Girl raped, needs life-saving abortion, but can’t because every life is sacred. Um. Wait.

This happened again. From Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress:

An 11-year-old Chilean girl who has become pregnant from rape is renewing a contentious debate over abortion in the conservative Catholic country, where the medical procedure is illegal under all circumstances. Doctors have warned that continuing the pregnancy will be dangerous for the 11-year-old’s health, as well as for the health of her fetus. But, under Chile’s total abortion ban, she is forced to continue it anyway.

The girl’s mother’s boyfriend confessed to raping the girl and is in custody. That’s good at least, but the effects of his horrific actions remain. [Read more…]

Is Katy Perry powered by Twitter?

She must be, if this Tweet were true.

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You can see at time of capture, it had reached 100,385.

I’ve been even more sensitive to quick, knee-jerk reactions to stories and claims – especially those that occur via social media – thanks to reading an incredible book, No Time to Think. I’ll be saying a bit more about it when I’ve finished it. For now, let’s examine the Twitter-powered custard pumping android that, apparently, (and falsely) is Katy Perry. [Read more…]

Why ‘The Last of Us’ still sticks with me

As you might know, I write on pop culture things, like TV series, films, comics and video games. I recently penned a little article trying to articulate precisely why the Playstation 3 exclusive, The Last of Us, had such a profound impact.

If you’ve also finished it, let me know your thoughts at my infrequently updated gaming blog.

Don’t let facts get in the way of a bad story

Some of you may remember Dr Eben Alexander, who had a Newsweek feature about his book Proof of Heaven. (That Newsweek went belly-up and was consumed by the Beast soon should not be seen as a causal connection). Dr Alexander, in gripping and bad Dan Brown prose describes his experience of what he considers the after life.

Sure, many people claim to have crossed over, experienced NDE (near-death experiences) but – come on! – this dude is a doctor and he wouldn’t lie. And he has a bow-tie and is a scientist-kinda-thing.

Except, yeah. He’s still wrong, mistaken and probably – as according to a new story from Esquire ($) – a slight fibber (or at least Alexander is a highly inaccurate reporter).

Michael Shermer and Sam Harris have already pointed out obvious faults. The one that we should all keep reminding ourselves is why assume the supernatural, when drug-induced hallucinations can have equal – if not more intense – effects. It makes no sense to assume validity merely because of a person’s qualifications, let alone validity based on such apparently obvious side-effects that  anyone can experience.

Why jump to Heaven when science can tell us what happened right now, on the ground? (Obviously for various reasons: financial, to sell a story, fame, a genuine yearning or belief for it to be true. Nonetheless, these are not rational moral justifications.)

Alexander’s story, however, has a worse crime than not being true: it’s also bloody boring. If you are going to fib, do us the favour of being eloquent, exciting and original. Dante, thou art not.

Superhero-free comics and why the medium matters

I’ve decided to put my comics, film and TV-focused writing on Medium. My latest post is about comics and why I hope more people recognise that it’s not all unnaturally fit people wearing minimal, tight clothing; and also, that comics are a medium, not a genre. I also made a short list at the end with recommended comics. Let me know of your favourites – and why – in the comments, too.

Clarity is (almost) everything

These are the kinds of responses I’ve got for making various arguments.

If you criticise those who mock, deride and laugh at beauty pageant contestants, it’s because you want to sleep with said contestants. This despite the fact that you will probably never meet these women. Obviously, you have a sick fantasy that they will see your defense, purchase a one-way ticket to your foreign country, and fly over straight into you (and your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s) bed.

If you criticise those who target innocent women unnecessarily, you think you’re better than all women, that women need men to defend them. This despite not having made mention of women’s abilities – or lack of thereof, apparently – at all.

If you criticse arguments which aim to eradicate all guns, you are a shrill for the NRA or other powerful organisations – despite not being an American citizen and having an Arabic name.

If you criticise people’s ideas and arguments, you are attacking their person – despite never having met, despite the fact that no matter who you are, a bad argument is a bad argument. Einstein saying the world is flat doesn’t change it’s shape.

Online engagements tend to be unhelpful to proper discussion – by which I mean allowing for proper treatment of other individuals and their viewpoints.

I fail to understand this need to act as though the person you’re dealing with is a genuine monster, is really trying to undermine your life and hurt those you love. This doesn’t mean such people don’t exist, only I don’t think it’s everyone who disagrees with you. [Read more…]

Wherein I take issue with an innocent person being mocked for one mistake

I wrote a post, now at the Guardian  where I take issue with the unnecessary mockery and derision aimed at Miss Utah 2013, Marissa Powell. Basically, I’m realising I’m waging a war on an entity I’ve decided to call “the Internet”.

My favourite comment so far is this one [click to enlarge].

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This person has uncovered my secret plan! Nooo!