So, having been regularly getting books out from the local library[1], I was tempted to try the "classic" Heinlein that I'd never read. It's recommended in the Guardian's 1000 books list, the only one of his works, and as I've enjoyed[2] many of his other books, even those dated, I finally got around to taking it out and trying to read it.

It's the revised 'preferred' version, so it's long for a Heinlein and, apart from the obvious not aged very well problem, it seems to suffer in some way. I'm not, actually, enjoying it. I'm about 1/3rd of the way in for those interested. So I thought I'd ask you guys what you think of him and the book.
[Poll #1340941]
[1] The only books by [ profile] autopope that I haven't yet read are currently waiting for me to go pick them up. If you're not sure, let Crooked Timber explain Why you should read Charles Stross as part of their Stross book event which I linked to earlier in the week but perhaps didn't push enough. I've not had time to read all of it yet, but what I have read is cool. Especially the Nobel Laureate geeking about the parallel worlds fantasy books...

[2] I read Citizen of the Galaxy and I think a couple others as a teen, and enjoyed what I can remember, I mean to reread at some point. I've read Starship Troopers both as a teen and an adult, and find it a great fun entertaining book with some dodgy politics; I'm one of those rare beasts that prefers the film because of the politics, even if Verhoeven did mess that up quite a bit. Farnham's Freehold is, however, a bit of pulpy trash best consigned to the dustbin of outdated books.
Yesterday, I did finish reading [ profile] autopope's Jennifer Morgue. It's a damn fine James Bond pastiche with casinos, yachts, a submersible car and Great Old Ones—I commend it to the housereadership.

By random chance, It was revealed today that my good friend [ profile] innerbrat, despite being a smart, educated Brit in her mid twenties, has never seen a Bond movie. Now, while I am tempted to complement her parents for managing to raise her and not once have ITV on on a bank holiday, I am completely and utterly amazed that she has managed to never see a Bond movie. Given that I am always aware of the potential problems caused by the small numbers fallacy, I thought I'd find out if she's actually less unusual than I think. Poll time:
[Poll #1296178]
See, I read the books mostly when I was a kid (I distinctly recall reading a fair few while on the caravan holiday in France, which dates it to 1986 just before I turned 12 and started grammar school). I can remember both enjoying reading them and being surprised at how different they were to the films—Bond got married in one, and was getting over her assassination in the next, there was distinct character development and Moneypenny was a bit part.

They were, without doubt, a product of their time, which is why the new films are even further away from them, even if elements (Bond's character) do seem closer than the earlier films. At times I consider going back to reread them, then decide life is too short and I've got far too many other books to read (like the rest of [ profile] autopope's books for a start). Anyone else read enough of them as an adult to have an opinion one way or t'other?

Jennie posted a slightly different poll rating the movies awhileback for those of you that are poll obsessed or merely didn't see it.
Two posts in a row by completely different blogs, both discussing the Bechdel Test, which I've always found fascinating[1]. If you're not aware of it, it's a fairly simple little test to apply to an entertainment:
1. Does it have at least two women in it,
2. Who [at some point] talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.
See? How easy is that to fulfil as an objective? Everything should pass that one, right? Shame it's not true. Shame that, in reality, a huge amount of stuff, including stuff with strong female lead characters, fails it. Even authors that consciously try to ensure their work isn't sexist manage to fail it regularly, as Charlie Stross has found out. It seems though, that despite many of the writers gender neutrality failings, Doctor Who doesn't do too badly, even taking into account the added complication of the significant central character being male.

Of course, the test isn't perfect—there are some perfectly good films where none of the characters are realistic, male or female, and in some it would be innapropriate to try to fulfil it. But for most shows or films, that are supposedley 'realistic', don't you think it should be a fairly normal thing to manage? Charlie's conclusion goes further than I think I would, but he's probably not too far off[2]:
The current decade is characterized by ... a socially conservative culture, of retreat from liberalism, and a strong anti-feminist backlash. Our popular media, far from being the bastions of liberal values ... are actually belwethers of popular culture, ... reflecting our culture's normative values back at us ... What they're showing this decade is really rather disturbing if you happen to agree with the core feminist ideological belief that women are real people too, not just baby factories and sex objects.

