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Posted by brainwane

If you care about the parent nonprofit organizations of Archive of Our Own and WisCon, you might want to vote in their upcoming elections, and registration deadlines are coming up fast – in one case, today.

The Organization for Transformative Works registration deadline is the end of today, October 6, 2015. (To become a voting member, you must have donated at least USD$10 within the last year.) I believe the deadline is “11:59pm in your timezone” or “11:59pm Eastern Time in the US” since I just donated here in New York City and my receipt is dated October 6th around 8:40pm. Edited 1:52am UTC to add: The deadline is 2am UTC, or, in about 8 minutes.

Voting in the upcoming election for OTW’s Board takes place November 6-November 9. OTW supports the journal Transformative Works and Cultures, the Archive of Our Own fanwork archive, legal advocacy, the Fanlore wiki, and related activities. Here’s an unofficial roundup of how and why to vote, from an unofficial Tumblr following the election.

The Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction, or SF3, is the nonprofit parent org for the annual feminist scifi convention WisCon (which is nearly 40 years old). SF3’s annual meeting is scheduled for Sunday, October 18, 2015, at 11:30am (US Central time; link to time converter). Members can attend in person or via phone. The annual meeting includes an election to fill open officer positions and votes on proposed bylaw revisions and grant requests. To vote at the annual meeting, you must be an SF3 member by the time the meeting starts. SF3 offers three annual membership tiers, ranging from USD$9 to USD$24.

For both organizations, if you will not be able to cast your votes during the voting period, you can designate a proxy to vote on your behalf (SF3, OTW).

Apologies for being pretty late in signal-boosting this.

I’ve donated and registered to become a member of both organizations, and will be interested in learning more so I can be an informed voter!

You ought to quit this scene too

Oct. 6th, 2015 10:30 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Tomorrow, improbably, I’ll be speaking in chapel at my alma mater. It’s the annual alumni chapel service and I guess Bryan Stevenson and Shane Claibourne, etc., weren’t available, so now they’re probably trying to figure out how to set up a three-second delay on the podium mic.

Seriously, though, this is a real privilege. The weekly chapel service at Eastern has always been entirely voluntary. Students don’t have to go, but they do. The auditorium was usually full back when I was a student there, and these days, apparently, they’ve outgrown the auditorium and hold chapel in the gymnasium. Gulp.

The theme for their chapel services this month is “What is the gospel?” That seems like it should be an easy question for us Christian types, and particularly for us evangelical Christian types who are all about sharing the gospel and spreading the gospel and preaching the gospel.

Bridge22If you’d asked me that question when I was a gung-ho member of my church youth group as a teenager, I’d have been fully prepared to offer you a succinct, tidy answer. That answer likely would’ve involved me drawing something like the Navigators’ “Bridge to Life” illustration explaining the Good News that you were damned to Hell because God hates your sin, but that you could still be saved because God poured out all of God’s infinite hate onto Jesus instead of you, making possible the impossibility of divine mercy and allowing you to go to Heaven instead of Hell. The end.

Or I might have told you some variation of the same thing based on the Wordless Book I’d learned to use teaching VBS and Child Evangelism Fellowship classes, or the Four Spiritual Laws we’d trained in for Evangelism Explosion, or the “Romans Road” we’d memorized in Sunday school. I was primed and ready for someone, anyone, to walk up to me and ask, “What is the gospel?”

But no one ever did. This was a source of enormous frustration. It was also a source of enormous relief, because we’d often go out to proclaim our answer at people who hadn’t actually asked that question and that interaction tended to be excruciatingly awkward and anxiety-inducing for all involved. We knocked on doors. We stood on street corners. We passed out gospel tracts on the sidewalk or the boardwalk. It never went well.

Most people avoided us, correctly suspecting what we were up to. Those who initially failed to recognize that clearly looked trapped, annoyed, or frightened when they realized what they had walked into. “Oh, no, not this” their tightening eyes said when they realized why these polite young people had knocked on their door. They had been mentally prepared to maybe buy a few bars of band candy, not to encounter earnest strangers telling them they deserved an eternity of torture — somehow managing to smile as they said it. The sidewalk downwind of us would be littered with tracts dropped from the hands of those who had accidentally made unwary eye contact or who had gambled, and lost, hoping that we might be handing out fliers for a concert, or a new restaurant, or maybe a car wash for some worthy cause.

Sometimes the encounter could be redeemed by someone who maintained their composure enough to handle it with class. That happened once when we were doing “beach evangelism.” That meant passing out gospel tracts on the boardwalk in Asbury Park until everyone was saved or until we ran out of tracts (always the latter). I gave a tract to Marie Castello outside of the Temple of Knowledge. She said “Thank you,” in a way that reminded us all that this is the proper thing to do when a stranger offers you something, and she gave me a business card. Having learned a lesson there, I thanked her, and fled.

At the time, I regretted my failure to be more assertive and more aggressive in insisting that she listen to our message of salvation. Remembering this now, what I regret most is that I didn’t keep that card. Or ask her to sign it for me.

See, Marie Castello is kind of a legend in New Jersey. She’s the Madame Marie that Bruce Springsteen sang about in “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” and she was an institution there on the boardwalk – offering “Readings & Advice” at her Temple of Knowledge booth from 1932 until her death in 2008. When she died, flags in Asbury Park were flown at half-staff in her honor.

I left the Temple of Knowledge that day back in 1984 or ’85 without ever seizing the chance to tell her how Jesus bridges the chasm between sinful humans and a holy God. I didn’t stick around to explain that she could be saved by praying the prayer in which she tells God the three things God apparently needs to hear us say to complete the transaction of salvation. I never gave her the answer I had back then to the question “What is the gospel?”

And that means — according to the logic that compelled us to go out there knocking on doors and passing out tracts — that she may have died unforgiven and unloved by a holy God who is incapable of tolerating sinful humans. And if that’s true, we believed, if she never prayed that prayer and told God those three things, then Marie Castello is now suffering an eternity of conscious torment in Hell. And we were supposed to believe she deserved that.

One of the many problems with all of that was that it required us to believe that Bruce Springsteen is greater than God. And even those of us who are from New Jersey don’t quite want to say that’s true. We will concede, if pressed to do so, that the Boss is mortal and finite, fallible and flawed (see, for example, Human Touch).  So we know that Bruce Springsteen cannot be capable of a greater love and a greater mercy than God is capable of.

If there is a God, then that God, being God, must be capable of a greater love than any mortal. If there is a God, and if that God is not monstrous, then that God must be capable of loving Madame Marie at least as much as Bruce Springsteen did.

All of which means that I no longer answer that question — “What is the gospel?” — the way I would have answered it as a teenager back in church youth group. I no longer believe that the starting point of the gospel is our separation from a monstrously holy God incapable of love without demanding payment in blood. I believe that the starting point of the gospel is Jesus. And the ending point, too.

So tomorrow, when I get up there to talk about “What is the gospel?” I’m going to talk about Jesus, the central figure of those books we call “Gospels.” And I’m going to suggest that one way of answering the question “What is the gospel?” is to look at the sequel to one of those books, the book of Acts, which shows us what it looks like when Jesus’ followers start living the gospel. So we’re going to talk about Pentecost and about Philip in Samaria, and Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, and Peter and Cornelius, and anybody there who reads this blog will easily recognize that I’m recycling much of the same stuff I’ve written about here for years.

Anyway, regular posting here tomorrow may be interrupted a bit, but it should resume Thursday. In the meantime, I have to go whittle what seems to be a 50-minute talk into the allotted 25 minutes. This will likely involve cutting most of the jokes. Tomorrow, when I hear my voice start to get shaky, I will nervously reinsert all of those jokes, leaving out everything else before rushing through the ending. (That’s the pattern, at least. I’ve heard myself speaking in public before and that’s usually how it goes.)

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Posted by spam-spam


  • Closing a door | The Geekess (5 Oct): “I am no longer a part of the Linux kernel community. [..] The focus on technical excellence, in combination with overloaded maintainers, and people with different cultural and social norms, means that Linux kernel maintainers are often blunt, rude, or brutal to get their job done. […] I would prefer the communication style within the Linux kernel community to be more respectful. I would prefer that maintainers find healthier ways to communicate when they are frustrated. I would prefer that the Linux kernel have more maintainers so that they wouldn’t have to be terse or blunt. Sadly, the behavioral changes I would like to see in the Linux kernel community are unlikely to happen any time soon.”
  • Survey of Meeting Experience 2015 | S*Marts Consulting, LLC: “This survey of participants at meetings and conferences is being conducted by S*Marts Consulting, LLC. It is designed to solicit input on the experiences of gender-based or sexual harassment at those events. Our interest is in gathering data to inform meeting producers on the scope of the problem, and identify some of the main contributory factors to a positive or negative environment, both to encourage improvement and to identify future areas for research.”
  • [warning for discussion of harassment, abuse, and alcoholism] Enough is enough: Dark Horses Scott Allies assaulting behavior | Graphic Policy (1 Oct): “He is not alone in his inappropriate behavior nor is Dark Horse alone in being a publisher that opts to turn a blind eye towards problematic behavior by its employees. If Allie had made a one-time mistake this year at SDCC, it would be easy to feel bad for him. Routine behavior like this, however, is not acceptable. It exists in our industry because for too long we’ve treated these harassers and boundary-crossers as missing stairs — warning other people in whispers. If there’s only one lesson that comics pros learn from this situation, hopefully it is that our industry cannot continue to ignore it when people act this way.”
  • Codementor | geekchick77 (1 Oct): “Early this year, I created a profile on codementor.io. I wasn’t sure if I would actually get paid, but I figured I had nothing to lose! I had plenty of time, as I was searching for a job, and I like helping people. […] It can be a challenge to get started on a reputation-based site like codementor, and I wasn’t getting many responses yet, so I started altering my strategy. [Here’s] what I suggest, based on my experience.”
  • Some sexist tropes in The Martian | Sara Haider at Medium (5 Oct): “This isn’t a critique of the book, The Martian by Andy Weir. These are ‘tropes’, as I’ll call them, because we see them in STEM all the time. That’s why I can even call them tropes… they are so damned predictable. These tropes exemplify small or even tiny everyday actions that subtly shape perceptions and behaviors, and with repetition and time, they form biases. […] If you read this book and these tropes flew by you, ask yourself why. I’d like to challenge you to recognize it. Think about what it does to people who face it all the time.”
  • Women in Comics: Some Horror For Halloween | The Hub (2 Oct): “If you are a fan of scary stories or are simply looking for something to read on Halloween, this list will help you find the perfect horror story!”
  • Writing Better Trans Characters | Cheryl Morgan at Strange Horizons (28 Sept): “Quite simply, the most important thing cis people can do for the trans community right now is to accept us as fully human; not as something to be gawped at and whispered over, not as a clever metaphor with which to discuss gender, but as ordinary people just like you. For cis writers, that means putting us in their stories. I reject the idea that trans characters should only be written by trans people because cis folk are bound to get it wrong. While there are some really fine trans writers, there simply aren’t enough of us in the world to do what is needed. We have to be part of all fiction, not just fiction that we write ourselves.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Musician Ryan Adams recently released an album cover. A cover, that is, of an entire album written and performed by Taylor Swift. Both albums are titled 1989.

7via TheVine.com.

Critical praise for Adams’ version was immediate, turning quickly to a comparison of the two. At There’s Research on That!, Jacqui Frost explained that there was…

…a media frenzy about which album is “better” and who deserves credit for the “depth and complexity” that many say Adams brought to Swift’s poppier original. Some reviews argue Adams “vindicated” Taylor Swift as an artist; others argue that emotional depth was already present in Swift’s songwriting…

Swift’s 1989 was the best selling album of 2014 — by popular vote, it was obviously an excellent album — but many people seemed not to notice. Instead, they wanted to talk about who should get credit for the quality of Adams’ album, as if whether there was anything good there to begin with was an open question.

