Notes and Comment Blog

Helots in Qatar

Sep 22nd, 2013 12:32 pm | By

Fun’s over.

Nick Cohen wonders

how many lives will be lost so that the Fifa World Cup™ can live up to its boast that it is the most successful festival of sport on the planet.

It’s not a rhetorical or playful question.

Qatar’s absolute monarchy, run by the fabulously rich and extraordinarily secretive Al Thani clan, no more keeps health and safety statistics than it allows free elections. The Trade Union Confederation has had to count the corpses the hard way. It found that 83 Indians have died so far this year. The Gulf statelet was also the graveyard for 119 Nepalese construction workers. With 202 migrants from other countries dying over the same nine months, Ms Burrow is able to say with confidence there is at least one death for every day of the year. The body count can only rise now that Qatar has announced that it will take on 500,000 more migrants, mainly from the Indian subcontinent, to build the stadiums, hotels and roads for 2022.

Not all the fatalities are on construction sites. The combination of back-breaking work, nonexistent legal protections, intense heat and labour camps without air conditioning allows death to come in many guises. To give you a taste of its variety, the friends of Chirari Mahato went online to describe how he would work from 6am to 7pm. He would return to a hot, unventilated room he shared with 12 others. Because he died in his sleep, rather than on site, his employers would not accept that they had worked him to death. There are millions of workers like him around the Gulf.

Nick cites Human Rights Watch, so let’s take a look at what they say about Qatar.

Qatar has the highest ratio of migrants to citizens in the world, with only 225,000 citizens in a population of 1.7 million. Yet the country has some of the most restrictive sponsorship laws in the Persian Gulf region, leaving migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Forced labor and human trafficking remain serious problems.

Wow. That sounds like the parts of the slaveholding South where slaves vastly outnumbered non-slaves, and were brutalized accordingly. That in turn sounds like Sparta, where the helots were brutalized because they vastly outnumbered the ruling class. (HRW’s “yet” would make more sense as “therefore.”)

A major barrier to redressing labor abuses is the kafala (sponsorship) system, which ties a migrant worker’s legal residence to his or her employer, or “sponsor.” Migrant workers cannot change jobs without their sponsoring employer’s consent, except in exceptional cases with permission from the Interior Ministry. If a worker leaves his or her sponsoring employer, even if fleeing abuse, the employer can report the worker as “absconding,” leading to detention and deportation. In order to leave Qatar, migrants must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor, and some said sponsors denied them these visas. Workers widely reported that sponsors confiscated their passports, in violation of the Sponsorship Law.

So Qatar has a form of slavery.

Back to Nick.

Fifa strikes me as a decadent organisation in the political rather than literary meaning of the word. It is an institution whose behaviour contradicts all of its professed purposes. If it cared about football, it would not even have thought of staging a tournament in the Qatari summer. If it cared about footballers, it would take up the case of Belounis. And if it respected human life, it would say that the kafala system could not govern World Cup contracts.

I don’t know how much longer sports journalists can ignore the abuse Fifa tolerates. The World Cup is overturning all the cliches. People say that “football is a matter of life or death”, said Bill Shankly. “It’s more important than that.” Shankly was joking. Qatar and Fifa appear to mean it. Sport is “war minus the shooting”, said Orwell. There may not be any actual shooting in Qatar but workers will die nonetheless.

The quote that ought to haunt all who love football is CLR James’s paraphrase of Kipling: “What do they know of cricket that only cricket know?” James was writing about how sport was bound up in the Caribbean with colonialism, race and class. Anyone writing about the World Cup must also acknowledge that the beautiful game is now bound up with racial privilege, exploitation and the deaths of men, who should not be forgotten so readily.

It’s horrifying.


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


Sep 22nd, 2013 11:25 am | By

This is an interesting test to take – it’s a shades of color discrimination test.

I like shades of color, especially among the reds and purples. I’m not great on the test though.

Update: link removed because of reports of malware.

