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Apparently, this photo went viral a couple of years ago. I didn’t see it at the time. I came across it because I’ve been reading older posts the blog Infidels Are Us. I used her blog as a source for some information a couple of days ago. I hadn’t realized at the time that her own family members have been attacked for leaving Islam. As it happens, they converted to Christianity.

She put up a link to a video that appeared on the website Vice, “Rescuing Ex-Muslims: Leaving Islam.” The video starts with a shocking, dreadful attack captured on closed circuit video. It wasn’t until after I watched it I that I realized that the opening footage was of an attack on the father of the young woman who writes Infidels Are Us. I went back and read some other posts on her blog, including a post in which she describes her own experience of that night. It adds to the immediacy to hear about it in her voice. We see these things on the news and we learn, after a time, to disassociate them from real people who lead lives not unlike our own. Reading her version really broke down that self-defense for me.

The Vice video contained footage about about a Saudi ex-Muslim who fled Saudi Arabia. A couple of years ago, her parents made her go to the Grand Mosque in Mecca. There, she took the following photo:

A hand holding a piece of paper reading "Atheist Republic" inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca

Source: Atheist Republic

At the end of the video, the young woman who took the photo is in Cologne, Germany.

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A couple of days ago, I put up a post with the title “Thirteen Countries Execute Atheists.” I put a link up to my source, a UK site, Channel 4, although I saw the number in several places when I was looking it up. I used that particular source because the list was easy to find on the page and gave a quick and convenient summary beneath a graph. In my post, I put a caveat regarding Nigeria being on the list, but I didn’t put any notes about any of the others. There were a couple of comments, so I thought I would take some time to elaborate about Malaysia. From the site itself:

Every Malaysian citizen over the age of 12 must carry an identification card, a “MyKad”, which must state the bearer’s religion.

According to Sharia law within most Malaysian states, apostasy or conversion is a punishable offence, either with a fine, a jail sentence or the death penalty.

I’ve had a slight interest in Malaysia for many years partly because one of my close friends from college was born there, although she grew up in Brooklyn. However, I have never been there. The friend in question often referred to herself as “indigenous Malaysian” and told me that she followed the indigenous religion. Her description of it made it sound polytheistic or animist, with nature spirits. There is an interesting article I came across some time ago, “Native Religion in Malaysia: An Introduction.”

It is a comprehensive system of beliefs closely connected to nature and the earth. Elements of nature are often included in its rituals and symbols. In general, nature is often regarded as the base of life, as the earth where the soil, rivers, trees, rocks and animals are seen to possess a form of “life” that is similar to human beings. Nature is even regarded to have its own language that only the followers of the native religion can understand, even though this “language” is not verbally communicated in words of human understanding. The practitioners of native religions believe that nature is moved by a very powerful cosmic energy. Humans cannot live without nature but nature will endure even without humans.

My friend told me that she learned about the native religion from her grandparents when her mother sent her back to live with them for a time because her mother was afraid she was becoming too Americanized. Although she usually referred to herself as indigenous Malaysian, her father, it should be noted, was ethnic Chinese. Her parents came over here in 1969 during a period of political upheaval and inter-ethnic violence.

One of the things that makes Malaysia interesting in regards to the rise of political Islam (Islamism) and the increasing conservatism of Islam more generally, is that Malaysia is an multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.

Graphic: Ethnic Groups - Malay 50.1, Chinese 22.6, Indigenous 11.8, Indian 6.7, Other .7, Non-Citizens 8.2; Religions - Muslim 61.3, Buddhist 19.8, Christian 9.2, Hindu 6.3, Other Chinese 1.3, Other .4, None .8, Unspecified 1.

Source: Graph created from information found on CIA World Factbook

Malaysia was part of the British Empire until 1957 when the country gained its independence. The Constitution written at this time, guaranteed that Malay political power would have a special privileged position. It should be noted that the Malay ethnic group is a different group than those considered “indigenous Malaysian,” who are also multiple groups. Malays and the indigenous Malaysians are all considered “Bumiputera,” or “Sons of the Land.”

In the 1970s, the Malaysian government implemented policies which The Economist called “racially discriminatory” designed to favour bumiputras (including affirmative action in public education) to create opportunities, and to defuse inter-ethnic tensions following the extended violence against Chinese Malaysians in the 13 May Incident in 1969.

Religion mostly coincides with ethnic groups. It should be considered that the demographic numbers hide the existence of mixed-race individuals. I was looking for some information and came across this interesting video on YouTube:

Until September 2001, Malaysia was generally considered a secular country. On the Wikipedia page about Secular states, Malaysia is in the category labeled “ambiguous.”

