Posted by Sappho on July 4th, 2015 filed in Genealogy
In around 1844, James Madison Moore was born in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. I think it’s safe to assume that he was named for the Father of our Constitution, the then recently deceased former President James Madison, and that the patriotism of his parents, rather than an unknown Madison line, explains his middle name. But my current family tree for James Madison Moore is a warning against trusting assumptions too far.
Until this week, you see, I believed that James Moore’s parents were Peter Moore/Moose and his wife Elizabeth Weaver, a Pennsylvania German couple who had settled in Sparta, Livingston County, New York. A DNA cousin and I, and her cousin had found this pair by searching the records. They had a son James of the right age, born in New York as my James needed to be, and generally seemed to fit. They were not, however, the parents of my own great-great-grandfather, James Moore.
What blew away this branch of the family tree was the discovery, going through the records on FamilySearch.org, that there was, after all, a marriage record for James Madison Moore and Ella Frances Merchant. On 19 March 1870, James and Ella were married in Brooklyn, Kings County, NY. Ella’s parents are listed as Joseph and Caroline Merchant, who are indeed the parents of my own great-great-grandmother Ella, previously confirmed by census records that list both them and Ella, and by the fact that they continued to live near James and Ella in later census records that show James and Ella Moore as a family. James’ parents, however, are listed as Edward Moore and Mary Leonard.
There goes James Moore’s Pennsylvania German ancestry. Most Moore families in Brooklyn in the 19th century would either have come from colonial British stock, or be more recent Irish immigrants. I don’t know which was the case for Edward Moore, though from the family stories of how Alice Leonard Moore’s children teased her by singing “The Wearing of the Green,” I gather that she would have preferred not to find Irish ancestry (nor would such ancestry have been respectable when she was a girl). I do know that the name Mary Leonard solves the previously puzzling mystery of where Alice’s middle name came from. (Unlike Madison as a middle name for a son named James, Leonard as a middle name for a daughter does seem to call for an explanation.) And Mary Leonard may (but also may not) point to a solution to another outstanding puzzle, how my grandmother came to have French Canadian ancestry.
I know that she had some French Canadian ancestry because I have an abundant supply of French Canadian DNA cousins, and because I share some of those DNA cousins with a cousin on the Gooden side. I can infer that it was probably her mother, my great-grandmother Alice Leonard Moore, who had the French Canadian ancestry, because Alice’s husband, Robert Burton Gooden, immigrated to the US straight from Lancashire, England, not a prime spot for immigration from Quebec. But I haven’t yet found a line to Canada, as all French surnamed ancestors found so far on Alice’s line have been French Huguenot. In Mary Leonard, I finally have an ancestor who hasn’t been shown to be French Huguenot, with a surname that could plausibly come from Quebec. And I have found another marriage record, in the 1870s in Brooklyn, in which a Leonard from Montreal married a Moore. This connection is far from a sure thing, though, as Leonard can also be an English or Irish surname, and I still have a couple of female ancestors lacking a surname, either of whom could be the link to Quebec.
What do I know of James Madison Moore? Less than I knew a couple of weeks ago, but with the hope that now my knowledge is more accurate.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Sappho on July 3rd, 2015 filed in Greek News
Tweet of the day in my Greece Twitter list:
Dimitris Bounias ?@DimitrisBounias 45 minutes ago
Young people dancing swing next to the ruins of ancient #Athens. Screw you cynical world, we’ll be alright. #Greece
Oh, I hope so, Greece, I hope so. Sure, I know that in the long run you will be all right. You have survived millenia, that included worse than this present moment. But in the long run, as Keynes said, we are all dead. The short run looks rocky.
