susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day.

I don't think I can write anything coherent for it. I had my first SALT (Speech & Language Therapy) appointment today, and maybe I used up all the words? ... no, actually I've been lurking for weeks if not longer and it's not because of that (my speech problem is intermittent and physical, except for where I get anxious about it) ... it's more Living With Pain (, Dammit), Too Many Distractions and possibly some lack of cope. I'm sure I'll start "talking" online again sometime!

So: BADD links:
Master roundup post at Diary of a Goldfish - more links than you can shake a stick at, and probably more to come;
The Exploitation of Home Health Workers at This Ain't Livin', because May 1st is also Labour Day.
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
I doubt anyone reads me who doesn't already know about the Tories' plans, in the Health and Social Care Bill, to destroy the NHS. 38 Degrees have put up billboards to publicise the danger, and you can download posters and leaflets at their blog. It appears that the govt. will try to push the Bill through the Lords tomorrow (19th March), then back to the Commons for the last time. A lot of Lib.Dem. and cross-bench Peers, and Lib.Dem. MPs, seem to have been bought off with minor changes that don't affect the crucial elements of the Bill: privatisation, postcode lotteries and even more red tape getting in the way of staff doing their jobs. The TUC's Going to Work campaign has a tool for you to "adopt" a member of the House of Lords, to ask for their support for an amendment delaying the Bill, as well as the usual write-to-your-MP mechanisms.
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
I know, I've been quiet for a while. I've mainly been preoccupied with a couple of things in my off-line life, but here are some things I've been pointed at online.

Part of Oxfam's food security campaign: Help farmers in Gutu end the hunger months

rally banner
Save the NHS: the TUC are organising a rally against the Government's plans to destroy the NHS, on 7th March at 18:00-19:30, at Central Hall Westminster and live online. You can book a place for the rally, if it's not full yet, or pledge to attend online, at Save Our NHS.

Protect refugees: sign the Refugee Council's pledge, to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, calling on the UK government to make the asylum system fair, humane and effective.

Protect people-with-uteri's right to choose: I might post about this again, but not every day for 40 days! Apparently some people are, though. 40 Days of Choice is an online campaign offering positive ways for pro-choice supporters to counter anti-abortion activity and clinic protests during Lent.

WWF's Earth Hour this year starts at 8:30pm (in all time zones, so it moves round the world) on 31st March. Earth Hour is not about saving an hour’s electricity, it’s much bigger than that. It’s about realising that the actions we take, from the energy we use, to the food we buy and water we drink, has an effect on the world.
susanreads: a gate covered in snow (snow (gate))
It goes: Snow, snow, thick thick snow.

Until the past week, this winter has mostly been fairly mild. Anything approximating snow would more-or-less melt once it hit the ground. The last few days have been f- f- f- jolly cold, and some time after it got dark yesterday, it started snowing farreal.

Looking out of the windows today, there's snow lying everywhere. Anything vaguely horizontal is covered with a white blanket, and the compost tumbler looks as if it has a furry hat two feet high. It's pretty to look at, but thank FSM I don't have to go out in it today. I do have to go out, if only to buy food, in the next day or two, so I hope it goes away soon! Brrrrrrr.

People from or in Scotland, or anywhere where it's been snowing for weeks, can laugh now.
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
I posted in 2010 about Lost Kingdoms of Africa, a BBC(4) series, presented by art historian Gus Casely-Hayford, about pre-colonial centres of civilisation in Africa. A new series starts tomorrow evening, repeated late at night and on Thursday night. (I love BBC4's system of repeating things hours and then days later, now that digital switchover makes it harder to watch one while recording another.)

Update

Jan. 22nd, 2012 06:24 pm
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
So, that posting every week thing kinda fell by the wayside at Xmas, and since New Year I've barely been keeping up with my reading page. Then yesterday I didn't get to log in at all - a social event expanded to take up the whole day, which was fun, but now my left arm hurts as well as my right arm which has been hurting for 10 days or more. Why doesn't my doctor have any internet-bookable slots before the Saturday after next?
susanreads: wrapped presents (xmas)
Happy winter (/summer, depending) festival of your choice! if I haven't already missed it.

With the dark and cold, I've been getting less time on the computer (because the room it's in doesn't have its own heater). This might have meant I'd get further with off-line reading in the cosy living room, and/or housework, but apparently not, alas! If there's anything I've missed in the shopping, it's too late now ...

