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Gaza, 17 July 2014 (by Saaed Rafiq Al Madhoun, CARE International Programme Officer)

My boy is only three years old. He feels stressed and depressed and last night after hearing the explosions he said to my wife, “I feel that I will die”.

He is only three-years old. It makes us so sad. It was such a terrible surprise to hear him say this, we feel very bad.

He says he is feeling sick, at the noise of the explosions. He is crying at night and cannot sleep, so my wife and I try to massage him to calm him down.

My wife is very afraid for the children. She is able to feed my five-month old baby but it is stressful.

We feel that there is no safe place – any movement outside and you could be targeted. If I go to my brother’s house, are we any safer there?

The water gets cut off when there is no electricity. I’m trying to keep reserves of water – we need to be able to sterilise things for the baby when we can.

I left the home to do some shopping during the ceasefire, to get some basics for my kids. We have just a short period of time before it starts again. It was very crowded in the streets because of the limited time. The prices were normal but there was not very much available.

I also went to check on the CARE office to see that it was OK. I want to go back to work to help support all of the vulnerable people. I am more than happy to do this but it is difficult because we cannot move without being targeted.

If this situation continues like now it will be a real crisis. We don’t know when it will finish. I am really hoping for a long-term ceasefire and that it will calm down.

It’s hard for my family, for my friends and colleagues, for all Gazans to live in this crisis. We just hope it will end soon. In six years there have been three wars.

It’s difficult for all of us, but especially the children.

I ask the world, and all of the humanitarian community, to try to make a ceasefire that will last for years not hours. We ask that the violence stops. We cannot continue living in this situation, but we also cannot leave Gaza.

We ask the world to make it stop and do their best for the people of Gaza. It is enough now.




omg. ahh! Perks of being an amazing person (John Green)

so this makes obama a nerd fighter right…

Reblogging because it was the first time Sarah really appeared on YouTube and now she is hosting The Art Assignment with PBS Digital, and it’s so great and it debuts tomorrow and GO SUBSCRIBE.


“Infographic" (by Phil Gyford, repurposed under a by-nc-sa Creative Commons licence). Previously.


Infographic" (by Phil Gyford, repurposed under a by-nc-sa Creative Commons licence). Previously.


It’s the new 2-minute trailer for Hit & Stay, which will be premiering at the Chicago Underground Film Festival on Sat. March 9, 2013.

Hit & Stay explores a little known group of nonviolent activists. They broke into draft boards, exposed corporate ties to the war in Vietnam, and went to prison in an attempt to stop the killing on both sides. The Catonsville Nine and the actions that followed turned priests, nuns, and college students into fugitives and targets of the FBI.  

Staring: Bill Ayers, Daniel Berrigan, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Amy Goodman, Laura Whitehorn, Howard Zinn, and many of the men and women who participated in draft board raids between 1968-1974.
More info at


A Simple Guide To 4 Complex Learning Theories

Do you know the actual theories of learning? A learning theory is an attempt to describe how people learn, helping us understand this inherently complex process. There’s sub-levels of each theory, behavior and other categories … it’s complex. But it’s worth understanding.



Going beyond the Western gender binary - unlearning our backward cultural conditioning 

In Western colonial society (which dominates many aspects of the globalized, capitalist world today) we operate under the presumption that there are only two genders, male and female. But gender is a social construction. One’s options for what gender they identify with are shaped by the culture they are born into. Biological factors are most-often the primary driving forces that choose among the available socially-constructed gender categories.

Cultures around the world have different ways of talking about, thinking about, and identifying gender. It’s often a challenge for (particularly cis-sexual) Westerns to think about other ways gender can be socially constructed. Westerns have the false equivalency of gender and sex drilled into their eternal psyche from the time they are very young, and re-enforced through examples in popular culture. There is no biological reality to gender. Many Westerners have the bizarre belief that one’s XY-sex-determination should also inform one’s gender identity, a socially constructed role in society.

In some cultures, there is no distinction made between gender and sexual orientation and the same can be said for sexual orientation - our culture socially-constructs the options and our biology helps us identify which socially-constructed option feels most ‘right’ and best resonates with us.

