40 Years Ago Today

Aug. 20th, 2017 04:56 pm
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The United States of America, then an independent nation, launched Voyager 2

I wonder if any of the people involved realized it would still be going two generations later?

Read more... )

Polar Bears

Aug. 20th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Polar Bear_6


Katajjaq, iirngaaq, piqqusiraarniq, qiarvaaqtuq, and nipaquhiit are different names for a form of rhythmic throat singing practiced in the far northern reaches of North America, in which the two singers face each other, using each other’s mouths as resonators.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon

So, last night, just as we were going to bed, we had a bat invasion.  Followed a fun-filled 45 minutes while we convinced the coon cats that it was not their bat, but our bat; got Scrabble back from the Big Dark Outside, when she strolled while we were holding the door open for the bat to exit; and last but not least, I executed a net-throw that would have won applause in any gladiatorial display, and brought the bat down mid-flight, into the shopping bag that Steve was holding ready.

Yes, sometimes we really are that good.  The “net” by the way, was a mosquito net meant to be worn over a hat.  Here’s a picture.

The bat was taken outside and released, whereupon we went to bed, but the coon cats did not, choosing instead to prowl the house, looking for their bat.

Well.

As of this morning, Sleeping with the Enemy: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available in paper from Amazon only.  Here’s your link.

I will be converting the rest of the chapbooks as I have time and energy.  Nothing like a firm schedule, am I right?

As of this writing, in addition to Sleeping. . .  Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23and Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 are also available in digital and paper editions.

And, now, having goofed off much of the morning; it’s time to go to work.

See you on the flip-side.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by — of course! — Meatloaf, “Bat out of Hell.”  Here’s your link.

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[personal profile] rolanni

So, last night, just as we were going to bed, we had a bat invasion.  Followed a fun-filled 45 minutes while we convinced the coon cats that it was not their bat, but our bat; got Scrabble back from the Big Dark Outside, when she strolled while we were holding the door open for the bat to exit; and last but not least, I executed a net-throw that would have won applause in any gladiatorial display, and brought the bat down mid-flight, into the shopping bag that Steve was holding ready.

Yes, sometimes we really are that good.  The "net" by the way, was a mosquito net meant to be worn over a hat.  Here's a picture.

The bat was taken outside and released, whereupon we went to bed, but the coon cats did not, choosing instead to prowl the house, looking for their bat.

Well.

As of this morning, Sleeping with the Enemy: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available in paper from Amazon only.  Here's your link.

I will be converting the rest of the chapbooks as I have time and energy.  Nothing like a firm schedule, am I right?

As of this writing, in addition to Sleeping. . .  Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23and Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 are also available in digital and paper editions.

And, now, having goofed off much of the morning; it's time to go to work.

See you on the flip-side.

Today's blog post title brought to you by -- of course! -- Meatloaf, "Bat out of Hell."  Here's your link.

Penric's Fox doing well

Aug. 20th, 2017 08:37 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
...it just hit #121 on the Amazon sales rankings this morning. I am hoping it will crack two figures at some point on its initial sales arc, but since they change hourly, that's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it proposition.

Amazon sales rankings are a snare and a delusion and clickbait, which I suppose means they're working fine for Amazon, but they are the only real-time feedback an author can have, which is a new thing in the world. One used to have to wait up to a year and a half for the first royalty report for data on how one's baby book was doing had done out there in the world.

Speaking of "Fox", I meant to post this quote from a reader who had never read any of the Penric & Desdemona tales, and kindly agreed to test drive it: "Did it stand alone? Absolutely."

I've already spotted some reviews from old readers insisting, wrongly, it must be otherwise, which makes it much like other series work I've done. The most frustrating lately was for Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, with scads of old readers putting off new ones by claiming they had to read umpty-ump other books first, and the few new ones who slipped through the net, and read the book in front of them just as it was, saying it was fine.

(The latter, sadly small, group may actually have had a better and clearer read due to not having to fight through a forest of settled preconceptions first.)

So I think it might be better to take advice only from new readers, on this point.

