal profile] alexwlchan around. I got some of the spinach-and-butternut-squash-and-roast-garlic-and-ricotta pasta out of the freezer, portioned out the amount we were going to want to eat for dinner, and then absent-mindedly put the remainder back into... the fridge, not the freezer. Which means that dinner tonight -- I got in a little before eight -- is that pasta, along with the leftover tomato-and-mascarpone-sauce, only I'm the only one eating it tonight so it now also contains a slightly obnoxious quantity of chilli, plus bonus nutmeg.
  • The non-existence of buses between Green Park and South Ken due to the Extinction Rebellion protest (which, yes, is very worthy, but this means there is no reasonable accessible route for me to get into work and I had machine time booked and I'm just quite augh about the ways in which this specifically fucks over disabled people massively disproportionately to the effect on people using public transport who don't need level access) led to me getting up ridiculously early this morning and then pushing from Green Park to lab via Hyde Park. This involved two pairs of Egyptian geese with three spotty little balls of fluff each. (Also there were some Loudly Beeping Moorhens, and a lot of yell birds in general.)

Labyrinth Roleplaying, Sessions 2, 3

Apr. 17th, 2019 01:36 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
What Went Well

Playing some DnD where building an effective character and achieving things effectively actually matters has been very nice. I don't want to play that style too much, it's a big investment of effort, but I was missing it.

The mechanics for navigating an expansive underground maze worked almost perfectly. It really feels like feeling your way through routes you partially know but might shift any time. And generating a big batch of layout and bringing it up as people stumble across it has been very satisfying.

The characters and players are really great. The inquisitive, acquisitive, goblin. The impulsive, swashbuckling cat-bard. The dour blood hunter. The rogue with a mysterious history. The players have generally been great even though I didn't know them well before.

I've had lots of lovely ideas which have gone into sessions.

Playing a not-too-long session every too weeks has gone reasonably.

What Didn't Live up to Expectations

As always, my skills cat-herding players to turn up, and making sure everyone's clear on what's going on, have been a bit rusty.

The sessions have all been quite slow, partly because I've been getting used to the sort of prep that works well in this kind of campaign, and partly just because there's a lot of players, and everyone is still getting used to what their characters can do.

All the sessions left me feeling a bit like they were missing something but I wasn't sure what. That's not unexpected when I try to run a sort of game I haven't run before, but after some thought I think I got some idea.

One problem is, a dnd game is typically a stream of small decisions: explore the hut or the cave? talk or fight? search casually or thoroughly? Often not even decisions spelled out, but formed implicitly from what the players naturally do. In this game, my hope is that the choice of routes through the labyrinth would often serve in this role, but because progress has been slower than I hoped, most of the navigation decisions haven't really had a lot of decision to make.

Also, because I started off planning broadly, a lot of the individual things the characters encounter in one session are less well fleshed through than they might otherwise be, if I'd spent prep time thinking through what they were most likely to meet specifically. I've been doing more of this, even though it's more prep, but only needed to "top up" the places they're most likely going next, and hopefully can be reused if I use the same setting in future.

And there just haven't been enough NPCs who've often brought games to life. The idea was, NPCs in the castle would interact with the PCs in advance, through rumours and quests offered, and slowly build up a relationship. But so far, every delve has taken multiple sessions, and it's taken two sessions to complete what I intended as the original starter goal, so no-one has had time to pursue "extra" leads. I need some more of this to happen in session so people engage with it more, even if that takes time.

Dnd games that I've run well have always had fights designed well enough to be somewhat interesting, but have been brought to life by the ideas and npcs, the richness of the immediate setting as I've spent lots of prep time dwelling on it, and the characters have interacted with NPCs and environments in unexpected ways that have worked out because I've fleshed out characters and places to explore even if I wasn't sure if they'd be able to or not. I always used to think of myself as really analytical and less creative, so it's an adjustment to realise that's something that I can count as a success, and should expect to build up and rely on. But Liv's face when I talked about adding more NPCs made me realise it was well worth it.

Looking forward to

If possible, bringing more of the lore I worked out to the fore, it's been surprisingly hard to make it relevant, but it's come up a few times so I hope that works out.

