Read Jessica Krug (Wikipedia)
Krug was an associate professor of history at George Washington University (GWU) (2012–2020) until becoming the focus of controversy after she disclosed in an essay that she had lived for years under assumed racial and ethnic identities (including that of being half-Algerian-American and half-German-American and of being a Bronx-bred Afro-"boricua" (Afro-Puerto Rican) who went by the self-described "salsa" name of "La Bombalera"). In a September 3 2020 blog post, Krug confessed that: "I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness."
Read Top 10 goddesses in fiction by E Foley and B Coates (the Guardian)
In ancient myth – and novels by authors from Neil Gaiman to Toni Morrison – these ambiguous figures are sometimes repressive, sometimes inspiring

The Mabinogion, translated by Sioned Davies
In You Goddess! we use “supernatural female” as a definition of goddess and this allows us to include the story of Blodeuwedd, who was created out of flowers by a wizard as a wife for his friend, but who kicks over the traces and finds her own partner. Bloeuwedd appears in this medieval collection of Welsh stories. The first English translation was published in the 19th century by the linguist, go-getter and driver of the Welsh renaissance, Lady Charlotte Guest. This 2007 translation by Sioned Davies is a fantastic contemporary version. In the past Blodeuwedd has been taken as a cautionary tale about adultery, but to modern readers she appears as a floral rebel breaking free from male control. Sadly things don’t end well for her and her metamorphosis from vegetable to human ends with her wizard enemy turning her into an owl. She lives on as the inspiration for Alan Garner’s The Owl Service. 

This has been on my list for a bit. I’m also reminded that I ought to get back to The Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends by Miranda Aldhouse-Green
Annotated on September 09, 2020 at 10:09PM

Read A New Theory of Western Civilization (The Atlantic)
Could a marriage policy first pursued by the Catholic Church a millennium and a half ago explain what made the industrialized world so powerful—and so peculiar?
This is the second article on this book that I’ve seen in the last week or so. Perhaps I should add it to my list?

Henrich, who directs Harvard’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, is a cultural evolutionary theorist, which means that he gives cultural inheritance the same weight that traditional biologists give to genetic inheritance. Parents bequeath their DNA to their offspring, but they—along with other influential role models—also transmit skills, knowledge, values, tools, habits. Our genius as a species is that we learn and accumulate culture over time. Genes alone don’t determine whether a group survives or disappears. So do practices and beliefs. Human beings are not “the genetically evolved hardware of a computational machine,” he writes. They are conduits of the spirit, habits, and psychological patterns of their civilization, “the ghosts of past institutions.” 

Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:03AM

WEIRD people have a bad habit of universalizing from their own particularities. They think everyone thinks the way they do, and some of them (not all, of course) reinforce that assumption by studying themselves. In the run-up to writing the book, Henrich and two colleagues did a literature review of experimental psychology and found that 96 percent of subjects enlisted in the research came from northern Europe, North America, or Australia. About 70 percent of those were American undergraduates. Blinded by this kind of myopia, many Westerners assume that what’s good or bad for them is good or bad for everyone else. 

This is a painful reality. It’s also even more specific to the current Republican party. Do as we say, not as we do.

This is the sort of example that David Dylan Thomas will appreciate.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:09AM

By the time Protestantism came along, people had already internalized an individualist worldview. Henrich calls Protestantism “the WEIRDest religion,” and says it gave a “booster shot” to the process set in motion by the Catholic Church. Integral to the Reformation was the idea that faith entailed personal struggle rather than adherence to dogma. Vernacular translations of the Bible allowed people to interpret scripture more idiosyncratically. The mandate to read the Bible democratized literacy and education. After that came the inquiry into God-given natural (individual) rights and constitutional democracies. The effort to uncover the laws of political organization spurred interest in the laws of nature—in other words, science. The scientific method codified epistemic norms that broke the world down into categories and valorized abstract principles. All of these psychosocial changes fueled unprecedented innovation, the Industrial Revolution, and economic growth. 

