Sunday favorites

May. 1st, 2016 01:43 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

"It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever -- This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace."

I'm Public In Public

May. 1st, 2016 10:08 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image Description: Person in power wheelchair with arms up embracing the space around.
Twice yesterday I had people grant me space that wasn't theirs to give and for which I needed no permission. It's an interesting kind of privilege when people feel that they are able to cede me the space I am currently using. It's interesting that those with privilege feel that public space belongs naturally to them and therefore they are the monarchs of all that is before them and can grant me entry into public space by their magnificent act of generosity. And. It irks me.

The first time it happened was on a broad, very broad, public sidewalk outside of a mall a several meters away from the door to a large anchor store. Joe had pulled the van up and set out the ramp. I was about to get in. We were using up maybe slightly less than a third of the space. A couple coming toward us, taking up, between them, a similar amount of space, and already, before seeing us, walking alongside the building, meaning they had no need to swerve or adjust their routing in any way, stops. They come to a complete halt as if waiting for me to get on the van so they can move again. I indicate that they can keep going, that there's lots of room. He says, "That's alright, we'll let you do what you need to do."

Let me.

They are going to let me.

They have the power to let me.

I didn't move. I wasn't in a rush. I waited, they passed by and said, "No problem mate." They acted as if I had thanked them for the generosity of their time and the granting of the public space that they had graciously given me. I hadn't thanked them, but they received it anyway.

I was in public space.



I am public. It's my space.

Then, later the same day, Joe and I are at our hotel. We are waiting outside the elevator. I've been in a wheelchair for 8 years and been alive for 63 years. For most of the time BW (before wheelchair) I knew how to wait for an elevator. I knew not to stand right in the door. It's a skill many have not yet learned, that people need to leave before one can get on. AW (after wheelchair) I move back so that people have plenty of room to move. I recognize that it's public space so I need to share that space with other members of the public. Again, a couple gets off, if they want too go left, they can, lots of room, if they want to go right, they can lots of room. They just get off and turn. But instead, they get off walk round behind me and then go left. They veered way out of their way, in order to say, "It's OK, we don't mind, take all the space you need." Then, at my silence, they said "No problem, no problem at all." They acted as if thanked. I didn't thank them.

I was in public space.



I am public. It's my space.

People with disabilities are not yet quite seen as part of the public, we are still visitors on outings. We are welcomed to space that's not seen as ours.

It's mine.

I claim it.


It's mine.

I claim it.



Apr. 30th, 2016 06:53 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image description: The words 'stupid' 'ugly' and 'pig face' surrounded by the colour of bruise place around a torso. The words 'no because' are pointing at the words.
Over the last week, culminating with a workshop I did with people with disabilities yesterday, I have noticed a phenomenon which I don't really understand and which frustrates me at the deepest level. It began innocently enough with a discussion with a colleague about issues which affect the lives of people with disabilities and as such the topic of bullying came up. In short order I was being told that I have to understand that bullies often have been bullied themselves and therefore, to an extent, their behaviour is understandable. Later, in the same conversation I'm told that bullies have poor self esteem and therefore put others down in order to build themselves up. Huh.

Then, in another conversation, this time with someone who is a trainer on the issue of bullying, I'm told that it's important to remember that the bully often expresses deep felt anger and rage through their behaviour because they have no other way of getting the excess energy caused by their feelings out. I must have looked less than convinced so I was further told that I had to learn to feel compassion for both the bully and the bully's victim. Huh.

Bullying is an interesting behaviour. We have somehow disconnected it from what it is, social or physical acts of violence perpetrated by one on another, and turned it into an understandable psychological phenomenon wherein compassion for those who hurt often seems to outweigh compassion for those who are hurt. In discussions about bullying, I realize, I hear so much more about the 'poor' bully than the 'poor' victim. Everyone seems to be racing to explain bullying by creating within the bully a psychological need to do harm.

Perhaps it's because we need the behaviour to make sense. Perhaps it's because we often talk about bullying in relation to children, conveniently ignoring that bullying happens throughout our lifetime by adults all around us.  We seem to want there to be a cause, which is why the word 'because' is so often attached to the word 'bully' ... he's a bully because, she engages in bullying behaviour because ... there must be a reason. We don't want to acknowledge the seductive nature of cruelty, we don't want to acknowledge that one person hurting another may happen simply because one person chooses to hurt another, we don't want to open our eyes to the fact that bullying may reinforce itself as a behaviour simply because it feels good. But none of this matters. None of this is what I want to say.

What I want to say is simple:THERE IS NO BECAUSE.

We need to stop explaining away the behaviour of those who commit violence and further we need to stop asking victims to feel sorry for their victimizer.

We don't do it with other acts of violence.

He beat his wife because work was really stressful and on the way home he got a flat tire.

She called her little girl an ugly fat slob because she was really upset when she learned that she didn't get the job she wanted.

He punched the waiter because he was tired of waiting, he'd spent his whole day on hold.

She kicked her dog twice, hard, in his chest because she was just tired of everyone being late for dinner.


Violence is wrong. Full stop. I don't need to, I don't want to talk about it any more than that. I don't want to give those who hurt fall back excuses for their behaviour. I don't want people who are hurt by people who hurt excuses to make for the behaviour that they are experiencing. There is no because. Violence is wrong.

At the self advocate training yesterday, in discussing bullying, a lot of people independently brought up 'poor bully' statements about their self esteem, about their lack of education, about their past experiences ... What? Pretty much everyone in the room had acknowledged that they had experienced bullying and here they were saying what everyone says about bullying ... This what parents, shockingly, tell their children. This is what, astoundingly, staff tell the people they support.




A choice was made, hurt happened. I know lots of people who have horrible abuse backgrounds, I know that they would never, because of that experience, hurt another person. Having been bullied oneself isn't an excuse for bullying it's cause for enlightenment about bullying isn't it??

It saddens me that we ask those who are victims of violence. Remember bullying is violence, it's not a rite of passage for children, it's not a psychological phenomenon caused by stress, it's violence. It needs to be seen as a choice that someone makes, it needs to be seen as being, simply ...


Because there is no because.


There is no because.

And as a result those who are hurt by others who would commit violence have a right to be heard and have a right to be supported and have a right to have their feelings matter. Because, and here there is a because ... because they more than a punching bag for a 'because bully' ... they matter.

[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
..made really extraordinarily accessible.

So, I've been continuing to browse my local library's collection of The Great Courses, which despite their daunting header are at about the level of a freshman intro course crossed with a PBS special. (Except taught by actual professors who speak English as their native language, instead of a grad student TA just off the plane from Farfaraway, like my freshman courses back in the Dark Ages at Big State U.)

I have become a fan of a particularly engaging and effective presenter, Dr. Stephen Ressler, who has done a number of courses for the company, including Understanding the World's Greatest Structures: Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity, Understanding Greek and Roman technology: From Catapult to the Pantheon and this week, Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life.

He's sort of like a Mr. Wizard for grownups. You definitely want to track down the DVDs, because the models and vids he demonstrates are a tremendous boost to comprehension. I'd rec the first two especially for writers trying to understand pre-industrial technologies through history, and the latter to everyone. (Well, I'd rec them all to everyone, because why should writers keep all the fun to themselves?) But the Everyday Engineering one is proving just full of things I wish I'd known earlier. Which, since it's a 2015 production, wouldn't have been possible, but chalk it up among the many rewards of my surviving this long.

Sampling the courses from the library randomly as my interest takes me, I can see the sophistication of the presentations grow from the early ones from the late 90s, which basically stuck a professor behind a podium and let the camera run while s/he geeked out about his or her favorite subject as fast as s/he could, to the most recent efforts, which use far more pictures, vid clips, computer graphics, and so on.

Why doesn't Netflix have these...?

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on April, 29

Amusing, with a donkey

Apr. 30th, 2016 12:33 am
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Posted by chinookjargon

Yay, more donkeys!

Sometimes in his Kamloops Wawa newspaper, Father Le Jeune would try to teach people who knew “Chinuk pipa” shorthand some English.

Like any teacher, L.J. gave some lessons that we have to admit were boring and not too successful.

But have a gander at this fun one!  If I transcribe the shorthand, can you make out what the English says?

