larryhammer: a woman wearing a chain mail hoodie, label: "chain mail is sexy" (warrior babe)
[personal profile] larryhammer
On the agenda today are owls, big ships, and valkyries:

The 100 Greatest Owl Pictures You'll Ever See is not inaccurately titled. Content warning: not actually a Buzzfeed listicle. (via)

Timelapse of 30 days on a container ship at sea, including unloading/loading at various ports. Content warnings: pretty thunderstorms, lack of owls. (via)

Famous Viking Warrior Had Two X Chromosomes, No Y Chromosome. At least, that's what the headline should have read. Content warning: lack of owls. (via)

And in conclusion, owls!

---L.

Subject quote from "The Earthly Paradise, introduction to July, William Morris.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
[personal profile] hawkwing_lb
Weigh-in: 107kg approx

Benchpress: 6x5 at 60kg
Squats: 5x5 at 100kg, 1x8 at 60kg.
Leg lifts: 3x10
Overhead press: 4x6 at 20kg
Lat raise: 3x10 at 8kg/arm
Bicep curl: 3x10 at 8kg/arm

Rowing: 2km in 10:45
Exercise bike: 1km in 2:58




So after a 16km bike ride yesterday and a 7-8km walk on Sunday I think I'm getting enough exercise this week, maybe.

Leave it to the other girls to play

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:05 am
musesfool: Jason Toddler shows off his new costume to Dick (everybody starts somewhere)
[personal profile] musesfool
Board meeting went well, even though it rained so the rooftop terrace at the venue went unused. Sigh. I went home afterwards and fell into bed at 8:30 pm after eating cookies and milk for dinner. I win at adulting!

Of course, the one night I go to bed without checking my flist, it turned out there was a question about my yuletide nominations. It is a spoiler for Crooked Kingdom but spoiler! ) As of this morning, he was approved without my having to say anything, but I did comment anyway to say what I said under the cut.

Now Gotham Academy has to be approved! I'm sure there'll be a question about Damian Wayne there too but he does show up more than once over the course of the comic. Which I guess is as good a lead-in as any to discuss Second Semester:

What I've just finished
Gotham Academy: Second Semester, which I enjoyed, though boy they do not shy away from making the kids selfish, thoughtless and highly teenagery. spoilers )

I did like that they have all really gelled into a team - I enjoyed Colton and Pomeline sniping at each other while they work together a lot. And any Maps+Damian team-up is A++ in my book. Best Team! For yuletide, I just want schoolgirl (and boy, though I care less about the boys) supernatural detective shenanigans, with occasional Robin.

Though have we ever gotten an explanation on why/how MacPherson knows Bruce Wayne is Batman?

This morning, I also read the Star Wars Annual #3 which is a nice Han/Leia story with some fun Indiana Jones references and Leia being her usual awesome self. I also liked how it explained Han sticking around with the Rebellion, neatly giving him an excuse he could live with to cover up the real reason.

What I'm reading now
Still A Ruin of Angels. I have to admit, I find "Trust me! / Don't you trust me? / I didn't tell you this hugely important secret because plot reasons it was too dangerous!" to be super irritating in a character so a lot of the plot machinations are making me say, "If Woody had gone to the police, this never would have happened!" "If Ley had just told Zeddig what was up, things might have played out differently!" Like, things still would have gone to hell in a handbasket, but I'd have a lot more sympathy for Ley when they did. Otoh, Izza and Kai and Tara! <333

And speaking of Crooked Kingdom above, yesterday I was thinking about how dropping the Crows kids into the Craft universe would work, since so much of the magic etc. in the latter is based on negotiation and deals, and the deal is the deal, right? Someone who isn't me should write that.

What I'm reading next
Two weeks until the new Magnus Chase comes out, so who knows? I do have a ton of stuff on the iPad, ready to go!

***

Matthew 20:1-16

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:47 pm
[syndicated profile] agnus_day_feed

Posted by James Wetzstein

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Groups vs systems

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:13 am
dpolicar: (Default)
[personal profile] dpolicar
I am so very tired of the narrative of "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."

Here's the thing: there's a difference between a group of people and a system of people. The difference is that a system of people comprises not only the individuals, but also the social constructs that guide the behavior of those individuals... in other words, the system itself.

