Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Life on the streets

May 27th, 2012 10:17 am | By

Surprise shock revelation: there is sexual harassment in London.

The harrassment ranges from wolf-whistling and lewd comments to physical groping and sexual assault.

Campaigners say that reported cases represent “the tip of the iceberg” and that authorities can no longer afford to ignore the issue.

Research released today by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition shows 41 per cent of women under the age of 34 have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment in the street.

Blacklist! Witch hunt!! Innocent until proven guilty!!! Feminazis!!!!

Plus, you’re ugly!!!!!

The true extent of sexual harassment across Britain is difficult to judge. Campaigners say there is an acute shortage of academic studies looking into women’s experiences. But anecdotal evidence and the few studies that exist suggest unwanted sexual attention is frighteningly common. Fiona Elvines, from the Rape Crisis Centre, south London, is one of the few academics researching public sexual harassment for a PhD. “The issue has been trivialised for so long that is hasn’t been seen as a valid subject to study,” she said. “But the effect it has is enormous, from everyday decisions women have to make to avoid such harassment – like pretending to talk on your phone – to longer term effects on how they view their bodies.”

Whiners! Victims!! Waaaaaaa!!! Sluts!!!! Bitches!!!!!

Sexual harassment victims speak out

Lisa, Bath

“It seems quite minor, but for me it really summed up how some men are such knobs sometimes. I was walking across [town]. A guy shouted ‘hello’ at me, I ignored him and carried on walking. He then shouted ‘what, not good enough for you? It really angered me that he turned his douchebaggery round on me. Suddenly, in his mind, he’s not an ass for shouting at me, it’s that I’m a bitch because I ignored him. So typical.”

Smile, you bitch!

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

Sharia for Timbuktu

May 27th, 2012 9:43 am | By

More bad news – two warring rebel groups in northern Mali have decided to resolve their differences by…turning northern Mali into an Islamist state. Yeah, that’s the way to do it!

Two rebel groups that seized northern Mali two months ago have agreed to merge and turn their territory into an Islamist state, both sides say.

The Tuareg MNLA, a secular rebel group, and the Islamist group Ansar Dine signed the deal in the town of Gao, spokespeople said.

Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda, has already begun to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, in towns such as Timbuktu.

Creep creep creep, Islamism expands its stranglehold week by week.


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

Publishing the norms

May 27th, 2012 8:53 am | By

For a comic interlude (with uncomic implications and underpinnings, but never mind that for now) – the Vatican goes public with its formerly sekrit and super-technical Roolz for authenticating authentic sightings (or apparitions, as it helpfully calls them) of “the Virgin” Mary.

The “Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations” have been in use since 1978, but until now had been available only in Latin, never officially published and only circulated among bishops and specialists.

Ya specialists, who have had like years and years of specialist training in how to tell the real apparitions from the fake ones.

The Vatican document has now been translated into English and other languages to aid bishops in the “difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or … extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin,” Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican doctrinal office, wrote in a companion letter last December that was published only recently on the Vatican website.

Kind of mean not to help the poor bishops until now. Poor guys, sitting in their studies, taking a break from excommunicating nuns who fail to prevent abortions to save the life of the pregnant woman and telling secular legislators what to do  – taking a break, I say, to sift through the stack of tortillas and pieces of toast and open jars of Marmite on their desks to figure out which twin has the Toni, and not having a Vatican document in their own language to assist. It’s sad.

The norms mandate that the local bishop must conduct a “serious investigation” to ascertain, with “at least great probability,” whether the Marian apparition effectively took place.

The rules also require an evaluation of the “personal qualities” of the alleged seer, including his or her “psychological equilibrium,” “rectitude of moral life” and “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority.” The contents of the “revelation” must be “immune” from theological error, and the apparition must bear “abundant… spiritual fruit,” such as conversions.

The contents of the revelation must be immune from theological error? How do they arrange for that to be the case? Show your work.

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

I’m suddenly a fan of Lady Gaga

May 27th, 2012 8:15 am | By

Lady Gaga has canceled a concert in Indonesia after religious bullies (Islamist chapter) threatened violence against her.

