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Monthly Archive: August 2011

Aug 29 2011

The shape of things to come

I tend to be generally optimistic about progress in almost all areas of life. For example, I think we are making progress on important areas of social values. We have seen huge improvements in attitudes on race and gender and it is only a matter of a short time before equal rights for gays will …

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Aug 28 2011

How the US outsources torture

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill says that the US government and the CIA now use secret prisons in Mogadishu, Somalia to house and torture prisoners that they pick up in the rest of the world.

Aug 28 2011

What do atheists do in a crisis?

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, was brought on to some Fox news show to address this question in the context of hurricane Irene. His advice to everyone: Act like atheists and prepare, without wasting your time appealing to some deity to save you. In the process he showed up the host and one other …

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Aug 28 2011

Rabbi Yehuda Levin should get an R-rating

It looks like Judaism has its own share of anti-gay crazies who claim that there is a direct connection between earthquakes (like the one last week that touched DC) and homosexuality. That is the message from a rabbi named Yehuda Levin who quotes god saying in the Talmud thusly: “You have shaken your male member …

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Aug 27 2011

The obsession with gas prices

I have always been a little puzzled by the obsession in the US with the price of gas. From as long as I can remember, the price of gas has been reported regularly in the news, even when the prices were not fluctuating. NPR news reports on the national average of gas prices on a …

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Aug 26 2011

Dead pope’s blood to reduce crime?

Catholic theologians tend to be a pretty sophisticated bunch. How can they possibly reconcile themselves to their church when the Vatican does things like this? A vial containing the late pope John Paul II’s blood will soon be winging its way to Mexico in a bid to help bring down crimes rates in the largely …

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Aug 26 2011

Mythic hero films

When I was a teenager in Sri Lanka, there seemed to be a never-ending supply of adventure films involving bare-chested muscular heroes (usually played by body builder Steve Reeves) portraying mythic characters fighting evildoers and monsters. The films had titles like Goliath and the Barbarians, Ursus, Hercules, Hercules Unchained, and Hercules and the Three Bears …

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Aug 26 2011

When the US government takes advantage of Sharia law

Sharia law is a system of justice based on Islam as defined in that religion’s sacred texts. Like any system of justice based on religion, it is intolerant, cruel, obsessed with sex, and incompatible with our modern understanding of what makes for a humane society. For example, “Within Sharia law, there are a group of …

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Aug 25 2011

France taxes the rich

What is looked upon with horror in some circles in the US is viewed as perfectly reasonable in France. The French government is to impose an extra tax of 3% on annual income above 500,000 euros (£440,000; $721,000). It is part of a package of measures to try to cut the country’s deficit by 12bn …

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Aug 25 2011

What the Pledge of Allegiance is really doing

Having young children recite the Pledge of Allegiance always seemed to me to be a somewhat disturbing thing, smacking of childhood indoctrination, even leaving aside the ‘under god’ part. This video captures the problem with it. (Thanks to Fu Dayi)

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