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Apr 16 2014

She’s down, kick her some more

Another piece of annoying waffle about Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Brandeis, this one in The New Republic. Isaac Chotiner muddles it from the beginning:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the outspoken (this is almost a euphemism) Somali-Dutch opponent of Islam, was recently offered an honorary degree by Brandeis University. The school, which apparently only recently became acquainted with some of her comments about the Islamic faith, decided to revoke the offer of the honorary degree and instead invite her to campus for a dialogue.

No. It wasn’t “we want to switch the honorary degree to a dialogue.” Brandeis revoked the award (it wasn’t an offer at that point, because Hirsi Ali had accepted), period. It also said she was welcome to come along and have a discussion, but that was just a face-saving bit of bullshit. It was not an exchange or an alteration or anything else “normal”; it was an insult followed by an insulting sop. Imagine a friend inviting you to dinner and after you’ve accepted with thanks, calling up to say “I’ve changed my mind, you can’t come to dinner. You’re welcome to drop in sometime for coffee though.” See? The sop doesn’t make the insult less insulting; it actually makes it that little bit more so. It also isn’t any kind of normal substitution. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 16 2014

They don’t believe in fictional gods

This could happen to anyone.

On March 14, 2013, a 63-year-old atheist writer named Aleksandr Kharlamov was arrested in his hometown of Ridder in the east region of Kazakhstan and tried under the country’s Criminal Code Article 164 on charges of “inciting religious hatred” for articles he wrote criticizing religion. According to Forum 18 News Service based in Oslo, Norway, Kharlamov’s sentence included a month of enforced psychiatric detention and five months in prison. During that time Kharlamov lost 44 pounds.

An atheist writer. I’m an atheist writer. I’m trying to imagine being arrested and imprisoned for that.

[T]he American Humanist Association connected with Kharlamov and supported his legal efforts with a $2,000 donation as part of its increased work to defend the rights of nonbelievers abroad. Kharlamov took time to answer a few questions for TheHumanist.com (translated from Russian): Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 16 2014

Dial it down, North Dakota

North Dakota went a little too far, a judge has ruled.

A federal judge has struck down a North Dakota law banning abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, calling the law “invalid and unconstitutional.”

The law, passed by lawmakers in the state just over a year ago, bans abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy and is considered the most restrictive in the country.

Another loss for the “it’s not your body any more, IT’S THE BABY’S” crowd. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 16 2014

When do we get to give informed consent?

Miri is angry. She’s right to be angry. What’s she angry about? People who don’t know jack shit about psychology making pronouncements about psychology, especially aggressive personal “you don’t have that you liar!!” type pronouncements.

Apparently a bunch of Skeptics™ don’t know what posttraumatic stress disorder is, but insist on lecturing those diagnosed with it (or those who have studied it) without ever bothering to educate themselves about the disorder, its symptoms, and its etiology. Because nothing says skepticism quite like blathering on about what you have no evidence for! Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 16 2014

More from Father Gearoid

After Gearoid O Donchu says he would do nothing different as a result of hearing the confession, so he would let the people who drank the poisoned wine after him drink it and die.

Michael responded [5:40]

I think anybody listening to this will understand that that is a deeply immoral position – that on the basis of what you believe the creator of the universe is saying to you that you would allow another innocent priest to die by drinking altar wine that you are knowingly leaving there that’s poisoned – or more seriously, because it’s an actual case that we’re talking about, you would leave vulnerable children to be raped on the basis of not giving information that you know that could protect those children from being raped – it’s absolutely shocking and it shows that religion corrupts our natural sense of morality. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 16 2014

Florida leads the way

It’s not just Oklahoma. Florida passed a bill last year barring local governments from enacting mandatory paid sick time laws. The Orlando Sentinel reported on June 14:

Florida Gov. Rick Scottdidn’t waste much time in signing a bill Friday that would block local governments from enacting mandatory paid sick time measures, such as the one pending in Orange County.

The Republican governor sided with Walt Disney World, Darden Restaurants, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a broad array of powerful business interests who argued the ban was needed to avoid a patchwork of local employment rules for companies. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 15 2014

Guest post on “you got politics in my programming”

Originally a comment by DrMcCoy on When openness is taken as an absolute.

as few as 1.5% of open source programmers are women [...] chauvinism, assumptions of inferiority, and outrageous examples of impropriety (including sexual harassment at conferences where programmers gather) to a lack of women mentors and role models

A shame. really. :/

This is why I’m glad at least GNOME’s Outreach Program for Women exists. There should be more programs like that, though.

But the outcry on reddit and Phoronix when it was announced that the GNOME Foundation had a temporary cash flow problem. People yelling that the GNOME Foundation was wasting their money on that “useless” program and how they’re using donations to push their political agenda. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 15 2014

That’s absolutely shocking

Michael Nugent and a priest, Gearoid O Donchu, on RTE’s Liveline with Joe Duffy talking about whether priests should report child rapists whose rapes they learn of via the confessional. Michael starts briskly with

It’s one of these things where the Catholic church thinks their own internal rules trump the law of the land.

They go on to discuss a hypothetical in which X tells a priest in the confessional that X has poisoned the communion wine. The priests says shocking things, and Michael says how shocking they are and what this shows about the way religion corrupts morality.

It’s great stuff!

Apr 15 2014

Only male lecturers are assigned

More gender segregation at universities and colleges, this time in Israel. (Sorry about that site – it sticks a share button on the margin where it blocks some of the text and you can’t move either the button or the text. Top notch design, there, Al-Monitor.)

Israel is trying to get more ultra-Orthodox to do some work besides poring over the Talmud, but there are complications.

The Council for Higher Education (CHE) reported to the Knesset in February 2014 that many ultra-Orthodox men would like to study in the coming academic year. However, it seems that most will not do so, because they refuse to study in institutions where men and women sit together in classrooms. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 15 2014

When openness is taken as an absolute

Another piece about the (cough) unwelcoming atmosphere for women online. Astra Taylor makes the connection between the libertarian worldview of many techy types and the flourishing of misogyny.

Despite being held up as a paragon of political virtue, evidence suggests that as few as 1.5% of open source programmers are women, a number far lower than the computing profession as a whole. In response, analysts have blamed everything from chauvinism, assumptions of inferiority, and outrageous examples of impropriety (including sexual harassment at conferences where programmers gather) to a lack of women mentors and role models. Yet the advocates of open-source production continue to insist that their culture exemplifies a new and ethical social order ruled by principles of equality, inclusivity, freedom, and democracy.

Unfortunately, it turns out that openness, when taken as an absolute, actually aggravates the gender gap. Read the rest of this entry »

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