I see what you’re doing

Apr. 23rd, 2014 08:25 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Dear Socks

I don’t know what crap you think you’re pulling, or if you think you’re messing with an amateur or something, but let me tell you. I’m no rookie, and I see what’s happening here.

I’ve been knitting on you way longer than any reasonable pair of socks should take, and I don’t know what you’re doing with all of the stitches and yarn I keep throwing at you, but you can just take this scam you’re running and stuff it.

sockstable 2014-04-23

You should be done. You should have been done yesterday, and I know it, and you know it and I don’t know if maybe you thought that I wouldn’t notice that you were messing with me, but I have raised three teen-aged girls and I have my black belt in spotting sneaky manoeuvres and you aren’t even competing at the Olympic level.

This is the way it’s going to be. I am going to knit on you for one more night, and you can choose what happens next. Either you can decide to be finished, or tomorrow I can take a sharp pair of scissors and cut you into a million pieces.

Your call.

Love (or not, again, that’s up to you.)


[syndicated profile] aqueductpress_feed

Posted by Timmi Duchamp

I'm pleased to announce Aqueduct Press's publication of Lonely Stardust: Two Plays, a Speech, and Eight Essays by Andrea Hairston. Feminist sf readers primarily know her as the author of Mindscape (winner of the Carl Brandon Society's Parallax Award and shortlisted for the James Tiptree and Philip K. Dick Awards) and Redwood and Wildfire (winner of the James Tiptree Award and Carl Brandon Society's Kindred Award). Those who've attended WisCon, IFCA, and Readercon will also know she writes (and performs) fabulous essays, eight of which appear in this collection. The speech mentioned in the title is her GoH speech for WisCon. Andrea has long been a writer, director, and performer of plays as well, and Artistic Director of Chrysalis Theatre and Louise Wolff Kahn 1931 Professor of Theatre and Afro-American Studies at Smith College. Not surprisingly, given Andrea's interests and cast of mind, her plays are science fictional, and two of these, "Hummingbird Flying Backward" and "Lonely Stardust," are included in the collection.

How to sum up the collection as a whole? I can only try:  Lonely Stardust: Two Plays, a Speech, and Eight Essaysbrings us the texts of nine marvelous works of scholarly performance as well as two works of drama in which the fantastic shows us the way through despair. In several of the pieces here, Andrea's sharp, visionary eye examines Hollywood blockbusters and finds a great deal to think about, even as she impatiently slices through hackneyed received views that do popular culture and its fans no favors. Taken together, these essays and plays broadcast a message of hope and intelligence that defiantly insists that our ability and desire to tell stories defines our humanity and is one of our most valuable resources.

This collection, for me personally, is an exceedingly valuable resource. Andrea's vision, though infused with hope and love, never ever pulls its punches. I can't tell you how happy I am to be publishing it.

Aqueduct will be selling Lonely Stardust through our website at a reduced price until June 1, 2014, its official date of release. The e-book edition is also available there now.  
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

People keep telling me this: “You don’t get to pick and choose.”

I keep saying, “Amen! Yes, exactly.”

But then it turns out we still disagree. It turns out they don’t mean the same thing I mean when I say “You don’t get to pick and choose.” I’m talking about people. They’re talking about texts.

Our disagreement and mutual confusion is exacerbated by the fact that my claim — “You don’t get to pick and choose people” — is itself based on texts. Not on a handful of clobber texts or proof texts or single, isolated verses of scripture, but on whole stories and on the whole story.

There’s Jonah, for example, who tried to flee because, unlike God, he wanted to pick and choose the recipients of God’s grace and mercy and to insist that God not be so unacceptably abounding in steadfast love for Ninevites. Jesus seems to have been fond of that story, reworking it and retelling it in parables like the one about the two wayward, “Prodigal” sons.

There are the Gospels as a whole, too, in which “you don’t get to pick and choose people” is a major recurring theme. That theme isn’t subtle. It’s pounded home again and again as a steady stream of the supposedly “unclean” outcast people line up to find refuge with Jesus the same way that the anachronistically “unclean” animals lined up to find refuge in Noah’s ark.

And then there’s the book of Acts, a text that could be summed up, start to finish, with that same phrase: You don’t get to pick and choose people.

These are all, again, texts — scripture. They are scriptural texts explicitly rejected and neglected by the very people loudly insisting that we aren’t allowed to “pick and choose” among texts. They are texts those people have chosen not to pick.

They have, instead, picked and chosen other texts — a small collection of clobber texts that they say carve out exceptions never mentioned in the larger texts they reject. These clobber texts, they argue, trump every other text that suggests anything else. And because of these clobber texts, they say, we have not only the right, but the duty to pick and choose people.

This is not a new dispute. This exact same argument has been going on for thousands of years. It is, in fact, the very same dispute that caused the nameless smart-alecky genius who wrote the book of Jonah to put pen to parchment all those centuries ago. It’s the same dispute that got the Apostle Paul so angry that we’ve had to clean up his language in our translations of his letter to the Galatians. It’s the same dispute that Jesus took one side of in winning all of his arguments with the religious excluders of his day, and that he oddly took the other side of in his argument with the Canaanite woman — the only argument Jesus ever lost.

The only argument Jesus ever lost. (“Christ and the Canaanite Woman,” by Jean Germain Drouais, 1984.)

The particulars of the dispute have changed over the centuries, but the argument remains the same. The two sides of the argument are still arguing the very same thing. “You can’t pick and choose texts,” one side says. And the other side responds, “No, you can’t pick and choose people.”

St. Paul is sometimes called the “missionary to the Gentiles,” which is another way of saying that Paul’s entire life and ministry was about this very argument. It was, for Paul, an obsession. The apostle insisted, and all of his epistles insist, that we cannot pick and choose people — that we cannot exclude Gentiles as unclean outsiders just because of a bunch of clobber texts.

This was a tough fight for Paul because he didn’t just have to contend with a small handful of scattered scriptures. He was up against a vast, daunting wall of unambiguous biblical commandments. These Gentiles he was arguing for were uncircumcised, they were literally not kosher, they ate meat that had been sacrificed to false gods. These were not minor points. It was downright easy for Paul’s opponents to argue from scripture that such unclean, uncircumcised outsiders were emphatically and explicitly excluded by the text of scripture. And it was near impossible for Paul to argue that the text of scripture said otherwise.

But Paul, like the Canaanite woman, won the argument. You don’t get to pick and choose people.

And from where I’m sitting, that’s incredibly important. I’m a Gentile Christian in the home of the cheesesteak and yet, despite the vast sea of clobber texts that clearly forbid my inclusion and acceptance, I have been included and accepted.

That’s one reason this argument is so important to me. Freely you have received, freely give. Like the unforgiving servant in Jesus’ parable, I am obliged and compelled to show the same grace to others that has been shown to me. Or else.

It would be the definition of ingratitude for me to accept my hard-won exemption from the multitude of clobber texts excluding treyf Gentiles like myself while at the same time insisting that the tiny handful of clobber-texts that exclude some others must still be allowed to trump every other text and every other story. That would be ignoble, despicable, too dickish for words.

So that’s not an option for me. I don’t get to pick and choose sides in the ongoing argument over picking and choosing, because I’m only able to participate in that argument thanks to one side already winning one round of that fight. I’m one of those Canaanite “dogs” eating the crumbs that fall from their master’s table, and as such it would be foolish, inconsistent, unjust and abominably selfish of me to start pretending I’m some kind of special case. It would be every kind of wrong for me to say that in my case, you don’t get to pick and choose people, but in other people’s case, the clobber-texts must prevail — outweighing every other text, every other virtue, every other person.

But it’s not only a matter of gratitude. I also think that Paul and the church in Acts and Jesus and the smart-aleck prophet who gave us Jonah were all right. I’m not just grateful that I benefit from their argument, I’m persuaded that their argument was true.

I simply cannot make sense of the nonsense of those who argue that “You don’t get to pick and choose texts” in support of their claim that some texts should be picked and chosen over other texts. I simply do not agree with those who say that love is not the fulfillment of the law. They’re simply wrong. Paul said they were wrong. Jesus said they were wrong. The entire church in the book of Acts said they were wrong.

You don’t get to pick and choose people. If you’re picking and choosing your clobber texts in order to pick and choose people, then you’re misreading and misapplying those texts. You’re wrong about those texts and you’re wrong about those people.

And you’re probably also a self-serving ingrate, which doesn’t add much to the appeal of your argument either.

What Do Professors Do All Day?

Apr. 23rd, 2014 02:00 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Anthropologist John Ziker decided to try to find out.  Ziker recruited a non-random sample of 16 professors at Boise State University and scheduled interviews with them every other day for 14 days.  In each interview, they reported how they spent their time the previous day.  In total, he collected data for 166 days.

It’s a small, non-random sample at just one university, but here’s what he discovered.

All ranks worked over 40 hours a week (average of 61 hours/week) and all ranks put in a substantial number of hours over the weekends:


Professors, then, worked 51 hours during the official workweek and then, in addition, put in ten hours over the weekend.

What were they doing those days?  Research, teaching, and service are the three pillars of an academic workload and they dominated professors’ time.  They used weekends, in particular, to catch up on the first two.  The suspension of the business of the university over the weekend gave them a chance to do the other two big parts of their job.


This chart breaks down the proportion of time they spend on different activities more clearly. Ziker is surprised by the amount of time faculty spend in meetings and I’m particularly impressed by the amount of time they spend on email.  Most professors will probably note, with chagrin, the little bars for primary research and manuscript writing.


Interesting stuff.

This was just a first phase, so we can look forward to more data in the future.  In the meantime, I’ll add this data to my preferred answer when asked what I do all day:


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

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

Cookie Stat!

Apr. 23rd, 2014 07:59 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I was stumped at what to do next.

I have this big job, I have that tough task.

I couldn't choose.

So I sat here stumped.

Then I knew what to do.

I poured a cup of tea.

I got a cookie.

A low sugar, high fiber, I'm in my 60s, cookie.

But it was still a cookie.

And I dipped that cookie into my tea.

I held it there until it softened.

It took a while.

Then I plopped the steaming hot cookie into my mouth.

And let it sit there, sweet and gooey.

Tasting like a regular cookie rather than a cookie to keep me regular.

I didn't think about the big job.

I didn't think about the tough task.

I just enjoyed the cookie.

It didn't make the choice easier.

Cookies don't have that power.

But ... it took the pressure off the moment.

And ... it took the pressure off the brain.

And that did make the choice easier.

I think life should give everyone a cookie PRN order.

Good Dog!

Apr. 23rd, 2014 12:40 am
[syndicated profile] forget_what_did_feed

Posted by John Finnemore

This week, I'm on The Unbelievable Truth again, which is one of my favourite shows to do, and indeed to listen to. You can hear it here, via the iPlayer for the next six days or so.  

In the show, you give a short lecture on a subject, almost all of which must be lies, but with five 'unbelievable truths' hidden somewhere. Here is what I had to say about dogs, together with some extra nonsense which didn't make the edit. But to find out four of the five unbelievable truths hidden therein, you will have to listen to the show... 

My dog can fly.

Dogs and humans have been together since the beginning of time. The Ancient Greeks used spaniels to catch fish and tell the future. Old English sheepdogs were used in old England to herd pigeons and children. Aristocrats used miniature poodles as hand-warmers, whilst starving peasants would allow Yorkshire Terriers to swim in a cauldron of warm water for ten minutes, and then drink the result, known as 'Dog Soup'. And of course today, dogs work for us as everything from wine tasters to air traffic controllers.

The actor John Wayne claimed he had won Lassie the dog in a poker game. However, Lassie the dog claimed she had won the actor John Wayne in a poker game. It was a classic stand-off. John Wayne called Lassie the dog a dirty liar. Lassie said the hell she was a liar, one-eyed jacks were wild, and John Wayne damn well knew it. John Wayne said all dogs cheated at cards anyway, did Lassie think he’d never seen that painting?  In the resulting shootout, Lassie lost an ear, and John Wayne was killed. But not wanting to upset the children, Columbia Studios bought another cowboy that looked just like John Wayne, and never told anybody. Similarly, we’re already on our fifth Justin Bieber.

Dog, spelt backwards, is of course 'good'; a fact that has led many people to worship them as Gods. The Toltec civilisation believed their Gods watched them through the eyes of chihuahuas. The Egyptian God Atem had the head of a dog and the body of a squirrel, and was forever chasing himself around heaven. And of course St Christopher is often portrayed with the head of a dog, owing to an unfortunate confusion between 'from Canaan' and 'Canine'

David will like this - the Siberian Husky is not technically a dog at all. It is in fact... six cats in a costume. Two on the front legs, two on the back, one in the head, and one in the middle working the tongue and the tail. You might ask, how could one cat inside a husky reach both the tongue and the tail? To which I would reply... Is that really the part of this that's bothering you?

The inventor Alexander Graham Bell claimed he had taught his dog to talk. However, it was noticeable he would only claim this whilst using his new invention, the telephone. 'Oh, by the by’ he would say ‘I’ve taught the dog to talk. Shall I put him on? "Herro! I'm Ruffles! Rri can talk now! Sausages!" There. That was him. Aren't I a good inventor?'

As a boy, King William II rode out to hunt on a mastiff instead of a horse. Henry III would often wear a basket of Bichon Frises round his neck  in a confused attempt to get girls to look at him. And of course the Queen has six corgis, named Tesco, Shiny George, Little Sir Woofsalot, Bernard Bresslaw, Argax the Destroyer, and Unnamed Dog.

Only sixteen dalmations were used in the live action remake of 101 Dalmations. They were then multiplied with CGI, but only after special dog make-up artists changed the pattern of their spots. The film did, however, use two Glenn Closes, as the original got rabies during filming, and the studio just pulled the old John Wayne trick.

