Notes and Comment Blog

Guest post: As women entered the field

Oct 29th, 2014 12:05 pm | By

Originally a comment by sambarge on Yes yes.

The de-valuation of work by feminization is fully documented in labour history. The reason we talk about pay equity (versus equal pay for the same job) is the valuation or classification of labour or job duties that are viewed a “feminine” or “masculine”. Physical strength, for example, is rated higher than accuracy in data entry and, not surprisingly, physical strength is a stereotypically male trait (unless we’re talking about labour that requires physical strength that is defined as female such as housekeeping or laundry workers, then there are no points or recognition for the physical strength required to do the job).

The easiest examples of the devaluation of work when it is feminized is bank tellers and other clerical work. When clerical work was done almost exclusively by men, the job was considered a skilled and valued profession. As women entered the field (and, importantly, men left it) clerical work was devalued – even as it became more technologically difficult to perform. Likewise, nursing has started to attract more men as it professionalized and started to demand decent remuneration. However, shaking the taboo of a man “doing women’s work” has proven harder than attracting women to work that was historically classified as male. The stigma attached to women’s work is pernicious.

The history of labour is full of examples like those. Social attitudes towards the value of certain work is definitely tied to our perceptions of the maleness or femaleness of certain duties.

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

Simon talks to Katha

Oct 29th, 2014 11:46 am | By

Simon Davis interviews Katha Pollitt for VICE on the launch of her new book saying why abortion is a good thing.

It’s not surprising that many people who don’t want to see all abortion clinics shut down have bought into a few of the assumptions of the pro-life movement. The result is what we have today: a situation where a majority of people believe abortion should be mostly legal but frowned upon.

Which is why I wrote that piece for Free Inquiry a few months ago.

It is precisely those people that Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation, wants to speak to in her new book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, which came out just as the Supreme Court intervened to halt a new Texas law that would close all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics. Pollitt not only lays out in extraordinary detail her opposition to a wide array of anti-abortion advocacy, but also takes the additional step of making her case for why abortion is a good thing. I reached out to her to find out more.

VICE: Unlike many other pro-choice advocates, you say abortion is a social good. Can you explain that?
Katha Pollitt: What I try to do in the book is to put abortion into the context of motherhood and society. And I say it is a good thing for society that children are born at a time when a woman—and the man, if there is one—are able to best take care of them. And society also benefits when women who are currently unbelievably hampered in every area of life when they become mothers can express all their talents and gifts and make a good life for themselves and the people in their families.

How could it not be? How could involuntary unwanted childbearing be a good thing? How could it not be vastly better to be able to choose when to have a baby and when not to? How could reluctant unhappy motherhood be a good thing??

What do you say to those who might dismiss the abortion debate as a “culture war” issue?
“Culture war” is about culture—pornography, or what books should be in the school library, or whether Harry Potter promotes witchcraft. But this is an issue that goes right to heart of whether women can ever be equal to men. Whether they can have the basic autonomies we give to men to decide what goes on in their bodies and what risks they’re going to take. What physical, emotional, and social risks they’re going to take. Basically it’s about making sure that women don’t remain vulnerable to pregnancy from their first period to their last period.

That question could have been worded as: What do you say to those who might dismiss the abortion debate by pointing to women who are put in sacks and beaten? It’s the same idea.

You have a chapter called “Are Women People?” Do you believe the anti-abortion movement denies women their humanity?
To me, that is the central issue. I think that if you say that at any moment in life a woman can be compelled, because of an accident, because of a failed condom, or she got carried away and, my God, had sex without protection—that this should derail her life. You can see how it basically means what she wants to do with her life is really not important.

That. I think there are depressingly many people who don’t think women are fully people – not as fully as men are. I think we get thousands of cues to this effect every day, and that the result is a stereotype of women that is emptier and thinner and more fundamentally trivial than the stereotype of men is. The war against abortion is one facet of this.

