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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016




Reading Wednesday 23/11
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 at 01:58 pm


Recently read: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie; (c) Ann Leckie 2014; Pub Orbit 2014; ISBN 978-0-356-50241-0.

detailed review, with allusions to spoilersCollapse )

Currently reading: In a time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, sort of, though really I haven't picked up anything new since I finished AS yesterday.

Up next: I so much want to spend time in Breq's viewpoint that I am tempted to break my usual rule and go straight on to Ancillary Mercy. (Side-note: I don't understand why books two and three are named this way round, since most of the plot of Ancillary Sword takes place on a Mercy. But hey.)

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Whereaboooots: Athoek
Moooood: excitedexcited
Tuuuuune: RJD2: 2 more dead
Discussion: Contribute something
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Monday, November 21st, 2016




Climbing
Monday, 21 November 2016 at 10:16 pm
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So my OSOs' middle kid is about to turn 8 and she very emphatically wanted to continue the nascent tradition from last year that I'd take her out for a treat rather than giving her a physical present. There's lots of evidence that people (above a minimum subsistence level) get more out of experiences and spending time with loved ones than physical objects, but I'm surprised to find a small child who can resist the short-term gratification of a gift enough to be clear on that! Plus extremely flattered that she considers my company enjoyable enough to constitute a birthday treat. It's true that as long as she's known me I've been kind of useless with children as such, and she knows I love her and mean well anyway, and we've gradually built up our own ways to interact.

When the new child friendly climbing centre opened a few months before her birthday, the choice of treat was obvious. experienceCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Cambridge, England, UK
Moooood: soresore
Tuuuuune: The Peter Malick Group: Strange transmissions
Discussion: 1 contribution | Contribute something
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Thursday, November 17th, 2016




Causes
Thursday, 17 November 2016 at 05:52 pm


My dear dear friend [personal profile] hatam_soferet is getting married today. In honour of this wonderful occasion, I have made a small donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.

more about charity givingCollapse )

I am not writing this post to show off what a great person I am; I am sure many of you give way more to charity than I do or contribute directly in ways other than financial. I'm thinking of doing the latter too but it's going to take some medium-term arranging my life to make happen. I'm writing to encourage discussion, to let people know about Thousand 4 £1000, and to offer a kind of minimal solidarity. I've definitely had thoughts about needing to hoard up all my spare money as an escape fund, but eventually decided that doesn't really make sense, I'm not eating into my savings to an extent that's going to make a difference to whether I can get out or not. And seeing other people talking about their giving as a response to bad political news has been comforting to me, so I wanted to pay it forward.

And most importantly, congratulations to [personal profile] hatam_soferet and about-to-be husband. I wish you many years of supportive partnership and domestic bliss, and I'm sending very, very much love along with the donation in your names.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: hopefulhopeful
Tuuuuune: Placebo: English summer rain
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Wednesday, November 16th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 16/11
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 at 11:22 am


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.

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Whereaboooots: Mercy of Kalr
Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tuuuuune: The White Stripes: The hardest button to button
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Monday, November 14th, 2016




Shuffle meme
Monday, 14 November 2016 at 09:04 pm
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My wonderful girlfriend made a romantic dinner just for us, basically taking lots of food that I really like such as mushrooms, parsnip, chestnuts and making them into really exciting dishes. And she made me these amazing quilted coasters with teacups on them, having never done quilting before. So my anniversary present to celebrate two years together was something she made based on her major talent, and something she made based on learning a completely new skill. I feel so incredibly loved!

ghoti also posted one of those memes where you shuffle your entire music library and use it as a kind of mini-oracle. I had a go at it and got nothing very striking, but passing on memes is fun, so:

asking shuffle gets strange answersCollapse )

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Moooood: fullwell-fed
Tuuuuune: VNV Nation: Space time
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Thursday, November 10th, 2016




Leo Baeck Early Jewish Mysticism course
Thursday, 10 November 2016 at 02:07 pm
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So the Progressive Rabbinical training college runs a bunch of short courses for lay people, which they call Lehrhaus modelled after the Jewish educational institutions in Germany before WWII. This year they've decided to experiment with putting a couple of their courses online, and since I'm in a perpetual state of being starved of Jewish learning because I can't get to London regularly, I wanted to encourage this initiative. I signed up for four sessions on The origins of Jewish mysticism with Dr Damsma.

