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Posted by Fred Clark

Originally posted May 5, 2004.


Left Behind, pp. 45-46

Untold millions are still untold
Untold millions are outside the fold
Who will tell them of Jesus’ love
And the heav’nly mansions awaiting above?

So our man Rayford Steele has finished his “emergency duty,” which consisted of walking to the terminal of O’Hare airport instead of accepting a ride. Confronted with the chaos and carnage of multiple plane crashes, a lesser man — a Bernie Laplante – might have panicked and done something foolish, but not Steele. He surveyed the scene and his professional training kicked in. His duty was clear: he walked the other way.

Now, safely back at the terminal, “Rayford wanted more than anything to sit and talk with someone about what to make of this.”

Apparently, Hattie doesn’t count. The two of them just walked more than two miles together. Despite their long acquaintance — “They had spent time together, chatting for hours over drinks or dinner” — she’s still just a pretty girl and not really “someone” worth talking to.

In the terminal, “Everyone scurried about, trying to find some link to the outside world, to contact their families, and to get out of the airport.”


Heaven, like the pilot’s lounge at the airport, is not for everybody. The riff-raff aren’t allowed. That’s what makes it heavenly, right?

The cell-phoneless Rayford and Hattie join in the scurrying, splitting up to try to call their families.

Here again we see the storytelling mastery of Jerry Jenkins. He knows that what readers are longing for now is another passage on the logistics of telecommunications. And he delivers.

Steele makes his way to a pilot’s lounge where a “supervisor” alerts them that some special phone lines have been reserved, just for pilots. Steele gets in line with the privileged few.

Here LaHaye and Jenkins had me worried. Steele seemed to be in real peril. According to the Scream morality governing the world of Left Behind, accepting special privileges because of your status as a pilot is a grievous sin.

Hadn’t Steele just chewed out his copilot Smith for just such behavior? Smith accepted a ride back to the terminal, but Steele had refused — even despite the airline’s insistence. Yet now, with an airport full of people desperate to make phone calls, Steele happily jumps at the chance to use a special phone line and to “bypass the normal trunk lines out of here, so you won’t be competing with all of the pay phones in the terminal.”

But then I realized the difference between Smith’s actions and Steele’s. Smith accepted a ride in public. (“How would that look?” Steele had said.) But no one would know that Steele was bypassing the other callers on a privileged, pilots-only line. In the world of LB, it’s okay to use your privilege to get ahead as long as no one sees you do it.

Rayford got in line, beginning to feel the tension of having flown too long and known too little. Worse was the knowledge that he had a better idea than most of what had happened. If he was right, if it were true, he would not be getting an answer when he dialed home.

Here I caught a first whiff of what it is that really separates the Left Behind novels from most of the evangelical genre fiction that had gone before.

Evangelical Christianity, at its core, is radically inclusive. Evangelicals, born-againers, want everybody else to become born-again too.

Granted, this inclusivity isn’t always expressed in the most winsome or persuasive manner, but it’s the heart and soul of evangelicalism. As the Sunday school chorus quoted at the top of this post shows, the goal of evangelicals has traditionally been to reach out to the lost, to the “untold millions” of the unsaved.

Most evangelical fiction has conveyed this evangelistic impulse — albeit with the unfortunate awkwardness and fecklessness that characterizes too much of their evangelism. But that’s not what one finds in Left Behind. Here you find little concern — and even less of a sense of responsibility – for the plight of the untold millions. What one finds instead is a sense of triumphalism. Those “inside the fold” feel no sense of obligation to those on the outside — they are bad people who are getting what they deserve and the godly remnant gets to watch, more in delight than in sadness. This is a major theme of the book and one we’ll be exploring in more detail in the chapters to come.

Rayford realizes that he “had a better idea than most of what had happened,” yet he feels little obligation to share this news. At this point in the story Rayford is not yet a Christian himself, but his outlook doesn’t change greatly even after he becomes one. In Left Behind the gospel is not the good news of salvation to be shared with the untold millions. It is a secret to be treasured, hoarded and hidden under a bushel by the chosen few.

And what about those untold millions? They can go to Hell.

Freeze Warning

Mar. 27th, 2015 06:16 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
Tomorrow night we are supposed to get a hard freeze, and I want to go out and fling myself over the garden and yell "NOOOOOOO!" Everything is sprouted! Things have bloomed! The barrenwort flowered! I planted tender things!

Spring is unkind to the delicate nerves of the gardener.
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Posted by spam-spam

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, Delicious 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.

What is Creole?

Mar. 27th, 2015 02:04 pm
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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday.

In his book, Authentic New Orleans, sociologist Kevin Fox Gotham explains that originally, and as late as the late 1800s, the term meant “indigenous to Louisiana.”  It was a geographic label and no more.

But, during the early 1900s, the city of New Orleans racialized the term. White city elites, in search of white travel dollars, needed to convince tourists that New Orleans was a safe and proper destination. In other words, white. Creole, then, was re-cast as a white identity and mixed-race and black people were excluded from inclusion in the category.

Today most people think of creole people as mixed race, but that is actually a rather recent development. The push to re-define the term to be more inclusive of non-whites began in the 1960s, but didn’t really take hold until the 1990s.  Today, still racialized, the term now capitalizes on the romantic notions of multiculturalism that pervade New Orleans tourism advertising, like in this poster from 2011:


Like all other racial and ethnic designations, creole is an empty signifier, ready to be filled up with whatever ideas are useful at the time. In fact, the term continues to be contested. For example, this website claims that it carries cultural and not racial meaning:


This book seems to define creole as free people of color (and their descendants) in Louisiana:


Whereas this food website identifies creole as a mix of French, Spanish, African, Native American, Chinese, Russian, German, and Italian:


In short, “creole” has gone through three different iterations in its short history in the U.S., illustrating both the social construction of race and the way those constructions respond to political and economic expediency.


Cross-posted at A Nerd’s Guide to New Orleans

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)


Mar. 27th, 2015 12:56 pm
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Posted by John Finnemore

This is G. K. Chesterton and his wife Frances, nee Blogg. They were a devoted and happy couple, and Frances was largely responsible for managing the chronically disorganised Chesterton's life. (He famously once sent her a telegram reading 'Am in Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?')

When they were engaged, Gilbert sent Frances a letter beginning '...I am looking over the sea and endeavouring to reckon up the estate I have to offer you.' You can read all twelve items he came up with here, but here are the first six. The sixth is my favourite.

1st. A Straw Hat. The oldest part of this admirable relic shows traces of pure Norman work. The vandalism of Cromwell's soldiers has left us little of the original hat-band.

2nd. A Walking Stick, very knobby and heavy: admirably fitted to break the head of any denizen of Suffolk who denies that you are the noblest of ladies, but of no other manifest use.

3rd. A copy of Walt Whitman's poems, once nearly given to Salter, but quite forgotten. It has his name in it still with an affectionate inscription from his sincere friend Gilbert Chesterton. I wonder if he will ever have it.

4th. A number of letters from a young lady, containing everything good and generous and loyal and holy and wise that isn't in Walt Whitman's poems.

5th. An unwieldy sort of a pocket knife, the blades mostly having an edge of a more varied and picturesque outline than is provided by the prosaic cutler. The chief element however is a thing 'to take stones out of a horse's hoof.' What a beautiful sensation of security it gives one to reflect that if one should ever have money enough to buy a horse and should happen to buy one and the horse should happen to have stone in his hoof--that one is ready; one stands prepared, with a defiant smile!

6th. Passing from the last miracle of practical foresight, we come to a box of matches. Every now and then I strike one of these, because fire is beautiful and burns your fingers. Some people think this waste of matches: the same people who object to the building of Cathedrals.

No Where

Mar. 27th, 2015 08:38 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

We got home yesterday, from the clinic, where Joe was told that 'all was well' and there was 'absolutely no reason for worry,' exhausted. Sitting and waiting, in a waiting room not designed for a wheelchair, and feeling both conspicuous and worried was tiring for me. Going through the testing was exhausting for Joe. So, we were quiet. Joe had something to eat, then went and had a very long nap. I logged on to work and quietly answered emails and completed tasks.

A few hours later we headed out to do some banking and to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy. I knew that Joe was going to be a while at the bank so I took a huge stack of 'scratch and win' lottery tickets over to be checked at the automatic scanner. This is one of the things I do - because Joe doesn't really enjoy the chore. Me, I find it kind of fun and relaxing. I just scan and put the winners (3$ WOW) in one small pile and the 'oops you lose' in the much, much larger pile.

Because we were at the bank I went to the small convenience store that had a 'checker' inside the mall and around the corner from the bank. I was feeling good. Joe was well. My worry had been unnecessary. Or, possibly, my worried had healed him, which is possible because worry is such a powerful tool for dealing with stress and crisis. But whatever, he was well. I was well. We'd had a nice bit of quiet time at home, me plucking at computer keys in silence while he slept. I was out. And though I was out, I forgot what that meant. And, as I ran the tickets through the scanner, I felt safe. I didn't notice people in the mall. I didn't notice anything. I just did the tickets, separating them into one pile or another.

Then, into my reverie comes a face. A fellow, wearing a shirt and tie, expensive I notice, is looking at me, with hard eyes, "Just remember, this isn't actually like having a job. A job. You know, like, where you go to work and make money."

And he was gone.

He returned to a group who were laughing at his little jibe.

And I was left.


There's no where safe.

There's no where safe.

There's no where safe.

Sea Otter Pup Mishka Has a Bottle

Mar. 27th, 2015 11:16 am
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Posted by Daily Otter

Sea Otter Pup Mishka Has a Bottle

April is Marine Mammal Mania at Seattle Aquarium, and visitors can see Mishka on exhibit! Click here for local news footage featuring little Mishka and more information on the event.

Submitted by MissOtters!

Nika wake tica Charley

Mar. 27th, 2015 03:25 am
[syndicated profile] chinookjargon_feed

Posted by chinookjargon


From the Washington Independent (Hillsboro, OR), Sep. 2, 1875, page 2, column 2.

nica wake tica


The Siwash difficulty mentioned by the Independent, wherein some young bucks had run off with some other Indians’ wives terminated by the capture and return of the squaws. One of the dusky maidens on being asked if she did not love Charley replied, “Nika wake tica Charley. Nika hias ticka Nelson. Nelson hias skookum siwash tilacum.”


I make that to mean “I don’t like Charley.  I love Nelson.  Nelson is a wonderful Indian fella.”

Work for you?

(And can we figure out who Charley, Nelson and the ladies were?)

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Posted by Fred Clark

In the last post we discussed Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s prayer-breakfast sermon as a more disturbing variation of the old Aristocrats joke. That comparison seems necessary because Robertson starts his story like he’s beginning to tell a joke: “Two guys break into an atheist’s home …”

Ooh, I think, and lean forward a little in anticipation. This is how jokes begin, and Robertson has the same cheerfully expectant tone that people have when they begin a good joke.

I want to hear this joke. I’m a little concerned with the initial set-up — it really ought to be three guys, after all. Or, better yet, a Catholic priest, a Baptist minister, and a Jewish rabbi. But, still, I’m eager to hear the rest. I’ve never heard this one before. I hope it’s good.

Robertson continues the set-up, fumbling a bit, but it still sounds, formally, like the traditional structure of a joke proper:

Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. …

And then things take a really ugly turn as Robertson continues:

And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. … Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, “Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.”

Gnyaaah! This is not a joke. I have no idea what it is that Robertson is telling us — or why he creepily switches to the second-person “then you take a sharp knife …” — but it’s definitely not a joke.

But then, in a whiplash-inducing twist, Robertson reverts to the structure of a joke — hitting us with a punchline, a little flourish, and a rimshot to cue our laughter:

If it happened to them … they probably would say, “something about this just ain’t right.”

Hah! Gotcha, atheists! Checkmate!

Those stoopid atheists don’t believe in my God who tells me what’s right and wrong, but I bet if somebody did them wrong, they’d know it! If two guys broke into their house and you tied them up, and then we raped and murdered their families, and then I cut off their penises, then I’d bet they’d admit that what those two guys were doing was wrong!

Again, as I said above, gnyaaah.

The best we can hope for Mr. Robertson here is that his staggering ignorance applies equally to himself.

I mean, it seems apparent that Robertson doesn’t have any close friends who do not share his particular sectarian ideology, but surely he must be, on some level, aware that such people exist. And he must recognize, on some level, that the overwhelming majority of those other people — atheists, Jews, Mormons, mainline Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Rastafari, etc. — do not seem to be going around breaking into strangers’ homes, raping and murdering and cutting off penises.

ReaversI’m sure that Robertson has heard of Richard Dawkins, for example. And he probably thinks Dawkins is evil and damned and rude. But, as a simple matter of fact, he must also know that Dawkins and Sam Harris have not been going around breaking into houses, torturing, dismembering and decapitating people all willy nilly because atheism.

Robertson’s horrifying nightmare of a “joke” seems to be based on his confused partial perception of a common, bogus argument peddled by many of the pop-”apologetics” acts touring the right-wing Christian circuit. These self-proclaimed Christian apologists like to argue that Christianity (i.e., their own particular sectarian strain thereof) is the only sustainable basis for morality. Only faith — and only their faith — can teach us the difference between right and wrong. Thus, they say, we cannot be “good without God.”

And, therefore, there can never be any such thing as a good Samaritan. Q.E.D.

But even the clumsiest of these Francis Schaeffer wanna-bes — even the ones operating at a Josh McDowell-level of smuggery and self-righteous intoxication — don’t try to take this as far as Robertson does. They’ll at least acknowledge the existence of other approaches to morality, if only to avoid the dilemma Robertson creates for himself of having to explain why the world doesn’t look like a chaotic cesspool of perpetual Mad Maxian violence and depravity. They may present those other approaches to morality as cartoonish strawmen in order to make their preferred Revealed Rulebook approach seem superior, but they don’t pretend, as Robertson does, that everyone who isn’t a white evangelical is running around saying there’s no difference between right and wrong.

