vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
You have seen it written: do not lie with a male as with womankind, for it is an abomination. But I say unto you: I tell you the truth, unless your abominations against womankind come to an end also, you will not see the kingdom of heaven until all of Sodom and Gomorrah have been saved.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Further yet again to my garbled... garblings (as clearly there was no muse inspiring me in any of that), here is something by people who have done a much better job. Content warning: endorsement traditional Christian views on gender and sexuality, which may well include the ones you, the reader, consider terrible and hateful, or make you think of same )
There's a lot more and to quote all the good stuff would be to quote almost all of it. Little of it may make much sense outside of Christianity, or at least it won't make sense within modernity (while possibly making a good deal of sense in some pre-modern pagan societies).
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
n. Someone who purports to say something in jest, when in fact he has left the listener no reason to believe that what he is saying is not what he actually believes in his heart, but who nonetheless strives to convince the audience, to varying degree of success, that what he are saying is acceptable because he is - or can reasonably be said to be - ironically making fun of it. Especially if involving rape or murder.

v. The above act of feigned jest.
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
And so we trudged along the frozen waste.
We found a wall of stone, ten feet in height,
Rough from wear and carelessness, easily clomb.
Stains, and a great stench, covered it--
Rotting, sulfrous protein, slime and shell.
Bubbling I heard: not below, but unseen.

Read more... )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Following up on these garbled musings after a night's at least two nights' sleep.

This gets BADLY rambly. There is no organization because I do not even know what my thesis is, which is one of the implicit questions I am struggling with, and thus cannot delete something as irrelevant to such a thesis. )

2015-07-12 EDIT:
The distinctive role of the person of the Theotokos in God’s plan for the salvation of humanity is the source for the empirical, typological symbolism according to which the liturgical function of women in the plan of divine οἰκονομία is parallel to the work of the Holy Spirit, while the liturgical function of the male is parallel to that of Christ.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
First, a passing thought:
A good design is seamless, unified, harmonious, whole. A bad design is fragmented and arbitrary, its elements stuck together ad-hoc with no consideration as to how one flows into the other. When the intelligent design researchers (and what they do is genuinely, legitimately research - I say this as a barrister and solicitor) look for signs of design, the usual formula is to isolate a harmonious design, deny the existence of its effective cause within creation, and conclude therefore that God must have done it. This is to deny that the effective cause is part of the harmonious whole, and to claim that there has been some kind of unnatural severance within creation. In other words, the signs of flaws and corruptions of the unified design of the original. If these are the signs of the Designer we seek, then that designer is not the One who designed causation for our use, Who is everywhere present and filling all things, Whose designs are at all friendly to us.

And now, have some cave worms (note: taxonomically not worms) to cleanse the palate.

According to this study, if you're white, male, well-educated or in the scientific "in", you are more likely to believe GMOs are safe. Or, rather, distrust increases the further you move out of this inner elite circle. There appear to be no controls for socioeconomic class. Am immediately reminded of Lewis' critique of Man's power over Nature being ultimately the mere power of some men over others.

Relatedly, I'm not the first to compare our economic system to a Paperclip Maximizer. The only real debate is just what is analogous to paperclips - mammon itself, or consumer products.

And now for some less short-form reblogging...

Fr. Stephen Freeman posts a trilogy of posts about sex and gender.

In case the blog is ever moved and the pictures are lost again, here are the pictures the accompany each:cut for spoiler - their best impact is when you read each article itself )

All three are well worth reading. That said, one quote struck me in particular:
In all discussions of our gendered existence, Christians must remember that male and female are eschatological images – they are images towards which we are moving, not givens according to which automatically live. The male who is not self-emptyingly male, is not yet what he shall be nor what he should be. The female who is not self-emptyingly female, is not yet what she shall be nor what she should be. And, of course, our situation is still more tragic and broken. For some, the experience of the energies of our nature is changed – whether through the brokenness of genetics or nurture. They are not yet what they shall be nor what they should be. We share a tragedy that is common to all humanity.
This is incomprehensible without an understanding of what Blessed Mother Maria Skobtsova was getting at in her reflection concerning the emulation of the Mother of God. It also provides, in my experience possibly for the first time, a framework for how we should approach masculine and feminine identity and prescription, in a way that finally relates to the theology of kenosis and the Cross (beyond the way in which all suffering so relates).