They asked that we don't share course materials on the internet, so I'm going to talk about it in fairly general terms. learningCollapse )

So, definitely learned something, definitely enjoyed getting my teeth into some study beyond just a one-off shiur. I feel I've mainly mapped out a few more areas of my ignorance, though.

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Moooood: contemplativecontemplative
Tuuuuune: Meat Puppets: Up on the sun
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Wednesday, November 9th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 9/11
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 at 09:58 pm


Let's pretend it's just a normal Wednesday, shall we?

reading logCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Mediaeval Ireland
Moooood: scaredscared
Tuuuuune: Anakronic Electro Orchestra: Terk in America
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Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016




Reading Wednesday 2/11
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 at 01:35 pm


Recently read: [personal profile] forestofglory is brilliant at recommending short SFF; via her post I found A good home by Karin Lowachee. I've had Lowachee on my radar for a while but haven't been able to find Warchild in a reasonable format, so I'm excited to read this short. It didn't perfectly work for me but I'm an easy sell on humans forming emotional bonds with androids (after all that Asimov and Star Trek in my childhood.)

Currently reading: Sisterhood by Penelope Friday. I am happy to enjoy the sex scenes, the miscommunication, and the external conflict that fit the genre, but with lesbian and wlw characters. I like that the miscommunication is realistic and doesn't rely on characters being gratuitously stupid, and that the conflict comes not from the fact that the relationships are between women, but that the heroine's gf is an abolitionist and her brother-in-law on whom she's financially dependent is involved in the slave trade.

Up next: I think I might ask to borrow back the copy of The secrets of enduring love by Meg-John Barker, which I gave to my partners collectively for Valentine's Day. Since today is two years since I got together with [personal profile] cjwatson and tomorrow will be two years with ghoti. I'm still head-over-heels in love and far too excited for two years in, but we are definitely starting to have more of the sort of conversations that people in long term relationships have. And I'm hoping this will be a long term relationship, so it feels the right time to read up on how to have strong long-lasting relationships from a guide that doesn't assume monogamous and heteronormative.

I've always said that my general happiness isn't about whether I have a partner or not, but these two years I've felt... I think the word is fulfilled, a sort of deeply contented that isn't exactly the emotion of happiness. I feel really rooted in this little network of relationships.

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Whereaboooots: 19th century London
Moooood: happyhappy
Tuuuuune: Sia: Academia
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Monday, October 31st, 2016




Theatre: In the heights
Monday, 31 October 2016 at 01:03 pm
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[personal profile] rmc28's review inspired [personal profile] jack to ask me if I wanted to see In The Heights, the "other" Lin Manuel Miranda piece that's playing in the King's Cross Theatre currently. I said, in principle, sure, but when are we ever going to find time to go to the theatre? And then I remembered that we actually had a free evening this Saturday, so we were able to be much more spontaneous than we usually ever are, and booked tickets and turned up.

showCollapse )

We had a pretty quiet day most of yesterday, until OSOs joined us for tea and then a lovely group of our friends came over for a Halloween party. Andreas had lots of fun putting up Halloween decorations but ducked out of the actual socializing with lots of not very familiar adults part. And Judith persuaded several of us into a long game of Zendo, which she is getting very good at. It wasn't a huge party but it was a great mix of poly friends and geek friends, very congenial and with some really great Halloween costumes. I dressed up as Candela, the Pokémon Go Team Valor leader, to match the children's Pikachu and Dawn-from-the-animé costumes. And Jack was Aang from Avatar: the last Airbender, and Ghoti was, aaargh, Nanowrimo is about to start! Really good to be able to have a fairly low-key party on a Sunday evening.