Robertson is also, I think, confused about the meaning of the Calvinist doctrine of “total depravity.” This is a popular confusion that I hate encountering because it puts me in the position of having to defend Calvin. The idea of “total depravity” (which comes from Augustine as much as Calvin) really would be better described as pervasive depravity. The idea isn’t that we are totally depraved and superlatively evil in every possible way, but rather that sin affects us totally — affects every part of us, every aspect of our humanity. At the same time, both Calvin and Augustine insisted, we are also totally bearers of the imago Dei, meaning that no part or aspect of our humanity does not also reflect the spark of the divine.

Total depravity doesn’t mean what Robertson seems to imagine it means — that without salvation we are inhuman reavers, conscienceless, bestial creatures of the sort described slaughtering the atheist family in his “joke.” That idea of human nature is not just a confused distortion of Calvinism, it’s also empirically false. There are more than 5 billion non-Christians here on planet Earth, and they do not, in actual fact, act like reavers.

This is why I hope that Robertson’s vast ignorance encompasses himself as well. Because Robertson isn’t just saying that his atheist neighbors are all sub-human reavers, he’s also saying that he would be a reaver himself if he hadn’t gotten “saved” at the right kind of church. His statement about those atheist neighbors is demonstrably ignorant. Let’s hope he’s equally ignorant about himself and that he doesn’t have any actual knowledge that what he’s accusing himself of might be true.

Because if what Robertson says about himself is true, then we should all double-check the locks on our windows, just in case he ever has a crisis of faith.

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Posted by Fred Clark

Phil Robertson, who plays the grandpappy on the scripted “reality” TV show Duck Dynasty, supplements his TV and duck-call-sales income by moonlighting as a right-wing pseudo-Christian culture warrior.

He’s not very good at it. On a Satanic baby-killer scale of 1 to 10, Robertson always starts at 11 and dials it up from there. He accuses liberals of serving Satan. And of being Nazis. And of being Satanazis. And of being worse than Satanazis.

SatanazisAgainThis is bush-league stuff. It ruins the trick by showing how it works. It ruins the trick by showing why he desperately needs to perform it.

Culture warriors like Robertson bear false witness against their neighbors because it allows them to indulge in a prideful fantasy of moral superiority. The point is not “Liberals are evil,” but rather, “We are better than them.” By clumsily jumping right to Hitler, Stalin, Satan and the Satanazis, Robertson reveals a terrified insecurity. He seems to think only the most extreme examples of superlative evil will suffice to make him feel superior by comparison.

Last Friday, Phil Robertson addressed a “prayer breakfast” in Vero Beach, Florida,* where he repeated his usual Satanazis shtick and then attempted to go even further with a long, grotesque fantasy in which he attempted to argue that atheists are depraved monsters by telling a story in which he delights in the prospect of monstrous depravity being done to atheists.

It’s weirdly incoherent. Robertson is apparently trying to show that atheists are evil, so you’d think he’d tell a story that shows atheists being evil. But instead he tells a story in which he gleefully approves of horrific evils being done against atheists. That makes somebody look like a deranged sicko, but not the somebody Robertson seems to think.

Phil Robertson clearly relishes the evil performed in this story, cherishing every R-rated detail. Don’t let the kids read this, please — it may have been his “prayer breakfast” sermon, but it is not suitable for children. It’s like Robertson’s version of the old “Aristocrats!” joke,** except he changes the punchline to “The Atheists!”:

“I’ll make a bet with you,” Robertson said. “Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’”

Robertson kept going: “Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’”

“If it happened to them,” Robertson continued, “they probably would say, ‘something about this just ain’t right.’”

And then the atheist with the decapitated wife, the two dead daughters, and the bleeding crotch turns to the two guys and says, “So, tell me … what do you call your act?”

Phil Robertson is talking about atheists, but he’s telling us about himself. He is only able to describe their unbelief in the terms of his own beliefs, and what he reveals about those beliefs is appalling.

What Robertson is telling us — proudly! — is that there is one, and only one reason that he personally refrains from breaking into a family’s home, raping and murdering the children, decapitating the wife, and castrating the husband. He is telling us there is one, and only one, reason that he can imagine for not doing that: his religion. If he did not believe in God, he tells us, then he would have no reason not to rape, murder and dismember strangers in their homes.

That’s … disturbing.

And just as disturbing, note what it is about God that Robertson says restrains him. He does not say it is due to God’s love for him, God’s love for all people, or the love that God gives him for those other people. Love isn’t part of the equation at all.

What Robertson says, rather, is that belief in God — specifically, his kind of belief in his kind of God —  is his source of knowing right from wrong. Sectarian faith, Robertson says, provides the knowledge of good and evil. (N.B. There’s a story in the Bible about that which suggests a very different source for the knowledge of good and evil.)

Phil Robertson says he won’t rape and murder young girls because — and only because — he believes that God has given him a rule prohibiting rape and murder. Phil Robertson says he won’t decapitate women and cut off men’s penises because — and only because — God has given him a rule prohibiting that behavior. If he breaks those rules, God will punish him.

Robertson’s only concept of ethics is precisely the same as that of the grandmother in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find“:

“She would of been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

The reassuring news here, such as it is, is that Robertson believes there is “somebody there to shoot him every minute of his life.” He believes that God is that somebody. This is a monstrous theology — making God out to be a cosmic version of O’Connor’s remorseless Misfit — but at least it has the happy side effect of, for the time being, helping to restrain Phil Robertson from acting out his fantasies in real life.

But Robertson’s “God” is not the God revealed in Jesus Christ. This is not the God of the Gospels who so loved the world, nor the God that 1 John describes:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. …

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

“Shut up, Johnny,” says Phil Robertson’s Almighty Misfit. “It’s no real pleasure in life.”

Phil Robertson describes a Christian ethics that does not include love, but there is no such thing as a Christian ethics that does not include love. More than that, actually. Christian ethics doesn’t merely include love — it consists of love. “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Nothing else matters. Everything else is nothing.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* “Prayer breakfasts” should be presumed guilty unless proven innocent. Doubly so if the gathering is a “Men’s Prayer Breakfast.”

To understand the roots of the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, you should read Jeff Sharlet’s The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. This event is part of that movement, and it’s past speakers include Jerry Falwell and Kirk Cameron.

The folks who organize and attend the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, in other words, are the spiritual and actual heirs of the good white Christians of Vero Beach whose Jim Crow piety forced Branch Rickey and Walter O’Malley to build Dodgertown as an outpost of integration with its own barracks and dining hall. Those good white Christians, you see, wouldn’t have allowed Jackie Robinson or Roy Campanella, or even Sandy Koufax, to enter the same hotels and restaurants as the rest of the team.

** Here’s the first part of the hilariously wicked documentary The Aristocrats. Please note that this link is not even remotely safe for work. It’s not really safe for home, either. It’s inappropriate for all audiences, everywhere. And this rendition from Gilbert Gottfried is even worse.

But if you watch that — which you really shouldn’t — you’ll notice one huge difference between Gottfried’s demented jazz and Phil Robertson’s god-awful story. Gottfried’s exuberantly transgressive joke is founded on the notion that everything he’s saying is utterly wrong. Robertson’s hypothetical fantasy imagines that everything he’s describing is utterly right.

[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

1. Without a word of a lie, I just about fell off my chair 10 minutes ago (that’s right, at the end of the work day) when I found out it was Thursday. What the hell happened to Wednesday? I demand the return of Wednesday! I know it’s never been my favourite, but I would have made the most of it.

2. Thursday is my favourite day of the week. I wish I’d known it was Thursday so I could enjoy it.

3. My final (and yarn containing) suitcase was returned at 11:10 last night. Me and my unseemly collection of self-striping yarn has been reunited. I was cool with buying new pants, but the yarn?

4. I am knitting a cowl. I know, right? I wonder when the world will get tired of cowls. Probably once I have one to go with every outfit.

diamonds 2015-03-26

(Diamonds go around, in A Bevy of Swans DK, in the colourways “I forget” and “I lost the ball band.”)

5. I’m stylish like that.

6. Also, it says it’s an infinity scarf, but I think it’s a cowl. I’m not clear on the difference.


Clean Reader

Mar. 26th, 2015 04:41 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
(finsihing this post up while waiting to head to doctor...)

So the writer blogosphere is pretty pissed off at the moment, because of an app called Clean Reader. You buy an e-book through it and can then apply a filter that will scrub out all the bad words.

(More on reaction and my own feelings in a minute--first a bit about what it does and how poorly it does it.)

Basically, it lays a censor bar over any word on its list and I think, when tapped, the censor bar returns a sanitized word.

This is a blunt instrument at best. For example, it'll only "see" a word if there are spaces around it. So a peacock is fine, a cock-of-the-rock we don't know (hyphens seem tricky) and the dying words of Socrates are "We must sacrifice a groin to Aesculapius."

Some amusing knock-on effects are that all female genitals become "bottom" and all male genitals become "groin." There are presumably a lot of groins being inserted into bottoms if one attempts to read a sex scene. Meanwhile, the Owl and the Pussycat can still go to sea, but he will be calling her "Bottom, my dear," and the bottom willows should be blooming any time now. (No word yet on the runcible spoon.)

Also, chest-feeding and chest cancer. I'll just leave those there, as they appear to be loaded.

The Clean Reader people (who I don't think expected to become the center of the howling shitstorm (see, compound word, so that currently passes muster!)) claim that you can turn off this filter at any time, and admit that many religious books such as the Bible become unreadable. (One shudders to contemplate the scene where Balaam's butt demands to know why he has beat her three times, although Samson's ability to slay that many men with the jawbone of a butt is certainly...vivid.)

As with many such things, I suspect it will actually serve to make many books much pervier. Sleeping Beauty is going to groin her finger on that spinning wheel, and we shall be subjected to groin's crow in the morning. (Not to mention my third kid's book, "Curse of the Were-Groin." The heart quails.) I also suspect that it will make confusing word salad out of a lot of innocent paragraphs, and readers will ultimately wind up turning it off in irritation.

But technology marches on, and let us say that they actually improve this and some people like it and it learns enough to slap the censor bars in a slightly less slapdash fashion.

Now we come to response.

A lot of authors are very, very angry.

The general thrust seems to be "I chose those words for a reason, and if you don't want to read them the way I wrote them, you can bleep the bleep right off, you bleeping bleep."

And you know, I get this.

Really, I do.

My adult books do not contain a great deal of profanity, but ironically, I'll bet you a dollar I get more unhappy e-mail about profanity in my books then most authors do, because I'm a children's book author. I have been sent long screeds about how using the words "My god" in my books is dreadful. (My personal favorite of those included the phrase "I'm sure you consider yourself a good Christian!" Hey, I laughed.) I have literally received spreadsheets of every usage of the word "crap" in my books, with suggested alterations, so that I could "fix" this in future printings, because it was simply too strong a word for nine-year-olds. (Okay, ONE spreadsheet. That was special.)

And the first time it happened, I was pissed.

And the second time it happened, I was pissed.

And the third time it happened, I rolled my eyes.

And the tenth time it happened, I decided people were just people and there was nothing to be done about it.

Maybe it's because I've had art on the internet too long and it gets sliced and diced and moved around and reposted and at first you get extremely indignant and then you rapidly stop caring as long as they're not getting money on it, because life is too short and the internet will always outlast you.

I totally understand why people are angry. My kneejerk is initially How dare you! as well. And I am not going to tell anybody that their feelings are wrong. There's a lot of authors I respect enormously who are very indignant over it, and more power to 'em.

I'll be honest, though, I don't care nearly as much as I probably should.

If you want to change your own reading experience on your own device, what's it to me? You're not changing what I wrote, you're changing what you read. If you want to read a slightly more nonsensical version of my book that badly, I just can't bring myself to care very much.

There are lots of legal arguments that may or may not have a foothold including Moral Rights--not even the lawyers seem to agree there, so I certainly won't claim to know one way or the other. There's also the argument "Books are supposed to challenge you!" which is an interesting argument, but I don't actually like it very much. Most of my books aren't actually supposed to challenge you, they're supposed to comfort you because life is a hard country and we all need a little kindness along the way. (It is totally fine if other people's books are supposed to challenge you, just...err...#NotAllBooks or something.) I do not actually feel bad about this, because I think comfort is hard to do and generally worthwhile.

I also sort of feel like this argument gets dicey because there are plenty of trolls who will scream bloody murder if you block them, and one of the go-to battle-cries is that you're just creating an echo chamber where no one will challenge your beliefs. Few people are actually "challenged" by endless kill-yourself-dumb-cunt comments, so it turns into an argument for blocking abusive white noise.

On the other hand, you block those people, you don't filter them so they're sending cute photos of puppies instead.

On the gripping hand, if there was an app that let me turn those troll comments into cute puppy photos, I can't swear that I wouldn't endorse it whole-heartedly, so...err...complicated.

Anyway, at the end of the day, I do see why people are mad. I see why some readers might be mad! And if this was the start of a slippery slope (and I don't actually believe it is--or all slopes are slippery, take your pick) where these versions were taught in schools or the original is no longer available or something, then yes, I would likely become quite concerned. If a clean "print" version comes out, I'll be irked. If the option to turn off the app and read the original goes away...troublesome. But people are buying the app and the book and no one is holding a gun to their head to make them install the app, and as it stands...I do not feel as strongly about this as many of my peers.

So, y'know, read a sloppily abridged version if it makes you happy. It's not the book I wrote, but I'm not going to stand over you and tell you you're reading it wrong. You could also hold your thumb over the bottom line of every page and never read that line, or skip every third chapter, or read backwards if it made you happy. That would probably also affect the reading experience, but...oh well. What happens between my words and your eyeballs is not my problem, and I sort of feel, not even really my business.

I held up my end by writing the best book I could--everything after that is out of my hands.


Mar. 26th, 2015 03:33 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
Have been sick as a dog for two days. Kevin is dragging me to the doctor today, despite protests that I am fine, just dying. *grumble*

Seems to have been going around--exciting diarrhea, nausea, headache and body ache. No fever, though, so I win. (He is mostly worried that I need to be fully recovered in two weeks before we go to Africa, which I understand completely. I will not miss this trip. If I trip and break my spleen on the concourse headed to the plane, I will have them put a bandaid on it until I get back.)

Still. *grumble*
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

According to data released by Pornhub, 5.6% of porn users in Mississippi seek out gay porn, compared to 2.8% in North Dakota.


