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Deniz Firat was exceptional

Aug 8th, 2014 12:54 pm | By

Bad. I can’t find any sources in English yet, so I’ll have to use the one French one I saw. A Kurdish journalist, Deniz Firat, was killed by ISIS today during the fighting at Makhmur, 40 kilometers from Erbil.

Elle était très exceptionnelle, une femme militante et courageuse. Elle avait déjà perdu deux sœurs dans la lutte de la libération du peuple kurde.

L’agence de presse kurde Firat (ANF) a condamné cette attaque par des ennemis de l’humanité qui a couté la vie d’une journaliste, affirmant que Deniz Firat était sa principale source d’informations sur le front.

My rough translation, which anyone should feel free to correct:

She was exceptional, a brave activist woman. She had already lost two sisters

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Recreational harm-ranking

Aug 8th, 2014 11:40 am | By

What about the larger question of whether or not it’s any use to rank harms? Let’s consider that question.

Or maybe it will turn out that we don’t need to, because the answer is so obvious. Of course it is. Next question?

It’s bound to be part of our most basic equipment, isn’t it. It’s part of the basic equipment of most animals, isn’t it. You know the skittish way many animals drink at watering holes? That’s an animal ranking harms, isn’t it. “Thirsty as fuck; need to drink; but exposed here; maybe lions; keep alert, be ready to bolt.”

We humans, with our vastly sophisticated brains, get to use that for things like choosing between So You Think You Read the rest

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So what if it is?

Aug 8th, 2014 11:16 am | By

An ISIS flag flying over the entrance gate to a housing estate (what in the US would be called a housing project) in Poplar, East London. (Call the Midwife is set in Poplar.) Go there to look at the picture, which is weirdly blood-curdling.

A black flag with white Arabic writing, similar to those flown by jihadist groups, was flying at the entrance of an east London housing state near Canary Wharf.

In a highly provocative gesture, the emblem was planted on top of the gates of the Will Crooks estate on Poplar High Street, and is surrounded by flags of Palestine and slogans.

The flag bears similar writing to the jihadi flags that have been flown by the extremist

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Women’s Emotions are “Emotions,” Men’s Emotions are “How People Talk”

Aug 7th, 2014 5:55 pm | By

A thing from one Jennifer Dziura (who is apparently a life coach, but this is good anyway) a couple of years ago: “When Men Are Too Emotional To Have A Rational Argument”.

She starts with election night 2012. Guys were having meltdowns all over tv. They were very emo.

What I want to talk about is how emotional outbursts typically more associated with men (shouting, expressing anger openly) are given a pass in public discourse in a way that emotional outbursts typically more associated with women (crying, “getting upset”) are stigmatized.

I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call

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Right on target?

Aug 7th, 2014 12:50 pm | By

One point about Kimberly Winston’s article about Dawkins and Twitter and peace accords – I was surprised by what Daniel Dennett said.

Of course, Dawkins still has legions of supporters. Among his biggest is Dennett, one of his fellow “Four Horsemen” and a philosopher at Tufts University.

“I thought Richard’s responses were right on target. If some radical feminists (and others) think that all rape is equally bad, do they think it is not quite as bad as murder? If so, are THEY condoning rape?  And if they think rape and murder are always equally bad, they really have lost their bearings and do not deserve our attention. Richard has been immensely important.”

Note the “if”. Well yes, if, … Read the rest

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Reporting on the deep rifts

Aug 7th, 2014 11:04 am | By

A couple of days ago I talked to Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service about the joint statement with Richard Dawkins and about his recent adventures on Twitter. Her article is now posted.

So now I can tell you that that’s what prompted yesterday’s farewell to Dear Muslima.

Dawkins declined to be interviewed, and a representative for his foundation said a statement he made on its website would be his final word on the subject.

Yet the current dust-up may have served as a wake-up call. On Wednesday (Aug. 6), presented with criticisms collected for this story, Dawkins added to an existing post on his foundation’s website.

“There should be no rivalry in victimhood,” the addendum to the post

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ISIS has always worn its love for sectarianism on its sleeve

Aug 7th, 2014 10:03 am | By

Maajid Nawaz has a piece at CNN on ISIS’s ongoing attempt at genocide in Iraq.

