Back Right Up

May. 25th, 2015 06:52 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

On Thursday, I was on my computer, when suddenly, my computer went black. Just died. The power light still glowed dimly, but other than that meagre sign of life, there was nothing. I shut it off, I tried to start it again – nothing happened. Nothing at all – so I did what I always do when something like this breaks. I called Joe. Joe had left just minutes before to go to the airport – he was going away for the weekend, and I don’t know how technology knows he’s left the building, but nothing ever stops working when he’s right here.   He got me to try a few things (Is it plugged in?) and then told me to unplug the power, let the battery die, and then try again in the morning.

I did that – along with googling the symptoms, all of which pointed to a very bad thing.  Failed hard drive – most likely.  I was pretty upset. Mostly about how I’d be without a computer for a few days -but at least I didn’t have to panic completely. I have a backup. Even if the computer was bricked (as in, turned into a brick, rather than a computer) at least I have all my information still.  Several years ago, I lost everything. My laptop did pretty much what it did Thursday night and that was it.  I was a lot less savvy then, and Joe and Ken (my resident tech department) had grossly underestimated my skills.  I think one of them had asked me if I was doing backups, and I’d thought about that – recalling that we’d put extra memory in the computer, and said yes. Big mistake. Turns out that memory in a computer has a really, really stupid name. It doesn’t remember anything. (I also had a really loose idea of how a server serves you.)  Joe and Ken just stared at me while I explained that it couldn’t be all gone – it would be in the memory – right?

Lesson learned. Now I’ve got some crazy thing that the two of them came up with to protect me from myself, and my laptop backs itself up to some other thingie a few times a day, as long as I’m home and plugged in. The worst part about a dead computer now is the money, and the inconvenience of not being able to work, which is totally ironic, since not working means no money and … you get it.   I poured myself a glass of wine, and walked away. It felt really mature.  I swatched instead.

swatch1 2015-05-25

This here is my first attempt – and last attempt.  I’m not happy with it, but I know why, so I made my changes, and started the blanket. You can see down at the bottom, where there’s garter lace? That’s the stitch pattern as written – a classic called “Madeira and diamond” and it only took, what’s that… 10 rows? to see that I wasn’t loving the garter stitch thing.  I thought it was what I wanted, but the yarn is too heavy to really make it elegant, so I swapped out the knitted rest rows for purled ones, and bingo. I like the stockinette version a lot better.  (There’s also a little intermittent “rowing out” that seems to be happening because my yarnovers were too relaxed on the needle I was using.  I’ve corrected it by using a smoother needle.)  The other problem is the gauge. I knit this one on a 4mm needle, and it’s too loose. The fabric looks good, but when I pick it up and give it a tug and a stretch, it opens up too much. It’s unstable.

swatch2 2015-05-25

(You can see here that for the purposes of the photo, I’m holding down one edge of it with my foot, so I can take the picture with my other hand.  I swear I don’t usually manage things this way.)

A really good hint for when this might be happening is when you can stick your finger though the solid part of the fabric. Almost always a bad sign for something that you want to hold its shape. (This goes for everything you want to have structure, especially garments. If you can put your finger through a fabric, then you’re probably going to have a sweater that stretches badly out of shape, and soonish.)

fingerin1 2015-05-25

When this blanket is done, it will be fairly heavy – and the fabric needs enough integrity to be able to hold up to that, so down to a 3.5mm needle I went.  This idea, that fabric doesn’t just have to look good, it has to hold together well? It’s a really, really good reason to swatch. I did my math after that, and I’m off to the races on the blanket.

My computer did start working again after I *let the battery go dead, and then plugged it in and restarted it, and then it died again, and then it started after I repeated from * throughout the weekend.  Yesterday I reset some thingie, and I’ve been up and running since then. Still, I think it’s time for this laptop and I to begin saying our goodbye’s.  This feels like a terminal illness, although the treatment seems to be working for now.

Sorry to have missed Karmic Balancing Gifts on Friday, I’ll catch up tomorrow – assuming the computer doesn’t have a relapse.

[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by PamelaToler

By Pamela Toler (Regular Contributor)

Tomoe Gozen

The powerful Tomoe Gozen. Shuntei Katsukawa. ca. 1804-1818

Female samurais are stock figures in modern anime, manga, western comic books, and fantasy novels: hard-fighting, often hard-drinking, badasses with swords and bows. The key word is fantasy.

In medieval Japan, samurai was a class distinction as well as a job description. Women who were born into the samurai class were samurais whether or not they were warriors. As members of the warrior class, they shared the martial code of loyalty and honor known as bushido. Many of them were trained to use the naginata–a deadly scythe-like weapon–and carried razor-sharp daggers on their belts. They shared the disgrace when their male relations failed on the battlefield, following them into exile and even death.

Only a few samurai women became samurai warriors, but their stories form a constant thread through Japanese history. The most famous was the twelfth century warrior Tomoe Gozen, who fought alongside Minamoto Kiso Yoshinaka in the Gempei War* and collected enemy heads as battle trophies just like one of the guys. Her story became the subject of songs and a popular Noh play. But Tomoe was not the only female samurai to fight in Japan’s seemingly interminable internal wars. Tsuruhime, known as the sea princess of Omishimia, defended that island against expansionist threats from the Japanese mainland in 1541. Thirty-six years later, Ueno Tsuruhime led thirty-three other women in a suicidal charge against the army of a rival warlord–preferring to die in battle than commit the ritual suicide prescribed by her husband. (The tactic failed. The besieging samurai proved reluctant to kill women who fought back.) Near the end of the Amakusa rebellion in 1589-90, the wife of the castle commander of the largely Christian stronghold at Hondo and several hundred other women cut off their long hair, tied up the hems of their kimonos, armed themselves with weapons and rosaries, and sortied from the broken castle gate in a final desperate attack.

Even in nineteenth century, when the world of the samurai was coming to an end, some women from samurai families joined their fathers, husbands, and brothers on the battlefield against the forces of the Meiji emperor. In Daughters of the Samurai, Janice Nimura tells the story of one young woman who tried to take a more active role in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. With her family stronghold under siege, “the teenager scavenged pieces of discarded armor, chopped off her hair, pulled down the corners of her mouth in a classic samurai grimace, and announced that she was off to join the fighting.” In this case, the samurai value of obedience won out over the samurai value of courage–when her mother forbade her to leave the castle she stayed put. But other women, old enough or stubborn enough not to be controlled by parental commands, chose to fight rather than fulfill more traditional roles related to the defense of a stronghold or commit ritual suicide. In one extraordinary case, Kawahara Asako decapitated her mother-in-law and daughter to save them from dishonor at the hands of the enemy before she took up her naginata and joined the fight against the imperial army.

With the exception of Tomoe Gozen, who appears to have fought because she was good at it, these stories share common themes of defense and desperation. A far cry from their modern pop culture descendants.

*In which two samurai clans–the Taira and the Minamoto–duked it out for control of Japan. The Gempei War ended with the Minamoto’s victorious establishment of the first shogunate–a form of government by military dictatorship in the name of a puppet emperor that would last in various forms from 1192 to 1867. In case you were curious.

Sunny, Sunny, Day

May. 25th, 2015 03:33 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo description: A sunflower in a meadow looks to wards the sun.
I am sitting in the sun, reading a book. I am parked, in my wheelchair, at the edge of the sidewalk, to catch the rays. Joe is seated beside me. Behind us is a laundromat where Joe has got clothes washing. My wheelchair is locked. I am firmly in place. My hands hold the book I am reading. Joe, beside me, sitting on a florescent orange chair borrowed from the laundromat, is checking emails on the phone. It's Sunday. The pace is slow.

I feel him coming, I don't know where this sense comes from, I didn't have it when I was non-disabled, but it's true, I can actually feel him coming. I look up from my book and over to him. He's heading straight for me. I don't want intrusion or interruption so I telegraph that to him by going back to reading my book. Though I am reading, I know he is still coming. I am sitting, in the sun, in a locked wheelchair, reading a book, beside someone who is also sitting and engaged in reading an email.

He arrives.

"Do you need help?" he asks.

I look at him. "No, I don't, thanks," I say. I want him to just go away. I don't want to educate or enlighten him. I don't want to engage with him at all. I want ... I want ...

I want to sit in the sun, in my wheelchair, and read my book.

To his credit, when I politely refused his help, he smiled, nodded and went on his way.

I told myself, because I now had to stop reading and deal with the interaction, that he meant well and that I didn't want to punish him for a gesture meant in kindness.

I went back to reading.

But I couldn't.

I realized that if I looked helpless and in desperate need for help, from a stranger, when I was sitting, in the sun, in a locked wheelchair, reading a book beside someone who was obviously with me and capable of helping if help was needed, I would never, ever, ever, ever, be safe from the intrusion and the interruption, caused by strangers thrusting offers of help into my day. That I would never be anything but an object to these people.

An object that has only one purpose, to take help.

I was not a person, sitting in the sun, in a locked wheelchair, reading a book. I was an object awaiting the kindness of a stranger in order to continue my day. I was an object that simply waited, Waited for help. That's was I was. No, that's wrong, there is no 'I' here. 'I' don't exist. It does.

It does.

The thing that waits in the sun for help.

The thing that doesn't read, that doesn't enjoy quietly sitting in the sun, that isn't attached to the person sitting next to it.

"What did he think you needed help to do?" Joe asked, looking up from his email.

"Exist," I said.

Culture warriors vs. the common good

May. 24th, 2015 11:36 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

It’s Pentecost, which makes it an ideal day to discuss yesterday’s joyous referendum in the Republic of Ireland, in which an overwhelming majority flooded the polls to enshrine the right to marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Pentecost is sort of like the Christian church’s birthday. It’s the day when we remember what the New Testament tells us — that the church is a new community that’s so mind-bogglingly inclusive that it makes everyone think we’re raving drunk. Ireland, yesterday, was a little picture of Pentecost — people from all walks of life, and from the far-flung diaspora, coming together in an intoxicating display of unity. (“We are not drunk, as you suppose,” the apostle Peter said to the people of Jerusalem, “for it is only 9 o’clock in the morning.” I’m not sure that argument works as well in Dublin.)

NapalmInTheMorning

Smells like victory.

For Americans accustomed to the politicized culture-warrior bishops of the American Catholic church, it is startlingly to watch a pervasively Catholic country like Ireland mobilize in such a massive expression of support for the rights and dignity of LGBT people. After three decades of watching our nation’s Catholic bishops scrambling to enlist in the partisan culture-war of the white evangelical religious right, we’ve started to accept the American hierarchy’s claim that their church is, or must be, intrinsically right-wing and anti-gay. The news from Ireland is a reminder that this claim has never been true. The right-wing American hierarchy is a culture-war vanguard without an army.

Irish Catholicism supports same-sex marriage,” Mark Silk writes in a smart column after the Irish vote. But he also notes that American Catholicism supports civil rights and human dignity for LGBT people too: “It’s no accident that Catholics in the U.S. — white, Hispanic, and otherwise — support same-sex marriage at the same rate as the Irish voted.”

The “Catholic position” on marriage equality turns out to be a lot like the “Catholic position” on contraception. There’s the official line promoted as dogma by the clergy, and then there’s the actual belief and practice of the overwhelming majority of the laity. And it’s not just that the laity disagree with the hierarchy, but that they find the hierarchy’s official stance to be immoral — sinful, harmful, and wicked.

Silk also argues that the Catholic bishops in Ireland tend to be more “linked to the populace” than their counterparts here in the U.S., and thus weren’t interested in becoming soldiers “in a culture war that divided their country.”

American culture-warriors will likely shrug that off, thinking, “Yeah, that’s why they lost.” But it’s still surprising, and refreshing, to look at what some of the Irish bishops were saying before their country’s vote and to see how different it is from the sort of thing we hear in the U.S. from our spiritual-leaders-turned-culture-war-snipers.

