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Anxious love

Feb 1st, 2015 1:59 pm | By

More celebration of Super Bowl Day by attacking the sacred institution of Murkan Football. Josh Spokes is on a tear on the subject, thanks to people treating football fandom as some sort of marginalized minority identity. Friends are making informative comments on his on-a-tear posts, and I sought and got permission to quote a couple.

Hope Stansfield:

Here’s the thing: I grew up in a rural and impoverished town in the Midwest. Football was a cultural juggernaut. It was a tool the privileged and powerful in that town used to demonstrate and exact their dominance, while also paying lip service to the idea that they weren’t viciously racist and bigoted – after all, if you could play football and not

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



Fuck the Super Bowl

Feb 1st, 2015 12:12 pm | By

It’s Super Bowl day. Normally I get to ignore this, which is how I like it, but ignoring it is not possible this year as it was not possible last year, because the team based in the city where I live is in it, as it was last year. In the god damn Super Bowl. The Seattle team is in it, for the second year in a row, and “the fans” won’t let anyone forget it. There are footballteam-patriotism decals EVERYWHERE – literally. You can’t go anywhere on foot or by bus or car without seeing them constantly. They’re hung in windows, on the external walls of buildings, on car antennas; they’re on gigantic flags flown from the Space Needle, … Read the rest

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“Plain” Colleen McCullough

Feb 1st, 2015 11:46 am | By

Plain? Really? I gotta tell you, I don’t see it. Unless the standard is

  1. the most gorgeous woman on earth
  2. all other women

I don’t see how Colleen McCullough qualifies as “plain.”

We already know I don’t consider it necessary to announce in news items about women that they are or are not “plain” in the first place, but even putting that aside for the moment ad arguendo, I still don’t see how Colleen McCullough qualifies as “plain.”

Jezebel shares this photo:

I.don’t.see.the.plain.

The Huffington Post UK:

Seriously? Who looks at that and thinks “plain”?

She aged well, too. Check out the photo by Quentin Jones for the SMH in 2013. Take a quick look at … Read the rest

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Plain of feature, and certainly overweight

Jan 31st, 2015 6:00 pm | By

Colleen McCullough was a best-selling novelist, and more.

Before becoming a full-time author, McCullough was a researcher at Yale medical school. And in between her time in New Haven and her global literary pursuits, she established the neurophysiology department at Syndey’s Royal North Shore hospital. She published her first novel, Tim, in 1974; her last, Bittersweet, in 2013. She was still working on a sequel when she died yesterday, at age 77, in a hospital on Norfolk Island.

But who cares about all that, amirite? Was she hot?? Was she gorgeous, was she thin, did she wear clothes well, did she decorate the place? Or did she fall down on all that?

The second sentence of her obit … Read the rest

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Guest post: Syntax and form

Jan 31st, 2015 4:53 pm | By

Originally a comment by Dave Ricks on What does Silicon Valley think of women?

The Newsweek cover works for me as satire, and I’ll explain in terms of syntax or form. By syntax, I mean a claim is equally valid in the active or passive voice. By form, I mean (for example) that jazz musicians call the chord changes to I Got Rhythm “rhythm changes” and (for example) most of the Charlie Parker tunes I know off the top of my head are launching pads to improvise over “rhythm changes” being a 32-bar AABA form.

All of us can instantly parse a single-frame editorial cartoon that shows a bad person behaving badly. My analogy here is to the active voice, … Read the rest

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Islamists do not want to debate

Jan 31st, 2015 4:34 pm | By

Chris Moos draws up a catalogue of the more wrongheaded responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He counts five of them:

the reflexive smearer, the moral relativist, the condescending bonhomme, the politician-cum-theologian and the winner of the competition, the Islamist abuser.

The reflexive smearer says the CH cartoonists and CH were and are racist.