1 2 3 4 5 6

Order of pictures:

1 2 3
4 5 6

  1. Litl Iso wanc tu stil som apils … 

  2. Git awt of thir yu litl raskal! … 

  3. Ail mik yu kyuit [SIC] at wans 

  4. Not məch [?] sis t boi … 

  5. Ai got t bist of yu … 

  6. And yu wont kach mi.

— Kamloops Wawa #139 (April 1896), page 94

[syndicated profile] advancedstyle_feed

Posted by Ari

                   For those of you who couldn't make the launch of Advanced Style: Older and Wiser this past weekend, The Strand was kind enough to put the event on their YouTube page. I hope to catch you at one of our upcoming signings.
Los Angeles
Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 3-6pm
West Coast Book Launch, Signing and Reception
MOCA Store
250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, from 7-9pm
Book Signing and Conversation
Book Soup
Panel discussion with Ari Seth Cohen, Valerie Von Sobel, Joy Venturini Bianchi, Sarah Jane Adams, Colleen Heidemann, and Irene Coyazo
Moderated by Rose Apodaca
8818 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

San Diego
Thursday, May 5, 2016, from 7:30pm-9pm
Author Talk and Book Signing
Warwick's Book Store
7812 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, California 92037

San Francisco Launch:
Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Book Signing and Conversation
Ari Seth Cohen in conversation with Joy Venturini Bianchi
Bloomingdale’s, 845 Market Street, San Francisco CA 94103

Relitigating the Golden Rule

Apr. 29th, 2016 09:41 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Protect religious groups you admire by protecting religious groups you do not admire. Otherwise you're just trying to find a loophole in the Golden Rule -- trying to compel others to do unto us as we would have them do while exempting ourselves from any obligation to do unto them as they would have us do. And that's not good.

It’s purple all right

Apr. 29th, 2016 09:04 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

The big purple thing is still marching along. It’s Purless, and I really like it, and it’s going well except for one thing.  I was standing in the Loopy Ewe last Thursday and Prince had just died and I was all freaked out and I was right in front of a yarn that was the perfect shade of purple (Shalimar Yarn’s Breathless in Byzantium) and I was looking at the pattern, and I was looking at the yarn, and I was looking at the pattern, and it only called for one skein, and so I was holding one skein, and I took it to the cash register to pay. While I was standing there, I realized two things. First, that pattern is easy to embiggen. Really easy. Second, I realized that I was not one skein of purple wool/cashmere/silk sad about Prince.  I was definitely at least two skeins sad, and that sadness wasn’t going to be abated by a small shawl.  It was going to need more.

I trotted back over to the yarn, got another skein and then started, and now that I’m feeling a little better (and really sort of over the purple) I find myself committed to this plan, and …

purpleshawl 2016-04-29

It turns out that I was only one skein sad about Prince, and now I’m living that thing again where I’m done before the shawl is. Yesterday I went to a yarn shop and tried to buy new yarn to knit instead of this – yarn for a big project I need to start really, really soon, and after a ridiculous hunt, I couldn’t get what I needed at all.  The Knitter’s Frolic is this weekend (so unbelievably excited about a job I can ride my bike to) and I’ll be there and I should be able to get the stuff, so now it feels like a moral question.  Am I the sort of person who finishes this before I start something else? Does it have to be as big as I thought? Does anyone need a ball of Breathless?

purpleshawl2 2016-04-29

So, the last time we did the Knit Play Cook Retreat I got all these questions and I wrote the answers down and made a note to keep it handy for this year, when I’d undoubtedly have to answer them again. I was really proud of the plan, right up until I forgot to post it because ironically, the first time I said all of this I called the post “I can be taught” and apparently I can’t at all.  In any event, here’s what you need to know – if you’ve been wondering.  (If you haven’t, just scroll back up and look at the purple yarn. It’s pretty.)

The next Strung Along retreat is begins the evening of June the 3rd, and runs until the evening of June the 6th.  (Question #1: Yes. Most people stay through until the morning of the 7th, and go home then. It’s in Port Ludlow, which is in Washington, and the closest airport is Seattle/Tacoma and yup, there’s a shuttle from the airport to the hotel.)

cookieplate 2014-06-24

The theme for this retreat is Knit, play, cook, and the teachers are me, Judith MacKenzie, and Dan Ratigan. I’m me, Judith is most decidedly “that Judith” and Dan is the Executive Chef at Port Ludlow, and an all round fun guy. (When you see him, ask him how many children he has. The man is practically made of joy.) I’m teaching a class called “Nicer Knitting” and it’s going to be about taking your knitting from an 8 to a 10. Dan and his team are going to host a day of cooking classes. (In the evenings, we’re going to work on Knitting for Speed and Efficiency and some other stuff – if you want to.)

dancooks 2014-06-24 cooking 2014-06-25 saladmade 2014-06-25

Judith was assigned the topic of “Play” and this time she’s taking it in the direction of her noble dyepots. She’s going to take you on a lovely romp through all things dye-based. Natural, not natural, weird and wonderful.   If you know Judith though, you know it almost doesn’t matter what she’s teaching. She’s amazing.

shoppingewe 2014-06-24

(Question #2: Wait, Judith MacKenzie is a spinning teacher, how come she’s not teaching spinning? Good question. Judith isn’t just a spinning teacher, she’s a textile artist, and has worked and learned all the way from the Arctic to Peru and Turkey, and she’s simply one of the best teachers that I’ve ever met in my whole life, and I bet if you read the comments, there will be more than a few people who agree with me.  She’s so good that it’s always broken my heart a little bit that at our retreats, you only get to know her and work with her, and be inspired by her if you are a spinner.  We decided to try this approach to give the rest of you a chance to see what everyone else is on about.  Trust us. (Plus, she’s going to retire someday, and we feel like we have an obligation to spread as much of her knowledge as we can before that happens.)  Question #3: I don’t know how to do any of those things.  I don’t know how to cook, or dye anything, and I’m kinda a beginning knitter. Is this for me? Yup. That’s the point of classes.  You don’t need to know how to do things when you come. You can’t be unqualified for a class where you’re coming to learn. If you’re worried about the cooking part, don’t be. Dan will have a variety of stations to work at, and you can start with something as basic as knife skills (I bet you always wanted to be able to chop things the way they do on Top Chef) and moves up to tasks as complex as you want. It’s fun, and the same goes for the other classes. You’ll be fine.  If you can cast on, cast off, knit, purl, increase and decrease, you’re more than equipped for everything that will go on that weekend. You come to learn stuff, not because you already know it – and because our classes are small and awesome, we can personalize stuff quite a bit – which means that if you’re expert at all that? You’re still going to learn stuff.

jenretreats 2014-04-15

Question #4: I don’t know anyone, and I’d be coming alone. Will this still be fun?  Yes. You’ll get to know people very quickly. There’s lots of people (almost all of them) who come by themselves.  You won’t be lonely, or alone. Some people who came alone have ended up with new best friends, or a group of them.  It’s a great thing to do by yourself. The classes are very small, and there’s lots of opportunity to get sorted, besides, you sort of know me. (Also, if you have a friend or spouse or Mum who knits too and you wanted to come together? We can make sure you’re in the same group.)

innatnight 2014-04-15

Question #5: How is this different or better than other retreats? Well, that’s hard to say.  I go to a lot of retreats, and they all have their own personality, and so does this one. Some are wacky (ours is not so wacky) some are rustic (ours is not at all rustic) some are big (ours is small) and some are more about being social (ours is a little less so.)  I can’t say ours is best, or that it’s totally your thing, I can tell you what we’re proud of, and what we like about our retreat.   We are proud of our class sizes (small – only about 13-15 per class) we’re very proud of the calibre of teachers we bring in, and we like that our focus is on teaching and learning. It’s three full days of classes, and evening events that are about learning too.  We think the resort is pretty nice, and we have fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs in every room. (See? Not at all rustic.) We also think that we’ve got some of the best food you’re ever going to eat at a group event like this. It’s over the top – local, fresh, amazing.  A shocking amount of our budget goes on food. SHOCKING.

bathtub 2014-04-15

Question #6: (Speaking of money.) How much is it? The retreat is $875, and that gets you all of your food, classes, teaching, materials, and evening events. The accommodations are separate, and yours to arrange with the Resort. (They have a special room rate for our retreats, usually around $159 a night, and several rooms can have two beds so you can split with someone. If that’s what you decide to do, you two work it out. The rate stays the same.)

 Question #7: What’s up with all the retreats? I mean, you and everybody are doing them?

ballwinderout 2014-04-17

Well. They’re awesome. That’s all. A retreat is a floating island of knitters. For the few days that the retreat runs (and especially at ours, where we fill the resort) the world is only knitters. Nobody thinks you’re nuts. Nobody thinks you’re strange, and we all support and agree with your passion.  It turns out that feels great.

Any more questions?

(PS. I just thought of another question. How do I sign up?  Read more details here, and send us an email at  Me or Debbi will write you back. There’s still some spots, but not very many.) 