Ta, L.




posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 20

Universal Monster History

Aug. 20th, 2017 11:40 am
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[personal profile] stickmaker

 

 

Universal Monster History

 

by

 

Rodford Edmiston

 

 

 

 

This was assembled from a combination of watching many hours of old movies and talking about them with like-minded folks, as well as searching online. Corrections, additions and opinions are welcome. 

 

 

1880s Heinrich (Henry) von Frankenstein completes his medical studies in Ingolstadt and returns to the ancestral castle home in the Swiss Bavarian village of Frankenstein, near the German border. 

 

1890s Henry - bored with the local politics and unable to practice medicine - begins researching the origins of life. He builds a modern (for the time) laboratory in an old watchtower near the castle. 

 

1898, Spring The Monster is created. (Frankenstein)

 

1898, Summer Henry and Elizabeth marry. The old Baron dies, and Henry inherits the title. 

 

1899, Spring Henry's old teacher - Dr. Pretorius - arrives in Frankenstein and encourages his student to continue his work by creating a mate for his Monster. The Bride homunculus is created, then destroyed by the Monster, along with Dr. Pretorius and the watchtower. (Bride of Frankenstein)

 

1905 Wolf von Frankenstein born. Lawrence (Larry) Talbot born.

 

1906 Ludwig von Frankenstein born. Later inherits the family estate in Vasaria, Austria.

 

1923 Larry Talbot leaves his family home to go to the US, where he eventually becomes an accomplished telescope maker and technician in Los Angeles.

 

1928 Wolf von Frankenstein marries American heiress Elsa. They meet while he is studying medicine in the US. She is of Swiss descent, from a disentitled but wealthy branch of a noble family. Wolf's younger brother Ludwig later names his eldest child in honor of his mother's aunt. This daughter later inherits her father's titles and properties. 

 

1929 Henry dies, and is buried with his experimental records in a secret crypt under the ruined watchtower. These include his work with Dr. Pretorius on the creation of the Bride homunculus and what survived of the documents Pretorius brought with him.

 

1930 Elizabeth moves the family to Vasaria.

 

1931 A vampire identifying himself as Count Dracula arrives in London. (Dracula)

 

Countess Marya Zaleska arrives to claim her father's body and attempt to break the family curse. (Daughter of Dracula)

 

Though she cremates his body, this is on an open funeral pyre and she leaves quickly, before the body is completely consumed. Afterwards someone discovers Dracula's skeleton, which is not only still intact but articulated, with the stake and Dracula's distinctive ring in place. Somehow, the skeleton is later acquired by a showman. 

 

Dr. Gustav Niemann - inspired by the accomplishments of Henry von Frankenstein - attempts the first known brain transplant. This fails, disastrously. He is subsequently sentenced to prison. (Dr. Niemann is the brother of Henry Frankenstein's assistant, Fritz Niemann.)

 

1935 Werwolf of London

 

During the next decade the supernatural and bizarre seem to be stimulated by the world's descent into war. 

 

1937 Mad shepherd Ygor hung, but survives. Begins living in the watchtower. Discovers and befriends the Monster.

 

1939 Wolf von Frankenstein returns to his ancestral home. (Son of Frankenstein)

 

Following these events, Wolf gives Ludwig both his notes on his study of the Monster and many of the records from their father's library. He may be unaware of the journals and notes interred with his father. 

 

1940 Ygor takes the weakened Monster to Vasaria to seek the aid of Ludwig von Frankenstein. (Ghost of Frankenstein 1943) 

 

After he is badly injured by the Monster, Ygor's brain is transplanted into its body. Shortly after - during a confrontation between the Igor Monster and Ludwig - he falls into a glacial cavern beneath the hospital. 

(Both Vasaria and the cross-border sister town of Visaria are a three-day wagon ride from Frankenstein village.)

 

1941 Larry Talbot returns to his family home in Llanwelly, Wales. There he becomes the Wolfman and is apparently killed by his father. (The Wolfman)

 

Sometime during this period, traveling showman Bruno Lampini acquires the staked body of "the original" Count Dracula.

 

1943 (Son of Dracula)

 

1945 With the War over, Europe tries to settle into a period of recovery. However, it was not to be, at least on the monster front. 

