Sunday, September 7, 2008

Flavoured Juice?

So I was just down at the supermarket to pick up some breakfast supplies. One of those supplies was juice. Wanting juice, and not a fruit juice drink (i.e., one that part juice but mostly added water), and not wanting any added sugar, I was checking the ingredient info on the labels of the various bottles. And I got quite a surprise.

Most of the juices have flavouring added (only the organics didn't). Huh? What the hell is up with that? Since when has fruit juice tasted so god awful that it needs to have flavouring added to appease our taste-buds?

Absolutely fucking ridiculous.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Choice That Never Was

That Bristol Palin, US Vice-Presidential Republican Candidate Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter, is pregnant (and, golly gosh!, unwed) is no secret. It's been out there in medialand for all to read and hear about. The Republicans have been telling the media to keep out of this private family business, and that's a fair enough request. After all, Bristol's pregancy really does have nothing to do with her mother's ability to fullfill the duties of the office of Vice-President of the United States.

Despite this request by the GOP to the media, they have been quick to make the point that Briston will continue with her pregnancy, and will also marry the boy with whom she 'had relations'. Along with the choice of Sarah Palin to continue with her last pregnacy when informed that the foetus, (the now baby Trig) would be born with Down Syndrome, the Palin family has been celebrated by the Right as an example to all that support a 'pro-life' position; that both mother and daughter chose not to abort their pregancies is evidence of the family's comitment to their principles. The media have been happy to dance to this song, and as much as they have made of this story, that is the story the media have been going with.

It is well and good that these two individuals have chosen to live according to their principles, but why is that a story? It would seem rather unremarkable that people would do that. I would think the story would be if either Sarah or Bristol had chosen an abortion in contravention of their 'pro-life' princple and allied rejection of abortion. But since that was not the case, there is no story as far as I can see.

I do have one question though: If abortion was never an option, why does the GOP make the point that both Sarah and Bristol chose to continue with their pregnancies? Why celebrate the choice they made? After all, according the principles of these two individuals, they never had a choice.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Torture and McCain

Though the present US Administration declares that the US does not engage in torture, it is pretty obvious that treatment of people imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere is torture.

I've been listening to some of the speeches at the Republican National Congress. One thing I have noticed in these speeches is reference to Senator McCain's experience as a POW in Viet Nam and the torture he endured. Speaking of this experience, Rudy Giuliani makes the following comment:

He was tortured in a POW camp. But he refused his captor's offer of early release, because this is a man who believes in serving a cause greater than self interest, and that cause is the United States of America. America comes first. He has proved his commitment with his blood.

McCain is being presented as a person of strength and courage; a person who will not bow down to the tyranny of others. This is a virtue to be honoured, a virtue that makes a person worthy of one's respect and admiration.

But let us take another look at that remark by Guiliani, but with a few words different.

He was tortured in Guantanamo. But he refused his captor's offer of early release, because this is a man who believes in serving a cause greater than self interest, and that cause is Islam. Islam comes first. He has proved his commitment with his blood.

Torture is a vile evil, and we ought condemn any person or nation that engages in its use. The use of torture by the US against those people it alleges to be members of al-Qa'ida is evil, and it is an evil that will haunt the West for decades to come. Just as the Republicans honor McCain and hold his example high, so too will Islamists honour those that the US has and are continuing to torture.

Spring!

Spring has arrived!

It's a beautiful and warm sunny day. Front and back doors are open to allow a breeze through the house. Lovely.

At least for one day so far. This is Melbourne!, and it's early in the season. But none the worry. Each day is its own, and today is a lovely day.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Letter to my Local Representative in Support of the Abortion Law Reform Bill

Dear Ms. Maddigan,

With the scheduling of debate on the Abortion Law Reform Bill in the Legislative Assembly due to begin on 9 September I would like to take this opportunity to inform you of my support for the removal of abortion from the Crimes Act, and for the right of women to seek and obtain a legal and safe abortion.

I ask that you support the right of women to exercise and maintain autonomy over their body, and to support and vote in favour of the Bill.

