All entries by this author

Well of course the queen is down with it

Dec 31st, 2014 11:50 am | By

Oh yay, Canada gets to have a Pope John Paul II Day.

It what? Why would it even want such a thing? Why would anyone want such a thing?

The Catholic Register gives us the skinny.

The bill to establish Pope John Paul II Day passed the Senate Dec. 16 and has received royal assent.

Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon introduced private member’s Bill C-266, an Act to establish Pope John Paul II Day, in 2011. The bill designates April 2 as Pope John Paul II Day, though does not make it a legal holiday or non-juridical day.

In a statement, Lizon described the passage of the bill as a “proud but very emotional moment.”

Lizon’s bill passed the House

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They tried to out-Catholic each other

Dec 31st, 2014 10:31 am | By

Donal O’Keefe at thejournal.ie urges repeal of the Eight Amendment.

I’m in my mid-forties and the early 1980s were the backdrop of my early teens. I have odd, snapshot recollections of the time. I remember those frantic men and women with their rosary beads and their placards of aborted foetuses and the mania that seemed to grip the country. It was a very strange time in Ireland.

I remember Garret and Charlie like Saint George and the Dragon, seemingly locked in eternal conflict for the Taoiseach’s job, and I remember 1983, the year after GUBU, when they tried to out-Catholic each other as both agreed to support the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign’s amendment to outlaw abortion.

In later life, Fitzgerald

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Hard to ignore

Dec 30th, 2014 5:09 pm | By

Maajid Nawaz points out a comrade in Pakistan. Newsweek Pakistan calls him an unlikely icon.

Mohammad Jibran Nasir, a 27-year-old serial do-gooder from Karachi, has become the inadvertent leader of Pakistan’s post-Peshawar anti-extremist discourse.

Hours after the Dec. 16 attack, Nasir joined a 200-strong vigil for the Peshawar slain in Islamabad.

The numbers weren’t exactly bad, but the venue caused him some concern. “Why do people in Islamabad have to hold vigils at such places where no one can see you and no one can hear you?” he tells Newsweek. So he decided to take his protest to Lal Masjid, a “mosque” linked up with both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and whose cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz, brazenly

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One reason not to carry a loaded gun in a handbag

Dec 30th, 2014 2:17 pm | By

This is a sick country.

A young mother was shot and killed by her 2-year-old son today in an Idaho Walmart, police said.

Lt. Stu Miller of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said that the boy was sitting in the shopping cart when pulled the handgun from his mom’s purse and pulled the trigger. The victim, whose name hasn’t been released, was 29 years old.

Walmart of course sells guns among other things. One-stop shopping – you can buy a gun there and get shot with it in one easy trip.… Read the rest

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Vocal fry with hash browns

Dec 30th, 2014 2:07 pm | By

So, I’ve learned something. I’d never head of “vocal fry” until I read that Slate piece, so I had to look it up. Apparently it’s big among the Kardashians. (I wonder if it’s also big among Rachel Zoe [who – gasp – dresses Kardashians omg!!] too. She’s like a walking textbook of bizarre vocal affectations – I bet she does vocal fry all the time.)

I’d never heard of it, but I recognized it when I watched this. Oh that; right.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEqVgtLQ7qMRead the rest

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Guest post: Pedram Razghandi on vaccination and resurgent pathogens

Dec 30th, 2014 1:48 pm | By

There’s a heated discussion of vaccinations on a Facebook thread of mine, on which Pedram made such informative comments in response to a claim that whooping cough was coming back because of “over use of vaccination” that I requested and got permission to quote them here. The rest is Pedram.

No, high vaccination rates in the population means that a pathogen cannot replicate as quickly–many fewer hosts will be available. Vaccination is just a way of inducing a regular adaptive immune response (the adaptive immune cells are exposed to antigens that mark the dead or inactivated pathogen used in the vaccine, without the danger of an infection). If this is done extensively enough, the pathogen can quickly be suppressed … Read the rest

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How shall we then talk?

Dec 30th, 2014 1:25 pm | By

Hmm. Is it sexist – or even misogynist – to advise women to talk with authority? Marybeth Seitz-Brown at Slate is more or less arguing that, and I don’t think I agree.