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Several years ago I set up an RSS subscription for a Google News Alert for the word "Satanic." This has served me well by keeping me up to speed on the latest witches and enemies and such being accused of being Satanic baby-killers. But it's also led me to read hundreds of other articles simply because they popped into my RSS reader due to their containing the word "Satanic." Here's what I've learned from those articles.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

We're told about all this debauchery and chaos not because our heroes encounter any of it, but because the authors want us to know that "Rayford was worried about his and Chloe's safety." Because Rayford was desperate to get himself and his daughter saved "before anything happened to them." That pretty much sums up the golden-ticket understanding of "salvation" that shapes Left Behind's version of Christianity.
[syndicated profile] lovelybike_feed

Posted by Velouria

After a lapse of several years, I have recently gone back to using wine corks as bar-end plugs on my roadbikes. Straight away I began to get compliments. What lovely, quaint, old fashioned things those are! Perfect for a vintage racer. But actually, they're perfect for pretty much any bicycle with drop bars. Far more perfect than any other option I've tried so far.

First, consider the performance aspect. The plugs that come included with handlebar tape tend to be flimsy and are notorious for their lack of staying power, often falling out after only several rides. And the seemingly more "pro" plugs that are sold on their own are not always much better. By contrast, once you manage to wrangle a wine cork in there, it is impressively tenacious (so much so that extracting it, should you ever need to, can be tricky... but we'll not dwell on that for now!). While I have eventually lost at least one of every set of bar-ends I have ever used, I have yet to lose a cork.

The feel of the cork is also quite a bit nicer than the alternatives. Plastic bar-ends can feel hard, sticky and, well, plasticky. The metal ones I find unpleasantly cold to the touch. Cork is perfect in temperature, texture and give. Should my hand, or leg, brush against it, I do not even notice.

But the under-appreciated aspect of wine corks that's perhaps most relevant for today's roadie, is the weight savings. Did you know that a set of store-bought bar-end plugs can add 35 grams to your bicycle build?! Pretty scandalous when you consider that a typical wine cork (which can be cut in two and used for both sides of the bars) weighs only 5 grams. In other words, by not choosing corks for plugging up your drop bars, you may be subjecting your so-called lightweight build to a 700% weight gain in the crucial bar-end area! I shudder to think of the effect that has on one's climbing ability.

As if these merits were not sufficient, consider the financial savings. Commercially available bar-end plugs can cost upward of $20. You can purchase a fine bottle of wine to enjoy with a friend for half of that staggering price, then use the cork for your handlebars. Or, if you aren't looking for an excuse to purchase wine, you can get corks for free at your neighbourhood restaurant. Heck, you can even gather them up, then make a clean fortune reselling them as high-end bar plugs - perhaps dying the corks black for the modern roadie who finds the natural look too quaint.

Lovely? Perhaps. But old fashioned? Hardly. If it's weight savings and performance you're after, corks are the bar-ends for you.

It's time!

Apr. 29th, 2016 06:25 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image description: Three suitcases wait while yelling happens above them.
We go back on the road today, a trip that will take us eventually to the Maritimes, and we're busy getting ready. Things are packed. We haven't ticked 'yelling at each other' off the list of final preparations yet but I'm sure we'll manage to get it done at some point. The stress of both making sure we are fully prepared with all we need combined with the worry about accessibility and, of course, the ability to pee when needed during our journey.

I've reacted to this 'leaving' differently than I have in the past. I always like going out for a bit after work in my power chair just to get some air and to wind down from the work day. It's also nice, after being in my manual chair, to have real, actual, freedom of movement. But, this time, I've chosen for the last three days (3) days to stay in. Once was because we contacted friends about going out for tea and they weren't able to make it, so seconds later, I was in my housecoat.

Maybe it's that I've burrowed in the the accessibility and predictability of my home. Here I don't have all the worries that I have about all the other environments that I will call home for a night or two. Maybe I just wanted to really enjoy things I can't typically do at a hotel, like sit in a tall chair, the low chesterfields are not made for me, or be in a bathroom with the grips set exactly right, or have the right amount of space for my wheelchair to turn when I'm at my desk. Those little things which make home home and which make my disability feel as at home as I do.

But, we've got challenges ahead of us, I'm doing, count them 4 new talks on this trip. Two for self advocates and two for staff. I've been hunkered down writing them, and now we'll see how that went. I felt it was time to challenge my brain and, let me tell you, it has been challenged. But that's all done now.

Today we leave.

We're packed.

All that's left is the yelling.

Friday Links

Apr. 29th, 2016 06:00 am
[syndicated profile] muslimahmedia_feed

Posted by samya

N.J. fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad embraces a bigger Olympic platform as a Muslim woman. She is the first American in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

For the first time in its history, the 1000-year-old mosque at Thazhathangady, famous for its rich architecture and wood carvings, has thrown open its doors for Muslim women in Kerala.

Amal Clooney is absolutely shocked that Donald Trump has made it this far in his campaign for president by hurling insults, demeaning women and ostracizing Mexicans and Muslims. She tells the BBC that even if he gets the nomination she’s certain Hillary Clinton will beat him.

‘Inner Strength’ is a documentary series that captures the inspiration and motivation that drive Nike athletes. Dubai girl creates history, features in Nike ‘inner strength’ series.

 Hundreds of young Muslim girls have flocked to swimming lessons in Copenhagen after a capital city swimming club introduced segregated swimming sessions. The move was heavily criticized among politicians and commentators.

A brave gender equality campaigner broke down as they came out to Barack Obama as a non-binary person live on television during a question and answer session. Maria Munir, a Pakistani-Muslim, raised their hand to urge the US President – as well as David Cameron – to take gender neutral people seriously and ask what more could be done.

Between 1936 and 1979, when hijab was not in force, family albums capture Iranian women’s embrace of western fashion, as seen in movies, magazines and embodied by a succession of fashionable queens. The Guardian has some pictures.

One among many; there is a new victim of Islamophobia in France. A veiled woman who suffers from hypotension visited her doctor’s office to only find a physician who refused to treat her.

Sunspot Journal

Apr. 29th, 2016 12:05 am
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed

Sort of in recharge mode, I think, after all the travel recently.

The Sheep game is a weird little visual novel game I started to learn the Ren’Py engine so I could do Cryptic Stitching, and now I switch back and forth and as I learn something on one, I have to go apply it to the other one. Nameless Sheep will probably be done sooner, though, as it’s much, much shorter.

They both feature Sheep Shamans, though. Apparently I have a theme.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Mychal Denzel Smith: "When your self-conception is centered on the idea of your own goodness, it prevents you from hearing any critique of your ideology/behavior. Thinking of yourself as 'good' allows you to justify harmful words and actions, since anything you do, in your mind, is 'good.' ... We will have to create new selves."

This then that

Apr. 28th, 2016 08:48 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I love babies. I know I’ve told you that before – I think everything around them is brilliant.  First you have a woman, then a bigger woman and then she unbelievably becomes two people, and then one of those people changes from a baby into someone who can do algebra, play the violin and scream “you don’t know my life”.  (It is very loud magic.)  I feel the same way about knitting. First you have some string and a plan, and then you wave your hands around (a million times) with some sticks, and poof. A sweater appears. it’s the same with spinning – it’s a fantastic act of transformation. Watch this:

nerdroving 2016-04-20

Nerd Girl Yarns roving, 100% Cheviot, in the colourway “I will not eat them Sam I am.”

Then I waved my hands around a wheel a little bit:

nerdspinsingle 2016-04-28

nerdspinsinglesboth 2016-04-28

Then I waved those together with the wheel the opposite way:

nerdnoddy 2016-04-28 neryarndone 2016-04-28 neryarndoneopen 2016-04-28

Whammo.  From baby to adult in the blink of an eye. (Okay. It took several hours, but compared to something like pregnancy, it was super fast.) Now that little roving can go on to be something else. What? I don’t know. It’s made it’s trip with me. It’s about 275m of fingering weight, something so pretty and now it’s up to someone else. I’ve done my part of the magic. This is destined to make something else happen, it’s going to turn into services for a client (or clients) at PWA. I’m going to kick off this years fundraising with it. If you want it to be yours, send me an email (stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca (replace the AT and DOT with the right things, and notice the .ca, not .com) with what it’s worth to ya. I’ll email you if you’re the highest offer, and you can make the donation, and I’ll send it to your house.

Boom. Transformation.

(If you’re looking forward to this years Karmic Balancing Gifts, don’t worry. They’re coming. I’ll explain more about them in the coming weeks – but basically, anyone who helps, with a donation, with spreading the word, with social media, with good thoughts and wishes… you all qualify. Help the Bike Rally somehow, and send me an email at that same address with the subject line “I helped” and you’re in. Same goes if you help any knitter doing the ride. That’s MeKenPatoCameron or Heather (she’s blog reader, and a new knitter on our team.  Let’s get this party started.)

