What We Both Saw

Aug. 16th, 2017 08:04 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Zero tolerance for bullying! I hear that so often, and when I hear it, it is said with determination and there is fire in the eyes of the speaker. They say it. They believe it when it's being said and they know it's the right thing to say.

But that's the problem with all of this isn't it?


Sometimes they have meaning.

Sometimes they don't.

I was watching kids playing in a pool, it was a summer camp activity. I knew this because there were camp staff with them in the pool. I could easily identify them as camp staff because they all wore singlets with the words 'camp staff' on them.

Right in front of me I saw a bully standing under a devise that, when full, dumped a blast of water on whoever was below. He was centered directly under the dump bucket and was taking, to his delight, the full impact of the water. There were kids around him, pushed in close, who were taking the left over splash. The brave ones tried to get closer and the bully elbowed them hard and they moved back. This was his and he was keeping it.

This was seen.

I clocked three of the camp counselors notice this.

But nothing happened. They made no move. Two shook their head in disapproval, but that was the extent of their action.

But there was a boy, with a disability, who was in the pool, several feel away, who saw what I saw. A bully using force and entitlement to take from other kids the experience of a direct blast of fun. His elbows and his attitude were his weapons, his expectations of inaction by the staff was an integral part of his strategy for domination of that area of the pool. The kid with a disability saw all this.

He was accompanied by a staff. He got their attention and he pointed. It looked, from my viewpoint on the other side of the glass, that he didn't use words to communicate. He pointed, they saw and looked away, he pointed again, and they looked away again. He was getting frustrated and it showed.

"Tell the staff,""Tell someone in a position of authority" is one of the strategies we teach children, people with disabilities, and each other. It's a common sense strategy. If you see or experience bullying, or violence, or abuse, report it.

But bullies, and aggressors, and abusers, know that 'zero tolerance' often means 'zero acknowledgement' that people will simply 'not see' what they 'don't tolerate.'

That child, the one with the disability, was the one kid in the pool that did what needed to be done. He clearly took responsibility and because he did he SAW what was happening and he took action.

But that's where the action stopped.

Then, the whistle blew and the kids clamoured out of the pool.

I saw the bully standing, smiling from the fun he had. I'm not sure if that fun was the water bucket or the fact that he had it to himself.

He won.

Everyone else lost.

And he knew it.

Zero tolerance doesn't exist if there is zero determination and willful, purposeful, refusal to see what won't be tolerated.

And maybe we need a new strategy.

Maybe we should be promising something different, not 'zero tolerance for bullying' but 'zero tolerance for inaction' to the issue of bullying, abuse and social violence.

That's what I'd like to see.

That's what I'd like to experience.

That's what may make the world a little bit safer.

Advanced Love: Pattie and John

Aug. 15th, 2017 03:45 pm
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Posted by Ari Seth Cohen

“Pattie and John met a spiritual retreat and discovered that they had little in common. She’s an artist and, well, he wore mostly T-shirts and jeans. She took one look at him and joked, “Don’t dress up for me.” He’s been dressing up ever since, and she’s been allowing and sometimes learning from his penchant for analyzing people—his occupational hazard. They agree that what seals their deal is their ability to listen to and care for each other when they are troubled. And each time that happens, love and affection abound.” – Pattie and John

The post Advanced Love: Pattie and John appeared first on Advanced Style.

A Story Unprompted

Aug. 15th, 2017 07:28 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

My father joined the Canadian Forces when he was 19 and served overseas during WWII. This was something he never really talked about with me, even though, as you can imagine, I tried. I was interested in where he'd been and what his experiences were and he was interested in not talking about it. I understand many vets were reluctant to tell their stories and my father was one of their number.

During his time in the hospital he did talk a little more about being in the war. I had brought up the movie "Dunkirk" and he said that it was good for people to remember. Then he talked a little more about his experiences, not much but more.

I want here, in this last post I'm going to write about my Dad, for now, I want to remember a brief conversation I had with Dad about the war when I was just becoming a teenager.

First though, let me say that I never heard my father utter a racial epithet. I'm not saying he never did, I don't know that, I was a boy and know only how he spoke around children, I no nothing of how he spoke around other men, but I never heard him. This is noteworthy because, of course, I heard those words elsewhere and I heard them used unchallenged. It was somewhere around 1964 when I was about twelve that I had a conversation with Dad that I have always remembered and in a sense, it has guided me.

We were speaking about a report on television about racism. Out of the blue, and without any of my persistent questioning, Dad told me a story. He said that when he enlisted he expected to find camaraderie amongst his fellow recruits. He did. This was a war with Germany. His was a German last name. He found himself expelled from the social life of his unit. There was another fellow experiencing the same thing. A black man, also Canadian, also enlisted, also excluded. They hung around with each other at first by chance and necessity and then by choice. They liked each other. But my dad notice that while he was socially excluded, his friend experienced exclusion accompanied by force. Dad never felt endangered, but he knew that his friend did. He hated that.

My dad said that the saw first hand what prejudice did to people. He had tasted it but he'd seen the full measure of its cruelty inflicted on someone he cared about. 

That was it.

I wanted more.

I didn't get more. I don't know what happened to this man. I don't know what his name was. I don't know if he made it through the war.

I did know, though, that war changed my father. Both on the battlefield and in the barracks my father got a glimpse of the various kinds of horrors that humans do to humans.

I'm not sure why he told me that story that day.

But it mattered to me.


And now. 

