Notes and Comment Blog

People and their groups

Nov 24th, 2015 12:11 pm | By

About ISIS and Joyce Carol Oates and humanity and whether or not there’s anything good to say about groups like ISIS or the people who join ISIS…

Here’s my view. I don’t think there is anything good to say about ISIS as a group. Its purpose and actions are rooted in a theocratic loathing of human beings. Its prxis is about what you would expect from such a loathing.

But the people who make up ISIS? That’s a very different question. Some may be thoroughly horrible yet still redeemable, some may be thoroughly horrible full stop, some may be more deluded than horrible. I don’t know. There are a lot of such people, and it’s all but certain that they vary along that continuum.

But Oates’s question was about ISIS the group. ISIS the group doesn’t resemble, say, the Catholic church, which includes some wonderful people doing wonderful work, and which also includes people doing more or less useful, compassionate, etc work but with churchy strings attached, and people doing good work who also do terrible things. It’s a mixed bag. ISIS not so much. Hizbollah does some useful work along with other kinds, but ISIS, as far as I’ve ever heard, doesn’t. It conquers people and kills all the ones it doesn’t enslave. It’s not sweet.

People who join ISIS and help with its projects may be redeemable but even if they are…they have a heavy load to bear for the rest of their lives. People can change, people are seldom all one thing, but it seems safe to say that belonging to ISIS is not good for the character.


Nov 24th, 2015 8:21 am | By

So I’m here on the peninsula again so posting will probably be light for the next few days.

The Pacific ocean is just over there and it’s caaalling me.

I like my job. Both my jobs.


Nov 23rd, 2015 3:35 pm | By

I’m on the road – specifically, on a bench at the San Jose airport which seems to be the only spot next to an electrical outlet in the whole place. (Wouldn’t you think? In the heart of Silicon fucking Valley?) I’m here in the interval before the 4:05 shuttle to Monterey.

Anybody else on the road? Or just out for a walk? Tell us stories of your travels.

He said ‘in the middle of it’

Nov 23rd, 2015 8:18 am | By

The BBC tells us the Archbishop of Canterbury suddenly noticed something.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the terror attacks in Paris made him “doubt” the presence of God.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby told BBC Songs Of Praise he had prayed, asking “where are you…” after the attacks.

Really?! The Paris attacks! And nothing before that? None of the Boko Haram attacks, which have killed thousands? Not the murders in the Emanuel AME church in Charleston? Not the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia? Europe? Africa? He must be quite astonishingly inattentive…much like god, if his god exists.

He said his reaction to the attacks had been “first shock and horror and then a profound sadness”, heightened because he and his wife once lived in Paris.

Oh well that explains it. I suppose he and his wife never lived in Sarajevo or Auschwitz.

The archbishop said: “Saturday morning, I was out and as I was walking, I was praying and saying: ‘God, why – why is this happening? Where are you in all this?'”

“He said ‘in the middle of it’ and also in answer from Psalm 56 – ‘he stores up our tears in a bottle, none of our sufferings are lost,'” he added.

In the middle of it? So he was shooting then?

And as for that bit from Psalm WhoCares – don’t insult us.


They decided this class was their space

Nov 23rd, 2015 7:58 am | By

Sarah Ditum wrote about gender and her daughter last January.

Not all the encouragement you received has been positive. You did a term of judo, then you stopped because some boys in the class began shoving the few girls who attended. They didn’t tell you this was because you were a girl, but it was because you were a girl: they decided this class was their space, so they pushed you around till they pushed you out. “Push them back, and harder,” I wanted to say – you are going to grow up tall and powerful, and right now most boys your age are smaller than you – but fighting is only going to get you in trouble, and anyway, in a few years their violence will exceed anything you can offer.

And when all of you are grown up they will find non-violent ways of pushing you out, but push you out they will.

The YouTubers your brother watches use “pussy” as an insult. I talk to him about this, but that doesn’t stop his friends from watching, can’t excise this disgust from your social world.

Also “cunt,” “twat,” “bitch,” “ho,” etc.

