All entries by this author

Searching and hoping for comfort

Aug 20th, 2014 11:50 am | By

A doctor with MSF, Gabriel Fitzpatrick, gives a heartrending account of working at the center of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.

In the suspected cases ward I saw a small child getting his nappy changed by a nurse who was wearing a full body plastic protective suit.

The child was clinging on to the nurse, searching and hoping for comfort in a place which does not allow direct skin-to-skin contact. As a father myself, this image stuck in my mind.

On the same evening, a mother and her two children were admitted to the hospital with confirmed Ebola. Within days the mother and eldest child had passed away.

It is startling how quickly this virus can kill patients.

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



The cabal strikes again

Aug 20th, 2014 10:46 am | By

Oh dear. Here we go again. Another item for the big master list of things not to say on Twitter.

InYourFaceNewYorker ‏@InYourFaceNYer 2h
@RichardDawkins @AidanMcCourt I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins
@InYourFaceNYer Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.

The Independent is already on it.

Budding atheists wondering whether Richard Dawkins is in need of a little time away from Twitter to reflect on the past few weeks are about to have their (lack of) prayers answered.

The philosopher has managed to go one step further than his

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Choosing

Aug 19th, 2014 5:13 pm | By

Oh good god.

Via Godless Indian Feminists on Facebook.

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Gentle, friendly, courageous

Aug 19th, 2014 4:42 pm | By

More on James Foley.

The BBC:

The Islamic State militant group has released a video online purporting to show the killing of a US journalist.

The victim was identified by the militants as James Foley, a freelancer who was seized in Syria in late 2012.

The militants said it was in revenge for recent US air strikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq.

The video has not been independently verified, but the White House said if it was genuine, the US would be “appalled by the brutal murder”.

Foley’s family wrote on Facebook: “We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers. Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the

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Imposing signature orientalist questions

Aug 19th, 2014 4:01 pm | By

So let’s sample a bit of Dilly Hussain’s work. Here’s a piece posted at the Huffington Post UK yesterday. It’s about the pressure on Muslims to disavow Islamist violence and repression.

This pressure on Muslims to bend over backwards in distancing themselves from crimes committed by their co-religionists comes in many forms: the war on terror rhetoric our government uses when talking about ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’, the media’s demonisation of Islam linking it to every crime under the sun from sexual grooming, domestic violence to terrorism, and TV/radio presenters’ aggressive methods of interviewing. The sight of prominent Muslim figures and organisations tripping over themselves when they race to condemn on national TV, you can’t help but think, how different

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On the nerves of Islamists

Aug 19th, 2014 3:37 pm | By

Amjad Khan at Harry’s Place introduces us to Dilly Hussain and his methods of disagreeing with that horrifying monster a Liberal Woman.

There seems to be something about women that really gets on the nerves of Islamists such as Dilly Hussain. Namely when they’re doing horrible “Islamophobic” things such as expressing opinions or leaving the confines of their home.

Now for those of you who don’t know ol’ Dilly, he’s a regular on the Huff Po and likes to write about his wonderful Caliphate (you know, the one that beheads apostates and stones women to death) on a bag of crazy called 5Pillarz.

Why would the HuffPo regularly publish someone who advocates for a Caliphate? Does it publish people who … Read the rest

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Sending a message

Aug 19th, 2014 3:26 pm | By

IS has apparently beheaded the US journalist James Foley, who has been missing for two years, the SMH reports.

Islamic State insurgents who control territory in Iraq and Syria released a video on Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of US journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago. The group also threatened the life of a second US journalist it claims to be holding.

The video, titled “A Message To America,” was posted on social media sites. It was not immediately possible to verify.

Foley, who has reported in the Middle East for five years, was kidnapped on November 22, 2012, by unidentified gunmen.

God is great.… Read the rest

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More Amnesty sources

Aug 19th, 2014 11:59 am | By

Amnesty International has a useful Ferguson Storify recording its activities and what its people have seen.

Sara DuBois @SaraLDuBois

police announcing anyone standing who’s not a member of media will be arrested. Heading back to hotel with @Amnesty crew. stay safe

10:03 PM – 18 Aug 2014

AmnestyInternational         @amnesty

US can’t tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won’t clean up its own human rights record

10:23 PM – 18 Aug 2014

It also has an Amnesty in Ferguson list.

 … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Economic recovery depended on cheap labor

Aug 19th, 2014 10:38 am | By

I’ve been re-reading David Oshinsky’s book Worse Than Slavery. It’s about the ways the Southern states found, after the Civil War, to continue exploiting black labor after and despite the abolition of slavery; it culminates with an account of Parchman Farm, Mississippi’s nightmarish state prison.

The Washington Post has the whole first chapter. Let’s start with the Mississippi governor in 1865. The state was a ruin.

In the fall of 1865, Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys addressed the “negro problem” before a special session of the Mississippi legislature. A planter by profession and a general during the war, Humphreys had campaigned for office in a “thrice-perforated” army coat shot through with Yankee lead. Like other leading Confederates, he had

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Watching

Aug 19th, 2014 9:51 am | By

Amnesty International is in Ferguson.

In an unusual move, the global rights organization Amnesty International has dispatched a delegation of observers and organizers to Ferguson, Mo., to provide direct support to community members and to observe the police response to protests. The 13-person delegation, which arrived late last week, was the first of its kind deployed by Amnesty within the United States, the organization said.

Not the first time it’s ever been needed though.

Via Twitter:

stevegiegerich @stevegiegerich · Aug 15
Jasmine Heiss & Justin Mazzola part of Amnesty International team monitoring situation in #Ferguson #MichaelBrown

The scope of Amnesty’s mission was unprecedented; it was more like what they did during the 2013 protests in Turkey than anything … Read the rest

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More from the Brown files

Aug 18th, 2014 6:04 pm | By

Andrew Brown has invented a concept he calls “hard secularism” and cites as an example of it “attempts to ban prayer before council meetings.”

