Tag Archives: relationships

Monthly Spotlight: Georgette Heyer

Initially I planned to cover something else this month. I was going to tackle another big fantasy series, but after last month I didn’t want to do that. Then I was going to look at a Young Adult author, but I’ve just got hold of her latest book and want to wait until I’ve finished it. So instead this month’s spotlight is the author I’m currently reading, who I suspect many of you won’t have heard of.

Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) is one of the main reasons Regency romances exist, essentially, though she wrote across other genres as well. (In particular she’s written some mysteries set in the Roaring Twenties that I want to read once I’ve finally finished the Regencies, as well as various novels from much earlier in history.) Her Regency novels are pretty similar to Jane Austen, but 1) with a lot more detail and context, since Austen was writing for an audience who already knew the setting whereas Heyer had to explain it for her readers; worldbuilding! Very well done worldbuilding, too; Heyer was a real historian. And 2) straight up funnier.

Because these books are funny. Not necessarily laugh-out-loud, the way Pratchett’s are, but – well, I’ve created a new tag; ‘books to make you smile’. I would say charming if that didn’t sound so patronising. They’re real feel-good books; her characters are warm and funny and often slightly absurd. And the romances are usually surprisingly healthy, remarkably so given the time they’re set in and the time they were written. Not always, but so far I’d say easily a 95% success rate as far as I’m concerned. There’s always an actual plot above and beyond the romance, ranging from the mundane to the surprisingly action-packed; it’s often easy to work out the end of the story, but usually not how it gets there.

These books make me happy to read them, it’s as simple as that. I owe my mother and my grandmother an apology, since they both separately recommended Heyer to me many years ago and I only recently finally got around to them. I doubt you’ll find physical copies very easily, but they’re all on Kindle and presumably other e-readers.

My grandmother always particularly recommended Arabella; my mother’s favourite was The Convenient Marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and would also urge you to look out for False Colours, The Unknown Ajax, Frederica, The Quiet Gentleman and The Nonesuch in particular. Though honestly, all of them have been wonderful (with the slight exception of the Alistair-Audley trilogy, since I didn’t particularly like the characters).

In other news, I am currently rejoicing that Cormoran Strike: Career of Evil is going to air this week and I don’t have to watch it. Also I’m sure nobody is surprised that the next HP post is going to be a while yet.


Posted by on February 21, 2018 in loten


Tags: , , , , , ,

Get Out (2017) initial reactions and review

My apologies to our regular readers for our silence recently; we’ve had a lot going on offline and haven’t had as much time to write as we’d have liked (though we do have a few more posts in the works that should be coming relatively soon). Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, have a thing I dashed off pretty quickly.

One of my coworkers recommended “Get Out” to me recently; I ended up watching it last night, and wrote up my thoughts shortly afterward to aid in the subsequent discussion. I hadn’t really intended to do a blog post, but I realised it would probably be publishable with a bit of minor editing and there might be discussions worth having about this film. The remainder of this post will contain spoilers for the film, and for various genre reasons this is a film which is probably best watched unspoiled, so if you are interested in seeing it you may not wish to proceed. That said, I was not nearly as impressed as I was led to believe I would be, and can give it only a lukewarm recommendation at best, so I am not necessarily saying to stop reading this post if you haven’t seen the film.

Also, as an advance warning, this is a film that deals directly with racial issues and seems to have been written by Blacks primarily for Black audiences; as such, I feel a bit uncomfortable as a white person criticising it and there may well be things I missed due to not having the cultural context. Let’s get that disclaimer out of the way.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 20, 2017 in mitchell


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Strike: The Silkworm (BBC adaptation) Part Two

Part two. At some point my commentary is probably going to dry up, because as you all know I never finished the book in detail so I won’t be able to judge how closely the show is following most of the ending. We’ll see how it goes. Also this is later than I had planned to do it because I have no motivation for this – it’s not awful the way the book was, just really, really dull.

As it turns out I was able to keep commenting until the end, since they cut just about everything that happened after I ragequit. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on October 16, 2017 in loten


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Egotistical douchebags and the women they imagine will love them

Here’s a quick response to a stupid thing on the internet, because reasons I guess. If you have not already seen this train wreck of a website, that’s what it’s about (Here’s the original URL but he’s taken it down to put up a declaration of victory because apparently the internet laughing at you is a win? the Wayback Machine doesn’t forget). We learned of its existence from Captain Awkward on Twitter and while her response really does adequately describe the situation, this thing is too much fun to mock to be worth ignoring. (PZ Myers has a take too.)

The timing was good, as I’ve been having a lot of job-related anxiety and distress this week, so having something so perfectly stupid to snark about was quite welcome. (Long story short, a spontaneous opportunity presented itself which I found really exciting – that particular kind of excitement being a very rare thing for me – had some interviews which seem to have gone well, but the result of those interviews is that I seem to have convinced the firm in question that they need to take the project in a different direction and the role they were considering me for no longer exists. I may have talked myself out of the job.)

I’ve transcribed (and edited slightly for readability) some fun excerpts from our initial conversation after discovering this… person’s… website. Among other things, I cut out the bits where we compared him to Donald Trump and Christian Grey, because both of those should really go without saying. Enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2017 in loten, mitchell


Tags: , , ,

Mitchell’s Feminist Relationship Advice for Heterosexual Men (& everyone else too)

For better or worse I’ve ended up having way too many conversations about romance/sex/etc advice recently, so I thought I might as well collect my thoughts in one place (and just in time for Valentine’s Day too, sometimes coincidences are fun). It’s a good time for it anyway; the mainstream culture is always so terrible about these sort of things, and I think it’s especially important to push back against that in this age of the Sexual-Predator-in-Chief.

This is a serious post despite the snark.