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

It’s still Sunday morning here

Sep 22nd, 2013 10:44 am | By

So now that you’ve had time to rest after the first dog video here is the next one, dog wants a kitten.

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

You know the meat drawer, right?

Sep 22nd, 2013 9:23 am | By

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

“I order all your activity to immediately cease”

Sep 21st, 2013 5:13 pm | By

I got an email telling me to stop it at once! It’s a real gem. It’s from someone called Matt Wykoff. He tells me: I hereby declare- you to be – - an unlawful obstructionist. I order all those assembled to immediately disperse. I repeat- to immediately disperse. I order all your activity to immediately cease. I repeat-to immediately cease. It is not in accord with the ordinances of Canon Law. Due to your catalytic tendency of disseminating objectives adverse to Christendom – you are therefore ordered to discontinue your illegal profession. Failure to do so will result in proactive, responsive, and co-active measures. I judge, adjudge, adjudicate, deem, determine and declare your thoughts, words, actions, public or secret, and omissions, biological and spiritual property, subject to the Jurisdiction of the Unfathomable, Infinite, and Ineffable Excellence of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. Further, your humanist anachronism, obscurantism, absurdum, intent, mission, and schemes, are henceforth proscribed and condemned. You may be arrested and or subject to other police action!

It has so been declared: It is declared that all non-Catholic government exists in a state of inauthenticity. It is thenceforth declared that all modern constitutional states lack canonical legitimacy. It has therefore been thenceforth declared that their existence is an offense to the Divine Majesty and a crime against humanity. The aforesaid Freemasonic corporations are hereby declared anachronical to true human progress. It is decided in order for modern constitutional states to gain authenticity they must recognize the Supreme Jurisdiction of the Papacy and all Papal Dogmas. As a failure to do so will only inflame the Catholic against such blasphemous tyrannical backwards regimes. Lord God is due to make Visitation to such blighted and noxious governments and tyrannies. He will Visit the iniquities upon the infidels and the Anti-Church bigots. Terror will overtake the faces of the unwashed masses. These exquisite bigots against the Papacy will know that the Lord God Himself has done it. The infidel are richly fattened for such Visitation.

It is hereby determined. ‘Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra’. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. Libertarianism (and the constitution) are simply tyrannical failures and instruments that lead to false flag attacks and government-run pedophilia through their Manual (and Visual) Body-Cavity Searches of Juvenile Hall youth. A Catholic Monarchy simply is the answer to today’s varied and many problems. There is Absolutely No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church see

I like it. I like all the orders. I like the claim that I may be arrested, also that he lectures me about libertarianism and freemasonry. I like the passive voice with the complete lack of an agent – “It is declared” – Ya mean, “I say”? Matt Wykoff says, and I don’t listen.


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

Forgetting Pharbin Malik

Sep 21st, 2013 5:07 pm | By

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Forum remembers Pharbin Malik.

Pharbin Malik was sixteen years old when she died on a street in Birmingham, England, in 1989. She was killed by her father because she did not follow his religion anymore.

We could find no photograph of her anywhere online, or in newspaper archives.

It seems the world has forgotten her. And yet, her story reaches forward in time to touch raw and exposed nerves today.

Like there is no picture we can associate with her, so it is that we who leave Islam are somehow faceless, erased from history and kept hidden away.

The absence of her picture, and the silence accompanying her death, reflect the experiences of many of us who choose to leave Islam, and for that choice are forced to live in fear and silence.

Leaving Islam is the worst crime there is.

We hear the echoes of her story as they resonate in our own lives and in the lives countless apostates of Islam today.

The stigma surrounding apostasy, leaving Islam and openly saying so, is difficult to understand for people who have never had to face these taboos.

Apostates are seen in Islamic canon as sub-human, as the lowest of the low. When an Islamic extremist wants to threaten a Muslim they often carry outtakfir, a pronouncement that their rival is no longer a Muslim, and is thus deserving of punishment and violence, and even death.