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Whereaboooots: New York
Moooood: impressedimpressed
Tuuuuune: Blackout from In The Heights
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Thursday, October 27th, 2016




Aesthetic judgement
Thursday, 27 October 2016 at 07:58 pm
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So my link to Ann Leckie's piece on liking things that are in some sense not "good" has lead to a really interesting discussion. I'd like to pull up some of my thoughts here, and separate the abstract underpinnings out from discussing the Hugo slates, which was one of the examples given.

amateur philosophyCollapse )

I slightly have the feeling that I'm rehashing Plato here, but there are worse things.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: okayokay
Tuuuuune: The Weepies: All good things
Discussion: 1 contribution | Contribute something
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Wednesday, October 26th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 26/10
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 at 03:20 pm


Recently read: Very misc collection of essays and such
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.

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Whereaboooots: 1930s Austria
Moooood: contentcontent
Tuuuuune: Bangles: Walk like an Egyptian
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Tuesday, October 25th, 2016




Mishaps
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 at 06:31 pm
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[personal profile] cjwatson is working in The Hague for a bit, and since it overlaps with half term Ghoti was able to take all their children to join him. And fivemack and I came out for just the weekend in the middle. In a trip lasting less than two days, I managed to trip over a kerb and fall flat on my face, bending my glasses out of shape and cutting my cheek. There was a probably expensive (unless it can be sorted out) muddle over paying for the hotel. I had a really bad coughing fit in the middle of the night which triggered me back to childhood when my asthma wasn't well medicated. The food court where we were eating caught on fire and we had to evacuate. Plus lots of the usual tribulations of travelling with a large group and trying to keep everybody fed and hydrated enough to be functional.

I had a totally wonderful time even so, and I'm extremely glad I went. what I did on the weekendCollapse )

Yesterday I left after a late and leisurely breakfast and had a very easy journey to get in in good time to run the Simchat Torah service at shul for a scant minyan, and nobody younger than my about to be bar mitzvah student. Even though travelling out on Shabbat and returning on the festival day is not how I want to be, it was really good for me to get a proper break after the intensity of the festival season. And a weekend away, even if it was a bit rushed, will help renewing my enthusiasm for work now we're a month into the term. But mostly it was wonderful to be able to join in with part of my loves' adventure.

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Whereaboooots: The Hague, Netherlands
Moooood: refreshedrefreshed
Tuuuuune: The Verve: Bittersweet symphony
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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016




Merfriends
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 at 01:30 pm


So the Captain Awkward community like to make up terms for stuff, which serves multiple purposes, one of which is of course helping the in-group to bond. Anyway, recently I came across a term that might fill a lexical gap in my life: The Awe Ritual says:
The Cap is my “mermaid.” On a face level, we’re ferociously compatible and mates for life and frequently go off to make brainbabies, but below the waist, we’re just different species and not equipped to handle each others’ affections
I think I need a term like that; I'm more inclined to make it gender neutral by saying merfriend, but yes, there are people that I not only love very much, but am committed to and prioritize in way people expect for partners while we are not even slightly romantically involved.

thoughts about relationshipsCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: 19th century London
Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tuuuuune: Apoptygma Berzerk: Burning heretics
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Monday, October 17th, 2016




New (to me) games
Monday, 17 October 2016 at 10:19 pm
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In the little breathing space between Yom Kippur and Succot, I managed to squeeze in some time with my loves, and we used some of it to play games.

reviewsCollapse )

So yay, happy gamer.

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Whereaboooots: Cambridge, England, UK
Moooood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuuuuune: All About Eve: Melting
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something
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Tuesday, October 4th, 2016




Happy new year
Tuesday, 04 October 2016 at 10:16 pm
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So I've made it to 5777, and successfully led the Rosh haShana services. Attendance was quite low; we had I think 8 people for the evening and just barely enough for a minyan on the day. Several of our regulars are away and we didn't get any visitors; I hope there's no particular reason for that like not letting people know about the service who needed to. Best compliment to receive as shlicha tzibbur (service leader): I can't believe it's half past one already, the time went really quickly and that didn't drag at all.