This leaves, of course, the content open: just what is male and what is female kenosis? Mother Maria's analysis is tantalizing, providing enough to offer a start to the dialogue but leaving nothing close to a clear, yes-no-depends method of recognizing either or both in another.

I'm starting to understand how Thomas Aquinas felt.

One possible answer: the distinction, outside of biological functions, is more descriptive than prescriptive in that if we simply follow the Way the means of that expression will make themselves known. But why then are there any commandments aimed at consciously maintaining the distinction?

Then Dana comments on Part 3 referencing a book called "Flight From Woman", and another hint suggests itself: every known effort to create a genderless society has only succeeded in creating a misogynistic society. Whatever the reason for it, it just happens that in our civilization the male is unmarked and the female marked, and to try to reform society such that everyone conforms to neutral the obvious thing to do (given the mindset of the revolutionary who is typically also an iconoclast) is to purge that which is marked. The requirement to maintain the distinction - especially in the New Testament where the early Church was going up against the gnostic heretics - may be (inter alia) a safeguard against that evil, which would be toxic to (again, inter alia) anyone who would otherwise have sought salvation through the feminine route.

I say "anyone" at the end of that paragraph. I do not believe in a strict individual (lit. individuus) binary where being on one side on one thing necessitates being on that side on everything else to the exclusion of the other. To believe in such exclusion would be to deny that any woman can carry her Cross, or that any man can be pierced to the heart by the sorrows of another - a denial both theologically monstrous and obviously untrue in experience. One of the most liberating and beautiful things I've found about Orthodoxy compared to Western theology is that to say X is Y is not to imply, in the absence of a genuine contradiction, that X is not Z.

But then how are we by (prescriptive, theological) nature male and female, but not all androgynous (~male and female created He every one of them~)?

Perhaps to all these statements should be added "without limitation", as the lawyers do. Are we each created, then, to find only the highest fulfillment in only one of the paths, however great our works may be down the other? We might, instead, speak not of paths but aspects, or abilities and potentials, or differing gifts of grace, or even statistics in an RPG (tempered, of course, by the constant remembrance that without God our works are nothing).

Or perhaps another test question is: which is worse off: a woman devoid of the feminine and a man of the masculine, or a woman devoid of the masculine and a man of the feminine?

I offer a very crude example.

The former (failure of own gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.

The latter (failure of other gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.

If both are equally bad, then this gives us no reason to believe that humanity is not fulfilled by total positive androgynity; if the former is worse, then that supports what we are taught.

This is increasingly becoming a matter of "I'll know it when I see it", without any ability to formalize what is going on. The Thomist understanding frustratingly remains.

Will hit Post for want of a logical conclusion.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
The best stupid pun ever.

But I don’t want to stop there. There a few deeper and more mysterious applications of this. The Lamb slain at the foundation of the world as a type of evolution.

That said, another, biologically more, philosophically less cf. colonials: more* ambitious take on the Nth Men story.
(Also he has thought out giant spiders :O :O :O||||~)

*2014-08-21 EDIT: The more I think about it, the more I think Bogleech is right. This is better in every way: humane where MAM was profoundly misanthropic, humble where F&LM was arrogant and certain, hopeful even in death where MAM and F&LM are ambivalent. This is what science fiction ought to be.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
A perspective, for those of us who have long looked from outside and been baffled:
For non-Roman Catholics, it is almost impossible to comprehend the attachment a Catholic has for the Papacy and our reaction was highly defensive. In the past, when we came across serious works of history which contradicted the Roman Catholic position, we were skeptical and if we found that the author was Protestant, or the book came from a Protestant publishing house, it was given scant attention and if it contradicted a dogmatic belief it was dismissed immediately. Only Roman Catholic historians have a pure line to objectivity, especially when it concerns articles of faith. This is what Catholics are taught and it is this belief that will keep their faith inviolate. This teaching is best exemplified by Pope Leo XIII in his celebrated Letter to the Prelates and Clergy of France (September 8th, 1899). While encouraging them to the study of history he reminds Those who study it must never lose sight of the fact that it contains a collection of dogmatic facts, which impose themselves upon our faith, and which nobody is ever permitted to call in doubt. Cardinal Manning of England is even more blunt, The appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be divine. 10 At another time Cardinal Manning wrote, The appeal from the living voice of the Church to any tribunal whatsoever, human history included, is an act of private judgment and a treason because that living voice is supreme; and to appeal from that supreme voice is also a heresy because that voice by divine assistance is infallible.