It would be nice to live in a world where people just didn’t want to talk to each other that way.

All we hear of ISIS

Nov 23rd, 2015 7:32 am | By

Zany madcap Joyce Carol Oates is stirring up the hornets again.

A tweet:

Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates
All we hear of ISIS is puritanical & punitive; is there nothing celebratory & joyous? Or is query naive?

Yes, query is naïve.

Puritanism and the punishments that enforce it are what ISIS is all about. There is of course joy and celebration, when for instance they smash ancient monuments and buildings in Palmyra, or when they seize another town, or when they find more women to rape. But the joy and celebration are for the alpha males, not for anyone else, and their source is not what minimally compassionate people consider healthy. They rejoice in violence and cruelty and conquest.

Was she expecting lyric poetry? Music? Dance? Parties with food and wine? Is it news to her that there are people who hate the world and everything in it?

Cancel everything

Nov 23rd, 2015 6:58 am | By

The CBC did a story on the “no yoga for you!” situation at the University of Ottawa, so we no longer have to rely on the right-wing tabloid the Ottawa Sun.

Jen Scharf said she’s been teaching a free yoga class for the university’s Centre for Students with Disabilities, which is run by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, for the last seven years.

It’s free, and it’s for students with disabilities…so you’d think it would be an all-around good thing, wouldn’t you?

When she checked back in with the centre in September, she said she was told by them the class wouldn’t be happening because some students and volunteers were uncomfortable with the “cultural issues” involved.

“I guess it was this cultural appropriation issue because yoga originally comes from India,” she said on Sunday. “I told them, ‘Why don’t we just change the name of the course?’ It’s simple enough, just call it mindful stretching.… We’re not going through the finer points of scripture. We’re talking about basic physical awareness and how to stretch so that you feel good.

“That went back and forth… The higher-ups at the student federation got involved, finally we got an email routed through the student federation basically saying they couldn’t get a French name and nobody wants to do it, so we’re going to cancel it for now.”

Well great. Let’s just cancel everything, to be on the safe side. If there’s ever any doubt or ambiguity, just err on the side of cancellation. Cancel all the talks, all the books, all the lectures, all the movies, all the conversations, all the ideas. They all have the potential to go wrong, so it’s better to do nothing. Nothing at all.

Cultural appropriation is when a culture that’s seen as an oppressor borrows or steals elements of a culture they’re oppressing. Scharf said there is also concern over yoga instructors who claim to be experts in the more spiritual aspects of yoga, but aren’t.

“I’m not claiming it’s anything more than a physical practice within that class,” she said. “There’s been so much positivity and so many people positively helped by this, and that’s part of the reason why I’m fighting so hard to keep it.”

She clearly doesn’t understand the “when in doubt, cancel it” principle. She thinks that because it was helping people, it should continue. We’d all better shun her.

In a French-language interview with Radio-Canada, student federation president Roméo Ahimakin said there were no direct complaints about the class, more general questions about the issues and ideas around it.

Ahimakin said they suspended the class as part of a review of all their programs to make them more interesting, accessible, inclusive and responsive to the needs of students.

Good thinking. He gets the principle. Cancel everything in order to make it more good things.

[A]t the Hindu Temple of Ottawa-Carleton, one husband and wife said they didn’t have an issue with what they’ve seen around the community and didn’t agree with the idea that non-Hindus teaching yoga is culturally insensitive.

“In Hindi ‘yog’ means to unite. To unite with who? With your true self. That’s what yoga is. Here we tend to relate it with the postures but it’s not just postures… and it has nothing to do with religion,” said Girija Waghray, who’s been teaching yoga around Ottawa for more than 10 years.

“It’s basically focusing on our health. By calming our mind, our mind becomes positive.”

Dilip Waghray said he’s been practising yoga for 50 years and while he’s uncomfortable with how it’s been commercialized in the West, he chooses to focus on the benefits it’s having.

Ah no, that’s the shortsighted “don’t cancel everything” view, which ignores the need for safety and mental purity. Benefits are just grubby material things, what we’re after is perfection and purity, which can be attained only through 100% cancellation.

