hollymath: (Default)
By which I mean "boring to people who aren't me," not "disagreed with"!

Lately:
  • the "Habitable Zone"
  • whether Curiosity (Mars rover) singing "happy birthday" to itself is sad
  • everything that's wrong with this, since it's a tab I still have open and it irks me more every time I remember it
hollymath: (Default)
So [personal profile] miss_s_b sorta hinted at wanting a Six/Evelyn story (her favorite Doctor, my favorite companion (and one of her favorites too but I'm less sure it has the top spot for her than I am for me)) fluff...

...and because I do love Evelyn so much and there are never enough stories about her, this was sufficient for me to want to write something. Especially for such an appreciative audience as would be, if I got it right.

But, I'm no good at fiction. I can never come up with ideas (it's why I have no problem blogging: this's just about stuff that's actually happened to me!). What could I do that'd be worthy of such beloved characters?

Since Andrew's out of the house tonight, I was with the Hamilton soundtrack without headphones, loud. (I was also vacuuming, these being two thing Andrew can't tolerate when he's in the house so I have to save them for when he's not. I know how to enjoy my rare evenings home alone, oh yes.)

So naturally I thought What would Evelyn the historian think of Hamilton? Other than that it's Not Her Period, of course... There is already a Six/Evelyn American-history story (it's a theatrical story, even!), and it's a good one -- Assassin in the Limelight (and it's even theatrical, too!) -- but still.

Oh man. I just realized that such a story might be a really good home for [personal profile] po8crg's idea that Britain calling it "the American War of Independence" is arguably racist/white-supremacist... Now I wanna write this even more.
hollymath: (Default)
Here's a picture from Tumblr:

Here's the words in it, in case the picture (which I only saw on facebook anyway because I can't work Tumblr) disappears or in case other people also can't follow Tumblr conversations very well:
[tumblr.com profile] ethanwearsprada: i think it's a universal truth that everyone in our generation takes pluto's losing its planetary status as a personal offense

[tumblr.com profile] crackerhell: yes

[tumblr.com profile] cell-mate: pluto is smaller than russia. why did we ever even consider it a planet?

[somebody whose username has been truncated from the screenshot]: BECAUSE IT'S A PART OF OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

OHANA MEANS FAMILY

FAMILY MEANS NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND
To which I can only say this:

People tell entirely the wrong story about Pluto.

It's the ugly duckling, all right? Awkward and different from the other planets, tiny and literally on a different plane of existence. It's now been recognized as one of the Kuiper Belt Objects, and is now part of a family of things like itself, some of which we've given names to and some we don't even know about yet.

Pluto is the ultimate square peg asked to fit in a round hole, Pluto should be the poster planet for the queers and freaks and weirdos and people who never felt they fit in with the mainstream and had to look to the unknown and uncelebrated to find their peers.

C'mon, Tumblr, you should love this story.
hollymath: (Default)
So it turns out 70s TV The Incredible Hulk is a thing.

James and I are watching it and he says "I love how he turns into the Hulk when he gets 'angry or outraged.' "

"Good thing they didn't have Twitter then," I said.

"I was gonna say: 'Damn, someone's been misgendered!...oh shit. I really liked that shirt...' "

I then imagined a comic or something about Hulk spending his evenings mending shirts, thinking to himself "this is the one where [twitter.com profile] DHLinton got called 'a fucking feminatzi' and they thought there was a t in the middle of the word 'nazi'...this was the one I was wearing when I learned that Chibnall got the Doctor Who job, this one is where England lost three wickets in the time it took me to eat breakfast..."

The possibilities are endless.
hollymath: (Default)
me: I've already been "doctor-who-fan-splained" at this morning, which was entertaining. Apparently I'm wrong cos I'm not "a life-long fan since episode 1" like this guy is. Of course he's called Andrew, too. [I included this because it amused me, having listened to Andrew -- the usual one -- and James talk about different things that one or both of them liked (TV, bands, films) all of which seemed to have exhaustive books published on them by someone who was disproportionately-often called Andrew.]

