We should probably mail some algae and tardigrades to Mars and the water moons while we can.
I’m lecturing about Utopian/Dystopian SF this week. I’ve lectured on this before but I’m looking to up my game, so I’m open to suggestions. Lots of writings on or around this subject, as well as stories to choose from. We had a whole book event about Real Utopias here at CT. What critical writings in this vicinity do you find particularly insightful/interesting?
Yesterday I was browsing through The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, seeking inspiration/information. From the introduction to Kenneth M. Roemer, “Paradise Transformed: Varieties of 19th Century Utopias”:
My working definition of a literary utopia is a fairly detailed narrative description of an imaginary culture – a fiction that invites readers to experience vicariously an alternative reality that critiques theirs by opening intellectual and emotional spaces that encourage readers to perceive the realities and potentialities of their cultures in new ways. If the author and/or readers perceive the imaginary culture as being significantly better than their ‘present’ reality, then the work is a literary eutopia (or more commonly, a utopia); if significantly worse, it is a dystopia. (79)
This makes sense but has counter-intuitive implications. It’s going to follow that C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and Tolkien’s Middle Earth are utopian literature. There’s something just plain right about that, of course. Conservatives who mock utopians as head-in-the-clouds tellers of mere fairy tales, hence as naive, are often concerned to rehabilitate the ethics of elfland as morally improving. One of my broad themes, when I lecture, is the dominance of dystopia over utopia, in our literary imaginations. More Orwell and Huxley, less William Morris and Edward Bellamy. But obviously the 20th Century has given us not just literary dystopias, as a relatively new genre, but large-scale fantasy world-building, which might be said to fill the imaginative space – suck up the aspirational oxygen – that utopias need to thrive.
But, all the same, we don’t usually call The Hobbit – or Hogwarts – Utopia. Fairy tales and Utopian literature: not quite the same. See also: Heaven and Hell. We don’t slot all that in as socially utopian/dystopian even if we perfectly well know it’s no accident that utopian/dystopian literature arises in a Christian, or post-Christian culture.
It’s tempting to say we should narrow the definition to possible/plausible developments in our world. Utopian/dystopian literature tends to project perceived, existing social/cultural/technological tendencies in modern life into dreams and nightmares. We can’t move to Narnia, so it isn’t a candidate. Then again, some people think we can get to Heaven and Hell. Also, since ‘you can’t get there from here’ is a strong critique of many political utopias, ‘we have to be able to get there from here, possibly’ is a non-starter as a qualifying condition, starting with Plato. Utopia/dystopia is not always attempted social prediction/extrapolation. It can be exploration of values. I don’t think Ursula K. LeGuin was worried about the utility monster viability of her dystopian utopia, Omelas. Also, even when our dystopias are framed as plausible prediction/extrapolation from how things are, it seems fair to say that we typically gaze at the thing in the frame as a mirror of the present.
I’ll sign off with a bit of G.K. Chesterton, critiquing H.G. Wells, then doing precisely the thing he critiques. From “Mr. H.G. Wells and the Giants”, Chapter 5 of Heretics:
The one defect in his splendid mental equipment is that he does not sufficiently allow for the stuff or material of men. In his new Utopia he says, for instance, that a chief point of the Utopia will be a disbelief in original sin. If he had begun with the human soul – that is, if he had begun on himself – he would have found original sin almost the first thing to be believed in. He would have found, to put the matter shortly, that a permanent possibility of selfishness arises from the mere fact of having a self, and not from any accidents of education or ill-treatment. And the weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones. They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motor-car or balloon.
From “The Ethics of Elfland”, Chapter 4 of Orthodoxy:
When the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: “Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is.” Thus, at least, venerable and philanthropic old men now in their honoured graves used to talk to me when I was a boy. But since then I have grown up and have discovered that these philanthropic old men were telling lies. What has really happened is exactly the opposite of what they said would happen. They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother’s knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.
So which is it? Is it foolish to overlook the material infirmities of actual people, or is it foolish not to overleap these, for the sake of the dream on the other side?
The rest of “Mr. H.G. Wells and the Giants” is most interesting, for Chesterton’s reflections on the Superman theme. Maybe I’ll post about that later.
