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([personal profile] xela May. 22nd, 2017 11:04 pm)

Today was my birthday — and I felt pretty good about it, which hasn't often been the case in the past several years. My internal life has been getting better in a slow but steady and I think sustainable way for the past several months. Last week I got to see my dear friend Matthew — who's far more a brother to me than the biological one ever was — for the first time in five years or more. Which meant I also finally got to meet his wife and their nearly-three-year-old child — who I learned are both delightful in their own right. I've been on a bit of an endorphin high the entire week.

So I woke up today primed for good things, and by mid-afternoon three of my favorite people on Earth had phoned to wish me a happy birthday. I was on the phone with each for at least half an hour of pure delight. (Well, mostly delight: in each conversation the topic of how our public discourse has come to be dominated by trumpery reared its ugly head — and in each we agreed it was too depressing to talk about. Which has probably also contributed to making my day better, as it left me resolved to steer clear of news all day as well.)

It's the ordinary human things that make life worth living, and this year my birthday has been marked by noticing how rich I am in those. Thank you, every one.

purplecat: (lego robots)
([personal profile] purplecat May. 22nd, 2017 08:23 pm)

At the University Open House during Liverpool Light Night

For context, John Higgins was giving a talk to go with an exhibition of his art in the Victoria Gallery and Museum, where the Open House was taking place.
kareila: (music)
([personal profile] kareila May. 19th, 2017 11:03 pm)
I've detected a mystifying new trend in scores for movie trailers: lifting a well known riff from a classic rock song, and planting it in a new context. Ahead of a screening of Guardians 2 last night, no fewer than 3 trailers used this trick. Valerian features the haunting wordless chorus from "Because" by the Beatles; Thor: Ragnarok employs the intro to "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin; and the Tom Cruise remake of The Mummy borrows the guitar lick from "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones.

Do these trends emerge purposefully from the bowels of Hollywood marketing departments, or are they some unconscious manifestation of our cultural zeitgeist?
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([personal profile] synecdochic May. 19th, 2017 02:36 pm)
Saw the radiation oncologist this morning. (Two hour drive to NoVA, whee.) More info when I get home and have a keyboard instead of phone, but: I adore him, he's given me tons to research, he's willing to schedule me now but also says it's not house on fire urgent since it's not proceeding quickly enough to be an urgent situation (but he didn't downplay it either) and did I mention I adore him?

I feel very much better now that I know I have him, and will feel even better after seeing Mom's guy on the 30th.
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([personal profile] siderea May. 18th, 2017 06:03 pm)
On Twitter:

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!

Seth Moulton‏(@sethmoulton): As the Representative of Salem, MA, I can confirm that this is false.
jadelennox: Bad ass TOS Uhura, glaring daggers after being struck by Kahn. (uhura)
([personal profile] jadelennox May. 18th, 2017 09:09 am)
Morden: What do you want?

Vir: I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up at your lifeless eyes and wave, like this.

karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
([staff profile] karzilla May. 17th, 2017 05:44 pm)
These will be the last office hours offered for the month of May. I'm going on vacation at the end of the month and will be back in early June.

The medium that I've chosen for scheduling office hours is a site called Sign Up Genius. It is pretty easy to use in my experience, and all of my kids' teachers use it for conferences, parties and such. You don't have to have an account on the site to sign up for time slots, which is pretty great - just give them your email address. They will send you a confirmation and a reminder, and nothing else. But if for whatever reason you have trouble claiming a time slot using that site, you can also comment here and I can take care of it for you.

I am only doing signups for a week at a time, because that's about how far in advance I can be fairly confident of my availability. Each week will start on Friday, and I'll post the signups for the following week on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Each signup slot is scheduled to run 90 minutes, but since they're non-adjacent, it's OK if we need to go longer. Anything Dreamwidth-related is fair game: we can talk about code you're writing, code you want to write but don't know how to proceed, code someone else wrote, or things that don't involve code at all (I hear such things exist). My only request is that you don't take more than two slots in a single week, to make sure there is enough of my time to go around. Of course, you're still welcome to catch me on IRC at other times if I seem to be around, and PMs are open 24/7. :)

Here's the link for my available meeting times for the seven-day period starting May 19:

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
([personal profile] purplecat May. 17th, 2017 08:46 pm)
Reading: Still labouring my way through Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. I've had this problem with single author anthologies before that, no matter how good the individual stories, their similarity gradually makes each one seem more of a chore to get through. I gave up half way through a Jeeves and Wooster anthology for this reason. I am, at least, through the novellas now and back into a run of shorter stories.

