[personal profile] somervilleplanning posting in [community profile] davis_square
Monday, September 25, 6-8 p.m.

Tufts Administration Building (TAB), 167 Holland Street, Senior Center, 2nd Floor

Join the City Planning Department for a special update and discussion on the Davis Square Neighborhood Plan. We’re excited to present this meeting with the help of a facilitator who specializes in a meeting format designed to give participants control of the discussion topics. First, city staff will offer an update on the plan started in 2013/14 as well as a look at next steps. Then, to address outstanding topics and ensure that any new ideas and goals are identified, our facilitator will use the Round Robin meeting format, which asks participants to bring up topics for small-group discussions. In short, participants will set the agenda for the night and also shape topics for the next meeting.

At the second meeting in this series on October 19 (at the Community Baptist Church, 31 College Ave. 6-8 p.m.), we’ll take a deeper dive into the community-selected topics and identify action steps to address the goals and needs related to each. City staff will bring in resources and experts on the topic areas selected in the first meeting to serve as a resource during discussions.

Whether your concerns are open space, traffic, parking, streetscape, bicycle infrastructure, housing or more, we hope you’ll join us.

Unfortunately we cannot monitor this page, so if have any questions or need any more information, please contact us at planning@somervillema.org

For more information about Davis Square Neighborhood Planning visit https://www.somervillebydesign.com/neighborhood-planning/davis-square/

London foxen

Sep. 21st, 2017 11:16 am
rydra_wong: Fragment of a Tube map, with stations renamed Piero della Francesca, Harpo, Socrates and Seneca. (walking -- the great bear)
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] common_nature
So yesterday I was waiting to cross a street in the middle of the day and I glanced at the person standing next to me and they were a fox.

We crossed the road and I fumbled for my phone and started following them ...

A fox walking down a London street in daylight.

Photo-story ensues )

Moon and Hummingbird

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:03 pm
yourlibrarian: Butterfly and Alstroemeria by yourlibrarian (NAT-ButterflyAlstroemeria-yourlibrarian)
[personal profile] yourlibrarian posting in [community profile] common_nature
This is the most recent case of what I dub a "low moon" -- meaning that it seems very low and large in the sky.

Read more... )
sorcyress: Just a picture of my eye (Me-Eye)
[personal profile] sorcyress
At GenCon, I was summing up the job search thusly:

18 applications
4 interviews
1 second interview
Bupkiss.

This summer was way more frustrating about teaching jobs than it has been in the past, in no small part because I really truly was doing an awesome job of applying places. I thought I was doing relatively well at interviewing. Maybe my references weren't as good as they could be, but in general, I was really putting myself out there and trying...and still getting nothing.

On Wednesday the 23rd of August, I got a call --would you be willing to come in?
On Thursday the 24th of August, I had an interview.
On Friday the 25th of August, I got a call.

On Monday the 28th of August, my perfect birthday, I woke up unbearably early and biked to school. Monday and Tuesday were teacher days, Wednesday was the first day with students. It's now partway through the fourth week of school, and I have finally gotten the HR bullshit sorted out and a paycheck into my bank account and that means it's really truly officially real.

I am a professional high school mathematics teacher.

For the whole year, from the beginning. At a public high school, with all the diversity and benefits that implies. With five classes and about eighty students (a frankly amazing average ratio) and oh my _dear sweet weeping gods_.

I am fully, blessedly, employed, in a place I love, doing exactly the thing I want to be doing with my life. Yes, it's frustrating that all my work searching this summer was for naught, but I can forgive the universe its machinations.

I've been sitting tight on announcing this until it was real, and it's been killing me. No matter how much I will complain over the next ten months about the early mornings and endless prep work, I am so so unbelievably very happy.

On Monday, August 28th, I celebrated my perfect birthday by starting at my perfect job.

~Sor
MOOP!

