All entries by this author

More poor Muslims than rich westerners

Dec 18th, 2014 6:17 pm | By

Oh look. Looky there. A headline on a Guardian Comment is Free post by Ben Doherty –

Pakistan attack reveals the truth about terrorism: it kills more poor Muslims than rich westerners

Golly gee, that’s exactly what I was saying in that post on Sunday that got so many people in such a (mostly fake) rage. How shockingly ideological to make that point! Why shouldn’t terrorism kill more poor Muslims than rich westerners? Why even mention it? It’s political correctness run mad.

Doherty commits the thought-crime all over again in the first paragraph. (Or, rather, he commits it too, since it was probably an editor who chose the title.)

Those who suffer most from Islamist extremism are not people in

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



The procedure involves slicing through the cartilage and ligaments

Dec 18th, 2014 5:36 pm | By

And speaking of doing horrible things to people…The Guardian reports another one of Ireland’s grim secrets.

“Mary” was delighted to be pregnant at 23, but she was in labor for a long time, and they got worried about her heartbeat, so they called in the doctor.

When the doctor arrived, he did something Mary cannot forget. “They gave me gas and air and an injection, and took me to another room, where they tied my legs up on each side,” she recalls. “There were two nurses on each side of me. I saw this doctor at the end of my bed with a big, long silver thing. They made a hole in your private parts, and he inserted

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



The next thing we knew, she was on fire

Dec 18th, 2014 4:47 pm | By

Yesterday the Telegraph reported some heart-breaking details of the slaughter at the army school in Peshawar. Be warned: they’re not happy reading.

The Taliban attackers reserved particularly horrific deaths for the adults, pouring fuel over at least three and setting them alight and killing the head, Tahira Qazi, with a hand grenade.

“Our principal showed extreme bravery,” Wasif Ali, a grade six pupil, said from his bed at the Lady Reading Hospital, where he was being treated for abdominal and head injuries. “She wasn’t afraid even when the militants were firing shots.” He said that as the firing started, she rushed from classroom to classroom, shouting at those inside to lock themselves in. Other pupils said she was trying

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



Self-appointed experts

Dec 18th, 2014 1:08 pm | By

NPR did a blog post about Vani Hari aka “Food Babe” the other day.

…as her profile grows, so too do the criticisms of her approach. Detractors, many of them academics, say she stokes unfounded fears about what’s in our food to garner publicity. Steve Novella, a Yale neuroscientist and prominent pseudoscience warrior, among others, has dubbed Hari the “Jenny McCarthy of food” after the celebrity known for championing thoroughly debunked claims that vaccines cause autism.

Hari is a self-styled consumer advocate and adviser on healthful eating.

Her website, FoodBabe.com, offers recipes, tips for nutritious dining while traveling, and, for $17.99 a month, “eating guides” that include recipes, meal calendars and shopping lists. But she’s best-known for

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



Arctic feedback cycle

Dec 18th, 2014 12:50 pm | By

Here’s a disquieting press release from NASA:

NASA Satellites Measure Increase of Sun’s Energy Absorbed in the Arctic

NASA satellite instruments have observed a marked increase in solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic since the year 2000 – a trend that aligns with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

While sea ice is mostly white and reflects the sun’s rays, ocean water is dark and absorbs the sun’s energy at a higher rate. A decline in the region’s albedo – its reflectivity, in effect – has been a key concern among scientists since the summer Arctic sea ice cover began shrinking in recent decades. As more of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the

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The daily horror

Dec 18th, 2014 11:28 am | By

Boko Haram this time.

Militants have stormed a remote village in north-eastern Nigeria, killing at least 33 people and kidnapping about 200, a survivor has told the BBC.

He said that suspected Boko Haram militants had seized young men, women and children from Gumsuri village.

The attack happened on Sunday but news has only just emerged, after survivors reached the city of Maiduguri.

The BBC headline is peculiar: Boko Haram unrest: Nigerian militants ‘kidnap 200 villagers’. It’s not “unrest” – it’s organized murder and kidnapping. And the people doing it aren’t really “militants”; their goal is to kill some people and enslave others. Calling them “militants” makes it sound as if they have genuine political goals, but it’s … Read the rest

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



Got secularist?