In Article 3 of the Constitution of Malaysia, Islam is stated as the official religion of the country: “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.” In 1956, the Alliance party submitted a memorandum to the Reid Commission, which was responsible for drafting the Malayan constitution. The memorandum quoted: “The religion of Malaya shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practicing their own religion and shall not imply that the state is not a secular state.” … This suggestion was later carried forward in the Federation of Malaya Constitutional Proposals 1957 (White Paper), specifically quoting in paragraph 57: “There has been included in the proposed Federal Constitution a declaration that Islam is the religion of the Federation. This will in no way affect the present position of the Federation as a secular State….” The Cobbold Commission also made another similar quote in 1962: “….we are agreed that Islam should be the national religion for the Federation. We are satisfied that the proposal in no way jeopardises freedom of religion in the Federation, which in effect would be secular.” In December 1987, the Lord President of the Supreme Court, Salleh Abas described Malaysia as a country governed by “secular law” in a court ruling. In the early 1980s, the Malaysian government led by Mahathir Mohammad implemented an official programme of Islamization, which was manifested in the form of introducing Islamic values and principles into the bureaucracy, substantial financial support to the development of Islamic religious education, places of worship and the development of Islamic banking. The Malaysian government also made efforts to expand the powers of Islamic-based state statutory bodies such as the Tabung Haji, JAKIM (Department of Islamic development Malaysia) and National Fatwa Council. There has been much debate in public and political circles on Malaysia’s status as a secular or Islamic state in recent years. (Emphasis mine.)

In “The Threat To Secular Democracy In Malaysia,”  Farish A. Noor begins with “As far as complex plural societies go, Malaysia has to be one of the most complex and plural societies in the world at the moment. There are few countries with a racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious mix like Malaysia’s…” He goes on to note,

there is the emergence of an increasingly vocal, visible and powerful parallel civil society that operates along the basis of particularist religio-communitarian demands and which advocates the concerns of their specific targeted constituencies only.

With the rise of religious-based consumer groups, workers groups, professional groups, etc. it would seem that the space of secular civil society seems to be shrinking on all fronts. Issues such as workers rights, gender equality, environmentalism et al. that were once neutral issues in a secular public domain have now been “claimed” by exclusive religious groups instead…

He observes that “sectarian politics that was initially race-based and now increasingly religion-based” and wonders “what will happen to the very idea and ideal of a universal Malaysian citizenship.”

He concludes with a statement whose relevancy extends well beyond Malaysia:

The challenge that stands before any government of a society as plural as ours is to develop a national politics that is inclusive and accommodating to all, giving every citizen a space and a place in the national narrative and national identity. The safeguard that ensures that such a politics of universal representation can take place is a secular democratic system where the state remains the honest neutral broker between all communities, and does not favour one community over others.

Any attack on the very idea of secularism is therefore an attack on the value of universal equality itself, and those who condemn secularism as being “un-Godly” or corrupt are really the ones who wish to destroy the secular basis of a free and equal society where every citizen is accorded the respect that she or he is due. When the attacks against secularism come from the representatives of the majority ethnic-religious community (such as was the case with the rise of Hindutva supremacists in India, and Muslims communitarians here in Malaysia), what we face is nothing short of the rise of the tyranny of the majority.

For all its weaknesses, secularism remains the only safeguard we have to keep our country on a democratic track. And for that reason, the democrats among us must be prepared to defend our secular democratic and plural public domain at all costs, come what may.

I think it’s hard for those of us who live in most Western democracies, where, whether we are talking about Catholic emancipation in the U.K. or the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., equality under the law for all is seen as a hard won achievement and is widely enshrined as an ideal, to understand laws still exist that depend on the ethnic background or religion of an individual. Although we my argue about whether or not it is honored in practice, the ideal is usually assumed.

In Malaysia, ethnic Malays must legally be Muslim. According to Wikipedia:

Attempts by Muslims to convert to other religions are punished by state governments, with punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment. The federal government does not intervene in legal disputes over conversion, leaving it to the courts. The secular courts of Malaysia have ruled they do not have the authority to decide these cases, referring them to the Syariah courts. These Islamic courts have unanimously ruled that all ethnic Malays must remain Muslims. Even non-Malays who have converted to Islam are not allowed to leave Islam, and children born to Muslim parents are considered to be Muslims. A non-Muslim who wishes to marry a Muslim must first convert to Islam.

It should be noted that Malaysia is a federation and some laws vary among states. This Wikipedia entry might be slightly out of date because I found a mention that in 2015 the state of Kelantan would be enforcing Sharia Law, including, possibly, the death penalty for apostasy.

Anniesa Hussain, on Infidels Are Us, writes,

I am witness to the alarming rate at which Malaysia sways towards religious oppression of its non-Muslims.

She goes on to detail:

This Kelantan bill which was initially passed in 1993 but prevented from being implemented on the grounds of its unconstitutional nature, has been passed yet again and now being set in motion. The Bill is an amendment of the 1965 Syariah (Sharia) Courts Act which currently limits Sharia penalties to a fine of 3,000 Malaysian Ringgits ($800), 5 years imprisonment and 6 strokes of a cane.