She put out cookies

Nov 22nd, 2015 4:47 pm | By

Frank Bruni talks about how hard it’s been to make religion as accountable as other human institutions.

James Porter was convicted of sexually abusing 28 children in the 1960s, when he was in the Catholic priesthood. He was believed to have abused about 100 boys and girls in all, most of them in Massachusetts.

Major newspapers and television networks covered the Porter story, noting a growing number of cases of abuse by priests. Porter’s sentencing in December 1993 was preceded by two books that traced the staggering dimensions of such behavior. The first was “Lead Us Not Into Temptation,” by Jason Berry. The second was “A Gospel of Shame,” with which I’m even more familiar. I’m one of its two authors.

But despite all of that attention, Americans kept being shocked whenever a fresh tally of abusive priests was done or new predators were exposed. They clung to disbelief.

“Spotlight” is admirably blunt on this point, suggesting that the Globe staff — which, in the end, did the definitive reporting on church leaders’ complicity in the abuse — long ignored an epidemic right before their eyes.

Why? For some of the same reasons that others did. Many journalists, parents, police officers and lawyers didn’t want to think ill of men of the cloth, or they weren’t eager to get on the bad side of the church, with its fearsome authority and supposed pipeline to God. (After the coverage of the Porter case, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston announced, “We call down God’s power on the media, particularly the Globe.”)

Deference to religion is built in in most places. It’s ingrained, it’s automatic and thus unconscious. You just don’t mess with religion; priests are good by definition; oh look a squirrel.

“Spotlight” lays out the many ways in which deference to religion protected abusers and their abettors. At one point in the movie, a man who was molested as a boy tells a Globe reporter about a visit his mother got from the bishop, who was asking her not to press charges.

“What did your mother do?” the reporter asks.

“She put out freakin’ cookies,” the man says.

When the cookies finally went away, many Catholic leaders insisted that the church was being persecuted, and the crimes of priests exaggerated, by spiteful secularists.

But if anything, the church had been coddled, benefiting from the American way of giving religion a free pass and excusing religious institutions not just from taxes but from rules that apply to other organizations.

A 2006 series in The Times, “In God’s Name,” noted that since 1989, “more than 200 special arrangements, protections or exemptions for religious groups or their adherents were tucked into congressional legislation, covering topics ranging from pensions to immigration to land use.” That was before the Supreme Court, in its Hobby Lobby decision, allowed some employers to claim religion as grounds to disobey certain heath insurance mandates.

Religion is the boss of us, and don’t you forget it.

One votes one’s class interest

Nov 22nd, 2015 3:45 pm | By

Shock-horror, Bette Midler is unimpressed by Caitlyn Jenner.

Bette Midler ‏@BetteMidler Nov 19
People, #CaitlynJenner says she is STILL voting GOP in 2016. Regardless of gender identity, I guess she identifies most as “uninformed.”

Pink News has more.

This week, Jenner revealed she still plans to vote for a Republican Presidential candidate – despite most of the contenders being staunch opponents of trans and LGB rights.

Speaking to the LA Times after the Democratic Presidential debate, she said: “They didn’t convince me.”

The frontrunners for the Republican nomination are currently billionaire Donald Trump and Dr Ben Carson – a former Fox News pundit who thinks gay weddings are a Marxist plot and never wants to pee next to a transgender person.

But if one of them is nominated, Jenner will vote for him.

Seems pretty uninformed to me.

We’re allowed

Nov 22nd, 2015 12:28 pm | By

Here’s my column in The Freethinker.

It’s about all this inquisitioning going on.

Remember the Inquisition? Those were fun times.

Being alive now is being subject to a roving freelance Inquisition that can grab us at any time, as if we were 13th century Cathars. I feel pretty safe where I am, but with a freelance Inquisition one just never knows. If they did pounce, and pause to question me as opposed to opening fire on sight, I would be guilty on so many charges. Everyone I know would be. We all break the rules of obedience and submission every minute of every day.

