All entries by this author

Seeds of satan

Jul 14th, 2015 11:12 am | By

David Robert Grimes takes on five myths about GM foods.

One is that GM is untested. Wrong, he says; it’s tested.

Another is that Monsanto is the devil.

Another frequent claim is that Monsanto specialises in “terminator seeds” that are sterile and cannot reproduce, making farmers dependent on the firm. This persistent myth is also false. It is technically feasible to make sterile seeds, but Monsanto does not sell them (and in 1999 pledged never to explore that avenue).

Does anyone sell them?

Another claim is that it’s all big biz – i.e., I assume, all profit-driven. He cites golden rice as one example of academic and humanitarian as opposed to profit-driven research.

Sadly, it has been doggedly opposed

Read the rest

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



3 billion miles

Jul 14th, 2015 10:17 am | By

The other big news today is less subject to ambivalence, more purely a treat – the Pluto flyby. Let’s have some photos from NASA.

NASA ‏@NASA 16 hours ago
Pluto’s bright, mysterious “heart” is rotating into view: http://go.nasa.gov/1Rvnom7 @NASANewHorizons #PlutoFlyby

NASA New Horizons ‏@NASANewHorizons 7 hours ago
After 9.5 years & 3.26 BILLION miles I’m just 2 hours – aka 62,258 miles – from closest approach! #PlutoFlyby

NASA ‏@NASA 3 hours ago
Our 3-billion-mile journey to Pluto reaches historic #PlutoFly! Details & the high-res image: http://go.nasa.gov/1L5MhBg

See it???

Read the rest

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



It’s a deal

Jul 14th, 2015 9:48 am | By

A deal with Iran. This seems like good news.

World powers have reached a deal with Iran on limiting Iranian nuclear activity in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.

US President Barack Obama said that with the deal, “every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off” for Iran.

His Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, said it opened a “new chapter” in Iran’s relations with the world.

Negotiations between Iran and six world powers – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – began in 2006.

The Republican Congress is not keen, and neither is Netanyahu.

Mr Obama, who is trying to persuade a sceptical US Congress of the benefits, said it would oblige Iran to:

  • remove
Read the rest

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



Guest post: We prefer to take our white supremacy like the wind and rain

Jul 13th, 2015 6:16 pm | By

Originally a comment by freedmenspatrol on The self-justifying loop.

It’s a simple formula: Ensure people can’t succeed, preferably by stealing success from them. Then pretend you have taken nothing. Look at them and see that they have achieved less. From inside that carefully-curated ignorance, which we built a culture to train us in from a very young age, it’s clear that those people just aren’t good enough. Maybe we mistreated them in the past, but we “fixed” all that in 1865, 1954, 1965, 2008, or some other year. The date doesn’t matter as long as it’s far enough in the past that we don’t feel implicated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people literally tell me … Read the rest

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



Total mindfulosity

Jul 13th, 2015 6:05 pm | By

John Horgan has some observations on meditation.

Journalist Robert Wright, an old friend who has recently gotten into meditation, wrote in The Atlantic in 2013 that more experienced meditators “seem much less emotion-driven, much less wrapped up in themselves, and much less judgmental than, say, I am.” He suggests that if more of us meditated, we might get along better.

I have two words to say to that. Sam Harris.

I rest my case.

I suspect that meditation is as morally neutral as reading or jogging. If you meditate to become nicer—perhaps by thinking “Be nice” rather than “Be happy”–meditation might make you nicer. But meditation can make some people meaner, or rather, help them behave meanly without feeling

Read the rest

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



Threats to ovaries

Jul 13th, 2015 4:31 pm | By

Hilda Bastian has thoughts about outrage.

You didn’t need any academic theory, though, to know that wading into gender generalizations – even flippantly – was foolhardy territory for a formal guest at an event intending to honor women in science at a journalists’ conference. Progressing women’s rights to equal dignity and opportunity has always elicited outrage. But for the last couple of decades, sexist remarks and sexist jokes have, too.

