Peter Sokolowski

Aug. 19th, 2014 10:53 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
This evening I went to hear Peter Sokolowski talk at the library:
Join us at Old Town Library from 7:00-8:00pm on August 19th for one part sociology, one part word nerdery. Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, will present "The Dictionary as Data: What the Online Dictionary Tells Us About English". He'll discuss how dictionary use changes over time, and how it reflects the politics and culture of the world around us.

He's a delight to listen to. He talks really fast, which is useful, because he has a lot to say. He gave brief highlights of dictionary history, and talked about his job, and why the M-W Collegiate Dictionary is free online, and why the M-W Unabridged is no longer printed (it's too big.) Mostly he talked about interesting things he learns from monitoring which words are most frequently looked-up:
He can tell when people are watching Bill O'Reilly. He can tell when people are playing Scrabble. He showed us graphs of how particular words' look-ups jumped immediately after particular events. Immediately after 9/11, the most frequent words were "rubble" and "triage". Later, they were "jingoism" and "terrorism". A few days later, they were "surreal" and "succumb". He said that a tragedy always causes a jump in "surreal".

That part ended at 7:30 on the dot. Then he started taking questions: more dictionary history, more about his day-to-day job, what it means to be a radical descriptivist. That stretched fifteen minutes past the hour, even though he talks really fast. He reminded me of [ profile] randomdreams in that I got the feeling I could literally ask him anything, and he would have something fascinating to say about it.

I don't know how often he does things like this: he's on vacation, and one of our librarians is an old friend of his from college. But if you like word nerdery, and you get the chance to listen to him, take it!
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I have two more panel reports to do, but I am so, so tired and I have promised myself that I will go to bed before 10 tonight. So have some tourism instead.

Monday we blew off all panels in favor of conversation with people and wandering around the dealers' room & exhibits (more on that later). And that was excellent and restorative. Then we had a reservation for the extremely touristy event of afternoon tea at a fancy hotel.

Specifically, The Wolseley, which one of our guidebooks said was good and fancy and also about half the price of afternoon tea at most other places. And indeed it was: here's our two-person tier of sandwiches, desserts, and scones (under the dome). It was all great: the sandwiches were not flavors I want a lot of, but they were a nice base for the scones, which are (a) ballast and (b) a delivery vehicle for copious quantities of clotted cream (mmm) and strawberry preserves. And then there were the desserts; turns out I hate marzipan with an unholy passion, which is what the checkered cake is flavored with, but everything else was excellent. (I had green tea because I don't much like tea and I rarely drink caffeine. It was hot.)

So that was delightful, which was good because we had a not-very-fun adventure getting there. [profile] mari_ness came with, and though the TFL website assured me we could be step-free all the way, it specified that to go to Green Park you had to get on a particular car number on the Jubilee Line. Well, we didn't see any numbers, but it seemed like a high number so we went toward the back and hoped for the best. Turns out that access at Green Park is in the form of a "hump" in the platform, and the door we initially tried to use had a several-inches step down. We could have managed it—Chad could have helped Mari lower her chair out backwards, or she could have walked the couple steps necessary—but we had no notice of why we needed a specific car and we kind of froze for a moment, while the train was all the while getting ready to leave. Fortunately Chad, who'd gotten out first, saw that the next door down from us was at the platform hump and we made it out, but it was an unpleasant jolt. And then to get to the lifts involves this endless set of sloping hallways, and getting out of Green Park itself is extremely steep, and I was feeling pretty terrible by the end of it for suggesting that we take the DLR/Tube just because it was half as long as the bus.

tl;dr: accessibility on the Tube sucks.

After our tea, we waved Mari into a cab (they all have ramps built-in and capacious interiors) and wandered around to work off some of the food. We headed down to Trafalgar Square and past Westminster, and I took some pictures along the way:

The current art on the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square, which is a giant blue rooster ("Hahn/Cock," 2013, by Katharina Fritsch).

A somewhat odd memorial to the women of WWII.

Sunlight glinting off gilt with ominous background clouds.

"Big Ben! Parliament!"

Then we picked up laundry and found people at the tail end of the con and drank and talked, and then I packed, fretting all the while that I was missing something because I had so much space—even though I knew that I'd vacuum-bagged some stuff and put it in a different suitcase—and had a hard time getting to sleep because I was all anxiety-ish.

Unfortunately the—not brain weasels, that's too serious, what's a smaller critter in the same family?—were still running around this morning, even though objectively everything went very well until we hit Dublin: no significant delays, no hassles, luggage came through.

Ugh, I can't even bear to rehash all the details. Suffice it to say that we walked with our luggage for way longer than we should have trying to find our hotel, at least half of which was my fault, so, awesome; and our smartphones are completely useless as phone-and-data devices for the duration of this part of the trip [*], so we had to buy the cheapest call-and-text-only phone possible just to give us a way to be reached here in Ireland.