The taboo against leaving Islam and the ever present fear and threat of violence deny people the most basic right of free conscience. Because of the fear of being labelled an apostate, criticism of Islam is stifled from within Muslim families and communities, leading to the oppression of individuals, and the suppression of dissent and questioning within Islam.

We ask people to remember the stigma faced by ExMuslims, and the intimidation, ostracism, violence and death threats that so often pressure ExMuslims to remain silent and ‘closeted’.

Stand with them. Remember them. Help them when you can.

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

Forget Roswell, it’s Goldsboro that’s the problem

Sep 21st, 2013 3:13 pm | By

You know that thing where you knock a bowl of soup off the counter with your elbow? The US Air Force almost did a larger version of that in 1961, when it accidentally knocked a couple of hydrogen bombs onto North Carolina. Oops, what a mess, and that was my favorite bowl.

A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

Oh gee. That would have been bad.

Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York city – putting millions of lives at risk.

Watch the elbows.

The document was uncovered by Schlosser as part of his research intohis new book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control. Using freedom of information, he discovered that at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone.

“The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy,” he said. “We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here’s one that very nearly did.”

Never mind, it’s totally worth it for the chance of wiping out all mammalian life on the planet.

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

Selective murder

Sep 21st, 2013 2:58 pm | By

Al-Shabaab has killed at least 30 people at a shopping mall in Nairobi.

Somalia’s militant group al-Shabaab is claiming responsibility for the attack on a Nairobi mall on Saturday that has killed at least 30 people, saying it was retribution for Kenyan forces’ 2011 push into Somalia. The group threatened more attacks.

Al-Shabaab, on its Twitter feed, said that it has many times warned Kenya‘s government that failure to remove its forces from Somalia “would have severe consequences”. The group claimed that its gunmen had killed 100 people, but its claims are frequently exaggerated.

“The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders,” al-Shabaab said. Another tweet said: “For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it’s time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land #Westgate.”

They were nice about it though. They did their best to exempt Muslims.

The gunmen told hostages that non-Muslims would be targeted, said Elijah Kamau, who was at the mall at the time of the midday attack.

“The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted,” he said.


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

Not whether but what kind

Sep 21st, 2013 11:51 am | By

So, you can’t have a state of no groups, no criteria, no filters, no beliefs, no commitments, no ideas. Or, you can, maybe, but then you’re a boring empty zero who does no good in the world of any kind; what’s the point of that?

It’s no good aiming for a state of zeroness, and it’s no good pretending to do that while actually just treating your own beliefs as if they were magically not beliefs.

The issue isn’t beliefs or no beliefs, commitments or no commitments. The issue is which ones.

If atheism is going to define itself as being necessarily assholish and anti-feminist and “politically incorrect” then Ima have to say fuck atheism, I’ll be an atheist humanist instead. I’m already a de facto atheist humanist, I suppose, but I haven’t identified as a humanist for various reasons to do with precision and history and not having gone to Harvard. But if atheist is going to start meaning abrasive dudebro harasser, then I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

I hope atheism doesn’t define itself that way though. I hope atheism can manage to remember that if it gains a whole lot of braying bullying jerks while it loses a whole lot of people who don’t like braying bullying jerks – it has made a bad bargain.

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

17 impossible things before lunch

Sep 21st, 2013 10:46 am | By

This is funny. There’s some kind of “group,” which in this case apparently means Twitter group, that calls itself ASH, for Atheism Secularism Humanism. There are real ASH groups in the UK; we’re familiar with the LSE, UCL and Reading Student Union branches, which do good work and get accused of “Islamophobia” for their pains. The Twitter group seems to be a different kind of thing.

One of their number, self-styled “capn atheist,” [aka Steve] wrote a post about abjuring all groupism and exclusivity.

Hey everyone!

By now you’ve probably noticed a big change in how ASH has changed.

From here on out, there is no actual group, or exclusivity. Anyone that supports the ideas of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism is welcome  to use a “Twibbon” to show their support for those ideas.

