What I've Read:
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus: Second Edition – Charles C Mann.
Reread of a book I haven't read since high school. This is not so much a comprehensive history of precontact America – as Mann points out, that would be an impossible task to put in one volume – as an overview of a couple of the major subjects of dispute and some of what the author arbitrarily chose as the most interesting areas a lot of research is available for, constructed in the form of an argument that American history is just as important and interesting as Old World/European history.
In general, I think this book is good as a lay person's introduction to the subject of precontact American history, particularly if that lay person is not themselves indigenous. I was rereading it to get some major points of reference as a starting point for more research reading, and it was good for that. I think the section about early contact in New England is particularly good as an antidote to the mythological history taught in the American public school system; an introduction to the politics of what was going on immediately precontact among the Wampanoag really helps flesh out that encounter and why people involved made the decisions they did. Mann does a good job of making the subject of history interesting – he's a writer, rather than an academic, being a journalist, and it shows in ways that are mostly positive – and of highlighting culture while still remembering the subjects are human.
That said, there are some things about his approach and tone that really rubbed me the wrong way. I think he's sometimes too credulous about taking research conclusions that are basically speculation at their word (We have no idea what the Mississippian cultures believed; stratification of wealth is a reasonable conclusion from mass retainer sacrifice, but theocratic kings that claimed the ability to control the weather really isn't), but I can't blame a journalist who set out to familiarize the public with current scholarly consensus too hard for the flaws of archaeology.
What really bothers me is his approach to talking about disease, and when it comes up in that context, morality. [content warning: the rest of this review will talk about genocide in America with examples, with a brief mention of the Nazis.]
( Read more... )
Debating Democracy: Native American Legacy of Freedom – Bruce E. Johansen, Donald A. Grinde, Jr, Barbara Mann.
I picked this up under the impression it was about the case that the US Constitution was based off of or significantly influenced by the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois government. What it actually is is a history of academic backlash in response to that idea. It's okay at that, but somewhat circular – I have the impression the chapters were written separately from each other as essays, and as a result the same point is sometimes referenced more than once in essentially the same context, and there's no particularly coherent structure. I sometimes got the feeling I was reading the same essay over and over again with different wording each time.
Also, the epilogue (written, I note, by someone other than the authors of the rest of the book) includes a surprise endorsement of the Burning Times myth in the context of claiming that white Americans aren't psychics because everyone with genetic psychic ability in Europe was burnt at the stake, so, uh, yeah.
The Seventh Bride – T. Kingfisher
Reread of a book I've reviewed here before.
Creative Color: A dynamic approach for artists and designers – Faber Birren.
Pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a book about the use of color in art, which starts with basic color theory and types of color schemes, then moves on into techniques for creating various effects like luster, and finishes with some theoretical discussion about using color in 3d space. Biased heavily towards painters, though – most of the exercises include instructions for mixing your own paint and the theory is phrased in those terms. I did generally understand the points that were being made, but some of it may be a little difficult to apply as a graphic artist.
That said I thought it was helpful and actually interesting in terms of theory as well as what I can do with it, which is somewhat unusual for a technique book. I got excited about some of his illustrative experiments, not just wanting to try applying them. His tone is hilariously biased (he calls one particular color scale the most beautiful about a million times), and he also has that infuriating habit of many older male writers of using “he” and “man” constantly, which made me think the book was a lot older than it was until I checked the front and saw the edition was from the late eighties. This may annoy you, too.
I liked his ideas about how skyscrapers should be decorated to make use of being able to put color in three dimensions, though. I wish someone had taken him up on that idea so I could see it in person instead of just trying to imagine it.
What I'm Reading Now
Archaeology of the Iroquois: Selected Readings and Research Sources – edited by Jordan Kerber.
Meant to familiarize the reader with the general state of the field, a long series of republished articles. Very, very mixed bag, as any textbook like that kind of has to be. Why can't archaeologists get it through their heads that glottochronology is disproven? Why do archaeologists insist on using historical linguists' work and then claiming they don't know what they're talking about anyway?