This PAS Bill states that Hudud can only affect the Muslim population of the state but it fundamentally strips away the right of anyone wishing to leave Islam for any other religion or quite possibly, to simply abandon it. …

It should be pointed out that this Hudud Bill is not unique to Kelantan alone, rather the state is just a latest example of the curtailing of religious freedom within Malaysia. Terengganu state for instance has also attempted to introduce similar legislation. I am still living in Malaysia until the summer and I can honestly say the country’s politics does not shy away from exclusively carving out a Muslim nation explicitly for the Malays and chipping away at non-Malay and non-Muslim freedoms.

As the original secular roots of Malaysia continues to be eroded and replaced with an ever-present, ever-pressing purer form of Islam, the nation continues to be plunged deeper into uncertainty for its religious minorities. Malaysia is becoming a country of increasing alarm, its politics increasingly embedded and infiltrated by hard-line Islamists. Personally speaking, it has become a country that has gained priority in my nations-to-watch list.

It has been for several years on my “nations-to-watch” list as well. Besides the laws, moderate or non-practicing Muslims have felt greater informal pressure to conform to the rules of strict Islam. However, I should note, that I have not yet found a case where anyone was actually executed, although people are imprisoned. In one case, a professing Hindu was forced to eat beef.

As far as what laws might affect atheists who are not ethnic Malays, did not have Muslim parents or did not convert, I have not been able to ascertain. Since non-Muslims are not allowed to proselytize to Muslims, I would assume there it would be illegal to try to convince a Muslim to become an atheist. Would simply talking about atheism be allowed? If not, what sort of laws would apply and what sort of punishment if they were broken? I have not been able to find out answers to those questions. It’s getting late and I’ll have to leave that for another time.

I think in the Western world, and possibly elsewhere as well, we are inclined to believe that there is a tendency towards progress, and that progress includes greater liberalization and secularization. Due to this, I think we often miss the fact that much of the Islamic world is becoming less liberal and less secular. Oddly, our own ethnocentrism leads us to the mistake of seeing as “traditional” developments that are in fact recent.

As far as traveling goes, it should be noted that Noel, as I mentioned, recently returned from Somalia safe and sound. I suspect, and perhaps he will tell us, that he did not engage in any public debates about the existence of deities while he was there. In all likelihood, I imagine in most places, if you don’t feel a need to talk about it, people will just assume that you follow one major world religion or another. That’s not exactly “freedom,” but one doesn’t usually presume that sort of freedom in another country. For those that live there, however, it must feel very different than it would as a traveler.

The situation in Malaysia is very complicated and I hope that I have done it at least some justice. I don’t think anyone should feel that it is dangerous to travel there on account of their beliefs and I’m sorry if my previous post gave that impression.

Still working on my long post about the center left. However I’ve been really good about posting regularly for the past couple of weeks and I don’t want to blow my streak. So, I’m putting up an old photo again. This was taken at an exhibition on robots. It is “Renard le Job,” “Job the Fox,” created between 1950 and 1953 by Albert Ducrocq, a pioneer in the field of robotics. The machine is situated in a lineage of artificial animals which includes the Bristol Turtles and Norbert Wiener’s Moth/Bug. Mounted on wheels and containing sensors, it would move towards a light source, react to sound and avoid objects. Interestingly, it could record its path in a magnetic tape memory.Renard-Electronique-ofwUpdate: How embarassing. I’ve posted this photo before.

I didn’t finish a longer post, so I thought I’d post a sketch I did earlier today. Noel, who, coincidentally, just returned home from Somalia a few days ago, put up a post, alerting atheists who are Considering Visiting Muslim Majority Countries.  He gave a link to the Godless Spellchecker’s blog in which GS posted translations of what people are saying in Arabic about atheists on Twitter. Back on Noel’s blog, the very funny (and occasionally offensive – you’ve been warned. Don’t blame me if you click the link.) Armchair Pontificator made a quip and I drew a quick cartoon. Being caught postless, I decided I might as well post my cartoon here.

Beheading Hurt

It has often occurred to me that there is no way to know how many people are really Muslim in countries where there are severe punishments for atheism. The thirteen countries that execute atheists are Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, UAE and Yemen. Another four, Bahrain, Gambia, Jordan and Kuwait, imprison atheists. In Nigeria, it should be noted, the constitution protects freedom of thought, but rights are often violated by local governments and non-state militias and Islamist groups. Hence, I put different words on the picture.

Beheading-ofw

Perhaps it’s a matter of making a virtue of necessity, but I’ve never been much of a hypocrite. Many other awful things, yes, but not a hypocrite. This is my pathetic way of propitiating the gods of political correctness before making a vocal minority mad.

I once had a boyfriend who went in for a great deal of new age mumbo jumbo, retreats at Essalen and whatnot. Once, he went a way for a long weekend to a retreat in the woods to dance. This wasn’t just dancing to have fun, but dancing to get in touch with whatever that thing is that people get in touch with. You know, one of those spiritual type of things. This dance retreat served vegan food, because… I don’t know why, but they did. My boyfriend returned home from his retreat and was relating a story about something that happened. Incidental to the story, was the line, “A group of us snuck out to find a steakhouse….” I rolled my eyes. He shrugged.