[personal profile] magister So what were you wrong about?

me: My jokey thing about how Time Peers is a better name for them than Time Lords cos it's gender-neutral. Apparently Time Lords is already neutral because the inquisitor in Trial of a Time Lord, etc.etc. yawn. But then I reminded him that Missy corrected someone the other week who called her a Time Lord and Romana calls herself a Time Lady too.

me: He especially irked me cos the original post was my friend Chella saying "I would love to play The Doctor one day, but as long as Moffatt is in charge, I'll automatically be cast as one of his interchangeable pointy-faced older brunette nemesis crone vixens." Whether that's fair or not, it's clear women need progress among human writers of Who at least as much as we need in-story progress among Gallifreyans. But I don't think the Andrew could understand that.

[personal profile] magister Don't think the Inquisitor is ever referred to as either time lord or time lady - not sure it's ever specified one way or the other. Anyway, it's 6 years into the programme before the term time lord appears and then another 9 years before you see one who isn't male, so not sure what difference watching since 1963 makes.

me: Andrew said too that he didn't think she was ever called a time lord or lady. I think it's telling that this other Andrew just assumed/remembers it that way.

[personal profile] magister Yeah. There's nothing to disprove his theory, therefore he assumes it supports him.
hollymath: (Default)
Completely coincidentally, but I like to think in compensation for the fact that last year's randomly-chosen birthday gift from Andrew's wishlist was something horribly Monkees-related, his present this year included CDs of The Nest Cottage Chronicles, the first of which, Hornet's Nest, is a Doctor Who story that's loomed large in my mind for a few reasons.

First, it's a Fourth Doctor one, and there's a lot to love about those. I love listening to Tom Baker telling me stories (I've got a version of him reading "A Christmas Carol" that I listen to every year, even though it always makes me cry and I hate crying). He's joined here by the marvelous Susan Jameson, whose Mrs. Wibbsey is a perfect foil to the whimsical, adventurous Doctor.

Next, it was something Andrew bought as mp3s ages ago, but some of the mp3s got lost in the computer at some point, including the first story of Hornet's Nest which left me less inclined to listen to the ones we did still have. Seeing the "Hornet's Nest" folder on my computer every time I look at the Doctor Who audios -- which is often! -- always left me with a little twinge of annoyed sadness, so it's lovely to have the complete set of something I've been missing s much.

And third, it's written by Paul Magrs. At the time I first heard it I don't think this meant anything to me, but it was probably one reason Andrew included him in a trio of Doctor Who writers I liked without knowing it. He's been subscribing to Big Finish for years, and I gradually got more keen on being in the room when he was listening to the stories, but my interest never went any further than that so I never knew who wrote what. But it seemed there were patterns in what I told him I liked, some writers kept turning up, so he was able to say, "You like Jac Rayner, Paul Magrs and Nev Fountain."

Only much later than that did I learn Paul Magrs lived in Manchester, and later than that that he lived in Levenshulme. Andrew said he saw him at Levy train station one day, but didn't want to go say hello in the fannish way.

But since Andrew's bizarre means of introducing himself when he was telling at what turned out to be their polling station -- Paul and his partner asked who Andrew was after he asked if he could see their polling cards and Andrew said "I'm a writer with Obverse Books," the publisher of his Doctor Who spinoff spinoff novel, also one that Paul's worked with and is friends with the people in charge. And then we met Paul for coffee to get him to sign one of his books as a present for Alex and Richard's wedding, and we've been out with him and sometimes his partner to the pub a few times since. So now I have to remind myself that the smiley interesting person I know is the same one who's written books I've read since, which I find surprisingly difficult! I'm not used to this, I guess.