This cartoon by Punch contributor, George du Maurier, comes from 1895. That was the era when anthropological claims about lower female intelligence had been losing ground as a way to keep women out of higher education (Joan Burstyn, 1973). So the ground had shifted to fanning medical fears

Read the rest

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



But how consolingly ugly

Jul 13th, 2015 3:42 pm | By

Via Hilda Bastian, via Project Gutenberg, a George du Maurier cartoon from 1895. It’s extraordinary how little we’ve moved on from that.

Read the rest

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



Future toast

Jul 13th, 2015 3:20 pm | By

This has me wondering if it would really be that bad to live in Oklahoma, or maybe Kansas – this article in the New Yorker about the fact that when the Cascadia subduction zone finally snaps, the resulting tsunami will wipe out everything west of the I-5 freeway that runs from southern California to the Canadian border at Blaine, Washington. I live a couple of miles west of I-5. The article is titled The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle.

When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to

Read the rest

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



First of all she’s a woman

Jul 13th, 2015 12:50 pm | By

Yet again I’m surprised. Some women athletes decide not to build muscle, because they’re girrrrrrrls.

The Times starts with Serena Williams, who has muscles. She plays tennis – muscles come in handy.

Williams, who will be vying for the Wimbledon title against Garbiñe Muguruza on Saturday, has large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for years. Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to.

Despite Williams’s success — a victory Saturday would give her 21 Grand Slam singles titles and her fourth in a row — body-image issues among female tennis players persist, compelling many players to avoid bulking up.

So…they … Read the rest

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



The self-justifying loop

Jul 13th, 2015 12:19 pm | By

I’m re-reading Mistakes Were Made, by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. That’s the one about self-serving bias aka cognitive dissonance, and all the exciting ways it plays out.

One item –

…if we have enslaved members of another group, deprived them of decent education or jobs, kept them from encroaching on our professional turfs, or denied them their human rights, then we evoke stereotypes about them to justify our actions. [p 60]

Thunk. Yes we do, don’t we. Consider racism in America. Doesn’t that just exactly describe our history?

  1. Slavery
  2. Grudging emancipation, with compensation for the slaveholders and penury for the former slaves
  3. Restoration of slavery in all but name through Jim Crow laws
  4. Segregation throughout the country, with
Read the rest

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



To encourage people to take personal responsibility

Jul 13th, 2015 11:16 am | By

The Tories are all excited about a new way to shred the remaining social safety net. The UK could become even more like the US! Where an illness can make you homeless in an instant!

David Cameron is prepared to look at making workers pay into flexible saving accounts to fund their own sick pay or unemployment benefits, Downing Street has confirmed.

The idea was first floated by Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, who said he was “very keen” to have a debate about encouraging people to use personal accounts to save for unemployment or illness, even though it is not official government policy.

Sure. Fuck unions, fuck collective bargaining, fuck benefits, fuck pensions and … Read the rest

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



Those zany Marxist libertarians

Jul 13th, 2015 10:54 am | By

Lejla Kurić did a public Facebook post on Saturday linking to a catalogue of the murdered men and boys of Srebrenica. You scroll down it and it goes on and on and on.

The third comment was from a denier.

Stephen Browne There was no genocide in Srebrenica. Noam Chomsky can prove that.

The hell he can.

Via this route, I found an article by Ed Vulliamy the day after ITN won its libel suit against Living Marxism, March 15 2000. I’m permanently fascinated by Living Marxism, because they haven’t gone away, they’ve only mutated into their own opposite (or met themselves traveling in the other direction), and they’re still covering the landscape with bullshit.

[H]istory – the

Read the rest

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



Butterflies and Wheels 2015-07-12 17:38:59

Jul 12th, 2015 5:38 pm | By

David Olusoga on Britain and slavery.

The history of British slavery has been buried. The thousands of British families who grew rich on the slave trade, or from the sale of slave-produced sugar, in the 17th and 18th centuries, brushed those uncomfortable chapters of their dynastic stories under the carpet. Today, across the country, heritage plaques on Georgian townhouses describe former slave traders as “West India merchants”, while slave owners are hidden behind the equally euphemistic term “West India planter”. Thousands of biographies written in celebration of notable 17th and 18th-century Britons have reduced their ownership of human beings to the footnotes, or else expunged such unpleasant details altogether. The Dictionary of National Biography has been especially culpable in

Read the rest

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



The fox is INSIDE the hen house

Jul 12th, 2015 5:16 pm | By

Golly. That bozo Abdullah al Andalusi, who goes on The Big Question to say stomach-turning theocratic things, worked at the Inspectorate of Constabulary until someone belatedly noticed him on tv. Bit of a blunder there.