Frost draws on sociological research to suggest that gender might help explain why we have such a hard time giving credit to Swift.

First, she notes that musical genres are gendered and we tend to take feminized genres less seriously than masculinized ones. “Many publications that reviewed Adams’ version [of 1989],” for example, “did not review Swift’s original.” This may be because serious music critics don’t review pop.

Second, research shows that male creatives in the music industry are generally more likely to get credit than females ones. Frost writes:

[M]ale musicians, regardless of genre, are more likely to receive critical recognition and be “consecrated” into the popular music canon. Women are less likely to be seen as “legitimate” artists and are more often judged on their emotional authenticity and connections with “more” legitimate, male artists.

In fact, Frost notes, “the albums will be competing for a Grammy this year, and many think Adams will take it over Swift

Whatever you think of the two albums, the instinct to dismiss Swift’s album as “just pop” and Adams’ version as “artistic” is likely tied to the powerful ways in which the music industry, and our own experience of music, has a thumb on the scale in favor of men and masculine genres.

This post borrows heavily from Jacqui Frost at TROT! and you can find links to the original research there.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Tour - Day 1

Oct. 6th, 2015 01:02 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
The woman who sat next to me on the plane from Atlanta sat bolt upright and put the blanket over her head. Because of the folds of cloth, she looked exactly like that one Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Crusher is in the morgue and all the corpses sit up with shrouds over them. "Eyes...in the dark...one moon circles..." Yeeesh.

Saw a Monk Parakeet on a telephone wire in Austin. Lifer!

Great bookstore gig, chatted with fans and got to see people I know primarily as Internet handles.

Now, day 2!
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Posted by Fred Clark

• Reading Jonathan Chait’s piece on the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner — “Conservatives Hated Boehner Because He Couldn’t Get Rid of Obama” — makes me think René Girard may be on to something.

Paul Bibeau seems to have a similar idea: “Conservatives’ Next Move Will Be to Burn John Boehner in a Large Wicker Statue.”

Teach your children well …

• The same people who brought us the iPad are planning the iRing. The iRing is still under development, so I guess that makes it an iUD. Next up: the iSponge?

Katie Grimes remarks on another aspect of Pope Francis’ invocation of MLK:

This moment is even more remarkable precisely for what seems entirely unremarkable about it. He did something so unremarkable in fact that the vast majority of us probably did not even realize that it happened: the Pope lifted up a Protestant named after Martin Luther as a model of Christian discipleship.

This would not have been possible in another age.

Good point. I’m so accustomed to thinking of Martin Luther King as wholly distinct from his namesake that I almost forget he has one. Remembering that namesake doesn’t just make Pope Francis’ public commendation of MLK surprising — it also makes this photo all the more remarkable:


That’s “a Protestant named after Martin Luther” marching arm-in-arm with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (and vice versa).

• Amanda Marcotte looks at “The Math on Planned Parenthood’s Alleged Fetal Tissue Profit Scheme.” Granted, seven clinics making a profit of $0 per transaction might not seem like big money, but she doesn’t understand the First Citiwide Change Bank business model.

• Here’s John Fea on Adam Laats on what it is that makes a “fundamentalist” school fundamentalist. Fundamentalist, like “evangelical,” is a term that we can try to define theologically, but such attempts invariably prove unsatisfying because those theological or doctrinal parameters don’t capture all the essential cultural and tribal aspects at work.

I suspect those cultural markers are primary — that they’re causes of the doctrinal distinctives, not effects of them. Bob Jones University hasn’t opposed drinking, dancing and racial integration because of its prior commitment to biblical inerrantism and a literalistic anti-hermeneutic. It adopted biblical inerrantism and a literalistic anti-hermeneutic because it opposes drinking, dancing and racial integration.

• A monument at Oklahoma’s state capital declares the state’s preference for Protestantism and its belief that wives are the property of their husbands. Turns out that’s not constitutional, so the monument has to go. The Oklahoma Republican Party has offered its headquarters as a new home for this granite Nehushtan. Cool. A private graven image on private property is constitutional for all the same reasons that a sectarian public monument on public grounds is not.

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Posted by Jay Livingston, PhD

This video was making the rounds last spring. The video maker wants to make two points:

1. Cops are racist. They are respectful of the White guy carrying the AR-15. The Black guy gets less comfortable treatment.

2. The police treatment of the White guy is the proper way for police to deal with someone carrying an assault rifle.

I had two somewhat different reactions.

1. This video was made in Oregon. Under Oregon’s open-carry law, what both the White and Black guy are doing is perfectly legal. And when the White guy refuses to provide ID, that’s legal too. If this had happened in Roseburg, and the carrier had been strolling to Umpqua Community College, there was nothing the police could have legally done, other than what is shown in the video, until the guy walked onto campus, opened fire, and started killing people.

2.  Guns are dangerous, and the police know it. In the second video, the cop assumes that the person carrying an AR-15 is potentially dangerous – very dangerous. The officer’s fear is palpable. He prefers to err on the side of caution – the false positive of thinking someone is dangerous when he is really OK.  The false negative – assuming an armed person is harmless when he is in fact dangerous – could well be the last mistake a cop ever makes.

But the default setting for gun laws in the US is just the opposite – better a false negative. This is especially true in Oregon and states with similar gun laws. These laws assume that people with guns are harmless. In fact, they assume that all people, with a few exceptions, are harmless. Let them buy and carry as much weaponry and ammunition as they like.

Most of the time, that assumption is valid. Most gun owners, at least those who got their guns legitimately, are responsible people. The trouble is that the cost of the rare false negative is very, very high. Lawmakers in these states and in Congress are saying in effect that they are willing to pay that price. Or rather, they are willing to have other people – the students at Umpqua, or Newtown, or Santa Monica, or scores of other places, and their parents – pay that price.

Originally posted at Montclair Socioblog.

Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University. You can follow him at Montclair SocioBlog or on Twitter.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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Posted by AdrienneMayor

by Adrienne Mayor (regular contributor)Orlov’s-Viper

Can one drink snake venom and live to tell the story, as in an ancient tale from the Caucasus?

Snake bite and venoms were much dreaded in classical antiquity. Scythian archers of the Caucasus region and steppes north of the Black Sea were notorious for deadly arrows dipped in snake venom and other noxious substances. Recipes for Scythian arrow poison called for venom, rotted viper corpses, human blood, and animal dung mixed in a leather pouch and allowed to putrefy. Even a scratch contaminated with such a concoction of venom and pathogens would cause a fatal suppurating wound.

King Mithradates VI of Pontus on the Black Sea was celebrated for his universal antidote, said to make him immune to all poisons and venoms. The recipe is lost but venom and minced viper were among the reported ingredients in his Mithridatium. Mithradates demonstrated his immunity by drinking snake venom with no ill effects. Mithradates understood that snake venom can be ingested safely as long as it does not enter the blood stream, through abrasions in the mouth, throat, or the digestive tract (see http://www.wondersandmarvels.com/2012/08/treating-snake-bite-in-antiquity.html)

Drinking snake venom figures in some interesting ancient tales from Circassia and Abkhazia (between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea) recently translated by John Colarusso in Nart Sagas from the Caucasus. In one saga, foes plot to kill a powerful hero by placing seven poisonous snakes in a large drinking horn. Another story features Narjkhyaw, a superhero with a mustache of steel. His enemies offer him a cup of wine mixed with a soup of venom, blood, and flesh of two poisonous snakes, one from the mountains and one from the seashore, both red. The Caucasian viper (Vipera kaznakovi), Black Sea viper (Vipera pontica), and Orlov’s viper have dark red and black patterns.

In the tale, Narjkhyaw compels two of his enemies to drink first and they die horribly. But when he drains the cup, his steel mustache strains out the poisons. Setting down the cup, he casually picks the snake bones out of his mustache and “his stomach did not even rumble.” The story suggests that the venom was digested harmlessly while the decomposed snake flesh, infected with lethal bacteria, was filtered out by the hero’s metal mustache.

Further reading: Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy; Adrienne Mayor, Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs; John Colarusso, Nart Sagas from the Caucasus (Princeton University Press, 2002 paperback forthcoming 2016)

"Of Course!"

Oct. 5th, 2015 08:00 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo Description: The yellow Election's Canada sign pointing to a polling station. The disability access symbol is on the sign, which is pointing downwards.
Voting is a serious matter for both Joe and I. We are voters. We try to be informed voters as well. To us, voting is a precious won right and a vitally important responsibility. So when we realized that we were away from home on voting day and that we would barely make it back for the advance polls we decided to take advantage of 'special ballot' voting. This means that up until the 13th of October we can go to Elections Canada Office of the Returning Officer and cast a ballot. We did this yesterday. I had called ahead to see about the hours and the accessibility and when I asked about access the woman was almost insulted, "Of course we are accessible, sir, of course we are." I didn't say anything but in my experience there's lots of places where you'd assume, incorrectly, "of course," to access.

We were informed about the 'special ballot' voting in a mailing that we received from Elections Canada. What was cool about that mailing was that it had a list of the accessibility features of both the advance poll and the voting day polling stations. I popped over to the accessibility page on the Elections Canada website and was pretty impressed. I really liked being able to type in my postal code and find out everything I needed to know about polling stations. I found the list of mandatory (and preferred) features used in selection polling stations interesting. I liked the fact that accessibility was more than just getting in, there was information on assistance with marking a ballot and for sign language, amongst other languages, and that they could take requests in 110 languages.

We arrived just a little after one and went through the voting process, which is different, but not difficult, we discovered for 'special ballots' and then slammed our vote into the voting box. The whole thing was easy because access was simply an 'of course' and there was nothing to worry about. I will admit, though, when it came our turn, I asked Joe to go first just to check out the area for accessibility, I have a large chair after all. In the end Joe was still in, finishing up voting, when it came to be my turn. It was the same woman who had come to get Joe and when I was in her office having my ID checked, I relaxed.

It was an "of course."

I voted, freely - which means something a little different for a disabled voter.
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Posted by Daily Otter

Sea Otters Play Never Minding Their Audience 1

Sea Otters Play Never Minding Their Audience 2

Sea Otters Play Never Minding Their Audience 3

Thanks, John! John writes, “I watched these two for hours in the Seward, Alaska, harbor. They swam and ate, slept and played and never seemed to care I was there taking pictures just a few feet away.”

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

James McGrath writes about 2 Timothy 3:16 — the favorite verse of those who assert their authority by “defending the authority of the scriptures.”

My fundamentalist friends, bless ‘em, love to recite this verse in response to any question about the infallibility or inerrancy or “literal” interpretation of the Bible. “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

Screenshot 2015-10-05 at 2.10.50 AMThis usually leads to a long series of go-rounds on the carousel of this circular argument. They genuinely, but frustratingly, do not seem to understand that quoting scripture in defense of scripture doesn’t actually address the question being asked. Logically, that amounts to concluding that someone cannot possibly be lying to you because they insist they’re telling the truth.

It’s easy, then, to get so caught up in that logical loop-de-loop that we miss the more basic problem with this claim that 2 Timothy 3:16 is an argument for the infallibility or inerrancy of scripture — that this isn’t what that verse says. At all.

This verse doesn’t claim that scripture is authoritative, or infallible, or inerrant. It claims that scripture is “useful.” As McGrath puts it: “The focus is entirely on behavior. Scriptures are not said to impart right doctrine, but to be useful in training people in living a particular way.”

That becomes clearer if we look more closely at the last word in that verse: “righteousness.” That’s a lousy, misleading English translation of a word that often is not — and I think never should be — translated that way. The Greek word there is dikaiosyne. And it means “justice.”