I do really like his writing style, even if it has to be in an entirely different part of my brain from the part that really likes him. He's got a knack for descriptions that seem very vivid and evocative, his characters are easy to empathize with even when they appear to be the baddies. I had bizarrely (for me) vivid memories of some of the moments in Hornet's Nest -- the frenzied dancing on a dark stormy seaside pier, miniaturized in the dollhouse, and the eerie taxidermied animals -- long after the vagaries of computer storage meant I couldn't listen to them any more.

Best of all, though, was a line that actually made me laugh out loud and comment upon I when I first heard it. Dealing with one of the aforementioned creepy taxidermied animals, the Doctor says "I cut open the badger's brain with very tiny brain-scissors." Such a Doctor-y thing, scissors for all occasions and eventualities! And of course Tom Baker delivers the line in his matter-of-fact way that ensures any question of how silly or surreal it might be evaporates in the throat before it can be uttered. It's stuck with me as an epitome of what I expect from the Doctor.

I've listened to the first story again tonight -- the one with the brain-scissors, and it's as least as delightful as I remembered: it's a story that acknowledges that time has passed for its companion (no-longer-Captain Yates) but takes for granted that the Doctor is the same despite having been elsewhere for a long time -- Yates says he's heard that the Doctor "had changed, and then changed again" but here he is, without explanation, just as he was when Yates was a much younger man. My subject line here is something Yates says to the Doctor, almost accusingly, as he's trying to come to terms with this. I really like that; it's easy to understand why Doctor Who doesn't make as much as I wish it would of the implications of its time-travelling hero: only one actor is going to play the Doctor on the television at a time, but this is one of the constraints audio stories (and, even more so, books) need not have. But even then, most of the audios feature stories as if they were in continuous fashion, not with the long break here that sets this story off in a slightly disconcerting way that works really well for the eerie, grim story that we're about to be told.

The story's set near Christmas -- it actually starts on my birthday -- and there's something claustrophobic about these shortest days of the year, something unsettling about this time of year when life is outside its normal boundaries -- liminal, my academic friends would say, where the usual rules don't apply and things that are usually not allowed may even be encouraged.

No spoilers, because I hope you all go listen to the story now.
hollymath: (Default)
" 'I'm the Doctor, born to save the world'," [personal profile] magister quoted from the new trailer, to groans from the room (me and Andrew).

"You can't imagine any of the proper Doctors saying that, can you," said Andrew.

"Possibly Colin," James said.

I thought about this for a second, and then said, "But he wouldn't mean it!"

And the spooky thing? Andrew said exactly the same thing at exactly the same time.
hollymath: (Default)
An overlapping but different (and seemingly more numerous) kind of nerdy person will tell you that today, May 25, is Towel Day.

Which is all well and good, but I find myself humming "how do they rise up..." instead.
hollymath: (Default)
After his latest blog post, explaining what's gone wrong with the Hugos this year for people who've seen the outrage but weren't previously clued-up and now want to know what their friends are talking about, Andrew's been invited onto some podcast so he's on Skype downstairs.

...I'm trying to read and I keep hearing him yelling things like "the Futurians were Trotskyists!"

It's slightly distracting, but I so very approve of this. If nothing else, it means he's explaining things that bother him in great detail to Americans who aren't me!
hollymath: (Default)
Of course I'm fond of the one I grew up‎ with, but that's no reason to leave it that way forever!

I remember the poster of the solar system I had on my bedroom door as a kid, with all the planets' vital statistics -- diameter, orbital period, mean distance from the Sun, etc -- and how the number of moons for Saturn had a question mark next to it. I don't remember any of the other stats from this poster, just the two biggest numbers of moons for the two biggest planets: Jupiter had 16 and Saturn had "22?"

Twenty-two question mark! I was captivated by that question mark. I was too young to understand at the time how there could be any doubt about how many moons a planet had. Now I look back and marvel that there could be such certainty! Now there are like, what, 60? Does anyone even know? Does anyone mind that we're not quite sure of this?

