Haterade – Diet version

T-Shirts have been used to offer right wing members of Neo-Nazi groups a way out. Let’s not kid ourselves here. The neo nazi and far right movement are pants on head crazy and dangerous. But like all groups I am sure they are just as dangerous to those who try to leave the fold.

People may join movements in their youth that they regret and cannot escape lest their erstwhile friends realise that and harm them. I think these T-shirts were an amazing way to offer help to those who may need it. Hopefully a few people would seek help.

Kudos to Exit – Deutschland whose work made this possible particularly to having the common sense to have tried to save those people. I know I would have done something to irritate and antagonise the far right rather than have the maturity to do this.

Well done on reducing the number of people who hate.

Roquefort

It is official, the Rock Beyond Belief event is going to take place with support from the US military. It’s good to see people finally accept that there are military atheists and that the overt bias towards christianity in the US army has negative consequences.

However, you do see a lot of little niggling things. Rock Beyond Belief is also an open event, anyone is welcome to come. However it is catered solely to an atheist crowd rather than a christian one. I expect what christians consider to be blasphemy to be common in the RBB event list. The chaplain in this doesn’t see an issue with how easily the army let evangelicals throw a party while atheists were forced to literally fight every step of the way to do something as simple as throw a party where one of the smallest belief minorities in the world can get together to feel a little less alone.

There are many people with doubts about their faith, there are many people with no faith. I don’t think atheism is something we prosletyse. It’s hard to, you can only get atheism when you have doubts about your faith. If there are no doubts then nothing we say will change your mind, but there are people with doubts who wish to be free from the bondage of religion and for them we can offer support.

Sitting in a church or a mosque or a temple going through the motions doesn’t really help you, but most people in the world believe that they do. The few that don’t or have doubts are those who make up our ranks. Most people fear of coming out and saying what they are lest they be treated like this. The Fundie Christians will probably be there to irritate and harass people who attend it but who cares, the skeptics who attend will quickly learn that they aren’t alone.

It’s an open event, and yes many atheists are virulently anti faith and with good reason. We aren’t really treated that well by the religious and the religious do have a habit of doing things which are incredibly selfish and poorly thought out. They often conflate personal belief in something to a personal vendetta to ensure something occurs for everyone irrespective of what people think.

“There are no atheists in foxholes, that may be the case, but I see this as less of an argument against atheists and more of one against foxholes.”

I recently had the good luck to run into Sgt. Griffith (The Foxhole Atheist) on the facebooks. He has done so much for atheists in foxholes and indeed atheism as a group that this is a personal victory for him.

A hero is merely someone who does what needs doing when no one else is willing. Be it save a life, take a risk, give someone a hand or give up his own life… It isn’t faith or culture or anything that makes a hero, it’s his humanity. There is no hand of god, there is only love and empathy and all those chemical betrayals of emotion that drive us to do such amazing things.

And isn’t that more impressive than being compelled to do things by an invisible man? There is no difference in bravery between a man or a woman, between straight or gay and especially between faith and atheism. 

If You Don’t Stand for Something, you will Fall for Anything.

I disagree with Hirsi Ali on this one.

Islam is so many different levels of screwed up at this point. It’s a religion where debate is not encouraged. It’s followers are exhorted to be as blinded and as fanatical as possible. It is anti intellectual and anti social.

The nice friendly muslims are now a cultural minority. Imams up and down the Muslim world encourage theology as an acceptable substitute for common sense and the finest minds of the 6th Century AD dictate how people should live their lives. It would be like living your life according to the teachings of Pliny the Elder. Silly but people take the opinions written in the Koran seriously with deadly effect.

It is racist, sexist and incredibly Luddite as a faith and any liberals from it’s ranks toe the line beyond which lies blasphemy and apostasy. It encourages a frankly tribal mentality and prevents a lot of muslims from living a normal happy life.

It isn’t great, but does Hirsi Ali honestly think substituting one faith with another is going to change the lot of women in Islamic society?

