The thing about the English Civil War and everything that surrounds it is that it's remarkably difficult to pick a team, from the modern perspective. On the one side, you've got Puritans and repressive morality and NO PLAYS OR GOOD TIMES FOR ANYONE, but also democracy and egalitarianism and a rejection of the divine right of kings and the aristocracy! On the other side, you've got GLORY IN THE DIVINELY ORDAINED KING AND THE PERFECTION OF THE ESTABLISHED SOCIAL ORDER, but also people can have a good time every once in a while and make sex jokes if they feel like it.
Anyway, one fact that seems pretty certain about Aphra Behn is that she grew up during the Interregnum and wrote during the Restoration, and was very much on Team Divine Kings Are Great. Would Puritans let a woman write saucy plays for the stage? NO SIRREE, NOT AT ALL, three cheers for the monarchy and the dissolute aristocracy!
There aren't all that many facts that are certain about Aphra Behn, especially her early years -- the first several chapters of this book involve a lot of posed hypotheticals about who she might have been, how she might have got her start, and who might have recruited her into the spying business. It does seem fairly certain she was a spy: code name Astrea, Agent 160. (Me, to aamcnamara, after seeing Or last month: "I don't know that I buy all that Agent 160 business, there's no way that was something they did in the 1660s!" I apologize for doubting you, Liz Duffy Adams.)
Admittedly she was the kind of spy who spent most of her spy mission stuck in a hotel in Antwerp writing irritated letters back to King Charles' intelligence bureaucracy, explaining that she would happily continue with her spying mission and do all the things they wished her to do if only they would send her enough money to PAY HER DANG HOTEL BILL. (They did not.)
Besides her unpaid expense reports, most of what is known about Aphra Behn comes from her context and her publications, and the things she wrote in them -- only some of which can absolutely definitively be traced to her at all; several of her short stories and novellas are disputed, including one of the ones I found most interesting, "Love-Letters Between A Nobleman And His Sister." This early three-volume novel is extremely thinly-veiled RPF about a wildly trashy historical trial involving King Charles' illegitimate son, his best friend, the best friend's wife, and the best friend's sister-in-law. All of these people then went on to be involved in a major rebellion, which the second and third volume of "Love-Letters" cheerfully fictionalizes basically as it was happening, in the real world.
One of the first English novels ever written by a woman [if it was indeed written by Aphra Behn], and arguably the first novel written EVER, and it's basically one of Chuck Tingle's political satires. This is kind of amazing to me.
OK, but back to things we think we're fairly sure we do know about Aphra Behn! She wrote a lot about herself talking, and about men judging her for how much she talked; she wrote a lot of things that were extremely homoerotic; she also wrote a lot about impotence; she was often short on money; she cheerfully stole other people's plots, then got mad when people accused her of stealing other people's plots; she rarely wrote anything that was traditionally romantic, and most of her work seems to have an extremely wicked bite to it. She did not read Latin, which did not stop her from contributing to volumes of translations of things from Latin. She was almost certainly not a member of the nobility, but she believed in divine right, and divine order, and divine King Charles, even though it seems likely from her writing that she did not believe personally in religion, or God, and the King probably never did pay her bills. An extremely interesting and contradictory person, living in an interesting and contradictory time.
And now I think I need to go find a good biography of Nell Gwyn - she's barely relevant to this biography (Aphra Behn dedicated a play to her, but there's no other information available about their relationship) and yet Janet Todd cannot resist throwing in a couple of her favorite historical Nell Gwyn one-liners and they're all SO GOOD.
1. Pokemon Go will not let me install the latest update (It gives an error message that says "we hates your phone, precious" [paraphrase] and then won't install.) So instead I have been playing Magikarp Jump, which the app store always tries to tell me pokego players will enjoy. So far:
( This is my fish. There are many like it, but this one is mine. )
2. Also I finally won the last boss level in Alphabear, so until I got my fish game, I was totally at loose ends for mindless phone games, and started looking for ports of the ones I played as a kid. HOW IS AN ANDROID PORT OF GODDAMP CATERPILLAR 11 megabytes? I coded that from scratch on my TI83 when I was a kid! In, like, about 100 lines of code! WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?