My dog can't fly. But he can ride a horse.

The fifth unbelievable truth I am going to tell you now, because it's my new favourite truth I have ever tried to smuggle on the show (beating the previous title-holder, which was that Prince Waldemar of Prussia once played a trick on his grandmother, Queen Victoria, by letting a crocodile loose in her study.) 

It is that in the Eastern Orthodox Church, St Christopher was often shown in icons as having the head of a dog, because of a mix-up between the Latin for 'from Canaan' and… 'Canine'. Yes, that is actually true. I know, but it is. No, it is. Trust me, it is. 

I can tell you still don't believe me. 


St Stephen trying to dry St Christopher's paws before he comes into the house. 

St Christopher performing the miracle of the Untaken Biscuit.

'Shake, St Christopher! Good boy!' 

NRA: The miraculous pit stop

Apr. 22nd, 2014 11:24 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 234-238

Renegade ex-rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah summoned the wrong member of the Tribulation Force to help him escape from Israel. Think back to the first book in this series, in which Buck Williams struggled mightily over the course of several chapters just to travel from Chicago to New York in the days following the Rapture. Chloe Steele, meanwhile, managed somehow to get from Palo Alto to the Chicago suburbs in less than 24 hours. Buck — a sophisticated, jet-setting elite reporter — spent thousands of dollars chartering a private plane because all commercial flights were grounded. Chloe — a college student with only a bit of pizza money in her purse — covered twice the distance in half the time.

If Chloe had come to rescue Ben-Judah, he’d be finishing his third cup of Loretta’s tea at her home in Illinois by now. But instead, the poor man is crouching behind the seats of a dilapidated school bus, listening to Buck stammering clumsy cover stories in an attempt to outwit one of the Antichrist’s highway patrolmen.

This “Global Community peacekeeping force squad” member, inexplicably patrolling the one place on Earth where he has no jurisdiction, has just informed Buck that his friend Michael Rowtheboatashore is now in GCPFS custody, and that they have ways of making him talk:

“It will not take us long to find out where he has hidden our suspect. It will be in his best interest to tell us the whole truth. He has a wife and children, after all.”

For the first time in his life, Buck was tempted to kill a man. He knew the officer was just a pawn in a cosmic game, the war between good and evil. But he represented evil. Would Buck have been justified, the way Michael had felt justified, in killing those who might kill Tsion? The officer heard squawking on his radio and hurried back to the squad car.

Again, this scene falls apart because Jerry Jenkins can’t keep track of which country he’s in. The Israeli police have killed Tsion’s family and framed him for their  murder, so Buck and Tsion are trying to get out of Israel. That means they’re trying to get into the Antichrist’s “Global Community” where Tsion isn’t being hunted by the police. But here we have the Global Community police referring to Tsion as “our suspect” — destroying the whole premise of this run-for-the-border subplot.

I suppose that’s why Buck thinks about killing this policeman rather than just knocking him out or tying him up. In variations of this scene in which the writers want us to see their hero as a likable Good Guy, the next step might be to overpower the patrolman, disable his radio, throw his gun and car keys into a nearby stream and steal his pants. That usually gives the heroes enough time to make their getaway, crossing the border to safety. But that can’t work if the one-world government’s police force squad already regards Tsion as their suspect.

Our man-of-action hero is still frozen in contemplation of which decisive action to take when the policeman returns from his cruiser.

“Our techniques have worked,” he said. “We have extracted the location of the hiding place, somewhere between Jericho and Lake Tiberius off the Jordan River. …

This is like saying you’ve narrowed the search down to near the Mississippi River, somewhere between St. Paul and the Gulf of Mexico. “Somewhere between Jericho and Lake Tiberius” is almost the entire length of the Jordan — about 150 miles.

“… But under threat of torture and even death, he swears you were merely a tour guest to whom he sold the vehicle.”

Buck sighed. Others might consider that mutual ruse a coincidence. To him it was as much a miracle as what he had seen at the Wailing Wall.

At the Western Wall, Buck saw Moses and Elijah returned in the flesh. He saw them deflect bullets with an invisible force field, he saw them strike a man dead with a glance, and he (eventually) saw them breathe fire. But to Buck none of that is any more “miraculous” than the fact that he and Michael are both sticking to the same cover story they’d agreed to earlier. That’s neither a miracle nor a coincidence.

“Just for safety’s sake, however,” the officer said, “I have been asked to search your vehicle for any evidence of the fugitive.”

“But you said –”

“Have no fear, sir. You are in the clear. Perhaps you were used to transport some evidence out of the country without your knowing it. We simply need to check the vehicle for anything that might lead us to the suspect. I will thank you to stand aside and remain here while I search your vehicle.”

OK, you know that thing at the airport, when they ask you if anyone else packed or handled your suitcase? Questions like that shouldn’t be a surprise at a border crossing. Buck has explained that he just now, very recently and very quickly, purchased this school bus from a man known to be trying to smuggle a fugitive out of the country. And he seems disappointed that this fails to completely allay all of the policeman’s suspicions.

“You don’t need a warrant or my permission or anything?”

The officer turned menacingly toward Buck. “Sir, you have been pleasant and cooperative. But do not make the mistake that you are talking with local law enforcement here. You can see from my car and my uniform that I represent the peacekeeping forces of the Global Community. We are restricted by no conventions or rules. I could confiscate this vehicle without so much as your signature. Now wait here.”

The authors here are so eager to reinforce the John Birch Society mythology of Tim LaHaye’s U.N. conspiracy theories that they don’t even seem to notice how this all destroys both Jenkins’ subplot and LaHaye’s “prophecy” timeline. “We are restricted by no conventions or rules,” is how the United Nations operates in their fever-dreams of black helicopters and blue helmets. Every time LaHaye or one of his Tea-Bircher friends gets a speeding ticket they’re relieved to look in their rear-view mirror and see only a state trooper or local cop and not the U.N. insignia of the global federation they’re convinced is constantly patrolling the highways of the entire world.*

The problem here, though, is not that this policeman is unrestricted by “conventions or rules,” but that he is emphatically unrestricted by borders or treaties. He’s patrolling on the wrong side of the Israeli/GC border, which derails Jenkins’ subplot. And he’s violating the Antichrist’s treaty with Israel, which is an inviolable centerpiece of LaHaye’s prophecy scheme.

We can’t overstate how essential this whole treaty business is in LaHaye’s Bible prophecy outline. For LaHaye, the seven-year Great Tribulation doesn’t start with the Rapture, but with the signing of the peace treaty between the Antichrist’s empire and Israel — the only remaining nation not absorbed into his one-world government. That treaty divides the seven-year Tribulation in half, with the Antichrist honoring it for the first three and a half years, then breaking it and warring against Israel for the final three and a half years.

LaHaye calculates all of that based on some kooky premillennial dispensationalist numerology, which he decodes from Revelation 11 (which mentions “42 months” and “1,260 days”) and from the “weeks” in Daniel 9. For Tim LaHaye, Daniel 9 is all about the Antichrist because, for Tim LaHaye, everything in the Bible is all about the Antichrist. So when he reads this, from Daniel 9:27 –

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

– it seems to LaHaye a simple and clear presentation of his Tribulation timeline. The Antichrist must, according to Bible prophecy, “confirm the covenant” for seven years. And then the Antichrist must break that covenant exactly halfway through those seven years. Obviously.

But here on page 235 of Nicolae, those 42 months aren’t up yet. At this point in the story, the Antichrist is still supposed to be confirming the covenant, not sending his policemen into Israel to conduct warrantless manhunts unrestricted by local law. This GCPFS patrolman’s actions, then, aren’t just a violation of that treaty, but a violation of biblical prophecy itself.

That brings us back to one of the most basic, insurmountable flaws with the entire “prophetic” scheme on which these books are based: The Antichrist has to play along. This embodiment of ultimate evil and rebellion against God is expected and required to dutifully work his way through the entire prophecy checklist, never straying from the divinely ordained, prophesied script. That script calls for him to make a seven-year peace treaty with Israel, and then to break it after three and a half years. Why should he go along with that? He’s evil and in rebellion against God, remember?

In order for this prophecy to unfold as prophesied, the Antichrist will either have to be uncharacteristically devoted to gentlemanly sportsmanship and fair play, thus refusing to stray from the agreed-upon script of prophecy, or else the Antichrist will have to be wholly ignorant of that script. Such ignorance seems impossible, though, in part because of the sensational popularity of things like the Left Behind books. If any future Antichrist were to arrive in accordance with Tim LaHaye’s prophecies, that Antichrist would surely know all about those prophecies because of the best-selling books of Tim LaHaye. Any such Antichrist should therefore be expected to deviate from the script of prophecy described in these books, ensuring that those prophecies never come to pass.

Thus, yet again, there’s a sense in which the existence of the Left Behind series itself ensures that the events it claims to prophesy can never occur.

So the policeman enters the school bus, where Tsion is hiding and Buck springs into action to save the day:

Wild thoughts ran through Buck’s mind. He considered trying to disarm the officer and racing away in the man’s squad car with Tsion. It was ludicrous, he knew, but he hated inaction. Would Tsion jump the officer? Kill him? Buck heard the officer’s footsteps move slowly to the back of the bus and then to the front again. The flashlight beam danced around inside the bus.

For someone who hates inaction, Buck has gotten really good at it. Whenever trouble arises, we can count on him to consider thinking about pondering all kinds of wild possibilities.

The officer rejoined him. “What did you think you were going to do? Did you think you were going to get away with this? Did you think I was going to allow you to drive this vehicle across the border into Egypt and to simply dump it? Were you going to leave it at an airport somewhere for local authorities to clean up?”

That bit of misdirection might have been effective if the man’s references to Egypt and to “local authorities” weren’t also reminders that: A) There’s no longer any such thing as “local authorities,” and B) Less than three days ago, the Global Community Peacekeeping Air Force Squadron Force carried out an attack on Egypt with nuclear weapons, making his sudden anger over the possibility of an abandoned car seem a bit disproportionate.

Buck awkwardly explains that he intended to give away the bus once he arrived in Egypt and that satisfies the officer, who drives away, leaving Buck mystified as to how the man failed to find Tsion Ben-Judah hidden in the back seats.

“Had God supernaturally blinded him?” Buck wonders, and “his knees like jelly and his fingers twitching,” he rushes inside the bus to hear his friend’s account of this miraculous deliverance from evil.

But Tsion isn’t there. Another miracle! Had God supernaturally whisked him off of the bus? Had their mutual friend Elijah sent his fiery chariot to carry him away to safety? Perhaps God had miraculously turned the former rabbi invisible.

None of those, it turns out. It seems that when Buck got out to fix the radiator, Tsion walked off into the bushes to pee and then hid there until the GCPFS cop left.

Others might consider that a coincidence, but to our heroes, and to the authors, it was as much a miracle as what they had seen at the Wailing Wall.

“If you have ever wondered what the saying meant about the Lord working in mysterious way,” Tsion said, “there was your answer.”

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* With all this talk of borders, sovereignty, jurisdiction, U.N. conventions and international law, we should note here that Buck has just driven from Jericho to Beersheba. In our world — the actual real world — that would involve a long drive through the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, crossing the border into Israel just south of Hebron. And that crossing, in our world, would involve getting past a ginormous barbed-wire fence.

To be fair, the separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank had not yet been erected when LaHaye and Jenkins wrote this book in 1997. Normally, though, when we excuse authors for failing to predict such unforeseen developments, we say things like, “No one can be expected to see into the future.” But unfortunately for L&J, that’s exactly what they’re claiming to do in these books. Back in 1997, they offered some very specific predictions for what would “soon” unfold in Israel — not the construction of a barricade, but the peaceful annexation and friendly ethnic cleansing of everything from that border all the way to the Jordan and beyond.

That prediction was as utterly wrong as it was cheerfully monstrous. They are already, to use a biblical term, false prophets.

When Joe’s gone

Apr. 22nd, 2014 11:02 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I don’t know what it’s like for Joe when I’m not here. I travel all the time, and he must be used to what the house is like without me.  Usually, when Joe’s home,  I’m up way earlier than he is – on account of the music business being a thing that starts and ends late. (Musicians have realized my life goal of a world that starts at 11  and ends at 23:00. If Joe’s up at 7, it’s usually from the other side.)   I get up and come downstairs, and I can have my coffee right that minute, because Joe is the miracle man who comes home in the wee hours and sets the coffeemaker to do it by itself  before I wake up, a gesture of love that I’m not fool enough to overlook.

I don’t miss Joe in the daytime.  As a matter of fact, the last few days have been stunningly productive – probably related to the way that Joe fritters away most of my mornings when he’s here. He reads me things from the news, asks me where we keep things, asks me if I know where he put his insert-object-I’m-not-responsible-for here.  I don’t mind that much – it’s really the only time of day that we connect.  Usually I give up and knit and find his stuff until he leaves. Then he’s off – gone to do his thing all day, and that’s when my day starts. I work from 11 or 12 until about 8, but I don’t see him again then until very late. I have my dinner alone most days – I cook for both of us, but Joe eats his when he comes home.

When Joe’s gone if I clean something up it stays clean, but I don’t really clean anything, because it’s just me.  When Joe’s gone, I have a chance to see friends I don’t usually see, and we go out for dinner (which is a great plan, because why anyone would cook for one, I just don’t know.

beerssock 2014-04-22

Without Joe, I miss landmarks. I miss the moments that our days intersect, and the reasons to do things like dinner and cleaning,  and here I am. Three days without him, and I wonder what his days are like without me, because without him my days are lovely, but strange, and I can’t wait until he comes home to bother me again, and I wonder if that’s what it’s like when I’m away from him.

