It's not the principles that kill you in the end, it's the books. - Michael Swanwick, The Iron Dragon's Daughter
What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. - Wittgenstein
Never express yourself more clearly than you think. - Niels Bohr
A labyrinthian man never looks for the truth, but only for his Ariadne. - Nietzsche
What else do you do with dark and sinister forces but play with them? - Deadlock, Khronicles of Khaos
There are three things that are real: God, human folly, and laughter. Since the first two pass our comprehension, we must do what we can with the third. - Valmiki, the Ramayana
If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you've got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language and you're dumb and blind. - Salman Rushdie
Even the oldest stories are new to somebody. - Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones
Perhaps Kafka laughed when he told stories... because one isn't always equal to oneself. - Primo Levi
When you set out for Ithaca, ask that your way be long. - Constantine Cavafy
"You can't do that", she said. "You can't have 'fairy tales' without 'fair'! And stuff you find out by determining what words are inside other words is never wrong. Now drink more tea." - Hitherby Dragons
This one, which I've had lying around for quite a while now, has now found an appreciative home (pictured). I'm definitely going to have to make more of these, especially now that I've pretty much perfected the art of laser-cutting complex shapes to make into pendants. It's a double-faced satin ribbon, and the teardrop is copper but future ones will probably be laminated paper.
That's actually mocked up with a brooch and a safety pin, but given how it looks there will definitely be some proper ones coming. On the other hand, I'm still not completely happy with the laminated paper bands—especially the ones with D-rings attached—so I'm going to have to make a few more different designs and get some experienced jewellery-wearers to try them out, preferably over an entire day or evening.
This painting is annoying me slightly. I like the way it turned out, but the significance of two important things is confusing me: a) the frame, and b) the juxtaposition of stark black branches and warm green background. I know they both happened for a reason, but not what it is, or even whether it's the same one.
Clearly, this is the kind of artistic conundrum that can only be solved by an appropriate title. However, none occurs to me that I'm happy with. Any suggestions? Anything I decide to use gets a pint, subject of course to being in the same pub at the same time at some stage.
(Administrative note: Acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 6". I've since given it its first coat of varnish. It'll probably end up with three, for a suitably even density of gloss.)
As all of you who make & sell things will know, pricing your work is both really important and really hard. I've settled on some price points, I think: the new double-thickness (and double-strength) pendants I've been making (see left, and/or ask me for a look at one when we see each other—I'll usually have one somewhere) will go for £5-£10, and from now on I'll keep the single-layer pieces for brooches and sell those more cheaply. The laminated paper chokers... I'm still thinking I need to do a bit more research & usability testing to find a single comfortable design & a good production workflow. Masks will range from £12 or so to about £30.
On the other hand, let's be realistic about this: I'm not in this business to make much money. It would be extremely nice if I did manage more than the small net profit I currently get, but as far as I can tell all the available levers for increasing internet-based sale volume involve hard work on marketing and promotion, and that's not only something I hate doing but something I'm extremely bad at.
I am, fundamentally, in the jewellery business in order to make art, or at least pretty things. The problem there is that a) finished Stuff accumulates, and b) I'm hesitant to give it away unsolicited, either because then it'll just be accumulating dust for someone else instead, or because they might not like it or ever wear it. I'm a good judge of what would physically suit someone, but that doesn't mean it would be in their comfort zone or preferred style, and that's entirely fair enough.
Anyway, the point of this post is basically threefold. First, I have an Etsy shop (nowhere near everything I have in a sale-ready state is listed there, just the best ones I have photos of so far). I like commissions, so long as they're not too detailed—my ideal is "make me something you think will suit me", but I'm also very happy with a colour scheme and an idea of the sort of patterns you like.
Second, I am entirely happy to accept barter. I prefer food, books, & beer, but if you do it and I have a possible use for it then I'll be delighted. (Just to be clear, I expect you to match sale price to sale price, rather than what-it-costs-you to what-I'd-get-on-the-market. If you normally give it away for free, I'm still happy to consider it.)
Third, and possibly most importantly: if you like what I do, and especially if it's the kind of thing you'd wear, please let me know! After all, everyone has a birthday now & then.
For those of you interested in obscure conjunctions of information science, materials science, and history, and who don't read my SF blog, I've finally got around to putting up my notes from the talk I gave at Eastercon 2010. It does not, I'm afraid, contain my celebrated impression of Dr Johnson, but you can read the rest here.
I spent this afternoon running a printmaking workshop for small children (half a dozen, 5-8) at London Hackspace. I don't have the energy and coherence right now to tell you much about how it came out, so I'm just going to picspam instead. (All the parents have given their consent for photographs on the Internet, because I know you were wondering about that.)
I will say that it was great fun for all of us, we only had one very minor self-stabbing, and it's reminded me just how much I love children's art.
