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smiles & soap.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

8:26PM - Academic language

Some thoughts on conventions of academic writing:

1. I wish I could use the first person in academic writing. I feel like it should be ok to say "I administered X test" or "We observed Y" or "We evaluated Z."

I get that research is supposed to be unbiased. Maybe admitting that a human conducted it or had thoughts about it is bad because it indicates bias, implying that a different human might have done it differently. But... if the bias is there, it doesn't go away just because the author uses the passive voice when writing it up. First person seems more honest.

Is the problem that it is self-centered for a researcher to refer to herself? This seems odd inasmuch as first person isn't inherently rude/selfish in other contexts.

2. Is the word "people" somehow insufficiently formal for research work? And if so: why? It is neither inaccurate nor offensive (as far as I know!), so my best guess is that it is somehow overly casual. I hadn't thought so, but in academic writing I keep being told to say things like "individuals" or "participants" instead. To clarify: I trust that my professors are telling me to use "individuals" etc instead of "people" because that is considered to be stylistically more appropriate, and I appreciate that they are teaching me proper style. I just don't understand WHY that is the proper style.

Anyway, maybe I'm missing something and there are good reasons for these conventions. Any thoughts?

Monday, January 4, 2016

9:14PM - Cream cakes: a retrospective

Contains mild spoilers for Vorkosiverse books.Collapse )

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2:58PM - Movie watching journal!

[I am keeping a movie journal! Comment if you want to be on the filter. :)]A few years ago, orlycadan and I had a project to watch all of the Disney Animated Classics in order. We left off at The Rescuers, meaning we saw several decades of both classic and unknown Disney flicks. Some old Disney is really, really BIZARRE, either in awesome ways ("The whale who wanted to sing opera at the Met") or WTF ways ("When a bear loves a bear, he says it with a slap.") Also Disney, particularly old Disney, is really racist, including in ways we hadn't remembered. Dumbo, to list one egregious example, doesn't just have Jim Crow, the crow. It also has a song in which faceless black circus workers sing about how they will immediately go waste all their pay on booze. Sigh.

I regret not keeping a blog of my impressions/ the particularly weird bits, but I really enjoyed the project, and am glad we made ourselves watch things in sequence, not just the good ones. Maybe sometime I'll try to backtrack and do this, but it was years ago which will make it trickier.

ANYWAY! I am now part of another "watch a bunch of movies on a list in order" project, and this time I am going to learn from my mistakes and keep a journal. ophblekuwufu and I are watching the AFI top 100 list in order. (NOTE: there are two different lists, one from 1998 and the other from 2008, and we have already gotten them confused, so things will occasionally happen out of sequence.) It's not going to be anything particularly deep or incisive, just things that particularly amused me or stuck out to me, and general impressions or feelings. (Also hopefully ophblekuwufu will join me in this so you will get TWO SETS OF IMPRESSIONS IN ONE CONVENIENT LJ POST.) In the interests of not spamming everyone with this, I'm going to make a filter-- comment or email me if you want to be on it. :D

Friday, January 3, 2014

1:00AM - Larps, 2013

1. Be Not Afraid. (Vericon, Cambridge MA.) PC: Raphael. Angsty angel is angsty. <3
2. West Eros High School. (HRSFANs summer party, Washington DC.) PC: Lyanna Stark. Went to college on a dodgeball scholarship, that'll show the patriarchy.
3. Remedia Amoris. (New York.) PC: Marion Valentine. Murderpunk is the best punk.
4. The Dance and the Dawn. (New York.) NPC: Shadow Servant. This was done semi-professionally at a theater, with cool professional lighting and such.
5. Devil to Pay. (Cambridge, MA.) PC: Ingela Gathenhielm. Real pirates don't have as much fun as fake ones, but at least I survived.
6. The Oncoming Storm. (HRSFANs winter party, Ocean Grove NJ.) PC: Innocet of Lungbarrow. Is a Time Lord, but in the backstory spent 673 years trapped inside her own house, sheesh.

Fairly light larp year, though I enjoyed what I did. This year I am going to Intercon so expect a long list!