Fifty Species Goal: #24-49

Apr. 22nd, 2014 10:33 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed

Holy mackerel, we are blowin' this thing out of the water! While I was off in Texas, two old sightings finally got an ID (and damnit, I'm counting them!) plus a whole bunch of new ones showed up.

In fact--a mere three months and some change after starting--we've nearly hit the 50 species goal! One species away!

Dude! Dude! I know I'm the one who's really excited by this--I mean, it's my garden and everybody else probably thinks I'm nuts--but how amazing is that!? We're almost there already! Some of those months were mid-winter and nothing much was showing up!

I sorta feel like this proves--at least to me--that if you just LOOK, there's an insane amount of biodiversity just lurking everywhere. Yes, my garden is particularly buggy, owing to my crazed planting and lack of pesticides, but it's not anything that anybody else couldn't do, given a patch of dirt and a cel phone camera and a really weird hobby.

So, without further ado, the new bugs!

As usual, this is mostly Lepidoptera, thanks to the nice people at BAMONA, but we did add a couple new insects of other varieties! (Some of you on Twitter saw some of these names already, incidentally.)

#24 -- Hydrochara sp. Water Scavenger Beetle

This is a big glossy black beetle that looks like every other big glossy black beetle. I'm tentatively thinking H. lotor, but frankly, there's no way to make a really good id. I am comfortable with the genus level on this one.

#25 -- Euparius marmoreus Marbled Fungus Weevil


I have a snout!

How freaky cute is this thing? It reminds me of the keyboardist from the Star Wars cantina scene.

#26 -- Harmonia axyridis Harlequin Ladybird

An invasive ladybug. These are the little bastards who try to get into your house in droves in winter. I am not fond of them, despite my general positive disposition toward ladybugs.

And now, the moths, with their awesomely weird names!

#27 -- Galgula partita The Wedgling

This sounds like some kind of fairy, probably not terribly well-inclined towards humanity.

#28 -- Hydriomena transfigurata The Transfigured Hydriomena

Have I mentioned that I love it when "The" is part of the name of these moths? (I have no idea what makes this one "transfigured." It's a pretty bland moth.)

#29 -- Hypena baltimoralis    Baltimore Bomolocha Moth

This has got to be a dance.

#30 -- Lithophane innominata   Nameless Pinion

The entomologist was feeling lazy that day.

#31 -- Lithophane petulca    Wanton Pinion


I...wait, what?

I am forced to assume that the entomologist had been in the field much too long for this one, if he has taken to slut-shaming Lepidoptera.

#32 -- Arogalea cristifasciella   Stripe-backed Moth

The entomologist, having recovered from his weird bout of projection, went back to purely descriptive names.

#33 -- Eupsilia vinulenta   Straight-toothed Sallow

Much like the Curved-Toothed Geometer, I find myself really not wanting to look at this moth's mouth, for fear of never sleeping again.

#34 -- Chaetaglaea sericea   Silky Sallow

This moth uses a very good shampoo.

#35 -- Himella intractata    Intractable Quaker

EEEEEE! OH MY GOD, I GOT AN INTRACTABLE QUAKER MOTH! I saw the name and I wanted to see one, but I figured they probably lived somewhere else!

Mind you, I am not sure what's so intractable about them...


Sure, he looks innocent, but he refuses to ask for directions or change plans once he's made them.

#36 -- Condica vecors   Dusky Groundling

This sounds like a fantasy race of goblins or something.

#37 -- Elaphria grata   Grateful Midget



*backs away from entomologist*

#38 -- Ectropis crepuscularia   The Small Engrailed

This sounds vaguely Arthurian.

#39 -- Argyrotaenia velutinana   Red Banded Leafroller Moth

This is an extremely uninteresting (and very small) moth with no apparent red bands. Fortunately I have a 7x zoom lens for my iPhone...

#40 -- Nedra ramosula   Gray Half-Spot

This is actually a pretty handsome fellow. He looks like he's got a fur collar and iridescent cloak.


Take me to the Ren Faire!

#41 -- Nemapogon auropulvella   European Grain Moth

This is one teeny tiny little moth, and what little information I can find says that it's native to the US, despite the name. I don't even know.

#42 -- Phalaenophana pyramusalis   Dark-banded Owlet Moth

The Owlet Moth Tribe returns!

#43 -- Pero ancetaria Hübner's Pero

Holy crap, there's an umlaut in my garden!

#44 -- Paectes abrostoloides   Large Paectes

Also known as the "Sweetgum Defoliator," which is like the most obscure serial killer ever.

#45 -- Ilexia intractata   Black-dotted Ruddy Moth

Another small brown not-all-that-exciting moth.

#46 -- Lascoria ambigualis Ambiguous Moth

Having exhausted his powers with the Grateful Midget, our entomologist slumps back into despair.

#47 -- Poanes zabulon Zabulon Skipper

A butterfly this time!

#48 -- Ancyloxypha numitor Least Skipper

Another butterfly. A very small brownish one.

#49 -- Knulliana cincta  Longhorn Hickory Borer

This is a beetle. And by "This is a beetle" I mean "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD IF GIANT BUGS FREAK YOU OUT, DO NOT GOOGLE THIS THING." It's...large. And bitey. And apparently attracted to porch lights.

So that's 49. We're one ID away from hitting the fifty species goal! How cool is that?!

The Hugo Ballot is Out!

Apr. 22nd, 2014 07:00 pm
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Annalee

The finalists for the 2014 Hugo Awards were announced over the weekend, and gee golly are there some exciting works on that slate. I’m especially excited to see Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut Of Mars” on the ballot (it was denied a place on last year’s ballot because it originally appeared as an Audiobook). It’s sharing the novelette category with Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars,” which I’ve not read yet but am looking forward to checking out.

Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, which is up for Best Novel, has been making a lot of shortlists this year, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Clarke awards. I’m also glad to see Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories Are For Losers” up for the short story Hugo–it’s definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet (Samatar is also in her second year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer).

And I’m excited that my fellow Writing On The Fast Track alum and all-around good guy Mike Underwood is up for Best Fancast for The Skiffy and Fanty Show. The team behind it includes several other wonderful people, including authors and diversity advocates Julia Rios and Stina Leicht.

If you’re interested in checking out these and the other wonderful & deserving works on this year’s ballot and voting for this year’s Hugo awards, supporting memberships to this year’s WorldCon are available for 40$US. In addition to voting rights, supporting Members get a copy of the Hugo Voter Packet, which contains digital editions of most of the works on the ballot. This works out to a pretty great bargain if you’re excited about even a few of the nominated works–plus you get to vote on this year’s Hugos.

You may notice that there are a few surprising names on this year’s ballot. Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day, a writer whose hate speech got him drummed out of the SFWA last year) and Larry Correia encouraged their fans to nominate a particular ‘slate’ that included several vocal conservatives. Some of their fans have since been heard crowing about how they’ve succeeded in making some kind of political point by getting these folks on the ballot.

It’s unfortunate that they’ve chosen to politicize the Hugo awards in this way. But I would remind folks that are thinking about buying a membership that the Hugo Awards use “Instant Runoff Voting,” a system which allows voters to rank the candidates in each category. The system allows people to rank “No Award” higher than any or all candidates on the ballot. Indeed, in 1987, that very thing happened in the novel category: No Award came in ahead of L. Ron Hubbard’s Black Genesis.

Since invoking Beale’s name tends to cause some of the cesspools of the internet to backflow into the tubes, this is your reminder that we have a strictly-enforced comment policy. So if you’re here from Beale’s fan club: run along. Your comment will go straight to moderation and no one will see it.  There are plenty of places online where you can contribute to a net reduction in the worth and dignity of humanity. This is not one of them.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• Quick note to everyone who has planted or tended forsythia bushes in their yards: Thank you. I needed that.

• Sometimes the fun in reading blogs via Feedly is the juxtaposition of disparate posts. First came this: “MRC Attacks the Media for Covering Sports, Non-Christian Faiths.” Followed by this: “No, Jesus Did Not Get Booed at a Hockey Game on Easter Sunday.”

“… to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance …”

The latter — the strange tale of the Boston Bruins’ costumed good-luck charm for playoff games — seems like it was tailor-made to address MRC’s supposed desire for more Jesus, less sports reporting in the media. But if you read what the persecuted hegemons of the Media Research Center actually had to say in the former link, you’ll see that “more Jesus” isn’t really what they want from The Evil Media. What they want is an arrangement in which they, the majority population, are free to go about their lives without ever being reminded that religious minorities exist. “If there’s 80-85 percent Christians,” says MRC’s Dan Gainor, then media coverage of religion should be 80-85 percent Christian. Otherwise, he whines, The Evil Media must be “attacking” Christianity.

• So I watched the first episode of the newish CW show Star-Crossed. I wasn’t hooked, but I wanted to see how it stacked up against the first episode of the fun old series Roswell. That’s the standard, I think, for extra-terrestrial teen dramas, and the Roswell pilot, especially, offers a great model for establishing premise, characters and romantic tension while still being great fun. What struck me with the newer show was how much darker it seemed. If you’re looking for a pop-culture angle for how America has changed itself over the course of 13 years of the Global War on Terror, I think you could find one in the contrast between the first episodes of these two odd little teen fantasies.

• “You can’t do this sort of thing with God’s word and you can’t claim that God is telling you to deny what God had told us from ancient days up to now.”

• “Philly preppies accused in ‘Main Line take over’ drug operation aimed at cornering supply to fancy schools.” OK, so maybe Terrence McCoy of The Washington Post has never spent any time in the wealthy western suburbs of Philadelphia, but didn’t he at least have to read Catcher in the Rye at some point? Nothing in this story is surprising except maybe that the network of high schools supplied by these guys didn’t include Shipley.

• Here’s my neighbor BooMan musing on David Foster Wallace’s call for “anti-rebels” and the way that the once rebelliously ironic tools of the counterculture seem to have “created a kind of closed circle impermeable to artistic sincerity.” What good is it to be a smart-aleck, he asks, if you “lack any core convictions”? And here’s David Dark saying something very similar, “Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad a Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s ‘Late Show.’”


[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I've been laughing my way through the Cliven Bundy fiasco because, as Jamelle Bouie suggests, there may be no better example of racist privilege than the right to flout the government's authority and then back its agents down at gunpoint. Bouie asks, hypothetically, how we'd respond if Bundy were black.

Inasmuch as this is even a question, American history has already answered it (emphasis added): 

In an 18-month investigation, The Associated Press documented a pattern in which black Americans were cheated out of their land or driven from it through intimidation, violence and even murder.

In some cases, government officials approved the land takings; in others, they took part in them. The earliest occurred before the Civil War; others are being litigated today. Some of the land taken from black families has become a country club in Virginia, oil fields in Mississippi, a major-league baseball spring training facility in Florida ...

The AP—in an investigation that included interviews with more than 1,000 people and the examination of tens of thousands of public records in county courthouses and state and federal archives—documented 107 land takings in 13 Southern and border states.

In those cases alone, 406 black landowners lost more than 24,000 acres of farm and timber land plus 85 smaller properties, including stores and city lots. Today, virtually all of this property, valued at tens of millions of dollars, is owned by whites or by corporations.

That is from the AP's exceptional (and oft-overlooked) 2001 series "Torn From The Land." What generally followed this tearing was not a patriotic defense of the little guy but mob violence and ethnic cleansingIn 1912, Forsyth County, Georgia, expelled 1,000 black people—10 percent of its total population—and appropriated their land. (For more on the subject, I suggest Marco Williams's superb documentary Banished.) The unfortunate fact is that plunder—of land, labor, children, whatever—is a defining characteristic of this country's relationship with black people. American militias have rarely formed to end that sort of plunder. They've generally formed to enable it. 

The thing to do here, as Chris Hayes points out, is not to argue that Bundy should be subject to the kind of violence that black people who find themselves in dispute with the government's agents often are. (There's nothing for liberals to cheer about in a running gunfight over grazing fees.) The thing to do is to recognize the limits of our sympathies and try to extend them. "How about widening the aperture," Hayes asks, "for the tyranny you see all around you?"