Those people in Paris broke so many of those rules. They were out in public in mixed company – women and men together, as if all of Paris were a giant whorehouse. They were having a good time instead of knocking their heads on the ground. They were drinking and eating, they were listening to music, they were watching half-naked men kick a ball around. They were doing it in Paris, home of pagans and crusaders – and of blasphemers, anti-clericals, enlighteners, thinkers, talkers.

They were doing things we get to do. We’re allowed to go out, we’re allowed to have fun, we’re allowed to eat and drink and get giddy at concerts. We’re also allowed to blaspheme and to resist the clerics.



Nov 22nd, 2015 11:25 am | By

Don’t miss #ExMuslimBecause on Twitter.

A sample…

Professor Food ‏@hossain_food Nov 19
#ExMuslimBecause I was tired of trying to fit inside a box that was never made for me.

Aliyah Saleem ‏@Ali_Jones89 Nov 19
#ExMuslimBecause I don’t believe that there is any evidence for God’s existence. Can’t be a Muslim if you don’t believe in a creator…

Milad Jama ‏@MiladJama Nov 19
#ExMuslimBecause I can’t believe in a God who roasts humanity bc they don’t believe he whispered to a guy by proxy 1400 years ago

#ExMuslimBecause As a Black African I cannot support a prophet who actively took slaves of any color.

Yazeed ‏@DudeInDistress Nov 19
#ExMuslimBecause I can’t follow a “prophet” who raped a Jewish girl the same day he killed her husband, father and brother in front of her.

Ani J. Sharmin ‏@AniSharmin Nov 19
#ExMuslimBecause I didn’t want to follow a religion that told me I have to read the holy book in a language I don’t know.

Imran Said ‏@MalayBoy97 Nov 19
#ExMuslimBecause there’s a scary amount of people out there who think punishing people for apostasy and blasphemer is perfectly acceptable.

Muhammad Syed ‏@MoTheAtheist Nov 21
#ExMuslimBecause Mohammed was an atheist and blasphemer to Allat, Hubal, Mannat etc. I’m just extending his practice to one more god Allah

Paris encore debout

Nov 21st, 2015 4:18 pm | By

Michael Deibert on the boycott of the PEN award to Charlie Hebdo last spring.

I don’t think I had ever been ashamed to be a writer until that moment. It was a scandalous display born out of ignorance of the role of Charlie Hebdo, the function of satire, and the history of modern France as a whole. It was obvious from the nature of the letter that few, if any, of the signatories had probably ever read Charlie Hebdo before the attacks, and had instead formed their opinion on a handful of out-of-context cartoons culled from the publication’s 40 plus year history.

The authors seemed oblivious to the fact that satire’s function is to sting, not cause guffaws, and that by far the most frequent targets of the publication’s cartoonists — artists such as Jean Cabu, Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier and Georges Wolinski (all slain in the attack) — were France’s rancid political elite and, especially, the right-wing Front National founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen and now run by his daughter, Marine. One of the cartoons most often used to demonstrate Charlie Hebdo’s supposed racism, that of French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, a women of Afro-Guyanese descent, as a monkey, was in fact mocking far-right attacks against her, not Taubira herself. [For her part, Taubira gave a moving eulogy at the funeral of Hebdo cartoonist Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac.] The signatories simply threw to one side the publication’s long history of attacking Catholicism, Judaism and, indeed, organized religion of any sort. They seemed unaware of the series of articles Charlie Hebdo’s slain economist, Bernard Maris, had written on the effects of austerity on Europe’s most vulnerable, especially in Greece, or that the magazine had spoken out in furious dissent against the 2008-2009 and 2014 Israeli assaults on Gaza.

But never mind all that, they knew better, the boycotters did. Or they were more hell-bent on displaying their Superior Righteousness to an admiring world.

As the French academic Olivier Tonneau wrote shortly after the attacks in response to the venomous social media slander against the paper’s slain staff, “if you belong to the radical left, you have lost precious friends and allies.”

(Nor were the PEN signatories alone in libeling the dead. The U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote that Charlie Hebdo was “not just offensive but bigoted” and engaged in “a stream of mockery toward Muslims generally” and “the vast bulk of their attacks are reserved for Islam and Muslims.”)

