Religion and sexuality

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:12 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
Recently two special interest groups I'm second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.
And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.


This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.

opinions )
watervole: (Default)
[personal profile] watervole
 Watched a programme on Japan today and googled Hokusai afterwards.

Remember all those tentacle sex fan porn stories?  (Harry Potter fandom in particular has it's share)

Nothing new!

Hokusai's print "Dream of the Fisherman's Wife' is below the cut....  (If I've worked out correctly how to do a cut.  It's been a long time since I used one)

Read more... )

Reading Wednesday and music meme

Jun. 21st, 2017 06:06 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Not reading much or posting much at the moment because [personal profile] cjwatson is visiting and I'm mainly paying attention to him. I'll update here later in the week, probably.

Currently reading: Nearly finished: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm really enjoying the resolution of the political intrigue plot, but I'm a bit annoyed by the sophomoric speculation on the philosophical implications of sadism.

Up next: All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders.


Music meme day 8 of 30

A song about drugs or alcohol

Two from opposite ends of the spectrum: my ex-gf used to sing me this ridiculously soppy song, Kisses sweeter than wine by Jimmie Rogers. Which is really only tangentially about alcohol but it's connected to happy memories for me. And I couldn't leave out the most explicitly druggy song in my collection, Heroin, she said by WOLFSHEIM.

two videos )

Mating hedgehogs

Jun. 20th, 2017 09:40 am
watervole: (Default)
[personal profile] watervole
 So many things I was going to post about: the folk festival I've been working on for the last year, the norovirus that meant I missed half of it, the children I've been teaching longsword to who did brilliantly at the festival, the sheer joy of watching Dame's Rocket morris and Northgate Rapper at close quarters, the fact that we have a bidding war on my mother in law's house after a year of trying to get any decent offer at all, but the thing that has actually got  me to keyboard is hedgehogs.

Up late last night due to the heat and sitting on the back doorstep to cool down.

Strange snuffling noise in garden and the mint swaying back and forth.

Sat down with Richard and sure enough, a hedgehog eventually emerged, then another and eventually there were three adult hedgehogs.

One was doing his/her own thing, but the other two were spending ages going round in circles under the mint and one of them was snuffling all the time.  I guessed (correctly) that this must have something to do with sex.   There's a nice little summery of hedgehog life here.

I put out a bowl of water while we were watching them and it wasn't long before one came over for a good drink.  S/he had no hesitation about coming within a few feet of us.  I put out a bit of cat food as well, but that was sniffed at and ignored.  (It was gone in the morning, but that could easily have been a cat)

We work with out neighbours on two sides to maintain holes in the fence where hedgehogs can come and go.

We have a lot of low growing plants which provide good cover.

We have a pond with soil sloping into the water on one side (so that even if an animal falls in, they can still get out).

We never use slug pellets (and have very little slug damage).

We add a lot of garden compost to the soil (which means lots of soil organisms for hedgehogs to eat.)

We have a compost heap which they'll hopefully use to hibernate.

Last year we had baby hedgehogs in the garden.  I wonder if the ones we saw today are those babies coming back?

Worklog

Jun. 19th, 2017 02:14 pm
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
[personal profile] artsyhonker
Spent some time this weekend thinking about relational databases; I think I've figured out what structure I need, with some help from that [personal profile] hairyears, but I'm not really much closer to figuring out what software to use to achieve this. More on that in another post.

I'm thinking about whether to have a regular-ish Twitter chat for #CeciliasList, and so far most who have filled out the poll seem to like the idea. Maybe one or two Mondays a month? Not sure about timing, that's probably another poll. I do need to keep this manageable alongside a PhD. Similarly, I'd love to have some kind of launch concert -- on 22nd November, of course -- but I don't really see how I can organise one between now and then, unless I do it as some kind of scratch choir thing (but they work better for well-known works and a lot of these ones won't be).

I put some competition deadlines into my calendar.

I finally have both postcards and scores for sending out this month's Patreon rewards.