For almost two years Abdullah al Andalusi, led a double life, the Telegraph can reveal.

By night, he taught that the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) was “no different to Western armies,” said that “kaffirs,” non-Muslims, would be “punished in hell” and claimed that the British government wanted to destroy Islam.

By day, using a different name, he went to work for the same British government at the London offices of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the official regulator

Read the rest

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



Just a tiny drop

Jul 12th, 2015 4:47 pm | By

Bill Cosby gets squeally-excited about the powers of a potion that makes girls flop down and open their legs.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtZwL4c2JYA

Hellooo America. Very amusing.… Read the rest

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



Biblical I don’t think so

Jul 12th, 2015 4:10 pm | By

More from the “Biblical” pig at Biblical Gender Roles, this time about whether or not it’s ok for a man to insist on having sex with his wife even if she’s in pain. This guy is so full of shit…and cowardly with it, because he’s anonymous.

Question 1 – Was the husband wrong for having sex with his wife while she was pregnant and in pain?

It depends. Had he just had sex with her in the last few days? Then perhaps he should have put her need to not experience more pain and discomfort ahead of his need for sex. But if she had been in pain for weeks or a month and he finally came to her

Read the rest

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



Non-random mass murder

Jul 12th, 2015 11:55 am | By

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. The remembrance didn’t go smoothly. The Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić was chased away by protesters throwing stones.

Mr Vucic is a former radical Serb nationalist who served under Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the late 1990s.

He is now a pro-Western politician seeking to steer Serbia into the European Union. His government managed to secure support from its ally Russia on Wednesday to veto a UN resolution calling the events in Srebrenica a genocide.

Well that would explain why the Bosnian protesters were pissed off.

It was a genocide. They were killed because they were Bosnian; that’s genocide. “Ethnic cleansing” is genocide.

Tens of thousands of people came to

Read the rest

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



How to silence the peasants

Jul 12th, 2015 11:26 am | By

Still at it. Still muddying the waters by saying Tim Hunt was sacked by UCL, when he was never employed by UCL in the first place. Simon Heffer in the Telegraph:

How to silence Sir Tim’s bullies

University College, London is a great institution that has diminished itself by sacking Sir Tim Hunt, the Nobel laureate who made an entirely harmless but silly remark about women.

Except that it didn’t “sack” him.

Also, the claim that “silly” dismissive contemptuous remarks about women are “entirely harmless” is highly debatable. (I think they’re just flat-0ut wrong, but then that’s what I think, and it’s debatable.)

UCL acted after a particularly nasty display of mob rule by denizens of Twitter, where
Read the rest

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



What’s up, Doc?

Jul 12th, 2015 10:17 am | By

Oh good grief. Unconscious sexism – it gets in everywhere.

A BBC story about the finding of a medieval ring in Norfolk.

The ring, found by a metal detectorist in South Creake, Norfolk, dates from between 1350 and 1430.

Dr Jonathan Good, author of The Cult of St George, said the ring “attests to the popularity of St George” and may be linked to a guild devoted to the saint.

Dr Good, who is associate professor of history at Reinhardt University, in Georgia in the US, said the ring “could have have owned by a guild member. It could have been a way of them showing their dedication”.

“It is in these pre-reformation times that St George

Read the rest

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



Elementary good manners by way of an introductory salutation

Jul 11th, 2015 5:54 pm | By

One from more than three years ago, March 20 2012: I get email:

I got one today from someone who has commented here a few times as nmcc or NMcC, and who commented yesterday to tell me how wrong I am about the word “cunt” and to say “Sarah Palin is a cunt.” I deleted that comment and put him – his email address showed he’s a Nigel – in moderation. The message I got this morning expressed surprise at the deletion of the comment. (It started with “Hi” – this is more significant than you might think.) I replied, brusquely,

Really? You would have thought “Sarah Palin is a cunt” was well within my commenting policy? I’ve been

Read the rest

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