However, I am concerned that the Bill reflects Model B of the Victorian Law Reform Commission's report on abortion law. I support Model C of the VLRC's report, and further ask that you support amendments to the Bill that reflect Model C. This would bring Victorian law in line with that of the ACT. I also ask that you reject any amendments that would delay or deny women access to abortion. Such amendments may include the imposition of unnecessary regulations on abortion providers and mandating referrals, "cooling off" periods and counselling, all in the name of "protecting" women. I believe that such amendments would be proposed by those that do not support the right of women to seek abortion, and wish to hinder women's autonomy and choice by treating women as unable to make rational decisions for their own well-being and in need of paternalistic care and "protection". Such attitudes are anathema to a society that respects women.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Sincerely Yours,

Stephen Moore
[address]

PS I am the author of the blog Holocene Hominoid (http://holocenehominoid.blogspot.com/). I have posted this letter to the blog as part of my advocacy of this issue. I ask permission to allow me to publish any reply to this letter you may write me on my blog.

~*~

Update: Ms. Madiggan has replied to my email to her. She supports the Bill, and believes Model C does not have enough support to pass the Legislative Council.

Speaking of Bat-Shit Insane...

It appears we've been lied to. The melting of the polar ice-caps has nothing to do with increases in greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere by human industrial and agricultural activity. It's not even due to the natural oscillations of average global temperature that occurs over the centuries and millennial. No, no, not at all.

It's all due to the axial tilt of Earth. To wit:

When God sent the rain on this Earth for 40 days and nights, all this water had to go someplace so the Earth would be dry again.

Remember, God is the Creator and controls the universe.

God tilted the Earth from its original position and caused all the excess water to rush to the poles, and there he instantly froze the water into the ice formations that exist today.

Time is ticking down on God’s time clock. With all the nuclear bombs that are made and stored for the fast-emerging last battle, this Earth would burn up when these nuclear bombs are set off.

We are not creating global warming – God is tipping the Earth back to its original position on its axis and thus getting all this ice to get ready to move and extinguish the nuclear destructive fires man will create.
One would hope that the expression of such an opinion would be a joke - someone's attempt at a Poe. [sigh] Sadly, there really are people out there that believe this kind of thing.

I think the chorus of the following song is apropos, though I'm not sure to whom it applies: me or believers of opinions like the one above.

Large Hadron Rap

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Didgeridoo Threat to Women's Health

Are you aware that the didgeridoo poses a grave threat to the health of women everywhere? I wasn't, until I read a story posted to the front page of ABC News. According to an expert on the matter, though the effects vary, the least of these grave outcomes for a member of the female sex merely touching this musical instrument is infertility. Yes, you read that right: any female who so much as lays her pinkie finger on a didgeridoo is at risk of becoming infertile.

Why had we not been informed of this danger before? Why has such a grave threat to women's health not been subject to Parliamentary Inquiries and legislation restricting the sale and use of such a dangerous object? Have studies been conducted to determine if infertility clusters are the result of inappropriate didgeridoo use?

Probably because they would be bat-shit crazy responses to a bat-shit crazy idea. But that's just a guess. I could be wrong. There are plenty of bat-shit crazy ideas out there - like the one that states that a piece of bread is really the flesh of a 2000 year old corpse but eating said bread doesn't make you a cannibal. Insist that it really is just a piece of bread and people go mental. But I digress.

That anyone would seriously assert that a female touching a musical instrument is at risk of becoming infertile because it's a man's musical instrument is mind-boggling. That such a person would be treated with respect and be granted the gravitas of the title of 'expert' is just plain fucking ridiculous.

Fucking idiots, the lot of them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nappies

I just saw the neighbour exiting her vehicle with her young child and it got me to thinking about my own spawn that will (hopefully) exist one day. In imaginary land the first born spawn of my partner happened to be triplets. This got me to thinking about nappies, and in particular cloth vs. disposable, and their relative environmental impact.

I'm not all that aware of the relative environmental impacts of each type of nappy, not really having had cause to investigate the issue, but it is my limited understanding that for long term ecological concerns, cloth nappies have a far less impact upon the environment than do disposable nappies. In that regard, cloth nappies win.

But what of short term concerns?

Cloth nappies need to be washed in order to be used again. In a land of water plenty, that is perhaps none too great a concern. Australia though, for most of the continental land mass, is not a land of water plenty. Indeed, Melbourne's dams are below 35% capacity, and the city is still experiencing Stage 3a water restrictions.

