All entries by this author


Mar 19th, 2016 4:42 pm | By

Phil Plait reports on yet another spike in global warming.

February 2016 was the hottest February on the planet on record, a staggering 1.35° C hotter than the average. The previous hottest Februaries were 1998 (0.88° above average) and 2015 (0.87°). That’s a huge jump.

Those numbers are from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of the premier centers for keeping tabs on our ever-warming globe. They are from temperature measurements over land and ocean going back to 1880. They representtemperature anomalies, that is, deviations from an average. In this case, the average is taken over the range of 1951–1980. That makes comparing temperatures easier, and shows that February 2016 was the hottest recorded

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Rumors of discord

Mar 19th, 2016 3:56 pm | By

Kimberly Winston at Religion News Service reports on the debut of a new atheism plus social justice network, The Orbit. You may have heard about it a couple of months ago when there was a leak.

The Orbit,” a collection of 20-plus new and existing blogs,  took off Tuesday (March 15) and will focus on social justice and activism through an atheist lens.

“This group is founded from the beginning as a group dedicated to atheist social justice voices,” said Greta Christina, author of an eponymous blog on The Orbit. “We were also focusing on a diversity of voices when we were building this network from day one.”

Look at all the good they do.… Read the rest

The husky merely stood motionless, staring at Finger Lake

Mar 19th, 2016 3:40 pm | By

From the Onion, a first-timer messes up the Iditarod.

After running directly into the grandstands during the Iditarod’s ceremonial start and veering 55 miles off course late Tuesday to chase a marmot, Siberian husky and rookie sled dog Melvin apologized to his musher and fellow canines Wednesday for making a complete fool of himself in the early stages of the annual 1,150-mile race.

“First Iditarod jitters, I guess,” the visibly contrite Melvin told reporters Wednesday at the Rainy Pass checkpoint. “I feel like such a moron. Here I am in the last great race on earth and I’m blowing it. I mean, 100 times out of 100, when my musher yells, ‘Gee,’ I turn right. But yesterday I go

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From Cinderella to Spiderman

Mar 19th, 2016 3:04 pm | By

So many of my friends shared this piece by Jemima Lewis in the Telegraph. (Yes, the Telegraph. Why do you think I mentioned the many friends?)

A primary school in Hartfield, East Sussex, held a “transgender day” recently, to encourage the tots to explore issues of gender-fluidity.

But was it to encourage them to explore? Or to teach them the formulas they’re expected to repeat. The current version of transgender dogma doesn’t welcome exploration, as Lewis points out.

I want my children to be open-minded about gender and sexuality. I want them to have the run of the dressing up box, from Cinderella to Spiderman, for as long as they feel drawn to sparkly nylon. I want the

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Well at least he didn’t say she should be spayed

Mar 19th, 2016 12:47 pm | By

The “industry” that like to gamble with other people’s money and make us pay for it when the gamble doesn’t go their way – that industry doesn’t like Elizabeth Warren because she thinks it should be sensibly regulated in order to avoid global financial meltdown like the one in 2008. Since this highly useful and public spirited industry doesn’t like Warren, Republicans also don’t like Warren.

A Republican congressman on the House Committee on Financial Services thinks Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of the most vocal advocates for Wall Street reform, needs to be “neutered.”

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) made the comments during a panel discussion at an American Bankers Association conference Wednesday. According to Politico, Luetkemeyer said people

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Guest post: Half of my potential pool of applicants simply wasn’t there

Mar 19th, 2016 12:13 pm | By

Guest post by James Garnett.

Much has been written and discussed about how expectations of adherence to traditional gender roles adversely affect us, and particularly how they disproportionately affect women. The list is long and familiar and I couldn’t describe it fully even if I knew every vocational and social aspect. What I can describe is lesser known, namely how these gender expectations affecting women have a rebound effect upon men, because it has had an impact upon me personally.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering (EE) and graduate degrees in Computer Science (CS) and in 2004, with a patent application for my graduate research under review, I decided to start a company to offer a specific … Read the rest

Becoming a woman means giving things up

Mar 18th, 2016 1:52 pm | By

My internet connection will be fixed Monday (it’s an actual physical problem with the physical infrastructure, not my technical incompetence), so posting will probably still be light until then.