I’ve attached some photos to offer some examples of non-colonial, non-Western construction of gender. They’ve all been uploaded onto our Facebook page photostream in case you’d like to ‘like’ or ‘share’ them there. There are literally hundreds of ‘third-gender’ identifying peoples around the world. The eight I’ve chosen are mostly examples I remember from some of my anthropology courses but if you google ‘third genders’ you can find many lists and examples.

Who cares? Why it matters.

The most obvious reason to care about the way our culture has constructed gender and sexual orientation is to deepen one’s capacity for solidarity with people who identify as transgender, transsexual, and others whose gender or sexual identity exists outside of binary Western culture.

But there are other reasons as well. Western culture’s binary nature often creates non-sensical, problematic binary identity constructions that are inherently problematic. For example, I believe that Western masculinity (dominance, aggression, lack of communication, lack of emotional expression, etc) is inherently problematic. I believe that to be the reason why most acts of large-scale-violence and terror are committed by men (see: 100% of the mass school shootings in the United States), and I believe it fosters a degree of internal misery within people who heavily adopt these particular ‘masculine’ traits.

In the age of information, and the age of global connectivity, there is no longer any reason (particularly for young people) to feel isolated or restricted to Western definitions of gender, sexual orientation and identity in general. I think the social ramifications of a generation where more and more people begin to identify outside of the gender binary would be tremendous, and I think we should all consider how we can unlearn our cultural conditioning to embrace other, perhaps less exploitative and dominating identities.

Background information on the identities depicted in the above images:

Hijras are male-body-born, feminine-gender-identifying people who live in South Asia (mostly in India & Nepal). Many Hijras live in well-defined, organized, all-Hijra communities, led by a guru.

Although many Hijras identify as Muslim, many practice a form of syncretism that draws on multiple religions; seeing themselves to be neither men nor women, Hijras practice rituals for both men and women.

Hijras belong to a special caste. They are usually devotees of the mother goddess Bahuchara Mata, Lord Shiva, or both.

Nandi female husbands
Among the Nandi in Western Kenya, one social identity option for women is to become a female husband, and thus a man in society’s eyes. Female husbands are expected to become men and take on all of the social and cultural responsibilities of a man, including finding a wife to marry and passing on property to the next generation through marriage. Female husbands may have lived their lives as women and may even be married to a man, but once she becomes a female-husband, she is expected to be a man. Women married to female-husbands may have sex with single men uninterested in commitment in order to become pregnant, but the female-husband (who is often an older woman, often a widow) will father the child of said pregnancy and treat the child like her own.

Two-spirited people
Two-Spirit is an umbrella term sometimes used for what was once commonly known as ‘berdaches’, Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations communities. The term usually indicates a person whose body simultaneously manifests both a masculine and a feminine spirit. Male and female two-spirits have been “documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America.”

In South America (with a large presence in Brazil), a travesti is a person who was assigned male at birth who has a feminine gender identity and is primarily sexually attracted to masculine men. Therefore, sometimes the distinction between gender identity and sexual orientation is not made. Travestis have been described as a third gender, but not all see themselves this way. Travestis often will begin taking female hormones and injecting silicone to enlargen their backsides as boys and continue the process into womanhood.

The work of cultural Anthropologist Don Kulick (a gay male by Western definitions) in Brazil demonstrated that gender construction in Brazil is binary (like Western gender construction), but unlike Western gender construction, instead of having a male-female binary, there is a male-notmale binary.

In this particular construction of gender:

  • Males include: men who have sex with women, men who have sex with Travestis but are never on the receiving end of anal sex, men who have sex with men but are never on the receiving end of anal sex.
  • Not-males include: women, men who receive anal sex from ‘male’ gay men or from Travestis.

Fa’afafine are the gender liminal, or third-gendered people of Samoa. A recognized and integral part of traditional Samoan culture, fa’afafine, born biologically male, embody both male and female gender traits. Their gendered behavior typically ranges from extravagantly feminine to mundanely masculine

Waria is a traditional third general role found in modern Indonesia. Additionally, the Bugis culture of Sulawesi (one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia) has been described as having three sexes (male, female and intersex) as well as five genders with distinct social roles.