What choice for the environmentally concerned parent? Cloth nappies, with their lower long term environmental impact but higher short term cost to water resources, or disposable nappies with their short term convenience and lower water cost but higher long term ecological impact?

I wonder, what did parents in water scarce areas of Australia do before disposable nappies were available? Surely there must have been some approach that allowed cloth nappies to be cleaned but that still saved precious water resources. I don't know, but am curious to find out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Catharine Lumby: The Porn Report

Professor Catharine Lumby has spent the last three years studying pornography, and is one of the co-authors of The Porn Report, the most comprehensive examination of pornography and its consumers in Australia. Her findings are not what you might expect. Here, she's addressing the Sydney Institute - The Sydney Institute

Bio:
Professor Catharine Lumby is the Director of the Journalism and Media Research Centre at The University of NSW. She is the author of six books and numerous journal articles.Professor Lumby is a well-known public commentator who has worked as a news reporter, feature writer and columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Bulletin magazine. She sits on the Education and Welfare Committee and the Research Committee of the National Rugby League, advising them on gender issues. She is also a member of the Advertising Standards Board.

Human Nature

The following question was asked in the Secular Sexuality group on Atheist Nexis.

What is your response to this video?



My response follows.

The juxtaposition of the lyrics - expressing a desire for sexual freedom - with the video - depicting a visual theme of Bondage & Domination - is very interesting, and illustrates the message of the song very well.

We human beings are sexual beings. A rather self-evident statement, as is the following statement: There ain't nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, the second statement is one that continues to be needed to be expressed. The repression of sexuality, particularly of female sexuality, is an evil that is still present in our society, and an evil that ought to be fought against.

I did hesitate in using the word 'evil', given the religious overtones of the word. But is it a word that I think appropriate to adopt in terms of secular morality or ethics. It does have a force of meaning that 'moral wrong' or 'ethical wrong' just doesn't express. In the secular world, we generally have no problem with condemning slavery as an evil. The shaming of women, and also of men, for the expression of their sexual desire is also an evil.

Though the song is, I'm guessing, a personal response by Madonna to the criticism she has received for her unashamed sexual expression in her art, it is also a song for all women. The lyric "Would it sound better if I were a man?" is perhaps the most important of the song in expressing the double standard regarding the expression of human sexual desire and activity that does exist within our societies: men can fuck around and do whatever, women must be contained in a box. It is a lyric that also anticipates the criticism Madonna expects to receive simply for expressing her desire for sexual liberation.

Generally speaking I've not been a great fan of Madonna over the course of her career. But I am becoming more of a fan the more I understand what it is she is actually expressing through her music. Madonna is an important cultural icon, and messages such as the one she is expressing in this music video are the type we need to hear more of.

And adopt into our culture.

(tip o' the hat to The Nerd)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

flowers...

In our supposedly post-modern world it may seem that there is no longer any need for Feminism. Women in Australia are able to own property in their own name, vote in elections, gain higher education, enter the workforce or pursue a career, exercise reproductive choice through fertility control drugs, abortion or maternal leave, initiate divorce, and possess a myriad other rights and privileges so numerous and common place that we barely give it another thought. Indeed, we would think it odd, scandalous even, if women were not in possession of these rights and privileges.

Sadly though, there is still a need for Feminism. I write sadly because as with any social movement that seeks change for the better, Feminism is a philosophy that seeks to eliminate its own necessity. The day we no longer need Feminism is the day that Feminism has achieved its objectives. It is a day that can not come soon enough.

One area of life for women that is still very much present is that of violence. Such violence occurs in many, many forms, and is a daily experience for many, if not most women. It may take the form of sexual shaming in calling women sluts, whores, and other such derogatory terms for no greater offence than the clothes she wears. It may be the leer and cat-calling by a stranger. Or it may be in the form of physical violence.

Domestic violence (also known as Family or Intimate Partner Violence) is an grave issue that is very much still a part of life for many women women, not only in Australia but throughout the world. In 2002 the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the Personal Safety Survey. Amongst the findings were that in the 12 months preceding the Survey:
  • 5.8% of women experienced an incident of violence
  • 4.7% of women experienced physical violence
  • 1.6% of women experienced sexual violence
The Commonwealth Government's Office for Women provides a list of Crisis/Help Line telephone numbers for each State and Territory.