I took last week very gently, and this week is looking like very hot weather. The next composing deadline isn't until the end of July (I decided to scrap Leith Hill), so I'm hoping to spend the next couple of weeks basically finishing things off and tying up loose ends, of which I have a few floating about.
reddragdiva: (geek)
[personal profile] reddragdiva

Dear Lazyweb! How do you manage keeping spring boot applications up to date?

We run an arseload of Java webapps. Our devs have taken a strong liking to spring boot, where everything including the Tomcat is uploaded as a JAR. A delight for them, but somewhat of a concern for the sysadmins who are the people first dealing with security issues.

So I've been asked to come up with recommendations to deal with this, and I haven't a clue as to how to do this other than laborious iterative checking, or automated versions thereof. Nor can I find recommendations.

Has anyone else got this problem or one like it? (Where applications are uploaded as a package that then runs.) What do you do?

H_C bingo card

Jun. 18th, 2017 09:36 pm
frith_in_thorns: (AA Zuko)
[personal profile] frith_in_thorns
I know I literally just got a gen_bingo card, but I can't ignore [community profile] hc_bingo! So here it is.


sensory deprivation
blackmail undeserved reputation
deadline / time bomb
hiding an injury / illness
runaways branding ritualized pain / injury resurrection mercy killing
fall from grace archaic medical treatment WILD CARD
septicemia / infected wounds hostile climate
kidnapping witch hunt culture shock loss of job / income rejection
extortion unexpected consequences of planned soulbonding
blood loss forced to participate in illegal / hurtful
activity
slaves



I'm... hmm. It's not bad, but I'm not hugely enthusiastic. Although that might just because I got that bloody soulbonding square yet again.

I could do a lot of these for Simon Illyan though :P

an pune

Jun. 18th, 2017 11:12 am
fluffymormegil: @ (Default)
[personal profile] fluffymormegil

stratocracy, n. - Rule by electric guitar.

karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
[personal profile] karen2205
The fire at Grenfell Tower is amongst all sorts of other things, a reminder of something I learnt on 9/11.

Sometimes people, seemingly in authority, get it wrong and give out advice that is wrong for the situation. Blind obedience to advice can kill. Equally, in other circumstances, not following good advice can also kill. I know if I'd been in one of the World Trade Center Buildings and had been told to stay where I was I'd have done that. I'm older and less compliant nowadays. What would I have done if I'd been in Grenfell Tower? I don't know:-/

So, my advice, for what it's worth goes like this:

1. Nearly always you are the best judge of the situation on the ground, because you are there. There's an amusing pseudo-safety sign I've seen online that says something like "in the event of fire, evacuate the building before updating Facebook" and it's right. In an acute situation don't phone/email/poke the internet for help from friends or family instead of acting to get yourself somewhere safer. [Phone/email/internet for getting help if you *can't* help yourself to somewhere safer without help is different]
1.5. Teach children autonomy by stages as they can cope with it; the correct response to fire is to get out of the building and phone 999 before contacting a parent. You don't want your children not knowing how to act without your assistance, because there may be circumstances when you aren't there.
2. Advice from authority figures who are physically present with you vs. being on the phone stands IMO, a better chance of being accurate to your situation, but should still be subject to critical evaluation. Part of that critical evaluation might be that it's best to go along with for now, but that you need to keep the situation under review.
3. Advice can be perfectly good advice for most situations and still be wrong in your circumstances. Assume good faith, but remember they're people too and they make mistakes/don't have the same information you've got.

Database stuff

Jun. 16th, 2017 02:05 pm
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
[personal profile] artsyhonker
OK, for Cecilia's List I will need a database.

That is: the volume of information will get really stupid realyl fast if I try to do it without a database of some sort.

For now, I am happy enough with a database where I ask it for a report (which will include some html formatting) and then copy and paste that into a Wordpress page or blog post. Really! This is because this introduces a layer of human proofreading, and I like human proofreading.

It is over a decade since I did any kind of work with databases at all, and that was... rudimentary, to say the least. So I don't really know what I'm doing.
more on what I need/want, and not knowing how to get it )

Er, are any of you good at databases? I think Zair may be able to help me, but I'd like to get a better understanding of what I actually want before I throw myself at another helpful friend.

