I assert that God is omnipotent, omniscient, but also all-Evil. How would you disprove this contention? : DebateAChristian
Someone takes Law’s Evil God Challenge over to /r/DebateAChristian, and makes a pretty good showing of it. Amusing for all the Thomists complaining that the poster doesn’t get it, without quite being able to say what it is OP doesn’t get.
(tags: theodicy stephen-law theology philosophy god good evil thomist aquinas)
Peter Loggins – On The Importance Of Learning Other Dances Aside From The Lindy Hop : Atilio Menéndez : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
Loggins on how to dance at a real jazz club where most people are there to listen, and some history related to the old time ballrooms. Plus some advocacy for learning stuff other than lindy (maybe I should brush up my rusty ballroom skills).
(tags: ballroom dancing etiquette jazz lindy lindy-hop history)
Trevor Copp and Jeff Fox: Ballroom dance that breaks gender roles | TED Talk | TED.com
A couple of ballroom dancers who have developed various ways of switching lead/follow during the dance.
(tags: dance ballroom gender dancing waltz salsa)

Infant male circumcision is genital mutilation | Martin Robbins | Science | guardian.co.uk

“Men should have the right to choose circumcision, not have the choice forced upon them. Infant circumcision without consent or immediate medical justification is an unjustified violation of basic human rights, that shares more in common with ancient coming-of-age rituals than responsible medical practice.” Seems fair enough to me: the only reason we permit this is because of the common error of “respecting” religious opinions.
(tags: circumcision medicine surgery genital-mutilation religion science)

How Doctors Die « Zócalo Public Square

Doctors are better at making end of life choices for themselves than they are for their patients, as they’re often hamstrung by patients, families and “the system”.
(tags: death medicine health healthcare ethics dying doctors medical)


“Richard has been teaching contemporary and historic social dance for over thirty years. He leads workshops around the world and is currently a full-time instructor at Stanford University’s Dance Division.” Some interesting stuff on teaching, DJing and whatnot.
(tags: dance swing waltz dancing ballroom lindyhop stanford)

Open letter to Bell Pottinger | Bloggerheads

PR firm Bell Pottinger has been editing Wikipedia articles using fake accounts on behalf of their rather unsavoury clientele. When caught out, they responded that they’d done nothing illegal. Great public relations there, chaps.
(tags: astroturfing bellpottinger wikipedia lobbying uk news public-relations)

<lj-cut text=”Cut for waltz triggers”>
Pat pp Bruce: Waltz

Start facing diag wall about half way across a short side.
Spin turn, turning lock across corner (end in pp, ready to move diag centre on new line)
Running weave.
Back, side, cross (sway to R to lead cross).
Double reverse spin.
Forward, side, cross (sway to L to lead cross).
Back, side, rotate to throwaway oversway.
Recover and chasse out.

Clive: Waltz

Start facing diag wall at the beginning of a long side.
Two steps of a natural (forward R, side L), stretching L side up, step back R (back diag centre) and pivot to face diag centre as you lower. Clive was dancing this as “bouncing off” the full extent of the stretch into the pivot, I think.
Open telemark (end in pp ready to travel diag to wall)
Open natural (cross over her, right shoulder back on step 3)
Back under body (L), heel pull (pull R heel in and push it away to the side, then put weight on it), curve walks L, R to end OP facing back diag wall with sway to R (1,2&3) (she has a heel turn followed by the curving walks)
Back L, heel pull R, forward L, to end facing LoD
Double natural spin (like double reverse, but opposite feet): forward R, side L starting to turn, turn and lower onto L leaving RF free). You’re going to step OP on her RHS with your RF, so you need a bit of body rotation at the end to put her a bit more on your RHS than usual, but not too much.
Wing (forward R on her RHS, draw LF to RF without weight for 2, 3)
Chasse to R (in St C’s this is across the new LoD on the short side),
Weave ending.