Stiglitz knows just how he would vote in the Greek referendum (that would be NO). I confess I have no idea how I would vote. By this I partly mean that both choices are darn hard. But I also mean that, even if I can reason out which looks wiser, from where I sit, that doesn’t mean I know how I would vote if I were actually living it. We aren’t, after all, creatures of pure reason. How would a 26% unemployment rate look if I were actually living it? Would I trust that I could vote YES and actually hope, at some point in the not too distant future, to actually escape this long depression, and maybe, yes, get some control back over my country’s policies? And how would it feel to see the banks close, and strict limits on how much I could withdraw? Would I trust that I could vote NO and actually hope for something better than a disastrous plummet off of the Euro zone?
One of my young Greek cousins (from London, where she has found work) urges courage, and passes on a link urging Greeks, whether they vote yes or no, not just to vote their fears. I suspect, if I were actually there, I would not be very brave at all, and would mostly be voting my fears (but which fear would loom largest, if I faced them up close and personal, rather than observing at a distance?).
I do know this. After Sunday’s vote, we will get an answer, either yes or no. I pray that it will be the right answer, but it may well be exactly the wrong answer. Either way, at least some of you, from a distance, may shake your heads. Perhaps you will wonder what is the matter with Greece. If so, suppress that urge. If no one has solved Greece’s problems yet, maybe that’s not because other people are so much less intelligent than you, but because these problems are darn hard to solve, short of a Tardis that would let you go back and warn people that those budget figures weren’t what they seemed.
And so, right now, for all that I’ve read, in Greek and English and German, about Greece’s problems and best solutions, and for all that I’d like to be able to write the blog post that would explain them all and point the way to a solution, all I can say is, Greece, I’m praying for you, and praying that you vote wisely. And if any of my readers are inclined to prayer, I ask that you do the same.
Yes, you’ll survive this, Greece; the ruins of ancient Athens tell me that. But please, may things look up for you soon. I have family who could use a break.
Posted by Sappho on June 24th, 2015 filed in Race
Crap. Just crap.
On another note, Southern born and raised conservative blogger Rod Dreher has joined the opposition to the Confederate battle flag.
Liberal Yankees didn’t do this to the Confederate battle flag. Dylann Roof did. Look at that picture if you want to know who finally drove this flag from public life. That young man revered the Confederate flag and invested it with his devotion to white supremacy. He murdered nine black men and women in a Bible study, out of loyalty to what that flag represented to him. Maybe the flag represents something more noble to you. It is impossible for many of us to see the nobility through the blood stains on the floor of the Mother Emanuel AME, and through the curtain of strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Like Josh Marshall, I’m surprised at how quickly the tide seems to be turning in Southern Republican attitudes toward the Confederate flag. On the one hand, the arson at the church in Charlotte makes me fear Dylann Roof copycats. On the other hand, as Josh Marshall points out,
As a distinct but obviously related point, purely as a matter of incentives, can we get the message out to nutball racists and similar monsters that no, your horrific race massacre will not trigger a race war. We hear this line again and again and I know at some level it’s more a statement than an actual prediction. But no, your mass murder will not trigger a race war. We now sadly have enough examples to have statistically significant data to confirm that your race massacre will not trigger your race war. In fact, I think that Dylann Roof’s attack will likely be remembered, for better or worse, as much for this watershed as for the deaths of the innocents he killed.
Posted by Sappho on June 24th, 2015 filed in Race
I have waited a week to post about this topic, not so much because I’m still not fully recovered from the cough from hell (though I do still need my inhaler), as because I felt the need to have my first conversations on Facebook, among friends. And I’m still going to turn comments off on this post (people who want to respond can post on their own blogs and send trackbacks if they want).
We’ve seen a horrific terrorist hate crime. And it’s not possible for me to separate this act from the whole #BlackLivesMatter conversation that has been going on ever since Trayvon Martin’s death. Still less so now that we have Dylan Roof’s manifesto saying that he was radicalized precisely by Trayvon Martin’s death.