On average, gay porn is more heavily consumed in states where same-sex marriage is legal than in states where it’s illegal, but every single state in the South has a gay porn use that exceeds the average in states with same-sex marriage.

1aFor me, this raises questions about what’s driving sentiment against same-sex marriage and porn use and if and why it’s related. I can think of at least three theories:

1. There is the (barely) repressed homosexuality theory, of course. This is the idea that some people express homophobic attitudes because they fear being non-heterosexual themselves. So, out of fear of exposure, or fear of their own feelings, they are vocally anti-LGBT rights. There’s data that backs this up in at least some cases.

2. Another possibility is that both homosexual inclinations and anti-gay hatred are high in Southern states, but not in the same people. This is one version of the contact hypothesis: the presence and visibility of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people threatens the norm of heterosexuality, increasing opposition. This is consistent with data showing, for example, that white racial resentment is higher in counties with larger populations of black folk.

3. Or, it may be that politicians in Southern states stoke anti-gay attitudes in order to win elections. They may be doing so as a simple strategy. Or, it may be part of that notorious “culture war,” a politics that supposedly distracts poor and working class people from their own economic interests by getting them to focus on so-called social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

As fun as it is to snicker at the fact that the part of the country that claims a moral high ground on homosexuality is over-represented in pursuing it (at least digitally), there’s also probably some pretty interesting social/psychology sociology here.

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)

Freaky Thursday (?)

Mar. 26th, 2015 07:32 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Today is Dave and Joe's version of Freaky Friday.

For those who don't know what 'Freaky Friday' is, first, I'm sorry, second, it's a movie where mother and daughter magically slip into each other's body. Now, for Joe and I, that would be disastrous - he can't drive the power chair for shit. But what we are doing is switching roles for a day.

In a couple of hours Joe is going for a Gastroscopy and he has been told that he can't leave, after the testing, on his own, even to take a taxi home. So, I'm called in to do the supporting and caring (and worrying but Joe doesn't like me mentioning that one). I've booked WheelTrans to get us there and to get us back. So, the organizing is done, now it's just carrying out the plans and make sure he gets home safely, and gets to sleep off the drugs that he will have been given.

It's odd for me to be in this role. I don't often get to do things to support him in this way. I mean I support him in all sorts of other ways, the ways that come natural when you've been a couple for a long time. But, it's always Joe taking me to the doctor or to the clinic or to the hospital. He just motors on, giving me no reason to worry or to wait in waiting rooms.

So, this morning I got up all prepared to ensure it runs smoothly and WHAM a ton of worry came down and landed on my shoulders. I'm beginning to think that's the hardest part of any of this. I am so used to being the subject of worry that I forget how much of a load that is.

No wonder Joe has broad shoulders.

I'm glad I can lend mine today.

Lenin’s Lamps

Mar. 26th, 2015 11:00 am
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Posted by April Stevens

Shaikhet electrification

Arkady Shaikhet’s “Lenin’s Lamp” (1925)

By Eric Laursen (Regular Contributor)

In Arkady Shaikhet’s photograph “Lenin’s Lamp” (1925) two peasants examine a light bulb hanging from a cord that appears to be strung through the portrait of Mikhail Frunze, Bolshevik and son of a peasant.  Electricity seems to be directed from Frunze’s mind and into the hands of the unenlightened peasant, whose traditional haircut and clothing contrast sharply with Frunze’s and point to the intended modernizing influence of the electrification campaign.  In the early Soviet period, showing the light-bulb–nicknamed “Lenin’s lamp”–to the peasants became a demonstration of technology that Lenin claimed would “show the population, especially the peasants, that we have [. . .] broad plans which aren’t taken from fantasies, but supported by technology grounded in science.”  The image showed up on posters, lacquered boxes, and even in a children’s cartoon.  The light-bulb may seem a strange choice of evidence to prove that communism is not “fantasy,” but as seen in Shaikhet’s often-reproduced photograph, the light-bulb is endowed in Soviet propaganda with the significance of a religious artifact that merely needs to be touched or seen in order to work wonders.  The peasant is presented in Bolshevik propaganda about electrification as a scapegoat for everything regressive in post-revolutionary Russia; Lenin writes:  “[Electrification] will enable us to fully and decisively defeat that backwardness, that fragmentation, disintegration, the darkness of the countryside, that is to this point the main cause of all stagnation, all backwardness, all oppression.”  Lenin presents electricity as a high-tech adhesive that could mend the “fragmentation, disintegration” of the countryside and meld the dark fragments into one cohesive brightly-lit whole, lighting up the darkness both literal and figurative.  The primitive, flickering light of the peasant home and work-place would be replaced by Lenin’s lamps:  “Cheap light energy from mighty regional electrical stations spreads around the whole country, goes right up to village huts with their wood-splinter torches and other home-grown means of illumination, overthrowing the coarse backwardness of village life.”

Electrification and Counterrevolution

“Electrification and Counterrevolution” (1921)

Repeatedly, Bolshevik propaganda argued that electricity would defeat capitalism, religion, hierarchy and exploitation.  In the 1923 poster “Electrification and Counter-revolution” an enormous hand holds up one of Lenin’s lamps, and a group of stereotypical counterrevolutionaries representing the evils of the class system try to extinguish its light.  To the left of the light bulb a fat capitalist crouches on his hands and knees so that a White general and an Orthodox priest can climb up on his back with a fire hose; to the right a fashionable gentleman fetches a bucket of water; and in the center a foreign diplomat attempts to blow out the light bulb with a small bellows.  The tiny figures each wear identifying markers of the exploiting class—clerical garb, gold epaullettes, a top hat, a gentleman’s straw boater, and a monocle.  They also wear technological ignorance and backwardness on their well-tailored sleeves.  Under the electric light of the proletariat they become comic buffoons, motivated by fear and greed and fighting the progress of technology with the ineffectual weapons of a more primitive age.  Embodied in the electrification campaign is the promise that with technological superiority comes moral purity.  The proletarian hand, like the right hand of God, gives humanity the light of truth, guiding followers to the bright future and illuminating the technologically ignorant exploiters of humankind, so that they can be seen as cartoon figures, easily defeated by the mighty–electrified–Soviet hand.

Cover of "We Build" (1929)

Cover of “We Build” (1929)

As we can see in the cover of the November 7, 1929 issue of We Build, a Soviet journal dedicated to construction photography, after his death in 1924, Lenin’s image became inextricably linked to the lamps that carried his name and that fought the darkness of ignorance.  Here Lenin’s head is enclosed in an enormous light bulb, a fusion of human and technology that gives new meaning to the term “Lenin’s lamp.“  Below the disembodied Lenin’s lamp, we see one of the massive hydroelectric dams envisioned by the electrification campaign and the constructions enabled by their power. A power tower is pictured in the upper right-hand corner.  Moving diagonally down the page and separating the picture of the construction site from the picture of the electric tower is a series of letters forming steps that spell out:  “XII October is a New Step toward Socialism,” in large font in Russian and in smaller letters in German and English–to show the triumph of Soviet construction over the leading industrialized countries of the world.  In this tribute to the twelfth anniversary of the October revolution and the first five-year plan, Lenin’s head becomes a source of light for everything contained in the picture; and, by implication, in the journal issue that follows.  The power goes both ways.  The lines connecting the base of the light-bulb to the tops of cranes and the roofs of factories also charge up the light-bulb and by implication the memory of Lenin, who “lived, lives, and will live” in memorials like this one that help the Soviet people move up the stairway to socialism.  According to the circular logic displayed in the image, each year after the revolution takes another “step toward socialism” through the human energy that accomplishes monumental construction feats, and it also produces energy for revolutionary enlightenment that will push the Soviet people up one more step.  The cult of Lenin and technology that is powered by the head in the light bulb is an energy loop of propaganda and construction, each of which feeds energy to the other.

This post was first published on Wonders & Marvels in February 2013.

Insane in Texas

Mar. 25th, 2015 07:47 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Let me tell you a little story. This past weekend I was in Texas. I love Texas. I’ve never had a bad time there, in any city, and I admit a particular fondness for the DFW Knitters Guild, and the annual Fiber Fest they put on. Even though they’re all volunteers, they conduct themselves like the best sort of professionals, and they’re sweeter than pie to boot. The thing is organized up one side and down the other, and everything was perfect. (The talk went off pretty well too, I think.) I hope they have me back forever.

debbiphoto 2015-03-25

It wasn’t without challenges – but those were deeply personal.  Exhibit A: My brand new iphone got smashed – because I wasn’t careful enough with it. Exhibit B: I was repeatedly locked out of my hotel room when my keys only worked intermittently, thus making it look to the staff like I was a moron who couldn’t open a door. It turned out the battery in the card reader in the door was failing, not my ability to SWIPE THE CARD, but I still have to live with the experience of a 22 year old desk clerk trying to teach me how to open a door.  Exhibit C: The zipper on a pair of my pants broke and I had to wear the other pair every day, making me look like a woman of little style and shoddy laundry standards. (Which could be said to be true, but let’s gloss over it, I was trying to do better.) Exhibit D: Although Dallas is only a 3.5 hour flight from Toronto, on Monday it took me almost 18 hours to get home, and I’m still looking for most of my luggage. One bag showed up today. The other – and the stuff in it (see rest of post for a hint of what’s in it) is still “in the wind.”

yarnbomb 2015-03-25

All of that said, what I want to tell you about is what happened on Saturday morning. The marketplace at the DFW Fiber Fest is awesome. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s a carefully curated collection of mostly Texas stuff, and there were so many fabulous vendors that I was at serious risk of an episode of some type or another. Mostly, I was saved by the fact that I was teaching. The Marketplace opened at 9:00, but classes started at 9:30 – so I was largely safe on that end – and I’m not even sure I made it out of my classroom every day at lunch, visiting with students, answering questions and switching over from one class to another. Classes ended at 5 – but after hanging with students, cleaning up, and organizing myself to go back to the hotel, I wasn’t finishing before 5:30 or 5:45, and the Market closed at 6.  This was all, I thought, very lucky. Exposure is risk, and I was fine with that risk being minimized.

signatures 2015-03-25

Eventually though, the Guild executive (being thoughtful, amazing and thinking of all possible problems) realized that the teachers didn’t really have time to shop, and arranged for the market to open early for us one day – just so we would have time. I know. Their hearts are in the right places.

soap 2015-03-25

So the night before, I made a plan. Instead of just going in there and experimenting with my historically poor impulse control around that sort of thing, I looked over the list, mapped my route, decided what I would buy, asked a few vendors to set a few things aside. I got ready, and on Saturday morning I blew into the Marketplace, and executed the mission in a way that would make Navy Seals look lazy and disorganized. On the sixth transaction, my credit card was declined. I asked them to run it again, because there’s no reason for that (they know I travel – being in Texas alone shouldn’t be enough to trigger a problem) it failed again, I whipped out another card, used that, and cancelled the rest of the expedition.

I didn’t have time to figure out what could have gone wrong until lunch, when I called home to Canada and got the bank on the line. I gave my name and card number, and there was a pause, and then the agent said this:  Ms Pearl-McPhee, we’re glad you called. We just left a message on your home phone. We regret this deeply, and we’re working to ensure all the changes are reversed, but it would appear that your card was stolen this morning.” 

I took a deep breath, which I think the clerk interpreted as shock, which I guess it was, in a way, and he said “No really.  You wouldn’t believe it. Someone  with your card WENT INSANE IN TEXAS.”

I felt it immediately, I knew what I was going to have to say. I knew it. As he detailed the transactions, I mumbled something like “It was me” but he wouldn’t listen. “You don’t understand madame. It was five transactions at five different locations in just under 8 minutes. That’s not possible. That’s insane.”

I knew what I had to say then, and I did.

“Sir, with all due respect, it is possible, and it was me.  The card is not stolen. Those transactions are mine. It’s me. I’m insane in Texas.”

The silence was deafening, and when he asked what I was buying and how I was doing it it didn’t get much better, and then I mumbled something about a fiber fest and booths close to each other, and a map, and knitting and self-striping yarn, and he said “What?” in a really disturbed way, and I got a grip again.  “I’m not crazy.” I told him, and I tried to sound confident.  “I’m just verry efficient. Now please unlock my card.  I’m not done.”

“Yes madame…” he said, rather haltingly.  “Enjoy your…. wool stuff.”

yarnbomb2 2015-03-25

Fingers that are picking turn to dust

Mar. 25th, 2015 06:09 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• Science-denying U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says his “music taste changed on 9/11” because he “didn’t like how rock music responded.” Cruz said this in a clumsy bid for the Toby Keith voting bloc, apparently, but it’s worth pointing out, specifically, what it is that Sen. Cruz doesn’t like.

Ted Cruz doesn’t approve of this:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Sen. Cruz does not want to come on up for the Rising. Nor does he wish to meet you at Mary’s place. And he is decidedly opposed (with these hands) to the idea that (with these hands) we should (come on) join together and (come on) rise up.

Good to know that about him.

• “Before I answer that question, I would like to say a few words: cattywampus, onomatopoeia, and antidisestablishmentarianism.”

• J.I. Packer is a theology professor at Regent College in Vancouver and he’s been a senior editor at Christianity Today since before I was born. If there is any such thing as an unassailable member in good standing of the white evangelical tribe, he would be it. He’s also an Anglican.

Fred_FactorJust another data point to keep in mind when you see all those foolish hit-jobs attacking Rachel Held Evans for joining an Episcopal congregation.

• While contemplating the potential legal advantages that might accrue from proclaiming myself to be Pope Fred I of Fred’s Church, I stumbled across the book pictured here. OK, then. Here’s a taste of Mark Sanborn’s The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary: “I want to be someone else’s Fred. Why? Because it’s the true measure of greatness. … It’s doing more than what’s expected. The Bible calls being a Fred a servant.”

As a general rule, I think you’re better off reading fortune cookies or horoscopes than you would be reading most self-help titles. But I may make an exception here.

• “Sometimes life just plays horrible, cruel jokes on decent people.”

Target has joined Walmart and TJMaxx/Marshalls in raising its minimum wage to $9 an hour. This means people who work at Target and Walmart can now almost afford to shop at Target and Walmart.