Blasphemy and Apostasy in islam are punishable by “death”. Same as the bible as both draw their information from the same source. Many laws in the Koran are actually biblical laws. Sharia law is in fact “bible compatible” and kosher. The ex-muslims who convert out are actually writing out their own death sentences. Encouraging these women to give up their faith to come to christianity is to exchange one patriarchal faith for another albeit less patriarchal one but it still doesn’t change the fundamental problem in that these converts are now regarded as “fair game”. Hirsi Ali fails to realise that the issue isn’t what faith these women convert to but that they convert in the first place.

The horns are to indicate
that he is a scape goat.

Islam isn’t going to change over night, no religion has and no religion will. It’s a kind of culture and breaking culture will not occur in one fell swoop but by the sweat tears and efforts of millions. The voices of the lunatics are too loud and every perceived assault on the religion forces more moderates into silence. When we strike against an imam preaching hate or a cell of muslim terrorists we aren’t striking against hate or terror, we are seen as striking against muslims first. That attitude is pervasive in islam particularly in the more conservative parts of it. Muslims get defensive over their own faith and prefer to believe in conspiracy theories rather than accepting the problem of fundamentalism that they have on their hands because it is easier to believe that the Great Satan is responsible for all your problems rather than taking responsibility for problems and solving them.

It’s horrible, but we are not going to achieve equality for women in Islam right now. It will take decades to force the change and the only way the change can be forced is by muslims themselves standing up, accepting that there is a problem with the jihadi mentality and sharia law and making the change themselves. We will forever be outsiders in this issue and we can only support and call for change, not affect it ourselves.

The issue is that women are treated as property in Islam, women are regarded as incapable of doing anything and that their role is that of the brood mare and housewife rather than as equals. The other issue is that Islam treats reality as if it were a war. All the muslims (of the right sort) are on one side and everyone else is on the other side of the argument. Anyone who leaves is a target and anyone who does anything to disrupt the rules of Islam are seen as fair game. Be it two people who fall in love over passed notes or if someone says something that you disagree with.

What can we do? For starters, we need to enshrine secular rule in our laws. We need to stop pandering to all religion, Islam included. We shouldn’t treat the veil as a cultural choice and instead insist that it not be used. We should criticise all that is wrong with Islam and there is a lot of it. We should encourage moderates to criticise it as well. It’s not apostasy to state that “I think the Ayatollah’s crackdowns on democracy are inhumane and barbaric and we shouldn’t tolerate that” or that “Kashmiri militants aren’t fighting for freedom they are fighting for an Islamic state which would reduce the freedoms of non muslims, women and anyone not wanting to live in an islamic state” or “Hamaas are terrorists and not an appropriate solution to the Palestinian’s problem even if Israel are equally bad”. These are not dirty words, dissent is not dirty, its part of dealing with issues.

We need to create a voice for the moderate muslims to fight back against the crazies and we need to provide services to protect both men and women from the abuse. Simply encouraging these women to swap between gods will still place them in the firing line but with the added problem of creating hatred between christian and muslim faiths. Which is basically like arguing over whose invisible friend can win in the fight but people take both of their invisible friends seriously, serious enough to kill. It doesn’t improve the situation these women are in since they are still potential targets.

Yes, some people cannot live without their god, but a new one is not the answer. Christianity seems mild mannered because it’s been beaten into submission by feminism, science and humanists who realised how bad it was. Islam has not had that treatment, I am proposing we should start working on that by encouraging voices in Islam to speak for the moderates and to campaign for the liberalisation of Islam.

Atheists cannot make the change, we are universally unliked and often with good reason. We are ornery and don’t understand religion. We treat it like a joke and deride it at the drop of a hat. Other religions are seen as the enemy and so cannot effect change. Only muslims can through sweat, blood and through tears as I fear fundamentalist Islam and the tribal mentality of Islam has been given such a free reign that there will be a lot more blood and tears before this fight is done. As of now, the moderates are in the minority because they are quiet and not one will raise their voice because they don’t realise how many of them there are. No one is willing to lift their head and speak out lest it be struck off.

That is where blogs and the like can come in. The Greater Internet Theory may hold true in both ways. I wish to postulate the Lesser Internet The
ory.

Normal Person + Anonymity = Superhero
It’s so obvious!