Running a second group in the same setting, and seeing how they interact with the same spaces. And using the weirdness of the labyrinth to justify it if it seems like sometimes they leave somewhere in an impossible chronological order because of the order of the sessions :)

No Responsibility Saturdays

Apr. 17th, 2019 01:11 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
I've recently been experimenting with "no responsibility saturdays". I've toyed with similar things before, but partly I hadn't reached a point where the trade-offs were useful to me, and partly I think I tried variants that didn't draw the line on what to exclude in the right place.

Specifically, my rule is, I can do anything I feel like, be it collapsing in front of the TV, playing games with Liv, getting on with a hobby project, going out to socialise or walk, exercise, or catching up on a behind todo list. But stuff I *need* to do, I'll set aside time some other time, so I don't have anything I *have* to do.

Mostly, it's a rule that says I can ignore the voice in my head saying, "oh, but you really need to do X, you shouldn't do other stuff until you've done that". Which, well, maybe I should ignore that most of the time, The Voice isn't very good at choosing the right things to worry about. But I've always found it really hard to let go, and this helps.

It hasn't made that much difference to what I've actually been doing, I've done some social things I knew I would enjoy, I've enjoyed time with R, I've done tidying, I've done books and tv. But I've felt a *lot* more relaxed about it.

I guess "not have to do anything" is what weekends are supposed to be, and I just got the message late. But I always struggled with that: even when I didn't actually do much, it always felt like I *should* be doing something, that if I had time I should make the most of it by doing something really fun, or I should deal with one of hundreds of things I should "get to one day", or if I'm not doing that I should start a new project of some sort, etc, etc. I always felt like I had to do *everything*, so I tended to do *nothing*.

I had to get over several hurdles to get to the point where I could try this. Likely I will get to the point where I don't *need* to do it. But in the meantime it's been surprisingly helpful, not just for that day, the uplifted spirits have carried over to more of the week too.

vital functions

Apr. 14th, 2019 11:26 pm
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
[personal profile] kaberett
Reading. Got out of the library this week, because they were right there when I was waiting for a loo to come free: Head On, which I had not yet got around to, and record of a spaceborn few, because [personal profile] alexwlchan particularly recommended it. (I was indifferent to the first book and found the second book very soothing and iddy.)

The Push micro-liveblog. )

From the library, via the magic of ebooks: Normal People, Sally Rooney, enthusiastically recced to me by Waterstones staff the other week. I was wary and it's full of triggers but oh dear no actually I love this a lot and have promptly placed a hold on her first book. (It's vivid and intense and evocative and I spent the entire thing feeling kind of breathless, and -- oh dear, children, oh dear.) The thing is, though, that I know why I love it! I just can't quite wrap my head around why everyone else does. (It is A LitFic Phenomenon, if you have thus far failed to come across it.)

Bonus slow progress through my current Shaun Tan, Tales from the Inner City, which is slow mostly because they're incredibly dense and I want to savour them and also their art.

Film/TV. Leverage continues... Leverage. We are just sitting down to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel along with dinner and cocktails, because Date Night; I have never seen it before, but A is fond. (We were going to watch Amélie, and indeed I have got crème brûlée in the fridge to eat with, but we were mysteriously unable to find a copy despite being pretty sure the house ought to contain at least one, so A Different Film It Is and... we will just have to eat more crème brûlée in future.) -- right okay yes I enjoyed that.

Growth. Mysteriously, only one row of cherry tomatoes has hatched. Probably they need to be Planted up but I'm still quite ??? at them. (Okay no wait between writing this on about Thursday and... Saturday evening...? some more started hatching, HURRAH.) Meanwhile, my LEMON TREE has arrived.

Further points: A, who has The Patience Of Several Saints, spent this afternoon on glazing the greenhouse with me. The greenhouse is now done. I am Very Excited??? I need to work out why my bin got a bit sort of sad (mostly because I didn't feed it for a bit over a week, I suspect) and make it happy again, and actually pull up all the dandelions, but the next major project is in fact now finalising my raised beds aaaaaaaaaah.

And! One more chilli! Which may or may not survive, who knows, but chilli-the-largest has A Third Leaf and so does passion fruit-the-largest, so, fingers crossed.