Last week, I gave an interview on NPR, and while most of the reactions were overwhelmingly positive, I also received several messages suggesting I change my voice so that people will take me seriously. Why? Well, I uptalk. But I’m not ashamed of it, and no one else should be either.

Uptalk, in case you’ve missed several years of media frenzy, is using a rising intonation at the end of a phrase or sentence. What’s the matter with that? Well, that rising intonation is similar (although not

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They are not like us

Dec 30th, 2014 12:57 pm | By

My new Freethinker column is posted. It’s stuff I’ve been saying here, but it’s chafing my mind rather, so I wanted to say it there too. It’s about police fascism in the US, and the way our mephitic heritage of genocide and slavery (notice how both are rooted in racism? funny coincidence, isn’t it?) has produced a stratified society which means police work can be a tough job. It’s a vicious circle, and to break out of that vicious circle we’d need to do things that are not part of the Church of the Free Market, so we don’t do them. We’d rather spend billions on locking people up than on ways out of the trap.

The one comment is … Read the rest

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The shy and nerdy persuasion

Dec 30th, 2014 11:59 am | By

So, working backward, let’s consider what Scott Aronson said.

First we need what Amy said, because he was responding to it.

As for the “shy and nerdy” bit…you know, some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion. I can only speculate on why that’s so, but no, I would certainly not equate shy/nerdy with harmless.

In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women. (Not least because so many nerdy guys are certain that they’re extremely fairminded and rational, when instead what they are is naive about both social structures and how many things play out in reality, and unwilling or unable to

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Owing

Dec 30th, 2014 11:41 am | By

How opportune: right after I post the latest, I see this:

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Anxious nerds v alluring aliens

Dec 30th, 2014 11:30 am | By

Laurie Penny has some thoughts on nerd entitlement. She has them in response to an impassioned comment by Scott Aronson on his own blog about what it’s like to be a nerdy anxious teenage boy and why that makes it impossible for him to recognize any “privilege” attributed to him by feminists. Here’s some of what Penny has to say:

Women generally don’t get to think of men as less than human, not because we’re inherently better people, not because our magical feminine energy makes us more empathetic, but because patriarchy doesn’t let us. We’re really not allowed to just not consider men’s feelings, or to suppose for an instant that a man’s main or only relevance to us

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Whooping cough could be edging back

Dec 29th, 2014 6:08 pm | By

Whooping cough may be evolving to resist vaccinations. That would be bad.

Analysis of strains from 2012 shows the parts of the pertussis bacterium that the vaccine primes the immune system to recognise are changing.

It may have “serious consequences” in future outbreaks, UK researchers state in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

But experts stressed the vaccine remains highly effective in protecting the most vulnerable young babies.

There has been a global resurgence of whooping cough in recent years.

In 2012, there were almost 10,000 confirmed cases in England and Wales – a dramatic increase from the last “peak” of 900 cases in 2008.

The outbreak led to 14 deaths in babies under three months of age – the

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We command no worship, do we?

Dec 29th, 2014 5:30 pm | By

From a story about Chicago courts dismissing most tickets issued to cab drivers in 2011…

Most tickets for the 28 cabdrivers were heard in the Daley Center, in one of seven white-walled courtrooms decorated only by the words “In God We Trust” on one side.

Um…why? Why do courtrooms have the words “In God We Trust” on their walls? I don’t trust in god, and if I don’t think judges or lawyers should be trusting god either, any more than pilots or surgeons or engineers should.

Oh yeah? So why aren’t we doing it that way then?… Read the rest

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Kentucky legislators propitiate their god

Dec 29th, 2014 5:05 pm | By

In news from Kentucky

State lawmakers will debate legislation in committees next year beneath “In God We Trust” signs.

Ok what the hell, man. How is this even legal? Why can’t we just have a secular government? Why do they have to keep pushing the Allahu Akbar-In God we trust shit in our faces?

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports state officials hung the new signs in 11 committee rooms in the Capitol and Capitol Annex, where legislators have offices and meeting rooms. Legislators approved the signs in March.

That’s not right. It’s not neutral, and the state is supposed to be neutral.

The ACLU of Kentucky and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are not happy about

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Ben Jonson would have ratted him out so fast

Dec 29th, 2014 11:35 am | By

Oh yay, Amanda Marcotte has a poke in the eye for the people who think Shakespeare was just the front guy for the Earl of Oxford or some other more aristocratic type because how could a nobody from the provinces possibly be Shakespeare?

