[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• We’re dealing with a bad case of January here in the Northeast, where we’ve got 6-12 inches of snow expected between now and tomorrow night. The Big Box has been doing brisk business selling snow shovels and rock salt.

But I also spent last week there unloading pallets of grass seed, gardening tools, seed-starter soil mix, patio furniture, barbecue grills and even pool chemicals, because while it seems impossible when you look outside, in just a few weeks people will be lining up to buy those things.

• Speaking of the Big Box, this sad story from New York hits close to home. We don’t yet know the full story there, but retail pay keeps people close to the margin — which also means close to the breaking point. And when millions of people are kept close to the breaking point, some of them are going to break.

• I was asked if I was a Jew and I’m not, so I got the job,” Jayne Amelia Larson says of how she wound up working as a chauffeur for some of the thousands of Saudi princesses. On a typical day, Larson says, the princesses would go shopping — spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, every day:

They would clean out stores, she says, and then go the same store the following day and clean it out again. However, they never touched the money themselves.

“I never saw any Saudis handle any cash whatsoever. It was servants that paid for everything and they paid for everything with hundred dollar bills. The Saudi princesses would walk into a store, point, point, point and then leave and go into the next store and then the servants would just scurry around to pay for things and get them in bags and put them in a van at the back of the limo line.”

Related: Josh Marshall on the “Strange, Strange System,” of Saudi royal succession; Andrew Brown bluntly assesses the legacy of the most recent Saudi monarch, saying “King Abdullah embodied the wickedness of Saudi Arabia’s regime,” and Martaza Husain is even blunter, “Saudi Arabia’s Tyrant King Misremembered as Man of Peace.”

Presidents holding hands with Kings.

Presidents holding hands with Kings.

With allies like that …

• Is our Bushes learning? Apparently not. Jeb Bush seems to think that the phrase “shock and awe” won’t remind anyone of, say, the most devastating, deadly and expensive foreign policy blunder in American history.

• Paul Bibeau went to see American Sniper, but he got distracted by the audience. Too many voices out there in the dark.

RIP Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub. He was like the Louis Armstrong of baseball — someone whose contagious joy and irrepressible optimism was so great that it could almost make you forget how good he was at his craft.

• “Give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit.” Pamela Merritt flips the script — which is always insightful and revealing (and funny).

• “10 More Women Christian Men Definitely Should Not Marry


[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

I’m disappointed. I realize it’s only January of 2015 and next year’s presidential election still seems a long way off. But still.

The field of candidates, potential candidates, and people who are muttering about becoming candidates for the Republican nomination in 2016 now includes:

  • Jeb Bush
  • Mitt Romney
  • Chris Christie
  • Rick Santorum
  • Rick Perry
  • Ted Cruz
  • Marco Rubio
  • Rand Paul
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Sarah Palin
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Snarf
  • Ben Carson
  • Mike Pence
  • George Pataki
  • Scott Walker
  • Carly Fiorina

So where’s our 2016 GOP Primary/”Too Many Cooks” mashup?

I assume someone out there on the Intertubes is working on this. I hope they have it ready for us soon.


[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Over the past 40 years, Americans have become increasingly likely to deny an affiliation with a religion. The graph below shows that people with “no religious preference” rose from about 5% of the population in 1972 to about 20% today. Overall, however, Americans do not report a corresponding decline in the a belief in God, life after death, or other religious ideas. What’s going on?


Sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer — the guys who made the graph above — argue that the retreat from religious affiliation is essentially, a retreat from the political right. Religion has become strongly associated with conservative politics, so left-leaning people are choosing, instead, to identify as “spiritual but not religious.”

Here is some of their evidence. The data below represents the likelihood of rejecting a religious affiliation according to one’s political views. The more politically liberal one is, the more likely they have come to reject religion.


Using fancy statistical analyses, they explain: “generational differences in belief add nothing to explaining the cohort differences in affiliation.” That is, people haven’t lost their faith, they just disagree with religious leaders and institutions.  Hout and Fischer conclude:

Once the American public began connecting organized religion to the conservative political agenda — a connection that Republican politicians, abortion activists, and religious leaders all encouraged — many political liberals and moderates who seldom or never attended services quit expressing a religious preference when survey interviewers asked about it.

Democrats have wondered how to break the association of the right with religion and claim a little bit of moral authority for themselves. It looks like they may not need to or, even, that having failed to do so has a surprise advantage.

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)

The Incident of the Fly Swatter

Jan. 26th, 2015 12:59 pm
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by PamelaToler

By Pamela Toler (Regular Contributor)

(This post is the first on a series on the French in Algeria now up at History in the Margins.)

Shortly after the Charlie Hebo killings, I received an e-mail from a friend and regular reader of History in the Margins suggesting I write a post about the long, complex, and often difficult relationship between France and its Muslim citizens, hoping it would give her/you a context for the killings and their aftermath. I will admit that I hesitated. I’m a historian, not a political commentator.

But in fact, I feel strongly that the West in general and Americans in particular need to know more about the history of other parts of the world in order to understand how we got to where we are today, and more importantly to understand that no single perspective of the past is universally shared.

This is exactly the type of moment where some historical context might be useful. That said, I’m not going to give you a pundit-style analysis of current events. Instead, over the next several blog posts I’m going to tell you some stories about the French in North Africa and Muslim resistance to their presence, with perhaps a few detours that catch my attention. These are not intended as explanation for the recent events in France. They are simply pieces of the past that are part of the shared French and North African experience.

Let’s start at the beginning:

Anon. French illustration. I’d love to see its Algerian counterpart. Anyone?

In 1795, revolutionary France bought 8 million francs* of Algerian grain to feed its army. The French Republic failed to pay its debt, as did the French empire which succeeded it. When Napoleon was overthrown in 1815, the newly restored Bourbon monarchy disavowed the debt. From the French perspective, the matter was done but the Algerians weren’t willing to let it go. Not surprisingly, given the amount of money involved.

Despite ongoing negotiations, the matter was still unresolved by April, 1827 when a meeting between the Ottoman regent of Algiers, Hussein Dey, and the French consul, Pierre Duval, turned ugly Reportedly, when Hussein Dey pressed for an answer, Duval told him that France didn’t discuss money with Arabs. (!!!) The governor hit Duval in the face with the fly whisk that formed part of his regalia. The French press dubbed the incident “the affair of the fly-swatter”–a term that magnified the insult.

Charles X demanded an apology for the insult to his representative. When no apology was forthcoming, he sent French ships to blockade the harbor of Algiers–a”cut off your nose to spite your face” technique that limited French access to much needed Algerian grain for almost three years.

In June, 1830, tensions between Charles X and French republicans were coming to a head. The French king attempted to distract his detractors by accelerating tensions in Algeria. On June 12, 1830, using a plan originally developed by Napoleon, 34,000 French troops landed in Algeria. Three weeks later, Dey had fled into exile and the French military found itself the occupying power in coastal Algeria. France’s decades- long struggle to conquer North Africa had begun.

The invasion did nothing to help Charles X, who was forced to abdicate on July 30.

*How much is that in today’s money? Good question, and not easily answered. The short answer is billions, if not gazillions.

If anyone knows of a good resource for translating 18th century francs to 21st century dollars, let me know. I spent way too much time chasing this down the rabbit hole. Eventually I found a site that gave me a conversion rate between francs and pounds sterling in the 1780s (1 pound =23 livres and a bit), then a site that gave me a rate for converting pounds to dollars in 1795 (1 pound=$4.53), and finally a site that gave me the relative worth of American dollars from 1795 and 2013. The answer ranged from $28,200,000 to $68,900,000,000–depending on the measures you use. (If you’re interested in the possibilities, I refer you to MeasuringWorth.com.) And that’s not even taking into account my own questionable methodology in sliding from 1780s values to 1795.

Caren Gussoff's Three Songs for Roxy

Jan. 25th, 2015 04:10 pm
[syndicated profile] aqueductpress_feed

Posted by Timmi Duchamp

I'm pleased to announce the Publication of Three Songs for Roxy, a novella by Caren Gussoff, in both small trade paperback and e-book editions. Three Songs for Roxytells three inter-related tales: of Kizzy, a foundling raised by a Romany Gypsy family in present-day Seattle, as she is about to be claimed by the aliens who left her to be raised as human; of Scott Lynn Miller, an unstable survivor of Katrina and security guard who is deeply affected by what he witnesses when the aliens contact Kizzy; and of "Natalie," an alien assigned to retrieve Kizzy, who is befriended by the current champion of the "Night of a Thousand Stevies" and falls in love with Kizzy's adopted sister Roxy. Three Songs for Roxy explores issues of identity, gender, sexuality, and what it means to be an outsider.

“Some stories aren’t meant to be told. The more they get told, the more they change from what they once were, worn down and smooth like pieces of sea glass too beautiful to have ever been broken bottles. In the telling, mundane stories become colorful, colorful becomes fantastic, fantastic becomes legend, and legend becomes myth. Some stories aren’t meant to be beautiful or mythic, they are meant to be true—chachi paramcha—and so those are better not told.”—from Three Songs for Roxy

Gussoff, nevertheless, tells some of those stories in all their mundane (and colorful) details. When does the mundane become fantastic? And when is the fantastic mistaken for the mundane? Gussoff’s is a world of permeable borders.

The book, which is the forty-second volume in the Conversation Pieces series, is available now in both print and e-book editions through Aqueduct's website and will soon be available elsewhere. 

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

The federal government struck a blow for religious liberty this month in a Clarksburg, West Virginia courtroom. The case is fascinating and hilarious, and the winning argument has the paradoxical benefit of upholding a man’s right to a religious claim that the court’s ruling proves to be factually ludicrous.

The case also neatly disproves the absurd “Christian persecution” narrative promoted by perpetually aggrieved privileged hegemons and the hucksters who rile them up, like for example Fox News TV-talker Todd Starnes.

Matt Harvey has the story for the local paper, the Exponent Telegram,Jury rules for worker in religious discrimination suit against Consol Energy” (via Christian Nightmares):

A federal jury Thursday [Jan. 15] ruled in favor of a general laborer at the Consol Energy/Consolidation Coal Co.’s Mannington mining operations who said he was forced to retire because of his religious beliefs.

The jury returned $150,000 in compensatory damages for Beverly R. Butcher Jr. …

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had sued Consol Energy on behalf of Butcher. The federal agency’s filing asserted Butcher, an evangelical Christian, was told he must submit to biometric hand scanning for time and attendance tracking, even though that is against his religious beliefs. …

The jury found that Butcher “had a sincere religious belief that conflicted with an employment requirement” and that Butcher informed his employer of that belief.

The jury also found that Consol Energy failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for Butcher’s beliefs and that it wouldn’t have been an “undue hardship” to do so.

That’s a pretty good summary of the legal questions at stake. A conflict arose between employment requirements and the sincere religious beliefs of a worker. When that happens, the worker has a free-exercise right to a reasonable accommodation of their religious beliefs — provided that such an accommodation is possible without creating an undue hardship for the employer.

Note that all of these legal matters are a bit fuzzy and subjective. Questions of sincerity, reasonableness and whether or not a solution would be an “undue hardship” are not easily quantifiable. They all involve judgment — which is why cases like this often wind up in court.

TheologyBut while they may be subjective, such questions have unavoidable legal significance. The trickiest of these is probably the matter of sincerity. Courts do not usually want to be the arbiters of religious sincerity — they lack the capacity and the clear jurisdiction to evaluate such a thing, and often prudently seek to avoid getting entangled in such a murky matter. Yet sincerity has a clear legal significance in cases like this.

Suppose, for example, that I decide I’d prefer not to work on Saturdays, and so, between bites of a cheeseburger, I inform my employer that I’ve suddenly converted to Orthodox Judaism. The EEOC wouldn’t take up my case because my religious claim would be obviously and demonstrably insincere, and my employer is not legally bound to find a reasonable accommodation for my unreasonable, insincere religious claim. Sincerity and insincerity are not always easily determined, but the point of that example is to show why such a determination is legally necessary.

In this Consol Energy case, the worker’s religious sincerity is not in dispute. Both the EEOC and the coal company mostly agree that Mr. Butcher’s religious beliefs are genuine.

Consol Energy apparently did attempt to show that Butcher’s religious beliefs were, if sincere, somewhat incoherent. But even though they were right about that, it didn’t help their case against the EEOC.

This is, for me, the fun part, because Mr. Butcher, it turns out, is an End Times, “Bible prophecy” Rapture enthusiast and a devotee of the pseudo-Christian folklore promoted by the likes of Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey and Jack Van Impe.

Butcher, in other words, is not so much an “evangelical Christian” as he is a devotee of anti-Antichrist-ianity. He’s obsessively worried about the Antichrist, and he balked at his employer’s use of hand-scanners because the weird, Barnum-esque folklore he’s swallowed has taught him that such devices are a tool of Nicolae Carpathia.

The company that makes those hand scanners, Recognition Systems Inc., seems all-too-familiar with the fear that causes anti-Antichristians to recoil from their technology. They’ve tried to engage those fears by taking these folks’ concerns seriously. Over the years, I’m sure, they’ve heard from a lot of people like Beverly Butcher or Tim LaHaye — people who say they are opposed to the use of hand-scanners because they “take the Bible literally.” And Recognition Systems recognizes that the Bible passage at issue is this one, from Revelation 13 (quoted here in the King James Version preferred by anti-Antichristians):

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Recognition Systems takes these people literally when they claim to take the Bible literally. That was the premise of the letter they provided for Consol Energy to give to poor, frightened Mr. Butcher:

Butcher’s employers handed him a letter written by the scanner’s vendor, Recognition Systems Inc., according to the lawsuit.

Addressed “To Whom it May Concern,” the letter “discussed the vendor’s interpretation of Chapter 13, Verse 16 of the Book of Revelation contained in the Bible; pointed out that the text of that verse references the Mark of the Beast only on the right hand and forehead; and suggests that persons with concerns about taking the Mark of the Beast ‘be enrolled’ (meaning, use the hand scanner) with their left hand and palm facing up,” the lawsuit asserted.

