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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn

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7apr2015

Ooooh, more controversy:)

Via pharyngula, a post by scicurious, about favorite versus ‘good’ books. I know exactly how she feels. Being smarter and more disciplined than I am, she banged her head against this wall far longer than I have; I couldn't stand the amoral people in Vanity Fair, and gave it up. The biggest thrill of Tess of the d'Ubervilles (besides the admittedly fascinating bits about dairying—being a milkmaid was hard work!) was recognizing the basis for some Harry Potter characters (Voldie's folks, for those of you who are curious). I did manage Willa Cather and T.S. Eliot (I think?) and they were ok.

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6apr2015

So the latest kerfluffle taking place in the (book) sf&f world is the effort of a bunch of USA right-wing sore-losers calling themselves the sad (or rabid) puppies, who managed to stuff the ballot box during the hugo nominations. To the tune of providing nearly 70% of the slate. Because their efforts last year (which involved them being voted below ‘No award’) were so successful.

SF has two major awards, the nebulas (selected by pros, like the Oscars) and the hugos (named for Hugo Gernsback, whose 1920s mag sort of started the genre) which can be nominated by—and voted upon—anyone with a WorldCon (the biggest sf&f convention) membership. In order to open the process to poorer fans, the committee created a (non-attending) category for $40.

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27mar2015

All is not doom and gloom on the rejiquar front! (Although posting may sink back into apathy if instagram starts working properly again, plus I have a deadline and so will need to actually get back to making art, as opposed to merely posting it.) I promised an update on Aiden Meehan's celtic interlace, so here ’tis!

In the 17Mar post I promised an update on the Meehan omnibus volume Celtic Design, 2007, which comprises the Beginner's Manual, Knotwork and Illuminated Letters. The library didn't have the last volume, but I got Celtic Alphabets and his Spirals volumes in lieu.

The short answer: if you're wanting just one book on how to do celtic art, then I stand by my original suggestion, and here's why:

Celtic interlace, at least for me (& I suspect for many other folks) can be learnt in a very linear fashion: beginning at the beginning, with simple exercises, and keep practicing. Meehan breaks the steps down in pretty easy chunks, and for those of you for whom even that's too tedious, tends to include lots of examples, grouped by sub-style, that copying makes for an excellent learning process.

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26mar2015

My energy levels have been kind of low, probably because I'm fighting off whatever upper respiratory tract infection that's laid f2tY low; so I've been doing more reading. I heard about Francesca Haig's The Fire Sermon (which I immediately nicknamed Omega in my head owing to the striking cover design) via [someplace or other, evidently not Whatever] & decided to check it out.

There's a lot to like about this book. I was immediately entranced by the setup: in a post-apocalyptic world, everyone is born twins, perfect alphas to always-disabled omegas. Omegas typically are missing something—an arm, a leg; or they have too many arms or eyes—or visions. Seers, visibly indistinguishable from alphas, see visions—of the blast that destroyed their world; glimpses of the future, sensations of others nearby—but are still considered omegas.

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25mar2015

Northern white abolitionists are often castigated today for their racism, and rightfully so; but I can't help thinking they focused on the damage slavery did to (white) society in general and slaveowners in particular because they were pitching their arguments to other white people. Blacks had no problem whatsoever understanding slavery's evils. They didn't need to be persuaded.

More than a few people have speculated what our descendants will find willfully, obviously blind in us. As a sf&f reader (& would-be author) I've thought about this as well, and I've come to the conclusion that there probably are already those out there pointing out our society's problems, which I tend to suspect will fall into several basic categories:

  • Treating our fellow humans with decency and respect
  • Treating other living creatures with decency and respect
  • Living a sustainable lifestyle (treating everything with decency & respect...)

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24mar2015

Just finished Edward Baptist's brilliant The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism yesterday (unlike the previous entry, which I actually wrote in the beginning of March...), and wow.

This is the book that formed the basis of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ argument “The Case for Reparations” (which more properly is The Case for Making a Case for Reparations). In it, Baptist explains why the currently popular argument in some circles—that American chattel slavery was on its way out and we really didn't need to fight a war over it—is specious, and economically indefensible.

Summed up, slaves, after land, was the second biggest chunk of the US economy before the Civil War. Moreover, free labor was not more efficient than whip-driven slave labor, which could pick 200 lbs/cotton, versus 120 as the absolute max, and that was with 90 odd years of improvements to make it ‘more pickable’.

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