Now, he goes on, there’s a whole lot of misunderstanding of Europe and Paris and the Muslims and immigrants of Paris.

There has been a bizarre grief contest on social media suggesting, alternately, that if one mourns the dead in Paris and the attacks against the city, one could somehow not mourn recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon and Turkey, those dying in the civil war in Syria, or those being killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and that the media had “ignored” such stories, even though they all have received — and continue to receive — extensive coverage in every major paper in Europe and North America. Perhaps if people spent less time circulating fake Buddha and Bob Marley quotes they would have noticed.

A Brazilian friend of mine currently based in India (a country that knows a little something about religious-inspired terror) introduced me to the perfect term for both the critics of Charlie Hebdo and those whose mockery and critiques of the genuine pain of so many after the Paris attacks appeared to reveal nothing if not a collection of curdled souls: Catastrophe sommeliers.

After any major example of man’s inhumanity, religious fanaticism or simple tragedy, they would appear portentously at the world’s side, napkin draped over their arm to decide who, what, where and for how long it was proper to mourn, or whether one was allowed to mourn at all.

As if we need a sommelier to decide that for us.

Behind the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 died, an image has already been posted up of five people raising a glass of wine in mute salute under the words Paris encore debout (Paris is still standing). Charlie Hebdo’s cover after the attacks was a beret-wearing French caricature guzzling bubbly, which then pours out of copious bullet holes in the figure’s body, along with the words ils ont les armes, on les emmerde, on a le champagne (They’ve got the weapons, fuck ’em, we’ve got the champagne).

The spirit of Paris, of Charlie Hebdo and the spirit of those lives — so many of them so young — snatched away last week can never fully leave us. They will be with us as people drink and eat and laugh and flirt on the cafes along the Canal Saint Martin…

On les emmerde, on a le champagne – and the music and cartoons and jokes and a strong objection to murdering people.

White people have always been stiff

Nov 21st, 2015 3:25 pm | By

Yet again – one keeps checking to make sure it’s not The Onion. It’s not, though, it’s a respectable Ottawa newspaper. [Updating to add: actually a right-wing rag, which sounds like that Sun across the pond.]

Student leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students, ending a free on-campus yoga class over fears the teachings could be seen as a form of “cultural appropriation.”

Sorry, white people, you no longer get to stretch. White people have always been stiff and it’s colonialist to try to change that.

Staff at the Centre for Students with Disabilities believe that “while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students … there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice,” according to an email from the centre.

Of implication? Do they mean complicity? Or appropriation? Do they think “implication” is a portmanteau word that means both together?

The centre goes on to say, “Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced,” and which cultures those practices “are being taken from.”

The centre official argues since many of those cultures “have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga.”

And therefore we have to stop practicing yoga, and we have to stop everyone else practicing yoga.

Never mind that practicing yoga actually reverses the colonialist relationship. Never mind that the sharing of cultures can be a way of uniting people. Never mind that interactions with other cultures are generally good things. Never mind any kind of detail or complexity – just look at yoga and go “Ooooooh, from South Asia!” and put a stop to it.

Acting student federation president Romeo Ahimakin denied the decision resulted from a complaint.

Ahimakin said the student federation put the yoga session on hiatus while they consult with students “to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces. … We are trying to have those sessions done in a way in which students are aware of where the spiritual and cultural aspects come from, so that these sessions are done in a respectful manner.”

Scharf offered a compromise, suggesting she change the name from yoga to “mindful stretching,” since that would reflect the content of the program and would “literally change nothing about the course.”

Thinky bending? Contemplative reaching? Attentive pretzeling?

What am I thinking, pretzels are German and contemplation is…what, Japanese? Still South Asian? I forget, but it’s certainly not white people.

“I’m not pretending to be some enlightened yogi master, and the point (of the program) isn’t to educate people on the finer points of the ancient yogi scripture,” she told the Sun.

“The point is to get people to have higher physical awareness for their own physical health and enjoyment.”

