liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Two very strong pieces on living with chronic health issues and navigating people's assumptions about health and disability:
  • [personal profile] monanotlisa writes I broke my spine in 2006, and nothing has ever been the same for me since.
  • Malfunctioning space stations, by Marissa Lingen within the Disabled people destroy SF series.

    [personal profile] mrissa also wrote, years ago, a post which has really informed my thinking about chronic illness and disability: Hollywood broken leg theory.

    Both pieces are very personal, and also very intersectional, pointing out that people's general status in society will really affect just how much negativity they get in response to their condition. Someone I don't know, Aubrey Hirsch, explored a similar topic in the comic Medicine's woman problem. Transcript below the cut, though I'm not sure I can quite manage full image descriptions.

    transcript of Hirsch's cartoon )

    Currently reading: Dzur by Steven Brust. This is the nth in the rather extended Dragaera series, about what happens next when a human ends up in Elfland. In this case, the human's son and series narrator, Vlad Taltos, is living as an assassin and small-time crime boss among people much more powerful than him and whose morality he doesn't understand. I like Taltos' discursive, witty style, and I like the way that each book is fairly light and self-contained, but the series as a whole has very deep complex connections. That said, I can only take so much at a time, so I've been reading through the series very slowly with lots of breaks for other stuff.

    I'm about a third of the way through Dzur and so far it's not really grabbing me. It seems very middlish, and it's still meandering through set-up. Many of the earlier books started in medias res with lots of action, whereas Vlad's quips are witty and his descriptions of food are delightful, but not quite enough to fill a hundred pages.

    Up next: Not sure. I think maybe A long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers, because lots of people have enthused about it in a way that makes it seem appealing to me, even though a few people I know really hated it.
  • Scarcity

    Jul. 3rd, 2017 08:07 pm
    liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
    This is mainly because I want to draw a connection between two posts on related subjects, but you also get opinions because I can't resist.

    [tumblr.com profile] withasmoothroundstone posted Scarcity is not an excuse for ableism. And [personal profile] siderea posted something really brilliant about The Unjust Consequences of Scarcity.

    opinions on controversial topics including lethal ableism )
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    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.
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: Oh my gosh, it's covered in Rule 30s by Stephen Wolfram. A rather sweet as well as informative blog post about the architecture of my new local station (still excited about having a local train station!) and how it's inspired by cellular automata.

    Currently reading: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm liking it so far; I think I largely disagree with the people who find it too slow and infodumpy, I'm really enjoying the worldbuilding as well as caring about the plot. And I'm really liking the juxtaposition of a miracle-working child with global politics and an intriguing heist arc.

    But I agree with the people who have complained that it misses the mark with what it's doing with gender. In the manner of those dystopia parodies: in the future, gender is outlawed and the government controls religion! The idea is that the narrator, from a post-gender future society, whimsically decides to impose what he thinks of as eighteenth century gender roles on all the people he meets. I'm pretty sure the idea is that he's supposed to be unreliable, but in practice too much of the book so far consists of random solliloquies about how people who use their sexuality to manipulate others must definitely be female.

    Up next: I'm only a little way through TLTL. And I'm still in Hugo reading mode so possibly All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders; the rest of the novels shortlist is all second books in well-lauded series so I'm less inclined to vote for them.
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: The hundred trillion stories in your head, a bio of Ramón y Cajal by Benjamin Ehrlich. (Contains some detail of Ramón y Cajal's rather grim childhood.)

    Currently reading: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Partly because it's Hugo nominated, and partly because [personal profile] jack was excited to talk about it so I've borrowed his copy. I'm halfway through and enjoying it a lot; it's a bit like a somewhat grimmer version of Leckie's Ancillary books. It has too much gory detail of war and torture for my preferences but it's also a really engaging story.

    Up next: Quite possibly Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, since I'd like to read at least the Hugo novels in time for Worldcon.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Recently acquired:
    • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I'm excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

    • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

    • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

    Recently read:
    • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

    • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
    Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

    Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Recently read: I'm really impressed at people who were getting Yuletide recs out within a few days of the event!

    fanfic and politics )

    Currently reading: A journey to the end of the Millennium, by AB Yehoshua. I'm enjoying this, but with some caveats. It's subtitled A novel of the Middle Ages, but in many ways it's quite aggressively modern, and I think that is probably deliberate, but it's not the immersion in a different culture that I look for in historical novels.