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by gfspamspam

  • Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | Andy Khouri at ComicsAlliance (April 16): “”I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.” [..] Men are the cure — but we are the cancer too. It is wholly and rightfully and crucially up to men in this society and especially in this subculture to speak out and watch out. To end the cycle of bullying, harassment and violence. To recognize the grotesque irony of degrading women over matters of heroic fictions whose lessons about fairness and decency we’ve supposedly been studying since we were just little boys, and to start putting those ideas into practice as grown-ass men.”
  • To the point of collapse, and beyond | Maria at Crooked Timber (April 8): “Collapse from nervous exhaustion and working too hard [...] somewhere in the late twentieth century we forgot about all this. With antibiotics and behaviourism and god knows what else, the mind body connection got disjointed. People stopped having a good excuse to say they were spent. When burnout and chronic fatigue were ‘discovered’ in the 1980s, the popular view was – and still is, for the most part – incredulity and a sense that people whose bodies had suddenly and seemingly inexplicably forgotten how to be well were somehow faking it. Or asking for it. [...] When something stops having a name, it gets harder to track and compare across generations. Nowadays, it seems easier to categorise fatigue or burnout as depression, as if it’s somehow anomalous and not something entirely to be expected.”
  • ‘Why can’t you just deal with it?’ ‘It’s a compliment!’ | s.e. smith at meloukhia (April 21): “Is it a compliment when a complete stranger says ‘hey, nice shoes!’? Yes, it is – I occasionally compliment fine shoes myself. Is it a compliment when a stranger says ‘nice ass!’? Well… not so much. Because one comment is about an accessory, an item someone deliberately chose as part of her presentation, something she can take on and off. She may have chosen to wear those shoes just for herself, with no one else in mind, but she might still appreciate hearing that someone thinks they’re excellent shoes. But her ass, well, that’s a different story. That’s not something that she can take on and take off. Now, she may have worked quite hard on her butt, and she could be stoked that someone thinks it looks good, but that’s an individual thing, not something generic to all women. The tone and delivery of a compliment about her butt might make a big impression in her perception of it. The fact of the matter is that a comment like ‘nice ass’ feels crude and unpleasant and threatening, because extended from ‘nice ass’ is something slimy and threatening and gross, something sinister.”
  • Pink Weights? (Guest Post) | Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty (April 19): A little outside the usual topics, however, it is a feminist viewpoint on what can be a geeky topic. “I have a mild uterine prolapse, which is like a mild hernia with less reliable surgical options. This condition is quite common, but not talked about very much, perhaps because it involves female bits, or perhaps because it isn’t life threatening. It certainly was news to me. [...] It turns out that despite my level of fitness, I hadn’t been exercising properly. I did not know what “activate your core before lifting” actually meant. I thought it meant bracing your abdominal and back muscles. But that’s not enough, and bracing could actually be doing more harm than good.”
  • Look In the Mirror: Confronting the Contradictions of LGBT Organizations and Our “Leadership” | Christian Emmanuel Castaing at Black Girl Dangerous (April 17): “How dare you or your mission statement proclaim to speak for marginalized communities when, in actuality, you’re developing your career and using your personal definitions of “sex positivity,” “social justice,” and “human rights” to SPEAK OVER the needs of those you claim to speak for? How dare you call yourself an activist when you capitalize on unearned privileges to state “It Gets Better,” while reinforcing a system of “Us” and “Them”? How dare you capitalize on a movement, take the most space, and use the most resources to satisfy your desires over the needs of others? The contradictions in our organizations and within any leader are vast. Keeping a movement that has turned its back on its least protected members demands that we reclaim the movement and hold it responsible. Our leadership cannot avoid being held responsible for unethical behavior, and we should not be afraid to hold them accountable.”

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

This is a Pink Lady: 15 oz. gin, 4 dashes of grenadine, and an egg white.


According to Shanna Farrell,  the Pink Lady was popularized in the ’50s.  Women were believed to have “dainty palates,” and so cocktails for women were designed to disguise any taste of alcohol.  In the ’70s, the Pink Lady was surpassed by the Lemon Drop and, in the ’80s, the Cosmopolitan.

Farrell asks “What does it mean to drink like a woman” today? Anecdotally, she finds that bartenders consistently expect her to order something “juicy or sweet” — “It’s pink; you’ll like it” — and respond with a favorable nod when she orders something “spirit forward.”

This is typical for America today: women are expected to perform femininity, but when they perform masculinity, they are admired and rewarded. This is because we still put greater value on men and the things we associate with them.

This phenomenon of valuing masculinity over femininity — what we call “androcentrism” — may be changing how women drink, since everyone likes that nod of approval.  Farrell reports that “women account for the fastest-growing segment of worldwide whiskey consumers.”  Well hello, Hilary.


I wonder how men will respond to women’s incursion into the whiskey market. Traditionally we’ve seen male flight.  As an activity, occupation, or product is increasingly associated with women, men leave.  In a society where women keep infiltrating more and more of men’s domains, this is a bad long-term strategy for maintaining dominance (see, for example, the feminization of education). As I ask in my forthcoming sociology of gender textbook: “What will happen when women are sipping from all the bottles?”

Thanks to the super-cool bartender Naomi Schimek for the tip!

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

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

Perseveration Much?

Apr. 22nd, 2014 05:54 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

The movie was better attended than we thought it would be. That surprised us. What didn't surprise us was that the one accessible seat, with the symbol all over it, was taken. There were lots of other seats available, but that one was gone.

I asked the woman sitting there if she realized that the seat was an accessible seat. She said that she did not and immediately got up and grabbed her stuff. She looked back at the seat, once she stepped out, and said, "I honestly didn't notice the wheelchair symbol." She then took a middle seat in the next row forward. We thanked her for her immediate willingness to just move a little forward.

It had been a simple and pleasant interchange.

Or so we both thought.

As we sat through the trailers and munched our popcorn, we noted that the woman seemed to be a little bit upset. I wasn't sure why. It had been a simple and pleasant interchange. She had chatted a little bit with her new seat mates, she had an empty seat on either side of her so she wasn't wedged in next to anyone. It all seemed to be so easy and so, I'll say it again, pleasant.

The movie started.

About ten minutes in, she stood up and dashed out of the theatre.

I watched the movie while running through the request I made to make use of the accessible seat space. I thought of the little chatter that happened with us, both our thank yous, the chatter she'd had with her new seatmates. It had all seemed so easy and so friendly.

This morning, I got up to write about this and realized while doing so ...

What if this isn't about me at all?

What if this has nothing to do with our interaction?

What if the two things, my asking, her leaving, have nothing to do with each other?

Why am I not trusting that my memory and Joe's confirmation that it had all been pleasant and friendly?

Is there a danger of making connections that may not be there?

Is disability sometimes not really part of the story at all?

And the most important question: Why am I still thinking of this four days later?

When moral codes codify immorality

Apr. 21st, 2014 08:59 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Mallory Ortberg offers a terrific guide to “Pre-code Movies Worth Watching,” wherein she solidifies her status as one of my favorite people on the Internets with her take on I Am a Fugitive From a Chain-Gang:

My absolute favorite film of all time, bar none. You have to see it. YOU HAVE TO SEE IT. Oh, God, I want to give away the ending so bad, but I won’t, even though it’s been over 80 years. It’s one of the most absolutely harrowing endings in film history, and completely unthinkable for a studio film to end on that kind of a note at the time. There’s a hiss and a whisper and footsteps in the dark and an admission of something that’s impossible to believe. Oh, God, watch it yesterday and call me when you’re done so we can talk about it for hours.

The code of “pre-code” was the Motion Picture Production Code, a long, “touch not, taste not, handle not” list of guidelines and taboos from the Hollywood studio censors outlining what topics and depictions were off-limits.

Ortberg’s survey offers some helpful (and funny) categories, starting with “Worth Watching For Any Reasons” and then descending into others such as “Less Well-Known Remakes,” “If You Want to Get Into Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Racial Dynamics,” “Ugh, If You Must, They’re ‘Important’ But I Hate Them,” “If You Want to Take a Deeply Uncomfortable Journey to Another Time,” and ”Worth It for the Titles Alone.”

Oh, those titles. Here’s Wikipedia’s long list of pre-code movies — a list that could easily provide all the band names we’ll ever need for the next decade.  A small selection, just from those released in 1933:

  • A Shriek in the Night
  • Air Hostess
  • Ann Carver’s Profession
  • Beauty for Sale
  • Broadway Through a Keyhole
  • Ecstasy
  • Ex-Lady
  • Girl Without a Room
  • The Mayor of Hell
  • Midnight Mary
  • The Past of Mary Holmes
  • Roman Scandals
  • She Done Him Wrong
  • She Had to Say Yes
  • Should Ladies Behave
  • The Sin of Nora Moran
  • The Secret of Madame Blanche
  • The Song of Songs
  • When Ladies Meet
  • The White Sister
  • Wild Boys of the Road
  • The Woman Accused

Those titles seem to have functioned the way the movie rating system functions today. They may not have had such a thing as an “R-rating” in 1934, but I think audiences knew what they could expect from movies with titles like Fugitive Lovers, Massacre, or The Road to Ruin.

A survey of pre-code movies is an excellent antidote to much of the nonsense we sometimes hear about “old-fashioned morality.” Our grandparents’ generation is sometimes said to have lived in a more innocent time, before America went to Hell in a handbasket and began abandoning traditional morality. But it turns out our grandparents were lining up at the box office to see movies like She Couldn’t Say No or The Unholy Three.

Those pre-code movies are a good reminder that much of what gets glibly described as “traditional morality” was actually really, really immoral. I don’t just mean that people back then were titillated by stories they regarded as immoral. That’s always been true and probably always will be true. That’s the transgressive allure of the lurid, and there’s a sense in which it does as much to reinforce the prevailing morality as any moral code.

But the larger problem isn’t that people back then often transgressed against their “traditional morality.” The larger problem was that traditional morality itself was, in many ways, deeply perverse — it celebrated evil and injustice as exemplary rectitude while condemning and forbidding much that was good and beautiful and true.

Here’s Mallory Ortberg, again, describing an example of this, from the 1930 extravaganza Golden Dawn:

Fortify your spirit before giving this one a chance. It’s about a white woman kidnapped and raised by “African natives” (the setting never gets more specific than “colonial Africa”) who falls in love with an Englishman but can’t marry him until she’s able to decisively prove that she’s not biracial. Most of the “natives” are played by English actors in blackface, and the happy ending comes about when the lead character is released from a sacrificial ceremony for being “pure white,” so gird your loins if you decide to watch it. OH. And it’s a musical. So.

But then the film industry came up with the Hays Office and the Motion Picture Production Code to enforce moral standards.

Take a look at that code, particularly at it’s lists of “Don’ts” and “Be Carefuls,” and you’ll see that it simply codified that same traditional immorality. Here, to get specific, are items No. 6 and No. 11 from the “Don’ts” — things that “shall not appear in pictures produced by the members of this Association, irrespective of the manner in which they are treated”:

6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races)

11. Willful offense to any nation, race or creed

No. 6 tells you all you need to know about No. 11 — what was meant by it and how it was applied. That 11th Don’t conveys an admirable sentiment of respect for every “nation, race or creed,” but it was constricted by the unstated, unexamined, almost unconscious assumptions that put that prohibition against any depiction of “miscegenation” five slots higher on the list. Thus the bad parts of “traditional morality” prevented even the good parts from being any good.

But before we congratulate ourselves for our relative enlightenment, we should remember that the dangerous tricky thing about unstated, unexamined, and (almost) unconscious assumptions is that they are all of those things. We don’t fully know we’re making them when we’re making them.

And we’re making just as many of them as Hays or Breen or Comstock or any other notoriously myopic moral censor of the past.

We have overcome and corrected some of the immoral blindnesses of “traditional morality” — 84 percent of white Americans no longer think there should be a law against interracial marriage, and that has been the majority view since way back in 1996 (!). But there are plenty of other blindnesses and unstated assumptions from traditional morality that we continue to suffer from — as well as some new ones we’ve come up with to add to the list, probably. For me, personally, for example, there’s the obvious moral blind-spot regarding …

I can’t finish that sentence yet, but I’ve no doubt that a generation from now others will have no trouble doing so. It may turn out to be a very long sentence.

The Motion Picture Production Code has not aged well because no moral code ages well. Every attempt to codify morality that goes beyond “love is the fulfillment of the law” or “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind” is bound to be shaped by all of the blindnesses and the assumptions of the people and the age that produced it. So every moral code will therefore have omissions and oversights, and will also include horrors that have no business being included. And just like in the MPPC’s list of “Don’ts,” those omissions and horrible admissions will wind up skewing even the good bits that might seem unrelated to them.

Whenever you question the “traditional morality” of any moral code that’s not aging well, you’ll be accused of lawless anarchy and antinomianism. “So you think anything goes” they say. They don’t mean it as a question, so they won’t wait for, or allow, an answer. And thus they’ll never understand the point.

The point isn’t that we should once and for all destroy all moral codes. The point is that we should perpetually be destroying them so that we can perpetually replace them.

Moral codes are things that perish with use. They have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety and severity, but they don’t age well. Test everything, hold onto the good.

Up from the ashes

Apr. 21st, 2014 05:32 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Joe and I dropped the ball this Easter. Usually this is a strong suit for us. I make special things, and knit little holiday themed presents, and cook foods that are special to that time of year, and Joe hunts clever gifts down – and we’re usually pretty good at it. We’re very attached to our immediate and extended family, and we enjoy time with them, and building beautiful holidays is important. This Easter? Boom. Nothing. We did nothing.  I’d like to pretend it was because we are so busy and everything in our lives are so complex, and we travel and blah, blah, blah, but the truth is that there’s a huge amount of notice on when Easter is, and therefore no excuse for the fact that on Friday, when Toronto was closed – Joe and I suddenly realized that we hadn’t done anything about the thing, and called around to the girls and discovered that between jobs and commitments, the only time we could have an Easter egg hunt and a family brunch was Saturday morning, and that’s when it got wild.  We checked around and discovered the one open grocery store (all the way across town) and set off to try and pull together this thing.  “Where the hell are we going to get baskets?” Joe queried, and I shrugged, and we got in the car.

When we got there, it was pretty obvious that we weren’t the only people with a procrastination problem.  The store had nothing. No baskets, almost no Easter chocolate, and the few bunnies left were all the ones that were amputees, had their eyes on crooked or had suffered an unfortunate decapitation.  The only thing the store had that was related to the season at all was a thousand million other crazed parents all willing to cut you to get that deranged  looking amputee bunny, and Joe and I (who will fare very poorly in the upcoming zombie apocalypse, let me tell you) opted out of the scrum and backed into a corner near the birthday cards to regroup.  “We’re going to have to get creative.” I said, and Joe high fived me.