“The letter concludes by assuring the reader that the vendor’s scanner product does not, in fact, assign the Mark of the Beast,” the lawsuit asserted.

That last assurance is naively optimistic. It won’t help to reassure folks like Mr. Butcher that the hand scanner “does not, in fact, assign the Mark of the Beast,” because that’s exactly what they’d expect the Beast to say. “He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth,” after all.

Recognition Systems’ suggestion that Butcher simply scan in with his left hand is a perfectly logical response to his claim to be motivated by a “literal” reading of Revelation 13:16. But it, too, is naive — too credulously accepting that he is using the word “literal” to mean anything of the sort.

In any case, it doesn’t matter whether Recognition Systems Inc. or Tim LaHaye has the more “literal” interpretation of Revelation 13:16. The jury in Clarksburg was not being asked to adjudicate between competing interpretations of the Bible, and no jury should be asked to do that. Their task, rather, was to look at employment law — at Mr. Butcher’s rights as a worker — and to determine whether or not Consol Energy complied with that law.

And Consol Energy did not. The main problem, legally, turned out to be that the vendor’s use-your-left-hand suggestion was the only proposed accommodation that Consol Energy was willing to provide for Butcher’s religious belief (his whackily unorthodox, stupid, and laughably incoherent — but questionably sincere — religious belief).

And that was why Consol Energy lost this case. That was why Consol Energy deserved to lose. They broke the law.

Religious liberty, if it is ever to mean anything at all, must include the freedom to be wrong. It cannot matter, legally, whether or not a religious belief is orthodox, or coherent, or part of a longstanding established tradition. Protecting religious liberty means protecting the right to believe in the implausible, the idiosyncratic, the offensive, the stupid, the factually insupportable, the demonstrably false. Otherwise we’d wind up putting the state in the position of adjudicating between legitimate and illegitimate religious beliefs.

And that, we should have learned by now, never ends well. That’s a recipe for inquisitions and for sectarian violence. That reduces religious liberty from an inviolable human right to a privilege contingent on the religious perspective of the current regime.

Beverly R. Butcher Jr. is wrong. And he has every right to be wrong — even to be ludicrously wrong, as he is. Defending religious liberty means we have to defend the right of people like him — or like Tim LaHaye, or Ken Ham, or Cindy Jacobs, or Tom Cruise, or David Green — to be ludicrously, offensively, exuberantly wrong.*

So the absurdity, stupidity and foolishness of Butcher’s religious beliefs can have no bearing on his legal right to a reasonable accommodation. Such an accommodation should have been easy for Consol Energy to provide, but they refused to do so:

Company officials rejected Butcher’s counter offer to either keep a written record of his hours, as he had been doing, or to check in and check out with his supervisor, the lawsuit contended.

At many different jobs, I’ve checked in and out using old-fashioned punch-card time clocks, digital time clocks, written time sheets, and informal nods to the boss. I’ve never used a hand scanner. Most people haven’t. Most companies haven’t. So allowing Butcher to clock in using any of those other methods surely wouldn’t have been an “undue hardship” for the company.

That’s why the EEOC won this case for Butcher and why Consol Energy lost.

But consider the delicious irony of what that outcome means for the content of Mr. Butcher’s religious claim. The good guys here — the advocates defending his case — were the feds. And the feds actions here proved that the existence of hand-scanner technology does not mean that “no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

By winning his case, the EEOC proved that the substance of Butcher’s religious claim — his “Bible prophecy” religious objection to hand-scanners — was nonsense. By defending his religious liberty, the EEOC proved that the content of his religious claim was false.

The EEOC just proved that Beverly R. Butcher Jr.’s religious beliefs are wrong — and that he has the right to be wrong.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* Note, however, that the right to be absolutely wrong does not entail an absolute right to force others to agree or to comply with you. Every belief, no matter how obviously wrong, has the right to a “reasonable accommodation,” but not to an unreasonable accommodation. Everyone has the right to be wrong, but we do not have the right to create an undue hardship for everyone else.

Thus, for example, as a Scientologist, Tom Cruise has every right to refuse psychological and psychiatric care, and we can reasonably accommodate his religious liberty on that point. But accommodating Tom Cruise does not mean that health insurers cannot be allowed or required to insure psychiatric care for everyone else.

Similarly, David Green is a devout anti-abortionist. That’s his religion — a religion even more dubious than Scientology in that it includes the factually untrue dogma that equates contraception with abortion. Green’s religion may be loopy and dumb, and it may be dependent on false claims about human biology, but he has every right to be so utterly, demonstrably wrong. His sincere foolishness, like Cruise’s, should be afforded reasonable accommodation.

But, just like Cruise, Green does not therefore have the right to create an undue hardship for everyone else. He does not have the right to require others to be wrong as well. Just as Scientologists do not have the religious liberty to prohibit everyone else from having psychiatric care or insurance for such care, so too anti-abortionists do not have the religious liberty to prohibit everyone else from using contraception or from insurance that covers it. That’s why the Hobby Lobby decision was incorrect — why it makes about as much sense, legally, as Cruise’s ideas about Xenu and Dianetics.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  • Feminist Bloggers Cannot Be Your Therapists | Brute Reason (January 11): “Why are people blaming feminism–the feminism of the 1970s or 80s, no less–for failing to cure what appeared to be a serious psychological issue? Why are people claiming that the solution now is simply for feminist writers and activists to be more compassionate and considerate towards male nerds like Aaronson, as though any compassion or consideration could have magically fixed such a deeply layered set of deeply irrational beliefs?”
  • Bringing back the Riot Grrrl | Marlena’s Blog (January 20): “What I found is that no matter how much I read and worked at not being an asshole or finding the “right way” to say things or get my opinions across, I could never be silent enough.”
  • Smash Bros. Community Boots Harassing Host of Their Largest Tournament | The Mary Sue (January 20): “Over the past day or so, the Smash Bros. community has come together in a big way to denounce years of harassment by the host of the largest Smash Bros. tournament around: Apex. With Apex 2015 rapidly approaching the last weekend of January, Jonathan “Alex Strife” Lugo has been forced to step down from his position at the tournament in a huge win for safety in the fighting game community.”
  • Infamous, Thoughtless, Careless, and Reckless | Mark Bernstein  (January 15): A series of posts discussing the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee’s decision to prohibit feminists from contributing to Wikipedia on issues related to gaming, gender, or sexuality. “The infamous draft decision of Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) on Gamergate is worse than a crime. It’s a blunder that threatens to disgrace the internet. “
  • Gaming while black: Casual racism to cautious optimism | Joystiq (January 16): “Freelance gaming and media writer Sidney Fussell summarized the pushback as follows: “I’ve been writing about blackness and games for about two years now and a huge majority of the negative feedback I get boils down to this: Race doesn’t belong in video games. White commenters tell me racism in games isn’t a problem. Only attention-starved reverse racists, dragging it up for clicks from white-guilt-addled gamers, still want to talk about racism. This is the burden of being a black gamer: I love games, but if I want to talk about them critically, my motives are questioned, my social ties are strained and suddenly I’m a member of the ‘PC Police’ who wants to go around ruining everyone’s fun.”
  • We’re going to keep talking about women in tech | The Daily Dot (January 14): “Here are 25 straightforward things you can do to create change – many of which won’t take more than two minutes of your time.”
  • Abusing Contributors is not okay | Curious Efficiency (January 22): “As the coordinator of the Python Software Foundation’s contribution to the linux.conf.au 2015 financial assistance program, and as someone with a deep personal interest in the overall success of the open source community, I feel it is important for me to state explicitly that I consider Linus’s level of ignorance around appropriate standards of community conduct to be unacceptable in an open source community leader in 2015.”
  • Support diversity in Linux by attending an Ally Skills Workshop at SCALE 13X | The Ada Initiative (January 21): “The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men how to support women in their workplaces and communities, by effectively speaking up when they see sexism, creating discussions that allow more voices to be heard, and learning how to prevent sexism and unwelcoming behavior in the first place. The changes that reduce sexism also make communities more welcoming, productive, and creative.”
  • The Elephant in the Keynote | Project Gus (January 19): “And while younger white male software developers are having their opinions panned by the respected older generation on stage, what does this mean for actual marginalised groups? If FOSS is ever going to achieve broad adoption, it has to appeal to more than a privileged few.”
  • OPW Successes and Succession Planning | The Geekess (January 15): “It’s been a busy winter for the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW).  On October 13, 2014, seven (yes, seven!) of the former Linux kernel OPW interns presented their projects at LinuxCon Europe.”

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.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Every year, at the first faculty meeting, representatives of the registrar tell us what percentage of the incoming class is [insert variable in which we are interested, such as American Indian, working class, international, etc].  They compare it to last year’s percentage.  This drives me crazy because they do so as if comparing the last two data points in a sequence is indicative of a trend. But to determine whether or not there is a trend, and therefore whether the increase or decrease in the percentage of [insert variable in which we are interested] significant relative to last year, depends on more than two data points!

xkcd does an excellent job of illustrating just how two data points can be utterly meaningless, even wildly fallacious:


Other great xkcd cartoons: attribution and the in group, on statistical significance, correlation or causation, and the minimal group paradigm.

Originally posted in 2009.

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

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

[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

Remember little Otter 501, the sea otter pup rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and subject of the PBS documentary Saving Otter 501? After her rescue she was renamed Luna and successfully released back into the wild – and Monterey Bay Aquarium has learned she has recently had her third pup in the wild! The below photo is Luna with the first pup she had in the wild:

Otter 501 Has Had Her Third Pup in the Wild!

Lucky locals may be able to catch a glimpse of Luna at Elkhorn Slough!

Photo ©Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, via Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Ride Home

Jan. 25th, 2015 08:29 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I hopped on the subway, heading home. The moment I entered the car two out of the three people who were sitting in the parking area for wheelchairs got up and folded up their chairs. The third, the one at the end, did not. She was sitting in the primary seat that allows access to the space, with her there, even with the other two empty, I cant get into the space. I ask her, nicely, if she could move so I could use the space. She takes her ear phones out, looks at me, puts them back in and stays seated.

I roll back and hold on to another rail, extremely aware that I was a bit unstable and that I was in the space of a lot of people. Fortunately for me, not her, the energy and focus in the car was directed towards her sitting in that seat. Suddenly, she began to cry, not loudly. She wiped at the tears on her face looking extremely embarrassed. We came to the next stop, I had to scramble to get out of the way of the door to allow others out and others in.

At this point a woman sitting in the next row got up, reached over to her, tapped her on her shoulder to get her attention and then pointing at the wheelchair symbol, prominently displayed, and then indicating that I needed that space. She got up quickly and moved. I moved into that space, it felt good to have a good grip and to be out of everyone's way.

I felt terrible when I saw the woman sitting there crying. I had no intention of upsetting anyone. I hadn't been rude, I hadn't made comment to her, I just moved to another space.

Joe said that he thought the tears had nothing to do with what happened.

And even though I don't understand what happened, I think that the tears were a result of our encounter, my request, her refusal.

Sometimes I want to simply ride the subway. Get on, get into the designated space for wheelchairs, and ride. Too often needing specific space, even space clearly designated, brings with it interactions. Some requiring and deserving thanks. Some requiring a bit of assertion and conflict. Some, like this one, that are just baffling.

All I want is to ride, like everyone else, in silence and anonymity.

That's all.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

This week the New York Times published an interactive that illustrates the likelihood of pregnancy despite contraceptive use. Risk is divvied up by method, for perfect and typical use, and added up over ten years. The results are a little terrifying (click to see larger or go here to explore):


Somewhere around half of all pregnancies are unintended.  This is why. It’s hard enough to use contraceptives perfectly but, even when we do, the risk of failure is very real.

Male condoms are the safer sex favorite. But, even when used perfectly, almost one in five women will get pregnant over a ten year period. With typical use, more than four out of five. Withdrawal, one primary foil against which male condoms are usually recommended, is only slightly less effective at preventing pregnancy, as typically used.

The favorite of Americans — The Pill, as well as some other hormonal methods — is more effective than the condom, but not nearly as much as we think it is. Under ideal conditions, only three in 100 will get pregnant over ten years; in reality, almost two-thirds — 61 in 100 — will end up pregnant.

Only the most human-error resistant methods — the IUD, hormonal implants, and sterilization — near 100% effectiveness. These are permanent or semi-permanent and not real options for a large proportion of sexually active Americans during at least some parts of their lives.

Discussions of the right to an abortion and the ease with which they can be attained needs to be had with this information at the forefront of the discussion. Unintended pregnancies happen all the time to 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)

Unmovable Resistance

Jan. 24th, 2015 09:51 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

There was a crush surrounding the table. Ruby and Sadie had managed to make it up to the front to both see and touch real fossils from a dinosaur hunt in Alberta that had led to the discovery of a whole new species of dinosaur. We'd just previewed an episode of a new television show Dino Hunt so everyone was excited to see in real life what they had just seen on the screen.

As is typical it was hard for me to get to the table as people simply stepped in front of the wheelchair, such is living in that weird state of being highly visible and completely invisible at the same time. But I'm used to this so I was just slowly inching my way forward, being careful not to hit either parent or child. It was as I was doing this that I noticed two girls, I'm not sure if they were friends or sisters, but whatever they were they looked to be the same age. One was blond, the other had dark hair, both were very thin and beautifully dressed.

The blond one noticed me and leaned forward to say something to the girl with dark hair, who glanced at me while the blond continued to whisper and laugh. The dark haired girl noticed me notice them looking at me and looked away quickly. She said something back to the blond girl and a tussle ensued. The blond girl grabbed the dark haired on by her shoulders and tried to force her to turn around towards me. She met unmovable resistance.

Giving up, knowing that she was not going to be successful, she grabbed her phone and held it up to take a picture of me. Not wanting to be a young teen's Internet sensation I began turning my chair around. Before I could do so, the dark hair girl stood in front of the camera, denying the shot. This little battle continued only for a few seconds more before they were both called away by a woman who had been standing further away talking to a friend.