    I really like that it breaks the Eurocentric perspective of much of modern writing about the Middle Ages, it treats white Christians as this peculiar tribe eking out an existence in the barbarian lands of northern Europe, with the Jewish and Muslim viewpoint characters as the sophisticated travellers visiting these primitive lands and trying to avoid rousing the superstitious natives to violence. And within that, the plot about an African Jew who's completely bemused by this bizarre new German concept that marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman. But the sexism and racism are twentieth century sexism and racism, projected back onto Ye Olden Dayes. The major female characters are nameless, just "The First Wife" and "The Second Wife," and the novel opens with a long and mostly pointless scene about the protag psyching himself up to satisfy both his wives in a single night. That's not, gender roles were different in the 10th century, that's exactly reproducing all the other litfic ever about middle-aged men angsting / fantasizing about their virility. Likewise the only Black character (though most of the main characters are not exactly white) is "the black slave" and seems to be very stereotyped, and again, it's modern racially essentialist stereotypes, nothing that feels authentically period.

    I'm finding de Lange's translation a bit awkward. In some ways it's quite successful at conveying the feel of reading Hebrew, full of allusions to the scriptural language which is at the root of modern Ivrit, and it's poetic as I imagine Yehoshua's writing must be. But it's also quite intrusive, I don't want to be constantly feeling that I'm reading a translation. Never clunky, it's not over-literal to the point of being completely unidiomatic, but it's just distancing.

    Up next: Surely Katy by Jacqueline Wilson, because I have been unknowingly waiting for this book for most of 30 years.
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: Don't use that tone of voice with me, internet friends

    This one is from ages ago, partly because I'm not ready to post election reaction linkspams yet (and I may never be, I'm watching this from a distance). And partly because it was posted on Imzy and Imzy has only recently launched publicly, making it possible to link to content there. (It's still horrible low contrast and otherwise unreadable; for this essay it's well worth a workround like copying the text into a text editor, if you can.) I'd previously encountered Sciatrix as an extremely brilliant commenter on the kinds of forums that have weighty, thinky comments, like MeFi. And the Imzy platform has finally tempted her to make her own blog, which is awesome. I was extremely pleased to discover that she sometimes lurks on this DW, too.

    Anyway, Sciatrix talks about tone of voice in plain text and in contemporary internet subcultures, and segues nicely into the psychology of criticizing people without making them defensive, and the tone policing / callout-culture issues that are such a live wire right now... on reflection, this is perhaps not a totally unpolitical link.

    Currently reading: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. I'm a few chapters in and loving it just as much as I expected from Ancillary Justice.

    Up next: If I'm feeling brave enough, I think I might try Umberto Eco's fictional history of antisemitism The Prague Cemetery, which has been on my to-read pile for some years and feels quite timely now.
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: Very misc collection of essays and such
    • Via [personal profile] soon_lee: Ann Leckie on guilty pleasures. Leckie makes some fairly obvious points about how the concept of a "guilty" pleasure is often snobby and sexist, but expands on that with some interesting thoughts about criticizing tastes of those who don't belong to the group you want to identify with.

    • [personal profile] kalypso wrote Strange and Norrell fic. It's explicitly based on the TV series (which I've watched slightly under half of), not the book, and I think it really captures the atmosphere but not so much Susanna Clarke's distinctive voice. Massively spoilery for either the series or the books, though. And, uh, the fic is about gaslighting someone with memory loss, in case you don't know the books but want to read anyway.

    • Following links from something else, I found this Q&A with a sleep scientist, which makes a nice accessible summary of recent evidence. There's also quite a lot of discussion about SIDS (cot death) risk, which might make it hard reading for some; I really pricked my ears up at:
      But most people who want to ‘ban co-sleeping’ don’t think any of [the relevant evidence that the risk may be lower than thought] matters, because it isn’t an important or valued behaviour for them. It is valued by cultural minorities and breastfeeding mothers, not the people who (previously) made up the guidance.

    • History of the song L'homme armé, with a long and fascinating diversion about the Crusades and the fall of Constantinople.