Seems like a thousand years to go

Apr. 28th, 2016 04:58 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

I'm not saying that everybody needs to heap praise on Beyonce's new album "Lemonade," but if you're a married man and you're freaking out condemning it, then we're all going to have to assume you're cheating on your wife. Also: A Pennsylvania primary roundup; Bad Jackie in the news; the ignoble history of guns in church; and more.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Sangyoub Park

NPR recently aired a story about female lawmaker’s representation state by state. According to the story, Colorado has the most women; female lawmakers make up 42% of that total. Wyoming had the least, with women only representing 13% of state lawmakers.

NPR’s experts suggested that term limits in Colorado and a female-friendly party leadership were behind their high number of female legislators, whereas a change in Wyoming from multi-member to single-member district in the 1990s was unfavorable to women (because voters have to pick only one and tend to lean toward men when they have to make hard choices). The story also mentioned voting rules and the difficulty of balancing home, work, and lawmaking responsibilities.

In fact, sociologists have been studying this issue in depth for some time and a few years ago Deborah Carr summarized the reigning wisdom on why women are less likely to be politicians. She highlighted six factors to explain the gender gap in the US Congress:

  1. Women have to face sexism (e.g., glass ceiling – Nancy Pelosi used the term marble ceiling in her inaugural speech as Speaker in 2007), especially voters’ sex role stereotyping “what women can and should be.”
  1. Women are not in the “pipeline,” suggesting that not enough women are in careers that have historically led to political office.
  1. Because of gendered wealth and income inequality, women don’t as often have enough money to run multi-dollar campaigns, nor access to social networks full of big donors.
  1. Women have different interests, focusing on “issues related to family and social welfare, rather than national defense and international relations.”
  1. Women are less likely to be risk-takers than their male counterparts, perhaps explaining why women must be asked several times before they seriously consider launching campaigns.
  1. Women opt out of politics because of family responsibilities.


To improve female participation in politics, we should promote more gender-neural political environments. Political parties should take further steps to recruit and support female candidates, as Colorado seems to be doing. We should repeatedly encourage women to run for office since they take a lot of encouragement before they seriously consider launching candidacies. More importantly, we need to seed the pipeline by encouraging young girls to get involved in student government and see governing as compatible with their interests and abilities.

Sangyoub Park, PhD is a professor of sociology at Washburn University. His research interests include social capital, demographic trends, and post-Generation Y.  

(View original at

Life among the Inuit, in Chinuk Wawa

Apr. 28th, 2016 02:52 pm
[syndicated profile] chinookjargon_feed

Posted by chinookjargon

I promised this when I showed you “Life among the Crees, in Chinuk Wawa“, and I deliver.

Visiting Kamloops Indian Reserve, Monsignor Grouard OMI of Athabasca is lecturing about his business trips.


Now he tells about the people of the far North, deliberately exoticizing them to encourage the Secwepemc to feel superior:

Ilip saia kopa kanawi tilikom mitlait Iskimo
Beyond all (other) people live the Eskimo 

tilikom: aias klahawiam kopa kanawi tilikom.
people; they’re the most miserable of all people.  

Ilo kansih klaska mamuk kuk klaska makmak. Ikta
They never cook their food.  Whatever 

klaska makmak, klaska makmak [NULL] ilo kuk. Klaska tlap
they eat, they eat [it] raw.  They catch 

fish pi klaska makmak [NULL], ilo klaska mamuk kuk iaka
fish and they eat [it], they don’t cook it. 

Pus chako kol ilihi pi ayu sno mitlait klaska
When winter comes and there’s a lot of snow, they 

mamuk haws kopa kol ilihi. Ukuk haws kanawi
make winter houses.  These houses are completely 

ais Klaska iskom sno, klaska mamuk kyut
ice.  They take some snow, they cut 

ukuk sno kakwa aias ston, skwir ston; pi
this snow up like a big stone, a squared stone; and 

klaska mash chok sahali kopa ukuk ston,
they pour water over this “stone”, 

aiak iaka chako ais, klaska mash ukuk sno ston
it quickly turns to ice, they put this snow stone 

sahali kopa ilip* klaska mamuk, pi klaska mamuk kakwa
on top of the first ones they made, and they build like 

ston haws, kanawi ais, ilo shimni, ilo windo
a stone house, all ice, without a chimney, without windows ,

kopit tanas laport: pus man tiki klatwa kopa haws
only a little doorway: if a person wants to go into the house, 

iaka ashnu, pi iaka kuli kakwa kamuks kopa ilihi.
he kneels down, and he moves like a dog along the ground.  

Pus klaska mitlait kopa ukuk aias haws, wik
When they’re inside these houses,

klaska mamuk paia, ilo shimni mitlait, kakwa ilo
they don’t build fires; there’s no chimney, so 

oihat kopa smok, kopit tanas lamp klaska
there’s no way for the smoke to go, they only 

mamuk; Sawash lamp, wik kakwa ukuk ilihi lamp
make small lamps, Native lamps, not like the lamps of this country. 

Klaska iskom ilihi iaka tipso iaka nim mos;
They get a ground plant called moss; 

klaska iskom drai mos, pi klaska mamuk patl
they take some dried moss, and they fill 

ukuk mos kopa fish gris, ukuk aias fish
this moss with the grease of of a fish, the 

iaka nim hwil iaka gris. Klaska mamuk paia ukuk
grease of that big fish called a whale.  They light this 

mos, pi iaka chako lait pi iaka chako tanas
moss, and it lights and it gets somewhat 

wam. Klaska mamuk mitlait ukuk mos kopa iht ston
warm.  They put this moss on a stone.  

Kakwa dish ukuk ston; pi sahali kopa ukuk
This stone is like a dish; and above this 

paia klaska mamuk mitlait kansih pawn ukuk hwil gris
fire they place several pounds of this whale fat.  

Ukuk gris pus chako tanas wam, iaka fol dawn
The fat, when warming up a bit, it falls 

iht drop pi iht drop kopa ukuk paia mos,
one drop by one drop onto this burning moss, 

pi kakwa iaka lili mitlait lait pi paia Ukuk tilikom
and this way it stays lit and burning for a long time.  These people 

mitlait kopa kakwa haws tlun mun, lakit mun, kata
live in houses like these for three months, four months, however 

lili son iaka ilo gitop Kakwa lili wiht wik
long the sun doesn’t rise.  For as long as that, 

klaska chako klahani kopa ukuk ais haws
they also don’t come out of these ice houses.  

Wik klaska kol kopa ukuk ais haws, kopa iaka
They aren’t cold in this ice house; [but] inside of it 

chako ayu hom kopa tilikom klaska itluil pi kopa
it gets very smelly from people’s bodies and from 

ukuk fish iaka gris klaska mamuk paia.
that fish [whale] oil they burn.  

(Kamloops Wawa #137, February 1896, page 36)

It’s not crystal-clear from this whether Grouard ever visited the Inuit, or is telling secondhand stories.


[syndicated profile] chinookjargon_feed

Posted by chinookjargon

So this linguist guy showed up on the radio all over the place again, yesterday.  It was on Public Radio International.

PRI The World

The show called “PRI’s The World” is running a series, “Name Tag”, about the origins of unique place names.  Click to listen; at 43:37 they get into Tillicum and Chinuk Wawa.


Apr. 28th, 2016 08:35 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image description: Line drawing of a 'Certificate of Gimp Status' made out to Dave Hingsburger and dated 2016
We opened the letter from the government expecting my tax refund cheque. Instead, we got a letter stating that I had to reapply in order to continue in my tax status as a disabled person. I was directed to the form that the doctor needed to fill out and advised that if it cost not to expect the government to pay. OK. I guess perhaps they expected that somehow my disability disappeared and they wanted confirmation that the wheelchair under me was still real and if it was real it was necessary.

Now, let's be clear. I know I have a disability. I know that my status as a disabled person is real. I knew that my doctor would fill out the form and I would send it in and that all would, hopefully, be well. But even knowing that, going through the process, (spoiler alert: I'm still disabled) was intensely unpleasant. I'm not sure why.

I'm not sure the issue was even with the government asking me to send in new information from the doctor. Instead I think it's the atmosphere that I feel, separate from the government, from those who just assume things about me and those like me ...

... that I'm lazy.

... that I could walk if I had the motivation to.

... that I don't contribute.

... that disabled people like me are a drain on the system.

... that I need to live under the scrutiny of others to ensure my life has no fun or feasts or frills.

... that disability needs to mean poverty of mind, spirit and pocket so that it is duly punished.

... that I am a member of a community of fakers and cheats and scroungers.

I know who I am. I am proud of the disabled community. I know that these attitudes stem from bigotry and fear and even hatred. I know that.