[*] We're on pay-as-you-go, somehow got out of Heathrow without "topping up", i.e., paying to add credit to our phones, and (1) Vodafone IE can't add credit to Vodafone UK phones and (2) Vodafone UK won't accept credit cards with zip codes rather than post codes. So we have no way to pay for roaming here.

But then we had good food and drinks at the Porterhouse [*], which also established that I am now spoiled for easily-available cider in the U.S., because I like the darker, richer stuff from Ireland (and one of the kinds I had in Bristol) much better, and then we stomped around looking at St. Stephen's Green (very pretty), and noticing Captain America's Cookhouse and Bar and Writers' Tears Whisky, and now we have something like a plan for the next days of tourism, so all is well.

[*] Its Oyster Stout is literally made with oysters, which Chad did not know before he tried it. He said it was very good.

(Apologies to Dublin for the entry tag; I created it before I knew we were coming to Dublin, and to change it now would break links elsewhere.)

(no subject)

Aug. 19th, 2014 12:48 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Yesterday, we went out for breakfast. Scott and I would have been happy with Cafe Marie which is close by, but Cordelia dislikes Cafe Marie unless it's late enough in the day that she can get a burger (at least 11), so we went across town to IHOP. Fortunately, there wasn't really a wait. They were only about half full. The last time we tried to go there, it was a weekend, and the wait was beyond what we could manage.

Scott had French toast with bacon, eggs and hashbrowns. I had blueberry lemonade pancakes with bacon, sausage and hashbrowns. I got eggs, too, but since I can't eat them, I gave them to Cordelia. Cordelia had a waffle and some fruit.

Cordelia was worried we wouldn't get home in time-- Her friend's family was due to pick her up at 11. As it happened, they didn't come until after 12. Cordelia stayed out until about 7 when she called for Scott to come pick her up.

Scott and I watched Burn Notice during the afternoon. Since it was the last day of Scott's vacation, we got Chinese carry out from Gourmet Garden. Scott was a little sorry he'd done it when he was driving out to get the food. Traffic was apparently awful.

I miss Scott today. It was really nice having him home all last week. 'Nice' is an inadequate word for it, really. I love having Scott around.

Scott is thinking that he spent his vacation time poorly this year. He used two weeks for Cordelia's school breaks, thinking he'd get to do some things with her, but she had other plans for most of that time. He really needs vacation time more in the summer and fall, when work is heaviest. Next year, we'll know better. I think Scott still has a week left this year.

Summer break is winding down

Aug. 19th, 2014 09:25 am
writerlibrarian: (Hot Major)
[personal profile] writerlibrarian
I had my dad and his wife for diner on Sunday. I tried the Blueberry French Toast bread pudding. It was good but next time I will definitely put less cinnamon in it. 2 table spoons is too much in the mix and one table spoon mixed with the sugar for the topping is too much too.

I haven't put words into the French novel since last Tuesday. But I did do the structure of the next chapter. I just have to write it now. It had been grey and wet since last Thursday. We did have some sun on Sunday but it was cold for the season. Yesterday was a mix bag.Today is looking good so is tomorrow so I might put in some reading in the sun time after all.

FYI most of Agatha Christie in ebook is on sale at 0.99$ on Amazon Canada today. I got the Miss Marple that I was missing. At 99 cents instead of 9.99$ they are usually priced at.

I have watched Finale part one and two of Highlander for the Highlander Rewatch [personal profile] killabeez is hosting. You can either watch from the beginning and/or only the Methos episodes. I was already at Methos in my rewatch so I'm doing the Methos track.

joe methos black coat

I haven't written down my thoughts yet but man... those red pants.

I've also finished knitting a new Hitchhiker in autumn reds with flashes of gold yarn.

I finished it while rewatching Spooks series 1. Man they look so young. But the plots are still relevant. Which is depressing. The world hasn't really changed in 12 years. Only the players' names.

I'm kinda reading, browsing a bunch of books right now. Nothing really grabs my attention enough to make me sit and read. Add to that the lack of warmth and sunshine to read outside. The result is a pretty slim reading list this week.

So the plan today is to read some in the sun weather permitting and write at least 750 words on the new chapter.

Moving Day!

Aug. 19th, 2014 09:27 am
ellen_fremedon: overlapping pages from Beowulf manuscript, one with a large rubric, on a maroon ground (Default)
[personal profile] ellen_fremedon
The movers are coming between 1 and 3. I still need to dismantle the bed, take the shelves out of the bookcases, run out and get a parking pass for the truck and cash for the movers' tips, restage the furniture and boxes in the living room, and sweep and bag up the remaining trash. Also toss my toiletries and robe into my suitcase.

And then tomorrow is cleaning, spackling, and emptying the fridge.