( But. (Spoilers, particularly after the first three paragraphs.) )
Request: "Hello there! Could I have a (Narnia) Edmund x Wife where he returns from a trip and his wife if there to greet him back, they hug and lots of kisses xD then she tells him she’s pregnant and Ed gets super excited then worries he won’t be a good Father.. you can time skip to when the baby is born if you’d like :D (boy? girl? twins? Idc your choice!) Thanks in advance …"
Words: 1505, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
- Fandoms: Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia - All Media Types, Chronicles of Narnia (Movies)
- Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
- Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
- Categories: F/M
- Characters: Edmund Pevensie, Reader, Peter Pevensie, Tumnus (Narnia), Lucy Pevensie, Susan Pevensie, Aslan (Narnia)
- Relationships: Edmund Pevensie/Original Female Character(s), Edmund Pevensie/Original Character(s), Edmund Pevensie/Reader
- Additional Tags: Pregnancy, Golden Age (Narnia), Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurts, I Wrote This Instead of Sleeping, Happy
( Read more... )
1. There is a meme going around Facebook about the five films you would tell someone to watch in order to understand you. I've been saying Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (1944), Ron Howard's Splash (1984), Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993), John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). Which is hardly complete, but adding postscripts feels like cheating, so I haven't. The internet being what it is, of course, I first saw this meme in the mutated form of the five weird meats you would tell someone to eat in order to understand you, to which I had no difficulty replying: venison, blood sausage, snails, goat, and raw salmon.
2. In other memetic news, I tried the Midwest National Parks' automatic costume generator:
and while I don't think "Paranoid Hellbender" is a good costume, it'd be a great hardcore band.
3. I haven't done an autumnal mix in a while, so here is a selection of things that have been seasonally rotating. This one definitely tips more toward Halloween.
( The sound of a thousand souls slipping under )
I would really like to be writing about anything.
(He stops short when he sees: Buffy sitting in the chair, Spike on his knees in front of her, holding her hand)
BUFFY: It's just so sudden. I don't know what to say.
SPIKE: Just say yes, and make me the happiest man on earth.
BUFFY: Oh, Spike! Of course it's yes! Giles! You'll never believe what's happened!
[Drabbles & Short Fiction]
- The Windsworth Coven Ch. 1 (Buffy/Spike, M) by Nela7
- His Dark Side (Angel/OC, G) by
- A Fine Foemance (Wesley/Lilah, T) by dollsome
- Pen-Pals (Buffy/Spike, Buffy/Angel, unrated) by TreacleA
- wishing on stars doesn't work here (Buffy, Dawn, T) by Carousel_13
- My Sweet Escape Ch. 1-3/? (Jenny/Giles, M) by J_for_jenny
- Forward Without Seeing Ch. 42 (Ensemble, M) by queen_insane
- for i will love you here, or there, or anywhere Ch. 6 (Buffy/Faith, M) by buffylovesfaith
- baby, you light me on fire Ch. 1 (Buffy/Faith, T) by buffylovesfaith
[Images, Audio & Video]
- Artwork: buffy tarot. suit of books (aka swords; air; thought, observation, challenge) by redcheekdays
- Artwork: Rupert Giles by perfect-storms
- Artwork: Xander by monicam-art
- Fanmix: My Sweet Escape: A Giles/Jenny Playlist by jforjenny
- Artwork: The Doppelgangland sweater! by kirstierh
- Artwork: () by schmoedraws
- Artwork: Buffy and Spike () by yamiswift
- Artwork: Buffy Summers by coldkittyboy
- Cosplay: Buffy Summers by orderofmerlin
- Artwork: Buffy and the Master by jack-flamel
- Artwork: Buffy Summers by chelseabilzingartist
[Reviews & Recaps]
- Buffy Reviewed: Season 11, Issue 08 by harsens-rob
- Review etc: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date by perpetual
- PUBLICATION: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Official Grimoire: A Magickal History of Sunnydale
- PUBLICATION: GeekGirlRising My love hate letter to Joss Whedon
- PUBLICATION: Roy Dotrice (Roger Wyndam-Pryce on AtS) has passed away at the age of 94.
- PUBLICATION: James Marsters says his ‘Buffy’ character Spike was ‘disposable’
-Voltron Season 4 was also great!
-Work has been crap!
-I am slowly formulating ideas for my yulefic!
-I am full of brownies and cheese. so so so full.
That is all, I am up too late, but at least you get this Lucky you?
It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I have regular happy hours with only one of my staff members
I manage a specialty niche team of four within a larger department that otherwise doesn’t have specific teams. My direct reports are the only ones in the department who only report to one manager (me). Last year, I hired someone I knew from a previous job, let’s call her Mary, where we were at the same level, but now she reports to me. I am a happy hour aficionado, and regularly host happy hours for my staff where they are all invited (with no pressure to attend) and I pay for everything, maybe once or twice a month. These happy hours are billed as “unnecessary calorie hour,” because the goal is to focus on spending time outside work together in a less formal environment, not drinking alcohol. I do drink at these events, and historically, people who don’t drink have most often chosen not to come, whether they don’t drink for religious reasons or because they have a long drive home.
