I have been a delinquent blogger as the semester hit me like a ton of bricks. Work has been good, if a touch too abundant, with three long papers recently submitted as a culmination of a summer of hard work. And now it’s proposal-writin’ time.
I must admit I don’t have much of an inspiration to blog, but I will share a few bits of pop culture that I have been enjoying at the fringes of a very busy life.
Fiction (these days, only sci-fi)
This book is really excellent. It is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. A really compelling story, beautifully executed, with thoroughly described characters.
(Spoiler alert: Harry is one of the kalachakra, people who keep on being reborn into their life over and over again, but retain all their memories from times past.)
I am looking forward to receiving a copy of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy. It should arrive tomorrow!
(Note: I tend to start reading non-fiction kind of from the middle, jump around a little first, and then settle and read from the start. Or not).
The book was beautifully written. Pinker deeply cares about the language and you can feel the love through his light, witty prose.
This one is objectively good. I think. If I try to be as dispassionate as I can, I admit it has all the needed parts and is definitely going to be useful to people, especially novice technical writers. It discusses the story arc, funneling, writing mostly with nouns and verbs, etc., all well-known tools that a good advisor would teach their students and postdocs about anyway. I guess it’s a good book if you are just starting out or are without much guidance. To be honest, it really irritated me. I found the writing patronizing and prescriptive. I suppose it was meant to be a textbook, but I found myself disagreeing with the author regarding some examples. Namely, Schimel would put up a bad piece of writing and then his own version that is supposedly much improved; I disliked quite strongly his improved versions a number of times. One trick for paring down text is to not overexplain what is assumed; yet I feel he assumes too much, and the text is often trimmed down to the point of obscurity. It may be the content of the examples, but being in a theoretical field, if I know one thing, it is that the writer ALWAYS assumes too much when discussing technical material. In one place he compacted a perfectly suitable syntagma into “this,” as in “… and the sky is blue because of this.” Longtime readers of the blog know that, at the sight of “this” or “that” without a noun following, I start twitching. So yeah. Objectively a good and useful book with a lot of examples, but I ended up very annoyed upon spot-reading it. Maybe I am not the intended audience. Or maybe the book just had the misfortune of me having read it after the beautiful “The Sense of Style.”
The Conflict: How Overzealous Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women
She basically states that natural motherhood — endless breastfeeding and baby-wearing and complete focus on the child at the expense of the woman’s individuality — are very effective at keeping women at home, out of the work force, away from professional advancement and economic independence, and they remove the father from the child-rearing sphere. The kid is the new tyrant. She is very much not the fan of the La Leche League and describes them in very strong language. It’s been a little while since I read the book, but it was well researched, with plenty of data on natality throughout the world over time, how government support didn’t do very much to raise the birth rate in the Scandinavian countries (Swedish women have fewer kids than Irish and American women where the society protections don’t exist), and effects of government and society support for motherhood. I found it to be a interesting read, but be aware that I am by no means a third-wave feminist, my views are much more old-school.
A great movie. Very well paced, well shot, suspenseful. Go see it. (I do love SF in general, so calibrate accordingly.)
I wish NASA were as well funded as the movie depicts.
by The Arcs
The album is good, but I wouldn’t call it great. If you were expecting The Black Keys, this ain’t it. The whole album sound like we’re underwater, which I presume fits well with the “dreamily” in the title. Other than “Out of My Mind,” I liked “Everything You Do (You Do For You)” and “Nature’s Child;” DH liked also “Cold Companion.” It’s a good album for proposal writing, unobtrusive. I have a feeling it will grow on me.
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
I have been listening to this one non-stop, it’s lovely. Florence Welch’s voice is amazing. She and Chrissy Hynde have the kind of voice that you can recognize in a million. The radio hits “Ship To Wreck” and “What Kind Of Man” are what made me get the album, which turned out great a whole. “Delilah,” How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” “Queen of Peace,” “Mother” are thus far my favorites, but the entire collection is excellent.