Humanist Views: Canada and Humanism

Last night, I taped an episode of Humanist Views with Scott Lohman of Humanists of Minnesota.

I haven’t had a chance to re-watch it and see exactly how I present on this program — I’m sure there are verbal missteps in there, and I just hope I didn’t say anything egregiously offensive to anyone. I do know that the lights were very warm and very bright, and I got the very distinct sense that my thin head fuzz wasn’t enough to keep it from being reflective. I did check to see that voices and movement aligns later in the re-encode, so at least it should be watchable. I think I turned on automatic closed captioning (I’m a Youtoob noob), so that’ll be a fun reason to re-watch it later.

Humanist Views’ opening sequence is very hilariously 90s, but that just makes ’em all the more charming to me.

Mock The Movie: Atlas Shrugged part 1

We did it. We went there. This past Wednesday, we girded our loins for battle and took on quite possibly the dullest, most cynical, most breathtakingly stupefyingly successful movie adaptations of Ayn Rand’s oeuvre ever created — by which I mean, it made $4.6 million gross despite a cost of $20 million. And that despite its complete lack of real special effects outside of a magical train, its obvious use of hotel ballrooms and stock footage and public domain music, its series of second-string actors. This was a movie that felt like it was made on the cheap, and it did miserably. But insofar as it was actually made into a movie, it was actually made into a movie, surprising the living fuck outta us all.

But the selfish quarter of our society really loved it, for all the same reasons as they loved the book — its putting unfettered capitalism and self-interest on a pedestal as the only way to create good in this world, its unabashed damning of straw-socialism, and its dystopian message that society would crumble if the number-pushers stopped pushing numbers because everyone below them is just lazy parasites.

You know, FICTION.

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New South Wales officially recognizes “Gender X”

No longer must you be registered as a man or woman in the registry of births, deaths and marriages in New South Wales. Thanks to the efforts of Norrie, the self-proclaimed “odd bod” who lives as gender-neuter and who underwent sex affirmation surgery, the NSW Court of Appeal officially recognized the existence of intersex and non-binary genders for the first time.

What was at first a small victory for Norrie alone when xe* was issued the first ever official government card marked “gender not specified”, but became a personal heartbreak when the media picked it up and the government reversed its previous decision claiming the card was “issued in error”, has become the law of the land** after its second reversal by the Court of Appeal:

It overturned a ruling that everyone must be registered as a man or a woman with the registry of births, deaths and marriages. Previously this right was restricted to passports.

It is also likely to be drawn upon as a guide for cases interstate.

”This is the first decision that recognises that ‘sex’ is not binary – it is not only ‘male’ or ‘female’ – and that we should have recognition of that in the law and in our legal documents,” said Emily Christie, one of Norrie’s solicitors, from DLA Piper.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Hugh de Kretser said the court’s decision would be ”persuasive” in legal disputes in other states. ”Agencies, non-government organisations will be looking to apply this more broadly than just in NSW,” he said.

This is fantastic and heartening news. If only all governments, federal and local, would take this as a cue and make this simple, unobtrusive change in their data collection methods. Sex is not binary. Gender is not binary. Treating it as such devalues the lived experience of these people who are not so easily pigeonholed.

Hat tip to Ronja Addams-Moring via Facebook.

* (pronoun preference not specified — I’m making a guess.)

** New South Wales is a state of Australia, and this law does not extend through the whole land. Yet.

WaPo: Homegrown radicals opposed “US actions in the Muslim world”. See what they did there?

I have hardly had any time lately to blog (or much of anything leisure-related, honestly), but I’ve been trying to keep an eye on how the media’s been reporting on the Boston Marathon bombing. With Glenn Beck and the rest of the right-wing desperate to make this bombing about Islam, to fuel the rampant anti-Muslim racism in the States presently, this particular news article jumped at me as just a little too blatant about drawing links that aren’t there. It takes some ridiculous contortions to make the Boston bombing suspects’ actions have anything whatsoever to do with Islam, and the Washington Post was more than willing to pretzel themselves in an article purporting to explain how the brothers are essentially home-grown domestic terrorists with non-existent ties to outside influence.

