Not a new thing, and not that easy

Jul. 27th, 2017 01:46 pm
oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
[personal profile] oursin

While I was away I noticed on, I think, Twitter, which I was scrolling through while waiting at a bus stop/train station/whatever, somebody getting into a froth over somebody deleting their tweets upon mature reflection, and how this was The Death of History.

To which my own reactions were:

a) Archivists have been thinking about the problems posed by the fragility of the digital record for a good couple of decades plus, this is not something no-one has noticed before. (Wasn't the Library of Congress archiving Twitter, and presumably there are some measures against tampering, if so? - hah, I see that there have been problems of processing and it's not actually accessible, or wasn't as at last year.)

b) Quite apart from the dangers of fire, flood and insect or animal depredation to which records in the more traditional forms have been exposed, there has been a fair amount of deliberate curating of the record over the centuries, by deliberate destruction or just careful concealment (whether it's the Foreign Office secret archive or the concealment of Turner's erotic drawings under a misleading file title).

c) While you can delete or destroy a particular record, you cannot always get rid of the information that it did exist - presumably it was other people commenting on the now-deleted tweets or retweeting them that led to the decision to delete them, but that doesn't eradicate the fact of their existence. This may even draw attention to the deleted record: this is why when I was still being an archivist we used to persuade donors not to ask for closures apart from those mandated by Data Protection, because the idea that something is *CLOSED* causes some people's ears to prick up in a supposition that there will be *HIDDEN SECRETS* (this was very, very, seldom the case).

I might also invoke the case that came up in Prince of Tricksters, where Netley Lucas under one of his identities was communicating with different officials and departments, possibly, it is suggested, as a means to confuse his trail: but, due to the growth of bureaucracy, as well as the social networks they belonged to, could also communicate among one another to discover that this was all the same guy.

There is also the phenomenon that I have mentioned to researchers, that yes [organisations of a certain ideological bent] have been very coy about placing their archives anywhere where people might do research in them; BUT the organisations and people they were against kept tabs on their activities, collected their literature, etc.

Also that if person/organisation's own papers do not survive, you can find out a good deal from the surviving records of those they interacted with.

[personal profile] penta posting in [community profile] factfinding
OK, so...There's a game I'm helping restart (after a ten year break) called World Alliances and Rivalries. (Yes the website is bad, we drew it up a few days ago in the middle of the night fueled by coffee and insomnia.) We're not sure yet when we're doing as a Point of Divergence (except that we know it'll be after 7/1/2017, because the whole reason we're restarting it is partly because Trump gives us an opening...and partly to heal from Trump-caused trauma...), but I got drafted to play Israel (on the grounds of "Look, you didn't suck at playing a tiny country last time, you do research real well, and we need someone in the Middle East").

So I'm doing my research and trying to figure out a scenario to make my character PM as the game needs...The problem is, I don't read or speak Hebrew at all (neither does anybody else who plays!), and the English translations of key materials (IE, the English translation of the Basic Law on the Government) seem to literally be missing a few lines with no indication as to what should be there or how important it is. (We are talking the English translation on the Knesset website. I cried in frustration when I figured this fact out, because ugh.)

This is going to be a bit scattershot of a post (I didn't want to put multiple posts up when it all seemed to boil down to a related set of issues). I've done my fair share of Googling and Wikipedia hunting, but there are questions those don't answer.

Questions on Israeli Government:

1. It's said in the British system that the Monarch has the powers "to encourage, to warn, and to be consulted" (and that they shouldn't really want any others). Israeli politics are at least partly based off of the Westminster System, so...Does that also apply to the President of Israel? Does he get updated on state affairs, does he get consulted by the PM?

2. How exactly does picking a PM work when there are multiple valid choices for a PM based on coalition-building (I'm unsure if I want my character to have a majority (the scenario is that the previous government had to resign after a spate of corruption indictments) or have to live in a coalition)? Are there any formalities associated like an oath of office specific to being PM?

3. Just how much power do Knesset committees have to conduct oversight of the government? Both theoretically and in real terms. It sounds like they have normal oversight powers, but maybe that's me drawing on experience with the US Congress or the UK Parliament that doesn't apply...

4. If the PM is indicted, is there a mechanism to remove *just* the PM, or is a no-confidence vote required? (No doubt it'd be howled for, but I'm trying to figure out "Did they 'go to the country' because the law said they had to, or just because the pressure to do so was insane?")