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

The devil’s work

Oct 29th, 2014 11:15 am | By

That zany pope. One minute he’s saying friendly things about evolution and gravity and shit, and the next he’s sharing the love with exorcists. Exorcists.

Just in time for Halloween and against an unspecified “steady increase” of demonic possession, Pope Francis thanked exorcists for showing the church’s “love for those possessed” by the devil.

About 300 exorcists from around the world attended a convention in Rome last weekend (Oct. 25-26) and their spokesman later expressed concern about the number of people turning to Satanism and the occult.

In a message sent to the Rev. Francesco Bamonte, who heads the International Association of Exorcists (known as AIE), Francis urged the experts to demonstrate “the church welcomes those suffering from the devil’s work.”

See, that’s silly, because there is no “the devil.” And it’s maleficent, because thinking there is such a thing as “the devil” can motivate people to do horrendous things to real people, including torture and murder. The pope shouldn’t be encouraging people to take that harmful bullshit seriously. The pope has a big microphone, and a lot of listeners who think they are obligated to accept every word he says as both true and binding.

Without citing specific numbers, AIE spokesman Valter Cascioli told Vatican Radio there has been a “steady increase” in the number of people turning to demonic practices and they are left suffering from serious spiritual and psychological damage.

“We are living in a particularly critical time in history, where urgency, superficiality, exasperated individualism, secularization seem to almost dominate our culture,” Cascioli said.

Ah there it is again – the linkage of “demonic practices” and secularization. Charming.

“The battle against evil is becoming more of an emergency. We are calling for major vigilance.”

Against secularization, and human rights (that’s what Catholics mean when they grumble about “individualism”). That’s what Catholics consider “evil.” Not the torture of children, not child-rape by priests, not the imprisonment of women who have committed no crime, but secularization and human rights.

And that’s where the pope finds his friends.

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

They spat holy water

Oct 29th, 2014 10:55 am | By

A tv show rented a newly constructed house in a suburb and set up appointments with several psychics to check on hidden spirits and forces and fossnagles. They also set up a dozen hidden cameras to capture the skilled professional checking.

[A] duo named Susan and Rev. Joseph said there was negative energy in the house. “It’s negative in the sense that it could cause setbacks, it can cause financial setbacks,” Susan said. To purge it, they burned incense and chanted all over the house, and claimed to have trapped the negative energy in a bottle.

Despite their supposed abilities, the psychics were not aware that Jeff Rossen had been monitoring their activities from a control room upstairs in the home. When he revealed himself to them, he asked: “How is it possible that you were able to find all of this negative energy? This is a brand-new house, no one’s lived in it before.”

“It’s not a haunted house, but spirits roam in empty places, they roam in hallways,” Susan said.

“Isn’t this just hocus pocus to take advantage of homeowners?” Rossen asked.

“No, no, no,” Rev. Joseph protested. As the pair spoke to Rossen, one of their associates tried to block the camera and scooped up the cash the Rossen team had brought to pay them.

Good thinking. Always scoop up the cash – even when you know you’re on camera.

When another team of psychics arrived, they announced: “There’s a presence of two or three entities here … They won’t let you feel comfortable here, you’ll just be stuck. [You] won’t be able to find a job. You’ll want to move.”

After the Rossen team agreed to let them help, they spat holy water, puffed cigar smoke, banged on the walls and rolled a coconut around. “Most likely there was domestic violence here,” a psychic named Medina declared. “Repeat to yourself, ‘the house is clear, the house is pure.'” Their fee was $1,021.

And there were others. The Duke and the Dauphin would be impressed.

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

Yes yes

Oct 28th, 2014 6:01 pm | By

Huh. Another Dear Muslima, because the last one worked out so well.


He appears to be talking, or to think he’s talking, about timidity in making moral judgments. But how odd, and how deeply unpleasant, that he chooses that example of all possible examples. That it’s the rights of US women he chooses to hold up to ridicule and hostility because they are less threatened than those of women in theocracies. It’s odd and deeply unpleasant the way they keep doing this – letting the mask slip.