See the problem? Of course you do. The surprising thing would be not seeing it.

There is no group, no exclusivity, no filter. Anyone who supports X ideas is welcome.

That right there? That’s a contradiction. Flat out.

I think I know what captn’s mistake is. I think captn is thinking that the ideas captn likes and wants to base a group on are not a filter, not a source of exclusivity, not a criterion for being part of the group (despite actually spelling out that that is in fact the criterion for being part of the group), while ideas captn doesn’t like are a filter and a source of exclusivity.

Let’s see if that’s confirmed.

The change was spurned on by the entire debacle of the Atheism+/ BlockBot.

When a group forms like Atheism+ it can have a negative impact or a positive one.

The problem with any “group” is it’s exclusivity.  Not all people are included. The inherent problem with this has been demonstrated by the events of this past week, with the Atheism+BlockBot. This is a group that insists on it’s members adhering to a very stringent form of behavior.  Witnessing this has been a learning experience for myself and  many other people in the Atheist community on twitter.

Yes, that’s confirmed.

captn atheist seems not to realize that not all people are included in the ASH group either. Can I think of some people who aren’t included in the ASH group? Yes I can. Theists, theocrats, people who hate the values of humanism. Which is interesting, because some of those values are feminism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia and the like. Atheism+ values in short – the ones captn atheist opposes and considers “very stringent.” I think ASH should be calling itself AS instead; I don’t think it’s a humanist group. Atheism+, on the other hand, as many humanists have pointed out, is basically just another word for [atheist] humanism. How dare captn atheist hijack the word “humanism”!

It is because of this that ASH has now become what it really has always been, an affiliation of like minded people that support what the 3 letters of ASH stand for: Atheism Secularism and Humanism.

Can you explain how an affiliation of like-minded people can possibly not be exclusive? I certainly can’t. An affiliation of like-minded people is exclusive by definition – it excludes people who are not like-minded.

captn atheist wants to eat his cake and have it. He wants to add to the noisy chorus of people talking shit about Atheism+ while still keeping his own favored brand of groupism and exclusivity.

If you support the ideas that ASH represents you can chose to support them as you wish.

The ASH Twibbon has been created to allow all those interested in showing their support of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism, a means to show it on their Avatar. It’s important to make the distinction that the Twibbon supports ideas we share,  and not a group mentality.

Oh really? And how do they plan to do that? How do they plan to unite around ideas they share while avoiding any possible risk of “a group mentality”? How is it not in any way a symptom of a group mentality to have a “Twibbon” that shows support of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism?

Previously, ASH (the group) had guidelines. Those guidelines have been eliminated in favor of NO limitations on anyone’s natural individuality.

From here on out…ASH is about what those letters mean. Atheism Secularism and Humanism nothing more or less.

How is that not a set of  limitations on anyone’s natural individuality? Many people’s individuality is closely tied up with religion, so of course an atheist group entails limitations on anyone’s natural individuality.

It’s all a very blatant example of self-serving bias. MY limitations are good limitations therefore they’re not limitations at all; THEIR limitations are evil and bad, therefore they’re the most limiting limitations ever.

We are all individuals that share common interests. No “group” is needed, no “guidelines” are needed, the only thing that’s needed is your sincerity in helping to support these ideals.

That’s a limitation on my identity. What if I despise sincerity and love tricksterism, irony, performance, creative fantasy? And then, if we share common interests, then we don’t share non-common interests, so that’s another limitation on my identity, as is being asked to support these ideals at the price of different ideals.

You can’t have something and nothing at the same time. You can’t have a cause without having a cause. You can’t abjure one particular cause while embracing another and pretend that’s a rejection of all causes.

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

Wear the bag

Sep 20th, 2013 2:28 pm | By

Keep in mind it’s the Telegraph, but still – the aforementioned Telegraph reports that “Islamic schools” (I think Maryam would say that should be Islamist, not Islamic) in London mandate the burqa for girls.

