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nineveh_uk
16 September 2018 @ 08:41 am
I finally got round to watching Star Trek: Beyond on Friday evening, having sufficiently unimpressed with its astronomically boring predecessor that I felt no interest in watching any new Star Trek ever again. Say what you like about the original series, but it generally didn't present Spock's personal growth in terms of enthusiastic punching people to ridiculous "Pow!" sounds. Having heard that Beyond was actually a bit more like normal Star Trek than this, I decided I would give it a go, and indeed found it an enjoyable space romp that had finally grasped the concept of a bit of character development, i.e. not making that heroes actively unpleasant.

Nonetheless, some idiocy remains, and I'm not just talking about miniskirts without flame-retardant leggings. I'm not sure whether the decision to name a starship USS Franklin reflected the rather tedious inability to remember that the Federation is not actually meant to be the United States Empire in space, or someone's idea of dramatic irony. However I feel that if personally were in charge of naming a new starship destined to voyage into the unknown to seek out new worlds and new civilizations I would prefer to name it after a successful explorer: the USS Amundsen.

On the other hand, it might have been worse...

LOCATION: STARFLEET COMMAND

- Commander, the result of the public vote to name the new Starfleet vessel is about to be announced!

- USS Shippy McShipface.

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nineveh_uk
To be fair, this study was on rhinovirus and respiratory viruses rather than intestinal bugs, and people don't generally blow their nose on a toilet lid. But I am a bit suspicious that if the study had been of intestinal bugs the toilets might still have won, because if there is one overarching message it is that stuff that gets regularly cleaned because people worry it is dirty, is cleaner than stuff no-one thinks to clean.

The University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare (available on open access here) have done a study on "Deposition of respiratory virus pathogens on frequently touched surfaces at airport". I.e. they swabbed a load of surfaces at airports and looked at which ones had cold and flu germs on them. Toilet lids, flushes, and interior door locks scored zero. So did lift buttons, check-in screens, and escalator buttons.

The winners? The plastic dog in the children's playground, and luggage trays at the security area, of which rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza A, and human corona OC43 were each found on 50% of trays sampled.*

The reason for the investigation related to the possibility of airports spreading pandemic flu. Personally, I'm going to be using a LOT of handgel at security from now on. Just to make this study extra special, the samples were taken at Helsinki airport, where [personal profile] antisoppist and I will be next week. I'd better make sure I have plans not to come back to work afterwards - I suspected that being ill immediately after 5 out of my last 5 years September holidays was not sheer coincidence!

In other fun flying news, British pilot licenses will become invalid and have to be reissued after a no-deal Brexit.

Former head of flight operations Captain Mike Vivian [at the CAA] believes a deal will be ultimately reached but says the skills shortage at the CAA is concerning.

He told Sky News: "The CAA has to ramp up the staff that it previously had to discharge these tasks before they were given over to EASA - and that might take some time.

"As of 29 March next year the European Aviation rules and certification and all the rest that go with it cease overnight.

"I don't believe that any responsible body, least of all our government or the CAA, would let it run until that point. We should have clarity I would have thought by the end of this year."


Responsible body??? That just guarantees that if the current government is in charge of it, we're grounded.


*Don't pay by card in the airport pharmacy, either. But that was a smaller sample.

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nineveh_uk
08 September 2018 @ 08:43 am
Things I learned from YouTube over breakfast: the first Swedish performance of ABBA's Dancing Queen was at a gala at the Swedish Royal Opera, the night before the King's wedding. It is magnificently bizarre, a bewigged and stockinged choir and audience behind them, Anni-Frid and Agnetha in giant costume dresses, Benny and Björn in tights, and everyone is clearly having an amazing time during it.



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nineveh_uk
07 September 2018 @ 07:57 am
Having not felt up to much earlier in the week, I took myself to the pictures yesterday evening, as BlacKkKlansman was on at 5:30pm, the cinema is about 5 minutes away from my office, and it would give me a feeling of having achieved something with the evening without actually needing to put any effort in. Plus I had been interested in seeing it since reading a Guardian (or Observer) article on it earlier in the summer, and I've been rubbish at getting to the cinema this year.

Short version of the plot: a US police force's first black policeman, Ron Stallworth, (John David Washington*) goes undercover to investigate the local Ku Klux Klan, soon having regular phonecalls with David Duke. Since he obviously can't attend the meetings himself, his 'character' is played by a fellow cop, the white, Jewish Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Meanwhile Ron's budding romance with local black student union president, Patrice (Laura Harrier) is made somewhat awkward by her disdain for the pigs and devotion to more radical politics.

