No, really?

Sep. 25th, 2017 01:56 pm
oursin: The stylised map of the London Underground, overwritten with Tired of London? Tired of Life! (Tired of London? Tired of Life!)
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Dept of, did you do any research?

That Uber vs TfL thing, with TfL refusing to renew their license - okay, I do not use Uber (I am probably not their target market) and everything I hear about it makes me deeply suspicious - but when I read various articles claiming that London black cab drivers are the trad white working class, I wonder how often, if ever, any of these people have ridden in a black cab. Because in my limited and anecdotal experience, finding a Trad London Cabbie who will give you his Salty Cockney Opinions whether you want him to or not, is not the default at all.

This article about Some Artist's exhibition on what he calls 'pseudo-Georgian architecture' in the UK and dates to the 1970s.

Marvel at a London Waitrose – “the pearl of Holloway Road”, according to Bronstein’s caption – with a cupola-crowned tower floating above its entrance. That oddly proportioned line of columns, running above the shopfront windows, suggest the architect once glimpsed a photograph of Vicenza, but not for long enough.
I know that Waitrose and shop there regularly and I am old enough to remember when it was Jones Brothers, by that time part of the John Lewis Partnership, but dating from an era when suburban department stores were built as retail palaces - as far as I can see, dates back to the 1890s.


Dept of, is that really the solution? PETA co-founder says we should stop wearing wool. I cannot help feeling that if there is no longer any economic reason for rearing, even if 'sheep are so gentle, they’re so dear!' they are likely to vanish from the face of the earth except in zoos (to which I imagine PETA are also opposed). Might not doing something about introducing legislation for more humane shearing practices be a better use of their time and energies?

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Posted by Mike Glyer

Noreascon 3 was one of the best Worldcons ever, and the reasons for saying so are in my convention report (reprinted here in five parts a few years ago, opening with Worldcon Wayback Machine: Noreascon Three (1989) Day One). However, … Continue reading
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Maurice took a detour on his way to Mamzelle Bridgette’s in order to visit the curio shop that dealt in jade bracelets, so that he might commission one suitable to MacDonald’s purpose. He therefore arrived a little after his usual hour to discover that he had an unexpected visitor.

Why, Uncle Hector! I hope there is no trouble in the family?

No, all well, Euphemia sent you a few almond cakes – and she says these are just for you, sent a further parcel for the workroom.

'Tis very good of her. Tea?

Thank you, I will.

While the tea was coming, Maurice waved Hector into the more comfortable chair and sat down himself, mentioning that he had Lady Trembourne coming shortly.

Very early in the day for that lady!

Maurice gave a small grim smile. Does she desire to be dressed by me, at such short notice, she must take what time I may spare. Hector returned his smile. But was there some particular matter you desired to open to me?

Why, Sophy was thinking that though Sam wishes keep Thomasina at school a little longer, since they are in no necessity to send her into service or put her to an apprenticeship –

Maurice, whose investments included a share in Sam Jupp’s exceedingly profitable livery stables and carriage-hire business, nodded.

- when there was that notion that 'twould provide an excuse for visiting here that she desired find her a place, put the idea into her head that though she would not wish Thomasina to earn her living by her needle –

'Tis indeed a hard life –

- you might bring her on into the business more generally. Is a good clever girl, excellent fine reports from the schoolmistresses, an eye for fashion, already goes quiz her aunt Tibby on matters of style.

Maurice pondered a little. Indeed he had wondered about matters of succession. Why, I daresay I shall see somewhat of her during the family yuletide gatherings, and mayhap Sophy might bring her along some day.

Hector nodded and said he would convey this invitation to Sophy. Also, Her Ladyship becomes most concerned over the plight of needlewomen –

I have heard somewhat of that from Lady Pockinford –

- and I confide she would be well-advized to convoke with you upon the practicalities of any philanthropic enterprize she purposes.

Well, now she may come visit me for fittings again I daresay we shall have opportunity to speak upon the business.

Hector cleared his throat, sat back in his chair, crossed one leg over the other. She also, he said at length, takes some concern over Mr MacDonald.

Maurice raised his eyebrows.

