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  • Why Do People Hate Fangirls? | Laci Green (July 17): “Confession: All the practice I got before my first kiss happened with a giant backstreet boys poster taped to the back of my door in 1999. And I regret nothing!” Laci Green explains what’s wrong with hating fangirls.
  • Black Girls Rock: A look at Fierce, Feminist Women in Film | The Mary Sue (July 27): “It’s not enough to be the token friend, or the one Halle Berry in a sea of Regina Kings, or the sassy comic relief like Leslie Jones’s brief appearance in Trainwreck. We are beautiful and unique, and we deserve to be heard. That’s why I put together a list of amazing women in film roles that showcase black women as more than just the limited caricatures we are constantly bombarded with in mainstream media. This is your friendly reminder that black girls rock.”
  • Waiting for Captain Marvel is getting old | Feministing (July 28): “When Marvel announced the Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies, I was among those cheering. Finally, a superhero film that centered a person of color and a woman. The reality, however, is that those films aren’t coming until 2018. In the meantime, we have to wait and watch films like Ant-Man invoke some sort of pseudo-feminist-women-are-badass-but-still-need-protecting message. Frankly, I may not make it until 2018.”

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, 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.

This Month in SocImages (July 2015)

Jul. 31st, 2015 08:12 pm
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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

SocImages News:

  • A huge thanks to Jon Smadja for freshening up the site and made it mobile friendly!

You like!  Here are our most appreciated posts this month:

Thanks everybody!

Editor’s pick:

Top comic:

Top post on Tumblr this month:

Social Media ‘n’ Stuff:

This is your monthly reminder that SocImages is on TwitterFacebookTumblr, and Pinterest.  I’m on Facebook and most of the team is on Twitter: @lisawade@gwensharpnv@familyunequal, and @jaylivingston.


It’s been a hard summer so far, but let’s not let July 2015 go without one more time reveling in the joy of discovery:


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

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

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Posted by Fred Clark

Originally posted April 29, 2005.

Left Behind, pp. 87-89

The last we saw of Hattie Durham she had just left Rayford’s steely lap after their helicopter ride home to the Chicago suburbs.

Hattie is the Pan Continental flight attendant who has been strung along by the older, married Rayford Steele. The book begins with a description of their non-affair affair:

They had spent time together, chatting for hours over drinks or dinner, sometimes with coworkers, sometimes not. He had not returned so much as one brush of a finger, but his eyes had held her gaze, and he could only assume his smile had made its point.

What LaHaye and Jenkins show us of this relationship is very different from what they tell us about it. They don’t say what, exactly, Rayford’s “point” was in smiling at Hattie and holding her gaze, but it seems clear what he’s thinking: He could, but he won’t.

Hattie, on the other hand, would. For L&J, this is the only morally significant aspect of their relationship. Rayford isn’t willing to sleep with Hattie, so his behavior is virtuous. Hattie is willing to sleep with Rayford, so she’s a sinful little slut. That’s what they seem to be telling us, but it’s not what’s really going on.

Hattie, we read, is 27 years old and “drop dead gorgeous.” Yet she doesn’t have a boyfriend or much of a life outside of work. She’s willing to sacrifice all of that — she has sacrificed all of that — for Rayford. In return, he has given her not “so much as one brush of a finger.” Hattie gives and Rayford takes. But he is always, always careful not to take so much that he is forced to give in return.

L&J paint a disturbingly accurate portrait of a the kind of predatory, exploitative married man that young women would be wise to stay away from, yet they seem to think they’re describing the kind of homewrecking young woman that married men ought to stay away from. They seem to applaud Rayford’s self-control, when really he’s not demonstrating self-control, but the urge to control, to manipulate, others.

Thus we come to Rayford, briefly sympathetic after discovering that his wife and son are dead/raptured, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone:

“Hello?” he said, unable to mask the sleepy huskiness in his voice.

“Captain Steele?” It was the frantic voice of Hattie Durham.

“Yes, Hattie. Are you all right?”

So he’s “Captain Steele,” and she’s “Hattie.” There’s reciprocity for you.

Hattie, we learn, has been trying to call Rayford for hours. She’s scared and needed someone to talk to, but she’s also worried about him. He tells her what he’s learned about his family. “I’m sorry,” she says. “Is there anything I can do?” Rayford, for his part, just wants to get off the phone.

“I’m scared to death of what’s become of my family.”

“Let me know what you find out, Hattie, OK?”

BoyerBergman“I will, but you were supposed to call me. ‘Course my phone was dead, and then I couldn’t get through to you.”

“I wish I could say I tried to call you, Hattie, but I didn’t. This is hard for me.”

“Let me know if you need me, Rayford. You know, just someone to talk to or be with.”

“I will. And you let me know what you find out about your family.”

He almost wished he hadn’t added that. Losing his wife and child made him realize what a vapid relationship he had been pursuing with a 27-year-old woman. He hardly knew her, and he certainly didn’t much care what happened to her family any more than he cared when he heard about a remote tragedy on the news. … It had merely been a physical attraction, something he had been smart enough or lucky enough or naive enough not to have acted upon. He felt guilty for having considered it, and now his own grief would obliterate all but the most common courtesy of simply caring for a coworker.

One might think that genuinely caring for a coworker might involve more than not much caring about the death/disappearance of their entire family, but let that pass.

I’d held out some hope that the depiction of Rayford’s kinky control-freak stringing along of Hattie was deliberate, but that smart/lucky/naive sentence eliminates that possibility. Rayford feels guilty, but only about his considering sleeping with someone other than his saintly dead wife. He doesn’t feel any guilt — and L&J don’t ascribe him any guilt — for the way he has used and misused Hattie.

He “didn’t much care what happened to her family” and he didn’t much care what happened to her. She, on the other hand, was worried sick about him and his family. The dynamic is simple: Hattie loves him. He does not love her, or even seem to consider her fully human.

Yet for L&J, the one loving person in this lopsided relationship is the villain of the piece. Villains must be punished, and they have quite the punishment in store for this little slut.


Tortoises Sail the Sea

Jul. 31st, 2015 12:00 pm
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Posted by April Stevens

By Sara J. Schechner (Guest Contributor)


The dome-shaped shell was once a walking signboard.   Graffiti cut by sailors into the shell reads “SHIP ABIGAIL / 1835 B[en]j[amin] Clark / MASTER.”   Now the Galapagos tortoise specimen R-11064 belongs to Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

She came from an archipelago of volcanic islands that Herman Melville considered spellbound and cursed.  “Take five-and-twenty heaps of cinders dumped here and there in an outside city lot; imagine some of them magnified into mountains and the vacant lot the sea; and you will have a fit idea of the general aspect of the Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles,” Melville wrote in 1854.  “Little but reptile life is here found….No voice, no low, no howl is heard; the chief sound of life here is a hiss.”

Whaling crews, however, found the Galapagos a welcome source of refreshment.   The Abigail of New Bedford, a ship under the command of Captain Benjamin Clark, reached the islands in May 1834 and took onboard 140 tortoises.  Able to survive without food or water for as long as a year, the creatures provided fresh meat to the crew for many months.  They were piled among the barrels of sperm whale oil in the hold or allowed to roam the decks as pets.   This specimen was likely eaten near the end of the voyage and so made it back to Massachusetts as a souvenir in June 1835. 


Charles Darwin ate his share of tortoise meat when the Beagle visited the Galapagos that same year.  Nine months later he began to consider the distribution of tortoises of diverse sizes and shapes among the islands as possible evidence for the instability of species and the influence of environment on their diversification. 

Starting in 1824, the tortoises throughout the archipelago were described by zoologists as a single species, Testudo nigra, and the ship Abigail specimen was identified as the holotype—i.e., the specimen used by scientists to define this species.   More recently, DNA analysis has concluded that there are fifteen known species (Geochelone spp.), three of which are extinct.  

Old museum records indicated that the Abigail specimen had been collected on Charles Island, although it was not the native type found there.    Scientists speculated that it had floated to Charles after being cast overboard by buccaneers clearing their decks before a battle.  The scientific riddle was solved by historical research.  According to the Abigail’s logbook preserved in the New Bedford Free Public Library, the tortoise was actually caught on Porter’s Island where it was the native type.

In the early 1840s, Melville was fascinated by the tortoises that nightly trudged along the deck of his whaling ship in the Pacific.   His recollections were so vivid that he fancied he spied them in the corner shadows of candle-lit old mansions in Massachusetts, “slowly emerging from those imagined solitudes, and heavily crawling along the floor, the ghost of a gigantic tortoise, with ‘Memento * * * * *’ burning in live letters upon his back.”

So how do we classify this tortoise marked “SHIP ABIGAIL ”?  As the most fundamental of scientific specimens, dinner scraps from the world of whaling ships, a message written large on an Ecuadorian reptile, or an enchanted muse for our time?

tangible thingsSara J. Schechner is the David P. Wheatland Curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments at Harvard University, where is she is part of the history of science department and has taught museum studies. She recently received the Joseph H. Hazen Education Prize (2008) of the History of Science Society for a career of innovative and diverse object-based teaching. She lives in a historic house on the National Register and has an archaeological site in her back yard. She is one of the authors of Tangible Things: Making History through Objects, along with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ivan GaskellSarah Anne Carter, and Samantha van Gerbig.

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Posted by Fred Clark

Christians, we’re often told, have a duty to share our faith. That’s what we think of as evangelism — sharing our faith, or spreading our faith, proclaiming our faith, defending our faith, seeking to convert others to our faith, etc. Faith, faith, faith, faith, faith, faith, faith.

Faith is a wonderful thing and I’m not disparaging it here. But almost everything that falls under the category of “sharing our faith” turns out to be excruciating for everyone involved. Nearly all of the various approaches taught or promoted by the various proponents of such evangelism are painfully awkward, intrusive and invasive yet still mainly ineffective, involving this weird mixture of forced intimacy and utter abstraction — and that’s when it goes well, relatively speaking.

Much of what falls into this category of “evangelism” is awful for a host of other reasons — spell-casting or transactional soteriologies, horrific attempts to apply marketing techniques by “soul-winners” who act like they’re earning commissions on missions, etc. But I think all of those problems relate to a deeper, earlier misconception that arises out of this idea of evangelism as “sharing our faith.”

Part of the problem here is that this word, “faith,” has more than one meaning. There’s that basic idea of trust in God, but there’s also the idea of the Christian faith as a kind of synonym for the religion — the tradition, tribe, or faction. Sharing our “faith” thus gets tangled up with recruiting new members for Team Christian, which is … not good.

But the main problem with “sharing our faith” is that faith is not the main thing we should be sharing. It’s not the main thing at all. It’s not the point, not the focus, and making it our point and our focus in evangelism sends us way off track.

The Bible warns us not to make faith the central thing:

If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Faith — even all the faith — amounts to nothing without love. Nothing. Not, like, half credit or one cheer. Nothing.