Reading this makes me think about the political break in the United States along political and religious boundaries. Some of Trumps’ core base practices a more personal religion and are generally in areas that don’t display the level of individualism, but focus more on larger paternalistic families. This could be an interesting space for further exploration as it seems to be moving the “progress”(?) described by WEIRD countries backward.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:19AM

If Henrich’s history of Christianity and the West feels rushed and at times derivative—he acknowledges his debt to Max Weber—that’s because he’s in a hurry to explain Western psychology. 

This adds more to my prior comment with the addition to Max Weber here. Cross reference some of my reading this past week on his influence on the prosperity gospel.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:21AM

Henrich defends this sweeping thesis with several studies, including a test known as the Triad Task. Subjects are shown three images—say, a rabbit, a carrot, and a cat. The goal is to match a “target object”—the rabbit—with a second object. A person who matches the rabbit with the cat classifies: The rabbit and the cat are animals. A person who matches the rabbit with the carrot looks for relationships between the objects: The rabbit eats the carrot. 

Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:25AM

Toppling the accomplishments of Western civilization off their great-man platforms, he erases their claim to be monuments to rationality: Everything we think of as a cause of culture is really an effect of culture, including us. 

Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:27AM

He refutes genetic theories of European superiority and makes a good case against economic determinism. His quarry are the “enlightened” Westerners—would-be democratizers, globalizers, well-intended purveyors of humanitarian aid—who impose impersonal institutions and abstract political principles on societies rooted in familial networks, and don’t seem to notice the trouble that follows. 

Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:29AM

Read I Crossed Back Into a State of Denial by David FrumDavid Frum (The Atlantic)
At the Canada-U.S. border, I encountered a study in contrasts.

It did not have to be this way. But as Trump aptly said of himself and his policy, “It is what it is.” He accepted more disease in hopes of stimulating a stronger economy and winning reelection. He’s waiting now for the return on that bet. As so often in his reckless career, his speculation seems to be that if the bet wins, he pockets the proceeds. And if the bet fails? The losses fall on others. 

A very apt description of Trump’s life philosophy. Also a broad perspective at how many Republicans and Libertarians seem to view the world economically: privatizing profits and socializing losses.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 10:55AM

Watched Deconstructing Myths about the Irish Language by Colm Ó Broin from TEDxBallyroanLibrary | YouTube
Colm Ó Broin is an Irish speaker from Clondalkin, Dublin, and a member of Conradh na Gaeilge. He has been involved with Áras Chrónáin in Clondalkin and Cainteoirí Chill Mhantáin in Wicklow Town organising social events for Irish speakers for several years. He worked as a journalist for the Irish language newspapers Gaelscéal and Lá and has spoken and written widely about the many myths that surround the Irish language, including articles in The Irish Times, The Journal and Broadsheet.ie Colm Ó Broin is an Irish speaker from Clondalkin, Dublin, and a member of Conradh na Gaeilge. He has been involved with Áras Chrónáin in Clondalkin and Cainteoirí Chill Mhantáin in Wicklow Town organising social events for Irish speakers for several years. He worked as a journalist for the Irish language newspapers Gaelscéal and Lá and has spoken and written widely about the many myths that surround the Irish language, including articles in The Irish Times, The Journal and Broadsheet.ie This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
Watched Mind yer Scots - Dr Michael Dempster full interview from YouTube
Dr Michael Dempster - Full Interview. Speaking to 'The Big Night In' Dr Dempster discusses the origins of the Scots language, Scots in popular culture, place names, common attitudes and various initiatives to encourage people to use and understand their own Scots tongue.
Interesting note about the TV show Shetland and the language used and how it was affected by the BBC as a production entity.

Mention around 23 minutes about the Anglicization of Scots words that not only don’t make sense, but remove the relationship between the people and their land.

