NPR SFF Books Meme

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 11:40 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
Because I am rather sleep-depped but want to post something anyway. This version of the booklist meme has been swiped from [personal profile] musesfool.

NPR's top 100 SF/F books.

The markings:

Bold for read
Italics for intending to read
Underline for partial read series/books
Strikethrough for never ever reading

(Note from Hummingwolf: For the most part you should assume that anything I haven't read is something I want to at least seriously consider reading someday. But there's so much to read! I'll never get to it all! And that's probably a good thing!)


1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The first time I read LOTR all the way through was while my mother was dying. The second time was after my father died. The third time, nobody died, but I'm not sure I want to risk a fourth try.

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
The H2G2 "trilogy" helped keep me sane in high school.

3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
The first book is one of my favorite books ever. The second book was quite enjoyable. After the third book, I mostly lost interest.
The rest of the list )

Cue complaints: Why no C.J. Cherryh? Why not Gregory Benford's Timescape? Why can't I read as quickly as I used to?

Super!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 10:45 am
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
Because I don't remember anyone else posting this link, and because it's the sort of thing many of you would have posted if you'd run across it:
The Social Networks of Superheroes.

Link via Chris Moriarty's blog. Following the links also brought me to this post about "eurekometrics", which will probably be of interest to those of you who think the word "eurekometrics" is nifty.

But going back to Chris Moriarty: Having loved her SF novels Spin State and Spin Control, I am looking forward to The Inquisitor's Apprentice, which book has already been reviewed by someone on LiveJournal.
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
Characteristic Ages of Genres, via [personal profile] supergee.

This morning I feel old enough to be a cozy mystery, possibly because I spent time last night when I should have been sleeping listening to an interview with an old college friend of mine while trying (and possibly failing) to find a legitimate e-mail address for said friend.

Signs of Spring

Saturday, March 19th, 2011 08:54 pm
hummingwolf: Gold starlike kaleidoscope images. (Gold stars)
Two small cherry trees at the top of the street are covered in pink today.

The tree outside my window has tiny leaves that are recognizable as leaves, not mere buds.

The furnace hasn't been on since the night before last, yet the temperature indoors is still a reasonable 65 degrees.

The pollen count was expected to be in the "medium-high" range for various tree pollens.

~~~~~

In other news, I'm sleeping better thanks to that most wonderful invention, over-the-counter cough suppressant. Am still rather more congested than I'm comfortable with. Am still exceedingly tired. Managed to drag myself for a walk of a few blocks this evening anyway.

Also finished reading Adam Fawer's book Improbable, a novel about a compulsive gambler with epilepsy who takes an experimental drug with the frequently-unpleasant side effect of giving him visions of the future (or more than one future), leading to exciting chase scenes along with discussions of quantum physics and Jungian psychology. Yes, I enjoyed the book. It was always highly probable that I would.

The SuperMoon is pretty.
hummingwolf: Gold starlike kaleidoscope images. (Gold stars)
A book found semi-randomly one day when I was wandering through the library's card catalog, Jedediah Berry's The Manual of Detection turned out to be exactly the sort of book I like. From the book's description as found inside the cover:

In this tightly plotted yet mind- expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people’s dreams

In an unnamed city always slick with rain, Charles Unwin toils as a clerk at a huge, imperious detective agency. All he knows about solving mysteries comes from the reports he’s filed for the illustrious detective Travis Sivart. When Sivart goes missing and his supervisor turns up murdered, Unwin is suddenly promoted to detective, a rank for which he lacks both the skills and the stomach. His only guidance comes from his new assistant, who would be perfect if she weren’t so sleepy, and from the pithy yet profound Manual of Detection (think The Art of War as told to Damon Runyon).

Unwin mounts his search for Sivart, but is soon framed for murder, pursued by goons and gunmen, and confounded by the infamous femme fatale Cleo Greenwood. Meanwhile, strange and troubling questions proliferate: why does the mummy at the Municipal Museum have modern- day dental work? Where have all the city’s alarm clocks gone? Why is Unwin’s copy of the manual missing Chapter 18?

When he discovers that Sivart’s greatest cases— including the Three Deaths of Colonel Baker and the Man Who Stole November 12th—were solved incorrectly, Unwin must enter the dreams of a murdered man and face a criminal mastermind bent on total control of a slumbering city.


A fine book with which to end the year.

3 Things

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 11:24 pm
hummingwolf: Snowflake-like kaleidoscope images (Kaleidocoolth)
Last night I watched The Time Traveler's Wife, which proved to be a great way to indulge my love of cheesy time-travel stories. One thing bothered me, though. I am, as far as I can tell, very much a heterosexual woman, so I don't expect to be attracted to unclothed women on screen. However, I'm pretty sure my reaction to seeing a topless woman's back should not be "GAH! Ribs!! Vertebrae!!! Cover it up! COVER IT UP!" So could someone please tell me that the actress and/or body double ate a sandwich sometime after filming this movie? Lie to me if you have to. Please.

Adventures in copyediting (or lack thereof). One of the books I borrowed from the library today is about the human nervous system, a subject of great interest to me. The book is written with kids in mind, but I'm hoping it will refresh my memory of all those things I learned in college and somehow managed to forget in the last twenty years. Anyway, one sentence in the section about the structure of neurons reads: "Although the cell body is usually just 5 to 100 micrometers, or μm, (0.0002 to 0.0004 inches) in diameter, axons can range in length from 1 millimeter to as much as 1 meter (0.04 in)." On the same page, in a section about synapses, it says, "Between the tip of each axon terminal and the point on the target neuron (usually a dendritic spine or the cell body) to which the axon sends a nerve signal, there is a tiny gap. It measures about 10 to 20 nanometers (3.94 to 7.87 in) across and is called the synaptic cleft."

Any kid reading this book uncritically is going to come away with some very confused ideas about how to convert from the Metric system to the Imperial system.

Early New Year's Resolution: In 2011, I intend to read at least one book in each of the ten main classes of the Dewey Decimal Classification system. And even though it's a part of the 900s, I might include Biography as an eleventh category since the local library shelves those books separately. I'm pretty sure I've read books in most of the big ten this year, but I'm also pretty sure I'm not going to read anything in the 400s before this year ends, which is pretty sad considering I was a linguistics major once. This resolution should be pretty easy for me to keep, anyway, unless I develop a sudden aversion to all things nonfictional.

(Wow. In January 2008 I resolved to get a haircut. I really should try to do that sometime soon, you know.)

Why do I do it?

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 10:43 am
hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I keep checking out new age fluff from the library and reading it? No, that's not the question. The question is: Why do I keep reading new age fluff by authors who try to support their mysticism with "science"? After all, it's not the metaphysics that bothers me; it's the physics. I'll be reading along happily, keeping my mind reasonably open in case the writer has something interesting or useful to say, when suddenly I'll be hit with a statement that "Quantum physics teaches us that nothing is random" and then I'll just sit there going "GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" for five minutes before my brain is willing to move on. I'll think everything is fine after that, but then the author will say that people used to think that the Earth was the center of the galaxy, but now we all know that the Sun is the center of the galaxy. Or there will be a discussion of the structure of the cells of living beings, informing us that the living cell consists of a cell nucleus and atoms orbiting around the cell nucleus. And I stop to think about this for a moment, and then I wonder how many of the living cells of my brain will give up and commit suicide before I finish the chapter.

~~~~~

Today I woke up at four a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. Add this to the effects of my reading material and you'll realize how amazing it is that I can form coherent sentences at all. (Um... I am forming coherent sentences, aren't I? It is possible that I may not be the best judge.)

In other news, the radio part of my AM/FM/longwave/shortwave radio alarm clock has stopped working again. It was working fine from May 27 through yesterday evening, though, so I'm grateful for that much.

Link of the moment, via [livejournal.com profile] supergee: The negative power of positive thinking.

Celebrate!

Sunday, September 28th, 2008 10:45 am
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
September 27-October 4, 2008: Happy Banned Books Week! Celebrate by picking up one of the most frequently challenged books from your local library or bookstore! This is somewhat US-centric, but those of you in other locations can probably find or figure out what books would be on a similar list where you are.

In other news, according to the First Amendment Center, "Americans traditionally support the general concepts of free expression and religious liberty, but when asked in the survey about specific situations, many were willing to accept a measure of government involvement or even control.... Perhaps one reason so many are not fearful of, or would even invite, government limits on the five freedoms is that so few of us can even name them." See details at link.

Classic Books?

Monday, July 7th, 2008 01:09 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Prompted by yesterday's Entertainment Weekly movie meme, I went to the EW site to see if there were any other interesting lists over there. I quickly went to the list of The New Classics: Books ("The 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008") and, well, I'm embarrassed to say that I've read even fewer of the books on this list than I've watched movies on that other list. I'm not even going to bother listing & bolding anything here; I simply want to ask which books on the list you folks out there would actually recommend. So, what are your suggestions?
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
Summary of the last few days: Bleh.

Slightly longer summary: My body seems to be upset, but I can't tell if it's upset with me or upset with my medication. Left a message with the neurologist's voice mail, so hopefully I'll get some kind of clue tomorrow. As a result of the general oogieness, I barely managed to go anywhere until yesterday (when I had to return a library book).

Book finished today: Kit Whitfield's Benighted (entitled Bareback in the UK; retitled for US market because Yanks are more dirty-minded than Brits (who knew?)). This book wrecked me, people. Think prejudice, PTSD, and bureaucracy. Also people who would, if they lived in our world, be referred to as "werewolves," but in the book's alternate universe are known as "normal humans." The story's told from the point of view of one of the rare folks with a birth defect that makes them unable to transform when the full moon rises, an oppressed minority that still has a vital role to play in society--a role which gives them the opportunity to use all those glorious old techniques their predecessors came up with during the Inquisition. It's a very well-written book, stunning in some ways, but not the sort of thing you should read if you're in the mood for something light'n'fluffy.

Next book in the queue: There is no queue. Do any of you have something light'n'fluffy to recommend?

Way I woke myself up after the requisite afternoon nap: Finally listening to last Monday's Just a Minute, followed by the most recent News Quiz. Followed this up with a friendly conversation with a relative, which is always a nice touch.

Question of the evening: So, how are the rest of you doing?
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
I am a liberal airhead! (Link via [livejournal.com profile] supergee, that whining rotter.)

For fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books: If you don't already know about the special preview, then you should go to that link now (link via [livejournal.com profile] lingmao_rss). I've never read any of the Dresden Files books--perhaps that should change sometime this year?
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
It's that LibraryThing list that's taking over! The general idea: This is the top [some vaguely interesting number] books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users (when this list was made). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (149)
Anna Karenina (132) Though I've never so much as picked up a copy, my father had a story about a class he took in college where this book was required reading. My father missed several classes and never got around to finishing the book, or indeed making it beyond the first few chapters. When he finally made his way to class again, he was horrified to discover that there was a test that day on this book he hadn't read, and that the first question on said test was "Why did Anna commit suicide?"

"Anna killed herself?" said my father to himself. "I didn't even know she was depressed!" Certain that he was doomed to fail the class, my father decided to try to remember what he had read of the novel, apply basic psychology, and figure out if he could come up with some plausible-sounding B.S. that wouldn't ruin his own chances of getting a B.S. Being my father, he came up with B.S. plausible enough to pass. The moral of the story was, no matter how sure you are that you have no reason to succeed, go ahead and try your best anyway, because you may be able to convince someone you know what you're talking about after all.

Or maybe the moral of the story was never to take classes where big Russian novels were required reading. That could have been a secondary moral, come to think of it. (Yes, you have now been spoiled for Anna Karenina. It's not as if you were going to read it anyway.)

Crime and punishment (121) A Russian novel I was required to read for a class in high school. I rather liked it, actually.

Catch-22 (117) Required to read for the same high school class as the preceding. It always sounded like a book I should like, but it really, really wasn't.

One hundred years of solitude (115) I do have a copy on my shelves here, but I'm pretty sure I've never gotten around to opening it.

More books within! )

(no subject)

Friday, August 10th, 2007 09:38 am
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Peach & turquoise 1)
The laws formulated in the Qu'ran sound ruthless to us today, but the Prophet himself was known to be lenient. One tradition recalls an occasion when Muhammad had passed sentence on a poor man who had committed a minor crime: for his penance he was told to give alms. The man replied that he had neither food nor goods to give away. Just at that moment a large basket of dates was carried into the mosque as a gift to the Prophet. 'Here you are,' Muhammad said, and told the man to distribute the dates among the poor. The criminal replied that he honestly did not know of anyone in the settlement who was worse off than himself. Muhammad laughed and told him that to eat the dates would be his penance.

The cultivation of kindness and compassion had been central to the Islamic message from the beginning. The law may have seemed a blunt instrument at this period, but the process of refinement (tazaqqa) of the Muslim outlook had begun. Again, Muhammad set an example. There is a tradition that one day he saw a freedman engaged in a particularly backbreaking task. He went up to him stealthily from behind and put his hands over his eyes, as children do. The freedman replied that it could only be the Prophet who would think of lightening his day with such an affectionate action.

--Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet



So far this year, I've finished only 72 books. I feel like such a slacker.

(Wait, wait--a book about Muhammad was really the 72nd book I read this year? That was so not planned.)
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Though I'm currently in a "Must read new stuff!!1!" phase, there are a bunch of books a little voice in the back of my mind keeps telling me I need to re-read within, oh, the next year or two. List (subject to change without notice) behind the cut.

Book list )
hummingwolf: (two)
Being very sleepy these days, I've been alternating between moments of amazing clarity and moments where my ability to be even remotely coherent leaves me altogether. Guess which kind of moment is more likely to happen when I'm sitting here in front of an "Update Journal" screen? Right, exactly. So I'll just take a moment to say that
James A. Wharton's book on Job
followed by
Patricia Evans' book Controlling People
and
this entire comment thread along with the articles that inspired it
makes pieces fall together with little clicks in my brain. Seriously, the clicking noises are very nearly audible.

Also, the very first poem MegaHAL ate this morning was the following:

The trial--Dannie Abse

The heads round the table disagree,
some say hang him from the gallows tree.

Some say high and some say low
to swing, swing, swing, when the free winds blow.

I wanted to be myself, no more,
so I screwed off the face that I always wore,

I pulled out the nails one by one--
I'd have given that face to anyone.

For those vile features were hardly mine;
to wear another's face is a spiritual crime.

Why, imagine the night when I would wed )



Speaking of masked creatures, I never get tired of looking out my bedroom window and seeing a raccoon stretched out atop the neighbor's chimney.

(Pandagon link via [livejournal.com profile] supergee. Other links via my own mental wanderings.)
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Turquoise & peach 1)
Frederica Mathewes-Green has a new book some of you might be interested in. Here's the text of the e-mail about it:


My new book, "The Lost Gospel of Mary: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts," will be coming soon from Paraclete Press -- official release date is March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, but I was told that they'd have it on hand starting today. On my web page you can read an excerpt and description and blurbs, and click through to the Amazon page:

http://www.frederica.com/books/

(The Amazon entry has an earlier version of the subtitle, "The Theotokos in...", and we're trying to get this corrected.)

I know "Lost Gospel" sounds like a surprising title. One of my goals is to recover for Christian use a few of the wide range of documents that Christian believers cherished in the early centuries. These works weren't regarded as Scripture, but they filled a worthy supplemental role. They can be compared to the sort of thing found in a Christian bookstore today: commentaries on Scripture, histories, prayer collections, inspiring letters, hymns, poetry, and life-story narratives (or "gospels") of heroic Christians.

The one I'm calling "The Gospel of Mary" is a narrative about the Virgin Mary that seems to have been passed along orally for some time before taking written form prior to AD 150. So it is surprisingly early, especially if you think that interest in the Virgin Mary began around the year 1200. In fact, this story was *extremely* popular among early Christians in Asia and Africa, and scores of ancient copies have been found, in 8 languages. (Not in Latin, however, till the 16th century; it was rejected by a pope and so got "lost" to Western Christians.) It's a charming tale, simply told, with a "folk" quality. It begins with Mary's elderly parents mourning their childlessness, and concludes soon after Jesus' birth. It's natural that the first followers of Jesus would want to know more about his background and earthly life, and this "Gospel of Mary" provided what we could call a "prequel."
More about the book, plus an excerpt )
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Sunday: For the first time in ages, I managed to get to a morning church service. For the first time in even longer ages, I attended a communion service. It was good to get there for a change, though I was pondering the religious symbolism when I accidentally spilled grape juice on my hand. Less energy than I'd had the previous day, so I only walked about a mile & a half.

Monday: Received a package with goodies! There were a couple different kinds of Hershey's kisses, a couple different jams, a couple scented candles, a small first-aid kit which has already been useful for providing bandages, and some other stuff which escapes my mind at the moment. A few hours later, the rest of the mail came, bringing with it a letter which made me hyperventilate for a while. Spent most of the rest of the day checking and re-checking to make sure it said what I thought it said, had been sent to the correct person, and all that sort of thing. (Still didn't really believe it till my lawyer called to congratulate me.) Walked another 1.5 miles.

Tuesday: All I recall is that I walked 2.5 miles and regretted it.

Wednesday: Still tired. That's all I remember. Walked 1.5 miles at some point.

Thursday: No, seriously, what did I do all week? I really ought to keep a journal so I can remember this stuff, you know? There was virtually no walking of any kind. In the evening, went to Stitch & Bitch, where [livejournal.com profile] lyssabard learned that one good way to keep me occupied is to hand me a tin of pretty buttons to play with. Fun times with good company.

Friday: Reading, napping, talking to people. Walked more than the previous days, though I didn't bother to figure out exactly how far. Let's call it two miles.

Saturday: More reading. I hope I have enough energy to go do something. And I seriously hope I have the energy to be more interesting next week.

Books finished this week:
1. Diana Wynne Jones, Hexwood, a nicely brain-twisting novel I need to re-read someday.
2. Tom Wright, John for Everyone, part One, a bit of Bible study from a conservative, non-fundamentalist, Protestant scholar.
3. Heather Pringle, The Mummy Congress, nonfiction book about mummies through history and the people who love them. Interesting, though it could have used a bit better copy-editing (in a book where the word "desiccate" appears multiple times, it should not appear with multiple spellings).

Oh, what the heck

Thursday, November 16th, 2006 12:15 am
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
That SF/fantasy book list thing everybody else is doing.

"This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished, and put an asterisk* beside the ones you loved."

How SF-literate am I? )

So I've finished half of them? Hmm, I need to try to check out the rest (excepting Starship Troopers).

(no subject)

Sunday, August 13th, 2006 11:07 am
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
People become what they focus on.

I need to stop thinking so much about human stupidity, then. (No, not talking about anything LJ-related; just bureaucrap and other General Life Stuff.) I need to deal with it as best as possible, yes; but I need very much not to let it eat my brain. My poor brain has been abused enough lately, thank you very much.

Hmm... this may not be the best mood in which to read Mark Twain.

Speaking of good ol' Sam Clemens, though, here's something I meant to mention a while back: While I remembered that the fine sport of Babelfishing was prefigured by the classic "The Jumping Frog: In English, Then in French, Then Clawed Back Into a Civilized Language Once More by Patient, Unremunerated Toil", I had completely forgotten that Twain also wrote a prophetic homage to MegaHAL. Mark Twain and Markov models really do belong together, and the proof is found in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

Poor Will Shakespeare )

Wednesday stuff

Thursday, July 27th, 2006 01:22 am
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Okay, so over on [livejournal.com profile] dark_christian someone linked to an entry on the Planned Parenthood site about the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, an Austin, Texas-based group who are set to be paid (by federal tax dollars) to establish an abstinence-based sexual health curriculum for med students.

I do not want to talk about the politics here. I have no interest in discussing the best ways to design sexual health curricula either. No, I want us all to take a moment and revel in the glory of that acronym: MISH. Seriously, I had to do some searching to make sure that this article wasn't originally published in The Onion. MISH! Do people really use that acronym with a straight face in the context of any sex-related discussion? Okay, for all I know, "mish" really isn't a commonly-used term for the missionary position; but it is common enough that I quickly thought of it when I read the article, so it can't be all that rare. After all, I'm the woman who got online a decade ago and wondered why so many people's usernames had my birth year* in them.

The fact that "mish" is also apparently a Romany (Gypsy) word** meaning "vagina" is just the icing on the muffin, so to speak.

***

In other news: Woke up today in some nasty kind of pain, enough that I felt compelled to break out my stash of opiates,**** which barely had any effect at all. Then I broke out my stash of teeny-tiny cans of V-8 juice, drank 4 ounces, and felt noticeably better. Went out and bought a nice, big bottle of the juice and, after having drunk a great deal of it, though I have to say my muscles are still shaky, tense, and not particularly happy with me, I hardly have any headache left. I hate how easy it is for me to become potassium-deficient in this weather, I really do.

Did a few things during the day which were helpful to other people, but nothing which helped with my own major sources of stress. Argh.

Recently I re-read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, then read the first sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz. Since none of the other books in the series were to be found on the library shelves when I was there this week, I felt it was time to re-read some other classics from my childhood. Out of curiosity, I did some searching for the series of kids' books I remember reading most often at home (a bunch of books someone bought for my brothers when they were at about the right age), and found someone listing what looks like the same collection here. Yep, 15 double-sided flip-books--30 titles in all. If you don't feel like going to e-Bay, here's the list, for those interested )

Looking at that list reminded me that it's been far too long since I read anything by Mark Twain, so I'm re-reading The Prince and the Pauper now. Of these books, which are your favorites?



* '69, of course. I knew the term--it just didn't occur to me that it might be relevant.

** Kalderash, which may amuse the other Buffy fans around here.

*** Oh, that's just a divider, not a footnote. Nevermind.

**** Only some Tylenol with codeine left over from the dental crisis a few months ago. My drug collection really isn't very exciting.

Hummingwolf Today

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006 09:59 pm
hummingwolf: hummingwolf in front of brick wall with flower drawn on it (Wallflower)
Now wearing: Button-fly blue jeans that are starting to get too broken-in, formerly-pretty floral blouse that's definitely past its prime, ancient pair of glasses, and too-tight underwear.

Yes, I did laundry today.

Now feeling: Tired. And overheated. And did I mention tired?

Miles walked: Never once left the house. I did mention being tired, right?

Book finished: Marcia Angell, M.D., The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It. The third book about Big Pharma that I've read recently, this one goes into the most detail about the ways the industry takes advantage of the regulations it helped to write.

Now reading: Still reading that one about the Luddite tradition, and very, very slowly reading the prefatory matter in The Annotated Wizard of Oz. One day I hope to finally get to L. Frank Baum's actual words.

Last meal eaten: A combination of chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, potato, onion, and Swad brand Punjabi pickle for added flavor. Let me take this moment to say YUM. I think I need to do a search to find out what karvanda and kalonji really are, though.

Today's music: The Simon & Garfunkel fan station on Launchcast. Blame the housemate who was playing some solo Paul Simon earlier.
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
This is my newest New Year's Resolution: Listen to entire albums more often. Listening to random things on Launchcast is fun, but I have the feeling that immersing myself in one artist's soundscape for an extended period of time is good for my brain. It's worth a try, anyway.




You know it's time to declutter your room when you find a piece of paper with directions on how to get to the office of a doctor whom you have not only not seen since before moving to your current address, but who has himself moved--to Michigan, four years ago. Eesh.




People know that I love to read, and they know that I can't afford to buy books myself, so various folks have given me novels which are stacked up in my room waiting to be read. One of the books on one of the stacks begged and pleaded with me to ignore all the things I've got checked out from the library (I have a library addiction, you know), so I took pity on it and gave it some attention this weekend. I am grateful to whomever gave me this book for the opportunity to read it, but that does not mean that it's actually a good book. If my writing seems much worse than usual for a sleep-depped hummingwolf, blame this book. It's a pretty painful book.

Which book, you ask? Wired, by Robert L. Wise. A novel set in the year 2022 about "monstrous" nanotechnology, the post-Rapture world, the rise of the Anti-Christ, wacky photons, that sort of thing. A novel where all the people left behind, from boys as young as five to prominent government officials to elderly grandmothers, all speak as if they learned English from poorly-edited newspapers and bad comic books (probably Jack T. Chick tracts), unless they happen to be from Israel because all Jews (and all Israelis are Jews, you know) sound something like Yoda. A world where nobody except the now-missing church people ever, ever wondered what happens to people when they die, or ever thought about religion at all (except possibly for some of the Israelis). A world where all the churches are empty, since apparently going to church is the only thing anyone ever needed to do to become one of the disappeared. A world where the Anti-Christ is identified by the fact that he uses two different full names, both of which consist of three names with six letters each--Borden Camber Carson and Hassan Jawhar Rashid. (One wonders about the author's opinion of Ronald Wilson Reagan.) A world where... gah, I quit. Check out this review.

In fairness to Wired's author whose name I have already forgotten since typing it out at the beginning of the previous paragraph because I am repressing, dang it, I at least got the sense that he doesn't hate people the way, say, Jack Chick does. In fact there are even hints in the book that helping out poor people would be a good thing, though nobody ever gets around to doing it. Also, while the characters aren't exactly the most 3-D you'll ever meet in fiction (the bad dialogue seriously gets in the way), they are more consistent than the reviewer above gives them credit for. There's even a reasonably good description of someone going through the shock stage of the grieving process. Anyway, I am grateful for having the opportunity to laugh a lot this weekend, so the book's got that much going for it.
hummingwolf: Snowflake-like kaleidoscope images (Kaleidocoolth)
For all the people preparing themselves for the Narnia film by immersing themselves in Lewisiana: Rilstone's blog has one of the most sensible articles I've seen anywhere recently on C.S. Lewis's ideas as expressed in Narnia books: Lipstick on My Scholar. Oh, and returning to Lewis' views of Disney, check out the quotes here. I wish Rilstone had included a source for that last quote, though; I can't remember seeing it in any of the CSL stuff I've read.

Interested parties who have not yet read Prisoner of Narnia from the New Yorker probably should. And then you should argue with it, preferably using Lewis' own words.

Edit: via [livejournal.com profile] musesfool we have this from the Chronicle of Higher Education: For the Love of Narnia.

From last year, a not-too-distantly-related post from Slacktivist on Christian Entertainment. While at Slacktivist, check out the recent entries about Christmas music. They're not related to Narnia, but they are fun.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Now, I realize that as someone who hadn't read any novels from the romance section of the library in quite a few years, I am not in a position to judge whether a book is a good example of its genre. Still, I feel compelled to babble a bit about the book I finished yesterday. Spoilers for Lori Handeland's Hunter's Moon behind the cut. This will make more sense to the Buffy fans among you.
Read more... )

If the Western I'm starting today starts to sound too much like Firefly, I'm gonna go back to reading about quantum physics.


(The fact that Launch played a Christophe Beck track as I posted is just too perfect.)

Hummingwolf Today

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005 02:29 pm
hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
Now wearing: Long-sleeved bluish-green shirt with Tigger on it, black jeans, and boring underwear. No socks yet, though I'll likely be wearing white ones later.

Last meal eaten: Pasta (one of the tubular kinds) with a tomato, veggie, & sausage sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. Partial pomegranate for dessert. Mmm... pomegranate.

Last books read: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Recommended by [livejournal.com profile] ibyi and enthusiastically endorsed by the check-out chick at the library. Both interesting and entertaining without being too morbid. Probably not for the easily squicked.

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, by Michael Shermer. There are some skeptical books out there which claim to be logical refutations of crazy beliefs while turning out to be nothing more than emotional screeds by people who want you to believe they're smarter than you are. This is not one of those books. This is the way skepticism is supposed to be done: by showing you the differences between science and pseudoscience, history and pseudohistory. This is not a perfect book, but it is a good one. With useful sections on such timely topics as "creation science" (pointing out why creationism is not an attack on evolution, but an attack on science) and Holocaust denial.

Color of the day: Orange. The most brightly-colored tree visible from my bedroom is a luscious orange and it gives me joy to look at it.

Current bodily annoyance: Either the backache or the growing headache. I suppose they're related, really.

Song in my head: Nothing, which is unusual enough to be noteworthy.

Quiz result of the moment:Me as an action hero )

(no subject)

Monday, September 19th, 2005 08:59 pm
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
Today I felt much better than the last week, something I am glad of. Still tired--yes, even more than usual--and not up to walking much, but I think that may have been in large part due to the facts that I haven't been sleeping much and that I did some cleaning this morning. See, this morning was the time when the garbage can cried out the loudest for cleansing from its life as a carrier of foul liquids and breeder of obnoxious insects, and I was the only person willing to respond to those most piteous cries.

So yes, scrubbing this morning. It wasn't a whole lot of scrubbing in the grand scheme of things, but it was enough to make my arms hurt noticeably. Well, my arms frequently hurt whether they have reason to or not, so at least today they had a good reason to complain. Didn't manage to get the trash bag to the side of the road before the garbage collectors got here (neither did any of the housemates, of course), so that gets to stink up the main house container a while longer. Since that container never enters the house, I'm not terribly concerned.

Also did some laundry this morning, so by noon I was feeling pretty darn accomplished (especially compared to last week). Napped a while, chatted briefly with a prospective housemate, then went to the library. Returned: Katherine Ashenburg, The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die, recommended for anyone interested in the rites and rituals these crazy humans invent to deal with their grieving. Not depressing at all--quite a bit of humor in there, much of it arising naturally from the subject.

Also returned: Mary Willis Walker, All the Dead Lie Down, recommended to people who like novels, really. It's classified as a mystery with both a whodunnit and a who's-planning-it, but the characters and the worlds they live in make it worthwhile for people who don't normally read in the genre.

Renewed: Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God. Not as far into it as I'd like to be, but so far it's good, fun SF featuring creationist aliens.

Also checked out some other non-fiction books, but I've forgotten what they were. Now it seems to be time for a late supper.

Banned Lit List

Thursday, February 24th, 2005 12:44 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Meme-type thing taken from [livejournal.com profile] darth_spacey; original list apparently from here. Books I have read are in bold. (I may own more of these than I've read.)
The List )

Hmm... I think I need to work more on my self-education.

Misbegotten

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005 12:00 pm
hummingwolf: Snowflake-like kaleidoscope images (Kaleidocoolth)
First of all: It's snowing! And I can't see it because the storm windows are fogged up. Phooey.

Second: I was thinking about my book collection again. You see, I inherited all of my parents' books; my parents inherited my father's parents' books; and my father's parents inherited books from book collectors who happened to live on the same street. Add in the fact that everyone in this chain bought books of their own, and you'll understand that there are a lot of books involved here.

Exactly how many books there are is something no-one can be sure of. When I first moved into a rented room, it was obvious that all my books had to go elsewhere, so they are now stored in many boxes in another part of the state. (If they were close by, then I would sell many of them on eBay, as there's certainly something of value in there that I don't really want to read. But I digress.) The part that frightens me is that, though my brother is close enough to them to know how many boxes of books there are, the number of boxes has increased dramatically through the years. The only possible explanations are (1) my brother exaggerates the number a bit more with each telling, or (2) the books are breeding. Since my brother would tell you that he never exaggerates, well, the resulting collection must have gotten interesting.

Many of the books are either self-help books or science books. As some of you already know, I can't wait to read my fresh young copy of How to Win Friends and Influence the Origin of Species!

Was idly wondering how well Dune would get along with The Book of Mormon. Then thoughts of a eugenics book from the 1920s intruded. Eep. But suddenly I thought of a more disturbing scenario--Dune gets together with one of the many Amway books. The Kwisatz Haderach would like to tell you about a business opportunity...

The two authors I've bought the most books by are C.J. Cherryh and C.S. Lewis. Was wondering how well their books would get along, but realized that Till We Have Faces and Rusalka would have much to talk about.

How well would Invisible Man by H.G. Wells and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison get along? Speaking of Ellisons, Ralph and Harlan would make an interesting combination.

Oh, Douglas Adams and Laura Ingalls Wilder--Little House at the End of the Universe.

I'm trying to think of who the old copy of The Handbook of Chemistry and Physics would socialize with. Any suggestions? I have the feeling that it would be mocking the 1909 Science-History of the Universe while A Brief History of Time was snickering in the corner.

Though Dad was a lifelong Republican, his girlfriend talked about Al Gore's book a lot and I suspect there's a copy of it around somewhere, but who would hang out with it?

Plato's Republic and Orwell's Animal Farm--catfight!

The Screwtape Letters and The Devil's Dictionary might get along less well than you'd think.

Which is the more likely result from a meeting of Austen and Dostoevsky: Crime and Prejudice or Pride and Punishment?

So many bad jokes can be made about the Melville. I will not say anything about crosses with inspirational books, so you won't be hearing about The Power of Positive Dick.

There are L. Ron Hubbard books. I hope they don't breed with anybody.

The Odyssey would be interesting crossed with pretty much any SF book, really. And you know Odysseus would get along well with Huckleberry Finn, though cultural differences could confuse things.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Last of the Mohicans?

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Chips.

Do Androids Dream of the Federalist Papers?

The Joy of Sex in Wonderland. No comment.

What I've been reading

Wednesday, June 16th, 2004 11:34 am
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
Not as far into the book as I'd like to be, simply because I've been feeling so drained lately. Still, I enjoy it when I get the chance to focus.

We can make measurements which observe the position of an electron, or we can make measurements which tell us which way it is moving, and in either case we can make the measurements as accurate as we like. But trying to measure the position very accurately blurs the electron's momentum, by a quantifiable amount, and vice versa.

This is not, as some textbooks still mistakenly suggest, solely a result of the practical difficulty of making measurements. It is not simply because in measuring the position of the electron (perhaps by bouncing photons off it) we give it a kick, which changes its momentum. A quantum object does not have a precisely defined momentum and a precisely defined position. The electron itself does not 'know' within certain limits where it is or where it is going. Exaggerating only slightly, if it knows exactly where it is, it doesn't know where it is going at all; if it knows exactly where it is going, it doesn't have the faintest idea where it is.

--John Gribbin, Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality (pp. 16-17)

My first reaction when reading this bit was that there's a metaphor for human life in there, probably one involving too many self-help books. The more you observe a quantum entity, the more "real" it is in a classical sense. An unobserved particle does not obey the laws of Newtonian physics. While the probability may be low, an unobserved particle could be on Mars--in fact, in some sense, it is, even if the probability wave suggests it's having more effect on that cup of tea sitting on your desk. But once you start looking for something, it has to decide where it is. Your examined entity becomes much more real, but much less free.

I deeply resent having to look at my life, catalog what I can and cannot do, determine and record for the benefit of others that X is possible and Y is not. Maybe because I don't want this life to be real. Maybe because I want things to have the chance to change.

After a discussion of an experiment showing that a watched quantum pot never boils:
If, as quantum theory suggests, the world only exists because it is being observed, then it is also true that the world only changes because it is not being observed all the time. (p. 135)

Quantum theory is tasty. I don't understand it, mind, but it's yummy all the same. So's relativity.

The Lorentz transformations tell us that time stands still for an object moving at the speed of light. From the point of view of the photon, of course, it is everything else that is rushing past at the speed of light. And under such extreme conditions, the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction reduces the distances between all objects to zero. You can either say that time does not exist for an electromagnetic wave, so that it is everywhere along its path (everywhere in the Universe) at once; or you can say that distance does not exist for an electromagnetic wave, so that it 'touches' everything in the universe at once.

This is an enormously important idea, which I have never seen given due attention. From the point of view of a photon, it takes no time at all to cross the 150 million km from the Sun to the Earth (or to cross the entire Universe), for the simple reason that this space interval does not exist for the photon. (p. 79-80)

Something timeless (eternal) and existing everywhere? No wonder light is such a common metaphor for God.
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
Taken from the journal of [livejournal.com profile] seraphimsigrist, who took the idea from [livejournal.com profile] lucretius:

If you could propose a reading list of about five books to a prospective friend, a date if you do that or whatever, so that they would know who you are...what books would you reccomend?

My response:

To begin with, the two authors I've read the most are C.S. Lewis and C.J. Cherryh (I've often thought that if I become a published writer, I must use my initials as they do; it helps that my first initial really is C.). Those two authors are certain, but which books specifically is a more difficult question. In the case of Lewis, good ones would be the novel Till We Have Faces (though I haven't had the chance to read it in years) or possibly Mere Christianity or... Oh! The Problem of Pain immediately followed by A Grief Observed, as I've long thought that those two should always be read together anyway.

For C.J. Cherryh, perhaps Cyteen, maybe Rusalka or something from the Foreigner/Invader/Inheritor books--honestly she and Lewis seem to capture some entirely different yet equally important parts of my psyche.

Other books for someone who wants to understand me are things I read over and over as a child: Lewis Carroll's Alice books, particularly the adventures Through the Looking Glass; a collection of Andersen's fairy tales; and a collection of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories and poems.

Post-weekend Update

Tuesday, May 27th, 2003 02:24 pm
hummingwolf: (two)
Congratulations to my friend Rory who finally graduated from law school!

Friday night was spent with old friends celebrating Rory's graduation. Hung out a bit at Jenny's house feeling terribly underdressed as certain people spent the time deciding which of their fabulous outfits they had to wear (all of which looked good, of course), then seven of us went to The Melting Pot in Annapolis where there was much laughter, merriment, and pigging out. Mmm... chocolate fondue. It was great seeing everybody again!

The original plan had been for me to stay over at a friend's house so they could take me to the graduation on Saturday, but I didn't feel that well on Friday and figured I wouldn't be up for the celebrations on Saturday too. Sometimes I hate being right. Most of Saturday had to be spent in bed, exhausted.

This weekend's accomplishments: Finished Ben Elton's Dead Famous. Read Charles Williams' Shadows of Ecstasy. Did some laundry, but I'm always doing some laundry. Tried to declog a slow drain, got it to the point where water wouldn't flow through it at all, then finally managed to clear things out. Exciting weekend, eh?

After a brief change of pace yesterday when a little bit of sun peeked through the clouds, the sky has reverted to unchanging grey. It could be seven in the morning, it could be seven at night, it could be the grey city in The Great Divorce for all I can tell.

My sleepy brain keeps trying to make weird connections and I think it might succeed at some point today. If I ever had mystical experiences I'd say I was ripe for one now; as it is, I'll probably just come up with another strange thing to do to chocolate chip cookies. The Underworld track "Cups" fits my mood perfectly, though I can't explain why.

No excuse.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2002 04:12 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Default)
I understand that there are a great many unfortunate people in the world. Having lived through my own health problems, financial problems, family problems, and suchlike, I deeply sympathize with those who suffer through situations which most in our society would prefer to believe could never happen to them. And it is undeniably true that the horrific things which happen to people can make them commit acts which they would heretofore never have even considered, much less performed.

Even so, it doesn't matter if you have some variant of arthritis which makes it impossible for you to hold a pen or type while leaving you able to wield a pair of scissors--or that you have some learning disability leaving you able to read yet unable to write--or that you are too poor to pay the fifteen cents per page that the library charges for copies--or even that you are so friendless and bereft of all social graces that you cannot find someone willing to help you out with simple tasks. Even for you, this is an absolute commandment: Do not EVER cut out the last paragraph of a book you've borrowed from the public library.

Sometimes I wish they'd bring back public floggings.

(no subject)

Saturday, August 24th, 2002 06:45 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Default)
So there's this friend I've been trying to encourage to be bold, to go after his dreams, to take the risks necessary to get what he truly wants out of life. And finally it sinks in (I can be awfully slow sometimes) that his greatest dream is to never have to take risks again, to play it safe even if it means effacing his personality, rubbing out his Self entirely for the sake of being... what? Nothing. For the sake of a kind of peace only available to the dead.

I have no words to express how much this disturbs me.


In other news, we got water back a little before 1 p.m., which is a good thing 'cos otherwise I'd have been dodging paint cans at a departing housemate's new house just to get a shower. Yes, I really was that desperate to get clean--and then I went & spoiled it after my shower by getting sweaty all over again carrying water from the fire hydrant they were flushing to the trees in our yard. Hey, no sense wasting perfectly good (albeit slightly rusty) water during a drought, right?


Oh, and a book recommendation for anyone with any disability that's not apparent to the naked eye--diabetes, fibromyalgia, depression, whatever--Living Well With a Hidden Disability: Transcending Doubt and Shame and Reclaiming Your Life by Stacy Taylor & Robert Epstein. Just finished reading that one. Now working on one that's not illness-related, Transforming Fire: Women Using Anger Creatively by Kathleen Fischer. Yeah, I'm going for the light reading this month.

Quote of the Day

Friday, May 31st, 2002 03:45 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Default)
Actually would've been my quote of the day a couple weeks ago if I'd bothered to type it up. Vic loved it too, so she typed it up and I've only had to copy it from her diary. Yay for other people doing all the work. ::grin::
It's from Gaiman. Read it 'cos it's good, okay? )

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