Update: This is also a public Facebook post, which makes it easier to reply to.

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

A firm believer in gender equality

Oct 28th, 2014 5:39 pm | By

Katherine Adams explains her profound reservations about feminism*.

Like any other socially conscious woman, I am a firm believer in gender equality. Ending workplace discrimination, making reproductive health care affordable—I’ve championed these goals my whole life. They’re important to me, and that’s why the feminist movement frustrates me so much. I’m sorry, but I simply cannot and will not support feminism if it means murdering all men.

Typical boozhie liberal. You can’t make a lobster risotto without breaking eggs!

I understand why some people might believe the only way to advance women’s rights is to slaughter every man on the planet, but that sort of radical, explicitly homicidal position, which for all I know is a fundamental aspect of feminism, is exactly what makes me hesitate to call myself a feminist.

Do I agree with closing the pay gap, ensuring universal access to birth control, and ending the objectification of women? Absolutely, and if that’s all feminism were about, I would get on board without any hesitation. Assuming feminists start advocating that we hunt down all the world’s men and boys, load them onto trains bound for death camps, and systematically massacre them solely on the basis of their sex, then that’s where I draw the line.

Well then go get a job at the American Enterprise Institute, ya big sellout.

*At the Onion, she does this.

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

A vote on the “woman question”

Oct 28th, 2014 4:37 pm | By

I’m re-reading The Freethinkers. It’s a terrific book. I want to share a passage with you, from the chapter “Lost Connections: Anticlericalism, Abolitionism, and Feminism”:

The tension came to a head in New York City in May 1840, at the annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society (of which Garrison had been a found member in 1833). In a Machiavellian Parliamentary maneuver, Garrison forced a vote on the “woman question” by appointing Abby Kelley, a Quaker and a great admirer of the Grimké sisters, to a post on the organization’s powerful business committee. Kelley’s appointment was confirmed by a close vote, but several hundred members – a minority, but a highly influential one – pronounced it a violation of the Scriptures to serve on a committee with a woman, walked out, and announced plans to form a breakaway antislavery organization. [p 83]

Does that sound familiar to you? It certainly does to me. It sounds like the New Left, for instance, which splintered and splintered again over “the woman question” in the late 60s and early 70s. It sounds like every political movement ever, because there are always people who want to work for these rights but not those, and/or people who say yes but we must not confuse the fight for these rights by adding the fight for those, and/or people who say what do those rights have to do with these rights, look it up in the dictionary. There are always people who say women’s rights can wait, or are completely different, or have already been achieved, or are a good idea but don’t require anyone to actually change anything.


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

Diego, paraaaaaa!

Oct 28th, 2014 4:02 pm | By

Now it’s Diego Maradona.

A leaked video has surfaced this week allegedly showing former Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona hitting his ex-girlfriend.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the video captures an intoxicated Maradona speaking to his ex, 24-year-old Rocío Oliva, in an aggressive manner before physically assaulting her.

“Stop! Stop! Stop hitting me,” the woman cries out in the clip, according to a NY Daily News translation.

One after another.


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

To fend off challenges from Left

Oct 28th, 2014 3:19 pm | By

Headline on article about the politics of Hillary Clinton:

Clinton copies Warren to fend off challenges from Left

To “fend off”? Why not do it because Warren is right? Or not do it if you don’t think she is right?

I know, that sounds dewy-eyed naïve, but really, if politicians do things solely for tactical reasons, what reason do we have to think they will go on doing said things once they’re elected?

The body of the article:

Hillary Clinton has copied the populist, anti-corporate rhetoric of Sen. Elizabeth Warren partly in the hopes of keeping the Massachusetts Democrat, or any other liberal challenger, out of the 2016 presidential race, some liberal activists say.

There again. If that’s what she’s doing and why, then clearly it becomes all the more urgent to propel Warren to the nomination.

Not that I actually want to spend time thinking about an election that’s more than two fucking years in the future.