Questions on the IDF (numbering continues to make answering easier) - please note for reference, my current draft has this character born December 1977 and drafted somewhere around 1995-96, and I know the law has changed since:

5. Someone please explain to me the proliferation of Sayeret units. I realize they're mostly recon units in theory, but they're also special forces...So I'm eventually confused (aside from a few units) as to who does what. I made my character a Sayeret Matkal vet because, well, it seemed like an obvious choice for "Special forces vet", but now I'm realizing that that could be cliche...but I can't figure out what the other units do, so I'm confused.

6. Officers are drawn from conscripts and have a four month training course. Sayerets have an...18 month? training pipeline. Do officers do officer training and then unit training, or...? How does that all work? How are Sayeret *officers* recruited and trained? Not looking for deep details, just how long from "I got drafted today" to "I'm a fully qualified officer and out leading troops starting tomorrow" or something.

7. Are officers held to a conscript's 3 year term of service? Is it longer? (I presume it is, but how much longer?)

8. Presuming a guy just wants to serve his conscript term as an officer and then get out and start civilian life, given what I mention above, how long is he in for, what age is he getting out at, and what rank is he getting out at? What rank does said officer transition from "an officer" to "an officer who's going to make the IDF a career"?

9. Wikipedia is being confusing. It mentions stuff like Rifleman 01, Fighter 07, etc. when speaking about training. It sounds like stuff I should have a clue about to draw up a character. What is it talking about?

10. Reserve service: OK, when does a guy with that background (Sayeret unit, officer) stop being liable for reserve service; how frequently is he called up for said service, how long are the callups in non-emergency situations, and (because the internet doesn't give me too great a clue) what the heck do they do (besides, I presume, training of various sorts)?

11. Just what are the benefits post-service associated with service as a conscript, or what were they in the 1996-2000ish timeframe? Do they vary between officers and enlisted conscripts? (I looked this particular question up about 20 different ways on Google. I found plenty of mentions in English of benefits during service, or that benefits post-service exist, but no mention of what the post-service benefits (or in-service benefits) actually are or would have been at the time.)

Yes, I make my characters unusually detailed. No, that is not standard for the game it's for. It's how I learned to draw up characters and scenarios, regardless of the roleplay or the setting; it's worked so far, and in this game it enabled me to (last time) play a character otherwise completely unfamiliar to me with a good degree of clue and "I actually don't appear to suck at RPing this character".

Thanks in advance for anybody willing to help me not be dumb. :)

(no subject)

Jul. 27th, 2017 09:23 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] fjm and [personal profile] wildroot!
sixbeforelunch: jyn erso and cassian andor, no text (star ward - jyn and cassian)
[personal profile] sixbeforelunch
...but The Force Awakens was amazing.

Now I want to rewatch the original trilogy.

(I am so screwed.)

Check-In – Day 26

Jul. 26th, 2017 07:20 pm
samuraiter: (Default)
[personal profile] samuraiter posting in [community profile] writethisfanfic
Sometimes, life is a dungeon crawl. Sometimes, it's more of a match-three puzzle game. So ... what's it been for you today? What have you been doing?

— Thinking. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.
— Writing.
— Planning and / or researching.
— Editing.
— Sending things to the beta.
— Posting!
— Relaxing, taking a break, etc.
— Other stuff-ing. Look at the comment.

Question for today: On a scale of 1 to 10, how disgusted do you usually get with your first draft of a longer work?
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Moonbreaker.

A novella by Heather Rose Jones, Three Nights at the Opera (2014), prequel to Daughter of Mystery.

There was indeed a new Catherine Fox, Realms of Glory, delivered to my Kobo well in time to beguile my journeyings. Very good.

Alex Hall, Glitterland (2013): m/m contemporary romance, which was an absolute page-turner and I will even give it a degree of pass on the phonetic rendering of Estuarine speech, on the grounds that this might be down to the first-person narrator's attempt to depict Difference.

Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky (2016): I had a bit of a problem with the rather gender-stereotypical allocation of science vs magic, and also with the way that both of them, in particular Patricia, are shown as coming to their powers as a result of familial dysfunction and school bullying (are US high schools really quite so generally toxic as literature would have me believe?), which is not that dissimilar in its rather Spartan overtones to the ethos of the military school to which Laurence is briefly sent. But I read on.

Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Djinni (2013) - there were parts where I thought this was a bit slow, and possibly about showing off the author's research, but then it all came together with all the threads meshing at the end.