(I also coded a text adventure with a gender-ambiguous protagonist on that calculator, actually...)
3. I finished cleaning my bathroom yesterday! It only took me about two weeks! It is so nice to go in there and have it be clean! ( clean ALL the things )
4. So last November I kind of went into power-save mode for awhile, quit using Habitica and also quit a bunch of the things I had been doing on a regular basis (tag wrangling, practicing piano, working on Spanish and Icelandic, writing on a regular basis, using Tumblr...) But my sister got me back onto using Habitica again, and now that all the cat-related tasks are gone (and I trimmed some other stuff) it's a much more reasonable list of dailies.
I had forgotten how very motivating it is to get to tick the thingy. Now I am debating whether to use my Orb of Rebirth and start over or not (And whether to try to get together an active party with more than just me and my sister and a bunch of inactive accounts.)
And I'm trying to get back to doing some of the other things I stopped, too. I gave Tag Wrangling an un-hiatus notice, so I'm committed to trying to be less fail at that, and I pulled out a piano book for the first time in months (I found a copy of the very first one I learned out of, The Joy Of First-Year Piano, to warm me back up) Og ég er að læra íslensku aftur. Þótt jurtabókin er erfitt. Það er of mikið um illt kaffi í bókinni. Y yo hablé español a una clienta hoy! Un poco español, pero un poco es más que nada.
The only thing I gave up that I haven't missed at all is Tumblr. *shrug emoji* (even that's not true, I have a secret backup tumblr to which are added a couple people who post mostly personal stuff and also a bunch of nature and solarpunk and library special collections photos, and no politics or fandom, and it's still fine.)
5. One of the things on my habitica dailies is to post an AO3 comment once a day. Another one is to do something with politics once a week. I got my wires crossed in there somewhere and realized that if I don't feel up to actually engaging with politics I can just send one of my (excellent) congresspeople an email that literally just says, "Hi staffer who reads these, you are fighting the good fight, keep holding the line, thank you", just like when I want to leave an AO3 comment but don't know what to say, and it STILL COUNTS.
Also, people are trying to get public outcry going toward Congress passing the nonpartisan bill Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) which would make it so the US President could not launch a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war. TBH I can't think of ANY reason why that should ever have been possible, but ESPECIALLY now. So write your congresspeople or spread the word to #PULL THE FOOTBALL
/me crosses off "do politics" for this week
I have been all right. Going to the gym 4+ days a week is not my natural inclination, and I still hurt in many places, but it is clear the activity is keeping my mood afloat, helping me sleep better and, yes, building strength and stamina. I took tonight off to browse the local library book sale -- $2 for Neil Clarke's Best Science Fiction of the Year vol. 1 and Whale Rider on DVD, yay -- and write a post.
My sister came to visit over Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day weekend. (Wow, it looks even worse to put those side by side than to use one alone. Wish we could just say Indigenous Peoples Day now, but it hasn't permeated the culture yet.) We went to a book event featuring chef Jacques Pépin, daughter Claudine and granddaughter Shorey. Having grown up watching Pépin, Julia Child and the Frugal Gourmet on PBS, it was a real treat -- especially since he came out twenty minutes early to do photo ops with anyone who wanted.
The discussion itself was quite funny. Claudine, the moderator, got teased by her dad, but she dished it right back. "Never work with family," she quipped at one point. They told stories about things like how PBS timed its filmings so if Claudine wasn't a fast enough learner at rolling out dough or whatever, Jacques would elbow her out of the way and do it himself. Whereas when he partnered with Julia Child, she just told the film crew, "We're going to make this dish and we'll tell you when we're done," meaning some poor editor had to trim 110 minutes down to 20-something. Nor did they work from recipes, so airings were delayed because the producers had to reverse engineer them.
We also went to the county fair in the rain, figuring the crowds would thin out. Incorrect! Nonetheless, we enjoyed many animals, vegetables and
Work has been work-y. We were urged to apply for some awards in our field, which took up most of the last three days. I've won a few in this job, so I'm a bit hopeful. Otherwise just trying to keep my head down and enjoy the aspects of this career that I enjoy while our office's overall stress rises and morale dips. Pretty sure [coworker] is about to quit.