Newsweek has a surprisingly sympathetic piece about Shakespeare truthers, republished here at Raw Story, and I just have to take some time to point out that, like with other conspiracy theories and denialist obsessions, there’s more going on here than some kind of legitimate dispute over the facts. For those who are unaware, Shakespeare truthers are people who believe that William Shakespeare was just a half-literate actor who was the cover story for some no doubt 

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And matching plaid bras

Dec 29th, 2014 10:43 am | By

And another such chain of girls-showing-tits drinking and dining establishments, courtesy of Orac commenting on the last one. This one is called, winsomely, Tilted Kilt. I thought it must be the flipped version, with male servers in kilts and nothing else. How silly can you be? Of course it’s not.

While the Tilted Kilt concept has its roots deep in the rousing tradition of Scottish, Irish and English Pubs, it actually first came to life in America’s own sin city, Las Vegas. The brainchild of successful restaurateur Mark DiMartino, Tilted Kilt was conceived to be a contemporary, Celtic-themed sports Pub staffed with beautiful servers in sexy plaid kilts and matching plaid bras.

Well actual – “Celtic” – kilts … Read the rest

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Life suddenly made sense to him

Dec 29th, 2014 10:02 am | By

So this is something I didn’t know about – a chain of “sports bars” called Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill. “Bikinis” isn’t the name of the owner but what the servers – all women, of course – wear.

How “America’s Only Breastaurant®” got started…

It all started back in the winter of 2001. Weary of the technology world, and discouraged by the “dot-com” implosion that was happening all around him, Doug Guller packed his bags and headed to Australia for a much needed vacation.

While sitting at a bar on the Australian coast, watching some rugby on a small TV nearby, an attractive server approached and asked, “Wanna beer, mate?”

At that moment, all Doug could do was smile.

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Jean-Pierre Biemlfdlkk

Dec 28th, 2014 5:10 pm | By

Gawker has an entry in the Brand Names News category.

On Friday, The New York Times profiled some of the Chinese companies that have taken nonsensical branding to its postmodern conclusion, selling products under Western-inspired names like “Biemlfdlkk” and “Marisfrolg.”

Other brands mentioned in the article:

  • Frognie Zila
  • Helen Keller (a sunglasses maker)
  • Chrisdien Deny
  • Adidos
  • Orgee
  • Cnoverse
  • Fuma
  • Johnnie Worker Red Labial Whiskey

With ginger ale!

Of course, giving your company a meaningless, foreign-sounding name can present unique challenges when dealing with journalists.

A Biemlfdlkk saleswoman in the southern city of Guangzhou explained, “It’s a German name.” An employee at another Biemlfdlkk shop had a different explanation: “It’s the name of a French designer.”

Ah yes, Jean-Pierre Biemlfdlkk.

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Even when we think about temperature

Dec 28th, 2014 1:37 pm | By

A Fox “News” personality wondered on live tv if it might be the metric system that caused the AirAsia flight to go missing.

Fox News host Anna Kooiman speculated on Sunday that an AirAsia flight could have gone missing because international pilots were trained using the metric system.

During breaking coverage of missing Flight QZ8501, Kooiman asked former FAA spokesperson Scott Brenner if the “real reason” the plane had disappeared was because of the “different way other countries train their pilots.”

“Even when we think about temperature, it’s Fahrenheit or Celsius,” she pointed out. “It’s kilometers or miles. You know, everything about their training could be similar, but different.”

Also? They’re upside down. That must make it hard to fly … Read the rest

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Somebody has to do the managing

Dec 28th, 2014 12:08 pm | By

One more good point, this one from Mychal Denzel Smith.

The rhetoric Lynch, Giuliani and others employ only reinforces the message protesters have been trying to get across. Lynch and Giuliani can see the tragedy of Liu and Ramos’s deaths, but do not extend that same sympathy to the families of those killed by police officers. The lives of officers Liu and Ramos are held up as more valuable than the lives of Garner, Brown and so on. That’s the reason the protests must continue, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call for them to be suspended.

But also, you’d have a hard time convincing me that the reason Lynch and Giuliani mourn Liu and Ramos is because of their

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