For example, a company isn't just a bunch of people who coincidentally happen to work on the same projects in distributed ways. A school system isn't a bunch of teachers and administrators who independently happen to work the same way. A police precinct isn't a bunch of officers who just happen to follow the same rules.

In each of these cases there are policies and guidelines and hierarchies and informal structures and so forth that shape behavior. There's a system.

And when we praise or condemn the public school system, or the police, or Microsoft, or etc. we mostly aren't praising or condemning a whole group because of some good or bad individuals. I mean, sure, those individuals exist, but they aren't the reason. We are praising/condemning a whole group because of the system that organizes it. And the larger the system we're talking about, the more true that is: when we say that democracies are more just than totalitarian states, or that capitalism is more efficient than communism, or that communism is more humane than capitalism, or various other claims along those lines, we're basically not saying anything at all about any individual.

Or at least, that's how it should be. I mean, sure, sometimes we praise or condemn a group of people just because we're applying aggregate-level stereotypes to all the individuals in that group. And in those cases the "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group." narrative makes sense: we really shouldn't! Or at least, we're overwhelmingly likely to be mistaken when we do; we can draw our own ethical conclusions from there.

(I am reminded now of a friendship I broke some time back by expressing both the idea that condemning individuals because of their group affiliations is bad, and the idea that analyzing the common behaviors of individuals is the only way we can identify pathological systems, in ways that struck them as infuriatingly and relationship-endingly hypocritical.)

And sure, sometimes we make analysis errors in this space. Sometimes there's a system operating we're unaware of. Sometimes we infer the presence of systems that don't actually operate, or aren't relevant to what we're talking about. It's easy to talk about the behavior of people while ignoring the systems that shape us, and it's easy to handwave about notional systems without actually making any concrete or testable claims about whether they exist.

I'm not saying I expect us to be perfectly accurate when we describe groups and systems. But I want us to be better about acknowledging that they are two different things.

When someone condemns racism as a systemic attribute of a society, for example, there are folks who reply that no, racism is a property of individuals, end-of-story.

And in principle that can be a legitimate disagreement; if someone wants to argue that there really aren't any social systems underlying/guiding/constraining/coordinating the racist behavior of individuals, for example, that's a totally relevant argument. (Mind you, I think it's obviously false, but that's another matter.)

But usually they aren't arguing that; rather, they are simply insisting that we can only talk about individuals, because when we say that racism is also demonstrated through the systems that essentially all white people in this country participate in, we're talking about a whole group, and (all together now) "we shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."

And I don't know how to say all of this, or any of it, in ways that are at all useful within the conversation itself. And I watch other people trying to do it, and not getting very far either.

And I understand that often that's because other people just don't want to hear it, and in general I don't believe that there's a way to say everything that will be accepted by the person I'm talking to and that it's my job to find it. But still, I try to express myself clearly and compellingly.

So, anyway. I am so very tired of the narrative of "We shouldn't condemn a whole group because of some bad individuals. There are good people and bad people in that group."

(no subject)

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:57 am
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
Listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast, I'm up to 2x3 The Midterm Elections and one of my least favorite scenes in the West Wing, when President Bartlet 'dismantles' Dr. Jane Jacobs's homophobia.

BARTLET
Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.

JENNA JACOBS
I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.

BARTLET
Yes, it does. Leviticus.

JENNA JACOBS
18:22

BARTLET
Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here.
I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.
(small chuckles from the guests) She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, and
always clears the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While
thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working
on the Sabbath, Exodus 35:2, clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important,
'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes
us unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins
still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be
together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn
my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?


I know I've complained about similar rhetoric before. The argument is this: There are things in the Bible that a modern religious person doesn't observe. This abrogation means that any parts they do still observe are inherently hypocritical, because if they claimed to follow the Bible they would follow the whole Bible.

This is a really stupid argument. Christianity explicitly rejects some of the Hebrew Bible's obligations. It's not hypocritical for them to not observe these things, it's inherently doctrinal, and it could even be argued (as I've sometimes been forced to, because sometimes Christians do weird and offensive things with Jewish ritual) that it's hypocritical if they DO observe those things. The Christian Bible says that Christians do not need to keep kosher. It's right there in the text!