We started in the bakeware aisle.  No baskets? That’s cool – how about something basket-like, but useful? All the girls cook… Ah-ha! Bread pans!  The rest was easy.  Instead of that silly paper Easter grass? Tea towels lined our “baskets”.  We went through the store grabbing treats that our young women would never buy, but would love. Pink Himalayan salt in a grinder. Paring knives, all little kitchen bits and pieces, and when we were done we tossed in a few brightly coloured pairs of socks, some maple popcorn, and bam.  The only thing missing was the traditional chocolate bunnies, and we found those in an open drug store we stumbled into on the way home.

newbaskets 2014-04-21

We were feeling good about it. Now all we needed were little gifts for Lou and Myrie, dyed eggs and we were home free.  Sam took care of dying the eggs that night – she’s serious about her craft.  This year she had a plan. 11 beautiful eggs, all the colours of the rainbow, and then one rainbow egg.

eggdiligence1 2014-04-21

eggdiligence 2014-04-21

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While Sam worked on that, I surfed quickly surfed Ravelry, and found exactly what I was looking for.  A quick stash dive, and knitting commenced.

startslippers 2014-04-21

By the morning, the house was full of all of us, and I hadn’t really made a dent in the knitting. We had an egg hunt, we played a few games, we had a beautiful brunch, and then I knit. I knit and I knit and I knit.  I got up every so often to start the bread dough for the next morning, and I did my first little training ride for the Bike Rally.  (20 Kilometres only. I’m going to have to seriously pick up the pace.) Somewhere in there Joe got on a plane and left for England (it was a surprise to me too) and I kept knitting. It’s been a long time since I stayed up late on a knitting deadline, but come the next morning I was almost done.

louandmyriealmost 2014-04-21

I got up early, baked bread, threw together a fruit salad,  and made devilled quails eggs – wait, those are too pretty not to share:

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Then off I went to Kate’s house for an Easter brunch, knitting the whole way. Right before the egg hunt, I finished.

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Oh yeah. Right there.  Matching Baby Bunny Booties for Lou and Myrie.  They were the cutest thing ever – and the best part was that Lou slammed his on his feet and ran around the house making sure everyone saw them.

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I upsized the pattern a bit, simply by working them in worsted weight rather than the DK the pattern called for. That made the newborn size into a six month size that fit Myrie perfectly, and the third size became a larger toddler size that fit Lou just right.  (Not that he toddles, the kid runs everywhere he goes. He’s a blur.)

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He loved them, the grownups loved them, and it was totally worth it.

Little Lou, egg hunter 2014-04-21

Pattern: Easter Baby Bunny Booties. Yarn: Leftover Cascade 220 that was kicking around.

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We pulled a great Easter out of the ashes, and the best moment for me?

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Doesn’t that kid look like he’s totally going to be a knitter?

(PS. It is exactly this kind of success after procrastination that means that Joe and I will never change. Failure is corrective. Cute bunny shoes, quails eggs and the best Easter baskets ever? That really didn’t teach us a lesson.)

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“If your butthole likes having things in it, go forth and enjoy. If it doesn’t, then you should probably listen to your body and leave your anus to its main purpose of excreting waste. If you’re trying to placate a boyfriend who won’t stop nagging you about fucking you in the ass, then he himself is an asshole, and I’d suggest he go fuck himself.”

- Stoya, on the will to perform  (via zombiemovies)

The Sinking of Quicksand

Apr. 21st, 2014 02:00 pm
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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

“For many of us, quicksand was once a real fear,” write the producers at Radio Lab:

It held a vise-grip on our imaginations, from childish sandbox games to grown-up anxieties about venturing into unknown lands. But these days, quicksand can’t even scare an 8-year-old.

Interviewing a class of fourth graders, writer Dan Engber discovered that most understood the concept, but didn’t find it particularly worrisome.  ”I usually don’t think about it,” said one.  They were more afraid of things like aliens, zombies, ghosts, and dinosaurs.  But they understood that it was something that people used to be afraid of: ”My dad told me that when he was little his friends always said ‘look out that could be quicksand!’”

Engber became fascinated with what happened to quicksand.  He found a source of data — compiled by, of all things, quicksand sexual fetishists — that included every movie scene that involved quicksand from the 1900s to the 2000s.  Comparing this number to the total number of movies produced allowed him to show that quicksand had a lifecourse.  It rose in the ’40s, skyrocketed in the ’60s, and then fell out of favor.



Engber found a pattern in the data.  In quicksand’s early years, the movie scenes featured quicksand as a very serious threat.  But, after quicksand peaked, it became a  joke.  In the ’80s, quicksand even made it into My Little Pony and Perfect Strangers.  Later, in discussions about plot lines for Lost, the idea of quicksand was dismissed as ridiculous.

I guess it’s fair to say that quicksand “jumped the shark.”

In sociology, we call this the social construction of social problems: the fact that our fears don’t perfectly correlate with the hazards we face.  In this case, media is implicated. What is it making us fear today?

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

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

Reporting, Permission and Expertise

Apr. 21st, 2014 06:42 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Sometimes what's Rolling Around in My Head comes Tumbling Out of My Mouth:

A new convenience store has opened around the corner from us. It's a big one and it would be really handy to shop in. I knew they were doing renovations to the store so I went over to look and see if they'd made it accessible. It's easy to do because it has only one shallow step and then an long entranceway. A ramp could be put there, except for the work, easily. Instead I found that they'd fixed the long crumbling step by pouring new concrete and keeping the step there.


I'm going to have to call the city to find out the rules about this. It seems to me that if a building can be made accessible and it's being renovated it should be made accessible. But, I'll give Rob and call and see if he calls back.

Later that same day, Joe and I were crossing the street up at Yonge and Bloor. A fellow was handing out flyers announcing the fact that the new convenience story was now open. He handed one to me. I said, "That store is inaccessible. When they renovated, they didn't bother to remove the step. It's inaccessible to me and to anyone with a mobility device." He put his hands up as if he had been attacked, I didn't yell, I used a conversational tone of voice, I wanted him to have this information. "I didn't have anything to do with that, they just pay me to pass these flyers out ." I nodded. I understood that.

As I was crossing the road a woman, who had overheard the conversation, told me that I'd been unfair to the man. That he "couldn't have known it was inaccessible," and isn't responsible for the decision of whomever rented and renovated the store. I said to her, "I only informed him of the inaccessibility. I wasn't rude."

"And what is he supposed to do with that information? Magically make it accessible?" sarcasm dripped from the words.

"No," I said after taking a breath, "I think it might be wise for him not to hand the flyer to those who can't use the store. If a store disallows a part of the population access, then you shouldn't invite them to come visit."

"Well," she said, considering, "you have a point."

"And may I point out, to you," I said extremely calmly, "that I don't report to you. That disabled people don't need permission from the non-disabled to speak out about something affecting our lives. I don't need your direction. I don't need your input. When it comes to my life as a disabled person, I'm the expert OK? I'm shocked that you felt that somehow you had the right to give me corrective feedback."

"I was just trying to help."

"So am I," I called to her retreating back.

 All this and we were just going for tea. As we sat down, Joe passed me my tea and said, "Ah, just another lecture tour of the neighbourhood."

"Ha, ha," I said.

"It wasn't a joke," he said, smiling.
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Posted by Timmi Duchamp

The new issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone is out. Brit Mandelo leads off with "Revisiting In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction by Sarah Lefanu"; Minister Faust gives us this issue's Grandmother Magma column; Mark Rich, Sona Taaffe, and Bogi Takács offer us poetry; and Victoria Elisabeth Garcia, Caren Gussoff, Gord Sellar, Cynthia Ward, and Tom Foster review books by Eileen Gunn, Bart R. Leib, Patrick Ness, Gail Simone and Walter Geovanni, and Sarah Tolmie. The issue also features the art of Dale McBride.

Table of Contents

Revisiting In the Chinks of the World Machine:
Feminism and Science Fiction
by Sarah Lefanu
   by Brit Mandelo

The Swooning
   by Mark Rich

The Etruscan Prince
   by Sonya Taaffe
Autonomous, Spacefaring
   by Bogi Takács

Grandmother Magma
On Angela Davis’s An Autobiography
   by Minister Faust

Questionable Practices, by Eileen Gunn
   reviewed by Victoria Elisabeth Garcia

Fierce Family, edited by Bart R. Leib
   reviewed by Caren Gussoff

The Crane Wife, by Patrick Ness
  reviewed by Gord Sellar

Red Sonja, Volume 1: Queen of the Plagues,
by Gail Simone and Walter Geovanni
   reviewed by Cynthia Ward

The Stone Boatmen, by Sarah Tolmie
   reviewed by Thomas Foster

Featured Artist
Dale McBride

You can purchase the issue at http://www.thecsz.com/subscribe.html for $3 or a year's subscription for $10. And like all issues of the CSZ, it will be available for free download six months from the date of publication.

He Is Risen

Apr. 20th, 2014 04:35 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

(originally published in Mouth Magazine, reprinted in "A Real Nice But: articles that inspire, inform and infuriate, from Diverse City Press)

Snow fell, four inches deep. Sweeping it off the car was not the way to celebrate Easter and usher in a new season.

My feelings were jumbled from a conversation days earlier. I had been consulted on the rape of a young woman with a disability.

We were faced with the fact of the rape, the fact that the courts wouldn't believer her and that society doesn't take crimes against people with disabilities seriously. The day was a hard one. At the end of the day I was challenged.

The staff who had been there almost from the moment of the rape and through all the events that followed, mocked me. She asked, "How can you believe in God, in Jesus, in Easter? How can you believe that whole story of death and resurrection? How can you not see that it was simply a story built to explain and humanize the magic of Spring.

"How can you look into the eyes of a woman, raped and brutalized, and say that you believe in a compassionate God?

"Fool." She actually called me a fool.

Driving to church, I desperately looked for signs of spring. It became important for me to see a bud, some green, or hear the sound of even one bird. No colour, no sound, just the white of new snow. Easter. Spring. Hope.

How can I believe?

I thought of her, a woman with Down Syndrome who trusted too often, too quickly, staring at me when I asked her to tell me what happened.

I have no trouble believing in the betrayal of trust. I know that some early Judas could betray a man who trust too often, too quickly. I know that the world is full of those who simply can't be trusted. I know that friends can hurt and family can bruise. I have no trouble believing in the betrayal of trust.

Turning the corner towards the church, I turned on the car radio for distraction and heard that the trust fund to liberate a man who murdered his daughter because of her disability had reached a significant amount. I heard that support for his cause was strong.

I heard that a young boy with a disability had to fight for a lung that the hospital thought would be wasted on him. I heard that when it was announced that the transplant would be done, members of his town, his province, tore up their organ donor cards not wanting to save the undeserving.

I thought of her eyes. Eyes that knew, instinctively that the law just wasn't there for her. A society that sees murder as kindness for those who are disabled will not care much if one is otherwise brutalized.

I have no trouble believing in the hatred of the crowd. I know that people often call for the death of an innocent. I know that society can be convinced to hate those who are blameless. I know that millions will march lock-step behind any who preach of an Aryan race. I have no trouble believing in the hatred of the crowd.

She told the story with quiet and calm. She told her story again and again. First to us. Then to the police. Then to the doctors. She told of how the man had hurt her. How he had forced her to the flow. How he had made her take off her clothes. How he had pierced her. Her eyes filled with tears the third time she told the story. I thought the tears would never stop.

I have no difficulty believing in crucifixion. I know that there are those who pierce flesh with bullets. I know that there are those who would pierce hearts with vicious words. I know that there are those who would pierce souls with messages of hatred and bodies with iron rods of power. I have no difficulty believing in crucifixion.

There it ends. I know that Christ was killed, blameless. Snow falls on Easter. Spring buds hid from the cold. Parking, I cried. "Fool." I had been called a fool.

I remember hearing that the doctor stood her on a cloth and had her strip. Her body searched as they prepared evidence. Her pubic hair combed, the wounds inside her measured and documented, hair pulled from her body to be matched.

Then, thus ritually "cleansed" of evidence, she was bundled into sheets and then taken home. She had finally run dry of tears. She allowed herself to be bathed and then lifted to her bed. She dropped into sleep as if dead.

I have no trouble believing in death. I know that death comes as a relief to most who struggle through this life. I know that most die crucified in one way or another by cruelty, indifference or pain. I know that for those who commit suicide, death is the portal to a world free of hurt. I have no trouble believing in death.

Remembering the phone ringing the next morning I had woken from a troubled sleep. Sleep filled with anger and hate. I heard her voice. She was up, refreshed and strong. She said that she didn't care if the police didn't believe her. She said that she wanted to go to court and tell the world what he did to her. She said that she wanted everyone to know that she was not a liar.

She said that even if he goes free he will know that she knows. She spoke so clearly that  I couldn't hear her disability through the complex notions of which she spoke.

Tears again. I felt ... Joy? Sadness? I don't know. But for the first time I understood Easter. I understood Spring. I understood Hope.

The miracle of Easter is not that Christ died for His beliefs. We have sacrificed ourselves since the dawn of time. We can all imagine dying for at least one principle.

No, the miracle is not that Christ would die. The miracle is that he would want to rise! The miracle is that he would get up and go on. The miracle is that into a world where there is betrayal, hatred, crucifixion and death, he would rise again.

The miracle is that a woman, despised by society and brutalized by one she trusted could get up in the morning and go on. Resurrection. Rising again.

Maybe I am a fool. But I see a woman rising on the day after rape as resurrection. I believe that Christ wanted us to know that there is always hope. There is always a reason, every day, for rising. Resurrection.

I opened the car door and stood. Hope, to go on again, resurrected for the thousandth time into my own life.

Come, spring.
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Posted by Martin Hart-Landsberg, PhD

This chart comes from Chuck Marr at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  As Marr explains:

The United States is a relatively low-tax country, as the chart shows.  When measured as a share of the economy, total government receipts (a broad measure of revenue) are lower in the United States than in any other member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), even after accounting for the modest revenue increases in the 2012 “fiscal cliff” deal and the taxes that fund health reform.

1 (2) - Copy

Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. You can follow him at Reports from the Economic Front.