An important treatise on how to make friends and influence people.
The distinction between customs and crimes has special relevance to female genital cutting (FGC), also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), the preferred term of advocates. For several years now, the age-old practice of “purifying” girls by excising some portion of their external genitalia has been a serious concern of NGOs, the United Nations and some governments around the world. Laws have been passed against FGC, and messaging campaigns have sought to educate the public about its many ill effects. But these efforts have not eradicated the custom. On the contrary, they have tended to further entrench it, because traditionally minded people concerned about external threats to their corporate identity do not like having alien elites meddle with what is sacred to them.

What has worked is an unusual NGO called Tostan, which means “breakthrough” in Wolof, the predominant language of Senegal. Tostan began in a few rural Senegalese villages in 1991, and now runs additional adult education programs in Djibouti, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Somalia and Gambia. Tostan was not founded for the purpose of ending FGC, but rather as a way to provide “informal education” to a population ill served by the formal schooling provided by most African governments. That schooling is authoritarian in spirit, based on rote learning and focused on preparing a small elite for university entrance exams.

Based in the villages, the Tostan program is rigorous. Students (called “participants”) are required to attend three classes each week for three years. Teachers (called “facilitators”) must be from same ethnic group as the participants. The method is to use local folk crafts and storytelling to impart practical information about agricultural methods, health and hygiene, and the management of money. When the participants graduate, they are numerate, literate in their own language, and eager to use their new skills to tackle old problems. Today, Tostan is best known for its extraordinary success in ending FGC. To date, the organization has been instrumental in the decision of 6,778 communities in eight African countries to abandon the practice. But as noted earlier, this was not Tostan’s original purpose, and the organization did not achieve it by staging mediagenic events or shouting from a public rostrum.


[Tostan founder Molly] Melching first encountered FGC in 1975 while visiting eastern Mauritania with a friend who had grown up in a small village there. During that visit, she met a local doctor who confided to her that he opposed “the tradition” but could not change the minds of his wife and mother, both of whom were intent upon cutting his daughter. Thus did Melching, after only one year in Africa, gain a sense of how hard it is to change a deeply ingrained custom. If a girl’s own father cannot keep her from being cut, what chance does an outsider have?
They did this not by degrading their former shaman based faith but by showing them that Christianity was the fulfillment of that faith.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Last time on Blazer-Sharp, Prattle-Ready, Brainless Steel Samurai Banana:
Which leaves us with this:
  1. Homosexuality is a sin because the homosexual act cannot be done in the context of a marriage, which to be blessed requires the union of two persons in Christ as the reconciliation of the two gendered halves of humanity in a way that embodies the unity of all those who would be saved, and without such blessing cannot amount to anything more than fornication.

  2. Homophobia is a sin because it divides people against each other, twists men's perceptions of affection, taints all relationships with inappropriate thoughts of sexual domination, isolates its perpetrators and victims in shells of hatred and shame, paralyzes men against any expression of love towards other men (and we're talking about a religion that's all about Love of a God traditionally marked with male Pronouns!), drives people to murder and suicide, and ultimately denies the creation of humanity in the image of the good God.

Here's a thing.

tl;dr By their fruits you will know them + It is not good for man to be alone = ?????
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Before everything else, if you read nothing else in this post, take a mental health break. It will break your mental health in all the best ways.

Riotous Eater of Flesh

A carnivorous tribal warrior-race from ______, a sweltering, ecologically volatile forest/ocean planet revolving around a yellow giant deep in the Orion Arm. Naturally resistant to damage and poisons, they have no claws or venoms of their own but rely entirely on things fashioned from available materials or forcibly extracted from other beings. Most of their brain matter is optimized towards problems of food, weapons and territorial displays, with a small non-reproductive caste dedicated to inquiries not directly related thereto. Capable of some limited hivemind-swarming, partially coordinated through their otherwise primitive displays.

