Pope Benedict XVI is visiting Scotland and England over the next few days. I have never lived anywhere with a big Catholic community and it is interesting to see how Glasgow is reacting. I do not know if it is the result of the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack, but the amount of security is quite surprising; The main motorway is being shut down for an entire day, several areas surrounding the park where the Pope will address pilgrims have been shut off and certain trains are designated pilgrims-only. This reminds me of when George W. Bush visited Denmark at his height of his unpopularity - boy, it was fun to navigate Copenhagen that day - but mainly it strikes me as odd that a religious leader can generate so much fuss. Then again I identify as a secular humanist. One of these days I need to make myself a "Humanist; Not a Dawkins Fan", though. One of the Pope's aides have pulled out of the UK visit following an interview wherein he criticises the UK for "a new and aggressive atheism". The media have reacted strongly to this, of course, but I think I know which brand of atheism the aide is referring to and, honestly, it is a form of atheism that makes me uncomfortable too. I need to write more about this, but suffice to say that a) I'm puzzled by the Pope's visit and b) I hope all my Catholic friends in Glasgow will have a memorable and good day.

If course there is one religious belief with which I do feel connected: Forn Sidr or Asatru, the belief in the old Norse gods. I grew up with the stories and while I do not believe, there is definitely a connection. I think it is about growing up in a landscape where you see remnants of the ancient past everywhere and seeing the forces of nature unfold before your eyes. Again, I need to write more about this.

And there is a knitting aspect, of course.

Last night I cast on for Idunn. I assumed this would be a commuter project: The February Beret by sockpixie. I made this hat in orange last year and it turned out to be the most flattering hat I have ever owned - well, apart from the rusty orange hue. As soon as I finished it last year, I  began thinking about those two precious balls of Scottish Tweed DK in "Apple Green" from my stash. Ever since Rowan discontinued Scottish Tweed due to supply issues, I have been acting all dragon-like what with the hoarding and jealous guarding.. but yarn is really meant to be knitted up and so here we are.

And Idunn was a Norse goddess associated with apples.

I don't think it'll be much of a commuter project because I'm halfway done. Just in time for the first autumnal winds and heavy rainfall. I love being a knitter.

PPS. I shall be in Copenhagen November 4 until November 8, so get in touch if you know of any knit night/knit event/yarn sale.

Turning It Around

I am very bad at receiving compliments, but am very good at taking criticisms to heart. Yesterday I was called something Not Very Nice by a random passer-by at my workplace. It was completely out of order, had no basis in reality and all my colleagues were stunned into silence (which does not happen often). I felt so bad yesterday that I bought two balls of Kidsilk Haze and then went home for a big hug. I'm in my mid-thirties and I still do not know how to handle unfair criticism. That too makes me feel a bit blue and inadequate. So let me write about good things. Happy things. Things, thoughts, places and people who make me smile.

  • Sarah Haskins makes me really happy. She hosts Target Women which takes a look at the often-ridiculous way the media reaches out to women. The Yoghurt edition had me at "yoghurt is the official food of women!" (and not just because I'm lactose-intolerant and yoghurt makes me feel really sick), but they are all very funny and, excuse the pun, on-target. That's Gay looks at gay representation in mainstream media with equally great results.
  • At Academia Nuts, my good buddy R. writes about art as resistance and wonders how she can incorporate her thoughts into her knitting. I have similar issues with regards to my own crafting and would love to read other people's thoughts on this.
  • I bought the pattern for the Snapdragon Tam today after coveting the hat ever since I first spotted a photo of it. Paula has just knitted a gawjuss version which pushed me over the edge. I am going to use one of the oldest yarns I have in my stash, a Malabrigo-ish 1-ply merino in a dark, lush forest green. This yarn was once fondled by Robert Carlyle, I'll have you know.
  • I was watching Nerdstock: Christmas for Rationalists last night on BBC4 (BBC4 makes me very happy very frequently). The show was very hit-and-miss: I continue to have huge problems with the evangelical branch of atheism (hello Richard Dawkins), some of the comedians were clearly out of their depths and the shiny face of Professor Brian Cox distracted me from whatever he was saying - but I really, really enjoyed Baba Brinkman's Rap Guide to Evolution. Brinkman's not the best rapper in the world but he is very clever (and I find it delightful he also does a rap version of Canterbury Tales).
  • I have finished my second shawl of the year (Rav Link - I have reasons for not writing about it here just yet) and am 2/3rds through my third shawl. I'm knitting this one out of Fame Trend (yes, still knitting up what I brought from Scandinavia) and I'm liking the yarn so much more than Drops Delight. I must admit I'm a tad tired of knitting shawls out of self-striping yarn.. but hey, it's good that I'm getting through projects!

Changing the Game

It is not often that people are praying for my soul when I'm at knitting group. Tonight was certainly different. We got caught up in evangelical Christians protesting the play Jesus Queen of Heaven outside Glasgow's Tron Theatre which involved the press and some (rather bored) policemen. As odd as the praying thing was, it did not compare to walking outside and seeing some very offensive anti-gay posters and billboards being held up by Respectable Citizens. Such people seek confrontation and thrive upon attention. I was not willing to give them any satisfaction and I resorted to quietly shaking my head at the candle-holding and chanting men and women as I made my way home. The twentieth century is slipping away before our eyes:  one of its greatest intellectuals, Claude Levi-Strauss has died. I always assumed that he had passed away before I began studying critical theory, although I cannot tell you why, but instead Levi-Strauss lived to the ripe old age of 100. Rest in peace, you structuralist giant.


Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers have teamed up to make an adaptation of the children's classic Where the Wild Things Are. Growing up in Scandinavia, I confess I had never heard of this book, but the trailer looks stunning (and turn the volume up - the chosen song fits perfectly). Via John, aquarists at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay have uncovered the identity of a mysterious coral reef killer. Like John says, the accompanying picture really sells the story. It looks like really bad CGI from a D-list Monster Movie of the Week .. but it is not. Ew.

io9 lists The 7 Deadly Sins of Religion in Science Fiction which feels a bit lazy as they mainly focus on Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who with a bit of Heroes and the odd Star Wars mention. What? No, X-Files with their beatification of Dana Scully? I'm also rather unsure about the attack on the use of cargo cults.

On a similar-ish note: what do you get if you divide science by God is a strange little article:

The bizarre nature of quantum physics has attracted some speculations that are wacky but the theory suggests to some serious scientists that reality, at its most basic, is perfectly compatible with what might be called a spiritual view of things.

And so the journalist proceeds by asking random scientists about their spirituality and we are all somehow supposed to jump to startling conclusions about quantum mechanics, the existence of God and what not.

Oh, let's just end with a BBC headline which I first saw thanks to Anna: "God will not give happy ending!" Oh damn.


In January, Cindy Jacobs, a co-founder of an American prayer movement and host of the TV show God Knows, had a prophecy come to her. The voice of God warned Cindy about the troubles ahead for global economy. And lo, on October 29 Cindy and her fellow believers went to Wall Street and prayed in front of the Golden Bull that their fortunes should be restored and for wealth to return to the US.

In Cindy's own words:

"We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the 'Lion’s Market,' or God’s control over the economic systems," she said. "While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble."

Thank you Daily Kos, Ravelry and Metafilter for the heads-up. I was going to write a lengthy commentary but I think Cindy and her friends speak well enough for themselves.