Read 13 things you should never say to a person from Scotland (Real Word)
Banter with a person from Scotland by all means. Get to grips with their colourful Scottish expressions and phrases. But, there are some things you dinnae want to say to avoid getting on their wrong side.  Follow our sound advice and you’ll dodge getting told to ‘haud yer wheesht’ (shut up), ...
Read Um, almost the entire Scots Wikipedia was written by someone with no idea of the language – 10,000s of articles by Kieren McCarthy
In an extraordinary and somewhat devastating discovery, it turns out virtually the entire Scots version of Wikipedia, comprising more than 57,000 articles, was written, edited or overseen by a netizen who clearly had nae the slightest idea about the language. The user is not only a prolific contributor, they are an administrator of sco.wikipedia.org, having created, modified or guided the vast majority of its pages in more than 200,000 edits. The result is tens of thousands of articles in English with occasional, and often ridiculous, letter changes – such as replacing a “y” with “ee.”
Read 5 Excellent YA Books About Selkies by Abby Hargreaves
If books about mermaids aren’t really your thing and you’re looking for something a bit earthier, you might be interested in selkie lore. For the uninitiated, selkies come from Scottish folklore, stemming particularly from the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland. Selkies, a kind of mythical creature that shapeshifts from a seal to a human form. In many examples of selkie legends, part of the lore typically involves a woman selkie who loses her pelt to a man of the land. When this happens, she is tied to him so long as she is unable to find her pelt, and therefore unable to return to her seal form and her ocean habitat. These six YA books about selkies drop readers into stormy seaside towns, sparkling ocean depths, and treacherous rocky crags.
Apparently this is a “thing”? I’m going to download a sample of one and give it a try.
Read Child Ballads (Wikipedia)
The Child Ballads are 305 traditional ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, anthologized by Francis James Child during the second half of the 19th century. Their lyrics and Child's studies of them were published as The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The tunes of most of the ballads were collected and published by Bertrand Harris Bronson in and around the 1960s.

Burl Ives’s 1949 album, The Return of the Wayfaring Stranger, for example, includes two: “Lord Randall” and “The Divil and the Farmer”. 

Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 08:59AM

In 1956 four albums (consisting of eight LPs) of 72 Child Ballads sung by Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd were released: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Vols. 1–4. 

Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 09:05AM

Illustration by Arthur Rackham of Child Ballad 26, “The Twa Corbies” 

Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 09:06AM

Joan Baez sang ten Child ballads distributed among her first five albums, the liner notes of which identified them as such. 

Annotated on August 04, 2020 at 09:07AM

Watched The Celtic World, Lecture 24: The Celts Today by Jennifer Paxton from The Great Courses
In the final lecture, end your 2,500-year journey with the Celts by considering the Celtic nations in the 21st century. Bilingualism, modern Celtic pop culture, and renewed nationalist groups pushing for politcal autonomy are merely the tip of the iceberg in this satisfying conclusion to a truly epic history of culture, politics, and warfare.
Read Western Individualism May Have Roots In The Medieval Church's Obsession With Incest (NPR.org)
Researchers combed Vatican archives to find records of how ancient church policies restricting whom one could marry shaped Western values and family structures today.

Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic (WEIRD) countries 

I love this acronym!
Annotated on August 01, 2020 at 05:41PM

That restructuring of societies in Western Europe in turn also benefited the church, notes Henrich. “In some sense, the church is killing off clans, and they’re often getting the lands in wealth,” he says. “So this is enriching the church. Meanwhile, Europeans are broken down into monogamous, nuclear families and they can’t re-create the complex kinship structures that we [still] see elsewhere in the world.” 

If true, this is an astounding finding.
Annotated on August 01, 2020 at 05:46PM

Read The American Death Cult by Anil Dash (Anil Dash)
A significant percentage of conservative culture in America defines “freedom” as death. This is causing a lot more problems right now than even its usual horrible effects. Some explanation, for those who may not have context. Why do we need to have guns? To protect our freedoms! Well, what about