    • [livejournal.com profile] siderea has a lovely piece Forward into light about the history of the US women's suffrage movement. Which reminds me, I am most grateful to all my American friends who are talking about voting, and especial kudos to people who've looked into ballot measures and elections for offices other than PotUSA where that's relevant in their locality. We don't do democracy quite like that but I'm alwyas impressed when people put serious effort into participating and citizenship.

    Currently reading: Still In a time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. He's in Austria atm and I have a weird second-hand nostalgia for 1930s Austria, since many people in the community I grew up with were refugees from there. It's a little too poignant to read Fermor looking back on the way of life that, writing in the 70s, he knew was about to be destroyed with the massive swing to the right and eventually the Anschluß.

    Up next: I am not sure, I'm leaning towards Two serpents rise by Max Gladstone.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Recently read: Lots of good stuff! linkspam )
    Currently reading: still A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor and Sisterhood by Penelope Friday, but in practice I haven't been reading much this week, I've been spending time with [personal profile] doseybat and [livejournal.com profile] pyrokaren.

    Up next: I've got to the stage where it's halfway through Elul and I haven't written any High Holy Days sermons or learned any Torah readings yet, so most probably material for that.

    I'm considering picking up Hilary Mantel's contemporary Beyond Black as my book with a color in the title for my reading challenge, since it's been waiting on my shelves for ages.
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: this was just bullet points but it grew )
    liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
    So my extremely brilliant friend Jen has written a fantastic popular article about her research: Why it's absurd for a pastor to give Donald Trump a Jewish prayer shawl. You should read it, it's only tangentially about Trump, it's about the history of Jewish ritual objects and about Jewish-Christian relations.

    Also, I have thinky thoughts )
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: A couple of really great, thinky reviews:
    I'm not always as enthusiastic about Laurie Penny as many people in my circle, but they hit it out of the park with Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. It's a really nuanced and thoughtful piece about self-care and wellbeing, considering both the ways that these things are undervalued especially for women and marginalized people, and the ways that they are repackaged and exploited within the capitalist system. There's a bit of that irritating young lefty anxiety about whether one's life choices are sufficiently "radical", but still very well worth reading.

    Currently reading: A wild sheep chase, by Haruki Murakami. This was a present from [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. It's very atmospheric, but the atmosphere it creates is somewhat bleak and miserable. It's sort of doing the litfic thing where the recently divorced narrator is sad because his comfortable but unexceptional life isn't as exciting as he might have hoped when he was younger, with the accompanying rather annoying attitude to women. But at about a third of the way through, this is looking like a frame for doing other things, a bit magic realist, a bit thriller, with the protag getting very politely kidnapped by the mafia boss. It's told in a somewhat non-linear way, so I'm not yet sure how all the different facets of the story fit together.

    Up next: I'm travelling to Hungary next week, so I am not quite sure if I'll end up with loads of time for reading or very little. The next thing on my e-reader is Blindsight by Peter Watts. Unless someone wants to rec me a Hungarian book which is available in translation, in order to be thematically suitable?
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: Lots of really great stuff on my reading lists currently. I recommend:


    Currently reading: Still Ghost spin, by Chris Moriarty. It was a bit slow to start in a way but it's picking up and is doing lots of cool stuff with the same character in multiple timelines.

    Up next: The next thing on my extremely slow reading challenge list is A book with a color in the title. I've just sent most of my to-read books back to my real house with [personal profile] jack, so I can't look through them and see if anything qualifies. [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel gave me Burning days by Glenn Grant as a belated birthday present, so that's a likely choice. Or maybe some of the genuine Hugo nominees; I've been meaning to pick up Uprooted by Naomi Novik for a while.
    liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
    So I'm pretty intensely pro trigger warnings. I generally agree with people like [personal profile] jimhines: that it's nonsense to consider TWs as censorship. Most of the arguments I've seen against TWs are like Stephen Fry's nonsense (which started this round of the debate), people who feel that the highest moral principle at stake is their so-called free speech right to bully people who are already getting crapped on by society.

    more discussion of the TWs question, with some abstract mentions of the sorts of things that may need TWs )