That relationship fell by the wayside and my profile was back up on a dating site. (Note the passive voice. I have no idea how that profile got there. Profiles just do things like that sometimes.) An activist type who worked for the Democratic Party contacted me. He wanted to take me to a documentary film and then we’d go out to a burger joint afterward. Oh, yes, and would I please not tell anyone where we’d being going to eat afterwards. At would really look bad for him professionally if people knew he ate meat. Needless to say, I cancelled the date.

There are lots of arguments for avoiding meat. It has always seemed to me that one of the worst ones was the environmental argument. After all, if there were significantly fewer people, we could all eat what we want. As the population of the planet continues to increase, aren’t there other things we would have to start to avoid as well. If we avoid meat because raising livestock uses more resources than growing vegetables, then aren’t some vegetables to be avoided for the same reason. Why don’t they just go ahead and devise some insanely restrictive diet that maximizes resources. I’ve wondered how long it would take them to get there.

Well, a few months ago, an article appeared in The Washington Post which talked about the evils of leafy greens. The article starts with the author, Tamar Haspel, specifically stating that we need to “eat better and farm better” “as the world population grows.” What food do we need to get rid of? Salad, specifically lettuce, “a leafy-green waste of resources.” She goes on to name four foods that are low in nutrients, “cucumbers, radishes, iceberg lettuce and celery.”

She goes on to make a couple of good points about people mistaking salads for being healthy even when they’re not. It’s a point that’s been made before. She also mentions “food-borne illnesses.” A point that I came across after a bout of food poisoning a few months ago that was a new bit of information to me, that raw vegetable are a common culprit for food poisoning.

Still, micromanaging what we eat in order to maximize the number of people on the planet sounds positively dystopian to me.

One of the things I did yesterday was transfer some of the photos I’d taken while traveling. For some reason, I thought I had done that in the past. Apparently not. I’ve posted a few of them on my French blog that were taken mostly on one day in December about three years ago.

 

If you’re new here, you might want to be warned that I’m verbose. If you scroll down there’s a step-by-step recollection of what I did that might be useful for some people.

Back in 2012, I was planning a trip to Europe. One of the things I wanted to do while I was there was to assess the viability of working while traveling. Previously, vacations for me had always been device free. Now, it was going to be the opposite. I was trying to be as connected as possible. I headed to the store to size up the latest, lightest laptops.

When I got there, a sign advertising the newest version of Windows was propped up on the table with the laptop display encouraging people to pre-order. “When will it be released?” I asked. “Actually, it was released today,” I was told. Convenient coincidence.

Although Microsoft has always been the subject of hatred among my acquaintances, I never fully understood their complaints. When I was young, some adults, especially my mother, always accused me of doing things the hard way. However, when it came to the operating system for my computer, I chose to go with the mainstream. I never had any real problems with Windows myself.

I’ve used Linux a little bit, just out of general curiosity because I’m interested in computers, but it really never occurred to me to ditch Windows altogether. Some of the programs I use don’t have Linux versions. Sure, the operating system used to cost money, but a hundred bucks for something that will last me five years or so and that I’ll get daily use out of simply doesn’t strike me as that much.

Then came Windows 10. Honestly, Windows 8 wasn’t all that good either. 7 was a high point, in my opinion.

It’s really hard to enumerate all the things I hated about Windows 10. Cortana. The constant pop-ups advertising some Microsoft product. I would be trying to concentrate on my work when suddenly black box slides in from the right. “Get Office Now!” I found myself cursing more often than not. Another pop-up saying “Auto-rotate On!” which comes up again about ten minutes later. At best it’s distracting.

I’m ambivalent about the privacy issue. On the one hand, when I try to protect my privacy, I find myself in the company of people who seem paranoid to me. I tend to take for granted that fact that the government has no real interest in me and the interest that companies have in me is mainly how to part me from my money, which I don’t have nearly enough of to be anything other than matter of fact and practical about it. It does creep me out a bit. Once, I was allowing advertising alongside my emails. That lasted about a day. I wrote, in an email, something to the effect of “Don’t make me shit,” a figure of speech not to be taken literally. Soon, I saw an ad for a laxative. I realized that a program was reading the content of my emails. That really bugged me, so I downloaded Thunderbird.

It seems as if Microsoft has decided that it no longer wants to sell software to clients, but to give away software that gathers data and sell that data to their real clients. I would probably have continued using Windows anyway, but after a few months with Windows 10, it has become clear that they don’t want to simply snoop on you, they want to get in your way.