I muck around with music a bit (I tend to sing for better keyboard players, although I did bash out tunes from Andrew Lloyd Webber for Dummies at the last singing party we had), and I also dance. I thought it’d be fun to try to get these two things together in my head, by working out how the music for ballroom dancing works. After a bit of Googling for pages written by people who know more than I do, here it is. Seeing as there are better musicians and better dancers than me reading this, they can correct me if I get it wrong.


Foxtrot is in 4/4 time, between 112 and 120 beats per minute (according to these people). It’s typically danced to Big Band music. The music emphasises beats 1 and 3. I think I can see that in A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, where the accompaniment either hits more notes on the treble clef, or uses the bass line to keep that emphasis. In Bobby Darin’s version, the brass is hitting those beats in the intro.

The steps are typically 1 beat or 2 beats long, and we call them “quick” and “slow”, respectively (if I’m writing it down, I’ll abbreviate to Q and S). The basic rhythm of the dance is slow-quick-quick, which means the first two steps hit the emphasised beats. Some figures in the dance vary the rhythm, but the “slow” step, if there is one, starts either on beat 1 or beat 3. Here are the Hiltons giving us something to aspire to, with music and the slows and quicks, starting about 1:25.

<lj-cut text=”Waltz, Quickstep, Tango, over”> Waltz

Waltz is in 3/4 time, as any fule kno . The tempo for slow waltz is about 84 to 90 beats per minute. The music strongly emphasises beat 1.

The steps are typically one step per beat, one-two-three, leading off strongly on beat 1. Sometimes, to get more steps into a bar, one of the beats is split into two half beats, with the second half of the split beat being counted “and”. For example, in the whisk/chassé combination we count the chassé “one, two and three”. Once again, the Hiltons show us how it’s done, starting about 1:20.

The Viennese Waltz is a lot faster, about 180 beats per minute. It’s typically done to classical stuff from Johann Strauss, although other possibilities exist, and of course, a fast waltz gives you the opportunity to dance to silly songs. It’s danced at 1 step per beat, and the steps are mostly turns in each direction as you progress around the floor, and the fleckrl, where the couple rotate about each other rapidly in the centre of the room to show off. There are no split beats in it, it’s fast enough already. Here are some good people doing it.


Quickstep and foxtrot have common roots. Musically, quickstep is in 4/4 again with the emphasis on beats 1 and 3, but faster, at around 200 beats per minute. Again, it’s typically danced to fast Big Band or jazz music, usually about a drum kit that’s getting lonely waiting for its owner to come back from World War II, or some such.

The steps are timed as 2 beat slows and 1 beat quicks like in foxtrot, and the rhythm is typically slow-quick-quick. But the figures we dance in quickstep have more in common with waltz than foxtrot. It’s also more common for figures to roll over the end of the bar, so that you lead off on beat 3 sometimes (the chassé and quarter turn that everyone learns as a beginner does this: it’s phrased as SQQS SQQS). Despite it being fast, we still get split beats in quickstep, too, usually called “quick-a-quick” (there’s obviously not enough time to even say the word “and”).


La Cumparsita is the quintessential tango. We’re still in 4/4, at about 130 beats per minute. The music is staccato (although I’m not sure how well the dots over the notes have come out in the image on the right). There’s a sudden “ba-dump” into beat 1: the piano has a half beat on the bass line of the previous bar in the example on the right, which came from 8notes.com. We usually feel like there’s an 8 beat phrase over the 4 beat bars.

Ballroom tango comes from Argentina via a bit of cleaning up in Paris. Again, there are 2 beat slows and 1 beat quicks, and the odd split beat too. Typically figures are danced quick-quick-slow. It looks nothing like foxtrot or quickstep, though: the style of it matches the staccato style of the music. The dancers stalk around on the slow steps and hit the quicks as quick as they can, and then stop as still as they can, so that the quicks end up being shortened. Here are Marco Cavallaro and Joanne Clifton having some fun with it. I saw them at a ball some years ago: they were great.

Next time, I’ll try and work out what the Latin dances are about.

Clive put endings on stuff, so I’ve added the three alemanas to the rumba and something called the Whirligig in tango to last week’s stuff, including a link to another one of those instructive videos where the commentator is clearly a bit too into the lady.