Listening: Just finished listening to The Writers' Room podcast on Chris Boucher. I am not at all sure Boucher is pronounced the way they are pronouncing it (Bow as in "he took a bow") but I'm not entirely sure it's pronounced the way I've always pronounced it (Boo). Other than that, I've agreed with most of what they've said ("Robots of Death" is the strongest of his three stories and "Image of the Fendahl" the weakest - there are some plot oddities, particularly in Fendahl and Robots isn't really a Whodunnit much as it apes the form. It is odd that Boucher goes from an interest in AI and Robots in his first two stories to something much more traditionally in the gothic horror model in his last).

Watching: This week it has been most new Doctor Who (Oxygen) and old Doctor Who (Planet of the Daleks).
I work at a clinic one day a week.

Last week, when I arrived at the clinic, I found in my mailbox a memo and some attached literature expressing Grave Concern about the Netflix original series "13 Reasons Why", due to its portrayal of suicide.

This week, as I was leaving the clinic at the end of the day, I glanced at the waiting room coffee table and saw...

The magazines in the waiting room of the MH clinic I work at, one prominently featuring a headline story on 13RW

Maybe the clinical supervisors should chat with the office manager occasionally.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
([personal profile] purplecat May. 16th, 2017 08:57 pm)
I feel curiously underwhelmed by Knock, Knock since its an extremely well-crafted story, that holds together nicely, keeps it's pacing and even manages to be about something in a quiet sort of way ((grand)parents and children, growing up and independence). I'm not sure if this is because it is so clearly stand alone and designed to be such, or because a lot of the story is basically running up and down corridors or, I don't know, something else.

Doctor Who classically, is at its best when presenting horror-lite in this fashion but this didn't feel to me quite like a Doctor Who story. Mysterious tower, notwithstanding, it isn't quite as full-blown gothic in its horror as a lot of the Hinchcliffe era since it clearly has more DNA in the teen slasher movies of the 1980s than it does in Hammer Horror. Similarly Doctor Who has only really had the option of telling stories in which the Doctor impinges upon his companion's lives in this way since the advent of the "part time" companion with the Ponds and has, perhaps wisely, used this device relatively sparingly. Both The Power of Three and The Caretaker were successful in their own ways, but they are definitely also clearly something left of field in a way this isn't.

All that said, I watched this with my mother (not a regular watcher of NuWho) and she clearly felt she had been shown something pleasantly familiar - all the better for the inclusion of David Suchet as the Landlord.

It is also hard to feel particularly churlish about the re-use of the "wooden person" effect since it looked so good. The curled wooden hair, in particular, looked stunning. However one does have a feeling that a lot of effects are being reused this season and while, as a cost saving exercise, I would prefer they re-used good effects that work than attempt to create new effects on the cheap that don't, they do seem to be re-using a lot of effects.

There's nothing wrong with this episode and a lot to like, particularly the central performances from Capaldi, Mackie and Suchet but somehow there wasn't anything here that actually made me excited.
The only I opinion I really want on this afternoon's iteration of the Great United States Garbage Fire of 'Seventeen (different from morning's!) is whatever [personal profile] marina is thinking but not saying.
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([personal profile] purplecat May. 15th, 2017 09:28 pm)

You can't quite appreciate the full effect since I wasn't pointing the phone at the bird in question!
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([personal profile] xela May. 14th, 2017 07:53 pm)

I read a story earlier today of someone taking an unpopular stand in favor of doing the right thing. (I don't mean to tease — I may post about this separately later. But I'm resisting the temptation to go into the details right now because I've decided to clamp down on my discursiveness in hope of occasionally actually finishing a post.) Their values, and how they expressed them, reminded me of some old-school political rhetoric — so old I learned it from my parents, who learned it when they were young, and had me when they were old. So I found myself thinking about my parents early this morning, hours before I realized today is Mothers' Day. And when I did, the circumstances of my thinking about my mother earlier immediately told me how to best honor her memory this Mothers' Day.

The founder of Mothers' Day — as must surely be the case with the founders of every American holiday not invented by Hallmark — would have little but disdain for what it has become. And my mother would totally have her back.