I do not wish to comment on the behaviour of the blond kid.

I wish to comment on the behaviour of the dark haired child.

Her behaviour is so commendable that I don't have the emotional vocabulary to say what it meant to me. Further, her behaviour demonstrated the power of 'one' to stop, to interfere with, the power of a bully. She took her role seriously, she saw wrong and she acted.

This takes courage.

Real courage.

This is a child that has the potential to grow up an into someone who will make a difference. I know that because she already has.


Jan. 23rd, 2015 10:48 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Dear Blog,

For Christmas last year, Ken gave me a very nice bottle of whiskey, appropriately called “Writer’s Tears”. I’ve been waiting for what seemed like an appropriate time to open it, and I just did. I’ve poured myself a tiny celebratory dram, and am sitting down to write to you.  I have done this (sitting down to write to you, not the whiskey part) thousands of times over the last eleven years. The very first time was January 23rd, 2004. Ken, in a move I still think was self-defence, gave me this blog as a present.  (I suspected then, and still do now, that as much as he likes knitting, he desperately wanted me to have someone else to discuss it with.)  That first day, I sat down at the computer, in the dining room – that was where we kept it then. We didn’t have laptops, just a big honking family computer in the dining room, where we could see what everyone was doing online – and I had a cup of coffee, and this crazy laminated sheet of paper beside me that had all these HTML codes on it.

It took me hours to write that first one. If I had known what I was starting, it would have been even more angst filled.  I wrote the words, then painstakingly figured out the HTML, and then hit post. In that moment, gentle readers, I swung open the doors to my virtual living room, and it was a decision I’ve never regretted for a moment.

In this house, we think of you as The Blog. I know I’ve told you that before, that even though I know that you are real people, and real individuals, and even though who comprises the blog shifts and changes from year to year – to us you are The Blog. To us, you are like a flock of birds, wheeling and existing together, swirling round and making a big community that we think of as a unit.  “What does the blog say?” “What will the blog think?” “I can’t wait to tell The Blog.”   I know that technically, the blog is the thing that I write, the posts that I put up. The collection of all the digital moments and ideas that I collect here, but that’s not really how we think of it.  I know I write a blog, but to us, our whole family, there is the blog – what I write, and The Blog, and that’s the people who read it.

In the eleven years that I’ve been doing this, my family has changed. My kids were little when I started, and now they’re grown women. Hank was three the day I wrote the first blog, and now he’s taller than me. (Some of you may have missed it, but Hank comments on the blog now. I don’t even know how that happened.)  Some people who were part of it are gone, like Tupper, and Janine – and some others have joined us – like Lou, and Myrie, and I cannot think of those losses and gains without their stories being all mixed up in The Blog. There’s pictures of them here. The moments that they left, or the moments that they arrived are documented, with all of the pain and the joy,  and all of you were here when it happened. You are, somehow, even though most of you are strangers to me, part of our family’s story.

Other than the actual family that surrounds me every day, The Blog has been the most important force that I’ve ever reckoned with. There have been people in my life who don’t understand this. They’ve called The Blog my imaginary friends, or internet friends, and if there was any chance that they would ever understand, I would try to explain.  You’re real. Your impact on my life is real. The changes you create, the good you do, the support for the things that I try and do and feel, is real.  The Blog is a thing. A real thing.

This morning, I reminded Joe that it was my Blogiversary. “Eleven years!” I said.  “Wow.” He replied.  “How do you want to celebrate? Would you like to go out to dinner?”   I thought about that for a moment, and then I said “No, that’s silly. It’s a silly thing to celebrate. It’s okay.”

Joe looked at me, and he said “I’d argue that The Blog changed our lives Steph. That’s not even a little silly.” He smiled, and he left, and he’s right- except about one thing. He shouldn’t take me to dinner. We should take you – and if we could, I’d pour you a little of this (very, very nice) whiskey, and I’d say this.

Thank you.

For being there for me when bad things happened, and for being there when it all went right. For watching my kids grow up, and for the way that your kindness and criticism have shaped our family.  Thank you especially for occasionally recognizing my children in public, and giving them the general impression that The Blog was watching them.  I think they made better choices because so many people cared. Thank you for celebrating births, and comforting me through deaths, and thank you for meeting me in random cities all over North America, when I was on book tours, and bringing me sandwiches and bottles of beer, and making me feel like I was tethered to real people, and real things as I navigated a surreal experience (or eight.) Thank you for coming to the real events we can share together, like classes and retreats. Thank you for always answering the question “Is anybody there?” with a resounding YES, and caring about the things that other people in the world sometimes think are silly. Like bind-offs, and buttonbands, and making things with your own two hands instead of buying them at Walmart, and thank you, thank you always, for your generosity to us.  We love you.

A toast then, as I lift my glass. Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding, and know that you are remarkable, you are valuable, and you are a force. You are The Blog. My Blog, and your hand in my life is not now, nor has it ever been, inconsequential.

Cheers, and thank you for for eleven years. To Ken for starting it, to you for making it a thing.



[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• Priscilla Sitienei is going to school to learn to read and write. Growing up poor in Kenya’s Rift Valley, she didn’t have the chance to do that when she was younger. But with seven of her great-grandchildren now going to school, the retired midwife decided to join them. She’s 90 years old, and she’s awesome.

• We finally found one of those “No-Go Zones” that Fox News and Bobby Jindal and The Liar Tony Perkins have been warning us about. It’s in Ohio. Thomas Williams, mayor of the city of Norwood, Ohio, wrote a letter last month to his police department expressing his support for them in the war with “race-baiting black leaders” that he imagines threatens his 86-percent white city.

You know … them. They’re out there, and Williams is scared. He’s sure his police are scared too because just think about it — black people. By definition, that’s terrifying for a guy like Williams. But he reassured his police officers that if “God forbid, something controversial would happen, I WILL NOT ABANDON YOU.” The ALL-CAPS response to the hypothetical murder of an unarmed American citizen by his police force is original there, because Williams is THAT KIND OF GUY.

So now you know. Norwood, Ohio, is a sundown town, where the police have been assured by the mayor that the law doesn’t apply.

Organ_grinder_with_monkey• Indiana’s ban on Sunday liquor sales seems like a dumb policy and a relic of the failed experiment of Prohibition. So it seems to me that Hoosiers for Sunday Sales probably has a strong argument to make, even if it’s mainly a corporate-funded group. But whatever the strength of their arguments, it becomes harder to make their case after the lobbyist running the campaign crashed her car into a Hardee’s and then blew a 0.16 on the breathalyzer. (On the plus side: the DUI did not occur on a Sunday.)

• The ending of A Few Good Men always gets me riled up because Jack Nicholson’s famous speech is such ludicrous, self-serving garbage. “You want me on that wall,” he says. “You need me on that wall.” And he goes on to blather about “the blanket of freedom that I provide.”

But the actual, particular “wall” he’s talking about there is Guantanamo. No one needs anyone on that wall. That wall is an obstacle to freedom here and everywhere. That wall is an affront to justice. That wall has to go.

“We use words like honor, code, loyalty,” Col. Jessup intones. But applying words like that to Guantanamo is not credible.

• The same day that Democratic New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested for allegedly gleaning $4 million in a referral-kickback scheme, mega-banks Wells Fargo and Chase agreed to pay more than $35 million in fines for allegedly running basically the same corrupt racket. If Silver is proved guilty, he deserves to go to prison. So do the executives at Wells Fargo and Chase, whose banks just got off with what is, for them, a slap on the wrist.

• And speaking of Democrats behaving badly … Virginia state lawmaker Joseph Morrissey needs to resign and let someone less disgraceful have a turn. And while Florida Rep. Alan Grayson may have a capacity for memorable zingers, the guy gives me the creeps.

• A coda to the story from Pinellas County Florida, where the Sheriff’s department ordered new floor mats with the department’s seal that came with a misprint reading “In Dog We Trust.” The misprinted rugs have been auctioned off — raising $9,650 for charity. I would have given that money to a support fund for laid-off copy editors, but they sent it to a local pet rescue, and that’s nice too.



[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  • Hacker Mythologies and Mismanagement | Betsy Haibel at Model View Culture (20 January): “There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that some software engineers conform to nerd and/or hacker stereotypes. There’s also nothing wrong with recognizing that engineering is a discipline that requires concentration, or a creative profession in which work may sometimes come in difficult fits and starts. But the idea that engineering culture should map one-to-one to the existing and coherent nerd subculture is dangerous. Our myths about engineering become excuses for why someone is struggling. They discourage teamwork as a drag on productivity, rather than seeing it as a multiplier. They encourage coders to Other disfavored employees as “not real engineers,” creating clearly defined in- and out-groups. They encourage everyone to view coding ability as an innate orientation rather than as a trained capacity, which corrupts both hiring and professional development practices.”
  • Infamous | Mark Bernstein (15 January): [I found this site’s colours and text difficult to read, and it gave me a headache.] “GamerGate set out to writes its own story in Wikipedia – and to spread the dirt about the women who were its targets. These efforts were blocked by established editors under established Wikipedia policy. In retaliation, GamerGate planned an operation to get rid of its opponents – the “Five Horsemen” active in preserving objectivity and in keeping scurrilous sexual innuendo out of the encyclopedia.”
  • Gaming while black: Casual racism to cautious optimism | Jessica Conditt at joystiq (16 January): “”Gaming culture is a direct reflection of our society,” [Dr. Kishonna Gray] said. “The only reason racism and sexism run rampant in gaming is because racism and sexism run rampant in society. But in physical spaces, mostly, it’s not overt. It’s subtle. It’s covert. So, yes, these issues manifest in a similar manner in gaming, but I contend that they present themselves worse. It’s not subtle. It’s in-your-face racism. A black person may not be called a nigger to their face, but they can almost guarantee it will happen in virtuality.””
  • Male Allies Bingo Card | Karen Catlin, Cate Huston, Kathryn Rotondo (15 January): “As we look ahead to 2015, we’re hopeful that more men will show up as allies for women in the tech industry. That you will take a stand. That you will leverage your voices and your power to make real change to improve diversity. The tech industry desperately needs it. And here’s what we hope to hear from you.”
  • Call for Donations and Nominations to Wiscon Member Assistance Fund | Chris W at WisCon (2 December): “Every year, we try to help as many people as we can come to WisCon. It’s the time of year when we ask you to please consider contributing to the member assistance fund. […] All nominations need to be made by midnight, PST, February 15, 2015.”
  • C is Manly, Python is for “n00bs”: How False Stereotypes Turn Into Technical “Truths” | Jean Yang at Model View Culture (20 January): “Judgments about language use, despite being far from “objective” or “technical,” set up a hierarchy among programmers that systematically privileges certain groups. Software engineers sometimes deride statistical analysis languages like R or SAS as “not real programming.” R and SAS programmers, in turn, look down at spreadsheet developers. Software engineers also distinguish between front-end (client-facing) and back-end (server) code, perceiving writing server code to be more “real.””

A few links about Shanley Kane, co-founder of Model View Media, and the terrible retaliation for her criticism of the Linux community. [For all of these links: Warning for organized hate campaigns, sexual abuse, stalking, and domestic violence.]

  • My Statement | Shanley at Pastebin (20 January): “Last Thursday, I criticized the Linux community for continuing to support and center a leader with a years-long, documented history of unrepentant abusive behavior, someone who has actively and systematically nurtured a hostile, homogeneous technical community, and someone who has long actively chased people from marginalized groups out of open source. The retaliation has been terrifying.”
  • What it was like to co-found Model View Culture with Shanley Kane | Amelia Greenhall (20 January): “One year ago, in January 2014, I hit the enter key and launched Model View Culture, a new publication and media platform focused on technology, culture, and diversity. Later that month, I stood onstage in front of 200 people at our launch party with my business partner, Shanley Kane. Four months later I resigned. I put up a post on my blog titled “Leaving Model View Culture” that quietly stated that I had resigned due to irreconcilable differences with my business partner without going into much detail about why. I took the summer off to work on a few personal projects, and returned to working as a designer. Now I am ready to share more of the story.”
  • Brutal Optimization | Rachel Shadoan at Storify (20 January): “When you have to wade through an ocean of horror to participate in our communities, what are our communities optimizing for? […] Let’s examine our ideals, FOSS folks. Do we want to be a community where you can only participate if you can survive the brutal terrorizing?”
  • The Elephant in the Keynote (LCA 2015) | Project Gus (19 January): “In all three of these questions I see a common thread – people (particularly younger people) not wanting to engage with kernel development or the Linux community in general. It’s not even necessarily a diversity issue – Matthew Garrett & Thomi Richards are both younger white men, demographics traditionally over-represented in open source ranks. I’m in that same demographic, and with a background in systems programming and writing hardware-level code I’d be naturally interested in learning to contribute to the kernel. The major detractor for me is the community’s demeanor. […] I don’t mean to play down the importance of diversity in open source. I think these issues are also extremely important and I think Thomi and Matthew do as well. It’s just that even if you leave the (traditionally polarising) issue of diversity completely aside, the answers we heard on Friday are still problematic. Considering the diversity angle just compounds the problem with additional layers of alienation. […] And while younger white male software developers are having their opinions panned by the respected older generation on stage, what does this mean for actual marginalised groups? If FOSS is ever going to achieve broad adoption, it has to appeal to more than a privileged few.”
  • The Trouble With Heroes | Flower Horne (20 January): “If you only support abuse victims if they meet your standard of ‘deserving,’ then you don’t support abuse victims at all. You’re using abuse and your ability to withhold support as a means of manipulating and controlling vulnerable populations.That’s an abuser tactic.”



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.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Tim Chevalier

It’s never been clearer that neutral point of view is a joke.

The Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) is the highest user-run body on Wikipedia, or “Wikipedia’s supreme court”. Contrary to its public image as a freewheeling, anarchic site where anyone can edit, Wikipedia actually is a bureaucracy to rival the IRS.

