highpriestessofelua: owlgirl reading a book (owl; book)
From "The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England":

"In 1582 Dr. Dee embarks on a series of experiments with another alchemist, Edward Kelley; together they seek knowledge of angels through séances. In April 1587 an angel called Madimi orders the two men to hold everything in common, even to the extent of sharing their wives with each other. They seek clarification “whether the sense is of carnal use (contrary to the seventh Commandment) or of Spiritual love.” “Carnal use,” replies the angel. Who are they to stand in the way of science? The alchemists and their wives duly comply."
highpriestessofelua: owlgirl reading a book (owl; book)
I'm designing this D&D campaign for my friends which is going to be set in real world 16th century Europe (only magic is real, the fae truly exists, there are other planes et cetera). To do some research, I bought the book "The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England" by Ian Mortimer. I just started reading, but so far it was very much worth it. A few highlighters from the chapter about the status of women.

Despite the fact that women were barred from voting and from most prestigious professions, could hold almost no public office, were usually legally subservient to males for most of their lives, and, when married, owned no property separately from their husbands and were allowed to be beaten by their husbands, women in England enjoyed more freedom than in other parts of Europe. In 1599, the Swiss Thomas Platter writes:

"Now the women-folk of England, who have mostly blue-gray eyes and are fair and pretty, have far more liberty than in other lands, and know just how to make good use of it for they often stroll out or drive by coach in very gorgeous clothes, and the men must put up with such ways, and may not punish them for it..."

Alessandro Magno from Venice writes:

"Englishwomen have great freedom to go out of the home without menfolk. . . . Many of the young women gather outside Moorgate and play with young lads, even though they do not know them. Often during these games the women are thrown to the ground by the young men who only allow them to get up after they have kissed them. They kiss each other a lot."

Somehow I haven't expected to find the phrase "they kiss each other a lot" in a 16th century text and it is very amusing.

The Flemish Emanuel van Meteren writes in 1575:

"Although the women there are entirely in the power of their husbands, except for their lives, yet they are not kept as strictly as they are in Spain or elsewhere. Nor are they shut up but have the free management of the house or housekeeping, after the fashion of those of the Netherlands and other neighboring countries. They go to market to buy what they like best to eat. They are well-dressed, fond of taking it easy, and commonly leave the care of household matters and drudgery to their servants. They sit before their doors decked out in fine clothes in order to see and be seen by the passers-by. In all banquets and feasts they are shown the greatest honor; they are placed at the upper end of the table where they are served first; at the lower end they help the men. All the rest of their time they employ in walking and riding, in playing at cards or otherwise, in visiting their friends and keeping company, conversing with their equals (whom they term “gossips”) and their neighbors, and making merry with them at childbirths, christenings, churchings and funerals; and all this with the permission and knowledge of their husbands, as such is the custom. Although the husbands often recommend to them the pains, industry and care of the German or Dutch women, who do what men ought to do both in the house and in the shops, for which services in England men are employed, nevertheless the women usually persist in retaining their customs. This is why England is called “The Paradise of Married Women.” The girls who are not yet married are kept much more rigorously and strictly than in the Low Countries."

Obviously all this stuff about "gorgeous clothes", "well-dressed" , "servants" etc. only talks about women of the upper classes. Lower class women are sometimes abandoned by their husbands and left to starve.

Also, there is a considerable number of female writers and poets in Elizabethan England, something which is a novelty compared to earlier times. The Calvinist poet Anne Locke writes, rather humbly:

“Everie one in his calling is bound to doo somewhat to the furtherance of the holie building, but because great things by reason of my sex I may not doo, and that which I may I ought to doo, I have according to my duetie brought my poore basket of stones to the strengthning of the walles of that Jerusalem whereof (by grace) wee are all both citizens and members.”

Some voices are a little less placid concerning the position of women in society. Isabella Whitney writes, in 1573:

"The lover’s tears will soon appease
His lady’s angry mood
But men will not be pacified
If women weep a flood."

Emilia Lanier writes in 1611:

"It pleased our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, without the assistance of man, being free from original and all other sins, from the time of his conception till the hour of his death, to be begotten of a woman, born of a woman, nourished of a woman, obedient to a woman; and that he healed women, pardoned women, comforted women . . . after his resurrection appeared first to a woman, and sent a woman to declare his most glorious resurrection to the rest of his Disciples."

And also from Lanier:

"But surely Adam cannot be excused;
Her fault, though great: yet he was most to blame;
What weakness offered, strength might have refused,
Being lord of all, the greater was his shame:
Although the serpent’s craft had her abused
God’s holy word ought all his actions frame,
For he was lord and King of all the Earth
Before poor Eve had either life or breath."