On the go

The end is almost in sight with Prince of Tricksters. Also continuing with Rejected Essays and Buried Thoughts, as and when.

Up next

Well, I have lately had delivered to my Kobo Kate Elliott's Buried Heart (2017), conclusion (?) to the Court of Fives series. But I've also, finally, received Monica Ferris's cozy mystery, Knit Your Own Murder (2016), at last a) out in paperback and b) actually in the mailer received from the seller.

(no subject)

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:59 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] el_staplador and [personal profile] mrissa!

Check-In – Day 25

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:25 pm
samuraiter: (Default)
[personal profile] samuraiter posting in [community profile] writethisfanfic
The cat is asleep on the bed. He doesn't know that it's Tuesday, nor does he especially care. But we do! What have you been doing?

— Thinking. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.
— Writing.
— Planning and / or researching.
— Editing.
— Sending things to the beta.
— Posting!
— Relaxing, taking a break, etc.
— Other stuff-ing. Look at the comment.

Today's question: Do you maintain multiple posting names (i.e. pseudonyms or "pseuds") for your work, or do you lump all your works together under one name?

FMK #18: Writers of Color

Jul. 25th, 2017 07:11 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Last week's F win was a tie between The Dragon and the George and Goblin Quest. I am waffling over which one to pick. Goblin Quest had discussion in the comments, but on the other hand, reading it would break my unbroken streak of not having read any of the many Hines novels I own.

K winner was the Callahan. I am going to keep Callahan's Crosstime Saloon but this may be the nudge I needed to just drop the rest.


Anyway, this week's FMK theme is SF by Anglophone Writers of Color. We will pretend the reason it was tough to get a set of ten together for this is that when I get one of these it doesn't linger as long on the to-read pile. (Actually, it was tougher than I expected because finding out race for a lot of SF writers - especially older and more obscure ones - is not simple. There does not seem to be an easily accessible and accurate masterlist of SF Writers of Color out there. And at some point, for some of then, I found myself thinking that if they aren't interested in making their ancestry part of their public bio, I need to not be looking this hard. I never did figure out if Philip Jose Farmer is actually in any way Hispanic.)

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)

Poll: Butler, Delany, Hamilton, Hurston, Martinez, Mosley, Reynolds, Takei, White, Wilson )

FMK: Discount Armageddon

Jul. 25th, 2017 07:25 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Poll post coming soon! But first, I have finished Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire!

It was fun! I enjoyed it! The characters were great! Much like the other McGuire I have read, I felt like the more I thought about it, the less there there was there! (I can't think of a single piece of internal evidence other than Verity's word that it took place in Manhattan instead of, like, Columbus, Ohio. The Price-vs.-Covenant thing really doesn't work with the logistics that are set up in the book. Verity's main character note is that ballroom dance is the most important thing to her, she tells us this at least every fifth page, and yet at no point does she ballroom dance, even as practice. Etc.)

And I did really like the variety of cryptids and the cryptid community, but the "cryptozoologist" thing still bothers me, in that a cryptozoologist is a very specific thing situated in a very specific time and culture - it is not something like "witch" that has enough meanings with enough history you can basically go with whatever - and I would really really love to read an urban fantasy about cryptozoologists - and Verity Price is really really not one. (I mean, you could make a cool backstory about how the Prices and allies adopted the terminology ironically in the 60s to further distinguish themselves from the Covenant - or that Sanderson got himself in WAY over his head with a Price girl at some point and came out very confused, which is a fanfic I would definitely read - but she does not seem to be doing that.)

But! It is a urban fantasy in which ALL OF THE SEX IS UNAMBIGUOUSLY AND EXPLICITLY CONSENSUAL, and I didn't even know that was a thing that existed, so I will forgive it A LOT for being that. (I would also enjoy the fanfic about how Price family sex education includes a unit about how part of their mission is to introduce the urban fantasy community to the idea of "affirmative consent" which it had previously lacked entirely.)

I have Down Among The Sticks and Bones on its way from the library, but I have learned it is NOT about the Skeleton Girl (with that title how is it not about the Skeleton Girl?) so I find I am not that excited about it coming.
oursin: Photograph of Rebecca West as a young woman, overwritten with  'I am Dame Rebecca's BITCH' (Rebecca's bitch)
[personal profile] oursin

I noticed - flitting past me on Twitter the other day - somebody eyerolling at, if not codfishing, some bloke's plaint that watching Dunkirk had made him realise that The Modern Man does not have these Manly Challenges To Rise To -

And being a historian, I thought that, actually, there have been long generations, at least in my country, where most men were not being called upon to take arms and fight, and the general attitude to the soldiery was summed up by Kipling in Tommy.