According to email correspondence between Scharf and the centre, student leaders debated rebranding the program, but stumbled over how the French translation for “mindful stretching” would appear on a promotional poster, and eventually decided to suspend the program.

Ahhhhh yes, you always want to be careful about how the French translation will look on the poster. Naughty people, the French.

Now it’s a Sunni Mosque

Nov 21st, 2015 8:49 am | By

And more news from Kashif Chaudhry:

So after burning down a factory owned by an Ahmadi last night, an extremist Sunni mob ransacked an Ahmadi Mosque in Kala Gojran (Jehlum), cleansed it by burning its property in the streets and then offered Asar prayer inside. Now it’s a Sunni Mosque.

Kashif tells me the employees of the factory did escape, through a back door at the last minute, so that’s a relief. But Pakistan is clearly hell on earth for them, just as it is for atheists and apostates and every other kind of religious non-conformist.


The absolute and unqualified finality

Nov 21st, 2015 8:20 am | By

Kashif Chaudhry is a doctor and blogger in Massachusetts, originally from Pakistan. He’s also an Ahmadi, and he posts a good deal about their persecution in Pakistan.

I just learned via a public Facebook post of his that Muslims applying for a passport or national ID card in Pakistan have to sign this:

I was staggered and incredulous, so I did a Google search for “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an imposter nabi” – and got passport applications. It’s right there. At the bottom of the second (and last) page, it says exactly what’s in that image.

(i) I am Muslim and believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the last of the prophets.

(ii) I do not recognise any person who claims to be a prophet in any sense of the word or any description whatsoever after Muhammad (peace be upon him) or recognise such a claimant as a prophet or a religious reformer as a Muslim.

(iii) I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an imposter nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Qadiani group to be non-Muslim.

It’s mind-numbing…in every sense.

Many of them crying and barely clothed

Nov 20th, 2015 4:55 pm | By

The New York Times on the slaughter in Bamako:

The gunmen barreled past the hotel’s light security early in the morning, confusing guards with fake diplomatic license plates, and then burst into its glass-door lobby with their guns blazing.

“They started firing everywhere,” said a receptionist at the hotel who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. “They were shouting, ‘Allahu akbar.’ They cut someone’s throat, a white man.”

“I hid in my office,” he said. “I saw four of them, armed to the teeth.”

At least 19 hostages killed as well as two or three of the allahu-akbarists.

The gunmen took “about 100 hostages” at the beginning of the attack, said Gen. Didier Dacko of the Malian Army, before soldiers sealed the perimeter and stormed inside, “looking for the terrorists.”

From early on, dozens of guests, including women, children and older people, streamed out of the hotel after hiding in their rooms, many of them crying and barely clothed.

The attack unfolded with 125 guests and 13 employees inside, according to the operators of the hotel. The visitors had come from far and wide, including Europe, India, China, Turkey and Algeria. They included diplomats, business people, pilots and flight attendants.

And Allah “the Great” thought it would be fabulous to kill a lot of them.

A peace accord was signed in June between the government and several rebel factions. But the truce has been broken several times, growing lawlessness has driven out civilians from the north of the country, and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali is proving to be one of the deadliest in the world. So far 40 peacekeepers have been killed.

United Nations officials said they were worried that the attacks could have been intended, at least in part, to undermine the halting steps toward peace. Some of the people at the hotel were diplomats in town for a meeting to monitor those efforts.

Well we can’t have peace. That wouldn’t do at all.

Many workers fled the factory complex

Nov 20th, 2015 4:31 pm | By

A new horror in Pakistan:

An angry mob set ablaze a factory owned by members of the Ahmadiyya community in Jhelum on Friday.

According to sources, the mob attacked the factory after accusing one person who worked there of committing blasphemy.

There were people trapped inside.


Many workers fled the factory complex, which contains a residential area, with their families, sources said. But some workers were reportedly still inside the factory when it was set on fire.

The mob, meanwhile, continued to block GT Road in protest. Police were unable to disperse the protesters despite using tear gas and Rangers had to be called in for support.

Because of a claim that someone committed “blasphemy” – for that it’s worth torching a factory with people inside.