One of my main reasons to continue with Windows was because I’m a heavy user of Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Of course, Adobe has now gone to a subscription model, so it’s highly probably that, unless I become a professional photographer rather than a hobbyist, which is not in the least bit likely, when my current version becomes unusable I will switch to something else. Oddly, if they hadn’t done that, I’d probably be looking to upgrade to a newer version around now. Funny to think that I was exactly the sort of customer, the ones who bought ever other or every third version, that used to frustrate them the most. The price conscious consumers. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that we weren’t just being cheap. Spending more literally wasn’t in our budgets. In trying to get more money out of us, they have essentially driven us away. Well, their profits seem to be growing, so I guess they can do well enough without me.

However, I don’t use Photoshop on my laptop. Although I travel with my camera as well as my laptop, my laptop is too small to really want to spend much time processing pictures on it. Also, it doesn’t have the same processing power or memory that my desktop does. For serious photo editing, I’m not going to do it on my laptop. However, I have put up blog posts while traveling and I would like to be able to do basic things like download the photos from my camera and to some simple tweaks to the exposure or white balance.

Sometime around Christmas, I was using my laptop and I found myself gnashing my teeth yet again over how much I hated Windows 10. Then I didn’t use my laptop for several weeks. I realized that I hated 10 so much, my laptop had become more or less unusable. At the least, I was actually avoiding it. The only reason I hadn’t switched to Linux in the past was convenience. Well, it was looking as if convenience was no longer on the side of Windows.

Most of you probably know what Linux is. For those of you who don’t, it’s an operating system, or OS. Windows is also an operating system. It’s the software program that sits between your computer and other programs, called application programs. Apple brand computers run the Mac OS. Nearly eight-nine percent of personal computers run one version or another of the Windows operating system. Linux, by comparison, is less than two percent of the desktop operating system market. The most common alternative to Windows is Mac, but generally you need to buy an Apple computer and I wasn’t in the market for new hardware. There are a few other alternatives out there, but I needed something that was reliable, would work and had enough users out there that if I have a problem someone might be able to give me advice.

The history of Linux has been told many times elsewhere, so I won’t retell it here. What is relevant here is that the original project has branched into many projects, so there are different versions of Linux, usually called distributions, often shortened to “distros.” You will also hear people refer to “flavors” of Linux.

My own choice was not especially well reasoned. Since I wanted to simply replace Window on my laptop with something less annoying, that would hopefully work “out of the box,” I searched on the internet for the opinions of people with similar hardware. I found several posts from people using Arch Linux and Fedora Linux. I decided to try Fedora first since I had used it in the past. Actually, it seems to have changed quite a bit in intervening years, so perhaps that shouldn’t have been a factor.

One of the positive things about Linux is that it is free. It’s not at all uncommon for people to try out several different versions before settling on one they like. The only reason I didn’t do that is because I’m lazy. I’ll probably stick with what I’m running now, which is Fedora, unless I find a reason to do otherwise.

So, here are the steps I took. It was actually easier than I expected with only one real hang-up, which was easily overcome after looking it up on the internet.

One thing I would suggest if you are going to replace your operating system is to have another computer that is working on hand. Usually you can solve problems by researching them on the internet. It is not unlikely that someone else has had a similar problem and has perhaps put up a solution.

You will need a USB flash drive and I highly recommend having a paper and pen at hand. I don’t know about you, but I always find myself suddenly being prompted for a password and realizing that I have no place to write it down. Suddenly, I’m jumping and running around the room like chicken little and writing my password down just about anywhere and losing it. So, do know that you will have to create a password at a couple points.

This is, I repeat, very easy. Some actions had other options. I’m not listing all the alternatives that were possible, just what I did. I’m lazy. I like convenience and I like easy.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m not explaining things. I don’t know much, so I’m operating under the assumption that any one who finds the following useful knows less than I do. I think to myself, “What if my sister really got fed up with Windows and wanted to switch? How would I tell her to do it?” I’m going to but some longer explanations in footnotes at the end.

So this is a blow-by-blow of what I did. If you would like to do things differently (and there are other options) there is plenty of information out there to help. There are probably better ways of doing things, but I’m currently writing this post using the laptop in question, so this did work for me.

There are, by the way, plenty of alternatives to Fedora, and a lot of information at there on the web if you care to research it. I confess, I was being lazy and just wanted the pain of Windows 10 to go away and wasn’t at all in the mood to research it properly.