As David Paxton points out, this usually came with an attempt at “root-causism“, a contextualisation of the murders in “wars against the Muslim world”, and an in-depth investigation of the alleged views, sensitivities and ‘culture’ of the murderers.

Since most British commentators have no understanding of French satire, politics, or culture, they naturally did not afford the same courtesy to

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It could provoke “uncontrollable, irresponsible incidents”

Jan 31st, 2015 3:42 pm | By

Another win for the bullies. The Telegraph has the story.

An artwork depicting high-heeled shoes on Islamic prayer mats has been removed from an exhibition after a Muslim group warned of possible violence in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Via Facebook

The French-Algerian artist, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, withdrew the work from an exhibition in a northern Paris suburb with a large Muslim population after an Islamic group told local authorities it could provoke “uncontrollable, irresponsible incidents”.

It is considered disrespectful to step on Muslim prayer ma[t]s with shoes.

Notice the lack of agent in that last sentence.  Notice how much more sweeping but at the same time reasonable the stricture looks when it’s worded that way. Who considers it … Read the rest

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What if you were arrested and publicly flogged for wondering why

Jan 31st, 2015 10:29 am | By

Haroon Riaz, to quote his blurb at the Nation, is a Rawalpindi-based independent blogger and believes in promoting free speech and secularism. Comrade!

He points out that what’s happening to Raif could so easily have happened to him or you or me. I know. Boy do I know.

He says hardly anyone is talking about Raif in Pakistan.

[W]hat does this tell the world about us? Or about our leaders who took the trouble of protesting against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but would dare not even think about the flogging of the Saudi blogger.

That those are some fucked-up priorities.

I know it is dangerous and sensitive to talk about anyone who has allegedly blasphemed, but let us put

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The bomb contained steel pellets, ball bearings and shrapnel

Jan 31st, 2015 9:47 am | By

Fridays are prime time for Islamist violence – sometimes after prayers, as with the flogging of Raif Badawi, and sometimes during prayers, as yesterday at a mosque in Sindh province.

Funerals have taken place in southern Pakistan for the victims of a suicide attack on a Shia mosque during Friday prayers which police say killed at least 60 people.

Dozens were also wounded in the attack in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district, making it one of the worst sectarian attacks in Pakistan in recent years.

Sunni militants linked to the Taliban said they carried out the attack.

They were careful to do the worst damage they could.

“The bomber selected a place in the mosque that would cause huge destruction,”

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Suad al-Shammary was released today

Jan 30th, 2015 5:58 pm | By

Wo.

The Beeb reports:

The new Saudi King Salman has issued a decree pardoning what are described as “public right” prisoners, which could include Mr Badawi.

Suad al-Shammary, a rights activist and lawyer who worked with Mr Badawi on his blog, was released on Friday.

She had been held for three months without charge over comments she made on Twitter, which her opponents portrayed as anti-Islamic.

Wo. If she can, Raif can.

Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar – who lives in Canada – told the BBC she was buoyed by Friday’s developments.

“I ask the world to remain by my side until Raif is released.”

Damn right.

She said she now hated Fridays – the day of lashings.

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This debate is not just French

Jan 30th, 2015 5:43 pm | By

Zineb El-Rhazoui was in Montreal the other day to talk about and fundraise for Charlie Hebdo.

According to El-Rhazoui, the most elementary defence against the rise of fundamentalism is to hammer home the point that religion holds no sway with the state .

“Secularism as far as I know, is the only way to permit everyone to live in the same society, even if people are different,” said El-Rhazoui.

“Islam needs to submit to secularism and it also needs to get a sense of humour.”

See what she did there? Islam needs to submit to secularism. That’s very good.

Patrick Kessel, of the French advocacy group Comité Laïcité République, said the fight against religious aggression concerns every western nation that

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It should have been this

Jan 30th, 2015 4:40 pm | By

Charlie Klendjian of the Lawyers’ Secular Society gave a talk yesterday at UCL ASH. He pointed out that “offence” is, in some contexts, code for blasphemy.