Here’s the famous ending of the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 that the verse above comes from:

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Everything else, Paul says, “will come to an end” —  everything except for these three, everything except for faith, hope and love, everything except for love and for faith in love and hope in love. Love is the greatest thing, the main thing, the central, essential thing. It is, Paul says, “the more excellent way.”

Faith is a Good Thing, but it is not the Best Thing — not the greatest of these or the more excellent way. Faith abides only because it is faith that trusts in love. Faith without love amounts to “nothing.”

"Then your light shall break forth like the dawn ..."

“Then your light shall break forth like the dawn …”

When we think of evangelism as “sharing our faith,” then, we’re starting off on the wrong foot and heading in the wrong direction. “Sharing our faith” isn’t likely to be perceived — by others or by ourselves, even — as “good news.” And it steers us all away from the best news, from the greatest of these.

If we have all the evangelism, but do not have love, we are nothing.

So please, fellow Christians, let’s stop sharing our faith. Let’s put the focus back on the most excellent, greatest thing. Let’s think of evangelism, instead, as sharing our love.

What would that mean? What would that look like? Well, for starters, it would probably save us a lot of money on tracts and T-shirts and bumper-stickers. It would likely mean that a lot of our ideas about “witnessing” could be scrapped in favor of giving others something tangible to witness.

And, if Isaiah is to be trusted, it will also likely involve loosing the bonds of injustice, letting the oppressed go free and breaking every yoke, sharing bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into our household. It will mean Jubilee.

Oh, but that’s not evangelism say the evangelists. That’s only love. And love, they insist, getting everything backwards and upside-down, is just a tool to help us share our faith.

That kind of thinking, Paul says, amounts to nothing.


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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

All attributed motivations are approximate. All races are unconfirmed. All crimes are alleged. All oppression is interconnected.


June 17, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority kills in order to feel powerful. He kills nine black parishioners because black people are all the same to him and he needs to do what he needs to do to remind the world that he is dominant.


June 17, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority tries to kill in order to feel powerful. He crashes in the midst of trying to run someone over with his car because “go back to the country you came from” and don’t tell him not to use the business’ phone because he is dominant.


June 21, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority stabs in order to feel powerful. He stabs three musicians because ew gay and “skinny jeans” and he will show them what happens to fags because he is dominant.


June 26, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority kills in order to feel powerful. He shoots a Muslim man in the head at a four-way stop because “go back to Islam” – or maybe a traffic dispute – because it was his turn to go, damn it, because he is dominant.


July 1, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority kills in order to feel powerful. He kills a lion because it’s one of the most majestic creatures he can think of and being able to kill it affirms that he is its dominant.


July 10, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority threatens murder in order to feel powerful. He retaliates against a black woman because she refuses to perform subservience and “I will light you up” if that’s what it takes to show you people that I am dominant.


July 11, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority kills in order to feel powerful. He opens fire on two Native American men he believes are homeless because he’s “tired of watching them” and it is not acceptable that he is uncomfortable or inconvenienced because he is dominant.


July 18, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority attempts murder in order to feel powerful. He shoots a person in the face because he believes he is an undocumented immigrant – “a fucking Mexican” – because this is his country and, therefore, he is dominant.


July 18, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority kills serially in order to feel powerful. He pulls a gun and strangles a woman with the intent to torture because he assumes she is nothing to anybody and murdering prostitutes makes him feel dominant.


July 19, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority kills in order to feel powerful. He, a police officer, shoots a man in the face because he might be getting away; black lives don’t matter because he is dominant.


July 23, 2015:

White American male with a weapon who believes in his own superiority kills in order to feel powerful. He kills women because they insist on doing and saying things that he does not approve of and he doesn’t have to take it anymore because he is dominant.


Summer, 2015.

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

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Posted by Fred Clark

• Our friends at Vox have an explainer for everything. So if you haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashians and want a quick overview to explain who these inexplicably famous people are, check out Alex Abad-Santos’ introduction at “The Kardashians, explained.”

Weirdly, despite some insightful discussion of Caitlyn Jenner and her former life as Bruce Jenner, Abad-Santos never mentions this fact: Jenner won the gold medal for the decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. That was kind of a big deal at the time and, usually, it’s considered kind of a big deal for all time.

One other area Abad-Santos neglects — perhaps because it’s an almost-invisible part of the celebrity personas they project — is discussed in Josh Cobia’s surprising recent piece for The Washington Post,I went to church with Bruce Jenner. Here’s what Caitlyn Jenner taught me about Jesus.” Cobia reveals that this famous family is also, very much, a product of the world of Orange County evangelicalism.

SeinfeldAssmanI’m not sure whether that helps us better understand the first family of reality television or to better understand Orange County evangelicalism. Maybe both.

• “It was a million-to-one shot, Doc.”

• Abi Sutherland gives us a useful word: Koinopoiesis – “It refers to both the moment when a crowd becomes a community and the processes which create that transformation.”

• Noel Murray of The AV Club discusses “10 episodes of Angel that show how it was more than Buffy redux.”

I think Angel was a thematically necessary spin-off. Buffy was the Slayer — the good hero who fought evil by destroying it. While the show and the storytellers who gave it to us worked hard not to let it become a simplistic tale of Good Heroes slaying Evil Monsters, that idea was baked into its central metaphor. That required a counterpointand a corrective  – a parallel story with a hero who was, himself, a “monster,” and that was less concerned with slaying evil than with redeeming the irredeemable.

• “The Texas Supreme Court Will Soon Decide if Bible Banners at High School Football Games Are Legal.” In Texas, apparently, high school football fans like to cheer on their teams with Bible-verse banners that say things like: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” or “But thanks be to God, which gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As important as it is to have judges weigh in on the First Amendment implications of such banners, I think it may be even more important to perhaps commission a panel of New Testament scholars to explain to these Texas football fans that neither Philippians 4:13 nor 1 Corinthians 15:57 means anything at all like what they’re trying to make those verses mean.

• The hypothesis we are testing, again, is that over the past three decades, white evangelical Christianity has been replaced with a religion of anti-abortionism. This new faith using the old name has as its central, paramount doctrine the belief that women are untrustworthy, irresponsible and morally incapable.

Here is Exhibit B:

PrestonDoesNotTrustWomenThis is exactly the sort of thing our hypothesis predicts — sweeping, dismissive, arrogant statements presuming without evidence that the decisions and choices women make are unwise, unvirtuous, selfish and unworthy, coupled with a complete disinterest and incuriosity in actually exploring anything – data, personal testimony, conversation — that might provide actual information about the actual reasons that women have for the actual decisions they actually make.

For an alternative explanation of this man’s apparent disdain for women and his defiantly ignorant refusal to question his assumptions and generalizations about them, it’s possible that he … um …

Nope. Sorry, I can’t think of any alternative explanation.

(The image/Tweet above links to Sarah Moon’s “Why I Don’t Trust Pro-Life Feminism,” which is where I snurched it from.)

• And let’s call this Exhibit C. (That’s from a WorldNetDaily column, which is different from, say, a Ross Douthat column or a more “mainstream” white evangelical column because at WorldNetDaily they don’t realize they’re not supposed to say the quiet parts loud.)



The Busy Posthumous Life of Genevieve

Jul. 30th, 2015 11:00 am
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Posted by April Stevens

By David Powell (Guest Contributor)

Tomb_of_Sainte_Genevieve_in_Saint_EIn November 1793, the oldest victim of the Reign of Terror went quietly to her fate. She had already been dead for nearly thirteen centuries, but that did not mollify the revolutionaries who had exhumed Saint Genevieve of Nanterre from the crypt beneath the Parisian abbey that bore her name.

Her ornate, early medieval reliquary, gilded in gold and silver and encrusted with diamonds and other gems, was taken to the city mint over the protest of hundreds of the saint’s admirers. There, behind locked doors, assayers valued the ancient coffin at 23,800 livres. They then dismantled it.

Within, wrapped in white linen, they found “the bones of a cadaver and a head on which there were many deposits of gypsum or plaster.”

They also found a tiny piece of ancient parchment with an inscription: Hic jacet humatum corpus sanctae Genovefae. “Here lies buried the body of holy Genevieve.”

It was an undignified end for the patron saint of Paris. Genevieve was a shepherdess from nearby Nanterre who, as the governing apparatus of the Roman Empire receded from 5th century Gaul, gained widespread fame for her piety and charity. When Attila the Hun, the “Scourge of God,” threatened Paris in 451, a prayer vigil led by Genevieve was credited with saving the city from his wrath.

After her death, she was interred atop the hill that would later be home to the city’s Latin Quarter. Her shrine, just east of the town’s disused Roman forum, quickly became a pilgrimage site. Even in death, she remained active. In the centuries to come, as Paris bloomed around her, every grave threat to the city was met by a procession featuring her sarcophagus: war, plague, famine…even high water. The Marquise de Sevigny described a 1675 procession meant to end a series of flooding rainstorms:

“Monks of every order walk in it, and all the parish clergy and the canons of Notre-Dame, his Grace the Archbishop, in pontifical robes, on foot, and blessing the people right and left all the way to the cathedral. However he walks only on the left side. On the right walks the Abbot of Sainte-Genevieve, barefooted, preceded by 150 monks, also barefooted …The Parliament in red robes and all the higher guilds follow the shrine, which sparkles with precious stones, and is carried by twenty-two barefooted men clad in white. The head of the merchant guilds and five councillors are left as hostages at the Abbey of Sainte-Genevieve until the return of [the saint’s relics].”

By 1793, her fame had become a liability. Her bones were tried for treasonous collaboration with the Bourbon royal family, found guilty, and burned at the Place de Grève (now the Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville). The few remaining fragments of her body were later reburied at the Church of St. Stephen, where they remain today. Nearby, the city’s Pantheon stands on the former site of her shrine and is the final resting place of Voltaire and other secular titans of France. The building’s intended purpose remains visible, however, in the murals that decorate its vaulted interior, which depict the life of a shepherd girl from Nanterre.

David P. Powell studies ancient and medieval Europe in the graduate history program at Villanova University. When the urge seizes him, he writes about the topic at his blog, Studenda Mira.

Further reading:

Bitel, Lisa. Landscape with Two Saints: How Genovefa of Paris and Brigit of Kildare Built Christianity in Barbarian Europe. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Sluhovsky, Moshe. Patroness of Paris: Rituals of Devotion in Early Modern France. Brill, 1998.

This post first appeared on Wonders & Marvels in March 2010.

Mourning Nóirín Plunkett

Jul. 30th, 2015 03:32 am
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Posted by addie

It’s been a sad day for many of us in the Geek Feminism community, as we process the news of Nóirín Plunkett’s passing.

Nóirín was a powerful force for positive change. We have lost a tremendous collaborator and friend, and they will be deeply missed.

Words are challenging in the face of a loss like this one; many thanks to those who have written in memoriam of Nóirín thus far.

The Apache Foundation: “Throughout Nóirín’s time at the Foundation she was an Apache httpd contributor, ASF board member, VP and ApacheCon organizer. Nóirín’s passionate contributions and warm personality will be sorely missed. Many considered Nóirín a friend and viewed Nóirín’s work to improving ‘Women in Technology’ as a great contribution to this cause.”