 

The tomb of Lawrence Talbot is violated by grave robbers. Revived by the full Moon, the Wolfman kills both of the men who disturbed his rest. Larry Talbot is later found wandering the streets with a severe head wound and amnesia. He comes under the care of surgeon and psychiatrist Frank Mannering. Eventually, he reconnects with Maleva. Together, they travel to Vasaria and Talbot finds the Monster frozen in glacial ice under the wreckage of the hospital. Dr. Mannering arrives and agrees to help cure or kill Talbot. Larry lures Baroness Elsa Frankenstein back to Vasaria, and convinces her to help him, as long as that includes destroying the Monster. She reveals the hiding place of Ludwig's notes. Eventually, both the Wolfman and the Monster are washed back into the ice cavern when the dam is blown. (Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman 1943)

 

Dr. Niemann and Daniel are freed from Neustadt Prison in a freak thunderstorm. 

 

Niemann and Daniel travel to the ruined Frankenstein castle in Vasaria, hoping to find Ludwig's lost records. They discover the Monster and Talbot frozen in ice in the cavern below. Talbot finds Ludwig's records and the group (which by now included the Rom woman Ilonka) travels to Niemann's old lab near Visaria (not Vasaria; a city with a similar name just across the border in Germany). During the second full Moon after their arrival Ilonka shoots the Wolfman with a silver bullet, dying in the process.

 

Alarmed by the horrible events of the past few weeks (Wolfman murders, kidnappings, strange doings at the old lab) villagers storm the lab. Niemann is injured and the Monster carries him into the grassy bog, but the villagers set fire to the grass. The Monster moves deeper into the bog - ignoring Niemann's warnings of quicksand - until they both sink into it. (House of Frankenstein 1944)

 

1947 Dr. Franz Edelmann purchases Niemann's laboratory and - with his assistants Milizia and the hunchbacked Nina - turns it in to a medical research and experimental treatment institution.

 

Dr. Edelmann has been working on a mysterious fungus, the clavaria formosa (One wonders what connection this might have with the elusive Mariphasa lumina lupina plant. Perhaps the fungus infested the plant or its soil, unknown to Dr. Glendon and Dr. Yogami?) to produce extracts which have the ability to reshape bone structure. What he does not know is that the same fluid can temporarily prevent werewolves from transforming.

 

Roughly a year later, a mysterious man calling himself Baron Latos arrives. He tempts Edelmann into delving into more arcane areas by pretending he wants to be cured of his vampirism. He also claims to be Dracula himself, though he provides little support for this. Lawrence Talbot arrives not long after, also seeking a cure. At one point, despairing of a cure before the full Moon rises that night, Talbot throws himself off a cliff. Seeking him, the Doctor finds both Talbot and the Monster. The latter was carried into the caverns by the quicksand, and though quiescent is still alive and holding the skeleton of Dr. Niemann. 

 

Exactly what Latos's original plans are is uncertain, but among other things he contaminates Dr. Edelmann with his blood. Despite this, Edelmann, Talbot and Milizia destroy the vampire with sunlight. Soon after - even though he is periodically transforming into his own monstrous form - Edelmann manages to temporarily cure Talbot. Villagers - believing the monstrous form of Edelmann is the Wolfman - follow him to the laboratory. Edelmann revives the Monster, but it is very weak. Edelmann kills Nina and fights the police and Talbot. Larry grabs a gun and shoots Edelmann. A fire starts, and the Monster is trapped inside; Talbot and the surviving attackers flee. (House of Dracula 1945)

 

1948 Larry Talbot discovers a plot by Dracula to revitalize the Monster in the United States. (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein)

 

This is apparently the "real" Dracula, or at least the individual who appeared in London in Dracula. Talbot identifies him as Dracula, but makes no mention of Baron Latos, his presumably only previous encounter with Dracula. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klausenburgh is a Romanian city in the Carpathian Mountains not far from Castle Dracula

 

Transylvania was the home of a 10,000 year-old werewolf queen known as Stirba. (The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf)

Chimpanzee

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:06 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Chimpanzee_8


Someone is posting fake news on the Internet, but don’t worry, chimp’s on it.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

I am very disturbed by your reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-12. You made a statement condemning "hate and violence" initially, but since then, you seem determined to make everyone forget that the rally ever happened, that white men carrying Nazi flags, making Nazi salutes, and chanting Nazi slogans marched through an American city--and that a woman is dead because one of them thought he could get away with ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in broad daylight.