There’s a certain messiness to the #BlackLivesMatter discussion, as we move from one report to another of an unarmed black man (or sometimes a lightly armed black man, like the mentally ill man in Ferguson who ambled toward police with a knife and got shot, or sometimes an unarmed black woman) who gets killed by police, or killed by some civilian who is either taking on a quasi-police role (George Zimmerman taking his neighborhood watch duties to the point of pursuing Trayvon Martin with a gun), or who claims to be acting in self-defense, either at home (someone bangs on the wrong door after a car accident or some other mishap), or in public (Michael Dunn, who insisted that in the midst of his argument about loud music, he totally saw a gun). There’s a larger pattern here, but not all the cases individually fitted to the pattern are alike.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Sappho on June 18th, 2015 filed in Blogwatch
On a personal note, I’m an aunt again! No details, to preserve the privacy of the family and especially the child involved (and remember, I’m one of nine children, who live all over the place). Also, I’m still recovering from that nagging bronchitis, but am back to being able to sing again, do my morning exercises again at reduced reps, and climb the stairs to the fifth floor again (though I still need the inhaler several times a day). That said, I’m going to give you a link post today (you’ll have to wait for a thinking post).
Statistician Emma Pierson, at Obsession with Regression, on So Maybe I Am (Partly) An Affirmative Action Admit.
Colin, at Violent Metaphors, on No, Seriously, Don’t Politicize Anti-Vax Sentiment.
DNA Explained on a DNA Testing Strategy for Adoptees and People with Uncertain Parentage.
Dienekes Pontikos on new data from ancient Eurasians showing evidence of migration from the Eurasian steppe to Europe.
Jamelle Bouie writes that Hillary Clinton Should Go Full Nerd and show voters “her authentic, geeky self.”
In fairness, there are reasons people may not like works in which all the fictional characters are awful, besides a desire for simple morality plays. And I haven’t seen Goodfellas myself, and so have no opinion on it. But, whether you agree with Scott Lemieux’s taste in movies or not, he’s amusing in Good Art is Not a Self-Help Manual.
So Berlatsky concedes that GoodFellas is not presenting us with role models, even if Scorsese assumes that the audience can draw the conclusion that robbing and killing people for a living is immoral on its own. He even seems to concede that Scorsese sees this conception of masculinity and the horrible behavior of the characters as being linked. But where is the constructive alternative? Why can’t this movie about Brooklyn mobsters tell us how to live?
The post is more than a month old, but as I never linked it at the time, I’ll link it now. My college friend Andrew Shields explains why “The more specific you are, the more general it’ll be.”
Echidne of the Snakes on Pink Thoughts. Or The Weak Version of the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis.
Posted by WiredSisters on June 14th, 2015 filed in Bipolar Disorder, Economics, Health and Medicine, Iraq War, Peace Testimony
My mother, of blessed memory, had a way of formulating problems that I have always liked:
What do we need?
What do we have too much of?
How do we turn what we have too much of into what we need?
Which is probably how the ancient alchemists got their start, having too much lead and not enough gold. Today, of course, we have a much better grasp of chemistry and physics, and can actually come up with ways to transmute dog excrement into power tools, should we choose to do so. Unfortunately, many of the things we now have too much of, and a lot of the things we need, are immaterial in nature, and thus not susceptible to chemical solutions. But it’s still a useful approach.
For instance, take drug dealers. Please. We definitely have too many of them, and merely taking the current cohort of them off the street and locking them up doesn’t help much. A new cohort is likely to replace them almost instantaneously, and the ones we lock up will merely move their operations into their new habitation, where (informed consumers tell me) drugs are as readily available as they ever were on the street.
So instead of locking the drug dealers up, how about finding them a new, socially useful line of work, utilizing many of the same skills they have already perfected? Which requires looking at the other side of the equation: what do we need? Among the things we need is some way to make mental patients (and also people with highly contagious physical diseases such as TB) take their medications. Who is better qualified to market pharmaceuticals than these street corner entrepreneurs? And (even better) who is better qualified to tinker with the official versions to make them fun to take? A version of Haldol that makes the patient happy and energetic, for instance—who could ask for more?
