Closing ranks

Adam Lee has a post about the obfuscations and denial about Michael Shermer by some Big Names (he more politely calls them prominent individuals) in atheoskepticism.

One is Randi, because of what he told Mark Oppenheimer – you know, that whole thing about how Shermer’s a naughty boy, and if there had been any actual violence then somebody would have done something, but as it is it’s just a matter of getting drunk and boys doing what boys do, but hey if he gets many more such reports he might possibly ask Shermer to show up less often. [Read more…]

Horror of the female

Prepare to be gut-wrenched.

Elana Sztokman was just in the US for a ten day book tour for the publication of her book, The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom. Then she got on the plane for the 11 hour trip back to Israel.

The plane took off 20 minutes late because an ultra-Orthodox man was negotiating with passengers so as not to have to sit next to a woman—me—on the 11-hour flight. [Read more…]

The more demeaning the commentary about women, the more popular it would be

Eric Michael Johnson, who writes the Primate Diaries column for Slate, takes a primatologist look at the culture of online misogyny. He starts with “the Fappening”: a 4chan gathering to celebrate the hacking of those celebrity naked photos.

While some reveled in a shared orgasmic intensity, others tried to be as descriptively misogynistic as possible, to the delight of lurking males. The more dehumanizing and demeaning the commentary about women, the more popular it would be, as demonstrated through the upvote feature on the website. [Read more…]

Rote learning

A madrassa in Kenya has been closed down.

The school in Machakos, about 65km (40 miles) from the capital, was targeted after local youths were detained on suspicion of joining Somali militants.

It is the first Kenyan madrassa to be closed because of allegedly extremist teachings. A police chief warned that others could follow.

Madrassas aren’t really “schools” in the normal sense, as I understand it. They train children to memorize the Koran in Arabic, whether or not they understand the language, and they don’t teach anything else. That’s not really a school.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told the BBC the decision had been taken to close the Daarul-Irashad centre, which opened in 1997, on the advice of the police’s CID, anti-terror and intelligence units.

The recent arrest in the Machakos area of 21 young men suspected of being recruited for al-Shabab first raised suspicions, he said.

The police then profiled suspects arrested in other terror crackdowns and found that others had passed through that madrassa, the spokesman said.

Memorizing a holy book isn’t an education.


More barley

A happy piece of news for a change. Three Irish students have won a global science research competition at the GoogleScience Fair 2014 in San Francisco. Also, they’re all girls. Girls, I tell you!

Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow from Kinsale Community School, Cork were named the grand prize winner in the 15 to 16-year-old age category for a project which examined the use of natural bacteria to increase crop output. [Read more…]

A great way to make a movement

So Katha’s article is online now, so I can point to it. She talked to me when she was working on it.

Here’s a great way to make a movement: have your most famous and powerful public figures obsess over Henry Higgins’s famous question, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Why aren’t they more into critical thinking, argument, logic? more rational? Why do they accuse a man of sexual harassment when he’s just trying to chat them up in an elevator at 4 in the morning? Why do they get drunk and then accuse men of rape? Then, having alienated a huge number of actual and potential members, to whom you sound arrogant, vain, sexist and clueless, look around and wonder, Gee, where are the women? They must be even less rational than we thought!

[Read more…]

More globality

The Secular “Global Institute” has added a new fellow. He’s in Australia, so that’s a huge boost for this absurd little institute’s claim to be “global” when it’s actually almost entirely American.

They’ve been filling out the website, too. There’s a Newsletter page, with news stories on it. One news story on that page is titled Roundup of Recent Activities, Honors, and Events of Our SGI Famous Team. Yes really; I’m not making it up; that’s actually the title.

We are pleased to report that many SGI Fellows and communicators have made the news and are engaged in spreading secularism to our growing non-religious brothers and sisters worldwide.

[Read more…]

Unethical and sleazy?

Now the anti-feminism faction in atheoskepticism is attacking Katha Pollitt. Who’s next? Barbara Ehrenreich? Rebecca Goldstein? Susan Jacoby?

The Nation ‏@thenation Sep 26
What is wrong with the men at the helm of the Atheist movement?

Miranda Celeste Hale

.@thenation Nothing. & Now it’s my turn to ask a question: why did you run this sneering, unethical, & ideologically-motivated attack piece?

iamcuriousblue ‏@iamcuriousblue 14h
@mirandachale Probably the same reason @thenation ran this sneering, unethical, ideologically-motivated attack piece …

Miranda Celeste Hale ‏@mirandachale 13h
@iamcuriousblue What a nasty & reactionary article. I’m not familiar w/much of Pollitt’s work but what I’ve read has been unethical & sleazy

Ian N ‏@IanNieves 13h
@mirandachale @thenation Katha Pollott is an ideological hack who festers in innuendo, smear & smut. The Nation is shit sans Hitchens.

Unethical and sleazy. Really? I have a feeling what Hale means by “not familiar w/much of Pollitt’s work” is “completely ignorant of any of Pollitt’s work except for this one piece.”

At least Katha actually is all the things she calls herself in her Twitter profile, unlike some people.

Openly Secular

Kimberly Winston reports on the Openly Secular campaign.

A new coalition of atheists, humanists and other nonreligious groups is taking a page from the gay rights movement and encouraging people to admit they are “openly secular.”

The coalition — unprecedented in its scope — is broadening a trend of reaching out to religious people and religious groups by making the secular label a catchall for people who are not religious.

I’m not sure how making the secular label a catchall for people who are not religious is reaching out to religious people, but maybe the idea is that “secular” comes across as less antagonistic than “atheist.” People can of course be both secular and religious under one meaning of the word – but that one meaning isn’t the only one, so we get clashes and arguments. [Read more…]