Those words “righteousness” and “justice,” or “righteous” and “just,” may once have been closer synonyms in our language. We can think of some medieval king or pope nicknamed “The Righteous” or “The Just” and imagine those words, used in that way, as being closely related. But they do not seem as closely related now. They have each acquired a distinct set of properties, connotations, and implications that have, over time, separated and distinguished them from one another to the extent that, today, it almost seems easier to use them as antonyms than as synonyms.

“Righteousness” has thus come to imply a kind of moral rectitude — a kind of law-abiding, rule-following piety concerned primarily with the moral standing of the “righteous” person. “Justice” doesn’t carry all of that. What it carries, instead, is the sense of that original Greek word, dikaiosyne. It remains intrinsically bound up with ideas like fairness and right relationship. We thus speak of bringing criminals to justice, but not of bringing them to righteousness, or of getting one’s just deserts, but not of one’s righteous deserts. We use and understand the word “self-righteous,” but we struggle to compose its equivalent for justice.

So, yet again, I would say that to best understand 2 Timothy 3:16, we should use the more accurate translation for that final word: justice. And then we should note that this word is not followed by a period, but by a comma. The punctuation in our Bibles is also a work of translation, of course, but even without punctuation, the logic and grammar here shows that this is only the first part of a single sentence — one that continues in the following verse:

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in justice, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

That reinforces and amplifies McGrath’s point. This isn’t about doctrine or dogma, but about behavior — about “training people in living a particular way.”

And that particular way has to do with justice. Justice is what 2 Timothy 3:16 says scripture is for. But justice is the very thing that our fundie friends ignore — completely — in their efforts to hijack this passage into an assertion about epistemology. That’s what all that talk about infallibility and inerrancy really aims for — a shortcut to absolute epistemological certainty.

The allure of such absolute certainty, I think, stems from two motives — one of which is more sympathetic than the other. First, it stems from the fear of uncertainty — which is to say the fear of responsibility (about which more later). That’s understandable but, alas, responsibility cannot be eluded by the simple shortcut of claiming irresponsibility. The second motive is also understandable, but not as noble. Absolute certainty is attractive because it can be weaponized and wielded as a claim of absolute power — the authoritative trump card that can be played to compel others to submit to your own certain authority.

Those two motives are intertwined, of course, fear and power usually are.

Anyway, James McGrath concludes with a provocative suggestion for how to read 2 Timothy 3:16. Flip it around and read it back-to-front as well as front-to-back:

Rather than first defining a particular collection of texts as scripture (something 2 Timothy does not do, nor does any other work in the Bible), and then assuming they must be useful and beneficial, perhaps we ought to start with texts that are useful and beneficial, and treat those as not just “scriptures” (which simply means “writings”) but as special, even sacred.

This should lead us to ask whether hate-filled texts are useful or beneficial, and if not, what that means for their status as “scripture.”

That’s interesting. Is the claim in this verse, indeed, symmetrical? It appears to be. “A = B” it says. That would seem to mean, necessarily, that B = A. If Scripture = that which is useful for training in justice, then that which is useful for training in justice = scripture. And that which is not, perhaps, is not.

Sunday WTF?

Oct. 4th, 2015 11:36 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

2 Samuel 24:1-17

Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.”

So the king said to Joab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and take a census of the people, so that I may know how many there are.”

EvilLogoBut Joab said to the king, “May the Lord your God increase the number of the people a hundredfold, while the eyes of my lord the king can still see it! But why does my lord the king want to do this?” But the king’s word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to take a census of the people of Israel. They crossed the Jordan, and began from Aroer and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, towards Gad and on to Jazer. Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went round to Sidon, and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beer-sheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Joab reported to the king the number of those who had been recorded: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand soldiers able to draw the sword, and those of Judah were five hundred thousand.

But afterwards, David was stricken to the heart because he had numbered the people. David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.”

When David rose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and say to David: Thus says the Lord: Three things I offer you; choose one of them, and I will do it to you.”

So Gad came to David and told him; he asked him, “Shall three years of famine come to you on your land? Or will you flee for three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to the one who sent me.”

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into human hands.”

So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from that morning until the appointed time; and seventy thousand of the people died, from Dan to Beer-sheba. But when the angel stretched out his hand towards Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented concerning the evil, and said to the angel who was bringing destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

When David saw the angel who was destroying the people, he said to the Lord, “I alone have sinned, and I alone have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”

The Disability Voice

Oct. 4th, 2015 06:51 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I heard his voice. Not because he was yelling, or because he was being unduly loud, but because he was speaking with quiet emphasis.

I knew, without seeing him, that he was a wheelchair user. Not because he, or the party he was speaking to made reference to the chair, but because of the words he was using.

I could not hear the other person but I knew that they were a non-disabled person desperately wanting to help. I knew this only because of the tone and the words of the person whose speech I could hear.

We were grocery shopping and I was coming up an aisle that would end just where the fridges are for milk when I heard him speaking. He spoke with the "disability voice" which combines these features:

-- gentle insistence that rose to firm insistence that was precisely calculated such that it couldn't be considered rude

-- just the right amount of gratitude for an offer of help that was being turned down

-- a tone of voice that said both 'I appreciate your offer of help' and 'I don't need your offer of help'

-- weariness at having to say the same words over and over again

-- a slight, almost not noticeable, anger that didn't know where to go because he was turning down someone's determined and insistent kindness

I came round the corner, and sure enough, there was a man with a disability with a bag of three bags of milk in his hands and a store basket on his lap. He looked over at me, I looked at him, he said, "Hi, how are you?" like we were old friends. I greeted him back. At that the other person said, "Well, if you are sure you're OK, I'll leave you to talk to your friend," then quickly left.

"Thanks," he said.

"No biggie," I said.

He put the milk into the basket and off he went, without needing a lick of help.


Jeopardy Bound

Oct. 3rd, 2015 08:45 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo description: cartoon of a person tied into a wheelchair with the words: Wheelchair bound? OR Person who uses a wheelchair
Joe and I settled in to our Friday night, luxuriating in the idea of the weekend ahead of us. Alex was his usual charming and genial self, he's part of the reason we like this show, and the game was fast, with the champion making mincemeat of his opponents. Then, out of nowhere, a clue is read out which used the phrase 'wheelchair bound.' It happened too quickly, it's impact so immediate, that I didn't catch the entire clue.

I caught enough of it to know that the term was used descriptively, in the present tense, and wasn't referring to the dim dark past where terms like that were routinely used. Before I could react with words, Joe reacted with a more guttural form of 'egad!' Somehow, without any real reason, we thought Jeopardy would be more evolved in its understanding of language and of the impact of language.

Here's a show with a huge reach, using language which depicts disability in an archaic manner. Our fight for language which represents us rather than demeans us is far from over. As a wheelchair user myself, I find the term 'wheelchair bound' offensive primarily because the image it brings to mind is inaccurate. I am not bound by the chair, I'm freed by it. It gives me the life I live. But I don't need to tell any of you that, do I?

I posted this on Facebook when it first happened and many have suggested that I write Jeopardy. I have done so.

I'm now asking you, if you saw the show and that kind of language bothers you as it does me, or if this blog is enough to motivate you, drop them a line. The show was on October 2nd ... so ... here's the link: Jeopardy

A good time, not a long time

Oct. 2nd, 2015 11:00 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Just for fun, I’ll tell you: this blog post took three cities to accomplish. I started it in Toronto this morning, then worked on it on a layover in Calgary, and now I’m finishing it in Vancouver.

I’m sorry for the radio silence my pets – it’s been a wild week.  I arrived home last Sunday night and was so excited to embrace 4 whole days at home that I could scarcely type.  I took the next day off blogging to enjoy the daylights out of the Monday and my family and sleep. Tuesday I took the day off of blogging to catch up on paperwork (sort of) sit at my desk like a good little soldier, snuggle two nephews and a niece, and attend the third of what will be a million Bike Rally meetings. (Yup. The first one was right after we got back, and the party just doesn’t stop.) Wednesday, that was our anniversary, but it was totally also a day I was going to blog, and I got up and started moving through my day fast. Too fast, perhaps, because mid-afternoon, as I was headed down the stairs with my hand on the bannister and everything, my foot slipped on the edge of the step, I became completely and totally airborne, and came down hard on the stairs, hitting several parts of my body off of several steps. It was gloriously ridiculous and horrific and knocked the will to do much off of me for the rest of the afternoon. I bucked up in the evening, and we went out for a beautiful dinner to celebrate our anniversary, but I was in bed early. (I swear, I literally had a headache.)  Yesterday when I woke up, every bump and bruise had blossomed into fantastical fabulousness, and other than packing for today and getting my act together sort of slowly and gingerly, there went that day too.

Today, Well. Today I’m blogging – or trying to, as I make my way from Toronto to Vancouver for Knit City, and the big news is that after a huge period of indecision, I have decided on a Rhinebeck sweater. After a flurry of texts and tweets and conversations and hours of Ravelry gazing, it’s Reverb, knitted out of Clara’s Shetland 1.0. I’ve been hoarding that yarn for something special, and here it is.  Rhinebeck. Despite all the warnings of my friends (in particular the ones I stay with at Rhinebeck, who always bear unfortunate witness to the last minute rush to the end – although at least one of them is always finishing one too – so pot/kettle if you know what I mean) I think there is lots of time to finish.

I’ve already gotten the first rip out of the way – because despite making (and washing) a swatch, the sweater was coming out a little small, so back it went.

sweatercounter 2015-10-02

By Calgary things were looking up again, I’d made up the missing ground – and the thing is well underway. Hope springs eternal – enough so that this afternoon I actually wondered if I shouldn’t have brought all the sweater yarn with me, instead of just half. (Tip. I go home on Monday. I’m delusional again.)

sweaterplane  2015-10-02

Sigh.. tis the season.  See all you West Coasters tomorrow at Knit City!


There and back again

Oct. 2nd, 2015 09:37 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

This week, for me, wound up being all about a hastily planned trip to Vermont, where my dad is recovering from a double-bypass heart surgery.

He looks good — a little tired and a little ornery, but no more than you’re entitled to be when you’re 83 and some doctors (excellent, skilled people to whom I’m very grateful) have just glued your ribcage back together. That ornery streak is also why I’m confident he’ll get back on his feet in due time (thanks also to the skill and, hopefully, patience of the PT and rehab nurses now working with him). I’m also confident that my sister, who lives next door to dad up there in the Northeast Kingdom, can match him stride for stride when it comes to ornery determination and stubbornness, making sure he’ll take his meds and follow the nurses’ instructions.

Anyway, if you’re the praying sort, please remember my dad (and my sister) in your prayers. It makes me happy to know when I write that here that it will involve prayers in multiple religious traditions, including multiple pantheons, as well as the concerns and well-wishes of many dear non-religious folks. Thanks to all of you for that.

And thanks, too, for your patience with the relative lack o’ content here this week. I hope to get things back on track this weekend.

Oh, and since I was offline among the Green Mountains for part of this week, I took along a book. That book — Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist — seems to still be just as boundlessly, instructively awful as I remembered. So I hope to resume our journey through its pages here soon.


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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday.

Social and biological scientists agree that race and ethnicity are social constructions, not biological categories.  The US government, nonetheless, has an official position on what categories are “real.”  You can find them on the Census (source):


These categories, however real they may seem, are actually the product of a long process. Over time, the official US racial categories have changed in response to politics, economics, conflict, and more. Here’s some highlights.