  1. Go to https://fedorahosted.org/liveusb-creator/ .1 Look under where it says “Download,” then beneath it “Windows,” then “Windows Installer” and click the link that follows it.live-usb-creator_download-pageIf you’re using Firefox, you should get a dialogue box prompting you to save the file. Click “save.” Your download should start. Type “Ctrl+J” to open the Download Library. Double click on “liveusb-creator-3.12.0-setup.exe.” You will get a dialogue labeled “Open Executable File.” Click “OK.” Install the LiveUSB Creator using the defaults, which should be something like “Next”, “Install”, “Next”, “Finish.” The LiveUSB Creator should open automatically. You can leave it open while you do the next step.
  2. Go to https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/ . Click the big green button that says “Download.” When the dialogue labeled “Opening Fedora-Live-Workstation-x86_64-23-10.iso” appears, make sure the radio button labeled “Save File” is chosen and then click “OK.”opening-fedora-dialogueThis is a very large file and, depending on the speed of your connection, it could take a long time to download. Wait.
  3. Stick your USB flash drive into your computer. Return to the Fedora LiveUSB Creator or launch the program if it is not open. There is a panel labeled “Use existing Live CD” with a button that says “Browse.” Click it. A file chooser should open. Navigate to your downloads file and find the file called “Fedora-Live-Workstation-x86_64-23-10.iso.”2 Choose it and click “Open.” Beneath that, there is a panel labeled “Target Device” with a drop down menu. To the right of the drop down menu is a refresh button. Click the refresh button and the name of your USB flash drive should appear. (I had no other removable devices installed at the time, so it was the only thing on the drop down menu. If you have other devices, you might have to choose it.) Click “Create Live USB.”Screen shotI actually did all this on a machine other than my laptop, so I ejected the flash drive at this point and turned on my laptop. The following directions are specifically for Windows 10.
  4. Make copies of any data, photos, or anything else you have stored on the machine because we will be destroying what is on there. On the machine on which you wish to install the operating system go to the Start menu. From the Start menu go to “Settings,”*3* which should open the Settings window. From Settings, go to “Update and Security.” Under Update and Security, click “Recovery.” Recovery has a section labeled “Advanced startup.” Under that is a button that says “Restart now.” A screen will appear labeled “Choose an option.” Click the box labeled “Troubleshoot.” This will open another screen labeled “Troubleshoot.” Click the box labeled “Advanced options.” Under Advanced Options, click “UEFI firmware settings.” Click “Restart.”
  5. This brought up something called the “Setup Utility.” This must be navigated with the right, left, up and down arrows, not the pointing device. Go to the “Boot” menu.Setup-Utility-1Here, I changed the Boot Mode and disabled Fast Boot. At the bottom of the screen the functions of several keys are described. F5/F6 changes the values of the options. Using the up and down arrows, navigate to where it says “EFI.” “Windows Boot Manager” should appear first. Highlight it and hit F5 to move it down on the list. Press F10 to save and exit.Setup-Utility-2
  6. Insert the live USB drive you made in steps 1 – 3 into your computer. Restart.
  7. This is what I saw. Unfortunately, the camera focused on me, not the screen, but what it says is “not a COM32R image,”*4* followed on the next line by “Boot.”Not-a-com32rThis line will keep repeating every few seconds until you do something. Hit tab. Options will appear. One of the options was “linux0.” I typed that. Not-a-com32r-2It started to Install. The rest is even easier.
  8. I was given an option to “Try Fedora” or to “Install to Hard Drive.”*5* Since I knew that I wanted to get rid of Windows and I’m too lazy to try several distros first, I just clicked “Install to Hard Drive.” From the Installation Summary screen, click on “Installation Destination.” From the Installation Destination screen, I chose the only hard drive on my computer. On the dialogue labeled “Reclaim Disk Space” I clicked “Delete all.” Follow the password prompts. Do not forget to write it down someplace safe! Then: Yea!
    ready-to-use
  9. After that, there are a few self-explanatory screens asking you for things like your language preference and time zone.

I confess, I was a little surprised by this, but I guess you’ve gotta keep up with the times:

Online-accountsThis was followed by a screen asking for your name. There’s no need to put your real name here, but you need to put something. Odd.

This makes finding software absurdly easy:
welcome-to-software

Too easy. Where’s the pain? You young’uns. When we were young, if you wanted a program, we had these disks and you had to carry the data to your computer with your bare hands!

I haven’t been using it long enough to tell you what I think of it, but I’ve got to say, much to my surprise, so far it’s actually been easier than using Windows. That did surprise me.

I have a few other thoughts about this, and I apologize for the paucity of the explanations. While the installation was relatively easy, writing this out was quite time consuming and I need to get away from the computer.

One. (‘Cause fucking WordPress won’t let me start a paragraph with a number with turning on the damned numbering thingamabob. ‘Cause, ya know I’m too stupid to know what I want to do myself.) I don’t know if the live USB creator will work with other Linux distributions. I don’t see why not, but I didn’t try it. In the past I’ve used Rufus. Wikipedia has a list.

Two. “Fedora-Live-Workstation-x86_64-23-10.iso” was the name of the file I downloaded. The current release is numbered 23. If you this number almost certainly will change in the future, so the exact name of the file might be different. (I kinda figure most people can work that out, but I’m trying to be super specific and simple here.)

Three. This is very different from what I’ve done in the past. Previously, hitting F2 while the operating system was booting would take you into the BIOS and F12 would take you to the boot menu. This is what I initially tried to do and one of the reasons I’m taking the time to write that all out. I’ve read a couple of different explanations for why this didn’t work that way, but I’m not sure what explanation is correct. In any case, going into settings as I’ve described is what worked.

Four. I have no idea why this happened. I read found quite a few places on line where people brought it up, so it seems to be a common problem. It has a simple solution, but I have no clue why it is happening in the first place.

Five. If you want to try it to see if you like it before installing it, in other words you are unsure you want to get rid of Windows just yet, you can pick the other option. You can also try several different Linux distributions to see if you like one better than another before installing.

It, perhaps surprised no one, but the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album went to “Hamilton.” However, it gives me another opportunity to repeat what a wonderful show it is. At the award ceremony, the cast of the show, who all appear to be the same people who were in the show when I saw it on Broadway a few months ago, performed the opening number, “Alexander Hamilton.” It tells of Hamilton’s early life prior to his arrival in New York. Born in “a forgotten spot in the middle of the Caribbean,” abandoned by his father, his mother died of a fever when he was less than thirteen years of age, leaving Hamilton impoverished. Hamilton was then taken in by a cousin who committed suicide. He found employment as a clerk with an import export company. “A hurricane came and devastation reigned.” The self-educated seventeen-year-old wrote an article about the storm for a Danish-American newspaper which drew attention for its style. Community leaders “took up a collection just to send him to the mainland” to get an education. The play starts as Hamilton arrives in New York.

I’m embedding this version because WordPress doesn’t seem to accommodate videos from sources other than YouTube. You can really get the sense of how well the “rap” style works in the play. It doesn’t come across as gimmicky at all.

Making our costumes last Halloween got me back into the idea of sewing. Now, it’s not the action of sewing itself that I like. In fact, it’s a time-consuming drag sometimes. However, I get ideas in my head and I like getting them out of my head. Since I’m not famous like Kanye West, billionaires are not going to give me money to bring my beautiful ideas into the world. Therefore, I’ve got to do the plebeian sewing myself.

Recently I came across the Steely Seamstress’s blog. She says, “I’ve just been drawn to various projects either because I like the pattern or fabric or because I feel that the techniques I’ll use in the project are ones that I can do. I have tried to challenge myself incrementally; I don’t want to try to run before I can walk.” Oh, no! I’ve just been taking the scissors and running with them! I keep thinking that I should sew a few simple things and build up my skills, but the real reason I want to sew is to make the things I imagine in my head.

I’ve been bookmarking some things that I found inspirational. Then it occurred to me, that websites don’t last for ever, and it’s going to take some time for me to actually make the stuff. So, it occurred to me that I should copy to my hard drive (keeping in my own grubby little paws, not in the cloud) some of the things that have really struck me and I feel like I’ll want to see again. Indeed, I went back and one of the sites I had been looking at seems to be down. It was a Tumblr site called “Giant Pants of the ’30s,” or something like that. Somehow, I had a hunch that a blog devoted to great big trousers from one decade in the twentieth century would not last forever. I came across it by accident a couple of years ago and thought, “These things look great.” Although that site seems to no longer be accessible, that person, or someone else, seems to have migrated some of her pictures to one of those photo sharing sites. So, I took the liberty of copying some of the pictures. Mainly I intend them for my own use, but since they look so great I thought I’d share some of them with you.

(It was searching the internet for fashions of the 1930s that lead me to the photo of the woman with the thong and the garter belt.)

Although there have been a few attempts in earlier times, most famously, perhaps, by Amelia Bloomer, to make garments for women that were as practical as those for men, they didn’t catch on, at least not as fashion. Women occasionally wore trousers and skirts that were split to ride bicycles or engage in other activities which were difficult to do in a skirt. The Steely Seamstress mentions Amelia Earhart as an example, but they were not widely accepted. The flapper era changed that. According to the “Wearing History” blog:

Enter the 1920’s and the “flapper”.  Pajamas are all the rage- in the boudoir and by the seaside.  Some daring women even started wearing men’s trousers.  Was it accepted by the majority?   Definitely not.  But they started gaining in popularity thanks to the seaside, the boudoir, and the new collegiate co-eds!

It was the nineteen thirties when trousers began to be worn widely. I remember my mother once telling me that, before my grandmother was married, she used to dress like “Joan Crawford,” in pants and flat shoes. My grandmother was a wiz a sewing. My grandfather, however, didn’t like women in masculine clothes and made her stop dressing like that.

Joan Crawford Vintage PantsHere, we can see several of the characteristics of women’s trousers in the thirties, the wide legs, the generally loose fit, the “drop front” with two rows of buttons. It is also paired with a striped shirt and she seems to be holding a beret. Trousers for women were becoming acceptable in active or sporty situations and were sometimes called “beach pyjamas.” According to “Witness to Fashion,” the beach pyjamas were derived from the clothes worn by French sailors and the French and nautical references are no accident.

Cartoon of sailors and young fashionable women.

While looking through the photos I was able to find online, it seemed to me that the look was closely associated with the Côte d’Azure and was often pair with surprisingly skimpy tops.

A group of young women One thing that struck me and seemed to contradict our stereotypes of women in earlier ears, was the lack of bras. The natural shape of breasts is unmistakable.