A number of the religious schools enforce uniform policies where such clothing is mandatory, even for girls as young as 11.

Under the dress code stipulated by the Madani Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, East London, all pupils must wear a black burka and long black coat when outside.

The girls must also wear headscarves in the classroom and the school says on its website that its uniform rule “conforms to the Islamic Code of dressing and must be adhered to at all times”.

What “Islamic Code of dressing”? That’s not a thing. That’s why those schools should be called Islamist not Islamic. It is far from being the case that all Muslims or all “Muslim scholars” or all anything except Islamists agree that all girls and women should be buried and muffled in fabric whenever they are in public.

The Ayesha Siddiqa Girls School, in Southall, West London, insists its pupils wear a navy blue burka or Jilbab, a long, loose-fitting garment that does not cover the face, when walking between lessons, The Times reported.

According to the school’s website, it is “not willing to compromise on any issues regarding uniform”.

That’s not “uniform” as normally understood. It’s blatant unapologetic oppression of girls and women.

Via Taslima.

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

One more Bjarte cartoon

Sep 20th, 2013 1:51 pm | By

From the archive.

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

Cleric tries to tell woman how to dress

Sep 20th, 2013 11:21 am | By

And it doesn’t go well for him.

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

Not an environment where they are making free choices

Sep 20th, 2013 10:22 am | By

In news that surprised no one, a woman charged that inmates at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre are sexually harassed by guards.

A former detainee at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre has alleged that women held there have been subjected to unwanted sexual advances and abuse by security guards and other officials.

Testimony seen by the Observer and now with police, “Tanja”, a 23-year-old Roma woman released from Yarl’s Wood last March, describes having had sexual contact with three male guards. Tanja – not her real name – said attempts were made to deport her within days of her informing Yarl’s Wood’s management of the incidents. She also claims one security guard had inappropriate relations with at least four women.

The claims raise fresh questions over the treatment of vulnerable women at the Bedfordshire site, which is Britain’s largest immigration removal centre for women and can house up to 400 people. Sources at Yarl’s Wood say that more cases are likely to come to light following Tanja’s testimony, as women have been too fearful to come forward until now.

The next day the Guardian reported that the police have launched an investigation.

Harriet Wistrich of the law firm Birnberg Peirce urged the government to investigate and said consent could be an issue in the matter. Wistrich said the alleged case revealed by the Observer, involving a Roma woman who was released from the centre last March, was not an isolated one.

“The government needs to look at what the hell is going on at Yarl’s Wood, that this could happen in such a widespread abuse,” she said. “It’s not a one-off. They need to investigate the whole system there, because it has not worked.”

She said the issue was whether individuals being detained at the centre were capable of giving consent, adding: “The problem is that it is not an environment where they are making free choices at all … If an officer conducts himself way outside the permitted rules of behaviour, that may amount to another offence of misconduct in public office, whether it was consensual or not, even if it is not an assault.

“This is precisely the kind of case the government says they are gong to remove legal aid from. It is a classic example of the government saying they are saving money but actually, they’re removing challenges to the abuse of state powers.”

There’s a petition circulated by the Movement for Justice calling for a public inquiry.

H/t David.



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

A personal act of worship

Sep 20th, 2013 9:54 am | By

The Independent gets a woman who wears the niqab to explain to the benighted rest of us why she’s so right and right-on and good for doing so.

The common impression that many people have about those that wear the niqab is that we are oppressed, uneducated, passive, kept behind closed doors and not integrated within British society.

So you know what’s coming next. She’s none of those things; she’s the opposite of all of them. Therefore the niqab is great.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a proud Welsh and British citizen, a molecular geneticist by profession and an activist in my spare time.

An activist? An activist for what? Not feminism, I assume. “An activist” isn’t some automatic badge of virtue. Activists can be activists for fascism, for lower taxes for the rich, for forced pregnancy, for theocracy – for anything. Maybe she’s an activist for the niqab, or Islamism, or sharia. Maybe she’s an activist against secularism, or human rights, or abortion rights.