FAQs: No I won't tell you where specifically online. Algebra 1, Discrete Math, and Calculus. Some 9th graders, mostly 12th graders. Yes the commute sucks less than the private school one. Yes the pay is better --I'm making a bit over $50k this year. Yes, I am so so so so happy.

note that sting!

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:20 pm
manuleanders: (Default)
[personal profile] manuleanders posting in [community profile] common_nature
I met this one on a walk the other day.

caterpillar

(no subject)

Sep. 17th, 2017 06:06 pm
sorcyress: Drawing of me as a pirate, standing in front of the Boston Citgo sign (Default)
[personal profile] sorcyress
So here's a thing.

Back near the start of June, Captain Awkward1 posted a link to the Ingrid Michaelson video "Girls Chase Boys". I'd seen it before, but not in a while, so hell yeah it was time for a rewatch.

And somewhere in the thirty or fifty rewatches I've done this summer, I came to a really striking realization about my sexuality. I feel queer2 or straight entirely independent of the gender of the person I am being attracted towards.

Like, this is probably a pretty logical end result of not having a gender myself. I can't be a lesbian if I'm not a woman3, but I'm also not able to be het with a woman if I'm not a man. Bisexual has served me fine as a term for years now (and queer even moreso). I am content and secure in my attractions4.

But it was a weird moment of clarity when I realized that the attraction I feel for the men in that video is decidedly queer attraction. And weirder still to realize that I can, and often do, feel straight attraction towards men. And continually weird to realize that my attraction towards women can be either queer or straight as well. Like, these are two markedly different feelings for me, apparently. They both have the same root (I want to get romantic and-or sexual with this person because I am aesthetically or otherwise pleased by them) but they feel different.

After some soul-searching5, I determined that a big part of what makes me feel queer vs straight attraction is whether the person I am attracted to is giving out queer vs straight signals. These can be either gender-queer or sexuality-queer, but apparently I save my straight attraction for the hets.

I don't know what to do with all this information. Hell, I don't even know if it's useful information to have, or if the back of my brain has latent transphobia in this regard (many of the attractive trans women I know are some variation of enby, almost all of them are sexuality-queer --I don't tend to feel straight attraction to people who I don't perceive as relatively straight, but would I automatically feel queer attraction to any trans woman, even a straight one?)

But it's a thing my brain is doing, and I like paying attention to those.

~Sor
MOOP!

1: Captain Awkward is probably the single best advice blog on the internet, and I highly recommend pawing through her archives occasionally. She is better at teaching people how to be adults than just about anyone else, and I try very very hard to behave as would make her happy.

2: "Gay" would also be accurate here, but I very much prefer queer.

3: TRANS LESBIANS ARE LESBIANS. TERFS CAN FUCK OFF.

4: This is absolutely not true, I'm into a lot of straight men for an enby. The fact that I'm demonstrably more androsexual than gynosexual freaks me out on the regular, because boy howdy, is it hard to actually be "bisexual". But for the sake of this post, let's pretend I feel not-weird about myself.

5: Translation: Looking at a lot of different attractive people for science.
mem_winterhill: (Default)
[personal profile] mem_winterhill posting in [community profile] davis_square
Friends just pointed me to this nerd comedy event coming up at the Armory. I am a fan of new ways to reach out on science topics in fun ways, and this sounds good to me. 

Saturday, September 30 at 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM EDT. Ticketing info over at facebook. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/116424495686654/

Come hang out with Boston Skeptics and enjoy a night of comedy between science friends.

"You know how Larry the Cable Guy's act pretty much consists of him yelling "Git 'er done!" every five minutes or so? Scientist-turned-comic Tim Lee's material is the diametric opposite. Lee, who got his PhD before realizing where his true talents lay, blends science talk (complete with PowerPoint presentations) with comedy. The hilarious result is like what would happen if you crossed your high-school chem teacher with George Carlin"
- The Boston Phoenix

[sci hist] A Most Remarkable Week

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:52 am
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
(h/t Metafilter)

This link should take you to the audio player for The Moth, cued to a story, "Who Can You Trust", 12 minutes long.