Their homeworld rotates on an unusal axial tilt that is just enough to create significant climate differences on the surface while preventing any part of it from being permanently frozen over the year; it is speculated that their natural aggressiveness created a need to rapidly spread out across their world and adapt to its numerous varied climates and sources of nutrients. Their legends say that the planet has been subject to several mass extinctions in the past, apparently the last one perpetuated by these creatures themselves.


The reverse furry's face would lack the muscles and coordination necessary to form human expressions, and its eyes would have almost no visible whites.


Two dichotomies have been on my mind about what realities exist for us:
  • Transcendental, Institutional Real, Arbitrary

  • Personal, Impersonal

By transcendental real I mean like a rock: no matter what you say, it - or at least the underlying matter constituting it - is still there. (And if what you say is "You with the jackhammer, break this rock and clear our path", the resulting multitude of rocks and dust remains.) There is underneath the surface perception that, if known, becomes a connection to a greater world beyond our subjective interpretation.

By institutional arbitrary I mean the fact that we would call a certain composition a rock and not a pebble, gravel, lava or dust.

Generally, to say it without making an authorial value judgment, people will prefer the personal over the impersonal.

I would rather not imagine a society of people who would categorically value the institutional arbitrary over the transcendental real, rather than valuing the latter as the important one and the former as a necessary evil to be tolerated. A predominantly urbanized, industrialized subculture with an economy where the biggest commodity is information can get very close to such a thing.

The world of the rationalist is transcendental real and impersonal. The personal is relegated to a separate universe, a multitude of isolated wills that observe and act upon a mechanical, passive it that constitutes our (however grudgingly) shared environment.

The world of the ancients, with their gods and ancestors and karma and appeasements, is personal and institutional arbitrary: it's all about who you know, and the what eventually follows.

The core of Christian belief, immediately beneath the Resurrection, is of a transcendental [let's keep "transcendental" here for what follows] personal Reality that is the only true and self-sufficient one over all the others.

Following a childish, Manichean logic, h Hell would then be on the opposite corner: institutional arbitrary and impersonal, a fungible anonymity in which love is literally nonsensical (not merely dismissed as irrational for being against self-interest) in which everything is dictated by arbitrary merely institutional, unaccountable systems of deeming and pretence that are real only in the injustice and suffering they create. A modern, comprehensive bureaucratic state is often invoked as an example, though there are less immediately brutal implementations.

A frequent apparent contradiction, that God made "the world" good but "the world" is also a sordid mess ruled by Satan for the malefit of all, is resolved when the references are understood to mean two distinct worlds on opposite corners of this simple grid.

Following a more traditional distinction, t The remaining two corners aren't that lovely either.

Anyway, here's a thing about how guns work:

[2015-11-11: Made some long-overdue changes to the terminology names. (Short words beat long ones.) Mostly motivated by Fr. Stephen going along similar lines.]
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
This has been sitting in my DW draft window for far too long and I still don't know what to do with it.

On why we cannot have nice things. (and are fat)


And for the first time the gender binary and the whole birth control issue are explained to me in a sensical way.

While we've still got a stringent adherence to one man and one woman, not merely one and another, and I can think of a particularly uncharitable and horrible way to interpret the admonishment to satisfy one another, this is a far, far cry from the evil condoms and the quiverings of others who claim Christianity.
The idea that God created human sexual relations only or primarily for procreation denies the special creation of man that separates him from the animals. Furthermore, it makes God the author of evil and a cruel tempter worse than even the devil. It teaches a Calvinistic Orthodoxy and elitism, because, on the one hand, God removes the elect (i.e. celibates) to the cloister and desert, away from the world and the presence of tangible temptation. And on the other hand, He condemns the non-elect and yokes men and women to the grievous burden of living in the closest and most intimate proximity, of being tempted and drawn to one another, but permitting them to come together only for procreation, because the marital act is evil. Because this perverse premise tramples on the words of God and the Apostle, it was condemned by the Apostolic Canons, the First and the Sixth Ecumenical Councils, and other local Councils.
I will not quote from footnote 28 as all of footnote 28, which is quite lengthy, would have to be quoted for effect.