ArbCom’s latest decision: banning five editors who in their personal lives are feminists from editing feminism-related articles. Specifically, all five editors had been attempting to rewrite Wikipedia articles with a pro-Gamergate slate to have a more neutral point of view. No editors who’d expressed a pro-Gamergate point of view in their personal lives were banned; five feminists were.

I’ve previously written on my blog about how Wikipedia administrators decided I couldn’t be neutral because I identified at the time as genderqueer. But if this latest twist isn’t Wikipedia throwing down the gauntlet to declare that “neutral point of view” really means “point of view that soothes white, heterosexual, cis, abled men’s egos”, I don’t know what is.

The Guardian has the full story.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Gwen Sharp, PhD

Flashback Friday.

A website called Found in Mom’s Basement posted this vintage toilet paper ad that plays on the stereotype that Scottish people are cheap. From the post:

Although the stereotype of the cheap Scotsman isn’t as widely known in the U.S. today, going back a few decades it was an ethnic stereotype that was used freely, often making the Scots the butt of jokes.


The post has links to other examples, such as the Studebaker Scotsman, a low-cost, minimal-options car:


As a commenter to that post pointed out, Safeway’s store brand cigarettes, advertised as being inexpensive, was “Scotch Buy” (found at Cigarettespedia):


For a more recent example, we have McFrugal, a hardware site (now down):


A reader, Julia, noted that Scotch tape was named that because:

it originally had adhesive only on the edges of the tape.  [An early user] told a 3M salesman to go back to his “Scotch bosses” (presumably too cheap to put adhesive all over the tape) and make it stickier.

The Scots-are-cheap stereotype is a great example of how ethnic stereotypes can lose their power. Maybe I’m just oblivious, but until a few years ago, I’d never heard of the stereotype that Scots were cheap. Without that context, the associations the ads are attempting to make would be meaningless to me — I would have just thought it was odd that McFrugal had a guy with bagpipes, but not understood that it might have any meaning. When I asked students in my race class about this, only a couple had ever heard this stereotype.

Obviously, though, it used to be a very common, widely-recognized notion. Much like the Irish and other European ethnic groups, as Scots became part of the larger “White” racial category, ethnic distinctiveness and stereotypes have become less prominent.

Originally posted in 2009.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

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

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

“Communications and computer technology were rather different eight years ago from the way they are now,” I wrote in 2003, “And, one might imagine, eight years from now these technologies will be even more different.” That proved to be correct then, and it’s still true now. Here’s another bold prediction I’ll make about eight years from today: When you check back in to read this post in 2023, the Rapture still won’t have happened, but the people now saying it will occur at any moment will still be making money saying that.


Left Behind, pg. 30

The in-flight phone embedded in the back of the seat in front of Buck Williams was not assembled with external modular connections the way most phones were. Buck imagined that Pan Con Airlines would soon be replacing these relics to avoid complaints from computer users. But Buck guessed that inside the phone the connection was standard and that if he could somehow get in there without damaging the phone, he could connect his computer’s modem directly to the line. His own cellular phone was not cooperating at this altitude.

Here we are reminded again that Left Behind was written in 1995. Communications and computer technology were rather different eight years ago from the way they are now. And, one might imagine, eight years from now these technologies will be even more different.

One might imagine — but Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins don’t. Aside from Dr. Rosenzweig’s miracle formula, the technological world of L.B. seems to have hit a plateau in 1994. This story may have been written in 1995, but it is not set then. It is set, instead, in that favorite time period of science fiction writers: “the not-too distant future.”

Don’t let that quasi-futuristic setting fool you: L.B. is not a work of science fiction.

I’m not really qualified to offer a definition of “science fiction” but, broadly speaking, sci-fi writers closely observe the world we live in now and extrapolate a future based on possible developments and trajectories from this world. They may also choose to write about alternative worlds — ones where some of the basic premises of our world are altered, thus producing divergent conclusions.

In either case, though, the real subject of their writing is still this world, in the present. Their stories may be set on distant planets, and their protagonists may be aliens or androids, but these exotic scenarios are still meant to explore what it means to be human, here and now.

prodigy_login_largeLeft Behind is not science fiction, but rather religious, apocalyptic fiction. As such, it’s interested in an entirely different set of questions.

Apocalyptic fiction as a literary genre is also very different from just plain old apocalypses. That ancient, highly symbolic genre would often discuss the future, but always — like science fiction — in the context of trying to make sense out of the present. Apocalyptic fiction does not attempt to illuminate or make sense of the present. It is wholly uninterested in the world we live in now. (“This world is not my home, I’m just passin’ through.”)

Instead, apocalyptic fiction simply asserts that certain future events will occur — no matter how implausible or impossible these events may seem from our current trajectory, and no matter how unrelated or alien such events may seem when compared to the world in which we are now living.

This may help to explain why the world of Left Behind seems less realistic than even the most fantastical alien creations of the best science fiction writers.

It may also help to explain why, despite the book’s supposedly futuristic setting, a jet-setting reporter like Buck Williams is still using a dial-up Prodigy account to send e-mail.

Today I Remember, Today I Pledge

Jan. 23rd, 2015 08:16 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Every now and then, in the moments just before sleep, I will remember standing in the centre of a graveyard for people with intellectual disabilities. I don't remember if I was there in winter or summer but it's always, in my mind, a cold day. One tree stood, in lonely vigil, near the centre of the land. There were no gravestones. No crosses. No markers. There was nothing there to indicate that was holy ground. Those who drove by would have seen what looked to a man standing in the middle of a small field.

The gravestones? They had been torn down and removed to be crushed and then put to industrial use. There was no one, they thought, that would want to grieve, that would want to remember. I could see evidence of this massive vandalization when searching the ground closely. Bits and pieces of gravestone could be found.

I left stunned and shattered.

First that these graves existed at all. That the institution, a huge one, which wrapped two arms around the graveyard, had been full and teeming with life. That people had been pulled from their families, pulled from their communities, and housed here. That people longed for freedom and instead ended up a few feet away, resting in a graveyard with neat graves in a row, like an eternal ward.

Then that someone, somewhere, sitting in an office writing a memo, after a meeting of other someones sitting in other offices, calling for the destruction of the markers, calling for the 'good sense' use of the material in other, more valued places.

It seemed that they counted on no want remembering, or, probably more accurately, no on wanting to remember.

Well I did.

Well I do.

Today is the International Day of Mourning and Memory.

Today I remember those who lived longing for freedom and getting, instead, captivity.

Today I remember those who while living in freedom were bullied to death.

Today I remember those who came to the community to find violence not welcome.

Today I remember those people who fought, and fought hard for the closure of buildings and and end to institutionalization.

Today I remember those people who fight against violence against people with disabilities.

Today I remember that there is work yet to be done.

Today I pledge to be part of the community of those who fight against violence and who resist the segregation and exclusion of people with disabilities.

I know today, that in that field, there is a memorial to those who were buried there. A memorial that was the result of others who came together to fight, and fight hard, for the right for people with disabilities to be remembered and to be mourned.

On Getting Paid to Speak

Jan. 23rd, 2015 04:20 am
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Guest Blogger

In response to a thread on a private mailing list, a prominent woman in tech wrote this fantastic rundown of the details of getting paid to speak, including which speaker bureaus represent which kinds of speakers. We are re-posting an anonymized version of it with her permission in the hopes that with better information, more women will get paid fairly for their public speaking. Paying women fair wages for their work is a feminist act. This advice applies primarily to United States-based speakers; if you have information about international speaker bureaus, please share it in the comments!

Question: I’m interested in speaking with [members of the private mailing list] who either speak via a speaker bureau/agency, or otherwise get paid for their speaking gigs. I have done an absolute ton of speaking in the past few years (including several keynotes) and I know I’m at the level where I could be asking for money for my speaking, and I also need to reduce the amount I sign up for in order to focus on my own projects. So I’m on the market for an agency and would love to hear numbers from other folks who charge for giving talks. I know several women who ask for $1000-$2000 plus travel costs for engagement, but would love to know if that is typical or low as I definitely do know dudes who get much more.


PS this was a very scary email to write! Asking for others to value your work as work is really difficult!

Answer: I have a lot of experience with this & have done a lot of research. The main U.S. bureaus are:

  • The Leigh Bureau, which represents Nate Silver, Joi Ito, danah boyd, Tim Wu, Don Tapscott, Malcolm Gladwell, etc. Leigh tends to represent so-called public intellectuals, and to do a lot of work crafting the brand and visibility of their speakers in well-thought-out laborious campaigns. It tends to represent people for whom speaking is their FT job (or at least, it’s what pays their bills). Leigh does things like organize paid author tours when a new book comes out. Being repped by Leigh is a major time commitment.
  • The Washington Speakers Bureau: Jonathan Zittrain, Madeleine Albright, Tony Blair, Katie Couric, Lou Dobbs, Ezra Klein. These folks specialize in DC/public policy.
  • The Harry Walker Agency: Jimmy Wales, Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, Steve Forbes, Bono, Steven Levitt, Cass Sunstein. These folks tend to rep celebrities and DC types: busy people for whom speaking is a sideline.
  • The Lavin Agency: Jared Diamond, Anderson Cooper, Jonathan Haidt, Lewis Lapham, Steve Wozniak. Lavin does (sort of) generalist public intellectual think-y type people, but is way less commitment than e.g. Leigh. Lavin reps people whose main work is something other than speaking.

(There are probably lots of others including ones that are more specialized, but these are the ones I know.)

I went with Lavin and they’ve been fine. The primary benefits to me are 1) They bring me well-paying talks I wouldn’t otherwise get; 2) they take care of all the flakes so I don’t have to, and they vet to figure out who is a flake; 2) they negotiate the fee; and 3) they handle all the boring logistical details of e.g. scheduling, contractual stuff, reimbursements, etc. I mostly do two types of talks:

  1. The event organizers approach me, and I send them to Lavin. About 80% of these invitations are just [stuff] I would never do, because it pays nothing and/or the event sounds dubious, the expected audience is tiny, I have no idea why they invited me, or whatever. But, about 20% are people/events that I like or am interested in, like advocacy groups, museums, [technical standards bodies], [technical conferences]; TED-x. If I really like the organizers and they are poor, sometimes I will waive my fee and just have them pay expenses. (Warning: if there is no fee, the bureau bows out and I have to handle everything myself. Further warning: twice I have waived my fee and found out later that other speakers didn’t. Bah.) If I get paid for these events, it’s usually about 5K.
  2. The event organizers approach Lavin directly, requesting me. These tend to be professional conferences, where they’re staging something every year and need to come up with a new keynote annually. These are all organized by a corporation or an industry association with money — e.g., Penguin Books, Bain, McKinsey, the American Society of Public Relations Professionals, the Institute of E-Learning Specialists, etc. I do them solely for the money, and I accept them unless I have a scheduling conflict or I really cannot imagine myself connecting with the theme or the audience. These talks are way less fun than the #1 kind above, but they pay more: my fee is usually 25K but occasionally 50K.

For all my talks I get the base fee plus hotel and airfare, plus usually an expenses buyout of about $200 a day. A few orgs can’t do a buyout because of internal policies: that’s worse for me because it means I need to save receipts etc., which is a hassle. Lavin keeps half my fee, which I think is pretty typical. In terms of fees generally, I can tell you from working with bureaus from the other side that 5K is a pretty typical ballpark fee that would usually get a speaker with some public profile (like a David Pogue-level of celebrity) who would be expected to be somewhat entertaining. The drivers of speaker fees are, I think 1) fame, 2) entertainment value and 3) expertise/substance, with the last being the least important. The less famous you are, the more entertaining you’re expected to be. Usually for the high-money talks, there is at least one prep call, during which they tell me what they want: usually it’s a combination of “inspiration” plus a couple of inside-baseball type anecdotes that people can tell their friends about afterwards. The high-money talks are definitely less fun than the low-money ones: the audiences are less engaged, it’s more work for me to provide what they need, everybody cares less, etc.

When I spoke with [a guy at one agency] he told me some interesting stuff about tech conferences, most of which I sadly have forgotten :/ But IIRC I think he said tech conferences tend to pay poorly if at all, because the assumption is that the speaker is benefiting in other ways than cash — they’re consultants who want to be hired by tech companies, they’re pitching a product, trying to hire engineers, building their personal brand, or whatever. Leigh says they’re not lucrative and so they don’t place their people at them much. The real money is in the super-boring stuff, and in PR/social media conferences.

Hope this is useful!

We certainly found it useful. Here are some additional resources which came up in the mailing list thread:

You buy prestige and spread decline

Jan. 22nd, 2015 11:38 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

RIP Marcus Borg, theologian, author, expert on the historical Jesus, and Patheos blogger. Memorials from Phil Snider, Deane Galbraith, Frederick Schmidt, James McGrath.

• Credit where credit is due: Robert George has never previously impressed me. But this is impressive.

• Mike Huckabee is taking erotic liberties with the truth. The former Arkansas governor’s credibility took a big hit when he was caught in an awkward and obvious lie about his jam-session with racist rocker and certified gun-lover Ted Nugent.

NoogeSpeaking to The Christian Post, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee dismissed criticism for his harmonizing with the racist gun-nut rocker on the song “Cat Scratch Fever,” claiming that “Ted changed the lyrics pretty dramatically when he sang it” on stage with Huckabee. Since every line of the song is about Nugent’s purportedly numerous, frequent, non-stop sexual exploits, it’s difficult to imagine what a “clean” or “family friendly” version could ever sound like.

But the video clearly shows that Nugent didn’t change any of the song’s raunchy lyrics, and that Huckabee didn’t seem to mind. The video clearly shows that Huckabee lied.

You can elevate yourself as the arbiter of godly, wholesome family values or you can jam with Ted Nugent on “Cat Scratch Fever,” but you cannot do both. And none of Mike Huckabee’s lies can change that.

• “Why Are So Many Christians Worshipping the American Sniper?” Ben Corey asks. That’s easy. It’s because Chris Kyle beat the snot out of Jesse Ventura and gave him a black eye — just like Jesus would’ve done.