I thought it was a very good film, thoroughly deserving of its strong reviews**. The pace is a bit stately to begin with, but it gets into its stride soon enough. The script is good, the acting very good, and its very engaging, though perhaps more rewarding as an audience experience if you're watching it in (parts of) the US rather than 20 or so people in north Oxford who are worried about laughing too much. In some ways we know very little about the characters' individual rather than political motivations - we get almost no indication as to why Ron originally wanted to take the difficult action of joining the police - while at the same time the film is very good at exploring the different ways that their actions intersect with their identity, from deeply conscious political activist Patrice, via Ron's mix of the personal and professional, through to Zimmerman, "I never thought of myself as Jewish, now I'm denying it." The KKK characters are also well-depicted - often stupid, consistently vile, and sometimes comic, yes, but entirely plausible.

Have the trailer.




*Yes, Denzel Washington's son. I was going to say that I feel old now, but I've looked up his age and feel better. Apparently his father was older than I realised in Much Ado About Nothing.

**Though not the one in Al Jazeera, which considers it "reactionary" and "myopic provincialism" to make a film about racist terrorism and police violence against African-Americans and Jews in a culture that has an ongoing terrible record with police violence against African Americans and a resurgent neo-Nazi/far right terrorist movement.

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nineveh_uk
This weekend I have embarked on my Big Autumn Project, which alas is not writing a novel, sewing something amazing, doing some painting, or going to the gym. No, it is sorting out those things at home need to be sorted, and throwing out those that shouldn't be there at all. My place is basically tidy as far as superficial appearances go*, but there is far too much Stuff hanging around shoved in drawers etc and it needs to go. Or at least be stored more neatly. And I would like the spare room desk to be more usable more of the time. So sorting out that is what I am doing. I may be some time.

This is of course a less than thrilling activity even when set to the radio etc., which is why I didn't do it before, but it does occasionally throw out some gems. This one is from the Tirolean tourist board's winter sports division: "Interpretive ski mountaineering trail". What they mean is that it is a nature trail for ski touring, with educational notice boards to help you learn about avalanche danger. But I like the idea of interpretative skiing better.

*And where it isn't, youngest sister's "perpendicular" principle allows it to pass the parental eye. Mostly.

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nineveh_uk
Not the book review I meant to write, but the fic I ended up writing instead.

The Sun on the Water by Nineveh_uk
Chapters: 1
Fandom: Sunshine - Robin McKinley
Rating: G, CNTW
Characters: Rae "Sunshine" Seddon, Constantine (Seddon)

Rae takes a trip back to the lake.

*

I bought Sunshine* years ago in Cambridge at one of the late lamented Galloway & Porter's big sales, read it then, and think I probably haven't for a decade. It felt like a good choice to take on holiday and I'm glad I did. It works for me because although it's a vampire novel it isn't really a horror novel, and vampire fan as I am, I am a wimp when it comes to horror of the gory sort. I'm much more into fear than horror, and it does fear very well.

The story concerns an early twenties-ish cafe baker who goes out to a local lake to get away from it all for an hour or so and finds herself kidnapped by vampires (how different from the home life of our own dear Ramblers Association), imprisoned in an abandoned house, and destined to be a vampire's dinner. Only the vampire is not so keen to go along with this particular script.

There isn't a vampire novel that doesn't have some vampire cliché, but in general I find this one pretty fresh. You can tell that this was originally written for adults rather than as YA, because the eponymous Sunshine is very much positioned as a young woman, social category full-blown adult rather than teenager. She's got a job, a flat, friends, is pretty content with her life these days, and it isn't a novel about being swept away from the mundane, but hanging on to it when disruption comes. The vampires are very effectively inhuman. They're creepy and inhuman and horribly compelling, and people perceive them as glamorous and mysterious (and then they die). I've read review comments about people being frustrated that it doesn't delve deeper into the worldbuilding, but the amount that is there is perfect for me. I don't want a Compleat World of Vampires and Eldritch Foes with Bonus Political Oeconomie detail. I want enough background for the story, and that is what it does. It does require a certain tolerance of ambiguity: I like that we don't know everything about the world, that the story has a very narrow focus and that although the central narrative has a satisfactory ending, the heroine doesn't solve all her personal mysteries, let alone how the vampire foe is going to be defeated long-term, but that it ends with a sense of future that is a life-like future, that the future will continue to unwind, but you can't know what it is. But I can see that the unanswered questions could reasonably be frustrating for some readers. I'm also a big fan of the casually lyrical narrative style. I think the final action sequence isn't as strong as it might be, and in fact is probably weakened by not taking the horror approach: it needs a bit more ludicrous vampire grandstanding, but that's a minor quibble.