    But that's why I'm a lot more concerned about students getting too little support than too much, anyway.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Apparently it's world poetry day, which I didn't know until I started seeing lots of cool poems on my reading page. I particularly loved (though I don't fully understand it) this Auden quoted by [personal profile] kalypso: In praise of limestone

    I feel like I ought to be the kind of person who would immediately think of a poem to put here when I belated discovered that somewhere in the nation of internet we're celebrating poetry. But I'm not really, I'm not immersed in poetry to that extent. Like, I have some favourite poems, but they're mostly really obvious dead white men ones that I studied in school, or more often that my Dad learned in school, when the curriculum was even more heavily slanted towards the obvious Romantics. I mean, I love Kipling and Housman and Auden, but who doesn't, from my sort of background? And even with poets I claim to love, I often only know their most obvious pieces, the ones that get quoted in books like 'the nation's hundred favourite poems' and used as markers of having the right sort of education. And my poetry books are in Keele, not here, but I could probably find something in one of [personal profile] jack's anthologies, my tastes are obvious enough.

    My brother [twitter.com profile] angrysampoet posted a really thinky blog post recently, which is about lots of different things, including how he's managed to transcend just liking the obvious things that everybody with our kind of upbringing likes, and become a professional poet who's very much involved in the contemporary poetry scene: Slam poetry is a genre. I disagree with him about some points, particularly where he falls into the lazy reflex of blaming social media for the ills of our generation, but there's a lot to think about in his piece.

    Particularly: People who write poems once or twice in their life for someone’s birthday or Valentine’s Day will write in cliché. And yeah, that's kind of me, I've written more than two poems in my life but not a lot more, and most of what I write is cliché because I don't write – or read – enough. It's not that I have ambitions to be a professional poet like my brother, it's that what he's saying fits into stuff I've thinking about to do with making creative stuff more accessible to people who just want to do it for fun (shout-out to [personal profile] merrythebard who's been talking interestingly about this topic elsewhere). I want to do more creating, not because I want to compete and be the best poet, or because I want to make money at it, but because creating stuff is satisfying and uplifting, and because when I do write poems for friends and lovers I'd like what I write to be a worthy gift and not just a thing they put up with because they like the gesture.

    There are probably other creative things I could be doing more of, writing fiction as well as blog posts, possibly drawing. The other day Judith got me to join her in a drawing challenge, and I think I should follow her example of getting into the habit of just sketching things, not for any particular reason other than that it's fun.

    But anyway, I wanted to say I'm most grateful to people who post poetry, their own or other peoples', whether for World Poetry Day or any other reason. You're doing a good thing by making poetry something that 'normal' people can enjoy, without proving a point about talent or social status or anything else.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    So you know that silly thing on Tumblr where people complain about new-fangled linguistic conventions, and people try to repeat the complaint in older and older styles of English? Well, [personal profile] lethargic_man has made a real version of this, reading the first chapter of Genesis in English starting from 500 and gradually updating the language until the current day. It's a seriously amazing piece of work, no, not rigorous academic scholarship, but he's looked stuff up properly rather than making a guess based on vague half-remembered history of English classes.

    1500 years of English. It's a video; the audio track is the main point, but the words are written across the screen showing how written English evolved too. So it's inherently somewhat accessible though not as useful if you can't hear the audio, and you get most of the point without the visuals, so I don't think there's much to be gained by a text description.

    I think lots of you may appreciate this, [personal profile] highlyeccentric and [personal profile] forthwritten and [personal profile] pne spring to mind, but I bet there are lots of other people I haven't thought of who will be impressed.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    No real theme, just people being interesting:

    • [personal profile] jack posted something really thinky about formal logic and common sense.

    • [personal profile] sovay posted a really interesting review of a 1944 film, There are a lot worse things in this world than losing one's beauty. The film involves a Jewish character losing his sight as a result of being tortured by the Nazis, and [personal profile] sovay discusses how awful it is that this is mostly portrayed as back story and support for the non-Jewish, non-disabled heroine's emotional arc. But at the same time it's a really interesting analysis of a film which directly references the Nazi genocide in 1944, while it was still ongoing. Some really interesting discussion in the comments on LJ side about very early media portrayals of the Holocaust.