Our home connection uploads at 5 Mbs (bits). In the fall a friend will have access to a 1 Gbs (bits) upload speed.
If I have around 1 TB(ytes) worth of data to upload, the math looks like this
1. Upload from MD's home = approximately 20 days (rounded up)
2. Upload from friend's location = 2-2 hrs
Now here's where it gets tricky. Some online backup servers cap the data flowing into their servers. Ex Sync.com caps it at
5 MB(ytes) or 40 M(bits)
In which case my math looks like this
1. Upload from MD's home = approximately 20 days (rounded up)
2. Upload from friend's location = 55-60 hrs (2+ days)
Did I get this correct?
I used this calculator
Finished: Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw. An entertaining pastiche of Golden Age of Sci-Fi novels, about what happens after the Golden Age of Star Pilots is brought to an end by the invention of quantum tunneling space travel which eliminates the need for spaceships and pilots. It's a light, easy read, gently funny, though there are a few plotholes big enough to sail a spaceship through. I originally chose it to read because the cover and the tone of the blurb made me think of Keith Laumer's Retief books; it's not quite as full of weird aliens and odd customs, but there's a definite Retiefishness about it.
Abandoned: Terraforming Earth - Phase 1: "The Plagues Era" (FutureScape, #1) by Dean C. Moore, an Instafreebie book. Technically better than a lot of the other self-pubbed books I've tried to read (though it still has its share of typos and incorrect words), but ultimately I found it boring. Not enough depth to the characters for me to care about them. Abandoned 15% in.
What I'm currently reading:
The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2) by Katherine Arden. I really liked the old-Rus fairytail world of the first book, and it's a delight to return to. This time, Vasilisa is dressed as, and masquerading as, a boy (♥), while bandits and Tatars menace the countryside. (You see, hamsterwoman, being nicknamed Vasya has proven prophetic!) So far I'm about halfway in and particularly enjoying the gentle fantasy aspects of the story.
What I'm reading next:
I'm planning to hit the library for the Beth Cato books I mentioned last week, though actually I'll probably finish my current read while we're in Wyoming eclipse-hunting, so I'll likely be reading something already on my phone first.
What I'm currently watching:
Game of Thrones. We're about a week behind but may catch up tonight. The special effects are very cool, but honestly the thing that impresses me the most is the geology of Dragonstone. What amazing tilted rocks! (Unless they're CGI...)
What I'm currently playing:
I picked up Dragon Age: Origins for $5 from a GOG sale a while ago, and although I usually spend most of my time outdoors and active in the summer, I'm unable to do so at the moment for injury reasons, so I started playing. It's fun so far though unsurprisingly I die a lot.
What I'm currently writing:
crossovering: Well into my assignment, which is a lot of fun.
remixrevival: Um. Still dithering about which story to remix.
femslashex: MUST WRITE LETTER AND SIGN UP.
Here's to hoping that this is for real! Also that Dot and Mac are in it! Miss Fisher isn't the same without Dot and Mac (or Bert and Cec and Mr. Butler and Jane, but Dot and Mac are my favorites).
Our current best guess as to the problem is a combination of dust, ragweed, and the c-PAP. The dust and ragweed wouldn't normally give me this much trouble, not at the levels they've been at. I think that my sinuses have been irritated by the c-PAP and so are more reactive to other things. I haven't had a summer this bad for allergies since I was in high school.
All of my plans for the week, such as they were, have been shot to hell. They mainly consisted of writing and watching DVDs that can't be renewed (I have about fifty hours of lectures on DVD that can't be renewed) and more writing.
We have a very long day ahead of us as we'll be heading up to Interlochen to bring Cordelia home. (There are reasons for this that I'm not willing to go into in a public post.) It's been a hard decision, and I still need to make some phone calls about it. Part of me wants to go back to bed and to send Scott on his own, but that would be unfair to him. He could do it. He would, too, if it was necessary, but I can go.