Paula Deen and Charlottesville

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:49 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Drew G.I. Hart’s discussion of Paula Deen seems timely. This is from his fine book, Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism. Hart reviews the “really ugly comments” the celebrity chef made back in 2013, resulting in her near-universal condemnation in public: Deen’s racism was too overt, and she broke all the rules. […]


Aug. 14th, 2017 08:56 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I have been taking a few days off. Well, I’ve been sort of taking a few days off – I think they only feel like days off because I’m not riding really far, and putting up a tent and taking it back down again and trying to manage email and doing nine jobs all at once. Instead I’ve been riding my bike a little, to get around town, and to the beach, and to the marina to sail with Joe. The house is a still a disaster, the mountain of neglected work on my desk needs my attention now, but it has felt good to snuggle a baby, come up with a plan of attack, and enjoy the summer a bit. Also – knit. Not little bits of knitting found here and there, not just a plain sock because it’s all I can muster, but real, proper knitting – done in nice chunks, with a fancy pattern and beads and concentration and without worrying that the needles will puncture an air mattress.

startshawl 2017-08-14

I’m tackling Snow Angel (a little ironic for a summer knit, I know) and it’s lovely. I had about ten million balls of Findley left over after Elliott’s blanket, and it’s such a pleasure to knit with that I’m using it again. (It’s got 730m per ball. I can’t explain the yarn insecurity that led me to buy so much. I’m rather glad I like it, because I’ll be knitting with it for the rest of my life.)

lacedetail 2017-08-14

I’ve still got a pair of socks running in the background, because beaded lace isn’t exactly the sort of knitting that goes well with taking the subway or walking or going to meetings, and also I’m me, so I wouldn’t quite know what to do with myself without a pair of socks in my bag, but I’m mostly knitting on this, and hoping to get it bashed out pretty quickly. The first section went by so fast that I got optimistic about it only taking a few days, but as with all things top-down, that initial thrill’s worn off as the rows get longer.

I’ve got just a little time to knit on it today before I head out for a meeting (and I have to do something about the kitchen. It’s sort of sticky. All of it. I don’t know how cupboards get sticky, but they are.) Maybe I’ll finish the first big chart – but I’m already dreaming of what I’ll make next. Shall I finish the paper/linen Habu thing? Maybe a pair of fancy socks? Perhaps a sweater for one of the littles, or a hat for the Christmas box, or… What are you making?

I promised I’d wrap up the Karmic Balancing gifts when I got back – so here’s a start. (It’s going to take a bit. You’re a generous bunch – I’ll do as many as I can each day.

Mary S found a wonderful way to give this year, she went for a nice long stash dive and came up with five (yup, five) beautiful presents for her fellow knitters. (Doesn’t she seem like a lovely person? Good taste in yarn, too.)

2 balls Suri Merino Luxury Indiecita, 55% suri alpaca, 45% extra fine merino (deliciously soft) for Lori N.
marysurimerino 2017-08-14
3 balls Woodland yarn, 65% wool, 35% nettles for Sarah M.
marynettles 2017-08-14
4 skeins Plymouth Earth Alpaca “Ranch” she’ll be mailing to Ariela G.
maryearthalpaca 2017-08-14
10 balls Libella Ballet, 74% viscose; 26% cotton for Cindy M.
maryballet 2017-08-14
1 hank Berroco Hip-Hop, 100% Wool for Flannery C who I hope makes a hat. (It would be gorgeous.)
maryhiphop 2017-08-14

In Memory of Ruth Kobin

Aug. 14th, 2017 06:31 pm
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Posted by Ari Seth Cohen

A few weeks ago my dear friend Ruth Kobin passed away at the age of 105. Over the last few years she has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others with her optimistic approach to life and aging, and her beautiful spirit. I continue to receive weekly emails from people influenced  by Ruth’s dynamism and vitality. Ruth, you will be dearly missed, but you will remain a constant role model for so many to never give up. May you rest in peace.


The post In Memory of Ruth Kobin appeared first on Advanced Style.

My Father's DNA

Aug. 14th, 2017 05:36 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I don't know why I found it so hard to ask, but I did. It took me several weeks, or maybe even months, to make the call. But I did.

A little over a year ago I joined a big study done through one of the major hospitals in the city of Toronto. It was a study involving what doctors lovingly call 'morbid obesity' and I had been approached to be part of that study. The study consisted of filling in a lot of questionnaires about life and weight, some of the questions being quite personal.It also involved an interview and a blood test.

The people running the study, well I guess I should say the nurse who is my contact to the study, is a truly kind individual who has never treated me with anything but real respect. She is easy to talk to and takes a genuine interest in me as a person. A while ago I was informed that they had found something in my DNA that they were zoning in on as it seemed to be present in others like me as well. So I was asked to consider asking my family to participate in the study by providing DNA samples.


That's a really personal request to make of someone.

And, it would involve me making myself quite vulnerable in talking about the study, about my weight and about the process of gathering DNA.

I finally made three calls.

I called my mother first. I explained to her the study, I explained what she would have to do, I explained why I thought it was important.

She agreed. Quickly and absolutely.

I called my father next. He was in the hospital and I could hear the sounds of the daily goings on in the ward behind him as we talked. I told him all he had to do was spit in a tube and that was the end of it. He said, "I guess I'll spit anywhere you want me to." That was that.

Then I called my brother. I left him for last after informing the nurse that my parents had said yes and did they want my brother. They did, I called. He like the others agreed quickly and easily.

As my father grew more ill, my brother called and said, "If you want Dad's DNA sample you better have them send the equipment quickly. I wrote the nurse and email, gave an address and encouraged her to send the DNA kit quickly.

It was clear, to all of us, that Dad would not wait for the mail to deliver the parcel with the materials that were needed for the study.

The night before he died, my brother, his wife and my mother had stayed at the hospital in the evening leaving the next morning. My brother sensing that he should go back, did. An hour before my father died, they discussed the DNA test and how much it seemed to mean to me.