There are several problems with the current crop of psychoactive drugs.
Unlike the standard pharmaceutical model, in which the patient feels bad, takes a med, and feels better, the average mental patient (especially but not exclusively people on the upswing of bipolar disorder) may feel absolutely terrific, or at least reasonably okay, and is then required to take a med which will make him feel, at best, blah, and at worst, really awful.
Most psychoactive meds work on only some of the people with a particular diagnosis. There is no med that is universally effective in treating a particular mental health problem.
There are some patients (regardless of diagnosis) on whom none of the standard meds works at all.
Some medications work for a while, on some patients, and then stop working.
It’s really hard to calculate an appropriate dosage of any particular med for any particular patient, and this calculation may have to be repeated when, for whatever reason, the patient’s needs change (among the reasons for this are hormonal fluctuations such as those caused by puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, other medical problems, and just mysterious stuff out of the blue.)
Under the circumstances, it’s amazing that ANY patients comply with their medication regimen, and that any prescriber gets the medication and the dosage right for any length of time at all. So I’m not implying that this is entirely a marketing problem. But making psychoactive meds that create a mild euphoria, and having them marketed by people who have spent their most productive years having customers beat a path to their door, would certainly help a lot. In addition, of course, it gives a criminal population a socially useful way to earn a living.
So let’s look at another social problem: guns. More specifically, the NRA. The first thing we need to find out is the limits of their advocacy. Is there any kind of weapon they believe should not be available from willing sellers to willing buyers, anywhere in the world? Do they, for instance, have any problem with urban street gangs in the US having WMDs? Tactical nukes? How about street gangs in the rest of the world, like El Salvador or Syria, for instance? Why only street gangs—why not more official purchasers, such as militias? If, as I suspect, their aspirations have no limit, then why do we bother having (and, more to the point, why are we as taxpayers, supporting) a governmental defense complex, when the private sector is willing and eager to take on the job, and can, of course, do it much more efficiently? This has the added advantage that those taxpayers, like me and, I suspect, many of the readers of this post, who object to paying for weapons with their tax money, will be taken out of the process.
On the other hand, let us suppose that the NRA’s aspirations are relatively modest, and that they are looking purely at the domestic and individual market. Can their skills be directed to a socially useful purpose? At least in large cities, I suspect they can. Here in Chicago, for instance, we have between ten and twenty shootings a week, with varying degrees of fatality. And many of the victims are utterly unconnected to whatever conflict generates the shooting, except for the purely geographical connection of being in the wrong place (which may even be behind the four walls of their own unfortunately located home) at the wrong time. Why does this happen? Because many of the people doing the shooting can’t hit what they think they’re aiming at. Here’s where the NRA comes in—they regularly teach classes in gun use and gun safety for various community groups all over the country. Why not on the South Side of Chicago, and equivalent places in other cities? Gun safety (which many anti-gun activists consider an oxymoron anyway) would not be a major part of the curriculum. But accuracy—hitting what you think you’re aiming at—would be the major point of the classes. Presumably, this wouldn’t reduce the total number of shootings. It might even increase the number of fatalities. But it would significantly reduce the toll of cheerleaders, three-year-olds, and real estate agents getting shot by accident. Probably most of the people getting shot would, from the point of view of society in general, deserve it. And, as many criminal justice studies indicate, many of the shooters would eventually encounter their own karmic reward.
And if you like this approach to solving social problems, I’ve got a great proposal for dealing with famine in Ireland…
PS Sorry about your cough, Sappho. I’ve got one too, plan to have it looked at (listened to, more appropriately) sometime this week. Probably got wished on us by the Chinese.