I’m afraid this may feel disjointed in places, as it’s mainly a collection of things I’ve found myself saying or wishing I had said in response to things people have said to or around me, but so be it. I’m fairly certain the core ideas should still come through just fine. That said, I’m not entirely sure who the target audience is here: I’ve tried to keep this mostly at 101-level for accessibility but I’m not sure I entirely succeeded, and also I’ve tried to address various different stages here so it’s unlikely it all is likely to be applicable to everybody.

(And as this excellent piece I encountered the other day points out, patriarchal relationship norms aren’t good for men either. I think it’s always a worthy effort to undermine them.)

[I likely won’t have much to add, but I’m here agreeing with these points.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 14, 2017 in mitchell


Tags: , , , , ,

Signal Boost: Dude Social Fallacies

Read this. Read this now.

I recognise so many of these; they’re bloody everywhere. How’s this – if you catch someone (likely a cishet man, but I’m sure it’s not completely exclusive to them) you know engaging in these behaviours or this kind of thinking, encourage them to read this article and stop interacting with people they view as potential sex partners until they’ve thoroughly digested it.

(via Captain Awkward)

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 2, 2015 in mitchell


Tags: , , , , , ,

Humanism, Arranged Marriages, and Reality TV

Sorry for the lack of content recently; I’ve been suffering from a nasty case of writer’s block and am struggling with a few half-finished pieces. Hopefully this will jog me back into things.

This appears to be somewhat old news, but I just saw this today (an older, more detailed post about it can be found here) about humanist chaplain Greg Epstein working in an advisory capacity on a reality television programme called Married at First Sight. This makes me deeply uncomfortable; I think it’s a terrible idea for lots of reasons, and I would be remiss if I didn’t say anything.

I’m disappointed in Epstein that he decided to get involved with something like this. The first thing I thought upon learning about it was that not all publicity is good publicity: if the idea here was that participating in something like this would increase visibility for atheists/humanists, then all I can say is that participating in something that looks clearly unethical and exploitative to me doesn’t seem like a good way to advocate for humanism. Humanism is an ethical position and participating in unethical behaviour while promoting humanism will only make us look like hypocrites.

Why do I say this is clearly unethical? First things first (from one of the linked posts by Hemant Mehta):

There are just a few moments you really want to see. Like when the contestants find out about the premise of the show…

In other words, there is no notion of informed consent here at all. None. Despite the fact Mehta describes the show in one of the linked posts as “couples agree to get married, sight-unseen”, if they didn’t know the premise of the show before agreeing to appear on it, they could not have given informed consent to this (and if they did express consent, the pressure of having had to agree to that impulsively after a surprise reveal means we cannot consider this consent in any kind of meaningful sense).

Mehta highlights quite a few other issues with it, and then encourages the viewer to just not think too hard about them. Um, no, let’s not do that. His list is also not exhaustive, and I’d like to mention a few more.

Firstly, I have to wonder at the motivations of the contestants on a show like this. Why would any person in their right mind agree to an arranged marriage with a person they’ve never met (especially when there is no cultural pressure to do so)? I can only think it must have something to do with the way modern Western culture elevates marriage and makes people consider it an essential step toward adulthood. I’ve often encountered the idea (usually implicit rather than explicit, though I’ve seen it made explicitly as well) that people aren’t truly adults until they are married, etc etc. (Another variant just focuses on being partnered as a similar thing.) When there are pressures such as this, it’s understandable why someone might be tempted by something like this, but shouldn’t we be able to acknowledge this is unhealthy and not encourage it? If we really want to deal with this problem, the solution is not “come up with ways for unmarried people to more easily acquire partners/marriages” but rather “change the culture so people aren’t shamed for not being partnered/married”.

Secondly: marriage is a legal contract with far-reaching effects, and marrying people in a situation like this (with a much higher chance it won’t work out and they’ll seek divorce) seems rife for legal problems. I should hope, at least, that the people running the show have some good lawyers available to write prenuptial agreements that ensure there aren’t issues with property becoming jointly owned, etc etc. I’ve no idea whether or not they have done anything like that, truthfully; they may well have done, because otherwise they could end up with a lot of really unpleasant situations and they have to have foreseen the likelihood these marriages wouldn’t last.

Thirdly: while I know nothing about the contestants, it would not surprise me if the sort of people who were interested in a marriage under these circumstances ended up being abusive and/or controlling partners, by dint of choosing to be married under circumstances in which the person they are marrying cannot say no. This is creepy.

It occurs to me that most of the ethical issues with the show are strictly related to the marriage gimmick, rather than anything else; if it were just setting up blind dates based on whatever pseudoscientific criteria they’re using, I don’t think I’d really object. But I suspect it’s also the marriage aspect specifically that they’re counting on for shock value to get viewers interested, and that without it there wouldn’t be any show at all.

In any case, I think this is a terrible and deeply problematic idea, and I’m disappointed that Greg Epstein (and, by extension, humanism) is involved with it. Epstein’s avowed reasons for participating don’t seem wholly bad, and if we assume the show was going to exist irrespective of his participation I do think he’s probably one of the best choices they could have made for the role they’ve placed him in. I’ll grant that much. That said, I still think he should have thought better of it.

And unless the advice he’s going to give is “don’t fucking get married and go home”, I have doubts about how consistent with humanism it is.


[Edit by Loten: the more I read about this the more sceptical I become. There’s just so much wrong with the basic premise of this show that I’m starting to think it’s faked and is designed purely as some sort of warped entertainment. That’s not a huge improvement, of course, it’s still pushing the tired old “marriage is the only possible means of vindicating your existence” message, but still. Of course this idea is probably just wishful thinking, but I just can’t see how this is legal, aside from all the other issues.]


Posted by on July 9, 2014 in mitchell


Tags: , , , ,