The Ada Initiative: “Nóirín will be remembered as a leading open source contributor; brilliant and compassionate and welcoming and funny. They were a long time leader in the Apache Software Foundation community, and a gifted speaker and documentation writer. Nóirín was key to the creation of the Ada Initiative in more ways than one. Since then they made invaluable contributions to the Ada Initiative as an advisor since February 2011, and a project manager in 2014. We are more grateful than we can say.”

Sumana Harihareswara: “When I was volunteering on the search for the Ada Initiative’s new Executive Director, I worked closely with Nóirín and could always count on their wisdom, compassion, and diligence. I am so grateful, now, that I had a chance to collaborate with them — I had hoped to work with them again, someday, in some organization or other. One of the last times I saw them, they were crying with happiness over the passage of the Irish same-sex marriage referendum. I don’t want to end this entry because there is no ending that can do justice to them.”

Rich Bowen: “Nóirín’s motto was Festina Lente – Hasten Slowly, and this embodies her approach to life. She considered things carefully, and rushed to get things done, because life is too short to get everything accomplished that we put our minds to. In the end, hers was far, far too short.”

Our thoughts are with everyone who shares our grief. Farewell, Nóirín.

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Posted by Fred Clark

J.R. Daniel Kirk and Hemant Mehta are two bloggers I enjoy because they’re both smart, funny, thoughtful and challenging. They’re also coming from two very different perspectives: Kirk is a devout Christian and New Testament scholar, while Hemant is better known as the Friendly Atheist. So when two people I respect make the same point, coming at it from two different angles, I pay attention.

First, here’s Kirk, speaking to us as a theologian. He’s reflecting on this verse from the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

[Jesus] put the judgment of our works, as the people of God, into the hands of the outsiders.

It’s we who are to shine, and the people of the world who are to see the light and recognize it as such.

Let me put a finer point on it: If someone has to agree with your theological system in order to agree that what you are doing is “love,” then you are not loving your neighbor as yourself.

People know love when they see it.

That was still bouncing around in my head (along with the bassline from “You Are the Light of the World” in Godspell, which happens to me every time anyone brings up this passage), when I read this, from our friendly neighborhood Friendly Atheist:

She also says a prayer for him, and this is the sort of prayer I could get behind. Not because it improves anyone’s situation, but because it was backed up by real action. She didn’t *just* pray for him. …

If faith inspired everyone to do what she did, it’d be much harder for people like me to argue against it.

This is, essentially, an unsolicited confirmation of Kirk’s point: “If someone has to agree with your theological system in order to agree that what you are doing is ‘love,’ then you are not loving your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s a negative statement of the idea. Hemant’s story flips it around into a positive statement: If you are loving your neighbor as yourself, then no one needs to agree with your theological system in order to agree that what you are doing is “love.” People will see that what you are doing is love even if they very much otherwise disagree with your theological system.


“The law and the prophets. … The law and the prophets. …”

We all know love when we see it. And when we see the genuine article, we’re awed by it, regardless of the “theological system” (or absence of any such system) of those who show such genuine love.

Consider, for example, Dr. Kent Brantly, the American missionary doctor who contracted Ebola while caring for the sick in a hospital in Liberia. Brantly serves through Samaritan’s Purse — the relief and development agency founded by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of the “theological system” behind Samaritan’s Purse — a theology that sees its corporal works of mercy as benevolent, but optional, a secondary tool of value due mainly to its utility to the primary function of proclamation evangelism.

But I became even more skeptical of Samaritan’s Purse after the BGEA chose to use it as a vehicle for the rehabilitation of Billy’s trouble-making oldest son. Installing Franklin Phineas Hophni Graham as the nominal leader of Samaritan’s Purse was supposed to be a way to bring him back into the fold of respectability, but Franklin has spent most of his energy in recent years turning that post into a platform from which he hopes to become a culture-war player. He has used that platform to promote hate, not love — spouting some of the vilest anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist, anti-everybody garbage you’ll hear from even the furthest fringes of the religious right.

All of which is to say that I do not and cannot agree with the theological system of Samaritan’s Purse. Yet that has no bearing on how I respond when I witness the genuine loving-of-neighbors-as-oneself demonstrated by Kent Brantly and his missionary colleagues in Liberia.

We know love when we see it.

We should note that the passage Prof. Kirk is discussing in the Sermon on the Mount is from the pericope that immediately follows the Beatitudes. Specifically, it immediately follows the last few Beatitudes — the few verses that American white evangelicals ever cite from the dangerously liberal Sermon on the Mount (well, along with the little riff in the middle about divorce). Those last few Beatitudes are frequently invoked in support of the delusional persecution fantasy nurtured and promoted by the culture warriors of the white Christian right. First come all the Beatitudes that they ignore or spiritualize into ethereal nothingness:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

None of that is of any value for someone composing a sermon or a direct-mail fundraising letter appealing to the worser demons of our nature. None of that helps to rally the troops for the great war between Us and Them.

But the final few Beatitudes get plenty of use in that cause:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,* for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Ah, there we go. This is useful fodder for the fabrication of a persecution complex. From those last few Beatitudes it’s possible to weave a “worldview” that views the world as hateful and deserving of hate — a faceless, mindless mob of the children of darkness who oppose us as the children of light.

But as Kirk shows, that won’t work here. We can try to twist the next set of verses into an affirmation of this — arguing that if we are to be salt and light it must mean everyone else is, well, rotting meat and darkness, I guess. Yet what Jesus says here about salt and light only makes sense if “the world” — Them, the others — are capable of tasting and seeing the goodness of goodness, the goodness of love.

To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, Jesus isn’t telling us to curse the darkness, but to light candles.

[Jesus] put the judgment of our works, as the people of God, into the hands of the outsiders.

It’s we who are to shine, and the people of the world who are to see the light and recognize it as such.

Let me put a finer point on it: If someone has to agree with your theological system in order to agree that what you are doing is “love,” then you are not loving your neighbor as yourself.

People know love when they see it.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* The indefensible custom in our English translations of the New Testament is to render the Greek word dikaios as “righteousness.” That’s a dubious choice to begin with, but it becomes wholly wrong in American English — in a culture that invests the word “righteousness” with a host of denotations and connotations that are utterly incompatible with the meaning of that word.

Dikaios means justice. The history of why this has been euphemized into “righteousness” in English translations is long and complicated, but it began as a habit back when it was still possible to argue that righteousness and justice, righteous and just, were rough synonyms. That is no longer credibly true. It is no longer credibly true, in part, because of this choice in our English translations.

In American English, righteousness conveys the wrong idea — a whole bunch of wrong ideas. It suggests rectitude, respectability, adherence to prevailing norms and rules, manners and mores. All of that completely distorts the meaning of this word dikaios here in the Beatitudes — rendering them nonsensical.

Think about it — “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for rectitude and respectability.” What on earth could such a thing possibly mean? No one does that. No one has ever done that and no one should ever do that. (It suggests, to me, the kind of person who seems to have a large broomstick in his tightly clenched rectitude.)

Hunger and thirst are felt for necessities — for the things we will die if we are denied them. Hungering and thirsting for justice makes sense. Hungering and thirsting for gold stars and a lack of demerits is confused and confusing.

This is why, as a general rule, I substitute the better, more accurate, more sensible and sensical word “justice” for the misleading “righteousness” that litters our English translations. You should too.

I didn’t do that here, though, in quoting Matthew 5:10 — “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” — because what I’m trying to show above is the way this verse gets misused and abused by white evangelicals fabricating a self-indulgent fantasy of non-existent “persecution.” They do not imagine they are “persecuted for fighting injustice” (which is how Nicholas Wolterstorff says we should best translate this verse). They imagine, rather, that they are persecuted for “righteousness’ sake” — by which they mean, for the sake of their rectitude and respectability, and for the sake of their upright indignation at others’ lack thereof.

That’s not loving and that’s not love. And people know that absence of love when they see it.


Crowned Slug Moth

Jul. 29th, 2015 05:58 pm
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I am still cataloguing all the species I find in the garden. Today I got the Crowned Slug Moth, and that made me happy in ways I can't even begin to explain.

This is the 240th moth species in the garden, and the 466th species (not including weeds) that I've identified in the yard.

...look, I'm an artist for my job. I have to have an even weirder hobby.
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Claude Fischer PhD

2Killing at the hands of an illegal alien spurs furious debate about closing borders and deporting the undocumented. It is the year before a presidential election and candidates denounce undocumented immigrants as the conveyors of Mexican violence into our country.

When Robert J. Sampson, Harvard sociologist and criminologist, wrote about this news, he was not writing about the death of young Kate Steinle in San Francisco in 2015, but about murders in New Jersey in 2007. And he wrote to say that his research and that of others showed that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to commit murder and “that immigration — even if illegal — is associated with lower crime rates….” He had previously made similar claims in The New York Times and had gotten vituperation in response.

Popular skepticism toward Sampson might be expected given the media coverage of sensational crimes like the one on Pier 14 and of Mexico’s drug wars. But behind the headlines, the daily reality on the streets of the U.S. seems to be that immigrants bring less crime. Indeed, scholars like Sampson have suggested that the surge of Latino immigration, documented and not, may partly explain the great drop in violent crime in American cities since the 1980s.

Now, two presidential cycles since the Sampson article, we have new studies and more technically sophisticated ones on the topic. What do they say about the effects of immigration on crime and violence?

Immigration does not increase crime

The research I reviewed – several recent articles (see bibliography here) – is pretty consistent: Immigrants and concentrations of immigrants are associated with lower rates of crime and homicide. To be more cautious: at minimum, there is no connection between immigration and higher rates of crime.

Studies of individuals show that, as two experts summarize, “immigrants are less, not more, crime prone than their native-born counterparts.” Second- and third-generation immigrants start to look more like many-generation Americans in criminality (much as they do in other ways, such as diet and health behaviors). One study suggests that for adolescents the “protective” effect against criminality of being an immigrant may wear off after four years. But newcomers are notably less likely to commit crime than otherwise similar American-born youth.

Neighborhoods with many immigrants are not higher in crime

Many new studies compare neighborhoods, cities, or counties to assess the relationship between local concentrations of immigrants (or of Latinos) and rates of crime or violence. The general conclusion is that the higher these concentrations in a community, the lower the rates. A couple of studies find that the connection depends on the local context. In more impoverished neighborhoods or in cities with historically larger numbers of immigrants or with immigrant political power, additional immigration seems to push crime down yet more.

Complex statistical work suggests that this correlation reflects a causal connection: more immigrants arrive and violent crime fades. Why would that be so?

Sampson and others suggest that Latino immigrants have stronger families and community institutions, such as churches, than do the native-born. These provide more social control over youth. Researchers also propose that immigration has helped economically revitalize many U.S. cities and driven down crime that way, too.

Whatever the explanation, the general pattern is the reverse of the heated rhetoric: Overall, immigration goes with less criminal violence.

