Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Muslims shut down university screenings of film about Islam and women

We’ve already seen this with the revocation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s honorary degree at Brandeis (shame be upon them) this week. Now we have yet another example of campuses caving into to Muslim threats, and in some ways it’s even worse.

There’s a new film, “Honor Diaries”, in which Muslim women speak out against the oppression of women endemic to their faith. The description is here, and I’ll give an excerpt:

The film gives a platform to exclusively female voices and seeks to expose the paralyzing political correctness that prevents many from identifying, understanding and addressing this international human rights disaster. Freedom of movement, the right to education, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation are some of the systematic abuses explored in depth.

Spurred by the Arab Spring, women who were once silent are starting to speak out about gender inequality and are bringing visibility to a long history of oppression. This project draws together leading women’s rights activists and provides a platform where their voices can be heard and serves as inspiration to motivate others to speak out.

It was scheduled to be screened on two campuses: the University of Michigan at Dearborn and the University of Illinois in Chicago. The results were almost predictable. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—the same group that complained to Brandeis University—protested that the film was “Islamophobic”, and the two school duly canceled the screenings…

Click through for more

Arab blasphemy law being drafted

Law would empower countries to file cases against non-resident violators

Manama: Arab countries are working on a draft law that bans the defamation of religions and empowers them to take abusers to court even if they are not residents.

The draft, presented by Qatar, is being reviewed by delegates from several Arab countries at the Arab League.

Under its provisions, all forms of defamation, derision or denigration of religions and prophets will be considered crimes.

“The main feature of the draft is that it gives every state the right to put on trial those who abuse and hold in contempt religions even if they are outside the country,” Ebrahim Mousa Al Hitmi, the Qatari justice ministry assistant undersecretary for legal affairs, said, local Arabic daily Al Arab reported on Wednesday.

The official insisted that the draft law does not clash with freedom of expression.

“The law does not interfere in any way with the freedom of opinion and expression which is well protected and guaranteed. All penal laws in Arab countries criminalise defamation of religions but there are no specific sanctions when an abuser is outside the country. Therefore, the main goal of this law is to deter all forms of defamation of religions and give each country that ratifies it the right to file lawsuits against those who offend religions, even if they are not residents,” he said.

The official attributed the Qatari initiative to a drive to counter relentless campaigns targeting religions.

The draft will be taken up by the Arab justice ministers when they convene.

Source

There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!

Passage from The Diary of Anne Frank that parents of 7th and 8th grade students are claiming is “too graphic” and “too pornographic” to appear in classrooms. Instead, they argue, a censored version of the book should be taught if it is to be taught at all.

Gail Horalek, the parent who filed a formal complaint with her daughter’s school district in Northville, Michigan, added:

If they watch any kind of movie with a swear word in it, I have to sign a permission slip. It doesn’t mean my child is sheltered, it doesn’t mean I live in a bubble, and it doesn’t mean I’m trying to ban books.

Yes, it does. If it’s “too graphic” for middle school aged kids to read about a body part in a diary written by a girl of the same age, those kids are sheltered. Acknowledging that vaginas exist and babies come out of them isn’t pornographic, especially when many middle school aged kids can and do have sex, sometimes resulting in a pregnancy. Somehow, though, it’s more offensive than Nazis systematically murdering over 12 million human-beings in concentration camps, forcing slave labor, starving millions until dead, lining people up and shooting them in the street, and doing horrific medical experiments on unwilling participants.

(via mohandasgandhi)

It never ceases to amaze me how worried some people are about their children learning about their own body.

(via abaldwin360)

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.

Iran expected to permanently cut off Internet by August

infoneer-pulse:

Millions of Internet users in Iran could soon be permanently cut off from the Web, social networks, and e-mail.

In a statement released last week, Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, announced it plans to establish a national intranet within five months in an effort to create a “clean Internet,” according to an International Business Times report. “All Internet Service Providers (ISP) should only present National Internet by August,” Taghipour said in the statement.

» via CNET

The FCC, an appointed body, not elected, decided all by itself that radio and television were the only 2 parts of American life not protected by the first amendment of the constitution. Why did they decide that? Because they got a letter from a minister in Mississippi. A Reverend Donald Wildman in Mississippi heard something of the radio that he didn’t like. Well Reverend, did anyone ever tell you there are 2 knobs on the radio?