This week <lj-cut text=”More waltz from Clive, foxtrot from Bruce”>there was more waltz from Clive and foxtrot from Bruce.

Ballroom and Latin C – Waltz

Running spin turn (end in PP facing diag centre, woman doesn’t brush, apparently)
Whiplash: through R, side L without weight turning sharply to closed position. (1, 2, wait).
Straighten right knee, drawing LF in to stand on it (1 bar)
Lower into left knee, extending right leg (1 bar)
Transfer weight to RF (fallaway), ronde LF behind right, slip RF behind right and pivot to face diag centre (1,2,3).
Double reverse wing: for man, like double reverse spin but continue to turn body to lead her to wing rather than cross. (1,2,3 for us)
Chasse to right.
Outside spin.
Turning lock.

Dancesport Modern B – Foxtrot

Open telemark,
Curved feather, SQQ, finishing outside partner on RF, sway to right
Heel pull – back L, rotate half a turn on left heel dragging right heel with it, transferring weight to right heel at the end (QQ), sway to L, I think.
Last two steps of curved feather again (QQ), finishing OP again, sway to R.
Reverse wave (there’s a lot to this, so here’s what I think it looks like, but I’m probably wrong): back L with right shoulder back (S), she steps outside you, back R dragging heel (Q), still outside, rising, back L, top of rise. Lower and pull toe of RF past LF and step back R (S), rotating so lady in line, back L (Q), back R (Q), lower and take toe of LF past RF and step back L with right shoulder back to repeat. The woman’s doing something a bit like the man’s feather and 3 step while this is going on.

Top tips: don’t be backweighted on the reverse wave: push the feet back from the body, almost feel like you’re leaning over her.

The dancing lessons have stared again. Hurrah.

<lj-cut text=”Rumba (of which I found a video, yay; sadly I look nothing like the guy in it, boo), tango, waltz, reflections on being Batman”>Ballroom and Latin B (Clive)

3 threes: now with video of good people doing it
Forward basic lowering left hand to lead lady to turn to her right at the end of the bar, leaving her with her back to you, place both hands on her shoulders.
Cucharacha to R, leading her to spin to L on the 1 beat and catching her shoulders again immediately (according to Clive it’s a cucharacha, the video has a back basic).
Diagonal step forward L, chucharacha, hinting at her to turn to her R at the end of the bar.
Back basic, end with her in single hand hold.

Thing with no name:
Forward basic ending with LF back.
Pivot half a turn on LF taking RF forward away from her (beat 2), pivot on RF half a turn landing on LF facing her (beat 3), back on RF and settle into hip (beats 4&1), taking handshake hold.
Rock forward onto LF (beat 2), back on to RF leading her across (lead RH down and to right) (beat 3), lunge into left leg pushing RH out to right to make her turn and lunge in opposition to you (her free left leg in front of your free right leg). Stick left arm out diagonally forward. Smile.
Back basic from there, leading her across you with right hand, changing to left hand as she passes, ending in fan position.

Three Alemanas – easy steps for the man, it’s all in the arms, see the video on Youtube.

The rest of the lesson was heels and toes and body rotation in foxtrot (where does one buy the book with this stuff in, anyway?), and the quickstep we did last term.

Ballroom and Latin C (Clive)


Link (QQ).
Chase: Forward L, through R, side L turning sharply back into close position, forward R outside partner, side L to back LoD, pivot on LF face LoD and small chasse, R, L, R. (S,QQQQ,Q&Q),
Whisk LF behind RF (S)
“GD Is My Bowling AlleyTM“: Forward R, side L turning to back LoD (in closed position), back R turning to diag centre, whisk LF behind RF (promenade position) (QQQQ). Repeat (QQQQ again).
Through RF, close LF to RF (closed position), lower into LF extending RF to side (QQS)
Recover slowly, drawling RF in, straightening left knee a bit (SS)
Close RF to LF and point LF to side (&S): this shouldn’t be a bobbing action, keep it grounded
Whirligig: side and forward L (S), through R turning R (Q), side and back L (Q), back R loosely crossing behind L (Q), twist turn for 3 quicks (QQQ), ending with RF free, RF forward around her to unwind her twist (7th quick), forward L (Q), forward R (Q), tap L (Q).
Closed promenade, SQQS

Must have been something else, too. What have I forgotten?