Claude Fischer is a sociologist at UC Berkeley and is the author of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character. This post originally appeared at his blog, Made in America, and was re-posted on the Berkeley Blog.

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

The Lean Linkspam (28 July 2015)

Jul. 29th, 2015 04:11 am
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Posted by spam-spam

  • TODO Group And Open Source Codes of Conduct | Model View Culture: “We’ve come up with some pretty great resources and tools, put them into practice, tested and iterated, and built community consensus. Yet TODO swoops in to erase and replace all of this work: without our consent or input, a group of massive companies with practically unlimited funds are branding and pushing a code of conduct that suits their needs, not ours.”
  • That time the Internet sent a SWAT team to my mom’s house | Boing Boing: “As the reporter recounted all of this to me, I was living my research in real time. I was well-versed in the mechanics of a prank like this, but that didn’t abate the anxiety attacks I was having.”
  • Managers beware of gender faultlines | EurekAlert! Science News: “In addition to gender divisions, the authors looked at a more benign kind of faultline: Those created by cliques centered on job types (that is, when people with similar job duties share not only that trait but other demographic qualities such as gender, age and time served.) When the diversity environment was positive, that kind of group identity actually led to stronger feelings of loyalty toward the firm. But the positive effect of job-function cliques disappeared when the diversity climate was unsatisfactory.”

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, 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.

The Book Of Hanners

Jul. 28th, 2015 09:05 pm
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Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.

There will be non-regular updates until next Tuesday because I am going to GenCon. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Something happened and now I know

Jul. 29th, 2015 12:03 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

OK, so, yes, there is a group called “Touch ‘Em All Ministries” and they now seem a bit defensive when asked about that name.


But let’s try to cut ‘em a little slack. These are earnest white evangelicals whose outfit is “dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with participants at sporting events.” They were probably really excited when they came up with the name “Touch ‘Em All Ministries.” It spells TEAM — a terrific acronym for a sports-related ministry. The phrase originates in baseball, where it connotes victory and success (touching all the bases after hitting a home run). And it also conveys something of the group’s Great Commission passion — “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Those are three strong reasons this seems like a great name.

Alas, they didn’t see the one even stronger reason it’s not.

Being innocent as doves but not wise as serpents, it apparently didn’t occur to them that “Touch ‘Em All Ministries” might take on other, less positive, connotations in a world of clergy sex-abuse scandals and the Youth Minister Google Game. That guileless innocence is almost commendable. These are well-intentioned folk who were able to say, without hesitation, “Yes, please, we’d like you to paint the phrase ‘Touch ‘Em All’ on the side of our windowless trailer.”

(Side note: As a member of the Army of Laid-Off Copy Editors, allow me to point out that this is another vital service that copy editors can provide. The craft entails more than just helping to clean up grammar and spelling. It also includes the necessary discipline of reviewing all materials through the lens of a filthy-minded junior high student to ensure that unintended entendres are caught and corrected before they induce widespread giggling.)

This unfortunately named group doesn’t seem to be a big-money outfit that can easily afford to repaint the van and order all new letterhead, so a name change may not be easy for them.

My guess is they’re probably trying to figure out if they can just start going by “TEAM” without spelling it out (and without getting sued by The Evangelical Alliance Mission).

I feel for them. So let me dedicate a song — a beloved Christian classic from Bill Gaither:

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Posted by Fred Clark

• Since I’m headed for the shore next week for some family vacation, I’m once again looking for a good punk-pop cover of “Verdi Cries” by 10,000 Maniacs. The Internet, alas, is still not coming through for me on that. (This is a W-2 vacation, not a 1099 vacation, so I intend to keep posting here — just doing it from somewhere that’s cooler by a mile.)

Right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton is upset that the U.S. Treasury will be putting an as-yet-unnamed woman on the $10 bill — apparently because it stifles his hobby of making up Alexander Hamilton quotes pretending that the Federalist Papers advocated for Christian nationalism and nationalist Christianity.

Donald Trump hasn’t yet weighed in on the $10 bill, that I know of, since he can’t be bothered with anything smaller than a c-note. My guess, though, is that he’d probably like to replace Hamilton with Aaron Burr. Trump doesn’t like losers.

• Speaking of, American currency now features — I think — three men who participated in duels. Hamilton was killed in one. Andrew Jackson killed attorney Charles Dickinson in a duel, and fought in perhaps more than 100 others. And Abraham Lincoln accepted a challenge to a duel, thus allowing him to set the terms — that it be fought not with guns, but with “cavalry broad sword of the largest size.” (“I did not want to kill Shields and felt sure I could disarm him,” he said, adding, “I didn’t want the d—-d fellow to kill me, which I think he would have done if we had selected pistols.”) Ultimately, though, the two men made amends and went home without fighting. Twenty years later, as president, Lincoln made his former opponent, James Shields, a brigadier general in the American army.

#emptychair. The article is about Bill Cosby. The story is not only about Bill Cosby.


35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen.”

Q: So, yesterday, Fred, you made a sweeping claim about white evangelicalism — saying it has been wholly supplanted by a religion of anti-abortionism in which all its former Christian doctrines have been reduced to mere accompaniments of a new, paramount dogma teaching that women are untrustworthy, irresponsible, and morally incapable. Can you provide any evidence to support this assertion?

A: Allow me to introduce Exhibit A: “The Mansplainingest Mansplainer Who Ever Internetted.”

• “Naked, banjo-playing Washington man taken into custody after two-hour standoff with police.”

This man was not shot to death by police, he was not later found dead by “suicide” in his jail cell, and cable news anchors have not yet informed us that he was “no angel” and may have used marijuana. All of that confirms what the bit about the banjo probably led you to suspect: This guy was white.

White privilege means you can have a Very Bad Day, walking around naked with a knife and a banjo and threatening police, and still be taken into custody without being killed or beaten half-to-death. But, again, the point of discussing white privilege isn’t to suggest that this is wrong — only to say that this should be true for everyone. The right not to be killed by police is a human right. It shouldn’t be a privilege enjoyed by only some of us.


Are Drag Queens Doing Girlface?

Jul. 28th, 2015 01:56 pm
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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Organizers of Free Pride Glasgow, a Scottish gay pride parade, have “banned” drag queens from the event, citing concerns that men dressing up like women is offensive to trans women. The LGBTQ community is afire about this, citing the long tradition of drag performances in gay communities and the role drag queens have played in the Gay Liberation movement. “hello, ever heard of THE STONEWALL RIOTS?!!!” tweeted one of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The organizers of Free Pride Glasgow are standing their ground, stating that they will only allow noncisgender men — men those who do not identify as men — trans women to perform in drag. A facebook comment suggested, and rightly so, that this could get really problematic really fast in practice, asking: “How are you going to moderate who is a trans and who is a cis drag act?”

Well, that’s a can of worms.

I don’t know how this conversation is going to play out and, to be honest, I’m nervous to jump in. But I gotta say that I, for one, really hope we keep talking about this. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to worry about how drag queen performances might make trans women feel. Drag performers generally do an exaggerated performance of femininity and I think it’s okay to ask whether and when this counts as mocking femininity and the people that perform it: trans women, yes, and ciswomen, too.


Sexism matters here and anyone can be sexist, even drag queens. When drag queens trot out some of the worst stereotypes about women, for example –performing characters that are vain, bitchy, selfish, and always PMSing — I see girlface. I see men mocking femininity, not embracing their feminine sides and busting the fiction of masculinity. So, I don’t blame trans women one bit if this makes them uncomfortable; it sure makes me uncomfortable and I’m in a much safer position than they.

So, I don’t know where this conversation is going to go, but I do think we need to have it. It needs to be, though, not about whether drag queens should be banned, but what drag should look like going forward. It should be about both what drag queens bring to the movement — their value in the past and the role they can play now — but also whether and how their performances contribute to a devaluation of femininity that hurts all women, cis, trans, and other.

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

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

Lincoln’s Funeral was a Letdown

Jul. 28th, 2015 12:00 pm
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Posted by April Stevens

By Martha Hodes (Guest Contributor)

Awe-inspiring, somber, sorrowful: That’s how mourners imagined the forthcoming funeral of President Abraham Lincoln, in the terrible hours and days after the nation’s first presidential assassination. The Union had just won the Civil War when the aggrieved actor, John Wilkes Booth, fired his pistol at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865.

THEARSEhe funeral would begin on April 18, with three days of rituals in the capital. Lincoln’s body would then travel north and west on an extravagant funeral train, to be removed for elaborate services in ten cities along the way. After two weeks and nearly 1700 miles, the slain president would be laid to rest in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois.

For many spectators, it was as profound and magnificent as they had envisioned. But not for everyone. Letters and diaries from the spring of 1865 reveal another side of the experience. Mourners “roasted in the sun,” fainted in the crowds, and were “jammed almost to death,” as guards ruthlessly rushed them past the open coffin. Those who managed to linger a moment beside the body saw a face rapidly decomposing, unprotected by rudimentary embalming techniques.

The mobbed processions caused consternation, too. Pickpockets helped themselves to cash and watches. Men groped women. Drenching rain occasioned the lifting of thousands of umbrellas. Descending darkness obscured the majestic catafalque, and the bands played too softly for many to hear the music.

Nor did all mourners behave as other mourners wanted them to. “There was nothing solemn or touching in the whole thing,” a New York City viewer scoffed, noticing “gaily dressed” women with “smiling faces.” People laughed at dawdling marchers. Boys cheered when the presidential carriage finally came into view. For a woman watching the Philadelphia procession, it was “entirely ludicrous,” the whole thing a “superficial, irreverent farce.” 

Bigger troubles intruded, too. Officials tried to block African Americans from joining the parades, and guards directed black people to the ends of lines. Irish mourners fought with African Americans, and Protestants ridiculed Catholics and Jews.

Nor did the shocking  assassination bring together Union and Confederate. Vanquished southerners who read about the funeral train in the newspapers found the whole display disgusting, all “gas & bombast,” with Yankees hauling Lincoln’s “miserable old carcass” all over the country. In turn, many of Lincoln’s mourners looked beyond Booth to hold the entire Confederate leadership and the institution of slavery responsible for the crime.

Far from uniformly awe-inspiring, the disappointments of President Lincoln’s funeral portended tremendous conflicts for the newly reunited, but utterly unreconciled, post-Civil War nation.

HODES-COVER-MOURNING LINCOLN copyMartha Hodes is a Professor of History at New York University, and the author, most recently, of Mourning Lincoln. Her other books include The Sea Captain’s Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth-Century and White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South.

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I was lurking over at the Absolute Write forums, as I do occasionaly, and there was a thread about working on multiple projects at one time.

The general wisdom of this (although AW had a number of people bucking the trend) was that you shouldn't get distracted by your Shiny New Idea, because this way lies madness and the Not Finishing Of All Things. You start a project and you plow through it and if you get an amazing idea while in the doldrums of the middle, you jot it down in a notebook and then you go write back and you clean your plate, missy, there are authors starving in garrets somewhere who would be grateful for that wordcount.