I learned from [twitter.com profile] GWillowWilson on Twitter that the thing of RH coinciding with the Islamic new year happens every 33 years, which explains why I don't remember it happening before. Also it's pretty cool to learn new religion facts from the author of Ms Marvel. Does anyone want to explain to me how we get from a 19-year lunisolar cycle to synching with the Muslims' solely lunar [sic] calendar every 33 years?

I'm moderately proud of this year's sermon, so I'll include it behind a cut. Basically I decided to talk about Ibn Gabirol's piyyut (religious poem) The crown of glory, because ghoti went to Malaga recently and sent me a postcard of a statue of him. And because I miss the poetry from the Reform liturgy I grew up with. (My community use the Birnbaum which I believe is a fairly standard American Orthodox Machzor, and it has a lot of Elazar haKallir's stuff, much of which I find obscure. I don't know how standard the selection of poetry is in the Orthodox liturgy.)

Ibn Gabirol on self-examinationCollapse )

I haven't worked out yet what I'm going to talk about on Yom Kippur. I think maybe something about dealing with difficult texts and the possibility of arguing with God, when that's coming from a place of faith and not just rejection. Partly I'm thinking of it because last year several people asked me why we read Leviticus 18 (including the notorious abomination verse) on Yom Kippur, and I didn't have a very good answer.

Also for my own future reference and possible interest of people who are interested in this kind of thing, I read a couple of good articles about shofar in the run up to the festivals, so if I save them here I might have material for next year's RH sermon:

There was a thing going round on Twitter to the effect that maybe the Jews have the right idea, ending the year now, since 2016 / 5776 has been pretty tough in some ways. One thing I found helpful as I was looking back over the year and feeling discouraged was this sermon from R' Neil Janes, who's another youth movement contemporary of mine; he writes the kind of sermons I aspire to only he's much much better at it than me! I very much share R' Janes' view of what it was like to grow up in the optimistic time of the 90s and to feel that our world has become a worse place since then. And I like his advice: We must find a rejoinder to the pessimism of our global climate. We must hoist our flag in opposition to this and do it now.

Anyway. I was pretty shattered after the service; I had a fairly mediocre Italian meal since I wanted a treat but didn't have much energy to decide on anything more than the nearest and most convenient restaurant. And then I came home and was basically wiped out for the afternoon. Today, the second day of Rosh haShana, I was back at work and I'm enjoying the optimism of looking forward, my first session with the new first years right at the start of their medical training. And I'm wearing a lovely pendant that ghoti gave me so I would be able to make the blessing for new things today. Yes, I still have a lot of prep to do for YK but I feel as if I'm setting out and looking forward.

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Whereaboooots: Stoke synagogue, Newcastle-under-lyme
Moooood: hopefulhopeful
Discussion: 1 contribution | Contribute something
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Wednesday, September 28th, 2016




Changing my mind
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 at 06:04 pm
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I aspire to be the kind of person who thinks for myself and most importantly changes my views when I learn new information. And that means I spend some amount of time worrying about whether I'm actually living up to that. where I"m coming fromCollapse )

So those are the two extremes. I'm unpersuaded by an article espousing a view I think is not just wrong, but ridiculous, and more so because it's written in a style and associated with a group I disapprove of. I'm persuaded by a peer-reviewed meta-analysis to change a view I was only mildly committed to anyway to one which is more aligned with my social group. What I'd like from my readers, if you'd like to play along, is for you to persuade me of some new ideas. Please send me links to arguments you find persuasive on issues you expect me to disagree with. (I'm also quite interested to discover what you think I might find objectionable; I think I've been pretty open about my opinions here over the years, but of course everybody will have their own impressions and assumptions about me.)

I've turned off screening for anon comments, so if you think your views might be met with social opprobium please feel free to offer arguments without saying who you are.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: curiouscurious
Tuuuuune: Qntal: Noit e dia
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Sunday, September 25th, 2016




Adventures in Jewish leadership
Sunday, 25 September 2016 at 04:18 pm
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Over the course of this weekend: So, um, I definitely feel appreciated, even if some expressions of appreciation are more welcome than others...