Dancesport B Modern (Bruce)

Mostly technique. What I remember:

Importance of keeping partner on your RHS in Viennese, stepping around her when going forward and taking small steps to allow her to go around you when going backward.

Lots of hold exercises, including making us put our coats on and position our arms so the fabric is stretched around the back of the coat, without allowing our shoulders to hunch. Importance of remembering you are Batman and your cape encloses the lady (make the hold big). The Five Points of Connection. The Noble Eightfold Path (just kidding).

Waltz stuff. Importance of lowering on the “ee” of three, like wot I don’t do, and also of not moving horizontally while lowering vertically. Importance of gradual rise (halfway up on 2, all the way on 3).

Fallaway and slip pivot: facing diag centre, forward LF, side RF, LF side under body (beats 1&2), rise on “oo” of two, slip RF past LF (now backing LoD) and pivot to L on it (now facing LoD), lowering as you do so (beat 3). Next step must be forward L down LoD (back R for lady), or you’ve not turned enough. The rise here feels to me like I’m pushing off the LF as I’m bringing the RF towards it, no idea whether that’s right but it seemed to be what he was doing. Corrections welcome.

<lj-cut text=”Bruce’s cha, PaulW’s waltz”>
Bruce’s Cha

  • New Yorks
  • Fast New Yorks; 2&3 4&1
  • LF cuban breaks to right keeping RF planted; 2&3&4&1
  • Start of New York stepping through to right with LF, replace while ronde LF round to side, LF behind RF, small side RF, side LF; 2 3 4&1
  • RF behind, LF forward turning R, locks towards partner (she does alamana and ends up on your RHS)
  • Forward LF leading her to step back and open out, replace, side, close, side (she cha-cha’s to her R or locks forward if she’s at right angles (I think Bruce preferred the latter) moving with you)
  • Back basic, giving her a little push on first step so she continues past you into fan.
  • Forward basic leading the hockey stick ending from fan.
  • Tiny back basic (RF behind heel of LF), cha-cha forward, following her.
  • Forward LF, replace, side, close, side, bringing her in for top.
  • Top, on 1 lead her to spiral clockwise into rope spin.
  • Small side to L, replace, cha-cha on the spot.
  • Back, replace, cha-cha forward to meet her as she finishes walking around, ending with her on your RHS again.
  • Forward L and open her out again, cha-cha-cha to left. On 1, lead her to spiral anticlockwise
  • Behind and back R, back L, back, lock, back (aida)
  • Side L turning to face each other, replace R facing away again, step lock step back up the room,
  • Huge spot turn: swivel inward to face up the room, RF passes standing foot and ends up pointing up the room as you step onto it, continue turn stepping on to LF facing down the room, cha-cha-cha R,L,R.

I’ve a vague feeling I missed bit, as I have memories of rope spins, but someone else might remember. Edited to add: on the end of the top, now fixed.

Paul W (the other one), pp. Clive, waltz

  • Starting facing down LoD, weight on LF, step over onto RF taking a bar over it, leaving LF free.
  • Travelling contra-check: Forward L, forward R bringing left shoulder forward to start rotating into PP, forward L in PP.
  • The Step With No Name: Forward R on heel, forward L (on ball?) staying down rotating to more closed position, forward R heel-toe, forward L rising into PP again (this is fiddly and I’m not sure of the position changes). 1&2 3
  • Chasse to L, ending with a toe pivot on LF to face centre, keeping head to the left.
  • One of those sway things: Push her left leg to side with your right knee extending RF to side without weight, bring weight over it (“balls over your balls” © Bruce), bring upper body ending with head further over it (ie sway to R) and turn head to right. 1, 2, 3, roughly.
  • Recover onto LF, close RF and rise, side LF in PP, diag to centre (the next bit is the short side)
  • Weave: forward, forward, side, back, back, side (across short side, ending diag wall into corner)
  • First 3 steps of natural turn (to R), forward, side, close
  • Pivot turn: back LF, pivot onto RF as if to spin turn, but step forward L along new LoD, rising into PP.
  • Chair and slip pivot.
  • Your LF is now free and you can go back to the start.