I should stress at this point that I do not necessarily post things and even say they are good because I agree entirely with them. There are many things one would like to be true, and other things that are believed by those who believe the things you are considering or may even already agree with, that are quite something other than true. But at least, as an argument against gender-neutral recognition of marriage, it is something at least a small step removed from the usual garbage-in, garbage-out groundless essentialist categorical denial.

(And of course without limitation I actually agree with footnote 28.)

Which leaves us with this:

  1. Homosexuality is a sin because the homosexual act cannot be done in the context of a marriage, which to be blessed requires the union of two persons in Christ as the reconciliation of the two gendered halves of humanity in a way that embodies the unity of all those who would be saved, and without such blessing cannot amount to anything more than fornication.

  2. Homophobia is a sin because it divides people against each other, twists men's perceptions of affection, taints all relationships with inappropriate thoughts of sexual domination, isolates its perpetrators and victims in shells of hatred and shame, paralyzes men against any expression of love towards other men (and we're talking about a religion that's all about Love of a God traditionally marked with male Pronouns!), drives people to murder and suicide, and ultimately denies the creation of humanity in the image of the good God.

If one and only one of homosexual and homophobic acts were to be lawfully allowed, which is obviously the more Christian answer?
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Civil Unions by Another Name: An Eastern Orthodox Defense of Gay Marriage

Every single paragraph of this is gold, so I'll just quote the most important part of the intro.
There will always be Christians who oppose "homosexuality" on moral grounds, but enlisting the state to protect "the sanctity of marriage" is a mistake. Such efforts demonstrate a fundamental - even idolatrous - misunderstanding of the meaning of "holy matrimony," effectively denying Christ by vesting the state with divine authority.

California's infamous Proposition 8 and similar measures sure to make it onto the ballots during next year's election fall prey to the so-called Constantinian temptation. When Constantine legalized Christianity in the early fourth century, some began to see an almost godlike authority in the state. An increasing number of Christians found it difficult to tell the difference between the things that belong to Caesar and the things that belong to God.

No More Steubenvilles: How To Raise Boys to be Kind Men

The whole thing is worth a read, so all I can will be arsed to do is cherry-pick a single quote that happens to continue from a theme referenced in one of the links here:
We must teach our boys what it truly means to be brave.

Bravery doesn’t always feel good. I’ve heard it said that “Courage is being afraid, and doing it anyway”. How many of those young men in Steubenville knew in their sweet boy hearts that what was happening was wrong, but still they remained silent? They were afraid to ruin their own hard-earned reputations, afraid of what their peers would think of them. They were afraid of getting in trouble, afraid they wouldn’t know what to say. Teach your boys that bravery can be terrifying. Courage can be demanded of you at the most inopportune times. Let them know that your expectation is that they are brave enough to rise to the occasion. And show them how.

If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Part Four pretty much explains how between 2005 and now I went from typical Nice Guy to wannabe PUA to whatever the fuck I am now (but I would like to think better than what I was before).

Also, analogy of the week:
Imagine you're reading a Dr. Seuss book about a bunch of beasts living on an island. There are two kinds of beasts: Fleetches and Flootches. (Stick with me here! I love you!) Though the two are functionally identical in terms of intellect and general competence, Fleetches are in charge of pretty much everything. They hold the majority of political positions, they make the most money (beast-bucks!), they dominate the beast media, they enact all kinds of laws infringing on the bodily autonomy of Flootches. Individually, most of them are perfectly nice beasts, but collectively they benefit comfortably from inequalities that are historically entrenched in the power structure of Beast Island. So, from birth, even the most unfortunate Fleetches encounter fewer institutional roadblocks and greater opportunity than almost all Flootches, regardless of individual merit. One day, a group of Flootches (the ones who have not internalized their inferiority) get together and decide to agitate to change that system. They call their movement "Flootchism," because it is specifically intended to address problems that disproportionately disadvantage Flootches while benefiting Fleetches. That makes sense, right?