Keep warm or cool depending on your climatic zone, and if I don't get around to posting again, Happy New Year.
susanreads: galaxy with planets in foreground (blue on black) (astronomy)
I didn't think it would take me all year to post these! Unfortunately, recently it's been as much that I've missed weeks as that I've had other things to write about.

She is an astronomer, December:
Paris Pismis

1911-1999

An Armenian born in Istanbul, Pismis was the first woman to attend university in Turkey, obtaining a degree in mathematics in 1937. When she moved to Mexico in 1942 she became the first person, male or female, to become a professional astronomer in Mexico. She worked at the National Astronomical Observatory of Tacubaya, part of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM in Spanish). There she started teaching the first official classes in astronomy in Mexico. Pismis died on 1 August 1999, leaving as a legacy a community of over a hundred of astronomers currently working at UNAM. She discovered 20 open clusters and 3 globular clusters and worked on the first explanations for the spiral structure of galaxies.

Originally from Turkey, she met her husband at Harvard Observatory, with whom she moved to Mexico.

With a profession that lasted more than 50 years, Pismis published over 100 scientific papers.


On the calendar there's also a photo and an artist's impression.

The Wikipedia article is short, but has a bit more about her work, and I notice that she had several names: she was born Mari Sukiasyan, a clearly Armenian name, but the surname Pismis (in which the esses should have cedillas, as seen in the Wikipedia article, which I can't find an HTML entity for) is presumably Turkish. The change of name must be something to do with anti-Armenian racism; she would have been a child during the Armenian genocide.

If your Spanish is better than mine - because the Promt translator isn't up to the job - you can find more info, from her University education onwards, at Venezuelan astronomy site Tayabeixo.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, mainly on the Tuesday before last.

That morning, when I tried to check my email I found that my internet wasn't working. It turned out that my phone was dead (the internet is via the originally-BT landline), so I had to find somewhere to call the Phone Co-op (who are also my ISP) from. They were great, I didn't have to talk directly to BT myself at all, which was a big plus, but I did have to find somewhere else to phone from later to find out what was happening (yes there are still people who don't have mobiles). Openreach (the BT spinoff that do the infrastructure maintenance) had said the engineer was on his way, so I went home to wait.

In the meantime, because there was a job application I needed to finish, I'd put the draft version on a memory stick and gone down to Ingeus (the "Work Programme" company) to use their internet. Thank FSM they moved to an office I can easily get to! I also got some feedback from my advisor, including the advice to ID as disabled and ask for the "Two Ticks" thing (which guarantees an interview to people with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria).

So that afternoon, the Openreach engineer turned up, did some tests indoors and determined that the problem was outside and went out to fix it. It took him about an hour while it got dark and started raining. Rather him than me! I was worried he'd be climbing poles in those conditions, but apparently not. Then he had some trouble testing it afterwards, but it worked! Hurrah!

A few days ago I got an email inviting me to an interview for that job. Of course because of the "Two Ticks" thing I only know they don't think I'm completely useless, not that I'm necessarily near the top of the list. It's at a reasonable time of day, but wearing interview clothes in this weather won't be fun, by golly.

The Xmas Radio Times double-issue arrived days ago, and I've barely thought about supplies; I need to start doing cards today, and I'm not sure I'll bother with decorating since there won't be anybody here but me.

Summary: interview this coming Thursday panic panic ah! Xmas in 2 weeks panic panic ah! *distracts self with free browser games*
susanreads: galaxy with planets in foreground (blue on black) (astronomy)
She is an astronomer, November:
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

1900-1979

Born in Great Britain, Payne carried out her scientific work at Harvard University in the USA. Her Doctoral thesis (the first astronomy thesis ever carried out by a woman in Harvard) demonstrated that hydrogen is the main component of stars, something taken for granted nowadays but which represented a real change of paradigm in 1925. In spite of working at Harvard for almost two decades, she was not considered as an official astronomer until 1938. In 1956 she became the first female professor at Harvard.

A scholarship for women in science allowed her to move to Harvard Observatory in 1923.

The verification of Einstein’s theory of relativity with the solar eclipse in 1919 stimulated Payne’s interest in astronomy.


On the calendar there's also an old portrait photograph and a painting of Cecilia lecturing.

The fannishcodex tumblr quotes Jeremy Knowles: Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.

UCLA's site CWP (Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics) quotes from a book: Payne-Gaposchkin helped forge a path for other women scientists because of her struggle against sex discrimination at Harvard College Observatory and by her example.