So I started writing up a comment and it ran long enough that I figured it was probably a blog post in the making, so...um...endure my rambling commentary, internet! (Or don't. It's cool.)

I do the thing that common wisdom says not to do. I do it a lot, in fact.

I work on multiple projects at a time, because if I didn't, my publisher would be sad and then I would be much sadder! I think most productive writers who are doing this full time are at least always, at bare minimum, editing one and writing another, just to make the whole system work.

But also I do it because that's just the way I work, and I do it very hard and kind of to extremes.

My general method is to start something, work for awhile, hit a sort of natural stopping point (usually the bit where I would send it to my agent, actually) and then go work on another project. Then it might go on hold until A) it sells B) I get an idea where it goes next C) I wonder vaguely what happened to that character D) it occurs to me that I really need to start working on something with an eye to self-publishing it at some point in the future, and hey, I already started that one thing, that's ten thousand words I don't have to write from scratch, let's see where we stand...

If I get a shiny new idea, I absolutely chase it. I chase shiny things like you wouldn't believe. If I am suddenly passionate about X or Y or Z, it would be stupid to waste it. I've got plodding determined work ethic coming out my ears, but mad passion is in very limited supply. Any day that I can whip out three thousand words in two hours is a damn fine day. (I wrote the first Hamster Princess in two days. It is about fifteen thousand words. I cackled while I wrote it. It sold within a week. Castle Hangnail took like two weeks for the first ten thousand words, and they bought it so fast that the contract practically hit me in the back of the head. Chasing Shiny New Ideas has worked really really well for me.)

And having chased down three or five thousand words (or ten, or fifteen--rarely more at once) I toss it in my hard drive, and then when I get that itch to work on it more, I pull it up and throw another five or ten thousand words on it, until I drift away to something else.

Currently in the "just started this but clearly live" phase: A weirdass version of the Goose Girl with an evil horse, the story about the girl who built her dog out of bones, and a version of The Firebird staring Grandma Harken and an enchanted mockingbird stealing her tomatoes.

Currently in the "well along and adding words now and again" phase: The one with the girl with social anxiety and the dog named Copper, a retelling of Tatterhood, the second Goblin book, the Regency version of East of the Sun, West of the Moon with Master Rat, the girl who gets sent to another world by Baba Yaga, the one with the ninja accountant, the retelling of Sleeping Beauty with the changeling raised by greenteeth and the Muslim knight, and the night-gaunt romance (although that's rapidly being cannibalized for spare parts for this middle grade novel.)

And there's like three that are on hold indefinitely until I figure out what to do with them, which include The One With The Armadillo And The Kinda Unlikable Kid, The One With The Barbarian Gynecologist, and The One With The Moth-Riders. They may be dead, they may not be. They are at least waiting for something to click that hasn't yet. (Then again, the ninja accountant one was also on hold until last year, when I suddenly threw another ten thousand words at it, so y'know.)

I do not actually have many trunk novels lying around. Partly I am arrogant enough to think that I can probably pull SOMETHING out of any given project, and partly all my early writing was on an Amiga and probably now on a zip disk somewhere in my ex-husband's attic. There were two reasonably bad novels on that, but one of them I still cannibalize occasionally.* Otherwise, I don't know of anything I'd call Officially Trunked Forever.

(Special mention of Regency Ninja here, which is on hold until my agent sells it, which she is determined to do come hell or high water.)

(Probably I am forgetting at least one project. Someday I will turn it up on my hard drive and go "Oh, WOW! Holy crap! Let me finish this!")

(I like parentheses.)

(I talk in parentheticals sometimes. My friends are very patient.)

Assuming that a story does not fall into the indefinite hold, there comes a point--usually around the 30-40K mark, interestingly enough--where it snowballs and I grab it and crash through the end.

This is a terrible method by all objective measures and all I can offer in my defense is that it works great for me.

At the moment, I've got one for self-pub in the snowballing-to-the-end mode, (the Snow Queen one) and I've also got a middle-grade novel that is about 11K along, except that it has already sold, so I don't have the luxury of my preferred work method and have to work on it straight through. (Which I am capable of doing, particularly if someone waves money in my direction. See above about plodding determined work ethic..)

So the last two weeks, I literally go to the coffee shop, open both files, and write 500 words on one, then 500 words on the other. They are wildly different. If I want them both done soon, this is my only real option. (And in a month or two, I'm going to have to swap out the Snow Queen one, finished or not, and hammer out the rest of Hamster Princess 4.)

(The next one in the chamber after the Snow Queen is probably the retelling of Tatterhood.)

If I absolutely catch fire on one, I will drop 1300 words on it and hold off on the other one. It happens about once a week. But most days--four days a week, one coffee with cream, one refill--I go and put 500 minimum on one, 500 minimum on the other.

There is absolutely no question that this method won't work for everyone. It might not work for the vast majority! I have a hard drive littered with false starts, or at least starts that haven't gone anywhere yet and may never. (The rusalka and the twins! The widow and the horse of power! Maggie Gray from Pocosin and the enchanted fish! The girl who is reflected the right way around in mirrors and the one weird thing with the followers of an evil version of Janus walking through doorways at night to try to wear a hole in the world.) If I never come back to any of those, I may never feel the lack. Or I may start working on one on a whim and look up and find that it's another five thousand words along and starting to feel like a live project. Stuff happens.

This is also a tricky method in that it may take up to eight years to get a story from initial Shiny Idea to published novel. I started Seventh Bride in 2006. But there's also always a bunch of other work in the pipe ready to be completed, so if I finish a book tomorrow, I don't have to go back to the drawing board. I've got plenty of things half-completed lying around already, so I can still put out work pretty reliably.

My friend Mur asks how I keep this stuff in my head. I don't know. Badly, probably. I forget stuff all the time, and then I get excited when I re-read it, because dude, that was awesome! I gotta write more! Still, it works out. In not quite ten years, I've written 17 middle-grade books**, two adult novels, two novellas and a pack of short stories, and I'm not even including Digger in there (though that was a one-foot-after-another march, not my usual flitting from project to project.)

Lord willing and the creek don't rise, in the next ten years I'll finish off a bunch more.

So, um.

Look, do the thing that works for you. If you are a one-book at a time writer, go for it. Do that. If that means you finish the book, then finish it. Finish it like the wind!

But don't let anybody tell you that spending a week hammering out the basis of Shiny New Idea, and flitting between projects like a butterfly with itchy feet, is absolutely a bad thing that will lead to artistic ruin, or whatever. I do it all the time. As long as you know you go back to the old projects and finish them (and you know you, I don't--if you say that you finish stuff and will go back, I will believe you) then hey, the system works.

And that is all the writing advice I have today.

*I will by god! get a blood-drinking hummingbird familiar in something if it by god! kills me! Also the mirror assassins made of glass and the thing with the white deer woman and the visions. I already recycled the crow with two pupils in each eye in Cryptic Stitching.
**Bread Wizard counts as written, damnit, even if the limbo it was in got very, very weird. Publishing is surreal. But it has been mostly freed of said limbo and may even be published someday.
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Posted by Fred Clark

• So, this month I learned that nonprofit medical clinics that serve poor women are obliged to subsidize the medical research of large, for-profit biotech corporations — even if those corporations are imaginary. Because ethics, apparently.

That’s a new and novel ethical claim, but I will do my best to keep up.

• Former Baptist pastor and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says that the international agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear bomb is like the Holocaust and will “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

For those keeping score at home, this is far from the first time that Huckabee has invoked Nazis, Hitler and the Holocaust. He has a long history of making such analogies when talking about abortion and marriage equality. But while Huck has previously said that anyone who opposes criminalizing abortion or who condones marriage for same-sex couples is just like Hitler, this is the first time he has invoked the Holocaust to criticize those who don’t want to follow up the invasion of Iraq with the invasion of Iran.


• I watched the first two episodes of Mr. Robot and, whether or not they keep me, they’ve got me so far. Rami Malek is mesmerizing, but what’s really hooked me is the way the story’s unreliable narrator structure keeps us off balance. “You’re only in my head,” Elliot tells us in the first episode, “Remember that.”

And we are. We’re never allowed to see some detached, “objective” view of anything in this story except what we see in his head and through his heavy, piercing, nervous eyes. Even in the scenes where he isn’t present, when we might expect some other point of view, everyone else continues to speak of “Evil Corp.” — the nickname he has mentally “overwritten” for the actual name of the Microsoft/Apple/Enron conglomerate at the rotten core of this story.

I’ve started watching closely to see if other characters interact with Christian Slater (and which ones) — thinking he might be a Tyler Durden figure. But I’m not sure that matters here. We are only in Elliot’s head, and in his head, Evil Corp. has no other name and Christian Slater is “real,” and there is no other, more reliable narrative to compare it against. Don’t know where this is going, but so far that’s a lot of fun.

• Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a plan to prevent shootings in movie theaters — allowing everyone to bring guns into movie theaters. Perry is either an idiot or a very shrewd man who’s just invested all of his money in Netflix.

• As an American, it’s been explained to me that the British House of Lords is like their version of the U.S. Senate. Here’s further evidence that’s an accurate description.

Via Christian Nightmares and Everything Is Terrible, here’s a bite-sized sample of a 1980s video warning of the New Age Movement, featuring CCM stars DeGarmo & Key. You may need to watch it twice, since all you may take in from the first viewing is the hair … good Lord, the hair.

Click here to view the embedded video.

That’s a fun reminder that religious right culture warriors have always been entrepreneurial — marketing and testing an endless stream of new revenue streams based on new bogeymen. Some of those can be milked for decades of direct-mail success while others — like the brief anti-New-Age fad — come and go, quickly forgotten after they begin to fade as effective fear-factors.


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Posted by chinookjargon

SMOKE HOUSE = aboriginal-style Northwest Coast plank houses.


Credit for this one goes to Dale McCreery, my absolutely crackerjack University of Victoria linguistics colleague.

We don’t have this phrase in any of the existing sources on Chinuk Wawa.

Dale noticed it in the speech of Native people up at Bella Coola, BC, as smuukhaws.  They defined it as the “long houses” they were raised in, say in the 1930s.  Dale wondered if this was a recognized Chinook Jargon phrase.

I guess we can go ahead and confirm this one, because here is what I’ve just found in the field notes of John P Harrington from 1942:

Inf[ormant Emma Luscier] uses “smoke house” of Ind[ian]=style house such as all the Inds. had at Shipley Beach.

[Shipley Beach is a name for the Indian community of Bay Center on Shoalwater Bay, Washington.]

[Edited to add this fact:] The phrase reoccurs later in the same microfilm reel:

Both [Mr. and Mrs. Deaf George] made their home at Georgetown + once gave a potlatch in their big “smoke-house” there.

[Second edit:] Still later in the reel is a mention of ‘the most primitive Indian around here’, who

had a smokehole house, would never permit a stove.

A traditional plank house had one or more fires burning indoors, with smokeholes above — thus ‘smokehouse’.