Monday, May 20, 2013

1:43AM - Seven Things Meme: Are videogames art?

Muahaha, you probably forgot this meme even existed! (I did, whoops.) But now I am back on the wagon! I am now presenting the third installment of the seven things meme, in which sandmantv has asked me to comment on:
1. Keeping kosher and the various rules you follow for high holy days. It's cultural effects, why you do it, etc.
(2. Fire.)
3. Standards of beauty.
4. Privacy.
5. Christmas.
6. Are videogames art?
(7. What's your summary of the plot and lore of Warcraft so far.)

Today: Are videogames art?

Short answer: sure, why not.Collapse )

All right, so, in conclusion:

1) Video games have stories and pictures and music, which are art. Whether or not they count as "Art" seems like it'd depend on your idiosyncratic preferences, but the same is true for stories, pictures and music anywhere.
2) Video game stories have VALUE ADDED because there is an element of immersion, causing me to identify with the protagonist and adding greatly to my appreciation of whatever happens to him or her.
3) Even aside from stories, video game play is designed to create an interactive aesthetic experience, and I'm happy calling that art too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

3:03PM - Oh hey larp post!

Right, happy new year everybody! I was totally in some larps last year which I will document for posterity, shamelessly copying silkspinner.

Ex Ignorantia (PC: Professor Jill Kingsley.) Aka Miskatonic University. Really fun!! Ran at the same time as Persona at VeriCon; hope someday to try that too.

The Tale and the Twilight (PC: Khadijah.) Want to say things but they're spoilers so I won't. Named a wow character after her!

The Dance and the Dawn: Dreams of Ash and Ice. (NPC: Queen Lorelai Telerion.) Michigan run orchestrated by mikevonkorff. Never had a serious NPC role in anything before-- it was a neat experience.

The Dance and the Dawn: Dreams of Ash and Ice. (NPC: shadow servant.) Was fun to see everybody in this and see how the pairings went. Also I'm currently the only person to have seen all runs of this game now. (Unless there's been a fourth since then.)

Soul of the World. (PC: Mahendra.) Hee, I played the same role as thekinginyellow's dad.

Valde Bellum Incipit. (PC: Duchess.) Cats are totally the best! I had a great time being larp buddies with swan_tower. Also had the most momentous coin flip ever.

Temptemus Papam. (PC: Pietro Bembo.) The larp where wikipedia is full of spoilers. I should go check it out now that it's safely over!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

12:37AM - Seven things meme: fire

This is part of the seven things meme, in which sandmantv has asked me to comment on:
1. Keeping kosher and the various rules you follow for high holy days. It's cultural effects, why you do it, etc.
2. Fire.
3. Standards of beauty.
4. Privacy.
5. Christmas.
6. Are videogames art?
(7. What's your summary of the plot and lore of Warcraft so far.)

Today I tackle #2: fire.

I've always been more shy around fire than other people. I did a foreign exchange program in France one summer, and my host family had a gas stove where you had to use matches, and they asked me if all Americans were as inept with matches as I was. (They were a little friendlier than that, in the phrasing.) But the answer was, no. I get unnerved when people play with candle wax, and in the Coming of the Hour I'm always relieved when my candle blows out (as it inevitably does). The other day the ends of cimartin's hair got into a candle flame, and she put it out quickly and was stone-cold calm about it (she was fine) but I was pretty freaked out. When I hear stories about people burning lint off socks _while they are wearing them_ (*cough* animangel *cough*), I start to wonder how my fellow humans and I have managed to develop such different instincts about things. I guess if it were up to me we would never have developed cooking or sterilization or anything, and life would be a lot poorer as a result, so I should be glad it's not all up to me.
ophblekuwufu GMed a superlative RPG in which arson was a major recurring theme, leading me to adopt, in and out of game, a Strict Anti-Fire Policy (really more of a strict anti-fire _wish_, as the arson kept occurring). When midnight_sidhe posted that nobody is sufficiently grateful for not being on fire, I pointed out myself as an exception.
In spite of all of this, or maybe because of it, I seem to have some kind of fixation with setting things on fire in (most) fictional contexts. Setting enemies on fire in video games provides a visceral satisfaction perhaps even greater than hitting them with an axe, although I suppose video game fire has the very odd property of not spreading to the surrounding objects, or for that matter to the surrounding characters-- so I get all the destructiveness of the fire with none of the personal risk, not even risk to my video-game avatar. Similarly, in animangel's Avatar larp I asked to be a fire-bender and was-- but there, again, I magically managed not to set _myself_ or any of the scenery on fire; and even when I dueled with other characters I didn't do them any _lasting_ damage. So I guess the moral is, I like fire when it magically isn't dangerous. I guess it gives me a vicarious feeling of control and badassness?