The Moth, if you didn't know, is an organization that supports storytelling – solo spoken word prose – true stories. This story is told by Dr. Mary-Clare King, the discoverer of BRC1. It concerns a most extraordinary week in her life, when pretty much everything went absurdly wrong and right at all once. It is by turns appalling and amazing and touching and throughout hilarious.

It's worth hearing her tell herself before the live audience. But if you prefer transcript, that's here – but even the link is a spoiler.

Recommended.

Derek Jarman's The Last of England

Sep. 16th, 2017 03:46 am
rushthatspeaks: (altarwise)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
Derek Jarman is probably my favorite film director-- the only serious competition is Ulrike Ottinger-- and in several of his books he speaks about The Last of England (1987) as his masterpiece, which of course means it's the one of his films that is impossible to get for love or money, especially if you live in the U.S..

The Brattle just screened it as part of their currently ongoing Tilda Swinton festival. Tilda Swinton, very young at the time, turned out to play England. (I probably should have expected that, but somehow I didn't.)*

He was quite right about it being a masterpiece, and, again as I should have expected from Jarman, it has had me thinking very hard about the nature and purpose of art ever since.

The Last of England is definitely a movie. It's a post-apocalyptic dystopia shot entirely using the decay of the civil infrastructure present in Thatcher's England, and I could identify a narrative-- a pair of brothers, one of whom is subverted by his attempts to subvert a balaclava-wearing, machine-gun-toting agent of the state, so that their romance causes him to wind up in a mask with a gun himself, and the other of whom winds up shot by said state agents-- and there are a lot of interesting allusions to other works of art (the opening narration at one point quotes Howl and then veers crashingly into T. S. Eliot in what is either complete literary blasphemy or the way that line was always meant to end, possibly both).** There's a year-king thing, kind of, except he doesn't get up again, and the childhood of the brothers is portrayed using home videos from Jarman's own childhood, which is fascinating because his parents were among the latest chronologically of the dyed-in-the-wool servants of the British Raj and it shows. There's a vitriolic intellectual critique of just about everything about the concepts "England" and "British".

But the thing that had me reeling and trying desperately mentally to cope is that above all, and with absolute intentionality, The Last of England is not a movie. It is a curse.

I have spent a lot of time considering evil and its relationship, if any, to art, because I try to create art myself and I feel it is a responsible thing for any artist to consider. I could get into a long digression about what I believe about evil and what I don't, but suffice it to say I do believe in evil, and the principle way I have seen evil interact with art is that subset of art which actively attempts to harm the audience, for no reason other than that it can. That sort of art can do a great deal of damage, if one runs into it at the wrong time. The other major way I have seen evil interact with art is art that is promulgating an ideology of evil, a set of beliefs which make the world decidedly worse, such as the racism of D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation.

I had never contemplated what I would think of a piece of art which is definitively opposed to an evil ideology-- Thatcherism, fascism, totalitarianism-- and which is doing everything in its power to harm, to hurt, to wreak havoc on, to destroy, and, if possible, to damn in the Biblical sense-- a set of people who are not the viewer.

When I say curse I mean it in a very old way. I mean that Derek Jarman was a great scholar, and he knew more about sixteenth- and seventeenth-century magic and alchemy than most academics, and he knew more about English witch-lore than any other authority I have ever encountered. And I don't know nearly as much about either as he did, but I know enough that this movie consistently raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I am... not quite sure that there is an attempt in and by this film to summon a specifically demonic presence. They may have been aiming for neutral. Or for angelic, and... missed, but I doubt that. I don't mean summoning in an obvious way, it's not like there are pentagrams on the floor, quite. It's done with light and fire and movement and the visual invocation of archetypes. It's done with dance and cross-dressing and other very careful costume.