The Big Box where I work hasn’t yet gotten on board this train. It needs to. Spring is a big deal at the Box – a time when they have to bring on a bunch of additional seasonal workers. But so far this year our branch of the chain has had four applicants. Two failed the drug test, one left abruptly when informed of it, the fourth was hired, but never showed up. Seems like the labor market is trying to tell them something.

Mark Evanier considers “The Rainbow Connection,” deciding that despite the song’s dubious claims about dreams coming true, “It’s Kermit singing,” so don’t complain.

The key to “Rainbow Connection” is that Kermit is the Anti-Prufrock. Like Evanier, he knows that “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true” is a lie, but he still dares to eat a peach and to disturb the universe.

This is explicit in the final verse. “I have heard the mermaids singing,” Eliot’s sad anti-hero said, “I do not think that they will sing to me.” But Kermit says different. “I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it,” he sings. Poor J. Alfred was asleep and dreaming “Till human voices wake us, and we drown.” But Kermit was only half asleep. And frogs can swim

Click here to view the embedded video.


Are Economics Majors Anti-Social?

Mar. 25th, 2015 02:13 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Yep. Economics majors are more anti-social than non-econ majors. And taking econ classes also makes people more anti-social than they were before. It turns out, there’s quite a bit of research on this, nicely summarized here.  Econ majors are less likely to share, less generous to the needy, and more likely to cheat, lie, and steal.

In one study, for example, economists Yoram Bauman and Elaina Rose noted the consistent finding that econ majors were less generous and asked whether the effect was do to selection (people who are anti-social choose to take econ classes) or indoctrination (taking econ classes makes one more anti-social). They found that both play a role.

Students at their institution — University of Washington — were asked at registration each semester if they’d like to donate to WashPIRG (a left-leaning public interest group) and ATN (a non-partisan group that lobbies to reduce tuition rates).  Bauman and Elaina crunched the data along with students’ chosen majors and classes. They found that econ majors were less likely to donate to either cause (the selection hypothesis) and that non-econ majors who had taken econ classes were less likely to donate than non-majors who hadn’t (the indoctrination hypothesis).

1c 2

What should we make of these findings?

Sociologist Amitai Etzioni takes a stab at an answer. He argues that neoclassical economics isn’t a problem in itself. Instead, the problem may be that there are no “balancing” classes, ones that present a different kind of economics. In other part of the academy, he argues — specifying social philosophy, political science, and sociology– there is “a great variety of approaches are advanced, thereby leaving students with a consolidated debasing exposure and a cacophony of conflicting pro-social views.”

Being exposed to a variety of views, including ones that question the premises of neoclassical economics, may be one way to make economists more honest and kind. And doing so isn’t just about sticking one to econ, it’s an issue of grave seriousness, as the criminal and immoral behavior of our financial leaders is exactly what triggered a Great Recession once… and could again.

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)

Oh, Please

Mar. 25th, 2015 05:34 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image result for beer on table
(Photograph description: A tall glass of beer, with a frothy head, sitting on a table.)

Joe and I went out for a beer last weekend. Because of the harshness of the winter, this signified the beginning of spring for us. The trip to the bar isn't far but, even then, it was out of reach in such intense cold. But, Friday had some warmth, we felt like a trip to the pub. So we went.

A lot of you know that I quit drinking alcohol several years ago and have become an inveterate tea-totaler. So we stopped to get a couple big cups of the at Davids Tea and then we headed over to the pub. Not drinking doesn't mean that I don't like the pub atmosphere and as long as everyone is good with me drinking tea - then we're all good.

We chatted with someone, a really nice guy, for a bit and then the topic became my wheelchair and others who use motored mobility devises out in the community. The general agreement was that most were good responsible users but some drove dangerously and didn't care about the safety of others. I too have seen this. I have made comment a few times to scooter drivers who seemed to want to push me off the sidewalk to get out of their way. Equally, I have had other power wheelchair users demand that I get out of the way, when I'm shopping because they want to be where I am. I waited my turn, they need to wait theirs. It happens.

The fellow I was talking to started to lower social expectations for people with disabilities. "Well, at first I'm pissed off or annoyed but then I think about how hard their lives must be and realize that they just need extra patience." Having said this, he smiled at me. He's a really nice guy attempting to be decent. I don't want to go all disability politic all over his ass. So, I just said, "People with disabilities need to rise to the same social standard as everyone else." He began to say that he thought that maybe they couldn't. I told him the reason they couldn't was because people think they can't.

The tyranny of low expectations - right in front of my eyes.

Non disabled people simply don't seem to know how to think about people with disabilities without using some kind of  'disablity as a negative' trope. The narrative that is the easiest to go to is that all of our behaviour is a result of our frustrated lives as disabled people. There is a reluctance to simply think of someone with a disability as behaving like a 'jerk'.

Cause sometimes our primary diagnosis is 'asshole' or 'jerk' or 'what's with you?

And the most successful treatments for the behaviours that result from that particular diagnosis are patently obvious, aren't they?
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by Jack El-Hai

by Jack El-Hai, Wonders & Marvels contributor

On March 16, 2015, a lawyer won admission to the California State Bar, as thousands of attorneys do every year. In this case, however, the newly admitted lawyer had petitioned for entry 125 years earlier and died in 1926.

Hong Yen Chang

Hong Yen Chang

Justice moved slowly for Hong Yen Chang, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chinese origin, but it did eventually move. This month the Supreme Court of California gave Chang the license to practice law that state and federal legislation denied him during the nineteenth century.

Chang first arrived in the U.S. in 1872, at the age of 13, as part of a Chinese cultural and educational mission. He studied at Andover, Yale, and Columbia Law School before overcoming multiple obstacles to gain entry to the New York State Bar in 1888. What hindered his admission was the federal Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese immigrants from receiving U.S. citizenship, a requirement of bar membership. Only after the New York Assembly specially exempted him from the Act and permitted his naturalization would the state bar accept him.

Chang’s real problems began two years later, when he decided to move his law practice to California to assist the large number of Chinese immigrants there. When he applied to join the California Bar and presented his New York credentials, he was turned away. In 1890 the Supreme Court of California issued a notorious ruling that found Chang’s New York naturalization invalid and declared him ineligible for bar membership on account of his race.

Chang never did practice law in California, although he went on to pursue an illustrious career in diplomacy and banking before he died at age 67 in Berkeley.

In unanimously overturning its 125-year-old decision, the California Supreme Court observed that “it is past time to acknowledge that the discriminatory exclusion of Chang from the State Bar of California was a grievous wrong.” Chang’s belated admission was made possible by a petition that students in the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association at the University of California-Davis had filed with the state court.

Further reading:

Chang, Iris. The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. Viking, 2003.

Farkas, Lani Ah Tye. Bury My Bones in America: The Saga of a Chinese Family in California, 1852-1996. Carl Mautz Publications, 1998.


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Posted by chinookjargon

[The pope] placed his hand on Louis’ and Celestin’s [Chillihitzia’s] head, [and] he also gave a large medal to them

pope pius x

(Previous installment here.)

Sint Irin ankati tlap kopa Shirusalim ukuk shin, pi iaka lolo [NULL]
St Irene long ago in Jerusalem found that chain, and she brought [them]

kopa Rom: lipap iskom iaka, pi kanamokst iaka iskom ukuk shin
to Rome; the pope took them and together [with them] took the chain

mitlait kopa Rom: iawa ukuk mokst shin chako k’aw kanamokst,
that was [already] in Rome; then the two chains got connected to each other,

pi wik kata wiht pus klaska mash [NULL].
so that nobody could pull them [apart] again.1

Nsaika nanich ukuk mokst shin kopa iht styuil haws
We saw these two chains at a church

kopa Rom. Iawa nsaika tlap tanas shins kopa ukuk:
in Rome. There we got little chains [in the shape] of them;

ukuk tanas shin klaska blis, pus nsaika kwanisim tlus
these little chains will bless [us], if we will always take good

nanich klaska.
care of them.


     Alta wik saia lakit tintin kopit sitkom son: nsaika
     Now it was nearly four o’clock in the afternoon; we

klatwa kopa lipap iaka haws, pi klaska lolo nsaika wik saia
went to the pope’s house, and we were taken close to

kah mitlait lipap. Ayu wiht tilikom mitlait, klunas kwinam
where the pope was. Many other people were there, about

tatilam. Nsaika ashnu kanawi kopa iht lain; alta lipap
fifty. We knelt all in a line; then the pope

chako, iaka patlach iaka lima kopa kanawi ukuk tilikom, pi
came; he gave his hand to each of these people, and

kanawi nsaika kis iaka lima. Iaka mamuk iaka lima sahali kopa
each of us kissed his hand. He placed his hand on

Lui pi Silista klaska latit, wiht iaka patlach iht aias mali
Louis’ and Celestin’s [Chillihitzia’s] head, [and] he also gave a large medal

kopa klaska: iaka kakwa pus tanas til, pi kakwa pus tanas
to them; he looked a little tired, and seemed a bit

sik tomtom. Pus iaka kopit patlach mali2 kopa kanawi, iaka
sad. When he was done giving medals to all, he

mitwit pi iaka mamuk blis kanawi. <x> Iaka kakwa iht liplit,
stood and he blessed everyone. He was like any priest,

ilo drit aias man iaka; pi tkop iaka iktas kanawi. Pi iaka
he’s not a big man; and his clothes are white all over. And

drit tlus iaka siahush: iaka drit tlus tomtom kopa kanawi
his face is quite wonderful; he was really glad about everyone

chako nanich iaka. <x> Iaka wiht mamuk blis ukuk <2000>
coming to see him. He also blessed the 2,000

mali nsaika tlap kopa Sin Antwan Luis, pi nsaika lolo kopa Rom.
medals we had gotten from “St Anthony Louise” and then brought to Rome.

Nsaika tiki pus lipap mamuk blis kanawi nsaika tilikom,
We wanted the pope to bless all of our [Indian] people,

pi iaka wawa: = Nawitka, naika blis kanawi.
and he said, “Indeed, I bless [them] all.”


     Alta nsaika kilapai kopa nsaika haws kopa Rom, pi nsaika
     Then we went back to our house in Rome, and we

mamuk ridi pus mash Rom pi kilapai kopa nsaika ilihi.
got ready to leave Rome and return to our home.

Lui pi Silista klaska tomtom klaska drit saia kopa klaska ilihi
Louis and Celestin [Chillihitzia], feeeling they were mighty far from their homes,

ilo tiki klatwa ilip wiht saia.
didn’t want to go any farther away.

1There are serious inconsistencies in this telling of the chains of San Pietro in Vincoli. Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pietro_in_Vincoli.

2It appears as if “mali” were written over “lima”, or vice versa.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  • Every woman in every Disney/Pixar movie in the past decade has the same face: “Apparently every Disney woman is a clone/direct descendant of some primordial creature with huge round cheeks and a disturbingly small nose, because there is no other explanation (yes there is(it’s lazy sexism)) for the incredible lack of diversity among these female faces.”
  • Beyond: An anthology of queer SFF comics, coming in spring 2015. Currently fundraising.
  • Former Facebook Employee, Chia Hong, Sues for Sex Discrimination | Re/code: “A former Facebook employee is suing the company for a number of claims, including sex discrimination, harassment and race/national origin discrimination, according to a lawsuit filed with the San Mateo County Superior Court Monday.”
  • Robyn Launches Festival Promoting Women in Technology | News | Pitchfork: “In a press release, Robyn said she wanted to use the platform to inspire girls aged 11-to-18 who might be intrigued about technology—a historically male-dominated industry. ‘Tekla is a festival for girls, in which they get to sample different areas of future technology in what I believe will be a fun and imaginative environment,’ she wrote.”
  • New feminist Thor is selling way more comic books than the old Thor | Fusion: “While the audience breakdown is not available and there’s no way to know if the new Thor is bringing in more female readers, it is clear that she’s outselling the last series by A LOT. The first five new Thor books are currently selling more copies than the last five Thor books from 2012 by close to 20,000 copies per month, not including digital copies.”
  • Lighten Up — The Nib | Medium: Powerful comic about skin tone in comics coloring.
  • Chapter Three | Follow the Geeks: Profile of Lifehacker founder Gina Trapani. “Her skills as a programmer, leader, and writer are often overlooked, because she works so quietly. She flies under the radar, outshined by ideas shouted from the rooftops by Silicon Valley braggadocios. But Gina did something no other tech entrepreneur did, though most of them became big fans of it. She founded Lifehacker, the standard by which all productivity-enhancing web publications—now a dime a dozen—are judged. “
  • You can choose who submits talks to your conference | Julia Evans: “If you ask someone specifically to consider speaking at your conference, they’re WAY more likely to consider submitting a talk than if you don’t. If you then actively work with some talk submitters to help them focus and improve the talk they submit, their proposals will get better! And if you choose to focus your energies to work with (for instance) non-white people more than white people, then you’ll get more and better proposals from people who aren’t white.”
  • Doxxing to Defend Student Privacy | Hack Education: “If doxxing is the tactic – and “a primer” sure might indicate that it’s a-okay – then we have much more to do to prepare students about the implications of their online profiles, safety, surveillance, and discipline. Seriously, we have to think about what it means when political groups decide to use social media mechanisms not just to observe and monitor but to stifle dissent and quite literally to destroy their opposition.”
  • How This Young, Female and Latina Investor Broke Into a Middle-Aged, Male and White Industry | Hunter Walk: An interview with Ana Diaz-Hernandez of Kapor Capital. “I take my relationships very seriously: I believe deep, systemic issues require multi-disciplinary minds coming together. I work hard to bring together people who are taking radically different paths to address similar problems. It’s in those unconventional settings that amazing innovation happens. If you’re a driver of meaningful connections, people will want to work with you and you’ll be sure to have a place at the venture table.”
  • Art+Feminism Events on International Women’s Day « Wikimedia blog: “The Art+Feminism Campaign organized a global drive to host edit-a-thons on the weekend of International Women’s Day, to improve Wikipedia articles about women in the arts, feminism, and gender — as well as to raise awareness of the Wikipedia gender gap. Over 75 events took place around the world, bringing together about 1,500 participants — ranging from small gatherings of friends to large groups at significant cultural institutions like LACMA, the Walker Art Center, and the Stedelijk Museum. As a result, at least 400 new articles were created, and another 500 articles were significantly improved.”
  • Lawsuit: The 10 ways Twitter denies equal job opportunities for women | Mashable: “A software engineer suing Twitter for sex discrimination says the company’s mysterious promotions policy denies equal job opportunities for qualified women, according to court papers obtained Friday by Mashable — a document that handily alleges 10 personnel problems and five ways to fix them.”
  • Why I Don’t Want to Talk About ‘Women in Tech’ | Life as I Know It: “This week, I got an email from a local journalist asking if I wanted to participate in a focus group on writing about women in tech… here is the reply I sent.”
  • 24 Thoughts on Sexism, Feminism, YA, Reading, and The Publishing Industry | Stacked: A good summary for many situations. Women don’t get points for experimenting. They have to get it right the whole way through. Men are right when they try, even if they fail.