So, somehow we have accepted that we are allowed to cause offence generally, and we’re even allowed to offend virtually all religious sensibilities, for example with films such as the Life of Brian, artwork showing a crucifix in urine, or plays about Mormonism.

So it appears there is one exception to this rule that we’re generally allowed to cause offence. That exception, as we have seen, is Islam. Islam is refusing to play by the rules. We are not allowed to offend Islam.

I think we need a different word to “offence”

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In town at last

Jan 30th, 2015 12:13 pm | By

W00t!! I’ve lined up a copy of Charlie Hebdo I get to have!

Bulldog News on the Ave in the U District in Seattle.

It will be mine! I will have it!

And a little more will go into the pot for the victims’ survivors.… Read the rest

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What does Silicon Valley think of women?

Jan 30th, 2015 11:51 am | By

Newsweek has a story on sexual harassment in Silicon Valley, with a cover illustration that some people see as pretty sexist itself. Other people don’t see the problem.

I’m not sure. At the first look I thought it was one of those having it both ways things – tutting about sexism but getting jollies from sexism all the same. Wink wink nudge nudge type of thing. But given the words right next to it…I think my first look got it wrong.

You?… Read the rest

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Down with blasphemy laws

Jan 30th, 2015 10:50 am | By

The BBC alerts us to a new global campaign by humanist organizations against blasphemy laws.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) says that, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, the time is right for countries to abolish laws that protect religious sensibilities. But blasphemy laws nevertheless remain popular in many parts of the world.

We know, Beeb, that’s why the campaign is needed.

Sonja Eggerickx is the president of IHEU which works to promote an evidence-led ethical society.

She says the campaign is intended to support local people on the ground already working against blasphemy laws.

“The idea that ‘insult’ to religion is a crime is why humanists like Asif Mohiuddin are jailed in

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Urge the ambassador

Jan 30th, 2015 9:33 am | By

Another action we can take, via Amnesty – send an email to Simon Collis, the new UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, asking him to

  • Prioritise Raif’s case in all meetings with the Saudi Arabian authorities
  • Meet with the Minister responsible in the Saudi Arabian government and ask permission to visit Raif in prison.

That will be a pain in the neck for the new ambassador, so he will want the Saudis to free Raif and let him leave the country immediately.… Read the rest

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Uh oh, there’s no exit door in this corner

Jan 30th, 2015 8:59 am | By

A thought has occurred to me about Saud-family Arabia and the torture of Raif Badawi.

They’re boxing themselves in. By repeatedly postponing the torture, they’re admitting that they can’t do it without causing permanent damage. They have no qualms about doing that, of course, but they know they’re under a spotlight, and it must be getting quite warm there.

Hello Era of Social Media.

They’re stuck. This isn’t going away, and in fact it’s doing the opposite – it’s both growing and intensifying. They clearly don’t feel happy about just going ahead and flogging Raif again anyway…but nor do they feel happy about letting the horrible infidels and apostates win.

They should have thought of that sooner.… Read the rest

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Not this week

Jan 30th, 2015 8:10 am | By

The lashes were postponed again, with no reason given.

I wonder if they’re getting anxious about the rapidly spreading global odium.

I certainly hope so.

Raif should be in Sherbrooke with Ensaf and their three children.… Read the rest

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Airwaves

Jan 29th, 2015 5:49 pm | By

I did a podcast a couple of days ago, talking about Does God Hate Women? It’s AtheistAirwaves, out of Corpus Christi, Texas.

The first 36 seconds is Susan Turpin (one of the four presenters) reading part of the angry summation at the end of the book. I enjoyed listening to that – it’s quite cool listening to someone read aloud words that you wrote. She did it with just the kind of biting emphasis I wrote it with.

I see PZ was on it a few months ago.… Read the rest

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A protest in Vienna

Jan 29th, 2015 5:06 pm | By

Via Facebook.

 … Read the rest

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