Now imagine that, in response, a bunch of Fleetches begin complaining that Flootchism doesn't address their needs, and they have problems too, and therefore the movement should really be renamed Beastism. To be fair. The problem with that name change is that it that undermines the basic mission of the movement, because it obscures (deliberately, I'd warrant) that beast society is inherently weighted against Flootches. It implies that all problems are just beast problems, and that all beasts suffer comparably, which cripples the very necessary effort to prioritize and repair problems that are Flootch-specific. Those problems are a priority because they harm all Flootches, systematically, whereas Fleetch problems merely harm individual Fleetches. To argue that all problems are just "beast problems" is to discredit the idea of inequality altogether. It is, in fact, insulting.

Junkfood Science: How we’ve come to believe that overeating causes obesity

Major takeaway points, with the interesting backstory removed:
The last part of the Minnesota Starvation Study revealed perhaps the most important effects. When the men were allowed to eat ad libitum again, they had insatiable appetites, yet never felt full. Even five months later, some continued to have dysfunctional eating, although most were finally regaining some normalization of their eating. As they regained their weights, their suppressed metabolism and energy levels returned, although even three months after ending the diet none of the men had yet regained their former physical capacity, noted Dr. Keys.

While it seemed the men were “overeating,” Dr. Keys discovered that their bodies actually needed inordinate amount of calories for their tissues to be rebuilt:
Our experiments have shown that in an adult man no appreciable rehabilitation can take place on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. The proper level is more like 4,000 kcal daily for some months. The character of the rehabilitation diet is important also, but unless calories are abundant, then extra proteins, vitamins and minerals are of little value.
In other words, they weren’t really “overeating,” it was a biological, normal effect of hunger and weight loss. The men regained their original weights plus 10%. The regained weight was disproportionally fat, and their lean body mass recovered much more slowly. With unlimited food and unrestricted eating, their weights plateaued and finally, about 9 months later, most had naturally returned to their initial weights without trying — giving scientists one of the first demonstrations that each body has a natural, genetic set point, whether it be fat or thin. Despite the fear that with unrestrained eating everyone would continue to grow larger, it isn't true.
When obese people are at the size genetically normal for them, their energy balance and requirements per unit of lean body mass are indistinguishable from you or me or any other ‘normal’ weight individual, said Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, M.D., now at Columbia University, whose laboratory at Rockefeller University, New York, has conducted some of the most detailed, complex metabolic research on energy balance and the biochemistry of fat. “An obese person is metabolically just like a lean person, except they’re bigger,” he said.
In the years following this classic study, Dr. Keys put no stock in weight loss diets or height-and-weight charts. He called those charts “arm-chair concoctions starting with questionable assumptions and ending with three sets of standards for 'body frames' which were never measured or even properly defined.” And “diet fads are for the birds, if you don’t like birds,” he said in a 1979 University of Minnesota Update. He also noted diets such as those promoted by Adele Davis, based on natural foods and fears about processed foods, are “just full of hogwash.” There’s “no great sense to them at all.”

The Most Ridiculous Scene in Jurassic Park

A piece about people, work, and of course Hollywood getting it wrong again by assuming all techne is indistinguishable from majjick.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Of course the project described here is doomed. Any language you could devise, each and every not-immediately-interested-in-this-exact-language member of the public is going to take one look at it and go, "Why? What makes this any bit better than English/Chinese/Arabic/French/whatever language I personally consider to be the unmarked ordinary mode of communication?" and stop caring. Similar goes for writing systems - the Roman alphabet is reasonably consistent for most European languages, but with so many people speaking the major outliers English and Chinese (no one who hasn't specifically studied it gets Pinyin right, ever, even though after studying it I found it perfectly straightforward) and I'm sure plenty of others who would much rather write in Cyrillic or Arabic or Hebrew or Chinese (in before traditional versus simplified). Trying to assert a Roman alphabet as unmarkedly universal would (rightly) be seen as a colonialist affront.

