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Who does the internet think I am? Why have I been bombarded for weeks with an ad for bunk beds? and one for a military-grade torch? (Should it be banned? the ad asks.) and today, $99 sports shoes. I think the internet thinks I'm running a kids adventure camp, with exciting night activities, which I'm so not!

I don't have any great news stories to link to, but I enjoyed this metafilter discussion about who rules canon, or whose canon rules, beginning with Harry Potter, but taking off from there to discuss more widely.

In other non-news, it's Year of the Pulse! This weekend's celebratory pulse-focused meal at my place: Chickpea patties, served with yoghurt and the mango chutney I made a little while ago, and lettuce etc. Huge success. :)

More about W&P:
It's getting better and better! (Not to say it's flawless, though). Read more... )

I'm a little anxious about the coming election at home, especially about how the changes to the Senate voting will play out. (More than a little, actually.) But not to end on a morose note, here's a campaign ad (30-second youtube, not haranguing) put out by the classical music arm of our national broadcaster.
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I'm envious of those Australians who will be at home this week to see the first episodes of the new show Cleverman. It does look like it could be a bit tough, i.e. with depictions of violence - I usually steer away from such. (Here's the youtube trailer - it's a bit over two minutes long.)
Still, I'd like to see it; it'll be the first big Aboriginal-led futureish dystopian fantasy action show (and heavy on the social commentary) on television. Though it's not true, as is asserted in this Guardian article, that this'll be the first Aboriginal superhero; I remember the AIDS-inspired Condoman - don't be shame, be game! - even if no-one else does.
If anyone sees it, I'd love to hear what you think.

Two cheerful pieces of environmental news - from the giant karri forests of Pemberton, WA, and
from the tiny wastewater treatment plant in Jamestown, SA.

One pleasant indicator of social change, perhaps: a clue in the Friday crossword this week was She classifies Chinese religion, not film.
(The answer was taxonomist; the X was part of a larger pan-crossword clue.)
True, as a clue it's not especially exciting, but what I thought was pleasant was to see "she" used to mean "ordinary human", and not meaning something different from the default male.

War & Peace is back - I'm pushing determinedly for the end now, since the friend I was reading it with most unfairly gallopped ahead while I was away doing other things. I've just finished about the battle of Borodino, Read more... )
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So... War and Peace! Volume Three opens with a stunning and sobering meditation on War, where does it come from?.
He's just spinning out in public thoughts that have been implicit all along, or at least since Prince-andrei-looks-into-the-sky in Volume One, but now he's really hitting stride with them and they are - well, arresting, to say the least! (This doesn't mean I let him off the hook for the totally dismissive way he writes women.) It's the Big Thoughts - in the midst of which he sketches out, just lightly in passing, the whole Great Man school of history, then skrunches it up and tosses it away as hopelessly naive.

and having done that he launches straight into several recreations of Great Man historical happenings, beginning with the scene when the Tsar learned that Napoleon had breached Russia's borders (I don't count that as a spoiler) but throwing in as well the thinking of one minor, fictional, prince, which acts as a sidenote on the aforesaid meditation, i.e. showing at ground level one tiny fragment of the process he'd just zoomed over at a great height. This was, as far as I know at this point, a totally unimportant fragment - minuscule, microscopic - but depressingly real, and crushingly illustrating the opening meditation.

Two questions for the collective wisdom out there:
- Is Tolstoy the first person to actually put his finger on the Great Man school of thought in history?
- Is Tolstoy the first person to point out explicitly that all it would have taken*, in those pre-drone days, for wars to stop was for every single soldier to refuse to fight?

I think he was, in both cases, but what do I know?

*(all it would have taken :( "he that will not when he could-a, will find he cannot when he would-a", as I read in a children's book long ago - probably written by a Tolstoy fan, now I come to think of it.)

(Tiny side-note: Hello, there [personal profile] marmota_b! I note your country's new name. :) are you pleased or doubtful?)
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Half-way through War and Peace, and finding it pretty fascinating - not just in itself (oh, but the flaws!) but as a major and influential nineteenth-century artefact.  Reaction to W&P, so far ) 

The SF classic which I was reading very late indeed was The Dispossessed, Ursula LeGuin,1974. I was rivetted partly by the boldness of the concept, partly by the thinking, partly by the truly engaging characters/relationships, but also very much kept enthralled just marvelling at her artistry - how on earth did she manage to keep the reader (this reader!) interested, with such a thin, dry thread of story spun around such vast ideas?
However she did it, it worked.  I was interested, or more than interested - things got so razor's-edge at one point that I had to stop reading, because I could see so clearly that disaster was about to break, and I couldn't take the tension of it all.   (I started again, after a break. :)  )   Definitely recommended, with the proviso that it's on the dryish side - more politics than pizazz.

and I've bought a heap of books, and have been reading most variously, but time in the work-day presses, so I'll post the rest of this reading update tomorrow.  :)


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