George Carlin What am I Doing in New Jersey? 1988 (via yatwriter)

(Source: )

cwnl:

Anonymous Just Deleted CBS.com and Took Down Universal

Taking a shorter break than their last vacation, Anonymous is back at it already. Reports are coming in that they had completely knocked out CBS.com and are continuing their revenge spree. The CBS takedown wasn’t your regular DDoS attack because if you went to CBS.com at the time Anon attacked it, there was nothing except an index page with a single file. That’s it. Basically, Anonymous gained access to CBS.com and deleted EVERYTHING.

CBS.com has managed to put itself back up but we’ll be on the lookout of Anonymous’ next move. This is going to be interesting. Last time Anon went on a revenge spree, well, the DOJ, RIAA, MPAA, Universal, EMI, FBI and others all got a piece of the takedown fun.

Update: Looks like they just took down UniversalMusic.com again too!

Update 2: Anon is now going after websites in Brazil. The Hacker News reports that websites of Brazil’s federal district, the city of Tangara da Serra and popular Brazilian singer Paula Fernandes have been brought offline in a DDoS attack. Anonymous’ message on the affected websites? “If Megaupload is down, you are down too.”

Update 3: Vivendi, a French media company involved in music, film, TV, video games, etc., has been brought down too. Vivendi used to own Universal

cwnl:

Anonymous Just Deleted CBS.com and Took Down Universal

Taking a shorter break than their last vacation, Anonymous is back at it already. Reports are coming in that they had completely knocked out CBS.com and are continuing their revenge spree. The CBS takedown wasn’t your regular DDoS attack because if you went to CBS.com at the time Anon attacked it, there was nothing except an index page with a single file. That’s it. Basically, Anonymous gained access to CBS.com and deleted EVERYTHING.

CBS.com has managed to put itself back up but we’ll be on the lookout of Anonymous’ next move. This is going to be interesting. Last time Anon went on a revenge spree, well, the DOJ, RIAA, MPAA, Universal, EMI, FBI and others all got a piece of the takedown fun.

Update: Looks like they just took down UniversalMusic.com again too!

Update 2: Anon is now going after websites in Brazil. The Hacker News reports that websites of Brazil’s federal district, the city of Tangara da Serra and popular Brazilian singer Paula Fernandes have been brought offline in a DDoS attack. Anonymous’ message on the affected websites? “If Megaupload is down, you are down too.”

Update 3: Vivendi, a French media company involved in music, film, TV, video games, etc., has been brought down too. Vivendi used to own Universal

supersonicelectronic:

jstn:

LOL


Wow… Fuck you, MPAA.

Wait, Sen. Chris Dodd is the Chairman and CEO of the MPAA?? The plot thickens.

supersonicelectronic:

jstn:

LOL

Wow… Fuck you, MPAA.

Wait, Sen. Chris Dodd is the Chairman and CEO of the MPAA?? The plot thickens.

My Call to Senator Schumer’s Office on PIPA: It’s So Much Worse Than I Thought

goodreasonnews:

Today I called a Senator’s office for the first time.

First, let me say how fantastic it is that when you call the office, a real-live human picks up the phone and can speak to you. There’s no annoying menus, no transfers, no answering machines. Washington, please don’t ever change this.

I was calling mostly to find out why the Senator supports (and co-sponsored!) S.968, aka the PROTECT IP Act aka PIPA. Perhaps there was an argument I was missing — I know how myopic the tech world can be sometimes.

What I got was a reminder of how dangerous this legislation will be, for people who care about:

  • the internet
  • technology innovation
  • creativity
  • freedom of speech
  • startups and job creation
  • facebook, tumblr, youtube, reddit, 4chan, and any other major site that touches user-generated content

OK so back to my phone call. The first question I asked was “why does the Senator support this legislation?”

The guy on the other end of the phone said: “well, he’s a co-sponsor so he’s not changing his position.”

He must have known why I was calling.

Asked the same question again. This time the reply I got this time was different: “Senator Schumer is in favor of censoring the internet.”

….whhhhhhat? Up until now, most of the statements from congresspeople have done that neat thing politicians do where they say words but don’t actually answer the question. They do the “censorship” dance very well – never say it out loud, but vote for the bill nonetheless. From what I can tell “anti-piracy” and “pro-censorship” are actually the same thing here, though politicians usually argue the former so as not to seem anti-first-amendment. No one has been brazen enough to drop the C-word without hesitation. But this dude apparently had no problem with it. I said again: “So you’re saying Senator Schumer is in favor of censoring the internet?”

“Yes.”

“Senator Schumer is in favor of censoring the internet.”

(Source: azspot)