Talking to The Express Tribune, a Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya spokesperson said three Ahmadis were arrested without reason. The spokesman added that he wasn’t sure as to whether those trapped inside the factory had been rescued.

I would like to know if those people got out alive and unhurt.

But how do you simulate cramps?

Nov 20th, 2015 11:09 am | By



It starts with a written announcement or explanation or declaration.

Menstruation is something natural that is constantly associated with being a “woman”, therefore it is completely normal for all women to want to experience this sensation and I hope you can all appreciate that.

One – why the scare quotes on “woman”? Why any scare quotes? Why the claim that menstruation is “constantly associated with being a ‘woman'” as opposed to something that happens to girls and women or something that girls and women do? Menstruation isn’t something that’s foolishly attributed to women, it’s a tiresome and unpleasant aspect of being a woman.

And two – are you serious? It’s completely normal for all women to want to experience menstruation? It’s completely normal for all women to hate menstruation. You might as well say all women want to be kicked in the abdomen for a day or two every month along with leaking clumpy messy blood for a few days every month. Menstruation is not a fun fabulous perk of being a woman!

Three – it’s not a “sensation.” It includes sensations, all of them nasty, but a sensation is far from the total of what it is.

Four, to the extent that it is a sensation, it’s a nasty sensation.

Also? It’s something that women tend to want to keep as covert as possible, so there really isn’t any need for trans women to pretend to menstruate. It’s not a detectable bit of dimorphism, generally speaking, so my advice would be to SKIP IT. Just skip the fuck out of that particular bit of the Womanly Experience. Double up on the dangly earrings or lacy frocks, instead; that’s my advice.

I only watched as far as 1:43, but by then the deeply sincere bozo who made this vid has said she’s going to show us how to make some fake menstrual blood to put on a pad, or if you’re post-op you can try putting it in a cup.

Perhaps she goes on to butcher a pig, I don’t know.

Fayadh had publicly blasphemed

Nov 20th, 2015 7:42 am | By

A Saudi court has sentenced a Palestinian poet to death for apostasy.

The religious police first detained Fayadh in August 2013 after receiving a complaint that he was cursing against Allah and the prophet Muhammad, insulting Saudi Arabia and distributing a book of his poems that promoted atheism. Fayadh said the complaint arose from a personal dispute with another artist during a discussion about contemporary art in a cafe in Abha.

He was released on bail after one day but the police arrested him again on 1 January 2014, confiscating his ID and detaining him at a police station until he was transferred to the local prison 27 days later. According to Fayadh’s friends, when the police failed to prove that his poetry was atheist propaganda, they began berating him for smoking and having long hair.

“They accused me [of] atheism and spreading some destructive thoughts into society,” said Fayadh. He added that the book, Instructions Within, published in 2008, was “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

The case went to trial in February 2014 when the complainant and two members of the religious police told the court that Fayadh had publicly blasphemed, promoted atheism to young people and conducted illicit relationships with women and stored some of their photographs on his mobile phone.

Not bad for the 11th century.

Harvard law

Nov 20th, 2015 7:24 am | By

The New York Times has more on the racist incident at Harvard Law School yesterday.

In a statement, the school’s dean, Martha Minow, said that the portraits, which appeared on walls inside the building, had been “defaced” and that the Harvard University Police Department was investigating the incident as a hate crime.

An investigation is “active and ongoing,” the Harvard police said of the episode that had raised the specter of a hate crime at an institution that educated Barack Obama, as well as six current Supreme Court justices. That includes Justice Elena Kagan, who was dean of the law school, and who also has her portrait on the wall.

Seeking an immediate discussion about the issues, about two dozen students interrupted Ms. Minow’s constitutional law class. All students asked then, said Dami Animashaun, a third-year student, that “we talk about this,” adding that the school had reached a “tipping point.”

Shortly after noon, hundreds of students — as well as faculty members and administrators, including Ms. Minow — gathered for what the law school called a community meeting, filling one large room and much of another.

It’s complicated. So much of US law over its history has been an arm of white supremacy.