And it's the precise kind of anger and pain turned into hatred that would cause a pastor to make serious inquiries as to the state of one's soul, and which might cause less theologically minded persons to mutter things about the abyss gazing back. Which is a concern Jarman eyes, and then discards, because this ideology, this thing that had happened to England under the rule of Thatcher and those around her, was to him worth that kind of hatred. And I think he came out of it all right as a human being and an artist himself, because he was objectively correct about that. But possibly only because he was objectively correct about that. The anger and pain and hatred here were so lacerating, so gorgeously done, so implacable and so beautiful that I kept wanting to hide, and it wasn't even aimed at me, he kept throwing in things to remind the audience that it isn't directed at us and honestly that does not help all that much.

Because with that sort of curse witnessing it is part of what drives it and makes it active.

I spent much of the film with some part of my mind trying to figure out if I thought it was moral to do this, to make this thing. Then I came down firmly and forever on the side that it is, because Tilda Swinton came in and played England.

We initially see Swinton's character in the memories of the one of the brothers who gets executed. She's wearing a sundress, and she's sitting in a field full of so many daffodils that it cannot read as naturalistic, even though, unlike most of the rest of the movie, the scene is shot in natural colors. She's his idealized love, that he won't ever be coming back to, and she's England itself, in both nurturing and colonialist aspects. "Don't be sad," we hear her say matter-of-factly as the bullets strike him: John Barleycorn is, after all, dead. She comes in next in full wedding dress and bridal veil, surrounded by attendants who are large and burly men dressed pretty much as Marie Antoinette, wedding a placeholder of a groom (the camera never focuses on his face) in a burned-out, rubble-strewn wreck of an industrial hangar. No dialogue, just the movements of the wedding, jerky smiles, everyone congratulating everybody else, Swinton eying a pram with an odd mixture of fear and longing. Earlier iconography has made it clear that the pram, though it does, of course, represent a baby, should also be taken to represent not a baby, but a cathexis of other ideas around fear and change and darkness.

And then we cut to Tilda Swinton outside, alone, by the water, by what looks like an industrial canal. There's a fire burning in an oil barrel next to her, a bonfire. She has scissors, and she tries to hack her way out of the wedding dress. It does not want to go. (It's really a lovely dress, by the way, in legitimately good taste, with about sixteen layers of veiling.) She rips at it with her fingers. She claws. She bites off parts of it. And these motions, without ever quite ceasing, turn themselves into a dance.

A line from a short story by Tanith Lee was running through my head during this scene, and it's still the only thing that comes to mind as anything resembling an adequate description: "... when she danced, a gate seemed to open in the world, and bright fire spangled inside it, but she was the fire."***

Have you ever seen something so transcendentally beautiful that you don't know how to think about it?

It's not just that this is the best thing Tilda Swinton has ever done on film, though it is, by such a distance that it's difficult to fathom. It's that I suspect it's one of the best things anyone has ever done on film. I am not exaggerating. Watching it is the kind of experience where you don't come away as exactly the same person.

Which she did, in full knowledge, in the service of Derek Jarman's curse.

All right, then. I consider it a moral action. Those few minutes are, by themselves, sufficient justification, and I don't see how the two of them, Jarman and Swinton, Tilda and Derek, could possibly have produced those few minutes out of hatred unless the hatred itself-- well-- to some degree contained within it all of that. Magical curses are, all the books say, perilous things, liable to come back on the caster unless their motives are completely pure. I have to take that dance as demonstration of impeccably pure motivations. I can't see what else it could be.

There are a lot of interesting things about this movie that I haven't even mentioned, of course. I finally understand why Jarman hated Peter Greenaway so much, because it turns out that for Prospero's Books, years later on, Greenaway swiped the aesthetic of some bits at the beginning of this movie that are set in Jarman's actual house and have Jarman playing himself. In fact, Greenaway even swiped Jarman's handwriting for use in his page overlays on the screen. I can see being upset by that. I would have been, too.

And there's the way almost all of the soundtrack is classical, except when it very much isn't. And the way that Jarman on several occasions intercuts between two separate scenes so quickly that persistence of vision forces you to believe that you are somehow watching both of them at the same time (well, and you get rather nauseated, which I don't think could be helped). And there's a scene with a man eating a cauliflower that totally defies all description; never had I imagined such a thing could be done with an innocent cruciferous vegetable. It's not remotely sexual. I'd almost prefer if it was.

But I've summed up the major things I've been pondering since watching the movie, and also it's five in the morning, so. A masterpiece. You should absolutely see it. But be wary.






* It occurs to me only now, writing this, that Swinton's role as both an allegorical England and a theoretically real young woman is an homage to Anna Magnani's stunning performance as the city of Rome in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Mamma Roma (1962). Somehow, all of the critical writing I have encountered on Mamma Roma fails to realize that she is the entire city incarnate and it gets shoved in with Pasolini's Neo-Realist period, which I am starting to think he never actually had. But I digress.

** I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness starving hysterical naked not with a bang but with a whimper

*** From Tanith Lee's "When The Clock Strikes". Worth noting that the character described has sold herself to Satan, and is also the agent of promulgating a curse.

(no subject)

Sep. 15th, 2017 11:06 pm
bolson: (Default)
[personal profile] bolson
Just finished reading "V for Vendetta" and an article by Moore about the creative process and having just read a good piece of art I wonder if my mind is just too rigidly practical to make good art.
The world needs practical people, that's good in it's way, but, I do sometimes daydream and wish I could create good art that moved people.
(yeah, lots of practice, making lots of bad art, hundreds and thousands of hours etc.)
bettyw: (Default)
[personal profile] bettyw posting in [community profile] davis_square
 There will be fireworks at Spy Pond at dusk (around 8pm) for Town Night/Day.

Fox update

Sep. 15th, 2017 02:30 am
rushthatspeaks: (parenting)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
At one day shy of eleven months, Fox is definitely both walking and talking.

Over the last few weeks, the walking has gone from very determined cruising to one or two steps without falling down to chains of three or four steps connected by moments of serious arm waving, or squatting and standing back up again. They don't really fall down at all, and never have, but they would sometimes cease forward motion. Now we've just gotten to walking across a room, and I haven't seen them crawl in several days. They also climb much better-- can get onto the back rail of the futon, or actively pull themself up onto my shoulder when I'm sitting on the futon. They don't seem to distinguish yet between standing on/climbing on somebody and standing on/climbing on inanimate objects. We need to give them a real shot at stairs sometime here, as there aren't any in our house and they could probably use the practice.

The talking... I guess many people's first words are... more readily distinguishable? I mean, either Fox has been talking for like a week, or Fox has been talking since about April, and I legitimately do not know. They've been saying 'Hiiiiii' to people all along, literally since birth, and they've been saying 'Ma! Ma!' to Ruth and 'Da! Da!' to me and 'At! At!' to the cats for some months, but they also said those syllables to things that aren't me or Ruth or the cats. I just wasn't able to tell babble from intentional speech, and I don't really think there was a way to.

However, what we're getting now is Fox saying 'Ma! Ma!' at Ruth in the morning when they want Ruth to get out of bed and feed them, which is pretty clearly intentional, and they say 'At!' when they see a picture of a cat in any of their books. (I haven't seen them hold a book upside down in a couple of weeks, either. Something about pictures has clicked.) Also today they hugged me and then put the final d on 'Dad' for the first time, which was just as heart-melting as I could possibly have imagined. We've also had 'Es' for a while, which means general agreement, though, and this fascinates me, we have nothing even vaguely resembling no as a word, just yelling. And 'Ba' means ball or book, but 'Ba' in a different tone means bottle; I can't really duplicate this but can hear the difference clearly.

I haven't heard them babble any of the phonemes yet that would allow them to use the names of various grandparents or their third parent, and we're all actually pretty sure they consider their third parent's name too hard right now, given the timing of various looks of frustration.

Their favorite toy right now is the photo album Ruth got them with pictures of extended family, friends, and various significant occasions in their own life, which they will pore over with devoted concentration for long stretches of time. They haven't liked an object so much since they first noticed their mobile at five months. Sometimes we'll go through and say again who various people are and what the event was, though I have no idea if they remotely have or can have the idea yet of a picture of themself.

They do have the idea now of doorknobs, but not the reach. I have seen them try to follow somebody out the door by going over and batting at the knob from below. So far they are about as good at this as our smarter cat, and I devoutly hope those two never team up. I will also be shocked if Fox doesn't start climbing over baby gates rather sooner than us parent-types would like, although at least we have one more level to lower their mattress inside its enclosure if they start getting out of their bed anytime soon.

Solid food clicked some while back, and while they're still having four or five large bottles a day, they also eat two or three solid meals, things like mango puree, applesauce, avocado, yogurt, Cheerios, and/or semisolid oat cereal. Sometimes we mix some of those together. We also give them bits of what we're eating, though we're trying to avoid large quantities of sugar and salt till they're past a year old. They have two and a half teeth, the bottom front two and one I think I see lurking partially emerged in the back bottom left. They can drink through a straw, and they can drink from a sippy cup and, actually, from a regular cup, though I don't let them very often because after they drink from it they'll just toss it down like they do the bottle.

We have never cut their hair, because that's a decision they'll be able to make for themself in not all that long, so they strongly resemble a Beatle, or possibly an emo rocker circa 2004. Putting a barrette across the bangs works until they take it out and try to eat it. Pigtails actually work but are not remotely my aesthetic preference. Fortunately they don't seem to mind hair in their face-- I've never seen them push at it or get frustrated with it.

Ruth took them to a baby swimming class over at MIT for a while, so we now have some notion of how to work with a swim diaper and how to interact with an infant in the water, which is great because we're going to the beach next month.

And their first birthday approaches apace, though milestone-wise-- toddler. I'd say we have a toddler.
mem_winterhill: (Default)
[personal profile] mem_winterhill posting in [community profile] davis_square
HeatSmart CoolSmart SomervilleAt the Climate Commission meeting last night, we got an update on the heat pumps program that's running now. If you have been thinking about ways to reduce your carbon footprint, you really ought to take a look at these new and high-tech super efficient devices. Or if you know your heating equipment is getting up there in age, you should at least come and learn about these. And they can do heating as well as cooling. In my house, it looks like I'll be able to reduce my natural gas heating a lot and rely on my solar for much of my heating and cooling.

I've been resisting air conditioning over the years for a variety of reasons, but this new style of heating and cooling tech I can have both, with much less environmental impact (and noise). Also right now there are big rebates and low interest loans. It's hard to know how much longer good programs like this will run in our current political environment, you know?

So this event will give you the backstory on the tech. https://www.somervillema.gov/events/2017/10/04/heat-pumps-101

Wed Oct 4 2017 - 6:30pm

LOCATION
West Somerville Community School Cafeteria
177 Powderhouse Blvd.
Somerville, MA 02144
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
I have a recollection of hearing a filk song, I think from a tape, that had a climactic line or repeated like in the refrain, to the effect of "And that's what cities get from trains". I have an impression it was a Leslie Fish song, but I don't know that for sure.

Not having any joy of google. Does anybody recognize it?

Meet candidates for mayor & alderman

Sep. 12th, 2017 03:47 pm
secretlyironic: smug bird icon (Default)
[personal profile] secretlyironic posting in [community profile] davis_square
 There is a candidate meet-and-greet this evening at Workbar in Union Square if you want to meet people who are running for Alderman and Mayor. 


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