I'm sure some of you must be fans of Nate DeMeo. Or perhaps you remember my transcribing and posting to my LJ his mediation on the Orlando killings, A White Horse, last year. DeMeo may well be America's best non-fiction storyteller — certainly a contender. And as it happens, one of the first episodes of his The Memory Palace was about the founder of Mothers' Day.

(I will once again transcribe it for those of you who who can't abide spoken-word art. For the rest of you, skip my transcript and just listen to the original by clicking the title below. Or read along while listening. Nate DeMeo is a masterful writer, certainly. But his mastery of the storytellers' art can only be fully appreciated aurally. And this story is barely four minutes long.)

International Brotherhood of Mothers

Anna Jarvis loved her mother. And because she loved her so much, mothers around the world get flowers and cards and candy and hugs from their kids every May. Which must have Anna Jarvis spinning in her grave.

She was born in 1864 in West Virginia to a woman whose name was also Anna Jarvis. And her mother, Anna Maria to her daughters' Anne Marie, was a remarkable woman. The elder Anna was a feminist and a progressive and a bit of a socialist before any of those words meant anything. In Virginia, in the middle of the nineteenth century — back before the phrase West Virginia meant anything — she traveled throughout Appalachia, organizing women's groups:  teaching them about basic health, and how to demand workers' rights — after teaching them what those rights were in the first place. During the Civil War she brought women together to tend the sick and wounded soldiers, regardless of whether they wore blue or gray. After the war, with her baby Anna in her arms, she held meetings of mothers on both sides. In these proto-group-therapy sessions — a finding-closure-through-shared-grieving kind of thing — she promoted something called Mothers' Work Day. This wasn't mother-apostrophe-s — so not your mother — but mothers' — s-apostrophe. Mothers plural. A collective of mothers.

It was a radical idea:  Let's take a day — and it would be a day of demonstrations and political consciousness-raising — not of flowers or spa gift-certificates.  Let's take a day and recognize that what mothers do is work. And let's organize those workers the same way that people were starting to do with mines and mills and factories.

This was the work of her life. And when she died, in 1905, her life became the work of her daughter's life. Anna Marie — the younger Jarvis — was 29 years old and single, with no child of her own1. She was devastated by her mother's death, and at her funeral she handed out hundreds of carnations: one to each of the mothers in the congregation. She picked up the torch of her own mother's cause. And wouldn't put it down for the rest of her life. She delivered speeches. She published pamphlets. She wrote to governors and newspaper editors; senators, mayors — anyone in power. All in a campaign to get the government to recognize Mothers' Day.

And she succeeded. And failed at the same time. People loved the idea of a Mothers' Day — because people loved their mothers. And importantly, people loved the story of Anna Jarvis loving her own mother. It was a national holiday by 1914. And Jarvis kept going, talking about her mother and Mothers' Day all over the world. And for people all over the world — maybe wondering why they'd grown apart from their own mothers; maybe wishing their own children would thank them once in a while — for people all over the world, Anna Jarvis became the Platonic ideal of the devoted daughter. And they wrote to her. So many wrote to her to thank her — to unload to her about their mother-child relationships — that she had to buy a second house next door in which to store her correspondence. Mothers' Day would roll around every year, and Anna Jarvis — a woman with no child of her own — would get flowers by the score. Heart-shaped boxes of candy by the carload. Which made Anna Jarvis furious.

The holiday — designed to continue her mother's lifetime of effort working toward social justice and collective action — had gone commercial. Anna had thanked her mother by devoting her life to building a kind of living memorial. And it felt like all she'd accomplished was making it easy for people to go and thank theirs with a pre-packaged sentiment in a penny greeting card.

And so she railed against it for the rest of her life. Spending all of her modest savings on campaigns against the commercialization of Mothers' Day. Filing lawsuits to stop Mothers' Day celebrations. Condemning confectioners. Fighting florists. But the candy kept coming. And the flowers didn't stop. And when she died, penniless and blind, at the state sanatorium in Pennsylvania in 1948, her room was filled with Mothers' Day cards.

My mother taught me the value of collective action --- that only by pulling together do we all make way. And she taught me that when we fail to remember we're all in the same boat is when we are swept onto the rocks.

1  Yes, I noticed the disappearing dozen years. I've confirmed the facts: Anna Marie Jarvis was born in 1864; her mother died in 1905. Beyond that, I figure my job here is to transcribe, not edit.
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([personal profile] xela May. 13th, 2017 02:25 pm)
I need a new-to-me steel wheel for my car. They're $55 new online, with free slow-boat shipping; I'd rather get a used one cheaper & sooner. When I first moved here there were junkyards in Cambridgeport and on the Cambridge/Somerville line, but I'm pretty sure those are all long gone. Does anyone know of one out in the burbs?
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([personal profile] siderea May. 11th, 2017 07:28 pm)
I'm sorry that I've not been very entertaining or edifying lately. My life has been very full of late.