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

Voting is for solid citizens with plenty of $$

Oct 28th, 2014 2:55 pm | By

More background. The Washington Post in July on how voting has changed since Shelby County v. Holder.

What did Shelby County v Holder do?

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. Section 4 lays out the formulas for how the Justice Department enforces Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires that the states identified with a history of discrimination  obtain approval from the federal government before they can make changes to their election law. Section 4 formulas as of 2013 mandatedthat “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia in their entirety; and parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota” ask for preclearance for electoral law changes. After Shelby County v. Holder, these states are free to make changes to election law or district maps without approval from the Justice Department.

Because Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are all completely ok on the whole racially-targeted obstacles to voting thing now.

Or not.

Has Congress made any moves on amending the Voting Rights Act?

If Congress wants to keep it, they need to update the framework that decides which states require the Justice Department to sign off on election law changes. A year later, Congress hasn’t decided whether they want to keep it yet. The proposed amendment to the Voting Rights Act is stuck in legislative purgatory.

Of course it is. The Republicans have a stranglehold on Congress, and the Republicans don’t consider it in their interest to make it less arduous for black and Hispanic voters to get all the way to the booth with the ballot in it.

There have been some state changes helpful to voters, and some not so much.

There have been changes that shift early voting and voter registration times, and new voter-ID requirements. The opponents of these laws say that their only effect will be limiting the right to vote — mostly among low-income and minority voters who may not own government identification or have enough flexibility with their employment to vote on Election Day.

So it’s a lightly-disguised property qualification. What could possibly be wrong with that?!

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

No mere historical artifact

Oct 28th, 2014 12:27 pm | By

From October 18, the New York Times story on the stealthy SCOTUS ruling allowing Texas’s Jim Crowesque voter ID law in the next election.

The Supreme Courton Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court’s order,issued just after 5 a.m., was unsigned and contained no reasoning.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent saying the court’s action “risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.

It has a history, that kind of thing. It’s not an accident, it’s not just some random idea that occurred to the Texas legislators one day out of the blue. There’s a long post-Civil War post-Reconstruction history of coming up with ways to make it much more difficult for black people to vote. There were those “tests” that for some strange reason were not administered to white people, that asked questions so arcane and difficult that no one would know the answer. There were the poll taxes. There were the KKK cruising the roads that led from the plantations to the polling places.

Those requirements, Justice Ginsburg wrote, “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”

“A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic,” she added, adding that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.”

This kind of tap dancing was made illegal by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but then there was that other Supreme Court ruling last year…

The Texas law was at first blocked under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedure. After the Supreme Court in 2013 effectively struck down Section 5 in Shelby County v. Holder, an Alabama case, Texas officials announced that they would start enforcing the ID law.

Amid squeals of joy and triumph.

The law has been challenged by an array of individuals, civil rights groups and the Obama administration.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. released a statement Saturday criticizing the outcome.

“It is a major step backward to let stand a law that a federal court, after a lengthy trial, has determined was designed to discriminate,” he said. “It is true we are close to an election, but the outcome here that would be least confusing to voters is the one that allowed the most people to vote lawfully.”

The least confusing to voters and the least…you know…racist. The least discriminatory. The least oh hai here’s an extra obstacle in the way of your voting because we have cars and you don’t, you rabble.

After a two-week trial in September, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Federal District Court in Corpus Christi struck down the law on Oct. 9 in a 147-page opinion. She said it had been adopted “with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” created “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” and amounted to a poll tax.

Two days later, Judge Ramos entered an injunction blocking the law in the current election. The question for the justices was what to do about that injunction while appeals proceed.

Greg Abbott, the state attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor, told the Supreme Court that Judge Ramos had acted too closely to the election and had “unsettled a status quo that had prevailed for 15 months and governed numerous elections without a hitch.”

Yeah! “We had successfully and without a hitch made life more difficult for voters who don’t have passports and driver’s licenses so what the hell is this Judge Ramos doing messing that up?”