The occurrence of this phrase with the exact same meaning in Native communities hundreds of miles apart looks like decent proof that it was straight Chinook.

The fact that it’s recorded in English spelling by Harrington doesn’t undercut this analysis.  We often find Jargon words in various documentary sources masquerading as English or French, when their etymology was clear to the person doing the writing.

“Smokehouse” is less likely to be English — in both Bella Coola and Shoalwater Bay — for two reasons.  First, because it’s improbable that this innovative sense of the term would’ve been independently coined twice.  And second, because there was an established and quite different meaning of “smokehouse” already in English, referring to the smallish non-dwelling structure where you processed fish or meat.  (The earliest use noted by this Merriam-Webster site is 1746.)

I find the Jargon such an interesting language to study, because we keep finding more words of it.  (Poke around this blog for more such.)

Talk about revitalization, don’t you agree?

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Posted by Fred Clark

Rusty was a classmate of mine,” Karen Spears Zacharias writes. Rusty, there, is John Russell Houser — the man who killed two women in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater last week. Houser, she says, also “attended Rose Hill Baptist, my home church. He taught Bible to the young boys there.”

Zacharias goes on to say that Houser suffered from mental illness and to make a passionate, compelling plea for a better, more human and humane, response to the millions of Americans who may require mental health treatment.

HouserThat’s a good point, and it’s beautifully written. But it’s also a separate point and, in the case of Rusty Houser, it’s beside the point — a way of avoiding the point. I’m sure that Houser, like Elliot Rodger, may have suffered from some form of mental illness. But, also like Rodger, the main point is that he hated women.

As Zacharias says, one in four Americans suffers from mental illness and they deserve the same dignity, compassion and care that we afford (in theory at least) the one in four Americans who will at some point suffer from cancer. But that doesn’t mean that one in four Americans hates women. Millions of Americans struggle with “manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder” — the diagnoses posthumously being attributed to Houser. But virulent and lethally violent misogyny are not symptoms of those diseases and those many millions of Americans are not, like Houser, hateful killers of women.

Houser’s violence was not abstract. He set out to kill women in the audience for an Amy Schumer movie. His lethal violence was an expression of his contempt for and distrust of women.

And that misogyny cannot be abstracted or diagnosed away from the anti-woman ideology he learned in his community, his culture, and, yes, in his church.

I’m not talking about his Southern Baptist church’s opposition to women’s ordination or its blasphemous “complementarian” theology of male supremacy, although that’s also part of it. But it’s possible to remain a Southern Baptist in mostly good standing while somewhat questioning that official required “stance” on the role of women in the church or the role of wives in marriage.

I’m talking about the more fundamental teaching — the paramount religious and ethical teaching of that denomination, which says that women cannot and must not be trusted. Rusty Houser was shaped by a faith tradition that does not abide any question or challenge to its official required stance of legal and political opposition to abortion.

Rusty Houser was shaped by a politicized religious community that routinely compares American women to Nazis and accuses them of killing “unborn babies” and thus being to blame for 9/11. Women, this central principle insists, cannot be trusted with their own sexuality or their own bodies. This is the fundamental fact it teaches about women: they are untrustworthy and irresponsible and morally inferior.

Houser embraced the premise of that teaching and — like Paul Hill and Scott Roeder — he took it all to heart. Now, as with Hill and Roeder, his actions are being dismissed as an aberration — the consequences of his mental illness rather than the consequences of the ideology instructed and required by his church.

Here’s what I wrote about Scott Roeder in 2009. It’s also true of Rusty Houser in 2015:

Now here we are again, 15 years later, as the arguments of the anti-abortion movement are again being proved disingenuous by their own self-refuting statements condemning the latest lethal fruit of their rhetoric of “mass-murder” and “Holocaust.” Once again some sad, disturbed man has committed the error of taking their rhetoric more seriously than it was ever meant by the people who supposedly believed it to be true.

Didn’t Scott Roeder realize that it was all just a game? Didn’t he appreciate that all this talk of Holocaust was just a gimmick to get his fellow Kansans to support a repeal of the estate tax? Didn’t he understand the difference between really believing that abortion is “mass-murder” and just indulging in the smug posturing of self-righteousness that makes the members of the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition feel a little better about themselves?

No, apparently, he didn’t. Apparently he was just crazy enough to believe that these people meant what they said, crazy enough to believe that they believed their own words and that he should believe them too.

To believe these people — to believe that their words matter or that their words are truthful or that their arguments are made in good faith — is madness indeed.


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Posted by Tristan Bridges PhD and Tara Leigh Tober PhD

Following the recent mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17th, 2015 – a racially motivated act of domestic terrorism – President Barack Obama delivered a sobering address to the American people. With a heavy heart, President Obama spoke the day following the attack, stating:

At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing that politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge.

President Obama was primarily referring to gun control in the portion of his speech addressing the cause of attacks like this. Not all mass shootings are racially motivated, and not all qualify as “terrorist” attacks — though Charleston certainly qualifies.  And the mass shooting that occurred a just a month later in Chattanooga, Tennessee by a Kuwati-born American citizen was quickly labeled an act of domestic terrorism. But, President Obama makes an important point here: mass shootings are a distinctly American problem. This type of rampage violence happens more in the United States than anywhere else. And gun control is a significant part of the problem. But, gun control is only a partial explanation for mass shootings in the United States.

Mass shootings are also almost universally committed by men.  So, this is not just an American problem; it’s a problem related to American masculinity and to the ways American men use guns.  But asking whether “guns” or “masculinity” is more of the problem misses the central point that separating the two might not be as simple as it sounds.  And, as Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan note in the Mother Jones Guide to Mass Shootings in America, the problem is getting worse.

We recently wrote a chapter summarizing the research on masculinity and mass shootings for Mindy Stombler and Amanda Jungels’ forthcoming volume, Focus on Social Problems: A Contemporary Reader (Oxford University Press). And we subsequently learned of a new dataset on mass shootings in the U.S. produced by the Stanford Geospatial Center. Their Mass Shootings in America database defines a “mass shooting” as an incident during which an active shooter shoots three or more people in a single episode. Some databases define mass shootings as involving 4 shootings in a single episode. And part of this reveals that the number is, in some ways, arbitrary. What is significant is that we can definitively say that mass shootings in the U.S. are on the rise, however they are defined. The Mother Jones database has shown that mass shootings have become more frequent over the past three decades.  And, using the Stanford database, we can see the tend by relying on data that stretches back a bit further.


Additionally, we know that the number of victims of mass shootings is also at an historic high:


We also produced a time-lapse map of mass shootings in the United States illustrating both where and when mass shootings have occurred using the Stanford Geospatial Center’s database to illustrate this trend over time:

Our map charts mass shootings with 3 or more victims over roughly 5 decades, since 1966. The dataset takes us through the Charleston and Chattanooga shootings, which brought 2015 to 42 mass shootings . The dataset is composed of 216 separate incidents only 5 of which were committed by lone woman shooters. Below we produced an interactive map depicting all of the mass shootings in the dataset with brief descriptions of the shootings.

In our chapter in Stombler and Jungels’ forthcoming book, we cull existing research to answer two questions about mass shootings: (1) Why is it men who commit mass shootings? and (2) Why do American men commit mass shootings so much more than men anywhere else?  Based on sociological research, we argue that there are two separate explanations – a social psychological explanation and a cultural explanation (see the book for much more detail on each).

A Social Psychological Explanation

Research shows that when an identity someone cares about is called into question, they are likely to react by over-demonstrating qualities associated with that identity.  As this relates to gender, some sociologists call this “masculinity threat.”  And while mass shootings are not common, research suggests that mass shooters experience masculinity threats from their peers and, sometimes, simply from an inability to live up to societal expectations associated with masculinity (like holding down a steady job, being able to obtain sexual access to women’s bodies, etc.) – some certainly more toxic than others.

The research on this topic is primarily experimental.  Men who are brought into labs and have their masculinity experimentally “threatened” react in patterned ways: they are more supportive of violence, less likely to identify sexual coercion, more likely to support statements about the inherent superiority of males, and more.

This research provides important evidence of what men perceive as masculine in the first place (resources they rely on in a crisis) and a new kind evidence regarding the relationship of masculinity and violence.  The research does not suggest that men are somehow inherently more violent than women.  Rather, it suggests that men are likely to turn to violence when they perceive themselves to be otherwise unable to stake a claim to a masculine gender identity.

A Cultural Explanation

But certainly boys and men experience all manner of gender identity threat in other societies.  Why are American boys and men more likely to react with such extreme displays?  To answer this question, we need an explanation that articulates the role that American culture plays in influencing boys and young men to turn to this kind of violence at rates higher than anywhere else in the world.  This means we need to turn our attention away from the individual characteristics of the shooters themselves and to more carefully investigate the sociocultural contexts in which violent masculinities are produced and valorized.

Men have historically benefited from a great deal of privilege – white, educated, middle and upper class, able-bodied, heterosexual men in particular.  Social movements of all kinds have slowly chipped away at some of these privileges.  So, while inequality is alive and well, men have also seen a gradual erosion of privileges that flowed more seamlessly to previous generations of men (white, heterosexual, class-privileged men in particular).  Michael Kimmel suggests that these changes have produced a uniquely American gendered sentiment that he calls “aggrieved entitlement.”  Of course, being pissed off about an inability to cash in on privileges previous generations of men received without question doesn’t always lead to mass shootings.  But, from this cultural perspective, mass shootings can be understood as an extremely violent example of a more general issue regarding changes in relations between men and women and historical transformations in gender, race, and class inequality.

Mass shootings are a pressing issue in the United States.  And gun control is an important part of this problem.  But, when we focus only on the guns, we sometimes gloss over an important fact: mass shootings are also enactments of masculinity.  And they will continue to occur when this fact is combined with a sense among some men that male privilege is a birthright – and one that many feel unjustly denied.

Cross-posted at Feminist Reflections and Inequality by (Interior) Design.

Tristan Bridges and Tara Leigh Tober are sociologists at the College at Brockport (SUNY).   You can follow them on at @tristanbphd and @tobertara.


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

“Closing” Japan

Jul. 27th, 2015 11:14 am
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Posted by PamelaToler

By Pamela Toler (Regular Contributor)

Curious Japanese watching Dutchmen on Dejima Island

Curious Japanese watching Dutchmen on Dejima Island

In 1853 , Commodore Matthew Perry and his squadron of four “black ships of evil mien” opened Japanese ports to trade with the United States, a literal example of “gunboat diplomacy”. Most historically literate Americans are aware of Perry’s expedition in broad terms, even if they don’t know any of the details. Western accounts of Perry’s success treat it as a major step for both the United States and Japan’s development as modern powers, a triumph of modernity over traditional culture, a triumph of free trade over protectionism. Popular accounts of Japanese history treat it as the first step in the Meiji Restoration.

These accounts generally slide over the question of how, when, and why Japan was “closed”–itself an interesting episode in early east-west relationships.