Music meme day 7 of 30

Jun. 15th, 2017 12:46 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
A song to drive to. I don't drive, and most of the drivers I'm frequently a passenger with don't listen to music while they're driving, or just listen to the radio rather than deliberately chosen stuff. What I most associate with driving is that when we were children we used to go on long drives to go on holiday, usually to Wales, sometimes to the north of France by ferry, and that was the only time we were allowed music in the car. We only had a few tapes, so what I most associate with driving is several Flanders and Swann albums. Probably my favourite is Misalliance: video embed, actually audio only )
Particularly because it manages to find some really brilliant rhymes for honeysuckle: We'd better start saving - many a mickle mak's a muckle / and run away for a honeymoon, and hope that our luck'll / take a turn for the better, said the bindweed to the honeysuckle.

Also because it works as a straight love story about anthromorphized plants, and also as a joke about political polarization which feels surprisingly current for a song written in the 1950s: Deprived of that freedom for which we must fight / to veer to the left or to veer to the right. A lot of F&S stuff has been thoroughly suck-fairied, because a key part of their humour is about men hilariously tricking women into surprise!sex, but I always liked the stuff that was dated because it referred to celebrities from well before I was born, because my Dad would carefully explain the obscure references to us.

Reading Wednesday 14/06

Jun. 14th, 2017 08:20 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Some interesting bits and bobs about gender and sexuality:
  • Me and my penis by Laura Dodsworth and Simon Hattenstone. It's mostly an interview and excerpts from a book where Dodsworth photographed 100 men. In each photo, you see penis and testicles, belly, hands and thighs [...] then [I] spent 30 to 60 minutes interviewing them. The article is illustrated with photos from the book so it's not very SFW. Honestly the penis thing is a bit of a gimmick, I'm mostly interested in people talking about some everyday aspect of their lives, and of course the Guardian article has picked some of the most dramatic subjects, an elderly man, a disabled man, a trans man etc.

  • [community profile] queerparenting linked me to Inside the struggle queer, Indigenous couples must overcome to start a family by Steph Wechsler. It's specifically about First Nations Canadians and the issues they face accessing assisted fertility services, and includes the quote Fertility is where eggs and sperm come together, and it’s embedded with heterosexist and heterocentric assumptions. Which reminded me of something a new colleague pointed out regarding teaching medical students about human reproduction (for various reasons I ended up in charge of that bit of the course):

  • The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, by Emily Martin. This is apparently a classic of medical anthropology, and it's really old but a lot of what it says is still true, even in our cutting edge modern course which tries pretty hard to be non-sexist. Basically Martin points out how supposedly scientific discussion of the biology of reproduction is absolutely chock full of sexist assumptions, which apply even to gametes, let alone the humans who make the gametes and gestate the babies. Also really charmingly written and much more accessible than I'd expect from academic anthropology papers.

    The link I've given is a PDF hosted at Stanford, which I'm not entirely sure is compliant with how JSTOR wish their material to be used; if you are picky about things like that, you can read the article via JSTOR's online only system if you register with them.


Currently reading: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. About halfway through, still enjoying it in many ways. It's definitely original and thought-provoking, but also continues to be somewhat annoying with the narrator rabbiting on about his opinions about gender and race, most of which are pretty uncool. I think it would be possible to have a main character with regressive views without constantly shoving his opinions in the reader's face. The other thing I'm struggling with a bit is that it's clearly a far-future book, with lots of tech that doesn't have any real science explanation, but there are also some elements of the book which are considered to be "magical" from the characters' point of view, and the distinction between two categories of impossible stuff seems arbitrary.

In spite of those quibbles I'm quite caught up in the plot and also really interested in the cultural world-building and generally enjoying the novel. Presently I rate it below Ninefox gambit but that is far from calling it bad.

Up next: Still thinking of All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, if nothing else jumps out and grabs me before I get to the end of TLTL.