And even things Christians do still observe that are mentioned in the rant are not necessarily observed in the Biblical way, on purpose! Jesus doesn't condemn the idea of the Sabbath, and Christians do observe a Sabbath, but Jesus condemns the idea of putting people to death for breaching the Sabbath. So Christians have a much more relaxed approach to the Sabbath than Jews do. Again, this does not make them hypocrites. It means they ARE observing their religion.

This infuriates me particularly even though I usually don't care all that much if Christians are revealed as hypocrites, because this argument is the classic anti-Judeo-Christian argument: Ostensibly directed at Christians by people who don't bother to distinguish between Jews and Christians. Jews have our own approaches to difficult passages in Tanakh, but generally we don't believe that the ritual law has been abrogated. We think we still are obligated in most if not all of the things Bartlet mentions as absurd rituals. Orthodox Jewish farmers in Israel, to this day, don't plant two crops side by side in a field. And though we don't have the executive ability to carry them out, most of the stoning laws Bartlet mentions are still technically on the books.

And Orthodox Jews generally still believe we are obligated in the prohibition of et zachar lo tishkav, no matter how difficult that may be to reconcile with modern ideas about love and sex. But it's not like the fact that I don't eat shellfish is what allows me to hate gays without hypocrisy! That's the frustrating part of this argument for me. If you accept it, you seem to be accepting the idea that IF Christians hadn't abrogated parts of the Torah's ritual law, they'd be free to consider homosexuality an abomination. But the people who are making this argument clearly don't believe that. They believe that considering homosexuality abominable is evil and homophobic regardless of whether you eat shellfish. So people making Bartlet's argument are making an argument they don't actually believe to try to trap religious people with sophistry.

So when you're criticizing Christian homophobia, or Jewish homophobia, try to do it with an argument that you actually believe, and which actually engages with Christian or Jewish doctrine rather than with your imagined fake version of that doctrine. Ask a Jew how they reconcile Veahavta lereacha kamocha with the idea of telling your neighbor they can't marry the person they love. Ask a Christian how they can send their churchmates to abusive conversion therapies when Jesus preached kindness and humility and not judging the sins of others.

But don't ask them these things because they're traps you're seeking to catch them in. Ask them because religious people have thought about these questions and we have answers to them, answers our critics often refuse to listen to, and because the conversations about these questions are worth having and worth struggling with. These are hard questions that challenge our faith, and serious theists ask them. Serious atheists ought to, also.

And what frustrates me most about this scene, why it's one of my least favorite West Wing moments, is that President Bartlet, deeply Catholic, who once considered the priesthood, must have some answer to these questions that isn't dependent on taking Catholics to task for eating shellfish. This scene is profoundly out of character on a theological level for the man delivering it. And I don't like when President Bartlet lets me down.

Wednesday Reading Meme

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:07 am
osprey_archer: (books)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
What I’ve Just Finished Reading

Elizabeth Wein’s The Pearl Thief, which features exuberant spoilers )

What I’m Reading Now

At last I started The Ordinary Acrobat and I’m quite enjoying it! I had not realized that a memoir about attending a circus school was a thing that I wanted in my life, but it totally is and it’s just as fascinating as it sounds. And also it has made me want to learn how to juggle.

I found myself pining for the bucolic world of Miss Read, so I went ahead and borrowed the last two Miss Reads in my mother’s collection: Thrush Green and Winter in Thrush Green. Will I be forced to turn to the library to supplement my Miss Read needs? Perhaps! Although probably I should give James Herriot a try first - I think he’s got a similar thing going on in his tales of life as a country vet, in the quirkily amusing yet tranquil English countryside.

What I Plan to Read Next

Now that I’ve almost finished reading down my pile of books-I-own-but-haven’t-read, I’ve decided that it’s time to make some serious progress on my to-read list. Perhaps Emily Arsenault’s The Leaf Reader? I quite enjoyed her earlier novelThe Broken Teaglass, and it sent me on a fruitful search for more mystery novels about unraveling literary puzzles. Or maybe some more Jon Krakauer…

I’ve already borrowed Sara Pennypacker’s Summer of the Gypsy Moths from the library, though, so probably I will read that first.