As in India, the first Europeans to reach Japan were the Portuguese, who reached the islands by accident when a ship was blown off course in a storm in 1543. Soon Portuguese merchants were trading Western firearms and Chinese silk for Japanese copper and silver . At the same time, Portuguese and Spanish missionaries converted hundreds of thousands of Japanese, including at least six feudal lords, to a form of Catholicism that was filtered through Buddhist concepts.

The arrival of Europeans to Japan coincided with a period of political upheaval in Japan, known as the period of the Warring States. In 1600, the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated his rivals, using modern Western weapons such as cannon and muskets. He declared himself shogun, the first of the dynasty of Tokugawa shoguns who would rule in the name of puppet emperors for more than two hundred years.

Ieyasu immediately moved to consolidate his power. He disarmed the peasants and decreed that only members of the samurai warrior class would be allowed to carry swords. More important in terms of Japan’s relationship with the outside world, he ordered the country closed to Europeans. Christianity was outlawed and the missionaries were expelled. Tens of thousands of Japanese Christian converts were killed.* Trade with Europe was limited to the Dutch East India Company, which was allowed to dock once a year at the man-made and closely guarded island of Dejima in Nagasaki harbor. After 1639, no Japanese were permitted to go abroad, Japanese ships were forbidden to sail outside Japanese waters and any Japanese sailor caught working on a foreign ship was executed.

Closing the ports against “contamination” by Western ideas is often presented as evidence of Japanese backwardness. After all, the Japanese missed the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the rise of the middle class. On the other hand, during much of the Tokugawa shogunate, Japan enjoyed a period of peace and order, secure from being taken over by Western powers. And as we’ll see in a future post, once the doors were open, Japan was quick to catch up.

*This was not a simple case of martyrdom, nor is it parallel to the Roman response to Christians. In 1637, Japanese peasants in Shimbara Peninsula rebelled against heavy taxation and abuses by local officials. Because most of the peasants in the region had converted, the Shimbara Rebellion soon took on Christian overtones. In one of the ironies with which history is rife, the Japanese government called in a Dutch gunboat to blast the rebel stronghold.

Of Course He Has A Man Bun

Jul. 26th, 2015 11:44 pm
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Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.

Been a while since we last saw Sven.

Gencon is next weekend! I will be there! There will probably be a couple filler updates because I will be so busy. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

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Posted by Daily Otter

Sea Otters Get Icy, Fishy Birthday Cakes! 1

Via Monterey Bay Aquarium, which writes, “Our sea otters Abby and Gidget both have July birthdays so naturally, cakes were needed! Our amazing aquarists whipped up these icy shrimp-topped creations and the otters took it from there.”

Sea Otters Get Icy, Fishy Birthday Cakes! 2

Sea Otters Get Icy, Fishy Birthday Cakes! 3

Sunday WTF?

Jul. 26th, 2015 11:10 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

Ezekiel 20:25-26

Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live. I defiled them through their very gifts, in their offering up all their firstborn, in order that I might horrify them, so that they might know that I am the Lord.

With Gratitude

Jul. 25th, 2015 11:15 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Every year when we’re done packing, and everything is on the trucks, and there’s nothing to do but have dinner, and a big sleep, and check my bike for a the hundredth time, I always get a little sappy.  I guess I’m tired, and a little worried about tomorrow (if by “worried” you understand I mean “terrified”) and I start thinking about everything that I’m about to do, and freaking out. This year, when that happens, I’ve been remembering something someone on the Steering Committee said to me a few days ago when we were all trying to get everything finished on time. They said that every time it all starts to be hard, they just imagine a client at PWA coming into the agency with a terrible problem – a problem that they don’t think is solvable by them, and heaving a huge sigh of relief as someone explains that they can help. Help them get meds, help them get food… just – help.  That’s what’s really happening here. People with AIDS getting help, when they need it, how they need it, from people who are going to treat them with dignity and respect. That’s why we’ve all done this, and that’s what your donations make possible.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. What we do – Team Knit, the training, the riding, the fundraising, the meetings… it doesn’t do anything to help without your part. You guys are our heros. So…

melouthanks 2015-07-25 kenthanks 2015-07-25 patothanks 2015-07-25 jenkids 2015-07-25

This year, despite being one of the littlest teams on the Rally, our team is the top fundraising team for PWA.  (There’s another team chasing us, but for now we’re the Twisted Spinners, and we’re number one.) You guys are important. You guys are making big change.  You guys are touching all kinds of lives, and we know that you know that we love you, but I thought you might like to know that the staff at PWA loves you too.

Chris, Therapeutic Care Coordinator

christhankyou1 2015-07-25

Roy, Food Programs Liaison

roythankyou1 2015-07-25

Nick, Interim Holistic Engagement Coordinator and Kevin, Food Programs Coordinator

nickkevinthankyou1 2015-07-25

Keith, Service Access Volunteer

keiththankyou1 2015-07-25

Stafford, Executive Assistant

staffordthankyou1 2015-07-25

Richard, Director of Finance and Administration

richardthankyou1 2015-07-25

Suzanne, Director of Programs and Services

suzannethankyou1 2015-07-25

Rajesh, Income and Community Liaison

rajeshhankyou1 2015-07-25

Heather, Food Program Coordinator

heatherthankyou1 2015-07-25

Allan, who’s the Co-Chair for the ride, and actually took the time to make a sign with rhinestones on it, to show you how grateful he is…

allanthankyou1 2015-07-25

And, I’ve saved (what I think) is the best for last. Knitters, meet the people that make the Rally happen. Together with the Co-Chairs and the Steering Committee, these are the people who do the day to day work of getting this enormous fundraiser off the ground, and I’m pretty sure I have their phone numbers memorized.  Front: Trevor, PWA Special Events Coordinator; Riley, Bike Rally Assistant
Back: Hayden, Bike Rally Assistant; Mike, Director of Philanthropy & Communications

gangthankyou1 2015-07-25

It turns out that they like knitters a lot too – and one of them has a wicked set of photoshop skills.

That’s a lot of gratitude, my friends, and acknowledgement of something I’ve known for a while.  Knitters? They’re crazy, amazing and generous in a way that’s wonderfully hard to explain.  You’re makers. You make things, and this time, you’re making the world better, like you do every day.

We love you, and thank you.

(PS. Ken, Pato and I have all set our phones to ding – so feel free to cheer us on as you see fit. We leave at 9am tomorrow, and we’ll have the volume up. I’ll do my best to blog as I go, but if you don’t follow me on Instagram, and you’re interested in knowing what’s going on, now might be a good time to start. I’m sure I can manage pictures.)

PPS – Trish reminded me to add the links for our team, here you go!




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Posted by April Stevens

By April Stevens (W&M Managing Editor)

It is an undisputed fact that the written word and its many innovations and incarnations have repeatedly changed the course of history. So today’s Cabinet of Curiosities is devoted to the history of the written word in all its forms from the handwritten letter, to the printed book, and even the modern text message.

From Stone Mail to Snail Mail

custserv-tablet-640If you had to carve your letters in stone, you would probably be a little more selective in what messages you sent. Imagine how angry the writer of the world’s oldest customer complaint letter must have been! Dating from 1750 BC, the complaint carved in stone came form an unsatisfied copper ore customer named Nanni who had sent messengers through a war zone looking for a refund. Now that’s one dissatisfied client!

What can rival a customer complaint etched in stone? A letter from the enemy might give it a run for its money. The letter in question is probably not what you are imagining. In 1922, the grieving mother of a fallen WWI pilot, Sallie Maxwell Bennett, received a letter from a German officer who had fought against her son. The unexpected letter recounts Louis Bennett’s extraordinary bravery and skill up until his death, and expresses uncommon admiration from his former foe.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.01.36 PMLike many historians, you may wonder how today’s prevalent yet abridged emails and text messages will change how future generations understand our history. Playing on this idea, The New Yorker has imagined how some famous historical exchanges might have been different with smartphones. If you’re in the mood for a chuckle take a look at these humorous historical rewrites, such as how Paul Revere’s message might have gone wrong in the texting era.

The Bastion of the Written Word

Humankind has recognized the importance of writing since early on, and the need to protect and disseminate it. Hence, the library was born. Bibliophiles worry that the library is an institution doomed by the digital age, but where did libraries come from in the first place? A new tongue-in-cheek article 8 Weird Facts From the History of the Library gives us some highlights of the development of the library. For example, did you know the first public library was probably started by “one of Plato’s trashier students” (their words, not ours!).

chained booksOnce you open a resource to the public, one of the chief concerns is how to protect it. Today we have barcodes and RFID tags, but how did they protect the precious commodity of books in the Middle Ages? The title of Medieval Books recent article Chain, Chest, Curse: Combatting Book Theft in Medieval Times gives you an idea. Books were so valued and so expensive to replace, that Medieval libraries literally had books chained to the shelves, or chests. However, the curses against thieves written inside many tomes served as a second line of defense.

If you have enjoyed reading a bit about the history of the written word, check out some similar recent posts on Wonders & Marvels:

How I Write History…with Dronfield and McDonald

Trading with the Enemy

Dressing up Your Identity

Book with Words

Et tu, linkspam? (24 July 2015)

Jul. 25th, 2015 04:22 am
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Posted by spam-spam

