cloudsinvenice: a skeptical-looking woman squints at us (side-eye)
Bear in mind that I'm faintly hysterical, since the moment I got online to rant about the show I fell over this bizarre news story about the sinking of the Titanic, and I can no longer tell what's real and what is highly contrived clickbait-esque bollocks. In the context of seeing a new Sherlock episode, this is most unfortunate.

Anyway, Sherlock... )
cloudsinvenice: Tony Stark removing his old arc reactor (Iron Man unplug)
The story of the women's history museum which mysteriously transformed (via the process, often contentious in British life, of getting planning permission) into a sensationalist-looking Jack the Ripper museum is making its way around the world. Here's a few interesting links:

- The Guardian: Jack the Ripper's victims deserve to be commemorated. But like this?
- [personal profile] londonkds: Fisking the Jack the Ripper Museum
- 38 Degrees petition to Tower Hamlets Council: Celebrate Suffragettes Not Serial Killers
- Protest at the museum opening on Tuesday 4th August! Women's history is not Jack the Ripper!

Other things:

- Jacqueline Wilson has written a new take on What Katy Did.
- Twitter, unable to grasp that endless growth might not be possible or desirable, considers being more like Facebook.
- [livejournal.com profile] arcadiaego informs me of the existence of a longstanding fan project at [community profile] read_lotr_aloud, where a small group of fans have spent most of the last decade building up a chapter-by-chapter audiobook. Sean Astin even reads the first section! Is anyone aware of other projects like this?
- [livejournal.com profile] ladysisyphus has an epic post on The Blair Witch Project and the movies that tried to emulate its impact without really understanding it. So delicious to see a good chunk of horror meta on LJ!
- In other news, shoestring film production company Mansfield Dark have come up with a beautiful 12-minute shadow puppet version of Count Magnus by M.R. James. You can see the trailer here and also find a link to buy the DVD, which comes with a lovely piece of art on the slipcase. Mine arrived this morning, to my considerable delight. The Mansfield Dark guys are both talented and ingenious, making everything from this gorgeousness to comedy to LGBT thrillers, so go check them out.
- A friend recommended browser extension FB Purity as a solution to the man ways in which Facebook is annoying. I haven't installed it yet, but perhaps some of you feel like trying it too.

Budget 2015

Jul. 8th, 2015 11:30 pm
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (woman thinking (Joseph Kleitsch)
Well, today was the Budget. I've been very lucky today; the changes they're making don't shaft me, though they do a hell of a lot of other people. I've got friends who aren't sure yet how they're going to be affected - we're still trying to clarify, for example, whether contribution-based ESA will behave in the same way as regular ESA under the changes, or whether it'll be eliminated as has previously been discussed. I talked to a lot of friends today and people are variously bemused, scared, despairing - and that's just the disabled people I know.

Maintenance grants for low-income students are being abolished and replaced with loans (because students aren't in enough debt, apparently). And while the Chancellor huffed and puffed a lot about how great the Tories are and how much they value the institutions of the BBC and the NHS, when you read below the lines, they are notably undermining them and still working towards their privatisation. The National Living Wage, meanwhile, is a joke - it'll be lower than the existing minimum wage. Correction: very much to my surprise and pleasure, this is wrong: it will in fact be higher, which just shows the need not to report stuff without checking. Details of this, and further fact-checking of the Budget claims, can be found here: https://fullfact.org/factcheck/economy/budget_summer_2015_osborne_harman-46357

It's not all bad news - Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) mounted a courageous action in which they completely blocked Westminster Bridge and the front of Parliament, ensuring that George Osborne had to be taken to deliver his speech via an underground route. I don't know how well covered this been in the mainstream media, but I urge you to share the YouTube videos wherever you can online - it is so, so psychologically important that people, both disabled and able-bodied, see resistance; that they see ordinary people like them occupying public spaces and communicating our message. Chunkymark, the Artist Taxi Driver, has various bits of footage of DPAC: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGThM-ZZBba1Zl9rU-XeR-A

Something I've been thinking about for the last couple of years is the fact that we're living through history, but history is often recorded in a biased way. We have to make sure that this doesn't happen - yes, we have to fight austerity and prejudice now, but we also need to look to posterity and record our experiences and observations in every way possible. I'm not just talking about the internet - if you've spent long enough online, then you've seen a lot of websites come and go. What I'm saying is, don't leave our cultural repository of these events to any one ephemeral medium or platform. Get the message out every way you can.