ISIS has always worn its love for sectarianism on its sleeve, and its vicious hatred for Yazidis has been no mystery. Repeatedly, disturbing videos have been circulated on social media depicting Yazidis held in tiny cells being cruelly taunted by ISIS prison guards. On top of this, “IS” propagandists have continuously warned of their intention to execute or enslave the adherents of this ancient Zoroastrian-linked religion, whom they view as “devil worshippers” on account of their revering a fallen angel.

So they won’t be fretting about all those Yazidis dying of heat and thirst on Mount Sinjar, will they.

While most fled to refugee

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Willing to work for scraps to better our beautiful country

Aug 6th, 2014 5:40 pm | By

A thing I have seen.

Edited to add: it’s not really by Ray Comfort; it’s a fake. The same kind of fake as the ones I’ve been objecting to when they’re attributed to Richard Dawkins or Jessica Valenti lately.

On fazebukeRead the rest

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40,000 Iraqis dying of heat and thirst on Mount Sinjar

Aug 6th, 2014 4:24 pm | By

The Telegraph reports on a horror.

Tens of thousands of members of Iraqi religious minority groups driven from their homes for fear of the jihadist group Islamic State are dying of thirst and heat on a desert mountainside in the north of the country, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

Some 40 children have already died from the heat and dehydration, the UN children’s organisation Unicef says, while upwards of 40,000 more are sheltering in the bare mountains, without food or water or access to supplies. It says 25,000 children may be stranded.

Hundreds of adults, particularly men but also women and children, are already feared to have been killed or abducted by the group, which now

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Thank you for taking the time to report something

Aug 6th, 2014 3:48 pm | By

It’s social media day on Slate; they also have a piece about how crappy Facebook is at doing anything about bullying and harassment…except that they don’t put it that harshly, and they should.

A woman in Texas is suing them for doing nothing whatsoever about a report she sent them that someone was posting fake porn pictures of her. Yeah that sounds like Facebook. I suppose they sent her that form letter that says “we saw your report, your reports help us make Facebook safe and welcoming, we’re ignoring your report, we have no reason in fact we didn’t even look at it even though we just said we did, have a nice day.”

Facebook (which I have advised

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Good-bye Dear Muslima

Aug 6th, 2014 10:48 am | By

Richard D has a new post on the issue of comparisons and rankings. He makes the very reasonable point that it cuts both ways – saying Problem X is comparatively minor can be bad, and saying Problem X is horrific can be bad. Then he says something that made me lean right forward until I almost bumped into the screen. The last two paragraphs:

But let’s think about it. Who exactly is doing the belittling here?

Suppose I had said what my critics apparently wanted me to say, namely that my experience in the squash court was among the worst things that ever happened to me? I could imagine the following explosive retort from another pedophile victim: “WHAT? You

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What this approach fails to recognize

Aug 6th, 2014 10:25 am | By

Amanda Hess at Slate points out what a terrible, non-existent job Twitter does of preventing users from harassing people.

When CNBC invited Twitter users to ask questions of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo last month, thousands of people chimed in with queries like, “Why is reporting spam easy, but reporting death and rape threats hard?” and “Why are rape threats not a violation of your ToS?” According to CNBC, more than 28 percent of the 8,464 questions submitted to the network concerned harassment and abuse on Twitter. But when Costolo appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, he didn’t address the problem of online threats. 

Sure enough, that sounds exactly like Twitter. It never does address the problem Read the rest

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Terrifying

Aug 6th, 2014 9:21 am | By

A photo Taslima just posted on Twitter, saying “Why wouldn’t Bangladesh boats sink?”

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Women do most of the farming

Aug 6th, 2014 8:50 am | By

Women do most of the farming in developing countries, but they don’t own the means of production. The Guardian reports on a UN FAO report.

In many households men control the production and marketing of crops as well as household finances. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that if women had the same access to these resources as men they could increase agricultural yields by 20-30%, enough to lift between 100 and 150 million people out of hunger.

Our report, Women’s empowerment pathways: roadblocks and successes found we need to consider the following points.

Context-specific action plans

In order to empower women economically, the underlying causes of income inequalities must be addressed. Due to the immense variation

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Guest post: Under any rationale, no matter how flimsy

Aug 5th, 2014 4:50 pm | By

Originally a comment by newenlightenment on In a fair world he would get it.