Her Wikipedia article is better than most of the earlier astronomers', with more about her life, career and research.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
This week, President Obama decided to order an in-depth review of the Keystone XL pipeline. Campaigners, assuming the review will be honest, reckon this means the pipeline will never be built. More detail at the currently-top blog post on the Tar Sands Action site. Meanwhile, I was directed to the pledge page, where there's an embedded video. Transcript under the cut. )
susanreads: Dreamsheep with UK flag (UK sheep)
From a post on Liberal Conspiracy:
The bill is expected this autumn.

If it passes, the private sector, as well as the voluntary sector, will be encouraged to bid to run schools, youth centres, care homes, libraries.

Every public service – except the military and judiciary – will be on offer to companies whose first priority is to make a profit.

So it looks as if they're not even waiting to see whether they get away with selling off the NHS before doing what they obviously wanted to do all along.

I don't have the energy to write my own rant, so I'll quote what cartoonist Darryl Cunningham wrote about the Tories and the economy:
We don't have left-wing parties in the UK. What we have instead are three right-wing parties, one of which has a radical ultra-right arm, who are obsessed with free-market monetarist policies beyond the point of common sense. [...] There is no society in their philosophy, just a collection of individuals competing against one another.

[...]

Britain's economy has barely grown since the austerity measures began. We have the highest level of unemployment in fifteen years. The government has slashed public-sector jobs, putting more than 100, 000 people out of work. These deficit-reduction policies have failed to revive the business confidence that was supposed to encourage private-sector hiring. No effort has been made to stimulate growth by spending, because this runs counter to the right's myth that all government spending is wasteful and harmful.

This is blundering idiocy. Any fool can see that these policies are driving the country into the ground, but our glorious leaders are so wrapped up in their dogma, that they'd rather destroy the economy for a generation, than admit they're wrong.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
I missed my self-imposed deadline for posting. I'm pushing a lot of self-imposed deadlines lately, but they're either too routine to write about or specific to my other ID.

That doesn't stop me listening to podcasts and playing browser games, doh.

I could blame the season, but actually I can sleep late at any time of the year.

There are a number of things that would make me angry if I thought about them, so I'm not thinking about them; also, other people have written about them better. Cameron's government actively ruining the economy for everybody but their rich friends! Rape culture! Colonial wars thinly disguised as something else! Tabloid attacks on anybody who can't fight back! You know all that already, yeah? People claiming to speak for the 99% are refusing to listen to people from groups that make up most of that proportion (example, see also comments)? I can't be bothered to pretend to be surprised.
susanreads: food: assorted fresh vegetables (food)
October 16th is the UN's World Food Day. It's objectives include heightening public awareness of the problem of hunger and strengthening international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. This year's theme is "Food prices - from crisis to stability". Apparently world food prices rose 25% last year. This isn't just a result of the economic crisis, where even more than the 99% in "first world" countries, people in the poorest parts of the world are being made to bail out the bankers; the current world economic order is set up to treat everything, including the most basic necessities, as a market to make profit in, and this is the result. It's also part of the Happening Right Now impact of climate change, and made worse by the appropriation of land that could be used to grow food for biofuels and other cash crops.

I don't have anything original to say about it: have some more links.
Oxfam's GROW campaign;
Fix the Food Chain, Friends of the Earth's campaign on how the way we do farming in the UK damages the environment;
La Via Campesina has today down as World Food Sovereignty Day, with a lot of recent posts on price volatility and land grabbing.
susanreads: galaxy with planets in foreground (blue on black) (astronomy)
She is an astronomer, October:
Henrietta Swan Leavitt

1868-1921

Member of the group of star trackers at Harvard Observatory, Leavitt discovered the period-luminosity relation, a novel method to measure the distance to astronomical objects. Leavitt found this relation after a systematic and detailed analysis of Cepheid stars. During one year (1905), she discovered 843 new variable stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud, discovering a total 2400 variables in this galaxy during her career. She also found four novae. The recognition of the importance of her scientific work came only after her death, partly because of the intention to nominate her for the 1925 Nobel prize, which was impossible as the prize can not be awarded post-mortem.

Despite her contributions to astronomy, when she died her professional standing was still at the assistant level.

Her work allowed astronomers to determine the size of our Galaxy and the scale of the Universe.


On the calendar there's also an old portrait photograph and an artist's impression of Henrietta studying photographic images.