Monday, April 16, 2012

3:47PM - Meme!

There is an LJ meme going round in which people are asked to post seven short essays about topics of interest. If you would like, comment on my LJ and I'll give you seven topics of your very own! Or else feel free to comment without me giving you topics.

sandmantv gave me the following list:
1. Keeping kosher and the various rules you follow for high holy days.
It's cultural effects, why you do it, etc.
2. Fire.
3. Standards of beauty.
4. Privacy.
5. Christmas.
6. Are videogames art?
7. What's your summary of the plot and lore of Warcraft so far.

I am going to go ahead and start with (7), the plot and lore of warcraft (abridged), because I've been on a binge. I promise that future posts will be of more general interest.

Click for poorly remembered wow lore.Collapse )

Anyway, my next installment should be of greater general interest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

11:59AM - I'm the third person on LJ to say this but...

I defended my PhD thesis! I passed! :D
cimartin, ophblekuwufu, animangel, and KV all came to the defense, which was pretty awesome. (They and thekinginyellow also watched me do a practice talk the night before, so they must be kinda tired of long-distance reflexives by now.)

And after the defense MK and SG made me cakes! With a pun about long-distance reflexives! It was very exciting. My department has a storied history of cakes with puns following people's dissertation defenses, and I'm glad my defense got to be part of this tradition.

I don't actually have all my PhD requirements done yet. I have thesis revisions, and there's another paper I need to write up (based on an experiment I ran). But the end is in sight. By the time of the winter party, I should be all done.

Also, another awesome thing happened. See, I'd been chatting with a postdoc from Finland and she told me that every three years, Finland has a ceremony for all its recent PhDs in which they get funny hats and also SWORDS. And I was like, wow, I wish I lived in Finland and could get a doctoral sword! Well... I got this unexpected package on Monday night and it was a sword. A really big one! If realitybuster doesn't object, I want to mount it over the mantle in the living room.

Oh! And! CD defended _his_ dissertation yesterday, too, at Princeton. As he said, it was a 2X PHD COMBO.

Current mood: accomplished

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

12:44PM - I can make a larp list too!

2011 Larp List! Whee, I have been (or will be) in many. Perhaps in my soon-to-be-post-thesis life I will consider writing or GMing one. I want to be as cool as silkspinner and mikevonkorff someday.

January 1: Betrayal at the House on the Hill (NPC monster)
January 2: Dreamlands (PC: Alacrana)
June 25: The Dance and the Dawn (PC: Lady Jade)
July 2: Avatar: the Last Airbender (PC: Tomoko)
September 16: The Road Not Taken, Vanek Version (PC: A)
September 16: Game of Thrones: The Blackfyre Rebellion (PC: Lady Genna Arryn)
November 5: The Dance and the Dawn: Dreams of Ice and Ash (PC: Lady Dianne)
December 28: Spacerpunk (PC: Captain Cassie Ghent)
December 29: DC Villains (PC: Hillary Clinton, aka Superwoman)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

6:05PM - media recs

sandmantv wants everyone to make a list of the media they'd recommend, so here I go. For the most part, I wouldn't expect everyone to like the things I like most, but here are some recs anyhow.

Children's books:

Winnie the Pooh. (Don't think you've experienced it because you
saw anything that Disney did with it.)

Adult books:

Lord of the Rings
The Three Musketeers

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
The Golden Key (Fantasy novel setin quasi-Spain/Italy, about magical artists.)