I do.

But the pervasive attitudes towards disability, attitudes which have hardened over the years as people have identified those with disabilities as part of the problem, are so intense that I find myself feeling as if I need to explain to everyone, not just the government, who I am and why I am and how I am. I feel I need to defend myself in some vague way from some vague but deeply frightening adversary.

I now have my medical certificate certifying me as a real disabled person. I guess that's, for me, a signal that the battle continues.

Yet Another Hijab Day?

Apr. 28th, 2016 10:51 am
[syndicated profile] muslimahmedia_feed

Posted by sarabi

Radical Islam is invading Paris’s elite political science universities; or at least that’s what opponents of Hijab Day would have everyone believe. On Wednesday, April 20th, students at Sciences-Po organized a hijab day. Salaam Sciences-Po, the Islamic reflection group behind the event, invited people to don headscarves in opposition of Islamophobia. While Hijab Day has been criticised as promoting a shallow, narcissistic “understanding” of what it’s like to be a Muslim woman in the West, and the exclusion of Muslim women who choose not to cover their hair) have been discussed at length, this particular Hijab Day is interesting when considered in the context of France’s current political environment. In 2004, France instituted its infamous hijab ban, which outlawed ostentatious religious symbols—most notably the hijab— in primary and secondary school. In 2011, the French government followed the ban with legislation that criminalized full-face covering. Now, in 2016, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls would like to make headscarves illegal at the university-level. He claims the majority of French people believe Islam goes against the values of the French republic.

While the Hijab Day did receive some support, it was also surrounded by intense controversy. Sciences-Po, which allowed the event to take place in the interest of open debate and free expression, issued a statement asserting that even though it allowed Hijab Day, the university does not necessarily endorse the initiative or its ideas (“…la tenue de cet événement dans les murs de Sciences Po ne saurait être interprétée comme un quelconque soutien de l’école à cette initiative.”) In the realm of more distinctly negative comments, French-Tunisian journalist Sonia Mabrouk tweeted, “When I think of all the women’s daily fight for freedom and choice in countries like Tunisia, this Hijab Day is an insult.” Her comment seems to miss the point of Hijab Day at Sciences-Po. Like Mabrouk, the Muslim women at Sciences-Po are fighting for their right to wear what they want (“…de se vêtir comme elles le souhaitent”), which is precisely what women in Iran, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and other countries are fighting for. Whether they are fighting to wear a headscarf or to take it off, the goal is the same: liberty. After receiving numerous insults on her social media platforms, Mabrouk amended her statement by saying she respects the choice to wear hijab, but still finds Hijab Day counterproductive to the struggle against forced-hijab. Though she improved her argument by voicing her respect for those who choose to cover, her amendment still does not recognize that being beaten for wearing hijab can be just as oppressive as being forced to wear it.  

The Front National, France’s right-wing, nationalist party, could not keep silent in this debate. On its Facebook page for the Sciences-Po chapter, the Font National issued a formal statement denouncing the event as “a gesture that underlines the imposturous politics of a bourgeois Parisian (woman) disconnected from social realities” (“Ce geste relève de l’imposture politique d’une bourgeoisie parisienne déconnectée des réalités sociales.”) Before reading the rest of the statement, one wonders, what exactly are the social realities of France? If you ask me, I’d  argue that France, like many other Western countries, is seeing a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, paralyzed by the tragedies of January and November 2015 and is willing to penalize anyone who looks like they might be even remotely related to ISIS (an absurd aim, considering members of ISIS have more than one profile.) According to the Front National,  

“The veil is contrary to the principles of the [French] secularism of 1905: [a] symbol of the subjugation of women, it hides them, giving them a status of otherness within the public space, which in fact excludes [the women] from democratic discussion” (“Le voile est tout ce qu’il y a de plus contraire aux principes de la laïcité telle que pensée en 1905 :  symbole de l’aliénation des femmes, il les dissimule et leur confère un statut d’étrangeté au sein même de l’espace public, ce qui, de fait, les exclut de l’espace de discussion démocratique.”)  

Modern French secularism involves not only a separation of church and state, as is the case in the United States, but also the privatization of religion. In other words, the less visible a person’s religion is in public space, the better. Considering how visible headscarves are, I cannot disagree with the Front National on that point. The rest of the statement, however, illustrates the problem with French secular thought, as well as with Islamophobia in general. If hijab gives wearers an air of otherness, it is because the societies in which the wearers live have yet to accept them as fully-fledged citizens. Rather, their societies are content to view hijabis as immigrants, even if the women were born and raised in their countries. Non-Muslim citizens view these women as people who do not fit in, or, as is more often the case in French rhetoric, people who refuse to integrate (for more information on this, I suggest Trica D. Keaton’s Muslim Girls and the Other France, Robert Castel’s La discrimination négative: Citoyens ou indigènes?, and Azouz Begag’s Ethnicity and Equality: France in the Balance.) Headscarves, by themselves, do not exclude women from democratic discussion, but racism and discrimination do.  

I’m disgusted by the vehement opposition to Hijab Day at Sciences-Po, but I’m not at all surprised. Just a few weeks ago, Laurence Rossignol, the French Minister of Families, Childhood, and Women’s Rights compared women who choose to wear hijab to “American niggers who were in favor of slavery” (“Il y a des femmes qui choisissent, il y avait aussi…des nègres américains qui étaient pour l’esclavage.”) She has apologized for her comment, but its very utterance simultaneously ignores the realities of slavery and disrespects Muslim women in a most heinous fashion. Normally, I do not condone hijab days, because they suggest that women will experience everything a full-time hijabi experiences and become sympathetic, and because they narrow Islam to an aspect of clothing. Hijab Day at Sciences-Po, however, has earned my respect because it was an attempt to engage directly with the discourse surrounding the so-called “Islamic” headscarf (Muslims are not the only people who cover their hair and bodies). Salaam Sciences-Po wanted to question the problematization of hijab, and remind the France that “there are as many veils as women [and it’s only the person who that has the legitimacy to give it significance]” (“Il y a autant de voiles que de femmes. C’est la personne qui le porte qui est la seule légitime à [le donne une signification].”) While it is unlikely that the 2004 and 2011 laws will be overturned any time soon, I take solace in the fact that France’s Socialist ministers are as of yet unwilling to ban headscarves in university. In response to Manuel Valls’s comments, higher education minister said, “There is no need for a law on the headscarf at university…The headscarf is not banned in French society.” Let’s hope it stays that way.


Header image

The First Church of Mulch

Apr. 28th, 2016 01:38 am
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed

It is a faith of small, consistent miracles, damp soil, and hard work.

Also worms. Worms are in there somehow. We haven't worked all the details out yet.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Usually, this is stated with a polite euphemism. We don't name all of these things specifically but, instead, we just say that white evangelicalism arose in response to "the social upheavals of the 1960s." That allows us to pretend that this is about something else -- about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, rather than about the backlash to increased legal equality for people of color and for women.

In my house

Apr. 27th, 2016 08:10 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

In my house there is:

1. A lot of laundry. Most of it clean, since my charming husband uncharacteristically and delightfully hauled off and did a whack of it. (Thanks buddy, you’re a team player.)

2. A pair of finished socks.

agathadone1 2016-04-27

Agatha socks, knit from West Yorkshire Spinners 4 ply in “Cardamom” , I love them. I put them on to take a few pictures, and haven’t taken them off yet. I guess they’re not going in the Christmas box after all.  Whoops.

agathadone3 2016-04-27

agathadone2 2016-04-27

4. A drying skein of yarn that I spun with my own two little hands. It’s gorgeous. I’ll show you tomorrow.

5. All of the handouts and prep for the Knitter’s Frolic this weekend. If you’re in town, you should come.

6. 4895 emails to do with the rather awful death of Prince. Thanks for sending them. When I landed in Denver last week and turned on my phone, I had 57 texts waiting. It was so powerful that by the time I got a message telling me it was Prince and I could open the rest,  I was almost relieved it wasn’t about my Mum. (Who is well and fine and fit and I don’t know why I thought that.)  I was completely shocked as I read through them, and went straight to the Loopy Ewe and bought purple yarn out of some sense of mourning, even though I don’t much like purple.

purplething 2016-04-27

It’s remarkable how much the death of someone you didn’t know can matter to you. Prince was the soundtrack for so much of my life. I remember fighting with my Mum to be allowed to take the train downtown when I was a teenager, just so I could see him – I remember the wild conversations with my sister about how much was reasonable to spend on a ticket to see him – and I regret none of it, including that I got grounded for coming in late that first time.  It was worth it. There’s few words to describe the loss. It’s not like the loss of someone who was in my life, I’m a big, grown up woman, and it’s not like I thought we had a relationship on any level, but almost all amazing moments in my life were punctuated by the music he made, and he was of my generation, and so young (therefore) and on top of David Bowie, I just don’t know what to make of it all.

