Quick Takes: Truth Tables, Fantastic Magic, and SPG Hit

Seven Quick Takes is hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes

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As we near advent now, it is time to reevaluate our goals and our behaviour, and orient ourselves towards the Lord and His genesis into human life. Christmas is such a pivotal time for Christians because of the birth of Christ.

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This song by Steam Powered Giraffe has been going through my head, the life-affirming self gratifying song about owning one’s issues:

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I’m trundling along in the university term now. At the time of writing, I’ve just finished week 7 out of 10, which means that we’re both winding down in ideas and digging deeper. On most classes, we know enough now to start exploring the topics beyond the weekly reading.

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In Semantics today, we discuss the inclusive and exclusive ‘or’. That is to say, differences in the use of ‘or’ in sentences such as ‘tea or coffee?’ and ‘milk or sugar?’. At first glance, you wouldn’t think of how ambiguous English is, but, actually, there are so many things that ESL speakers her wrong because they aren’t used to English intuition.

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I’m going to see Fantastic Beasts tonight. I’m excited to see it, as there is no book as a basis. I was never much of a Potterhead, though the films started my reading career when I was younger, but I am looking forward to seeing how the worldbuilding has evolved since its 2-dimensional start in Philosopher’s Stone to the nature of being a witch or wizard in the roaring 20s.

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Editing has been rather good this week, thanks be to God! I’ve been making headway rewriting chapters 15 and 16, including things that whether Cathy is a klutz or not, and her slight obsession with the furnace exploding.

The extract below is such a new addition, heightening Cathy’s distrust of Petite Victoria.

~7~

Cathy simply stared. By dint of habit, she listened to the whole utterance before drawing conclusions. The science of listening and interpreting.

“I saw it, let us say, in your eyes the moment you stepped up to my plinth. Not only because you listened and spoke to my people, but do-gooders all look the same. Expressive, bleeding-heart eyes, always reaching onto tiptoes to reach for the next astral body.”

She didn’t stretch. Cathy bit her tongue. Arguing back would do her no good. The woman guided a hand through Cathy’s elbow, and the force of it dragged her along the path.

 

In Which I am a Graduate

It’s been one of those long journeys that passes in the blink of an eye, but yesterday I stood in front of a hall of people and shook hands with The Chancellor of Reading before accepting a scroll of paper from him, otherwise known as a degree certificate. Yesterday, I officially graduated from the University of Reading with a Bachelor’s degree of Psychology and Philosophy. It’s a weird feeling—I guess, now it’s really hit me that I’m not going back to Reading for another year, that I’ve finished my work on my undergraduate, and everything I had from that degree is ultimately in the past, reset to zero.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had a good time. There have been many aspects of being a British university student, and one of a joint honours in arguably controversial subjects, that I have not had the time or gall to ever blog about. There have been many ups and downs, of course—but that goes without saying when one spends three years of one’s life in a single place with the same sorts of people.

Eventually, though, I know I have to move. For secondary school, it hit me after five or six years. The feeling is kind of distant from the self, but more as if a knowledge of what needs to be done. I have done a lot of what I needed to at Reading, and experienced so many, but it’s not a town in which I want to spend the rest of my life. Nothing personal, just opinion from having lived around the gossamer spires of Oxford most of my life.

What a feeling it is to be moving on to academia new. Indeed, I would be lying to say that that has been the best thing about graduating when in fact it is such a gratifying feeling to be justly rewarded for three years’ hard work. However, it is good to know that I have something more after graduation.

So, there it is. I am a graduate now. I officially have a degree. (This is where I scream “hire me!” at you. Just kidding!) And the obligatory graduation photo? Oh, go on then. 🙂

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Looking professional in my gown and mortarboard!

Have a blessed weekend.

 

7 Quick Takes – 6 Types of Assessment

Since it’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me in my third year of uni (at the fabulous University of Reading in the UK), what with this being my dissertation* term and having deadlines Friday, Monday, and Thursday, I thought I’d take the opportunity of the Quick Takes list to describe a bit about the types of assessments I’ve had to do, particularly over this year**.

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7 Quick Takes is hosted at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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The straight-up essay

This is the assessment I get the most – it covers both Psychology and Philosophy modules, and I suppose, is a good way to tell if someone has done the required reading. There is a difference between Psychology and Philosophy essays – namely, the amount of research reading one does for the essay. Because Psychology encourages the scientific use of background studies, we are required to at least provide one original source.

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The presentation

Leading a seminar and teaching one topic of the module is a type of assessment. Some may think that this is one of the hardest types of assessment to do, but, actually, I’m a big fan of presentations – I seem to have a knack for them, at least. They’re less stressful than essays, and take less time, though still involve the same level of research and interpretation of facts. I enjoy educating others, so this style of assessment helps me do just that.

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The alternative assignment

This is a tricky one to describe, as it depends on the seminar leader or lecturer themselves as to what we end up doing. Most are of working on developing independent research ideas. For instance, the most recent alternative assignment I did required me to raise a project proposal/report – just like that of my dissertation, though with less stress! – on one of the many topics we went through during the term.

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The lab practicals

Psychology all the way! Practicals can range from white-lab-coat conical flask awesomeness (!) to puzzling over statistics for hours on computerised systems. (This has happened to me.) University is a prime for the ‘real world’ – apparently, in some eyes – and practicals help students to expand from the theoretical side of what they’re learning to the working side side.

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The Online Quizzes

These are marked, too, often as a first- and second-year assessment level to encourage background reading for modules that cannot be fully explained in lectures. They consolidate knowledge and prime for exams.