Increasingly, these invitations are only accepted by Mary, so we end up spending significantly more time together outside work than I spend with the others on my team. This isn’t a problem for me and I enjoy these outings, but I worry that the perception among the others on the team is that Mary gets special one-on-one time with me because she is my “drinking buddy.” I would be thrilled if others would attend and interact with me on a more personal level more regularly, but I also respect their off-work time and would never pressure them to hang out when they’d rather be doing something else. Mary definitely gets more of my attention because she chooses to join me at happy hour, and while it isn’t directly due to our prior relationship, I fear that it’s being perceived that way. But I want to keep doing happy hour because I really enjoy it! Since this is becoming less of a group-accepted kind of event, should I just stop doing it?
Yes, you should stop doing it. Regardless of your intent, the effect is that you’re having regular one-on-one social hang-outs with one of your employees, which can cause all sorts of problems with real or perceived favoritism. I get that it’s fun and so you’d rather keep doing it, but your responsibilities as a manager trump that.
If you want to keep having happy hours with colleagues, focus on organizing them with people who don’t work for you.
2. Asking a new hire to go by her last name
My name is … let’s say Arya. And I recently hired someone who is also named Arya. During the interview process, we discussed the awkwardness and potential risk-management-related issues with us being mixed up due to the nature of our positions and the fact that she is reporting to me.
She agreed it would be very confusing, and said she’d be happy to go by her last name, Stark. I have been introducing her as Stark to everyone, but noticed she has been introducing herself to people as Arya. I don’t want to be a jerk, but she had agreed during the interview process to go by Stark, and I feel pretty embarrassed at how this makes me look to the other folks who report to me, as if I forced her to go by another name, when really it was mutually agreed upon … or so I thought.
We have other folks in our organization who go by their last names and it has never been an issue before, so there is a precedent for this. How do I broach this with her without being a jerk? I can’t imagine what a nightmare it will be to have two Arya’s reporting to each other in our line of work.
Is it really going to be such a nightmare? It’s very, very common for offices to have two people with the same first name working closely together. Usually people solve it by using last initials and referring to Arya S. and Arya W. or something similar to that.
If she doesn’t want to go by her last name (and I realize she said she’d be okay with it, but it sounds like she might not really want to), you shouldn’t force her to do it; it’s not fair for her not to be able to use her name just because you were there first.
I’d talk to her and say something like this: “Hey, I know we’d talked earlier about you going by Stark to avoid confusion. I’ve noticed you’re using Arya — do you prefer that? If so, let’s start using Arya S. and Arya W. so that it’s clear who’s who.” And then if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know the importance of including the initial, say something like, “When you follow up, make sure to ask for Arya Williams since there are two Arya’s here.”
3. Urging my severely diabetic coworker to get treatment
This morning a coworker informed us she would no longer be buying candy for the department because her tests came back that she has diabetes. I gently inquired if she received her A1C, not intending to inquire the actual number, and it came to light that the A1C converted to an average of 450 mmg/doL blood glucose. Using the American Diabetes Professional conversion calculator, that’s an A1C of 17.3. A diabetes diagnosis is made when a person has two A1Cs of 6.5 or greater in a row.
She says she’s going to try to control it with a ketogenic diet (which she admits will be challenging) and I asked if she was working with a dietitian and she said no. I asked if “they” (meaning her doctors), put her on insulin and she admitted she didn’t see a doctor. She ordered the blood tests herself and has self-diagnosed diabetes.
Not realizing how seriously her glucose was out of control, I simply encouraged her to test her blood sugar so she would know where she was and how her body handled her diet. (I am also aware of the risk of ketoacidosis.) She lamented the cost of test strips and when I mentioned that if she got a prescription for the strips, insurance would cover it. Then it came out that she hasn’t seen a doctor since the early 2000s and seems to have some baggage about seeing one.
After mentioning her glucose reading to a MD friend, he said he’d hospitalize her with insulin treatment if she were his patient, and said that a diabetic coma can occur at 500 mmg/doL. So apparently her diabetes is really severe and I’m concerned that she doesn’t realize how bad her health has gotten. I want to encourage her to see a doctor for treatment, but I feel out of place. You and your readers are awesome about phrasing things and I hope you can come through for me on this. We have a good rapport, but we don’t have a lot in common over which we’ve bonded. I’d like to handle this with kid gloves so she doesn’t shut down the topic altogether.
“I don’t want to pry into your medical situation, so I won’t bring this up again — but I know a bit about diabetes and the blood sugar level you mentioned is considered extremely serious. I believe a doctor would tell you that you’re in serious and possibly immediate danger if you don’t get medical treatment right away. Again, I don’t want to butt in and I won’t continue to raise this, but I’m worried about you and want to make sure you know that the numbers you saw are a really big deal and you might not have a lot of time to wait to see a doctor.”
At that point, you’ll have given her the information she needs, and it’ll be up to her what she does with it — so do stick to not asking about it again after that unless she brings it up.