In the year of the first Census, 1790, the race question looked very different than it does today:

Free white males
Free white females
All other free persons (included Native Americans who paid taxes and free blacks)
And slaves

By 1870 slavery is illegal and the government was newly concerned with keeping track of two new kinds of people: “mulattos” (or people with both black and white ancestors) and Indians:

Indian (Native Americans)

Between 1850 and 1870 6.5 million Europeans had immigrated and 60,000 Chinese.  Chinese and Japanese were added for the 1880 Census.

By 1890, the U.S. government with obsessed with race-mixing.  The race question looked like this:

Black (3/4th or more “black blood”)
Mulatto (3/8th to 5/8th “black blood”)
Quadroons (1/4th “black blood”)
Octoroons (1/8th or any trace of “black blood”)

This year was the only year to include such fine-tuned mixed-race categories, however, because it turned out it wasn’t easy to figure out how to categorize people.

In the next 50 years, the government added and deleted racial categories. There were 10 in 1930 (including “Mexican” and “Hindu”) and 11 in 1940 (introducing “Hawaiian” and “Part Hawaiian”).  In 1970, they added the “origin of descent” question that we still see today.  So people are first asked whether they are “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish” and then asked to choose a race.

You might immediately think, “But what do these words even mean?”  And you’d be right to ask.  “Spanish” refers to Spain; “Latino” refers to Latin America; and “Hispanic” is a totally made up word that was originally designed to mean “people who speak Spanish.”

Part of the reason we have the “Hispanic” ethnicity question is because Mexican Americans fought for it.  They thought it would be advantageous to be categorized as “white” and, so, they fought for an ethnicity category instead of a racial one.

Funny story:  The US once included “South American” as a category in the “origin of descent” question.  That year, over a million residents southern U.S. states, like Alabama and Mississippi checked that box.

2000 was the first year that respondents were allowed to choose more than one race. They considered a couple other changes for that year, but decided against them. Native Hawaiians had been agitating to be considered Native Americans in order to get access to the rights and resources that the US government has promised Native Americans on the mainland. The government considered it for 2000, but decided “no.” And whether or not Arab American should be considered a unique race or an ethnicity was also discussed for that year. They decided to continue to instruct such individuals to choose “white.”

The changing categories in the Census show us that racial and ethnic categories are political categories. They are chosen by government officials who are responding not to biological realities, but to immigration, war, prejudice, and social movements.

This post originally appeared in 2010.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Street Chinook: dyspepsia!

Oct. 2nd, 2015 04:25 pm
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Posted by chinookjargon

There’s a rule of thumb we use when documenting a language: get the speaker to talk about a near-death experience.  The reason for doing this is that you get the least filtered, most natural speech when you can get someone emotionally involved in what they’re discussing.

In the Kamloops Wawa newspaper, I see Father Le Jeune’s particular style of Chinook Jargon as a bit of a literary register-in-the-making.  He writes plenty of stuff that differs in its grammar from the “street Chinook” that his Indian friends were putting into the letters they wrote, and sometimes he uses words that are really known only in the Jargon of other regions.   In this way, the Aboriginal people succeeded wildly at exactly what the shorthand alphabet was made for — writing just as you hear and say things.  That purpose is discussed in issue #69 of 12 March 1893, pages 41-42 under a heading “Chronique Sténographique” (Le Jeune could’ve titled the article in cuneiform for all it would’ve been intelligible to his readers).

The padre was sometimes equally successful, though, at writing what he felt.  We know from people who spent time around him, and from the historical record, that he had a touchy stomach and often was unable to eat much.  So when he throws in an article titled “Dyspepsia” (same issue, pages 43 and 44), we can expect some juicy Chinook, and he doesn’t disappoint.

Take a gander at the vivid expressions (like “sick heavy”), colloquial pronunciations (“boil soman”), and the nonstandard Chinuk Wawa word choices that exemplify his street Chinook at its best — as people really spoke (and thought!) around Kamloops in 1893.  This was a rapidly evolving language, a microcosm of the sociolinguistic truth that every language is constantly experiencing change.


Dyspepsia start (2)

= Dispipsia. = Ikta ukuk dispipsia?
Aias hlwima sik ukuk dispipsia. Pus man kwanisim mitlait
kopa haws, ilo mamuk, ilo kuli: pus man makmak ayu midsin
kwanisim tomtom kopa makmak midsin: pus man iaka makmak ayu
wiski, ayu wain, ayu bir: pus man makmak drit ayu makmak pus
man ayu smok, pi iaka chu tabako, iaka aiak tlap ukuk sik.
Wiht tilikom klaska ayu tomtom kopa ikta, pi klaska ayu sik
tomtom, klaska aiak tlap ukuk sik iaka nim dispipsia. =

= Dyspepsia. = What is this dyspepsia?
Dyspepsia is a very strange illness.  If a person stays
at home, doesn’t eat, doesn’t go anywhere: if a person takes a lot of medicines,
always thinks about taking medicine: if a person drinks a lot
of whiskey, a lot of wine, a lot of beer: if a person eats a great deal of food[,] if
a person smokes a lot, and he chews tobacco, he will soon get this sickness.
Also people who think too much about things, and who are often un-
happy, will soon get this disease called dyspepsia.  =

Ikta ukuk dispipsia. Man ilo iaka shako olo. Pus iaka
makmak, iaka shako sik hivi; som taims iaka wah iaka makmak:
iaka aiak sik tomtom shako aiak saliks. Wik tlus iaka slip
Iaka skin shako drai: Ilo skukum pus mamuk pi ilo skukum tomtom

What is this dyspepsia like?  A person can’t work up an appetite.  If he
eats, he gets sick heavy: sometimes he throws up his food:
he easily gets upset [and] is easily angered.  He doesn’t sleep well[.]
His skin gets dry: [He’s] not strong [enough] to work and not strong of mind.

Page 44

Dyspepsia finish (2)

Kakwa ukuk dispipsia. Klunas ilo drat [SIC] ayu tilikom
klaska sik kakwa, pi naika tomtom ayu klushmin klaska tlap
kakwa sik.

That’s what this dyspepsia is like.  Maybe not very many people
are sick with it, but I think a lot of women get
this kind of sickness.

Wik kopa makmak ayu lamitsin man shako tlus kopa ukuk sik
kopit pus iaka tlus nanish iaka makmak pi iaka mamuk. Pus
man sik kopa ukuk sik, wik iaka skukum iaka stomak, kakwa
wik kata iaka makmak kanawi ikta. Wik kata iaka makmak
chi saplil, kosho iaka mit, kiks, ayu mit, solt mit,
fraid fish, boil soman, salad, litis nyuts radish.
Kanawi ukuk makmak mamuk iaka sik shako ilip skukum.

It’s not by taking a lot of medicine that a person recovers from this disease[,]
it’s only if he pays attention to his food and his work.  If
a person is sick with this illness, his stomach isn’t strong, so
he can’t eat any old thing.  He can’t eat
fresh-baked bread, pork, cakes, a variety of meats, salt meat,
fried fish, boiled salmon, salad, lettuce[,] nuts[,] radishes.
All of these foods make his sickness get more acute.

Pus iaka makmak rais, ot mil, barli, wam milk
igs sitkom kuk, lamuto itluil, apils drit kuk
iaka tlus. = Wiht pus kuli, kuli kopa lipii, kuli kopa
kyutan. Mamuk, mamuk stik, mamuk ikta mamuk tanas skukum
mamuk. Kanawi ukuk kakwa lamitsin kopa kakwa sik.

If he eats rice, oatmeal, barley, warm milk[,]
soft-cooked eggs, mutton, well-cooked apples[,]
he will be fine. = Also if traveling, travel by foot, travel on
horseback.  Work[:] cut wood, do whatever tasks are mildly strenuous
work.  All of this is like medicine for an illness like this.

Ilip tlus wiht pus man iaka sik kopa kakwa sik, mamuk
wash iaka itluil, iaka shirt pi kanawi kikuli iaka iktas
pus kwanisim iaka oihoi ukuk iktas iaka mitlait kopa
iaka itluil. Pus iaka mamuk kakwa, ilo aiak tlap sik,
Kakwa pus lamitsin ukuk mamuk kanawi.

Better yet if a person is sick with this disease, [to]
wash his body, his shirt and all his undergarments[,]
to keep changing the clothes that touch
his body.  If he does so, [he] won’t readily get sick.
Doing all of these things is the same as medicine.

Without Legs!?!

Oct. 2nd, 2015 08:58 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image result for down syndrome climbs everest
Photo Description: Teen With Down Syndrome on Everest
You know, sometimes people otta just freaking use Google before they speak. So some dude from the tourism department of Nepal in talking about their wish to ban disabled climbers from the mountain said: ‘Climbing Everest is not a joke. It is not a matter of discrimination – how can you climb without legs?’



It's been done.

Over and over and over again.

I'll admit I don't get why anyone, disabled or not, wants to climb Everest. We went to see the movie Everest and that was quite enough of an adventure for me. But, in the end, it doesn't matter that I don't get it. What matters is that people want to do it, even though it's dangerous, and that people are often quite changed by the experience.

The decision to ban a whole group of people based solely on a prejudicial notion of who disabled people are and what disabled people can and can't do, is, quite simply, offensive. What's even more offensive is that the facts of the matter don't matter. Disabled people, of all stripes, have climbed Everest. Even, and this will shock the whole of the Tourism Department ... people without legs!!!

It's odd to me that our achievements are invisible when it comes to demonstrating that preconceptions and prejudices are outmoded and even dangerous. Instead achievements are turned into inspiration, which is about the viewer, not the viewed, and thus made almost meaningless when it comes to making actual attitude change.

I don't follow the world of climbing. I'm not from Nepal. I couldn't identify Everest from a mugs line up of mountain peaks, but even I know that Everest has been climbed and climbed and climbed again by people with all sorts of disabilities. Eli Reimer, a teen with Down Syndrome climbed 70 miles to base camp simply because he wanted to. But none of this matters because these stories are turned into stories about 'can do it' attitudes and 'conquering' disability rather than demonstration of personal skill and ability, the equalization of dreams, the adaptiveness and creativity with which people with disabilities approach challenges. No, what we've done is motivate some abled bodied person to 'try harder' - rah us. I do wish they'd 'try harder' to see us as flesh and blood people who climbed a fucking mountain.

In tourism guy's mind, we haven't, as a people, climbed Everest.

Which we have.

That's the fact.

The fact behind their inspiration.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Originally posted June 24, 2005.

Left Behind, pp. 109-114

The manager of the Midpoint Motel is named Mack. I wish I had been there to make the introductions when Buck Williams checked in: Buck, Mack. Mack, Buck.

Left Behind offers no account of this initial meeting, nor any explanation of why Buck didn’t make arrangements to pay for the room while he was there at the front desk. He takes care of that later — on the telephone. Despite the fact that the two men couldn’t be more than 50 yards apart, Buck seems more comfortable negotiating even such an elementary patron-clerk conversation by phone. Again we have to wonder, is this some social phobia? Is it a fear of intimacy that seeks a mediating buffer of distance and technology for interaction with others? Or is it just bad writing?

That last is most likely, so take a moment again to marvel at the financial success of Jerry Jenkins’ side project running writers workshops through something called the “Christian Writers Guild.” A generation of young writers, one assumes, is being taught that telephone is the key to writing dialogue. Look for one of Jenkins’ students to break new literary ground with an epistolary novel composed entirely of text messages.

Buck goes to sleep at the motel watching CNN and musing, for the first time, and in only the most general terms, about the scope and the meaning of the disappearances:

He turned CNN on low so it wouldn’t interrupt his sleep, and he watched the world roundup before dozing off. Images from around the globe were almost more than he could take, but news was his business. He remembered the many wars and earthquakes of the last decade and the nightly coverage that was so moving. Now here was a thousand times more of the same, all on the same day. Never in history had more people been killed in one day than those who disappeared all at once.* Had they been killed? Were they dead? Would they be back?