50 years

Jun. 12th, 2017 11:22 pm
smhwpf: (Handala)
[personal profile] smhwpf
There's some good anniversaries to celebrate around now. Like, 50 years since the US Supreme Court struck down all state laws forbidding interracial marriage, in the Loving vs. Virginia case. For 50 years, race has not been a factor in who you can legally marry in the US. Aren't we modern? (Britain had and has plenty of racism. It never had a law forbidding interracial marriage). For about 1 year, gender has not been a factor either.

And some not so good ones. Last week was 50 years since the 6-Day War, when Israel conquered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights, and thus began the Israeli occupation of the remaining Palestinian territories - those that they had not been mostly expelled from in 1948.

So I'm writing this a bit late, but we had a demo in Cambridge marking it today, so it's as good an occasion as any, and hey, what's a week in 50 years?

But when you get to 50 years, calling it an "Occupation" gets a bit silly. Military occupations are supposed to be temporary things. In international law, and in reality. I mean, everything is temporary, but after enough time, an occupation ceases to be merely an occupation, and becomes something else. An empire. A new border. A new country. Like, if a peace process goes on long enough, without actually leading to peace, you need a new name for it. Nothing complimentary comes to mind.

The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories quite quickly stopped being a mere military occupation, when an army of one country temporarily controls another in the aftermath of war: Israel started (illegally, under the Geneva Conventions which Israel signed) moving in civilian settlers in the 1970s, and now there are 800,000 Israeli settlers, including in East Jerusalem, 13% of Israel's population. There are cities. There are industrial zones. There is large-scale agriculture in the Jordan Valley. (Where the Palestinians are denied access to the most fertile land in the region, and the plentiful water resources of the Jordan, and are reduced to a precarious, marginal existence, constantly vulnerable to demolitions and expulsions when the Israelis covet the patches of land on which they temporarily reside). This is way, way, beyond an "Occupation".

What is it then? An annexation? Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem, in a move never recognized by any other country, even the US - though they never gave the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem citizenship. They are "permanent" residents, but this permanency is a fragile thing that can be easily lst by, say, going away to study or work for too long. In the rest of the West Bank, Israel maintains strategic ambiguity. Israel has no defined borders. So where there are Israeli settlements, that is "Israel". If you want to send a letter to an Israeli settler in Ariel, you address it "Israel". But where there are concentrations of Palestinian population that can't easily be ushered away, that is - well, it's not not Israel, but it's not Israel either. Israel has perfected the art of having its cake and eating it.

Apartheid is an apt name in many ways, but apart from the familiar moans of liberals that you can't possibly use that awful word, because it's reserved for South Africa, andSouth Africa is special, (hint: it isn't: there's a legal definition of the "crime of Apartheid" in international law - look it up) - apart from this, Apartheid is just woefully inadequate to encapsulate the horrific conditions to which Palestinians are subjected.

Of course, there is gross economic discrimination. Israeli settlers in the West Bank get 6 times as much water per person as Palestinians, at a fraction of the price (the water coming from the West Bank aquifer). Then there are the separated road networks, the high quality Jews only express highways. While Palestinians who want to move around their country are subjected to a gauntlet of checkpoints and roadblocks, endless humiliations and risk of arrest or being shot; African Americans in parts of the South especially would recognize some of this, only on steroids. Palestinians cannot leave, or reenter, their country without Israeli permission.

In 'Area C' under the 1994 Oslo accords, the less populated areas where Israel exercizes full civil and security control, Palestinians are essentially never granted planning permission, and thus anything they build can be, and frequently is, knocked down at the whim of the Israeli authorities. Or if not demolished for the lack of permits that are rarer than unicorns, the same result can always be obtained on grounds of "security".

Perhaps most egregious is the "justice" system. Israelis living in the West Bank are subject to the regular Israeli civilian justice system, with lawyers and due process and a presumption of innocence. Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to a military justice system, where they have no such thing. Israeli military courts convict 99.7% of the Palestinian defendants before them. over 400 Palestinians are currently in Administrative Detention, which is detention without charge or trial, where the prisoner has no lawyer and is not allowed to know what they are accused of. Administration is for an initial period of 3-6 months, but can be renewed indefinitely. 800,000 Palestinians have at one time or other been imprisoned by Israel in the past 50 years. At a rough estimate based on demographic statistics, that's somewhere between 20-25% of the entire population of the Palestinian territories aged 15+ that have been alive since 1967. Oh wait, but Israel imprisons children too, so maybe that statistic is misleading.