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

Tripping over a Trigger

Apr. 19th, 2014 06:02 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Joe and I had gone out for lunch with friends and, on the way home, decided that we'd stop at Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up a couple things we needed. As it was Good Friday, we were surprised to see them open and even more surprised to see that the store was doing a very brisk business.

As we roamed around the store getting the few things we needed, we both reminisced about when we first moved to Toronto and, even on a typical Sunday, everything was locked up tight. When we finally had all that we needed, we got into the line up. It was a fairly substantial one but neither of us was in a rush so we chatted quietly and waited our turn.

When we got up to pay, we put our things down on the counter and the woman working there quickly and efficiently began to ring them up. I decided I wanted to pick a few scratch and win tickets from those displayed on the counter. The woman, who was really charming, pulled them out and I was in the middle of picking five tickets when it happened.

A voice came from the line up behind us.

"Hurry it up will you!!"


"Come on, come on, don't take all day about it!"

I grabbed the tickets and grabbed my wallet in preparation to pay. I had begun to sweat. My heart was going in my chest, anger and fear and outrage, stole my words. I've had this happen before, It's gone very wrong before. I just wanted to get my stuff and get out of there. I had shrunk down so that I was experiencing this completely alone and completely in my head. I looked up to the cashier and saw that she was laughing. WHAT??? Why would she laugh about this? I'd thought she was charming. Now she's laughing at me too? I feel sick to my stomach. I don't even want the stuff anymore, I just want out.

I turn to look at Joe, HE is laughing too. If anyone understands these situations, Joe does. And he's laughing. He had been beside me, he had taken a step back and was looking back in the line up. Now he's TALKING to someone. I move my chair slightly, it's a fellow who lives in our apartment building. I don't know him at all but I do know that Joe knows him. Joe, who works from home, has come to know almost everyone in the building.

Joe looks at me, sees my face, twigs to what's happening in me. He says, "He always give me a hard time."

Oh. My. God. He wasn't even talking to me. He was talking with Joe, that's the way they are with each other. They joke around.

I just thought it was me.

Not because, it's always about me, but because it usually is.

I'm used to being seen as in the way, as not having a right to the space or the pace that I take. I am used to being the subject of rushed mutters from people living artificially busy lives. I am used to being the road block, the cause of the detour and I know that taking a step around me is seen as a long and unnecessary journey.

But it was just a joke.

A joke.

On the way home, Joe notices that I've gone quiet. I tell him, "I didn't know it was a joke. I thought I was getting yelled at again."

Now it doesn't matter that it was a joke.

All the same reactions happened, all the same emotions sprung forward, all the insecurities that came with my disabilities, and others from before, came out in force. They were triggered by a joke, made to someone other than me.

We came home and I spent sometime just quietly, and slowly, telling myself, that this time, it was only a joke.

But that fact, that simple truth, in all honesty, didn't really help.

Holy Saturday

Apr. 18th, 2014 11:44 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

(originally posted in 2010)

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.

– Reinhold Niebuhr

This is my favorite day in Holy Week, this Saturday, this unrestful Sabbath, my favorite day in the whole of the liturgical calendar.

Well, actually, “favorite” is the wrong word. It’s not that I like this day so much as that I understand it. It’s recognizable, familiar, lived-in.

Abandoned church in Louisiana, photo by Rick Galvan.

This day, the Saturday that can’t know if there will ever be a Sunday, is the day we live in, you and I, today and every day for the whole of our lives. This is all we are given to know.

Easter Sunday? That’s tomorrow, the day after today. We’ll never get there in time. We can believe in Easter Sunday, but we can’t be sure. We can’t know for sure. We can’t know until we’re out of time.

Here, in time, there’s just this day, this dreadful Saturday of not knowing.

There are some things we can know on this Saturday. Jesus is dead, to begin with, dead and buried. He said the world was upside-down and needed a revolution to turn it right-way-round and so he was executed for disturbing the peace. He came and said love was greater than power, and so power killed him.

And now it’s Saturday and Jesus is dead and we’re all going to die and everything I’ve told you about him turns out to be in vain and everything I’ve staked my life on turns out to be in vain. Our faith is futile and we’re still hopeless in our sins. Jesus is dead and we are of all people most to be pitied.

That last paragraph is a paraphrase from St. Paul. What he actually says there, in his letter to the Christians in Corinth, is “if …” What he says, specifically, is:

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. … If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead …

But that’s Sunday language and Sunday certainty and it doesn’t make much sense here on Saturday. Here on Saturday, we can hope it’s true and we may even try to believe it’s true, but we can’t know “in fact” one way or another. Not now. Not on Saturday.

And to be honest, it doesn’t seem terribly likely, because Saturday, this Saturday, is all we’ve ever known. Yesterday was this same Saturday, and so was the day before that, and the day before that, and the day before that.

Why should we expect that tomorrow will be any different?

Seriously, just look around. Does it look like the meek are inheriting the earth? Does it look like those who hunger and thirst for justice are being filled? Does it look like the merciful are being shown mercy?

Jesus was meek and merciful and hungry for justice and look where that got him. They killed him. We killed him. Power won.

That’s what this everyday Saturday shows us — power always wins. “If you want a picture of the future,” George Orwell wrote, “imagine a boot stomping on a human face — forever.”

“But in fact,” St. Paul says, everything changes on Sunday. Come Sunday power loses. Come Sunday, love wins, the meek shall inherit, the merciful will receive mercy and no one will ever go hungry for justice again. Come Sunday, everything changes.

If there ever is a Sunday.

And but so, this is why we hope for Sunday and why we live for the hope of Sunday. Even though we can’t know for sure that Sunday will ever come and even if Saturday is all we ever get to see.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Good Friday and Western Civ. 101

Apr. 18th, 2014 08:18 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

My older daughter had a paper due this week in her “Mosaics” class — which is what Temple calls its version of Western Civ. 101 (or Not Only Western Civ., actually, which is nice). The paper was a short, basic compare-and-contrast deal between any two of the figures/works on the professor’s list. My daughter chose to write about Jesus and Socrates.

The challenging bit was that her prof required they draw only from the primary sources on their reading list. In the case of Jesus, that meant the Gospel of Luke — and only Luke.

That became an interesting exercise. Jesus’ story is one we Christian types can — and often do — recite without thinking. It’s Holy Week, after all — a time of year we devote to retelling and pondering this very story. That intimate, ingrained familiarity makes it tricky to talk about the Passion without including all sorts of stuff that can’t be cited directly from Luke’s Gospel.

I found that it’s actually pretty tricky even to read Luke’s Gospel without thinking about all that other stuff as well — importing it into what I’m reading and reinterpreting accordingly. The comparison to Socrates meant that my daughter’s paper had to address the questions of why Jesus was executed and why Jesus was willing to submit to being executed. When you’ve spent years reciting “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate …” it’s difficult not to fall back into those creedal formulations, or to answer those questions with ideas from John or Paul or Matthew’s Gospel, or from any of the great theologians who have followed after them.

So I was surprised to realize that Luke’s Gospel doesn’t actually say much about “for our sake he was crucified.” Luke’s account of Holy Week portrays all of Jesus’ followers as bewildered by his arrest and crucifixion — as wholly unable to explain or understand what they were witnessing. They don’t understand it until Sunday, until Easter. The way Luke tells it, Jesus’ disciples might never have been able to answer those “why” questions if Jesus himself hadn’t returned to them to repeat what he’d told them earlier, back in Luke 9 when he first predicted all of this.

The final chapter of Luke is all about that explanation. It gives us three versions of it, each one presented in a somewhat chiding tone. First the angels at the empty tomb explain this for the women there, then Jesus explains it to Cleopas and his buddy on the road to Emmaus, and then, finally, back in Jerusalem, Jesus shows up and explains it to the disciples themselves.

But here’s the odd thing — and the thing that’s tricky to notice unless you’re consciously forcing yourself to stick exclusively to what only the Gospel of Luke has to say — there’s not a whole lot of explanation in this explanation. Here’s what we’re told in Luke about that encounter on the road to Emmaus:

“Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

And here’s the slightly longer version a few verses later with the disciples in Jerusalem:

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Not much there in the way of “for our sake he was crucified.” Not really much there, even, in the way of an answer to those “why” questions. We’re told it was “necessary,” and that it was “written,” but neither of those is actually an answer.

The frustrating thing here in Luke is that we’re told Jesus had a longer explanation, and that he shared this with his disciples. “He interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” Might have been nice if, you know, someone had written that down. Instead what we get is Luke just seeming to assume we already know what Jesus likely said in this survey of “all the scriptures.” It’s almost as though Luke is saying, “And then Jesus explained everything, you know, yada yada yada.”

Here, for example, is Richard Beck discussing “The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.” Following N.T. Wright, Beck urges us to first try to understand what Isaiah 53 meant “during the time of Isaiah.” I suspect that Beck/Wright are on the right track here, but I’d really love to be able to ask Cleopas about that.

That very passage in Isaiah is the same one Luke mentions when he pulls this same frustrating stunt in the book of Acts. This is the passage the Ethiopian eunuch is reading when he meets our friend Philip the evangelist in Acts 8. Here’s all we get from Luke there:

Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.

You know, yada yada yada. But no, I don’t know. I think I know. I hope I know. But I’d know a lot more if I’d actually gotten to read what Philip said to the eunuch, or what Jesus said to Cleopas and his friend.

In the Gospel of Luke, we’re actually given less details about Jesus’ explanation for why it was “necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things” than we are about what Jesus had to eat on Easter Sunday. He’d arrived at Cleopas’ house in Emmaus right around dinner time, but skipped out before eating. The next time we see him is a long walk away, seven miles down the road back in Jerusalem, when he shows up among the disciples, greeting them with “Peace be with you”:

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate.

I love this detail. Imagine all the shock and tumult, all the questions and emotions that the disciples must have had. But the man was hungry.

It’s only after Jesus finally gets to eat something that he settles in and “opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” No explanations on an empty stomach.

Maybe that’s why we don’t know everything that Cleopas and Philip knew, and that Luke seems to assume his readers would already know. Maybe we can’t expect to “understand the scriptures” until Jesus is no longer hungry and asking for food.

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food?

… And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Food first, then explanations.

Segregation Forever

Apr. 18th, 2014 06:00 pm
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Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A few weeks ago I wrote skeptically of the jaunty uplifting narrative that sees white supremacy's inevitable defeat. One reason I was so skeptical was because I'd been reading the reporting of Nikole Hannah-Jones. If you haven't read her coverage on housing segregation you should. And then you should read her piece from this month's magazine on the return of segregation in America's schools:

Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the 1970s become the most integrated, typically as a result of federal court orders. But since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa’s—back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so.

In recent years, a new term, apartheid schools—meaning schools whose white population is 1 percent or less, schools like Central—has entered the scholarly lexicon. While most of these schools are in the Northeast and Midwest, some 12 percent of black students in the South now attend such schools—a figure likely to rise as court oversight continues to wane. In 1972, due to strong federal enforcement, only about 25 percent of black students in the South attended schools in which at least nine out of 10 students were racial minorities. In districts released from desegregation orders between 1990 and 2011, 53 percent of black students now attend such schools, according to an analysis by ProPublica.

Hannah-Jones profiles the schools in Tuscaloosa where business leaders are alarmed to see their school system becoming more and more black, as white parents choose to send their kids to private (nearly) all-white academies or heavily white schools outside the city. It's worth noting that the school at the center of Hannah-Jones' reporting—Central High School—was not a bad school. On the contrary, it was renowned for its football team as well its debate team.

But this did very little to slow the flight of white parents out of the district. (This is beyond the scope of Hannah-Jones's story, but I'd be very interested to hear more about the history of housing policy in the town.) Faced with the prospect of losing all, or most of their white families, Tuscaloosa effectively resegregated its schools. 

There doesn't seem to be much of a political solution here. It's fairly clear that integration simply isn't much of a priority to white people, and sometimes not even to black people. And Tuscaloosa is not alone. I suspect if you polled most white people in these towns they would honestly say that racism is awful, and many (if not most) would be sincere. At the same time they would generally be lukewarm to the idea of having to "do something" in order to end white supremacy.

Ending white supremacy isn't really in the American vocabulary. That is because ending white supremacy does not merely require a passive sense that racism is awful, but an active commitment to undoing its generational effects. Ending white supremacy requires the ability to do math—350 years of murderous plunder are not undone by 50 years of uneasy ceasefire. 

A latent commitment to anti-racism just isn't enough. But that's what we have right now. With that in mind, there is no reason to believe that a total vanquishing of white supremacy is necessarily in the American future. 

"History travels not only forwards, history can travel backwards, President Obama said recently"Our rights, our freedoms—they are not given. They must be won. They must be nurtured through struggle and discipline and persistence and faith."

Indeed. But for right now, the struggle for integration is largely over.

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Posted by gfspamspam

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.

Book-hoarding, 10th Century Style

Apr. 18th, 2014 02:38 pm
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Posted by PamelaToler

by Pamela Toler

Anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time with me in recent months, whether in real life or in some virtual space, has probably heard me bemoan the state of my office bookshelves. As the photo above attests, they overflow. Loaded two deep and stacked rather than shelved, there is still not enough room. Worse, for the first time in my life I am having trouble finding things. Twice in the last year I bought a book I already owned. Once because I couldn’t find the copy I was sure I had and needed right then. Once because I didn’t even realize I owned a copy. It makes me itchy.

Recently, a factoid has begun popping up in my universe that makes me feel even worse. According to Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading,

In the tenth century… the Grand Vizier of Persia, Abdul Kassem Ismael, in order not to part with his collection of 117,000 volumes when traveling, had them carried by a caravan of four hundred camels trained to walk in alphabetical order.

Manguel goes on to explain that the camel drivers effectively served as librarians, each responsible for retrieving volumes from his camel at the vizier’s command.