I have formerly been elected as the Wales Chairperson of a national Muslim student organisation and held other leadership roles including working with bodies such as the National Union of Students.

Ah that kind of activist. Well quite. She’s an Islamist and she wears the niqab. Yes we knew that – we knew there are Islamist women.

I wear the niqab as a personal act of worship, and I deeply believe that it brings me closer to God, the Creator.

Ok that’s the part that all this was leading up to. Wut? She believes wearing a mask over her face brings her closer to “the Creator”? Why? If “the Creator” didn’t want women’s faces to be visible, why didn’t it just design women accordingly? Without faces, for instance? Why would concealing a part of one’s body bring one closer to the entity that is supposed to have created that very body?

It’s a dopy idea. She tries to make it less dopy in the usual way, by saying she “deeply believes” it – but that just backfires with people who have learned to be even more suspicious when people start babbling about what they “deeply believe.”

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

“The trophies of the feminist agenda”

Sep 19th, 2013 6:06 pm | By

And now for a visit to the WorshipFamily crowd. This time it’s a site called Fix the Family, whose subject and theme and purpose and enthusiasm seems to be loathing of feminism. But don’t be confused! This is not the slime pitter, Twitter harasser, Thunderfoot, call them all cunts brand of feminism-loathing. It’s the other kind. The family values kind.

It offers reasons not to send your daughter to college. (I guess daughters aren’t allowed to read it, and neither are people who don’t have daughters.)

Probably the most controversial and rejected position we have at Fix the Family is that parents should not send their daughters to college.  It is even more vehemently opposed than the submission of wives to their husbands.  Both of these positions we have are a threat to the trophies of the feminist agenda, so the rejection we receive is always emotionally charged and ends up insulting, since once explained logically, the opposition runs out of substance and is only left to hurl insults and presume and misconstrue this practical wisdom into some chauvinistic evil.  But to distinguish these 2 issues, we are NOT saying that sending a girl to college or women working is a sin.  But after looking at the issues we raise, we would challenge anyone to convince us that college for girls is not a near occasion of sin.

Of course it is. At college they might learn to think critically, to ask questions, to reject bad stupid answers.

She will be in a near occasion of sin.  Just think of the environment that college-age students live in.  You have a heavy concentration of young people all living together without the supervision of parents at the most sexually charged state of life they will experience.  How can one expect that anyone would be able to avoid these temptations, even on a Catholic college campus much less a secular one?  So if it is unnecessary for one to be in a near occasion of sin, is it prudent to willingly put oneself there?

Oh that kind of sin. He just means sex. God what a claustrophobic little mind.

She will not learn to be a wife and mother.  Nothing that is taught in a college curriculum is geared toward domestic homemaking.  On the contrary, it is training in a very masculine role of a professional career.  So there becomes a severe inner conflict in a woman when she starts trying to be a homemaker and juggle a career alongside it.  Often when a career woman discerns the possibility of giving up her career, she faces the reality that she has had no training in homemaking and often has the thought “What would I do at home all day.”  Stay-at-home mothers are actually very busy industrious women and do absolutely beautiful marvelous things.

You like them so much, you do them.

It must be popular thought – there are nearly five thousand comments there. Yeesh. The good news is, lots are hostile.

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

Another Bjarte toon

Sep 19th, 2013 5:28 pm | By

Bjarte Foshaug that is.

Embedded image permalink

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

The loneliness of the Malcolm Gladwell scholar

Sep 19th, 2013 5:11 pm | By

The Onion reports on a guy who’s just too intelligent for the women he dates.

MILWAUKEE—Describing his mind as both “a blessing and a curse,” local man Benjamin Walker, 27, told reporters Thursday that his intellect was probably just too intimidating for most women to engage with romantically.