I also recommend to the reader the blog flowers... Though authored in South Africa, the information it provides the reader is universally useful.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Genius of Charles Darwin (Part One)

A documentary programme called The Genius of Charles Darwin: Presented by Richard Dawkins is airing in the UK television station Channel 4. There is google video of episode one available over at Pharyngula in one part.

Or you can head over to the home of the man himself and watch it in five YouTube parts, or even download a Quicktime video (146MB) here. Richard has even provided a link to a torrent of the episode for download.

It's the first of a three part series. Richard does fine work with his documentaries, and the standard of this one is certainly on par with his previous films. Evolution presented in such an easy and understandable manner. I very much look forward to the next two episodes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The McCain Ad and a Response

The reader may be aware of the brouhaha in the US over the ad by McCain criticising Obama for behaving more like a celebrity than a Presidential candidate. In it, Obama is compared to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Here is the ad:



What is interesting about this ad is the choice of comparison: Spears, the good girl Mouseketeer virgin teen-queen turned vagina-exposing slut, and Hilton the vacuous airhead heiress amatuer-sex-video slut. Harlot hussy whores the both of them, who will do anything for a spot of publicity, lacking in any sense of morality and decorum, and beloved by millions of dumb young kids. A vote for Obama is clearly a vote for the moral decay of the US. Or so is the message McCain would imply.

Though Spears is clearly a troubled young woman, and Hilton is lost in a wasteland of inherited wealth, they are both very smart cookies, and not the dumb blond bimbos they are usually seen as. They each know what their market is, and they cater to it superbly. And rake in the cash. Though I'm not a fan of either of them, I do acknowledge that they do what they do well, even if there is the occasional stumble.

Obama was quick to release a counter-ad in reply to McCain's, but that is not so interesting. Par for the course in a political campaign. Tit-for-tat, and all that. But there has been another reply ad released, this one by Hilton. Here it is:


It's a good ad. Parody, of course, but a good ad nonetheless. And her energy policy actually makes sense! I could almost vote for her - if I were eligible to vote in this election.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Erasure

The few regular readers I have will notice, if they have a modicum of observational skills, that there is something different about this blag. Three things in particular.

1. There is a shmancy new header to replace the boring old header previously present.
2. The template the blag uses has changed.
3. All of the previous posts have been erased, such that this is now the first entry.

Somewhat bored and unhappy with the way the blag had been progressing, I took the radical step of throwing out the old and starting anew.

Ahhh! Feels better already.

Got a problem with it? Take it up with my old mate, Bruce.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Atheist Q&A

Over on scienceblogs erv is playing tag with 10 questions for atheists. She has tagged everyone on her (yet to be published) blogroll, and since I've got my name down on that, I'm it.

Q1. How would you define "atheism"?
The lack of a belief in deities

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?
No. Did the Sunday School and Church thing, but only off and on; a year or two here, a year or two there. No Bible readings at home, or grace before dinner. Religion was a couple-of-hours-once-a-week thing. Sunday School was with the Uniting Church, Church was the Anglican Church, within which I was both Baptised and an infant and Confirmed as a teen.

Q3. How would you describe "Intelligent Design", using only one word?
Idiocy

Q4. What scientific endeavor really excites you?
Anthropology. Love it, love it, love it!

Q5. If you could change one thing about the "atheist community", what would it be and why?
The "atheist community"? Nothing, really. We are a disparate community, some vocal, others taciturn. What I would like is for atheism to be so mainstream and normal that speaking of an "atheist community" would not make much sense.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said "I'm joining the clergy", what would be your first response?
Dumbfoundedment

Q7. What's your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?
Don't really have a favourite one.

Q8. What's your most "controversial" (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?
Not that I've discussed it with anyone, but I suppose it would be that bestiality and incest are not in themselves immoral, and that both crimes be removed from the statutes.

Q9. Of the "Four Horsemen" (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?
Hitchens, because he doesn't mince his words; a spade is a spade.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?
Just one? Probably one of my family, though whom in particular I could not say.