“I would hate for people to vote no for bad reasons, for sort of bigoted reasons, for nasty reasons, for bullying reasons,” Donal McKeown, the bishop of Derry, said before the referendum. McKeown voted no himself, and he wanted others to vote no as well, but not “for bad reasons.”

A culture-warrior could never say that. For a culture-warrior, a vote for your side is simply a vote for your side — no matter what the motive. If the bigots and nasty bullies can help your side win, then you need their votes. You need to make sure they stay fired up and turn out. Maybe you even need to fuel their bigotry and bullying a bit. Heck, if bullies and bigots turn out to be a reliable, vital swing vote for your side — the right side, the good side, God’s side — then maybe it’s even right and good and godly to increase the size of that voting bloc, making whatever appeals or dog-whistle statements are needed to nurture whatever motives (good, bad, bigoted, bullying) will ensure the proper desired outcome in this cultural battle.

To a culture-warrior, McKeown doesn’t sound like a pastor or a bishop, he just sounds like a loser. And that’s why he lost. If you want to win, you can’t refuse the help of any co-belligerents — no matter how bigoted or resentful or deluded. You have to marshal all of those allies and to generate more of them, if need be. And then, after victory is assured, you can stand triumphant on the scorched landscape that used to be the common good.

Every culture-warrior knows that the common good is like Bến Tre. Sometimes you have to destroy the culture in order to win it.

Inclusion in Words

May. 24th, 2015 10:18 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo Description: A word blog with the middle words "Be a fan of RESPECT" are surrounded by the words INCLUSION, ACCEPTANCE, UNITY and FRIENDSHIP.

Sometimes small acts of thoughtfulness and inclusion really matter. I worry writing this because, like some other blogs about things that I find hurtful or bothersome, I fear being judged petty. For me it's 116 times more distressing to have people think that something that mattered to me or made me feel all warm inside is, somehow wrong or ridiculous. But, that being said, as I'm writing this you already know I'm going to tell you.

We are in Campbell River visiting family. We both have family here so, including the family we have down island, it's going to be a busy few days. Yesterday I didn't even get into the hotel room until quite late because the visiting started pretty much on arrival. It was fun though, we laughed a lot, chatted a lot and just generally reconnected. We'd been up for a long time but forgot our tiredness in the midst of conversations.

This morning I got up to an email from niece Shannon about meeting up for a cup of tea this afternoon. In the note she told us that she's checked and the place that we were planning on meeting was closed on Sunday but there was another option. She then set about giving us directions to the alternate place.

After the directions were done, she said that we could meet her there or she could come to the hotel and we could "st/roll" over together. I know that, or I'm making a good guess that, as she wrote the word "st/roll" she was smiling. And she should smile. It's cute. I'd not seen this particular play on words and I thought it clever.

That was my first reaction.

My second reaction was quite different. I was really touched. I thought it was more than clever, it was 'inclusion in words' ... it was a nice way of acknowledging that I move differently in the world It was a way of communicating that difference doesn't automatically dismiss togetherness.

In the end I've opted for the st/roll, not because we need help finding the place, but because it's now something I want to do.

Let's go for a st/roll together.

Equality.

Inclusion.

Welcome.

Sunday WTF?

May. 24th, 2015 10:44 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Judges 16:23-30

Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.”

When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, and let him entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.

They made him stand between the pillars; and Samson said to the attendant who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them.” Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson performed.

Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other.

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life.

 

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by brainwane

As Julie Pagano put it: “So many ‘diversity in tech’ efforts are about getting young women into the pipeline. Ignore the fact that there’s a meat grinder at the end.” So I’ve made a new fanvid (a type of video art piece): “Pipeline”. It’s a little over 3 minutes long and cuts together about 50 different sources over Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space”. Specifically, this fanvid uses clips from documentaries, glossy Hollywood depictions of hackers, comics, code school ads, and the Geek Feminism wiki’s Timeline of Incidents to critique this dynamic. It just premiered at the WisCon Vid Party a few hours ago.

My launch blog post on Dreamwidth goes into more detail and includes a comprehensive list of video.

Download: on Google Drive (165 MB high-resolution MP4 file, 23 MB low-resolution MP4 file, 98 MB AVI file), or at Critical Commons with login (high- and low-res MP4 and WebM files)
Stream: at Critical Commons (choose View High Quality for best experience)
Lyrics subtitles file: http://www.harihareswara.net/vids/pipeline.srt (you can download this and then ask your video playing app to use it as a subtitles track)

It’s under the license Creative Commons BY-SA; please feel free to redistribute, link, remix, and so on, as long as you attribute me as the vidder. Comments are welcome, though moderated.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Last year, Washington Nationals relief pitcher Aaron Barrett bested the Rockies’ Brandon Barnes in an epic post-anthem standoff at Coors Field that didn’t end until seconds before the first pitch of the game.

So it was particularly bold — perhaps foolhardy — for the Phillies’ Aaron Harang to challenge Barrett yesterday on his home field. That contest wasn’t decided until after the first pitch was thrown.

Aaron Barrett wins epic post-anthem standoff,” Chelsea Janes writes in a pitch-perfect report for The Washington Post:

The game hardly mattered by the time it began. A mere baseball game, especially one played in May between the charging Nationals and the sputtering Phillies, could not possibly carry the emotional weight of the test of human spirit, of will and of hope, that preceded it. The Nationals won Friday night’s game, 2-1, and that was good, of course. But first, Aaron Barrett won one of the longest post-anthem standoffs in recent memory — one the baseball world will little note, but one those who witnessed it will long remember.

As with many of baseball’s inexplicable but time-honored traditions, the origins of the post-anthem standoff are obscured by the blur of numbers on jerseys, of bored players, of long pregame ceremonies and long baseball seasons. It sums to this: “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays to a reverent crowd, and both teams line up, hats off, held over their hearts. The song ends, the crowd cheers, and the players disperse. Most of them, anyway.

One hearty soul on one side stays. Someone on the other side notices, considers consequences of surrendering without standing up for himself, then engages. The standoff ensues. Barrett said later he did not want a fight Friday night. The challenge came, and he did not back down.

OK, you may be thinking, so what? It’s just a bit of silliness from men who play games for a living. Sure, it’s kind of funny when ballplayers parody the hypermacho staredowns of heavyweight fighters at their weigh-ins, but who cares?

Well, I think Barrett and Harang may have just shown us a better way to organize the overflowing Republican presidential primary debates — and thus how to move forward in this great American experiment in democracy.

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 3.53.01 PM

The Winner. (Washington Post photo by Jonathan Newton — click for full article.)

So far, more than a dozen candidates have announced that they are (or will be) seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for president. I’ve lost count at this point, but the running total seems to be somewhere between 16 and 22 candidates. And no one has any idea how to organize a televised “debate” among 22 candidates.

Both CNN and Fox News seem to think that a meaningful debate among 10 candidates might be manageable. I think even that is overly ambitious and optimistic, but let’s give the news networks the benefit of the doubt on that point. That still presents them with a big problem — how do you decide which 10 candidates to invite to the debate and which 10-12 candidates to exclude?

And — even trickier — how do you do so without baldly admitting to the role that supposedly objective media coverage and media decisions play in elevating some candidates and dismissing others?

Martin Longman looks at the different strategies that Fox and CNN have announced for selecting their Top 10 Debate-Qualified GOP candidates. Fox is going with the crudely straightforward approach of only inviting the 10 candidates who are leading in the polls come July when this decision will need to be made. CNN is opting to do the same, but also to hold a second debate for the second-tier of candidates — an approach Longman says recalls the relegation system of premier league soccer:

This will introduce something British into American politics, which is the concept of relegation. In most football/soccer organizations, there are tiers of leagues, somewhat like what we have in minor league baseball. The difference is that the worst two or three teams in a division will be dropped (relegated) into a lower division at the end of the season, and the top two or three teams from the lower divisions will advance (be promoted) to a higher one. This makes otherwise uninteresting games between terrible teams near the end of a season quite suspenseful, as getting kicked out of the English Premier League comes at a terrible cost for the organization and the fans.

To put this in CNN debate terms, we’ll all be asking if Donald Trump can do well enough in the first debate to avoid being demoted to the kiddie table for the second one. Meanwhile, we’ll be wondering who in the also-ran debate will shine and get an invitation to debate Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul the next time.

As he says, this will likely be entertaining and darkly amusing, but not particularly edifying — and a lousy way to go about choosing the nominee for one of our two major parties.

In both cases, for CNN and Fox, the prospect of being excluded entirely or relegated to a second-tier debate creates pressure for candidates to do anything — any stunt, any desperate grab for attention — to pump up their poll numbers, even temporarily, this summer. This is certain to be a spectacle but, again, not a pretty one.

Of course, the concern that candidates will be desperately shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” and attempting potentially embarrassing stunts to distinguish themselves from the crowd in order to qualify for these Top-10 debates only leads us to the same concern for the debates themselves. With Fox and CNN putting ten candidates on one stage for an hour — giving each less than six minutes to distinguish themselves from one another — we probably shouldn’t expect these “debates” to be debates at all. These will not be dignified conversations in which candidates are able to explore their distinct ideas and perspectives — they’ll be shouting matches and chaotic scrums.

No matter how the Top 10 are chosen, ten candidates is still at least twice as many as there should be for a meaningful televised debate. But trying to winnow the crowded field down even further only seems to exacerbate the problem facing the news networks.

So here’s my plan: Invite all of the candidates to Nationals Park for a post-anthem stand-off. The last four still standing — still on the field, caps held over their hearts — qualify for the televised debates on Fox and CNN.

It would be silly and stupid, but it might still be an improvement over the current process — which is, itself, a goofy parody of macho posturing and performative patriotism.

(And don’t worry, candidates Walker, Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Paul, Santorum, Trump, Carson, Fiorino, Huckabee, Graham, Pataki, Perry, Christie, Jindal, Kasich, etc. — Aaron Barrett is only 27, so you won’t have to go up against the champ.)

 

 

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Posted by Fred Clark

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ireland overwhelmingly says Yes.”

The official result for the marriage equality referendum was declared at Dublin Castle shortly before 7pm this evening, with the final tally ending up 62.1 percent Yes against 37.9 percent No.

yes-equalityIn total, almost two million people voted.

The number of Yes votes cast was 1,201,607, with 734,300 No. …

Over all, the Yes vote secured a 467,307 majority.

Large crowds have gathered at Dublin Castle to celebrate the resounding Yes.

Speaking after the official result was announced, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland had made history today. “Our people have truly answered Ireland’s call… we have made history.”

Adding: “Those who voted no did so due to genuine held views which should be respected.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin called the Yes result a “reality check” for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

“I think it’s a social revolution. It’s a social revolution that didn’t begin today, it’s a social revolution that’s been going on, and perhaps people in the church have not been clear in their understanding of what that involves,” he said.

Well, yeah. Perhaps not, Fr. Martin. Good of you to notice.

This wasn’t just some urban elite vote, either – the results were the same throughout the country.

Ireland becomes first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote

Ireland has voted by a huge majority to legalise same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in the world to do so by popular vote in a move hailed as a social revolution and welcomed around the world.

Some 62 percent of the Irish Republic’s electorate voted in favour of gay marriage. The result means that a republic once dominated by the Catholic church ignored the instructions of its cardinals and bishops. The huge Yes vote marks another milestone in Ireland’s journey towards a more liberal, secular society.

Out of an electorate of more than 3 million, 1,201,607 backed gay marriage, while 734,300 voters said No. The result prompted a massive street party around the gay district of central Dublin close to the national count centre.

Directly addressing Ireland’s gay community, taoiseach Enda Kenny said the result meant that “a majority of people in this republic have stood up for them [those in the gay community]”. He said: “In the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement. With today’s vote we have disclosed who we are. We are a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes to inclusion, yes to generosity, yes to love, yes to gay marriage.”

Irish deputy prime minister and Labour leader Joan Burton added: “The people of Ireland have struck a massive blow against discrimination.”

And quoting the late American politician and LGBT rights activist Harvey Milk, she said: “Hope will never be silent.”

