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Ancient moon priestesses were called virgins. ‘Virgin’ meant not married, not belonging to a man - a woman who was ‘one-in-herself’. The very word derives from a Latin root meaning strength, force, skill; and was later applied to men: virle. Ishtar, Diana, Astarte, Isis were all all called virgin, which did not refer to sexual chastity, but sexual independence. And all great culture heroes of the past, mythic or historic, were said to be born of virgin mothers: Marduk, Gilgamesh, Buddha, Osiris, Dionysus, Genghis Khan, Jesus - they were all affirmed as sons of the Great Mother, of the Original One, their worldly power deriving from her. When the Hebrews used the word, and in the original Aramaic, it meant ‘maiden’ or ‘young woman’, with no connotations to sexual chastity. But later Christian translators could not conceive of the ‘Virgin Mary’ as a woman of independent sexuality, needless to say; they distorted the meaning into sexually pure, chaste, never touched.
Monica Sjoo, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth  (via thewaking)

(Source: ynannarising)

Join in and help take the next crucial step towards saving our oceans.

What’s the problem? 

We produce around 300 million tons of plastic per year which are polluting our oceans, killing at least one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals each year. It’s impacting on human health and causing billions of dollars of economic damage.

How can we fix it?

An organization called The Ocean Cleanup, founded by 19-year-old Boyan Slat, combines environmentalism, entrepreneurism and technology to tackle global issues of sustainability.

What does it do?

The Ocean Cleanup method exploits natural ocean currents and winds to  transport garbage into a collection platform. Solid floating barriers catch and concentrate the trash from the ocean, negating the risk of wildlife entanglement.

How can you help?

The company is attempting to crowdsourcing $2 million in 100 days in order to keep on testing and implementing their idea. So far it’s getting minimal  publicity.

So if you have a spare dollar, donate. If you can’t donate, spread the word.

Donate Here

(Source: tennup)

journeytoenglisheducation:

brains-and-bodies:

fuckyeah-nerdery:

discodick:

mindblowingscience:

pickledpennies:

m00nchaser:

If bees become extinct we will have exactly 4 YEARS to live on this planet. I don’t understand how “not giving a fuck” is more important than your life…

okay, I have a thing to say about this. I’m no expert on bees, but I am a biologist (and entomologist) so I think there is something I can contribute that’ll be of worth.

I agree entirely with the sentiment that we must protect honeybees. Obviously they are massively important for biodiversity, as well as pollinating food crops for humans. There is no doubt that if all the honeybees in the world were to vanish in a day that the consequences would be dire.

However, I disagree that the main cause for concern regarding honeybee death is the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops. I’d be very interested to read a research paper that says ‘GM crops have killed millions of honeybees’, if indeed such a paper exists because in all honesty I find it highly unlikely that this is a true statement.

Let’s start with some facts about GM crops:

1. The development of GM crops is a highly regulated process, bound by strict country-specific legislature. A great number of trials are carried out long before commercial planting of a GM crop is even considered. It is these trials, and accompanying laboratory studies, that ensure a GM crop is safe to non-target organisms (such as honeybees) by investigating direct and indirect effects (Nap et al. 2003).

2. Crops that are genetically modified to express insecticidal proteins (for crop pest control) have a high level of specificity. This means that the insecticidal proteins being produced by the GM plant will only affect a narrow range of insect groups because of the chemical properties of the protein. For example, GM crops expressing insecticidal proteins sourced from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will only target some Lepidopteran pests (caterpillars; Romeis et al. 2006). Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis of the literature found that GM Bt crops do not negatively affect the survival of adult honeybees or their larvae (Duan et al. 2008).

3. GM crops can be tailored such that the novel gene is expressed only in particular parts of the plant. For example, GM Bt rice plants express the toxin in the stems but not the grains (Datta et al. 1998). This technique means that gene expression can be excluded from the flowers/pollen of the crop plant, so that bees and other pollinators would not be affected. Neat, huh?