SfALFM is continuing into, and maybe through, May. This has taken a considerable chunk out of my life. We have now brought [personal profile] tn3270's mom, D, to tour two facilities; we have a third tour next week if all goes according to plan.

My private psychotherapy practice has been growing, which is nice.

Much less nice is that over the last two weeks, I've been socked by two really awful clinical situations – "crisis" is the wrong word for these sorts of long-unfolding calamities – that have sucked up a really remarkable amount of my time and have been really emotionally grueling.

Complexifying my time management was that I found out at the last minute about a free continuing ed opportunity halfway across the state, on a topic of interest (cultural competency in treating ex-convicts), on a day I didn't have any clinical appointments until the evening. Like I've said, two of my favorite phrases are "free CEUs" and "cultural competency", so in the midst of all this I dropped everything to go on a little roadtrip with [personal profile] ookpik. So that was pleasant and helpful; I've been behind on amassing the requisite continuing ed units for my licensure renewal come December, so I've been spending some time on that. I'm now only about 10 units behind.

It's not that I have nothing to write. It's that I've been exhausted, burning the candle at both ends, and words and conceptual organization are like the first thing to go when I get whatchamacallit. Thingy. Spoons. While I hope that I have more time soon, and oh god please more sleep, that is just a hope.

ETA 5/16 12:58am: The good news is now I'm getting lots of sleep. The bad news is that it's because I'm ill. *le sigh*

Outside St Govan's Hermitage in Wales, I think, circa 1992
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([personal profile] siderea May. 11th, 2017 01:14 am)
Awwww, I just found out that blogger-psychiatrist Mickey, of 1boringoldman.com, passed away in February. That was right around the same time as Aunt C passed, and explains why I missed it.

His daughter announced it on his blog and along the way outed him there: he was Dr. John M. Nardo.

Mickey was a brilliant and deeply humane psychiatrist, who turned his retirement to the relentless uncovering of fraud and other corruption in medical science, particularly in psychiatric pharmaceutical trials. From his obituary:
As a result of these observations, the focus of his blogging turned to exposing the problems in the pharmaceutical industry, especially the distortion of clinical trial reports. This work culminated in a “Highly Cited Paper” that he co-authored in the British Medical Journal in September 2015. [Le Noury, J, Nardo, JM, et all (2015) "Restoring Study 329: efficacy and harms of paroxetine and imipramine in treatment of major depression in adolescence", BMJ, 351:h4320] After a lengthy struggle to obtain the original patient-level data used in a key article on a popular psychotropic drug, Mickey rigorously reanalyzed the data in order to demonstrate that the study’s claims of the drug’s effectiveness in children were false. In December 2016, on his 75th birthday, Mickey said, “I never thought I’d make my most important contributions to the field of medicine at this time in my life.” In January 2017, Emory School of Medicine promoted Dr. Nardo to Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry in recognition of his devoted service to psychiatry at Emory and in Atlanta and of his internationally recognized research.
It was via his blog I learned of all sorts of astonishing scandals, including the conflict of interest of the head of the DSM5 task force, the DSM5's flunking of its validity trials, the use of abusive research subject farms in pharm trials, and the court cases concerning Risperdal.

Mickey was awesome and an enormous force for good in psychiatry. We've lost a great warrior for scientific and medical integrity, a devoted and deeply wise clinician, and a really lovely person.

His daughter alerted his readers to the fact that he was one of the people behind this Change.org petition. The up-shot: pharmaceutical companies and medical device developers can literally submit different – contradictory – information about experimental trials to the NIH and the FDA, thereby facilitating the publication of fraudulent research in scientific journals; the petition is to Congress to require the NIH and the FDA to coordinate to stamp that nonsense out. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I do trust Mickey's judgment, and will probably wind up signing it. I recommend it to your attention.

ETA: Note to self: according to his daughter political-medical organizations he supported include: Foundation for Integrity and Responsibility in Medicine which runs the Health Care Renewal blog; the Lown Institute which, augh, just had a conference here in Boston last weekend(!); and All Trials. All of which look fascinating.