Otherwise, the Bishop of Rome.

~*~

So there it is, ten questions asked and answered. I'm supposed to now tag some other blaggers, but I'll just throw a hat in the air. If you want to catch it, do so. And if you don't, just kick the hat into the nearest bush or shrub. No one will know.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fog

A fog has condensed outside. It is a beautiful sight. Living on a main road usually does not provide an awe inspiring vista, but tonight the scene is gorgeous.

Oh, for a digital camera. I would take a photo to present the reader, but alas all I have is the camera on my mobile. I took some snaps, but they do not capture the beauty of what I see.

I love the fog.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Can you say "misogyny"?

Think this is the 21st Century, where women are treated as equals and are given the respect due to human beings? Think feminism is an out of date notion that is no longer needed? Well, you'd be wrong. So very, very wrong.

From Reuters comes the following article. It's not very long, so I shall quote it in full.

Women break all-male Mount Athos ban
Tue May 27, 2008 11:11am EDT

ATHENS (Reuters) - Four Moldovan women accidentally violated a 1,000-year-old ban on females entering the all male monastic community of Mount Athos, when they were left on Greek shores by human traffickers.

Police said Monday the women -- aged between 27 and 32 -- as well as a 41-year-old Moldovan man were smuggled from Turkey by boat to the Greek Orthodox community of 20 monasteries, long off limits to women. The [sic] reached land Sunday.

"They told police and the monks they were sorry but they couldn't have known this was a no-women area," said a police officer, who declined to be named. "They were forgiven."

Monks spotted the women late Sunday and alerted police. Under Greek law, the violation of the ban on women on Mount Athos, considered Orthodox Christianity's spiritual home, is illegal and can be punished with up to two years in jail.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
In just 142 words we have a stellar example of the misogyny that still exists in the world. Let us take a closer look at this article. At first glance it seems a simple enough story. Women go on to a mountain reserved for the exclusive use of religious men. Women apologize for their ignorance. Men forgive them. All's well that ends well.

Those versed in feminism will see the issue. But for those not so well versed, let us examine the story further.

Though not evident from the article itself, the news story was posted in the "Oddly Enough" section of the Reuters web-site. The type of stories usually post in such sections of newspapers are meant to be taken somewhat humourously. After all, it is something that is odd. So, from the very first, the reader is meant to, at the very least, leave reading the story with a smile upon their face. We shall come back to this. For now, on to the story itself.

The very first sentence of the article inform the reader how the women arrived upon the mountain: they were left there by human traffickers. Human trafficking is scourge, and is the equivalent of the slave trade and indentured servitude that so afflicted human dignity through the 17th to 19th Centuries. Indeed, slavery is an issue still to this day with some 27 millions of enslaved people around the world. In Europe, many women who are trafficked are compelled to enter into prostitution to pay off their debt, a debt that is so exorbitantly levied that it is near impossible to pay off. But is human trafficking the story here in this article? No.

Also note the language used to describe how the women arrived at Mt. Athos. They were smuggled to the location. Like cargo. But there is more to it. Think for a moment. Would traffickers really 'smuggle' four women to a location known to be off-limits to women (that a location would be off-limits to women is itself an example of the misogyny of Orthodox Christianity specifically, and of Christianity in general) for further transport into Europe? Rather doubtful. More likely the women and man were dumped, disposed of like garbage from the side of the boat.

So, what happens when these people discover that they have violated some archaic and misogynistic religious ban? They apologize. And are forgiven. La-dee-fuckin'-dah. Seriously, is the fact that this 'violation' has occurred really that much greater than the fact these four women were being trafficked? That's the story Reuters went with? Fuck me dead and call me Jack. Yes, I'm pissed off. And where does the article end? Informing the reader that these four women are now also liable under Greek law to two years imprisonment for stepping on a piece of land that only men are allowed to. Fuck me! Though it is rather unlikely the women will be prosecuted and imprisoned for their abominable offence. The more likely outcome will be deportation back to Moldova.

So, got a smile on your face after reading the Reuters article while you think to yourself, "Those wacky Greeks and Moldovans"? Human trafficking, abandonment of people, and the possible fate of enforced prostitution for the women, all nicely summed up and dismissed in a quaint tale of 142 words about the offense against a religion and some blokes on a mountain.