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Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Princess Sophia the Suffragette

Mar. 24th, 2015 09:32 pm
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by April Stevens

By Anita Anand (Guest Contributor)

I am often asked how I found Sophia but honestly, she found me. I was on maternity leave in 2010 when one morning, a local magazine landed on my mat. As I turned the pages I became transfixed by a single image – a brown-skinned woman dressed as an Edwardian lady, selling copies of a militant suffragette newspaper. She looked Indian.

2003.46/108I am a political journalist of Indian origin, so naturally found myself drawn. I tugged on a thread and an avalanche of a story fell. Princess Sophia Duleep Singh would take me on one of the greatest journalistic adventures of my life.

Princess Sophia Jindan Alexandrovna Duleep Singh was a dispossessed Princess of one of the greatest and most defiant empires of the Indian subcontinent. Her grandfather was a one eyed warrior King who united northern India and terrified the British.

After his death in 1843, Sophia’s father, Maharajah Duleep Singh took the throne aged just 5. Sensing the chance for a land grab, the British befriended the boy and then betrayed him. Duleep was exiled, and ended up in Britain, where he enjoyed great favour from Queen Victoria. She adored him and gladly became Sophia’s godmother when she was born in 1876.

The relationship turned toxic however, when the Maharajah tried and failed to take back his Kingdom. His obsession caused him to discard Sophia and her mother. Queen Victoria appointed guardians who cared for the little girl, left crippled by the insecurity of her abandonment. Together, they and the Queen rebuilt her. Sophia was given a home at Hampton Court Palace, and filled newspapers with her trend setting fashion sense. She became quite the girl about town.

From Girl About Town to Suffragette

A prohibited trip to Punjab at the turn of the century, however, changed everything. She came to understand just how much had been taken from her family and from India. With a burning sense of injustice, Sophia sailed back to Britain and found an outlet for her rage.

Sophia became an ardent and committed member of Emmeline Pankhurst’s army. She drove carts of Suffragette newspapers through London, embarrassing former friends at Buckingham palace. She fought with police, battling in the midst of violent riots, even throwing herself at the Prime Ministers car. She refused to pay her taxes, daring the authorities to arrest her, longing to go on hunger strike like her sister suffragettes.

The one-time darling of the establishment was now denounced from the highest orders. This is the story of her life and transformation.

Sophia_HC_cat 2Anita Anand has been a radio and television journalist for almost twenty years. She is the presenter of Any Answers on BBC Radio 4. During her career, she has also presented Drive, Doubletake and the Anita Anand Show on Radio 5 Live, and Saturday Live, The Westminster Hour, Beyond Westminster, Midweek and Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. On BBC television she has presented The Daily Politics, The Sunday Politics and Newsnight. She lives in west London. This is her first book.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Last week we discussed “Club Amnesia” — the spring break frat party run by a nominal “church” called the Life Center in Panama City, Florida. Local officials have challenged the tax-exempt status of the church, deciding “That isn’t a church” at all, just a night club disingenuously claiming to be a church to take advantage of the tax and zoning laws for religious non-profits.

The officials can certainly point to some compelling evidence for that conclusion. There’s Club Amnesia’s “pajama and lingerie” parties advertising “the sexiest ladies on the beach.” The club charges a $20 cover and sells T-shirts with slogans like “I hate being sober.” They have naked body-painting and “Wet and Wild” nights with, the church says, “a little twerkin.” Plus the whole thing is run by a guy named Markus Bishop who has a rap-sheet for assault and sexual harassment.

But for all of that, Bishop says he’s a pastor. He says he’s a sincere religious believer running a legitimate ministry. The outlandish details of that ministry aren’t all that different from the “prosperity gospel” Bishop preached at his earlier church, a place called Faith Christian Family Church. When he was trying to reach a flock of financially insecure working-class people, Bishop preached a gospel of wealth. Now he’s trying to reach lonely college students with a gospel of beach parties, so how is that different? Why should the latter be a less legitimate form of “religion”?

ColbertHere’s the problem: The First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion requires that our laws do not burden or restrict that free exercise. And that means we will often need to carve out religious exemptions to specific laws or regulations.

Consider, for example, the military draft. Quakers have been a part of the fabric of American life since the earliest Colonial days. While the Friends aren’t a dogmatic bunch, pacifism has traditionally been a central, essential component of their religious faith. We can’t very well conscript Quakers to take up arms to defend the Constitution if forcing them to do so violates the very free exercise of religion that Constitution claims to guarantee.

So, OK then, we’ll carve out a religious exemption to the draft. Quakers and Mennonites and such — the traditional “peace churches” — will be granted an exemption in recognition of their religious liberty. We’ll allow for some alternate form of national service for those pacifist believers. So far so good.

But if religious liberty and the freedom of conscience is to mean anything, then it has to apply to everyone equally. And adherents of the traditional peace churches aren’t the only religious believers whose beliefs forbid them to take up arms. We’ve also got Dorothy Day Catholics and MLK Baptists and an assortment of other people whose religious convictions forbid them from participating in lethal violence. Their religious convictions may not be a formal aspect of the dogma of their respective sects, but they are still religious convictions. Forcing them to violate those convictions would violate their right to the free exercise of their religion. So what about them? What about their rights and their freedom of conscience?

OK, fine. We’ll expand the religious exemption to the draft to also include other religious believers who would be forced to violate their religious beliefs.

But we’re still not done yet. The First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion also has to guarantee the right not to exercise religion. If it is to mean anything, then it must protect the right not to believe just as surely as the right to believe. And we’ve also got a bunch of Americans whose non-sectarian personal convictions forbid them from participating in lethal violence. These are core beliefs, and requiring them to violate those beliefs would mean denying them the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the First Amendment. What about them? What about their rights?

Eventually we figured that out too. It took a while, but our conscientious objector laws now protect the freedom of conscience of non-believers just as much as of believers (on paper, at least).

This same pattern can be seen in a host of different laws and exemptions written to protect Americans’ right to freedom of conscience as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Our courts have always been willing to take a hard look at our laws and to evaluate the application of those laws in the light of that First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.

This has involved lots of thoughtful attempts to create a principled legal approach to evaluating such laws and their application. Our courts have used things like the so-called “Lemon Test,” named after a landmark 1971 religious liberty case. That test offers three principles for evaluating laws that involve freedom of conscience and the free exercise of religion:

  1. The law shouldn’t involve “excessive government entanglement” in religion;
  2. The law should neither advance nor inhibit religious practice; and
  3. The law needs to have some generally applicable non-sectarian purpose.

My point here isn’t to discuss whether or not the Lemon Test is adequate or whether it has been or should be consistently applied. I’m just noting it as an example of the courts’ attempt to create a principled, methodical approach to the necessary task of evaluating laws and their application in a way that honors the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.

On that half of the equation, the courts have made a clear effort. But that’s only one half of the equation.

And the bigger problem is that our courts are terrified of the other half of the equation. They’re willing to evaluate the legitimacy of our laws, but they’re utterly reluctant to apply the same principled legal consideration to evaluating the legitimacy of religious claims. And the validity of those religious exemptions is dependent on the validity of the religious claims being legally protected.

Again, it is understandable and even, at some level, commendable that our courts don’t want to get involved in making judgments about religious sincerity. Judges shouldn’t want to be put in the position of ruling on the legitimacy or sincerity of any individual’s religious or a-religious claims.

But tough luck. Making judgments is what judges do. And making judgments about the validity of religious claims is still an inescapable, unavoidable, necessary part of their job. By refusing to acknowledge or accept that part of their job, the courts are routinely screwing over local officials who don’t have the option of retreating to some lofty, abstract, above-the-fray perch. Those local officials are required — by laws upheld by the courts — to render judgments about the legitimacy and sincerity of religious claims. And that’s true whether or not the courts ever deign to provide them any guidance for doing so.

Florida law says that church property is tax exempt. Markus Q. Bishop says his wet-and-wild nightclub is a church and that therefore he doesn’t have to pay taxes on the property. Local officials in Panama City have no choice but to make a choice. They have to make a legal determination as to whether or not Bishop’s “church” is, legally and legitimately, a church. And they have to do so despite a Supreme Court that has — in recent rulings from Hosanna-Tabor to Hobby Lobby — extravagantly refused to offer any principled guidance for that determination.

Local officials all over the country face similar dilemmas every day. New Jersey’s Assembly is, right now, considering a bill to refine that state’s religious exemptions for child vaccination. Kids have to be vaccinated to attend public schools in the state. That’s a Good Thing, because epidemics of measles or whooping cough aren’t really conducive to education. Parents whose religious beliefs (or non-sectarian convictions of conscience) prohibit vaccination are granted an exemption from the requirement. That’s a Good Thing, too, because even though anti-vaxxers may be factually challenged ignoramuses, the First Amendment has to guarantee their right to be factually challenged ignoramuses if that nonsense is, for them, a sincerely held conviction of conscience.

But the “religious exemption” in New Jersey has been growing faster than anti-vaxxer ideology. It’s so easy to claim this exemption that parents who may have simply forgot to make an appointment, or failed to bother to do so, can just check the religious exemption box and get their kids enrolled anyway. The law, in other words, created a loophole that is being exploited by people with no legitimate or sincere claim of conscience.

Every such First Amendment exemption is vulnerable to such abuse and exploitation. And every local official charged with administering such exemptions is therefore forced to evaluate the legitimacy and sincerity of the religious/conscience claims being presented. Draft boards routinely have to evaluate the purported convictions of would-be conscientious objectors. Tax and zoning officials are constantly forced to consider whether or not a given purported “church” legitimately meets the legal definition of such a thing. Some poor soul who works at the DMV taking driver’s license photos says “Next” and a guy claiming to be a High Priest of the Church of Groucho sits down wearing a fake nose and mustache. Now what?

The Supreme Court is no help for these local officials. Their recent rulings have been so averse to any evaluation of the sincerity or legitimacy or religious claims that they’ve even seemed to suggest that clear evidence of insincerity must not be considered. The owners of Hobby Lobby and the administrators of Wheaton College happily provided contraception coverage for years before one day, abruptly, pulling a 180 and claiming that even a three-steps-removed involvement in the provision of such coverage would violate their suddenly newfound deepest religious convictions.

That’s ridiculous. It’s evidence that their purported free exercise claims are just as baseless as Markus Bishop’s claim that Club Amnesia is a church, or the claims of lazy Garden State parents that they forgot to vaccinate their kids because of religious reasons. And courts aren’t supposed to ignore evidence.

But the Supreme Court has now suggested that even such demonstrably insincere claims of sincerity must be treated as sincere. That encourages every huckster and opportunist who can find an angle to exploit religious exemptions for every penny. It creates a legal atmosphere that invites the religious equivalent of the Colbert Super Pac — Stephen Colbert’s giddily absurd, but perfectly legal, performance-art exploitation of post-Citizen’s United campaign-finance laws.

And that, ultimately, corrodes religious liberty. When legitimate religious exemptions are flooded with insincere claims whose legitimacy is never allowed to be legally considered, then those legitimate exemptions begin to seem less legitimate.

Again, I fully appreciate why the courts have been reluctant to involve themselves in questions of religious sincerity. But refusing to perform a necessary task because it is difficult doesn’t make the problem go away. A presumption of sincerity is probably a Good Thing. A presumption of sincerity that is impervious to clear evidence of insincerity is a recipe for disaster.


[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Kerrita Mayfield PhD

In 1975, Mulvey conceptualized the gaze as the power derived by the viewer when they cast their glance upon a hierarchized, usually female, body. This idea perfectly captures the way a subject on film is both frozen in a time and space, and consumed. I want to turn that around, in a more kyriarchal and postmodern fashion, and allot power to the subject.

Refinery 29 has a series of photographs by Blaise Cepis. Through them, women discuss and display their body hair.  In a beautifully hued array, these women speak of personal choice, empowerment and acceptance in ways that act as a counternarrative to the Brazilian-plucked-chicken-prepubescent-non-mammal-landscaping construct that is currently in vogue.

And yet. Yet. Among this abundance of hairy joy – there is no direct gaze. Among the 21 slides there are faces in profile, lower portions of faces, averted glances with pupils looking away. There is only one woman directly glancing at the viewer, and even as her defiant brows dominate her face she is neither fully seen nor subsequently fully known.


Also, nowhere in the 21 slides does the women’s whole body occupy the visual frame. The pictures show a bushy underarm with barely a chest wall or breast, a lushly forested pudenda without whole legs or torso, or a lightly furred arm without a hand attached.

Counter this power and gaze conundrum with Kim Kardashian’s photoessay for Paper’s Winter issue where she appears, full frontal, body hair free, and fully faced. With the hashtag #breaktheinternet, the intent of the shoot is clear. Neither during the photoshoot’s extended video interview or the accompanying print piece does Kardashian invoke feminism’s ideals of choice, power or acceptance. Yet, in her direct gaze and whole body there is a definitive power of being fully present in the visual medium.

Censored to be safe for work, but you can see the original here:5

In his classic Disidentifications, Munoz interrogates the intersections between queer theory and life as performance to illustrate the ways hegemony is constructed. All the women in the photoessay above are performing: to disrupt a gaze by capturing the consumer; to deliver through visual imagery a counternarrative to normed assumptions; to shine a spotlight upon their bodies so that other stories can be told about them that subsequently reflect the world. These are all photos of “naked women”, but they are not equal in power.