What’s that? You say Jesus wouldn’t have gotten into a fistfight with Jesse Ventura? Well, that’s OK — neither did Kyle. That was just one of the many implausible stories he liked to tell — one that cost him and his heirs $1.8 million (so far) when a court ruled that Kyle was lying with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard” for the truth.

Kyle seems to have had a penchant for self-aggrandizing stories that made others look bad in order to make himself look and feel more righteous. Ahh, OK. I think we just answered Ben Corey’s question.

• “That a US political party is siding with a foreign country over their own president is extremely unusual and a major break with the way that foreign relations usually work.”

Unprecedented actions based on a complete rejection of former practice and policy aren’t usually described as “conservative.”

• The “Brief History of ‘Satanic Panic’ in the 1980s” by Cheryl Eddy at io9 provides a useful overview, but it suffers a bit from the mistaken assumption that the Satanic Panic ended, rather than just mutating into different forms.

Feministing profiles Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff. Here’s her take on a murder ballad:

Click here to view the embedded video.




Still Life With Birkenstocks

Jan. 22nd, 2015 11:07 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
Went out shoe shopping today with my buddy Mur, to the infamous Birkenstock store in town.

Long-time readers will remember that...holy crap, it's been seven years...ago I went into this store to get my Birks repaired. I walked in with the shoes in hand and a man came up to me, seized the shoes, and said in tones of abject Southern horror: "Did you get these off'n a daid person?!"

I said, "Um."

He inspect the severe damage I had wrought upon the cork and added "Was you in prison and these was the only shoes they gave you?"

I agreed that this was the most likely scenario. He took them away, read me the riot act about what we do not do to our cork soles (bless your heart) and a week later I had pristine Birks for a third the price of new ones.

Alas, those shoes have since gone the way of all flesh and I had not picked up a replacement, so Mur and I went out on Birkenstock Quest. The official Birkenstock website lied to us repeatedly, and at last, the only hope was the store of legend. (Which, snark aside, is the only place I would go for shoe repairs, if it came to that. They are peculiar in a very Southern sort of way, but they do damn fine cobbling.)

The store is now very clean, very nice, brightly lit and I think in a new location. I found my chosen Birkenstock (Arizona, women's 39) and also tried on some new hiking boots, found them quite satisfactory, and mentioned in passing that I definitely needed new boots, because my current pair was a Target special.

Now, because I have a fair amount of Ye Olde Face Blindness, there was no way that I was going to remember what this guy looked like...until he looked up at me, and said, once again in tones of abject Southern horror, "Target? How do you have feet left? How is you not in a wheelchair?"

Good to know that some things never change.

(There was also the Sock Consultation. They have an entire wall of socks, promising a future of merino and wicking and cushioned comfort soles that will keep my feet dry and cooled and unblistered and massaged by tiny angels living in the weave. As I am heading to Botswana in April for a photo safari with a bunch of fellow artists, and they have very strict weight limits, I am on a quest for a sock that does all these things and can be washed and air-dry overnight.

I explained my needs to the Southern gent, who went and got another one, who went and got a third, and all of us stared at the Wall of Socks with expressions of deep concentration.

"We got liners," said one.

"Don't wanna send her out in liners," said another. "Need a sock to go over it. All-in-one."

"Why is you going to Africa?" said the third. "Is this a punishment for somethin'?"

"Needs to be a hiking sock, not a running sock," said the first.

"Wool blend would probably be best," said the second one.

"I saw a show where a black mamba bit a lion and that lion was daid in five minutes," said the third.

"This one's wicking, but how's it dry?" said the first.

"The silk blend's pretty good," said the second.

"If one of those mambas bites a man--or a woman--they'll be dead in half an hour!" said the third.

"The Wigwam's are good. We got any cotton?"

"We don't have any cotton socks in the store."

"You wouldn't get me in Africa. I've seen nature shows. You wouldn't get me out of the United States."

"Try these, maybe?"

"See if those dry overnight, yeah."

"I might not even leave North Carolina. It's scary out there."

I took the recommended socks, promised to report back, and agreed that yes, it was.)
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Al Mohler’s ‘erotic liberty’ is an offensive misnomer for LGBT rights,” Brian Pellot writes for Religion News Service.

Yes it is. That offensiveness is deliberate. Mohler is describing a group of people as less than human, and he has chosen to do so in a way that he can be sure they will understand that is what he intends to say.

Also deliberate is the fact that Mohler’s “erotic liberty” is a misnomer. It is a phrase designed to mislead. It is, to be blunt, a lie — a rhetorical flourish intentionally crafted to misdirect, to misinform and to deceive.

TakingLiberties_CoverRGBMohler is a culture warrior whose goal is to win a culture war, and the purpose of this dishonest, reductionist, hateful phrase is to win. If Mohler’s tribe is gonna win, then language that cares about accuracy, honesty, truth, fairness, justice, love, etc., is a luxury he cannot afford.

Mohler’s “erotic liberty vs. religious liberty” formula is designed to reduce LGBT people to something less than people. In using this formula, Mohler is doing exactly what Panti Bliss described in her recent Ted Talk:

What they really don’t like is anal sex. Sodomy. Buggery. And they assume that that is all we do. They feverishly imagine that we spend all day jumping around buggering each other. I mean they obsess on it. And, in fact, what they actually do is reduce us down to this one sex act, whether or not we do it at all. Because we are not regular people with the same hopes and aspirations and ambitions and feelings as everyone else. We are simply walking sex acts.

That reduction and distortion is the purpose of Mohler’s nasty “erotic liberty” slur. He is refusing to acknowledge the humanity of other human beings. He is unwilling to speak of them as anything more than “walking sex acts.”

And he is trying to make his followers see nothing but “walking sex acts” when they look at those other human beings. He is trying to make sure that they never see those human beings as human beings — as children of God, created in God’s image.

Consider how Mohler’s binary “erotic liberty vs. religious liberty” is crafted to reinforce this reductive, dehumanizing dismissal of their humanity. He is suggesting that we humans have religion, but they — those sub-human walking sex acts — do not. They are incapable of religion, only of “eroticism.”

As Pellot writes:

Mohler often uses grand and ambiguous phrases (“the new sexual revolution,” “the moral revolution,” etc.), but now he’s gone a step further, putting a deliberately misleading phrase in direct opposition to his notion of religious liberty.

It’s a clever move. Replacing “LGBT rights” with “erotic liberty” reduces the myriad of LGBT experiences and issues to what he presumably sees as a matter of sexual promiscuity, depravity and perversion, something many of Mohler’s followers will agree is bad, wrong, unnatural. It dehumanizes a community seeking civil rights into a gaygle of sexual beasts.

I suppose it is “clever.” Or, rather, it would be clever if this were a world in which the difference between true and false didn’t matter. Or a world in which there was no God.

But by trumpeting this nasty, dishonest “erotic liberty” garbage, Al Mohler is clearly demonstrating that he does not think the difference between true and false matters in this world. Or perhaps he is demonstrating that he does not fear a just or a loving God.

Al Mohler insists that he has “a high view” of the “authority of scripture.” He insists that he believes the Bible is infallible and inerrant. He insists that every word of it is the Word of God — sacred, non-negotiable and binding.

But that Bible is full of stuff like this:

Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

If you believe that is an inerrant and infallible statement of truth then you cannot go around slurring and slandering people by reducing them to walking sex acts. You cannot go around denying their humanity by pretending that they are nothing but “erotic” animals, accusing them of being sub-humans incapable of the religious aspirations that humans like yourself display. You cannot bear false witness against your neighbors with such malicious, deliberate glee.

So for the love of God, Richard Albert Mohler Jr., if you really believe in that Bible you’re always talking about, then knock it off with this “erotic liberty” bullshit. Repent.

Spinning, two kinds, not three

Jan. 22nd, 2015 08:32 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Earlier this week, I bought myself something I’ve wanted for a little while. A cycle trainer. It’s not what you think, by “trainer” I don’t mean someone who yells at you about how fast you’re going and tells you to do another 5km, but a frame that holds the back wheel of my bike and turns it into a stationary cycle. I set it up in the kitchen and it sits there, with my bike stuck in it,  and I mean this in every way possible, it is a huge pain in the arse.  (Do you like the way I made it sound like setting it up was no big deal? In reality it was hours, and several phone calls, and advice from Ken and Pato, and about four websites. It has never been clearer that I have no idea what I’m doing.)

it is supremely, horrifically, in the way. I have to step round it to go from my little office behind the kitchen to the rest of the house. I have to squeeze past it every time I want a coffee. It glowers at me as I make meals, or listen to the CBC on the radio, and I can see it from the front door.  I got  it because I’m trying to get a jump on the spring training for the rally.  I’d like to be a little fitter and more ready this year when the outdoor training starts, and starting earlier seemed like the only way to do that – barring heading down to a spinning class or something, which (in the absence of real spinning wheels) seems like exactly my idea of a personal nightmare.  I like to suffer alone.  I put it in the kitchen, because – frankly, the only other room that could hold it was an unused bedroom, and I know myself too well to play that game. I’d be able to ignore it in there.  Here in the kitchen, there’s nothing I can do to make it stop staring at me that way, except ride it, and I’ve made a personal pledge to do so for at least 30 minutes every day that I am home – until it’s warm enough to ride outside.  I’m telling you this so that I’m a little publicly accountable.  Today’s day three, and my my arse is sore, and my legs are sore, and I’ve learned that riding on a trainer is way, way harder than riding outside – which I’m telling myself is good, because it’s more of a workout, but I’m having trouble with my own reasoning there. Here the the thing sits, and today, before I do the kind of spinning I like, I’ll have to do the kind that I don’t. I hope it all pays off in the spring. I have visions of the first training ride, where instead of panting along at the rear of the pack, I sail through – faster and stronger than ever. This is, of course, complete delusion. I’m still going to be a slightly dumpy middle-aged woman who is only ripped in the sense of owning old bike shorts that need mending, but it’s got to help. Right?

battopen 2015-01-22

Speaking of spinning I do like, I’m just over halfway on the wee project from yesterday.  I’ve split the batt right down the middle, and I’ll spin two singles that each have the same colour progression. (If you’re the sort that’s interested, I’m spinning these long draw. It’s what it wanted, and this is all about process.)

battspin 2015-01-22

When I ply them together, hopefully I’ll have a two ply yarn where the colours (mostly) match up, and a cool gradient yarn.  If I can finish the singles today, tonight they can rest, and tomorrow – I ply.

battspin2 2015-01-22

I have no idea how many metres I’ll have, or what I’ll cast on after that.  It’s about 100g, and that should give me at least 300m – ideas?

battspin3 2015-01-22

Strung Along April Retreat – Start to Finish

A quick note to let you all know that sign-ups for the Spring Retreat are open. This time we’re doing something a bit different – and we’re so, so excited (and a little nervous) about it. We’ve gotten lots of emails from people wishing that the retreats weren’t all for textile artists who knit AND spin. Apparently many of you don’t spin (yet) but would still like to come to the April Retreat. Well, okay then! Another knitter-only retreat (although there’s a ton that will be valuable for spinners) just because we really are listening. If you’d like to know more about it, click here.  (Also, because I always forget, and it makes Debbi crazy, Strung Along has a Facebook page here. You can “like” it if you want. Debbi LOVES that.)


[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

If you are worried about the abuse and exploitation of non-human animals, you can become a vegetarian or a vegan. But if you worry about the abuse and exploitation of humans, there is no morally upright consumer choice you can make, short of growing 100% of your food yourself.

This is the main message of journalist Eric Schlosser in this 4min video produced by BigThink. In it, he summarizes the extent of the exploitation of poor people, mostly immigrants, in the restaurant industry, the meatpacking industry, and the production of fresh fruits and vegetables in the U.S.

Especially for the people who pick our produce, he insists, the working conditions “are more reminiscent of the mid-nineteenth century than they are with the twenty-first century.” It is “literally slavery.”

Watch 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)

Being Needed Con't

Jan. 22nd, 2015 08:30 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Yesterday's discussion was wonderful!


I don't have much new to add to what's already been said, and said well, in the comments. I just wanted to acknowledge the obvious, that the 'need to be needed' or 'the need to feel helpful' are needs that exist outside the paid care provider role. I think we all need those things, I think it's part of who we are as people. I know for myself that the things that I do for others, the things that make me feel needed, are amongst the most important reasons I have a good sense of self esteem and self worth - it just plain makes me feel good about myself to be helpful, to be needed, to have skills that are valued by others.

So when the care provider said, in the scene I presented yesterday, "I just need to feel helpful," they were simply being honest with the motivation behind their action. I think we all agree that the 'needs' that need to be met here are the individual with a disability who is being supported. But I think, too, that it would have been possible for the worker to have their needs, specifically the need to feel helpful, fulfilled too. This isn't an either / or situation.

Let me explain. For a brief time when I was back in University I did some work with kids in a special school. I giggle at those words now because, whatever else it was, it decidedly wasn't special, but I didn't know that then. I found that those moments when I was able to hold back my hands, hold tight to my tongue and simply be there as a supportive presence while kids did things on their own - to be there to see their faces turn to me, glad of a witness to their success, and smile was such an amazing thing. The teacher there, who had a face that never looked kind and a heart that always was, said to me, sometime the most helpful thing you can do, is wait.

We tend to see help as an action, as something done. Anyone who works with people who are learning new skills or developing independence needs to know that help occurs when inaction replaces action. Where waiting for a bright shiny new skill to show itself and be demonstrated. Those outside this field of endeavour simply wouldn't understand the joy behind this sentence:

I went to the store with JJ today and I stood there and did nothing while he paid for it himself.

Both needs could have been met.

Only one was.

That's the tragedy.


I want to address a comment made by Feminist Atavar, which was picked up by others later. The question was asked, "Why did I say anything at all?" The suggestion was that my statement could have, even though I didn't intend it, put pressure on both of the others in the store line up. That comment made me pause and think, 'Why did I speak up?'