Mortimer concludes that: "Even though Elizabeth herself does nothing directly to advance the cause of women, she clearly inspires her female contemporaries. In legal terms, nothing changes; but under her rule, women begin to enjoy social freedoms that they have never enjoyed in the past, and a few brave souls gain public respect— not as the wives of great men, but on account of their own intellectual and creative brilliance."

highpriestessofelua: (Default)
Trying to imagine what will it look like, if AI technology develops gradually but reaches the cusp of AGI. One obvious answer is, robots everywhere, robots and AIs doing a lot of previously human jobs, remaining human jobs are heavily AI-assisted. Another answer that seems to be discussed less is, powerful and ubiquitous personal recommendation engines (although the automated assistants of today are probably already trying to go there?). Your personal "jinni" tells you what to to read, what to watch, what to listen to, where to go on vacation, whether to try yoga or mountain climbing and ultimately also, where to live, what major to choose, what job to apply to (assuming you are one of those who can still get a job), who to befriend, who to date, who to marry and whether to have children. And you listen to it, because its advice is incredibly good.

From there, it's easy to imagine either a Utopian or a Dystopian continuation. In the Utopian version, the personal AI is a benevolent guardian angel, helping you to become a better person, find true fulfillment and happiness. Perhaps it also gradually becomes more inconspicuous and humans are mostly left to their own devices, except for subtle nudges and occasional emergencies, while AIs re-organize the world for the best on a grander scale. In the Dystopian version, the recommendations rely more on more and superstimuli up to the point of actual wireheading, and humans become mindless drones herded by AIs, ultimately either to their death or to become some kind of unconscious "cattle" for the AIs own purposes. Maybe we can even get both things happening at the same time in different places.

Music

Dec. 17th, 2018 11:38 pm
highpriestessofelua: (Default)
Nice song by the Israeli band "Jane Bordeaux". It was a perfect match to my terrible mood earlier today.

A rough translation of the refrain only:

"So take another shot of whiskey,
It will help you for sure,
It will surely also solve,
All of your problems.
So take another shot of whiskey,
It will surely make it go away,
It will surely also give you,
Everything you're missing."


highpriestessofelua: (teacher;da vinci)
This MathOverflow thread is a goldmine. Some highlights:
  • Lewis Carroll invented a cute formula for determinants.
  • Sophie Germain published as "Monsieur Antoine Auguste Le Blanc" to hide the fact ey were a woman.
  • Student's t-distribution was invented by William Sealy Gosset who used the pseudonym "Student" to avoid lawsuits by Guinness, where ey worked at the time.
  • Isaac Newton used the pseudonym "Ieoua Sanctus Unus" in eir writing about alchemy. That means "God, unique and saint" in Latin but is also an anagram of "Isaacus Neutonus".

Books

Dec. 5th, 2018 10:47 pm
highpriestessofelua: owlgirl reading a book (owl; book)
I'm reading an very nice series called "Saga of the Skolian Empire" (by Catherine Asaro) that quickly became one of my favorites.

The premise: Around 4000 BCE aliens kidnapped humans from Earth and put them on a distant planet, abandoning them with some of their ships and computer libraries. Within a few centuries, the humans learned the alien technology and created an interstellar civilization called the "Ruby Empire". For reasons not entirely clear, the Ruby Empire eventually collapsed and most of its planets reverted to a primitive technological phase. Thousands of years after that, in the 19th century, the descendants of the Ruby Empire rediscovered space flight and established two interstellar civilizations: the Skolian Imperialate and the Eubian Concord. Earth also attained interstellar flight in the 21st century and established the Allied Worlds of Earth, at some point making contact with its two older and more powerful "siblings".

Skolia an Eube are bitter enemies. Skolia is ruled by some sort of constitutional monarchy, the monarchs of which (the "Ruby Dynasty") have rare genes that make them powerful "psions": empaths and telepaths. This allows them to use ancient Ruby Empire technology that the Skolians don't fully understand to create an interstellar web of instant communication. This gives them a military edge against Eube that is otherwise more powerful. Eube is ruled by a tiny elite called the "Aristo" and headed by a hereditary Emperor. The Aristo are "anti-empaths": they perceive suffering of other people (especially psions) as pleasure, which makes most of them evil sadists that constantly torture their psionic sex-slaves (the "providers") for their own enjoyment. All the other people in Eube are literally slaves of the Aristo.

The style: The series is SciFi with strong elements of romance, a genre I wish there was more of. There are no naughty scenes unfortunatelly. The SciFi is grounded in some actual physics, but for me it's not terribly interesting (I have very high standards when it comes to hard scifi). There are occasional plot holes. Moreover, the entire premise has obvious anti-kink undertones and strongly overstates the relationship between affective empathy and morality. For me though, Asaro's incredible writing more than makes up for all of those shortcomings. The premise seems simplistic at first, but Asaro's characters turn out to be far from black and white, showing a lot of quite elegant nuance. The novels are at times exquisitely exciting, sad or joyful. Neither the action sequences, nor the dramatic political developments nor the romance are disappointing. Highly recommended!
highpriestessofelua: (Default)
Hi everyone! How are you doing today? :)

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