Welcome back the poll tax.

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

When most Texans were sleeping

Oct 27th, 2014 6:09 pm | By

This is a news item I missed, and it’s making steam come out of my ears. An estimated 600,000 Texas voters – the population of a big city! – though registered to vote, won’t be able to because they cannot meet photo-identification requirements set out in the state’s new voter-ID law, SB14 . It’s the strictest voter ID law in the country and you know why those fuckers in Texas passed it.

It was justified by Governor Rick Perry and the Republican chiefs in the state legislature as a means of combatting electoral fraud in a state where in the past 10 years some 20m votes have been cast, yet only two cases of voter impersonation have been prosecuted to conviction.

Earlier this month a federal district judge, Nelva Gonzales Ramos, struck down the law, slamming it as a cynical ploy on the part of Republicans to fend off the growing strength of the minority electorate in Texas by “suppressing the overwhelmingly Democratic votes of African Americans and Latinos”. She linked SB14 to a long history of racial discrimination in state elections spanning back generations, and declared the new law to be an unconstitutional poll tax.

There used to be a law against that – the Voting Rights Act – but I guess it doesn’t apply in Texas.

But last week, in the early hours of 18 October, when most Texans were sleeping, the US supreme court snuck out a one-line judgment that allowed the voter ID restrictions to be applied this election cycle. Without any explanation, a majority of the justices effectively threw Eric Kennie and many thousands of others like him – particularly black, Hispanic and low-income Texans – into a state of democratic limbo.

“This is the first time the courts have allowed a law that actually keeps people from voting to go into effect, even though a judge found it was passed for the purpose of making it harder for minorities to vote,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy programme at the Brennan Centre for Justice.

Steam. Ears.

The Guardian has heartbreaking stories to illustrate how this affects people. I’m out of time, so read the stories.

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

June 11-15, 2015

Oct 27th, 2014 11:14 am | By

CFI has announced its next big (CFI-CSI mashup) conference next June.

Critical thinking is not an end in itself. It is a means to effect positive change, to transform our world for the better. At “Reason for Change,” the Center for Inquiry’s 2015 international conference, we’ll bring the skeptic and humanist communities together to do just that.

Important point. Critical thinking can feel like an end in itself, at least for awhile, because it’s interesting. But in reality? It’s not, just as atheism is not.

And we’ll do it in a place that many consider to be “home” to the skeptic and humanist movements: Western New York and CFI’s headquarters in Buffalo. Fittingly, 2015 will be the 35th anniversary of Free Inquiry and the 39th anniversary (last party before 40!) of Skeptical Inquirer, the two foundational publications that helped start it all.

This conference will be truly special. It will be both a celebration of our accomplishments and a robust examination of the challenges we still face. It will be an invaluable opportunity to connect and collaborate with thinkers, activists, researchers, and other luminaries from around the world.

I’ll be there, so if you’re there too, let’s schmooze.


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

Four players would hold a victim on the floor

Oct 27th, 2014 10:44 am | By

Many of the people in Sayreville – parents and students alike – don’t get it. There’s a lot of “it was just hazing” “it was no big deal” “why do you hate football?” “you ruined everything and we hate you” in response to the fact that reasonable people frown on sexual assault even when it’s football player seniors doing it to freshmen. The BBC takes a rather horrified look.

Four players would hold a victim on the floor while two were on lookout, one parent told after their son confided in them. One player would signal the start of the process with a howl, then turn off the lights and assault the freshman.

Two victims interviewed by the New York Times, including one who said he was digitally penetrated from behind, said they were wearing football pants at the time and didn’t consider what happened to be that serious.

Stories of older members of the team pinning down freshmen team-mates and assaulting them in a dark locker room as others cheered initially shocked the community. But after superintendent of schools Richard Labbe cancelled the rest of the team’s season, many students and parents defended the programme and criticised what they saw as a punishment that extended to players who were not involved.

“If freshman thought we hated them before, we sure as hell hate them now,” one 16-year-old student wrote on Twitter shortly after the season was cancelled.

This is a school we’re talking about. A school. Not a professional football team but a school. A “football season” should be – at most – a recreational extra, not a core entitlement, let alone THE core entitlement. If it turns out the football team is fucked up, then it’s not a bad idea to suspend operations until things are improved. That’s not punishing anyone.

During a school board meeting, according to Sports Illustrated, dozens of players and parents protested against the decision to cancel the season.

“They were talking about a butt being grabbed,” one player’s mother, Madeline Thillet, said. “That’s about it. No one was hurt. No one died.”

That’s an extremely warped attitude. Bullying and assault should not be treated as acceptable provided no one died. Football shouldn’t be treated as more important than decent behavior.

Gary Phillips of the Journal News, a newspaper in the Lower Hudson River Valley of New York, says he has a problem with how many people have been referring to what happened as hazing at all. He writes that hazing is a part of team culture, but it is too often an excuse to bully or cause suffering.

What happened in Sayreville was not hazing, he says. What happened had nothing to do with initiation or building camaraderie.

“By calling sexual abuse hazing, society grants those perpetrators a free pass and downplays the brutality of their actions,” he writes. “What is actually a very serious crime is passed off as a ‘rite of passage’ ritual that went too far.”

Exactly. We all really really need to stop doing that. We need to stop normalizing abusive behavior by giving it fun playful names.

Michael Kasdan says there’s another word for what happened.

“It’s rape,” he writes for the Good Men Project. “Yes, it occurred as part of a football team hazing program, and it is boys acting against other boys, but – if the allegations are true – it is rape just the same.”

Kasdan says that what happened in Sayreville was abuse, with the sexual aspect being another way to assert dominance.

While the stories are disturbing, they are far from uncommon, says Robert Silverman of the Daily Beast. It’s a part of a larger issue across the country and at all levels of the sport.

He says that there is a direct connection between the stories in Sayreville, bullying in the Miami Dolphins locker room, the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case and the Pennsylvania State University child sex abuse scandal. In all of these cases, the perpetrators had been told that they weren’t beholden to the regular rules that all other members of society have to follow.

And what Ray Rice did to Janay Palmer, AND to the people who think it’s funny to dress up as Ray Rice for Halloween and drag around a blow-up doll dressed to look like Janay Palmer. This stuff is all connected and it’s all sick.

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

Ebola nudges malaria out of the frame

Oct 27th, 2014 10:20 am | By

Ebola is terrible but malaria is also terrible. Both are killers. The BBC reports on worries that Ebola might displace efforts to prevent malaria.

Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, who heads the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, said after visiting west Africa: “Understandably, all the health workers’ attention is on Ebola.”

Children’s wards which used to be full of malaria patients were becoming “ghost areas,” she added.

In 2012, malaria killed 7,000 people in the three countries worst hit by Ebola.

4,000 deaths in Sierra Leone in 2012, around 2,000 deaths in Liberia, circa 1,000 in Guinea.

Now the three countries are wrestling with the Ebola virus and Dr Nafo-Traoré said she feared that recent gains in preventing malaria could be threatened by the crisis.

She said: “These countries have previously been really hit by malaria. But five years ago, it was even worse – the deaths were double.

“We all agree that no child should die from malaria, because we have the tools to prevent and treat it.

“But now, understandably, all the health workers’ attention is on Ebola.”

Health workers are busy with Ebola, so the malaria wards are empty because there are no health workers to staff them. That means no one knows how many people are dying of malaria.

RBM is a partnership of more than 500 organisations. It was formed 16 years ago to co-ordinate global efforts against malaria.

It says Guinea and Sierra Leone met key targets last year for distributing bed nets – a crucial weapon for protecting children from mosquitoes which spread malaria.

Bed nets. Wouldn’t it be nice if those homeopaths who are there meddling with the Ebola outbreak instead simply distributed bed nets? That would actually accomplish something.