Good news is we still get financial support for professional development. Next week I'm flying to San Francisco for a conference. If any of you have food recommendations in the Union Square/SoMa area, especially for breakfast and lunch, share away. I'm already set on returning to a couple of takeout places in Chinatown for tasty tasty dim sum. Still dreaming of the shrimp and leek dumplings from my first visit there a year and a half ago.
Would you like to help me prioritize topics?
You should post about:
Recent read: All Systems Red - Martha Wells
Recent read: Provenance - Ann Leckie
Recent read: Stories of Your Life - Ted Chiang
Recent read: Mash Up - ed. Gardner Dozois
Recent read: From a Certain POV (Star Wars stories)
TV: The Good Place
TV: Star Trek: Discovery
Vid notes for "When I Go"
What I've been up to
Thoughts on personal training and touch
Thoughts on body image
Or something else that you are welcome to suggest in comments. :)
ETA: Whoops, forgot "Movies: Blade Runner 2049." ETA 2: and Festivids. Note to self.
I'd like to bring a guest gift, as a way of saying thank you, but I'm finding myself paralyzed. (Also short on time, but that's a separate issue.) The traditional gift is food, right? Something homemade, that carries the signification of "I put work into this" as well as the general good feeling associated with sharing food. Or wine, which lacks the homemade aspect but adds extra celebratoriness to the good feeling aspect.
But, knowing nothing about the person I might be staying with, I'm finding myself blocked with worry about what might be appropriate. Alcohol is problematic enough for enough people that I'd rather not bring it -- plus I should bring something I'd want to consume myself, in case they invite me to share, and I'd rather not drink while I'm there. But food is difficult too. Sweets/desserts are the usual gift, for the special-treat feeling, and I'd rather not eat sweets either, really, but I can cope. But what if they're gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, sugar-free, kosher, halal, allergic, diabetic? Is there a universally suitable food gift? Is it okay if I bring something they can't eat? What if I accidentally hit on something to which they're so allergic that just having it in the house is a problem? Aaaaaaaa.
I definitely don't feel that a gift is required, and given time restrictions, I may end up bringing nothing anyway. But I'd like to if I can -- if I can think of something!
Uh, any suggestions?
It's very good at what it does.
It's very shivery when they realise how far the horrible grey mist on the universe has spread.
It sets up a very convincing backdrop of angels and other beings fighting against badness with human help, in ways where this is how the universe works, and what people stumble upon is the same stuff that scientists like the childrens' parents are just starting to discover.
The characters of the children (well, mostly Meg and precious Charles Wallace at this point) are very good.
I stumbled on the narrative convention of mentor figures swooping in and saying "hey children, only you can do this, you need to go through this set of trials, when this happens, do this, you don't need to know about X, good luck". Like, that's a common narrative convention that works very well: you just don't question too hard the mentor figures have some special insight into how quests turn out. It's especially useful in childrens books because you can explain what needs to happen directly to the main character and reader. (Think of all the stories of stumbling onto the first person you meet in a secondary world who says, you need to do X, Y and Z.) But eventually you read too many books where it doesn't work like that that you start to question. Even if you don't ask if they might be lying, you wonder, could they really not spare twenty minutes to summarise the biggest risks and how to avoid them? How do they know what's going to happen? If this is all preordained, they why are they providing even this much help, and if not, and the fate of the world hangs on it, can they really not provide any more help?
This is partly me having been spoiled for some simple narrative conventions by being exposed to too many variants, and possibly (?) me not understanding theology well enough (I'm not sure how much this is something that is supposed to actually happen for real, and how mcuh it's just a book thing?) It doesn't always fail me, this is basically how Gandalf acts all the way through LOTR "OK, now we're going to do this because, um, fate" and I'm happy to accept it all at face value, even when other people quibble, but in some books it bothers me.
How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.
I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.
Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)
This week's theme: I have no idea what this book is about, I'm pretty sure I only have it for the title.