Posted by Sappho on June 11th, 2015 filed in Daily Life
I saw the doctor last Friday, and got an antibiotic and an inhaler. I didn’t really want the antibiotic, but she said I did still have a bit of a fever after a week, so, maybe I needed it. The inhaler has been a great boon. It makes the difference between impossible coughing fits and just a low grade cough and fatigue. But the cough is still dragging on, so I haven’t been able to do a lot besides work. Plus the dog is sick. He needed a precancerous growth removed, and now is wearing the Cone of Shame, and needs to be carried up and down stairs. (At least, Joel says the dog needs to be carried up and down stairs. The dog says he doesn’t. This makes for a bit of a conflict around walk time, as we are on the second floor.)
I did, despite all of this, manage to finish reading The Three-Body Problem, a work of Chinese science fiction that connects the Cultural Revolution and an alien invasion, and various oddities of physics. Now I’m reading The Goblin Emperor. (I tentatively voted my Hugo ballot already based on reading the beginning of everything, but plan to adjust my votes after reading more, before the end of July.)
Also, on Tuesday Joel and I went to the Meeting of the Minds. I’m not, right now, writing up everything I heard there, but I’ll note that at one session, where I heard about a program in which mental health professionals ride with the police and help the cops work better with calls that involve mental illness, the questions were divided between the “we could use cops better trained in mental illness” questions and the “could you cops please move homeless people along from places where we don’t want them” questions. Even at a mental health conference, some people’s reaction to homeless mentally ill people is frustration that they aren’t somehow helping themselves better.
On a positive note, that session had some good stories about getting people back to their families and the help they needed.
Posted by Sappho on June 5th, 2015 filed in Daily Life, News and Commentary
For the past week, I have had what started out as a normal, if very tiring, cold or flu, but for days now has been the dry, unproductive cough from hell. I have to spend all day constantly supplying my throat with a soothing supply of water, soup, broth, honey, cough drops, and hard candies, to ward off coughing attacks, which, if they start, will bring up nothing, but proceed with greater intensity until I feel as if I am going to vomit. This makes it a bit hard to do anything beyond work, go home, and rest (I’m still able to work, since I can keep the cough at bay with constant effort). I think I am probably going to call the doctor today.
With this going on, I’ve been impaired in my regular exercise (exertion brings on the cough, and I’m not even doing my usual climb up and down four flights of stairs twice a day at work, though I do still walk the dog), and Wolof practice (talking also brings on the cough). I did, though, manage to go to Toastmasters, getting the special speaking free accommodation of being Timekeeper, and communicating only with cards and gestures.
That personal note aside, I’ve still been reading and thinking about the Duggars. First, thanks to Irene for pointing out this comment suggesting that the statute of limitations in Arkansas might not be the barrier that many think it is. I’d have thanked you sooner, Irene, had I not been preoccupied with the cough from hell.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by WiredSisters on May 29th, 2015 filed in California Wildfires, Climate Change and Desertification, Environment
I’m in the process of reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear¸ but I find it so unpleasant I can’t swallow it at one sitting, but have to consume it in small pieces throughout the week. Crichton made his literary reputation, such as it is, with Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, and most of his stuff is pretty good techno-thriller, interesting and not quite mindless. But in State of Fear, he is taking himself too seriously as a public intellectual, filling up the plot with cardboard characters straight out of Pilgrim’s Progress and the morality plays, and worse still, tacking on to the novel itself a couple of essays on the questionable validity of techno-journalistic conjecture and the politics of environmental doomsaying. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Sappho on May 24th, 2015 filed in News and Commentary
Way back when, I actually started this blog to talk about the crisis in the Catholic Church concerning priests being found to have sexually abused minors, and bishops being found to have covered the matter up and recycled the priests. (One of the most notorious of those priests, as it happened, got recycled to the church my mother-in-law attended, where my husband had gone when he was younger.) Time passed, and I wandered on to other blog topics, but, given my original focus, I can’t completely ignore the scandal about the Duggar family. So, here are a couple of the links that I’ve found most thoughtful and useful:
I’ve gone back and forth about whether I should blog about this. This is not a gossip blog. I blog about weighty issues, and when I do blog about scandals like this I try to do so in a way that makes larger points, rather than just scoring cheap shots. That said, I’ve decided to go ahead and blog about this for several reasons. For one thing, I want you to have a reliable place to get good information (there’s still incorrect information circling out there). For another thing, I do think there are larger points to be made here. I’ll start by summarizing the police report….