Specifically, this was a vote to amend Ireland’s constitution to enshrine within it the same rights for minorities that the majority enjoys. Or, to say the same thing another way, it was a vote to amend the constitution to make it a constitution. That’s the whole point of a constitution, after all — to ensure that the law is the law for everybody, not just for the powerful. A constitution that claims to give rights to the majority but not to minorities isn’t a constitution at all — just a chalkboard and a pretense.

That’s why those trying to make a big deal out of the fact that the Irish Republic voted to amend its constitution somehow differs from what’s happening here in America, where the courts are finding that marriage equality for same-sex couples is already constitutional. America legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote in the 1860s — it just took our courts more than a century to acknowledge that fact.

Or, as Rachel Maddow put it, “Here’s the thing about rights. They’re not actually supposed to be voted on. That’s why they’re called rights.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

In response to company pensions, employer age limits, shifts in the economy, and the initiation of social security, men have increasingly enjoyed a little 20th century social invention called “retirement.” In 1860, more than 80% of men age 70 to 74 worked, but by around 2000, that number had dropped to below 20%.

As of the 2000s, this more-than-100-year-trend of increasing numbers of men enjoying their “golden years” has reversed. This is your image of the week:

4

Over at Made in America, from where I borrowed this graph, sociologist Claude Fisher explains the reversal of the trend (citations at the link):

The private sources of retirement support, such as company pensions and investments, have weakened; [and] public sources of aid are under strain from a lower birth rate, a stagnating economy, and political retrenchment. And the years that such support must cover are growing. In 1990 a 65-year-old man could expect to live about 15 more years; in 2010, 18 more years. That’s an extra 20 percent of financing needed.

Among other things, the economic health of older Americans is an important sign of the overall health of the economy. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this statistic in the near future.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Not Today

May. 23rd, 2015 03:20 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo description: On a blue backgroun with a white strip, the word 'blog' is written with a curser arrow pointing to it.
OK, I give up.

I'm not writing a blog today.

We are up, very early, and rushing around to get everything ready for WheelTrans to pick us up and take us to the airport. We fly to B.C. on the first flight out this morning. I took a few moments to sit and write a blog. I knew what I was going to write about but I just couldn't focus, what with Joe running around getting last minute things packed and with me remembering, this and then that.

I need to be able to focus to write. Mostly I write my blog is absolute quiet, actually, I write most of the things I write in silence. Both kinds. The silence around me and then the silence within me.

But it's hard to have silence when you've got a plane, a car and a ferry ride ahead of you all in one day. It's hard to have silence when you are going to see people you haven't seen for a long time. It's hard to have silence when you have Joe saying, "Will you get off that computer and help me, please!?!"

So, I'm sorry.

No blog today.

I'll, no doubt, have 'oh my Gosh' stories from the travel day to day. But I pray for a day, where not a single blog happens to me. I think you get what I mean.
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  • I had a culture column at WIRED. And then I didn’t. Here’s what happened. | monica byrne (May 19): “I’ve talked with other writers who’ve had experiences with Wired. My experience is not unique. So as far as I can tell, they don’t cover the future. They produce a white male fantasy of the future. Which isn’t surprising.”
  • The Dehumanizing Myth of the Meritocracy by Coraline Ada Ehmke | Model View Culture (May 19): “We hide behind the motto of “love the art, hate the artist” to justify our preferences despite the faint voice of conscience, persistent in telling us that something is amiss. It seems that ignoring the worst of our heroes is easy, but should the opposite also hold true? Should we ignore the positive, community-oriented contributions of others as quickly as we dismiss some people’s negative attributes? Are the contributions of bad actors really superior to those who bring humane, non-code contributions to our corner of the world?”
  • #girlswithtoys: women remind Twitter they are scientists too | Wired UK (May 18): “Female scientists from all over the world have taken to Twitter to post pictures of themselves with tools and equipment from their workplaces alongside the hashtag #girlswithtoys.”
  • Furiosa (5) | Be Less Amazing (May 18): “I’ve seen a few internet pundits that they “don’t see the feminist content” of this film. Dudes. It’s about the lone powerful woman in a male-dominated society who helps a group of sex slaves escape under the premise that “[they] are not things.” That’s about as feminist as it gets, and that’s just one of the many amazing equality messages going on this movie. “
  • The programming talent myth | LWN.net (April 28): “When we see someone who does not look like one of those three men, we assume they are not a real programmer, he said. Almost all of the women he knows in the industry have a story about someone assuming they aren’t a programmer. He talked to multiple women attending PyCon 2015 who were asked which guy they are there with—the only reason they would come is because their partner, the man, is the programmer. “If you’re a dude, has anyone ever asked you that?” On the other hand, when he got up on stage, he did look like those guys. “So you probably assumed I was a real programmer.” These sorts of assumptions contribute to the attrition of marginalized people in tech, he said.”
  • We Will No Longer Be Promoting HBO’s Game of Thrones | The Mary Sue (May 18): “After the episode ended, I was gutted. I felt sick to my stomach. And then I was angry. My next thought was, “I’m going to have to spend part of the next six months explaining why this was a bad move over and over.””
  • Reasons Why It’s Hard to Find Senior Women Engineers | Accidentally in Code (May 14): “People ask me about this topic sometimes, especially as I’m no longer close to being a “new grad” but at the point where I look for bigger opportunities. I’m collecting it here for reference – reasons and observations from my own experience, of why it’s so much harder to find senior women engineers.”
  • How Social Media is Failing Creative Women | Ink, Bits, & Pixels (May 17): “Real Name policies endanger women. Until these companies understand WHY that is, it’s not possible for the policy to be crafted in a way that reduces the danger.”

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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 brainwane

This is the second of a two-part post about feminism and the philosophies and vocabularies of “open stuff” (fandom, open source, etc.). Part I is at Crooked Timber, here, and I suggest you read that first.

Recently I was thinking about abstractions we open source software folks might borrow from fandom, particularly the online world of fan fiction and fanvids. I mean, I am already a rather fannish sort of open sourcer — witness when I started a love meme, a.k.a. an appreciation thread, on the MediaWiki developers’ mailing list. But I hadn’t, until recently, taken a systematic look at what models we might be able to translate into the FLOSS world. And sometimes we can more clearly see our own skeletons, and our muscles and weaknesses, by comparison.

Affirmational and transformational

While arguing in December that the adjectives “fan” and “political” don’t contradict each other, I said:

I think calling them fanwork/fanvids is a reasonable way to honor fandom’s both transformative and affirmational heritage

I got that phrasing (“affirmational/transformational”) from RaceFail, which is a word for many interconnected conversations about racism, cultural appropriation, discourse, and fandom that happened in early 2009. (In “Feminist Point of View: A Geek Feminism Retrospective”, Skud discussed how RaceFail influenced the DNA of Geek Feminism (see slide 15).) RaceFail included several discussions that X-rayed fandom and developed new models for understanding it. (And I do mean “discussions” — in many of the Dreamwidth links I’m about to mention, the bulk of thought happens in the comments.)

obsession_inc, in a RaceFail discussion, articulated the difference between “affirmational” and “transformational” fandom. Do you bask in canon, relaxing in the security of a hierarchy, or do you use it, without a clear answer about Who’s In Charge?

When we use these terms we’re talking about different modes: different approaches to source texts, to communities, to the Web, to the mass media industries, and to each other. It’s not just about whether you’re into pages of words or audio/video, and it’s not necessarily generational either:

So when I see the assertion that as a group, print-oriented old time fans don’t know how to deal with extensive cross-linked multi-threaded fast-paced discussion, all I can do is cough and mutter “bullshit”.

We have a long-standing heritage of transformational fandom — sometimes it surprises fans to know just how long we’ve been making fanvids, for instance. (What other heritages do I have that I don’t know enough about?)

And I’m mulling over what bits of FLOSS culture feel affirmational to me (e.g., deference to celebrities like Linus Torvalds) or transformational (e.g., the Open Source Bridge session selection process, where everyone can see each other’s proposals and favstar what they like). I’d love to hear more thoughts in the comments.

Expectations around socializing and bug reports

I reread the post and the hundreds of comments at oliviacirce’s “Admitting Impediments: Post-WisCon Posts, Part I, or, That Post I Never Made About RaceFail ’09”, where people talked about questions of power and discourse and expectations. For instance, one assessment of a particular sector of fandom: “non-critical, isolated, and valuing individual competition over hypertext fluency and social interaction.” This struck me as a truth about a divide within open source communities, and between different open source projects.

Jumping off of that came dysprositos’s question, “what expectations do we … have of each other that are not related to fandom but that are not expectations we would have for humanity at large?” (“Inessential weirdness” might be a useful bit of vocabulary here.) In this conversation, vehemently distinguishes between fans who possess “the willingness to be much more openly confrontational of a fannish object’s social defects” vs. those who tend to be “resigned or ironic in their observations of same. I don’t think that’s a difference in analysis, however, but a difference in audiencing, tactics, and intent among the analyzers.” When I saw this I thought of the longtime whisper network among women in open source, women warning each other of sexual abusers, and of the newer willingness to publicly name names. And I thought of how we learn, through explicit teaching and through the models we see in our environment, how to write, read, and respond to bug reports. Are you writing to help someone else understand what needs fixing so they can fix it, or are you primarily concerned with warning other users so they don’t get hurt? Do you care about the author’s feelings when you write a report that she’ll probably read?

Optimizing versus plurality

In fanfic and fanvids, we want more. There is no one true best fic or vid and we celebrate a diverse subjectivity and an ever-growing body of art for everyone to enjoy. We keep making and sharing stuff, delighting in making intricate gifts for each other. In the tech world I have praised !!Con for a similar ethos:

In the best fannish traditions, we see the Other as someone whose fandom we don’t know yet but may soon join. We would rather encourage vulnerability, enthusiasm and play than disrespect anyone; we take very seriously the sin of harshing someone else’s squee.

Sometimes we make new vocabulary to solve problems (“Dead Dove: Do Not Eat”) but sometimes we say it’s okay if the answer to a problem is to have quite a lot of person-to-person conversations. It’s okay if we solve things without focusing first on optimizing, on scaling. And I think the FLOSS world could learn from that. As I said in “Good And Bad Signs For Community Change, And Some Leadership Styles”, in the face of a problem, some people reflexively reach more for “make a process that scales” and some for “have a conversation with ____”. We need both, of course – scale and empathy.

Many of us are in open stuff (fanfic, FLOSS, and all the other nooks and crannies) because we like to make each other happy. And not just in an abstract altrustic way, but because sometimes we get to see someone accomplish something they couldn’t have before, or we get comments full of happy squee when we make a vid that makes someone feel understood. It feels really good when someone notices that I’ve entered a room, remembers that they value me and what I’ve contributed, and greets me with genuine enthusiasm. We could do a lot better in FLOSS if we recognized the value of social grooming and praise — in our practices and in time-consuming conversations, not just in new technical features like a friction-free Thanks button. A Yuletide Treasure gift exchange for code review, testing, and other contributions to underappreciated software projects would succeed best if it went beyond the mere “here’s a site” level, and grew a joyous community of practice around the festival.

What else?

I’m only familiar with my corners of fandom and FLOSS, and I would love to hear your thoughts on what models, values, practices, and intellectual frameworks we in open source ought to borrow from fandom. I’m particularly interested in places where pragmatism trumps ideology, in bits of etiquette, and in negotiating the balance between desires for privacy and for publicity.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday.41EXTGX1VRL__AA400_

A reader named Judith B. wrote in confounded by the copy describing the watch pictured above. It began:

Don’t be fooled by the girly blue and white face on this multifunction Pro Spirit® digital sports watch. It’s more than a match for any tough guy’s watch…

“Girly blue and white?” she asked. “Huh?”

I think I’ve got an answer for you, Judith. And it has to do with fractals. Trees are good examples of fractals: branches can split into two branches, and each of those branches can split into two branches, etc.