She thinks it entire beneficial that he has become a member of this club of yours, where he may be with fellows of like kind. But she comes to some apprehension that has already been beguiled by some fellow, and hopes that 'tis some fellow that will not do him hurt, and wonders had you observed anything that might illuminate the question.

(Well, that answered the question in his mind of whether MacDonald went home and quite immediate recounted what he had been about to Lady Bexbury.)

Why, said Maurice with a little considering frown, indeed he becomes quite the favourite and there are fellows make up to him, but I cannot think of any one in particular that he shows favour to himself –

Only, Hector went on, she takes the thought that those years of mutual devotion that he had with the late Viscount, can have been little preparation for any matters of fickleness and deceit -

(Really, Maurice thought, it was entire unreasonable to feel quite sick with jealousy over a dead man.)

Well, he said, I will look out for any signs, and hoist storm warnings if necessary.

Her Ladyship would be most displeased did he come to any harm. And I hope you demonstrate proper gratitude for the services he has done you.

Quite entirely: but I am sensible that there is little that I can offer such a fellow as any kind of recompense. Sure I have made contributions to Lady Bexbury’s philanthropies –

Hector nodded. But you have ladies coming, I must be away.

Maurice found himself left in some confusion. Was this a very indirect warning? But he had no time to linger brooding upon the matter, for, although he did not expect the Countess of Trembourne to arrive precise to the minute, nonetheless he confided that she would arrive before an entire hour had elapsed. He tidied up the fitting-room, laid out some fashion plates and some samples of stuffs, and minded to put the almond cakes out of sight. There were clients he would have been happy to share this treat with, but she was not among them.

In due course Lady Trembourne, followed by Lady Sarah Channery, was ushered in to the fitting-room. They were very much of that same high-bred English lady look: that fine straight fair hair that must have been an immense trial to any that had to dress it; the pale aristocratic features; the tall and slender, even skinny, figure. Lady Trembourne’s face was marked with its habitual expression of discontent. Lady Sarah, however, looked less than usual like a nervous mouse keeping company with a cat: perchance having a lover had conveyed her some confidence in herself.

They sat down and tea was brought and Lady Trembourne produced some fashion-plates that had given her a notion of how she should like her gowns made. Maurice was most greatly tempted to accede to her demands, for he could see that the styles chosen would not set her off to any advantage, but he had the reputation of Mamzelle Bridgette to maintain and that would do it no favours, so he began the delicate task of persuading her into somewhat that would do credit to all parties.

By this time this had been decided, and measurements taken, and Lady Sarah’s requirements also taken into consideration, several hours had passed. But at last Lady Trembourne declared that she had another engagement and swept out. Lady Sarah lingered, looked nervously towards the door, and asked in low and tremulous tones whether the establishment had some discreet chamber?

Maurice conceded that it did, and the terms upon which a lady might avail herself of it.

Lady Sarah was, of course, considerably younger than Sir Stockwell, and indeed than Lady Trembourne: but she was still of an age that was not suited by an air as of a naughty schoolgirl that has slyly deceived the mistress.

After she had gone – looking remarkable complacent for one that had but lately had remuneration demanded of her in return for silence – Maurice sighed, smoothed back his hair, and decided that he would go lunch at the club.

(Of course he had not the slightest expectation that he might encounter MacDonald there.)

At such a time of day there were few enough present, but Sir Stockwell had managed to escape his duties, whatever they were, at the Admiralty. Allard! he lowered his voice. Any news?

Maurice lowered his own voice. Has asked me about the discreet chamber, but indeed I do not know if that might be for a particular purpose, or whether 'tis just to be informed in anticipation. (He did not somehow feel inclined to reveal that yes, Lady Sarah had a lover. Since it was some friend of MacDonald, let him be the one to disclose it.)

Well, let me know do you discover more.

He moved away.

As Maurice deliberated between the cold beef and the ham, up came Tom Tressillian, looking extreme self-conscious. Maurice! Pray, assure me that I have not offended you –

Offended me?