And Libby Anne proceeds to give a good summary of the police report and make good points about how families and churches should handle cases of sexual abuse by minor teenagers.
Josh Duggar Thoughts: QuadCityPat, a professional child abuse investigator, Storifies his thoughts on the case.
I started to write about some of the less thoughtful reactions I have seen to this news, but I decided the post was turning into Someone Is Wrong on the Internet, and that it was better to highlight the thoughtful and informative responses than the ones that suck. Suffice to say, there has been a lot of suckage to be found.
Here is a post by John Scalzi that includes a photoshopped image of a squirrel riding a Pomeranian.
Squirrels and birds can talk to each other. Evidently, Felix Salten’s novel about the squirrel Perri is actually a documentary.
Posted by Sappho on May 14th, 2015 filed in Genealogy
Recently, a friend of mine on Facebook shared a story reporting that AncestryDNA had turned over customer DNA to the police without a warrant. This story turns out to be false. But, for reasons that I’ll make clear when I tell you what actually did happen, I found it tricky to figure out just what AncestryDNA had or hadn’t done. Here, as best I can tell (with links) is the truth of the story.
First, a bit of background.
Read the rest of this entry »
Links, the “it’s not so easy staying 100% positive 100% of the time when you have freaking cancer” edition
Posted by Sappho on May 14th, 2015 filed in Blogwatch, Health and Medicine
I see that it has been a week since I posted here. That’s because I gave my fourth Toastmasters speech yesterday, and spent my free, non-work time practicing the speech instead of blogging. I do have some ideas for posts, but more ideas than time to write them at the moment, so I’ll give you a few links, instead, so you know that I’m not dead yet.
I’m not dead yet, in part, because, more than three years out from my cancer diagnosis, I am still in remission. Some others are not so lucky. One of those others, Kevin Drum, is currently under treatment for multiple myeloma (the illness that killed my father), and, in his honor, Jim Henley, who went through cancer treatment more recently than I did, is doing some cancer blogging. Here is Jim Henley’s Quora post on how to support someone with cancer, which I warmly second. Among other things from that post:
3. Offer to do specific, time-consuming things that will ease the lives of patients and caregivers. Then do them. Babysitting. Dog-walking. Cat-feeding. Transportation. Oh yes transportation. A lot of people don’t realize that a typical radiation patient has to go to the facility at least once a day for 2 to 6 weeks. That’s 10-30 trips someone has to make, and it shouldn’t be the patient, and the patient’s primary caregiver – if she’s lucky enough to have one – can use a break.
Yes, yes, yes! Transportation is really useful when you’re going through treatment for cancer. Radiation is an every day event, and chemotherapy, though less frequent, is absolutely exhausting.
Just as a lot of people don’t realize that a typical radiation patient has to go to a facility once a day for 2 to 6 weeks, a lot of people may not know that the American Cancer Society offers rides to treatment for those who can’t drive themselves. So, if you know someone with cancer, offering transportation can be one of the best ways to help (and I’m also forever grateful to the friends who offered pet care and freed my husband to be with me), and if you don’t currently know anyone going through treatment for cancer, but are looking for volunteer work that will make a difference, the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program is a worthy place to volunteer.
How does the program work?
Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so that patients can receive the life-saving treatments they need. If you or your loved one needs a ride to treatment, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 to be matched with a volunteer, or enter your zip code below to check for programs in your area.