On the face of it, NetGalley looks like a fantastic service: publishers offer electronic ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) to interested parties, ie. reviewers and industry people, via a convenient aggregator website.
However, most of the ones I've had from there (including KJ Parker's The Hammer, Tom Holt's Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages, JC Grimwood's The Fallen Blade and Gail Z Martin's, er, something or other) have been offered only as DRM-laden PDFs, and with an expiry date at that—after (IIRC) six weeks, they become unreadable. Re-downloading them will reset the timer, but the publisher withdraws them from the website after they come out, so the basic effect is of a book chained to a virtual desk that the publisher then confiscates back.
This is ridiculously unprofessional of those publishers, and I find it very insulting. If they want me to consider their book for review, the absolute least I want in return is a copy of the book, physical or electronic, to keep and read as I like. That isn't to say that I won't review books I buy or get from the library, because I do, but that's my choice and in my time. Being able to read them before other people do isn't valuable to me (in fact, less valuable than reading them as part of a community with whom I can discuss them) and I'm not going to jump through any hoops whatsoever in order to do publishers a mutual favour.
Not all publishers who use NetGalley do this, of course. Carina Press (Harlequin's digital-only imprint) gave me several entirely DRM-free ebooks, which didn't suck. Not really my sort of thing, and I don't know enough about the romance genre to be able to review them properly, but they didn't suck.
Someone else on Twitter, asserting that science & religion are opposites as though it were too obvious to deserve explanation.
Really, why do people keep doing this?
Given the sheer number of religious scientists... "most of them" wouldn't be an exaggeration, in fact... saying that science and religion are inherently opposed basically means saying that Galileo, Gilberd, Newton, Hooke, Boyle, Darwin, Eddington, Einstein, and Burnell were stupid or deluded, rather than holding particular views about the nature of the universe that they had considered thoroughly and were eminently qualified to hold. (And that's just the Christians white Westerners I could list off the top of my head. Islamic science was staggeringly accomplished.)
There's a quotation from Burnell in particular that I want to share:
"I find that Quakerism and research science fit together very, very well. In Quakerism you're expected to develop your own understanding of God from your experience in the world. There isn't a creed, there isn't a dogma. There's an understanding but nothing as formal as a dogma or creed and this idea that you develop your own understanding also means that you keep redeveloping your understanding as you get more experience, and it seems to me that's very like what goes on in "the scientific method." You have a model, of a star, its an understanding, and you develop that model in the light of experiments and observations, and so in both you're expected to evolve your thinking. Nothing is static, nothing is final, everything is held provisionally."
I really ought to remember not to argue with atheists unless they actually demonstrate that they have some knowledge of religions—and by "religions" I don't mean white Protestant Christianity. Any attempt to assert facts about "religion" as a whole generally brands them as a clueless Dawkins cultist, unlike any of the sensible atheists I know & like.
Do any of you lovely people know of a short, easy-to-understand resource online for educating people about different denominations' & religions' attitudes to truths & the natural world?
(Comments are open & encouraged. I reserve the right to moderate or friends-lock if things get heated. I do not mind being disagreed with, but be civil, and especially to other commenters.)
I read this last night, and you all have to know about this book. Here's an extract from my review, over at Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood:
The Bookman is set in an alternate Victorian era, and it’s intensely focused on the myths and legends of English literary geekdom. It has echoes of Alice Through The Looking Glass, Perdido Street Station, The Tempest, and The Eyre Affair, with a large chunk of Mayhew thrown in for good measure.
It’s set not long after 1887, several hundred years after an expedition to the Calibanic Isle results in the wholesale replacement of Britain’s ruling classes with giant poetry-obsessed lizards. Lord Shakespeare was the first of the great Poet-Prime Ministers; Moriarty is the most recent. And yes, that Moriarty. At the newly rebuilt Rose Theatre, Henry Irving performs his own adaptation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner supported by Beerbohm Tree.
So, this Jeremy Hunt chap is saying that the cap on benefits will encourage poor families to "be responsible" in planning their family size, ie. not have more children than they can afford. Obviously, the reactions to this in the media have varied between "what a courageous stand, it's about time someone was brave enough to say this - we shouldn't have so many poor people around" and "oh, good grief, what a clueless authoritarian twat".
Most of the non-barking-mad commenters have, of course, been quite clear on the principle that having children isn't something you should have to "afford"; that support for your children isn't something you should have to deserve; and that a government minister has no business even having an opinion about the proper size for someone's family, let alone engaging in social engineering.
What I don't think has been highlighted enough, however, is that this statement implies that a family on benefits will be there for a long time - for the kind of planning horizon which allows for several pregnancies and childhoods. It's either stunning ignorance, or an attempt to assume (and persuade us about it by stealth) the existence of an underclass of long-term benefit claimants who are content with that lifestyle and chose to be there. That one would be a classic othering/scapegoating strategy, which we've seen applied to a lot of groups over this country's political history.
Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised by either or both. This is what we get for a government of rich people, very few of whom have ever had to work a badly paid job, let alone lived only on benefits. (Do any of you know of any MPs who'll admit to having done this, by the way? I don't, but I'm willing to believe there might be some ex-benefit-claimants amongst them, and if there are we should bend some energies into getting them a Ministerial brief.)
Picked up from various people. This appears to be a list of 100 books or series that are important cultural artefacts - I've bolded the ones I've read, and commented on all the ones I know something about.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - Read this for A-level, which was my first encounter with her work. I fell in love, and read my way through all the other completed novels within a few months. 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - I loved this as soon as I started it, at 12 or so, and every time I go back to it I find new things in it, and new angles on Tolkien's concerns, his influences and the people who've imitated him or reacted against him. 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - Read this for A-level, disliked it intensely. Should give it another try sometime.( Read more...Collapse )
Yesterday's invention (or at least extreme modification from this):
Sautee two large onions in olive oil, putting in a finely-chopped bulb of garlic when the onions are turning. Chop three carrots and put those in too.
Chop 3 bulbs of fennel and throw those in, along with two tins of chopped tomatoes. Leave the mixture to simmer gently while you deal with the next ingredient, which is 500g (unpeeled weight) of chestnuts. Cut a cross in the tops (cut deeply) and boil them for 3 minutes or so, then peel off both the hard shell and the irritating brown skin inside. Chop into interesting-sized pieces, and throw them in, along with 500g of lentilhas verdes (Puy lentils), a generous slosh of red wine vinegar, some sea salt & black pepper, and a couple of teaspoonfuls each of lovage, oregano, and basil. (I used lovage because the original recipe called for celery, and I didn't have any.)
Top up to a sensible depth with water, and bring to the boil. At this point, I took it off the stove and put it in the urban haybox/slow cooker for three hours, but an hour to an hour and a half on a low heat would also work if you don't have one of those.
Vegan, gluten-free, serves around 10 or 12 hungry people.
I was slightly worried that the fennel would be overpowering, but it worked out just fine, and the mixture of textures is very pleasing. Lentilhas verdes, if you haven't used them, stay very firm rather than disintegrating when cooked like red or green lentils.
Other possibilities for this recipe would be smoked tofu cubes, mushrooms, chickpeas (but they go in anything), and actual red wine (a Rhone red, for preference) rather than vinegar.
Couldn't see my usual doctor today, so I had an appointment with someone I'd not seen before. She had a final-year student with her, so I suppressed the usual "answer the questions I need to to get my new medication" reflex and went into everything. The student asked a few questions about the medical certificate I needed, so with luck he's learned something about the disability benefits system - I'm very much more than willing to take a few extra minutes to help future GPs learn how it works!
And more than anything, I like their willingness to help. "How long is this for? - Dr A gave you two months? I've put three, to be on the safe side."
The most I'd managed to get out of anyone before going to this practice is a month at a time, and that grudgingly, so this has really cheered me up.
This happened at lunch on Thursday, with weegoddess, at the Pizza Express near King's Cross.
Perfectly acceptable food, then the time came to go; she asked one of the staff (female, early 20s) for the bill. It arrived facing me. Time came to pay, we did some of the obligatory cash-faffery, she tried to get a 20 split at the till, didn't work, eventually decided to put it on her card and take my share in cash - all perfectly normal. So weegoddess attracts the attention of the same staff member, asks if she should take her card over to the till; the staff member says, as you'd expect, "no, we have a machine, I'll get it". When she returns, the card is on top of the bill on its little saucer; she starts running it, I look away so as not to see any numbers - and then she tries to hand me the machine so I can type the numbers in.
I haven't seen anyone get it that aggressively wrong in ages; it's really annoying.
It's September, and therefore high time for are-people-talking-about-Christmas-already?-bah-humbug season.
I make & sell Christmas cards, and can happily supply you with some to send to your friends, relatives, coworkers, archenemies, or complete strangers, at the bargain rate of £1 per card, or 20 for £18 plus p&p if I need to mail them. These are digitally printed on high-quality matte stock (Fabriano Ecologica: acid-free, 100% recycled, very white, and made in Italy using hydroelectric power) with pigment inks. The back has my logo on, and the insides are blank for your own message. They're A6 when folded, so they fit perfectly into standard C6 envelopes.
I'm happy to do versions with custom text on, and I'll probably be posting at least one more design over the next month or so—please post suggestions in the comments, and I won't take any of those as commitments to order some unless you say so. There's no minimum order, and I'm happy to mix designs in any way you like. If any of you are interested in hand-printed woodblock or linocut cards instead, let me know in the comments and I'll try and work up a design; they're likely to work out between two and four times the price of the digital ones.