Why, I know that you and Linsleigh have been friends this long time, and he was paying me some attention t’other e’en at the viewing of his painting, and you left most precipitate –

La, my dear Tom, you are entire welcome to enjoy Basil’s favours, sure we have not sworn some oath such as he was telling us at such great length did the members of the Theban Band: and I daresay 'twill come to some exceeding pretty picture - perchance all in black, gazing upon a skull?

O, providing you do not mind - !

Not in the least. But, my dear, figure to yourself my astonishment to see young Orlando Richardson in the company – does he follow in his great-uncle’s footsteps?

Tressillian sighed. Alas, I confide not, except that shows already a pretty talent for comedy.

Alas. For though 'tis by no means a pretty fellow, there is a certain, as they say, piquancy, to his looks, that I daresay his uncle had before he took to drink.

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Posted by Brenda Clough

by Brenda W. Clough

 A rainy day means museum. The museum at Millau is pretty small, but because the Romans had a famous pottery works here they have more pottery than you would believe possible. The factory shipped all around the Med and seems to have produced at high volume — molds, a standard set of shapes and decoration. The little cups in the photo are mass-produced offering cups, for use in temples. Millau is surrounded by the most startling crags, very dramatic and steep, but otherwise seems to be the most ordinary French city I have been in yet.

 It quit raining long enough to explore Severac-le-Chateau a little more. There’s some amazingly well renovated medieval buildings here; people have garages, satellite dishes, gardens — quite a lived-in space. Have a look at that narrow little domicile in the angle of the other buildings. Three new windows of the utmost magnificence, double-glazed, and with iron balconies.

This surely must be a great town for writing novels. The Marquis de Severac not only built the citadel, but he set up a monastery lower down into which he immured female members of the family who annoyed him. And there were two later changes of dynasty, the third set were the people who decided to renovate by adding a huge 17th century wing. They light it up at night, with great golden halogens which make the entire citadel look like ET is descending into Averyon. The novel practically writes itself, doesn’t it? I am tell that the elder Dumas did write about le seigneur de Severac, but there must be more gold in that mine.



Poem Written in 1991

Sep. 25th, 2017 06:00 am
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Posted by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin, photo by Marian Wood KolischPoem Written in 1991

When the Soviet Union Was Disintegrating

by Ursula K. Le Guin


The reason why I’m learning Spanish
by reading Neruda one word at a time
looking most of them up in the dictionary
and the reason why I’m reading
Dickinson one poem at a time
and still not understanding
or liking much, and the reason
why I keep thinking about
what might be a story
and the reason why I’m sitting
here writing this, is that I’m trying
to make this thing.
I am shy to name it.
My father didn’t like words like “soul.”
He shaved with Occam’s razor.
Why make up stuff
when there’s enough already?
But I do fiction. I make up.
There is never enough stuff.
So I guess I can call it what I want to.
Anyhow it isn’t made yet.
I am trying one way and another
all words — So it’s made out of words, is it?
No. I think the best ones
must be made out of brave and kind acts,
and belong to people who look after things
with all their heart,
and include the ocean at twilight.
That’s the highest quality
of this thing I am making:
kindness, courage, twilight, and the ocean.
That kind is pure silk.
Mine’s only rayon. Words won’t wash.
It won’t wear long.
But then I haven’t long to wear it.
At my age I should have made it
long ago, it should be me,
clapping and singing at every tatter,
like Willy said. But the “mortal dress,”
man, that’s me. That’s not clothes.
That is me tattered.
That is me mortal.
This thing I am making is my clothing soul.
I’d like it to be immortal armor,
sure, but I haven’t got the makings.
I just have scraps of rayon.
I know I’ll end up naked
in the ground or on the wind.
So, why learn Spanish?
Because of the beauty of the words of poets,
and if I don’t know Spanish
I can’t read them. Because praise
may be the thing I’m making.
And when I’m unmade
I’d like it to be what’s left,
a wisp of cheap cloth,
a color in the earth,
a whisper on the wind.

Una palabra, un aliento.


So now I’ll turn right round
and unburden an embittered mind
that would rejoice to rejoice
in the second Revolution in Russia
but can’t, because it has got old
and wise and mean and womanly
and says: So. The men
having spent seventy years in the name of something
killing men, women, and children,
torturing, running slave camps,
telling lies and making profits,
have now decided
that that something wasn’t the right one,
so they’ll do something else the same way.