Buck earlier told his father that he has already filed stories on the disappearances — although it’s not clear when that happened (perhaps during his long reverie in the O’Hare men’s room). But any such story would have required a lead sentence that answered, or at least addressed, the basic questions that every reporter is trained to ask, and that any halfway competent editor would demand: Who? What? When? Where? Why?

People disappeared. Who, exactly? Or, at least, who generally? How many? When? The reader has no better idea of the answers to these questions than Buck does, and LaHaye and Jenkins seem to think the reader should be, like Buck, contently incurious about such things.

L&J have not made it easy to puzzle out when the disappearances occurred. We know it was nighttime over the Atlantic, and that back in Chicago it was after Irene Steele’s bedtime (which, based on what we know about Irene, could be 8:30 on nights there’s no prayer meeting). Would it have been too much to ask for someone to have glanced at their watch? Or at least at a calendar? We’re a 100+ pages in and we still don’t know what day of the week or time of the year it is.

In an earlier post I took a stab at a ballpark estimate of the number of disappeared. It’s not possible to know how many of the world’s 1.8 billion Christians make the cut when it’s L&J, and not Jesus, separating the sheep from the goats. Guessing that at least half of those make the grade, and adding everyone who’s allowed to order from the children’s menu, gives us a total of about 2.25 billion people, or about 37 percent of the world’s population.

Nothing could be scripted like this, Buck thought, blinking slowly. If somebody tried to sell a screenplay about millions of people disappearing, leaving everything but their bodies behind, it would be laughed off.

L&J wrote this in 1995, four year’s after Michael Tolkin’s “The Rapture” and a year after the broadcast of a miniseries based on Stephen King’s “The Stand.” But let that pass — the problem with this paragraph is that it says “millions” instead of “billions.” Again, L&J haven’t given even a cursory second thought to what it means for every child under the age of 12 to disappear.

Whatever the precise figure of the disappeared, however, we can safely assume that it included hundred of thousands, if not millions of young, attractive white women. Buck is watching CNN. Think of it: Millions of missing white women, all at the same time. What would CNN do? Would they cover them all? Or maybe just the blonde ones?

Rayford Steele, meanwhile, is shuffling around his living room, periodically hitting redial on his phone. He finally gets through to his daughter’s Stanford dorm room and learns from her roommate that Chloe is on the road, “trying to find a way back there.”

“She’ll try to call you along the way, sometime tomorrow,” the roommate says. “If she can’t get through, she’ll call you when she gets there or she’ll get a cab home.”

A cab home from where? From Palo Alto to Chicago? That’s a hell of a fare. Chloe does, in fact, arrive in a cab about 40 pages from now. It’s apparently a local cab. There’s no explanation of where she grabbed this cab or how she got from California to Illinois.

It seems like she’s taking a cab from the airport. You know, the airport that’s shut down. The airport where one of our main characters is a pilot who is now idle at home because no planes are flying. The airport that our other main character fled in order to charter an expensive private flight to New York because no planes are flying. That airport. Chloe apparently flew there. On a plane.

Rayford picks up a newspaper to help himself fall asleep. He remembers here what the authors forgot earlier — that this paper went to press before the disappearances: “It should be interesting to read the meaningless news of a world that didn’t realize it was going to suffer the worst trauma in its history just after the paper had been set in type.”

Rayford lay in bed several minutes, then idly thumbed through the first section of the paper. Hmm. A surprise move in Romania.

That paragraph makes me laugh every time. In a book that offers so much unintentional hilarity, that may be my favorite paragraph.

It is here, in this awkwardly shoehorned-in piece of exposition, that we read the description of Nicolae Carpathia as “a strikingly handsome blond who looked not unlike a young Robert Redford.”

We’ll be seeing a lot more of Sundance in the pages to come. L&J’s prophecy agenda dictates that the Antichrist’s rise to power must now eclipse any further consideration of the Rapture’s aftermath. This means that more and more people in the coming pages will, like Rayford, begin to think: “Forget about those billions of missing children, what’s this going on in Romania?”

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* I would have guessed that the deadliest day in human history was August 6, 1945, but this Wikipedia list of death tolls suggests that the bombing of Hiroshima may not even be among the Top Ten. The deadliest day was probably Valentine’s Day, 1556, when the Shaanxi earthquake killed more than 800,000.

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Posted by Guest Blogger

This is a guest post by Chris Martens, a programming languages researcher who recently got her Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University; she research-blogs at lambdamaphone.blogspot.com.

STEM academia falls behind the broader “women in tech” movements in several respects, most notably in the sense that we don’t have many spaces (i.e. backchannels) to discuss, organize, and seek advice in situations that are unique to academia, while still arising from the usual structural oppression systems. In recent years, the Lambda Ladies group for women in functional programming has been a great example of a group that serves this purpose for participation in industry and open source, which opened my eyes to what academia has been sorely missing.

Meanwhile, from where I stand within programming languages (PL) research, I am seeing more and more women showing up (though usually white, cis women), more trans people coming out, other queer people speaking up, and people of color (who sometimes inhabit several of those identities) struggling for a voice. While each of these groups and intersections faces their own challenges to integrating with a largely white/cishet/male academic community, I believe the time is ripe for us to organize and talk to each other about those challenges, to build a space of our own for social as well as research discussions.

As a starting point for our field, I started a mailing list back in May of this year, called Intersectional Types.

Currently, the mailing list traffic is very light (averaging less than one message per day), and thread topics have been things like approaching organizers of conferences about diversity issues, calls for participation and service on committees, dependently-typed programming, and favorite female role models.

In general, the list has the following purpose, as summarized at the above link:

In some ways, this list should be considered just another research list, such as the TYPES forum. This space can be used for research questions, literature guidance, starting collaborative efforts, introductions and updates to current research projects, open-ended philosophical questions about grand research visions, links to blog posts/papers, announcement of CFPs and job postings, announcements of achievements and breakthroughs.

In addition, this list is a response to a problem: that PL research communities have a really hard time attracting, retaining, and especially *valuing* people who are marginalized in society. This problem is in no way unique to PL, but the purpose of this list is to bring together folks with similar enough research interests that we can provide each other support that’s meaningful within the context of our specific field.

Some specific examples of activity we encourage, but don’t see on traditional research fora, are: requests for career mentorship and advice (especially along an academic career track); requests for feedback on papers and blog posts; giving (remote) practice talks; organizing local meetups and events; posting about mentorship programs, fellowships, summer schools, and other opportunities; venting about the ways our environments are unwelcoming and dysfunctional; and discussing how we ourselves can create more welcoming and supportive environments when we are in positions of leadership.

Other details, such as who’s welcome to join, moderator contact information, and the code of conduct, can be found on the list description page. In particular, we encourage new members who have some degree of experience with PL as a topic (e.g. a course or self-instruction) but may not work formally within the academic system, whether that’s a “not yet” situation or a “probably never” situation, especially if structural oppression systems influence that situation.

Finally, I want to add a call to other academic feminists to consider searching for and starting explicitly political backchannels like this one within your field. There may be more people out there who are like you, frustrated in the ways you are frustrated, or merely different in the ways that you are different. The first step toward change is often feeling less alone in wanting it.

A Reminder

Oct. 1st, 2015 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
If you want to buy Seventh Bride from somewhere other than Amazon, I am pulling them all tomorrow! (May take a few days to get pulled, but I wouldn't count on that.)

Seventh Bride will re-release next month in an Amazon-exclusive edition. There will be a print book available and an audio version. All details HERE.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

One of the major contributions of political scientist Benedict Anderson is the idea of an “imagined community”: a large group of people connected not through interaction, but by the idea that they are part of a meaningful group. In his book on the idea, he wrote:

It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet… it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. I suppose the idea might apply as well to religions.

Last week was a special week for American Catholics. The Pope’s visit to the U.S. was energizing, arguably intensifying the connection Catholics feel to their religion and, by extension, each other. But what, really, do Catholics have in common?

I don’t know, but agreement on what is sinful is not one of them. A Pew Research Center survey of Catholics reveals, instead, quite a lot of disagreement. Some Catholics don’t believe in the concept of sin at all and the remaining don’t always agree on what is sinful.


According to the results of the survey, for example, there is considerable disagreement as to whether abortion, homosexual behavior, hoarding wealth, divorce, unmarried cohabitation, and harming the environment are sinful. Moreover, plenty do not ascribe to some aspects of Catholic doctrine: only 17% of Catholics, for example, think that using contraception is sinful.

So, what does it mean to be Catholic?

Anderson might argue that they are simply an imagined community: a group of strangers with widely divergent views and life circumstances who feel the same despite all the reasons to feel different.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Delirium tremens in the Okanagan

Oct. 1st, 2015 02:37 pm
[syndicated profile] chinookjargon_feed

Posted by chinookjargon

A whole lotta shaking goin’ on!  Hands, bodies, souls.  Not to get too personal, but the following is in honour of a loved one who died in a similar way about this date some years ago.  Yes, another alcoholism document!  I couldn’t resist the vividness of Father Marchal’s quotations from the Native people here (Kamloops Wawa #68, 05 March 1893, pages 38-39):

<Rev. Fath. Marchal’s letter.>

Marchal letter (2)

= Pir Marshal kopa
Okanagan iaka mamuk pipa kopa nsaika iaka wawa kopa ukuk pipa:

Père Marchal in the
Okanagan has written a letter to us; it says in this letter:

“Naika nanish kopa Kamlups Wawa maika tlus tomtom pus klaksta
mamuk tsim pipa kopa tilikom kopa ukuk pipa. Kakwa naika mash ukuk
pipa kopa maika. = Basil, taii kopa Hid Lik iaka mimlus kopa
Krismas. Ukuk taii kwanisim tiki tlus, wik kansih iaka tiki
lam, kwanisim iaka wawa kopa iaka tilikom pus wik klaska makmak
lam, pus klaska haha milalam. Pi wik klaska mamuk kakwa. Pus
iaka komtaks wik saia iaka mimlus, iaka mamuk chako kanawi iaka
tilikom pi iaka wawa kopa klaska: Ankati naika kwanisim ayu wawa
kopa msaika pus msaika kopit makmak lam, pus msaika kwanisim
styuil, pi wik msaika kolan. Alta naika mimlus naika klatwa mash
msaika. Nanish naika lima. Pus msaika tiki mash lam, pi iskom
styuil, tlus msaika shako iskom ukuk naika lima, pi naika mimlus
yutl tomtom. Pus wik msaika tiki kopit kopa lam pi kopa piltin,
pi wik tiki iskom styuil, kakwa Katolik, wik msaika iskom naika lima
pi naika mimlus. Kanawi iaka tilikom wawa: Tlus nsaika mash lam,
nsaika iskom styuil. Pi klaska iskom iaka lima. Krismas
sitkom pulakli kopit styuil iaka mimlus. ST mamuk klahawiam
iaka. Iaka haha milalam, iaka iskom li[k]strim oksio, pi iaka
iskom Å. Tlus kanawi tilikom komtaks iaka wawa pi klaska mamuk
kakwa iaka tomtom.

“I saw in the Kamloops Wawa that you’d like for anyone
to write letters to the [Indian] people for this newspaper.  So I’m sending this
letter to you.  = Basil, the chief at Head [of the] Lake [reserve], died at
Christmas.  This chief always wanted the best, he never liked
alcohol, he always told his people not to drink
alcohol, [and] for them to make confession [at church].  But they didn’t.  When
he realized he was about to die, he gathered all of his
people and he told them: I always used to tell
you folks and tell you folks that you should quite drinking, [and] that you should stick with
praying, but you wouldn’t listen.  Now I’m dying, I’m moving on, leaving
you.  See my hand.  If you folks are ready to quit drinking, and to take up
praying, come shake this hand of mine, and I’ll die
happy.  If you don’t want to be done with booze and with sin,
and don’t want to take up praying, like Catholics, don’t shake my hand,
and I’ll just die.[“]  All of his people said: “Let’s quit drinking,
let’s start praying.”  And they shook his hand.  On Christmas
at midnight after prayers he died.  God had mercy
on him.  He had confessed, he received extreme unction, and he
took communion.  Everyone should hear his words and they [should] do
as he felt.

