Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Performative Reading

Ho, this is legit.

-- If you are a humanities professor, you say something that is clearly pleasure-reading, but at least vaguely cerebral. Witty mysteries about British academics are good, or the sort of science fiction that doesn't have aliens on the cover.

-- If you are a university administrator, you say that you are reading the university Common Reading book, or something by one of the writers who will be visiting for the Writers' Symposium in October. Either way, it is very interesting and you are enjoying it very much. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Here's a Mystery

What is up with reliable scholars and otherwise intelligent people who cite The Daily Mail like it's a reliable source?

I mean, I don't expect everyone to understand how to evaluate evidence. But clearly someone who is educated should be able to do so. Surely someone who makes their living as a scholar should be able to do so.

Is this ignorance, or is it malicious? (Why not both!)

Friday, September 14, 2018

World Science Fiction

So I'm teaching a course in World Science Fiction next semester.

These are the books I'm making them buy:

Joanna Sinisalo, The Core of the Sun 
ISBN-13: 978-0802124647
Grove Press

Jo Walton, Thessaly (or The Just City) 
ISBN-13: 978-0765332660
Tor Books

Octavia Butler, Bloodchild 
Seven Stories Press

N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky 
ISBN-13: 978-0316229296

In Other Lands, Sarah Rees Brennan
ISBN-13: 978-1618731203
Big Mouth House

The Other Half of the Sky, ed Athena Andreadis
ISBN-13: 978-1936460441
Candlemark & Gleam

I'm also having them read a couple of online manga/webcomics (not the entire series, just chapters) and showing them a couple of movies. The movies aren't decided yet, but I'm thinking Snowpiercer and Train to Busan might be among them.

Thoughts? I'm especially up for short story and movie reccs.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

What I'm Reading

Being so sick for so long meant I had very little strength to do anything. Even watching media took too much out of me -- I could watch about half an episode of something like Brooklyn 99, for instance, and then I would be too exhausted to continue, and have to go lie down for awhile.

On the other hand, somehow reading wasn't exhausting at all. So I've read a lot over the past few weeks. These are the new books I read and finished. (I reread a lot of old books -- Connie Willis's Passage, for instance, which is excellent; and Middlemarch for about the 10th time, but I won't include those.)

Image result for helen dewitt the last samuraiHelen DeWitt, The Last Samurai

This is a re-issue of a book published originally in 2000, which I didn't know when I picked it up. It's pretty much nothing like the sort of book I usually like, since DeWitt is playing with form and voice and structure, while my usual favorite books are straight-ahead narratives.

But I highly recommend this one. Despite the structural games, DeWitt never loses the reader, and despite the somewhat standard plot (boy searching for his father), the book is never less than fascinating. This is accomplished mostly through voice, I think -- we really like DeWitt's two main characters, and we never get tired of listening to them. It's also a real page-turner. I was caught from the opening pages, and despite being too ill to walk across the room, stayed up very late both days that I was reading this.

It's a big fat book, too, so if you like long narratives, that's another plus.

Sinclair Lewis, The World So Wide, Cass Timberlane

These are two of Lewis's lesser novels, one of which I had never read entirely, and the other I had never read at all. They're typical later Lewis -- a bored upper middle-class man and his marital troubles. World So Wide takes us to Italy, and it's readable but nothing much happens. Cass Timberlane is about being married in the Midwest in 1940. It's the better book, but neither is Lewis at his best. Recommended only for enormous Sinclair Lewis fans.

Image result for mary robinette kowal the fated sky
Mary Robinette Kowal, The Fated Sky

This is the sequel to MRK's The Calculating Stars, which I liked a good deal. I expected to like this one even more, given the buzz around the interwebs about it, but in fact I didn't enjoy it nearly as much. MRK goes heavy on the science detail here, which isn't bad exactly, and probably some people will like it. Lots of  minute detail about what an astronaut would say to another astronaut while establish orbit, data like that.

It's not bad that all this detail is included, but it left less room for developing characters and scenes between the characters. I could have used more of that and less of the authentic detailing of astronaut business.

I'm hoping for a third book, though -- get us to Mars. Show us what settling the planet might be like.

Laurie King, Califia's Daughters

Image result for Laurie King Califia's daughters reviewLaurie King writes the Sherlock Holmes series I like, about the elderly Sherlock Holmes and his young woman partner, which starts with The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I do love that series, and if you haven't read it yet, it's so much fun.