A normal person with anonymity can affect change in a positive way as well. There are Muslim moderates, Muslim gays, lesbians and transgender and Ex-Muslim atheists all out there who don’t have voices so people assume they don’t exist. Their criticisms go unheard. All we hear is the same fundamentalists and luddite islamicists who are holding the moderates hostage and making them seem like the minority.

Anonymity will protect those moderates who have something to say. It will help protect ex-muslim atheists who wish to say something. Muslim GLBT can realise that there are others like them. It can make a movement out of nothing. And it can fight against all the the tragedy and fanaticism that pervade Islam ensuring the safety of it’s early campaigners and spreading the movement. Open bravery will get them killed, that much is known and asking good honest people to take that risk when I wouldn’t is foolishness. But they can be a little brave when no one knows who they are.

And do you think that unto such as you

A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew

God gave the secret, and denied it me?

Well, well-what matters it? Believe that, too!

Any muslims who do read this would heed these words carefully. They aren’t written by a christian or atheist or hindu, they are from the Rubiyaat of Omar Khayam. Ultimately there are no secrets in the Koran hidden away by your Imams nor does any solution lie in the christian priests or hindu brahmins. All you have is yourself and the humans around you, and isn’t that enough to be happy.

And remember, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. 

Rights of the Silent majority – Love is a Battlefield

Earlier, I wrote about women’s shelters in Afghanistan and how the funding for them was not regarded as important even for our own governments which state that they don’t have time to enshrine the rights of 50% of a population who existed as little more than slaves.. I wrote about the horrific abuses that women had to face, even showcasing examples of them who had tried to flee horrific abuse.

Here is another such case.

It’s simple, its Romeo and Juliet, only everyone knows and wants to kill them because of some stupid idea about honour. To sum it up, boy and girl fall in love through what appears to be the most persuasive of slipped notes and decide to get married. Everyone else has a hissy fit because they aren’t of the appropriate community and everyone knows the Montagues do not deal with the Capulets. There is no other reason for this but the idea of caste and that different communities do not mingle. It is incredibly tribal bullshit.

Killings of such romances occurs in a lot more literal way with the death of the couple. In this case the father and uncle of the girl go as far as openly threatening the girl with death while she is in jail, in full view of the law which cannot do anything to protect her.

Awwww!!!

And the ultimate joke is that their romance is just utterly childish. They are being threatened for behaviour that we would find incredibly cute. Asking a girl out by surreptitious note passing based on awkward feelings that came about from a glance is what 12 or 13 year olds do. They then go out for pizza and have grandiose ideas about romance and marriage that their relationship will last through all eternity and we nod and smile because we know better. We think it’s adorable and take them out for their awkwardly saved up McDonald’s Date (oh come now! I was 13 when I took a girl I liked for a Happy Meal! My aunt thought it was adorable that I saved up. The staff thought I was being a dick because I paid in pennies).

The article even points out that they fell in love over the ridiculously sappy romantic music that comes from Iran. If they had tape recorders they would be sending each other a tape of their favourite songs.

It’s not that its romantic or cute, but that it is a basic human right to marry another human of our choice. Not to be denied that because someone thinks along such tribal lines.

In Herat province there is JUST ONE women’s shelter, in a province with 1.5 million people in it. This single bulwark protects such couples from the wrath of the people. It is run by Voices of Woman, any support you can give will go a long way to protecting Afghani women.

Let something good come out of our invasion, let us work to enshrining women’s rights in Afghan law, not showing a lack of spine when it comes to 50% of the population.

This isn’t the first couple who have been threatened, it won’t be the last. The year before a couple were actually stoned to death for the crime of love. Let’s try and make that the last couple.

Write to your politicians, this isn’t something that we should let happen in a modern world. 

Don’t be a Dick

Morrissey says some tasteless things.

97 dead human beings do not equate to all the dead animals in KFC and McDonalds. I am sorry, but quite honestly this is one of the most tasteless things a human being could say. Oh yes, I am familiar with the flip flopping of Bill O’Reilley regarding the christianity of Anders Behring Breivik (the Norway Gunman) and the snide references by Glenn Beck about the similarity of a youth camp to Nazis and Hitler Youth while being completely oblivious to Tea Party youth camps. 