    • [personal profile] rachelmanija is posting a lot of really fascinating Hamilton meta lately. In the comments to one of her recent posts, [personal profile] brainwane linked to this really thoughtful, profound analysis of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello by Max Gladstone: What the f*ck, Iago?
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
    Work has been intense lately, mainly because I'm about to go to Amsterdam for a conference where I'm presenting the data that my senior PhD student only actually finished on Friday. So apologies for radio silence; more when I get back.

    I'm also studiously ignoring Holocaust Memorial Day because I just can't deal with the pieties in conjunction with the actual treatment of refugees and disabled people. Being away is a good excuse not to have to attend this kind of event. And yes, I know some people are actually doing valuable educational work, both on the internet and in person, but those people are not the ones who keep inviting me to stuff.

    So, anyway, Reading Wednesday, just quickly.

    Recently acquired: I had a very successful charity shop raid with [personal profile] angelofthenorth when she visited a couple of weekends ago, even acquiring some clothes that fill gaps in my wardrobe. We drove out to Buxton mainly to enjoy the view of the Peak District in the snow, and Buxton is one of those down-at-heel towns that has really good charity shops and antique shops and not much actual economic activity.

    So anyway, I snagged King's Dragon by Kate Elliott, an author I like in principle but I'm a bit scared of her tendency to write huge multi-doorstep fantasies. So since I found the first in a definitely finished three-part trilogy, I thought I'd give it a go. And The constant gardner by John le Carré, which I've been intrigued by for a while.

    Recently read: No fiction. I have been thinking a lot about this longread on disability by Johanna Hedva: Sick woman theory. I am not often convinced by the kind of extreme social model view that what we experience as illness is mainly a problem with capitalist society, but Hedva is saying something a lot more nuanced than some of the examples I've come across, and certainly doesn't fail to note that chronic pain is in fact objectively unpleasant, regardless of how society is organized. She's also discussing a wide range of interconnected topics, including the concept of "public", and she brings in a lot of fairly serious references to contemporary feminist thought.

    Currently reading: More or less nothing, which is less weird for me than it was a few years ago, but still weird.

    Up next: I'm not sure if I'm going to have time for reading when I travel or not, there's quite a lot of time on trains and ferries involved. Perhaps some long fanfics will get me back into the reading mood; I have both Your Blue-Eyed Boys by [archiveofourown.org profile] laleitha and and The World that You Need by [archiveofourown.org profile] dsudis on my e-reader, so I'll see.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Not really reading fiction atm. And all the books I've bought recently are Christmas presents so I don't want to list them here. So have some links to other people's stuff.

    • [personal profile] hatam_soferet manages to make a drain disaster hilarious: A cautionary tale of leaves and drains

    • [personal profile] melannen is doing a really awesome December Days series, and I'm particularly enamoured with Notes on Birth Control and Childrearing for Fantasy Writers. It's very readable and a really great counter collapsing all of history before 1960 into a generic ye olden days when gender roles were exactly like the mid-twentieth century American middle-class ideal.

    • [personal profile] major_clanger explains the non-controversy over the first British astronaut.

    • A DW friend (who is welcome to identify themself if they like) PM'd me to point out a fascinating snippet of history: How to be Jewish – in 1846 London, by [livejournal.com profile] dichroic. I'm actually distantly related to Judith Cohen Montefiore, or at least she appears in family trees with (much less wealthy!) ancestors of mine, I can't remember the exact details but my mother could probably tell you. So it's especially cool that Project Gutenberg has her Jewish version of Mrs Beeton's Book. Well, actually JCM got there first, it seems.

    • And I saw on Facebook a link to Goodbye Sotah by artist Jacqueline Nicholls. Sotah is the tractate of the Talmud which discusses the Torah laws about a wife accused of adultery; I've studied it some for the reason mentioned in the post, that it's one of the main origins for the laws about women's headcovering and modesty generally. I really like Nicholls' respectful yet willing to challenge take on what is one of the more nakedly misogynist bits of Jewish scripture, and I'm also fascinated by her take on the midrash that bringing a married couple together is like splitting the Red Sea. I've always simply read that as 'as miraculous as the splitting' but Nicholls points out that it's not just any miracle, it's a miracle of division: being together has separation and distance at the heart of relationship.

    Soundbite

    Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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