Hard bits here: change of position PP to more closed to PP in The Step With No Name, as it’s also a timing change which confuses my addled brain.

Also, the toe pivot to get into position for the sway is hard: we’re supposed to take our time getting into it, but the previous chasse has momentum, even after pivoting I want to shoot my right leg out to the side straight away (partly to keep my balance).

T’other Paul W stepped into the breach for both Clive and Bruce this week, and jolly good he was too.

<lj-cut text=”Doing our bit for heteronormativity”>
The foxtrot from last time now has an ending, so go look at that if you care.

Natural turn SQQ
Pivot turn: back L, pivot to to point RF to diag centre, forward R on heel SS, stay low and rise into lock
Forward lock, L, R, L QQS
Quick open reverse forward R, forward L, side R starting to turn L, LF back under body in CBMP, back R, S SQQS
Sway thingy: back L to point to wall with L knee bent, stay there and rotate slightly to R leading her to ponce around a bit. SS
Barrel roll: QQS to R, swaying R, turn R and QQS to wall swaying L, turn R and QQS up LoD facing centre swaying R, turn R and QQS to centre swaying L finishing diag centre pointing to opposite corner (not the one between the current long side and short side, the one after that)
Locks into corner, SQQS
Natural turn SQQ
Scoop: back L, side R to face diag centre of new line, lowering into knee with sway to L, SS wait there for SS
Sway to R and lockstep out on L, R, L, QQS
Side R with sway to L, forward L outside partner with sway to R, SS

Alternate easier ending, from quick open reverse:
Chasse to left,
Natural turn,
Chasse to right aiming to far corner of short side with sway to R (small steps to allow lady to move ahead),
Rotate to left shoulder lead and forward lock into corner,
Natural turn
Spin turn etc. etc.

Spin turn
Back locks R, LR, L 1 2& 3 maintaining right shoulder back to end of bar
Back R turning L, pivot, side L, forward R continuing to turn to face centre, side L under body in CBMP, leading lady to step through 1 2 3&
Back L, chasse to left RLR 1 2&3, take your time over first step
Curving walks L, R, L 1 2 3
Outside spin: back L with toe slightly in, take heel of RF past lady’s right side and step around her, side L to end backing diag centre
Pivots (2), 1&2 3 1&2 3 (I can’t seem to make the feet work for these when I’m dancing them around the kitchen, since a 180 degree pivot on each beat leaves me on the wrong foot)
Natural turn

Hip twist to fan
Hockey stick ending
Forward, replace, back lock back
Back, replace (leading lady to alamana), forward lock forward (she locks forward towards you to end on your RHS)
Forward, replace, small cha-cha-cha to left as leading lady open out, replace, spiral, (she has 4 1, not 4&1 to give a foot change), ending in loose shadow hold
Cuban breaks with RF
Cuban breaks with LF
Forward R, spot turn, forward lock
Forward lock,
Forward lock (she turns on this one to get her foot change)

Paul’s Latin top top for the evening was about stepping forward or back in cha or rumba, where the passing foot should have the toe pointing down and the knee as high as possible without lifting the toe off the floor by the time it passes the stationary foot and then take the weight as late as possible starting with the ball of the foot. He was also keen for side steps to arrive with the body over the step rather than going foot-knee-hip, but allowing enough give to settle into the hip afterward. If I do all this, I forget how to do anything with my arms, but presumably practice makes it second nature.

<lj-cut text=”That was a 2 shirt evening”>

Paul pp Clive

B rumba

Forward L, replace, side L,
Top (behind, side, close)
Forward L leading lady to step back and open out, replace, back L leading lady to close up and rotate further into cuddle hold.
Release hold with right hand taking it over lady’s head and out in front of you, rock forward onto R, replace, side R.
Forward and across L, replace R, side L (she ends up on your left)
Forward and across R, replace L, side R (she ends up on your right)
Somehow she ends up in front of you, forward L, replace R, side L leading alamana (I think, can’t see how else the feet for the next bit work)
Rock R, L, R.
close, side, close, L, R, L
Rock R, L, R
Forward L to start again.