Meanwhile here’s something to read by the excellent Sarah Ditum.

Boys grow up by getting bigger, stronger, louder. The things that a male child is encouraged to be good at are, by and large, things esteemed in the male adolescent too. But for girls, adolescence is a time of loss. Becoming a woman means giving things up, explains Deborah Cameron in The Myth of Mars and Venus, and taking up new and feminine occupations: “In particular, [girls] abandon physical play: instead of using their bodies to do things, they

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Guest post: If you want evidence of the contempt of Conservative punditry

Mar 18th, 2016 1:42 pm | By

Guest post by Lady Mondegreen.

If you want evidence of the contempt of Conservative punditry for the working-class whites who vote for them, look no further than the National Review:

Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America…

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory

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When the first salvo was heard from the woods

Mar 18th, 2016 1:16 pm | By

Strangely enough, the full text of Ordinary Men is available online, in more than one place. Here’s one. I wonder if it’s some sort of public interest thing.

Here’s a bit from where it started getting really hard to continue (but it all was, and it’s cumulative):

When the first truckload of thirty-five to forty Jews arrived, an 
equal number of policemen came forward and, face to face, were 
paired off with their victims. Led by Kammer, the policemen 
and Jews marched down the forest path. They turned off into the 
woods at a point indicated by Captain Wohlauf, who busied 
himself throughout the day selecting the execution sites. Kam- 
mer then ordered the Jews to lie down in 
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Doing a job

Mar 18th, 2016 1:00 pm | By

I’ve been reading Robert Jay Lifton’s The Nazi Doctors, and as an offshoot from that this morning I read some of chapter 7 of Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men. I would have read more but I had to stop because I couldn’t take it. I’d forgotten how horrible it is reading it.

It’s about a police battalion, made up of middle-aged men because all the younger men were in the military, who were assigned to kill all the Jews except the able-bodied men (who were sent to a work camp) in a Polish village by walking them into the woods, making them lie down, and shooting them.

It’s horrific, and at the same time it’s instructive. I plan to … Read the rest

Guest post: Slice away a tiny bit at a time

Mar 17th, 2016 11:33 am | By

Originally a comment by Steamshovelmama on The NHS may not survive as we know it.

As someone with a 20 year background of working for the NHS I agree almost completely.

Ignore the four hour waiting thing – it’s a red herring, a target that was centrally imposed by a government wanting something tangible they could use to “measure” performance. It is not appropriate for every patient to be shunted to a ward bed within four hours of admission to A&E – sometimes better care will be had in A&E from appropriately specialised doctors and nurses who are actually on the spot. Stabilisation of an emergency condition does not always follow a nice consistent pathway. Sometimes weird shit happens … Read the rest

Hello from the brothers’ side

Mar 16th, 2016 5:00 pm | By

Metro UK on yet another incident of gender segregation connected with a university:

An Islamic society at a top university has come under fire after segregating men and women at a gala dinner by using a large screen running through the middle of the group.

The Muslim society at the London School of Economics sat guests on either male-only or female-only tables at the dinner on Sunday night with a 7ft screen between the two groups.

In case the women all got pregnant from seeing the men.

They also had to use different phone lines to order tickets. Because…what? I have no idea. It can’t be something Mo said, since there were no damn phones then.

he sold out event,

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The NHS may not survive as we know it

Mar 16th, 2016 4:33 pm | By

This Facebook post by Robert Galloway is being widely shared, at his request, so I’m sharing it too.

Dear Journalists and Editors of the BBC, Sky, Times, The Sun, Telegraph etc.

As someone who cares deeply about the NHS, I am so depressed and disappointed at your level of coverage at what is happening to our NHS.

Today was a crucial news day for what is happening to the NHS and yet the silence from your outlets was deafening. It is falling apart and you are quite happy to either not mention it or repeat the lies and deceit coming from the government.

Where was the coverage of the release of data showing the worst ever NHS perfomance? Only 83% … Read the rest

The former federal prosecutor kvelled

Mar 16th, 2016 3:59 pm | By

So who is Merrick Garland?

Let’s consult the Beltway establishment first, which is to say the Washington Post:

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Merrick Garland to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, calculating that choosing the highly regarded jurist who has served presidents from both parties will ultimately force Senate Republicans to drop plans to block his nomination.