I also second Jim Henley’s thoughts on
OK, that’s actually more writing than I thought I was going to do, when I started this post. Non-cancer related links are below the fold.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by WiredSisters on May 7th, 2015 filed in Daily Life, Democracy, History, Law, Moral Philosophy, Race, Torture
You might want to google “police history” before reading the rest of this post. There are a bunch of good books and articles on the subject out there, and what they mainly tell you is that the wild-eyed Marxist radicals who usually get dismissed as overwrought ideologues are, if anything, pulling their punches in characterizing the police as lackeys of the ruling classes. The whole idea of having a police force was invented by a ruling class to keep the lower orders in their place. At the time, in 18th-century Britain, there was no racial element to it, unless you count anti-Irish prejudice. But there were lots of poor people who could not possibly survive within the limits set for them by employers, landlords, church, and state. For them, as for poor people and especially homeless people today, survival required lawbreaking, because the law made their lives illegal. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Sappho on May 7th, 2015 filed in Africa news and blogwatch
And, because today’s my day for linking Noah Millman, here’s another of his posts, on why Africa Matters.
Africa is the largest place on earth that it is possible, most of the time, to ignore. It won’t be forever. The journalistic cliché is that, as the 20th was the American century, the 21st will be the Chinese. But there is a plausible case to be made that, within a few short decades, we’ll be talking instead about the African century.
The reason is simple arithmetic. Demographically, Africa is expanding at a rate unmatched by any other remotely comparable region. Of the 25 countries with the highest total fertility rates, all but two (Afghanistan and East Timor) are African—and included in that list are some of Africa’s largest and most populous countries, such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo….
Posted by Sappho on May 7th, 2015 filed in Sexuality
Noah Millman writes, in Tell Him, Tell Him, Tell Him, Tell Him Right Now, about the Modern-Love-contest-winning essay
… about a woman who is so terrified of losing what little she has, romantically-speaking, that she dare not tell the truth about her feelings.
I’ve sometimes toyed with the idea of making the Big Master Post (or series of posts), that will tell you all exactly what I think about sexual ethics and advice, and what the good life really is, where sexual and romantic relationships are concerned. I never do, because every time I sit down to do it, it all becomes complicated. What’s defensible in secular terms isn’t the same, in important ways, as what’s defensible in faith-based terms. What should be legal isn’t the same as what’s right. What I can easily, in secular terms and without any appeal to Bible or any faith tradition, say is flat out wrong isn’t the same as what may sometimes work, but often doesn’t, and may on the whole not be prudent or wise.
But I’m fairly sure that, if I did write that post, or that series of posts, a big part of it would be two rules: Don’t do what predictably makes yourself unhappy. And don’t do what predictably makes other people unhappy. Think of it as a version of Hillel’s famous questions: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I?”
What I love about Noah Millman’s reflections on sexual and romantic relationships, when he does write about them (mostly he’s more of a literary blogger these days), is the fact that he seems to write with a grasp of the value of both those questions. So many people don’t. And so we get, either “war of the sexes” arguments in which it’s each person’s business to look out for herself, and it’s unreasonable for her to ask any regard for her feelings and perspective, because each person’s just out for what she wants, any way she can get it, or else arguments that suppose she can expect the other person to be a mind reader, and know that of course a person’s going to feel led on in such-and-such a situation. Millman hangs onto both points, sometimes drawing out one, and sometimes another, as the case requires. Here it’s “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
This year’s Hugo Awards have proved more controversial than usual, with the sweep of several categories of Hugo Award nominations by two slates known as Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.
I don’t mean this to be a post about Puppies. If you want to know more about puppies, you can check out the blog of, well, almost any science fiction author right now, or Google “Hugo Awards 2015″ and look at all the Puppy posts and articles. But the debate about Puppies raised a meta-Puppies point that interests me: the relationship between politics and art.