This is an entirely different sort of book, and also a lot of fun -- though it gets grim in the middle, so be warned. It's about a post-apocalyptic world in which most men have died out, due to some sort of sex-linked virus. Women run the surviving world, and men are heavily protected (for their own good!). The main character is a young woman, Dian, who scouts and travels for her family, along with her pack of dogs. The best part is probably the relationship between Dian and these dogs. I'd read a sequel (there isn't one, sadly) just to spend more time with the dogs.

But it's also a great post-apocalyptic novel, for all y'all who (like me) love such things. Recommended!

John Varley, Irontown Blues

I love John Varley, especially his older books -- the stories and novels set in the Eight Worlds universe. So when this one showed up in my reccs, I bought it.

It's not a bad book. Very readable, as all Varley's books are. But it's just Steel Beach rehashed. Meh.

Monday, September 03, 2018

New Posts at Cooking with delagar

I've put up two new posts over at Cooking with delagar -- both of them student-level cheap meals.

Chicken gruel

Black beans

These are mainly for the Kid, who is living in their first apartment this semester, but all y'all who as broke as I am might like them too!

Labor Day Weekend

As I'm still recovering from that bout of illness, I'm pleased to have this long weekend.

By the way, if your stomach flu lasts longer than 24 hours, you should seek medical attention at once. #ThingsILearnedTooLate

I didn't go for over two weeks, because I'd always gotten better on my own before, so why wouldn't I this time? Also because my insurance deductible is so high, I hate to use my health insurance at all.

So by the time I finally went to the doctor,  I was so seriously dehydrated that I gave myself an acute kidney injury. It looks like I'm going to recover and my kidneys are also -- slowly -- beginning to recover. But it was a near thing.

For profit health care is the best. (Sarc, in case you were confused.)

Thursday, August 30, 2018


It's pouring rain here, with lots of thunder. This is the Arkansas weather I signed up for.

My health is much improved, and my appetite has come roaring back. God, it's good not to be queasy all the time.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Being Ill Not for the Weak

The antibiotics the doc put me on seem to be helping, but they have destroyed what little appetite I had left.

This, combined with having to drink first Gatorade and then Pedialyte, which are both really nasty, you will be interested to hear, means I'm having a hard time eating anything, even if it isn't nutritionally dense.

Also, I'm supposed to stay away from nutritionally dense things. "Simple carbs," the doc said. "No fiber. No dairy. Nothing that has a lot of fat. Not much protein. No sugar."

"Okay," I said, thinking through the sorts of things I eat, wondering what that left. "So... like rice?"

"Or mashed potatoes."

I'm thinking whether bagels would be simple carbs. But I've never eaten a bagel without cream cheese or at least butter.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Update Post

Y'all, I've been deathly ill for the past two weeks. I think I picked up food poisoning at a restaurant, eating vegetable tempura that wasn't cooked sufficiently, but who knows.

I tried to gut it out (pun intended), but yesterday finally gave in and went to see my doctor. (This was after I couldn't walk across the campus to my class without stopping to rest on the way.)

My bp when the nurse took it was 90/50. This is caused by dehydration, in case you're curious.

Now I'm on two different antibiotics and have been ordered to drink Gatorade. I don't know if you've ever had Gatorade. Bleck, is my evaluation. But I am drinking it.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Heh, yes

Shared by The Guardian:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Links

Have some links for your Sunday!

This is great

So is this

This, OTOH, makes me want to kick things

Interesting though a bit gruesome

This is the future the liberals want

Why are black people still upset when slavery was over in 1865 I have no idea

I don't think this makes the argument the authors think it does

Banning burqas, or any other form of religious expression, is a terrible idea. Also it doesn't work. Also, don't @ me with your "but feminism!" argument because that is also bullshit.

Grammar purity is also bullshit

This, however, is beautiful

As is this

(Sample from last link:

Reaping What I've Sown

Since my recent illness, I've had trouble eating. The thought of food makes me queasy, which means I don't eat until I'm really hungry. And then once I've eaten, almost everything I eat makes me even more queasy. (I've stopped vomiting but it's still pretty unpleasant.)

So I've been looking for food I can eat that will keep me from being hungry and yet won't make me ill. So far cheese is the biggest win, but also perfectly ripe bananas work, as well as some (very bland) yogurts.

But you see the problem. This is a very limited diet. So I've been stalking the stores, searching for food I can eat which will also provide me with more nutritional benefit than my current diet (though bananas are pretty good, nutritionally).

But the point of this story: I've been using the term "nutritionally dense," which the Kid hates. "I need something nutritionally dense," I mutter as I wander the grocery. "I could probably eat oatmeal, but it's not very nutritionally dense."