Marchal letter end (2)

Page 39

Alta iaka tanas Cho iaka nim iaka shako taii. Wiht iaka
sik wik saia iaka mimlus. Alta iaka lost iaka latit. Iaka
chako piltin. Tanas ilip kopa iaka chako piltin iaka mamuk shako
kanawi tilikom pi iaka wawa: Tlus a[l]ta msaika iskom kanawi
liplit iaka wawa. Mamuk kopit makmak lam, tlus kanawi msaika
haha milalam. Pus wik msaika tiki, alki msaika klahawiam.
Nanish naika wik kansih naika tiki kolan liplit, kwanisim naika
ayu makmak lam. Pi wik saia naika shako skukum klahawiam.
Chi iaka kopit wawa pi iaka lost iaka latit. Iaka chako
piltin. Ilip iaka mokst taims haha milalam.

Then his son named Joe became chief.  He too
is sick, he’s near death.  Now he’s lost his mind.  He’s
gone crazy.  A little before he went insane he gathered
all of the people and he said: “Now you folks should take all
of the priest’s words to heart.  Put an end to drinking booze, you all need
to make confession.  If you won’t, you’re going to be pitiful.
Look at me, I never wanted to listen to the priest, I kept on
drinking a lot.  And I’m about to get awfully miserable.”
Once he finished talking he lost his mind.  He went
crazy.  Before that, he made confession twice.

Wiht iht hlwima man iaka nim Abil iaka shako piltin
kakwa pi iaka wawa kopa tilikom: “Liiam iaka iskom naika lima, pi
iaka hol naika kopa kikuli paia pus piii iaka makmak. Ukuk
Abil iaka mimlus alta.

Yet another man, named Abel, went crazy
like this and he told the people: “The devil has hold of my hand, and
he’s dragging me to hell to pay for his drinks.[“]  This
Abil has died now.

Tlus kanawi msaika komtaks ukuk pi kanawi msaika kwash kopa
lam pi kopa kanawi masashi mamuk.

All of you folks should know about this and all of you [should] be afraid of
booze and of every kind of bad actions.

Naika Pir Marshal      Naika mamuk ukuk pipa.      Klahawiam kanawi.

I’m Père Marchal     I wrote this letter.     Goodbye everyone.

Book Club: What should we read next?

Oct. 1st, 2015 01:32 pm
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by brainwane

Attention constant readers! It’s time to choose our next book!

Here are three candidates, two fiction novels and one research paper:

Cover of Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy

will be published 6 October 2015; 368 pages

I’ve pre-ordered this final book in the Ancillaryverse trilogy and will be eager to talk about it with other geek feminists starting, probably, on October 7th. Protagonist Breq used to be a starship, connected instantly to multiple bodies, and hasn’t quite gotten used to being singly embodied. I think the first book in the trilogy, Ancillary Justice, integrated fist-punching-related adventure with flashbacks and thinky conversations and interstellar intrigue and music really well. It’s about power and institutions, about the lived difference between true mutual aid and imperialism, and about how to be loyal to imperfect institutions and imperfect people. And explosions.

Ancillary Sword, the middle book, shifted settings to concentrate on one spaceship near one station orbiting one planet, helping us compare societies that are functional, dysfunctional, and broken. Leckie compares othering, oppression, and possibilities for resistance across urban and plantation settings. And I utterly bawled at one character’s soliloquy on the way to her doom, and at tiny hopeful steps of mutual understanding and community empowerment. Also, again, explosions.

Here’s the first chapter of book three, and in case that’s not enough, here’s some fanfic based on books one and two.

The Ancillaryverse is scifi that argues with other scifi; you can see the Radchaai as Borg (ancillaries), or as Federation (per the “root beer” and Eddington/Maquis critiques from Deep Space Nine), and you can see Justice of Toren as literally the ship who sang (see the comments in Leckie’s post here, around the novels’ feminist lineage). I’m looking forward to seeing more of Leckie’s conversation with other speculative fiction, to more critiques, and more explosions.

Photo of Sherry Turkle

Sherry Turkle. Photo by jeanbaptisteparis, CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Sherry Turkle and Seymour Papert, “Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete”

published 1991; about 31 pages

Sociologist, psychologist, and technology researcher Turkle authored this paper with constructionist education researcher Papert, and reading it gave me new language for thinking about me as a programmer:

Here we address sources of exclusion determined not by rules that keep women out, but by ways of thinking that make them reluctant to join in. Our central thesis is that equal access to even the most basic elements of computation requires an epistemological pluralism, accepting the validity of multiple ways of knowing and thinking….

“Hard thinking” has been used to define logical thinking. And logical thinking has been given a privileged status that can be challenged only by developing a respectful understanding of other styles where logic is seen as a powerful instrument of thought but not as the “law of thought.” In this view, “logic is on tap, not on top.”….

The negotiational and contextual element, which we call bricolage….

Our culture tends to equate soft with feminine and feminine with unscientific and undisciplined. Why use a term, soft, that may begin the discussion of difference with a devaluation? Because to refuse the word would be to accept the devaluation. Soft is a good word for a flexible and nonhierarchical style, open to the experience of a close connection with the object of study. Using it goes along with insisting on negotiation, relationship, and attachment as cognitive virtues….

I appreciated the case studies of programmers and their approaches and frustrations, the frameworks analyzed and suggested (e.g., relational and environmental), and the connections to other feminist researchers such as Carol Gilligan. If you feel like your approach to engineering makes you countercultural, you might like this piece too. Here’s a plain HTML version of the paper, and here’s a PDF of the paper as originally typeset and footnoted.

Cover of Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown

published 1 September 2015; 384 pages

Author Zen Cho’s speculative and historical fiction foregrounds the perspective of women of color, specifically the Malaysian diaspora; she has non-US-centric views on diversity which I find both disorienting and refreshing to read! You can read the first chapter of her first novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, for free online. It’s a fast-moving period fantasy with a bunch of women and people of color. The blurb:

Zacharias Wythe, England’s first African Sorcerer Royal, is contending with attempts to depose him, rumours that he murdered his predecessor, and an alarming decline in England’s magical stocks. But his troubles are multiplied when he encounters runaway orphan Prunella Gentleman, who has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries.

I’d love to discuss themes in this feminist Malaysian-British author’s work with other geek feminists. In her postcolonial historical romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, her short story collection Spirits Abroad, and in Sorcerer to the Crown, Cho depicts adventurous, mercenary, or blasé women who use, disregard, or otherwise play with expectations of femininity. She illustrates how both mundane and magical institutions use gatekeeping to prop up their own status hierarchies, and how that affects people trying to make their way in. Intersectionality, diaspora and immigration, the culture of British education, and queer relationships also appear in Cho’s stories over and over.

if you read The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo then you might be forewarned of the kind of genre switchup Cho is doing — I definitely see Prunella Gentleman prefigured in Jade Yeo. I particularly like that, in Sorcerer to the Crown, Cho writes in a genre that often has kind of a slow tempo, and moves the speed up so there are more exciting plot developments per page, and adds more Wodehouse-y shenanigans and off-the-rails conversations, without ever sliding into unbelievable-silly-farce-romp or territory. And there’s a spoiler I badly want to talk about with other people of color!

Something else altogether

You tell me! Let’s try to wrap up voting by Wednesday October 7th.

Take Our Poll
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Leigh Honeywell

This is another round of Geek feminism classifieds. If you’re looking to hire women, find some people to participate in your study, find female speakers, or just want some like-minded folk to join your open source project, this is the thread for you!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Geeky subjects only. We take a wide view of geekdom, but if your thing isn’t related to an obviously geeky topic, you’ll probably want to give a bit of background on why the readers of Geek Feminism would be interested.
  2. Explain what your project/event/thing is, or link to a webpage that provides clear, informative information about it. Ideally you’ll also explain why geek women might find it particularly awesome.
  3. Explain what you’re looking for. Even if it’s not a job ad, think of it like one: what is the activity/role in question, and what would it involve? What is the profile of people you’re looking for?
  4. GF has international readership, so please be sure to indicate the location if you’re advertising a job position, conference, or other thing where the location matters. Remember that city acronyms aren’t always known world-wide and lots of cities share names, so be as clear as possible! (That is, don’t say “SF[O]” or “NYC” or “Melb”, say “San Francisco, USA”, “New York City, USA” or “Melbourne, Australia”.) And if you can provide travel/relocation assistance, we’d love to know about it.
  5. Keep it legal. Most jurisdictions do not allow you to (eg.) advertise jobs for only people of a given gender. So don’t do that. If you are advertising for something that falls into this category, think of this as an opportunity to boost the signal to women who might be interested.
  6. If you’re asking for participants in a study, please note Mary’s helpful guide to soliciting research participation on the ‘net, especially the “bare minimum” section.
  7. Provide a way for people to contact you, such as your email address or a link to apply in the case of job advertisements. (The email addresses entered in the comment form here are not public, so readers won’t see them.)
  8. Keep an eye on comments here, in case people ask for clarification or more details. (You can subscribe to comments via email or RSS.)

If you’d like some more background/tips on how to reach out to women for your project/event/whatever, take a look at Recruiting women on the Geek Feminism Wiki.)

Good luck!

She Said

Oct. 1st, 2015 08:45 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo Description: Child's wheelchair, metal frame is bright yellow.

I was caught in the same line-up.

The wait seemed interminable.

The clerk, slow and bored.

Two spaces ahead of me were a young mother with her boy.

He sat in a jolly, really jolly, bright yellow wheelchair.

He was bored.

I was bored.

We were all bored.

"What's wrong, Mommy," he asked.

"I'm just tired," she said.

After a pause he said, "I wish you had a chair to sit in like me."

She smiled.

The woman between mom and child and me, said, "He doesn't understand what he's saying."






She said.

Unexpected road trip open thread

Oct. 1st, 2015 11:46 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Hey look — wifi. Get it while it’s hot.

Regular blogging hereabouts will resume this weekend, in the meantime, here’s an open thread to discuss the new speaker of the House, the new season of Doctor Who, the new perspective on Paul, the New Math, the New Originals, or whatever else is new. (Or old.)

Seeking a beta reader!

Oct. 1st, 2015 04:12 am
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
Specifically, there is a minor character in my next T. Kingfisher who is Sami. (Retelling of the Snow Queen! Canon!) Do I have any readers in that part of the world--or does anybody know anyone up that way?--who could glance over two chapters and tell me if I've done anything egregious?

Drop me an email at Ursulav (at) gmail.com if you've got any leads. Research only takes one so far...

ETA: I have lined up two potential beta readers! Thank you, guys who passed word along!

I'm on Book Tour

Sep. 30th, 2015 03:09 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
I will be on book tour for the next two weeks!

You can come out and see me at these locations!

Seriously, people! I beg of you, come out!

See, as you may know–as I have posted here before–book tours are not easy on me. I like travel, but I don’t like airports (Does anyone like airports?) And I am pretty introverted and while I like hanging out with people, I need time to recharge. Weekend at a con? Easy! On a two week book tour…not easy. And I will be in an airport literally every day and a different hotel all but two nights.

The end result, after about two days, is that even though all the people I meet are very nice, I am thrust into a weird alternate universe where I live on planes and in hotels and I am having the same conversations over and over again with different bookstore staff and the strategic small talk reserves are running low and–this is the rough bit–everybody somehow thinks I am a Respectable Children’s Book Author and I cannot blow my cover.