Mark Hammond, chief executive of the EHRC, points out that of the four cases on religious liberty that have gone to Strasbourg in the past three years, his organisation has sided with the Christians in two and against them in two. The commission took the view that Christians were not allowed to discriminate against gay people, however sincerely they want to, but it backed their right to wear crosses at work even when the secular courts disagreed.

For the EHRC, this is no more than a slight adjustment of course: a check that it is interpreting

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In the shelves

Aug 18th, 2014 5:04 pm | By

The BHA posted this photo on Facebook a few minutes ago:

They posted it along with a link to their Flickr album from the GHC. So I’m looking at the album to see if I can spot friends, and I’m spotting friends.

Leo and Andrew are standing in front of the Dawkins-Grayling shelf. Those two dudes have produced a lot of books just on their own.

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If you listen

Aug 18th, 2014 4:13 pm | By

Look, what you see is not all there is, aka the availability heuristic, comes up again, this time at Alex’s, in a post about the fact that some people have every reason to be passionately angry at and about religion, and the related fact that others shouldn’t be telling such people to tone down their anger.

People like us are infamous for words like ‘privilege’, ‘splaining’, ‘problematic’; part of the power of concepts like these is that when transferred between activist contexts they expose parallels. I’m deeply aware there can be only limited analogy between atheism and the concerns of more marginalised groups, and would hate to devalue their language. But I’m convinced of the following:

It is a

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Summer school with sprinkles

Aug 18th, 2014 1:08 pm | By

The summer school where Sue Blackmore gave that talk is called Oxford Royale Academy. Yes really – with the e on the end of Royal. Maybe you’re not allowed to call your consumer item “royal” unless you have permission from a royal? So you call it Royale instead? But the trouble is then it sounds like ice cream.

You probably shouldn’t be allowed to call it Oxford either, because it’s misleading, but there you go. My uncle put the Gallup Poll in Princeton to get the appearance of academic credibility. It’s what people do. He called it The American Institute for Public Opinion for the same reason. Templeton puts “Institutes” and “Academies” in Oxford and Cambridge for the same … Read the rest

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Another bunch left, then another

Aug 18th, 2014 12:11 pm | By

Sue Blackmore gave a lecture at a summer school yesterday and was left shaken and depressed by how it went.

I was told they were of 45 nationalities and I assumed many different religions. So I prepared my lecture carefully. I tried it out the day before on my husband’s grandson, a bright mixed-race 16 year-old from Paris, and added pictures of the latest craze for ‘Fatkiniposts’ and more videos, including my favourite Gangnam Style parody (Python style), but I wasn’t going to avoid the topic of religious memes – religions are an example, par excellence, of memeplexes that use wicked tricks to ensure their own survival. I simply made sure that my slides included many

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Meet Pro-life Waco

Aug 18th, 2014 11:45 am | By

So, thanks to artymorty, here is Pro-Life Waco and its campaign against Planned Parenthood complete with STOP Planned Promiscuity sign.

Right at the top you get its ideal, which is a pretty and dainty white lady lying down flat with a baby pasted to her front. That’s how we like our ladies: white, and pretty and dainty, and recumbent, and pasted to a baby.

They had a campaign against a sex education program by Planned Parenthood, with its own website that looks a lot like the original website, complete with recumbent white lady pasted to baby.

Planned Parenthood Promiscuity

corrupting your community, America, and the world.

John Pisciotta, Director of Pro-Life Waco

Using Planned Parenthood’s own words and deeds,

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Planned what?

Aug 18th, 2014 10:22 am | By

Talking Points Memo has a piece about anti-abortion protesters collecting the license plate numbers of people entering clinics.

What interests me about that story is the photo they used to illustrate it. It’s an AP photo credited to Duane A Laverty, and it shows people wearing huge red stop sign-shaped signs that read

STOP Planned Promiscuity

What?? That’s a thing? I’d never heard of that before.

But I still haven’t, apart from that photo. I can’t find it via Google, including via News or Images.

I’m very curious about it, as well as very disgusted by it. Does anybody know anything? Who uses this slogan? Is it an anti-abortion slogan or an anti-contraception slogan?… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



What you see is not all there is

Aug 17th, 2014 4:26 pm | By

Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.*

You don’t see everything there is to see. I don’t, we don’t, everybody don’t.

By the same token, just because you do see something, doesn’t mean it’s all there is to see. (That’s the same thing really.)

Jeffrey Saltzman cites Daniel Kahneman on the subject.

Daniel Kahneman coined the acronym WYSIATI which is an abbreviation for “What you see is all there is”. It is one of the human biases that he explores when he describes how human decision-making is not entirely based on rational thought.

Traditionally, economists believed in the human being as a rational thinker, that decisions and judgments would be carefully weighed before being taken.

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Why don’t any animals have wheels?

Aug 17th, 2014 12:30 pm | By

Here again is the video Dawkins linked to, in case you missed it. It’s very cool.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAGEOKAG0zwRead the rest

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Twitter question time

Aug 17th, 2014 12:28 pm | By

Yes! There is a possible happy combination of Dawkins and Twitter, and earlier today he found it. This is what the two of them were always supposed to be doing. This is how to use Twitter if you’re a great science communicator.

Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins · 11h
If our planet had been shrouded in perpetual fog, would eyes have evolved? In the sea, why not? But on land, what other sense organs?

Does evolution rely upon digital genetics? Could there be an analogue genetics? What features of life have to be true all over the universe?

Stuart Kauffman’s thought experiment: If evolution could be re-run 1000 times, would certain patterns predictably recur? Humanoids?

Why hasn’t biological (as opposed to

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