We plan to get on the road as soon as we're both dressed and both have had breakfast.
What are some of the hard things you've done recently? What are some hard things you haven't gotten to yet, but need to do?
Probably it will rain all day, but at least I can say I tried.
So instead of books, since I will be doing a lot of driving in the middle of nowhere, my question this week is: What songs are on your eclipse playlist? "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "The Sun Is A Miasma of Incandescent Plasma", obviously. But what else?
I have been working on the book collection, though! I went through and re-did my to-read lists, of which there are three: one on the library website, which has 300 books on it, of books the library has; the Goodreads one, which includes only books my library doesn't have and has about 250; and ~2500 owned-but-unread, so that's totally doable at my current rate as long as I never add any more to any of the three lists.
(Anybody want to be goodreads friends, by the way? if we aren't already, drop me a line. my gr is connected to my rl so I don't link it here but I will def. add people.)
Me and Mom also cleaned out the cookbooks over the weekend, which was fun! We both agreed on keeping the ones that had some kind of sentimental value to the family, of course. ( food, cooking, and diet as expressed in a collection of second-half-of-twentieth-century cookbooks. )
We got rid of about fifty cookery books. There's only about 200 left. That't TOTALLY reasonable for a family of two that cooks an actual meal at most twice a week, and usually from recipes we know by heart, right?
Fandom: Person of Interest
Characters/Pairings: Root/Sameen Shaw, Harold Finch/John Reese, Harold Finch/Grace Hendricks, John Reese/Mark Snow, Michael Cole, Robert Hersh, Joss Carter, Kara Stanton, The Machine, Bear
Warnings/Content: Sentinel/Guide AU, mind-bonding, show level violence, show level torture, emotional hurt/comfort, canon character death (Michael Cole). Some Mark/John dubcon in chapters 4 and 5. Follows some events from Ep 1.10 Number Crunch, Ep 1.23 Firewall and 2.16 Relevance.
Notes: Written for wipbigbang 2017.
Thank you to my amazing betas: lilacsigil and musyc. You guys were awesome and got me from "I want to write POI Sentinel/Guide fic with soft face touching" to actually getting it posted.
Title is from the Elton John song. ("Subway's no way for a good man to go down.")
Summary: In 2001, Harold advised on a project called Cascade, not knowing he was a Guide himself. Years later, he and John, a Sentinel on the run from Cascade, must help Shaw, who has just lost her own Guide when the Project turned on her. Complicating matters is Root, searching for Harold's Machine and interfering with their rescue of Shaw.
Also at the Archive
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was so so good. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It's a novel consisting of letters between two female cousins, Cecelia and Kate, at the beginning of the 19th century. One of them has had to stay home in the country while the other is being presented in London, and so they write letters to each other to stay in touch. Magic is real in this world, and both girls become entangled in a plot that sends them into great peril (which, to be fair, they mostly end up enjoying).
We're living in pretty dark times, and reading something extremely funny and witty and utterly delightful was just what I needed right now.
View all my reviews
I want to nap, but my sinuses are still in rebellion. I'm not sure if it's the c-PAP or the ragweed or the dust from cleaning. It might be all three. I used my neti pot (I don't very often, just when I'm worried that something like dust or pollen might be setting me off).
The orientation session last night was a bit overwhelming. Too many people, no AC, and lots of stairs.
All of the staff members specified their pronouns. None of them used anything but the he set or the she set, but I'm glad they did it because it's entirely possible that there were kids in the audience who needed reassurance that their pronouns will be respected.
We found someone who wants the Legos that I washed/bleached on Sunday. Scott's sister's SIL's church can use them. She's willing to pick them up. We still have a few other things to give away/donate.
My mother has sent me a url for the parts we need to repair the love seat and chair in the basement. I just need to measure the pieces of the support straps we've still got to make sure we order the right things. I don't know how long it will be before Scott has time to do the work, but getting the parts is the first step.
I'm really done in. If you've sent me something in last few days that requires thought, I might manage it tomorrow, but it's not going to happen today.