TV: I don't think I know of any TV that would appeal to everyone, but here's the TV I'm currently enjoying and think many of my friends would too:

Revolutionary Girl Utena
Princess Tutu (about a duck saving a prince through ballet. very weird, very cool. Utena-ish.)
Gankutsuou(space vampire count of monte cristo)
Yakitate Japan! (competitive breadmaking, extremely wacky)
Azumanga Daioh (cute surreal sketch comedy set at a high school)

video games

should appeal to absolutely everyone:

should appeal to most people:
Super Mario Galaxies
Zelda (any Zelda,really, but let's say Ocarina or Link to the Past for starters.)

should appeal to anyone who has a soft spot for Disney:
Kingdom Hearts (a gateway drug if ever there was one)

should appeal to many people:
Shadow Hearts: Covenant

Friday, October 6, 2006

3:19PM - Survey

(This isn't for a paper or anything, it's just something I'm curious about. It would be best if you come up with your own answer before you look at other people's comments.)

(1) His mother loves John.

Could (1) mean a, b, both, or neither?:

a. John's mother loves John
b. Some other boy's mother loves John

Thursday, September 7, 2006

3:49PM - LJ interests meme.

Snagged from lord_codfish. It turns out that a lot of my LJ interests (such as "chocolate" and "moons", but also "running") correspond to fairly offensive pictures. But luckily it let me switch through a few.

My Interests Collage!Collapse )

Create your own! Originally Written By ga_woo, Hosted and ReWritten by darkman424

Monday, August 14, 2006

5:54PM - And now for an _actual_ update.

lwa341 is coming home tonight, after being across the world for six weeks. Yay!

In other news, one of my housemates is transferring to Harvard Law, and we will be getting a new housemate in her place. He makes pancakes on Sundays and throws Don Quixote-themed parties, so he should fit right in. Hee.

Today I got to bug lots of people who are native speakers of interesting languages. (Specifically, interesting languages with long-distance reflexives.) Wheeee! It will be interesting to see if any two people's judgments actually agree. Things look much more certain in papers than they do when you go around asking people. Meanwhile I feel strangely sheepish.

The Williams Syndrome conference went well-- I especially liked getting to meet so many different people with WS. You hear so much about the symptoms of WS that it's good to see that people with it are just as different from one another as any other people are. Also, giving money to children is fun. Less fun is spending that much time in a hotel, since the conference happened there, all the testing happened there, and we were staying there. No reason to ever leave, except to find food.

Also, I think the WS conference made me think really hard about the Responsibilities of Parenthood-- the kids and adults with WS all had really hard-working parents looking out for them and trying to help them lead happy and full lives. Good people. But anyway while I was there, I had weird dreams that I suddenly discovered I was pregnant (just in the dream) and was angsting over having had sake the night before (in RL).

Anyhoo. Life is good. My housemates threw me a pirate-themed birthday party. Red velvet cake got all mangled, looked like blood. Yarr. And last weekend I went canoeing on the Potomac. Hurray for the outdoors, and all.

And there will be a TIM again! About time.

5:39PM - book meme

So I guess I better meme. Actual life update coming soon.

1. One book that changed your life
probably Godel Escher Bach, although I never finished reading it, was one of the things that got me into linguistics.
But then so were The Lord of the Rings and Through the Looking Glass.

2. One book you have read more than once
I'm with LBS: only one? But _The Lord of the Rings_ may be the most common one (or three) for me to re-read.

3. One book you would want on a desert island
Hmm maybe the complete works of Shakespeare? It would take a while to read it all.
But like dr_whom I would especially want a book that would help me get off a desert island.

4. One book that made you laugh
Good Omens.

5. One book that made you cry
The Lorax.

6. One book you wish had been written
Aside from, say, the last book of the WoT? (I'm still hoping...)
Maybe the version of Much Ado About Nothing where Hero dumps Claudio for being a jerk who doesn't trust her, instead of marrying him after all.
Only that would make the ending less cheery, and cheer is fun. So I dunno.

7. One book you wish had never been written
Would it be wrong to say Crossroads of Twilight?
I really do want the WoT to finish, so I suppose I can't veto intermediate steps, but that one didn't feel like anyone accomplished a darn thing. In contrast Knife of Dreams was actually pretty good.