“I’m a very, very smart guy, and I guess most women are pretty scared off by that, you know?” said Walker, confirming that women often seem extremely uncomfortable and agitated around him, most likely because of how cultured and well-read he is. “After I’ve been speaking to a girl for just a few minutes, she’ll usually start to get this look in her eyes like she wants to bolt and I can just tell that she’s feeling so intellectually inferior that it’s impossible for her to continue with the conversation.”

Poor thing. She probably just wants to talk about shoes or weddings or kittens.

According to the Milwaukee resident, whenever he is talking to a young woman and begins to expound at length on one of the many topics he is well versed in—such as Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers or the British graffiti artist Banksy—she begins to appear highly overwhelmed by his mental capacity and quickly grows visibly restless and distant.

The 27-year-old, who graduated from Syracuse University in 2007, told reporters that he subscribes to The New Yorker magazine and keeps up with the news on a daily basis—all facts that Walker said seem to persistently leave the opposite sex speechless when he inserts them into conversation.

Ultimately, however, Walker said there was only so much he could do to lower his cognitive standards to another’s level.

“Recently, for example, I talked to this girl at a bar for half an hour about Radiohead—quoting lyrics and telling her about how the band went in a new musical direction with [their 2000 album]Kid A—you know, really making it easy for her to understand,” Walker said. “Things were going great, and I was saying a lot of very interesting stuff, but when I tried to call her a few days later, she never picked up or returned my calls.”

He now lives full-time on Twitter and has become much more resigned to his fate.

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

Speak up, secularists

Sep 19th, 2013 11:29 am | By

Abhishek Phadnis considers the silence of secularists in the face of the left-Islamist alliance.

Radical Islam mines a rich seam of support in the British radical Left, nowhere more so than in our universities. In light of the Birmingham reversal, it may be instructive to take stock of the role of this unholy alliance in other recent events in British academia (of which I present a small selection) and what this implies for those of us who seek to keep this space secular.

In March, attendees were evicted from a debate at University College London for defying the gender-segregation imposed by the Islamist organisers, after the forewarned UCL issued glib assurances that there would be no segregation and did absolutely nothing to back them up. Two weeks later, the LSE Students’ Union twinned itself with the Islamic University of Gaza, which has been described as “the brains trust and engine room of Hamas”.

This time last year, the atheists of Reading University were evicted from their Freshers’ Fayre by the Labour-controlled Union for hosting a pineapple named ‘Mohammed’. Likewise, my own society has faced systematic harassment from the LSESU for refusing to genuflect to Islam, particularly since the Union’s 2012 thought-crime resolution banning “Islamophobia” (inter alia “hatred or fear of Islam…or Islamic culture” and “attacking the Quran as a manual of hatred”).

We have repeatedly been forced to take down cartoons from our private Facebook page, following anonymous complaints. We have also been arbitrarily thwarted in our attempts to better signpost ourselves for Islamic apostates (a heroic and persecuted ‘black’ minority that receives indifferent treatment from the Black Students’ Campaign) by incorporating “ex-Muslim” into the society’s name. Our latest proposal was rejected on the grounds that it ‘jeopardised the safety of ex-Muslims’, which came as news to the ex-Muslim organisations on whose recommendation we’d sought the change.

It’s a terrible, pathetic situation.

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

Leo Igwe on The Story

Sep 19th, 2013 11:14 am | By

This is exciting. A few weeks ago I got an email from a producer at National Public Radio’s The Story; she wanted to be put in touch with Leo Igwe. And so -


Leo on NPR’s The Story.

When Leo Igwe was a child living in Nigeria, he saw his father beaten after being accused of witchcraft. Accusations of witch craft run rampant in many parts of western Africa, and Igwe has made it his life’s work to bring attention to the problem. Many of those accused of witchcraft find refuge in “Witch Camps,” which offer safety after an accused individual has been ousted from a community. Igwe has visited camps in Nigeria and northern Ghana and tells host Dick Gordon what life is like inside them.

This is great, because it will inevitably get Leo more support for his work.


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