They called the nurse and explained the situation. They asked if it would be possible for them to collect a sample of my father's DNA for the study. The nurses at Campbell River Hospital have been incredibly kind and compassionate through my father's long stay and they didn't blink an eye at the request. The nurse hurried out and then came back and took the sample.

It was done.

Minutes later my father died.

This act of generosity on the part of my brother and my father, in the minutes before my father's death astounds me.

Astounds me.

Sunday favorites

Aug. 13th, 2017 10:29 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern."

My Father's Slippers

Aug. 13th, 2017 12:30 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

When I was a boy. An immature boy. I had no idea of what real adult love was like. And I had no idea of how my own cruelty would stay with me, permastamped in my memory.

This is a story of the boy I was.

And the man that my father was.

It was Christmas. I had bought, probably with my mother's assistance, my father a pair of slippers. I am convinced that, if not for slippers, fathers may never get a gift. Anyways, they were wrapped and put under the tree. On Christmas morning my brother and I woke to a bounteous harvest of presents under the boughs of the tree.

I remember little of the gifts that I got, or the dinner that we ate, or the activities of the day. I remember only one scene. It was of my father opening my gift and putting on the slippers. I was delighted by the fact that they fit perfectly. My father expressed how he'd never had a pair of slippers fit quite so well.

I was chuffed.

I noticed when Dad got up to go to the kitchen that it looked like the slippers were much too tight. When he sat down, he took them off and discovered that there was paper tucked into the toe of each slipper. He pulled them out and I laughed at him. I thought him silly. I thought him dumb. How could he have not noticed that the paper was in the slippers. I acted like an arrogant, foolish, bully. My dad said nothing of my behaviour, but I remember the look in his eyes when he looked from the slipper to me.

It was only later that I realized that my father had pretended a good fit to please me. He wanted me to feel happy about the gift that I gave him. He wanted me to have a good Christmas and so he put up with a bad fit, he was acting gracious and kind.

And I mocked him.

As an adult I understand how, sometimes the gift we want to give to others is our appreciation, our gratitude, even if the fit is a bit tight.

As an adult I understand why my father did what he did.

And because I understand that, I understand how mean and stupid I was in response to my father.

But I learned.

The pain I feel for having been that boy at that moment has taught me something.

About grace.

About kindness.

About how to be a good man.

The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Roundtable

Aug. 12th, 2017 06:56 pm
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Posted by eren

On July 1, 2017 the  e-book The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide to Mindblowing Sex was released. The book, written by US-based Umm Muladhat, was picked up by different media outlets, which have described the book as the “first ever Muslim sex manual”. Media coverage of the guide resurfaced discussions on Muslim women’s sexuality and sex lives by a variety of parties (not necessarily Muslim women). Yet, this is not the first time a publication, a product, or a policy brings up such a debate. Muslim women’s sexuality and sex lives have been very much debated in the media for at least a decade. Over the years, Muslimah Media Watch has tackled media coverage of Muslim sex workers, “halal” sex shops, hymenoplasty, Muslim women’s pleasure, Muslim sexual education, “halal” sex and Muslim women’s erotica, among many other topics. Learning about a sex guide/manual written by a Muslim woman for Muslim women, sparked a lot of discussion among MMW writers. Do we really need a sex guide focused on Muslim women? Who could benefit from it? What does it mean to write a “halal” sex guide? What should its contents be? And is it really the “first” of its type?

Sarabi, Shereen, Anneke, Syahirah and Eren share their conversation in this post.

Sarabi: Perhaps I’m too young and unseasoned, but is there a need for a halal sex guide? I don’t actually understand what makes the guide “halal”? It seems to imply that other sex guides are haram by definition. I’d have to read the guide to understand how the author defines “halal.”

One of the issues I have with the way this manual is being branded is that it’s geared towards “conservative” Muslim women, which, in my opinion, conflates conservatism with ignorance. It’s very possible that a conservative Muslim woman has received sex education or has sought the information out for herself. I  understand that in some areas there isn’t a lot of information available, or that people are unwilling to talk about it, but this is not the case for everyone. I have plenty of friends who consider themselves conservative, but still know about female anatomy and safe sex and such. Then again, I grew up in the US where we start learning that stuff as young as 8 in some states. My school had mandatory sex ed classes from years 3-9.

Having access to information, however, does not necessarily guarantee better sex, though having some knowledge of anatomy may help a bit. Ultimately, I believe a person’s preferred level of modesty and privacy dictates how much information they share regarding their intimate relationships. While religion is certainly one of the determining factors of those preferred levels, it is not the only factor.  

My question for those who may have read the guide is: how much of this book is about the act of sex, and how much of it is about health? Considering that there is still a lot of work to be done in the way of eradicating sexually transmitted infections (even in the United States), more information about how to have safe sex is a good thing, but I don’t see how singling out a specific group helps.

Shereen: When it comes to the guide, I think it depends on the women’s personal preference for discussing or discovering their sex life as to how you feel about the book or whether you would buy it. However, I am uncomfortable with it being termed a “halal” sex guide, too. I am not sure whether explicit content is considered to be halal (but, it is a matter of interpretation). I do agree, however,  that there is a need for sexual health education for women. There is an audience who want to know what is considered within the boundaries of “halal sex” but I am not sure that this book is it. By focusing on enjoyable sex and from what I have seen from the excerpts, it isn’t something I would be comfortable terming as “halal” because there are theological opinions that regard explicit sexual material and content as “haram.”

Also, I think there is a danger of naming it as a “Muslimah” sex guide as opposed to a sex guide written by a Muslim woman. After all, it is her opinion, not the representation of a large and diverse community that spans the globe. Doing this contributes to further exotization of Muslim women’s sexuality and sex lives. For instance, over the years, Muslimah Media Watch, as well as its individual writers, has been approached by journalists and scholars to ask and discuss Muslim women’s sex lives in ways that reinforce stereotypes and Orientalist narratives while assuming that a single Muslim woman’s answer to these issues represents ALL Muslim women’s opinions and experiences.