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

Because men punching women is hilarious?

Oct 26th, 2014 5:39 pm | By

The title tells you all you need to know.

For The Love Of God, People, Do Not Dress Up As Ray Rice For Halloween

No, really, don’t.

A Reddit user who asked to remain anonymous posted the following image on Sunday night, explaining that his “friend came to the party as Ray Rice.

” It shows a man with the running back’s jersey dragging a blow up doll on the floor.

Not. fucking. funny.

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


Oct 26th, 2014 5:24 pm | By

Via LGBT Muslims

5 female allies in the Muslim world.

One in Somalia:

In 1998, on a rainy morning in Mogadishu, Halimo Jim’ale was visited by her older sister Hadiyo Jim’ale. When her sister came out to her, it changed her world. Jim’ale threw herself into learning more about human sexuality and how her religion dealt with it, especially the issue of female homosexuality.

Naturally, she was met with a lot of negative information. Well, today she leads a local chapter of Queer Somalis, a support group, teaching young queer people who come to her the information she so desperately needed when her own sister had come out to her. Despite living in a country where homosexuality is legal*, and where she could be persecuted as a propagandist for something highly controversial, Jim’ale says her “life is all about taking risks,” adding, “I know with my work someone else will have a better journey than my sister did, perhaps finding themselves sooner.”

*Probably a typo for illegal

One in India:

In 1996, Shabana Azmi shocked the Muslim community when she played the lead role in Deepa Mehta’s Fire, which you could say was the first “real” lesbian film in India, where she portrayed a woman who falls in love with her brother-in-law’s wife. Azmi took the role to support visibility for gay people because she believes “when one speaks about human rights, and one talks about minorities’ rights, that must also extend to the gay community,” as she told Himal magazine. In 2013, when India went back to criminalizing gays, she released a statement in which she said she was “shocked by the judgment. I had actually started believing that gay rights are given in our so-called modern democratic society,” adding that upholding “article 377 is undemocratic, and a violation of human rights.

Three more where those came from.


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

One for The Watchers

Oct 26th, 2014 5:18 pm | By

This idea that I’ve done a 180 on postmodernism? Complete bullshit. I don’t know where you get this stuff, unless it’s just a turd drawn up from the bottomless well of loathing. I’ve moved on to other subjects most of the time now, but I haven’t in the least changed my mind. I don’t suddenly disagree with anything I wrote in Why Truth Matters.

Are you thinking that feminism is somehow postmodernist? Again, complete bullshit. There are postmodernism-flavored brands of feminism, but I’m no more a fan of them than I ever was. I haven’t morphed into a fan of Sandra Harding or “women’s ways of knowing.”

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

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

More on the homeopaths rushing to help

Oct 26th, 2014 5:04 pm | By

Pepijn van Erp has an informative post about the “heroic” homeopaths getting in the way of helping doctors and nurses dealing with the Ebola outbreak.

Now there seem to be at least four who are trying to put their illusionary treatments to work in Western Africa. On the website ‘Spirit, Science & Healing’ homeopath and Huffington Post columnist Larry Malerba wrote a message on 21 october: ‘Update: Team in Liberia Using Homeopathy for Ebola.’

Of course this astonishing news was picked up on Twitter and Facebook, resulting in many reactions of disbelief. The message was removed soon after. But to make things disappear from the Web is quite hard. Further digging into this story learns that we probably should take this endeavour very seriously indeed.


Four homeopathic doctors,  dr. Richard Hiltner (US), dr. Edouard Broussalian (Switzerland), dr. Medha Durge (India) and dr. Ortrud Lindemann (Germany), are part of this team. It might look like a big bluff when you read it at first. Who can imagine that these people might actually get access to ebola patients and will be allowed to ‘treat’ them with sugar pills and drops?