Also, IPA. (notwithstanding my last point)

This does bring up, and it's the only reason I'm even posting this, some speculation as to just what the ideal common language ought to look like. Obviously this is going to be strongly coloured with my own personal political and epistemological biases, and would be "universal" given only a tiny universe that, if expanded, would only expand through decades of conflict and long-term viral meme attacks.

Except with respect to gender, I've tried to avoid the usual pitfalls of starting with forms first, "they have no word for x hence they don't and can't think of x", and any notion that universally adopting this thing would have any relation to peace other than the startling and unprecedented fact that all the nations of the world went and did something together. My aim is my own biased idea of what features combined together may be more efficient than any current world language alone.

blah blah blah )

And now linkdumpery that's been sitting in notes.txt far too long.
And the reason the anti-bullying movement isn’t effective is that it’s engaged in a futile attempt to get rid of human nature — while acting like a bully itself.

“Some of the nastiest people are anti-bully activists ... and they feel completely justified being nasty,” Kalman said in an interview from Staten Island in New York.
I'll offer another reason: The vast majority of us haven't the slightest clue what standing up to bullying even looks like.

We have never experienced the imminent risk of being identified with the victim and being subject to the same treatment.

We have never experienced that moment when you're caught up in whatever our friends are doing and have bought into it as the perpetrator before we've had the chance to think about what's going on.

We have never experienced the extreme social awkwardness of backing out, being that one asshole who ruins it for everyone else.

Or we have, and literally have no concept of what to do except succumb to it every time.

I really like this redesign of Supergirl. Most likely because of the callback to this...

A study of what the "average" porn star is really like.

Related. Really, it doesn't matter what I could have posted with this, it's related.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Just another day's work.

This media cycle we've got two teenage girls who fell violently victim to an ancient evil. One may yet be a martyr but let's hope she's merely an inspiration instead; it may be more interesting, simply due to there being room for actual controversy between not-evil-monster people, at this point to discuss the one who was a suicide:
"Why isn't anyone talking about the sexism and misogyny involved in Amanda Todd's life and death? 'Bullying' is important, yes, but it is a vague term that glosses over the structural reasons for why it happens, like race/gender/class/ability. If we don't start talking about the specifics of power structures in high schools, every ‘bullying’ campaign will be a waste of time."

Jiwa specified that the language of bullying “means little to students, and less to teachers. I can tell you that from both perspectives. The bullies laugh and text during every presentation against bullying, and then those who are bullied get bullied more. THIS case is one of many episodes of sexist coercion by men; what is also interesting is that the women in her life turned against her too even though they deal with the same pressures of capitulating to [...] internalized patriarchy. It makes me so mad how much money the public education system spends on campaigns [...] without actually talking about anything. The most effective presentation I have seen is one by a group called LOVE because it is real, artistic, and cool, and they actually talk about racism, poverty, and sexism. [Bullying] is not childish; not a thing that happens solely to teenagers; those same learned behaviours are the ones that circulate in the workplace, in clubs, on the street, and any other adult-inhabited place.”

In other news, a thing won a contest:
Because of should not be used to modify a sentence in the future tense, since it is a logical fallacy to impute a cause to something that is not (yet) true. Rather, a construction such as due to or owing to should be used, or the sentence should be rewritten to be more clear.
If Mitt Romney has a chance of winning this election, then there is no limit to human evil and stupidity and we need to actually keep this link handy when, not if, we encounter people rudely incorrecting other people's grammar over this.

And now a mental health break.

And another, for varying ways of parsing those words strung together. (By the way, where's that cover picture from? Definitely one of those pieces that sticks in your mind after a surprisingly long while.)

And on the topic of refreshing renditions of religion, here is Dr. "River Of Fire" Kalomiros nearly converting me to Christianity again, with of all things a more literal interpretation of Genesis 1 than I am normally comfortable with, in his typically vivid, Chestertonian uncommon-sense way. Never did think of Let There Be Light as signifying anything other than the Big Bang...
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Before getting to the dump: does anyone know how to block specific users and groups from showing up on your Network page? I'm sure the nice folks at [community profile] milliways_bar are having a ball but it's just drudgery to have to wade through all those posts to find something that actually engages me.