Somehow, despite the fact that our love never came to fruition, and we weren’t friends, and I know that, I’m grateful for what he was in my life, and even more remarkable,  I’m going to miss him – but maybe a little less if I have a purple shawl. I bet you get it.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Pregnancy wasn’t always something women did in public. In her new book, Pregnant with the Stars, Renée Ann Cramer puts public pregnancies under the sociological microscope, but she notes that it is only recently that being publicly pregnant became socially acceptable. Even as recently as the 1950s, pregnancy was supposed to be a private matter, hidden behind closed doors. That big round belly was, she argues, “an indicator that sex had taken place, [which] was simply considered too risqué for polite company.”

Lucille Ball was the first person on television to acknowledge a pregnancy, real or fictional. It was 1952, but it was considered lewd to actually say the word “pregnant,” so the episode used euphemisms like “blessed event” or simply referred to having a baby or becoming a father.

Almost 20 years later, in 1970, a junior high school teacher was forced out of the classroom in her third trimester on the argument that her visible pregnancy would, as Cramer puts it, “alternately disgust, concern, fascinate, and embarrass her students.” So, when Demi Moore posed naked and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair just 21 years after that, it was a truly groundbreaking thing to do.


Today being pregnant is public is unremarkable. Visibly pregnant women are free to run errands, go to restaurants, attend events, even dress up their “baby bump” to try to (make it) look cute. All of this is part of the entrance of women into the public sphere more generally and the pressing of men to accept female bodies in those spaces. The next frontier may be breast feeding, an activity related to female-embodied parenting that many still want to relegate to behind closed doors. We may look back in 20 years and be as surprised by intolerance of breastfeeding as we are today over the idea that pregnant women weren’t supposed to leave the house. Time will tell.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at

The Skin of Children

Apr. 27th, 2016 08:17 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Image description: a line drawing of a forearm receiving an electric shock

So there is finally movement in the fight towards the banning of the use of electric shock as a 'treatment' option for children with disabilities. I have read a lot of response to this announcement. A lot of, forgive me, shock. A lot of outrage. A lot of people waiting with bated breath to hear if the ban goes through.

And then there is skin.

Still being shocked.

The skin of children.

is being shocked.

While we wait. While people have meetings, with coffee and muffins, to decide if they will ban this 'therapeutic procedure' They will look at evidence and hear arguments, weigh public opinion and write reports.

The skin of children.

Is being shocked.

It astonishes me that proponents talk about the studies, evidence based reports, that show the effectiveness of shocking ...

... the skin of children.

And it astonishes me further that people can read a data chart and see every data point that shows exactly when and with what power a shock was given to ...

... the skin of children.

No one asks the right question. How could it be that we came to shock the skin of children? What kind of distorted thinking made the idea possible? A procedure that would be considered cruel to use with animals was acceptable to use with children. Who said, first, Hey, let's shock ...

... the skin of children.

The answer is easy. 'Children' never entered into the discussion. Because humanity is denied to the different the word 'inhumane' isn't seen to apply. You can not be inhumane to that which is not human. You can be inhumane to animals - but as you know there are bioethics professors who believe that killing a cat is a more serious crime than killing a baby with an intellectual disability.

They shock the skin of children.

And we're still talking about whether or not this is acceptable practice.

People are fighting in order to continue to be able to shock ...

... the skin of children.

This is the world we live in.

This is the world that the disabled know.

The one that would shock the skin of our children.

Book Review: The Green Bicycle

Apr. 27th, 2016 06:00 am
[syndicated profile] muslimahmedia_feed

Posted by Fatin Marini

Author’s Note: Quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof.

The Green Bicycle is the debut novel by Haifa al-Mansour, based on her movie, Wadjda. Both the movie and the book tell the story of free-spirited 11-year-old Wadjda who enters a Quran competition to raise money to buy a green bicycle.

Wadjda reminds me a lot of Ramona Quimby, Beverly Cleary’s masterful creation. Like Ramona, she can’t seem to get things right. She doesn’t fit in at school and thinks her principal hates her. She is at odds with the “good” girls and oftentimes finds herself daydreaming. I wish Wadjda had been around at the time when I was reading about Ramona’s antics. There were no young Muslim girls in the stories I read growing up. But at the time I didn’t know that mattered. Being Palestinian was just as important as being American to me but my Arab-Muslim identity didn’t really come up. Except during Ramadan, of course.

Reading this book now, I can appreciate how much representation really matters. Beverly Cleary wrote her series of books to address the lack of stories about real children. Al Mansour mentions feeling invisible in Saudi Arabia and her motivation for making her film was “to have voice.” While this story is a reflection of Saudi Arabia specifically, I’m happy young Muslim girls will see themselves in Wadjda. Obviously sexism isn’t just an Arab/Muslim thing but I could relate to all the big and small ways it plays out in this book. Wadjda’s constant frustration with Saudi Arabian society’s cultural oppression of women and young girls: her small rebellions like listening to and recording Western music to sell to her fellow classmates and cutting out pictures from magazines of all the things she wishes to accomplish in life. Her best friend is a boy named Abdullah with whom she has a love/hate relationship because she resents the freedom he was born with while she has to fight for every bit. It’s clear he loves her back, at one point he declares, “Wadjda, you know I’m going to marry you when we’re older, right?” But he’s afraid to be seen with her because of societal restrictions.

There is a constant push/pull in this book between who people are forced to be in public and the people they can truly be in private. The author does a good job of setting up this juxtaposition of the private/public lives. “Home” we are told, “was the only place where she and her mother could be themselves, relaxed and happy and tucked away from the outside world.” For these Saudi women, it isn’t just home; it’s wherever women gather alone.

We see the girls at school crowd Wadjda to buy her trinkets and mix tapes even though they’re not allowed at school. There are the teachers who wear animal prints at school away from the prying eyes of men. We meet two rebellious teens, Fatin and Fatimah, who are described as “sassy,” “a true criminal mastermind” whose “elaborate pranks were school legend.” They were “cool without trying to be.” I hate using the word rebellious because it conjures images of Muslim girls throwing their veils to the wind and running wild. These girls and women are just trying to find a place for themselves in the world too.

Wadjda’s mother is perhaps the best example of dealing with private struggles while maintaining her public dignity. Wadjda describes her as “the most beautiful woman in the world” with “her silky hair [that] fell to her slim waist [and] was so thick that it was hard for [her] to control it all under abayah and burka.” Her mother often sings love songs at home and flirts with her husband when he comes to visit. When Wadjda enters a Quran competition to buy a green bicycle she sees at a toy shop, it is her mother with her beautiful singing voice who helps her recitation. Wadjda thinks, sadly, that her mother could have been in a movie but knows her mother would never pursue such an “improper” career. Her mother is a strong character; she is opinionated and protective. But she knows her limitations and isn’t ready to push them.

The problem for Wadjda is that she is ready to push the limits, and is lucky to be young enough to get away with it, until she isn’t. One day, her principal pulls her aside to tell her that she needs to come to school the next day wearing the abayah ras (full abayah and veil). While her mother takes it as a sign of maturity, for Wadjda it’s just another step toward becoming another faceless, nameless figure in the crowd. When she sees the green bicycle sitting outside the toy shop, she is determined to do everything she can to stop that from happening.

While the main storyline is Wadjda’s quest to raise money for the green bicycle that will enable her to race Abdullah and find her freedom, the other characters are just as compelling. Al Mansour does a wonderful job of creating characters that are all flawed in some ways but all have redeeming qualities as well. No one in this book is perfect. Everyone is a victim to the pressures of a patriarchal society that uses culture and religion against its citizens. The men, too, have roles they have to adhere to whether they want to or not. And even Wadjda, with all of her bravery and willingness to tout societal norms, finds herself faced with moments of uncertainy.

For a story centered on Muslim characters, this is an amazing feat. Too many times, stories can seem preachy or judgmental. The Green Bicycle does not shy away from religion and religious figures but they are not one-dimensional good guys or evildoers. Everyone in this novel simply is. And this, in my opinion, is the best thing about this book. It’s told from an insider’s point of view without ever leaning one way or another. Al Mansour allows the reader to judge each character and situation for themselves.

Young readers will find this book an easy read. The language can be poetic but straight forward. Wadjda is relatable because she makes mistakes but still tries her best. She is funny and fun and spunky. I think kids and adults will enjoy this book. There are storylines to keep all ages entertained.

At the end of the story, Wadjda rides off into the sunset on her bike and at first it seems unrealistic. This is Saudi Arabia after all. But deep down, you root for her all the same.


