Sep. 17th, 2010 02:41 pm
selene_13: (Default)
I'm glad that week's over: Frustrating days at work when others aren't doing their work as they're supposed to (as in, I tell them we need promotional material at an important conference I'm going to, I even tell them what they can do, but have to trust they will do it because I don't have the time to do their job for them, and then they deliberate over it, and a little more, hem and hum, la di da, and 2 weeks later tell me "oh we actually haven't got anything yet, and now it's too late to send over any shipment so we'll just drop it", leaving me with nothing to show for when I go meet these important people... gah!).

Anyway, I sort of sabotaged myself by leaving a big pile of manuscripts on my desk that I was going to check today (free day, but I'm two weeks out of the office soon so need to finish this stuff), and then getting into my car home without them. So, now I do have a free day after all. Oh well! :D

This week I saw the movie Four Lions, a British farcical satire about four jihadists in London. The guys are thick as bricks and have an ideology that's ridiculous (disparaging Western consumerism even while recording their (blooper) threats on camera, referencing Mortal Kombat and playing with their cell phones in Pakistan), but the film manages at the same time to carry a message that shows how far people, even people who hardly have a clue what they're doing or getting manipulated into, will go. In the end, it was quite tragic - tragi-comic I should say.

The subject is of course a touchy one. During the film five people walked out of the theatre, but I really enjoyed it. It had me in stitches, but it's message in the end was clear, and you have to accept that for what it is. It's a very sensitive topic, and some people might feel it's one too serious to toy with, but in reviews I've seen it compared to Charlie Chaplin mocking Hitler, as in mocking that which is fearsome, to disempower it. And I like that analogy.

I remember reading about a similar anecdote, where a guy infiltrated a white rights supremist group in the US whose membership was on the rise, and then what he'd pick up at their meetings was publicly mocked on the radio: All the ridiculous nick names and safe words and rites and rituals were made fun off, and that caused their popularity and membership to drop. People couldn't take them serious anymore because their little club was exposed as intrinsically silly (despite the terrible things they did besides that). And so by mocking what is threatening, you disempower it.

It doesn't take away the threat per say, but maybe disparages some people from joining what's been exposed as destructive ideology. And anyway, better to laugh than to cry at life.

(I'm pretty sure that last anecdote was from Gladwell's The Tipping Point).
selene_13: (Bibliophile)
So I come back from a week's holiday on the wonderful warm Greek Isles, to a stormy, rain-soaked, cold and wintery home. Way to go, Holland, you fickle bastard.

I read two good books the past week (lounging on the beach, listening to the surf, basking in the heat... sigh), both about a period of time in English history that I find fascinating: "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or the Murder at Road Hill House" by Kate Summerscale, which managed to put forth an atmospheric casefile of one of 19th Century England's most illustrous murders, very Gothic in its subject but factually dealt with; and the great "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel, which details the rise (and rise) of Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII.

Especially "Wolf Hall" was an excellent read; I cannot wait to get the sequel in hand whenever it finishes. She makes Cromwell's story in a time of great change and turmoil a fascinating read and his character is extremely sympathetic. I had to refresh my memory as to how the story will end and who fit exactly where (it almost felt like I was "spoiling" myself by refreshing myself to the data - how can you spoil yourself to history?! - but marks that the story was compelling. As an English grad I should be ashamed by what I've forgotten by the way).

This lead to me getting on Wikipedia and surfing through the pages, from Cromwell to Thomas More, to Hans Holbein, to Henry's six wives, to the reformation, to the royal line, to wondering about "what is this sweating sickness?", to Hantavirus, to cell pathology, to reading the details of Ebola virus. Yay Wiki dissemination. How I love thee.
selene_13: (Labyrinth)
Personal jabbering ahead! (just warning ya)

So I'm in Prague. I work for an academic publisher and I've been sent out to a medical conference in the Czech Republic to man a promotional booth. I've been to conferences on my own before, but it feels like the people here are just not as talkative or interested as elsewhere. This makes for long days. Luckily I don't have to be there until 10 and I can leave at 5. Most of the time, I sit in my chair and read novels (I try to read the research in our journals to kind of grasp what current affairs are, but without a medical background it's near impossible). We get fed regularly and I try to eat healthy, but I know I'm overeating. Normally I don't eat a warm meal at midday, nor such a big breakfast as I do now in the hotel (if I even eat breakfast at all!). Though I guess I'm not eating any bad stuff simply because I'm not buying any. My only indulgence is my Caramel Macchiato and whipped cream from the Starbucks: You might not get how happy it makes me. There are no Starbuckses where I live and I love this coffee.

When I am sprung from the booth at 5 I hurry back to the hotel (2 stops by Metro. I forgot my wallet today and was freeloading the ride, but there appears no sign of any kind of controlling so far). Then I walk through the city for an hour or two until it gets dark and find a cafe or restaurant to eat some food. Though I find it awkward to sit in a restaurant alone, I prefer not to get fastfood (though I have done so yesterday). There is a gym and sauna in the hotel (tiny though), so I can get some exercise, and every evening I take a long bath, book in hand.

I don't mind being alone, as long as its by choice and not out of necessity. In fact, I find it quite relaxing to be away from everyone I know for a week: no obligations, no social calls, no rushing about. Except for the work of course.

Today I am reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. And I want to rant about it )

In unrelated news, I'm downloading the new Supernatural eppy as I type. Can't wait to see it!
selene_13: (Bibliophile)
I bolded what I've read, italicised what I have waiting in my bookcase (I cannot promise that someday I will actually read War and Peace. Though I will promise never to read Ulysses)

Le Meme des Livres )

Book meme

Oct. 16th, 2007 09:50 pm
selene_13: (Bibliophile)
Book Meme )
selene_13: (Labyrinth)
I'm in India at the moment, on holiday, having a good and fascinating (and sometimes very confronting and bizarre) time, but I just got an email by a friend which told me that unfortunately Robert Jordan has passed away.

I started reading Jordan's books when I was sixteen and have reread them many, many times. I've grown up and lived and breathed those books these past ten years. I once got to see Jordan here in Holland at a book signing, and he was a very gracious and kind man. A great writer has left us, and he will be very much missed.

I hope the concluding book (part 12), when it's released in its final form, will do justice to Jordan's vision and bring his epos to a satisfying and perfect ending.

My good wishes are with his family. What sad news.
selene_13: (Bibliophile)
I wrote up some more book reviews. Mostly for my own pleasure, I’m sure! I talk about the books, but there are no real spoilers in here that you wouldn’t learn from the blurb.

The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie )

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini and Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer )

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold )

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro )


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