Garland, the 63-year-old chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and a moderate, does not fit neatly into a category that is likely to mobilize Democratic voters in an election year. He is the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, not a “first” in the way an Asian American or black female nominee would

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Guest post: Two great tastes of fascism, blending into a new and utterly terrifying whole

Mar 16th, 2016 3:42 pm | By

Originally a comment by Freemage on Reporter arrested at Trump rally for filming while brown.


March 14, 2016 at 1:53 pm

I’m watching this from far away, although, I must say, I’m more and more interested in the upcoming American election.

Recently I’ve gone so far as to read an article in our press titled “The most complicated electoral system in the world”, explaining the details of the American voting system. The experience was traumatic. I’m still shaking. And it is all *your fault*!

Anyway, I’m not particularly surprised that the police got nervous intervening during clashes in which some police officers were hurt. Yeah, I know – attacks against the journalists are always newsworthy, but still. When

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I haven’t stepped into another dimension

Mar 16th, 2016 3:34 pm | By

Sorry about lack of activity here, I’m having dire connection problems and may be some time.

But fortunately I live only 3 blocks from a library, so I can connect here except for Fridays. Then the question becomes how long I can bear to stay, what with diseased people coughing wetly one day and the next day twitchy teenagers thrashing and squirming opposite me while staring maniacally in my direction and writing with a pencil held by all the fingers, which is the oddest and clumsiest way of holding a pencil I’ve ever seen. At the moment however it’s very tranquil, with reasonable people sitting quietly typing or reading. So I should be able to accomplish as much as … Read the rest

Stand for the right of the worker, not that of the capitalist

Mar 14th, 2016 4:13 pm | By

At Fitnah, Maryam talks to Marieme Helie Lucas about gender segregation:

Maryam Namazie: Universities UK’s guidance first said (though it has now been withdrawn as a result of pressure) if women are not made to sit at the back of the room but are segregated alongside men, since none are disadvantaged, then there is no discrimination. Your views?

Marieme Helie Lucas: Whether at the back or on the side, the old argument is always that this is done to protect women – for their own good, of course, and by doing so to restrict their freedom of movement. By the same logic, some twenty years ago, Bangladesh suddenly restricted women from leaving the country as there was a lot of

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Reporter arrested at Trump rally for filming while brown

Mar 13th, 2016 6:26 pm | By

Huffington Post reports:

CBS News reporter Sopan Deb was arrested Friday night while covering protests surrounding Donald Trump’s canceled rally in Chicago.

Deb, who has covered the Republican presidential front-runner‘s candidacy since last summer, was filming video of a man whose face was bloody and lying on the ground near police at the time of his arrest, according to a “CBS This Morning” report Saturday.

“Deb continued to roll as police kept watch,” the CBS report noted. “Without warning, Deb was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground.”

A police officer placed his boot on Deb’s neck to keep him in place on the ground, according to the account he provided his network.

Illinois State Police

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An obscure ruling

Mar 13th, 2016 5:38 pm | By

IS is nostalgic for the way women were treated like shit in the prophet’s day.

Locked inside a room where the only furniture was a bed, the 16-year-old learned to fear the sunset, because nightfall started the countdown to her next rape.

During the year she was held by the Islamic State, she spent her days dreading the smell of the ISIS fighter’s breath, the disgusting sounds he made and the pain he inflicted on her body. More than anything, she was tormented by the thought she might become pregnant with her rapist’s child.

But no problem, because he made her take birth control pills. When she was sold to another man, the pills went with her.

According to an

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Every aspect of her life was policed

Mar 13th, 2016 12:04 pm | By

Shaheen Hashmat won a True Honour award from IKWRO, the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, last week.

LONDON, March 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At 12 years old, Shaheen Hashmat left her family home in Scotland to escape the threat of forced marriage to a stranger in Pakistan. At 13, she attempted suicide.

Hashmat, who now campaigns against forced marriage and “honour based” violence, says Britain urgently needs better mental health services for girls and women escaping these situations.

“There needs to be far more training about the increased risk of suicide and the impact of family estrangement,” said Hashmat, who won the True Honour 2016 award on Thursday for her bravery in standing up to honour abuse.

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