You see, two things are true, at the same time. The first thing: Art has always been, and always will be, political, and in the sense in which “politics” is being discussed here, politics can’t be extracted from art. The second thing: What Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns, and Money likes to call aesthetic Stalinism – preachy message fiction where the message overwhelms the story, and preachy reviews that evaluate books, movies, music, or other art solely on their political implications – is really, really annoying.
I have been trying to think of how to write about this, and finding that the post in my head kept growing way too long, as I ran through all of the examples and qualifiers that I wanted. Then I ran across three other people’s posts that said different aspects of what I wanted to say, so I’m going to link them, and make my post much shorter.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Sappho on April 29th, 2015 filed in News and Commentary
Here is a fox, in the vicinity of Chernobyl, making a bacon sandwich.
On a more serious note, Cheryl Rofer, at Nuclear Diner, explains why the forest fire near Chernobyl is a threat only to those in the path of the fire.
Posted by Sappho on April 27th, 2015 filed in Health and Medicine
The last confirmed case of Ebola in Liberia died on 27 March and was buried on 28 March. You wouldn’t know this fact, though, to look at americanthinker.com“>this post at the American Thinker. In the post, Sierra Rayne makes a simple mistake. She links a graph of Ebola cases at the CDC web site, but misinterprets the graph. The graph is real. And it really does show a continuing linear increase, in Liberia, after the last confirmed case died. But go look at the actual CDC page to see what the graph is tracking. It is not tracking total cases of Ebola. It is tracking total suspected, probable, and confirmed cases of Ebola. Liberia, as well it should, is still actively looking for cases of Ebola. After all, it has only been one month since the last case was buried, so two full incubation periods haven’t passed yet. And, given that Sierra Leone and Guinea border on Liberia and still have Ebola cases, and given, further, that there is the possibility of sexual transmission beyond the normal incubation period, Liberia may still want to continue more than usual monitoring even if and when it reaches that 42 day mark. Now, given that other illnesses cause diarrhea and vomiting, it’s expected that, during this period, there will continue to be suspected cases of Ebola in Liberia. It would be irresponsible of the doctors in Liberia not to have checked out some people, during this time period, for possible Ebola. But, unless and until we see a new confirmed case of Ebola in Liberia, Ebola is still going strong in Guinea, and still going (but waning) in Sierra Leone, but we are not currently seeing new Ebola cases in Liberia, and haven’t seen any for about a month. Here is the latest WHO situation report, with the full details. There will be another report in two days.
Autosomal DNA tells much more about your ancestry than mtDNA or Y DNA, since you inherit autosomal DNA from all your grandparents. But that same limitation of mtDNA and Y DNA, of course, is their main area of interest: they can tell you something about where your ancestors on one particular line came from (even if it’s just where they came from thousands of years ago). And it turns out that, through looking at the results of close cousins, you can sometimes get mtDNA or Y DNA lines of people other than your parents. Here is what I’ve been able to learn about mine:
Read the rest of this entry »
Marriage has been evolving for a long time, as Stephanie Coonts (“The Way We Never Were”) points out in her thorough analysis. In my lifetime, it seems to have been doing it at top speed. My mother (born in the middle of a string of 8 children, in 1915) was the only one of her mother’s 4 daughters who never got divorced. Her oldest sister (“the flapper,” my mother called her) did it while it still had the makings of scandal. That is, she dropped out of high school to get married, had a child, and then got divorced under cloudy circumstances that involved her husband’s family getting custody of the child. She then decided to finish high school where she had started—a fairly progressive public high school in a Boston suburb, or they never would have let her come back at all. But they allowed it only if she promised never to have any social or personal contact with any of her fellow students—just go to class, turn in her work, and go home. I’m not quite sure whether that was because she had been married (and therefore knew what marriage was all about, which of course her virginal classmates should not know from) or because she had been divorced under some kind of scandalous circumstances. That was, presumably, in the 1920s or maybe early 1930s. Read the rest of this entry »