And that thing about Challenges to Rise To always tends to be seen in a context which leads to e.g. the Battle of the Somme, rather than to being a despised Conscientious Objector, a decision which history may read entirely differently -

Which possibly links on to that thing I also saw flit past me on Twitter apropos of alt-history narratives which allow the viewer to believe that they would be The Resistance, which reminded me of that nasty piece of work Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger going 'where are the good brave causes?', and really, one can think of a few relevant to the 1950s, not to mention, we do not, ourselves, envisage J Porter going off to Spain in the 30s.

And the whole notion of Heroic Actions and somehow, not here, not now.

And I thought, did not my beloved Dame Rebecca say somewhat to this point in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and while this has the rhetorical universalisation and generalisation to which she was (alas) prone, it does seem relevant to this notion of some kind of masculine Rite de Passage:

All men believe that some day they will do something supremely disagreeable, and that afterwards life will move on so exalted a plane that all considerations of the agreeable and disagreeable will prove petty and superfluous.

As opposed to, persistently beavering away at the moderately disagreeable in the hopes that it might become a little more agreeable.

(no subject)

Jul. 25th, 2017 09:27 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] adair and [personal profile] owlfish!

Check-In – Day 24

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:05 pm
samuraiter: (Default)
[personal profile] samuraiter posting in [community profile] writethisfanfic
Monday, Monday, so good to me. That's what the song says, anyway. What have you been doing today?

— Thinking. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.
— Writing.
— Planning and / or researching.
— Editing.
— Sending things to the beta.
— Posting!
— Relaxing, taking a break, etc.
— Other stuff-ing. Look at the comment.

Today's question: Do you post any of your writing anonymously? (Goodness knows I do.)

So, anyway, excursion to Darmstadt

Jul. 24th, 2017 05:04 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

This involved a certain amount of faff and hassle about making sure we were buying the right kind of ticket for the train which would also give us free rides on public transport, ascertaining which platform the train in the right direction left from, etc etc. And then when we arrived a) finding the right stop for the tram b) missing the stop we wanted and being carried on to a point we didn't want.

Except it turned out to be right around the corner from Hundertwasser's Waldspirale apartment block, which was on the list of things to see.

After which we wandered down in the direction of the Schloss (which can only be seen by way of guided tours, we passed) and had what was a rather more leisurely lunch than we had intended at the Altes Rathaus before going to the Hessische Landesmuseum, based on the collections of the Grand Dukes, which has some nice stuff.

We then went out to Mathildenhöhe, which was where the artists of the Jugendstil Art Nouveau movement hung out. This includes a Russian Orthodox Church (not particularly Art Nouveau) and the Hochzeitsturm, Marriage Tower, which looks as if it might be the HQ of one of those somewhat spooky early C20th New Agey cults that crop up in mysteries of the period, and a rather small museum (but I think part of it was closed) of furniture and objects created by the artists of the colony.

And then back to Frankfurt, whence we flew home today.

***

And in other news, spotted this in today's Guardian: the strange world of book thefts:

“We caught a gent last Christmas with £400-worth of stolen books in his trousers and elsewhere.... As we showed him the door he told us: ‘I hope you’ll consider this in the Žižekian spirit, as a radical reappropriation of knowledge.’”
As an anarchist friend of a friend remarked when his car was nicked, 'Property is theft: but so is theft theft'.

femslashex!

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:33 am
shopfront: Source: Heroes. Claire and Gretchen kissing, close-up. Text: I watch for the PLOT. (H - [Claire/Gretch] I watch for the plot)
[personal profile] shopfront
So I know some of you guessed this already, but for those who haven't seen the community announcement yet and are interested in this sort of thing: I'm very excited to be joining the [community profile] femslashex mod team this year! This is one of my all time favourite exchanges from back when it was femslash-year-number, and I'm really happy to be helping to keep it ticking over going forward.

I have also strained my wrist and am lumbering about in a giant wrist brace, and forgetting and typing/lifting/living life with both hands periodically and then swearing a lot. So between modding, writing, and that I probably won't be around much for a little bit. But I am reading! I can scroll a reading page one handed at least!

(no subject)

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:42 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] heyokish!

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