I still have not managed to sell or give away my dining table and chairs; they'll be going out on the curb tomorrow night, so if anyone wants them, let me know.

And after tomorrow I can go back on applying for jobs. And also write a long-overdue update here.


Aug. 18th, 2014 10:07 pm
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
1) "I'm the mama! I'm the mama now. I will sit in the rocking chair. I want to hold Rocket. I will give him yoms [noms, which means nursing. - ed] I want you to put Rocket on my lap and he is hungry so I will give him yoms."

[pause, look down]

"Where are my boobs?"

2) While riding his push bike, talking about something, which I didn't quite catch: I caught up to him as he was finishing with "And so that's why Rocket needs a parent."

Me: Rocket has parents! I'm his parent, and daddy is his parent.

Junebug: Yeah, and I'm his owner!

other people's nifty fanwork

Aug. 18th, 2014 11:13 pm
castiron: cartoony sketch of owl (Default)
[personal profile] castiron
In my ACD Holmes/BBC Sherlock crossover fic Not Yet Dead, I had a throwaway reference to a poem Kipling had written in that 'verse called "Be A Man as Watson Was". I tossed around the idea of writing some of that poem but never did anything with it.

Enter M. Vernet, a contributor at McMurdo's Camp, who wrote a lovely poem in the comments and kindly gave me permission to repost here. I apologize to her for taking six months to get around to it!

Be a man as Watson was.... )

(no subject)

Aug. 18th, 2014 05:33 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
I was without my laptop for most of the day today while Scott worked on downloading and installing an updated OS (I think I have Lion now). We tried to download it over night, but something went wrong, and the download didn't complete, so we had to do it again this morning. I'm still in the process of updating software and all of that. I don't expect to be done any time soon as there will likely be cascading updates. The current one is predicted to take another two hours to complete.

There are several programs that will no longer work. I no longer have access to MSOffice. The versions I have are too old. I don't know what program I've got that will open my .doc files. My solitaire program needs to be updated. I did a little research a couple of months back, and there ought to be a newer version available. I definitely need to get that. I play a lot of solitaire while I'm watching TV. My dice program no longer works (Scott says his does. I don't know if his is newer than mine or what). There are a couple of other programs labeled as no longer working, but they're not important because I never use them.

At any rate, don't expect comment responses from me for a day or two at least. I think I'm going to be busy trying to figure out the new system. Scott says there's an additional system upgrade that we have to do eventually, but he has CDs for that, so we won't be downloading anything quite so large.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
A list. I see at least one of those being retweeted by people I trust to know those involved (the #OperationHelpOrHush PayPal)--news searches are not coming up useful for me right now, maybe because I'm in the UK?

. . . look at this as an opportunity

Aug. 18th, 2014 09:38 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I have just discovered that not only am I solo-parenting for the week after I get back from this vacation, but that daycare will be closed for two of those days, the Thursday and Friday before Labor Day. (Chad gets back probably mid-day the Sunday just before Labor Day, assuming no delays.)

Yeah. See the subject line (half-day trips! Extended projects! Lots of time at the swimming pool! Comprehensively getting over missing them a lot now!), with an addition of "think of the motivation to be stunningly efficient at work!"

. . . right?

Square dancing

Aug. 17th, 2014 09:56 pm
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
The OH is learning to be a square dance caller and he sent out an email promoting square dancing that include some YouTube videos. I'm sufficiently mobility impaired that I don't do any kind of partner dancing that involves standing up ;) but this one made me wish I could: (Kilt tip at a Chicago Gay Square Dance Convention)

And this one helped me better understand some of the skills involved in calling: (Teen square at convention)

Here are some videos for Bay Area square dance groups: (Stanford Quads graduation dance) (Ad for easy square dancing)

About that parallel you're drawing...

Aug. 17th, 2014 09:27 pm
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
I have seen multiple posts about depression recently that compare it to diabetes and say something like "You wouldn't expect a diabetic to go without their insulin, right? Well you shouldn't expect a depressed person to 'just cheer up.'"

Here's the thing. There is lots of shaming of diabetics for being on meds or insulin. A lot of people think diabetes is a "lifestyle disease" and that one can choose whether to have it and how to treat it. There is probably considerable overlap between people with that view and the ones who think depression is a bad mood or a selfish play for attention.

I appreciate the attempt to educate people about depression and I'm not criticizing any particular person or post, but I'm thinking some other comparison would probably work better to get the point across that depression is a very difficult condition to manage.

linkspammity spam

Aug. 17th, 2014 09:42 pm
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
I've read a lot of thoughtful, knowledgeable, compassionate stuff about depression and suicide in the past week. These are two of the best public pieces of writing I've seen about it.