*That cover is absolutely terrible. It's simultaneously a scene from the book and conveys absolutely the wrong idea of the book. Mine was this cover and I'm pretty sure that I picked it out of the pile because of that. Much creepier, but also, being the romance of the clapboard house, much creepier. I think the current cover also does the book a disservice in another way in that I realised while reading it that there is almost no physical description of most of the human characters, including the heroine, and all of them could be of any ethnicity, which feels like it works well in a vampire book where the ostensible sides are humans or Others and we don't even know the name of the heroine's country (OK, it's obviously the US, but in this AU world we don't know that it is called the US. Manchester does exist, however. It has a vampire problem.)

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nineveh_uk
19 August 2018 @ 10:47 am
For those who haven't already seen this...



Of course the difference between the Titanic and Brexit is that the building a big ship to cross the Atlantic wasn't an inherently ridiculous project that could never succeed, but a concept that had decent potential and was already being done, but that in this case was badly executed at a number of stages. Whereas Brexit is a terrible idea that could never succeed and that is being disastrously executed at every single point. Captain Smith and the White Star Line made they mistakes, but they never actually suggested that the iceberg was a good thing and perhaps the navy would like to use the ship for torpedo target practice and they'd see how fast they could get out of the way.

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nineveh_uk
30 July 2018 @ 02:40 pm
Thanks to [personal profile] naraht. It's massively skewed by the right fic at the right time in Yuri on Ice fandom, but has been interesting to discover the stats page, which I can't remember looking at before.

Account created: 21 December 2009, presumably Yuletide connected.
Total stories: 45 There is quite a lot I never transferred from FictionAlley* or LJ/DW. Must think about archiving the latter. The former is about to become not an issue because AO3 is transferring the entire archive. Though I must also think about that, too..
Total wordcount: 99,169
Average (mean) wordcount: 2203. This over-inflates the average, really. I seem to have a lot of quite short fics on AO3.
Longest story: My True Love Has My Heart. Peter/Harriet bodyswap fic... It's 12,200 words. By and large I don't write very long fics, and that's the only one over 10,000.
Shortest story: And the flood destroyed them all 152 words, These Old Shades, and the sole fic on AO3 tagged with Henri de Saint-Vire

Total kudos: 4786
Kudos (mean) per story: 106. Take out the fic with most kudos, and you get a less extreme 64.
Story with most kudos: In the Studio, which was a comic, multi-chapter fic right at the time when Yuri on Ice fic was still canon-focused and there wasn't as much of it. Its 1935 kudos is over seven times my next most-kudosed fic (also YOI). It has 1 kudos per 1.8 words, which is particularly ridiculous when you consider that it is written in script form and thus a disproportionate number of those words are "Commentator [1]".

Total comment threads: 569.
Comment threads per story: 12. Hmm, probably not unreflective overall.
Story with most comments: The aforementioned : In the Studio, with 138 comment threads. Honourable mention to The Sceptre at the Feast, which comes in second with 49 comment threads, and is a Yuletide 2009 fic that still brings in more kudos and occasional comments than I would expect for such a short piece.

Total author subscriptions: 54.
Total story subscriptions: 217. I assume many of them are awaiting the sequel to In the Studio,
Story with most subscriptions: Indeed, it's In the Studio, with 209 subscriptions.
Total bookmarks: 450
Story with most bookmarks: Go on, guess! You won't be wrong.

Stories with no comments or kudos: Two stories with no comments: Sabotage , which is a Yuri on Ice jeu d'esprit about what skaters really think when they get sex-pollened, and I've Been to a Marvellous Party, which was my Wimseyfic response to the Open-Source Boobs Project and which has got loads of comments, but they're all on LJ. No stories without kudos, with the lowest being The Whispering Grass, which is the very definition of a story one writes for oneself, but still manages 13.

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nineveh_uk
The warm nights continue to challenge sleep with dreams. After Friday morning's attempt to explain post-modernish, I woke at 4am today from an AU of The Secret History, set less romantically in something that appeared to be the physics department of a 1970s university. The final straw was when some bloke handed me the minutes of the murder they had committed covered with red pen and instructed me to improve them. I woke up on telling him to shove it.

This was still an improvement on spending the rest of the night attempting to work out a bar bill.

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nineveh_uk
18 July 2018 @ 01:22 pm
I need to buy a printer; all advice/suggestions/recommendations/rants not to get your brand because it is terrible, will be gratefully received!

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