Six Genders of old Israel
In the old Kingdom of Israel (1020–931 BCE) there were six officially recognized genders:

  • Zachar: male
  • Nekeveh: female
  • Androgynos: both male and female
  • Tumtum: gender neutral/without definite gender
  • Aylonit: female-to-male transgender people
  • Saris: male-to-female transgender people (often inaccurately translated as “eunuch”)

Australian scholar of sexual politics in Thailand Peter Jackson’s work indicates that the term “kathoey” was used in pre-modern times to refer to intersexual people, and that the usage changed in the middle of the twentieth century to cover cross-dressing males, to create what is now a gender identity unique to Thailand. Thailand also has three identities related to female-bodied people: Tom, Dee, and heterosexual woman.


EDIT: So let me clearly say that in no way am I intentionally encouraging white people (or anyone else) to appropriate these identities.  Rather, I hope that this post and conversations like this will lead to an understanding of cultural diversity and other gender constructions/identities and an understanding that there is no biological reality to gender, and that gender manifests itself in many beautiful ways across many cultures.

AM encouraging people in colonial society to have a less-binary, more nuanced approach to gender that doesn’t lead to so much domination and exploitation.

I also understand that in order to talk about these things, words like ‘male-bodied’ or male are inherently western concepts. Each of these societies and cultures have other ways of talking about these identities. Although I wasn’t born in the U.S. I have spent most of my life and the entirety of my adult life in the United States. I speak no languages other than English. There are concepts that I can’t understand, that my language limits me from even talking about, and in order to communicate these ideas, I am restricted by the only language I have available to talk about these concepts with. My perspective is etic. I do not belong to the above cultures, so when I talk about these things and use the English language to describe them, I am limited in my options for describing a concept as abstract as gender. The very categories of gender and sexuality belong to the cultural lens through which I view the world and I could not possibly provide a comprehensive emic analysis of the way the things we call ‘gender and sexuality’ actually are understood (if at all) within these cultures. In that way, mine is a very limited perspective. But it is geared toward other people living in Western society and it is aimed at changing this culture, not to appropriate these others but to not be so terrible toward gender and sexual variant people in this culture and to begin to question the implications of how we define gender and sexuality both personally, and as a whole culture. 


Just in case Jessie ever finds my Tumbl blog, this is for her.


I’ve looked at a lot of ice over the last few winters, but never noticed this phenomenon until last weekend.  We had a couple of warm days followed by very cold nights.  So there was enough melting to carry bits of sand and dirt along, but then the freeze came fast enough to stop the dirt where it sat, in drops of water.  The freezing forced all the air out of the clumps of dirt, creating these tiny, wonderful fireworks.

Gorgeous …

Wish You Were Here (2011 - Remaster) by Pink Floyd from the album: Wish You Were Here (2011 - Remaster)


Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here,” off Wish You Were Here (1975)

1973’s Dark Side Of The Moon made Pink Floyd rich. When they came off the tour, they were emotionally and physically exhausted, but they went into the studio in 1975 to record their next album anyways. It wasn’t going well. Here’s David Gilmour:

It was a very difficult period I have to say. All your childhood dreams had been sort of realized and we had the biggest selling records in the world and all the things you got into it for. The girls and the money and the fame and all that stuff it was all … everything had sort of come our way and you had to reassess what you were in it for thereafter, and it was a pretty confusing and sort of empty time for a while.

Eventually, Roger Waters started coming up with a new concept — they’d take this song called “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” split it in half, and make a sandwich of it with three other songs: “Welcome To The Machine,” “Have a Cigar,” and “Wish You Were Here.”

Much is made of Wish You Were Here as being a tribute to former bandmate Syd Barrett (there’s a sad, sad story of how Barrett showed up at the studio during mixing and nobody recognized him), but it’s also an album about the music business, made just over the hump of Floyd’s success.

I’ve probably heard “Wish You Were Here” hundreds of times over the years on FM radio and never given it a second thought. (“Oh, a sad song about missing someone.”) But now, when I listen to it (“the ears that are listening…”), it sounds less like a man missing a friend or a lover, and more about a man who’s gained the whole world, but is missing something in himself.

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

It really sounds to me like a song about success — something that is utterly useless when it comes to making art, because no matter what happens, you’re back in the studio, with “the same old fears.”

How I wish
How I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here

A beautiful, beautiful song. Sneak out into your garage some night and sit in your car and listen to it really loud. Then go hug somebody.