Please note that this is a public post. I welcome your comments but wanted to highlight this because I know this affects some of you in very personal ways and I wanted you to be aware in case you are sharing personal details.
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
ETA: You can tell I wrote this late at night - forgot to mention this was for the 50 Days Meme!

DAY NINETEEN: whatever tickles your fancy

Here's a strange thing: R found a news story about how the officials of a church in Cheltenham sold a painting of the Madonna and Child without permission. It was auctioned off for £20,000, resulting in church court proceedings and the vicar leaving the parish. I think the scariest bit in the article is when they say that there was "an initial plan to throw it away": http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-29347751

But if you click through to the investigation report by the chancellor of the diocese (link goes to the PDF), things get more and more surreal. It seems the painting was regarded as too Catholic (which is quite impressive given that they seem barely to have glanced at it or been aware of it for some time) and, well... the writer of the report does not pull any punches:

"They were not in any way being dishonest. Their behaviour was more akin to a driver who causes a crash by driving through a red light, but whose excuse is: 'I had never bothered to read the Highway Code, and I forgot what I had been told about it, and so I did not know what was the purpose of a red light.'"

"In the event, someone, when it was on the point of being thrown out into a skip, did question as to whether it might have a few pounds value. Given the plethora of television programmes about auctions and treasures in the attic, I suppose I must be grateful that some kind of warning bell was rung.

However, worse was to come."


You can really hear her getting her narrative thing on here.

"This wretched and lamentable history is a textbook example of how not to do things, as I have sadly had to set out above. Monumental stupidity is involved, some degree of arrogance, and, even possibly [I make no finding as to the latter] a degree of evasiveness."

Unflinching practicality re: the asbestos/leaky roof budget:

"...but there is a limit to the burdens that can be placed successfully on an average congregation of some 40 adults."

I enjoyed this as much as those proceedings about Richard III that [livejournal.com profile] semyaza found...
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
You are what you read, study suggests
http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/13/11665205-you-are-what-you-read-study-suggests

"Researchers have found that when you lose yourself in a work of fiction, your behavior and thoughts can metamorphose to match those of your favorite character, according to the study published early online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology."

Um... yes? Obviously? Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted to have it proved, but I hadn't thought of it as something that would elicit the kind of dismissal and skepticism in the comments. Let's read some highlights:

"Reading the Vampire Chronicles might romanticize vampires, but everyone that reads it doesn't go around biting peoples necks."

Points for thinking of the same books that immediately sprung to my mind (and come to think of it, I got the link to the article from Anne Rice's Facebook), but it's obviously about more subtle changes than that...

"As for books influencing people's minds, I doubt there's much chance of that as most of us don't read anymore."

Translation: "I don't read and I'm surrounded by people who don't read." How isolated do you have to be to never see people reading and have no inkling that books are a powerful cultural force? Every time I get on a bus or train it's full of people with paperbacks and Kindles! And even if you don't commute, surely the logic of Amazon's dominance and the fact supermarkets sell novels by the boatload and the continued existence of national book chains... gah. This is just another version of that smug-about-own-narrow-mindedness tone that pervades Yahoo UK
 article comments.

"This is interesting (my wife is a PhD research psychologist) but it doesn't say anything about those of us who prefer non-fiction or heavily-researched historical fiction (such as Michner.)"

I won't snark this since the same person does a wonderfully polite, understated take-down of the commenter above, but I do wonder what difference the fiction/non-fiction barrier really makes. I've read biographies that described their subjects intimately enough that they felt like fictional characters whose thoughts and feelings are knowable to the reader. And with heavily-researched historical fiction, well... it is still fiction, perhaps all the more immersive and emotionally convincing because the settling is so authentic. 

"I've been known to read 2 to 3 books at a time all of different subjects. How would they define that."

And this glorious example of missing the point by a mile was the moment when I realised I had to stop reading the article, because I was in danger of gesticulating impotently at the screen, as if attempting to reason with the commenter in person. What possible difference could simultaneous reading of multiple books make?!

Conclusion: it winds me up enormously sometimes, but THANK GOD FOR FANDOM, where you might get a vast swathe of opinion on a story like this, but at least it'd be possible to achieve consensus on what the article-writer actually said and meant...

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cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
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