By the fourth day, I start to get seriously homesick for that other life where I am just some weirdo with a garden and a couple of podcasts who writes more than is healthy about wombats, and the media escorts are saying things like “Why don’t you just sit here for a little bit and you don’t have to talk to anyone, and can I get you some tea, honey?”

So this is where I am begging you to come out, because you guys are my life line. Talk to me about gardening or awful prepackaged food or kingfishers or the Corn God rising mad from the fields or Pokemon Go and it will be like I am in my real life again for a minute and I will be less homesick.

Honestly. I know this sounds pathetic but at the last book tour people kept coming out at the stops and talking to me about–oh, butterflies and honey and I got a stuffed moth and it meant so much to me. I got to be normal for a little bit. As normal as I get, anyhow. I am bad with names, but my head is full of person-with-Digger-omnibus-and-shirt and nice-women-with-poison-oak-honey and person-who-gave-me-Moth-Bob and person-who-drove-in-at-the-last-minute-after-emailing-Kevin and person-who-brought-Red-Vines (seriously, I ate those things like they were drugs keeping me sane) and guy-I-know-from-Anthrocon and just…yeah. Thank you.

Just don’t blow my cover. For some reason, the authorities think I am a good influence on the youth of today, with the reading and the empowerment and the vocabulary building, and if nobody tells them that I have no idea what I’m doing, I may get to keep this writing gig for a few more years.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

SocImages News:

Apparently this was the month of finding out that SocImages is quoted in awesome places! Thanks to a friend, I learned that a post is quoted in the current edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Um, amazing!


And I also stumbled across a generous endorsement of the site in Kate Harding’s fantastic new book Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture — and What We Can Do About It.


We love great company and this month we got it!

You like!  Here are our most appreciated posts this month:

Thanks everybody!

Editor’s pick:

Top post on Tumblr this month:

Upcoming Lectures and Appearances:

I’m excited to have a number of talks scheduled for this year. If you’re in Baton Rouge, LA; Huntington, WV; Portsmouth, OH; Witchita, KS; or Omaha, NE, please feel free to come by and say “hi”!

  • Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge (Oct 8): Featured Guest and Panelist for a screening of The Hunting Ground
  • Marshall University (Oct 26): “Sex, Rapture, and Resistance on College Campuses”
  • Shawnee State University (Oct 27): “Sex, Rapture, and Resistance on College Campuses”
  • University of Nebraska, Omaha Undergraduate Sociological Symposium – Keynote speaker (Nov 13): “The Power of Public Sociology”
  • Wichita State University Sociology Club and Sociology Department Gender & Sexuality Conference – Keynote speaker (Mar 4): “Online Feminist Pedagogy: Talking about Gender and Sexuality with the World”

Social Media ‘n’ Stuff:

SocImages is on twitterfacebooktumblr, and pinterest.  Follow us! I’m on facebook, twitter, and have recently started playing around on instagram. Also on twitter, regular contributors @gwensharpnv@familyunequal, and @jaylivingston.


Please make me less lonely on instagram! I mostly post pictures of Louisiana, cocktails, and cats, but here’s one of a baby in a band:5

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Hmmm, The Future?

Sep. 30th, 2015 07:10 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

As I mentioned yesterday, Joe and I had arranged a leisurely day off between traveling and lecturing. We got up that morning and had time to read, mess about on the computer, linger over tea and breakfast, it was a great start to the day. We then decided that we'd catch an movie, the one we wanted to see started at 11:40 am, a perfect time for us, so as it got closer to the time, we headed out.

And ended up having a very odd, a bit disquieting, but wonderfully hopeful, adventure.

The mall, itself, was perfectly accessible. I mean PERFECTLY. For example, when you pushed the auto door opener, both large doors slowly swept open leaving lots and lots of room to go through.We felted as if the mall had thrown it's arms open to us, welcoming us in. We headed to the movie theatre and saw Everest, a literally chilling movie, and then had a late lunch and wandered about. Here's what we encountered:

- a restaurant that had a sign up stating that they were able to substitute veggie chicken for real chicken in any of the dishes that they had. Their menu was varied and fully catered towards meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans.

- in the same restaurant seating was available at various heights, making it perfect for me in a tall chair.

- a tee shirt store that had all sorts of tee shirts hung up on display, two of which had rainbow flag motifs with the word 'pride' on them

- a movie theatre that had it's accessibility policy displayed right at the box office, including stating that for persons with disabilities who had a support staff, the support staff would not be charged

- staff in store were the picture of diversity, and that picture, as isn't typical, included those who had both physical and intellectual disabilities

It was simply, and oddly, amazing.

I say it was disquieting because I'm not used to being in a place where welcome is just naturally present. Nothing seemed forced, nothing was done to draw attention to the various ways that the mall was inclusive. It just was.

It just was.

As Joe and I were stopped in our tracks looking at the LGBT tee shirts, I said to Joe, "I don't know how to feel, I'm so used to feeling unsafe as a gay person or unwelcome as a disabled person that I don't know how to react to this place. It's disquieting in a strange way."

Joe agreed.

It's like this is the future we imagined, we fought for, and now that we stumbled into it, it's hard to believe it's true.

But it was.

It was hard to leave to go back to the hotel.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  • Bingo and Beyond | hypatia dot ca: “I was the instigator of the bingo card at 2014’s Grace Hopper conference. For more on how to not have me make a bingo card making fun of you at some point in the future, skip to the resources at the end. But for a fun story, read on…”
  • Dreamforce’s ‘Women’s Innovation’ panel is why we should stop babying female CEOs | TNW News: “It’s alienating, in no uncertain terms, to have to sit through a panel designed to be about women in technology and instead have it derailed by the seemingly interminable myth that when we want to talk about being a woman in tech, what we’re really saying is that we want to talk about being wives and mothers with day jobs in the technology industry.”
  • Strong Female Characters are Rarely Strong and Barely Characters | The Mary Sue: : “You’ve met this character before. She has black hair with a colorful stripe, wears green or purple lipstick with chipped painted nails to match; she wears black leather clothing that’s cut a little short in place, designed to help her while she skateboards or rides a motorcycle; she has a series of skills which are “for boys” and has interests which are “for boys”. In the first act we meet her and she seems rude and dismissive, saying “whatever” and rolling her eyes. In the second act we are shown that she secretly has a feminine and caring side – almost universally in the process of learning that she secretly cares for the male protagonist, and is too insecure to admit it. In the third act she learns to reconcile her feelings for the protagonist with her tough-as-nails identity and uses some typically “for boys” skill – usually combat, but also often hacking or deductive science – to save the male protagonist… so that he can save the day.”
  • Cyber Violence Against Women And Girls: A World-Wide Wake-up Call | UN Women: [PDF] “As the Internet evolves and social media and networking tools increasingly become an intrinsic part of people’s lives around the globe, attitudes and norms that contribute to cyber VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) must be addressed with urgency. A collective global effort, led by the United Nations system, has put in place the pillars for a 21st century sustainable development paradigm. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) establishing the global development priorities for the next 15 years includes a goal on gender equality, which places women’s access to technology for their empowerment as one of the core indicators for progress. For this to be realized, all stakeholders must take accelerated actions to ensure a safer, more secure Internet for present and future generations – one without endemic VAWG.”
  • What can I do today to create a more inclusive community in CS? Guest Post from Cynthia Lee | Computing Education Blog: “The below list was created by Cynthia Lee for the workshop participants. I loved it and asked if I could offer it here as a guest post. I’m grateful that she agreed.”
  • Spotlight on a Young Scientist: Anika Cheerla | Google for Education: “While volunteering in a senior care facility, Anika was shocked to learn how many older adults suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Her curiosity led her to learn more about diagnosis of this disease, and she found that without a standard test or method for diagnosis, most doctors rely on their own opinions. She decided to create a tool that quickly and accurately diagnosed Alzheimer’s and knew her brother, who loved science and coding, would be able to help her. By extracting image features from MRI scans, Anika built an interface for doctors to upload an image, enter some basic patient information and get a reliable Alzheimer’s diagnosis.”
  • My Black & STEM Playlist — Medium: “So part of my thrival story is music. As I told The Setup, the single most important piece of tech I own are my headphones. Today I’d like to share some of the music I always have available to me no matter where I am, going beyond some of the songs I shared with the CBC earlier this year. There’s plenty I left out, but for me this is the most memorable stuff.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

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Posted by chinookjargon

The other day in this blog I mentioned the epidemic of alcoholism in Indian country that we get a number of close glimpses into via the Kamloops Wawa newspaper.  Under the influence of the Oblate Catholic missionary priests, some communities turned to the strategy of administering temperance oaths.  

Here, from Stó:lō territory on the lower Fraser River of British Columbia, is an 1893 pledge that abounds in vivid details with every sentence, unintentionally showcasing the kinds of prohibitions Aboriginal people faced in every aspect of their lives in that era: 

Indian temperance society first (2)

<Indian Temperance Society.>
Stalo tilikom klaska mamuk iht kompani pus
iskom plich. Iakwa msaika nanish iaka lo ukuk
kompani. Kwinam iaka lo ukuk kompani:
<1o> Ilip lo. = Ilo makmak lam. = Ilo klatwa
kah lam mitlait. = Ilo klatwa kanamokst tilikom klaksta
makmak lam.

The Stó:lō people have formed an association to
take a pledge.  Here you folks can read the rules of this
association.  There are five rules of this association:
<1st> First rule. = No drinking alcohol. = No going
where there is alcohol. = No going around with people who
drink alcohol.

Indian temperance society second (2)

[Page] 27

<2o> Mokst lo. = Kanawi son tanas son pi pulakli
klatwa styuil kanamokst kanawi tilikom.

2nd.  Second rule. = Every day in the morning and at night,
go to pray together with everyone.

<3o> Tlun lo. = Pus iht tilikom kopa ukuk kompani
makmak lam, iaka piii kakwa:
Pus ilo wash iht tala $1.00
Pus wash mokst tala 2.00
Pus Å tilikom tlun tala 3.00
Pus wash man kopa ShK lakit tala 4.00
Pus taii wach man kwinam tala 5.00

3rd.  Third rule. = If a person from this association
drinks alcohol, they pay as follows:
If unbaptized, a dollar ($1.00)
If baptized, two dollars (2.00)
If they’ve taken communion, three dollars (3.00)
If a watchman of Jesus [church policeman], four dollars (4.00)
If a head watchman, five dollars (5.00)

<4o> Lakit lo. = Tilikom kopa ukuk kompani klaska
alki klatwa ashnu kopa taii pus klaska tlap laplitas
pus klaska tsipi kopa mamuk kopa Sondi, tamanwas
mamuk, shim mamuk, Sawash dans, patlach pasisi
slaal, ankati mimlus mamuk, pi kopa kanawi ikta lisivik
wawa pus ilo tilikom klatwa.

4th. Fourth rule. = The members of this association
will go kneel for the leader if they receive a punishment
for their mistakes: for working on a Sunday, medicine-man
activities, immoral acts, Indian dancing, giving away blankets,
slahal [Indian gambling], things to do with the dead, and for anything the bishop
says for the [Indian] people not to go be around.

<5o> Kwinam lo. = Alki tilikom kopa ukuk kompani
klaska kikuli tomtom kopa klaska taii, kopa klaska
wach man. Alki iht tilikom kopa ukuk kompani shako
taii wach man kopa ukuk kompani, pi ka [SIC] kanawi tilikom
kopa ukuk kompani klaska kikuli tomtom kopa ukuk taii
pi kopa wach man pi kopa klaska liplit.