I am familiar with these fine upstanding individuals and their incredibly rigorous reporting of news and their honour, integrity and intelligence. What I don’t understand is why Morrissey should chose to join them in their frankly tasteless braying. 

Bill has to understand that every religion has crazy nutjobs and stating that he couldn’t be a true christian is failing to realise that there are some bloody tasteless parts of the bible that this man believed in. This is a christian terrorist, in much the same way that Osama Bin Laden was a islamic one. 

Glenn Beck is just a vile human being. He is an embarrassment to humankind and simply does not get basic human empathy choosing to push a political view at a time when people are devastated by death in a country that regards itself as peaceful.

Ultimately these two people did these things just because they share the same viewpoint as Mr. Anders and have routinely espoused similar views.

Morrissey elevates himself to the pantheon of arseholery solely due to not understanding human grief and suffering. He is in the Glenn Beck category of being an utter vile human being solely because he didn’t care about human life and the grief of people suffering a horrific attack. Instead he chose to push a political view about McDonalds and KFC and vegetarian/veganism.

It would have been fine if he retracted the statement or atleast showed some remorse. He didn’t. Morrissey does not live in a murderous world, he lives in an awesome one of money and privilege and fame. I understand that there are downsides to fame but frankly its a much better life than most of us get. A murderous world is Afghanistan not Manchester despite what the papers say. 

Haterade Two – Atheist Boogaloo

It says it all really. To any person of faith (American Christians especially) reading this, remember most of us are exactly the same as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or any other faith. It’s just that we chose to not believe in an entity we believe is non existent. It doesn’t change who we are, or our morality or anything beyond our belief. There are stupid atheists out there who say hurtful things, there are ones out there who are generally happy to be left alone until someone pokes them or does something silly.

Just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t make them evil.

Animal Liberation – Hello Anonymous



Hello Anonymous,


I am Avicenna and I am only one. It has come to my attention that you as a group have decided to side with the wrong side of the argument. See, I respected you and liked a lot of your work. I thought your campaign against Scientology was good. While I thought your campaign was faulty, I did see that you were standing up for the truth and for freedom with the whole Assange thing. I don’t think attacking Paypal was a sane thing to do though. However this… this is not good.


See the thing is most human beings don’t know how their food gets to their table. I am quite happy to kill animals for my food and infact understand that we do need animal protein to live a healthy life. People forget that in the west they live in a world of privilege far beyond what most of the world is capable of. Some people forget that they are more privileged than people around them. And you have fallen into that category.


I don’t challenge your knowledge of computing. It’s probably far superior to mine, I am competent enough to work things but not to hack Paypal or shut down the Westboro Baptist Church website. At best I can write a scathing letter. However I do expect people who state that they are smart to understand that their own comprehension has gaps in it. Particularly vis a vis the biology and medical aspects of animal testing. Perhaps in the same way I wouldn’t know what a DDOS attack is without wikipedia, you wouldn’t understand the reason why someone would blind and decapitate a cat solely to see visual centre development alterations in blinded and deafened cats. It’s a horrific mental image right? A scientist blinding new born kittens then guillotining them to see their brains rapidly before the brain structure and activity is lost. It lead to this piece of research.



If you want to hear what it’s like for an adult then look no further. 



And it gets better over time as well. The improvements made on the day of the implant keep increasing as your brain begins to get used to the new stimulus. Naomi’s hearing before (the young lady below) on the day of her activation is remarkable enough. 


Less than a year down the road a quiet deaf girl has been turned into this.




Anonymous, you should be ashamed of yourselves. We don’t experiment on animals because we are sadists, we do so because we have no other alternatives. Every single reduction of animal us
age, every single legislation and rule and ethical board was done not because of people like Camille Marino or indeed yourselves.

It was done because biologists and doctors figured ways to reduce the usage of animals. A great example is the Clear Blue pregnancy test. A simple stick you pee on. Prior to the invention of that test you actually needed to use a rabbit for the test killing it solely to know if a person was pregnant or not. It was incredibly expensive too, requiring a trained pathologist and a rabbit. Each test was nearly a 100 dollars a pop and took more than a day to do. The clear blue test produces results in under 10 minutes and is so easy that you can do it at home and so cheap that you can buy two tests for under $20. That is progress. And here’s the thing. It was developed using animal experimentation, not by eschewing it and simply throwing progress away.