Seventy years for nothing.

And the dream that came before the betrayal,
the justice glimpsed before the murders,
the truth that shone before the lies,
all that is thrown away.
It didn’t matter anyway
because all that matters
is who has the sayso.

Once I sang freedom, freedom,
sweet as a mockingbird.
But I have learned Real Politics.
No freedom for our children
in the world of the sayso.
Only the listening.
The silence all around the sayso.
The never stopping listening.
So I will listen
to women and our children
and powerless men,
my people. And I will honor only
my people, the powerless.

–Ursula K. Le Guin


Studies in Frustration

Sep. 25th, 2017 05:36 am
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Posted by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Based on my title, you might be forgiven if you think that the studies in frustration came from writing or the publishing business. Both can be very very frustrating. However this time it’s about knitting. I’ve been working on socks. Mostly I just have been making up the pattern because everything but the heel is pretty easy. But the heel? OMG. So annoying.

This is the foot of the sock:





This is the heel:






I sense it may be hard to put on. What do you think?

I have not made a lot of socks. This one is an effort to play with stripes and also use some of my stash. I also  wanted to try something a little new for me that would give me a less gappy heel than I’ve done before. I found this tutorial, and it looked really doable. I proceeded to do the first half of making the heel cup. That went well. Then I started picking up the gaps to finish it and I got something might fit a heel, if the heel was shaped like an alien yam. Not a good look. So I ripped out (couldn’t tink because frankly, I couldn’t sort out that mess) and now am back to the foot of the sock and a pile of spaghetti yarn in place of a heel. I still want to attempt the heel, but right now, I’m just ready to have a tantrum.

This is my second attempt at this heel, but the first time I wasn’t really concentrating, so I get some slack.

So now I move on to some easier like . . . plotting a novel.

Somebody kill me now.





I would have thought lawful

Sep. 24th, 2017 11:59 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Paladin/Sorcerer (4th/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:







Chaotic Good A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment when it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Paladins take their adventures seriously, and even a mundane mission is, in the heart of the paladin, a personal test an opportunity to demonstrate bravery, to learn tactics, and to find ways to do good. Divine power protects these warriors of virtue, warding off harm, protecting from disease, healing, and guarding against fear. The paladin can also direct this power to help others, healing wounds or curing diseases, and also use it to destroy evil. Experienced paladins can smite evil foes and turn away undead. A paladin's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast. Many of the paladin's special abilities also benefit from a high Charisma score.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

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Posted by Mike Glyer

(1) DEDICATION. Since the movie Hidden Figures came out a lot of people know this name: “NASA Langley’s Katherine Johnson Computational Research Facility Officially Opens”. When she heard that NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, would name its newest … Continue reading

Maze Runner: The Death Cure Trailer

Sep. 25th, 2017 01:20 am
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Posted by Mike Glyer

Maze Runner: The Death Cure will be in theaters January 26. In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. To save their friends, they … Continue reading

The Good Place

Sep. 24th, 2017 11:58 pm
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I've been watching this really clever sitcom while doing the exercise bike. Sadly, I only have a couple of episodes to go for the first season. Why couldn't it be longer?

It is so rare that I like a sitcom, but this one is smart and funny, and the actors terrific.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

A leaf

Sep. 24th, 2017 04:57 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Taken from a couple of angles over about a minute.

Read more... )

I am taking care of someone's cats

Sep. 24th, 2017 04:45 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
As one does, I keep a log of my visits.

The cats expressed their appreciation for my record-keeping.

Read more... )


Sep. 24th, 2017 09:39 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

As our flight was not until after lunch, this morning after we'd packed and put our luggage in store we went to the Hipolit House: more historical domestic interiors, plus exhibition on the actress Antonina Hoffman and on theatre/acting more generally in C19th. Rather interesting.

Of the journey, not a great deal to be said except for the enormous distances walked within airports.

Anyway, ome agen.

