All entries by this author

Are you now or have you ever been

Jul 21st, 2015 9:23 am | By

I almost never close posts to comments here, but I closed one just now because it was an explosion of inquisitorial dogmatic stupid. I deleted the last few comments, so don’t bother looking for them.

Don’t ever, ever ask me questions of the form: “Do you think X is Y, yes or no?”

And don’t ever follow up such a question (or any question) with “be aware that ‘yes, but’ or any other kind of ‘sort of’ or ‘maybe’” will be treated as a no and you will be excommunicated accordingly.

Just fuck right off with that kind of thing, because it’s ordering me not to think and analyze but just say yes or no, and that’s not what I … Read the rest

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



Those concerns are overblown

Jul 20th, 2015 3:13 pm | By

The theocrats are fighting back.

Legislation granting protections for tax-exempt organizations and individuals objecting to same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds is gathering momentum in the House. The bills, drafted by Representative Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho, and Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, already have 130 co-sponsors. On Thursday, the Republican Study Committee, the largest, most organized group of conservatives in the House, demanded a vote.

“All religious Americans deserve assurance that they can carry out their conscience without a federal government crackdown,” said Representative Bill Flores, Republican of Texas and the committee’s chairman.

Do they? What if their conscience tells them they have to kill same-sex couples? Or set fire to their houses, or kidnap … Read the rest

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Proud to be top

Jul 20th, 2015 11:35 am | By

At a different Pride parade, a month ago…

Just days after Pride Toronto’s dispute resolution process banned the group from forthcoming celebrations, the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) — a group denounced by critics for being anti-feminist and misogynist — were peacefully walking the streets of Richmond Hill for Pride York Fest.

Oh good grief. That’s Justin Trottier’s group.

MRAs marching in a Pride parade.

And so the nine-person CAFE contingent, including a handful of women, marched, sandwiched between contingents from the federal and provincial Liberal parties as well as a local newspaper.

Few who lined Yonge St. between Crosby Ave. and Vern Dynes Way batted an eye when CAFE members doled out buttons and leaflets advertising their group,

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Good lad

Jul 20th, 2015 10:58 am | By

Inspired by karmacat, I looked up the Good Lad Project that so irritates Dan Bell of InsideMAN.

What We Do

The Good Lad Workshop is an Oxford-based effort to empower men to deal with complex gender situations and become agents of positive change within their social circles. We run workshops throughout term time for groups of men within the university, such as sports teams, drinking societies, clubs and JCR/MCR members.

Our workshops focus on issues relating to consent, masculinity, peer pressure, power and responsibility. Instead of casting men as potential perpetrators who just have to learn to obey the law, we promote the idea of ‘positive masculinity.’ We challenge men to see not just obligations to avoid harming women,

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Not just for their own good, but for women’s too

Jul 20th, 2015 9:23 am | By

So much ugly. It’s the Torygraph, so whaddayouexpect, but all the same – the bluntness is a little surprising. Dan Bell says We must stop indoctrinating boys in feminist ideology.

On Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported that a school in Oxford has become the first to introduce “Good Lad” workshops, in which boys are singled out for sessions that teach them about “the scale of sexual harassment and violence aimed at female students” and how they must stand up for women’s rights.

The workshops are the latest in a mushrooming series of initiatives in which ideologically-driven activists are being invited into schools, driven by the belief that boys need to be re-educated to prevent them from becoming a threat

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The imam simply smiled

Jul 19th, 2015 6:15 pm | By

The New Yorker ran a long piece on slavery in Mauritania last year, by Alexis Okeowo.

In 1981, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery, while making no provision for punishing slave owners. In 2007, under international pressure, it passed a law that allowed slaveholders to be prosecuted. Yet slavery persists there, even as the government and religious leaders deny it. Although definitive numbers are difficult to find, the Global Slavery Index estimates that at least a hundred and forty thousand people are enslaved in Mauritania, out of a population of 3.8 million. Bruce Hall, a professor of African history at Duke University, said that people endure slavelike conditions in other countries in the region, but

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Obtaining the unpaid services of a child

Jul 19th, 2015 5:29 pm | By

Jakub Sobik reports at Anti-Slavery:

We have just received news of a verdict in one of our slavery cases in Mauritania – a 10-year-old boy called Issa who we’d been supporting through our UN-funded project.

