Some months back I read and was very impressed by Brooke Magnanti’s long, erudite and informative article: The drugs won’t work. It’s basically an explanation of why the pharmacological revolution we have been expecting for the past ~20 years is probably not happening, and it covers a lot of information about how the pharma industry works and doesn’t, as well as scientific information.

When I was a PhD student in the early 2000s, my boss, who was under 50 at the time as he’s a bit of a scientific prodigy, used to claim confidently that we’d have an effective cure…

So my extremely brilliant friend Jen wrote a fantastic popular article about her research, published during last year’s US election: 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.

I’m not particularly bothered by Trump wearing a tallit. I mean, I barely followed the US election and I can easily think of dozens of more offensive and downright horrifying things Trump has said or done. So I appreciate that Jen leads with calling the…

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:

Firstly, there was an amount of commentary on what is basically a press release by a charity that raisese awareness of gynaecological cancers: Women don’t know where their vaginas are. (Wouldn’t normally link to Vice but that particular article is by an acquaintance and is generally quite…

Some interesting discussion recently around Ann Leckie’s essay on liking things that are in some sense not “good”. I’d like to pull up some of my thoughts here.

Leckie writes:

I have no difficulty telling the difference between a pop tart and a gourmet pastry, velveeta and some of the certifiably best cheese in the US. And not because I think there’s no such thing as standards–just because I like something doesn’t mean it’s particularly good […] It’s entirely possible to criticize things you like. It’s entirely possible to like bad things and dislike good things.

Several people had a…

This weekend I went to another Jewish-Muslim interfaith event. I was not exactly the main target audience, which was mainly people whose actual job is religious education. I did get to meet some Somali Bravanese Muslims, an ethnic minority from Somalia via Kenya whom I hadn’t encountered before.

Anyway we had some very interesting discussions, including around the use of language. Some of the Muslim participants said they didn’t like what I had thought of as an otherwise neutral older spelling, Moslem. They said they associate that spelling and pronunciation with people like Donald Trump, and I can see that…

Recently two special interest groups I’m second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because

To be a political leader — especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 — and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.

And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R’ Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented:

I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I…

RG Berkson

I support and develop active collaborative learning at Anglia Ruskin, and volunteer with the Jewish community & interfaith groups. All views my own.

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