The questions are intriguing and delicious because we can hope they are impermanent. That question mark excited me, because I believed this was something humans would be able to nail down and specify, coming to a soothingly "right" answer, accurate and stable and unequivocal, one day.

Looking at that memory now, I like it because it places me in a certain time and context.

I love the song "Little Fluffy Clouds" but the beginning always drove me crazy. The supposed impetus for the vocal sample that gives the song its name is an interviewer asking "What were the skies like when you were young?" What the hell kind of question is that? I always wanted to know. Who talks like that?

But on a slightly bigger scale, I think it could be a great question:
- When did you come of age?
- Back when we were at Twenty-Two Question Mark For Saturn.
It's something I could see Mr. xkcd doing as a chart. It's like how Romans used to name the year by saying "it was the seventh year in the reign of such-and-such." It's like those sf stories about using the positions of the planets in the solar system as a clock: you come back from a relativistic journey, no idea what epoch you've arrived back into, check the relative positions of all the planets in their orbits and then you can say "well this only happens every umptymillion years so it's this time, plus or minus one umptymillion!" which at least narrows down the possibilities.

Anyway, where was I?

Here's what I wrote the other day when I read about how close Dawn is getting to Ceres:
The best thing about space exploration is that it transforms objects in the solar system from ideas into places.

The Voyagers did this for the outer planets (and some of their moons); Cassini/Huygens has done it for the moons of Saturn; Spirit and Oppy and Curiosity are doing it for Mars; New Horizons will do it for Pluto and other Kuiper Belt Objects...and Dawn is doing this for Ceres, the largest asteroid in the belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres was the original "relegated" planet: when first discovered it was called a planet, but when a number of smaller asteroids were discovered it was gradually understood that Ceres is one of many such objects, not something that's cleared its orbital path like planets are supposed to. So Ceres was reclassified, without (as far as I can tell) all the fuss Pluto has received in its similar situation, and is still a subject of scientific interest, getting its own mission and everything, As is Pluto, of course!‎
They're not treated any differently no matter what they're called. Planets are important. Dwarf planets are important. Moons are important. Comets are important!

Is there any way that having the asteroid belt is worse than having just Ceres? Nobody I know thinks so. I didn't even know Ceres's history (its social history, its history as a subject of interest to humans, not its geological or astronomical history as a rock in space) until Pluto's reclassification caused all this fuss and there started to be articles about the new class of planets Pluto has been "demoted" to or whatever (such emotive language! the planets provide such an obligingly blank canvas don't they?!) saying things like "hey, Pluto isn't the only one in this bizarro new 'dwarf planet' class!" Until I knew it only as one of the largest asteroids. And of course I thought the asteroid belt was great, like kids do: lacking the singular personality of a solar system icon like Jupiter or Venus yet delicious in its anonymity, its plurality. And of course asteroids are just Space Landmines, if I could believe what movies taught me about the inevitability of having to drive spaceships through them.

Nothing about Ceres by itself could be as good as Space Landmines. And so why should I mourn for Pluto when it's transitioning from being a lonely exception to being part of the Kuiper Belt, a busy place where not everything is about us, full of Pluto-like objects. Pluto is no longer alone! Not the ugly duckling of the planet club but surrounded by its own kind.

How do we not love this story?! How long will it take for the queer folk and the non-standard deviations and the neurodiverse and the weirdos who grew up in small towns where they were led to believe they were the only weirdo in the world to realize this is their vindication?

Pluto was an ugly planet, never in all its time as a planet being captured as more than a smudge that needed a big arrow next to it in photos, or as a circle so pixilated I've been known to say it looks like a disco ball.

But Pluto will be a beautiful dwarf planet, in a process that's starting already as New Horizons zooms toward it, getting better pictures than any we've had before and more information on this small distant world. It's like we're finally getting to go on our first date with Pluto and find out more than its blurry photos on the dating website and see beyond the superficial facts like that it likes long walks on the beach and eccentric orbits, has a diameter of 2274 kilometers and a good sense of humor.