Anneke: I hear you both. However, the fact that sexual education is actually offered in most schools doesn’t mean that students are actually present. Quite a number of students are given permission by parents and teachers alike to skip these classes. I have heard multiple excuses: one girl said sex-ed made her feel sick, and another believed that discussing sex, even in a gender segregated setting, was against her religion.

While many parents find discussing sex with their children difficult (I know I do!), some parents with an immigrant background find it almost impossible. They often do not share a common language to discuss these matters, or feel that their sons and daughters must know everything already, living in a “Western” society. I know multiple girls who entered marriage with a very limited understanding of sex and their own sexuality. It is therefore no surprise that quite a few found themselves pregnant almost right away, without really understanding how that could have happened so fast. Just for the record: these were educated girls, who do not necessarily identify themselves as a “conservative” Muslim women.

I have not read this book, and from what I understand it is aimed at married women only. However, I do agree that there is a need for a “halal” sex guide, even though I understand that opinions on what is “halal” will differ between different authors. Nonetheless, some Muslim women are still very hesitant to open a “secular” book on sex, out of fear that it might promote promiscuity, or something worse. A Muslimah sex guide, however flawed and limited it may be, might be their best option right now to educating their children and themselves.

I hope that in the future there will be more books on sex, sexuality and sexual health from a plethora of Islamic perspectives. I know that there are other similar books out there, but it is still rather limited. Meanwhile, I am still searching for that faith-based, LGBTQ-inclusive sexual education guide for my children and myself. I guess I have to keep looking, because this book would not be it…

Eren: Exactly,  I think we need to also reframe the discussion in terms of what entails “conservative” and “halal” in media coverage of this book. Flipping through some of the pages of the guide, as well as excerpts and reviews, it is obvious that this guide is meant solely towards cisgender and heterosexual women in marital arrangements with cisgender and heterosexual men. Hence, the book is not only assuming a level “ignorance” around “how to” in sex, due to religious/cultural/social/economic taboos (which may or not be real), but also that only cis/hetero women have sex and “healthy” sexualities when in marital arrangements with cis/hetero men. While I understand that such is the way in which we tend to address sex, sexuality and relationships in several Muslim communities (not only conservative ones), it is also important to understand that a sex guide that assumes sexual and gender rigidity is not only exclusive of Queer and Trans Muslims, but also not really comprehensive of  the many ways in which cis/hetero women can and may choose  to experience pleasure and healthy sexual relations. Also, we know that relationships, heterosexual or not, can be incredibly unhealthy even with a marriage contract.

The other aspect of this is that although I acknowledge the importance of sex-ed and health-focused discussion on sex and sexuality, I am also wary of the over-medicalization of Muslim women’s sex lives. This book isn’t a health guide; of course it has a couple of excerpts here and there that discuss health, personal hygiene,  cleanliness and ritual, etc., but it isn’t a sex-ed resource, in my opinion. That being said, that is something I appreciated about it. There are tons of resources out there focused on sex-ed and Muslim children in certain countries and regions have mandated sex-ed schools. Similarly,  Muslim women have been involved in creating resources for Muslim parents to discuss sex-ed curricula with their children. Yet, sex isn’t only about STDs or no STDs, or birth control or no birth control, but also about relationshionships that nourish us in a variety of ways that condoms and the pill cannot explain or satisfy. How do we expect Muslim youth to discuss sex and sexuality (or practice it!) if we haven’t even landed on having discussions on how and why relationships (sexual or not) need to be nourishing and safe?  Or when we assume that marriage leads is always a space where sex is practiced safely both physically and emotionally?

My second issue with the media coverage of this book, is the notion of the “first guide to Muslim sex”. No. Sorry. Muslims have been debating sex and sexuality since the times of Prophet Muhammad (s.w.a). Not only are hadith collections on sexual ethics and jurisprudence full of theological advice on heterosexual sex, sexuality and relationships, but Islamic scholars have been writing about these topics since forever, to the point that contemporary writers have studied in detail Islamic sexual ethics from a variety of perspectives, including feminist ones, like Kecia Ali’s Sexual Ethics and Islam. Further, I can guarantee you that Muslims around the world, regardless of where they live, have their own take on “how to” on sex and sexuality. Not because things are getting published in the West and in  English, it makes them “the first.” Whether or not we have built taboos around these discussions it is a different story.

The Muslimah Sex Manual. Image via Amazon.

Sya: Yes, this isn’t the first ‘Islamic sex’ manual I’ve come across. In 2011 I wrote a blog post about a sex manual published by the Obedient Wives Club in Malaysia. Granted, that book had some larger visions beyond teaching wives to help their husbands enjoy ‘100% and not just 10% of their bodies’, but the main idea was the same: while sex only exists in its hetero form and is for procreation, you can have fun along the way – just no anal, period, or extramarital sex.

In regards to the guide, a review by Quartz media says, “According to Muladhat, halal sex has some key rules: avoid anal sex, penetrative sex during menstruation, and sex outside of marriage. Pornography too is forbidden—“porn is a lie,” she writes, “porn is one of the worst ways to learn about sex.”

Other than the first three guidelines as to what she considers “halal” in sex or not, the rest of the guide seems to be general, helpful sex advice that could be found in any ‘secular’ women’s magazine or sex guide. According to the excerpts on their website, anyway. Is it because women are wondering if initiating sex is slutty and therefore “haram”? Or is it because they truly have no clue what to do?