 Islamic hardliners rally against the Lady Gaga concert in Jakarta. 25 May

Attaboiz – you do that – get together in a big bunch and threaten a woman for performing, and express a wish that she be tortured for eternity. Sucks to be you.

Police in Indonesia had refused to issue a permit for the US pop star after Islamic groups objected to her show, claiming it was too vulgar.

The hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had threatened to try to stop Lady Gaga getting off the plane.

Islamists 1, secularism 0.

The Islamist FPI had threatened violence if the concert went ahead, calling Lady Gaga a “devil’s messenger” who wears only a “bra and [underpants]“.

Habib Salim Alatas, the group’s FPI Jakarta chairman, said the cancellation was “good news” for Indonesia’s Muslims.

“FPI is grateful that she has decided not to come. Indonesians will be protected from sin brought about by this Mother Monster, the destroyer of morals,” he told AFP news agency.

He added: “Lady Gaga fans, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping the devil. Do you want your lives taken away by God as infidels?”

Because he knows that’s going to happen.  Habib Salim Alatas, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping a bigoted puritanical misogynist shit. Do you want your life taken away by god as a bullying asshole?

Indonesia’s conservative Religious Affairs Minister, Suryadharma Ali, also welcomed the cancellation.

“I strongly believe this cancellation will benefit the country,” he said.

“Indonesians need entertainment and art which have moral values.”

This is not the first time that Lady Gaga has faced objections during her Asian tour.

Her concert in South Korea in April was made an adults-only event following protests from Christian groups.

Protests also took place in the Philippines, with Christian groups accusing her of being blasphemous.


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

‘Cause baby look at you now

May 26th, 2012 4:52 pm | By

Justin gets trash-talk too; he gets a Christian guy calling his infant daughter “ugly.”

Isn’t that nice? Isn’t that just how people ought to be to each other?

Fortunately she could pose for a dictionary definition of “adorable,” but the ugliness of saying things like that remains unchanged.

I don’t get this at all. I’m probably sheltered, or clueless, or something, but I don’t. I say very harsh things about the pope, and various atheist-bashers, and theocrats – but even then I don’t taunt them for being ugly or fat or old or bald or short or any other physical thing. I don’t. And I don’t understand the mentality of people who do – apart from psychopaths, that is. I don’t understand non-psychopathic people who (by definition) have some conscience and some empathy and still talk that kind of shit about people.

Ah well. You’re a beautiful baby, Zoe Griffith.

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

Note for anyone thinking of going to Rothamsted tomorrow

May 26th, 2012 3:02 pm | By

Guest post via Bernard Hurley

I have just received the following email from London Skeptics in the Pub. It might be of interest to anyone thinking of going to Rothamsted tomorrow:


Dear Bernard Hurley

Just a quick note for folks who are thinking of, or are attending the counter protest against the needless vandalism of publicly funded research being conducted at Rothamsted Park tomorrow in Harpenden.

Mark Henderson has put his chapter on GM in The Geek Manifesto online, if you’d like some further reading:

It looks like it’ll be a nice sunny day for a protest, or failing that, a picnic.

Please remember that this is a PEACEFUL protest, and Rothamsted would prefer no protests – for or against ( ) – taking place tomorrow.

Jules, from Geek in the Gambia has written a blogpost on directions and guidlines for the counter-protest and directions to the site here:

Transport: National Rail from Bedford to Brighton (there are some engineering works from certain stations on Sunday, so please check before travelling). For those of you in London, trains depart from London St Pancras. Trains are every half-hour and take about 30mins to get there. Return ticket will cost £12.70 Timetable:

If you’re wondering who to look out/gravitate towards, The Pod Delusion will be there; So look out for James O’Malley and Liz Lutgendorff. Dr Evan Harris will be there, along with a band of trusty scientists.

As always, take some sensible shoes, a hat, some sunblock, drink plenty of liquids and remember to dispose of your litter sensibly. We’re no ruffians.


Sid P.S. I’ll be at Conway Hall for CaSE Director Imran Khan’s lecture, but hope to join you all after we’re done. Details of future meetings can be found on

You can also find us on Facebook:

And follow us on Twitter:

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

Banned as it contradicted the Quran and Hadith

May 26th, 2012 10:52 am | By

More squalid airless stupidity from Malaysia: banning Irshad Manji’s book and confiscating copies from bookstores.

