culture and society

mademoiselle-red  asked:

It seems to me from (high school history class) that medieval European society was intolerant of differences. Any difference from the majority were frowned upon. How did nonPOCs in medieval Europe view POCs, who were in the minority in terms of skin color being different from the majority of their neighbors? Did they 1) perceive that there was a difference? 2) did they believe pigmentation made someone "other", or was it insignificant, as inconsequential as having a different hair color?

Uh. I’m not even sure how to answer a question framed this way. I choose 3) Medieval European society spans about a thousand years and an entire continent (albeit a smallish one, you know, for a continent) so any answer given to this would be both right and wrong simultaneously. The wording is really confusing, and I don’t really understand why “did they perceive a difference?” would be an option.

I will definitely differ from the idea that “any difference was frowned upon”. That’s not true at all. Medieval Europeans often thought someone who was very different was exciting and cool, like, as long as they didn’t constitute some kind of obvious threat or belong to a group considered at odds with or a threat to the dominant culture of that particular place or time. Really intense antipathy was mostly reserved for familiar-difference type stuff, like oppression and persecution of Jewish people, Roma/Romany, et cet. Also, The Crusades were a thing.

I express my condolences for your high school history class. And like, of course they perceived human difference, but…the way it was perceived and the differences that were seen as significant varied a lot. To generalize, the really important differences would have been religion, gender, and social class/financial status, with some variance for ability/disability status. Ethnicity would have variously been an important difference or grouping which intersects with religion, and eventually a sort of proto-nationality type thing.

The bottom line is, we can never really know, because if someone wasn’t perceived as “Other” they weren’t depicted that way in art, or described that way in literature or records. I mean, we are talking about an era during which representational art of non-religious human figures just kind of disappeared and reappeared with cultural and social fluctuations in the area(s).

Additionally, there were places during this era that just didn’t make images of people at all, for the most part. Hence people asking me for images of people of color in Viking art, and I’m just like….uh….


A lot of the research going on in that direction is more like, “this is probably a human face”.

Now, there are those who take this kind of representation as evidence of racial homogeneity and isolation (a.k.a. Vikings never saw people of color), which I think is ridiculous, because Vikings. And then there are those like me who think that this is because Vikings (an extremely general term, really) didn’t place much importance on human features we would consider “racial” nowadays, or maybe they did and just didn’t care about drawing realistic looking people.

Anyhow, I just picked something at random to try and ground the conversation, but really I could just wave my arms around and yell “history!” and feel like I was answering that question, too.


MASTERS OF CEREMONY - “A cup of tea isn’t merely a drink; It’s the history of the world itself…Before set, before oil, before cars or guns or Coca-Cola, there was tea - one of civilization’s first truly global commodities as well as one of its most enduring and beloved.” ~ Heidi Johannsen Stewart - photographs by Anna Williams - prop styling by Amy Wilson (full story CN Traveler January 2015)

Merfolk: Culture and Society Worldbuilding

tagging darthrevaan, because it’s basically an extension of the various merfolk worldbuilding posts that we’ve exchanged. 

It’s a pretty safe assumption that the various individuals who drowned and became merfolk were shoved overboard in different parts of the ocean. Which leads to the question - how do individual mers meet up and form pods? How do the mer communities come to be?

Because the ocean is a very big place, and there’s no guarantee that they would be able to find another mer. Let alone know where to start looking; even if various parts of the sea (the Caribbean, for instance) are known to be mermaid haunts, how are they supposed to navigate there from, for instance, the middle of the Atlantic?

Two - possibly three, if we count handwavium - possibilities come to mind. (Keep in mind that I’m making this up as I go and am not really an expert in the sciences that I’ll be citing).

The first is, quite simply, magic. AKA handwavium. Mers could just happen to run into other mers more often then is statistically likely; the transformation process they undergo could endow them with the tendency to just - know where other mers are, or something similar.