2015 is such an exciting time to get to know and love Pluto for what it is, and -- since New Horizons will also be looking at some of Pluto's satellites and hopefully a couple of other Kuiper Belt Objects -- the other swans we now realize it's swimming through the universe with.

Pluto is asking us "who says being a planet is better than not being a planet?" Pluto says "do I care if some people on Earth decided for a mere third of one Plutonian year that Pluto should fit some label rather than some other?" (A third of a year is a mere four months here, of course. Four months is nothing! Would we think much of a job title, a marital status, an address, that we only had for four months once?) Pluto is not surprised that the people of Earth, who think they live on a planet, accept unquestioningly that planets are the best things. I mean, they have invented this idea of a "habitable zone" that they think they're in the middle of! Of course they do! Their ego is flagrant, their hubris unbounded. Pluto is keeping its distance from all that silliness. Pluto's reminding us a better solar system is possible.

...Maybe it's time for me to go to bed?
hollymath: (Default)
1. I found out he'd died just as I had realized water was leaking through the kitchen ceiling and dropping on me as I was trying to make dinner, which led to me doing an impressive job of burning the dinner as I had the requisite crying spell while I felt so wholly inadequate to dealing with yet another crisis.

2. All these quotes of that "the most human" line just reminded me that, a day or two before, apropos of nothing, Andrew announced to me that [personal profile] miss_s_b had promised that, if he dies first, she will at his funeral give that speech but change it to "he was the least human." Which made me laugh so much. It still does.

(Especially since, as I rightly said in the comments of a friend's Facebook, "Spock is basically to blame for what I've always found attractive in my partners.")
hollymath: (Default)
Andrew and I just had a conversation that in very short order got around to him saying "I'm sure in the DC Universe the [U.S] constitution will have had to be modified to take account of clones and people from parallel universes and stuff."

But still, if an American brain is put into another body, I don't think that's somebody who could run for President.
hollymath: (Default)
Here's a list that's all about people being nice to me.

1. [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours has a present for me. I don't know what it is yet (the one advantage of my ridiculous headache is that it means I told him to come round tomorrow rather than tonight) so I get to enjoy the anticipation for now.

2. [personal profile] trinker tells me I am easy to love at a time when I am feeling especially weird and intense and difficult (of course she's not the only one; Andrew and James have been very reassuring too, but it's nice to hear this from less expected quarters too!). I seem to have a knack for making hyper-vigilant people feel at ease and I'm especially glad to be comforting to people who find it difficult to feel comfortable around people.

3,4. ‎plok's always good for happy things. Here are two in a row, from an e-mail he sent me.
When [a friend of his] had something she wanted to talk to me about, that she could only talk about elliptically, it's because YOU wasted time on ‎educating me about queerness that I was able to be intelligently ‎supportive. So:

THANK YOU, HOLLY.

Once again, you have been really really great. How in God's name do you manage it, week in week out, year after year? With all your own headaches and troubles? You astonish me. Look at your friends, and how ‎good they are: who the *fuck* draws that many good and smart and generous people to themselves. I mean it just isn't natural. I was going to send you an email a couple of weeks ago asking you to which Doctor you'd prefer to be a Companion...but it's clear that this was me taking it completely the wrong way around.

*You'd* make an excellent Doctor. So which Doctor would you like to be?

...clearly Troughton, that's the Holly one? I mean, the *most* Holly one, in advance of a one *more* Holly-like? Ha, maybe Peter Capaldi will be the most Holly one...‎
I told Andrew and [personal profile] magister and they agreed that I am the most like Patrick Troughton (so far!), which delights me.