5th. Fifth rule. = The members in this association will
be humble for their leader, and for their
watchmen.  One person in this association shall become
the head watchman for this group, and everyone
in this association will be obedient to this leader
and to the watchmen and to their priest.

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Posted by brainwane

Joelle Fleurantin and her Erotic Haptic Device, part of the Patchworked Venus project.

Joelle Fleurantin and her Erotic Haptic Device, part of the Patchworked Venus project.

On Friday, I interviewed feminist technologists at a demo showcase in New York City. (Thanks to NYC Media Lab (a higher education-city government-industry partnership) for giving me a press pass to their 2015 annual summit.)

Patchworked Venus

Joelle Fleurantin presented Patchworked Venus, “A wearable exploring how computing has given birth to a new form of sexual intimacy”. See the embedded video below for a demo.

Patchworked Venus: Erotic Haptic Device Preview from Joelle F. on Vimeo.

Ms. Fleurantin, (MPS ’15, NYU ITP), discussed her design with me, explaining that instead of being a phallic accessory like a lot of other erotic devices, Patchworked Venus emphasizes other erogenous zones. Her artist’s statement asks:

How can an erotic device become a tool for body modification: an extension of the user rather than a facsimile of an external, imagined person? And what then becomes of this augmented wearer, specifically when her body is not raceless like those present in dominant representations of the cyborg?

Patchworked Venus explores these questions by casting an intimate experience within the context of dress as performance.

The garment, in contrast to conventional vibrators, is meant to be worn, and uses heat, compression, and touch on the wearer’s back, inner thighs, and nipples. A warm circuit provides heat over the breast, motors like those used for haptic response in mobile phones give the user a sensation of touch on the back and the inner thighs, and an inflatable jacket and hood literally embrace the wearer with a pneumatic actuating system, providing a pleasant feeling of compression and constriction. She “designed and milled breakout boards for use with the Adafruit Flora” (from her “About” page). Ms. Fleurantin also considered using soft robotics and lithography to give the wearer a sensation of breath on the skin, but decided against it since that approach would require a large, loud air compressor.

A close-up of some circuitry on the Patchworked Venus garment.

A close-up of some circuitry on the Patchworked Venus garment.

Check out her ten-minute thesis presentation for more on the Erotic Haptic Device and Patchworked Venus. In it, Ms. Fleurantin discusses her influences and process, including her upbringing as a black woman, learning from her mother how important self-presentation, grooming, and clothing were. I noted down some names and links from that presentation and from my conversation with her on Friday:

(I had previously known Ms. Fleurantin because of her work on user research for the Mozilla wiki; I’ll be curious to see her next project as well!)


I spoke with Lucy M. Bonner and tried out her immersive harassment simulator “Compliment”. Ms. Bonner (MFA Design and Technology ’16, Parsons the New School for Design) developed “Compliment,” a virtual reality experience using the Oculus Rift, and you can see a demo video on YouTube if you sign in.

From her artist’s statement:

Compliment is an immersive experience of street harassment designed and created for the Oculus Rift. It demonstrates the fact that harassment creates an atmosphere of intimidation and tension for women on a daily basis, that it is not ok, and that it is not a compliment. Compliment conveys the forceful intrusion and violation of space and attention that makes a woman feel vulnerable, angry, and silenced in order to raise awareness and effect change.

Ms. Bonner received much more street harassment when she moved from Houston to New York City, and used those catcalls she heard in real life to populate the set of harassing comments that simulated harassers say to the player. She appreciates how virtual reality lets her offer, say, a 6-foot-2-inches man a way to experience the world as a shorter, more vulnerable person. “Many of the harassers in the experience are much larger than the player, which creates part of the sense of danger and intrusion in confrontations.” Also: “Players are unable to respond, as in the real world with concern for safety, and are forced to constantly hear and dodge unwanted attention.”

I mentioned to Ms. Bonner a truism I’ve heard (via Adria Richards or Lukas Blakk, I believe) that men tend to use augmented reality experiences like Google Glass to more powerfully navigate the world, while women tend to use them to document their experience in the world. Ms. Bonner wouldn’t put “Compliment” in that latter category, and not just because VR and augmented reality are different approaches; she considers “Compliment” more outwardly focused, showing other people what her experience is like rather than concentrating on gathering proof of the experience itself. “Compliment” conveys, as she puts it, the “cumulative atmosphere of silencing and objectification”.

Joanna Chin and Bryan Collinsworth present d.Bot

Joanna Chin and Bryan Collinsworth present d.Bot


I spoke with Joanna Chin and Bryan Collinsworth about their quite different simulator, d.Bot. “Drawing from female experiences in online and offline dating, d.bot is a chatbot that simulates conversing with an unenlightened male.” Ms. Chin and Mr. Collinsworth (MFA in Design & Technology ’16, The New School) used JavaScript, socket.io, and Parse to develop d.Bot, and made it partially to test out a theory about a different approach to artificial intelligence than you often see. Rather than aiming for a predictive response, d.Bot is trying to stimulate a particular response in the human user. You can try it out at http://bit.ly/dBot.

A demo session with d.Bot

A demo session with d.Bot

Ms. Chin said that it’s been nice to be able to use things guys have said to her, and that hearing or seeing new annoying messages, she figures, it’s going into the pot. (This includes a comment a guy said to her during fair setup, just before I arrived.) You can also click the “Feed Me” button to add something a guy has said to you, if you’d like to add more quotes to the database.

Mr. Collinsworth hopes d.Bot will help men experience what women experience, both online and in the physical world; any one guy saying uncreative things doesn’t experience what it’s like to hear those same comments frequently and en masse. In that vein, he suggested that perhaps Tinder could show users an originality score as they type messages to other users, flagging likely boring messages and discouraging users from sending them.

Ms. Chin said that she’s seen other critique of boring or harassing men (street harassers and OKCupid and Tinder users) that’s more in a name-and-shame mode, and that she wonders whether a critique in the form of humor around originality and creativity would be more likely to change the player’s behavior, as opposed to dinging a user and saying “you’re a bad person”. For her and for other d.Bot users, the bot is also a fun way to vent — she said she’s seen women happy to finally have a chance to talk back to these messages in a safe, consequence-free sandbox.

I asked for her thoughts on feminist dating apps like Bumble, and we discussed the possibility that Bumble (in which women can and men cannot initiate conversation) is just moving the problem a little further down the road; instead of screening out men at the stage of initial online conversation, het women might find that they go on more dates with men who don’t interact well.


Monica Raffaelli presenting SHVRK

Monica Raffaelli presenting SHVRK

Monica Raffaelli presented “SHVRK”: “Surf the crimson wave with fewer fatalities”. Users can sign up to get text message alerts of their friends’ menstrual cycles. Below is her SHVRK v1.0 demo video.

Ms. Raffaelli (MS Integrated Digital Media ’16, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering) and I spoke a little on Friday, and then she answered my questions on SHVRK, her influences, and her feminism via email:

There are apps for women to track women’s cycles, and there are apps for men to track what they don’t like about women’s cycles. The former often have pastel palettes, cute logos, and an emphasis on fertility and pregnancy. The latter have a handful of angry responses from the feminist community.

As long as bodily fluids and excretions are taboo, periods will be taboo. The app was never meant to change anybody’s views of leftover uterine lining. That said, the divisive nature of the current apps on the market doesn’t offer many people the opportunity to level the playing field. What we need is an app with an interface with universal appeal. We need an app that doesn’t perpetuate traditional stereotypes, but educates and facilitates. We need an app that makes the monthly inconvenience a little more convenient.

I’ve tried apps with features I didn’t need. I don’t need help getting pregnant, I don’t need to share my uterine woes with a community of empathetic blood sisters, and I don’t need cute puppies to guide me through reminders to hydrate. What I do need is an app that alerts my man to the state of my hormones. What about the men who don’t care about the difference between pads and tampons, ovulation versus menstruation, or what PMS really stands for? Well, I don’t blame them­­I’m not sure I would care for the details either if I didn’t go through it monthly.

The first steps were figuring out what would make a man WANT to use the same period app as a woman. My favorite answers were from the “make me a sandwich” types of guys. If this could get you laid, would you use the app? But of course.

Who is this app for? This is for women who like men, men who like women, and women who like women. This is for the monogamous and polyamorous. This is for the people with a sense of humor. This app is for those who say “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for a week and doesn’t die.” This is for anybody who has ever been cockblocked by a period.

“…why you made SHVRK (including your dissatisfactions with other services and apps)…”

My shark week isn’t a big deal. In fact, I usually forget about it, and that’s why I started to use the apps. These would give me a heads up, and I realized, you know who else could use these updates? My boyfriend. When the conversation comes up, he tries to either be understanding or a comedian. He cares, but he’ll never really get it. Why not give him just the information he needs without framing it in etiquette and small talk?

My research showed that there were tons of apps for men. They seemed to have exploded between 2008 and 2010, and most of them enraged the feminist community. Could it be possible to make one app that could appeal to those menstruating as well as those not menstruating?

“…what technologies you used to make it…”

The graphite pencil. Illustrator, After Effects, and the rest of the Adobe suite. Started playing around with a bit of this and that for the final product, from PHP to Swift… This is a lot of learning as I go.

“…what some next steps are…”

Step 1: iOS or Android? Step 2: Launch.

“…your feminism and the ways in which the project is feminist…”

Feminism can be a scary word. Every female in this society develops a relationship with it, and that makes it a weighty, frustrating, and complex matter. Feminism is a spectrum. We might avoid it all costs, or we embrace our own definition, or we embody someone else’s interpretation without realizing it. That’s about all I can say about ‘feminism’.

I want to bid farewell to man­bashing and figurative bra­burning. There are too many women in the world with no access to proper hygiene products and women who are cast out of their homes during that time of the month, but there are also too many man­bashers and bra­burners here fighting a fight that’s been fought here. What if we take another approach to understanding the difference between men and women in the little world of people with smartphones and access to clean running water?

In April, Leslee Udwin visited NYU for a special screening of her film ​India’s Daughter. There are two relevant memorable moments from that night. The first was when Leslee Udwin said she set out to answer ‘why men rape’. The second was when I asked if she had found her answer, and she responded that she expected the men she interviewed to be monsters. She expected them to be textbook psychopaths. What she found was that they were just humans like you and me. They were not ‘bad apples’ spoiling the barrel. The barrel was bad.

There are bad apple feminists the same way there are bad apple chauvinists. SHVRK is not about redefining ‘man’ or ‘woman’, but about leveling the playing field between unique individuals like you and me, ​so we don’t have to hear “Are you PMSing? Are you on your period?”

“…​and what or who some of your influences are.​”

Leslee Udwin is pretty amazing, but here I have to officially say Happenstance. Nothing goes up on a pedestal like happenstance. Letting the cards fall as they may is magical and always a little mysterious. Let it lead the way.

And more

I concentrated in this piece on discussing demos from the summit that particularly spoke to me on a feminist level, but I saw women technologists presenting many projects you might find interesting for other reasons. StackedUp uses AI for investigative reporting. NEW YOARK is an augmented reality mobile app that emphasizes the diversity of languages spoken in New York City. Bullet Pointe Lab designs and makes innovative clothes for ballet dancers, such as shorts with heating elements to help warm hips so they can open more fully. I saw multiple more clothing-related apps, natural language processing research, a tool to help you analyze your own social media activity, and a Twitter bot and collaborative storytelling and coding project telling the stories of people incarcerated at the Rikers Island correctional facility. On my way out the door, I spoke to one of the event staffers, a woman who’s working on Haveyouseenthem.org, a project to use the web and stickers on milk cartons to raise awareness of missing Central American and Mexican migrants.

Thanks again to NYC Media Lab and to the innovators who spoke with me.


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