What I did on my holidays: Devon

Aug. 21st, 2017 02:03 pm
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[personal profile] lnr
So, we had a fab holiday in Devon with family, slightly hampered by trying to organise lots of small bunches of people into doing things socially together when they all have different routines and mealtimes.


Wortham 2017


Friday: train down to Exeter to meet up with Steph and Dad, where we organise ourselves into two cars, and Steph and Dad drove us over to Wortham Manor, where Em and Mum were already settling in. Also joined by Gail and David, and Bob and Doreen for the first few days who mostly did their own thing in the daytime but were lovely company in the evenings and cooked some great meals!

Saturday: Day out to Bude, lots of fun building sandcastles and chasing waves, but cut short by the realisation we'd not bought enough car parking and weren't allowed to extend it.

Sunday: dad accidentally went off with our car seat in his car, so Em and Steph went off to see Launceton Castle while Mike, Matthew and I had a nice walk in the lanes near the house, and found an incredible blackberry patch. Grandad joined us in the evening, and sadly James had to leave us.

Monday: a rainy day, so we headed to the Fairground Heritage Centre near Lifton. I'd have liked a better look at some of the exhibits, but had lots of fun accompanying Izzy and Matthew on the dodgems, Izzy on the ghost train and Izzy and Ollie on the Chariot Racer - which was *very* fast. Chris and Kathryn managed to join us in the later afternoon which was lovely, and very brave of them to stay for tea with the whole clan :)

Tuesday: Mum's birthday. A lovely lunch out (where I learned the skill of *not* calling one of the chairs round the table "special" in front of three children), excellent food, shame about the service. A very late afternoon tea, with cake and scones and sandwiches and fizz, and Mike and I took an evening walk, and found deer and rabbits, but no badgers this year. We got back just before the rain :)

Wednesday: Off to Hidden Valley with Em and Steph and the kids. The Maze was a big hit with all of them, and they enjoyed the Indiana Jones trail and hunting for clues. I think the grown-ups might have quite liked to do some of the harder puzzles too. We also did an immense quantity of blackberry picking which the kids loved, and left more than enough for apple and blackberry crumble. (I fear eventually the rest went in the compost).

Thursday: last full day spent mostly at the beach at Bude again, wave hopping and paddling before a fish and chips lunch, then sandcastles, dam-building and a dip in the sea pool - Oliver very disappointed that it wasn't a *heated* pool. I braved a whole actual length across and back as well as some pottering about, but it really was rather bracing. A quiet evening as Em headed off early, and mum and dad out to Dinner, so Steph and Mike and I fed the kids and then had a somewhat bonkers last meal of fish fingers, burgers, chips, salsa and sour cream and chive dip :)

Sad not to manage to meet up with Kate and Nigel - but an excuse to go visit their cottage next year!

Photos on Flickr: Wortham Manor 2017

I think with the demise of Livejournal I'm going to be aiming to use Flickr as the best option for both hosting and sharing photos, as it's more visible to folk outside Facebook. If you dislike any of the photos just ask and I can make private or take down.

Tourism through swimming pools

Aug. 20th, 2017 07:46 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Both children love swimming. Charles is a competent casual swimmer, Nicholas is still in beginner swim lessons and needs the full-time attention of an adult whenever out of his depth. So I like to take them swimming whenever possible, and made sure to pack swimming things for this holiday.

So far we have managed 2 pools in Helsinki, 1 on the ferry, and 2 in Stockholm.
Read more... )
Today we arrived in Copenhagen and our current airbnb in Fredericksberg is a very short walk from another local pool, plus there are a number of others I am investigating in case we have time for a second one ...

Generation Ships & morality

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:43 pm
juliet: (waveform tree)
[personal profile] juliet

Mirrored from Juliet Kemp.

I went to a panel at Worldcon on the morality of generation ships, and have been thinking about it since.

(I’m also going to take this opportunity to recommend this Jo Walton story set on a generation ship, which is great and has something to say about choice and decisions.)

So, the question under discussion at the panel was: is it morally acceptable to board a generation ship (i.e. a ship that people will live on for multiple generations on their way to another planet), given that you are not just making a decision for yourself, but for your future children, grandchildren, etc etc. The two main categories of moral problem that the panel identified were:

  • the risk of the voyage itself;
  • the lack of choice for every generation after the one that gets on the ship in the first place.

The ‘risk’ issue seems reasonably strong. It’s very unlikely that anyone would have a really clear idea of what the planet was like that they were going to. If you’re using a generation ship at all, then you probably don’t have any other form of fast travel, so any information that exists about the planet will be scanty, very out of date, or most likely both. (See Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, which is also great.) So it’s not at all a reliable bet that your descendants will truly be able to settle where they’re headed to, even if it looks good from here.

There are also the risks of the voyage itself, including but not limited to radiation issues, the possibility of running into something else, and the likelihood that the ship will genuinely be able to maintain a workable ecological system. We don’t have good on-Earth comparisons for small closed systems; what experiments have been conducted have been very short-term and not terribly promising. What about the social dynamics? What are the risks of, say, a totalitarian system arising? If the risks on Earth are very high, or humans on Earth are facing imminent disaster, then this might be an acceptable trade-off, but how high is ‘very high’ and how disastrous does a disaster have to be? Does it need to be Earth-wide? If your current home is, for example, sinking under rising waters, and you know that any alternative will mean becoming a refugee in poor circumstances — how much risk is ‘reasonable’ to accept then?