Dec 18th, 2014 10:39 am | By

The NSS is taking nominations for Secularist of the Year.

Who do you think should be the 2015 Secularist of the year?

The Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year is awarded annually in recognition of an individual or an organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the secular cause.

This year’s prize will be presented on Saturday 28 March at a lunch event in central London so please get your nominations to us by Friday 23 January.

The nomination form is right there on the page, so if you have a candidate, get to it.

 … Read the rest

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



“Does this rag smell like chloroform to you??”

Dec 17th, 2014 4:55 pm | By

Some people and institutions do take misogyny seriously. Dalhousie University apparently does.

Dalhousie University in Halifax has launched an investigation into disturbing, sexually explicit Facebook posts attributed to male students in the faculty of dentistry, CBC News has learned.

The men were part of a Facebook group called the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen. The group was removed from Facebook late last week.

I wonder by whom. Facebook doesn’t remove groups like that, and no one else could, so I guess the members removed it.

The university is working on what to do about it. Exams have been postponed until next month.

CBC News obtained screenshots of the group’s posts, which are sexually explicit and appear to involve discussions of

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



Words are never enough, but have some anyway

Dec 17th, 2014 4:07 pm | By

So I had to read John Sauven’s* blog post about how sincerely, deeply, utterly sorry he is about the Nazca lines and how strongly he hopes Peru will just take his word for that and stop bothering them.

Words are never enough, he says in the title, and yet they seem to be all he’s offering.

Words are not enough. I know that. But I want to start by saying how deeply disappointed and sorry I am for the activity undertaken in the name of Greenpeace at the Nazca lines in Peru last week during the climate talks.

The place chosen for holding a banner showed a regrettable disregard for the culture of Peru and the importance of not going

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



If they really are as ashamed as they say they are

Dec 17th, 2014 3:38 pm | By

Peru is planning to extradite the Greenpeacers who scratched up the Nazca hummingbird site.

Castillo told the Guardian that Peruvian authorities had identified six members of the group who participated in the protest at the Unesco world heritage site last week, adding that prosecutors have filed charges of attacking archaeological monuments – a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

But the minister said Greenpeace had refused to name all the protesters – leaving Peru no choice but to pursue it “through our legal means”.

“Greenpeace says it wants to take responsibility but in not giving us the names so that those responsible can appear before a judge in Peru it is refusing to do that,” he told

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



Men with guns

Dec 17th, 2014 11:48 am | By

The Taliban released pictures of the gunmen who killed 148 children and teachers in Peshawar and injured 121 more. The Taliban is proud of them, apparently.

The Times of India reports.

The Pakistani Taliban released the pictures as they issued a statement claiming the attack was justified because the Pakistani army had long been killing innocent children and families of their fighters.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khurasani also vowed more attacks as he warned civilians to detach themselves from all military institutions.

In photos released by the group, between six and seven men carrying guns can be seen pictured in front of a white banner.

Brave heroes.

 … Read the rest

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



Dancing with the dogs

Dec 17th, 2014 11:31 am | By

A laugh, because we need one these days.

I wish Cooper knew how to do that.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5Wbx-aqtYkRead the rest

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



They cite websites skeptical about immunizations

Dec 17th, 2014 11:20 am | By

Michigan has a dangerously low vaccination rate.

That’s the warning from public health experts as more and more schoolchildren are not getting basic vaccinations to protect them — and all of us — from preventable disease.

Michigan makes it easy to avoid immunization and after years of increasing public concerns over side effects and government intervention, the rate of those going unvaccinated is dangerously high.

After millions of years of being vulnerable to infectious diseases, the moderately clever humans engineered a way to avoid many of them. What a boon to humanity! And now, we’ve gone the next stage, and become so pseudo-clever that we deliberately and knowingly reject that engineered fix, so that we can have more infectious … Read the rest

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



Allahu akbar

Dec 17th, 2014 10:30 am | By

The Telegraph shares a bunch of photos of the scene at that Peshawar army school. Be warned: they’re heart-wrenching to look at – no bodies, but lots of blood. But most heart-wrenching are the pictures of the victims in life.

The full devastation of the Taliban attack in which 148 people – the vast majority children – were massacred in a Pakistan school yesterday is laid bare in images showing pools of blood and bullet-ridden walls.