Header image

"Penric's Demon" is a Hugo nominee

Apr. 26th, 2016 06:25 pm
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
In the novella category.

The Hugos will be awarded this summer at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II, in Kansas City.

(As a point of information, "Penric's Demon" was conscripted onto the "Rabid Puppies" slate without my notification or permission, and my request that it be removed was refused.)

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on April, 29
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Rick Perlstein on the unpleasant political lineage of Trumpism. Adam Kotsko and Deborah Jian Lee on the whiteness of white evangelicalism. Andre E. Johnson on the old arguments resurfacing as "bathroom bills." And John Oliver on abortion laws.

Review: Rapha Core Collection

Apr. 26th, 2016 11:35 am
[syndicated profile] lovelybike_feed

Posted by Velouria

It’s been a while since I have covered Rapha on this blog. But I’ve been wearing bits and pieces of their clothing for a good few years now. And in the course of those years I have arrived at the opinion that, putting questions of pricepoint and branding aside, Rapha makes excellent cycling clothes. The comfort factor is high. The fabrics are uniquely pleasant to the touch. The styling is flattering (inasmuch as such a word can be used to describe cycling clothes). The fit of the women’s collection - which was quite good to begin with - has improved steadily over the years. And the durability has, for the most part, proved excellent. Some of my oldest cycling clothes still in circulation are Rapha (i.e. my Ride Studio Cafe club kit circa 2010!), still going strong despite frequent wear.

It feels a bit unfair then to add, that I would prefer for all these praiseworthy features to come in a more low-key package. For I am in the category of those who find Rapha’s iconic white armband off-putting, their contrasting logos visually domineering, their themes of epic suffering comically exaggerated. I suppose what I really want from Rapha - whether it's "fair" to want such a thing or not - is their styling, fit and quality, without the overtly Raphaesque iconography. And even though in today’s landscape of boutique cycling apparel brands Rapha’s price tags are not as eyebrow-raising as they once were, of course lower prices wouldn't hurt either.

I am hardly alone in such criticisms. Nearly every review of Rapha ever written describes their garments as excellent, but a bit OTT in the branding department, as well as expensive. 

And so, as if having finally decided to address the situation, this spring Rapha has introduced the Core Collection. Released simultaneously for men and women, the Core shorts and jerseys offer “the basic essentials in performance and functionality" - with subtler branding and a lower pricepoint than Rapha’s traditional lines. Having received a sampling from the range for review, what I am looking at is some handsome cycling kit, plain and simple. 

As far as sizing: I am a size 4 US (38/40 EU, 12 UK) and am wearing the women's Core shorts in Size Small, the jersey in Size Medium (deliberately sized up to fit over a base layer - it's cold here!). My male tester is a size 34 (trousers) and L (tops) in street clothes; he is wearing the men's Core bibs is size Large, the jersey in size XL. 

The short sleeve jerseys are available in black, as well as a range of solid colours, including red, navy, gray, light blue and pink (I am actually quite impressed with the colour selection considering they have just launched the line). The fit is generous enough to be worn over a base layer, but tailored to hug the body's contours - with men-specific and women-specific proportions executed pretty well.

My skin is sensitive to synthetic fabrics, and even in warmer weather I can't wear synthetic jerseys without a merino base layer underneath. Still, one thing I appreciate about lycra is that it is highly stretchy. The Core jersey in particular, I find, allows for a great range of movement without pulling at the shoulders, riding up too much, or bunching uncomfortably. The stretch also makes it somewhat versatile as far as sizing: size down for a tight, racy fit and it won't constrain; size up for a roomier fit and it won't flutter.

Designed to fit optimally when leaning over the handlebars, off the bike both the men's and women's versions of the jersey are quite loose around the lower back - an effect that is exaggerated by the deep rear pockets.

What it lacks in clever extras - key fobs, special compartments for pumps, and such - the basic 3-pocket system makes up for in roominess, swallowing bananas, scrunched up rain jackets and phones unceremoniously. And it still features a zippered compartment for valuables.

And once the rider is on the bike, the looseness at the lower back disappears entirely.

Distinctly devoid of white armbands, neon stripes or contrasting logos, the Core jerseys feature a subtle tonal armband on the left sleeve and two tonal logos: one on the chest and another across the rear pockets. The logos are so subtle, as to be near-invisible, unless hit by direct light. It's a clean and simple look if ever there was one.

While I prefer merino jerseys over synthetic ones, as far as the latter goes the Core jersey is certainly a nice one. I like this jersey for its excellent fit, generous degree of give, roomy pockets, and overall functional simplicity. As a fan of all-black cycling kit, I also appreciate that "even" the women's version comes in black. Not black with a splash of fuchsia just in case, but "pure dark black," to use the local parlance. Seriously Rapha, thank you for that.

Because of the lower pricing, it is tempting to think of the Core Collection as Rapha’s “budget range” and, consequently, to look for signs of this in the look and feel of the products. I was therefore surprised to discover that I actually prefer the women's Core shorts to my trusty Rapha Classic shorts, which I have owned and worn for years.

The women's Core shorts offer the same key features that make the brand’s flagship Clasic shorts so comfortable: namely, the same excellent chamois and the same fold-over front panel construction that makes these the only non-bib shorts I've tried that don't pinch or create muffin-toppage around my mid-section.

I was then delighted to find that, in addition, the Core women’s shorts are made with wide laser-cut leg grippers - a feature that my Classic women’s shorts lack and I’d always wished they had. Apparently the laser-cut style of leg gripper is actually less expensive to produce than the fold-over style of the Classic shorts. If so, all the better, as this is my favourite style of gripper. Holding firmly in place over bare legs and legwarmers alike, it doesn't oversqueeze, saving me from rashes and the unsightly sausaging effect.

Wheareas Rapha's Classic shorts are available in a longer and shorter length version, the Core shorts come in the longer length only. But perhaps the most noticeable difference, is that the fabric of the Core shorts is denser and a bit heavier than the stocking-thin matte nylon of the Classic shorts. While I suspect that in super hot climates this denser fabric might not be as cooling, this is something that I personally am spared from worrying about in Ireland. Wearing the Core shorts on the bike, I appreciate the extra support and compression they offer, preferring this denser fabric to that of my Classic shorts.

The men’s Core bib shorts parallel the women's shorts, with the addition of (black or white) bib straps. With the straps being solid rather than mesh, I again suspect that for very hot climates these bibs might lack cooling properties. That said, the straps are of the fairly minimal variety, and described by my male tester as comfortable with and without a base layer.

The bib shorts are in fact my male tester's favourite part of the Core collection. He raves about them after every ride, saying they fit him better than any of his other cycling shorts and feel considerably more comfortable around the crotch area (both the chamois itself and the fit around it).

Aside from the fit, comfort and laser cut leg grippers (which is his prefered style as well), he also praises Rapha's choice of black for the chamois-cover fabric - clarifying meaningfully: "You don't want a light colour down there, like!"

"Ew. Are you sure you want me to publish that?" I ask.

"Yeah, write it down. Men like to know about that sort of thing."


With stitching that is only partly flat-lock, and a sewn-in label along the back seam, the inside of the Core shorts and bibs provides insight into the cost-reduction aspects of their manufacture. But as these details translate into no discernable discomfort, I see no cause for complaint.

I was also amused to notice that the Core Collection's lower pricepoint did not come at the expense of literature: Like many Rapha garments, the Core shorts and bibs are imprinted with cycling-themed stories (in this case, on the underside of the front panels).

So, should you ever want to ...erm, flirt with a Core shorts-wearing rider, just ask for a glimpse of their Marin Headlands/ Lonely Mountain (as applicable).

My overall impression of the Core Collection is that it is basic Rapha, but not "budget Rapha." While we have not worn the garments long enough to comment on durability, as far as fit, comfort and styling I feel that the Core range has much to recommend it. While I like the Core jersey, the item I love best is the women's shorts, and I note that my male tester is mad about the bibs. Additionally, I appreciate the Core's subtler branding and lower cost.

Priced roughly 30% below their flagship Classic line, the Core Collection still isn't exactly cheap: A jersey will set you back £75.00 (men's and women's), the women's shorts £80, and the men's bib's £100. But, whether we like it or not, that pricing is on par with what many other cycling apparel manufacturers are charging today.

Whether you are a fan of Rapha, or secretly wish you could wear Rapha without being a "Rapha Wearer," the Core collection could be for you. I wish their new endeavour well and hope to see the Core range expand in future - in particular, with cold weather offerings, and - a personal request! - pure merino.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Many hope that Misty Copeland is ushering in a new era for ballet. She is the first female African American ballet dancer to have the role of Principal Dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. She has literally changed the face of the dance.