2 (1)

The gender binary — that is, the rule that everything (oh animalsjobs, food, kleenex, housework, sound, games, deordorant, love and sex, candy, vitaminsetc) gets split into male and female — is fractal. That means that, for every male or female version of something (say sports versus dance), there is a further gendered split that can be made. If we take sports, we might divide it into the masculine football and the feminine swimming. If we take swimming, we could probably divide it down further. Take education (which is, arguably, feminized): we can split it into physical sciences (masculine) and social sciences (feminine). And we can split the physical sciences into biology (dominated these days by women) and physics (dominated by men). So the gender binary has a fractal character.

What does that mean for blue? Well, it means that, even though “blue” is socially constructed to be masculine, blue can be broken down into more and less masculine types of blue. Turquoise and light blue, for example, are often seen as more feminine that the primary color blue or royal/dark blue. The text, then, is referring to, literally, “girly blue.” Lots of ads aimed at women employ the feminine blues. These ads sent in by some of my former students are good examples:
Female Masculinity - Sports 5Gender - Balance 20Female Masculinity - Sports 6

Usually the use of a “girly blue” serves to balance masculinity and femininity.  It’s no accident that these ads are sports-related, or use copy such as “strong & beautiful” and “I totally have a soft side. You comfortable with that?”

So, that’s my explanation for “girly blue”: fractal gender binaries.

Originally posted in 2010.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Originally posted August 6, 2004.


 

Left Behind, pg. 59

Buck Williams and the authors have been so busy checking his email that they seem to have forgotten he has a gory wound on the back of his head from his odd and violent pratfall on the tarmac.

He’d better see a doctor. Maybe we could just have one wander by:

Buck kept pressing a handkerchief soaked with cold water onto the back of his head. His wound had stopped bleeding, but it stung. … when he was tapped on the shoulder.

“I’m a doctor. Let me dress your wound.”

Whew. That was convenient. What’re the odds?

“Just let me do this, pal,” the doctor says. “I’m going crazy here with nothing to do, and I have my bag.”

You can understand why the doctor is getting antsy.

HippocraticOathNothing to do in the airport except to sit around in the “exclusive Pan-Con Club” and stare out the window watching the rescue workers and EMTs below scurry from plane crash to plane crash. It’s kind of amusing for a while, seeing them set up a desperate triage there among the smoke and the broken bodies, separating the gravely wounded from those in need only of First Aid and those merely suffering from shock after the loss of their loved ones. But it gets old eventually, just sitting there, so what the heck — why not patch up that rich guy’s bleeding scalp over there?

The doctor is exactly like Dives, the rich man in the parable, ignoring the pain and need of the beggar Lazarus on his very doorstep (see Luke 16:19-31). But at least Dives did not complain of his boredom while feasting in his first-class travelers’ club.

The doctor’s boredom is monstrous. It is sociopathic. It is a violation of medical ethics, of the Hippocratic oath, of common decency, of the Golden Rule.

Yet Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins do not seem to intend us to view the doctor as monstrous. His behavior, after all, parallels that of Rayford Steele and Buck Williams — our sympathetic heroes.

The authors, like all of their characters, seem to have forgotten entirely about the scene of tragedy and suffering they have just left behind them. It’s out of sight and out of mind. For L&J — as for Rayford, Buck and the doctor — those other people and their suffering and need simply do not exist. Lazarus is invisible. Lazarus does not exist.

That’s the central characteristic of the morality L&J are portraying. That is the morality they are teaching.

And that is the morality that millions of earnest Christians are learning from these books.

 

Casting ... What ... ?

May. 22nd, 2015 08:12 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo description: A poster reading "Vote Yes: Love they Neighbour" over a background of a blue and pink triangle.
Does anybody ever wonder?

Really wonder.

What it's like to be a member of a minority required to sit back while neighbours get to vote on our relationships. Total strangers going into a voting box and determining what the course of your life will be. What it's like to hear the rhetoric around the subject of your relationship, to hear people blame your love for earthquakes and hurricanes and droughts. What it's like to have preachers, who claim to follow a loving God, say that that loving God punishes you for your love and for your life. What it's like to have a lifestyle when everyone else has a life.

Does anybody ever wonder?

Really wonder.

Why they have the right to vote on another's life.

In some societies they throw stones at gay people, in others they cast ballots.

Does anybody ever wonder about that?

Really wonder.

How it comes to be that love is ranked, measured and valued differently.

Why is your love for your partner more beautiful than mine for mine?

Why is your heart, which beats in time with mine, the one that the world dances to?

Why is your relationship sacred and mine profane?

Does anyone ever wonder?

Really wonder.

Why we humans have the need to sit in judgement on another's worth.

It must be a need.

It seems we never turn down the opportunity.

Today, Ireland votes on the 'issue' (it's an issue, think of that, an issue) of gay marriage. We may win. We may lose. But even if we win, I will look at all the no votes, the ones cast, not against gay marriage but at me, and at every gay person they know, and wonder who they are. I no longer fear them. But I don't understand how they could reconcile the act of going to a voting booth and voting about the hearts and lives of other with their belief in freedom and liberty and justice.

Walmart.sheep

May. 21st, 2015 11:24 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• A Unitarian minister in Alabama was fined $250 and sentenced to six months of probation for “disorderly conduct.” Her crime? She was trying to conduct a wedding for a lesbian couple who had already secured a legal marriage license.

My guess is that Todd Starnes and the rest of the Christian hegemons whinging about imaginary “persecution of Christians” won’t be rallying behind this minister crying “Religious liberty!” But then, for Starnes et. al., Unitarians don’t count as Real, True Christians (except for the ones who also signed the Declaration of Independence and/or served as president), and “religious liberty” is reserved only for RTCs.

• As far as I know, the litigious billionaires who run Walmart have not yet claimed title to the domain name Walmart.sheep.

WalmartSheep

(I fully appreciate that others are likely to arrive at the point at which this is no longer funny before I personally arrive there. But I’m not there yet.)

• Rival white motorcycle gangs got in a shootout in Waco, Texas, leaving nine of them dead. Matthew Hagee says this is a sign of the End Times. Because, for the Hagees, everything is a sign of the End Times.

“The Bible says that in the End Times, lawlessness would abound,” Hagee said. This is what utter devotion to the Narrative of Decline does to your brain. He saw news of the shootout and concluded that the Rapture must be about to happen because lawlessness has reached an all-time high in Waco — the city that previously gave its name to the Waco Siege and the Waco Horror.

Anne Graham Lotz cites far more generic signs of the End Times, but like the Hagees she’s convinced that those signs are clear and the Rapture is overdue. And she’s willing to offer a fairly specific time-range for that prediction: “I believe that in my lifetime, if I live out my lifetime, a natural lifetime, I believe I will live to see the return of Jesus in the Rapture when he comes back to take us to be with himself.”

Lotz is 67, but her dad is still hanging in there at 96, so let’s estimate this “natural lifetime” to be, say, the next 30 years. Put a marker on 2045. If Left Behind doesn’t turn into a documentary between now and then, then we’ll all know that Anne Graham Lotz is full of it.

Of course, the beauty of this prediction is that, by design, she won’t be around to have to defend herself once she’s been proved wrong. Like climate-denialists, she’s making a death bet. And, like all death bets, it’s based on the moral principle of “Screw everyone else, I’m getting mine and who cares about anybody else once I’m dead?”

It’s moral principles like that that make me think of Anne Graham Lotz as Franklin’s sister rather than as Billy’s daughter.

• Sikhs have a rule that says they cannot remove their turbans and uncover their heads publicly. But it is not their only rule and it is not the Most Important Thing (via):

A young Sikh man has been praised for breaking religious protocol and using his turban to cradle the head of an injured child in Auckland.

Harman Singh, 22, was one of the first at the scene after a 5-year-old was hit by a car while walking to school.

Singh said he didn’t think twice about removing his Siropao (turban) to help the child, who was bleeding from the head.

“I wasn’t thinking about the turban. I was thinking about the accident and I just thought, ‘He needs something on his head because he’s bleeding.’ That’s my job – to help,” Singh told nzherald.co.nz.

• That story recalls the story in the Gospels of Jesus healing a woman’s spine on the Sabbath. And also the story in the Gospels of Jesus healing a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. Matthew’s story is slightly different from Mark’s, and the story in Luke is different enough that it might be a completely separate story. Or not. So how are they all related? Which story came first? Is one more “accurate” than the others, or does that question miss the whole point?

This brings us back to the always-fascinating synoptic problem — which Paul Davidson continues to discuss here.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Al Mohler still hasn’t given up on his awkward crusade to turn “erotic liberty” into a hot new buzz-phrase. He seems certain this is clever — and wholly unaware that he sounds like poor Gretchen from Mean Girls trying too hard to make “fetch” happen.

AlMohlerApart from just sounding silly — I’ve noted earlier that “Erotic Liberty” sounds like a bootleg album from Prince or P-funk, or like a “new reality series from Cinemax exposing the sordid post-curfew nightlife of Jerry Falwell’s flagship fundamentalist university in Virginia” — it’s also a dehumanizing reductionist insult. It’s intended to be a dehumanizing, reductionist insult. Straight-married white Christians, Mohler is suggesting, are capable of love. But LBGT people, he is saying, are capable only of “erotic” lust.

The nastiness of this newfangled slur is transparent and deliberate. Al Mohler is pushing the phrase “erotic liberty” because he wants to be a jerk. And, well, that’s one aspect of this effort that’s actually working — it’s certainly succeeding in making Mohler more of a jerk. (See Brian Pellot’s Religion News Service piece “Al Mohler’s ‘erotic liberty’ is an offensive misnomer for LGBT rights” and my earlier post “Al Mohler’s ‘erotic liberty’ is a sinful, unbiblical, indecent, nasty lie“).

Inventing new dehumanizing slurs might help Mohler to rally his most-committed troops, but it’s not an effective approach to persuading any of his would-be followers who might not already be 100-percent devoted to Mohlerism. Yes, I’m sure that when they first heard him try out the phrase, Denny Burk and Owen Strachan said, “Awesome, boss! That’s great! Someday I hope I’m just like you!” But that’s what they say in response to everything Mohler says, and outside of his circle of obsequious henchmen, this “erotic liberty” business is a punchline and a horrifying embarrassment.

Perhaps the main reason the phrase is so ridiculous is Mohler’s inability to understand how it is heard and perceived by anyone who’s not desperately seeking tenure at Southern seminary or Boyce College. Mohler and his circle can only hear “erotic liberty” as an accusation, but the rest of the world hears it as an unconscious confession. The phrase, as Mohler is trying to use it, only makes sense if you accept Mohler’s premise — which is that “erotic” has, and can only have, negative connotations. For Mohler and his Mohlerettes, “erotic” means dirty. It means sex — and sex is a bad, naughty, nasty, filthy thing. (And not, like, the good kind of naughty, nasty or filthy.) For Mohler, in other words, “erotic” means “shameful.”

Thus the vast gulf between what Mohler intends his new slur to communicate and what the rest of us actually hear whenever he employs it. He denounces “erotic liberty” intending us to understand that LGBT people are subhuman beasts, slaves to their genitalia who are incapable of the emotional and spiritual depth we fully human persons possess.

But every time he says “erotic liberty” and tries yet again to make this buzz-phrase a thing, all the rest of us can hear him saying is this: “I, Richard Albert Mohler Jr., am deeply ashamed that I have a penis and that it sometimes gets hard.”

And, yes, that makes us laugh — and, yes, we’re laughing at him. But it’s a nervous laughter, tinged with sadness and pity for this miserable creature so horribly uncomfortable in his own skin — so horribly uncomfortable that he has skin. For Mohler, this apparently goes beyond the mortification of the flesh. He’s mortified by his flesh. His confession is unwitting and unaware, but it’s so vulnerable and nakedly genuine that we can’t help but feel that tinge of pity even despite his making that confession in the midst of his attempt to insult, demean and dehumanize others in order to deny them their civil rights and human dignity.