Misogyny is alive and well.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eurovision Song Contest Final 2008

And the winner is...

Savage Garden. No, wait. I mean, Russia.

Humbug, says I, with a Bah! thrown in for good measure.

PORTUGAL WAS ROBBED! ROBBED, I TELLS YA!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Notes on Eurovision Song Contest 2008 Semi-Final 2

Here follows my notes made during tonight's broadcast of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Nations in bold indicate finalists. Number indicates my score out of 5.

Iceland (3.1) Boring start. Bog standard 'celebration' song. Good for a dance after a night of drinking.

Sweden (2.8) The Grey Alien! Or is it Catwoman? Boring song.

Turkey (4.3) Rock, yeah! Good vocals. Good song.

Ukraine (4.5) Teh hawt! This is how you do Dance music. Good performance too.

Lithuania (2) Romantic Metalhead? Where's the cotton wool. Argh, my poor ears.

Albania (4.8) She's only 16 y.o.? Nice start to the song. I'm liking this. Lovely song.

Switzerland (3.8) What is it about singing in Italian that sounds so good. Singer's a bit of a spunk.

Czech Republic (3) lol Space pop! Nice hook, but overall song not so good.

Belarus (2.5) Sings better than the Czech, but is a shit song.

Latvia (2.8) Argh, me mateys! Pirates! With tits!

Croatia (4.8) I like this. A Parisian café in Eastern Europe. :^)

Bulgaria (4.2) Nice start. This is good. Competition is tough tonight. Shades of Chemical Brothers.

Denmark (4.2) Note to Iceland: this is how it's done. I'm up and dancing.

Georgia (3.5) Slavic über-cool post-apocalypse style is alive and well. Pity about the song.

Hungary (3.7) Decent song. Nice romantic ballad.

Malta (4) Head's a rockin' and a boppin'. Great voice.

Cyprus (4.3) Nice wardrobe change. Good song too. Good performance as well.

F.Y.R. Macedonia (3.2) I like it, but it's let down by the chorus.

Portugal (4.81) Beautiful.

Of the five auto-finalists, France and Serbia are my faves.

Cyprus was robbed! Latvia gets through, but Cyprus doesn't! WTF is up with that?

My pick for this year's winner is (drum roll)... PORTUGAL

Friday, May 23, 2008

Notes on Eurovision Song Contest 2008 Semi-Final 1

Here follows my notes made during tonight's broadcast of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Nations in bold indicate finalists. Number indicates my score out of 5.

Montenegro (3)

Israel (3)

Estonia (2.8) Funny. Signs of cake, sausage and radish

Moldova (3.2) Nice beginning. Was okay.

San Marino (3.5) Nice start, but took a while to get in to.

Belgium (4.2) Very nice. Good humour with good music. Fun.

Azerbaijan (4) Decent metal song. That voice!

Slovenia (4.4) I like. Good energy.

Norway (3.5) Nice song. Fairly standard pop song, but nice.

Poland (3.2) Another standard pop song; not as good tho.

Ireland (1) A puppet! Shite song.

Andorra (4.1) Good dance song (Europop?) I like.

Bosnia & Herzegovina (4.5) Nice start. Nice, quirky performance. Good song.

Armenia (4.2) Gorgeous voice @ start. Beautiful woman. Got my head bopping.

Netherlands (3.5) Good song.

Finland (4) Rock on! What is it with the Finns and heavy metal?

Romania (4) I like this one.

Russia (3) Sounds like Savage Garden.

Greece (3.5) Can somebody say Britney? But better.

So, there it is. Disappointed Belgium didn't get through. I quite like that song. But, my fave did get through to the final: Bosnia & Herzegovina. Yay!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ron is a puerile bigot

Though I disagree with Ron's position on abortion, and the tactics he uses to present his opinions, I could at least maintain some (minimal) level of respect for him. Zealous though he may be, passion for a cause is at least worthy of respect. Well, any respect I had for him has evaporated, replaced by feelings of disdain and contempt, for it is now official, the man is a puerile bigot.

Monday, April 28, 2008

For Shame

I suppose I shouldn't be too astonished at the lengths members of the anti-abortion brigade will go to in support of their cause, but sometimes something is done that will astonish me.