Race is a central and important part of her story, but in A Ballerina’s Tale, the documentary featuring her career, she describes herself as defying not just one, but three ideas about what ballerinas are supposed to look like: “I’m black,” she says, and also: “I have a large chest, I’m muscular.”

In fact, asked to envision a prima ballerina, writes commentator Shane Jewel, what comes to most of our minds is probably a “perilously thin, desperately beautiful, gracefully elongated girl who is… pale as the driven snow.” White, yes, but also flat-chested and without obvious muscularity.

It feels like a timeless archetype — at least as timeless as ballet itself, which dates back to the 15th century — but it’s not. In fact, the idea that ballerinas should be painfully thin is a new development, absorbing only a fraction of ballet’s history, as can clearly be seen in this historical slideshow.

It started in the 1960s — barely more than 50 years ago — in response to the preferences of the influential choreographer George Balanchine. Elizabeth Kiem, the author of Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy, calls him “the most influential figure in 20th century dance,” ballet and beyond. He co-founded the first major ballet school in America, made dozens of dancers famous, and choreographed more than 400 performances. And he liked his ballerinas wispy: “Tall and slender,” Kiem writes, “to the point of alarm.” It is called, amongst those in that world, the “Balanchine body.”


We’re right to view Copeland’s rise with awe, gratitude, and hope, but it’s also interesting to note that two of the the ceilings she’s breaking (by being a ballerina with breasts and muscles) have only recently been installed. It reminds me how quickly a newly introduced expectation can feel timeless; how strongly it can ossify into something that seems inevitable; how easily we accept that what we see in front of us is universal.

In The Social Construction of Reality, the sociologists Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann explain how rapidly social inventions “harden” and “thicken.” Whoever initiates can see it for what it is — something they created — but to whoever comes next it simply seems like reality. What to Balanchine was “I will do it this way” became to his successors “This is how things are done.” And “a world so regarded,” Berger and Luckmann write, “attains a firmness in consciousness; it becomes real in an ever more massive way, and it can no longer be changed so readily.”

Exactly because the social construction of reality can be so real, even though it was merely invented, Copeland’s three glass ceilings are all equally impressive, even if only one is truly historic.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at

[syndicated profile] advancedstyle_feed

Posted by Ari

It's been four years since the release of my first book and I'm thrilled to announce that my new book Advanced Style: Older and Wiser is out today! Check below for signing dates and locations(more to be added soon).
New York
Tuesday, April 26, 2016, from 7-9pm
Book Launch, Signing, and Party
Ari Seth Cohen in conversation with Simon Doonan
The Strand, Rare Book Room
828 Broadway (at 12th street), New York, NY 10003
This event is open to the public, but if you would like to secure to seat for the conversation check 

Los Angeles
Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 3-6pm
West Coast Book Launch, Signing and Reception
MOCA Store
250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, from 7-9pm
Book Signing and Conversation
Book Soup
Panel discussion with Ari Seth Cohen, Valerie Von Sobel, Joy Venturini Bianchi, Colleen Heinemann, and Irene Coyazo
Moderated by Merle Ginsberg
8818 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

San Diego
Thursday, May 5, 2016, from 7:30pm-9pm
Author Talk and Book Signing
Warwick's Book Store
7812 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, California 92037

San Francisco Launch:
Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Book Signing and Conversation
Ari Seth Cohen in conversation with Joy Venturini Bianchi
Bloomingdale’s, 845 Market Street, San Francisco CA 94103

[syndicated profile] muslimahmedia_feed

Posted by sarabi

I received a free copy of the H.M. Hymas’s The Prayer Rug from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

I really wanted to like this book. I love to hear lesser-told narratives, and this one checked all the boxes: it features a female protagonist and Muslim characters. More specifically, the characters are Iraqi, and I’ve never read a story that features Iraqi people. In short, The Prayer Rug follows Reem and her family as they struggle to maintain their sense of home in Iraq while it is being invaded by American Forces. Reem clings to her prayer rug—whose rhythmic presence is not as central to the novel as one might expect—as a symbol of faith, struggle, and progress. Unfortunately, the book fell flat. The writing is clumsy, the “plot twists” are obvious, and the characters feel more like caricatures.

In terms of word choice, The Prayer Rug was pretty easy to read. The phrases are short and the words are simple. So simple, in fact, that I found myself getting bored. Hymas frequently repeated words and phrases, a device that would have worked well had the repeated words come from the same character’s mouth, but the phrases seem to be playing round-robin throughout the book, which is not only confusing but also uninventive. Rather than letting the events of the novel speak for themselves, Hymas uses character commentary to move through the plot. As a result of the repetition and transparency, I quickly learned which phrases signaled an upcoming tragedy or plot reversal. Several times,  Reem comments that “Today is going to be a good day,” right before tragedy strikes. The attempts to the reader away from the plot “twist” are painfully obvious. Reem makes daily trips to the market. The first time she goes, she pauses to ask herself, “Will the market be safe today?” Reem then explains that the market is often the target of terrorist activity. The second time Reem goes to the market, a couple of chapters later, she once again pauses to ask, “Will it be safe today?” before reiterating the dangers of the market. The reiterations seems to imply that readers cannot retain information for longer than a couple of pages. Inevitably, the market becomes the dangerous place it’s worked up to be, and of course Reem doesn’t see it coming, despite being aware of the possibility.

Image via Goodreads.

Image via Goodreads.

Throughout the novel, characters changed so quickly and so frequently that I often found myself re-reading previous passages to make sure I understood them correctly. For instance, in one chapter, Reem checks the road for explosive devices while taking her children to school. She notes that her children are so used to the exercise they no longer ask her about it. In a later chapter, though, Reem pauses to assess a public area for danger (I’m being intentionally vague here to avoid spoilers) and her daughter asks why she stopped. Through Reem we discover that her daughter has only known the war, and that Reem’s older son has spent the majority of his life in the warzone. Still, her son doesn’t seem to comprehend the dangers of walking recklessly in the road and consorting with strangers. When his parents discuss who is fighting and why, it seems as if he is hearing this information for the first time, despite his being a teenager. While it is possible that he would be ignorant of the specifics of the war, Reem and Azzam (her husband) discuss the war so frequently I find it hard to believe their son hasn’t learned anything about it during his lifetime.  

Perhaps the thing I found most appalling about the book was the blatant political agenda. We get it; the war in Iraq ruined people’s lives. Show us, don’t tell us. The characters repeated some version of the phrase “things were better before the Americans came” ad nauseum. Even as they repeated this mantra, they continued to detail the terrible reign of Saddam Hussein. This dual treatment leaves readers in limbo. On the one hand, readers are supposed to believe that the American occupation in Iraq ruined the lives of the Iraqi people. On the other hand, they are supposed to believe that Saddam Hussein was the one who ruined the lives of the Iraqi people. One gets the impression that Iraq would be better off with no governmental system, but history tells us that doesn’t work either.  

Fortunately, Reem herself is a somewhat respectable character. She is depicted as a pious, loving wife and mother, who does everything she can to ensure the safety and relative comfort of her family, even if it means making sacrifices. Of all the characters, Reem seems the most human. She suffers grief, pain, and fear, but she also enjoys hope, joy, and thankfulness. Like the other characters, Reem’s character is deficient in the areas of dialogue and thought narration, but Hymas succeeded in creating a strong female Muslim leading character. Though Reem depends on her husband to provide an income for the family, she is neither oppressed by, subservient to, nor entirely dependent upon him. Reem makes it clear both to her family and to the reader that no matter what happens to her on Earth, she will always be able to turn to God.

I was excited to see some Islamic thought peppered throughout the book: why we pray, why we fast, why we (some of us) wear hijab. Regrettably, these aspects were dropped into the story, rather than woven in, and Hymas only touched on the basics without addressing the shades of meaning and variations in practice. In a book that spends so much time talking about Sunni/Shi’a conflict, discussing the differences would have been easy. While the differences aren’t exactly integral to the plot, having some idea why Reem’s family (who is Sunni) might be persecuted by her predominately Shi’a neighbors would have deepened the narrative. On some level, I’m glad the author didn’t attempt this; based on the shallow plot and poor characterization, I can tell he wouldn’t have done the topic justice.

Frankly, I’m glad I received this for free, in ebook format. The cover, title, and subject matter would have lured me into buying the book and I would have been frustrated I wasted my money. I cannot openly recommend this book because it has serious structural issues, but at the same time I’d like to recommend it to readers because it’s a book that deals with both women and Islam, and the world needs more of those narratives. Even horribly constructed narratives are welcome, because they encourage discussion. Hopefully, in the future, those narratives will be something worth reading.


Header image ny Keith Roper – Source 


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