But there are other important reasons that “erotic liberty” will never work as the slogan Mohler thinks it can become. To consider those, we will have to do something Mohler himself is apparently incapable of doing — which is to set aside all thoughts of the shamefulness of Mohler’s penis in order to consider what this phrase, “erotic liberty,” could possibly mean legally.

What could it possibly mean to say that citizens’ “erotic liberty” is not their essential human right, but some kind of limited, contingent privilege to be monitored and regulated by the state? What would it mean to empower the state with the authority to carry out such monitoring and regulation? Could any state so empowered to govern the most intimate thoughts and consensual deeds of its subjects be limited or restrained in any other area? I don’t see how.

Mohler is determined to invent a false and weird conflict between “erotic liberty” and “religious liberty,” but the two things — as actual meaningful concepts rather than pliable slogans and epithets — are actually closely linked. Both belong to the category of things that must be regarded as intrinsic human rights because any state empowered to monitor or regulate them would be invited to become totalitarian.

So again, please, Al Mohler: Stop making the rest of us have to think about your penis. Stop trying to make “erotic liberty” your hot new slogan. You’re not doing what you think you’re doing. It’s not working.

Thing the First

May. 21st, 2015 07:30 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Well, there had to be something to sparkle up the knitting of a great big white thing, and here we are, right out of the gate with the first glitch.  I wound the first skein of the yarn, and something was bothering me. The yarn looked… different.  Not the yarn itself, that looks the same, but I’ve just finished knitting that layette out of this same stuff, and it looked to me like a different colour.

Now, the yarn I’m using is The Loopy Ewe Solid Series in the artfully named colour “White”.  (It isn’t really. It’s more like a cream. I like it.) It doesn’t have a lot number, so there’s no way I screwed up that part, but when I put the new yarn beside the old yarn?

alternaing 2015-05-21

I’ve got them alternating here, old and new, and I think even with a computer monitor between us, you can see it’s not the same.  It’s totally not the same. I showed it to Joe last night and usually when I engage him in knitting stuff, he does his best, but can’t see what I’m talking about. He’s good at the math stuff, but questions like “Is this lace too open?” or “Do you think this increase looks funny?” are usually met with this particular look.  He does his best to answer, because I love knitting and he loves me, and pretending to care about the process of knitting is a smart deposit in the love bank for him, but right before he answers, there’s this flicker of fear that crosses his face. Not real fear, not like, how I feel about spiders or anything, just that briefest moment of alarm that we all feel when we find out there’s a test, and realize there’s no way you’re going to pass. Usually right after that he searches my face to try and figure out what I think, and then says that.

So, last night I show him two skeins of yarn, and I say “Do these look the same to you?” and Joe glances at them, and then says “Hell no. Are they supposed to?” I mumbled something foul, and he asked “Do you have a knitting problem now?” and I mumbled something foul again. Yes, indeed, I have a knitting problem now.  Since there are no lot numbers, the problem is time. I bought the other skeins over a year ago. More like two years ago, and there’s no reason to expect that the yarn I buy now will be just the same. I was hoping though, that it would be closer than this. I was hoping the inevitable difference would be tiny, and I could cover it by using the different lots for different sections. You know- knit the middle and border out of one, and then knit the edge out of the other, something that would disguise the slight difference.

sidebyside 2015-05-21

(You see it, right? Tell me you see it.)

This difference though is more than slight though, it’s obvious, even to a non-knitter who’d only pretending to care,  and I think it would be too obvious for that kind of fix. That leaves me with two choices. I have eight skeins of the original, and I could just right now decide that come hell or high water, that blanket won’t take more than eight skeins. That’s about how much yarn I used for Lou’s blanket. It could be done. it would be risky, but it could be done. There’s be no way to get more if I ran out – and I don’t know if I want to play that particular game of chicken again. The other choice is to haul off and order more of the new white – and really, it turns out that I like the new white better than the old white – so that’s what I’m going to do.

This decision has its own set of risks. I can’t wait for the yarn to get here before I start knitting. The Loopy Ewe is great about shipping, but they can’t magic away the border, so it’s going to take a little bit. I’ll start knitting now with the four skeins I have, and when the new ones arrive, they just have to match. They simply have to. There’s no reason to think that they won’t – there’s only about a week between orders, and really, there is no dye lot. It should work. It should.  If it doesn’t, I’ll have to figure something else out.*

So, that’s where I am. Getting ready to knit my swatch, waiting for my order to ship, and feeling a little sweaty about my knitting. Pretty much a regular Thursday.

*I’m thinking that by then, a chunky lap rug is going to make more sense than a lace blanket.

And that's a wrap!

May. 21st, 2015 05:06 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
tkingfisher.com now has links for all the platforms! (Except the Google one, because Draft2Digital doesn't do them yet.)

Bryony and Roses. It's a book. Yes. Thing.

*falls down*

As always, if you're interested in the hard sales numbers and whatnot, I keep a running thread on my self-pub career over here.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by by Kate C. Prickett PhD and Alexa Martin-Storey PhD

At the end of this month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriages and to recognize same-sex marriages allowed in other states. In the arguments heard in the lower courts and the record-setting number of amici filed for this case, debate has often veered from whether same-sex couples should be able to marry and waded into the question of how they parent children. Social science research has been front and center in this debate, with a variety of studies examining whether families with two parents of a different sex provide better environments for raising children than two parents of the same sex.

No differences? In general, these studies have examined differences in children’s developmental outcomes to make inferences about differences in what is happening in the home, conflating how children do with the ways that people parent in same-sex and different-sex couples. The “no differences” conclusion refers to the fact that few studies have revealed significant differences in these outcomes between children raised by different-sex parents and same-sex parents. This conclusion about parenting based on data on children, however, may be biased in both directions. For example, same-sex couples are more likely to adopt “hard-to-place” children from the foster care system. They are also more likely to have children who have experienced family instability because they transitioned into new family settings after being in families headed by ‘straight’ couples. Both of these factors are known to affect children’s wellbeing, but they are not as strongly tied to parenting.

New study clarifies. In our new study in the June issue of Demography, we directly address the arguments being made about differences in parenting in two-parent families by examining parents’ actual behaviors. Using the nationally representative American Time Use Survey, we examine how much time parents in same-sex and different-sex couples spend in child-focused activities during a 24-hour period, controlling for a wide range of factors that are also associated with parenting, such as income, education, time spent at work, and the number and age of children in the family. By ‘child-focused’ time, we mean time spent engaged with children in activities that support their physical and cognitive development, like reading to them, playing with them, or helping them with their homework.

Supporting a no differences conclusion, our study finds that women and men in same-sex relationships and women in different-sex relationships do not differ in the amount of time they spend in child-focused activities (about 100 minutes a day). We did find one difference, however, as men in different-sex relationships spend only half as much child-focused time as the other three types of parents. Averaging across mothers and fathers, we determined that children with same-sex parents received an hour more of child-focused parent time a day (3.5 hours) than children in different-sex families (2.5 hours).

A key implication of our study is that the focus on whether same-sex parents provide depreciably different family contexts for healthy child development is misplaced. If anything, the results show that same-sex couples are more likely to invest time in the types of parenting behaviors that support child development. In line with a recent study that has continued to highlight that poverty — more so than family structure — is the greatest detriment to parenting practices, it’s hard not to see how delegitimizing same-sex families in ways that create both social and economic costs for them, pose a greater source of disadvantage for children.

Cross-posted at Families as They Really Are.

Kate Prickett is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin; Alexa Martin-Storey is a developmental psychologist and Assistant Professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, in Sherbrooke, Quebec. You can find their new study (with Robert Crosnoe) here.

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

It Didn’t Save Wild Bill

May. 21st, 2015 11:00 am
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Posted by April Stevens

By Caroline Lawrence (Guest Contributor)

hickok_6shooterWhile researching my second Western Mystery for kids, P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man (AKA The Case of the Good-looking Corpse), I discovered a fascinating fact: very few gunfights played out like the iconic Western movie “showdown”. Two antagonists rarely faced each other like self-moderating duelists on Main Street, one honorably waiting for the other to “draw”. More often one man would “throw down” on another without warning, sometimes even shooting from behind through a window or door.

One night in 1876 in a Deadwood saloon, a famous gunfighter with silky golden locks was shot in the back of the head while playing poker. The shooter, a certain Jack McCall, fled. Hurdy girls screamed and other gamblers recoiled in horror. Wild Bill Hickok, already a legend in his own time, was dead. The reputed inventor of the “fast draw”, Hickok usually took a seat in a corner of a saloon or against wall, so nobody could sneak up on him. But on that fatal  night he sat with his back exposed. Perhaps he was feeling tired of life. He was an alcoholic who rubbed mercury on his skin to alleviate the symptoms of venereal disease. This poisonous treatment made him drool and start to lose his sight. According to Deadwood author Pete Dexter, it often took him twenty minutes to empty his bladder.

As Hickok slumped onto the table, the five cards in his hand fell on the floor, spattered with drops of blood. Legend has it that he held two pair – black aces and a pair of black eights – that would later come to be know as the ‘Dead Man’s Hand’. He did not even have time to reach for his own weapon.

That weapon was an old-fashioned revolver – a Smith & Wesson number two six-shooter – which had first gone into production more than fifteen years before. Unlike fiddly cap and ball revolvers, which required the user to combine the ingredients for a bullet in each chamber of the cylinder, the Smith & Wesson had powder, ball and charge encased in a single cartridge. Protected by this rimfire “bullet”, the powder would never grow damp, the ball would never fall out and the charge would never misfire. You could just put a new cartridge into the cylinder. You could even pop out an entire used cylinder and put in a new one with six cartridges pre-loaded in.

In Roughing It, Mark Twain’s account of his days in the Wild West, he describes his own pistol. “I was armed to the teeth with a pitiful little Smith & Wesson’s seven-shooter,” he writes,  “which carried a ball like a homoeopathic pill, and it took the whole seven to make a dose for an adult.” The Smith & Wesson Number 1 took seven .22 caliber cartridges. The new improved Number 2 took six cartridges rather than seven, and they each held a bigger .32 caliber ball, (i.e. the diameter of the ball was about a third of an inch.) Like the Number 1, the Number 2 had a spur trigger which only popped out when you cocked it. This new improved second-edition was so popular that Smith & Wesson had to stop taking orders at one point of production until they could catch up with demand.

Hickok’s Smith & Wesson Number 2 had a pretty rosewood grip and blued steel barrel. Sheriff Seth Bullock took it from Hickok’s cooling body and sold it to help pay off the gunfighter’s debts. It then passed from one generation to the next, one of the best documented firearms ever to go on sale.

Yes, on Monday 18 November 2013 this famous revolver will go up for auction in San Francisco, and is expected to fetch as much as half a million dollars… maybe more.

Until then it will be on show along with other early pistols and items of armour at Bonham’s auction house on 220 San Bruno Avenue in the Mission District. Viewing is free to the public and starts at high noon on Friday 15 November. If you are in San Francisco, come along and have a look at a famous piece of Western history. I might see you there!

[Update on Tues 19 November 2013: The famous revolver failed to meet the reserve price and bidding stalled at $220,000… so you might have another chance to see it.]

Caroline Lawrence is a children’s author who won the Classical Association Prize for her Roman Mysteries series. In 2011 Caroline launched a second historical detective series, the Western Mysteries, staring P.K. Pinkerton: a 12-year-old doubly orphaned detective.

This post first appeared on Wonders & Marvels in November 2013.

Reviewing, Remembering, Readying

May. 21st, 2015 07:18 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo Description: A signpost reading 'Memory Lane'
 I hadn't imagined that getting married would be such hard work. Oh, I knew there was busy work with lots to be organized. But, I also knew that we weren't going big, and that we were taking a fairly casual approach to everything but the ceremony, where we are placing most of our energies. But the 'other' work, man it's tough. I don't know if everyone goes through this, but as we plan and get ready for the date, I have been spending time thinking back over our 46 years together and remembering times, the wonderful ones, the tough ones.

