Archive for February, 2015

What I’ve Been Reading / Viewing Lately

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a post here.  That’s not because I haven’t been reading books or not viewing other media.  But it happens that much of what I’ve been reading lately hasn’t been the science fiction / fantasy that we usually dissect here.  So here’s a partial list of what I’ve read or viewed in the past few months:

1.  The usual amount of research-science material, focused on planetary science and astronomy.  This has included a lot of cool things, both in my own areas of expertise and well outside of them.

I was part of the team that observed the binary asteroid 2004 BL86 recently.

2. Various public health / epidemiology / medical research material.  These have ranged from extremely positive (e.g. Hep C could now be potentially eradicated!) to anxiety-inducing (e.g. antichloinergic drugs –  in very common use – appear to be associated with higher risk of developing dementia) to preliminary research that is too early to form opinions on (e.g. projects to identify genetic predispositions to various diseases in different cohorts and what those could imply for future prevention efforts).

3. Quite a lot of material on intersectional social justice.  I’ve still got a lot of learning to do here; my reading lately has focused on but not been limited to efforts to simulanteously address racism, sexism, heterosexism, and gender essentialism.  I have some biases in what problems I’ve been educating myself on – I’ve tried in particular to read up on problems in current US culture and in the scientific community, since those spaces are where I spend most of my time.

4. Lately, Rachel and I have been watching a selection of Chinese films.  I’ve also been reading up on various older Chinese literature.

For the classic Chinese novels, as with a lot of other media past and current, I’ve had to invoke Anita Sarkeesian‘s rule: “it is both possible and necessary to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects”.

For example: One of the main characters in the novel 水滸傳Shuǐhǔ zhuàn / “Outlaws of the Marsh” or “Water Margin” is called 宋江 / Sòng Jiān.  He starts as a clerk for the government, but helps the titular outlaws steal a large amount of money and takes a payment from them.  His estranged wife discovers his involvement, and threatens to report him unless he divorces her.  He kills her.  And we are meant to be sympathetic to him.  In another episode in the novel, some of the designated-hero outlaws become sworn fictive brothers with a cannibalistic serial killer who had drugged them into unconsciousness and was going to murder and butcher them until he figured out who they were – apparently not having a problem with his killing and eating people, as long as he isn’t killing them.  So yeah.  Not so much.  Lots of Values Dissonance there.

5. I have read some scifi lately.  Specifically, books from C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance-Union setting.  I may do a post about them at some point.


Fantasy Round 33: LEGOs

2015/02/01 1 comment

In conjunction with the Insight program (I’m a fellow in the current session), a smaller group watched The Lego Movie following work last Friday.

I’m putting it under Fantasy, since I’m not sure where else it would fit well, but it’s kind of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink.

I expected it to be cliché heavy and mildly amusing.  For the most part, I was not disappointed.  However… the ending.  The ending.

I’ll be spoiling everything here, of course, but beware — the third act includes rage.

And, of course, everydude Emmett is the hero of the piece.  The screaming gets pretty epic.

And, of course, everydude Emmett is the hero of the piece. The screaming gets pretty epic.

Read more…