At first, I found the factoid charming: a lovely illustration of the importance of books in the early Islamic world. Then I felt a little jealous at the idea of owning 1117,000 books. Now I just feel inadequate at my inability to keep control over a couple of thousand books without the added complication of moving camels.

Something’s gonna change.

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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Flashback Friday.

The word commodification refers to the process by which something that is not bought and sold becomes something that is.  As capitalism has progressed, more and more parts of our lives have become commodified.  Restaurants are the commodification of preparing and cleaning up meals; day care and nannying is the commodification of child raising; nursing homes is the commodification of caring for elders.

We sometimes post instances of commodification that tickle us.  Previously I posted about a company that will now put together and deliver a care package to your child at camp.  A parent just goes to the site, chooses the items they want included, and charge their credit card.  As I wrote in that post: “The ‘care’ in ‘care package’ has been, well, outsourced.”

I was equally tickled by a photograph, taken by sociologist Tristan Bridges, of pre-dyed Easter eggs:

This is a delicious example of commodification.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to dye eggs as part of your Easter celebration, the market will do it for you.  No matter that this is one of those things (e.g., a supposedly enjoyable holiday activity that promotes family togetherness) that is supposed to be immune to capitalist imperatives.

While we might raise our eyebrows at this example, newly commodified goods and services often elicit this reaction.  We usually get used to the idea and, later, have a hard time imagining life any other way.

For more on commodification, peruse our tag by that name. This post originally appeared in 2012.

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

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

Panis Angelicus

Apr. 18th, 2014 09:26 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

(originally printed in Mouth Magazine; reprinted in "A little behind: articles for challenge, change and catching up" and published again here with permission of Diverse City Press)

Butter tarts. She was making butter tarts. I leaned up against the counter and watched. Impossibly slow, incredibly precise, she fair burned with purpose. I was expected elsewhere in the building, to have another meeting about something important, I'm sure. But something bad me watch. As realization dawned, her experience became mine. This is what it had all been for, the years of toil and struggle. The captive is freed. And lady liberty moves, slowly filling the pastry shells , one after another. Not a drop was spilled, if it was I didn't notice. All I could see was a graceful ballet of movement.

Butter tarts. Really. Butter tarts. She was making butter tarts. Her hands, the ones that had mixed the batter, were women's hands. I could tell that hers had not been cared for, seldom scented, maybe never even held. Gentleness, she dipped the spoon into the batter with such gentleness. As if she wanted, more than anything, to never cause hurt or harm. Her hands, at least, could promise a peace she may never have known. I had worked once in one of the places that caged people like her for the crime of difference. I smelled the scent of captivity. Her feet still did the institutional shuffle, as if the shackles of that time had disappeared but not fallen away. Time slowed around us as she turned a mundane chore into a hymn to freedom.

Butter tarts. Do you realize the importance of butter tarts? And yes, that she was making them. Sweet batter, unnecessary calories, a smell of luxury, all in a frivolous food. Panis Angelicus. Not on a diet or menu plan anywhere in the world. Butter tarts, two words that freeze the heart of every nutritionist. I remember the pinched faces of those who disapproved or any pleasure or warmth for them. I remember locking doors behind me and going home, leaving them there. I remember being watched through caged mesh as I walked to the car. I remember emotional poverty. But now, butter melts, sugar runs dark with sweet. She was making something rich though her clothes were little more than threadbare. Her manner was of servitude. Her posture of meekness. And yet she was making something rich. The thin souls of those who live to deny, shiver. She was baking a revolutionary food, a declaration of independence from those who know better.

Butter tarts. With raisins. She was making butter tarts with raisins. There were other people in the room with me but none seemed to notice her. Sound swirled around her but but couldn't penetrate her concentration. Her eyes followed every raisin's fall into the delicate pool of sweetness. Twice she stirred the raisins deep into the batter. Hidden treasures, she smiled, in anticipation. I looked at the others in shock. Why couldn't they see the glint in her eyes as the raisins fell and as she slowly filled each small pastry shell. None ran over. They don't need to anymore. Because and only because she was making ...

Butter tarts. With raisins. On a pan full and waiting only for her. This was her job. Not mine. She didn't meed me, my help, my intercession. This was hers. It needed her hands. We were in a kitchen. It had a sink. A fridge. Stove. It was like a thousand kitchens in a thousand homes. Unremarkable really, except maybe to her. She alone may notice what others do not see. She would see the unlocked doors that led only outside. The windows without mesh or bars. It had only people who knew her name and who used it kindly. She was here because she wanted to be. This was a choice. Freely ... unbelievably ... freely made. Her hand showed no tension from rush, or fear, or force. They simply worked at their own speed in creation of the sweet hereafter.

Butter tarts. I want to call down the corridor of time. "Come one. Come all. Quick come see. The village idiot is making butter tarts. The institution's moron is scooping batter and the school's imbecile watches the raisins fall. The denied child -- her touch knows sweet. The refused communicant -- her heart knows bitter." How long, I wondered had her hands been held captive in that place with the long corridor. How long had she waited, and endured, and prayed for today. The day that she would make ...

Butter tarts. With the poetry of motion she was eloquent. She moved in freedom as if its air had the buoyancy of water. In wisdom we had locked her away for the crime of learning slowly. She will again, I know be called a R#tard by those who know better. She will face those who are embarrassed by her presence. She will struggle, every day, against bigotry to live with dignity. But the battle is won. Because now, and all we really have is now, she is sitting on a comfortable chair and waiting.

For butter tarts.

Sea Otter Wally Is Deep in Thought

Apr. 18th, 2014 12:06 pm
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Posted by Daily Otter

Sea Otter Wally Is Deep in Thought

Via Maggie Earl

This sea otter is Wally, whom Daily Otter visitors will remember as the otter who was rescued and nursed back to health by Vancouver Aquarium after suffering gunshot injuries. [Read our posts here and here.] Vancouver Aquarium writes on Wally’s current status:

After 11 weeks of life-saving treatment and rehabilitation at the [Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre], Wally was moved to the Vancouver Aquarium where he joins Katmai, Tanu and Elfin, three other rescued sea otters receiving ongoing care at the facility.Due to the extensive nature of his injuries and his inability to care for himself in the wild, Walter was designated non-releasable, and his transfer to the Aquarium approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Aquarium is more than happy to provide Wally with a permanent home and provide him with the long-term care he needs.

Two images for Holy Week

Apr. 17th, 2014 11:51 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

First there’s this, via Naum and Jim West and Candida Moss:

The WWJD? reference there is closer to the spirit of Charles M. Sheldon’s In His Steps than most of the contemporary allusions to his famous question. Sheldon was a Christian Socialist, after all.

Jesus chasing the predatory lenders out of the Temple is one of my favorite parts of Holy Week. In the Holy Week story, it’s the event that sets the whole grim treadmill in motion, but it’s also one of the few moments of clear triumph we can enjoy in this solemn week.

It’s also a final reminder of why the events that followed are so heartbreaking. Here’s someone standing up for the powerless against The Powers That Be who are preying on them, and for the rest of the week we watch this person methodically crushed for doing so.

That’s why the cleansing of the Temple is easier to look at than the rest of Holy Week, and why this second image is my favorite from the beautiful series that Kittredge Cherry posts every year at this time. This is from Douglas Blanchard’s moving series of paintings, “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision”:

Many Christians who revere Sallman’s “Head of Christ” would balk at Blanchard’s gay vision of the Passion. Contextual theology is fine for those folks as long as the context is white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism. But reimagining Jesus as a powerful, privileged white guy, the way Sallman’s beloved painting does, contradicts and distorts the story in the Gospels. Reimagining Jesus as a despised outcast, as Blanchard’s paintings do, helps us grasp the core of that story.


Boy does it have a lot of buttons

Apr. 17th, 2014 06:41 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I spent this last weekend at Port Ludlow, hosting and teaching at the Strung Along April retreat, but you all know that – and I don’t want to go on about it (although it was seriously one of the most awesome things and I am not even kidding you a little. A fantastic combination in every way. Great students who were a perfect foil for each other, great teachers, great food, great goodie bags, great wine, great weather… I’m on the edge of gushing, I know, but it really did go just so perfectly well. I’ll shut up.)  Instead, let me tell you about this.  I got my new camera.

newcamerafront 2014-04-17

I’m so thrilled I can barely hold it together. Look.  See what I just did there? I’m so excited about my new camera that I took a picture of it with my other camera. (Also, it is not the first picture I have taken of it. There’s a smallish gallery developing.)

cameraback 2014-04-17

(See that? I did it again.  Be glad we are not friends or there’s an 80% chance that I’ve been texting you pictures of a camera for days, just like it’s a new puppy or something.) That second picture is part of what I want to talk about.  From the front, this camera looks a lot like my old one. From the back though? Holy smokes.

marketplacepic1 2014-04-15

(I’m pretty happy with this picture. I took it at the Community Marketplace on Saturday night. That’s ridiculously beautiful Local Color Fiber Studio yarns, and yes. I did buy a little. I’m only human.)

It came with 374 page instruction booklet and I’m only on  page 89, and It’s clear to me now that I’m going to have to read the whole thing and go to school on this.  It does so many things that I keep turning pages in the book and waiting to find out that it’s not just a camera, but a tiny little coffeemaker – because really, I think that’s the only thing that could make it better.  Right now – the experience of taking pictures with it is super exciting, but the pictures aren’t.  I’ve managed to take only a very few great ones.

winebeadsnice 2014-04-17

(I’m almost happy with this picture.  It’s my current project, or what was my current project until I discovered that somewhere between Toronto and Port Ludlow my tiny little crochet hook for beading departed my company. Super frustrating – and now this is on hold until I can get another.)

partyfavours 2014-04-15

(This is a picture of the table set for dinner the last night of the retreat. We had such beautiful party favours, courtsey of Habu – but it took me about 26 shots to get this one.  I have 25 others that are too light, too dark, too blurry, and one that is spoiled by the presence of Debbi’s arse, which is not to say that her arse isn’t perfectly nice, or that the camera screwed up that one. It was just an accidentally intimate picture.)

ballwinderout 2014-04-17

(The weather was so nice that we set up the ball winder on our balcony. It was nice to be out there, but more fun to watch people below try to figure out what we were doing.)

The first bunch I took were out of focus (then I figured out that it was on some crazy 39 point autofocus thing that predicts the movement of objects like birds – but somehow can’t cope with yarn.) Then the next bunch had the white balance all wrong, and I looked up those pages. Then the bunch after that were all screwed as I figured out how I wanted the metering set up.

mountains 2014-04-17

I can admit that the last few days have been disappointing – I think there was a tiny little part of me that really hoped that money could buy skill, and that my photos would automatically go up in quality in a way that was directly related to the quality of the camera.  I saved up for four years to buy this, and I think that I had the experience built up in my mind into something totally unfair.

flights 2014-04-15

On some little level, I thought that out of the box, this camera would be just like my other one (even though it is nothing like my other one) and everything would work the same way (which is nothing short of insane) and that it would solve every photographic problem I’ve ever had without me having to learn anything new – which is also a big fat slice of crazy pie, complete with a nice dollop of delusion right on the top.

judithfindsaslug 2014-04-17

(That’s Judith finding two really big slugs on a bracket fungi.  I am in love with the look on her face, and I’m just glad that I was able to get the exposure right fast enough.)

The truth is that this is going to be a lot like anything else. It’s new. It’s complicated, and that means that I’m going to have to do three things that aren’t instant.

cedars 2014-04-17

I’m going to have to learn. I’m going to have to practice, and I’m going to have to suck for a while while those first two things happen.  (That’s the part I hate.) I think maybe things will get worse before they get better. Stand by.  I’m reading the pages on “Bracketing” today.

(PS. I updated the gig page.  In the next few months I’ll be in Minneapolis, Buffalo and at Squam.)


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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

At Junk Charts, Kaiser Fung drew my attention to a graph released by Reuters.  It is so deeply misleading that I loathe to expose your eyeballs to it.  So, I offer you this:

1The original figure is on the left.  It counts the number of gun deaths in Florida.  A line rises, bounces a little, reaches a 2nd highest peak labeled “2005, Florida enacted its ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” and falls precipitously.

What do you see?

Most people see a huge fall-off in the number of gun deaths after Stand Your Ground was passed.  But that’s not what the graph shows.  A quick look at the vertical axis reveals that the gun deaths are counted from top (0) to bottom (800).  The highest peaks are the fewest gun deaths and the lowest ones are the most.  A rise in the line, in other words, reveals a reduction in gun deaths.  The graph on the right — flipped both horizontally and vertically — is more intuitive to most: a rising line reflects a rise in the number of gun deaths and a dropping a drop.

The proper conclusion, then, is that gun deaths skyrocketed after Stand Your Ground was enacted.

This example is a great reminder that we bring our own assumptions to our reading of any illustration of data.  The original graph may have broken convention, making the intuitive read of the image incorrect, but the data is, presumably, sound.  It’s our responsibility, then, to always do our due diligence in absorbing information.  The alternative is to be duped.

Cross-posted at Pacific Standard.

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

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

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Posted by Fred Clark

Congratulations to the Wayside Community Association on the successful purchase of the land beneath their homes. Bravo! More of this, please.

It’s a simple rule for white men: If you’re invited to be part of a panel, or a faculty, or a board of directors, or a conference, conclave, cabal, colloquy, council, coven or club, it’s your job to first ask whether or not everyone else invited was also white and also male. If so, then you say, “No, thank you,” until that changes. Simple. Follow that rule or else crap like this is your fault.

• No, Bryan Fischer never has read the Gospels. Why do you ask?

• Jennifer LeClaire — news editor and demon-sex beat reporter for Charisma magazine — claims to have gay-dar. Or maybe she just thinks all female artists are lesbians. Anyway, that Honey Maid graham-cracker ad that made most decent people sniffle? LeClaire hated it.