In Afghanistan yesterday, Lance Corporal Jason Marks was killed during an attack on Taliban militants. He is the fifth Australian soldier to die in the war in Afghanistan. LCPL Marks died working for Australia's national interest, and in defence of the liberated people of Afghanistan. Whatever one may think of Australia's involvement in the war in Afghanistan (for the record, it is an involvement I support), one would certainly think it crass to use the death of LCPL Marks for political ends.

However, Ron, author of the Tell the 'Truth' blog, has done just that. In his consciousness raising efforts to expose what he views as the evil of abortion to the people of Australia, Ron has published a post entitled Australian Commando Killed in Afghanistan. It consists of a photo LCPL Marks with his two children followed by the question, "Did this man die for the right of Australian parent's to kill their own children?" Ron then answers his own question in the negative. And that's it, no more is written.

I am astonished at the unmitigated gall that Ron has displayed in exploiting the death of LCPL Marks to his own political ends. How does one respond to such callous disregard to another person? He doesn't even have the decency to use the name of the person whose death he would exploit. I will not answer the question that Ron poses, for it can not be answered with any shred of dignity. All I can say is that LCPL Justin Marks died defending the freedom of the people of Afghanistan from a totalitarian theocracy.

Well, maybe I shouldn't be so astonished after all, for it is people like Ron who would foist their theocratic ideals on others.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Community Complaints re: Tell the Truth Coalition

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) received a many complaints about the flyer distributed by Tell the 'Truth' Coalition. Last week, the ASB issued a press release wherein the ASB disclosed that it upheld those complaints on the basis of Community Standards.

The Case Report (available by searing for 93/08 under Case Reports on the ASB home page) states at The Determination:
The Board considered that the content of the advertisement had the potential to affect the mental health
of women who have had an abortion or women who are pregnant and not happy with their situation.
The images could also impact negatively on the mental health of women who have experienced a
miscarriage.

The Board further noted the possibility that the images could be viewed by young people or children
and that this would cause alarm and distress to these viewers.

The Board considered the advertiser's right to free speech and their right to share their views.
However the Board considered on balance that the images depicted were contrary to prevailing
community standards on health and safety.

Finding that the advertisement breached Section 2.6 of Code, the Board upheld the complaint.

(Nota Bene: The Code referred to is the AANA Code of Ethics)

Tell the 'Truth' Coalition had not responded to the Determination of the ASB at the time the Report was published. There has also been no mention of the Determination on the blog Tell the 'Truth'. Will they hold to their name and write about this Determination and of the offense they have caused in the community?

I rather doubt it.

Via Emervents

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The lives of girls

A disturbing, yet courageous, story is circulating the blogosphere. It is the story of Nojoud Muhammed Nasser.

Two months ago Nojoud's father, Muhammed Nasser, forced her to marry, against her consent, Faez Ali Thamer. Muhammed had beaten and threatened his daughter with rape if she did not comply with the marriage. Despite her pleas, her family would not help her. They told her she could go to court herself. On 2 April, Nojoud walked into the the Sana'a West Court seeking a divorce from her husand, citing sexual and domestic abuse.

Nojoud says,

“He used to do bad things to me, and I had no idea as to what a marriage is. I would run from one room to another in order to escape, but in the end he would catch me and beat me and then continued to do what he wanted. I cried so much but no one listened to me. One day I ran away from him and came to the court and talked to them.

“Whenever I wanted to play in the yard he beat me and asked me to go to the bedroom with him. This lasted for two months. He was too tough with me, and whenever I asked him for mercy, he beat me and slapped me and then used me. I just want to have a respectful life and divorce him.”

Nojoud's husband is 30 years old. Nojoud is eight years old.


Nojoud Muhammed Nasser

Unable to bring an action before the Court as she is underage according to Yemeni law, her uncle has begun to act as her guardian. She will also be sent to Dar Al-Rahama, a NGO that works with children, where she will be able to receive an education.

Islam has been given a bad rap in the West, in part because of stories such as the above. But the West is not so innocent.

