All entries by this author

People who are making the lives of vulnerable human beings safer and better

Oct 10th, 2014 9:38 am | By

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen responds to the Nobel awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai. (Sen is a bit of a hero of mine. Yes, I do still have a-bit heroes. Or maybe not hero, since from there it’s a short step to thought leaders, and we know where that goes. But someone I admire.)

A Nobel prize “messes up one’s life a bit, because it comes with so many commitments—but it also gives you greater opportunity to pursue those things that are valuable to you,” said Amartya Sen, reacting to the news that Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi have been named Nobel peace laureates.

Sen, a professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University, received the 1998 Nobel

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Kailash Satyarthi’s Anthem

Oct 10th, 2014 9:28 am | By

Kailash Satyarthi composed an Anthem Against Child Labour.

From the YouTube introduction:

Anthem Against Child Labour is not merely a song, but the musical spark to liberate shackled innocence and robbed off childhood. It is the loudest chorus to unite all voices, minds and souls for emancipation from child slavery. My feelings and emotions along with the children’s quest for freedom have been brought alive by noted singer Jassi’s magical voice and reverberating music.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQMJDSSLtb8Read the rest

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The Nobel Peace Prize announcement

Oct 10th, 2014 9:21 am | By

For two people who work to end the exploitation and oppression of children.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGmEf7GVimwRead the rest

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The pope? No. Putin? No.

Oct 10th, 2014 8:56 am | By

As I’m sure you already know, because we are THE LAST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD TO WAKE UP over here on the West Coast of the US, Malala Yousafzai has won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist.

This is good news. It’s good news for one thing because it means the pope and Vladimir Putin did not win the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a statement, the Nobel committee said: “Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzai has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.

“This she has done under the most dangerous

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xoxoMom

Oct 9th, 2014 5:38 pm | By

Update 2: People kept pointing out that “my bad” isn’t an apology, which is true, but honestly I didn’t and don’t see much point in apologizing here. It would be crass and revolting to do it on Twitter. I don’t know Sommers personally so I don’t have her email address. But then a way of finding one occurred to me, and I did find it, so I apologized to her directly.

Update: Oops. I didn’t realize Sommers’s husband just died, so these are notes and flowers sent to the bereaved.

My bad.

Although…honestly…it’s a little sickening that she uses #Gamergate to thank her new pals. More than a little. But still, if I’d known that’s what the flowers were … Read the rest

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That’s between a girl and her…judge?

Oct 9th, 2014 1:08 pm | By

Then there’s the parental notification requirement. Mother Jones looks at the problems.

Susan Hays, a Texas attorney who represents minors through a group called Jane’s Due Process, says about a third of the girls she works with don’t have the option of asking their parents for permission—they’re undocumented immigrants whose parents are not in the country, orphans, or what Hays calls “de facto orphans”: “Mom’s dead, Dad’s in prison, they never liked me much anyway.”

She once represented a minor whose parents ran a meth ring: “She had split because she had the distinct impression they were going to start pimping her out.” Legal guardians may grant permission for an abortion in most states. But this is no

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Only unapproachable

Oct 9th, 2014 12:38 pm | By

Oh gosh, a helpful guy in Chicago wrote an open letter to the available single ladies of Chicago on how to make themselves more what he wants them to be, and he’s so helpful that he underlines the very point I was just making. The very same one!

I’m dying to stop you on the street and pay you the occasional compliment (“You’re really rocking that tweed dress today – I love your style.”). But I can’t – because you’re always walking around with your damn earbuds in (“Don’t talk to me!”) and your sunglasses on, even when they’re not necessary (which incidentally doesn’t make you look cool or sexy, only unapproachable).

See there? Unapproachable. Women are supposed to be, … Read the rest

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The Likability obligation

Oct 9th, 2014 11:14 am | By

One thing about being a woman is that there’s more expectation of having an approachable personality. A woman who seems less approachable than the norm is off-putting. I’m pretty sure I have that feeling myself, which is sad and embarrassing, especially since I’m about as approachable as a rock. But that doesn’t make any difference, does it – we have these feelings of discomfort or ease, wrongness or rightness, independent of how well we conform to them ourselves.

Laura Bates wrote about this discrepancy in expectations in the Guardian last week.

A study by linguist and tech entrepreneur Kieran Snyder was published by fortune.com in August, under the headline: “The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in

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You made a real difference

Oct 8th, 2014 6:10 pm | By

Paul Fidalgo shares good news from the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity, and Accountability, in Uganda.

HALEA’s offices, located in the slums of Kamapala, were robbed, during which a security guard was severely beaten (and who is now recovering well, I’m happy to say), and the offices were stripped of everything of value: computers, cameras, phones, printers, microphones, power cords, media players, and more.

In response, we activated our SHARE program, the Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort, to help them get back on their feet.

Other freethought groups lent their support as well. You made a real difference, raising over $6000 for their rebuilding efforts.

HALEA is an active and determined group, in a city

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She’s serious

Oct 8th, 2014 5:42 pm | By

Eliza Sutton’s previous venture in the category of Misusing Professional Credentials to Abuse Someone.

Skep tickle says

May 27, 2013 at 9:44 am(Edit)

Please get some professional psychological help. I’m serious. Paranoia seems to be consuming you.

She’s so caring and concerned.… Read the rest

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Skip the tests of faith

Oct 8th, 2014 4:18 pm | By

I’m not sure the story of Abraham and Isaac is the best way to start a column urging condemnation of the murder of Alan Henning, unless you’re using that story as an object lesson on what can happen when you think you’re supposed to obey “God”. I don’t think that’s how Yasmin Alibhai Brown is using it, although she may be – she doesn’t really exactly say what she thinks of it.