More information from A Science Odyssey at PBS Online: she became head of the photographic photometry department at Harvard College Observatory, and developed the standard of photographic measurements known as the Harvard Standard.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
I've had a rotten cold. It's pretty much over now except for the annoying cough, but for a while there, combined with all the Other Stuff, it was using up my cope to the extent that I was neglecting the housework and playing free browser games instead of doing anything useful (or sociable) that would take both energy and brain.

Part of the Other Stuff was Sudden Short-Notice Interview, which was a surprise. My (latest) adviser thought the job was "ideal", whereas I thought it was "very ambitious". I actually came out of the interview a lot more convinced that my skills and experience were relevant to the job, but obviously I didn't convince the interviewers. It's just down the hill, part-time, and mostly IT back-office work, which is me, but they want someone who can do project management and "customer care", which isn't.

Another part of Other Stuff was this (non-diplomatic email to $UTILITY-CO; translating into HTML loses some of the formatting):
cut for length )
(I haven't had a reply to the email, but the original problem has been sorted out. The guy at the bank had no problem with the voice recognition system, but waited at least 8 minutes before getting through to a person.)
susanreads: a red squirrel (autumn)
In the last couple of weeks, the temperature has been going up and down like a yoyo (it really has, it's not just me feeling the downswing of my menopausal failure-of-temperature-control, I swear), and the weather has been Typically British. It's generally felt like Summertime Is Nearly over.

Then the other day I went out in the evening, I guess it had been windy, and there were fallen leaves everywhere.

That'll be autumn then.

Yesterday I spotted a ladybird on the plant I need to cut back (grow in the yard, not on the path, dammit!) next to my front door. Are they an autumn thing? Maybe they've been around all summer and I just didn't notice (I unnotice a lot of things).

I've been feeling a bit grotty in several ways lately. cut for whining )
susanreads: stack of books, "so many books" (books)
People with a lot more readers than me have linked this already, but hey:

Say Yes To Gay YA:
The agent offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation.


Post contains suggestions for what people can do about This Sort Of Thing.

Icon meme

Sep. 7th, 2011 10:36 pm
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
These icons were chosen by [personal profile] sasha_feather.

coloured pencils and a rainbow drawn with them
I wanted an icon with a rainbow on it and found this one on [community profile] pretty_pixels. It's fluffy enough to be a random pretty, and also stands for diversity (and rainbows).

Julia set (detail, bright background)
Part of a Julia set, iconised by [personal profile] lo_rez in smallbatchicons. Maths icon, if I ever write about maths. There are endless interesting shapes hidden in the fractal equations.

flame with Pratchett quote: Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness
This is my rage icon, for when the one that says "WTF" isn't strong enough. A variation on "Better to light a candle than curse the darkness", this Pratchett quote says to me "Things are too screwed up for reform. Burn it all down and start again."

snow-covered houses at night with lit window
I was writing a lot about the weather in a hard winter, and went looking for snow icons. This one is for going out at night in the snow, when it's a long way to get safely home again (although I only live on the edge of town myself).

Amelia Pond (from Doctor Who) Demands an Explanation for this Bullshit!
When Doctor Who Mark 11 came on air, there were a whole new lot of related icons around. I like this one of young Amelia being pissed-off. Don't put up with any nonsense, kid!
susanreads: galaxy with planets in foreground (blue on black) (astronomy)
She is an astronomer, September:
Annie Jump Cannon

1863-1941

Cannon is the most wellknown of the "Pickering’s women", the group of women hired by Harvard Observatory director Edward Pickering to make the Draper Catalog, mapping and classifying all the stars in the sky. She invented the stellar classification scheme of spectral classes O, B, A, F, G, K, M, and she gave her system a mnemonic of "Oh Be a Fine Girl and Kiss Me." This system was adopted with very small changes by the International Astronomical Union. Her career lasted more than 40 years, during which time she classified more stars than any other person in history, male or female.

She was the first woman to be given an honoris causa doctorate degree by the University of Oxford (1925).

She determined and classified the spectra of more than 230,000 stars.


On the calendar there's also an old portrait photograph and a modern painting of Annie with a diagram of the colours and sizes of stars.

More info from her Wikipedia entry: She originally graduated in physics. "Uninterested in the limited career opportunities available to women, she grew bored and restless. Her partial hearing loss made socializing difficult"... Her first astronomy-related job was as assistant to Sarah Frances Whiting, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Wellesley, and it was then that she took graduate courses, learned spectroscopy, and developed her photographic skills. Another woman important to her career was Anna Draper, who set up a fund to support the cataloguing work.

Wellesley College has several pages about her life and work.

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