The Criminal Court reclassified the slavery charge as ‘obtaining the unpaid services of a child’ which carries much smaller sentences. Slavery crimes are meant to carry sentences of 5-10 years in prison.

So the slave-owner was given a 3-month sentence, which he already served through the time he’d been in detention, and was consequently released.

Neither the child, the lawyer nor the guardian of the child [was] even informed that the ruling was due to take place so they weren’t present in court.

As

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Slinky

Jul 19th, 2015 3:43 pm | By

Godalmighty.

ITV News reports:

[Labour leadership contender] Liz Kendall told a Mail on Sunday journalist to “fuck off” when she was asked how much she weighed during an interview.

When she was asked what?? For what reason? Was the journalist planning to ship her somewhere? Is there an official weight limit for party leaders?

In the much-criticised article, journalist Simon Walters wrote: “In fact she looks the same weight as the Duchess – about 8st – though when I ask she slaps me down with a raucous ‘fuck off!’, adding quickly: ‘Don’t print that.’”

The Duchess? What duchess? The one in Alice in Wonderland? The one who was married to Andrew Windsor for awhile? The one who’s married … Read the rest

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Guest post: Off to America on a coffin ship

Jul 19th, 2015 12:52 pm | By

Originally a comment by Marcus Ranum on David Brooks tells Ta-Nehisi Coates to try some social mobility for a change.

For them, America was the antidote to the crushing restrictiveness of European life, to the pogroms. For them, the American dream was an uplifting spiritual creed that offered dignity, the chance to rise.

My ancestors came over because they faced near certain death in potato famines; they would have gone anywhere, except the landed class restricted the poor’s ability to relocate. So: off to America on a coffin ship; one more than half of the family made it, the rest were buried at sea. I started to read great great-grandpa’s journal, once, and couldn’t bear it.

Perhaps the famine … Read the rest

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Panto dames and other drag queens on TV

Jul 19th, 2015 11:24 am | By

The day after Free Pride Glasgow issued its statement saying No to drag performances, Pink News ran a story about a Scottish broadcaster saying No to a drag queen. Uncomfortable timing eh?

Pride Glasgow has attacked Scottish broadcaster STV, for refusing to allow a drag queen to appear in its Pride coverage.

According to the Herald, the group were due to appear on the Riverside Show on the newly-launched STV Glasgow ahead of this week’s Pride event, but the show’s producer refused to allow drag queen Bee Fiarse Beaujambes to appear in the coverage.

Alastair Smith of Pride Glasgow said: “We had suggested to them that a drag queen come on the show to promote the gay pride

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Starvation and jaguars

Jul 18th, 2015 4:52 pm | By

Al Jazeera on slavery in Brazil.

Slavery is reported across the country, from farms in the wealthy south to five-star hotels in Rio de Janeiro and factories in São Paulo. But for decades, the heart of the problem has been this well-trodden route. It leads from northeastern states such as Maranhão and Piauí, known for their poverty and political corruption, to Pará, a vast state in northern Brazil encompassing much of the Amazon rain forest.

Former slave Elenilson de Conceição, whose furrowed face belies his 29 years, knows it intimately after he was himself enslaved to deforest the jungle. He was not paid a cent for three months of grueling labor and slept under the stars amid a forest

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



Glasgow Pride says no drag

Jul 18th, 2015 3:49 pm | By

Free Pride Glasgow says no drag performances.

At Free Pride we hope to create a safe space for all people within the LGBTQIA+ community. We understand that sometimes this will disappoint some people within the community, however our priority is always to put the needs of the most marginalised groups within our community first.

Sometimes it will disappoint some people within the community? Why? Do some people within the community want an unsafe space?

Or maybe it’s that “a safe space” isn’t exactly the right thing to hope to create, or at least not exclusively. For a lot of people “a safe space” is one that has only straight people in it, after all. Gay pride has always been rowdy … Read the rest

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



Apocalypse on the freeway

Jul 18th, 2015 1:47 pm | By

You’re riding along in a car on the freeway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on a hot sunny afternoon, and the traffic slows, and then you see some weeds on fire next to the freeway, and then in the distance a car bursts into flames. And no it’s not a movie.

The fire, which erupted just after 2:30 p.m. and quickly grew to 3,500 acres, shut down the highway in both directions. By evening, it had destroyed 20 vehicles and at least four homes, and was bearing down on mountain communities. Most lanes of the 15 were open by Saturday morning, but hundreds of firefighters were still on the lines.