( Poll: Bail, Capote, Carey, Collins, Connors, Corliss, Ericson, Galloway, Gould, Morse, Shann, Shreve, Townsend, Wodehouse )
2. It was cold this morning -- first frost tipping the grasses. So I am wearing leggings, a short denim skirt, a rose-colored tunic, and my knee-high deep-red Doc Marten boots. I am super goddamn cute today, y'all.
3. Ginger peach fizzy water. Om nom nom.
4. I have Yuletide canon in my possession, and hope to start reviewing it later today.
5. Exercising good self-care, I am closing FB again, and instead of reading things that make me sad and angry, I am going to pet my kitten.
My fanfic entry is here, and I'm pretty sure you will be able to purchase me for a very low price, with this many amazing people participating.
My vidding entry is here, and while my minimum bid is a little higher at $40 (because vids are a lot more work and involve more equipment), I'm also sure that will not get bid up much, so you can have me for a lot less than the VVC auctions usually go for!
This seems to me the perfect article on which to open up comments. NO COMMENTS ALLOWED. WHY NOT?
I had a lot of comments to make. Some of them might even have been approved. Have emailed the Public Editor.
So I settled instead for leaving a comment on the article about President Asshole and Senator Asshole (McConnell variety) making nice together today. Have suggested the expression on Senator Asshole's face was because he just ejaculated in his pants.
Not thinking this comment is going to get approved but what the hell lol.
It's a good thing I've never aspired to be a nice woman :-)
( links and personal observations about sexual violence against women )
I absolutely believe everybody else's experiences, people I know and strangers writing brave, brave columns and blog posts. I am just a total outlier, and I really shouldn't be. So I'm signal boosting others' accounts, because I know that I needed to be made aware of the scale of the problem, and perhaps some other people reading this could also use the information.
1. Kitten falling asleep on my lap at lunchtime, warm and purring and paws splayed in complete relaxation.
2. Takeout Chinese for lunch with sanj on the spur of the moment. With bonus kitten sitting on the chair at the head of the table, and periodically sticking his head up over the edge of the table to see if we would let him eat our chicken. (Which we wouldn't.)
3. The new mini-season of Voltron went live this past weekend! Kiddo and sanj and I watched half of it last night, and it's delightful.
4. Yesterday I roasted some delicata squash (seasoned with salt and pepper and curry powder) and then roasted the seeds (boiled briefly, then seasoned the same way.) It pleases me to have turned something I would ordinarily have thrown away into tasty snack food.
5. Dinner for tonight is already made, so when I get home from work around 5:30 I can mostly relax. There's work I need to do, but if I don't do it tonight, nothing will catch on fire.
How are y'all holding up? Be gentle with yourselves.
In this case, there were some failing tests and I was trying to debug some of them, and the result was the same every time, but only when I ran a failing test by itself and it passed did I realise that the tests weren't actually independent. They weren't actually non-deterministic in that the same combination of tests always had the same result, but I hadn't realised what was going on.
And in fact, I'd not validated the initial state of some tests enough, or I would have noticed that what was going wrong was not what the test *did* but what it started with.
I was doing something like, there was some code that loaded a module which contained data for the game -- initial room layout, rules for how-objects-interact, etc. And I didn't *intend* to change that module. Because I'm used to C or C++ header files, I'd forgotten that could be possible. But when I created a room based on the initial data, I copied it without remembering to make sure I was actually *copying* all the relevant sub-objects. And then when you move stuff around the room, that (apparently) moved stuff around in the original copy in the initialisation data module.
And then some other test fails because everything has moved around.
Once I realised, I tested a workaround using deepcopy, but I need to check the one or two places where I need a real copy and implement one there instead.
Writing a game makes me think about copying objects a lot more than any other sort of programming I've done.
And in case you are trying that newish social network Mastodon out and wish to follow me, I'm @firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Making slow cooker chicken bouillabaisse again because it was so good last week.
3. A mellow Sunday of playdates (for the kiddo) and cooking and laundry (me), with the promise of sanj coming over later.
4. I am considering whether I can spring for Hugh Acheson's new slow cooker cookbook.
5. It is a spectacularly beautiful day. I am sitting on my mirpesset, listening to the wind chime, watching birds soar overhead.
How are y'all?