Make no mistake, Kardashian’s photoshoot does not aspire to be anything but  performance – a denuded spectacle that we can believe – illustrating her power to create reverberating social narratives. But the theme of empowered, hirsuit women who embrace the social, sexual, and personal repercussions of their decision is undercut by the disembodied visual presentation. The power of these women has no whole body in which to reside. They are intended to be read as both brave and everyday, but they are visually reduced to decontextualized hair clumps; the performances of pride do not ring true because the viewer does not witness the incorporation of their body pride into a fully human landscape. Frankly, if women are going to “grow hair there” – we need to fully embody it.

Kerrita K. Mayfield, PhD is an experienced social justice oriented educator and teacher trainer, with over 20 years working in urban and rural classrooms and alternative educational settings. Currently teaching ESL at UMass Amherst to liminal non-benefitted workers, she was the first student to earn a graduate minor in Women’s Studies at the University of Wyoming.

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

How It Begins

Mar. 24th, 2015 06:41 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo Description: Several people crossing at an intersection, including a young man with a disability.
Joe and I were waiting for the light to change when a young family joined the throng waiting for the green. A little girl, maybe 7 stood a little in front of her mom and day, so she was just off to my left. I looked over at her, she smiled at me, I smiled at her.

Then the light changed.

We surged forward. I was rolling fairly slowly because I was behind people I couldn't get around, and I wasn't in a hurry so didn't try. Beside me was the little girl. She was hopping from one thick white line to the next. It's a game that both Ruby and Sadie play sometimes. She was having fun. She continued to be beside me.

Then her mom, who had been talking animatedly to her dad, noticed.

I heard her being called away from me. These are the exact words used to call her away, "Get away from that man in the wheelchair." The little girl looked back at her mother, she smiled and waved to show that everything was fine. And indeed everything was fine, she was no where near my wheels and in absolutely no danger. She continued on with her game.

We were nearing the other side when her mother came and angrily grabbed her arm and pulled her forward and up on to the curb. "I said, stay way from those kind of people, stay away!' The grab, the pull and the anger in the words startled and frightened the little girl. She looked back at me now, the smile gone. The warmth in her eyes had been turned ice cold.

This is how prejudice and hatred begins.

The Satanic baby-killers of London

Mar. 23rd, 2015 11:30 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Are there secret kitchens beneath a London McDonald’s in which babies sacrificed to Satan are cooked before being eaten by Satanic cult members? Do these Satanic baby-killers wear special shoes made from the skins of dead babies? Do they drink blood and dance wearing the skulls of the babies they’ve slain for their Dark Lord?

As it turns out, no. None of that is really happening.

A high court judge has dismissed claims that children in north London have been abused by paedophiles in a satanic cult.

Mrs Justice Pauffley … said last September “lurid allegations of the most serious kind” were drawn to the attention of police. It was suggested that the youngsters were part of a large group of children from north London who belonged to a satanic cult.

NoSheDoesntShe said there were allegations of “significant paedophile activity” – allegations that children had been sexually abused and made to abuse one another.

Pauffley said allegations were made by the two children, their mother and her partner.

“Specifically, it was said that babies were supplied from all over the world,” she said.

“They were bought, injected with drugs and then sent by TNT or DHL to London. The assertions were that babies had been abused, tortured and then sacrificed.

“Their throats were slit, blood was drunk and cult members would then dance wearing babies’ skulls (sometimes with blood and hair still attached”) on their bodies.

“All the cult members wore shoes made of baby skin produced by the owner of a specified shoe repair shop.”

She said it was alleged that the “main action” occurred at a school – and at least seven other schools were named. A swimming pool was identified as a meeting place.

It was alleged that “rituals” were performed at a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant when “the boss” allowed child sacrifice because he was a member of the cult, said the judge.

And it was said that babies were prepared and cooked in ovens in a “secret kitchen” then eaten by cult members.

The judge describes these allegations as both “lurid” and “serious.” And she took them seriously, because any of this horror story, if true, would be a ghastly crime.

But none of this story is true. Not even a little bit. There was no such horrific crime:

“I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true,” said Pauffley in her ruling. “The claims are baseless.”

That’s good news! It is an enormous relief to learn that we do not live in a world that includes Satanic cobblers making shoes out of dead babies, or secret cannibal-kitchens beneath McDonald’s, or a death cult that rapes infants before slitting their throats and dancing in their blood. It is always good news to learn that there isn’t a scary monster lurking under the bed (or under the McDonald’s).

Or, rather, it should always be good news. But it’s also possible to train yourself, over time, to see something like Pauffley’s statement as bad news. It’s a trick, and it takes hard work and years of practice to pull it off. But you can learn to do this. You can teach yourself to come to prefer a world that includes bloody-baby-skull-dancing monsters. Millions of others have already learned to do this, and you can too.

Here’s how to do it. First, look at The Guardian’s headline for the story above: “Claims of Satanic cult and child sacrifices in London are baseless, judge rules.” That seems like good news, but it also doesn’t say anything about you. And that’s the key to this process — learning to make it all about you.

All that requires is a simple tweaking of that headline: “Judge refuses to prosecute Satanic cult and child sacrifices in London.”

That’s still technically true, albeit a bit misleading. Follow that misleading — run with it as far as you can. “Judge dismisses concerns about international baby-killing conspiracy.” “Judge won’t bring charges against accused cannibals.” Work that into a nice lather.

And now it’s all about you. You become the only thing that matters in this story. It’s no longer a story about the results of a London judge’s fact-finding investigation, but instead becomes a story about how you are smarter, more virtuous, and in every way superior to these Satanic baby-killers and these stupid judges and reporters who coddle them.

Voila! A story that tells us the world is better than we feared is transformed into a story that tells us we are better than the rest of the world. This transformation requires the pretense that imaginary monsters exist, but that’s a small price to pay for the emotional rewards of learning to see this story — and every story — as confirmation of our own moral superiority.

“I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true,” said Pauffley in her ruling. “The claims are baseless.”

She added: “Those who have sought to perpetuate them are evil and/or foolish.”

Pauffley may be right about the evil and/or foolishness of those who invent and embrace these baseless scary stories of imaginary monsters.

But she misses the more important point: It makes them happy.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

A new study led by philosopher Sarah-Jane Leslie challenges the idea that women are underrepresented in STEM fields. They first note that there are some STEM fields where women do well (they are 54% of molecular biologists, for example) and some humanities fields where they don’t (they are only 31% of philosophers). Something else, they gathered, must be going on.

They had a hunch. They asked 1,820 U.S. academics what it took to be successful in their field. They were particularly interested in answers that suggested hard work and ones that invoked brilliance.

Their results showed a clear relationship between the presence of women in a field and the assumption that success required brilliance.  The downward sloping line represents the proportion of female PhDs in stem fields (top) and social science and humanities fields (bottom) as they become increasingly associated with brilliance:


Interviewed at Huffington Post, Leslie says:

Cultural associations link men, but not women, with raw intellectual brilliance… consider, for example, how difficult it is to think of even a single pop-cultural portrayal of a woman who displays that same special spark of innate, unschooled genius as Sherlock Holmes or Dr. House from the show “House M.D.,” or Will Hunting from the movie “Good Will Hunting.”

In contrast, accomplished women are often portrayed as very hard working (and often having given up on marriage and children, I’ll add). She continues:

In this way, women’s accomplishments are seen as grounded in long hours, poring over books, rather than in some special raw effortless brilliance.

They extended their findings to race, testing whether the relationship held for African Americans, another group often stereotyped as less intelligent, and Asians, a group that attracts the opposite stereotype. As hypothesized, they found the relationship for the first group, but not the second (note the truncated y-axis).


The long term solution to this problem, of course, is to end white and Asian men’s claim on brilliance. In the meantime, the research team suggests, it may be a good idea to stop talking about some fields as if they’re the rightful home of the naturally brilliant and start advocating hard work for everyone.

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)

I said I was sorry!

Mar. 23rd, 2015 08:22 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

 Image result for snap!

I just snapped. Literally and figuratively, snapped.

I don't know why, I got up in the morning after a good nights sleep. Joe and I had breakfasted while watching 'Longmire' on Netflix. We decided to get out early to get the shopping done so we can avoid the crowds. Joe, knowing full well the experience of shopping with me, "We can avoid all those people who resent the space you need for your chair." I said, not knowing I was predicting the future, "You can't avoid those people, some of them will have gotten up early too."

Putting the onions in my shopping bag, I headed to the end of the aisle needing to make a sharp right to go down to pick up some tomatoes. At the end of the aisle, there had been some kind of accident, someone had dropped something and part of the floor was covered in, what looked to be Thousand Island dressing. I remember remarking that there were a lot of islands, but 'thousand' was a stretch. I was near the end of the passageway, made narrow by those 'slippery when wet' signs and the cones with the picture of someone falling. A woman with a big cart turned and faced me, she clearly wanted to go through the same passageway that I had just traversed. I could not back up because there was someone right behind me.

I asked, nicely, "Could you just let me pass?" She backed up resentfully, so I threw in a 'sorry'. In response she looked at me with a deep level of anger and impatience. Inside, I heard a little snap. So I turned to her and said, with anger, "I said 'Sorry' what else do you want, you could see that I couldn't back up. What the hell is wrong with using just a little bit of freaking patience." (By the by, I didn't swear, I actually used the word 'freaking') And I rolled on. I was shaking. I don't do that. I don't snap, with anger, at strangers. I just don't. I've had confrontations but not like this, not over something like this.

When I got to the tomatoes I was settling down, Joe came back from getting the pop and water, which need to ride at the bottom of our bundle buggy. I begin to tell him about what happened when the woman came back. She said, "I want you to know that I'm always patient with people like you. And kids. And old people." I said, "You looked very angry and upset when I need to get through where the spill was. Backing up isn't patience, holding your temper is." She left.

Joe and I were near done and she's back again, "I feel sorry for people in wheelchairs and I'm always nice to them, I'm a good person." I said, "Well then, act like one." She stormed away. Joe looked at me questioningly. I said, "All she needed to say was sorry, not all this shit about loving cripples and kids, and I don't need her feeling sorry for me, I need to her be sorry for acting like a jerk."

That was the first one.

Yep, there's more.

Later we went to see the movie 'Chappie' and afterwards we hit the loo. On the way out, I stopped where there was room for me to put my coat on. I was out of everyone's way.  A woman at a table several feet away caught sight of me, turned around and settled in to watch me put my coat on. This happens all the time. Typically, I just move out of sight or have Joe block the view. Another snap. It was so loud I can't believe no one else heard it.  So, I said, loudly, "I'm going to move out of view of those so ignorant that they would stare at someone putting on a coat like they were at a freak show." Again, she looked shocked, then angered, and spun around in her seat. I put my coat on.

I don't do this.

I just don't.

I've never acted this way in public before.

On Sunday, we were out a lot and my old patience for this kind of thing was back. Never confronted or barked at anyone. Not once. I still don't know what happened on Saturday, it just seemed to be a day that I just couldn't take the shit that comes your way when you use a wheelchair or when you are different from others.

Anyone else had a day that they just let go of the reins??

Sita Sings The Blues

Mar. 23rd, 2015 11:45 am
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Posted by PamelaToler

By Pamela Toler (Regular Contributor)

The Ramayana is one of the classic Indian epics. Ascribed to the great Sanskrit poet-sage, Valmiki, it’s a love story, a moral lesson, and/or a foundation myth, depending on what kind of reader you are. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl to demon king. Boy rescues girl with the help of monkey-god. Boy worries that girl’s virtue has been smirched and puts her to ordeal by fire. Girl comes through ordeal triumphantly. Boy bows to public pressure and banishes girl to the forest, where she gives birth to twin sons. Boy finds girl again and they live happily ever after.

The story has had an enormous impact on art and culture in India. It has inspired poets in almost every Indic language, most notably the version by 16th century poet Tulsidas. The folk play Ramlilla is performed all over India and the Hindu diaspora as part of the Dusshera festival. Rama and Sita are the romantic leads in countless Hindi movies. And in almost every case, the story focuses on Prince Rama–it is after all the Rama-yana.

In Sita Sings the Blues, American cartoonist and animator Nina Paley turns the spotlight on Sita. Her animated version of the story is colorful, complex and edgy. Using multiple animation styles, Paley interweaves a straightforward, if Sita-centric, version of the Ramayana with commentary on the story by a trio of modern Indians (represented by Indonesian shadow puppets), a modern-day story of a relationship gone wrong, and musical numbers that are part Bollywood and part 1920s jazz singer. The result is an engaging, often hysterical, feast for eyes, ears, and mind.

(A word of warning: My Own True Love was not familiar with the story of the Ramayana and found the action a little hard to follow. If you’re in his shoes, you might want to read this quick plot summary before you view.)

For those of you who subscribe by e-mail, click through to the blog home page if you want to see the trailer for the film, posted at the top of the page.

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Posted by chinookjargon

There used to not be a path to get down to this prison, only a hole in the middle where they threw down the people…


(Previous installment here.)

[…] iht ilihi iaka nim Subiako, kah ankati mitlait Sin Binidik. <x> Pulakli
[…] a place called Subiaco, where St Benedict once lived. In the evening

nsaika kilapai kopa Rom, pi ukuk taii Pir Sotil kanamokst nsaika.
we returned to Rome, and that chief Père Sautel was with us.


     <Oct. 4.> Tanas son, nsaika wiht klatwa kopa lipap
     Oct. 4. In the morning, we again went to the

iaka haws: alta nsaika tlap tikits pus nsaika nanich lipap
pope’s house; now we received tickets for us to see the pope

ukuk son kopa lakit tintin kopit sitkom son. <x> Alta nsaika
that day at four in the afternoon. Then we

klatwa nanich ukuk aias styuil haws, Sin Piir styuil haws.
went to see the big church, St Peter’s church.

Pi nsaika mitlait kopa ukuk styuil haws pi kro sitkom son.
And we stayed at that church until midday.