Today on the ride to work I thought a lot about the day I became disabled. When I knew that I wouldn't be walking at Joe's side any more. When I knew that I would need Joe in a different way than I had needed him before. When I knew that being with me would mean that he would never be free of the effects of my disability on his life.

I'm, lucky, I suppose, because I never, once, not even for a moment, thought that Joe would leave me because I was in a wheelchair and because that wheelchair had to be lifted into the trunk. I did wonder, however, if, over time, he would come to resent the work that he had to do and the unequal nature of our relationship as a disproportionate amount of our 'living together' tasks would fall to him. Would I, as people wonder and worry, be a burden to him.

I can write this now, without crying, but only because I'm looking back in time. I'm looking from the perspective of someone who rode through these concerns on wheels. I'm OK. He's OK. We're OK. But I didn't know that then. Then, I worried. Then, I cried. Then, I feared. Let's face it, the worries and fears are real, you never know how a situation will be handled until it's handled. You never know someone mettle until it's tested.

As the bus pulled up to work, I realized that my life, after disability, went on. With adaptions, with losses, with changes and, most importantly, with Joe.

This marriage thing is an interesting journey. Everyone told me about the difficulty in coping with the details, no one mentioned the other work, the hard work, of remembering and reviewing and reevaluating past events in light of the present. That warning I could have used.

Dear Prince

May. 20th, 2015 09:51 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Dear Prince,

Thanks so much for last night. I’ve written before about you. I wrote about the time that we first were breathing the same air, when I was just sixteen, and you were twenty-six. You’re ten years older than me, and we almost have the same birthday, did you know that? (We’re also both short, and I know that doesn’t seem like much to base love on but think it over.) I wrote about what I learned after the second time I saw you. That was eleven years ago, and we were both older, and wiser, and I don’t know about you, but even if we had really discovered each other then, I know now it would have been my kids I stayed for. My husband isn’t really a barrier to us going to Bermuda or anything. We have a Prince/Parker Posey clause in our marriage. I won’t stand between him and Parker if she’s into it, and he understands that if you want to swing by to pick me up, I’ll be in the back of your limo faster than the amount of time it takes him to think of another reason why he hasn’t installed the soaker hoses in the backyard, and trust me, he’s really good at that. We’ve agreed that should this be what you and Parker want, we won’t stand in each others way, in fact last night as he dropped me off for your concert, he said “If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, let me know.” (For the record though, since we intend on returning to this marriage after Bermuda, if you would bring Parker with you when you come for me, I think that would be easier for him to take. Equity and all that. You get it.)  Anyway, it didn’t happen that night, and that was probably best. I had a ton of laundry to do anyway.

Five years ago we got another chance. I was in row 17 with my sister, and though that was the closest we’d ever been to each other, It wasn’t close enough for us to connect. It’s not your fault. There were 14 000 other people there. Those are crappy odds – I do appreciate the fact that you smiled right at me. Well, me and the several other hundred people standing near me. I know what it was about though. It was a “Hey, nice to see you again, it’s been awhile” kinda smile. I smiled back. I think you saw me.

Last night though, last night was something, and I think we both know it. Erin and I somehow managed to get tickets to see you, and let me tell you, i knew right away that it was going to be different. First of all the venue only held 3000 people, and I know that considering that you can fill a way bigger space, you chose that because you were looking to improve our odds. Erin and I showed up, clutching our tickets, and lined up with the rest of those people who came and honest to gosh, we didn’t realize we had front row tickets until we sat down. There was just those people in “The Pit” between us, and I think you’ll understand what I’m saying when I point out that there’s no point in a person who’s as short as we are standing in the pit. Am I right?

purplerain 2015-05-20

Then you came out on stage, and you were right there, and you did a great job. I mean that. You look great. I really liked that shirt you were wearing. (I was wearing this great shirt that I got at the Port Townsend Goodwill for $2.)  You sang and danced and Erin and I talked after about how amazing it is that your band is mostly women, because they’re so under-represented in the industry, but you’ve always been cool that way. Anyway, what I really want to talk about is that moment. There was a few times actually, where you looked right at me – Erin thinks maybe you looked at her, but I think it’s just that we were standing together, and we are sisters, and do look a little alike. It was right then, when you looked me in the eyes as you sang “I don’t care where we go, I don’t care what we do” that I knew.  We made eye contact, and you smiled, and I smiled, and then you looked at some other people so that they didn’t feel left out, which was so sensitive of you.  You looked right at me, and I knew everything.

I knew that I’m 46, and you’re 56, and that now that we’ve seen each other, and looked into each others souls, and then we went home separately, that it’s because that’s what we really want. We couldn’t live together. We both know it, now that we’re both old enough to look past all the glitter.  I couldn’t be in your band, and you don’t know how to knit, and even though it would be really neat to be with someone where I don’t have to stand on a chair to gaze into their eyes, I get the feeling you’re yarn ambivalent, and you can’t build a life like that, and we both know it.  It was a beautiful moment, knowing we’d finally found each other really, and that now we’re not together because in our maturity, we choose it.  Thanks man. Thanks for everything.

Stephanie

(PS. None of this rules out the part about Bahamas, if you ever want to go.)

 

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

On average, white and black Americans have different ideas as to what’s behind the recent unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll of 508 adults found that nearly two-thirds of African Americans felt that the unrest reflected “long-standing frustrations about police mistreatment of African Americans,” compared to less than one-third of whites.

2 (1)

In contrast, among whites, 58% believed that African Americans were just looking for an “excuse to engage in looting and violence.” A quarter of black respondents thought the same.

Though they may see it differently, almost everyone expects the uprising to reach more cities over the summer.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Political Pants

May. 20th, 2015 06:18 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger


Photo description: An elderly heterosexual couple both well dressed. He is pushing a bright red, brand new walker, she is wearing matching bright red pants and shoes.
Joe and I met them as they were coming out a door I was going in. I saw them, then waited for them to come through. When I noticed the matching pants and walker, I said to them excitedly, "That's great, that's just great, you look awesome!!" They looked, um, startled. The continued past me and went down the ramp and I went into the building.

I asked Joe to run back to them and ask if he could take a picture. He said, "I'm not doing that, if you want a picture you go ask them." I knew he meant it. I knew he knew I'd asked him to do something I was too nervous to do myself. But I wanted that picture. So I screwed up my courage and rushed through the door and down the ramp and then raced towards them. I caught up to them, called out "Hello!?" and they turned to me and came to a stop.

Words tumbled out of my mouth. I said I hoped they didn't think that this was really weird but I wanted a picture of them. I took a breath to explain and in that pause she said, quietly, "Why?" OK, I thought I going to tell the absolute truth. "I am a writer and lecture on disability issues, I think a lot about disability and disability pride. When I saw you with the new red walker and you," I looked at her then, "with the matching red pants, well, it's so out there. It's a statement about who you are and the love you have for each other and it's about not hiding and about there being no shame in being disabled and using a walker. I love it. I really would like your picture."

He had been smiling the whole way through, I didn't know if it was a polite smile or a real one. When I'd done, he said, "You go ahead and take the picture." She, looked at him, with such love, and then said, "Yes, take the picture." They stood together, as I took a couple of shots and thanked them.

I love this picture.

I love what it says.

I love that they understood that their choice of a bright red walker and her choice of bright red pants were political choices. I love that they didn't think my request was silly. I love that they never questioned, and therefore clearly grasped the idea of, disability pride. I loved that I was asked why and was made to respond. I loved that they listened hard to what I was saying and made the decision to let a writer, lecturer take their picture. I love the life they have together.

Revolution happens in small choices.

Like bright red pants matching a bright red walker.

Walmart.cow

May. 20th, 2015 07:19 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• My daughter met the BooMan a few years ago when we were all out canvassing for the 2012 elections, getting out the vote for a slate of candidates that included our local state senator, Andy Dinnaman. Elections have consequences. Thanks to Sen. Dinnaman’s push to have Pennsylvania first-responders trained and equipped to administer the anti-overdose drug Naloxone — and to new Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s support to making that happen sooner, rather than later — several of our neighbors here in Chester County are now alive who would otherwise be dead.

Two lessons here (at least): 1) Local elections matter and volunteering to GOTV matters; and 2) Naloxone saves lives and it should be saving lives everywhere, not just in Pennsylvania.

• As far as I know, Walmart has not yet launched its army of lawyers to seize the domain name Walmart.cow.

WalmartCow22

• Just realized that the Witch House and the Mystery House are not the same thing (via Steve Buchheit). I’d been confusing my California oddities. The whimsical one is in Los Angeles. The tragically eccentric one is in San Jose. Neither is actually haunted, but the heiress who built and rebuilt the latter was.

• Reformed white evangelicals in America cannot abide Pelagianism — until they start talking about virginity.

• “I personally don’t want to live in a world where this kind of thing is swept under the rug.” Laura Bassett’s “Buried in Baltimore: The Mysterious Murder of a Nun Who Knew Too Much” is must-reading for anyone trying to understand the scope of the clergy abuse scandal — and for anyone trying to understand the latest Pew survey documenting the decline of organized Christianity in the US (via).

The details of the crimes are horrifying. The details of the criminal conspiracy involving priests and high-ranking police officers are terrifying. But the heroes of the story — a group of determined women who remind me of The Bletchley Circle — may inspire you as much as the rest of the story dismays you.

• I’m hoping that Booman Tribune link in the first item works (if not, here’s the local news story he writes about) — Booman’s site is one of several I visit that’s been occasionally inaccessible lately due to the “Go Garden Club” redirect bug, which seems to have something to do with the sitemeter widget. It doesn’t seem to involve infectious malware per se — just the annoying result of winding up at some gardening site rather than wherever it is your browser is supposed to be going. (I’ve had the same problem lately with Lawyers Guns & Money and a few other blogs I read).

So here’s Mahalia singing for Booman and LGM and everyone trying to read them who winds up reading about gardening instead:

Click here to view the embedded video.

[syndicated profile] chinookjargon_feed

Posted by chinookjargon

Here’s where it pays to be that weird picayune breed that I belong to, the reader of dictionaries.

picayune

In the 1994 dictionary of Lushootseed (Puget Sound Salish) by Dawn Bates, Thom Hess and Vi taqʷšəblu Hilbert, you can find the usual money words borrowed from English — probably via the pidgin Chinook Jargon — such as:

  • bit “10 cents”
  • tálə “dollar”

By the way, the “dollar” word has the /t/ sound we expect when an English /d/ gets borrowed into a Pacific Northwest language. Pretty universally you’ll find this de-voiced /d/, as something like tala in all the Salish languages I can think of at the moment.

So why the /b/ in “10 cents”? We’d expect a devoiced /pit/ here, by the logic I just used…but at the time when Chinook Jargon and English were spreading along the PNW Coast in the 1800s, many many Native languages had a kind of free variation where /m/ sounds often came out sounding a lot like [b]. George Gibbs’ 1863 Vocabulary of the Chinook[an] Language is an example that has lots of “b” where we know an “m” was intended. Likewise, in much of the Coast the English/CJ word “bit” (as in “two bits” etc.) was understood by Native ears as intended to sound like “mit”. The Lushootseed borrowing of this, therefore, went on to take part in that language’s 1800s sound shift of nasals into oral stops — in other words, to sounding like the speakers had head colds. So m’s became b’s, and n’s became d’s. The original borrowed form “mit”, in this way, became “bit”, only by coincidence resembling the original English word!

This second fact that I’ve just told you sets the stage for an additional money word that I just noticed in Lushootseed:

  • s-pikyud “nickel, 5 cents”

In a decade of reading this dictionary, this word never looked odd to me for a minute. Today I see it with other eyes, somehow. Could this be made of two parts, the native Salish noun-making prefix s- + a borrowed English “picayune”?

This idea seemed too weird to be true. So naturally, over to Google Books for a look at 19th-century use of “picayune”.