They ruined her a while back: Kissinger was at Hirsi Ali and Niall Ferguson’s wedding. (Admittedly by his invitation, not hers.) Particularly galling when you consider that Christopher Hitchens was on his deathbed at the time, had been a close friend and defender of Hirsi Ali, and his greatest work was in exposing Kissinger’s war crimes to the world. Hirsi Ali’s actions are a total betrayal, not only of human rights, but of basic human decency.

Hirsi Ali also claimed that the welfare state was responsible for the murder of Theo Van Gogh, since ‘the killer was on welfare, if he had had to look … Read the rest

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Simply Reckless

Aug 5th, 2014 4:38 pm | By

Let’s take a look at the American Enterprise Institute. Let’s see what SourceWatch has to say.

Controversies and Claims

Minimum Wage Hikes “Simply Reckless”

AEI scholars caution against legislation raising the minimum wage “for the sake of low-wage workers,” claiming that mandating a higher wage increases the cost of employment and will therefore leave fewer jobs. In one article, AEI resident scholar Michael R. Strain called Seattle’s initiative to increase the city’s wage requirements “simply reckless.”[16]

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform “Disastrously Wrong Response”

AEI has spoken out against the financial system regulations created under the Dodd-Frank Act. In an article, AEI scholar Peter J. Wallison claimed that the 2008 financial crisis, which led to the legislation, “was not caused by

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Londoners and near-byers

Aug 5th, 2014 2:41 pm | By

Don’t forget this, people in London and vicinity – and Edinburgh and Stockholm if you’re up for making a trip at the last minute – Bernard Hurley’s talk on “How to Make Enemies and Alienate People – the Philosophy of Offensive and Inappropriate Language.”

It’s at the Exmouth Arms, 1 Starcross Street, NW1 2HR London.

The growth of social media has given an unprecedented opportunity for those who wish to gratuitously offend to actually do so but it has also given an opportunity for those who wish to take offence at mere criticism to express such offence. It’s clear that someone who uses offensive language is doing more than just conveying information, but what exactly are they doing? The job

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The downfall of a skeptoid

Aug 5th, 2014 11:47 am | By

Rebecca tells us that Brian Dunning has been sentenced at last – 15 months in the slammer.

This is great news for the skeptic community at large, since it may be a long enough sentence for Dunning to fade from memory and stop publicly representing the very people who are supposedly trying to stop people from defrauding others.

It’s not a good look, is it, having a big Name skeptic turn out to have been committing fraud on a large scale.

Meanwhile, this case had brought to light an actual skeptical activist who appears to be smart, hilarious, and actually effective at stopping frauds: Assistant United States Attorney David R. Callaway. In the government’s sentencing recommendation to the court last

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Religious freedom functions like a giant get-out-of-reality-free card

Aug 5th, 2014 11:20 am | By

Katha Pollitt at The Nation says pleasingly harsh things about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

RFRA, which required laws infringing on religious convictions to meet the “strict scrutiny” test, was overkill. There were other ways to protect Native Americans’ right to use peyote in religious ceremonies. The church could have asked the State Legislature for an exemption; after all, during Prohibition, the Catholic Church was allowed to use wine in the Mass. Or—but now I’m really dreaming—workers could have been given legal protection from losing their jobs for minor lawbreaking outside the workplace. I mean, peyote! Come on. But no, for some reason, there had to be a sweeping, feel-good, come-to-Jesus moment uniting left and right.

“The power of

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You can’t “own it” if it’s not yours to begin with

Aug 5th, 2014 10:24 am | By

David Futrelle points out another example of this horrible illegitimate trick of making up nasty quotations and attributing them to The Enemy.

A Voice for Men’s “social media director” Janet Bloomfield is proving to be quite the innovator in the world of public relations. You may recall her cheeky approach to publicizing the recent AVFM conference, which involved awarding herself “whore points” for calling critics of AVFM “whores.”

Now she’s moved on to straight-up libel, making up fake quotes in order to make feminist writer Jessica Valenti look bad, and then bragging about it on her blog.

That. No. That’s wrong; that’s a bad, dishonest, unfair, shitty thing to do.

This whole sordid episode began several days ago when Valenti,

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