4. How to show that volunteer work led to paid work
Would it be strange state on a resume that you were a volunteer for an organization, which then turned into an expanded and compensated role doing similar work on a larger scale? The new job was essentially created for me and not advertised, and I feel like this shows a certain degree of accomplishment on my part, especially as someone without a huge history of being promoted at work. I feel like it wouldn’t have the same impact with “Statewide Teapot Outreach Coordinator” in my employment section and “City of Teaville Outreach Coordinator” in my volunteer section.
Thoughts on how to do this effectively and appropriately?
Not strange. List the statewide coordinator position in your employment section, and have one of your bullet points under it read something like “began as volunteer focusing of city of Teaville (2012-2013); staff position was created for me in response to that work.” (You’re including the dates for the volunteer work to make it clear that the dates you’re listing for the job don’t include the volunteer period.)
5. Is it worth continuing this conversation with a recruiter?
I had a recruiter reach out to me about a position that he felt I was the “perfect” fit. I politely responded, as I always do, that I am open to discuss new opportunities, but that my family and I are not interested in relocation at this time. Usually this is the end of the conversation and we wish each other well.
This recruiter has requested that we chat anyway. Should I expect him to try and sell the company and location – or – should I get my hopes up that the company will entertain the idea of remote work?
I don’t want to waste his time — we truly are not interested in leaving the area. Should I agree to discuss with him?
I wouldn’t worry about wasting his time — you’ve been up-front with him that you’re not going to relocate, and you’re not responsible for any belief he might have that he can change your mind. I’d be more worried about wasting your own time. But if you’re not too concerned about that, you could say this: “If doing the job remotely is possible or if you have other jobs in this area, I’d love to talk.”
Some recruiters are really terrible about ignoring what people tell them and trying to convince them to do something different, and it’s possible that’s what’s happening here. Or it’s possible that the employer is open to remote work, or that he just wants to get to know you in case he has something else come up that you could be the right fit for; a lot of recruiters are constantly trying to build their network of people they know because the person could be right for something down the road. (And of course, if you get on the phone and it’s clear he’s ignoring you about the location, you can always end the call.)
I do regular happy hours with only one of my staff members, asking a new hire to go by her last name, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
"Hero-Princess-General Carrie Fisher Once Delivered a Cow Tongue to a Predatory Hollywood Exec". [The Mary Sue]
"Carrie Fisher Insisted That Leia’s Last Jedi Arc Honor All The “Girls Who Grew up Watching Star Wars”". [The Mary Sue]
"Who are Tessa Thompson’s LADY LIBERATORS?" "The Marvel Cinematic Universe has realigned how Hollywood thinks of blockbusters, franchises, and comic book movies. Though the films have been groundbreaking at the box office, it’s been nine years since Marvel Studios began the MCU and they’re still two years away from having a solo female led movie on our screens.
But if Thor: Ragnarok’s Tessa Thompson has anything to do with it, that’s not going to stand. During a recent press conference for Taika Waititi’s much anticipated Thor film, Thompson regaled us with a rad story about confronting Kevin Feige with the possibility of an all-female Marvel movie."
A discussion on N.K. Jemisin's Facebook about the "magic system" (scare quotes hers) in the Broken Earth books. Spoilers!
Abigail Nussbaum on N.K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky.
"If You Ever Feel Sad, These 10+ Highland Cattle Calves Will Make You Smile".
September LaPerm pics from naye. These posts are always great, but I think this one is even better than usual.
"We Don't Do That Here". "I have a handful of “magic” phrases that have made my professional career easier. Things like “you are not your code” and my preferred way to say no: “that doesn’t work for me.” These are tools in my interpersonal skills toolbox. I find myself uttering phrases like, “right or effective, choose one” at least once a week. This week I realized I had another magic phrase, “we don’t do that here.”"
Brian Fies' "A Fire Story" is a short comic about him and his wife being burned out of their home in the wildfires.
"Art Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities". (I haven't read the book, but the art is really neat.)
"Photographer Gets Bitten By A Deadly Black Mamba, Still Manages To Finish The Photoshoot". (Many beautiful snake photos!)
"Native-Land.ca: Our home on native land". Searchable map of North America's First Nations territories and pre-colonial histories. "There are over 630 different First Nations in Canada (and many more in the USA) and I am not sure of the right process to map territories, languages, and treaties respectfully - and I'm not even sure if it is possible to do respectfully. I am not at all sure about the right way to go about this project, so I would very much appreciate your input."
"Creating Gender Liberatory Singing Spaces: A Transgender Voice Teacher’s Recommendations for Working with Transgender Singers".
Via dine, "Pumpkin Spice and Needles: Bookish Autumn Cross Stitch Patterns".
"Video game developers confess their hidden tricks at last".
Via alisanne, "Why Do We Cook So Many Foods at 350 Degrees?" [Mental Floss]