So those are a token few reasons why GM crops are safer than perhaps many people believe (as the result of a lot of questionable, non-scientific articles). To come back to our main point about honeybee death, I would like to briefly mention a few alternative explanations for the recent decline in honeybee populations. These are as follows:

1. Many bees have died as the result of broad-spectrum insecticide use. These are pesticides that lack specificity, and can be harmful to non-target organisms. Neonicotinoids are a well-studied example of this (Decourtye & Devillers, 2010). Not to worry, though, because many broad-spectrum pesticides including neonics are well on their way out. Indeed, the EU recently banned a large cohort of neonic pesticides. This is still a topic of controversy, mind (Goulson, 2013).

2. Many bees have died as the result of Varroa mite infestation. Imagine you’ve been bitten by several ticks, except those ticks are the size of dinner plates. That gives you an idea of the severity of a Varroa mite infestation on a single developing bee. The parasitisation of bees by Varroa mites and other parasites is often accompanied by disease transmission. This can result in colonies dying within two years after infestation (Johnson, 2011).

3. Many bees have died as the result of ‘colony collapse disorder’.  This is a phrase that has popped up a lot recently, and is basically an umbrella term for the various causes of bee death including parasite infestation, disease transmission, environmental stresses, and management stresses such as poor nutrition (Johnson, 2011). Colony collapse has been attributed to broad-spectrum pesticide use in some instances. However, it is has still been observed in countries where broad-spectrum pesticides have been withdrawn (in the EU, like I mentioned earlier; Johnson, 2011).

So those are my main points. Please excuse the bullet-point nature of this; I was trying to keep it fairly short. Not sure I managed that haha. But anyway, my take-home message is that GM crops are not the enemy when it comes to honeybee decline. If anything, bees are at much greater danger from the use of broad-spectrum pesticides and from parasites and diseases. Using GM can even help to alleviate some of the problems associated with broad-spectrum pesticides, as they greatly reduce the need to apply such chemicals (Romeis et al. 2006).

A finishing note: Do your homework. Go on google scholar and read some of the literature, making sure it is recent (within the past 10-15 years). Literature reviews are a great way to find out what the consensus is on any given topic. Don’t use popular media as your main source of information where science is concerned; they tend to favour scandal and exaggeration. You want to know what’s really going on? Check out some research articles and see for yourself.

Thanks for sticking it through to the end of this impromptu mini-essay! —Alice

References:

Datta, K., Vasquez, A., Tu, J., Torrizo, L., Alam, M. F., Oliva, N., Abrigo, E., Khush, G. S., & Datta, S. K. (1998). Constitutive and tissue-specific differential expression of the cryIA (b) gene in transgenic rice plants conferring resistance to rice insect pest. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 97(1-2), 20-30.

Decourtye, A., & Devillers, J. (2010). Ecotoxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to bees. In Insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (pp. 85-95). Springer New York.

Duan, J. J., Marvier, M., Huesing, J., Dively, G., & Huang, Z. Y. (2008). A meta-analysis of effects of Bt crops on honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). PLoS One, 3(1), e1415.

Goulson, D. (2013). Neonicotinoids and bees: What’s all the buzz?. Significance, 10(3), 6-11.

Johnson, R. (2011). Honey bee colony collapse disorder. DIANE Publishing.

Nap, J. P., Metz, P. L., Escaler, M., & Conner, A. J. (2003). The release of genetically modified crops into the environment. The Plant Journal, 33(1), 1-18.

Romeis, J., Meissle, M., & Bigler, F. (2006). Transgenic crops expressing Bacillus thuringiensis toxins and biological control. Nature biotechnology, 24(1), 63-71.

This commentary is SO important. Succinct and with proper sourcing; beautiful.

It infuriates me when people blame GMO for everything without actually examining the evidence.

Fucker, did you just compile and post a summarised university research paper in your leisure time? Fuck you. *flips table in frustration of assignment writing inadequacies* 

GODDAMN THEY EVEN PROVIDED REFERENCES.

Providing references should be mandatory. Go Alice!