8. One book you are currently reading
I just finished Vingt Ans Apres (=Twenty Years After, Alexandre Dumas) and Son of a Witch (Maguire, the sequel to Wicked). I also just bought A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay so I may start that soon.

9. One book you have been meaning to read
Le Morte D'Arthur. (I started it but then got sidetracked.)

10. Now tag five people!
Hmm, that would involve looking up who has already done it, which I'm too lazy to do.
ephermata, if you haven't already and if you feel like it.
sandmantv, ditto.
lwa341, if you even see this.
Any others who haven't been tagged yet and wanna do this.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

12:56PM - Ah, memes.

(Click here to post your own answers for this meme.)

I miss somebody right now.  (Tim's in Australia and all the house party people left.) I don't watch much TV these days.  (I mostly just watch what other people have on. Which hasn't been much recently.) I own lots of books.
I wear glasses or contact lenses. I love to play video games.  (Kingdom Hearts and Pokemon, at least.) × I've tried marijuana.
I've watched porn movies.  (Part of one-- it involved someone I'd known in high school and was depressingly bad.) I have been the psycho-ex in a past relationship.  (For a mild definition of psycho.) I believe honesty is usually the best policy.
I curse sometimes.  (Including when I give presentations in class, apparently. Everyone was amused.) × I have changed a lot mentally over the last year.  (Not really, but I do feel different about life due to this whole long-term relationship thing.) × I carry my knife/razor everywhere with me.
it goes on...Collapse )

Thursday, July 6, 2006


The HRSFA house party was great fun, although (in the great HRSFA house party tradition) there were massive thunderstorms on the fourth of July. This year, at least, the sewers didn't break. However, a large tree was knocked down across a nearby street and it knocked over poles with electric wires: consequently, we haven't had power since Wednesday afternoon. On the up side, this has led to a lot of fun candlelit conversations and games as well as a nice trip to Ten Ren tea house to charge our computers and cell phones. Still, I really hope the power returns soon.

In a few weeks, I'll be going to the Williams Syndrome Association's national convention and professional conference. This should be a very good learning experience-- I've actually only met one person with WS so far, but at the convention we will be able to meet and test lots and lots of them for about three solid days.
(WS is a genetic disorder-- people with it have mild mental retardation as well as cardiovascular problems, unusual facial features, and other traits. It has been held up as an example of the dissociation between linguistic abilities and more general cognitive abilities, because people with WS have relatively good language abilities in spite of mental retardation. But other studies I'm reading have said that the linguistic abilities of WS subjects actually correlate with mental age and other cognitive abilities. Additionally, though, because WS people are often developmentally delayed and do not always acquire the same skills in the same order as others, studying the abilities of WS subjects can be useful to examine how/if certain abilities are related. Also, WS subjects really really like social contact with adults, which means that they tend to enjoy being tested, which is great from a researcher's point of view.)

So I'm excited about that.

Also, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 comes out on Friday: Yarr!

Monday, March 27, 2006

2:03PM - New York, New York

lwa341 and I are now world record holders! Along with almost 1200 others we were part of the world's largest coconut orchestra. (We had been watching Spamalot while in NYC over spring break.)

Also, NYC is full of tasty food. We stayed with eclectician, who made us dinner-- I recommend this. We also helped make bread, but we helped make the bread about twice as salty as it should have been. :( Ah well. And it was nice to meet up with wolfheart17 and khyros for dinner after Spamalot.

Previously: Ohio.

Next: Work. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Happy Ides of March, everyone!

Lego Star Wars is a really funny game, especially in the Ep 3 cut scenes. There's a cut scene where pregnant Lego Padme gives birth to baby Lego Luke and Leia. Wackiness! And the bit where Lego Anakin loses his Lego arms and legs is pretty funny too.

Seriously, I've realized that I will always be fond of Star Wars, even the bad Star Wars. I just can't help it. It has the theme music and the yellow writing and says Star Wars.

Hmm, better go do some work or something.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Spectrum!Collapse )

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