Remember every single one of us in the west is a product of animal testing. From our pesticides (which have to be tested to be fair lest we have another DDT incident. And we do need pesticides lest you plan to starve) to our medicine and our procedures. We live such comfortable lives due to it, yet we don’t realise it. To you it’s an abomination because you aren’t sick or dying. Christopher Reeves was pro-life before his accident when his world view changed. Being paraplegic made him realise that he was arguing out of privilege prior to that. Likewise you are healthy, so you are arguing out of privilege since you don’t need medicine.

I am sorely disappointed in you Anonymous. Your page on YouTube lists the ever delightful Negotiation is Over, an animal liberation site whose activists shot to infamy a while ago when they called for attacks and the establishment of a culture of fear of death threats, bombs and arson aimed solely at students of biology and by extension medical students. The owner, Camille Marino has threatened to injure quadriplegics despite having claimed to be one (Either she is or was one) herself. 

“and, btw, if i were ever to meet a quadriplegic who would rather volunteer an innocent animal to suffer than volunteer themselves, i would personally throw them out of their wheelchair, kick their arroganct speciesist ass into the gutter, and film them as they lay there helpless in the sewers like the waste of humanity that they are.
then i would upload the video to nio and eat carrot chips with humus as i enjoyed watching them die a slow and torturous death over and over and over again.”

Do your research, you have thrown your lot in with hypocrites.

Of course, no one really changed anyone’s mind through internet arguments. I will not be supporting Anonymous as long as this stance continues.

Your’s Sincerely

Avicenna 

The Changing Face of HIV and AIDS

Click to see a Larger Image

It’s a stunning piece of information, simple and elegant enough to portray the fight against HIV/AIDS that we are facing.

It’s still a big problem, it’s not going to go away. All those numbers of people at the moment are still guaranteed to die. We need to change that.

If you can, please donate to charity. Even one person receiving ARV therapy is one person who gets to live. 

Centurion – It’s the hindu way or the highway.

Well I have hit 100 posts! And it coincides with Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri the education minister of a state in India saying things that indicate how off his rocker he really is. The Education Minister of Karnataka believes that they should force all children to read the bhagavad gita for an hour every day.

“The Bhagavad Gita is like the Sun. I think that it is the duty of every Indian to respect the Bhagvad Gita like they respect other elements surrounding them. I strongly feel that if someone does not respect it, they have no place in India. They should leave the country and settle abroad,”

The Gita is a book written by men, just like any other. It’s a remarkable story about morality particularly the value of duty, but ultimately it is just that. A story, much like the Aesop’s fables and or a Thousand and One arabian nights. You aren’t meant to take it seriously lest you turn into someone as close minded as Mr Kageri.
It also matches with some of the issues I have had. The idea is “if you complain then you should just leave”, its a terrible attitude that a lot of people seem to have. A lot of the attitude is that indians cannot do things that western nations do (bollocks!) or that western corruption (aka our love of  wine, women and song) are things fought of by rigid adherence to the old ways little realising that it hurts their own progress as a nation. Ideas are ideas, if they are good they should be adopted irrespective of the cultural background. Adopting the habit of queuing or the idea that marriages shouldn’t be forced upon your children doesn’t mean you should adopt america’s culture of firearms or the british culture of binge drinking.

India is a secular nation, it’s enshrined in the constitution, in much the same way as the USA has a separation of church and state clause (it’s actually inspired by it). This rant is rather illegal in that, but it shows a greater sickness.

India may have a secular constitution but politics is driven by demography. Caste and Religion rule everything behind the scenes. That antics like this can be  used to drum up support. Even opposition to this bill isn’t “Don’t force your religious belief on other people” it’s “Look! See how the ruling party’s mismanagement has caused such fanatics to come to power?”. Caste, creed and religion  are so intertwined in indian  politics that it is secular in name only.

[Thanks to all the readers for reading! I can't believe I have hit a 100 posts according to the blogger software dealie, now I shall aim for 200.]