TV has always been bad ... but of late, the messages coming at us out of the mass media are nothing short of toxic. If movies and TV objectified people of colour the way they do women, the only reasonable conclusion one could draw would be that a concerted propaganda campaign was under way to return us to the unquestioned institutional racism of the 1950s.
Given that I watch a lot less TV than most people, and even fewer films, is he right?

[1] Or scary, or just Plain Wrong, depending on how bad the film or show in question actually is. I'm pretty sure it was [ profile] innerbrat that first made me aware of it.

[2] I'm excising a lot of text from this quote, marked by elipses, I do think the whole post is worth reading in its own right though.
So then. Apparantly Brits can't distinguish history from the TV listings and think Churchill is a myth. The whole story, which seems to have got everywhere, is from a dodgy survey concocted by UKTV Gold in order to promote their repeating of the first series of Robin Hoodie. [ profile] paulgregory shares my scepticism and thinks it's full of crap and like me would like to see the actual polling data, because reputable pollsters make their data available and it sounds as if it's a push poll to me. Best bit? Apparently these are the
Top ten fictional characters that the British public thinks are real

* 1) King Arthur – 65%
* 2) Sherlock Holmes – 58%
* 3) Robin Hood – 51%
* 4) Eleanor Rigby – 47%
* 5) Mona Lisa -35%
* 6) Dick Turpin – 34%
* 7) Biggles – 33%
* 8) The Three Musketeers – 17%
* 9) Lady Godiva – 12%
* 10) Robinson Crusoe – 5%
Note that the ones I've bolded aren't "fictional characters" Mr crappy publicist, but actual real people from history. Arthur almost certainly existed, but not with the stories that have grown up around him and the "round table". Robin Hood? Buried about 5 miles from here. Well, one of the blokes he was based on is, anyway. Lies, damned lies, and dodgy surveys concocted by publicists.

Meh, fun stuff. [ profile] theweaselking has a very cool book/kraken sculpture, just go look, it's very cool but hard to describe. And something I forgot to link last time, Charlie Stross has decided to make a UK version of the annual Mindset List prepared each year by Beloit College Public Affairs. Scary, people that start their degrees this coming September were born after the fall of the Berlin Wall...
Substantially mixed bag this lot, some clearouts, most new from today. Let's start with the best shadow art I've ever seen, so very cool.

Now onto some Google Külness. Google Mars. It's like Google Maps, but on Mars! Really does bring into relief what KSTR meant when he talked about the great northern sea. After that, How to Make Gmail/Gcal Rock; I especially like the open a compose window in the sidebar bookmarklet, very handy.

Things that make you proud to be British that you'll miss when overseas. Note to the colonials, inhabitants of rebel provinces and other types reading this; yes, we really are that weird.

[ profile] autopope fanboying (again). Charlie has 15 minutes of fame (and a few more years to follow) with an article on the BBC technology website about the future of history and how we're only just leaving the Dark Ages. Follow up interview on BBC Radio Wales on the Adam Walton show, about half an hour in, it'll be on Listen again for the next 7 days from at some point later this evening, I caught all but the first minute or so.

Hmm, still lots of Doctor Who wank throughout fandom, so instead I bring you The Empty Goth, and a useful translation phrasebook for any Doctor Who forum (or in fact pretty much any BB ever, as I rarely go to Who forums and I recognise 9/10s of the idiocies). That last was via pretty much everyone already, but you never know. What do you mean what wank? [ profile] judge_death has the full story. Sort of.

Last up, the Origins Awards, including a win for [ profile] jonhodgson and Deadlands: Reloaded, which makes them double plus good. Which means I have to use a Fineas icon for this post in celebration, it's not like I'm short of them.

ps. Ignore this link, it's not here. Oh, alright, go have a look. [ profile] devils_kitchen proves that political party websites don't have to look like something from the late '90s with his build of the UKIP Ealing site for the by-election. Ouch, I just linked to UKIP approvingly. I'll go and repent now—the content remains crap you'll be pleased to know.
OK, was going to post about this one properly, but it's late, I'm tired and, well, it speaks for itself. Charlie [ profile] autopope Stross got invited to give a talk on Shaping the future, and gave us a tour de force. Once again showing why he's been nominated for a Hugo again, for the nth year running. I believe coincidentally, [ profile] bagrec has another poll, on what predicted technology we'd get but haven't got. No prizes for guessing which one I voted for.