5. My dad got me a present too. The All-Star Game was last week at Target Field. Apparently there was a big thunderstorm just before the Home Run Derby and when Minnesota Twin Bryan Dozier came up to hit there was suddenly a big rainbow over the ballpark and the Minneapolis newspaper was selling prints of this for ten bucks. My dad thought I'd like one and so it'll be waiting for me when I'm next there. He said the photo was taken from about where we were sitting the time we saw a game at Target Field, so you can see out over the skyline, and yes that is a great view but mostly hearing this just makes me happy I've been there with Dad.
hollymath: (Default)
"James thought of one I didn't," Andrew said, because these two are continuing this idiotic conversation from a pub last night that neither of them were in (which planets has the Doctor visited in more than one story on TV?). "Which is the planet River Song was imprisoned on."

Andrew seemed very dubious about this -- of course it being The Welsh Series he doesn't know, care, and/or remember -- so I pointed out that it makes sense because most prisons are on a planet.

"Yeah, but it has a name," he said. "Apparently."

"Oh, it needs a name now too, huh? Like the Bechdel test of Doctor Who?"

When I was young and naive and monogamous, I never would've imagined I'd have a husband and a boyfriend. But even if I had, I probably wouldn't have expected one to ring me to talk to the other about pointless trivia of a TV show I'd never heard of at that point.

This makes me smile.

Lucky

Jul. 9th, 2014 12:31 am
hollymath: (Default)
I love that my life contains so many people I can phone up from a noisy pub just to ask them whether the Doctor landed on Androzani Major or Androzani Minor or both, a question I do not even understand myself, and they'll just answer to the best of their ability and tell me they love me and let me get back to what I was doing.

So there

Jun. 2nd, 2014 09:23 pm
hollymath: (Default)
Having made a point of introducing himself in a bizarre and unnecessary way to Paul Magrs (a writer of, among other things, some of my favorite Doctor Who stories) on polling day, Andrew is now Facebook friends with him and his partner.

Andrew's just e-mailed me a screenshot, subject line "Reminds me of us" so naturally I was wary, but it took me a while to figure out why. It was Paul Magrs and his partner having on Facebook exactly the same argument Andrew and I had the other day.

And I'm sure Andrew's delighted by this because he'd like to have anything in common with Paul Magrs.

Which is why I feel the need to point that Paul was on my side of the argument.
hollymath: (Default)
My boss tagged Andrew and I in a facebook post sharing that silly infographic about sexism in Doctor Who. After his girlfriend said that Moffat was less sexist because "at least he'd brought in a male companion," he teased Andrew and I about how we were sure to offer a gender analysis of all the companions there'd ever been.

Ha. We did a lot better than that. After a short digression about how a bit of Malcolm Tucker could be good for Capaldi's Doctor, Andrew and I managed to interest a few people in the stories of my very favorite companion ever, despite the fact that she only exists in the audio dramas.
hollymath: (Default)
I think there has to be something pretty cool about someone who, first thing in the morning, after 20 minutes or so of silence (after the "hope you slept well"/"do you want coffee?" pleasantries, anyway), can react so quickly to a question like, "So, if Daleks can't see the color red, how can there be red Daleks?"

[personal profile] magister replied immediately: "Stealth Daleks."

I laughed in surprise and delight. That would have been, I thought, a good answer anyway, but so long before breakfast it was a thing of beauty and joy.

I hadn't known Daleks couldn't see the color red until Saturday, and then I'd forgotten about it again until I was reminded by [livejournal.com profile] strange_complex's entry that was partly about the brilliant day we had last Saturday (I'd forgotten about the Cyberman onesies too! I still want a Cyberman onesie, and I'm otherwise very anti-onesie). But only today did I put this together with the fact that there are red Daleks.

Over my first cup of coffee, then, James and I debated whether the non-Dalek slaves who had to build the red Daleks would be quickly killed off each time, or living highly-restricted existences because the need to not want to or be able to train up new people each time would override the need for stealthiness.
hollymath: (Default)
I had to laugh when I read Paul Magrs say "So it feels all a bit Boxing Dayish at the start of this week", because it reminds me of [personal profile] magister telling me last Sunday that it felt like the day after Christmas.

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