I don't know the experience of other power wheelchair users, but my experience is that with my gender, my weight, and the way the power chair increases the sheer 'bulk' of me that people often feel pressure for some odd reason. As an example, on going, underground, between two halves of a mall, there are two ramps on either side of a step down walkway. When I appear at the top of one and look to see if it's free, it's narrow so only one person can use it at a time, if someone sees me up top, they nearly start running! Even people using walkers!! That's when I say, 'Don't rush, I'm comfortably seated,' or 'Take your time, I'm comfortably seated,' and typically people then slow down.

So when I'm in a line up and someone sees me behind them, I say it as kind of a joke, but also as a signal that it's OK, I'm really not in a hurry. I had hoped that was what happened here in this situation. However, I can see where maybe it wasn't helpful.

That's what I like about these kinds of discussions - I'm asked to think differently or more deeply - which is always a good thing.


Thanks to all who participated in the comment section!

Los Angeles Chinese Massacre, 1871

Jan. 22nd, 2015 12:40 pm
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by April Stevens

By Scott Zesch (Guest Contributor)


A typical 19th century Chinese Mining Camp

The word “massacre” usually brings to mind lonely American landscapes such as Wounded Knee, Mountain Meadows and Sand Creek—not a busy metropolis like Los Angeles. Yet that city’s first race riot, dating back all the way to 1871 and largely forgotten today, came to be known as the Los Angeles Chinese Massacre.

At the time it occurred, Los Angeles was a Wild West town of only 6,000 residents. Most people outside of California had never heard of it. Californians knew about the place mainly because it had the state’s highest per capita murder rate and largest number of lynchings.

Shortly before sundown on October 24, 1871, a gunfight broke out between members of rival Chinese factions. Angelenos ran to Chinatown to see what was happening. A reckless white rancher discharged his revolver into a Chinese store and was killed by return fire. Within a short time, an angry crowd of about 500 Anglos and Latinos gathered in the streets of Chinatown, surrounding the low adobe buildings. As darkness fell, the Chinese were trapped inside their homes and shops. After a three-hour standoff, the mob broke into the Chinese headquarters, seized random victims, and dragged them off to be hanged. Eighteen Chinese men were murdered that night.

This half-hour killing spree was the bloodiest attack on Chinese immigrants the country had experienced at that time. The Chinese Massacre was also the first event to draw nationwide attention to Los Angeles. It was a public relations disaster for the small but growing town, whose civic leaders were careful not to mention the atrocity in a local history they published five years later. Today, a small plaque near the Hollywood Freeway is all that commemorates the city’s first deadly racial uprising and one of America’s worst hate crimes.

Scott Zesch is the author of The Chinatown War: Chinese Los Angeles and the Massacre of 1871 (Oxford University Press). His previous book, The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier, won the TCU Texas Book Award.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• Tyndale House, the Christian industry publisher of Left Behind and the also-fictional The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, looks really, really bad in Michelle Dean’s deeper dive into the story of their cashing in on a blatant scam of a book. One part of that article includes a summary from conservative blogger Phil Johnson, describing a dynamic that’s all-too-familiar:

“The thread that runs through all their correspondence with Beth is that they wanted to corner her before they would be willing to investigate her concerns,” he wrote to the Guardian. “They kept pressing her to agree to a meeting where she and Alex would have to face Kevin and a phalanx of editors who were determined to press ahead with the project, no matter what objections Alex and she might have.”

Beth Malarkey simply kept complaining on the Internet. Tyndale House kept publishing a book with a quadriplegic boy’s name on the cover, even though it knew he had substantial objections to the book. And for years, nothing changed.

Tyndale House and Kevin Malarkey kept their gravy train going by silencing Beth — portraying her as unreasonable and pitting a “phalanx” of editors, lawyers and influential people against her, so that the only avenue left to her was “complaining on the Internet.” That silencing was effective — until people started listening to what she was saying on the Internet.

OK, then.

• Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was the designated Laura Roslin for last night’s State of the Union ceremonies. I worked last night and haven’t had a chance to read/watch the speech and responses yet, but checked the news enough today to confirm Foxx is still just a cabinet secretary and not our new president. So that’s good.

• “The Black Country is an area of the West Midlands in England, north and west of Birmingham,” Wikipedia says. “The first trace of The Black Country as an expression dates from the 1840s and it is believed that it got its name because of black soot from heavy industries that covered the area.”

Congratulations, you now know more than the Fox News Press Team.

• Meanwhile, even after international hilarity and ridicule forced Fox News to apologize and retract its promotion of the far-right racist lie/scary story about “No-Go Zones,” this nonsense is still being repeated as fact by Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and by his old friend The Liar Tony Perkins. TLTP is warning frightened white Christians to stay away from Minneapolis, where he says that scary brown people have established an anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-white Prairie Home No-Go Zone.

Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minnesota’s 5th District, has invited Perkins to visit Minneapolis:



That would be horribly embarrassing for The Liar Tony Perkins, except of course that The Liar Tony Perkins long ago proved that he was incapable of shame and embarrassment.

• Wonketeer Shrill helps us calibrate our BS detectors by dissecting an example of how the media covers/portrays white-on-white crime, “White Teenage Criminals Are Cuddly and Cute and White and Not Really Criminals Really!“:

There are several ways of editorializing about the relationship between an 18-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl he has taken from her parents’ house. “Kidnapping,” for instance, is one that comes to mind. “Brainwashed” is another term a writer might employ here. Then, too, is the fact that in Kentucky, an 18-year-old having sex with a 13-year-old constitutes second-degree rape. The writers choose none of these obvious descriptions of a relationship that we should intuitively see as predatory, and which is legally non-consensual. They don’t even use the value-neutral term “pair,” but instead, ratify the relationship with the most quaint, chaste, and cutesy noun they could possibly have used: “sweethearts.” …

It’s not possible that this story would have been covered in the same way if our two anti-heroes were black. The story wouldn’t have framed a relationship between, say, an 18-year-old black male and a 13-year-old black female as one of “sweethearts,” much less one between an 18-year-old black male and a 13-year-old white female. There’s no chance the story would have gotten three paragraphs in without mentioning Dalton’s criminal record or that he was fleeing prior burglary charges. The narrative of black criminality is the photo negative of those about white innocence.

Product VS Process

Jan. 21st, 2015 08:14 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Yesterday, as I was finishing Sam’s hat (after reclaiming mine) I was thinking that I hadn’t enjoyed knitting it all that much. I didn’t dislike it (how could you not like knitting?) but it wasn’t the ten buckets of fun that knitting usually is – especially when you’re making something someone will love and wants badly.

samhaton 2015-01-21

Sam does, indeed love her new hat, and wore it out this morning, cozy against the windy cold.  (Pattern: Wurm, Yarn: Eco+ in Dark Purple - I think. Needle 3.5 and 4.5mm. Knit as written, except for only doing 8 repeats. We like our Wurms a little less wormy round here.)

samhatpeek 2015-01-21

After she left, I sat down to have a coffee and a bit of a knit, and pulled out the sweater I’ve had cruising along in the background. (This one.)  It’s going fine, though it’s now just rounds and rounds of stockinette, and I felt that same… something.  I love that yarn, and heaven knows I want the sweater – now, actually, it’s so dismally cold, and usually that’s enough to inspire, but this time, I’m not feeling it. As I was churning along, my thoughts turned to the idea of knitting for product (to get the knitted stuff) and knitting for process – because I love knitting alone.  Usually I’m someone who fails to land firmly in either camp. I knit for both. To get good stuff, and for the pure pleasure of it. I don’t know if I would be arsed to knit if there wasn’t the thrill of a finished thing at the end, and I don’t know that the things alone would be enough to make knitting worth it. (I have a secret theory that liking and needing knitting to be both for product and process spawns the most dedicated knitters – those of us who couldn’t stop if we wanted to, but it’s just an idea.)

It hit me, as I was beavering away that it’s been a little while since something was on my needles for nothing but pleasure. That the last few months have been – what with Christmas and all that, all about the product.  A string of needed, wanted, important things, but still the goal was to end up with the things… not to just be along for the ride. I thought about that some more, as I completed another round, and then I looked around me, saw my spinning wheel, and something gave way.

I’ve been hearing the siren song of my spinning stash for a while – if you can call the smothered gasps of way too much fibre a song. I put down the sweater, went up to the spinning stash, and grabbed the first thing that appealed.

intowhirledbatt 2015-01-21

I’m going to spin for a bit. I don’t even know what I’m making, but i know that the minute that whatever sort of yarn this batt becomes, it’s going on my needles moments later. I’m going to think about process, the process of spinning, the process of knitting, and I’ll just see what product I get at the end.

Doesn’t that sound delicious?

(PS. The Batt is from Into the Whirled – though I don’t see any on their website right now.)

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Most Americans, when asked if they are affected by advertising, will say “not really.” They think other people are influenced by cultural messages, but that they are somehow immune.

Whether people are shaped by the media they consume seems to be a perpetual question. The fact that billions of dollars are spent every year attempting to influence us is probably a sign that advertisers know it works. Scientists get in on the action, asking pressing questions like: Do violent video games increase violence in real life? Do sexy, thin models hurt girls’ self-esteem? We do the studies and the answers are often inconclusive, probably because of how complicated the relationships are.

Psychologist Stefano Ghirlanda and his colleagues asked a slightly simpler question: Do celebrity dogs influence the popularity of dog breeds? They looked at 100 movies with prominent dog characters from 1939 to 2003 and compared the release date to breed registrations. The answer seems to be: with the exception of box office flops, yes.


Given that many dog movies are made for kids, I’d be interested in the mediating role of parenthood. Companies that make children’s products like sugary cereal know that they can get the parent to buy their product if the kid is annoying enough about it. So, they market to children directly. I’d love to see if people with and without small children were equally affected by the breed of dog in this year’s movie.

The researchers method of popularity, moreover, was registration with the American Kennel Club. Pure bred dogs are expensive. So, I wonder if the power of these trends varies by social class. If a family can’t afford a “Beethoven,” they may be more likely to just adopt a mutt from a neighbor’s litter.

In any case, though, this seems like incontrovertible evidence that we’re influenced by mass media. But you already knew everyone else was, didn’t you?

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)

Essay Question: What do you think?

Jan. 21st, 2015 08:34 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

This is essay day on Rolling Around in My Head. I'm going to give you a brief scene, which I witnessed a couple days ago, and I'd like you to respond in the comment section. I'm doing this because I'd like to hear other's reactions before I weigh in with my own. So, here goes:

He was being very methodical, and, in truth, taking a bit of time. I was in line behind him, with no one behind me. I was not in a rush, and said so using my favourite line in these circumstances, 'Take your time I'm comfortably seated.' The support worker with him watched with growing impatience and then reached over, took his wallet from his hands, retrieved a bill from the wallet and handed it to the clerk. The clerk looked, as I did, a bit shocked.

The young man said to his staff, "I can do it on my own."

The staff said, with a laugh which seemed intended to lighten a suddenly tense situation, "I know but I just need to feel helpful."

OK, Discuss!
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by Jack El-Hai

By Jack El-Hai, Wonders & Marvels contributor

Over the past twenty years, I’ve given talks about history — usually on topics connected to the subjects of my books — throughout North America and in Europe. Most of my talks have taken place in undergraduate and graduate-level academic settings, although I’ve also addressed medical and history conferences, schoolchildren, business audiences, book clubs, and cultural groups.

Booker T. Washington addresses an audience in Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1906

Booker T. Washington addresses an audience in Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1906

Talking about history is an acquired skill. I’ve grown adept at making quick adjustments for the needs and interests of the audience as well as for the quirks of the setting. For those of you contemplating a history talk, I offer these five tips:

  • Arrive early — not just to avoid being late, but also to take in what’s preceding your talk. If other speakers are giving talks before yours, you’ll do your audience a service if you can link your topic with those of the earlier speakers. Much of understanding history, after all, is about connecting the dots. Help your audience make illuminating connections.
  • Don’t read. Book authors often believe that they must read out loud from their pages, but doing so puts people to sleep. Audiences, who are often as interested in learning about you as your writing, want to understand your historical obsessions. Let the book speak for itself and give the audience an intriguing story about your path to writing it. When I talk about The Nazi and the Psychiatrist, I often tell the tale of how I found the documents upon which I based the book.
  • Avoid unclear language. The study of history is full of jargon favored by specialists or indicative of lazy thinking. Don’t use it. I make a point of eliminating from my talks the terms I call “The Evil I’s” — the various forms of the words impact, inform, and issue — in the interests of clarity and directness. You can form your own hit list of terms.
  • Customize your talk. Speaking to a conference of neurosurgeons about my book The Lobotomist, for example, I focus on the historical developments in brain surgery that accompanied lobotomy. Business audiences are intrigued by the speculations of Dr. Douglas M. Kelley — the central figure in The Nazi and the Psychiatrist — on the similarities between the Nazi leadership hierarchy and the organization of corporations.
  • Let your audience teach. We all know to ask for questions from the audience, but a skilled history speaker will go further by directing questions to the audience. A standard feature of my talks about The Lobotomist and the history of psychosurgery is my call for stories from the audience about their experiences with psychiatric surgery. People have risen to give the most amazing personal accounts — many of which I wish I could have included in my book — and one person even displayed a set of lobotomy tools she had brought with her. (Her father was a psychosurgeon.)


Exemplary history talks:

Roach, Mary. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm.

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Jay Livingston, PhD

What do we mean when we say “we”? Or more to the point, what does the president mean when he uses that word?

The Atlantic has an interactive graphic (here) showing the relative frequencies of words in State of the Union addresses. (“Addresses” because I’m choosing my words carefully. These were not “speeches” until Wilson. Before that, it was written text only.) Here “we” is.

The rise of “we” seems to parallel the rise of big government, starting with Wilson and our entry into a world war, followed by a brief (10-year) decline. Then FDR changes everything.  “We,” i.e., the people as represented by the government, are doing a lot more.

Sorting the data by frequency shows that even in the big-We era, big-government Democrats use it more than do Republicans.  (JFK used We less frequently than did the GOP presidents immediately before and after him. But then, it was JFK who said not to ask what the government could do for us.)

Other words are less puzzling. Freedom is a core American value, but of late (the last five or six presidents), it’s the Republicans who really let it ring.

As with We, Freedom gets a big boost with FDR, but Freedom for Reagan and the Bushes is not exactly FDR’s four freedoms – Freedom of speech, Freedom of religion, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear – especially the last two. Nor is it the kind of freedom LBJ might have spoken of in the civil rights era, a freedom that depended greatly on the actions of the federal government.  Instead, for conservatives since Reagan, freedom means the freedom to do what you want, especially to make as much money as you can, unbothered by government rules, and to pay less in taxes.

Freedom in this sense is what Robert Bellah calls “utilitarian individualism.”  As the word count shows, freedom was not such a central concern in the first 150 years of the Republic. Perhaps it became a concern for conservatives in recent years because they see it threatened by big government.  In any case, for much of our history, that tradition of individualism was, according to Bellah, tempered by another tradition – “civic republicanism,” the assumption that a citizen has an interest not just in individual pursuits but in public issues of the common good as well.

That sense of a public seems to have declined. Even the “collectivist” Democrats of recent years use the term only about one-tenth as much as did the Founding Fathers. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison – their SOTUs had more than ten publics for every freedom.

I checked one other word because of its relevance to the argument that the U.S. is “a Christian nation,” founded on religious principles by religious people, and that God has always been an essential part of our nation.

The Almighty, at least in State of the Union addresses, is something of a Johnny-come-lately. Like We, He gets a big boost with the advent of big government. FDR out-Godded everybody before or since, except of course, the Bushes and Reagan.

Thank you and God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.


Update: I just noticed that the two “Gods” in that sentence work out to a rate of 200-300 per million. If tag lines like that are included as part of the text, that accounts for the higher rate since FDR. It’s not about big government, it’s about radio. Prior to radio, the audience for the SOTU was Congress. Starting with FDR, the audience was the American people. Unfortunately, I don’t know whether these closing lines, which have now become standard, are included in the database. If they are included, the differences among presidents in the radio-TV era, may be more a matter of the denominator of the rate (length of speeches) than of the numerator (God). FDR averaged about 3500 per SOTU. Reagan and the Bushes are in the 4000-6000 range. Clinton and Obama average about 7000. So it’s possible that the difference that looks large on the graph is merely the difference between a single God-bless closing and a double.

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

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

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  • Gamergate Target Zoe Quinn Launches Anti-Harassment Support Network | Wired: “Co-founded by Quinn and fellow game developer Alex Lifschitz, the Crash Override network provides advice, resources, and support from survivors with personal experience to those facing harassment. The network, which officially launched Friday, also offers access to “experts in information security, whitehat hacking, PR, law enforcement, legal, threat monitoring and counseling.””
  • Beautiful Illustrations Empowering All Women Part 2 | GeekXGirls: “Artist Carol Rossetti created these beautiful reminders for all women, and now we’ve even got some geek specific ones relating to cosplay harassment and the “fake gamer girl” witchhunt.”
  • Belief that some fields require ‘brilliance’ may keep women out | Science/AAAS | News: “The authors suggest that faculty members and graduate student instructors convey their attitudes to undergraduates, who internalize them before making career decisions. Given the prevailing societal view that fewer women than men have special intellectual abilities, they speculate, female students may feel discouraged from pursuing advanced degrees in fields that consider brilliance crucial. Male students, on the other hand, will not experience this same feedback, leading to a gender disparity in the discipline.”
  • Representation of women and the genius myth | mathbabe: “If you think about it, it’s actually a pretty reasonable roadmap for how to attract a more diverse group of people to mathematics or other subjects. You just need to create an environment of learning that emphasizes practice over genius. Actively dispel the genius myth.”
  • On Tone Policing Linus Torvalds, or…| Many machines on Ix. : “What Linus undoubtedly sees as some sort of confident swagger in the way he writes, he comes across as acting like a child.  ”I care about the technology,” he told Ars Technica. But when he talks about other people’s work, the technical details are buried under a thick layer of lazy rhetorical flourishes that just Linus trying to show off… It’s the bluster of a bully, someone who can’t or won’t discuss a disagreement on equal terms, because he think he doesn’t have to.”
  • My boyfriend in Dragon Age: Inquisition broke my heart when he told me he was gay | Technology | The Guardian: “Consent is sexy. Consent is cool. Consent is a very important thing, for women and men, and now it’s in big blockbuster video games. Dragon Age: Inquisition is easily the most personal, well-designed relationship system I’ve ever seen – and if we learn anything at all from the media we consume, then our awkward, virtual sexual encounters in games like this could maybe shape us all into better, more respectful people.”
  • How crowdfunding helps haters profit from harassment | Boing Boing: [CW: misogynist speech highlighted in header image, harassment] “Crowdfunding services have the duty not only to be aware of who they are doing business with, but also to care when their rules are flaunted. If they don’t, ruining a woman’s life will remain gainful self-employment for these professional victimizers.”

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.

NRA: Antichrist & Sons

Jan. 21st, 2015 12:25 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 292-294

Here we arrive at one of the oddest variations in Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” prophesying. He strays from the main End Times script here, introducing a new element to the story that you won’t find in the footnotes to your Scofield Reference Bible.

The main outline of this “Bible prophecy” story was firmly established more than a century ago by Darby and Scofield. You got your Rapture, then your Antichrist and Tribulation with your seals and trumpets and vials of destruction. Then you got your Armageddon and your Second (Third?) Coming, your Great White Throne sorting and The End. So far in the Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye has offered only minor variations in that main story, mostly only tweaking arcane details — when do the Two Witnesses begin preaching? — that will be of interest only to those well-versed in the minutiae of End Times fandom.

But here, halfway through the third book in his series, LaHaye introduces something quite original.

Jerry Jenkins sets the scene for us, and since no one is on the telephone or in an airport, that must mean …

Despite his years of flying, Rayford had never found a cure for jet lag, especially going east to west. His body told him it was the middle of the evening, and after a day of flying, he was ready for bed. But as the DC-10 taxied toward the gate in Milwaukee, it was noon Central Standard Time. Across the aisle from him, the beautiful and stylish Hattie Durham slept. Her long blonde hair was in a bun, and she had made a mess of her mascara trying to wipe away her tears.

That short paragraph displays several of Jenkins’ signature touches in these books: an obsession with travel logistics, clichéd sexist stereotypes, and a casual disregard for massive suffering and death.

Hattie hasn’t been crying because flying into Milwaukee instead of the recently destroyed O’Hare forces her to think of the nuclear destruction of Chicago a few days ago. She isn’t crying over the many friends, colleagues, memories and beloved places she lost in that very recent senseless horror. No one in these books will ever cry about that, or even give it much of a second thought.

No, Hattie has been crying because her relationship with Nicolae Carpathia has been going badly. Sure, he may be People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” two years in a row, beloved by nearly everyone on the planet, but he’s also apparently a sub-optimal boyfriend.

She had wept off and on almost the entire flight. Through two meals, a movie, and a snack, she had unburdened herself to Rayford. She had lost her love for the man. She didn’t understand him. While she wasn’t ready to say he was the Antichrist, she certainly was not as impressed with him behind closed doors as most of his public was with him.

It’s the little things, you know? He’s inattentive. He can be moody, distracted. Oh, and some days he just goes around nuking cities and killing tens of millions of people for no apparent reason.

Most troubling to Rayford was Hattie’s turmoil over her pregnancy. He wished she would refer to what she was carrying as a child. But it was a pregnancy to her, an unwanted pregnancy.

Do you sense that Rayford and the authors are warming up for a big sermon on abortion? Because, yes, Rayford and the authors are warming up here for a big sermon on abortion.

Do you expect that such a thing may be horrible? Right again. It’s horrible.

I’m not sure if it’s worse for readers who are opposed to abortion or for readers who support abortion rights. In the latter case, you’re certainly not going to want to read a clumsy, straw-man anti-abortion rant delivered by Rayford Steele to his former pseudo-mistress. But in the former case, I would imagine that Rayford is probably just about the last person you’d want to see made the official spokesman and embodiment of your perspective.

We’ll contend with the particular horrors of that in our next installment. Here I just want to step back and focus on the context that prompts that discussion, which is this: The Antichrist is having a baby!

DaimonThis is not part of the usual End Times check list or an idea even considered in most “Bible prophecy” conferences. It’s just not part of the Rapture/Tribulation/Armageddon story as told and re-told over the years. Tim LaHaye is introducing a new element here — something that never would have occurred to Scofield or Ironsides or Hal Lindsey or John Walvoord.

None of those other “Bible prophecy scholars” have included any discussion of the Antichrist’s baby in their versions of this scheme.

That’s partly because it’s not a “Bible prophecy” that’s prophesied anywhere in the Bible. That’s true of most of the items on the usual End Times check list, of course (which is why, after all this time, I still use scare quotes for that phrase “Bible prophecy”). But there’s still a logic of sorts that’s usually invoked to justify most of the things “Bible prophecy” types say the Bible predicts about the future. Some of these predictions are based on specific texts — the massive earthquake described in Revelation 6, for example. Other predictions are justified indirectly — through the application of the “prophetic” decoder formulas, or through numerology, or even raw assertion based on the flimsiest of pretexts (“Magog” = Moscow!).

But nowhere in any of that has anyone previously located a verse, or a hidden coded message, or a symbological divination, that suggested that the Antichrist is going to have a baby.

Remember where this character — “the Antichrist” — comes from. It’s a composite gleaned from tyrants and villains scattered throughout the Bible. You start with the “Beast” and the “conqueror” in John’s Apocalypse, and then you add a bunch of details from every other biblical story that involves any wicked ruler — Pharaoh, Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, etc. A major theme in most of those stories is that wicked rulers will not ultimately prevail — they will be cast down, overthrown, and cut off. Remember what happened to Pharaoh’s first-born? That’s the general pattern. And since “the Antichrist” was assembled as the culmination of this pattern, the character has never been presented as having an heir to the throne.

The idea also just doesn’t fit with the rest of the scheme. It doesn’t work with the End Times timetable: Rapture, Antichrist, Tribulation, Armageddon, The End. That all takes place in seven short years. So even if the Antichrist gets busy gettin’ busy immediately after the Rapture, his oldest children would only be 6 years old when Killer Jesus came back to wipe out their daddy and all his minions.

So what’s the point? Why introduce the idea of the Antichrist’s baby into the established story? Why would the Antichrist bother with this, and why would the authors bother with having him do so? And what does it mean for the rest of the story to change this part of it in this way?

One thing it might suggest is that Nicolae Carpathia doesn’t know that he’s the Antichrist. He doesn’t seem to realize that history is in its final throes, with the last curtain closing in less than six years from this point in the story.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to work with the rest of what we’ve been told or shown about Nicolae. I’ve wished it were true, because I think his character — and the entire story — would be a lot more interesting if he had no idea that he was the Antichrist, and no idea of all the “Bible prophecies” and End Times check list events he was required/predetermined to fulfill. But the authors have never given us any other motive or explanation for Nicolae’s behavior. His agenda — from the construction of New Babylon to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem — is just too weird and arbitrary to be explained by anything other than his working from the same prophecy check list that’s pinned up on the wall of Bruce Barnes’ study.

So he’s gotta know he’s the Antichrist, and he surely knows the final countdown of the seven-year Tribulation is under way.

But maybe he really thinks he can win. Maybe he imagines that he’ll be able to change the predetermined outcome at Armageddon, preventing the End of the World and thereby continuing his reign as global dictator for the rest of his natural life. In that case, it might make sense for him to want children — to raise an heir who could inherit his throne. Maybe Nicolae really thinks he has a chance of keeping history and the world going longer than just the next five and a half years, long enough to see his child graduate from school, maybe get married some day and make him not just a father but a grandfather. …

But that scenario – the Antichrist-who-thinks-he-can-win-Armageddon possibility — raises another huge problem. It turns the whole story upside-down. It gives us a story in which powerful forces are at work trying to bring about the end of the world, while one man rises up to oppose them — fighting to save the world and to prevent the slaughter of billions of people. If that’s the story, then there’s no way that guy isn’t the hero of the story — even if that guy is also the Antichrist.

Fighting to save the world makes you the hero. That’s how that always works.

So what’s left? What else could possibly explain why LaHaye and Jenkins felt the need to change the existing folklore and storyline of the End Times time line? What made them decide to have the Antichrist have a baby? There’s nothing in their “Bible prophecies” to require such a change, and it doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the story they’re trying to tell, so why add this?

I suspect it has to do with that horrible sermon Rayford is about to give Hattie on the evils of abortion.

Hal Lindsey wrote a series of blockbuster best-selling “Bible prophecy” books back in the 1970s. White American evangelical Christians loved The Late Great Planet Earth and There’s a New World Coming, embracing those books as a reflection of their beliefs and values and concerns. But neither of those books had anything to say about abortion.

By 1995, it was no longer possible to write for that white evangelical audience without mentioning abortion. Abortion politics had become a central part — perhaps the central part — of white evangelicalism, and for LaHaye’s reboot of Lindsey’s earlier formula to work in the 1990s, it was going to have to include plenty of anti-abortion material, even if that meant shoe-horning it into the story through an awkward innovation that doesn’t otherwise fit and serves no other function.


Jan. 20th, 2015 09:58 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
The beagle's getting weird.

I mean, obviously he was already a pretty defective beagle to begin with, but Brandon's passing has affected him a lot more than I expect.

I'll be honest--I didn't expect him to be terribly concerned. They weren't close buddies. They lived in the same house and I would have sworn up and down that's as far as it went. There was no snuggling, no playing together, none of that. Other than defending the food dish from Brandon (Gir's got some food aggression issues) they interacted as little as two dogs in one house could possibly interact. (The cats, now...the cats luuuuuved Brandon. Gir did not.)

Nevertheless, in the last three days, Gir has started acting...weird.