"Nutritionally dense is a made up term," the Kid seethes. I actually got it from the Kid, who learned it in health class in high school. "It's bullshit."

"I can't live on cheese forever," I say. "It's just not nutritionally dense enough."

"It's a ridiculous term! It was invented to make us feel terrible about what we're eating!"

"Peanut butter is nutritionally dense," I say, "but bread makes me queasy. I guess I could just eat peanut butter on its own."

"It's a term invented by the patriarchy to oppress women and control our lives!"

At this point I began laughing.

"What?" the Kid demanded.

"That's a good one," I said. "Excellent technique."

"Oh, shut up."

"You know exactly the argument to use against me."

The Kid is grinning now too. "It's true, though. The patriarchy --"

"Okay, okay. How about we find some food I can eat that isn't cheese? How would that be?"

"You should try ginger tea," the Kid says, heading for the tea and coffee aisle. "Or maybe ginger ale."

"Those don't sound very nutritionally dense," I say, and the Kid rounds on me. I laugh. "Now I'm just fucking with you," I point out.

Life in the delagar household.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

My Kid and also a link

You should stop by this post at Nicole and Maggie's blog for two reasons.

One, their excellent links on what you can do (this is a frequent feature at their blog -- just saying). We often feel, or at least I often feel, helpless in the face of this much corruption and evil, and N&M give us do-able things we can do to help stop the destruction.

Two, the tweet from Merriam-Webster about the word genderqueer.

Here's a self-portrait from my genderqueer Kid to go with:

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Attempting Discourse with Trump Supporters

After spending months at it now, I have reached the conclusion that it is useless to attempt an exchange of ideas with Trump supporters in the market place of ideas.

Here is what always happens:

Trump supporter: (Says something bizarre and obviously untrue, such as that schools in Oklahoma have banned the Pledge of Allegiance.)

Me: "I don't think that's true. I have several ex-students who teach in Oklahoma, and all their schools say the Pledge every morning."

Trump Supporter: "Well, I know it's true, because it happened at my friend's school! Where she teaches!"

Me: "What school is that?"

Trump supporter: "And it's happening everywhere, because LIBERALS hate the flag!"

Me: "Do you have examples of the places where it is happening? I've just done a google search, and I don't see any reports of anything like that happening any reliable media sources."

Trump supporter: "What do you consider reliable? The New York Times? LIBERAL BIAS!"

Me: "Do you have a reliable source that says this is happening in Oklahoma?"

Trump Supporter: "Why are you so ANGRY about this?"

Me: "You've given no evidence, except an anecdotal claim. Why should we believe this is true? Surely if this were actually happening, someone would be reporting on it somewhere."

Trump Supporter: "Why don't you give me evidence that it's NOT happening?"

Me: "I did. There's no media coverage. If all the schools in Oklahoma had banned the pledge, Fox News would be talking about it non-stop. You know that's true."

Trump Supporter: "I don't even watch Fox News! Stop condescending to me!"

Me: "You're repeating lies as if they were the truth, and getting other people to believe them. That's not okay."

Trump Supporter: "Don't call me a liar! Just like a liberal, always start insulting people when they're losing!"

And so on, endlessly. Trump supporters will never admit they're wrong, even when they obviously are. They will dismiss any evidence you give them as "liberal bias" or "liberal lies." And they will go straight to the "why are you so angry/mean/elitist" as soon as they start losing.

I'm an educator, and I have kept giving in to the urge to educate, certain that if I just present evidence and data in a reasonable way, learning can occur. People can change.

But Trump supporters dismiss any evidence or reason that contradicts their worldview. They are not using rational creatures. They are a cult.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Tuition Waiver

I went into school to turn in the tuition waiver for the Kid's fall semester. This is always such a hassle. I mean, it's absolutely worth it, since we get 40% off the tuition*. But jeez.

Every semester, there is some new required bit of paperwork. The required paperwork isn't actually listed on the form -- you don't find out exactly what you need until you try to turn in the paperwork, and then some apologetic human resources person says, Yes, you've got the waiver filled out correctly, and yes, you have the copy of your income tax form, showing this kid is actually your dependent, and yes, you have the enrollment confirmation, but this year we want (X) also!

So you have to go find that thing and make a second (sometimes a third, if the thing you find isn't the exact right thing) trip to file the paperwork.

It used to be just the waiver and the enrollment confirmation. Now it's like six different forms.

Still worth it, yes, but irksome.

*Nothing else, not the fees, not the room and board -- all of which are the most expensive part of a university education -- just 40% off the tuition itself. Still, this comes to almost $3000 saved per academic year, and that's not nothing.