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The non-marked

Often, these are essay plans or little one-page to test for writing skills. Practise, so to speak. So, technically, I’m cheating with this being a type of assessment, but these types of work, called by some ‘formative’, are as crucial to build skills and knowledge towards other assessments. Not as often given out, but as necessary as any other assessment.

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I pray for those with work to or who feel overwhelmed, particularly students. May God’s light guide them to knowledge.

*Of which there is only four weeks left.

**This also counts as a type of assessment, but is ongoing and far more complicated and layered than a simple paragraph will do justice.

Setting Intentions by Emma Newlyn

Yoga philosophy. Very thoughtful. “There is no resolution and I don’t wait until 1 January to make one.”

Wellcome Collection Blog

We asked writers to talk about the idea of setting intentions for 2016. Picking up on some of the themes in Tibet’s Secret Temple each blog post relates to the exhibition from the perspective of the writer. Kicking us off is Emma Newlyn, a Yoga teacher, writer, musician and massage therapist.

Bringing ancient tantric Buddhist teachings into modern-day life

January is abundant with ‘newness’ and a new year often calls for a new year’s resolution or intention.

The word ‘intention’ has the potential to have different definitions within different contexts: it’s often described as a “thing intended; an aim or plan”, but interestingly within the field of medicine, it also refers to “the healing process of a wound”. The word is derived from the Latin intendere or intentio, which means both “stretching” and “purpose”. In essence then, when we make a new intention, we aim to stretch ourselves with the purpose…

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Thoughts on A Fictional Future | Fauxpocalypse

fauxpocalypse-front-cover-72dpiYesterday, to mark the date of the speculative end of the world in the anthology Fauxpocalypse, I posted a short piece of fiction following my character as they seek out the stragglers and survivors of the non-apocalypse. Having run from Switzerland through Milan, they enter an almost dream-like Venice, where murky canals are invitations to end one’s life and a community has been formed in search of a Communism of sorts.

Although the original concept for the anthology was to set our stories in the same world, the same universe, I think each writer has created their own universe, their own fantasy. After all, that is what speculating about the future is—a fantasy. It is highly likely that the world would have repaired itself, even a tad, in a year following nights and days like those depicted.

However, the image that came to me when I was thinking about what my protagonist’s future world would look like was one that had been broken a lot more. From ruin of home and religion and society, some people couldn’t stay where they had grown up, couldn’t remain in the cities they’d seen torn. Refugees and barriers became more common as racial tension once again became taut. Who was to blame for the speculation? Who was to blame for the destruction?

Everybody had a different opinion.

So, it followed that communities would try and rebuild themselves—either against the world as it had been, with a kind of hate, or against the world to make lives better, fairer. I guess the notion of floor-length robes was part of the fantasy, utilising one’s stereotype of secret society meetings—but flipping it with a community in the open that only tries for the best.

After all, robes are practical, and easier to wash if one desires so.

As animals, we will always have an evolutionary wariness of outsiders – the scientific phenomenon called in-group out-group mentality – and it is only (evolutionarily) recently that we have evolved reasoning and problem-solving approaches to problems of humanity. To me, from what I have observed of modern societies, it makes sense that an apocalypse, or apocalypse-like state/event, would reset our sense of logical community.

The same way that riots rose, as depicted by some of the other authors in the anthology.

Sacrifices have to be made. As I see it, the end of the world, or not, provides many opportunities for lives to change, to be given up or renewed—or both.

In a way, my character gives up a lot when they choose to cross continents looking for survivors: not family, no, as they were brought up in an orphanage and never wanted adoption, but a life of more ample living in an Oxford community that would’ve welcomed another Chemist back into the fold to help local survivors.

Instead, they opted for hardship, handiwork, and walking.

Of course, it is likely that, if this fauxpocalypse were ever to happen, society would repair itself far better than the communities and cities through which our protagonist has ventured.

But one never knows.

It’s been two years since I wrote the first draft of what would become my story Revelation, and in that time, I’ve had a lot more exposure to the hypothetical cultures that could surround or being involved with the fictional future-time portrayed in Fauxpocalypse and its follow-ups. I suppose I understand more now about the way different people react to different situations, and how this can change the future, hypothetically and in reality. The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of personalities.

For instance, during Eastertime, I went to a gig where Abney Park were playing, a band whose Steampunk-esque music is centred around the journeys of Captain Robert’s crew in a post-apocalyptic world.

After all, the end of days may not have come for the Fauxpocalypse characters, but the aftermath of the non-comet is certainly – at least in my mind’s eye – mimicry of what the apocalypse would’ve been like. And it begs the question—are we humans the ones who turn our world into post-apocalyptic dust?

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If this kind of thing interests you, you can get a print/ebook copy of the Fauxpocalypse anthology at Amazon and other online retailers – just search. We’d appreciate a review if you have the time. 🙂 We are also celebrating with a Facebook page at the moment the date in which the fictional end-of-days was meant to occur.

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Alexandrina BrantAlexandrina Brant has a revived hope in independent arts, since performing at the Institute for Contemporary Arts this week. She’s currently surviving off using the university internet, and alternating not-sleeping and not-writing (!). At the moment, she is thinking of posting snippets of her NaNoWriMo project, of Steampunk MRI machine monsters.

As a note of interest, she was inspired to set her story in a ruined Venice, as she is going there next year. Alexandrina has a particular interest in Italy, its past and its future, and its linguistics.