What's even worse is your reaction to President Trump's appalling speech. You have said you "don't think" Trump is a racist, although you can't offer any reasons for that belief, and the most negative thing you have yet said about his speech is that "it didn't move us closer. It certainly didn't put the issue behind us."

Senator, it's not clear to me what you think the "issue" is.

You have not spoken out against the racism of the rally. You have not condemned the white nationalist principles of its organizers. You haven't even gone so far as to say that you are anti-fascist. This isn't hard, Senator. "Nazis are evil" is not a complicated or difficult concept. And yet it's one you don't seem to grasp.

You want us to "put the divisive issues off to the side" and "accentuate the positive." By which you mean, you want there to be no consequences of this Nazi terrorist action. You want those of us who are not white men to, once again, swallow the insult and injury offered to us because we are being "divisive" by pointing out that these alt-right Nazis want us dead and are demonstrably ready and willing to kill us themselves.

That's what the fuss is about, Senator. That's why some of us are so unreasonable as to not yet be ready to "put the issue behind us."

Moreover, your call for unity is alarming. I'm willing to extend you the benefit of the doubt--perhaps you genuinely don't know this--but the root of the word fascism, and the concept at the movement's core, is the fasces, the bundle of sticks that is stronger together than any one stick would be by itself. Fascists are all about unity, and when you call for "unity" in the wake of a fascist attack, and when it is clear that by "unity" what you mean is that non-whites and non-males need to sit down, shut up, and stop rocking the boat, I think a person is justified in wondering what you, yourself, think about fascism.

So that's my question to you, Senator. Are you pro- or anti-fascist? It's a very simple question, requiring only a one sentence answer.

I eagerly await your public response.



[ETA: I have emailed this letter to Senator Johnson, and will send a hard copy tomorrow. Plus I have sent a shortened version of this letter both to my tiny local paper and to the Capital Times.]

UBC: Schiff, The Witches [audio]

Aug. 20th, 2017 08:53 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
The Witches: Salem, 1692The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


[library]

To get it out of the way, I hated the audio book reader. HATED. She sounded like a local TV news reporter doing a "human interest" story (smugly supercilious, like she finds it all too precious for words), and she had this way of pronouncing sixteen ninety-two that drove me UP THE WALL ("Sixteen ninedy-twoo" is the best rendering I can give; it made me understand why non-Americans can find American accents grating.) When quoting anyone's testimony, she over-emphasized and poured sincerity over the words like maple syrup over pancakes, making everyone sound like Gertrude, who doth protest too much. And The Witches is a VERY LONG book, so I was trapped with this woman's voice for a VERY LONG TIME. (I would have stopped, except that I sincerely wanted to hear the book, moreso than I wanted to get away from ther reader's voice, but it was sometimes a very close call.)

Okay. Aside from that.

This is really an excellent book on the Salem witchcraft-crisis. I don't agree with Schiff at all points (e.g., she's clearly following Breslaw in her assessment of Tituba's testimony, and I don't agree that that's the tipping point of the crisis), but she has done something that no one else writing on Salem has done, and it's something that needed doing. Schiff traces the relationships between the participants and she traces the history of those relationships back from the 1690s to the 1680s to the 1670s. Boyer and Nussbaum made a start at this sort of analysis in Salem:Possessed, but Schiff demonstrates how limited their analysis was, as she examines the web of relationships between afflicted persons, accused witches, judges, ministers, all the way up and down the social ladder from the indigent Sarah Good to the governor of the colony, Sir William Phips. This is a researcher's tour de force, and Schiff is a good, clear writer whose explanations are easy to follow, even when heard instead of read.