It would be useful if all the marriage and sex advice Muslim couple got were from formal sources like pre-marriage counselling. In my experience attending such counselling – which was a total disaster – the guide would give some good advice. But again, it is information I could have gotten elsewhere.

Right now my biggest peeve is that it plays into assumptions that Muslim women need to learn to please their men in bed in order to be a good wife. The ‘Obedient Wives Club’ in Malaysia and Singapore has done exactly that: remove women’s sexual agency and place the burden of domestic harmony on their sexual abilities. I wonder if there are sections in the book that focus on Muslim women enjoying sex for themselves, and tips on communicating what they want to their partners, and not just as a way to keep their men wanting them.

Sarabi: Sya, I just shuddered at the idea that “the burden of domestic harmony [lies] on their sexual abilities.” I can’t imagine how stressful that must be, and what that kind of mindset must do to women. I’ve also found that until somewhat recently in the US, women were also encouraged to be subservient to their husbands and focus on their sexual pleasure while receiving little of their own. Nowadays it’s pretty common to see guides teaching men how to please women in bed. I’m not sure whether LGBTQ* guides exist outside the realm of safe-sex guidelines, but I think the LGBTQ* community is making strides in the US in terms of destigmatization. Of course, there’s still more work to be done. The Human Rights Council actually gives a couple of suggestions for actions communities can take to further destigmatize LGBTQ* sex.  

Eren: I have yet to see a Muslim LGBTQ* guide, but again it may exist elsewhere. In terms of the pleasure situation, the guide does dalve a little into things that may be pleasurable for a Muslim woman within the context of enjoying such pleasure with her husband, and that’s where things also got complicated for me because I personally feel that if we have problems finding pleasure for ourselves (masturbation is not considered “halal” by some Muslims), it is really hard to expect a second person to pleasure you when they also do not necessarily know how  to pleasure themselves.  So I feel this guide somehow takes the Cosmo magazine approach… You read an article (perhaps even complete one of those sex-related tests) and come up with an idea to try with your partner. If it goes well, great! If not… time to move on to better ways of satisfying your man. So I think overall, we need to do a better job in Muslim spaces to debate not only the “halal” and “harams” of sex, but relationships, safety, nourishing, etc. We also have to do a damn better job at including LGBTQ* sexuality into a “guide” for Muslims. But at the end of the day, we also need to be better at thinking what we really want out of our sex lives and be critical on how and where we get this information. This is one of a myriad of options that Muslims can access online (or in person), it will help some and be worthless to others. Some may really benefit from a guide, but again, a guide is not an all-inclusive sex and sexuality book and should not be expected to be.

Readers, what are your thoughts?

new short Bujold interview at 8LW

Aug. 12th, 2017 08:49 am
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I have a new short interview up today at the blogsite Eight Ladies Writing, in honor of the launch of the new Penric & Desdemona novella "Penric's Fox".


We did this a couple of weeks ago, but delayed posting till after the e-publication of the novella earlier this week. (Good heavens, that was only Tuesday -- seems longer ago already, but that's how time speeds on the internet.) This turns out to be doubly timely, in view of yesterday's happy news, as I also talk a bit about about wrangling series structures.

Also to note, the only PR push this novella is going to get is on this blog and these couple of by-chance recent interviews, so any mention folks may be moved to make about it out and around the net and elsewhere would be great. Amazon always gets plenty of reviews, and indeed by the time any prospective readers have made their way to the vendor sites the work is already done, so putting out the word in other places is more important.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 12

The Gift

Aug. 12th, 2017 11:02 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I remember the exact moment that the picture was taken. Joe and I had been visiting my father in the hospital and just before we were leaving, I asked if I could have a picture taken with him. He agreed and that set about the monumental task of moving things around, in a tight space, so that I could get myself and my wheelchair into position. So, while that happens, let me give you some back story.

My father, when he died, was 93 years old. Joe and I have been together for 48 years. That means when we got together in 1969, a few days before the Stonewall riots, my father was 45 years old. They were different times. In our corner of the world the preferred slur used about gay men was 'fucking gear boxes,' and, though it may not seem it from reading the words, they were always spoken with implied violence.

It was a time of hiding. The idea and concept of 'coming out' was foreign. But there Joe and I were, barely 17 years old and living, hiding, in plain sight. We denied any accusations regarding our relationship. Good friends and buddies we were. Our first year together we both decided not to go home for Christmas, to break away early, to establish ourselves both as independent and as a couple. It was a rough holiday with a lot of people very angry at us. We had a lovely dinner.

So, in my home, there was simply silence about Joe, about our relationship. The silence was absolute. I couldn't live with so much silence and with so much of my life being hidden away, so I went home less and less often. Other things played into that but I need not go into that here.

I told my parents when Joe and I got married a couple years back and the response was that they thought we already had been married. I said that I wouldn't have gotten married without their knowledge. The silence had finally and forever, been broken.

When Joe and I visited my father in the hospital Dad treated Joe with respect and ensured that he was always included in the conversation. It may have been the first time that I saw Dad fully comfortable with Joe and it felt good. Then, I asked for the picture.

I'm finally beside the bed and I lean over. I place my hand on the bed for support and was surprised to the point of shock that my father took my hand. He doesn't do that. Joe, never good with electronics, was struggling to take a photo. After a few desperate tries I could see his growing frustration. My hand was holding my father's hand the whole time and he made no effort to pull away while Joe fiddled with the phone. I then said, "Joe you'd better take the picture quickly or people with think we're on a date here."

My father cracked up. He laughed loudly and Joe snapped the picture.

I will remember that photo because it's of my father holding my hand and laughing at a gay joke.

Many people have commented on how happy my father looks in the picture. I think he was happy. Not just because of the joke, but because, for all his earlier misgivings, he knew that I was loved and cared for and he need not worry about me and my future. 