Broussalian was a familiar name to me, he had been conducting some ‘research’ during a cholera epidemic on Haiti. This story is documented in ‘Spectrum of Homeopathy‘ (Nr 2. 2011) a magazine by publisher Narayana Verlag from Germany. His methods are extremely dubious. Broussalian and his team were apparently allowed to help treat the cholera patients. Those patients were treated with regular methods, mainly a drip.  But Broussalian also gave them the homeopatic remedy Phosphorus 200C from a spray flacon. In their strange working minds the homeopaths addressed all success of the recovery of the patients to this remedy instead of to the regular treatment.

So anyone can cure people. Just go to a hospital and stand near some real doctors and nurses really treating people, and when the people get better, just say it was because you were standing there. Magic!

At the end of the article is this ominous sentence:

At the end of our stay, we were no longer providing new patients with an infusion, but immediately gave them the phosphorus spray.

There is nothing in the article on the recovery of these patients, most likely Broussalian had already left. Let’s hope that they got a drip anyway after he left, and in time.

Oh gawd. Surely nobody would be fatuous enough to fail to provide the drip.

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

GamerGate doesn’t represent us

Oct 26th, 2014 3:40 pm | By

Another petition – this one telling advertisers that GamerGate doesn’t represent us and please don’t let it steamroll you.

Gamergate Does Not Represent Us – Support Media Outlets Against Coordinated Silencing Efforts

Petition by
Gamer Geeks for Diversity in Arts Through Feminism

Dear advertisers,

Recently, a group of people associated with “gamergate” have targeted news and media outlets by contacting advertisers en mass. Despite this group’s insistence that their focus is journalistic ethics, the outlets that have been named in their campaign have been named due to publishing articles discussing sexism and harassment within the gaming community.

We, as people who buy and play games, are not offended or afraid of having a discussion within our community concerning sexism and harassment. We are aware that there is a small portion of gaming enthusiasts who have become highly defensive in response to these discussions and have decided to lash out.

This picture is a screenshot from a larger tactics document associated with gamergate, in which a person contacting the advertisers of targeted media outlets is encouraged to be “an annoying little shit”.

We would like you, the advertisers, who have been “pestered” by this group to know, that this group does not represent us.

Gaming, as a pastime and an art form, is a significant cultural phenomena. Many of us are deeply invested in playing, discussing and developing games.

Despite gamergate rhetorically supporting free speech and freedom of expression, their movement has contributed significantly to a hostile and toxic environment.

We stand against these bully-tactics and lend advertisers and media outlets our support. We stand with journalists, reviewers, and editorial writers in hopes that they can continue to express their views and participate in much-needed conversations within our community free of coercion and intimidation.

Russ Dyer, Kraft Foods, Public Relations
Brian Mast, eHealthInsurance, Director of Public Relations
Sande Drew, eHealthInsurance, Sr Media Consultant
Keith Dailey, Kroger, Director of Media Relations
Robert A Varettoni, Verizon, Exec. Director of Media Relations
Raymond McConville, Verizon, Media Relations Manager
Danielle McNally, Motorola, America Public Relations Specialist
Motorola Media Inquiries, Media Relations Dept
Holly Anderson, State Farm, Media Relations Specialist (Illinois-HQ)
Rachael Rislinger, State Farm, Media Relations Specialist (New York)
Edelman – Samsung PR, Public Relations
Danielle Meister, Samsung, US Media Relations and Corp. Communications
Scott Sloat, Sprint, Sr. Vice President – Corp. Communications
Jeff Hallock, Sprint, Chief Marketing Officer
Tristan Rosenfeldt, Electronic Arts, Communications Exec.
Kyle Ryley, Electronic Arts, Marketing & Communications Intern
Nancy Hubbel, Toyota Motor Co., Scion Product Communications Manager
Antoinette Arianna, Toyota Motor Co., Public Relations/Media Contact – New York
Jessica Johnston, Citizen Paine, Media Relations Contact, Old Spice
Kate DiCarlo, Procter & Gamble, Communications Manager

Sign that thang.

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