The Home Ministry has banned  the controversial book by liberal Muslim  activist Irshad Manji as it could cause confusion among Muslims.

In a statement yesterday, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said  the book Allah, Liberty and Love and its translated version Allah, Kebebasan dan  Cinta was banned as it contradicted the Quran and Hadith.

The fact that a book “could cause confusion” is an imbecilic reason to ban it. The fact that it could cause confusion among a particular brand of theists is even more so. The fact that it contradicts the Quran and Hadith is an appalling reason to ban it. It represents obedience to arbitrary rules and demands written down many centuries ago in the guise of Roolz from Godd; not being allowed to contradict something so absurd at this late date is pathetic, tragic, horrible.

He said the decision was made following a report by the Islamic Religious  Development Department (Jakim).

“Based on the report, it says that the book promotes mixed marriages between  Muslims and non-Muslims. This could lead to pluralism.

“It also contains insulting elements towards the prophet, which were  described in such a way that could pollute the sanctity of Islam.”

The deputy minister also said that the book defended secularism by confusing  the Islamic faith.

Worse and worse and worse. Religious xenophobia and anti-pluralism; brainless worship of a long dead man; brainless worries about pollution and sanctity (cue Jonathan Haidt explaining why it’s not brainless at all, only different); anti-secularism and dogma preferred to putative “confusion” (which clearly means just dissent).

“The book also says the five fardhu prayers can be done in various movements  and languages more than five times a day. This statement may confuse the  public.”

He said the ban was made according to Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses  and Publication Act 1984 as its content could cause disturbance to the  public.

In a related development, Jawi enforcement division senior principal  assistant director Wan Jaafar Wan Ahmad said they would monitor book stores to  prevent them from distributing the books.

I’m embarrassed to be a human being.

And then there are the foul comments underneath the article…

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

Alternative therapy for farm animals

May 26th, 2012 9:47 am | By

This is not from the Onion. Repeat, this is not from the Onion.

With an agriculture degree from the Royal Agriculture College, Cirencester, and a qualification in homeopathy, it was only natural that Christine Lees of Homeopathy at Wellie Level should turn her attention to alternative therapy for farm animals.


Alternative therapy for farm animals?


Well, because of the delusion that it’s better, I suppose, but why – oh never mind, no doubt it’s all explained if we just read the article.

“I had already done part of a homeopathy course before I went to Cirencester,” she says. “And I liked cows. So I put the two together for my dissertation: The role of homeopathy in the treatment of farm animals.”

During that time she says she talked with farmers and vets who were using homeopathy but not really knowing what they were doing. “There was very little support to go with it.”

Oh the farmers and vets were using homeopathy but they didn’t really know what they were doing! Whereas experts on the other hand do know what they’re doing.

Really? How? What is there to know? What is there to not know? What do the farmers and vets do wrong as a result of not knowing what they’re doing? What’s the difference between homeopathy done right and homeopathy done wrong?

“We agreed every course needed to be taught by a vet who was a qualified homeopath along with a second homeopath. I ran the syllabus,” she confirms.

“We felt three days was the maximum we could expect farmers to take off and the minimum we could give to the farmer given the size of this huge subject.”

It’s a huge subject, but in a pinch it can be taught in three days.

The courses are carefully planned. Day one is based around an introduction to homeopathy including key sessions on “the eight principles of homeopathy and the “big six” remedies,” plus on-farm practical animal observation.

Day two looks at treating acute cases with day three building on the first two days, and focusing on chronic illness.

Ooh, that is careful. I’m impressed. One day for acute illness, one day for chronic illness. Zip, all done!

Hitherto, Mrs Lees has run the course as a non-for-profit business. “I only run courses when I have enough people to pay for the teachers. We do some advertising and when I have profit it’s ploughed back into advertising. Our rationale is not to make a huge amount of money but to help people use homeopathy properly.”

Support for her initiative has come from various sources including the Prince of Wales who donated £5000 at the start. “That went towards the marketing,” she says.

Fabulous. The prince of Wales is giving them money to persuade more people to learn magic ways of treating animal illness. Abs’ly brilliant.

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

Keep the harlots occupied

May 25th, 2012 6:10 pm | By

Oh good god – what a clusterfuck it is when reactionaries co-opt the jargon of liberation to decorate the chains.

A new Islamic tv station is launching in the Middle East, an all woman station. Progressive, huh?

Its pilot broadcasts will start towards the end of this month, where all the staff including the broadcasters will be veiled women. No men or non-veiled women will be employed says Sheikha Safaa , the manager of the channel.

Oh. Not so progressive then. Kind of brazenly discriminatory, actually.

[Safaa] has made it quite clear that the objectives of launching this channel is to offer veiled women the chance to appear on the screens and to empower other veiled women by activating their roles. She claims veiled women suffer marginalization.

They will empower other veiled women! Kind of like the way Michelle Duggar empowers other Quiverfull women, and those four women married to the one guy empower other Fundamentalist LDS women. Solidarity, sistas! Good luck with activating their roles – whatever that means. Reminding them that only whores don’t wear hijabs, probably. You go, girl!

“The affairs of the channel will be handled by the sisters who will be running the television channel, since women are more qualified to address and talk about their own needs”. She added Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah, the owner of the “Al Ummah” channel and the new “Maria” Channel, said in a statement that “God willing, the channel will employ Muslim women graduates of various departments of media collages and institutions. This project aims at protecting women from temptations by finding them suitable work opportunities .”

Oh that’s kind. Women are such feeble-minded sluts, you know, that it’s pretty much impossible for them to resist temptations. They keep flinging themselves down in the street and spreading their legs in a hopeful kind of way, because they just can’t help it. It’s super-nice of Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah to make up some pretend jobs for a few of them so that they’ll be too busy to fall down and spread their legs. It’s hugely empowering, too, that reason for giving people jobs. “Here, honey, this will keep you busy so that you don’t run around grabbing every penis you can reach.”

Abu Islam confirmed that the pilot will start with a broadcast of 6 hours through ‘Al Ummah’ channel, until the time of actual broadcast. He also made it clear that this channel will not host guests who are men or unveiled women, but telephone interventions from both will be permitted.

Makes sense. Spread your legs all you want, but it won’t do you any good over the telephone, so interviews with men (with penises!!) and unveiled women (who wear their vaginas on their heads!!) will be safe.

Allah is wise, merciful.


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

It’s not all about you

May 25th, 2012 10:44 am | By

Department of Bad Ideas: the idea that vaccination is “a personal decision.” Vaccination is a personal decision the way texting while driving is a personal decision. That is, it’s not.

And it’s exponentially less so when the non-vaxxer is somewhat famous, and has published a book that includes her views on non-vaxxing, and talks about non-vaxxing on NPR’s Science Friday.

In certain circles, especially in the [Attachment Parenting] community, there’s huge pressure to reject or at least delay vaccines. (While a delay is better than not doing it at all, it’s still dangerous.) You then show by your personal meddling with the schedule that you care, that you’ve paid attention and done research. Hey, we haven’t all gotten degrees in epidemiology and studied the schedule, but we can all scowl at it skeptically, right? Following the recommendations of the scientists who research this stuff for a living is for sheep. They must all somehow be in the thrall of large pharmaceutical corporations. Or so the thinking goes.

It’s time for a little social pressure of our own. It’s time for us to tell Mayim to take this one back. Stop being responsible for the measles or pertussis revivals. Once you blog about it and talk about it on interviews, like the one you did recently for Science Friday, you’re no longer just influencing your friends. It’s no longer a private, personal decision. You’re influencing everyone within earshot. Stop being a disease vector. Stop pretending like the only person affected by your decisions is you. Start acting like the role model you aspire to be.

But Mayim Bialik – Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, which is why I know who she is – is firm that it is indeed personal. I find that kind of imperturbable selfishness deeply irritating.

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

Suck out that moisture

May 25th, 2012 9:11 am | By

How about the Zimbabwean senator from the Movement for Democratic Change who thinks the way to prevent AIDS is to vacuum all the disgusting goo out of women?

He also thinks they should stop taking showers so that they’ll be too smelly to fuck, and shave their heads so that they’ll be too bald ditto, but the disgusting goo idea is more sciency than that.

He also gave an interview in which he stated that “Women have got more moisture in their organs as compared to men so there is need to research on how to deal with that moisture because it is conducive for bacteria breeding. There should be a way to suck out that moisture.”

Yes indeedy.  There should be a way to suck it out, and a way to make it mandatory for women to have it sucked out. Sounds kind of rapey, but think  of the upside – for the first time in human history, women who aren’t all slimy and disgusting. Booyah.

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

Pro-life arson

May 25th, 2012 7:51 am | By

Good old “we are pro-life so we try to kill women to show how pro-life we are.”

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused a fire at an obstetrics and gynecology clinic — the second suspicious fire at a Georgia reproductive clinic this week. No one was injured in the Wednesday morning fire that started on the third floor of the Cobb County clinic, which anti-abortion advocates regularly protest, according to local news reports. Employees told a local TV station they saw “suspicious activity” before the fire:

Clinic workers believe the fire started on the third floor. They said two unknown men went upstairs and left shortly afterward, minutes before the fire was discovered.

“We have patients here. They’re under anesthesia. This could have been life-threatening,” employee Angela Buckner told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt.

That’s unpossible, because pro-life people are pro-life.


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

You are not the boss of me

May 25th, 2012 7:41 am | By

Ah-ha. Saudi woman in shopping mall is told to leave by some thugs. She tells them off.

Yes do more of that please!

H/t Tarek Fatah.

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

From Sile Lane, about Rothamsted this Sunday

May 24th, 2012 5:23 pm | By

A message from Sile Lane (Sense About Science):

Many of you have asked how you can personally show your support for the GM wheat scientists at Rothamsted Research who face the destruction of their trial site by Take the Flour Back this Sunday. The team of scientists will be at Rothamsted Park, Harpenden AL5 2EF to answer questions from 11.30 on the day, where the protesters are apparently planning to gather. This is where you can show your support, but please do NOT attempt to go to join the anti-GM activists in moving to the trial site itself, for obvious reasons.

It is regrettable that the Green Party’s Jenny Jones has confirmed that she will be there to support direct action against publicly-funded research, particularly given that the wheat trial is expressly aimed at reducing the use of broad-spectrum insecticides which can damage farmland biodiversity.

Meanwhile, hundreds of you responded to the call to email Take the Flour Back with your request that they should call the protest off. To date no response has been received, so we can only assume that the attempt at a “mass decontamination” that the group has proposed will go ahead as planned.

Best wishes,

Síle Lane


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

Avicenna says

May 24th, 2012 5:16 pm | By

UK blogger Avicenna writes about the murder of Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed.

It is alleged that on September the 11th, 2003. Shafilea was picked up from her part time call centre job, driven home where an argument broke out.

At some point in this scenario, her mother pushed her onto the sofa and ordered her husband to “Finish it Now”. Farzana and Iftikhar Ahmed were then alleged to have held her down, forced a plastic bag into her mouth and covered her airways till she suffocated. Shafilea fought to live, struggling against this assault. Her father had his weight over her chest. Alesha described her final moments as a struggle to breathe with her eyes bulging in strain for a single breath of air and wetting herself as the life was choked from her. After she died her father struck her a single hard blow to the chest before getting up.

This was done in front of her four siblings. She was allegedly executed in such a fashion for bringing dishonour to the family. By not conforming to her parents “Pakistani Villager” ideals of what a girl should behave like. If this scenario did happen, then this was a calculated plan by parents to murder their child. What drove her parents to do this was a lot of things but on that day it was because Shafilea went out wearing a white t-shirt and trousers. She was allegedly killed because of the clothes she wore.

It’s culture, Avicenna says. Criticism of a culture is not racism, Avicenna says. (Avicenna is “Asian” aka Indian.)

Shafilea was killed by her parents because they belonged to a rural islamic culture which placed an inordinate amount of value on “familial honour” and treated women as property or livestock. Her tribal culture played a part due to the idea of honour. Islam played a part as it doesn’t treat women as anything but a set of reproductive organs. Our culture played a part because it is unwilling to criticise real things that need criticism.

Shafilea to her parents was nothing more than a brood cow that wouldn’t birth. It is wrong, it is not cultural imperialism to point it out. It is common sense. It is like a MRA suggesting that women are all bitches or cunts. It is like the Stormfront suggesting that all black people are superhuman crime and rap machines. It is empirically a bad viewpoint and we are not racist for calling them out on it and actively seeking to destroy that bit of culture.

It’s a bad viewpoint based on othering and dehumanizing, contempt and hatred.

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

How to make baseless accusations become true via repetition

May 24th, 2012 11:54 am | By

And another item. “Gender traitor.” People have been milking that pair of words for going on a year now. It’s a meme, a thing, a Masonic handshake, which rests on the idea that it’s a favorite pejorative used by the non-ERV faction of The Great Rift. ERVite “Commander Tuvok” for instance on Greta’s thread:

People all over FTB used “gender traitor” for that very same definition. [That is: "Sister-punisher: A woman who turns on other women to gain favor of sexist men."]

Did they? That sounded wrong to me, but I didn’t look it up. Jen looked it up.

People all over FTB used “gender traitor” for that very same definition.

I just did some research. You see, it was really difficult, but that’s why I’m getting my PhD. I had to scroll to the top of the FtB main page, type in “gender traitor” to the search box, and then count the number of posts that came up. Two! Two whole posts!

But wait. I clicked the posts, and do you know the context “gender traitor” was brought up in? Quoting people from the slimepit! Shocking how not a single blogger has ever actually described someone using the term gender traitor. I must have missed something.

Two whole posts – for “all over FTB.” Interesting.

I wonder if the meme will be retired now. I won’t be holding my breath.

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

Deep rifts!

May 24th, 2012 11:19 am | By

So, as I mentioned, Stephanie did those two posts on sexual harassment among teh atheists and what to do about it, and others did related posts, some of which I linked to yesterday, and then naturally Abbie Smith and her pals responded that THEY ARE ALL TOO UGLY TO BE HARASSED SO HA, and Jen hinted that there’s something just a little childish about that approach. (Still with me? And this isn’t even all of it, I assure you.) Now PZ has a post saying he won’t be accepting any invitations to conferences where Abbie Smith is also speaking.

The latest uproar from the misogynist mob is over a rumor that there is a secret list of people who won’t get invited to conferences. There is no list. There are petty people who think calling someone ugly is reasonable behavior, people who have not yet grown out of junior high school. There are personal preferences, as well.

For instance, I will not participate in any conference in which Abbie Smith is a speaker. If I’m invited, and later discover that she is also invited, I will politely turn down the offer.

Why? Well, “adamgordon” dug up one example of why, quoting Abbie Smith commenting on her own blog in comment #14:

Im not working full days this week because Ive got a bad cold (*sigh* virologist infected with a virus). How is Jen reading blog comments/writing posts/etc in the middle of a work day? Weird…

I guess when youre young and pretty like her, you dont have to work as hard as other scientists.

That’s why, along with many more of the same quality.

Jen was awarded a NSF grant fellowship about a month ago, you know. Those aren’t easy to get, to put it mildly. I’m not completely sure she needs Abbie Smith’s advice on how to do better.

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

Why is Google Blogger still giving Greek Nazis a platform?

May 23rd, 2012 4:54 pm | By

A guest post by “Inglourious Basterd”

I was fortunate to grow up in Athens, Greece to a middle class family before moving to the US a few years ago. Sadly, Greece has been getting a lot of attention in the news for the last two years. It was the first domino to fall in the still unresolved European debt crisis that saw the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF – collectively called the “Troika” – negotiate two rounds of emergency loans in exchange for tax hikes and spending cuts (mostly cutting salaries and laying off workers) at a time of already deepening recession that started in 2008. These austerity measures are so harsh that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported to have said about them before they took effect: “We want to make sure nobody else will want this”. The results are predictable: decreases in GDP, rising unemployment above 20% including half of all young people, rises in suicides, homelessnes, and violent crime.

The communists and far left political parties have achieved record polling numbers with populist rhetoric as working people abandon the two centrist political parties that supported the latest round of austerity measures and seek to take a harder line against the Troika while still largely supporting EU and Euro membership.

At the same time, the number of immigrants from other poverty and war stricken countries like Albania, Pakistan, and Afghanistan has been rising due in no small part to a broken EU refugee policy referred to as the Dublin regulation that dictates that asylum claims are to be processed in the EU state of arrival. According to Human Rights Watch “With more than three-quarters of migrants who enter the EU irregularly by land coming across the Greek border from Turkey, the Dublin regulation means that an EU country ill-equipped to assess asylum claims or to treat migrants humanely has to manage a disproportionate number of arrivals.” This means that hundreds of thousands of poor immigrants with are left to fend for themselves either in horrible detention conditions or in legal limbo.

A mass media landscape dominated by entrenched business interests that have profited immensely from the status quo is not keen on people questioning EU calls for further privatization and weakening of collective bargaining rules. Instead, viewers are inundated with sensational allegations of rampant crime by immigrants and constant scare-mongering about food and medicine shortages unless the Troika demands are not immediately met.

How this translates politically and socially has also been predictable. Violent organized racist attacks against immigrants – once unheard of – have now become a terrible reality in many working class neighborhoods. What was once a marginal fringe party called “Golden Dawn” went from .3% in the 2009 elections to almost 7% in 2012, more than enough to get representation in parliament for the first time.

In addition to holocaust denial, requiring journalists to stand in deference at their press conference, breaking up book presentations, a logo resembling a swastika, and a Nazi-like salute, Golden Dawn also made thinly veiled anonymous threat of violence against journalist Xenia Kounalaki last April on their WordPress blog. WordPress was notified and promptly took it down, however they still maintain many local blogs on Google’s Blogger platform despite Google’s terms of service having explicit prohibitions against hate speech and threats of violence.

Google has a staff in Greece. I find it hard to believe that they are unaware of the presence of this dangerous group on their service. Nonetheless, they must be banished from Blogger. Google cannot continue to provide a platform to this dangerous group in perpetuity. Despite repeated terms of service violations, the blogs are still there. The time has come for public pressure. With new elections in Greece on June 17, every day that goes by means more votes and more legitimization for Golden Dawn.

Please join me in signing this petition to tell Google’s Board of Directors to shut down the Golden Dawn blogs on their Blogger service.

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

Viewing parties

May 23rd, 2012 12:05 pm | By

More than 40,000 Haredi men filled a New York baseball stadium on Sunday to talk about Oh noes the internet.

Men. Not women. This isn’t like women just not showing up at wrestling matches because they’d rather do something else – it’s women not being allowed to attend. Not being allowed – as if they were children.

The organizers had allowed only men to buy tickets, in keeping with ultra-Orthodox tradition of separating the sexes. Viewing parties had been arranged in Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New Jersey so that women could watch, too. 

Typical New York Times; typical mainstream media. That’s not “separating the sexes”; it’s banishing one sex. Separating the sexes would be having them in different parts of the stadium, with a big heavy cloth and some guards in between. That’s not what this was.

The rally in Citi Field on Sunday was sponsored by a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, that is linked to a software company that sells Internet filtering software to Orthodox Jews. Those in attendance were handed fliers that advertised services like a “kosher GPS App” for iPhone and Android phones, which helps users locate synagogues and kosher restaurants.

Oh noes the non-kosher internet.


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

Phase 2

May 23rd, 2012 11:33 am | By

Ron says we need another Women in Secularism conference. Why do we? Well because not everything got said.

This conference was rich and varied in its content, but it seemed to me that it merely served as an introduction to the contributions, perspectives, and concerns of women. It was a prologue, establishing the agenda and background for a more thorough investigation and analysis of the relationship between secularism and feminism, but we need to follow through on that investigation and analysis. And then we need to follow that with concrete action, the specifics of which also need to be hammered out.

I like the idea of building on the first. Thinking about it caused me to have the idea of a book (a collection), which could also build on it, and look ahead to the next one.


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