The wording here is just too precious:

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.

Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were “self-radicalized” through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.

Emphasis mine.

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Transgender rights bill passes in Canada!

Back on March 20th, despite the Tories’ attempts at kicking the can down the road, NDP, Liberals and a whopping 15 Conservatives passed the controversial transgender rights bill in the House of Commons, making assault on a transgender person a hate crime, and protecting trans* folk against discrimination.

I hate having to say “the controversial” in this case, but as usual, it’s controversial because Conservatives don’t want to pass anything making it any less acceptable to attack anyone who isn’t a straight white cis-gendered males in this world. Making it illegal to discriminate against a trans* person, in the same way as it’s illegal to discriminate against any other non-ciswhitestraightmales, well, would simply be a bridge too far to most of them. So they’ve been fighting it with the rhetoric that it would allow sexual predators to assault women in bathrooms by pretending to be transgender. They’ve honestly smeared it throughout the media and throughout the political discourse as “The Bathroom Bill”.

Yeah, it makes about as little sense as it sounds.
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Anonymous hacks over Aaron Swartz’s death

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t advocate black-hat actions pretty much ever, even simple defacement. But the government’s pursuit of Aaron Swartz is one of those undeniably disproportionate responses to an internet activist for the crime of downloading too many PDFs at the same time. WITH AUTHORIZATION, no less.

What happened here, Anonymous hacking the USSC website to express their outrage at that travesty of justice — I’m fairly sympathetic to that cause. While it had already raised a public outcry, it certainly didn’t get enough of an outcry for the severity of the injustice perpetrated.

The Anonymous video, with text-to-speech of the USSC hack:

The most fascinating part of this is the “warhead” they included in the hack — links to an AES256 encrypted set of files with the names of the Chief Justices of the US as the filename. The files are intended to be spliced together — and Anonymous gave the command to do it, but also included “delete everything on your hard drive” at the end of the command in case you’re one of those types to blindly copy/paste commands into your command line.

The “warhead” will be “set off” by Anonymous releasing the decryption key for the encrypted file. Speculation abounds at what is in them, but Anonymous’ hack says:

The contents are various and we won’t ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public. At a regular interval commencing today, we will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents of the file. Any media outlets wishing to be eligible for this program must include within their reporting a means of secure communications.

Of course they won’t want to ruin speculation. That’s how things like this go viral.

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Sadie’s Dream for the World

An eleven-year-old transgender girl named Sadie has written an essay in response to Obama’s recent speech on his inauguration day to remind the President that there are some social justice causes that are being left by the wayside, even as he’s the first president to openly acknowledge the gay rights fight with a specific nod to the Stonewall uprising.

The world would be a better place if everyone had the right to be themselves, including people who have a creative gender identity and expression. Transgender people are not allowed the freedom to do things everyone else does, like go to the doctor, go to school, get a job, and even make friends.

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“Who wrote THAT? Are you kidding me?”

When even FOX News personalities scoff at the headlines they’re forced to read, you know there’s a problem with the network. At least pretty well everyone present guffawed heartily at the assertion that the Constitutional Law Professor-In-Chief doesn’t believe in the Constitution. I’m guessing because there’s an amendment to the constitution that forbids sensible regulations applied to your civilian militia? As though the 2nd Amendment was so hard to interpret!


And that’s not to mention the mockery of Te’o at the beginning of the clip.

Via Media Matters.

Alex Jones rants about a NWO trying to take away his guns

Alex Jones’ unhinged rant on Piers Morgan’s show, where the interviewer got maybe one question answered out of the three he managed to ask, tells me why I got a comment the other day demanding the rounding up and burning of antidepressants. There is now apparently a parallel narrative forming where antidepressants are responsible for mental instability, and that, combined with video games, induces people to obtain high-volume weaponry and commit mass-murder. And any attempt at taking away guns, instead of video games and antidepressants, is an attempt at creating a totalitarian single world government.

“You’re a hatchet man of the New World Order.” Someone please tell me how many guns Alex Jones owns. Actually, no, don’t. I’d be terribly frightened to know.
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