That was his gift to me and mine to him.
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
I am extremely pleased to report that the Vorkosigan Saga has won the Hugo Award for Best Series at the 2017 WorldCon in Helsinki, Finland.

Live streaming of the ceremony unfortunately ran afoul of technical difficulties, but I'd been following print links this afternoon as they updated. Generally, if one wins people hurry to say congrats, so you find out pretty quickly; if you lose, it's crickets chirping. So the first I actually heard were two e-mails from friends that said congrats (yay!) but not what for. (Since "Penric and the Shaman" was also a nominee in the novella category, which went this year to "Every Heart a Doorway" by Seanan McGuire, not to my surprise, congrats Seanan!)

I'll post a link to the ceremony recording when I find one.

Official link here:


Tor also posts the full results here:


The WorldCon's own website should have some pretty interesting voting statistics up soon, as well, for those who like to sort through the raw data. (Later: you can find them through the Worldcon link, above.)

Anyway, here are my acceptance remarks, which I gave to read to my friend and fellow Minneapolis writer Caroline Stevermer, who kindly and bravely offered to be my acceptor in and at the event. (It felt deeply weird to have to come up with these months beforehand. Hope they worked OK in the actual context.)

"Series have been a part of storytelling since The Odyssey followed The Iliad, engaging creators and delighting audiences for millennia. I have long thought that the series is an art form as distinct from the novel as the novel is from the short story, but no one studies series in the same way as novels, except those who write and read and love them. This may be more feature than bug.

It’s likely that the neglect of series in academic forums is practical: while teachers can just (barely) get classrooms of undergrads to read and compare half-a-dozen novels in a semester, there’s no way they could get them to do the same for half-a-dozen series.

Happily, free-range genre readers suffer under no such restrictions. There are still a lot of practical challenges for comparing series, especially those still under development by living writers. This year’s Hugo series category is a really interesting experiment in that direction, and I am honored that my work was among those put in the barrel for this particular roll downhill.

No writer could create a work extending over thirty years without an equal number of decades of publisher support, and it was my good luck that Baen Books and I stumbled into each other at the dawns of both of our careers. I need, as ever, to thank editors Betsy Mitchell, the late Jim Baen, Toni Weisskopf, and my agent Eleanor Wood for being my early and ongoing supporters on this long road trip.

And thank you all."

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 12

Compassion is Key

Aug. 11th, 2017 04:08 pm
[syndicated profile] advancedstyle_feed

Posted by Ari Seth Cohen


A few years ago a young woman stopped me at the airport to tell me about her gorgeous 94-year-old grandmother, Evita Stewart. When I got home she sent me a message via Instagram with photos of Evita with her new boyfriend lounging by the pool– I was instantly inspired. Two year later and I finally had the chance to chat with and photographer the gorgeous, now 96-year-old Evita. Evita told me that she does yoga seven days a week, starting even before she gets out of bed. When I asked her what the secret to living a long vital life is she replied,” I think it’s just having a lot of compassion for other people. A lot of love and knowing that other people can be very lonely. Sometimes you take it as being haughty or snobs, but its good to extend yourself to people because you get all that love back.”

I made date with Evita to photograph her and her gentleman friend!!!!

The post Compassion is Key appeared first on Advanced Style.

LBCF, No. 146: ’28:06:42:12′

Aug. 11th, 2017 11:40 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

The central figure in this message is not Christ, but the Antichrist. It’s fair to ask, then, if LaHaye and Jenkins’ religion might not be more accurately called “Antichristianity.” In their defense, however, we should note that the essential focus of their religion is not to celebrate or serve the Antichrist, but rather to oppose him. That would make their religion something more like “Anti-Antichrist-ianity.” To their way of thinking, Anti-Antichristianity is pretty much the same thing as Christianity.

A letter from the faculty lounge

Aug. 10th, 2017 11:32 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Richard Mouw and Jerry Falwell Jr. are both evangelical Christians, both leaders of prominent evangelical institutions. But, as Mouw writes to Falwell, they "travel in very different parts of the evangelical world." That understates the situation. They travel in different worlds -- in the distinct realms of separate constituencies that rarely, if ever, communicate.


Aug. 10th, 2017 08:35 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am pretty much a coward. I spend a lot of time worrying, and a lot of time being afraid, though I am afraid of regular things, I think. I am afraid of getting hurt physically- when I ski I worry about falling, about hurting myself (mostly I am afraid of breaking an arm. If I broke a leg I could still knit, so I think it would be ok.) I am afraid of not fitting in. I am afraid of love or respect extended and not returned. I am afraid of spiders. (This one I don’t worry about. I think that if you’re not afraid of spiders you just haven’t thought enough about it. They can walk on the ceiling. That’s not right.) I am afraid of not measuring up, of doing my best and still falling short of the mark. (There’s a joke in there about how I’m only 5’1″, but let’s leave it.) I am afraid of disappointing people, I am afraid of letting them down. I am afraid that trust will be given to me, and my best self won’t be good enough, and I that I won’t be able to rise above petty thoughts or small mindedness, or that in a wild effort to live a really decent life, I’ll miss things, or grow old with regrets that all this fear held me back from amazing events, and that I’ll be some old lady with a pile of things left undone, because my cowardice kept me home. I worry that when handed a microphone I will say something stupid, or that I will hurt someone with my words, and I am always afraid that I won’t understand someone else well enough to spare them pain, or find enough understanding for them to ease the fear I feel they must have – because I have it. I worry that we are all afraid, and I don’t want us to act out of that fear, personally, socially, or politically.