The next possibility that comes to mind is the existence of various senses that humans have no analogue for. It’s scientific fact that various species - such as sharks and stingrays - are capable of sensing the magnetic fields of the earth. If a mer’s given a built-in compass, after a while floundering around in the middle of the ocean, they might just follow it for lack of any other ideas. That might eventually lead them into the path of currents that sweep them into a mer community, which are built up specifically because that’s where most ‘new’ mers come to rest. Hydrodynamic reception, long-distance innate olfactory recognition - they could all be very useful in helping mers locate one another.

Which contributes to my last idea - migratory patterns. I see mers as facultative migrators, meaning that they can choose to migrate or not. Mers, once drowned, might have a built-in migratory urge, facilitated by the various sensory abilities referenced above. As I understand it, there’s been some debate as to whether or not certain migratory destinations (as observed in monarch butterflies) are at least partially the result of some kind of ‘genetic memory’. Mers could undergo something similar.

…basically, I think that in this fiction mer universe, it’s a result of all three. A magically-induced genetically-set migratory pattern, complete with extra senses to help them navigate, might be one of the primary explanations for how mers actually manage to interact socially with one another.

I'm Honestly Curious

I am aware of the cultural and religious significance of Bindis in Hinduism but I do have one question. A Bindi is worn between the eyebrows on the forehead in correlation with the Ajna Chakra. If a person of non hindu belief adorns their face with jewels and gems in areas that are not the third eye would you still consider this cultural appropriation?
NSA allows Australia to spy on US law firm

The “US customers” have not been identified, but the quote is a reminder that the NSA engages in economic espionage, using spy tactics to learn about trade deals. The US government has forcefully denied that it passes any information that it receives on to US businesses, however, as China’s government has been accused of doing for its business sector.

In 2012, the American Bar Association revised its rules to require lawyers to “make reasonable efforts” to protect their clients’ information from hacking and spying.

The Times also noted that the leaked documents reveal a strong collaboration between the US and Australia in trying to break encryption, especially with respect to communications from China and Indonesia. The US and Australia also “secretly share broad access to the Indonesian telecommunications system,“ the Times reports.

Small wonder why the US almost always comes out on top. Hardly seems like free market capitalism.



FIRST PLACE WINNER : Whale Whisperers
Diving with a humpback whale and her newborn calf while they cruise around Roca Partida … in the Revillagigedo [Islands], Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life, so we need to accelerate the incorporation of the islands into UNESCO as [a] natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big-game fishing. (photo and caption by Anuar Patjane.)

[This] gravel-crush working place remains full of dust and sand. Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place. Chittagong, Bangladesh. (photo and caption by Faisal Azim.)

Camel Ardah, as it [is] called in Oman, is one of the traditional styles of camel racing … between two camels controlled by expert men. The faster camel is the loser … so they must be running [at] the same speed level in the same track. The main purpose of Ardah is to show the beauty and strength of the Arabian camels and the riders’ skills. Ardah [is] considered one of the most risky situations, since always the camels reactions are unpredictable [and] it may get wild and jump [toward the] audience. (photo and caption by Ahmed Al Toqi.)

MERIT WINNER : A Night at Deadvlei
The night before returning to Windhoek, we spent several hours at Deadvlei. The moon was bright enough to illuminate the sand dunes in the distance, but the skies were still dark enough to clearly see the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. Deadvlei means « dead marsh. » The camelthorn trees are believed to be about 900 years old but have not decomposed because the environment is so dry. (photo and caption by Beth McCarley.)

MERIT WINNER : Romania, Land of Fairy Tales
Romania, land of fairy tales. White frost over Pestera village. (photo and caption by Eduard Gutescu.)

MERIT WINNER : White Rhinos
The night before this photo, we tried all day to get a good photo of the endangered white rhino. Skulking through the grass carefully, trying to stay 30 feet away to be safe, didn’t provide me the photo I was hoping for. In the morning, however, I woke up to all three rhinos grazing in front of me. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda. (photo and caption by Stefane Berube.)