Boom! Direct hit. A periodical titled “The Numismatist” XIII:5, May 1900, has an article on “Colloquial Names of Coins” centering on this word, where page 135 says the old half-dime coin was called a “picayune” in Illinois, ascribed to Missouri French influence.  This seems to have been in the 1840s or 1850s.

Richard Smith Elliott’s 1883 memoir “Notes Taken in Sixty Years” backs this up with more information: “in New Orleans and the West” the so-called five-penny (“fipenny”) bit (actually a 6 1/4 cent coin, i.e. 1/16 of a dollar) “was a ‘picayune'” — he says this is the basis of the name of the New Orleans newspaper (page 88).  (For my non-American readers: “picayune” now primarily is an adjective, meaning “of little value, trifling”.)

picayune cartoon

The earliest published book that I find to use this term yet is from 1869, but as noted, “picayune” was in circulation in the earlier decades when Native-White contact was at arguably its most intense.

Following the same logic that’s been applied in other studies of PNW language contact, when we find an obviously old loan of an English word into an Aboriginal language of this region, we can infer that it came in via Chinook Jargon.  You know, the “trade language”.  Trade involves money a lot of time, now doesn’t it?  So I’m wondering if this Lushootseed word for “a nickel” coin is actually a newly discovered CJ word.  (It’s certainly not in any of the CJ literature yet.)

I’d say that’s not very picayune at all!  :)


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Posted by Jack El-Hai

By Jack El-Hai, Wonders & Marvels contributor

It’s safe to bet that if you’re a Wonders & Marvels visitor, you love reading and may have a sizeable book collection. But how does your fondness for books stack up against the obsessive hoarding of one of history’s most formidable bibliomaniacs, Richard Heber?Material_in_the_New_Orleans_city_archives_(177181765)

Heber, born in London in 1773 or 1774 into the family of a wealthy clergyman, was already a longtime habitué of bookshops and auctions by the time he enrolled at Brasenose College, Oxford. Despite his family’s efforts to curb his habit, Heber’s book purchases spiraled him into debt and filled his rooms with old and rare volumes. Unlike some sufferers of bibliomania, Heber actually did read some of the books he compulsively acquired, and he built a middling reputation as a scholar of English and classical literature.

After his father died and left Heber a fortune, all financial fetters were gone. “It seemed as if he wanted to own every book that ever was, and not just one copy of each,” John Michell wrote in Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions. “He used to say that every gentleman needed at least three copies of a book, one for his country house library, one for reading, and one to lend to friends.” His acquaintances characterized his hunger for books as insatiable and compared his lust for printed material to the yearnings of drunkards and opium addicts. In an era of difficult travel, Heber would journey hundreds of miles for a book he had targeted, and he sometimes bought books several thousand at a time. Only once did he contemplate marriage, and he and the woman he courted regarded the union primarily as a merger of book collections. In the end, Heber stayed single and their libraries remained separate.

In 1833, Heber died a recluse in the London house where he kept much of his gigantic collection hidden from the eyes of others. (One of his final acts had been to place an order with a bookseller.) When news spread of Heber’s death, a chronicler of bibliomania named Thomas Frognall Dibdin rushed to the house to view the legendary stash. “I had never seen rooms, cupboards, passages, and corridors, so choked, so suffocated, with books…. Up to the very ceiling the piles of volumes extended; while the floor was strewn with them,” Dibdin wrote. And Heber had jammed his seven other residences across Europe with uncountable additional books.

Years earlier, Heber’s book fixation had inspired the Scottish physician and poet John Ferriar to write and publish a long set of verses, titled The Bibliomania. It begins by questioning

What wild desires, what restless torments seize

The hapless man, who feels the book-disease,…

Heber undoubtedly had multiple copies of Ferriar’s book in his collection.

 

Further reading

Dibdin, Thomas Frognall. Bibliomania: or Book-Madness, a Bibliographical Romance. Henry G. Bohn, publisher, 1842.

Michell, John. Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2002.

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  • Where Does Your Pipeline Lead? | Life as I Know It: “If you’re thinking about getting into the tech industry or wondering how to stay in the tech industry in the face of pervasive toxic environments, I encourage you to broaden your horizons about what ‘being in tech’ can look like. What is your goal? If you want to use technology to make a better life for yourself, think carefully about the pipeline you enter and where you want it to lead.”
  • Marvel replaces Black Widow with Captain America for its toy line | BoingBoing: “In other words, not only is Black Widow ridiculously underrepresented in Avengers merchandise—she’s also actively erased from her own scenes. Well done Marvel.”
  • Happy Birthday to Inge Lehmann, the Woman Who Discovered Earth’s Inner Core | Smart News | Smithsonian: “Her idea was revolutionary. When Lehmann published her findings in 1936, her solid core model was quickly adopted by the scientific community. Lehmann’s theory was finally proven right in 1970, when new, more sensitive seismographs picked up seismic waves bouncing off the Earth’s solid core.”
  • Interview: ‘Nimona’ Creator Noelle Stevenson | NPR: “Like a lot of young women, I went through an entire period where I hated female characters — I didn’t want to read about them! I thought I was going to be the cool girl who was not like other girls. And that’s so harmful.”
  • ATP Shownote Data | Kieran Healy: “When doing this kind of thing it can be helpful to look back on what your past practice has been. For example, it can be useful to audit one’s own habits of linking and engagement. Often exclusion is less a matter of explicit boundary policing (though God knows there’s enough of that in the tech sector) and more a matter of passive homophily.”
  • Project Update: The Electric Blanket is DONE! | Tech Musings: “Mrs. Parenteau and her merry band of 3rd grade scientists/sewers have finally finished their electric blanket project! The final result is a quilt containing approximately 45 squares that light up. Currently hanging in the Science hallway, it’s fun to watch students interact with it by pressing the different switches to light up the quilt. This was a challenging project for the kids and we are proud of their hard work and perseverance with the e-textile materials – especially the conductive thread.”

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 Fred Clark

The opening paragraph of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds is a creepy masterpiece:

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

That’s a terrific bit of foreshadowing — setting up both the plot and the major theme of Wells’ story. But it’s undercut, a bit, by the epigraph Wells placed just ahead of it in his 1897 novel — a snippet from something the great astronomer Johannes Kepler said early in the 17th century:

“But who shall dwell in these Worlds if they be inhabited? … Are we or they Lords of the World? … And how are all things made for man?”

Rather than supporting Wells’ somewhat arrogant dismissal of humanity’s arrogant incuriosity — “No one would have believed …” and “No one gave a thought …” — those lines from Kepler actually show that humans had been speculating and pondering and wondering about this very subject for centuries before. The quote is taken from Robert Burton’s 1621 tome, The Anatomy of Melancholy, and a larger excerpt from Burton’s passage shows that this speculation long preceded Kepler:

 If our world be small in respect, why may we not suppose a plurality of worlds, those infinite stars visible in the firmament to be so many suns, with particular fixed centres; to have likewise their subordinate planets, as the sun hath his dancing still round him? which Cardinal Cusanus, Walkarinus, Brunus, and some others have held, and some still maintain. ...

 

My God ... it's full of stars.

My God … it’s full of stars.

Though they seem close to us, they are infinitely distant, and so per consequens, there are infinite habitable worlds: what hinders? Why should not an infinite cause (as God is) produce infinite effects? … Kepler (I confess) will by no means admit of Brunus’s infinite worlds, or that the fixed stars should be so many suns, with their compassing planets, yet the said Kepler between jest and earnest in his perspectives … seems in part to agree with this, and partly to contradict; for the planets, he yields them to be inhabited, he doubts of the stars; and so doth Tycho in his astronomical epistles, out of a consideration of their vastity and greatness, break out into some such like speeches, that he will never believe those great and huge bodies were made to no other use than this that we perceive, to illuminate the earth, a point insensible in respect of the whole. But who shall dwell in these vast bodies, earths, worlds, if they be inhabited? rational creatures? as Kepler demands, or have they souls to be saved? or do they inhabit a better part of the world than we do? Are we or they lords of the world? And how are all things made for man?

We humans from earth have been looking up at the stars and thinking about this for a very long time. We have been pondering the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life since long before H.G. Wells. And we’ve certainly continued to ponder it since then — in stories, novels, movies, scientific papers and theological treatises.

The best of this speculation — whether in stories or in more scholarly non-fiction — builds on this long tradition. Thus when Carl Sagan had Ellie Arroway and her father say, “If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space,” he was borrowing from the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1541-1601) who argued, in Burton’s paraphrase, “that he will never believe those great and huge bodies were made to no other use than this that we perceive, to illuminate the earth, a point insensible in respect of the whole.” 

The idea that there may be something new under other suns is nothing new under the sun.

That’s why I’m mostly just kind of meh about this Damon Linker piece and the other (semi-)recent posts James McGrath rounds up on the subject. Linker hits on several of the “challenges … to the world’s religious traditions” that first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life would introduce, but he misses the biggest one — the one explored by both Kepler and Wells. Kepler acknowledges the kind of questions Linker raises — “have they souls to be saved?” But then he quickly skips ahead to the more potentially devastating question: “Are all things made for man?”

That would be the Copernican shift in our theology forced by such an encounter. The main problem would not be that we would need to refine or reform how we think about God, but that we would have to completely upend how we think about ourselves.

If we are alone, then we have top-billing in the universe and we’re the stars of the show. Religious thinkers have repeatedly warned us not to think of ourselves in this way — ever since before the first time the story of Job was performed. But we can’t seem to help it. First contact would force us to recognize that ours is not the only story — that we humans from earth may be, “Not Prince Hamlet … but an attendant lord … almost, at times, the Fool.” Or that we may be more akin to “the infusoria under” someone else’s microscope.

Such a “great disillusionment” might prove to be fatally humiliating or it might prove to be humbling in a more edifying way. (The hum- component of those words is shared with the words human and humus. Like our theology and our philosophy, our language is grounded in earthy, terrestrial concepts.) In such a humbled state, the particularity and parochial, terrestrial contingency of our religious traditions will be an asset, not a liability. It will be a resource for remembering and expanding on the lesson that some of us were fortunate enough to learn early on from Mr. Rogers — that we are unique and special and loved, but so is everyone else.

As for the changes in dogma and doctrine that would (will?) accompany first contact, those will also be significant — forcing us to rethink many things we assumed we knew with certainty. If Klaatu or some Vulcan ambassador lands a starship on the National Mall then it will turn out that, oops, we were wrong about the impossibility of faster-than-light travel. That won’t mean that everything we thought we knew about the speed of light or about physics has to be completely scrapped as useless nonsense, but that we will have the chance to learn there is more to the story than what we thought we knew.

Such a possibility seems to me less like a great disillusionment than an enormously exciting opportunity.

Widdle Shoesies

May. 19th, 2015 08:58 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Ahh, baby things. I love to knit baby things. I know there’s all kinds of ideas and superstitions about not getting things for the baby before the baby, but I don’t truck with any of that. I feel like the things I make anchor babies to the earth, makes ready the way.

layette1 2015-05-19

There wasn’t too much knitting here this weekend, but I’m half a bootee away from a finished layette, and it’s so beautiful, and so tiny. Knitting first size things always makes me nervous. Newborns have a chest size of about 30-35cm, that’s only about 12-14 inches, and the whole time I’m knitting I keep thinking “No, that can’t be big enough, they must be a little bigger” but they’re not. The sweater’s all finished but for buttons, and I blocked the wee sweet bonnet over a big apple this weekend, and now once I finish that bootee, I’ll affix a whack of ribbon to the whole thing and there it will be. Ready and waiting for someone to fill it.  I’m so delighted I might wrap it in tissue paper.

I was going to say that when it’s done, I’ll have time for a pair of socks or something, but while I was typing that sentence the letter carrier rang the bell, and voila. The rest of the blanket yarn has arrived – which is totally exciting for me, and the beginning of a long expanse of knitting the same thing in one colour for the blog. I’ll see what I can do to make it interesting, but I think you’d better prepare yourselves. There’s only so exciting I can make nine million miles of white yarn.