All this was on my mind on Sunday, when Jen picked me up, and we gathered the few essentials we hadn’t put in the trucks the day before, and we drank coffee quietly in the backyard, reflecting on the challenge ahead of us. Let me be absolutely clear about this next one… riding more than 600km doesn’t get easier with time. As a matter of fact, I’d say it gets harder. The experience you have from the times before is enough to give you the screaming willies, and the two of us sat there knowing exactly what was ahead. “It’s going to be okay,” Jen said. “We’ve done it before. We can do it again.” Then we strapped our bikes to her car, gave a nod to the fear we both felt,  and drove to the departure point at Allan Gardens.

The minute I arrived, I remembered everything. I was nervous, and scared, and my back hurt already, and I started to be afraid of all the things I always am. (In the short term, I worry that upon departure, as a whack of riders all leave together, I will do something stupid, mostly I worry that I will fall off my bike and become a human speedbump. This has never happened – to me or to anyone, but I still think it’s a real risk, and if anyone is ever going to do it, it’s me.) Meg, Alex, Amanda and Elliot turned up to say goodbye, and we took a group shot, and I darted out for a whole rally selfie, covering (as I so often do) my nerves with humour. Then we left, and almost immediately, it started to change.

Wholerally 2017-08-08

My friends were with me. Not just the ones that I have every day, like Ken and Jen and Cameron and Pato (and when did he grow up enough to be my friend?) but the magic of the Rally that over the course of six days, makes everyone present your friend.

For six days, you are a small travelling town. A group of people committed to one thing, all living the same life, and all held by one goal, one experience. From the fastest rider to the slowest, we’re the same. We’re all trying to ride our bikes to Montreal – we’re all in debt to our donors, to the people who put faith in us to make this happen (that’s you) all of us trying to fulfill a contract.  I’ll do this hard thing, if you’ll help me by contributing. There’s nobody on the Rally who doesn’t feel the honour or the pressure of being the midpoint of those donations – and nobody who isn’t in it for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation as the end. There were moments when the gratitude I felt to all of you is overwhelming, and moments when only the deal I’d made with you kept me going, and I know I’m not the only one.

I know I’ve written about this before. I’ve told you that every year is different. One year it’s about perseverance. (Or rain.) One year it’s about the people I know who are HIV positive, and and making a personal commitment to making their journey better –  one year it was even about loneliness, about finding strength within myself to do it by myself, a fear I freely cop to. This year, the theme was apparent from the word go. It was friendship.

Jen gave me a ride that morning so I didn’t have to ride an extra 14km. Cameron changed my tire on Day two. He knows I can do it, but he can do it faster, and it was a gift of friendship to do it for me. Jen knows I was struggling with my back, and was generous and sweet with her patience and words – cheerful to the end, that one. (You should all be so lucky to have a friend as deliberate with her love as Jen.)

camtire 2017-08-08

Both of them rode sweetly behind me on Day two, when my back really hurt, and I pulled ahead for a bit to have what I was hoping was a secret weep, and though both of them could easily have caught me, they lagged behind, knowing I was crying, knowing I’m afraid of that weakness, and letting me have that time to pull myself together. Darling friends.

Ken, faster than the rest of us, came into camp early each day, and together with the faster riders, collected our bins, and set up our tents, making sure that by the time Jen and I staggered into camp, things were as beautiful and welcoming as they can be if they are also covered in spiders.

krillknits 2017-08-08 Brandonknits 2017-08-08 jenknits 2017-08-08

For the first time too – a special little treat, knitting was normal on the rally, even desired – two more riders asked to be taught as we travelled along, without anyone making fun of it, or suggesting it was an old lady thing, or anything other than a way of making and being and doing. (Note to self, pack more yarn and needles next year. Best to be equipped if the plan to take over the world is finally taking hold.)

knitcamp 2017-08-10

It was more than this though, it was watching everyone do the same thing – over and over and over, fear and struggle and concern were met with kindness and a gentle word, and respect and a soft touch. Struggling riders were encouraged, crew was thanked, flat tires mended, patience given, smiles offered at the port-a-loo lines, coffee fetched, complements freely given, and so quickly, kindergarten rules took hold. Take turns, be gentle, use your words, big ones take care of the little ones… anyone who strayed from the path of this softness was taken for how they were in that moment. Tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, wet, hot, afraid… and their problem, rather than their behaviour – was addressed with compassion, and do you know, it worked the way with grownups that it does with little kids when you hold who they are, rather than how they are behaving in your mind.

topfundraiserhug 2017-08-08

teamknit 2017-08-08flockall 2017-08-08

Quickly, over the course of the six days, this world took hold. They don’t call it the Friends For Life Bike Rally for nothin’ I remembered – and the power of friendship moved all of us, so much so, that by the last day, when the heavens opened and unleashed a torrential downpour upon us, the whole Rally pulled into a the shelter of a gas station and stood there, wet, cold, our final approach spoiled, the moment of glory delayed, the lot of us drowned rats by at the side of the road, it would have been easy to feel sad, or disappointed, or afraid, or something negative, but friendship had owned us all by then, and there was singing, and laughing, and smiling faces, and arms round cold riders and a grand explosion of joy as applause and bike bells rang out. Together was enough. Friendship was enough. Doing the right thing for PWA and the clients who need us was more than enough.

gasstation 2017-08-08

Eventually the rain stopped, and we rode on, those few kilometres to the end, and were welcomed in in grand style, and there was Kim – from Indigodragonfly, who’s own sense of friendship and commitment had led her not just to donate the profits from her Rally themed yarn, not just to sponsor our tee-shirts, but to actually turn up to hug and welcome all of us. She’s a grand friend, and a good person.