MERIT WINNER : Sauna in the Sky
A sauna at 2,800 meters high in the heart of Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps. (photo and caption by Stefano Zardini.)

MERIT WINNER : Catching a Duck
Two boys are trying to catch a duck at the stream of the waterfall. Nong Khai Province, Thailand. (photo and caption by Sarah Wouters.)

MERIT WINNER : Kushti, Indian Wrestling
Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling. Wearing only a well-adjusted loincloth (langot), wrestlers (pelwhans) enter a pit made of clay, often mixed with salt, lemon, and ghee (clarified butter). At the end of a workout, wrestlers rest against the walls of the arena, covering their heads and bodies with earth to soak up any perspiration and avoid catching cold. This relaxation ceremony is completed with massages to soothe tired muscles and demonstrate mutual respect. (photo and caption by Alain Schroeder.)

source and complete gallery National Geographic


I know I may get backlash for this and I want everyone to understands that I believe it is ridiculous that it’s 2014 and not everyone has equal rights and opportunities but you all have to admit that this is kind of fucked up! Equal rights are so extremely important! So don’t overstep that and become hostile towards another race because they don’t suffer as much oppression as other races in westernized countries! That’s not ok! Especially towards the people of that race supporting and trying their hardest to stand up for more oppressed races!

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
—  After 87 courageous years on this earth, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel (September 30, 1928–July 2, 2016) has left us — and left us his timeless, increasingly timely wisdom on our shared responsibility in ending injustice.
We now know that 24 hours without sleep, or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .1 percent. We would never say, ‘This person is a great worker! He’s drunk all the time!’ yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep for work.
The story of Cassandra, the woman who told the truth but was not believed, is not nearly as embedded in our culture as that of the Boy Who Cried Wolf—that is, the boy who was believed the first few times he told the same lie. Perhaps it should be.
—  In her cover essay on silencing women in the October 2014 issue of Harper’s, Rebecca Solnit once again proves that she is one of our era’s greatest essayist – further evidence here and here.

Measles has surged back in Europe, while whooping cough is has become a problem here in the U.S.

Childhood immunization rates plummeted in parts of Europe and the U.K. after a 1998 study falsely claimed that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella was linked to autism.

That study has since been found to be fraudulent. But fears about vaccine safety have stuck around in Europe and here in the U.S.

NPR maps the resurgence of preventable diseases due to public ignorance and lamentable misinformation about vaccines.

Pair with Bill Gates on vaccines, animated.

Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than have syntax. Or semicolons. I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after “semicolons,” and another one after “now.”

And another thing. Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than get old. And he did. He shot himself. A short sentence. Anything rather than a long sentence, a life sentence. Death sentences are short and very, very manly. Life sentences aren’t. They go on and on, all full of syntax and qualifying clauses and confusing references and getting old. And that brings up the real proof of what a mess I have made of being a man.


Ursula K. Le Guin on being a man – the finest, sharpest thing I’ve read in ages 

Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness?

You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you.

You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate… Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul.


It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference. They have access to hundreds of souls, and the collected wisdom of all them.


Beautiful read on why readers are, “scientifically,” the best people to date

Perhaps Kafka’s timeless contention that books are “the axe for the frozen sea inside us” applies equally to the frozen sea between us. 

By using words such as “girly” or “manly” we inadvertently buy into gender stereotyping. We play with toys designed for our gender, we play different sports based on gender, we often go to segregated schools…

If we want equality, it will take more effort than paying women the same as men, or giving women equal opportunities. We must all make an active decision to change our language. We must stop pressuring each other to fit stereotypes which more often than not leaves us feeling repressed and unable to express ourselves. We must not let gender define us.


A 15-year-old boy's spectacular letter in response to Emma Watson’s UN speech about gender equality.

Three decades earlier, Susan Sontag spoke beautifully to this limiting power of gender stereotypes