  • 25 Ways To Dress Like A Tech Employee | Buzzfeed: “There’s a persistent stereotype that people who work with technology are all dudes in hoodies or free company t-shirts, with zero interest in personal style or fashion. We see it in everything from Microsoft ad campaigns to the way tech companies are shown in television and movies. In my experience, I’ve worked with many people who are just as interested in style as they are technology. So I decided to ask my coworkers on BuzzFeed’s tech team to show me how to dress like a tech employee, and this is what happened…”
  • The kick-ass women of ‘Sense8′ make it best new show on TV | Reel Girl: “Last night, after my husband and I finished watching the last episode of ‘Sense 8,’ I rushed to the computer, Googling the show to see when to expect season 2. Maybe never! Wait, what? According to Think Progress and other sources, the diverse show featuring eight characters from different countries around the world may not be appealing enough to white males. Main characters also include a trans woman and a gay man.”
  • This Ruling Could Change Online “Free Speech” Forever | The Daily Beast: [CW: online harassment] “The spirit of “free speech” is put above freedom from harassment, bullying, or shaming. And it’s having horrific results—leaving jobs, avoiding careers, even contemplating suicide. The response from abusers and apologists is to “grow a thicker skin.” That “this is the Internet.” But it’s not. It’s the Internet as abusers want it. We should change that.”
  • The World’s Most Popular Video Game Fights Racist Harassment With Artificial Intelligence | Tech.mic: “They built a system called the Tribunal, a public case log of files where players could review reported instances of racism, sexism and homophobia, then vote on whether or not they warranted action. After 100 million votes were cast, the team had a usable database of what their community considers an abusive behavior. Then, they turned over that knowledge to their machine-learning algorithm and set it to work dealing with instances of abuse.”
  • At Comic-Con, It Feels Like the Year of the Woman | NYTimes.com: “Quite a few panels reflected this variety and grappled with its implications. Nobody is suggesting that a utopian age of sexual and racial equality has dawned in San Diego or anywhere else. The default Comic-Con panelist is still a white man, but it does seem that more of an effort has been made to correct this lazy lopsidedness here than in, say, the Hollywood studios a few hours up the freeway. If the entertainment business is still dominated by interlocking old-boy networks — in the movie studios, the bigger comic-book publishers, the television networks and among the writers, artists and directors those entities employ — the audience is challenging that status quo.”
  • The Women Who Rule Pluto | The Atlantic: “For all the firsts coming out of the New Horizons mission—color footage of Pluto, photos of all five of its moons, and flowing datastreams about Pluto’s composition and atmosphere—there’s one milestone worth noting on Earth: This may be the mission with the most women in NASA history.”
  • Listening, Being Heard | E. Catherine Tobler: “Writers like Weir — male, white, on top of the NYT Bestseller lists, movie deals, a break out book — are in an amazing position to boost voices that are not like their own. They have the ability to lift others up. And time after time, they mention work that is exactly like their own. Authors who mirror their own selves”
  • The trouble with jokes about girls | Times Higher Education: “There are many aspects to this story, but I want here to focus on just one of them: whether construing a sexist comment as a joke changes how we evaluate it. I am not so much concerned with the specifics of this case but rather by a more general issue: the division between those, like me, who think that the “joke” status of a disparaging comment is irrelevant, and those who think that whether someone is joking or not is a game-changer.”
  • ‘A national hero': psychologist who warned of torture collusion gets her due | Law | The Guardian: “Jean Maria Arrigo’s inbox is filling up with apologies. For a decade, colleagues of the 71-year-old psychologist ignored, derided and in some cases attacked Arrigo for sounding alarms that the American Psychological Association was implicated in US torture. But now that a devastating report has exposed deep APA complicity with brutal CIA and US military interrogations – and a smear campaign against Arrigo herself – her colleagues are expressing contrition.”
  • @EricaJoy’s salary transparency experiment at Google (with tweets) |_danilo · Storify: “The world didn’t end. Everything didn’t go up in flames because salaries got shared. But shit got better for some people.”
  • How to Deter Doxxing | Nieman Reports: “If I learned one thing from my ordeal it’s that doxxing can happen to anyone, at any time, for nearly any reason. But awareness of the risks—and effective strategies to mitigate them—too often come from bad experiences rather than preparation. When I was doxxed, the person who understood the most about what happened was the Domino’s delivery guy. As soon as Twitter was mentioned, he knew exactly what I was experiencing. Now it’s time for reporters and editors to know just as much.”
  • Read This Letter From Scientists Accusing Top Publisher Of Sexism | BuzzFeed News: “More than 600 scientists and their supporters have signed an open letter to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), criticizing four recent events that “hinder the advancement of underrepresented groups” in science, technology, engineering, and math. The letter asks AAAS to “work more diligently” to avoid “harmful stereotypes” when publishing content about minorities, and recommends that its editorial staff undergo diversity training.”

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, 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.


Jul. 25th, 2015 02:08 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

• I’m a little freaked out to realize that at the very same time I was sitting here yesterday writing a post about the aggrieved entitlement of American men who feel their male privilege being challenged and respond with lethal violence, a gun-toting white man was buying a movie ticket in Louisiana. The next American mass shooting began just a few minutes later.

Here’s what we’ve learned since last night about the man who killed two women and injured nine other people in a Lafayette theater:

John Russell Houser, who fatally shot himself after police thwarted his apparent escape plans, appeared at least a dozen times on a television talk show in the 1990s, where he would make outrageous comments against women and feminism.

“Whatever he wanted to talk about, it would generate calls,” said Calvin Floyd, who hosted WLTZ-TV’s “Rise & Shine” program. “He was anti-abortion. The best I can recall, Rusty had an issue with feminine rights. He was opposed to women having a say in anything. …

Floyd said he was not surprised when Houser, who argued against women in the workplace and advocated violence against abortion providers, was identified as the gunman. … He described Houser, who posted an article on Facebook about limiting women’s participation in church, as an angry and radical person.

• After day nine of the 10-straight-days at the Big Box, I’m leaning toward an uncharacteristically literal interpretation of the Bible. Or, at least, of Exodus 20:9.

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work,” it says, “But the seventh day … you shall not do any work.” So right now, for a biblical literalist, I’m living in sin. I’m flouting the authority of the Bible — just like anyone who works a 9-to-5 week in an office is.

• Speaking of flagrant violations of biblical commandments:

If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. … You may destroy only the trees that you know do not produce food. (Deuteronomy 20:19-20)

I call bal tashhit.

• Ed Yong writes about Tetrapodophis, “A Fossil Snake With Four Legs.”


I’m interested to see what our young-Earth creationist friends like Al Mohler and Ken Ham will make of this. Their initial take, I’m guessing, will be to declare that this is a triumph for their (imaginatively) literal reading of Genesis 1-11 because the Bible says the serpent in Eden originally had four legs.

The problem there, though, is that after the unfortunate business with the fruit-eating, the Edenic serpent lost its legs. For “biblical literalists” like Mohler and Ham, four-legged serpents are creatures that only existed in Eden. But they also believe there was no death in Eden. So this fossil of a dead four-legged snake is probably something they don’t want to celebrate after all.

(Note: YECs believe that the curse put on serpents in Genesis didn’t only take away their legs, but also their power of speech. That’s one way of interpreting the story. I prefer to think, rather, that losing the ability to understand Parseltongue was part of the curse put on humans.)

• “No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong.” As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. And even opinions can be well- or ill-informed.

The final graf of Jef Rouner’s viral column is particularly apt:

You can be wrong or ignorant. It will happen. Reality does not care about your feelings. Education does not exist to persecute you. The misinformed are not an ethnic minority being oppressed. What’s that? Planned Parenthood is chopping up dead babies and selling them for phat cash? No, that’s not what actually happened. No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong.

• Related: Operation Rescue activist Troy Newman, basking in his newfound support and respectability among “mainstream” white evangelicals, condemned Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for supporting abortion rights in order to “‘Exterminate the people that we don’t want to have too many of,’ which is a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a sitting Supreme Court justice.”

No, it isn’t. It’s a lie that Troy Newman made up. Ginsburg never said that and it’s the exact opposite of what she has said, and argued, and advocated.

But after getting so many Christians to believe the lies in and around his recent videos, and seeing their boundless appetite for believing slanderous falsehoods about all women, Newman probably figured his Christian audience couldn’t be bothered to check out his Ginsburg quote either.

Ready, steady.

Jul. 24th, 2015 08:27 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

You know what? I think I have a grip on this.  I hate to say it, in case I remember something huge I’ve forgotten to do, but after a few days of dashing around, I think I’m almost ready – or at least packed, if that’s the same thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be ready for Sunday.  I get this huge nervous tummy thing going on every time I think about pushing off on my bike. You’d think that I’d be less nervous, what with having done it before and lived to tell the tale, but the experience almost makes it worse.  I know how hard it’s going to be.  Still, that experience pays off in other ways. This year (even though the forecast doesn’t call for rain) all my clothes are in ziplock bags, and they’re all labelled. If it does rain, this lady will have dry clothes to put on.  (I also will not be finding an earwig in my bathing suit, an experience I have yet to fully recover from.) I have my tent, and a tarp (even though it is not going to rain) and extra batteries for the flashlight, and camping dishes, and a sleeping bag, and biodegradable soap because I’ll be washing in the lake -  I think I’ve got this.

stuff 2015-07-24

Tonight I’ll have a bit of a knit, and then a really good sleep, and then tomorrow, bright and early, it’s “Packing Day”.  On packing day, we take all of our stuff to the staging spot, and make it all fit into two rubbermaid bins that will house all our worldly goods for the six days of the Rally.  They put the bins on the trucks, and there it all sits, until Sunday morning, when we’ll ride 105km to Port Hope, and the trucks will drive ahead with all our stuff. &^%#@#$ – Almost forgot my water shoes. Hold on….

shoes 2015-07-24

There. The shore is rocky at Port Hope – I’ll need those. (See, that’s experience paying off again – also, technically those are my sister’s water shoes, but I stole them years ago and she’s never asked for them back.)  The thing is that everything I put into my bins tomorrow morning, I won’t see again until Sunday night.  Many is the rider who’s put their housekeys in a bin, only to get home with a problem. Many is the rider who’s worn their shoes home, not putting them in a bin, only to have to ride 105km with sandals in their pockets.  It takes a fair bit of thought, and for me – part of the problem is the knitting.  I want to keep knitting what I’m knitting, and I don’t want to put it on the truck tomorrow, but I also don’t want to cycle to Port Hope with my knitting in my jersey pocket. Luckily, I have solved this problem.  Pato’s boyfriend Keanu is on road crew  again this year (another young man with his head on straight) and will be driving the route in a van keeping all of us safe, and I have pretty much decided he’ll be my mule.  I’ll only have to cycle to the departure point with my knitting, and then I can give it to Keanu, and he’ll give it back to me whenever I need it. (This, again, is the voice of experience. In years past I’ve kept my knitting in a little bag mounted to my top bar, but after stabbing myself in the stomach a few times when stopping suddenly, I’ve realized I need another system. The mule it is.)

sockstogo 2015-07-24

Now, I’m at the end of my day, and I’ve got a few things left to do, and I have a choice. I can do Karmic Balancing gifts – which will take a few hours, or I can make dinner, walk it down the street, and snuggle a new baby for a few hours before I go to bed.

I hope you all understand. The choice was a little easy.

Happy Birthday, Sociological Images!

Jul. 24th, 2015 02:24 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Hoooo-ray! This (newly described by science) spider has 8 legs and it’s doing cartwheels to celebrate SocImages’ 8th birthday!


This is our 5,530th post and still going strong. Thanks to all of you who discovered SocImages this year and those of you who’ve been hanging on since the beginning!

Here are some highlights from the last year. Quite a trip down memory lane!

  • Sociological Images was awarded this year’s American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. We would love to think that the blog eases class prep a little and helps people get the best out of their students. If that’s what this award means, we’re over the moon.
  • I was honored to be invited to talk about SocImages in a plenary speech at the Midwest Sociological Society. Of course, there were lots of pictures. You’re welcome to view the slideshow here.
  • Rush Limbaugh covered a post about the relationship between studying economics and being antisocial and it sheds a scary light into the inner workings of his mind. (And I got called a “professorette” so… like I said, all high kicks all the time.)
  • We got tumbld by Wil Wheaton!
  • Two new Pinterest pages: pinkwashing and sexy what!?, a collection of totally random stuff being advertised as weirdly and unnecessarily sexual.
  • Our social media accounts continue to grow like weeds: thanks to the 74,000 of you on facebook,  23,000 on tumblr, 22,000 on twitter, and 14,000 on pinterest.  We do have fun and learn stuff, too!

Here’s to another year! (Sorry about the spider.)

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

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


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