B waltz

Start facing diag wall of short side near corner.
Spin turn, usual reverse turn ending, back, side, close, forward, side close.
Check: back R with upper body rotating to L, recover to L, side R to face toward centre.
Weave ending: side L under body keeping as square to her as you can, back R begining turn to L, side L to face wall.
Curving walk to right, R, L, R.
Back lock 1 2 & 3
Outside spin (back R with toe slightly in, pivot L to step outside her, forward R continuing to turn to end backing diag wall).
Reverse turn (I always do a turning lock instead cos my brain is programmed to follow outside spins with it).

Cha, can’t remember which lession

cha-cha right
New York to R
New York to L
Fast New Yorks R, L,
Spot turn to R
Taking a firm hold with both hands, step diagonally outside partner with RF, forward side back turning R.
Back side forward continuing to turn,
Forward side back contuning to turn,
Back side forward (on last forward L, take small step and gather her up)
Top (RF behind) ending closed
Thing like cuban break but stepping to side with LF and closing, twice: 2&3 4&1
Side R, replace, back R, close L, forward R 2 3 4 & 1

C foxtrot

Starting diag centre on long side
Fallaway, QQQ
Slip RF back, pivot LF to diag wall, cross RF behind LF QQQ
Continuing to turn L, step forward left, side R, side L under body (another fallaway) QQQ
RF back, LF side, RF forward (feather finish) QQQ into corner.
Forward L turning so diag to new wall with RF closed to L without weight S
Extend RF to side S
Put weight to RF and lower into knee S
Stretch up left side S
Recover and rotate left shoulder foward. S (that’s 5 slows, count ’em)
Recover on to LF, slip RF back to face new LoD QQ
Forward L, side close side backing wall S Q&Q
Weave ending: side L under body, back R, side L, forward R to corner, outside partner QQQQ
Reverse turn (that’s the one turning L), L, R, L, SQQ to end facing diag centre of new long side
Back check: back R with rotation to L
Weave again, forward L, QQQ QQQ

There was a rumba but my brain melted.

For the rest of you: I recently re-read Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, so I’ll post about that soon.

<lj-cut text=”Contains explicit steps”>
Bruce’s B waltz

Starts across a short side:
Natural turn,
Spin turn, (if you weren’t on a short side, you could over turn this)
Turning lock ending diag to centre on new LoD (sway to R on both natural and turning lock, but straight for spin turn)
Running weave: forward R, across lady L, back R, back L, 1 2 & 3, finishing with lady outside on man’s RHS, man backing diag centre. I’ve forgotten the sway 🙁
Tumble turn: back R (woman back in line) pivoting to diag wall, tightly curve steps to left, L, R, L for 1 2 & 3, to finish backing LoD. Sway starts to right and switches to left to assist the final step of the turn.
Oversway: back R, side L to point foot to wall, rotate foot and lower into left knee, right leg straight out to side, 1, 2, 3. Stretch up left hand side of body, allow right arm to give her some more space (one bar). Close R to L maintaining sway, rise and straighten into promenade position, take left foot to side in PP and we’re off again, 1, 2, 3

Clive’s C quickstep

Natural turn,
Open impetus to end in PP diag to centre.
Chasse to left,
Wing (SQQ for woman, only two steps for man obviously)
Chasse to right,
Back L, back R, lock L, SQQ
Two runs back R, L, QQ,
Back R, lock L, back R, QQS,
Back L, tipple to right with sway to right, SQ&Q
Swivel to left shoulder lead, LF forward into lock diag to wall on new LoD, QQS.

Clive also had a waltz which had the overturned spin turn/turning lock ending closed rather than PP and talking a toe pivot on the final step (L) to end backing LoD, but I’ve forgotten what happened after that, so traumatised was I about not ending in PP. Anyone?