Print Story Mercy mercy me
By TheophileEscargot (Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 09:51:38 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Me, Watching (all tags)
Reading: "Ancillary Mercy","Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights". Me. Watching. Links.

What I'm Reading
Finished Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. Third volume in the science fiction series that began with the multi award winning "Ancillary Justice".

I liked the first book, which benefited from the underdog appeal of former starship AI Breq now trapped in a single human body, and the plot impetus of a quest for revenge. The second volume, with Breq now made a starship captain by one side in an imperial power struggle, I thought was weaker: Breq is less of an underdog and the plot is sluggish as she mainly reacts to events.

I thought this one suffered from the same flaws as the second. There's not much narrative push and not much appeal to the character of Breq, despite other characters gushing about how wonderful she is. There are some nods to the creepiness of Breq using surveillance to keep track of the private lives of her subordinates and take sides in their quarrels.

I was hoping that some of the ideas and elements raised in the earlier volumes would get resolved, but they don't. The first book explicitly the possibility of the ancillary being returned to its original human state, presumably by switching off the AI controls. That implicitly raises the horrific possibility that the original human is helplessly aware and trapped as the AI moves her limbs and operates her voice. This doesn't get addressed here and sanctimonious Breq doesn't seem troubled by it. We don't find out which side is winning the civil war, or what will happen to the Radch after the war is won. There's a lot of tea drinking, a fair amount of angst, and a little bit of action. One good point is a nicely alien alien ambassador.

Overall, not really recommended. I don't think you'd miss much if you stopped reading after the first book in the series.

What I Was Reading
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie. Djinn return to Earth and wage a war between two factions. One faction obeys a wish to create fear and chaos in order to drive humans back to God. Another opposes them with the aid of part-human-part-djinn descendants.

Pretty good. I thought it was a bit of a return to form by Rushdie with some of the lighter and more fantastical elements of his early and children's stuff. Would have liked to see more detail of how the djinn create havoc: the fairytale style feels a bit distant.

What I'm Watching
Saw Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation on TV. As you'd expect, not original, but a good, fast-paced action movie with plenty of good stunt sequences. Good entertainment. Was good to see a film in one sitting for once.

Took the toddler up to see the family for a few days. Had a great time, lots of good food and time to relax. Toddler was fine on both journeys, was fascinated by the vehicles ("Bigredcar! Unnergrountrain!").

My father has multiple serious conditions, and as always it's hard come back after months and see him deteriorate. His mental functioning didn't seem worse, though that comes and goes. His walking has gone bad though. Last time he could shuffle a few steps around the nursing home or the house when we bring him home, now he has to be almost lifted from car to wheelchair. Wish I could go more often but circumstances make it difficult.

Office party tonight, actually looking forward to it. Dress code says black tie is optional but last year just about every man there except me was in a dinner jacket so I'm going along with the herd. This is the only IT company I've heard of where people dress more formally than the dress code allows. Tying a bow tie seems incredibly difficult, probably a skill you need to learn when you're young and dextrous, but it finally seems roughly bow-shaped. With a normal tie at least if it goes wrong it's wonky or lopsided in a way that gives you a clue how to correct it next time: bow ties just seem to collapse into noodles when they go wrong.

Socioeconomics. Human capital shallowing. Training: going out of fashion for a decade. Pay growth to remain low: "for all the talk of mounting skills shortages employers in most sectors... appear perfectly capable of hiring at will without having to hike pay rates".

Random. The Radicalization of Luke Skywalker. Legal Curiosities: Fact or Fable? (PDF).

Non-random. How to tie a bow tie.

Sci/Tech. What happens to science when an elite scientist dies?

Politics. YouGov's Anthony Wells on their report on why the UK election polling was wrong, full report. (Basically sampling bias over relationship between political interest and age. Nothing to do with Shy Tories or Lazy Labour: actually Tory responders less likely to vote).

< First Class Post?? | Anonimouse does Football >
Mercy mercy me | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden)
Clip on bow tie? by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 10:24:57 AM EST
Lot easier IMHO.

Makes you look like a sport commentator though n/t by Dr Thrustgood (4.00 / 2) #2 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 10:37:51 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Quite by Herring (4.00 / 2) #8 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 01:42:33 PM EST
Also it denies you the opportunity to untie it towards the end of an evening for cigars and brandy.

I only wear one for the club dinner these days. Thinking I'm a bit old for a wing collar too.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Bow Tie by Dr Thrustgood (4.00 / 3) #3 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 10:38:32 AM EST
Spend a bored evening practising tying one on your leg and you'll get the hang of it forever.

so are we playing disfunctional interwebs by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 10:44:32 AM EST
and pretending something didn't just happen?

Yes by anonimouse (4.00 / 3) #6 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 12:44:18 PM EST
 No text, as you might expect

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
someone put a turd in the punch bowl by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #13 Fri Dec 18, 2015 at 09:33:57 AM EST
and I sure as hell don't want a glass of it.

[ Parent ]
Consider it like Fight Club by anonimouse (4.00 / 3) #14 Fri Dec 18, 2015 at 09:36:22 AM EST
The first rule of Husi is we don't talk about what didn't happen. 

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
less to say about links by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 11:46:20 AM EST
But the one about the death of an elite scientist:
"Science progresses one funeral at a time." -- Max Planck

Also, the comment about "John vs. Jennifer". If my name was Jennifer, I'd think twice before putting it on my resume. It pretty clearly dates you as 50+ years old +/- 5-10 years (I'm sure most Jennifers are painfully aware of this).

Weird laws: Must practice archers: repealed 1960?
It is illegal to fire cannon within 300 yards of a dwelling house: Mythbusters hit a house 700 yards away. Don't repeal it any time soon (also yards? I didn't think your Belgian masters let you use yards).


You are confusing by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 12:47:41 PM EST
Firing cannon within 300 yards is presumably protection against vibration, misfires etc
Firing cannon at  houses was last done in England several centuries ago

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
My understanding by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 07:36:04 PM EST
was they weren't aiming it at the house. They were just doing one of their "experiments that happen to require large amounts of gunpowder". The range/backstop wasn't enough for the cannonball, and it hit the house 700 yards away. You need more than 300 yards of space for those less cluefull with their artillery.

I'm not even sure local houses were attacked with cannonfire even 150 years ago. Not to say they weren't "riddled" with small arms fire (actual word used by commander of said small arms fire), but by the time the caissons arrived, I'd assume the houses were captured/burned/flattened.


One of the bigger local races is the Marine Corps Marathon. It draws a pretty big crowd, but one way they deal with this is using a starting gun. Note that the military definition of "gun" rarely includes such sidearms as a pistol, so the Marines bring out the spare howitzer used in Arlington burials. No idea how far it is from the runners.

[ Parent ]
Bow Tie by hulver (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 03:34:36 PM EST
It's a pain, but once you get the hang of it, it's ok.

I wish I'd seen your linked video before I tried though, as it's the best one I've seen. All the others I've seen sort of gloss over the difficult bit.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock

Being as what I was in by Herring (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 06:59:08 PM EST
the county youth orchestra, I got it down at a young age. Also the undoing it and smoking and drinking brandy.

It's a good vid though.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Subdeacon tied mine. by ana (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 07:38:31 PM EST
At the wedding. It had been sewn by a friend and never worn before, which gave him some trouble. He was a frequent wearer of bow ties (and not the clip-on types) which is why I asked him to do it.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

[ Parent ]
Mercy mercy me | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden)