All entries by this author

Silly CPAC

Feb 25th, 2014 6:03 pm | By

Lordy, how silly.

American Atheists got an information booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and announced it today, and promptly had its table snatched away because…I don’t know, because it turned out that atheists are atheists, or something. I did say it was silly.

Politico explains.

“American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government,” said CPAC spokesperson Meghan Snyder in an email.

Earlier Tuesday, after announcing the group’s participation, American Atheists’ president David Silverman told CNN, “I am not worried about making the Christian right angry. The Christian right should be angry that we are going in to enlighten conservatives. The Christian right should be threatened by

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Guest post on Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves

Feb 25th, 2014 4:06 pm | By

Guest post by Anonymous.

Right now, Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves (SOS) is in financial crisis. SOS is a support network for those seeking a secular alternative to AA. James Christopher, a sober alcoholic, founded SOS in 1985 as a way to get and stay sober through secular means. The Council for Secular Humanism (a part of Center for Inquiry) has financially supported the SOS program for over 23 years, but due to other commitments, it will severely cut funding unless SOS can raise $75,000 by the end of March 2014. SOS has so far raised $25,000, but time is running out.

Many, many people have been helped by SOS. Over 700 SOS groups meet in cities all over … Read the rest

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



World Burqa Day

Feb 25th, 2014 11:59 am | By

Oh, so that’s what the burqa is for.

TORONTO - A Muslim man wore a traditional woman’s burka and female shoes before he strangled his estranged wife in the company of their toddler son.

Abdul Malik Rustam admitted he donned the headdress — which disguised his face — and wedge shoes when he killed his wife, Shaher Bano Shahdady, after she asked for a divorce.

The killing occurred only two weeks after the 21-year-old woman received social assistance and moved into an apartment at 3131 Eglinton Ave. E.

Shahdady, who emigrated from Pakistan to Canada with her family when she was a year old, returned to her homeland when she was 12 or 13.

Rustam and Shahdady were

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We’ve already had this conversation

Feb 25th, 2014 11:12 am | By

Exactly. EXACTLY.

Via George Takei on Facebook.… Read the rest

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The child’s host

Feb 25th, 2014 10:39 am | By

We knew it all along. The motive force behind the campaign to get rid of abortion rights is hatred of women as women, women separate from babies, women as people.

Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post:

…just last week, Virginia State Senator Steve Martin posted on his Facebook wall, in response to a Valentine from a pro-choice group, that “Once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.” (He updated the post on Monday afternoon to change the language from “host” to “bearer of the child” because THAT fixes it.)

The fetus is a child, while … Read the rest

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You’re not going to shift the fact that loads more men want to do it

Feb 25th, 2014 9:53 am | By

[See update at end.]

Ah yes – this again. If you make it explicit that you’re attempting to correct the lazy habit of inviting only men (only white men, only straight white men, etcetera) to do something then that’s tokenism, shock horror, so you shouldn’t do that, you should instead just stick with the lazy habit of inviting only men. It’s better all around. No one will use the word “token” and everything will be in every way better and more emollient.

The Independent has the details.

Dara O’Briain thinks the BBC’s ban on all-male comedy panels should have “evolved” without making future female guests appear as the “token woman”.

The Mock the Week presenter criticised the decision, arguing

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Have years of taunts, trolling and cruel quips taken their toll

Feb 24th, 2014 6:11 pm | By

Oh brilliant, another one. An Olympic gold medallist in swimming got so much bullying shit for having a non-pert nose that she got a nose job.

Have years of taunts, trolling and cruel quips taken their toll on Britain’s most successful swimmer?

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, 25, apparently underwent nose slimming surgery at a top Harley Street clinic this month, it has been reported.

The retired athlete, who also won two bronze medals at the London 2012 Olympics, has previously expressed her struggle to come to terms with her own body image.

Surprise surprise. Total strangers went out of their way to tell her they think she’s ugly. It had an effect. How astonishing!

Adlington

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One experimental hippy-trippy toke-toke giggle-giggle sprawl

Feb 24th, 2014 5:46 pm | By

Then there’s Vamsee Juluri in the Huffington Post. He seems to be very annoyed, so annoyed that he’s not altogether clear.

He’s annoyed because Doniger’s book has mistakes, and because there are many books about Hinduism in India but not so many in the US.

But it is in America, this bastion of privilege, and possibility, this dream of the world, that the real consequences of misrepresentation play out. You will find in all your bookstores and journals and hallowed pulpits, that “alternative” story, often becoming the only story. There is no room here for Hindus, only an “expert” on “The Hindus.” Look at the India shelves. Look at the op-ed pages of the papers of record. You will

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Markets are efficient therefore hiring is always merit-based

Feb 24th, 2014 5:29 pm | By

It’s not just colonialists and Orientalists and militants of Enlightenment who think there is such a thing as caste discrimination in India. Check out Siddharth Singh in the Times of India a couple of weeks ago for instance.

Not many would argue that there is no caste-based discrimination in rural India, or that there was no such discrimination historically in India. The fact is that certain castes, such as the Dalits, have been socially excluded from full participation in the Indian society and economy over the past few centuries. There is documented evidence that in India’s villages, Dalits continue to be denied equal access to public and private goods such as water bodies, roads, land ownership, markets, financial institutions, and

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Imagine you are born as a Hindu boy

Feb 24th, 2014 12:17 pm | By

There are people who take another view of the unpublishing of Wendy Doniger’s book in India.

There’s Jakob de Roover for instance, writing in Outlook India.

Imagine you are born in the 1950s as a Hindu boy with intellectual inclinations. As you grow up, your mother takes you to the temple and shows you how to do puja. Your grandparents tell you stories about Bhima’s strength, Krishna’s appetite, Durvasa’s temper… Perhaps you rejoice when Rama rescues Sita, feel afraid when Kali fights demons, or cry when Drona demands Ekalavya’s thumb as gurudakshina. Your father is indifferent to most of this stuff, but then he is very moody so you prefer to stay away from him in any case.

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Guest post: Is Islam a More Radical Religion? An Inside View

Feb 24th, 2014 11:27 am | By

Guest post by Kaveh Mousavi, the pseudonym of an Iranian atheist. First published at The Proud Atheist.

When it comes to Islam, there is a controversy among the atheists regarding how they should deal with it. There are those like Sam Harris and Bill Maher who say not all religions are the same, and some are worse than the others, and then there are those who say that it is wrong to single out Islam as all religions are equally bad. There are those who even accuse people like Maher and Harris of racism. Now, in this controversy former Muslims rarely speak up. The dialogue is usually between Muslims – or their defenders – and people who have been born … Read the rest

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



At LSE next week

Feb 24th, 2014 10:25 am | By

A panel discussion on freedom to offend.

Freedom to Offend: Academia, Human Rights and Social Progress

LSE SU Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society discussion panel discussion

Date: Tuesday 4 March 2014
Time: 6-8pm
Venue: TW1 G.01, Tower 1
Speakers: Professor Timothy Garton Ash, Dr Rumy Hasan, Professor Paul Kelly, Professor Brian Winston
Chair: Professor Chandran Kukathas

The panel attempts to provide a platform to discuss the nature of the right to offend. Is there a right to offend? Does free expression necessarily entails such right? If so, to what extent should the right to offend be granted?

Timothy Garton Ash is professor of European studies at Oxford University.

Rumy Hasan is senior lecturer of science and technology policy research … Read the rest

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Restored

Feb 23rd, 2014 6:10 pm | By

A chimpanzee is returned to a better life. On the way there she gives Jane Goodall an embrace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzC7MfCtkzoRead the rest

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She decided not to leave him alone

Feb 23rd, 2014 5:49 pm | By

A story I missed a couple of weeks ago – that Whole Foods fired a worker because she stayed home with her kid during a snow emergency.

Rhiannon Broschat, a single mother in Chicago, decided to stay home from work on the freezing cold day of Jan. 28 because school was canceled. Broschat says she looked for someone to take care of her special-needs son, couldn’t find help, and decided not to leave him alone. That is a good thing, the kind of decision employers and all of us should move over to make room for. But Whole Foods fired Broschat. It’s not quite that simple, since, according to ThinkProgress, Whole Foods in the Midwest gives workers five

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Guest post: So much for a “god gene”

Feb 23rd, 2014 5:09 pm | By

Originally a comment by Blanche Quizno on Differences.

This is fascinating research, and it reminds me of a parallel I became aware of a few years ago. Some in the West insist there is a “god gene” and that believing in supernatural deities is instinctual among human beings, essentially.

Daniel Everett went into Brazil as an Evangelical Christian missionary, intent on converting the Pirahã people, a “stone age” tribe that had thus far proven immune to Christian missionary efforts. Everett was certain that HE could, with the help of God, succeed. He ended up becoming an atheist just like they were, because he realized, in a nutshell, that they were so content and so happy and such good people … Read the rest

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Differences

Feb 23rd, 2014 12:04 pm | By

A fascinating article with many implications to explore: We Aren’t the World.

In 1995 a young anthropologist tried to do a popular social science experiment with the Machiguenga, an indigenous people who live north of Machu Picchu in the Amazon basin.

When he began to run the game it became immediately clear that Machiguengan behavior was dramatically different from that of the average North American.

The potential implications of the unexpected results were quickly apparent to Henrich. He knew that a vast amount of scholarly literature in the social sciences—particularly in economics and psychology—relied on the ultimatum game and similar experiments. At the heart of most of that research was the implicit assumption that the results revealed evolved

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What’s a little “not” between friends?

Feb 23rd, 2014 10:51 am | By

Jacques Rousseau points out how far Ugandan MPs will go in their efforts to persecute gay people.

the ministerial task team advising the President on the bill “falsified the information contained in the report given by medical and psychological experts, twisting it to show that homosexuality should indeed be further criminalised“.

Let’s follow that link, to Shaun De Waal’s article in the Mail & Guardian.

Under international pressure, President Yoweri Museveni delayed signing the controversial Bill into law, asking for a panel of experts to be convened to advise on whether homosexuality was “learned” behaviour or an inborn condition.

The experts – including academics from Marekere University and officials in the Ugandan ministry of health – said that,

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What is even more bone-chilling

Feb 22nd, 2014 6:04 pm | By

Kausik Datta wrote a post on the Philadelphia parents who let not one but two of their children die while they prayed over them instead of seeking medical care.

Not one, but two, of the sons (aged 2 years and 8 months at death) of this über-religious Pennsylvania couple died, in 2009 and in 2013 respectively, of entirely preventable and treatable bacterial pneumonia, because they would not vaccinate or seek medical help when required, instead choosing to pray over the sick child. After the first child’s death, they were convicted of involuntary manslaughter, receiving probation and a mandate to seek proper professional medical help in case of illness of their children. They did not.

I find it hard to

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You get two tries

Feb 22nd, 2014 5:42 pm | By

There are these parents, Catherine and Herbert Schaible. Their two-year-old son died of treatable pneumonia in 2009 after they “treated” him with prayer instead of medical care. They were under a court order not to do that again (which seems a good deal too generous, frankly). They did do it again, and another child died of pneumonia.

The Schaibles are third-generation members of an insular Pentecostal community, the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia, where they also taught at the church school. They have seven surviving children.

Judge Benjamin Lerner rejected defense claims that their religious beliefs “clashed” with the 2011 court order to get annual checkups and call a doctor if a child became ill. The order

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Her intention is bad

Feb 22nd, 2014 11:41 am | By

For more insight into the horrible mind of Dinanath Batra, president of Shiksha Bachao Andola and the plaintiff in the ridiculous yet successful lawsuit against Penguin and Wendy Doniger, there’s a little interview he did for Time.

TIME: What are your objections to Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus?

Batra: Her intention is bad, the content is anti-national and the language is abusive. Her agenda is to malign Hinduism and hurt the feelings of Hindus.

He doesn’t know that. He’s not a mind-reader. Also, it’s not true – Doniger admires Hinduism.

Why does it matter so much to you about what someone writes about Hinduism?

If someone makes a cartoon of the prophet Mohammad,  Muslims are outraged around the

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