It is Eid, the second annual Muslim festival, when we mark the end of Hajj and remember Abraham, who – when God asked him to – agreed to make the ultimate sacrifice and kill his son Isaac.

It was a test of faith; God stopped the

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Surprising that this book wasn’t already out there

Oct 8th, 2014 10:08 am | By

Katha Pollitt talks to Jill Filipovic about her new book on why abortion matters.

You’ve been a pro-choice writer for decades. Why this book now?

It was surprising to me that this book wasn’t already out there.

There are some books of reporting about abortion, where people go and interview a lot of people or they write about the political struggle, but there isn’t a book that actually lays out the more philosophical arguments around abortion rights. I have a friend who is a brilliant, very important social theorist who said to me at a dinner party, “I’m only telling you this because we’re friends, but I oppose abortion except for rape. The only reason I think it’s OK is

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It does not mean that it comes with the territory

Oct 7th, 2014 5:01 pm | By

Jennifer Lawrence says what she thinks about having naked pictures of her stolen and published online.

“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she says.

“It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”

I can, but only because I’ve been paying attention to it for more than three years. And anyway I can’t, really. I’m thoroughly convinced of it by long observation but at the same time I’m permanently incredulous.

“It is

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As an example of a gross breach of medical ethics

Oct 7th, 2014 3:57 pm | By

Sometimes the revoltingness of the Official Opposition is surprising. Oh what am I talking about, it’s almost always surprising. But still, one contribution to the genre by “Skep tickle” is pretty damn amazing. PZ posted a screen grab, because the contribution is about him. Scroll down to the end of the post.

I’ve been pointed to the comment by Skep tickle, aka Eliza Sutton, MD, and I post it here as an example of a gross breach of medical ethics. She should be ashamed.

She’s suggesting he had a “disseminated gonococcal infection.” Tee hee.

Note that she’s diagnosing me with “septic arthritis” in the complete absence of any facts. If she had the information that my doctor had,

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About the death of a young girl

Oct 7th, 2014 12:07 pm | By

Another BBC piece on Ebola.

There’s a summit in London to talk about how to deal with the epidemic, which has killed 3,338 people so far. A nurse, William Pooley, spoke at the summit:

Mr Pooley, who was the first Briton to contract the virus during the current outbreak, appealed to the international community to act to prevent the epidemic getting worse.

In an emotional press conference he spoke about the death of a young girl and her brother.

He said he had found her “covered in blood,” adding: “She still had a very puzzled expression on her face and she wasn’t breathing.”

“So I put her in a bag and left her next to her brother. She was

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Francis’ bloodshot eyes

Oct 7th, 2014 11:05 am | By

BBC reporter Tulip Mazumdar has a heart-wrenching detailed story on Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The trip from London takes 20 hours instead of 6, because most airlines have stopped flying to Sierra Leone; she has to go via Paris and Casablanca.

At the airport there is bleach, and temperature-checking, and warning information on the walls. The handshake has been replaced by patting one’s own chest.

Today we are filming at the country’s main referral hospital – Connaught Hospital in central Freetown. As we enter, I see a woman in a purple and pink shirt lying on a bench, with her head in her hands. She looks extremely unwell. This area is where patients showing symptoms of Ebola come for

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The revenge

Oct 7th, 2014 10:13 am | By

Laurie Penny says we’re winning. Who? Who’s we? Social Justice Warriors.

She’s been thinking about the reaction – the revenge – from the anti-Social Justice Warriors, and what it means.

The routine, the arguments, have become far too familiar. A woman or a handful of women are selected for destruction; our ‘credibility’ and ‘professionalism’ are attacked in the same breath as we are called ugly, slut-shamed for dismissed either as stupid little girls or bitter old women or, in some cases, both.

The medium is modern, but the logic is Victorian, and make no mistake, the problem is not what we do and say and build and create.

The problem is that women are doing it. That’s why the

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Is that a tweet in your pocket?

Oct 6th, 2014 4:32 pm | By

David Futrelle reports another instance of Janet Bloomfield telling lies about a feminist to whip up Twitter hatred against her.

Janet Bloomfield – A Voice for Men’s compulsively lying “social media director” – is at it again.

A couple of months back, Bloomfield – who goes by JudgyBitch1 on Twitter – decided for some reason that she could best serve AVFM’s social media directing needs by straight-up libeling feminist writer Jessica Valenti – by making up inflammatory quotes and attributing them to Valenti in a series of Tweets. She later boasted in on her blog that the quotes – which she admitted she’d conjured out of thin air – had inflamed hatred of Valenti and caused her to catch

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A watershed moment

Oct 6th, 2014 4:07 pm | By

The ACLU has a press release on the Supreme Court’s denial of review in marriage equality cases today.

NEW YORK – The Supreme Court of the United States today denied review in all of the marriage equality cases pending before it. As a result of the Court’s action, same-sex couples in Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah will now be able to marry the partners they love. Today’s orders also mean that same-sex marriage will soon become lawful in at least 30 states.

“This is a watershed moment for the entire country. We are one big step closer to the day when all same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry regardless of where they live. The time has come

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The spiritual battle for the spirit of this nation

Oct 6th, 2014 11:34 am | By

A newly elected state senator in Texas said last week that Christians in the US are treated the way Jews were treated in Nazi Germany.

Charles Perry made the comparison after being sworn in on Tuesday following his victory earlier this month in a special election to replace a retiring state senator, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.

In his inaugural speech, Perry said a recent trip to a concentration camp in Germany made him draw a comparison between what he believes are efforts by the government to pass laws against religion and the killing of Jews during the Holocaust.

“There were 10,000 people that were paraded into a medical office [at the concentration camp in Germany] under the guise of a

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