Which brings us on to the issue of ‘choice’. One could argue that a kid living in a refugee camp without enough food or warm clothes has, notionally, some future ‘choice’ or ‘opportunity’ to escape that. A child on a generation ship is stuck there.

But why is “can’t leave generation ship” morally different from “can’t leave Earth”? Which is of course a situation into which all children are currently born and which we do not consider morally problematic. And how realistic is the ‘choice’ that the average Earth-born child has? This was where I thought that the Worldcon panel fell down a bit. They threw the word “choice” around a lot but didn’t at all interrogate what realistic “choice” is available to which children in which situation on Earth. There are many kids born without very many realistic ‘choices’; children who are unlikely to go more than a few miles beyond where they were born, children whose projected lifespan is short, children whose lives are likely to be very difficult. How different is that, in reality, from a generation ship? In fact, if the generation ship does work, it might be a better life than on Earth: guaranteed food, shelter, and useful work (making the ship run).

The panel talked about limiting the choices of children born on the moon, because they might not be able to go back and live on Earth — but why is Earth necessarily better than the moon, or Mars, or the asteroid belt? Why isn’t it immoral of us to have children who are stuck down here in the gravity well?

More generally: we’re constantly making choices for our children, and through them for generations beyond; we’re constantly giving them some chances and removing other options, every decision we make. Is that immoral? It’s not avoidable, however much privilege you have, although most certainly more privilege generally means more options.

Would I get on a generation ship? Well. Not without a really good perusal of the specs. But I’m not convinced that it’s immoral to do so.

The Blood is the Life for 20-08-2017

Aug. 20th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
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.

"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.

The Blood is the Life for 18-08-2017

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:00 am
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[personal profile] miss_s_b
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Who gets to read "Riddles in the Dark" when reading The Hobbit out loud. =>

(I thought I was all set to read it to the Pip, since Chad got to read it to SteelyKid! But, foolishly, since chapter 3 is pretty short, I let the Pip talk me into just a little of chapter four last night . . . without checking how much of chapter 4 was left, or asking Chad to save chapter 5 for me.)

(Last time I read even-numbered chapters through chapter 12, then Chad read chapters 13 & 14 together, so I did odd-numbered from fifteen on; which, to be fair, now that we're back on me doing even-numbered, means I get to do the spiders and Smaug again, which were great fun. Still! "Riddles in the Dark"!)

"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.

Worldcon Recs

Aug. 17th, 2017 02:28 pm
juliet: (waveform tree)
[personal profile] juliet

Mirrored from Juliet Kemp.

Here is a list of the recs I picked up from various panels I attended at Worldcon. (These are likely not complete, but they’re the ones that I wrote down.)


In Defense of the Unlikeable Heroine:


  • We Who Are About To – Joanna Russ


Non-Binary Representation In Fiction:


  • Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction – ed K M Szpara (anthology)

  • The Black Tides of Heaven / The Red Threads of Fortune – JY Yang (forthcoming in Sept)

  • Provenance – Ann Leckie (forthcoming, but read some on her website)

  • Jacob’s Ladder – Elizabeth Bear

  • River of Teeth – Sarah Gailey

  • Pantomime – Laura Lam

  • Killing Gravity – Corey J White

  • Interactive fiction Craft phone games (Choice of Deathless/City’s Thirst) – Max Gladstone (you can play an nb character)

  • “Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder” (essay) – David J Schwartz

  • Rose Lemberg

  • Foz Meadows

  • A Merc Rustad


Beyond the Dystopia


(This one should be complete as I moderated the panel and made a point of writing them down to tweet afterwards.)


  • Two Faces of Tomorrow – James P Hogan

  • Culture series – Iain M Banks

  • Dragonlance

  • Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders – Ada Palmer

  • The Postman – David Brin

  • A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed And Common Orbit – Becky Chambers

  • Hospital Station – James White

  • Malhutan Chronicles – Tom D Wright (panelist)

  • Orbital Cloud – Taiyo Fuji (panelist)

  • The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison


Older Women in Genre Fiction:


  • All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye – Christopher Brookmyre

  • Blood Songs series – Anthony Ryan

  • Remnant Population – Elizabeth Moon

  • Barbara Hambly


Also, Catherine Lundoff keeps a bibliography of books with older women protagonists.


Colonialism and the Space Opera:


  • Praxis – John Williams


Moving Beyond Orientalism in SFF:


  • Black Wolves – Kate Elliot

  • Vixen and The Waves – Hoa Pham

  • Isabelle Yap

  • Ken Liu

  • Stephanie Lai

  • Zen Cho


(Plus one from Nine Worlds in which the MC has Borderline Personality Disorder: Borderline – Mishell Baker)

Indivisible

Aug. 17th, 2017 07:54 am
ljgeoff: (Default)
[personal profile] ljgeoff
I've made several stabs at making a difference -- signing up voters, talking to folks, driving voters. But just stabs, nothing substantial. It's just so overwhelming.

This morning I was thinking, well, I can just show up at stuff. I don't have to be on any committee or board, I don't have to stress myself out by having one more ball to juggle. I can just show up when I can.

So today, I signed up to get the newsletter from Lansing Indivisible. They hold meetings in the library every other Sunday, and I work every Sunday, so no meetings for me. But I'll read their newsletters and show up for things that happen when I'm not working or in class.

It feels like nothing, but I know that it's really, really something.

The Blood is the Life for 17-08-2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 11:00 am
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[personal profile] miss_s_b

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