All entries by this author

Asking a question

Jun 8th, 2014 3:44 pm | By

So anyway, on Friday, I wrote again to the press contact person at the Global Secular Council to ask the question the GSC’s Twitter account never did answer, and first insulted me and then blocked me for asking.

Why did the Global Secular Council launch before inviting more “global” people to be on its panel of Experts?

She replied that she wanted to be sure I would not “not misconstrue or “twist” [her] text reply, and perhaps repopulate that misconception publicly.”

I couldn’t quite fathom how I would be able to do that as long as I quoted her exactly, which obviously I would do; I said as much, and with that she answered my question. Here is her answer:… Read the rest

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The ways of love

Jun 8th, 2014 3:00 pm | By

Gnu Atheism illustrates:

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A beautiful day in Hebden Bridge

Jun 8th, 2014 12:29 pm | By

For a joyous interlude – check out the Handmade Parade today in Hebden Bridge in south Yorkshire. There’s a huge collection of photos here, and Maureen has given me permission to post a selection of hers.

 

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Forced to kneel there for what turned out to be two weeks

Jun 8th, 2014 12:12 pm | By

Any time I want to make sure I’m not getting too optimistic about things, I pause to remember how shamingly far the US differs (always in the wrong direction) from all other developed countries on a whole slew of indices of national well-being or flourishing. Just off the top of my head, without taking to Google to find lists, there’s

  • infant mortality
  • maternal mortality
  • lack of universal health insurance
  • income inequality
  • wealth inequality
  • percentage of the population in prison
  • executions
  • violent crime
  • guns
  • debt

That’s a terrible list.

An item I wasn’t really aware of is the rate of juvenile incarceration. It’s off the fucking charts higher than any other developed country. How the scorching blood of shame rises to … Read the rest

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Not dumped but…carefully placed?

Jun 8th, 2014 11:36 am | By

Catherine Corless isn’t happy about the way the discussion of the Tuam mother and baby home has gone. She doesn’t like the framing.

‘I never used that word ‘dumped’,” Catherine Corless, a local historian in Co Galway, tells The Irish Times. “I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not come from me at any point. They are not my words.”

The story that emerged from her work was reported this week in dramatic headlines around the world.

“Tell us the truth about the children dumped in Galway’s mass graves” – The Guardian.

I used the word “dumped” too. That was the word that occurred to me. … Read the rest

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Another three years

Jun 8th, 2014 10:53 am | By

There was a protest outside a mother and baby home in Cork today, the Irish Times reports.

Mothers who lost babies at the former Bessborough mother and baby home in Cork tied teddy bears and toys to the gates of the building today as they stated their hope to be included in any form of inquiry the Government is now going to order.

The founder of the Bessborough Mother and Baby Support Group, Helen Murphy, who was born at the home and left when she was seven months old said the vigil was part of a larger campaign.

“We want the truth to be known. We want justice to be done and we want Bessborough to be included in

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The Irish Tuskegee

Jun 7th, 2014 5:34 pm | By

What was that about the Catholic church in Ireland and its way with the babies of single mothers with no money? Starving them, neglecting them, throwing them in a pit when they died?

Oh yes, and also performing medical experiments on them.

Scientists secretly vaccinated more than 2,000 children in religious-run homes in suspected illegal drug trials, it emerged today.

Old medical records show that 2,051 children and babies in Irish care homes were given a one-shot diphtheria vaccine for international drugs giant Burroughs Wellcome between 1930 and 1936.

There is no evidence that consent was ever sought, nor any records of how many may have died or suffered debilitating side-effects as a result.

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Rape culture? Wozzat?

Jun 7th, 2014 3:51 pm | By

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Part of a larger conversation about social justice

Jun 7th, 2014 12:45 pm | By

Alternet says looky, there are other atheists besides those three that everybody keeps rolling out.

It’s surprising just how much media analysis, both mainstream and progressive, continues to take as given the notion that atheism can be defined and discussed solely by looking at the so-called “New Atheists” who emerged roughly between 2004 and 2007. It’s easy to understand the appeal: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens became prominent representatives of atheism because they were all erudite, entertaining and unafraid to say what they thought. A lot of people, myself included, were drawn to their works because they were forthright and articulated things we had kept locked away, or simply hadn’t found the words for.

Gotta stop you … Read the rest

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Taslima speaks

Jun 7th, 2014 12:05 pm | By

Taslima on ABC Radio Australia.

Also on ASIA REVIEW –  We meet Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who now lives in exile in Delhi. Over two decades after surviving a series of fatwas against her, the best-selling writer talks to us about misogyny in religions and the fight for women’s protection in South Asia.  

Taslima’s part starts at 20:36. Do listen – she has such a beautiful voice. I teared up at the part where she talks about being banished from Bengal, her home, but also having friends who love her and show her solidarity; she says those friends are her home.

 … Read the rest

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The exodus from E-Day

Jun 7th, 2014 11:50 am | By

David Futrelle takes a look at the evasive and/or deceptive ways of the Canadian Association for Equality and Justin “not Justin Trottier” Trottier.

Anyway, so this non-Men’s Rights group decided to hold a concert on Toronto Island celebrating “Equality Day,” a holiday they made up just for the occasion. They found a venue, got some sponsors and even managed to convince a bunch of bands to sign on.

Everything was ready to go until a few days before the concert was scheduled to happen, when some of the people who had been roped into the event discovered just what they had gotten themselves involved with.

The exodus from E-Day kicked off after a post appeared on the lefty Canadian

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Hanging in Seattle

Jun 7th, 2014 11:32 am | By

It was a fun evening yesterday, the hangout with PZ and friends. The secret location was Olympic Sculpture Park, which was my brilliant idea – I’ve talked about it here before, because it’s one of Seattle’s better urban amenities and it’s in walking distance of where I live. It’s on a slope overlooking Elliot Bay and Puget Sound and the mountains. It was a perfect evening for it, breezy, bright, and with the late sunset of almost-solstice.

Deanna Lyons took some pictures of the killer sunset and she gave me permission to post some.

Deanna Joy Lyons

Deanna Joy Lyons… Read the rest

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Edwina Rogers departs

Jun 6th, 2014 4:34 pm | By

So here’s why I don’t get to talk to GSC people until Monday (or part of the reason, weekend conferences probably being another). Edwina Rogers has been fired from the SCA. Laurie Goodstein and Mark Oppenheimer report in the NY Times.

Atheists and nonbelievers from across the country will muster on Capitol Hill next week for a summit meeting organized by the Secular Coalition for America, a growing alliance of groups that has been giving the religious right an intensifying case of heartburn by lobbying for the separation of government and religion.

But what the Secular Coalition has not made public is that last week it fired its executive director, Edwina Rogers, an experienced Republican lobbyist whose

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Hanging out in Seattle

Jun 6th, 2014 4:12 pm | By

I’m off to hang out with PZ and other friends in a couple of hours. Did I tell y’all about that? In case any of the Seattleites among you want to go? I forget. If not, get in touch with me fast to find out where. It’s secret so that we don’t get any of the assholes who live around here, and there are quite a few.… Read the rest

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Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong

Jun 6th, 2014 3:46 pm | By

And then some people just don’t get it. Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Babulal Gaur, for instance, who explains that rape is a social crime, sometimes right, sometimes wrong.

Gaur, who is from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said on Thursday that the crime of rape can only be considered to have been committed if it is reported to police.

“This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong,” said Gaur, the home minister responsible for law and order in BJP-run Madhya Pradesh.

When is it right? In wartime is it? During riots? When a genocidal mob is feeling really pissed off?

Although a rape is reported in India

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The commuters watched silently

Jun 6th, 2014 3:25 pm | By

Via Taslima on Twitter – The Times of India reports

A lady conductor of an ST bus was kicked and thrashed till she fell unconscious after she reprimanded a 30-year-old man for trying to board the vehicle from the front, which is meant for exit.

The accused, a 30-year-old factory worker from Navi Mumbai, also beat up the driver and another woman conductor when they came to the victim’s rescue. The incident took place in Dombivli on Wednesday morning and the accused has been arrested.

The drama lasted nearly half an hour but, according to the victim, the commuters watched silently as she and the bus driver Vinayak Nayakwade (59) were being roughed up.

Singh, who tried to board the

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Tell us more, more, more

Jun 6th, 2014 3:07 pm | By

I get to talk to someone else at the Global Secular Council on Monday. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of talk needed. I want them to

  • apologize on Twitter for their rudeness to me on Twitter

 

  •  unblock the people they’ve blocked for asking them questions about the GSC

 

  •  answer questions about the GSC


That’s all. I don’t see it as needing hours of conversation. They can just do it.

They just can’t refuse to answer questions about their shiny new project. They’re not the Vatican, and they’re not the kind of organization that wants to model itself on the Vatican. They’re the kind of organization that prides itself on being transparent and accountable – that’s a … Read the rest

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Why do they think they are above being questioned?

Jun 6th, 2014 10:57 am | By

There’s more from the incompetent unresponsive unrepresentative “Global” Secular Council. I hope this will be my last post on the subject (of this particular quarrel, not the Council overall), but who knows – they keep adding to their CV.

Item: they apologized fulsomely to Rebecca Watson yesterday.

In itself, of course, that’s good – an apology was owed. But they refuse to apologize to me, so offering an energetic apology to someone else for a small part of the very thing they should apologize to me for…looks pointed.

Item: they still refuse to apologize to me.

The refusal is now taking the form of pretending not to know how to do it, not to know what they did that’s apology … Read the rest

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Only if there’s due process

Jun 5th, 2014 6:27 pm | By

Maajid Nawaz on Newsnight arguing with an Islamist called Ibrahim Hewitt who would love it if Britain became a sharia state and who won’t condemn or reject the stoning of “adulterers.”

There’s a bit starting at 4:30 where Maajid tries to get Ibrahim Hewitt to answer the question – “If there’s due process, stoning to death is ok?” – but the latter dodges and feints and Jeremy Paxman helps him get away with it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JlUMY8l6bERead the rest

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An inquiry into the circumstances behind so many deaths

Jun 5th, 2014 5:57 pm | By

Good. The discoveries about the Tuam mortality figures are making a stink in Ireland. Good.

There is growing pressure on the Government to hold a full historical inquiry into the deaths of almost 800 children in a mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway between the 1920s and the 1960s.

There were numerous calls from TDs, Senators and councillors yesterday for a full inquiry following the disclosure that many infants and children who died in the home run by the Bon Secours order were buried in an unmarked plot.

Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan said yesterday that he was giving “active consideration to the best means of addressing the harrowing details emerging regarding the burial arrangements for

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