*Snifs* This… is the most… BEAUTIFUL… post I have… ever… seen on Tumblr! The references! The beautiful references!

(Source: antinwo)

ihititwithmyaxe:

fuckyeahdnd:

vacantvisionary:

rollforproblematic:

neutralgoodvampire:

rollforproblematic:

rpgwizzard:

fuckyeahdnd:

neutralgoodvampire:

Looks like Wizards of the Coast is getting more diverse! This was in the 5e Rules that came out today.

This was a legit cool thing of WotC to do.

Chapter 4, Page 33, Top of the right column.  For those who want the reference.

kind of amazing to see cis people (including me) really excited to see this as progress, and trans people immediately calling it out for being clunky, awkward, clearly not written with the involvement of trans people, using slurs and problematic language, and/or being limiting or exclusive.

I haven’t seen many trans people do that. I’ve been discussing this all day and most trans responses have been good.

Yeah, the responses are on the measure good, but most cis responses kind of uncritically celebrate the attempt at inclusion. The genderqueer responses I’ve seen (which obv. don’t represent everyone) are mixed due to the use of hermaphrodite instead of intersex, the “trapped in a female body” phrasing, or the trans/homophobic beard dwarf.

But everyone’s generally interested in seeing Wizards make the effort, and to see this made explicit and represented in a high-profile accessible release.

Like, look.

What this kind of thing represents is a good thought. Someone writing the 5e handbook thought to themself, “hey, maybe we should add something to the bit on gender about trans/nonbinary/intersex people!” And then they wrote up a couple paragraphs and stuck them in a draft, and no one on the brand or editing team felt strongly enough about them to get them pulled.

And that thought that they had? Was a good thought. I’m not saying that it was pandering - I’m sure that the person who did this had the best of intentions.

But in the end, that’s all it was. One, single thought.

They didn’t think to research the terminology. They didn’t think to ask any of the classes of people they talked about how they would want to be talked about. And they certainly didn’t think to hire any trans/nonbinary/intersex people to write about ourselves, to weave our experiences into the very fabric of the game instead of into a minimal-effort patch near the edge.

This excerpt is certainly better than nothing - I’m not saying that I wish it wasn’t there! But we, as a community, have the right - and our allies, the responsibility - to demand so much more than “better than nothing”.

Realtalk, when I first reblogged this I was caught in the moment of “Hey, Wizards did an awkwardly phrased cool thing in D&D” and didn’t even stop to consider the fact that some of the wording in there was really problematic. I was so just happy to see game a as big as D&D actually take the time to address the fact that, hey, your character doesn’t need to conform to the traditional gender binary that I didn’t even stop to actually digest the actual contents of the excerpt.

That said, I agree with all these cool people whose responses I’ve reblogged here: this was a nice gesture from WotC and it was definitely better than nothing, but at the same time it was really poorly phrased and we should probably let the people in charge know. They’ve made it clear simply by writing this section that they actually want to reach out to LGBT people in their audience and they’ve just done it in a bumbling-in-the-dark way where they didn’t know that the choice of words they made sort of still came out as offensive.

Since the Basic rules are still in version 0.1 I’m sure with enough feedback in the community they could be made aware of the fact that “Hey, this was a cool thing of you to do, but some of the wording is a bit problematic and offensive, it’d be cool if you worked on it a bit.”

As someone who plays a lot of 3.5, I’m pretty used to whoever writes the sourcebooks not bothering to research anything or make an effort to compare how they assume a thing to be be/work/fit with how it actually is/works/fits. But there’s a difference between making up the rules as you go for your own imagination game and making up what it means to be and how to talk about LGBT or nonbinary identities. I’m happy they’re taking a major step in the right direction, and I hope that as the development team for 5th Edition advances the quality of the rest of the rules and materials based on feedback from the playerbase, they advance the quality of this section as well.

I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.
SWAT teams are out of control. 

The militarization of the police in America is a bigger and more direct threat to our freedom and way of life than any terrorist plot that may exist in some foreign country.

(via wilwheaton)

(Source: salon)

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