Notable Pokémon. Last week: shiny Articuno traded from A (because he! had a spare!!! this is most unfair!), plus a wild-caught shiny Pineco. HATCHED A PERFECT TURTWIG. Also wild-caught a perfect Weedle, which is actually my second, but I sent the first one to the professor Back In The Day before we had TMs because its moveset wasn't ~perfect~ and I needed the storage space. This week: shiny Lotad shiny Lotad shiny Lotad. Wednesday morning -- right after the bug-type event ended -- SHINY CATERPIE as first Pokémon of the day.

Additionaly and furthermore, hatched BABY SNORLAX and BABY SUDOWOODO (Munchlax; Bonsly) and am Very Excited about their little faces.

... and a shiny Taillow because this is Frankly Ridiculous, and then on Community Day I... got two shinies (neither of them any good) and more importantly traded a bunch of the Bagon I'd caught with A and ended up with a 100% lucky Bagon, aaaaah.

Language. Still attempting to blitz the end of FutureLearn Irish 101; still annoyed by the lack of explanation of pronunciation and especially by the insistence that we watch a video of two speakers in a language we don't yet know repeatedly while... perky upbeat music has been edited into the background. That is a Hard No from me, friends.

tiny adventure!

Apr. 13th, 2019 10:54 pm
kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
[personal profile] kaberett
Astronomy Photographer of the Year, which this year included a retrospective of the ten years the award had been running.

Of immediate interest to me: a lot of the photographs are fundamentally of The Same Thing (the Milky Way; the sun; the moon), so quite a lot of everything is in the composition and -- and this really surprised me -- the processing. Because it is absolutely accepted that post-processing is necessary for a bunch of these (not simply compositing exposures but straight-up colourising them, and of course having to process different types of exposure (infra-red; H-alpha and HII; ...). This is in stark contrast to the rules for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, where in addition to the final image the raw files off the camera have to be submitted and enhancement is right out -- and, of course, to some extent WPY has a much greater range of subjects.

I'm glad I went to see this, to be clear, but especially given that it featured highlights from the last decade I doubt I'm likely to make regular trips to Greenwich for this (in the way that I'm happy to take a minor detour to the NHM on my way to work for the sake of WPY). Nevertheless, some favourites! From the People and Space category I particularly enjoyed Me versus the Galaxy and Expedition to Infinity (this is one A & I disagreed about re the merits of humans for scale); looking at the online gallery, I am also very taken by Keeper of the Light, which was not on display. From Skyscapes: Eclipsed Moon Trail, Holding Due North, Circles and Spirals (not on display!). And also Galaxy Curtain Call, Speeding on the Aurorae Lane.
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Posted by David R. MacIver

Book Review: Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance, edited by Robert N. Proctor and Londa Schiebinger

This was a good book and is going on my rereading shelf, but I would maybe only softly recommend it.

The book starts with a discussion of why they thought a new words was needed and the process by which they went about coining it, which automatically makes me like them more.

Agnotology is proposed as a sort of dual to epistemology. The claim (which I believe) is that ignorance is more helpfully viewed as a thing in its own right rather than a mere absence of knowledge. In particular, ignorance is something that can be produced actively in its own right (a subject previously discussed in my review of Trans Like Me).

I think maybe the main thing I got out of it is a lot more clarity of the process and history behind how science is (ab)used by corporations to manufacture uncertainty when it is in their interests - e.g.~climate change denial and tobacco companies. It also prompted me to think a lot more about the intersection between power and how knowledge and ignorance are constructed, though I'm not sure that was necessarily a set of questions that were well posed by the book.

I had two major problems with the book:

The first is that it suffers the problems that many books which are collections of essays do, which is that by virtue of being a whole bunch of chapters written by different people it's both a bit lacking in coherence and is also incomplete. The chapters do not support each other well, and it often feels like there are some missing gaps. For example there are lots of good empirical/historical chapters about ignorance being bad, and a number of chapters pointing out that ignorance isn't necessarily bad on theoretical grounds, but I felt like the theory on bad ignorance and empiricism on good ignorance were both quite light on the ground in comparison.

The result is that it is a collection of very good essays rather than a very good collection of essays.