Beware the "intelligent" designer.
Without physical stuff to remind us of how we supposedly differ from one another, our hierarchies would be awfully ramshackle; stripped of our possessions, categories like “class” start to look like just a bunch of learned behaviors and confused ideas. Whether prohibitively priced cars, gendered garments, or separate schools for blacks and whites, social hierarchies are always maintained with the help of physical objects and spaces designed to reflect those hierarchies. Otherwise everyone’s claims of superiority and difference would be quite literally immaterial.

A thing which is to be read. It is about people.
First of all, both of these flatworms are hermaphrodites. They don't have penises, but organs that deliver sperm. Also, the flatworm who gets pregnant is hardly a "loser" — every insemination is a form of "winning" for both parties, since both will now pass along their genetic material to a new generation. It's likely that the first scientist who called this mating act a "fight" was projecting human gender stereotypes just like our character in Left Hand of Darkness did. If penises are drawn, it must be a fight! Because men have penises and they fight! Right.
Would be nice if this could be taken as true on face value, but given one of the parties has to waste all that time and resources on the gestation process I see no reason why they wouldn't end up trying to avoid it, with the main selective pressure being avoiding it too well leading to an evolutionary dead end on a local group level.

A thing about a thing they've since said they'll postpone for another 5 years in the wake of the mass outcry.
That educational program may be effective. The tone of Internet postings in China these days is often fiercely nationalistic with regard to Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea. The Japanese coast guard’s arrest last month of activists from Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen who had landed on an island claimed by China but controlled by Japan touched off anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities.

I would like to rebut this with an analogy. Imagine, as an American, Romney winning this year with a Republican supermajority and all the electoral reforms kick in, and the next four years the GOP institutes enough major changes to civic procedure such that you basically have to fit all the GOP demographics to vote; by the end of the second term of Romney's successor America is generally considered a one-party state, as a mass exodus of people continues towards urban holdouts close to either border. Imagine that, in, say, 2042, this one-party America experiences two events: 1) the federal government announces the introduction of a mandatory "Real American Values" class for kids in Washington, California and New York; and 2) the same federal government downplays and tries to ignore the arrival of a Neo-Soviet Russian naval patrol over Anchorage.

Now imagine you're a typical liberal, freedom-loving, latté-sipping concerned parent in Seattle living in all this. How do you feel about each of these events?
(more here, here and here.)

And more of the other thing:
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
First, a pioneering ethnological work on the savage tribes of darkest Austria. (which Sara linked on Facebook after I linked this)

A must-watch for many people who may want to do something entertaining, of any sort whatsoever.

The Gospel According to [insert media-boosted evil monster of the day here]. Relatedly, I have never come so close to converting to a form of Catholicism in my life.

This provies the responses from the various devils hovering about my shoulders below.
The Angel of Penitence: This is an affront to the way our society works and surely it is or should be, or could effectively be argued to be, illegal.
I'm-Just-Being-Realistic: This will not last the year.
The Tiny Blasphemous Monster That Dares Defy Despair: Awesome.

A thing about avoiding things like this. (via [personal profile] steorra)
Warning: Comments worth reading (except for the repeated links to the xkcd comic). Possibly TVTropes-level. Even the idiot comments, at least to the extent of making you wonder just where these guys come from and thanking your relevant deity that you weren't raised in a strictly English-monoglot home.
(srsly what is with the haters? this isn't even a woman writing about sexism in gaming... but then it is about computers and trying to challenge the privilege of computer geeks.)
My own ideal: UTF-16-tolerant, 1kB "Full Name" field; UTF-16-tolerant, 1kB "Short Name" field specifically allowing aliases and asking the user to keep it under 3-4 syllables; bigass UTF-16-tolerant "Notes" field to explain any pronunciation issues (using IPA if at all possible) or miscellaneous pointers (e.g., what component should be used as a surname) that would not be obvious to an English-speaking Canadian; randomly generated unique alphanumeric user number that the user may opt to change, subject to availability, if the randomizer comes up with something offensive like 666-1488-f00K or whatnot. All but the user number may be changed at any time, and the user number may be changed by an administrator on reasonable request.

And now, the only link worth clicking on in this post.

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.


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