Upturned desks and torn exam papers scattered across the floor give evidence of the unexpected terror that struck 500 children and staff on Tuesday morning as nine gun-wielding militants stormed the building.

Shouting “Allahu akbar.”

“They finished in minutes what I had lived my

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



Women have to get written permission

Dec 17th, 2014 9:34 am | By

Mother Jones tells us about an exciting new idea from a Missouri state legislator: a new way to make women non-people under the law.

A Missouri Republican is pushing a bill that would allow a man who gets a woman pregnant to stop her from having an abortion. The measure would force a woman who wants an abortion to obtain written permission from the father first—unless she was the victim of “legitimate rape.”

Rick Brattin, a state representative from outside Kansas City, filed the bill on December 3 for next year’s legislative session. The proposed measure reads, “No abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the

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



Nobody wants to be a buzzkill

Dec 16th, 2014 5:57 pm | By

A code of conduct? Who needs a code of conduct? This community is too fabulous to need a code of conduct!

A couple of years ago, I was asked to help put together a code of conduct for the IA Summit. I laughed.

We need a code of conduct here? The IA Summit is the nicest, most community-friendly conference ever! Those problems happen at other conferences! And they want me to help? There are sailors jealous of my cussing vocabulary—surely I was not PC enough to be part of such an effort. But the chairs insisted. So, being a good user-centered designer, I started asking around about the idea of a code of conduct.

I found out design conferences are

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



Make the choice

Dec 16th, 2014 5:29 pm | By

Karima Bennoune says what’s needed now is firm rejection of violent religious fanaticism.

As many Australians themselves have already clearly demonstrated in the wake of the attack through the wonderful anti-racist hashtag #I’llridewithyou, the correct response to such atrocious events is not blind discrimination against people on the basis of real or presumed religious identity or refugee status. However, unconditional condemnation of the extreme Islamist political ideology that may be behind this terrible attack — and at least was used to justify it — is absolutely essential, and is in no way discriminatory.

In fact, any tolerance of such intolerance does not produce tolerance, but rather has paradoxical and dangerous results — allowing illiberalism to flourish and letting violent

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



The ideology-spotter

Dec 16th, 2014 3:33 pm | By

I’ve been getting a barrage of hostile tweets and comments today about four fatal words in the post I did when I first learned of the Sydney siege, soon after it started. The one or ones I got that day – Sunday here – were reasonable and accepted my explanation and apology for clumsy wording. The ones today not so much.

D.J. Grothe ‏@DJGrothe 8h
Ugh. Tells you everything you need to know about the worldview there: “privileged rich coffee drinkers” http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/12/hostages-in-the-window-with-their-hands-up/ … #sydneysiege

Shane Walsh ‏@mountainsRhigh 7h
@DJGrothe so bitter about everything. It must be miserable to be her.

D.J. Grothe @DJGrothe
@mountainsRhigh When I knew her she seemed pleasant enough. People change with age, I guess.

Geddit? I’m … Read the rest

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You can tell what brand and style the shoes are

Dec 16th, 2014 2:47 pm | By

Drone footage maps the damage done to the Nazca site by Greenpeace, io9 reports.

As PBS Newshour reports:

The Nazca figures were drawn between 500 BC and 500 AD by removing a thin patina of dark rocks covering light sand. This is one of the driest regions of the world, and the lack of water and wind has helped preserve the lines for centuries.

But they’re still quite fragile. “When you step on it, you simply break the patina and expose the bottom surface,” said Peru’s Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo . “How long does it take for nature….to again create a patina? Hundreds of years? Thousands of years? We really don’t know.”

Watch the video and … Read the rest

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



Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson

Dec 16th, 2014 12:58 pm | By

CBS and the AP have more about the two people who were murdered at the Lindt Cafe yesterday.

Dawson was the mother of three young children, Chloe, Sasha and Oliver, and a highly respected commercial lawyer. She was remembered as “one of our best and brightest” by New South Wales Bar Association president Jane Needham.

Andrew Powell, head of the Ascham School, which Dawson attended in her youth, said she was a well-respected and giving woman who excelled at her studies. Dawson’s daughter Chloe is a student at the school and Sasha will be attending next year.

Dawson was the school’s debating captain and played hockey and basketball. After she became a lawyer, she helped teach senior students at

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