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Whereaboooots: Stoke synagogue, Newcastle-under-lyme
Moooood: touchedtouched
Tuuuuune: Oasis: Wonderwall
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Friday, September 23rd, 2016




Three fictional characters
Friday, 23 September 2016 at 12:12 pm
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I'm really enjoying the meme that's going round mostly short-form social media where people pick three fictional characters that represent them, or describe themselves using three fictional characters. who I"m notCollapse )

So in the end I went with the following:

And it's Bi Visibility day but I've basically given up on trying to find any bi characters to pick. Certainly not anyone who's poly in anything like the way I am. Christie is alllllmost bi in that she has a strong romantic friendship with an alien who is mostly female (though the aliens do gender differently from humans, that's a big plot point), and sexual-romantic relationships with men and male-ish aliens.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: okayokay
Tuuuuune: Melissa Ferrick: Drive
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Wednesday, September 21st, 2016




Reading (links) Wednesday, 21/09
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 at 12:29 pm


Recently read: Lots of good stuff! linkspamCollapse )
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 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.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: rushedrushed
Tuuuuune: Solas: A sailor's life
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Friday, September 16th, 2016




Anatomy
Friday, 16 September 2016 at 01:23 pm
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So I've seen a couple of articles recently lamenting ignorance of the anatomy of female-typical sexual systems. And generally I'm on board with whatever click-baity editorial you can come up with complaining about ignorance. Ignorance bad, education good! But I have something of a quibble with these articles, which I shall now discuss:

anatomical detail, references to cancer, sexual assault and medical abuseCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: annoyedannoyed
Tuuuuune: Camera Obscura: Books written for girls
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, September 14th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 14/09
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 at 05:02 pm


Recently read: this was just bullet points but it grewCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Vienna, 1933
Moooood: contentcontent
Tuuuuune: Heidi Talbot: The shepherd lad
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Friday, September 9th, 2016




Conflict styles
Friday, 09 September 2016 at 03:51 pm
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Tangentially to this Captain Awkward letter, where the answer mentions that the writer's half-sister may have a different conflict style from hers, I started thinking about classifying conflict styles. It feels something like the Ask / Offer distinction in styles of communication (sometimes called Ask / Guess). It's useful to know that there is more than one way of doing it, and people whose style is different from yours are not necessarily terrible awful people who can't communicate respectfully.

The problem is I'm not sure there are two distinct approaches to conflict, or even what elements should be considered in defining conflict style. noodling about thisCollapse )

So help me refine my ideas? What variations in conflict style have I not thought of? What approaches to conflict and argument do you find most productive? I mean, assuming that the arguers are already upset and you can't just magically all get along. Are there any ways of arguing that you think are just bad and should always be avoided?

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: calmcalm
Tuuuuune: VNV Nation: Precipice
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Wednesday, September 7th, 2016




Jesus and Jews
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 at 11:30 am


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 thoughtsCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tuuuuune: Skinny Puppy: Assimilate
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something
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Friday, September 2nd, 2016




Simple pleasures meme
Friday, 02 September 2016 at 11:31 am
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From a locked post:
Name ten of life's simple pleasures that you like most. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used
I'm not sure I'm capable of writing a list of pleasures that are both original and simple, so you might get slightly complicated pleasures, but then one of my greatest pleasures in life is exploring complexity in good company, so.

listicleCollapse )
I'm following the example of the person I got this meme from and not tagging anyone, so you're welcome to propagate the meme or not, whatever suits you.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Moooood: pleasedpleased
Tuuuuune: Tori Amos: Icicle
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Thursday, September 1st, 2016




I have awesome people
Thursday, 01 September 2016 at 03:35 pm
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So I have ended up with a bit of extra leave for the end of the academic year, so I took a couple of days at the beginning of the week to extend the bank holiday weekend.

diaryCollapse )

So anyway, that did me a lot of good, and required very little planning beyond putting in a request at work for a couple of days off.

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Moooood: relaxedrelaxed
Tuuuuune: Was (Not Was): How the heart behaves
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