The second thing, which I think is more damning, is that it is incredibly North America, and in particular USA, centric. To the degree that it references Europe and Africa it is almost always as a precursor to the main story in North America (in fairness one chapter - on genetic engineering - is a bit more even handed). I increasingly do not trust theorising that comes out of the USA, because what inevitably happens is that it results in arguments from first principles and claims about the fundamental nature of humanity that describe patterns that you only really see in the united states because the USA is really fucking weird. If you want to know how ignorance is manufactured, I submit that looking at the way people build their understanding of the world and the nature of knowledge based entirely on examples centered around a single country would be an excellent topic of study, but instead this book is merely an example of that.

I also would have appreciated more coverage of the intersection of ignorance and privilege. The chapter on White Ignorance was pretty good for that, but I think there were a lot of things it did not cover, and it would have been interesting to see more about that. Maybe I just need to go read more Kristie Dotson instead though (this isn't exactly her area, but epistemic justice and social epistemology are pretty strongly adjacent).

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Posted by David R. MacIver

Book Review: The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

This book was one I ended up with as a result of asking the following question:

Suppose I wanted to read books written by men which are either about or in some way exemplify healthy models of masculinity, what would you recommend?

I don't feel it's an especially good answer to that question, as it's mostly yet more writing about the problems with traditional masculinity.

It's perfectly fine as an instance of that. It's short, well written, and I'm sure there are many men out there who would benefit from it, but I was very much a member of the choir being preached to, and I didn't really find it especially insightful or clarifying. I feel like everything useful I could have got out of it I'd already gotten better out of Brene Brown.

There were a few bits towards the end that I vaguely intend to take notes on, so I'm going to hang onto this book for a few weeks to see if I do, and then I'm probably going to dump it on the book exchange shelves at my tube station in the hope that someone else finds it who is more in need of it than I am.

kaberett: A series of phrases commonly used in academic papers, accompanied by humourous "translations". (science!)
[personal profile] kaberett
As [personal profile] barrelofrain and I were getting properly into catching up, a family came in and sat down near us. (The King's Cross Ruby Violet has one long table with four chairs each side, plus some bars & bar stools.) One of the parents was talking excitedly about the pear sorbet and I Could Not Help but enthuse about How Good that flavour in specific and particular is.

A little while later, this same parent Explained How Do Science to a very solemn small child, which appeared to be being assumed to be a girl -- something to the tune of Ask Lots Of Questions, and trying things out and seeing what happens, and so on and so forth.

"Sorry for butting in again," I said, "but yes. That is How Science. I am A Scientist and I Approve This Message."

I proceeded to learn that (0) this small child and her sibling had recently Made a Volcano with food dye and vinegar and baking soda; (1) she likes volcanoes but doesn't love them; (2) she is entirely happy saying to strange adults that she doesn't want to share about what she loves; (3) she likes doing experiments; and (4) she's going on an adventure to see the Loch Ness Monster soon. (Probably some other bits, but they escape me.)

I, naturally, explained about (1) The Volcano That Erupts Baking Soda (And Is Why Flamingoes Are Pink), and slightly less comprehensibly that (2) wrapping her water glass in a paper towel would help keep it warm, like how I give my plants a coat over winter so their feet don't get cold.

There was also some back and forth about how I go to big-big-big-BIG-big school, The Biggest School You Can Go To, in response to which I cheerfully explained that it means I don't have to get an actual job.

I spent a lot of time thanking the child's parents for letting me interact and being generally cheerful and good-natured. They spent a lot of time thanking me for Giving Them Facts, and also Being An Example Grown-Up (Girl) for their small child to imprint on, because she is v interested in science and they want to encourage this. (Refreshingly, the wheelchair was not at any point mentioned.)

It was a lovely interaction, even though I am xkcd-crawling-under-my-metaphorical-bed after the fact.