Ex-pastor turned cable-TV host Mike Huckabee says that white Christians like him are being so cruelly persecuted here in the U.S., that “I’m beginning to think there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States.”

He must be right, because you’ll never see a North Korean appear on North Korean television to disagree with Huckabee by saying, “I’m beginning to think there’s more freedom in the United States than there is here in North Korea.”

• If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel: “50 Shades of Grey or Contemporary Christian Music Lyrics: A Quiz.”

• Here’s a pretty good outfield for the next Old-Timers Game: Doug Glanville in left, Ralph Garr in center, Hank Aaron in right. Those links go to three separate stories discussing America’s traditional pastime. And they’re also about baseball.

• “I take the Bible very seriously – hence returning from the States to the UK to do a PhD in theology at Durham University. My support of same-sex marriage comes from respecting the Bible so much, rather than so little. For me it’s the product of much study, hours of reading, and pages and pages of great scholars’ work.”

• Item: “Half of Americans Believe at Least One Conspiracy Theory.” This is bad news for two reasons. First, it tells us that some Americans believe in more than one conspiracy theory, which suggests that such people are ridiculously credulous. And second, it suggests that half of Americans have not yet selected their one allotted conspiracy theory. Everybody gets one. But only one. Choose yours carefully.


Three Kisses Plus One

Apr. 17th, 2014 08:39 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

We were seated, at a window, having a cup of tea when I saw them. Two young men, barely past their teens, stopped, just on the other side of the glass. In greeting they hugged and then kissed each other. They walked away holding hands.

A revolutionary kiss.

Revolutionary because it spoke of the pure humanity of those two boys. It was a kiss that expressed their deep love, their absolute affection, their spontaneous expression of joy. I watched them walk away and I felted deeply honoured to have simply been witness to a time that made this possible. Many are horrified at Public Displays of Affection. I am not. I do not feel comfortable with public displays of sexual behaviour. But these days people mistake sex for intimacy and sex for affection. Public Displays of Affection remind us of the transformative power of love.


I was a new staff, taking a group of people to the 519 Church Street Community Centre when they hosted the Friday Night Club, a club by and for people with intellectual disabilities. It was a blast and the people who I was there to support dumped me as soon as they entered the room. I wandered about and finally found a place to sit amongst crowded tables. It was early in the evening and the DJ has just started. One lone couple got up to dance. They both had Down Syndrome. They held on to each other, dancing a slow dance to fast music. Then she put her hand behind his neck and drew his lips to hers. They kissed.

A revolutionary kiss.

Revolutionary but it spoke of the pure humanity of that young couple. It was a kiss that would have been disallowed by almost every policy of every agency of the day. It was a kiss that easily could have lead to punishment, a stern talking to and a forever ban on dancing. But none of the punishment, none of the upset and none of the meetings could ever erase what had happened. A kiss had happened. An expression of love had happened. Two lips touched and our certainty of the place in the world that had been created for people with disabilities was shaken. Public Displays of Affection remind us of the transformative power of love.


I sat and listened. She had made herself a coffee, spilled some milk into it, lit a cigarette and began to tell me a story. It was part of a conversation that had been ongoing for several months. I was the behaviour therapist, she was the mother of a young girl with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. The room was one that was full of the evidence that this child had accessible play. She was a good mom, she had a good husband and together with their child they made a strong family. But the story she was telling me was about the moment that she realized that she would have to take a stand regarding her relationship with her child. She had been in a doctors waiting room. Other young mothers were there, their kids crawling all over the place. Her child did not crawl, She sat beside her mother in an adapted stroller. The eyes of the other mothers showed pity, which barely veiled hostile sentiment. They were glad of theirs, thankful they didn't get hers. "I picked her up from her stroller, held her in my arms and I kissed her." It was in that kiss she recognized that her love for her child would have to be seen. It would be seen in her affection but it would also be seen in her advocacy for her child's right to be seen and treated and respected as human. "That kiss told those women exactly what they could do with their pity," she said stubbing out her cigarette.

A revolutionary kiss.


I lay in my hospital bed. Surgery behind me. Uncertainty in front of me. I had just woken from the anesthetic. Joe was there. He leaned over the rail of the bed and kissed me.

A revolutionary kiss.

A kiss that said, now is like then, all is well.


The world is changed when we are changed.

And sometimes it starts with something a simple and as powerful as a kiss.

Rub My Feet?

Apr. 17th, 2014 11:14 am
[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

Rub My Feet?

Photo by Mark Medcalf, who won the portrait prize in the 2013 Scottish Nature Photography Awards for this photo, called “Will You Rub My Feet?”

Via the BBC (scroll through the slideshow) and submitted by Ian!

Joy Is a Wiggly White Goat

Apr. 17th, 2014 02:57 am
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Posted by jgoudeau

When I met Hela, she was heavily pregnant with her third child. She had no idea how she could help her husband support their family; she barely spoke English. We went to visit her in the hospital a few weeks later when her red-faced baby boy was just a few hours old. The doctor had taped a brown paper towel above the bed. Scribbled in blue pen was the word “Skoo,” which she told me was Karen for “push.” I can only imagine the stress she endured–no insurance, no language, no midwife, no family. Just her and a very young husband, bewildered and alone, pushing a new baby into this upside down new life.

Hela started working at my daughters’ preschool a few years ago. It’s the kind of job we want–decent pay, good hours, kind people. She’s home in time for her kids to get back from school, but she gets to be in a place where she’s valued and loved.

This past week they had a Western Day at the preschool and the babies dressed up in their cowboy/cowgirl finest. (Is this just a Texas thing?) Watching our new little one see baby bunnies for the first time in her life was sheer joy.


It was delicious watching her delight that the bunnies were just right there. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

But then I caught this shot of Hela and it almost brought me to tears.


Watching her holding a goat, a toddler’s pink cowgirl hat stuck jauntily on her head, all dimples and laughter, I realized how far we have come together. Not that everything in her life is perfect or that they’ve finally stopped being stressed, but the fact that this strong, confident, hilarious women is able to work and have fun and be herself is a huge, huge accomplishment.

It’s an arrival and a completion, a new chapter beginning and an acknowledgment of how far we’ve come.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by lizhenry

This morning as I was about to get on a plane back from a conference I found out that Dana McCallum, aka Dana L. Contreras, a software engineer at Twitter as well as a feminist activist, was arrested in late January and charged with several felonies including rape, false imprisonment, and domestic violence. Some details of the charges are described on SFgate: SF Women’s Rights Advocate Accused of Raping Wife.

Many of us associated with geekfeminism.org and its sister organizations would like to make a statement in response.

This is horrifying and came as a shock to many of us in feminist communities, as McCallum has been a fellow feminist activist for some time. The bloggers at geekfeminism.org would like to express our empathy and support for the victim/survivor and her family.

Another aspect of this case is that the media coverage of the rape and assault charges are almost universally misogynist and transphobic both in their perpetuation of rape culture (for one, by providing an uncritical platform for McCallum’s lawyer) and in their misgendering and obsessive focus on McCallum’s gender identity and history.  Some radical feminist activists (and their many obvious sockpuppets) have also been writing hateful “trans panic” or TERF articles and tweets. We strongly repudiate such responses.

Rape is a horrible violent crime no matter who the rapist is.

The National Center for Transgender Equality director Mara Keisling says on a comment on a post by Nitasha Tiku,

“Rape is a horrific crime. Sexual violence is never okay. But this isn’t a transgender story. We can’t speak to the specifics of this case but sexual assault knows no gender. That’s why the FBI recently revised their definition of rape. As this case gains more attention, we must avoid using it as a reason to misrepresent transgender people.”

For anyone who has experienced abuse or sexual assault, it can be helpful to turn to local or broader resources. Here is a list of trans-friendly and inclusive rape survivor organizations and resources.  In San Francisco,  San Francisco Women Against Rape is a good resource;  WOMAN Inc, the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic, and GLIDE also provide many resources for people in the SF Bay Area who have experienced domestic violence. Please don’t go through this on your own; reach out to people around you — you’re not alone.

- Liz Henry


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[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

I was initially so taken aback by the weirdness of Daniel Darling’s straw-man attack on Rachel Held Evans that I didn’t say much about Darling’s odd misuse of statistics.

And it is weird to see Darling presenting the old bogus opposition of charity and justice, reframing the rejection of justice as “too nice.” I mean, when we look at the many, many passages of the Bible Darling wants us to ignore — everything demanding justice — it seems odd to regard those passages as flawed due to an inappropriate concern for niceness.

I’m accustomed to seeing people like Darling ignoring passages like this, from James 5:

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

But it’s rather innovative of Darling to reject those verses because James is being too “nice,” or that he’s being overly sentimental and just wants to be liked.

Or how about Amos?

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on Mount Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, “Bring something to drink!” The Lord God has sworn by his holiness: The time is surely coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks.

Who would have ever imagined to criticize Amos there for a “false gospel of nice“? It shows some real creativity on Darling’s part to imagine that the prophet is straying from anti-justice “orthodoxy” there because he’s desperate to ingratiate himself to the high society in Bashan.

(I suppose, in a sense, this is a refreshing change from the usual tone-policing approach of complaining that talk of injustice and discrimination is “uncivil” and that it’s not sufficiently nice to refer to bigotry as bigotry.)

But we shouldn’t let Darling’s novel approach to the defense of injustice completely overshadow the other strange assertions in his column. Like the fact that his numbers don’t add up.

Eric Miller responds to that aspect of Darling’s column at Religion Dispatches:

Early in the post, Darling cites Christian researchers Bradley Wright and Ed Stetzer to counter the popular narrative about millennials leaving Christian faith en masse. But those who click on his links and read their contents will notice that Wright and Stetzer only support his claim in very particular ways.

Though he rejects the idea that Christianity is in crisis, for instance, Wright confirms that evangelical identification in the 18-29 age bracket is in descent, currently at a 40-year low and dropping. And though Stetzer downplays the findings of that 2012 Pew Research report, he also acknowledges that there is “great cause for concern.”

These judgments do not square with Darling’s smugness. “One might argue that young evangelicals aren’t fleeing core conservative institutions, but flooding them,” he writes.

Indeed, one might argue that. But then, one might argue a lot of things.

Stetzer is a follow-the-numbers guy. As the Southern Baptist Convention’s top data dude, it’s his job to say what the numbers are, not what people might like them to be. So when his LifeWay research finds that “baptisms have declined six of the last eight years, with 2012 the lowest since 1948,” Stetzer doesn’t try to spin that news to support Darling’s claim that young people are “flooding” conservative institutions.

What Stetzer actually says in the link Darling provides is that “evangelicals have been relatively steady as a percent of the population over the last few years.”

That’s very interesting. ”Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” the book of Acts says of the early Christian community. But Ed Stetzer’s data tells us that nothing has been added to the number of American evangelicals over the past few years.

That may, in fact, be evidence that young people and “Millennials” are not fleeing evangelical churches to a worrisome extent.

I all these people are “coming forward,” and no one is leaving, then shouldn’t evangelicalism be growing?

But if that’s true — if the “relatively steady” evangelical population means that no one is leaving evangelicalism — then it must also mean that no one is entering evangelicalism. If the size of evangelicalism has not changed and no one is leaving, then evangelicals must be terrible at evangelism.

In other words, this steady state theory of evangelicalism suggests that all the work of all the evangelists out there preaching the gospel, distributing literature, broadcasting televangelism, conducting revivals and “crusades” and altar calls all over the nation produces very little in the way of actual converts. The “relatively steady” size of evangelicalism means that we could calculate a Soul-Winning Rate for all of those evangelists and all of their efforts put together. Every year, a certain number of evangelicals die. The population remains steady because they are replaced by new members born into the community and by new members born-again into the community. So the formula seems simple: Death rate minus birth rate equals soul-winning rate.

Evangelists claim to be “bringing people to the Lord” in droves. But if young people are not really leaving evangelicalism “in droves,” and the overall size of the herd remains unchanged, then something doesn’t add up.

I’ve long believed that the claims of evangelists are overstated — that their “soul-winning” statistics are all greatly exaggerated. But I’ve never doubted that they did, indeed, produce some number of new converts that was greater than zero. And if that’s true, yet the overall population remains “relatively steady,” then somebody must be leaving to make room for those new converts.

Darling’s claim, in other words, is that white evangelicalism doesn’t have a problem with young people leaving, it has a problem with no one joining.

Ah, but what if we say lots of people are joining and no one is walking away? That could be true with a “relatively steady” population if we just plug different values into the soul-winning rate formula. The lack of growth in the population could be accounted for if we assume a higher rate of natural mortality — a death rate that is much higher than the birth rate. But if that’s the case, then what we’re dealing with must be an aging, graying population. That puts us right back where we started — with an apparent problem involving the lack of appeal to younger people.

Darling’s torturing of statistics to reframe stasis as growth ultimately just leads us back to the essential weirdness of his overall thesis that “orthodoxy” requires the rejection of both social justice and niceness.

Darling is very cross with Rachel Held Evans and the many other young people who say they feel alienated by evangelicalism. (Their testimony is merely anecdotal, and if it’s fair to dismiss a single anecdote, then it must be fair to dismiss millions of them one at a time.)

But Darling’s main complaint isn’t with those who testify that evangelicalism is becoming repellent to them as young people. His main complaint is that evangelicalism isn’t repellent enough to everyone.

Like his Southern Baptist mentors, Daniel Darling is working hard to ensure that no one associates evangelicalism with social justice or with being nice. And he’s certain that will ensure its population doesn’t remain “relatively steady” for long.

I suspect that much is true, just not in the way Darling imagines.


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