withkim 2017-08-08 teamknitskeins 2017-08-08 teamshot 2017-08-08

All week long, I felt it. Moments of fear supplanted by camaraderie and friendship. We are all cowards in some way. Me, I’m a dumpy middle-aged grandmother who has almost no business cycling 600km. Jen’s a mother of two walking away from her family for a week to model fierceness for her young daughters. Pato’s a young man trying to shape a world that he wants to live in, Ken is still recovering from the shoulder surgery that put him back together after his accident and showing up anyway. Cameron packed his work laptop and somehow carved out the time to do his job and the Rally – and everyone else riding met their own personal challenges. Again and again, why we were doing it came up. At dinner, at breaks, at our celebration in Kingston… and the thing we talked about was this: People are living longer with HIV/AIDS. It isn’t the death sentence that was when the Rally started. There are good drugs, help, and a sense of hope, and most of us realize that presents a challenge. In a way, supporting people with HIV/AIDS used to be sadder, but cheaper, not to put too fine a point on it. People didn’t live long enough to need years of support. The crisis was clearer, it had people’s attention. Now it must seem to so many people as though that time has passed, and it has – only to be replaced by a different need. Now grownups and children with HIV/AIDS may need a lifetime of support. They need years and years of medication, years and years of help living with the stigma that it brings, years and years of our help and belonging. It is still important.

patorides 2017-08-08

We all shared this fear. That even though there are still a very great many people who need help, that they will be forgotten, and that sense of fellowship further strengthened our resolve, and made us braver. For me and Jen, we reflected often on the ride that so often, given the way the world works, women lack the personal power to make choices in this way, and that riding for them felt like something a woman in a strong, privileged position could do to help lift other women up too. It felt… feminist to us. It felt like the right thing to do, despite our own fears.

It was, despite the rain, the work, the fear, the pain, and the difficulty… a wonderful ride, and I spent much of it reflecting on if I’d done the right thing. Not just in riding, or in fundraising, or in doing my best to be kind all week, but in thinking of a decision I’ve made that will shape a part of the next two years of my life.

I’ve been accepted as a Co-Chair for the Rally. I’m putting my time where my heart is. I am pretty young, and pretty strong, and pretty privileged, and I have time and energy to put towards being the change I want to see in the world. It was a big decision, but I’m doing it, despite fear, despite being a great big chicken, and despite the fact that inevitably someone is going to hand me a microphone and I’ll say something stupid.  I’ll have to count on my friends when that happens.

I do this because the rally is the world as it should be, for six small, wild and wonderful days. It’s why despite the difficulty, so many of us suffer the “Bike Rally Blues” when it’s over. The Rally is challenging, scary, disarming, powerful, heartwarming, supportive… so many ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing, all powered by nothing but friendship to moderate your cowardice, and that is a strong thing indeed. Blog, my dear ones, thank you for being my friends on this side. Thank you for the donations, the comments, the emails… All the kindness in the world is meaningless in this without you, riding is meaningless without you, no change happens without you. You’re the magic that makes this work.

You are amazing.

(PS. Obviously I signed up for next year.)

(PPS. I am going to knit the snot out of the rest of this month.)

(PPPS. When I came home, tired, bedraggled and with all our camping stuff in disarray, Joe had cleaned the house, filled the fridge with my favourite food and wine, and bought me flowers. It takes a big man to support ideas this wild. He’s wonderful, and my friend too.)


Marvelous Masha Archer

Aug. 10th, 2017 03:18 pm
[syndicated profile] advancedstyle_feed

Posted by Ari Seth Cohen

Yesterday, I went to visit jeweler and artist Masha Archer in her San Francisco studio. She was looking as gorgeous as ever in one of her incredible statement pieces. For more on Masha’s work check out her website HERE.

The post Marvelous Masha Archer appeared first on Advanced Style.


Aug. 10th, 2017 07:13 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Photo Description: I am sitting beside my father in his hospital bed. He is holding my hand and we both are smiling.
My father died yesterday morning.

I went to visit him when he fell really ill a bit ago. During our visit we had a chance to talk and there was something, quite private, that I wanted to say to him. I don't think that we know what to thank our parents for until we are well into adulthood, I wanted to do that, and I did. That felt like an accomplishment, but it also started a series of conversations, over the phone with him. Conversations that I will now miss dreadfully.

Over the next few days I plan on writing a bit about who my dad was, or at least who he was to me, as his youngest child. But right now, I concentrating on learning how to live in a world without having a 'dad'. He lived so long that I almost believed that he's always be there.
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Posted by Fred Clark

Specific, skeptical questions about purported signs and wonders are not theological but journalistic -- who? what? when? where? Whether or not those asking such basic factual questions can recite any given sectarian catechism is irrelevant to the answers. Catechizing me instead of pursuing those answers seems like an attempt to evade the original question of what, if anything, just happened.

Penric's Fox spoiler thread corral

Aug. 8th, 2017 03:02 pm
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
It's been suggested (already!) that it would be nice for people who have already read the new novella to have a place to piffle on about it without spoiling later readers.

So here you go. Have what fun you like in the comments.

Those who want their first readings pristine, steer clear.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 12

Penric's Fox is up!

Aug. 8th, 2017 07:45 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed

"Penric's Fox" is up this morning.

At B&N:


And Kindle:


(A bit later) And iTunes/Apple:


It seems to be up fine on the UK and Canadian Amazons, and, I expect, most of the other country-Amazons as well.

Ta, L.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 12
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Posted by Daily Otter

Daily Otter regulars will remember tiny Hardy, rescued this summer off the coast of Vancouver. He's getting bigger and becoming a true swimmer, having gone for "his biggest swim yet in the Finning habitat at Vancouver Aquarium. Marine mammal trainer Kristi stayed close by in case he needed a helping hand."

Catch up on our previous posts on Hardy by visiting his tag

Video by Vancouver Aquarium


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