My biggest quibble with her is the same quibble I have with almost all scholars who write about Salem. She ends up making it sound like the entire thing was a series of nested frauds rather than the result of anyone's genuine belief in witches and witchcraft. I've talked about this in other reviews, how to a modern reader, it seems almost impossible that it could be anything but fraud and how hard-bordering-on-impossible it is for us to understand, much less enter into, the Puritan worldview, their sincere belief that they were at the center of the cosmic struggle between Go(o)d and (D)evil (sorry, can't resist the wordplay) and their sincere belief that the Devil was real and walking in New England. Puritanism was a culture that enshrined delusions of persecution/grandeur and in that culture witchcraft made sense in a literal way it doesn't in ours. And some of it was fraud. Some of the afflicted persons confessed as much. But fraud alone did not kill twenty-five people (19 were hanged, 1 pressed to death, 5 died in prison, 2 of them infants), and that's the weak spot in Schiff's otherwise excellent book.



View all my reviews
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[personal profile] truepenny
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS JeannetteIn the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


[library]

This was extremely entertaining, and taught me a great deal about the WACKED-OUT science of the late 19th century, with its paleocrystic seas and thermal gateways. It also provides excellent competence porn, as George De Long, his chief engineer George Melville, and the ship's doctor James Ambler were all insanely good at their jobs, and had plenty of opportunities to show it in the two years the U.S.S. Jeannette was trapped in the Arctic pack ice. (There's a fabulous piece of CSI: Jeannette as Dr. Ambler tracked down the cause of the lead poisoning that was slowly killing the crew.) 20 of the 33 members of the crew, including De Long, died in Siberia after exhibiting more epic heroism than should have been allowed to end in failure (but history, unlike fiction, does not care about your heroism), and the Jeannette's voyage remains eclipsed by the Erebus and the Terror

Trigger warning: aside from the ghastly deaths of De Long, Ambler, and most of the crew, horrible and cruel things happen to sled dogs, polar bears, and innumerable Arctic birds.

The audio book reader was competent and mostly a pleasure to listen to, except for his habit of raising the pitch of his voice when quoting women's writing and lowering the pitch of his voice when quoting men. This makes all the men sound excessively MANLY, and makes Emma De Long sound like a simpering idiot, when it's clear she was anything but.



View all my reviews

UBC: Reis, Damned Women

Aug. 20th, 2017 07:51 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New EnglandDamned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England by Elizabeth Reis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I hate starting a review with "this book was meh," but . . . this book was meh.

Reis' thesis is that in seventeenth-century Puritan New England, when everyone was obsessed with scrutinizing their souls for signs of damnation or salvation, and when a central event in a person's life was likely to be their conversion testimony (you stand up in front of the church you want to join and tell the church members how you came to realize that (a) you were a sinful crawling worm and (b) God had chosen you to be among the Elect regardless), while men tended to say that their sinful actions corrupted their souls, women were much more likely to say that their corrupted souls led them to sinful actions. She talks about how this led (or might have led) to women's confessions of witchcraft--if you view sin as a continuum, and if your corrupted soul means you cannot deny that you are sinful at heart, then how can you be certain that you aren't a witch?

Reis proves her thesis, and it's a subject I'm quite interested in, but the book itself just . . . meh. It was a book. I read it. If you're researching the subject either of Puritan witchcraft or the experience of Puritan women, it's definitely worth reading. Otherwise, not so much.



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Justfiably Tired

Aug. 19th, 2017 11:35 pm
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[personal profile] billroper
I got up early this morning for softball practice, despite Katie being off on a Girl Scout trip that is going to result in her missing the first game of the fall season on Sunday. (I think this is a good choice on her part; this trip was booked months ago.) It was a good thing that I did, because by the end of practice, there were only two of us running it for a variety of good reasons. :)

This was followed by joining Gretchen and Julie for lunch and a bit of shopping. I now have a new pillow, which I needed badly. Julie has claimed my old pillow for her own. Oh, dear. And some glove oil to help break in the new catcher's mitt and some scorebooks. And deli meat for dinner.

Late in the afternoon, we all went to the pool.

And now, I am really tired and have to get up early tomorrow morning for the game.

You know, the start of school on Monday may actually allow me to get more sleep... :)
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Not so good to get to bed at 4am again, but at least sleeping till 2pm got me some, well, sleep.

Havva Quote
M__ should try Black Sails at some point.
w~~~~~~~ keeps briefly misreading as "Black Snails".
[anon@emit] "Arr," they say, oozing their way across the deck.


INwatch+Bookwatch )

Dragons under fold )

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