     <Mamertine Prison.>

     Kopit sitkom son, nsaika klatwa nanich ukuk kikuli
     After noon, we went to see the underground

skukum haws kah ankati Sin Piir mitlait nain months: iaka tolo kopa
prison where long ago St Peter was for nine months; he won over to

styuil, mokst taii wach man kopa skukum haws pi wiht <44>
prayer two guards in charge of the prison and 44 more

tilikom klaska skukum haws. <x> Ankati ilo mitlait oihat pus
people who were jailed. There used to not be a path to

klatwa kikuli kopa ukuk skukum haws, kopit iht hol kopa
get down to this prison, only a hole in the

sitkom kah klaska mash kikuli ukuk tilikom klaska mamuk skukum
middle where they threw down the people who were being

haws kikuli kopa ukuk ilip skukum haws mitlait wiht iht
imprisoned. Beneath this first prison there is still another;

iawa ilo lait, iaka drit pulakli. <x> Pi alta klaska mamuk oihat
there, there isn’t any light, it’s very dark. But then a path was built

pus klatwa kikuli kopa ukuk skukum haws: nsaika iskom lait
to get down to the prison; we took lights

pi nsaika klatwa kikuli: iawa mitlait iht lotil pus liplit
and we descended; there, there was an altar for priests

mamuk lamis; mitlait wiht, drit kopa sitkom iht fawntin:
to say mass; there was also, right in the centre, a fountain;

iaka ukuk chok Sin Piir mamuk chako kopa ilihi pus mamuk
this was the water that St Peter caused to spring from the earth to

wash ukuk tilikom iaka tolo kopa ST kopa ukuk skukum
baptize the people he won over to God in that

haws. Nsaika makmak kopa ukuk chok, iaka tlus. <x> Ukuk
prison. We drank from this water; it was good. It

ilo kansih chako sahali, ilo kansih klatwa kikuli, iaka
never rises and never subsides, it’s

kwanisim kakwa. <x> Ayu wiht tlus tilikom ankati klaska
always the same. Many other good people

klatwa kopa ukuk skukum haws, Sin Aliksandir lipap pi ayu.
have gone to this prison, St Alexander the pope and many [others].


     <St Peter’s Chains.>

     Nsaika wiht nanish kopa Rom Sin Piir iaka shīns:
     We also saw in Rome St Peter’s chains;

ukuk shin iaka kaw kopa Shirusalim, pi ukuk shin iaka kaw kopa […]
[one of] these chains was fastened in Jerusalem, and the [other] chain was fastened in [sic; left blank].

(Next installment here.)

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  • Greg Pak Is Making Book Diversity Into A Reality | Black Girl Nerds (March 18): “with The Princess Who Saved Herself, I was initially attracted to the story because Jonathan’s song so beautifully explodes the passive princess myth and creates this amazing, non-stereotypical hero princess. I kind of imagined parents and caregivers reading this book to girls and boys alike, and those kids getting a kick out of it and imagining themselves as the proactive heroes of their own stories.”
  • Beyond Bossy or Brilliant: Gender Bias in Student Evaluations | The Society Pages (March 18): “Men are sexualized when they teach in fields culturally associated with “femininity” and women are sexualized when they teach in fields culturally associated with “masculinity.””
  • The Woman Speaker Slot | Accidentally in Code (March 11): “It is frankly amazing how many organisers think I will be willing to come and be a token women at their event for the sake of “exposure”. It is appalling how many of them think that I will cover my own travel costs to do so. It is particularly jarring when these organisers are large, profitable, tech companies.”
  • Making it easier to report threats to law enforcement | Twitter (March 17): “While we take threats of violence seriously and will suspend responsible accounts when appropriate, we strongly recommend contacting your local law enforcement if you’re concerned about your physical safety. We hope that providing you with a summary of your report will make that process easier for you.”
  • The Most Dangerous Meme in the Pao/Kleiner Trial: ‘Now, No One Will Hire Women’ | re/code (March 16): “No matter which side wins, what would be a positive outcome of this trial? If it were to help crack open a discourse that leads to more diversity, not less.”
  • Criticism and Ineffective Feedback | Kate Heddleston “Critical feedback is an aspect of engineering cultures (and work-​cultures, in general) that is damaging to both employee performance and diversity efforts. Critical feedback is bad for a myriad of reasons. First, people have strong, negative reactions to criticism regardless of their gender, race, or age. Additionally, people’s performance worsens when they are given critical feedback. They also end up resenting the person criticising them, even if the criticism is technically corre…, “Critical feedback is an aspect of engineering cultures (and work-​cultures, in general) that is damaging to both employee performance and diversity efforts. Critical feedback is bad for a myriad of reasons. First, people have strong, negative reactions to criticism regardless of their gender, race, or age. Additionally, people’s performance worsens when they are given critical feedback. They also end up resenting the person criticising them, even if the criticism is technically correct or kindly meant. Finally, criticism is disproportionately given to women and minorities during performance reviews, resulting in an uneven distribution of critical feedback in the workplace that harms diversity. “
  • This Democratic Congresswoman Wants the FBI to Take on Gamergate | Mother Jones (March 12): “On Tuesday Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), backed by the National Organization for Women and the Human Rights Campaign, asked her House colleagues to join her in demanding tighter enforcement of cyber-stalking and online harassment laws.”
  • The church of the hacker, or, fake geek girls and outside agitators | Tim’s journal (March 15): “To say, “It doesn’t have to be this way” is to expose yourself and your reputation and credibility to every kind of attack possible, because “it doesn’t have to be this way” are dangerous words. They inspire fear in those who find it more comfortable to believe that it does have to be this way, that all women should stay indoors at night (instead of men learning not to rape), that people who don’t like being verbally abused should “just grow a thicker skin” (instead of everyone learning not to be abusive), that children should patiently wait until they’re big enough to hurt smaller people (instead of parents respecting their children’s boundaries). What those using the “outside agitator” / “fake geek girl” defense wish for is making “it does have to be this way” a self-fulfilling prophecy by scaring everyone who can imagine a different reality into silence and submission. But as long as we recognize that, they won’t get their wish.”
  • How Our Small Startup Affords to Offer Paid Maternity Leave | Fast Company Magazine (March 18): “we mapped out a budget for how we would cover her time away, including an increased allowance for outsourcing some tasks to freelancers. We determined that we could comfortably provide her with seven weeks of fully paid maternity leave, plus several weeks of part-time work at her full salary before and after her leave.
    This exercise also confirmed our hunch that the cost of paying for Lee’s maternity leave was much more cost-effective than losing and trying to replace a vital employee.”
  • This App Makes Your Phone Buzz When You Approach Places Where Women Made History | Good Magazine (March 13): “Now, when app users log into Field Trip and switch on the history notifications, they are alerted when they are approaching the exact location where a woman made history at one point in time, and can then read a bit about her and her achievements.”
  • We are not colonists | Boing Boing (March 20): “When marginalized voices come to take their seat at the table, there will always be an outcry that they are invaders, colonists, inferior versions of their straight, white male counterparts. But rather than killing artforms, the addition of marginalized voices often helps ensure that they stay alive.”
  • Man Hands | Motherboard (March 17): “When a woman puts on a foot or a knee or an arm, she often finds that it’s not quite right. Knees are too tall and too stiff, feet don’t fit into shoes, hands are big, ankles don’t bend to accommodate heels. Every step a female amputee takes puts them face to face with the fact that prosthetics is still a male dominated industry.”


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Posted by terriko

So, this older maternity leave graphic from Thinkprogress has been making the rounds on Twitter…

Graphic shows a ring with the weeks of paid maternity leave for various countries, highlighting the fact that the United States lags behind at 0 weeks.   Full description of the numbers here: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/24/489973/paid-maternity-leave-us/

Graphic shows a ring with the weeks of paid maternity leave for various countries, highlighting the fact that the United States lags behind at 0 weeks. Full description of the numbers here: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/24/489973/paid-maternity-leave-us/

And it reminded me of a story…

Many years ago, I won an women in computing scholarship that helped support my PhD research. It was from a large US-based company who puts a lot of work into supporting women in computing, and I owe them great thanks, but I won’t name them because this story is a bit embarrassing to them. Even a group doing their best by women in computing can make a funny mis-step!

The setting: Their team had organized a scholars retreat at their office in a major US city, including a series of interesting talks from women at the company, including both technical and more social talks. It was an amazing trip, except for one moment: One of the ladies speaking to us started extolling the virtues of their generous 6-week maternity leave policy. At least, as you can see from the graphic above, it’s generous by US standards…

But we were a group of young women from Canada. The scholarship winners started looking at each other. Should we say something? Finally, one of the students put up her hand: “You should probably know that Canada has a 50 week maternity leave policy…”

What followed was a highly amusing few minutes where a whole lot of women at this tech company learned a fascinating new thing about parenting in Canada. And an adorably awkward recovery of “well, I guess maybe those of you planning to have kids soon will be excited to know about our new Canadian office!”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s heard stuff like this at recruiting events, so tell me: what amusing (or not so amusing!) gaffes have you heard from companies eager to recruit more women?

And, as the subject says, this is an open thread, so feel free to add comments on any subject at all, including past posts, things we haven’t posted on, what you’ve been thinking or doing, etc as long as they follow our comment policy.


Mar. 22nd, 2015 02:43 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
Dog got adopted before interview. Wonderful for him! Back to the hunt for us. (Which is mostly on hold until after Botswana anyhow, this had extenuating circumstances.)
[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

New Otter Pups at Australia's Taronga Zoo! 1

Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed three new otter pups, born in January to residents Emiko and Pocket! Keeper Ian Anderson says:

Emiko and Pocket are very hands-on parents and have been displaying ideal nurturing behaviors. The pups have been in the den, to date, and we have been monitoring them via a video camera, to ensure they are growing and developing well.

New Otter Pups at Australia's Taronga Zoo! 2

The older siblings born in 2014 have been assisting their parents with the daily care of the pups including grooming and babysitting the new arrivals. Oriental Small-Clawed Otters are a special species and live in large families, so it is anticipated that the family will remain together for the near future.

New Otter Pups at Australia's Taronga Zoo! 3

Via Zooborns

Sunday WTF?

Mar. 22nd, 2015 10:31 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

2 Samuel 16:20-22; 20:3

Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your counsel; what shall we do?”

Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, the ones he has left to look after the house; and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”

So they pitched a tent for Absalom upon the roof; and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. …

David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to look after the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.


[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

(Photo Description: Skyline of the city of Toronto, downtown, at night. The CN tower is lit up in yellow and blue, in celebration of World Down Syndrome Day.)

In the wake of World Down Syndrome Day, a day designed to celebrate achievements and to challenge stereotypes, we need to examine the inclusitivity of the day. We need to ask whether those of us who believe in inclusion, who stand firm that 'all means all', have practiced the ancient art of exclusion.

I read a lot of the blogs and articles that came out about people with Down Syndrome. I was inspired, as was the intention of the writers, by the stories I heard and the amazing accomplishments of people with Down Syndrome. The list of those who have done amazing things, and who have lived such full lives, is long. Shona Robertson from Australia, Sarah Gordy from the United Kingdom, Michael Gannon from Ireland, Mia Farah from Lebanon, Shoko Kanazawa from Japan, Raymond Hu from the United States and Stephanie Boghen and Julian Escallon from Canada, comprise a growing number of people with Down Syndrome whose achievements are noteworthy in and of themselves. That last sentence was difficult to write, not because it was hard to find names to include, but because it was hard to select names to include - the accomplishments of many are rich and varied.

Many of the blogs that wrote had inspiring stories of those who have gone beyond the predictions of Doctors, the expectations of teachers, and the prejudices of society. These are important and powerful stories and they are stories that need to be told.

But. We all know that these are not the only stories that need telling. We all know that success isn't always bright and shiny and tinged with celebrity. We know this because most of us live quiet lives filled with more ordinary accomplishments. Most of us are celebrated, not by the press or by the world, but by a smaller more intimate group: those who know and love us.

I met Lyddia many, many years ago, when I'd first become a consultant. She was older than me, by about 15 years, she lived in a group home, she went to a day program and she visited her sister and her elderly father regularly. When the referral was first made for a behaviour therapist, it came from the family, not the agency who supported her. I met her father and sister first.

In chatting I asked about the spelling of Lyddia's name, I had wondered if the secretary had typed it wrongly on the form. Her dad smiled and said that when they were naming their daughter, her mother who had been shaken with the diagnosis of Down Syndrome, decided on the name after learning about the extra chromosome. She decided to give her daughter an extra letter in her name - to say to the world YES WE KNOW!

Their concern was the Lyddia was too passive and they wanted her to have a voice that was heard. She only had a few words, but she could say 'yes' and 'no' ... "that's all you need to be able to say in order to take control of your life," said her sisters. But it only works if people ask the right kind of questions. 'What movie do you want to go to?' doesn't work, they should know that, we keep telling them."

So the referral was for Lyddia to use her voice effectively and for that to happen, the staff had to listen effectively. Then I met Lyddia. She was a short, plump woman, who was, by nature, very quiet. She would look at me, when I asked her something, but as soon as she answered her question, she would look down and away. She understood what the goals were, she agreed to work with me, and we did.

Her staff loved working with her, they saw her as a quiet, gentle and very wise woman. They realized that they too often communicated in a rush, and forgot about framing the questions in such a way that Lyddia could answer. As such, I wasn't involved for long.

I enjoyed working with Lyddia, and, yes, I came to see her wisdom when we were together. She had, when she focused on a task that she enjoyed, the most beautiful and peaceful face I have ever seen.

I remember a conversation with Lyddia's sister. She said that she hated when professionals used terms like 'high grade' and 'low grade' or 'high functioning' or 'low functioning.' She said, 'It's not just because they consider my sister on the 'low end' but it's because those terms miss the point. Lyddia has all the skills necessary to just be Lyddia. She lives her life well. She lives her life kindly. She brings herself to every encounter. She brings her presence into every room. How do you rank those things?"

There is no link to Lyddia's name.

There is no article about Lyddia's life.

Lyddia lived her life receiving supports, going to a day program and later, much later, working part time in a pre-school helping out with the kids. She lived an ordinary life, with ordinary accomplishments. Her achievements are real. But they don't call attention to themselves. But they need not be ignored because of that fact.

Many people with Down Syndrome will live quiet lives filled with everyday accomplishments. Many will need help to live their lives for their whole lives. Many will have goals that reach for the stars that hang low in the sky. But, remember, they are stars still.

Some parents I've spoken to feel excluded from the celebrations of World Down Syndrome Day because they do no see their child represented in the 'You Can Do Anything' attitude or the 'If I can do it, you can do it,' mantra of self advocate speakers. They worry that in the rush to the front of the stage to celebrate those with exceptional accomplishments, the quiet accomplishments, accomplishments that come with struggle, and tears, and love, and patience will be diminished. They worry that their children are the 'embaressment' of the movement. They may not have ever been in the back wards of an institution but exclusion from the conversation puts people in linguistic back wards, hidden behind the conversations and removed from discussion.

Everyone needs a seat at the table.

And everyone needs a chance to communicate.

All means All.

Or as was once powerfully said to me, All means Even You.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• “This calls for wisdom: Let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast.” And this calls for celebration: The Anti-Christ Handbook has now surpassed that number, selling more than 666 copies!

• The sky is falling! The sky is falling! David Barton and his Chicken Little tour bring the narrative of decline to nearby Lancaster County.

The WITCHES of Chicago. (Click for article.)

The WITCHES of Chicago. (Click for article.)

• Fox News TV personality Bill O’Reilly says that President Obama had “nothing to do” with the death of Osama bin Laden. And Bill-O would know, I guess, because he was there and personally witnessed the raid.

• At Jesus Creed, David Moore interviews Thomas McKenzie, author of The Anglican Way. McKenzie is from the conservative splinter group ACNA, which is what you get when you mix American white evangelical tribalism with Episcopalianism. Or what you get when you try to turn a centered group into a bounded group.

McKenzie trips over himself when he cites the great Anglican maxim “In essentials, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, love.” His group split off because of Teh Gay, which is, for them an “issue” and not a matter of Christian people no less Christian and no less human than him. That either means he oddly considers this a creedal essential, yet refused to choose unity over schism. Or else he considers it a doubtful thing, yet refuses to treat it with liberty or love. He’d probably be better off just not quoting that in the future. 

Still, he has some interesting things to say, and this interview is further evidence that the Anglican/Episcopalian world is — like the American evangelical world — diverse, messy, and utterly resistant to the gatekeepers’ attempts to draw tidy boundaries.

Related: The Christian Examiner drops all pretense of accuracy and integrity, and writer Joni B. Hannigan drops all pretense of not being a sanctimonious lump.

Dahlia Lithwick has the same reaction as I did to Wisconsin’s announcement that 12-year-olds can magically be proclaimed 21-year-olds because they’re accused of a horrible crime:

We want to brutally and severely punish the Slender Man teens precisely because they make us feel like the world is full of vicious monsters. We may also think we can make ourselves and our families safer by effectively ending these two lives. Of course this is the same sort of logic these two disturbed girls applied to Slender Man himself—the idea that they could make their worlds safer if only a life was ended. This is the logic of magical thinking enacted with horrific real-world consequences. It would be ironic in the extreme if we used the criminal justice system to apply precisely this kind of upside-down logic to these two girls; the fantasy that monsters exist, lives are expendable, and reckless acts make us safer.

• Here’s a corollary to the Streisand effect — awesome ideas you might not have thought of until someone announces that they’re now prohibited: “Ikea Stamps Out Hide-and-Seek Games in Furniture Stores.” The ban applies to the chain’s stores in The Netherlands, so youth ministers please note — there’s still time to get a game together here in the U.S.

This reminds me of growing up at a fundamentalist Christian school and spending our study halls reading through the school’s vast, two-binder rulebook. We were looking for ideas.

• Fundigelical Liberty University is pushing it’s new online programs with ads on YouTube. Their latest pop-up ad says, “Study online and spend more time with her.” I would’ve balked at the sexism of that ad, but I was too busy laughing that it had popped up while I was listening to this:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Remember, kids, Jerry Falwell wants you to spend more time with Genevieve.

Garden En Flambe

Mar. 21st, 2015 07:42 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
Today, we burned! The Weed Dragon garden flamethrower is Kevin's nod to yard work. It works very well for frying things between paving stones that would otherwise take a great deal of labor to pull. As it is, I ignore the things and then during the growing season, when the grass starts to grow up in the cracks, Kevin takes about forty minutes and burns everything. (Would that I could weed so easily in the beds...)

Found a slug today. I will resent it greatly before long, but today, it was kinda like those Looney Tunes where the wolf and the sheepdog punch in the timeclock in the morning. "Morning, George. Morning, Fred." Morning, Slug.

The frog-pond is full of masses of eggs. I'm hoping some of them belong to the salamanders, but it's hard to tell.

And that thing happened where you plant a plant, hoping that it will do a thing, and then it does that thing, and then you're a little frightened of how well it did the thing?

Yeah. I had a vague dream that someday my old-fashioned southern climbing rose would cover the fence and get up into the cedar juniper. It's a little skeptical about the fence, but it shot about twenty-five feet up into the tree and there is just this TRUNK of rose stem and suddenly whips of rose leaves hanging in space over my head. I mean, I...err...wanted that...but...uh. I've never grown climbing roses before. I did not realize they were quite so...vigorous.

Found my old garden hand-shears. They have been missing for a few months and now they are muddy and a mantis laid an egg case on the handle, so I think maybe I should just get a new pair. They're cheap and I feel the mantises will resent being dragged around to prune things.

Tomorrow we have another Dog Interview. I am trying to treat this as an interview, not a date. We are looking to fill a position (entry-level dog) and meeting candidates. This one's resume is acceptable, but he must pass the all important on-the-job Cat Test before I am allowed to become attached. (I am still a bit broken up about the Staffordshire, honestly. In a slightly different life, she would have been My Dog Forever and she was so good. She found a good home and that's the actually important thing, but I think I may be permanently scarred. I do not understand how people who dump dogs do not wake up screaming every night.)

So, here is hoping!
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

This is a map of the countries Europe colonized, controlled, or influenced between 1500 and 1960. The purple is Europe. The orange countries are ones never under European rule. Almost the entire rest of the map — all the green, blue, and yellow — were dominated by Europe to some extent. “Influenced” is pretty much a euphemism and often not all that different than outright domination.


Max Fisher, writing at Vox, summarizes:

There are only four countries that escaped European colonialism completely. Japan and Korea successfully staved off European domination, in part due to their strength and diplomacy, their isolationist policies, and perhaps their distance. Thailand was spared when the British and French Empires decided to let it remained independent as a buffer between British-controlled Burma and French Indochina…

Then there is Liberia, which European powers spared because the United States backed the Liberian state, which was established in the early 1800s by freed American slaves who had decided to move to Africa.

More details and discussion at here.

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)

World Down Syndrome Day

Mar. 21st, 2015 08:07 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger


Right now, somewhere in the world, someone with Down Syndrome is sleeping in.

Right now, somewhere in the world, someone with Down Syndrome is getting up and getting ready for work.

Right now, somewhere in the world, someone with Down Syndrome is kissing his wife goodbye as he heads out the door.

Right now, somewhere in the world, someone with Down Syndrome is working hard at a job he loves.

Bigots tell the lie of 'unfulfilled lives.'
Scientists promote the lie of 'unworthy lives.'
Media purposely create prejudice in words, 'suffering their lives.'

Right now, somewhere near you, someone with Down Syndrome is going to school.

Right now, somewhere near you, someone with Down Syndrome is writing an essay.

Right now, somewhere near you, someone with Down Syndrome is giggling about a boy at school.

Right now, somewhere near you, someone with Down Syndrome is dreaming about her graduation.

Doctors tell the lie of hopelessness.
Geneticists use the word 'cure' instead of the word 'genocide.'
Politicians promote abuse by simply cutting funds.

Right now, in a hospital somewhere, a little child with Down Syndrome is being born.

Right now, in a hospital somewhere, a mother smiles knowing her child has been born on World Down Syndrome Day.

Right now, in a hospital somewhere, a father is crying while he holds his little child.

Right now, in a hospital somewhere, a nurse is quietly thinking that they were irresponsible to have this baby.

Right now, in a hospital somewhere two parents, hearts full of love, commit to their child and to changing the world.

Parents speak the truth of love and of hope.
Teachers speak the truth of learning and of hope.
People with Down Syndrome speak the truth about their love of life.

Right now, someone somewhere is committing to fight prejudice and bigotry towards people with Down Syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.

Right now, someone somewhere is committing to create safe spaces in the world for everyone, including those with Down Syndrome and other disabilities, by no longer staying silent, no longer hanging back.

Right now, someone somewhere is committing to make change happen in their heart, in their soul and in their actions. I am. Are you?

Sea Otter Pup Luna Meets a New Friend

Mar. 21st, 2015 11:53 am
[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

Sea otter pup Luna at Shedd Aquarium is now big enough to meet a new sea otter friend! In this video, she and Mari meet and for the first time and enjoy treats and toys. The aquarium writes:

Luna is now interacting with Shedd’s adult female otter, Mari, and will soon be introduced to Shedd’s other female otters. While she still spends most of her time behind the scenes, guests can keep an eye out for Luna in the Abbott Oceanarium, where she’s been spending more and more time on exhibit as she continues to acclimate to her new home.

Click here for our previous posts on Luna! Thanks to Shedd Aquarium; footage by Sam Cejtin.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Back in January, I asked “Where is our 2016 GOP/Too Many Cooks mashup?



The Internet finally comes through thanks to — surprisingly — CNN. No, really CNN. “CNN Does Funny Thing On Purpose.” Who knew they had it in them?

I’d have mixed in the creepy killer guy from the original, and Mike Gravel, and Jimmy McMillan. And Snarf and/or George Pataki.

But I’m not complaining. Achievement unlocked.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Now I have to go listen to the Kinks to get that earworm out of my head while I try to readjust my worldview to accommodate the idea of CNN being funny.


[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

There was some excellent discussion in the comments to a recent post mentioning this story: “PCB church loses tax exemption after opening club.”

That’s the determinedly un-sexy headline from the Panama City (Fla.) News Herald for a story that a less somber news outlet might’ve headlined “Naked Twerking Parties Mean Tax Trouble for Local Church”:

A local church that has been hosting naked paint parties and slumber-party Sundays with the “sexiest ladies on the beach” will now have to pay taxes on the property as officers investigate the church’s practices, authorities said Tuesday.

The Life Center: A Spiritual Community, 9721 Thomas Drive, has been up and running its seven-days-a-week party schedule as Amesia: The Tabernacle since Feb. 28. But The Tabernacle, which caters to college students on vacation, has caught the attention of more than just party-seeking spring breakers.

SpringBreakersSince ATMs and a banner promoting “iDrink” appeared out front of The Life Center, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Panama City Beach Police Department investigators have began taking a closer look at the church. Owned by Markus Q. Bishop, former pastor of Faith Christian Family Church, officials said the club has been engaging in activities unbefitting of a church. …

Club Amnesia has shut down its website. However, when the website was available, it boasted a Sunday night event called “Slumber,” a pajama and lingerie party hosted by “the sexiest ladies on the beach.” Raves take place weekly along with an “Anything But Clothes” paint party. And Wednesday nights are reserved for an event called “Wet n Wild,” a water-themed event where “white water meets Tabernacle PCB with a little twerkin’,” the website stated.

“I’ve been in a lot of nightclubs and I’ve been in a lot of churches,” said PCBPD Chief Drew Whitman. “That isn’t a church.”

Patrons are charged $20 at the door, which is called a donation. And T-shirts depicting stick figures performing oral sex on one another and the text “I hate being sober” adorn the walls.

Whitman and McKeithen said it is not the nature of the events that has piqued their attention. Several similar events are hosted at clubs just east of Club Amnesia. However, the business does not have alcohol permits or appropriate licenses, is zoned as a church and has been tax-exempt as a church for years, McKeithen said.

Property Appraiser Dan Sowell sided with law enforcement. He said the lot had been tax exempt as a church until word spread about the activities being held within. The property’s tax-exempt status was changed Tuesday morning.

“A bottle club, charging $20 at the door and selling obscene T-shirts is not being used as a church,” Sowell said. “A God-fearing, God-honoring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March.”

I’m inclined to agree with the police chief’s conclusion: “That isn’t a church.” This certainly appears to be what he and other local officials have concluded — an attempt to exploit the tax-status of a church while operating as a club geared to attract partying spring breakers.

But local officials — police departments, appraisers, liquor boards and the like — are obligated to be cautious and deferential whenever their roles require them to make a determination about whether something is or is not “a church.”

That’s part of the reasoning behind the unanimous 2012 Supreme Court decision in Hosanna-Tabor. That case involved the ministerial exemption from employment discrimination laws. More specifically, it involved the question of who has standing to determine what constitutes a “minister.” The court ruled 9-0 that this designation is not their business.

That reasoning has been at work in several subsequent cases — including the Hobby Lobby decision, which extended religious exemptions even to some for-profit companies. There’s a commendable impulse there and a credible principle at work. The courts do not want to be put in the position of church councils. They do not want to be asked to adjudicate between legitimate and illegitimate religious claims.

From Hosanna-Tabor to Hobby Lobby, in other words, the Supreme Court has shown a decided unwillingness to ever say the sort of thing Chief Whitman says: “This isn’t a church.”

Again, I think Whitman is probably right in the case of the dubious Markus Bishop and his “Life Center Church.” But what objective or legal basis do we have for determining that?

It’s also possible that Bishop has founded a new church that embraces ecstatic forms of worship including — and requiring — body paint, lingerie parties, “and a little twerkin’.” As some folks smartly noted in comments here, there’s plenty of historical precedent for such forms of religion and worship.

And who is to say that Bishop’s new religion mustn’t also include slot machines, table games, smoking indoors, all-nude dancers, and the sacraments of ecstasy and marijuana? If he’s sincere in his religious beliefs, why shouldn’t his sincerity be just as legally determinative as the sincerity of the owners of Hobby Lobby?

Actually, that understates the case. The Hobby Lobby ruling didn’t require the company to be sincere, only to claim that it was sincere. The court did not wish to entangle itself in distinguishing sincerity from insincerity any more than it wanted to entangle itself in distinguishing legitimate religion from illegitimate religion.

The Rev. Markus Bishop may be a lecherous huckster, but if his lechery and hucksterism were sincerely religious, then the Supreme Court would disagree with Chief Whitman. “Club Amnesia” would still be a church.


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