2017 Aurora Awards

Sep. 24th, 2017 06:23 pm
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Posted by Mike Glyer

The 2017 Aurora Awards were announced September 23 at Hal-Con 2017 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The award is for exceptional Canadian literary and fan works. The recipients were determined by a vote of the members of the Canadian Science Fiction … Continue reading
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I was looking over the post-Return Sherlock Holmes stories, and finally put something together about the dates.

“The Three Garridebs” case begins in June of 1902. All signs indicate that Watson is still resident at 221B at this point. We all know how that case ends.

“Illustrious Client” begins on September 3, 1902, with the famous trip to the Turkish baths. At that point, Watson says, he was “living in my own rooms in Queen Anne street at the time.”

“Blanched Soldier” begins in January, 1903. Holmes is still in his consulting-room in London, but Watson doesn’t appear in this case and Holmes narrates. And he is BITTER: “The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association. I was alone.”

“Creeping Man” is dated September, 1903. This is the one where Holmes sends Watson the famous “Come if convenient, if inconvenient come all the same” telegram, and Watson’s narration says that their relations were “peculiar” at that time. Watson is also manifestly annoyed at being summoned for a case about a dog. Turns out it’s a case about a man who is in love with a younger woman and wants to impress her by augmenting his sexual potency via monkey gland secretions.

Holmes’s retirement to the Sussex Downs happens sometime in 1904, since it is announced in the introduction to “Second Stain.”

“Lion’s Mane” is dated 1907 and is the only story set during Holmes’s retirement (he comes out of retirement for “His Last Bow”). He mentions that “my house is lonely” and that “at this period of my life, the good Watson had passed almost beyond my ken.”

OK. So, in my own headcanon, I always located the Declaration and Consummation pretty soon after “Empty House,” based on the fact that the Return stories indicate a new level of physical and emotional intimacy (plus in “Norwood Builder” Watson sells his practice and moves back into 221B. Really, you don’t do that for a roommate). 

However, if you look at these dates, it occurs to me that another narrative–one which I in no way like as well–would go like this.

Keep reading

OK, so I have been seeing a lot of sadness in the tags about this, so I thought: Let’s find out how intentional this narrative actually is. It’s possible that this breakup narrative I think I’ve identified is an arbitrary artifact of Doyle choosing dates without thinking too hard about them, or something other than authorial intention. Because after all, the date when the story is set doesn’t tell you anything about when it was written. In fact, we know that the date for Holmes’s retirement was established in “Second Stain,” which was published much earlier than the rest of these stories; maybe all the backdating in the later ones is mainly about making sure they take place before 1904 and the bees. 

Well, if you reorder these stories by publication date, you get:


”Second Stain” establishes retirement date


”Creeping Man” (Sept. 1903, “Come if convenient…”)


“Three Garridebs” (June, 1902; Watson at 221B)

”Illustrious Client” (September, 1902; Watson’s moved out)

”Blanched Soldier” (January 1903, Holmes still in London; Watson has married; “I was alone”)

”Lion’s Mane” (1907, Holmes in retirement)

“Creeping Man” appears to have been a one-off (appearing two years earlier than the others). “Garridebs” kicks off a more regular series (8 stories spread out over 2 ½ years). So it does look as if the Garridebs–>move out–>marriage–>Holmes alone sequence was to some extent intentional. 

Perhaps this was mainly just Doyle taking the opportunity to explain what must have struck Edwardian readers as a very abrupt decision on Holmes’s part to bury himself in the middle of Sussex, but from Doyle’s point of view was obviously another impulsive and failed attempt to end the narrative of Sherlock Holmes (just like the 1893 “Final Problem” and the 1917 “His Last Bow”). Still. It does look like an intentional narrative.

Honestly, now I can’t stop thinking about how H/W fans in the 1920s must have felt just like Johnlockers felt about series 4, only worse.


“Illustrious Client” comes out, and everyone’s all 🤔

ok, the separate flat thing is bad but what a great Watsholmes story this is, he can remember the very pavingstone he was standing on when he read about sigh snif poor lovelorn Watson

“Blanched Soldier” hits the newsstands…and you hear the giant


Then “Lion’s Mane” appears and suddenly everyone writes furious letters to the Strand canceling their subscriptions.

Nothing new under the sun. Alas.

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