Hugo Nominees Club on Fanfare

Apr. 9th, 2019 08:38 pm
silversandbea: A rabbit wearing headphones at a keyboard (Default)
[personal profile] silversandbea posting in [community profile] metafilter
In case anyone who would be interested missed it, I started a 2019 Hugo Nominees Club on Fanfare. There's two posts so far - both for stuff that's available online: a short stories megapost and On a Sunbeam.  There's going to be rotating novella, novel, and graphic novel posts every Monday, and a Novelette megapost in a month or so.

ten good things

Apr. 9th, 2019 11:08 pm
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
[personal profile] kaberett
  1. My lemon tree is getting delivered at some point in the next three days and I am Extremely Excited! (I also... need to finish the greenhouse, whoops. Perhaps tomorrow evening's greenhousery will be mostly cleaning glass and FINALISING THE BASE.)
  2. Some of the other plotholders have cordless drills they can lend me, which will make Dealing With the raised beds much easier and less expensive (... subject to me getting the greenhouse up so the existing ones can stop being used as a prop for the glass...)
  3. I spent a chunk of this afternoon sat in Ruby Violet with excellent hot chocolate, waiting for [personal profile] barrelofrain to show up so we can have ice cream. I was seriously conflicted about which set of things to get because there's At Least Four that I Want, but happily BoR having had A Day meant that I had plenty of time to dither. (I ended up with the pear sorbet and the marzipan & orange blossom ice cream.)
  4. Via a small pile of anxiety I successfully navigated the BL and used one of the reading rooms for the first time ever. Quiet! Plugs! A desk! Yes good. (I also got to look at a couple of the exhibitions currently on; I skimmed The New Londoner, observed that the third floor has Some Furniture for me to look at more in future, and made a mental note that I want to drag A to spend fifteen minutes looking around Imaginary Cities next time we're in town.)
  5. I have made Some Progress on The PhD Work and am slowly building up momentum again. (It's the thing where If I Manage Some Every Day I stay engaged and have ideas and can think of things to do next; if I let it slide I... really struggle to pick it back up.)
  6. I have introduced my godmother's eldest and my largest smallcousin and they are talking enthusiastically to each other in a group chat I've set up with the three of us, which is thoroughly pleasant to check in with periodically.
  7. We've had some of A's family visiting tonight; we're now at 3/4 parents having seen The Flat, and we successfully Went Out For Dinner including Everybody's Favourite Waiter, me successfully judging how hungry I was, and Managing A Social without immediately crawling under the bed.
  8. The walk back from the restaurant featured an excellent crescent moon glowing orange through an approximation of fog.
  9. I am greatly enjoying my current book, because it's filling in gaps and giving me more detail in re The Dawn Wall, and it's very... communicative of personality in a way I'm mostly charmed by.
  10. This morning's bread worked particularly well, and I am very much enjoying continuing to experiment and learn and improve (both understanding and skill).
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Posted by David R. MacIver

Book Review: Illness (Art of Living) by Havi Carel

This was a good book, and is going on my rereadings shelf. I've already recommended it to several people before I finished it. I have maybe a few more caveats after having finished it, but I still think it was a helpful read.

The book is what happens when a professional philosopher discovers that she is terminally ill and decides to do philosophy to it. What results is an exploration of the phenomenology of being ill - the subjective and social experience of it. She does not deny that there is an objective physical component to illness of course, but explores how understanding illness on a purely objective, physical, level in many ways misses the point and that the subjective experience of the patient should be be considered.

I'm not really sure what to do with the information from this book yet. I tried to summarise it in this review, and my summaries kept coming out as quite uncharitable, so I'm going to leave it at this: I liked the book and found it a useful perspective, but I'm not sure it's a perspective I'm able to or want to adopt. I disagree significantly with several of the arguments presented, but think they are probably still quite useful mental frameworks to adopt in some circumstances.

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Posted by David R. MacIver

Book Review: "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown

This was a pretty good book, and is going onto my rereadings shelf.

A friend described Brene Brown as "A bit too shiny and US American self-helpy" and that's not an unfair description, but I found the book fairly useful anyway.

The most useful aspect of this book for me was clarifying the distinction of shame vs guilt. Guilt is feeling that you have done something bad, shame is feeling that you are something bad. The former is often a productive emotion (within bounds), the latter almost never is, because thinking you are in some way intrinsically bad mostly causes you to lock down and blocks you from becoming better.

I also found the discussion of how shame plays out differently depending on gender helpful for reasons that I don't currently feel able to elaborate well.

There are a number of suggested interventions in this book. I've yet to try any of them and I'm not convinced that I'm going to, but I intend to revisit it and that may change when I do. Even without those interventions, I found it helpful for reshaping some of my perspectives and giving me better language to talk about it.


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January 2019

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