It's about time some folks began to question the pressure-cooker metaphor of emotion management. Absolutely, stress can cause illness, but expressing your anger doesn't necessarily relieve that stress. The article eventually gets around to pointing this out, but first it gets all tangled up in claiming that expressing anger constructively or "clearly and firmly" helps your health and in suggesting that you might want to avoid getting angry more than occasionally. Most people I know don't have a lot of control over how much they get angry, although they have some control over how they express it.

A woman spends a weekend being a "slouch-and-spreader" on public transit. I have uncomfortable reactions to the tumblrs about men who do this (e.g. On the one hand I think they're funny, and men do sometimes seem to aggressively take up space in public. On the other hand, I don't like it when people are judgemental about how much space others are taking, as if all humans are supposed to fit inside the same sorts of boxes you have to prove your airplane carry-on baggage fits into.

A doctor writes about becoming a patient after sustaining an injury. Part 1 of 4.
"It is not clear to me whether it is a side effect of having gone to medical school or an inborn personality trait, but I have always had a rather distant relationship with my body. This, I believe, is not completely uncommon. David Sedaris, in an essay called “A Shiner Like A Diamond” (in Me Talk Pretty One Day) says that he and his brother thought of their bodies as “mere vehicles . . . machines designed to transport our thoughts from one place to another.” (p. 133)"

"In Praise of Idleness" by Bertrand Russell (1932): I tried really hard to find some choice quotes for this essay but everything was irretrievably attached to everything else (which is the way really good essays work).

(no subject)

Aug. 17th, 2014 09:16 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
The Disney Channel has a couple of new programs since I last talked about what we watch regularly. Cordelia watches everything Disney does, so we're watching these shows, too.

The two shows are I Didn't Do It and Girl Meets World. The first of these annoys me. Unlike most Disney sitcoms, the main characters are played by older actors. They're supposed to be freshmen in high school, but none of them looks nearly young enough (especially when compared to the actors in other Disney sitcoms). The conceit of the show is that the five friends get into some sort of utterly embarrassing situation at the beginning of the show and then flashback to show how they got there.

The second show is, in my opinion, better. It's still a sitcom, so I don't love it, but it tends to be sweeter, and the lead actors are younger, probably as young as their characters. I find it interesting that one of the main characters has family problems, genuine problems, that aren't played for laughs.

We've also been watching Avatar: the Legend of Korra, season three. We were disappointed when Nickelodeon pulled it from the Friday lineup. We're glad it's still available online, but it's a good show that deserves better. This season has been solid, much better than the first two seasons.

We're still watching all the other Disney sitcoms and The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Scott's been watching The Wil Wheaton Project and Mythbusters, so I end up seeing them, too. Cordelia's still recording Teen Titans Go! and has started following Adventure Time. I think that's all the TV we generally watch apart from my M-F exercise programs and an occasional episode of Antiques Roadshow. We'll pick up Doctor Who again when it starts back up.

Scott's trying to figure out a cheaper way to get the shows we want without jumping through a lot of hoops. We need just a few channels, but needing a specific PBS station (WCMU) kind of makes different options more difficult. Not getting WCMU is a deal breaker for me just as not getting Disney Channel would be a deal breaker for Cordelia.

overheard in the Castiron household

Aug. 17th, 2014 06:55 pm
castiron: River Song, "Spoilers..." (spoilers)
[personal profile] castiron
(After yet another morning of PBS Kids)

Spouse: Curious George would be so much better if it turned out to be a crossover with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Then at the end you could have the Man in the Yellow Hat walking around the psychiatric hospital carrying his toy monkey.

Other crossovers we came up with:

The Man in the Yellow Wallpaper. (George proves way too difficult to live with.)

I Am Curious, George, a documentary about bonobos. [Yes, we know that George is a monkey and bonobos are apes.])

Loncon: The Gendered AI

Aug. 18th, 2014 12:34 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
It's late but I'm jazzed from good conversation and think I can quickly make this presentable before I go to bed.


Strictly speaking, there's no reason an artificial intelligence should express gender in human terms (or at all). Yet in much recent film and TV -- such as WALL-E, Her, Person of Interest, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Caprica -- gender and/or sexuality has been integral to the vision of AI. How have such portrayals affected what stories are told? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What would it mean to imagine a genderless AI -- or a queer AI?

Charlie Jane Anders, Abigail Nussbaum, Nic Clarke, Michael Morelli,Jed Hartman

Nic: reviewer, watched all the programs being discussed

Jed: former fiction editor for Strange Horizons, now consumes media; fascinated by gender for long time

Mike: Masters student, giving paper on sexuality in Banks tomorrow, feminist literary critic

Abigail: blogger & reviewer, Reviews editor at SH, writes lot about film & TV from feminist perspective

Charlie Jane: writer, blogger at io9, including AIs in some of work (including one forthcoming resolutely ungendered one)

notes, with no fail that I recognized! )

So this was fun! If I've mis-identified anything let me know.



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