He's still limping pretty badly from his kneecap, but other than pain meds, there's nothing much to be done. He takes stairs cautiously but without any problem. (The vet said flat out that you can't do knee surgery on a dog this old, so pain meds are all we've got to work with.)

Previously he would occasionally refuse to go into the backyard, and have to be physically plopped onto the deck and then cajoled into the garden to use the bathroom--and then an hour later would happily charge out the back without a care in the world, because beagles are weird. (I think he just hated getting his feet wet. He's an incredible prima donna.)

Now, though, he won't go out back unless you drag him. He avoids the back door like it's cursed and if we do physically dump him onto the deck, he runs into the corner opposite the garden steps. He has to be carried down the steps. He won't even go to a human crouched down and offering petting, which used to be Gir's kryptonite.

Put a leash on him and he will gladly go out front (although he is terrible disappointed that we are not getting into the car) and tackle stairs twice as tall, but the backyard has suddenly become some kind of Forbidden Zone, even with the leash.

I am completely stumped. Nothing terrible happened to him in the backyard, the only difference is that Brandon's not there. I'm starting to wonder if he's much more nearsighted than we guessed and Brandon had been functioning as a seeing eye dog for the last few years. (He can still track a hot dog with laser-like precision, though, so he's not blind.) But he goes into the backyard a dozen times a day and should have it completely memorized, as opposed to the front yard, which he gets into once a month--and yet the front yard is great and the backyard is made of lava.

I got nuthin'. Beagles, man.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Our Pointlessly Gendered Products Pinterest board is funny, no doubt. When people make male and female versions of things like eggs, dog shampoo, and pickles, you can’t help but laugh. But, of course, not it’s not just funny. Here are five reasons why.

1. Pointlessly gendered products affirm the gender binary.

Generally speaking, men and women today live extraordinarily similar lives. We grow up together, go to the same schools, and have the same jobs. Outside of dating — for some of us — and making babies, gender really isn’t that important in our real, actual, daily lives.

These products are a backlash against this idea, reminding us constantly that gender is important, that it really, really matters if you’re male and female when, in fact, that’s rarely the case.


But if there were no gender difference, there couldn’t be gender inequality; one group can’t be widely believed to be superior to the other unless there’s an Other. Hence, #1 is important for #3.

Affirming the gender binary also makes everyone who doesn’t fit into it invisible or problematic. This is, essentially, all of us. Obviously it’s a big problem for people who don’t identify as male or female or for those whose bodies don’t conform to their identity, but it’s a problem for the rest of us, too. Almost every single one of us takes significant steps every day to try to fit into this binary: what we eat, whether and how we exercise, what we wear, what we put on our faces, how we move and talk. All these things are gendered and when we do them in gendered ways we are forcing ourselves to conform to the binary.

2. Pointlessly gendered products reinforce stereotypes.

Pointlessly gendering products isn’t just about splitting us into two groups, it’s also about telling us what it means to be in one of those boxes. Each of these products is an opportunity to remind us.


3. Pointlessly gendered products tell us explicitly that women should be subordinate to or dependent on men.

All too often, gender stereotypes are not just about difference, they’re about inequality. The products below don’t just affirm a gender binary and fill it with nonsense, they tell us in no uncertain terms that women and men are expected to play unequal roles in our society.

Girls are nurses, men are doctors:


Girls are princesses, men are kings:


4. Pointlessly gendered products cost women money.

Sometimes the masculine and feminine version of a product are not priced the same. When that happens, the one for women is usually the more expensive one. If women aren’t paying attention — or if it matters to them to have the “right” product — they end up shelling out more money.  Studies by the state of California, the University of Central Florida, and Consumer Reports all find that women pay more. In California, women spent the equivalent of $2,044 more a year (the study was done in 1996, so I used an inflation calculator).

This isn’t just something to get mad about. This is real money. It’s feeding your kids, tuition at a community college, or a really nice vacation. When women are charged more it harms our ability to support ourselves or lowers our quality of life.

5. Pointlessly gendered products are stupid. There are better ways to deliver what people really need.

One of the most common excuses for such products is that men and women are different, but most of the time they’re using gender as a measure of some other variable. In practice, it would be smarter and more efficient to just use the variable itself.

For example, many pointlessly gendered products advertise that the one for women is smaller and, thus, a better fit for women. The packaging on these ear buds, sent in by LaRonda M., makes this argument.


Maybe some women would appreciate smaller earbuds, but it would still be much more straightforward to make ear buds in different sizes and let the user decide which one they wanted to use.

Products like these make smaller men and larger women invisible. They also potentially make them feel bad or constrain their choices. When the imperative for women is to be small and dainty, how do women who don’t use smaller earbuds feel?  Or, maybe the small guy who wants to learn how to play guitar never will because men’s guitars don’t fit him and he won’t be caught dead playing this:



In sum, pointlessly gendered products aren’t just a gag. They’re a ubiquitous and aggressive ideological force, shaping how we think, what we do, and how much money we have. Let’s keep laughing, but let’s not forget that it’s serious business, too.

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

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

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• In Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, yesterday wasn’t just a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., it was also a day to celebrate the honorable men who committed treason in defense of slavery, rape, kidnapping and torture. This would seem to be yet another category in which Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi come in 48th, 49th and 50th.

• “People in glass planets shouldn’t throw asteroids.”

• I suspect this may be staged, but even if so, it’s pretty awesome: “Delaware cop caught on dashcam rocking out to Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off.’”

CoverStory-1-26-15-690-942-16132003• Here’s MLK talking like NDT.

• As a follow-up of sorts to my comments the other day on Bryan Fischer’s apparent monolatrous polytheism, here’s a lecture by Dr. Carol A. Newsom of Emory on “Demons and Evil Angels in Early Judaism.”

From the abstract: “Although rabbinic Judaism largely rejected it, this worldview strongly shaped Christian religious beliefs. And while modernist Christians do not take the mythology of evil spirits literally, variations on these beliefs remain common among conservative evangelical and Pentecostal Christians throughout the world.”

• “Franklin Roosevelt was part of the Old Gold Salvage group of 1909 and kept up with news and developments for most of his life.” (I fell down a linkhole and wound up in this odd corner of Wikipedia. It happens.)

• “Fundy Rule No. 3. The less certain something is, the more certain you must appear to be about it.”

Land o’ Goshen there are some biblically illiterate uptight Christians in Frisco, Texas. I appreciate that cedar trees are unpopular in Texas nowadays, but it’s a bit odd that all these Bible-Christian types seem utterly clueless as to why their predecessors referred to the area as Lebanon. And it’s just ignorant for Bible-belt residents who are so proud of their “Christian heritage” to hear biblical place names and think only of “all the sad and turmoil that goes on in the Middle East.”

And boy are these people in for a shock when they realize where Abilene gets its name from.

Anthony Stewart Head is a mensch.

[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I arrived early, and that's why I began my day mourning a man I'd never met.

Years and years ago I was doing a lecture tour in the United States. One of the stops was a large institution, the size of a small town, where I was going to be lecturing in the chapel. I like to arrive early and did so that day. There were no cars in the parking lot save one parked in the space reserved for the pastor. I pulled along side and parked.

With my stuff clumsily gathered in my arms, I entered the chapel. My footfalls echoed as I moved from the outer door to the door to the sanctuary itself. When I did I noticed a coffin, set on a pedestal, just in front of the altar. I immediately felt like I was intruding, even though the room was empty, save for the coffin. I sat at the back and waited, but not for long. A short, chubby woman entered from a door just off the front, wearing robes and a sorrowful face. She looked up, noticed me, smiled in acknowledgement. She made her way to me.

She welcomed me and asked me what my relationship was to the man who had died. I told her that I was early for the lecture I was to give in that space in just over an hour. She said, "I was really hoping that someone would come." She invited me to come to the front and be there as she conducted the short service. I followed her up. She showed me a picture, laying on the top of the coffin, of the fellow who had died.

It was one of those pictures that, once seen, are not forgotten. It was an old picture, he was crouched on a bench in a large open ward. Wearing only pyjama bottoms, he was impossibly thin. One arm was wrapped around his waist, the other was held forward, a cigarette dangling from his fingers. He did not look at the camera. It wasn't the picture of a person, it was a picture of despair and neglect and loneliness.

The service began. It was, as she said it would be, short. It ended with her placing both her hands on the coffin and bowing her head in deep prayer.

I found myself crying.

January 23rd we mark the "International Day of Mourning and Memory" where we remember those who spent their lives in institutions and those who fought for the right to live in the community, to live with freedom.

It is a day where you are invited to spend some time thinking of the journey, the struggle, the fight for civil liberties and freedoms for people with disabilities and recommit yourself to the vision of a world beyond inclusion, a world of welcome. It is a day where you are invited to spend time talking with others about our history; of congregation and segregation; of bullying and violence. It is a day where you are invited to remember those, you personally remember, who never lived long enough to be free.

For the Love of Art

Jan. 20th, 2015 12:03 pm
[syndicated profile] wonders_and_marvels_feed

Posted by Heather Webb

By Heather Webb (Guest Contributor)



Being a female artist in Belle Époque France was a challenge to say the least, yet young sculptor Camille Claudel would carve out a name for herself—at all costs. Attending proper art school with nude models was frowned upon, and in most cases forbidden, as was wearing trousers to do the intense lifting, scrubbing, and chiseling that came with being a sculptor. To make matters worse, women seldom won the coveted positions at the Champs-Elysée Salon. On the rare occasion a female artist was nominated for her work, she garnered lesser awards, leaving the prestigious Salon prizes for their male counterparts—allegedly the most creative and intelligent of the sexes.

Yet Camille managed all of these feats. Not only did she work with live, nude models, but she received commissions for her work, as well as a prominent award for her sculpture Sakuntala; a depiction of an Indian woman resting her head atop her lover’s, who pleaded for her forgiveness. Still, Camille’s sensual work was deemed indecent by many, and her Sakuntala (among other pieces) was not accepted everywhere.

The Wave--B

The Wave

On one occasion in 1895, Camille sold an Alexander Harrison painting she owned to a museum in Châteauroux to support herself—buying stone, clay, and tools for sculpting, never mind rent for her atelier that cost a small fortune, and she, among other artists struggled to make ends meet. Camille was so relieved by the museum’s purchase that she donated a copy of Sakuntala to the museum as a thank you. Delighted, the art committee featured her work in the main hall.

Camille visited the museum to view how they displayed her piece, and received a warm welcome, prompting the committee to submit an article praising her work in the town newspaper. Once again, Camille met strife. Several conservative bourgeois from the town were shocked—as other critics in Paris had been—by the sensual nature of her work. They pushed back against her and the art committee, ridiculing her skills and making both sexual jokes about the Hindu legend she had depicted, as well as mocking the committee for their choice in showing it. One article even suggested hiding the sculpture behind a curtain.

Clotho by Claudel


Luckily for Camille, she had gained the support of a few well-known critics who came to her defense. Gustave Geoffroy said, “Those who saw [Sakuntala] retain in their memory…the anatomical science and the passionate expression of these two figures.” Rodin, Camille’s collaborator, teacher, and lover, offered his unfailing support of her as well.

In my novel Rodin’s Lover, I explore the politics of art, the tumultuous affair between the famed   Auguste Rodin and his volatile, yet brilliant student Camille Claudel, and the fine lines between obsession and madness.

For those interested in seeing some of Camille’s works, a few of my favorites are: The Waltz, The Wave, Maturity, The Gossips, and Clotho. I have photos on my website under FOR FUN, as well as a Pinterest board packed with photos of her work as well as Rodin’s.

Rodin's LoverHeather Webb is the author of historical novels Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover, and A Fall of Poppies: An Anthology of Armistice Day to be released from HarperCollins in 2016. In addition, she is a freelance editor and contributor to award-winning writing sites WriterUnboxed.com and RomanceUniversity.org. Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.



Do you like free books? Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly book giveaway. Please keep in mind that we can only ship to US addresses at this time.

Monthly Book Giveaway

* indicates required

December Book Giveaways

Maybe some mittens to go with

Jan. 19th, 2015 09:22 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Last week it was revealed to me that Sam’s old Wurm hat had departed for greener pastures, and for reasons related to motherhood and that warm feeling* that comes over me when one of my children requests a knitted item, I decided to make her another one. I had the yarn, and it seemed like such a small request.  Just a hat – how long can that take?  Right. I fell for it again.

knittingwurmtea 2015-01-19

I have been knitting for 42 years, and I am still trying to figure out what makes a craftsperson of that experience level immune to the truths about a pattern. Wurm is a good pattern. I’ve made a lot of them. It’s a good, non-phallic, warm hat that’s excellent for people with lots of hair, and for the last few years I’ve pounded out at least one every winter. One for me, one for Sam, and one for…  I can’t remember who – maybe my mother… doesn’t matter. The important thing is that not only do I knit a lot and know heaps about how much time it takes, I have knit this specific hat before and am intimately acquainted with the fact that this is a “big” hat. Now, I don’t mean big as in “will fit a large head” I mean that it’s a bit of a trick hat. It’s got more knitting in it than it looks like. The brim is a turned hem, so that’s two layers, and then the alternating strips of purl and knit accordion down and make lots of knitting squish up into a smaller space.

I know this. This will be at least the fourth time that I’ve knit this thing, and recently (in knitter years) at that, and still, on Friday, when I wound the yarn and grabbed my needles, I didn’t think “Wow, this hat is a lot of knitting. I hope I can finish this weekend.”  I swear I thought something along the lines of “Hold on a minute sweetie, give mummy a sec and I’ll have that hat for you.”

Optimism? Delusion?  No way to know, but man, this hat is a lot of knitting and I sure hope I can finish tonight.

* This warm feeling was in direct opposition to my actual feeling, which was that I was freezing, because when she didn’t have a hat, she stole mine.  Sometimes there’s an element of self defence in knitting. 


commodorified: My hair, flying in the wind, and my right arm, in sunlight (Default)

January 2015

    12 3
111213 14 151617
18 192021222324

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jan. 27th, 2015 12:59 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios