Notes and Comment Blog


Jul 26th, 2013 5:18 pm | By

There’s a guy in Turkey – a lawyer – who’s pissed off that heavily pregnant women go out in public, because ew, gross.

Turkish lawyer and Sufi thinker Ömer Tuğrul İnançer has sparked a public outcry after telling state television station TRT 1 that it was immoral for pregnant women with huge bellies to reveal themselves in public.

“Announcing pregnancy with a flourish of trumpets is against our civility. [They] should not wander on the streets with such bellies. First of all, it is not aesthetic,” İnançer said. “After seven or eight months of pregnancy, future mothers go out their husbands by car to get some fresh air. And they go out in the evening hours. But now, they are all on television. It’s disgraceful. It is not realism, it is immorality.”

Yeah? What if some heavily pregnant woman doesn’t like Ömer Tuğrul İnançer’s face, and goes on tv to say he shouldn’t reveal himself in public, because it is not aesthetic?

There is not isolation against women in Islam, and being a mother is a gift, Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate said in a statement following the reactions.

“There is nothing like isolation against women in the religion. There is no isolation for pregnant women, either.  On the contrary, being mother is a gift,” the statement said, while still calling on pregnant women to dress modestly. “However, pregnant women should be more careful about their dressing – every woman should. [They] should not wear clothes showing their bellies or backs.”

It also emphasized that “we learn religion from the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Problem solved. No isolation for pregnant women. On the other hand, pregnant women should not wear clothes showing their bellies. If it turns out that isn’t possible for pregnant women – well what can you do? It’s all right there in  the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

H/t Torcant.

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

Another one

Jul 26th, 2013 4:49 pm | By

In my opinion, you should avoid taking two baskets when you go shopping.

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

The drawbacks

Jul 26th, 2013 4:46 pm | By

Via the Facebook page of a Moroccan-French ex-Muslim -

First guy: Come on, we’re heading for the vegetables. Smart shopper: But… Second guy: Dude! Leggo my wife, yours is over there!

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

Map memory

Jul 26th, 2013 4:34 pm | By

I just took a few recreational minutes to get on GoogleEarth and retrace part of a long walk I took in Dublin the Monday morning after the conference. Down Winetavern Street to the Liffey, along the river on the south side to the next bridge, up Lower Bridge Street up the hill and into the grounds of St Audoen’s church, along the High Street.

It’s an interesting thing to do because it digs up bits of memory that would be totally lost otherwise. I already remembered the church grounds, because I lingered there, but retracing that whole segment of the walk I recognized more nondescript places, like the big busy intersection before you get to St Audoen’s. It’s not particularly interesting, so I wouldn’t have remembered it, but “walking” GoogleEarth I did remember it. It’s an odd sensation.

Strangely enough, I didn’t get it on the part along the Liffey, between the two bridges. None of that came back in the same way. Silly memory – it grabs a dull intersection and misses the whole of the river walk. I know I went there but it’s now just narrative memory, a fact – I went down the hill from one church and up the hill to another and along the river between the two.

Memory is very peculiar.

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

Removal directions

Jul 26th, 2013 3:20 pm | By

Now the bad news, from the same source -

Our urgent action is needed over the next three days to stop the deportation of another Yarl’s Wood lesbian asylum seeker, this time to Uganda. Aisha N has lived here for 11 years. Like most LGBT people seeking a sanctuary in Britain she did not claim asylum on sexuality grounds – you don’t know if it is safe to ‘come out’, and indeed sexuality was not clearly or securely established as a possible basis for asylum at that time. Instead she claimed asylum on political grounds – in fact she had been involved in political activity against the Kenyan government even though that was not the main reason for her seeking asylum – but she was refused anyway. Like so many victims of inherently racist immigration policies Aisha had to stay here by any means necessary – until she was arrested and imprisoned for possessing a false passport in 2010, making her, in the Government’s eyes, a ‘foreign national criminal’. Her history has been used by the Home Office and the Immigration Judge as reasons not to accept her credibility as a lesbian: everything that the immigration and asylum system forced Aisha to do in order to stay safe from anti-gay violence in Uganda has been turned into a so-called ‘justification’ for sending her back there.

Now Aisha has been given ‘removal directions’ via Kenya Airlines for this Saturday, 27 July at 8.00pm on flight KQ101 from London Heathrow, Terminal 4.

Movement for Justice has suggestions on what to do to prevent Aisha N’s deportation.

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


Jul 26th, 2013 3:10 pm | By

First, the good news – Josephine Komeh’s deportation was canceled on Tuesday, the day before she was due to be sent back to Sierra Leone. That’s tremendous news. And it’s possible that all of you who signed and shared the petition helped make it happen.

This week the fight by asylum seekers, women detainees in Yarl’s Wood detention centre, refugees and supporters organised by the Movement for Justice, and the determination and leadership of Josephine Komeh and Mariama N themselves stopped the deportation of both these courageous women. Josephine & Mariama with other Movement for Justice women in Yarl’s Wood organised their own petition campaigns inside the detention centre in co-ordination with the petitioning, demonstrating, calls and e-mails to the Home Office and the airlines and the online publicity organised outside.

Josephine Komeh was trained to follow her grandmother and mother as the ‘cutter’ carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) in their community in Sierra Leone, but she refused to continue the brutal practice and to stood up against the threats from traditional elders. She was brutally tortured and escaped to join her son & daughter in Britain where she claimed asylum. Josephine resisted one attempt to deport her on 5 June and won the time to build her support, gather more evidence and get new legal representation. The attempt to deport her this week was an outrageous attempt by the Home Office to get rid of her before her ‘Fresh Claim’ could be submitted. It failed: on Tuesday afternoon her removal was canceled.


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

From the archive – Flashing lights, and a beeping noise

Jul 26th, 2013 2:55 pm | By

In honor of the conviction for fraud of one of the guys who sold empty boxes as “bomb detectors,” a post from January 2010.

Flashing lights, and a beeping noise

Call me sentimental but I do think this is a quotation for the ages. It’s from the guy who made the ‘bomb detector’ thingy out of an antenna and a hinge and a plastic tag, and sold lots of them for $40,000 each, and got arrested on suspicion of fraud for doing that.

We have been dealing with doubters for ten years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.

Do admit. The sunny innocence, the tenderly confiding honesty of that brings tears to the eyes, does it not? He sweetly admits there are ‘doubters’ – people not convinced that a stick and a bit of duct tape and a ‘card’ and a bit of plastic can actually detect explosives. He admits that one little stumbling block (to what? charging $80,000 apiece?) is that the ‘machine’ (the bendy stick with the bit of plastic inside) looks a little primitive even though in reality of course it is more elaborate and complicated and technical and sciencey than an MRI or a particle accelerator or an iPod or an electric toothbrush. And then, in the bit that is so limpid and childlike and of the dawn dawny, he murmurs of his exacting technical labors on a new model with flashing lights. So what you would have then, see, would be a bendy stick with a ‘card’ and a bit of plastic all topped, like a car wash, with flashing lights. So there you’d be shuffling around the checkpoint in Afghanistan, swinging your bendy stick around sniffing for explosives, and your life would be made more glamorous and exciting and Christmassy and convincing by these exciting flashing lights on your bendy stick. Until you stepped on the bomb, of course.

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

Magical boxes

Jul 26th, 2013 12:15 pm | By

That guy who put handles and antennae on boxes and sold the result as “bomb detectors” has been found guilty of making and selling fake bomb detectors. There are some things you really don’t want fakes of – bridges, medicine, fire trucks – stuff like that. Bomb detectors are high up on that list if you live in an area where bombs are a real possibility. Lots of people do. Many many many people live in places like that.

The Old Bailey heard the devices made by Gary Bolton, 47, were nothing more than boxes with handles and antennae.

The prosecution said he sold them for up to £10,000 each, claiming they could detect explosives. The trial heard the company had a £3m annual turnover selling the homemade devices.

Bolton, of Redshank Road in Chatham, Kent, had denied two charges of fraud. Sentencing has been adjourned.

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, told the court that Bolton knew the devices – which were also alleged to be able to detect drugs, tobacco, ivory and cash – did not work but supplied them anyway to be sold to overseas businesses.

No fraud though! Just an honest mistake. He thought attaching antennae to the empty boxes turned them into bomb detectors.

Bolton claimed his own devices worked with a range of 766 yards (700m) at ground level and as far as two and a half miles (4km) in the air.

He claimed they were effective through lead-lined and metal walls, water, containers and earth.

In 2010 a Home Office defence expert tested Bolton’s GT200 detector at the request of the Office of Fair Trading and found it had “no credibility as an explosive detector” because it had no functioning parts.

Further stringent “double-blind” tests carried out on the GT200 by Dr Michael Sutherland of the University of Cambridge found that it worked successfully twice in 24 tests searching for TNT, which was less than the probability of finding the explosives at random.

Which is not surprising, because the box was empty.

It’s a bit like Harry Lime and the diluted penicillin. Not just fraud but lethal fraud. Not nice.



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

Militant shockers shock

Jul 25th, 2013 6:31 pm | By

The Family Research Council doesn’t like Nina Pillard.

Unfortunately for Americans, the Senate won’t have to dig too deep to uncover some of Pillard’s shockers. Among some of her greatest hits, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General argues that abortion is necessary to help “free women from historically routine conscription into maternity.”

Yes – and? Can Tony Perkins really think it’s not true that sometimes women have been made pregnant when they didn’t want to be? Really? Can he even think it wasn’t very common before contraception became widely available, and still is in many parts of the world where women don’t have the right or ability to say no?

As if her militant feminism wasn’t apparent enough, she takes the opportunity in some of her writings to slam anyone who opposes the abortion-contraception mandate as “reinforce[ing] broader patterns of discrimination against women as a class of presumptive breeders.”

The Family Research Council should be called the Family Is Mandatory Council.

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


Jul 25th, 2013 6:17 pm | By

Amanda also points out something I too have been pointing out for years – “radical feminism” isn’t.

There is no such thing as a “radical feminist” anymore.

Don’t get me wrong! There was. In the 60s and 70s, there were radical feminists who were distinguishing themselves from liberal feminists. Radical feminists agreed with liberal feminists that we should change the laws to recognize women’s equality, but they also believed that we needed to change the culture. It was not enough to pass the ERA or legalize abortion, they believed, but we should also talk about cultural issues, such as misogyny, objectification, rape, and domestic violence.

And media representations of women, and sexist jokes, and who does the housework, and cookies don’t just bake themselves you know. And don’t call me “Honey,” and I’m not here to make coffee, and do you realize you’ve interrupted me every single time I’ve tried to say something this evening? And street harassment, and no, knowing how to clean the toilet is not congenital, and will you please stop using the word “girl” as an insult? And sport, and the military, and double standards in everything, and wtf are cankles?

In other words, what was once “radical” feminism is now mainstream feminism.


I realize there are anti-trans, anti-sex feminists out there who call themselves radical feminists, but I, simply put, don’t agree. What’s radical about them? They are to the right of the mainstream feminist movement. They often have more in common with the conservatives decrying mainstream feminism as “radical” than they do the original radical feminists who had consciousness-raising groups and abortion speak outs and who started Ms Magazine.

When Sarah Palin says she’s a feminist – you don’t have to believe her.

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

Is she certified unpoked?

Jul 25th, 2013 5:42 pm | By

Georgia – not the Paula Deen one, the other one – has a “test the bride for virginity” service, the BBC tells us.

Maintenance of virginity before marriage is deeply entrenched in the Orthodox
Christian country, although not everyone’s happy with the idea of it being
documented. One young interviewee branded it “disgusting”. She told the TV
reporter: “I would say no if I were asked to do this… if I am to spend my
whole life with him, he should trust me.” Web users also mocked the inspection
service, circulating a digitally-altered image of an ID card with an added
“virginity status” parameter.

Yes I don’t see that being a very pleasant conversation with the future mother-in-law.

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


Jul 25th, 2013 5:06 pm | By

Amanda Marcotte takes on the much-recycled nonsense about “radical feminism” – which as used by people who hate feminism means everything beyond the right to vote, and certainly any wild talk about stereotypes or the image of women in popular culture.

For anyone who wants proof that the conservative Republican tendency to accuse liberals and feminists of being “radical” or “militant” is pure projection, Wednesday’s confirmation hearings for Nina Pillard, Obama’s pick to sit on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, served nicely. Pillard is a Georgetown law professor and yes, openly feminist (though not as aggressively feminist as, say, Justice Samuel Alito is anti-feminist), which was enough to put the Republican Senators who showed up at the hearing into a full-blown paranoid lather. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, accused Pillard of arguing that abstinence-only programs were inherently unconstitutional.

You know what she was really arguing?

[N]ot that it’s unconstitutional to scold kids to keep it in their pants to your heart’s content, but that the specific gender roles taught in many abstinence-only courses violate the students’ right to equal protection. Her actual argument:

Double standards about sex drive and chastity in abstinence-only curricula are embedded in a larger picture of women and men playing traditional roles in the family and the public sphere. A decision to practice abstinence until marriage assumes early, heterosexual marriage and early childbearing. The expectation is not that marriage will be delayed until a person’s late twenties or early thirties so that both parents can complete higher education and establish themselves at work, but that couples will marry young and the woman will become a family caretaker, principally supported by her husband, who remains relatively free of care-giving duties to pursue his career. Women, one abstinence-only curriculum teaches, need “financial support,” whereas men need “domestic support” and “admiration.  Another maintains that “[ w ]omen gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments. Young women, according to a leading abstinence-only curriculum, “care less about achievement and their futures” than do their male peers.  These curricula suggest that there are two tracks in sex and two tracks in life, one male, and one female.

Terrifyingly radical, isn’t it.

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

Twinkle Cavanaugh introduced her friend

Jul 25th, 2013 1:01 pm | By

Alabama. Alabama’s really pushing the envelope these days.

The Alabama Public Service Commission apparently begins all of its meetings with a prayer session, but a recent one from last week took on what some consider an unusually political message, lamenting the “sinful” ways of those who allow gay marriage, abortion, and the “removal” of God from public schools.

APSC commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh introduced her friend, John Delwin Jordan, a member of her local baptist church and an active Prattville Tea Party leader.

Wait. Twinkle? Prattville? For real?


Jordan began his prayer session imploring the meeting attendees to hold their hand up if they “believe in the power of prayer.”

The end of the four-minute prayer saw a turn from the theological to the political, with Jordan lamenting aloud: “God, we’ve taken you out of our schools, we’ve taken you out of our prayers, we’ve murdered your children, we’ve said it’s OK to have same-sex marriage. God, we have sinned. And we ask once again that you’ll forgive us of our sins.”

Oh shut up. It’s not “we” – you mean “they,” and you want god to punish us and forgive you. Own it. Just tell god to smite all the infidels and throw them into hell, then say “thank you for inviting me” and get out.

Meanwhile somebody should take the Alabama Public Service Commission to court.

H/t Christopher.


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

Always forget your pen

Jul 25th, 2013 11:36 am | By

Aha, clever. There’s a priest high up in the Catholic church in Australia, Brian Lucas, who is also a barrister (non-practicing), who thought of a good dodge for occasions when he had to talk to priests accused of child-rape: don’t take notes.

…the senior figure within the Catholic Church on Wednesday told an  inquiry  into sexual abuse he never made notes when dealing with about 35 priests accused  of sex crimes.

The inquiry also heard that Father Brian wrote advice for clergy that it was  a good idea not to take notes during interviews with accused priests to avoid  the material being exposed during any ”subsequent legal process”.

Attaboy, Father Brian. Always protect your institution at the expense of its victims. Always stack the deck in favor of yourself and your colleagues, and be completely indifferent to the people you and your colleagues harm. Then lecture the rest of us and how to be as good as you and your colleagues.

He testified that he never reported priests accused of sexually abusing  children to police. He had no recollection at all of a meeting in 1993 when the  paedophile priest Denis McAlinden ”opened up and confessed … freely” to him,  as stated by McAlinden in a letter tendered as evidence.

For about six years from 1990 it was Father Brian’s  job to confront priests  accused of sexual abuse around NSW and the ACT and persuade them to leave the  ministry, he told the inquiry.

In that time he dealt with about 35 priests, ”seducing” more than 10 of  them with ”strong armed” tactics into agreeing to resign the priesthood. He  said the best way of keeping children safe from priestly abuse was to take the  offending priest out of the ministry, and that was his priority.

He said ”it staggers me and shocks me” that McAlinden practised as a priest  and worked at a school of 7000 children from kindergarten upwards in the  Philippines after his priestly faculties were removed in Australia in 1993.

”Were you satisfied after your dealings with McAlinden that appropriate  child protection steps had been taken?” asked the counsel assisting the  inquiry, Julia Lonergan, SC. ”It was probably the best that was on offer at the  time,” Father Brian replied.

“On offer”? By whom? What a ridiculous, evasive, don’t look at me reply. He could have “offered” better himself! That was the point of the question, I think.

“Is the real position as to why you didn’t want to take any note that you didn’t want it to have to be exposed in any subsequent legal process?” Ms  Lonergan asked.

”I think that would be a reasonable comment,” he replied.

She asked whether he wrote his views for other clergy to the effect that it was a good idea not to take notes “so that a subsequent legal process that would  compel production of them cannot be successful”.

“In some instances that would be accurate,” Father Brian responded.

The Mafia with rosaries.

H/t Ian.

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

Jesus checks

Jul 24th, 2013 6:18 pm | By

Last week Jesus got interested in the increasing your Twitter followers by offering them time off Purgatory wheeze. Mo got all superior.


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

Fix that face

Jul 24th, 2013 4:55 pm | By

There’s a thing, or a fake thing that turned into a real thing, or not a real thing but a fake thing that people shouted at women for having anyway, that is called Bitchy Resting Face.

it wasn’t coined until – amazingly – May of this year. Needless to say, it instantly grabbed the media’s attention. Truly, a titbit with such potential for female anxiety and self-loathing is like an iron filing to the media’s magnet. The term emerged in a public safety announcement video – and we’ll get back to this video in just a tick – in which several women discuss the terrible problem that afflicts so many of their gender: Bitchy Resting Face. “They might not be bitches at all – they might just have faces that look bitchy,” one of the films several narrators clucks sympathetically.

Uh huh. I’ve had that my whole life. I’ve actually explained to people on occasion that I’m not as horrible as I look. I am very horrible, admittedly, but not as horrible as I look.

The weirdest thing is the BRF does not actually exist: the video that coined the term was made by comedian Taylor Orci and is a joke, as some of you might have guessed from the very name BRF. Yet this has not stopped plastic surgeons eagerly offering cures for this non-existent problem. In this sense, BRF is the new cankles. Hail the new cankles! Someone wheel out the gilded easel and announce its arrival!

It’s the kind of joke that needs a Dan Cardamon, I think.

There’s another issue here: the original video doesn’t just talk about BRF. It addresses Resting Asshole Face, the male equivalent of BRF. Needless to say, that has not garnered anywhere near the amount of comment that BRF has. As far as I’m aware, Jon Hamm has not appeared on US talkshows apologising for his Resting Asshole Face as Anna Paquin did for her BRF. Nor has the RAF (with apologies to the Royal Air Force) featured in the Mail Online’s sidebar of shame whereas BRF has already become almost as much of a regular feature there as drool-splattered photos of 14-year-old girls looking “grown up for their years”. To be fair, RAF is made up. But then, so is BRF.

I know this one! I totally know it. It’s because men are supposed to look like that, and women aren’t. Men who look like that just look strong and reserved and maybe intimidating. Women who look like that look like evil witches kill them kill them kill them.

The reason BRF has attracted so much more attention than RAF is not just because it’s more instinctive for the media to mock women’s bodies – although there is that – but because, clearly, the former underlines the expectations on women. To be an acceptable woman is to be feminine and that means being compliant and smiley. It doesn’t matter how many Anne-Marie Slaughters or Sheryl Sandbergs out there tell women to be more aggressive, the current public image of businesswomen in this country is one who bakes cupcakes and who injects Botox, two things that would presumably help sort out any woman’s BRF.

All BRF means, really, is “not at that moment smiling”. And how dare a woman not do that all the time, right? Cheer up, love it might never happen! Female characters in books, movies and on TV are meant to be likeable and, as points out this week, if they’re not, the problem is usually explained away as a medical problem (such as Homeland’s Carrie being bipolar.) If they’re simply difficult, grumpy or selfish in the way male characters are, they provoke outrage and astonishment in the way male characters never do (hello, Lena Dunham.).

Precisely. They even get men, total strangers, shouting at them on the street for not smiling. Really: they do. We do. I do. Remember that? Two years ago? That guy was seriously pissed off by the audacity of my walking past his house with a bitchy witchy resting face.



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

Just the one

Jul 24th, 2013 4:19 pm | By

Oh come on, laydeez, you can’t expect to have women on the money and the postage stamps, for cryin out loud. There’s a limit.

Caroline Criado-Perez started a battle on this principle: if the Bank of England wanted to take Elizabeth Fry, the only woman on any banknote, off the fiver, it had to replace her with another woman. We couldn’t live in a society that was only prepared to celebrate the achievements of men. What kind of a message is that to the nation, that the only declaration of legacy people will see most days, the only open declaration many of us will ever notice, includes no women?

That men are more important, of course. Which they are. Aren’t they?

The thing that triggered my interest was when people started laughing, and the laugh was always this: “Look on the other side, you dumb cow! The Queen is a woman! She’s on all of them!” Just as a thought experiment (redundant, now that Criado-Perez has won), try to explain to a hypothetical person why the Queen does not count as a “woman of note”. Do you feel as though you’ve regressed 50 years, even 100 years, to a time when it actually needed explaining, the difference between attainment and an accident of birth?

What I’ve been saying. An accident of birth didn’t magically make Charles Windsor a medical expert with no training.

Meanwhile, there was something interesting going on in the Council of Europe (I know, there’s a sentence you may not have read very often). It held a conference in Amsterdam on gender equality, in which Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project – so far 25,000 women have tweeted examples of often eye-popping misogyny – gave evidence. Her highest-profile campaign recently has been to get Facebook to apply its own moderator-standards – the rules it uses to prevent racism and anti-semitism on the site – to images of violence against women. As she points out in a brilliant video: “There are images of women being raped, being killed, being tortured, pictures of women with black eyes and bloodied faces with the caption, ‘Next time, don’t get pregnant’.”

Facebook, with that distinctive, MBA, small-c conservatism, will come down hard on abuse if it can see itself getting bad press over it, but cannot make a moral decision of its own about whether or not a joke about violence towards women might be equivalent to a joke about violence towards a particular race.

Women are more irritating, you see.

Following Bates’s and other testimony, on 10 July the Council of Europe made a set of recommendations (which it announced this week): member states should adopt an “appropriate legal framework” that would ensure “respect for the principle of human dignity and the prohibition of all discrimination on grounds of sex”, as well as of incitement to hatred and to any form of gender-based violence within the media.

Naturally, the Council of Europe doesn’t have the power to enforce it; and David Cameron, with his craven fear of the attack-labrador Europhobes in his party, will probably not simply reject the recommendations, but use his rejection of them as a calling card. The opposition to the call will be hideous to behold, uniting all the people who hate Europe “telling us what to do” with the people who treasure, above most things, their right to make hilarious jokes about rape; and what a cesspit that will be (hang on – unless this is not a Venn diagram at all, but a picture of one circle overlapping entirely with another circle?).

Pretty much. “Don’t tell me what to do, bitch” – that’s the Weltanschauung.

But this is potentially huge: imagine some crazy future, some post-angry time, when people listen to sustained argument and take it seriously. This “respect” would go far beyond Facebook. How could the Sun defend page 3 from the charge that it discriminated on grounds of sex? How could lads’ mags exist; what would happen to the Sunday Sport? The landscape of the printed media in the UK would change completely. And it would change because of Laura Bates and Everyday Sexism; because of Kat Banyard, and Lose the Lads Mags; because of Lucy-Anne Holmes and No More Page Three; because of Caroline Criado-Perez and her campaign on banknotes; it would change because of the 34,000 who signed the Bank of England petition, the 220,000 who tweeted about the Facebook campaign.

Two things are unarguable about this century; the first is that it is more sexist than the end of the last, raunch and postmodernism having converged to normalise the presentation of women as meat; the second is that the internet has had profound consequences for privacy and, inevitably, personal freedom. But pause to consider the vivacity of the feminist fourth wave, its energy and victories, the way it has honed and deployed the power of social media rather than surrendered to the misogynist tropes it throws up. It is fearless and pugnacious and alive with a sense of possibility.

Campaigning is better than it was in the 90s or the noughties; it is more determined, its weapons are more lethal; it is Buffy to yesteryear’s Mary Poppins. Look on its works, ye Mervyns, and despair.

But if whatever wave this is is so much better than all the previous waves, why is this century so much more sexist than the last? If Buffy is so great why is she losing?



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

Remark of the day

Jul 24th, 2013 11:14 am | By

By Susan at Popehat.

Hey, my dogs got vaccinated and now they are unable to talk!!!!!!!!!


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

The bullshit of vitamins and supplements

Jul 24th, 2013 10:56 am | By

Dr Paul Offitt is on the case.

A pediatrician who spent years defending childhood vaccines against the likes of actress/activist Jenny McCarthy has launched an assault on megavitamins and dietary supplements.

“If you take large quantities of vitamin A, vtamin E, beta carotene [or] selenium you increase your risk of cancer, risk of heart disease, and you could shorten your life,” says Dr. Paul Offit, a researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The good thing here is, he has actual training in this field, unlike a certain eldest son I could mention.

One big problem with dietary supplements is a 1994 law that exempts them from the tighter scrutiny the FDA applies to its regulation of medicines, Offit says. So the makers of a garlic supplement can say that it “supports cardiovascular health” even though a government study found that garlic supplements didn’t lower cholesterol. Meanwhile, Offit says, patients clearly benefit from a range of FDA-approved statin drugs that actually do what garlic supplements claim to do.

I remember the lobbying for that law. Every time I wandered into a health foods store I would see 47 signs and notices shouting about the horror of regulation of dietary supplements. The forces of No Information Please won that fight: makers of supplements get to say any old bullshit, which consumers believe, because they know the gummint wouldn’t allow anybody to tell lies on packaging.

Offit says doctors are partly to blame for the growing popularity of high-dose vitamins and other dietary supplements. Rather than pushing back against patients who want to take them, he says, doctors have acted like waiters at a restaurant, simply asking, “What would you like?”

Many hospitals also include unproved dietary supplements in their list of medicines available to patients, Offit says. But he says his own institution, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, plans to remove nearly all supplements from its list later this month.

Offit says his attack on dietary supplements has generated a steady stream of hate mail. But he says it’s not as harsh as the hate mail he used to get from people who believe vaccines cause autism. “This is more, I’m ‘a liar and a shill for the pharmaceutical industry,’ ” he says, “not, ‘You’re going to hell.’ “

We need an official scale for hate mail.

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

Guest post on kinds of understanding

Jul 24th, 2013 9:50 am | By

Guest post by Claire Ramsey. Claire is the author of The People Who Spell, Gallaudet University Press 2011.

I’m not a philosopher and I dread to think how many years it’s been since I read Searle. But I’ve spent years not only trying to transmit knowledge and prod the youth of America into some kind of understanding but doing it on the actual topics of knowledge and understanding. In some models (I think ed psych but I could be wrong) they talk about different kinds of knowledge – declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, conceptual knowledge and probably other kinds, I think some models include temporal knowledge, all of the time-related parts like sequence, and duration. Obviously declarative knowledge is just knowing what something is = that is a shoe and that other thing is a nectarine. Procedural knowledge is knowing procedures to accomplish something – it might be strategies for memorizing vocabulary or how to fix a carburetor. Conceptual knowledge is knowing the “why” of something – that’s the sky and it looks kind of blue and here’s why we see it that way even though it’s not really blue. I think both procedural and conceptual knowledges lead to a kind of understanding. All of this stuff unrolls inside an individual’s head, which is mostly what ed psych is interested in grasping.

Then there’s another kind of understanding that is key for being a good teacher and, I’d argue, a good talker, citizen, person, writer, story teller.  In other words it’s the kind of understanding that we develop – some more than others – so that we can be in the social world w/other people and do things with them, like have a conversation. In education circles there is a jargon term  – “Pedagogical Content Knowledge” – I think this business is the basis of many other interactions in life, not just teaching & learning & explaining.  It means knowing something so well from all angles that you can figure out (even predict) where another person (a learner in this case but it could be your interlocutor or your reader) stopped getting it and why, and figuring out another way to explain it so that it’s clear or figuring out what the background info or sequential info or whatever to add that the other person does not seem to be getting . . . and that is the stuff that takes empathy plus a big dose of knowing what you’re talking about.

In the tortured arguments and/or explanations of the MRA and the atheist sexist pests, their seemingly intentional pretense that they know what X means drove me nuts because it’s an example of intentionally being anti-social and anti-understanding while pretending that they aren’t. I hate that shit. And I think that’s why. We’ve all run into people who pretend that the whole world is completely literal (in their way) and all of that other stuff doesn’t matter. Well, they are wrong. And they don’t know jack about how conversation works or how language operates in social interactions.

Anyhow, like I said, I’m not a philosopher or an epistemologist or even a psychologist. I’m a  sociolinguist who gets annoyed easily by those who mishandle language. Then I just want to start slapping them.

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