While you consider that thrilling revelation, Thank you for your generous donations all weekend long. There was a rough few moments (or hours) on the training ride on Sunday, and knowing it was doing a world of good made all the difference. My arse doesn’t hurt less, but my heart was light.  Thanks to everyone who emailed in that they’d like the trip to Squam – Last night at midnight I sorted all the emails into a pile, then used a random number generator to select a name. Amysue will be  making her way there this summer. I’ve emailed you Amysue, and do me a favour? Have a swim in the lake for me.

More gifts on Friday, see you tomorrow, when the blanket starts. You won’t want to miss that. White knitting. For miles. And weeks. For now, I’m going to take a nap. I have a date with my sister tonight, and you wouldn’t believe where we’re going.

Bryony And Roses LAUNCH DAY!

May. 19th, 2015 04:37 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
*breaths into paper bag*

Okay! Here we go! I have hit PUBLISH on all the major sites! WE ARE DOING THIS THING!



*gets second paper bag*

Bryony And Roses! The Beauty & the Beast retelling I've been promising you guys for years! The one about the gardener and the roses! May contain clockwork bees because that seems to be a recurring motif of mine! Not quite as dark as Seventh Bride! Probably will not shock you into unwanted personal growth! Available under the pen-name T. Kingfisher!

So many exclamation points!

As always, you can visit

http://tkingfisher.com/

and find links to all the formats, updated as they become available. (At the time of this writing, it is on Smashwords and Kindle. Please note that epub is the only format available from Smashwords! Draft2Digital is handling other conversions for Kobo, Nook and iBooks, and I will update as they occur.)

ETA: And we have Kobo!

If you require a PDF in order to read it, you can e-mail me at ursulav@gmail.com and I will happily sell you one unless you live in the EU, in which case I am afraid VAT comes into play. But fear not! E-mail me anyway, and we will Work Something Out, probably involving a conservation charity in the EU that could use some love.

There's a tortoiseshell kitten on my desk and I am having the Book Launch Day screaming panic and the backmatter is undoubtedly made of bees but it will all work out, it always does, and hopefully you will enjoy the book!
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Jay Livingston, PhD

At the New York Times, Ross Douthat has called out liberals who think, and declare, that churches today are more focused on “culture war” issues like abortion and homosexuality than on poverty.

Ridiculous, says Douthat. Religious organizations spend only “a few hundred million dollars” on pro-life causes and “traditional marriage” but tens of billions on charities, schools, and hospitals. Douthat and his sources, though, lump all spending together rather than separating domestic U.S. budgets from those going to the developing world.  But even in the U.S. and other wealthy countries, abortion and gay marriage are largely legislative and legal matters. Building schools and hospitals and then keeping them running – that takes real money.

Why then do liberals get this impression about the priorities of religious organizations? Douthat blames the media. He doesn’t do a full O’Reilly and accuse the media (liberal, it goes without saying) and others of ganging up in a war on religion, but that’s the subtext.

Anyone who tells you that America’s pastors are obsessed with homosexuality or abortion only hears them through a media filter. You can attend Masses or megachurches for months without having those issues intrude.

Actually, the media do not report on the sermons and homilies of local clergy at all, whether they are urging their flocks to live good lives, become wealthy, help the needy, or oppose gay marriage. Nor is there a data base of these Sunday texts, so we don’t know precisely how much American chuchgoers are hearing about any of these topics. Only a handful of clergy get media coverage, and that coverage focuses on their pronouncements about controversial issues.  As Douthat says, liberals are probably reacting to “religious leaders who make opposition to abortion more of a political priority than publicly-funded antipoverty efforts.”

Of his own Catholic church, Douthat adds, “You can bore yourself to tears reading denominational statements and bishops’ documents (true long before Pope Francis) with a similar result.” Maybe he has done this reading, and maybe he does think that his Church does not let “those issues intrude.” Or as he puts it, “The belief that organized religion is organized around culture war is largely a conceit of the irreligious.”

But here, thanks to the centralized and hierarchical structure of the Church, we can get data that might reveal what the Church is worried about. As Douthat implies, the previous pope (Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger), was more concerned about culture-war issues than is the current pope.

How concerned? I went to Lexis-Nexis. I figured that papal pronouncements on these issues would be issued in masses, in official statements, and in addresses.  For each of those three terms, I searched for “Pope Benedict” with four “culture-war” terms (Abortion, Homosexuality, Condom, and Birth control) and Poverty.

3 2 2 (1)
Abortion was the big winner.  Poverty was referred to in more articles than were the other individual culture-war terms.  But if those terms are combined into a single bar, its clear that poverty as a papal concern is dwarfed by the attention to these other issues. The graph below shows the data for “mass.”

1b
This is not the best data. It might reflect the concerns of the press more than those of the Church. Also, some of those Lexis-Nexis articles are not direct hits. They might reference an “address” or “statement” by someone else. But there’s no reason to think that these off-target citations are skewed towards Abortion and away from Poverty.So it’s completely understandable that liberals, and perhaps non-liberals as well, have the impression that Big Religion has a big concern with matters of sex and reproduction.

Cross-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)

Doors, Voice and Frustration

May. 19th, 2015 07:22 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I'd like to describe two incidents to you and then chat a bit about what happened. So let me take you on the journey of one day of being out while in a wheelchair.

First, we had gone into a grocery store to get something that we wanted to make for supper. They didn't have it, I pouted a bit because it's what I wanted, then suggested to Joe we go to the grocery store we usually go to, even though it's further away, because I knew they had it there. He was totally good with that because, well, he was pouting too. He took the cart back and I followed. I stopped on the way and found some chocolate covered, maple peanuts boxed as Canadian Bear Poo. What a find! We're giving the girls each a stuffed Paddington Bear and thought this a perfect accompanying gift. Joe said he'd take it through the checkout line. I said I'd go ahead over to the other store to get what we needed and he could meet me there.

I got to the store, hit the button for the doors to open. I like this mall because when you push the button both the large doors open and entry is really easy. I come in and a fellow, in his twenties, sees me and holds open both doors. The problem is that the only way to do that is to stand between them and hold them open with both arms. He had ear buds in he couldn't hear me saying, "Could you just push the button please." He's glaring at me because I'm not going through. I can't go through because, obviously, he's right in my way. I'd have to go through him to get through the door because he's standing right in the way. The doors are open but he's in the middle. Finally a woman, closer to my age, comes under his right arm, walks around the door and pushes the button, the doors open wider, freeing him, and he, gives me one more glare and stomps off. I go in the building. Frustration built up inside me to the point that I was almost drowning in it. But I was in, I distracted myself with doing what I was there for.

Advance about an hour.

I am crossing the street, at a light. As I approach the curb a woman begins the back and forth dance - the one that indicates she doesn't know where to stand that would be best for me and as a result she's stepping forward then back. I don't need to do anything because I'm turning and crossing the road, as she is set to do, therefore won't come anywhere near her. When I get close to her I say, rudely, "Settle yourself, I'm turning here too." She said, breathlessly, "I just wanted to make sure you had the room you needed."

We waited for the light.

I had this feeling that I'd just been an asshole. I was rude to her and didn't need to be. Just before the light changed I turned to her and said, "I think I was rude, I didn't mean to be, I just didn't need you to move for me, I should have spoken more kindly." She, again, smiled and said, "Really, I just wanted to ensure you had the space you needed." I said, "I know."

I don't want to turn rude. I don't want to turn into what others would think is a bitter cripple. It's just that I get frustrated, really frustrated with interacting with people helping me, particularly when help, as it often does, actually is a barrier to me getting where I want to go, getting done what I want to do. Sometimes the frustration with one situation will come out in the next situation. I have to try and ensure that I have more control, to make each interaction the first interaction, start fresh every time I approach a situation.

But, I'm finding that hard.

Does anyone else?
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• “If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you? You may destroy only the trees that you know do not produce food.” — Deuteronomy 20:19-20

• An oddly kinky headline from Charismanews (via).

Screenshot 2015-05-19 at 5.16.26 AM

 

That may be even less enticing than this other voyeuristic new offering from basic cable’s horribly misnamed The Learning Channel: The Submissive Wives’ Guide to Marriage. (Actually, I hear it’s about ethics in gaming journalism.)

• “Sorry. Iraq Wasn’t a Good Faith Mistake. It Was Based on Lies.” Yes, and those lies were obvious and indefensible at the time.

James McGrath shares a quote from Rachel Held Evans: “The very condition of humanity is to be wrong about God.”

I’ll take that as an excuse to repost something written here a couple years ago in a discussion of “Are Mormons Christian? A series of unhelpful questions“:

Mormon doctrines are full of errors, mistakes and misconceptions about God.

The category “Mormon” is a subset of the category “human.” Thus what is true for all human doctrines is also true for all Mormon doctrines — i.e., they are full of errors, mistakes and misconceptions about God.

If, then, God’s favor, God’s love, our redemption or our salvation is based on our possession of orthodox, accurate and correct doctrine about God, then Mormons are, like the rest of us, in big trouble.

• And speaking of errors, mistakes and misconceptions about God … There’s a special providence in the fall of a dropped pass on third and eight (via):

Click here to view the embedded video.

The readiness is all.

 

 

[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by April Stevens

By Helen Castor (Guest Contributor)

Joan_of_Arc_on_horsebackJoan of Arc is an icon so familiar that her image is immediately recognizable: a short-haired girl in shining armor, brandishing a sword and a silken banner. 

It’s an image rooted in history as well as iconography.  Sword, banner and armour can all be traced in the historical record; her sword was found, we’re told, in the church of Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois, and her banner and armour made specially for her before she was sent to fight at Orléans in 1429.

But what did Joan wear when she was not riding with her troops?  And how did contemporaries react to what we would call her cross-dressing?

At first, Joan’s decision to wear male clothes seems to have been a practical one.  She faced a 250-mile journey through enemy territory from her home in Lorraine to the Dauphin’s court at Chinon, with six men-at-arms for company.  The people of the town where her journey began gave her a tunic, doublet, breeches and hose, all in black and grey, to replace her rough red dress – a disguise that offered advantages of speed, because she would be able to ride astride, and some measure of protection against sexual assault, in the form of the cords that tied hose and breeches to doublet.

By the time she reached Chinon, however, Joan’s distinctive appearance seems to have been absorbed into her sense of her mission.  We don’t know for certain if she ever put on a dress at court before her victory at Orléans, but afterwards, when the duke of Orléans made her a gift of a fine outfit, it was male garments that the tailor was ordered to prepare – so our image of the historical Joan should include the Maid dressed in silks and satins like the debonair gentlemen of the royal household.

But the sight of a girl dressed as a boy was challenging as well as distinctive.  After all, the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy described a woman in men’s clothing as ‘an abomination unto the Lord’.  For Joan’s supporters, this transgression could be excused because of her heaven-sent mission, but for her enemies it was proof that she communed not with God but the Devil.  The prosecutors at her trial in 1431 saw her clothes as the visible manifestation of her heresy – and they were equally symbolic for Joan herself.  Throughout her interrogation she refused to give up her male attire until at last, terrified by the imminent prospect of the flames, she capitulated and acknowledged her guilt.  Three days later, unable to live with what she had done, she signaled her renewed defiance by dressing once again as a man.

Which leaves us with one last question about Joan’s clothes.  Once she had agreed, as a repentant heretic, to put on a dress, who left her male outfit in her cell?  If Joan was determined to die for her mission, it seems that some of her captors, at least, were happy to help her on her way.

Joan of Arc hc cHelen Castor is a historian of medieval England, and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Her first book, Blood and Roses, was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2005 and won the English Association’s Beatrice White Prize in 2006. Her last book, She-Wolves, was selected as one of the books of the year for 2010 in the Guardian, Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Financial Times and BBC History Magazine. She lives in London with her husband and son.

W&M is excited to have two (2) copies of Joan of Arc: A History in this month’s giveaway! Be sure to enter below by 11:00pm EST on May 31st to qualify (your entry includes a subscription to W&M Monthly).

Please note that, at this time, we can only ship within the US.

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