Vintage Beach Wear Striped HalterAs someone who frequently finds herself expected to be dressed up in restrictive clothing and painful shoes while strolling alongside a man who is in sneakers and jeans, I found this photo of a couple in Biarritz amusing:

Couple Biarritz 1933Note the extra flare at the bottom of the pant leg. Also, note the length of the crotch. “Wearing History” compares vintage sewing pattern pieces:

Pattern pieces showing the crotch length.

It probably doesn’t need to be pointed out the the waist of the pants falls at the natural waistline.

A few more that are worth pointing out…

I love the pleated flares that start just below the knee in this picture:

Pleated FlaresLook at these dots!

Women bowling on a lawn in trousers.Here is the actress Joan Bennett in a very simple outfit that works incredibly well.Joan BennettAnd what would be a post about women wearing trousers in the interwar period without Coco Chanel…

Coco Chanel Cannes 1939and, of course, my own personal “style icon,” Marlene Dietrich.

Marlene Dietrich

…and a little complaining about men.

I was looking up photos of clothing for another reason altogether when I came across a photo that reminded me of a Valentine’s Day nearly a decade ago.

The last time I had a date on Valentine’s Day, I was getting ready to go out. I had kicked off work early. Since I recall what I was doing at the time, that means this was about 2007. I had had a few dates with the guy already, but it had only been a couple of months, perhaps less, since we had first met. Since my birthday falls towards the end of the year, then comes Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day in quick succession, all days that men can’t stand because they’re afraid you’re going to hit them up for presents and expensive dinners, I usually assume if I’m single at the end of November I can dismiss the possibility of meeting anyone until March. So, I was quite surprised that someone actually contacted me on the dating site where I’d posted a profile a month or two earlier at the end of the previous relationship. I had been finding that men my own age were turning their noses up at me and was, at that time, trying out the philosophy “if you can’t beat them, join them,” and started dating men who were older. This man was thirteen years older than I was.

Being the kind of woman that would rather die than be accused of being a gold-digger, I’ve always pretended that days like Christmas and my birthday barely existed, I didn’t bring up the approaching holiday. A few days earlier, he phoned and asked if I had plans for Valentine’s Day. No, I did not. Would I like to meet for dinner? Yes, I would.

The past times that we got together, we met around seven. I decided to surprise him with a little role reversal and went to a specialty shop to buy him a box of fancy chocolates. I headed home and started to get dressed. Since it was Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make sure I looked, well, sexy. I had showered and was putting on my makeup dressed something like this:Woman in bra, tanga, garter belt and stockings.Somehow, I realized that he never told me a time or a place to meet. I phoned him. He answered and said he’d get back to me. About a half an hour went by. Needless to say, I slowed down a bit, but I continued to get dressed, more or less. I was thinking of calling again when the phone rang. He said he had to work. The guy I was dating before him had, the year before, had a therapist’s appointment. On Valentine’s Day? Wouldn’t your therapist think it was a good sign if you cancelled to be with a woman? Choosing your therapist over your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day is itself a sign of poor mental health, don’t you think?

If I had dropped hints about the day, I would have understood. But, dammit, this was his idea. He came up with it entirely on his own. Here it was, now going on eight o’clock on Valentine’s Day and I was, very literally, all dressed up with no place to go. I took myself to a local restaurant rather than sit in and eat the box of chocolates. I should have expected it, but I was not the only person eating alone in that place.

I might have even forgiven him, but you know what? A few days later he phoned. “What are you doing this weekend?” No apology. Nothing. Just like everything was hunky dory. Talk about feeling taken for granted. I told him I was busy that weekend. And I was busy the weekend after that. He sent me a few emails puzzled about what went wrong. I didn’t answer them.

I had never made a fuss over Valentine’s Day, so even when I was single it didn’t really bother me. For some reason, it bothered me this year. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself last night.

I’ve always had a bit of a lingerie fetish. Well, maybe “fetish” is too strong, but I like pretty underthings. The picture up top, I believe is a British company.

My favorite company is Chantal Thomass. I was reminded that the bra I bought two years ago, a little polka dot push-up number with a matching thong and waist cincher with garters, recently had the underwire poke through the fabric. It can probably be repaired, but it’s on its way out. No one ever saw it except me.

They have a new collection out now. This looks kind of cute.

Model in bra and panty.

I’m feeling a little bit glum and self-pitying at the moment. There’s a line in The Rocky Horror Picture Show when Magenta says, “We ask for nothing.” Frankenfurter replies, “And you shall receive it. In abundance!” I’ve always felt that my relationships with men were a little bit like that. Sometimes I think that it’s exactly because I’m not demanding that men undervalue me. It’s a bit of psychology. People value what they have to work for and don’t value what comes easily. By not asking for much, I unintentionally give men the impression that I don’t value myself highly. That’s not quite correct. The truth is that I’d rather be alone than act like a demanding bitch.