Palestinians in the West Bank. Have. No. Rights.

What do you call such a set-up? Apartheid is accuate - inhumane acts "...committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them" - but insufficient. It will have to do for now.

As for Gaza, while Israel is still legally the occupying power (and we should not forget it), that has in practice morphed from an occupation to a siege, and a slow-burning humanitarian catastrophe: a UN report a couple of years ago predicted that Gaza will become unliveable by 2020. Water supplies are running short.The sewage system is creaking and cracking. Israel's intent is to choke Gaza while not actually creating a situation where people die in such large numbers that the media notices, but things don't always turn out the way we intend, do they?

The notion of a 2-state solution is dead, if unfortunately not quite buried. The idea that you can shift this huge settler population and all the accompanying industry and infrastructure back across the Green Line, or that Israel would ever agree to it, is absurd. Whatever the legal position, either internationally or in Israel, there is one political entity between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. A just peace in Israel/Palestine now can only mean one thing: equality for all its people, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

Hopelessly idealistic. Yes. But the only option. It's the sort of thing that can never happen, until it does. It will only happen with serious external pressure, combined with effective internal resistance. Both are currently lacking, although internally there are encouraging signs, such as the recent mass hunger strke by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which led to significant Israeli concessions (which they will presumably renege on at some point, because that's how Israel generally behaves, but it's something). Externally, the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is growing, and is seriously scaring the Israelis, enough that they are recruiting armies of internet trolls to oppose it, giving Israelis flying out of the country propoaganda materials on how to counter it, while in North America and parts of Europe, Israel's apologists are doing everything they can to condemn the movement as anti-Semitic, and if possible make it illegal. But as yet, it is not enough to cause serious economic harm to Israel, or cause them to consider coming to the negotiating table.

Some day it may. Diaspora Jews are, slowly or rapidly, falling out of love with Israel, especially the younger generations, as the monstrous nature of the Israeli state becomes ever harder to hide between even the best PR and invocations of the Holocaust. It could take decades, or it could happen incredibly suddenly, when no-one is expecting it.

But battles for equality are never easy, and are never finished. Look at the US, or South Africa. Some in the Palestinian cause seem to decry the very idea of negotiations and messy compromises. They seem to imagine that, with enough Palestinian resistance and external pressure from BDS, the State of Israel in its current form will all at once be swept away by the inevitable laws of historical justice and the moral arc of the universe, or some such, the Knesset will dissolve itself and hand over power to a Revolutionary Committee, and a beautiful new secular, non-racial state with equality for all will be ushered in. (I exaggerate a little, perhaps).

No, it will probably come rather more slowly and messily than that, if it come at all. Dismantling this pervasive network of repression and control is a gigantic task, likewise creating a political settlement in Israel/Palestine that gives not only freedom, democracy and equal rights for all, but confidence for all groups that this state of affairs will persist. Absorbing however many of the 7 million or so Palestinian refugees, those expelled by Israel in the war of 1948 and their descendants, in a peaceful and sustainable way is no small task either, though I do not believe an impossible one. As for reducing and ultimately ending ethnic-based economic inequality and discrimination. Well.

But I do think this is the only long-term solution, what the rest of the world, insofar as it cares about the situation, should work for, rather than perpetuating the fiction of a 2-state solution that lies somewhere at the other end of an ephemeral rainbow called the 'peace process'. I believe there is also a moral debt from the west to the Palestinian people. Another anniversary this year is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, whereby the British promised to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine, without any thought of consulting the existing population thereof. Britain, and later the US and other leading powers, created and enabled this state of affairs, and still uphold it. So I think we kind of have a responsibility to do something about changing it. Or at the very least, stop actively supporting it.

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