In a region where brush fires are a

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David Brooks tells Ta-Nehisi Coates to try some social mobility for a change

Jul 18th, 2015 11:21 am | By

Via PZ, and various people on Twitter, I read David Brooks’s infuriatingly smug and defensive commentary on Ta-Nehisi Coates.

But the disturbing challenge of your book is your rejection of the American dream. My ancestors chose to come here. For them, America was the antidote to the crushing restrictiveness of European life, to the pogroms. For them, the American dream was an uplifting spiritual creed that offered dignity, the chance to rise.

What is the point of saying that? It’s not as if Ta-Nehisi Coates doesn’t know that. It’s not even as if Brooks thinks Ta-Nehisi Coates doesn’t know that. For many white people, America was a dream of escape and opportunity. Yes we know that.

Your ancestors

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The figure could easily have been as high as 1,250,000

Jul 18th, 2015 10:12 am | By

You know that experience of finding out about some large significant bit of history that you knew nothing about? Especially the kind that involves misery and death for a great many people? Especially the kind where the misery and death are at the hands of other people?

Martin Robbins just pointed out one in comments on a public Facebook post so I went away to Google and found an informative BBC article from 2011.

The fishermen and coastal dwellers of 17th-century Britain lived in terror of being kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in North Africa. Hundreds of thousands across Europe met wretched deaths on the Barbary Coast in this way. Professor Robert Davis investigates.

Hundreds of thousands?? … Read the rest

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Stereotype 1, stereotype 2, stereotype 3

Jul 17th, 2015 4:44 pm | By

Dorothy Bishop in the Times Higher on the trouble with jokes about girls.

Personally, I think we should be allowed to criticise the policies of our institutions and to debate robustly with those whose beliefs are at odds with our basic values. However, when we are talking about the fundamental biological characteristics of the individual, it is a different matter.

If we say derogatory comments are acceptable in the context of a joke, this basically allows anything, because anything can be construed as a joke post hoc. Suppose someone said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with blacks. Three things happen when they’re in the lab: (stereotype 1), (stereotype 2), (stereotype 3).” I think most educated people would

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The need to believe

Jul 17th, 2015 4:19 pm | By

Turn everything on its head time. People who take climate change seriously are in denial!!! Says the Federalist.

I, a (distinguished) gray-haired, middle-aged man, was a speaker at the conference. My topic was “The Need To Believe In The ‘Solution’ To Global Warming.” I don’t know if Johnson took note, but it was folks like him that I had in mind. Lot of people who aren’t up on, say, radiative-transfer physics and model-cloud parameterizations, to name just two of dozens upon dozens of need-to-know subjects, are convinced the world is going to end in heat death, because why? Because they desperately desire the proposed solutions—even in the absence of a problem. And what are the solutions?

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A treat

Jul 17th, 2015 3:42 pm | By

Amy Schumer’s parody of 12 Angry Men, in which the twelve dudely jurors argue over whether Amy Schumer is not enough to be on tv.… Read the rest

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Guest post: People who aren’t making the distinction between belief and reality

Jul 17th, 2015 12:23 pm | By

Originally a comment by PatrickG on “Like I actually had a tail”.

Let me try again, since apparently I was unclear (not an unusual experience for me):

1) I consider magical thinking to be harmful in and of itself, whether it be sincerely believing in drinking the blood of Zombie Jesus or sincerely believing that one is not really human. So when you say:

There is no woo in describing how you feel regardless of reality if a person knows that their feelings and reality are not consistent.

We’re in agreement there, but that’s clearly not the case for people who sincerely believe they aren’t actually human, which is the group I’m addressing. Not just “feeling” non-human, to … Read the rest

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People in advantaged countries like to think of themselves as especially complex, colorful, and special

Jul 17th, 2015 12:02 pm | By

So I look around for more on “the otherkin community.” I find a piece by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw from a few months ago. I read.

When she was 9 or 10 years old, Jessie read a book that would change her life forever: Julie of the Wolves, a story about a young girl who bonds with a wolf pack to survive in the Alaskan tundra. It precipitated Jessie’s realization that she identified as a wolf herself.

“I could certainly see a case being made that I latched on to wolves because of some difficult times in my life,” Jessie told me. “I saw family in them, I saw protection and familiarity, and I saw an escape from what I was

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