On the subject of polls,

Vote Purple!

Go on, y'know you want to.

I have more to follow, including a discussion in Eurovision and some great stuff on China Miéville, but now, I sleep. Well, actually, that's a lie, but I'm not posting any more. Probably.
Righty ho, first day in the new job tomorrow, and I'm not even remotely sleepy, but I need to be, so clearing the clipboard now and turning in. Remember that it's International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, and post something; I said I'd do an SEO/Usability study on a site, but no one volunteered me one, so I'll try to get a "how to" on the basics of customising your LJ, because I'm about half way through [ profile] londonbloodbowl at the moment. That's if I get time after work tomorrow, given I'm planning on taking part in a world record attempt in Trafalgar Square. But the point of that link was to point to the fact that Charlie Stross has released Missile Gap for free download, which given my liking of everything I've read by [ profile] autopope so far (I even like his politics) is a Good Thing.

Awhileback, I mentioned [ profile] el_staplador is on a pilgrimage through Spain and suggested you go read her journal, which she's mostly updating via internet cafe. Only, um, I spelt her user name wrong (oops), so to make up for that, here's the story so far - pre-departure planning one, two, three and four. Actual reports from Spain: SORPRESA!, In brief, This could be the weirdest place in which I have ever updated LJ..., ¡Castrojeriz!, ¡Carrión de los Condes!, Thank goodness for wonderful refugios..., It's a long way to Santiago,It's a long, Goodbye, goodbye, I wish you all a last goodbye... and Yes, but you don't go!. If yuo wondering if the links are worth following, have an exerpt:
Note about refugios: yes, they're vaguely like youth hostels, but they are reserved exclusively for pilgrims ... it costs anything from €3 to €8 for the bed, plus about €3 for breakfast if they happen to do it there, although some seem to rely entirely on donations... They can range from the really basic and horrible - the one at Hornillos de Camino, for example, was filthy, cramped and disorganised ... and the shower was so cold that I wished I'd had some lustful thoughts to make it worth it.

Lastly, for those wondering? Yes, my girlfriend is crazy, personally I think it's one of her more endearing features...
Well, I'm back online properly, and a quick glance at friends page and feeds. A lot to catch up on. If I've missed anything of personal import let me know as I'll be scanning not reading for the most part.

Spent most of the week either at my parents, Rob's or in bed with a book or a DVD. Didn't buy any electric cards last weekend, so couldn't use much that required power until Anne upstairs came back, me silly fule. Got some book tokens from my sister (she's learning), some Dr Who DVDs from my parents, and chocolate plus some cash from both grandmothers. Went and bought myself Dr Who series II and Torchwood Pt I boxing day, natch. Also bought myself the [ profile] grrm paperback, which I'm halfway through, rather good so far. [ profile] autopope's second novel is, I think, better than his first, and definitely the sort of SF I want to be reading, made me think and entertained. This is good.

Torchwood? Will do a proper review style thing when I'm caught up, but initial reaction? OMG yes. More please. Flawed, at times the plotting is daft, and a bit too twee in a few ways, but overall impressive, and better than 90% of other stuff out there. Also, Gwen has a rather nice arse, shame they took her out of the uniform. And Tosh is cute as well. Sorry, I'll, um, go back to reading my feeds and friends list...
Paging [ profile] autopope fans...

OK, I'm reading this at the moment, and really enjoying it.  Unfortunately the copy I've got has a misprint, and has two sets of the same pages and is missing about 50 pages (in my copy, pages 200-250ish).

So, knowing that there are people reading this that have read it and like it, can someone summarise the plot points I may have missed? (and apologies to those on The Culture List who've seen these Qs already)Cut for some spoilery questions about the plot )

Really enjoying it though, I can see what all the fuss is about now.  I really like the idea of the diaspora and the Eschaton, and the basic background is sound. I undertand there's one sequel, which I'll get soon; anyone want to recommend any of his other stuff (I DL'd the e-books at work today, I'll see if I can read them through at some point)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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