There is a disturbing and growing trend in the West with the sexualisation of children, particularly of girls. Young girls are being encouraged to adopt the ways of women, especially in fashion and beauty standards. The reader may be aware of the recent story about Monika Jagaciak, the 14 year old Polish girl who was to model at Australian Fashion Week, before the organisers had a change of heart and decided not to employ her. However, the reader may not be aware of a trend in the United States of pre-pubescent girls being taken by their mothers to beauty salons and spas for treatment. Girls as young as eight are having their eyebrows waxed and plucked so they look like supermodels. More disturbing is the trend for Brazilian waxes for pre-pubescent and pubescent girls.

Yes, you read correct: girls too young to even have pubic hair are having their genitalia waxed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Are the Creationists right after all?

Creationists believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. They believe that the Book of Genesis provides a true and accurate account of the beginning of the world. They believe that the Earth is 6000 years old, that we are all descended from Adam and Eve, and that we are all sinners because Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation by the snake to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, in defiance of the command by God not to eat thereof. As an atheist, I believe it is poppy-cock. A quaint story, to be sure, and a far more interesting story if viewed as allegory, as liberal minded Believers are inclined to do.

In the account, God punishes Adam and Eve by expelling them both from the Garden of Eden, Adam (man) is to work the fields by the sweat of his brow, Eve (woman) to be subordinate to Adam and to experience pain during childbirth. The snake is also punished, cursed to go upon his belly. The implication is that the snake was, before then, able to walk. To walk, one must have legs.

In 2000, a fossil of a snake was discovered in Lebanon. New research has revealed something interesting. It is a fossil of a snake with two hind limbs. A snake with legs! So, maybe the Creationists have been right all along, and we unbelievers simply misguided fools? Unfortunately, for the Creationists, no. This fossil is somewhat older than 6000 years; it dates from the Late Cretaceous, about 92 Million years ago. This means it also predates Homo sapiens by about 91.75 Million years. Not so close, and definitely no cigar.

Yay! for science.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Safari

I recently downloaded the Safari web browser for Windows as part of an update to iTunes. I've been rather happy using Firefox, but thought I've give Safari a go, if only to see what it was like.

I do say, I like. The layout is clean and uncluttered. The bookmark bar convenient and simple to use. Automatic RSS updating so good. Quicker page downloads is noticeable. Automatic bookmark importing a pleasant surprise when I noticed it had occurred. There's really not much I can fault it, but there are two things I do miss. One is the range of search engines allowed in the Firefox search bar, for only Google and Yahoo! are available, both returning results for the US engines. I've not investigated the issue in depth, but it would be nice to have the option of having them search the Australian engines. It would also be nice if I could add other search engines. On Mozilla, I have available Google au, Yahoo! au, Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, YouTube, eBay au, YellowPages au, IMDb, EzyDVD, Amazon us, and Amazon uk. All that I need in my various searchings, even if only on the odd occasion with some of them.

The second thing I miss is automatic address searching. In Firefox, if I type, for example, Firefox in the address bar, the browser will automatically do a google search and take me to the Firefox web page. Safari does not do this, and so thinks that Firefox is the web address, search for that as the address, and of course return a "server not found" page. I can from there do a google search for Firefox, which will lead me, eventually, to the page that I want. And the browser will remember this, and take me there next time I enter Firefox in the address bar. But it would be nicer if the functionality were the same as Firefox in this regard.

Convenience is so easy to get used to, that it is missed when not available. But, recognising that it is merely convenience slaves the pain of its absence. And, just as convenience is easy to get used to, it is as easy to forget about once one has adjusted to its absence.

For those people still silly enough to be using Internet Explorer, I suggest moving over to either Firefox or Safari. For those using Firefox, I recommend at least giving Safari a go.

I did, and it's now the browser I use.

Monday, April 7, 2008

J'Accuse

(With apologies to Zola)

Ron, of Tell the "Truth", has posted a video of an interview by Bill O'Reilly of a young woman named Kelly. In this video, Kelly describes an abortion that she had at the age of 14.

Kelly was 20-weeks pregnant when she informed her parents. The state of Maryland, where she resided at the time, did not allow for abortions at this stage of pregnancy. O'Reilly says, "you're father and mother, I guess, decided to take you to Kansas, where [the abortion provider] Tiller advertises on the net, he, ah, everybody knows who he is, ah, he'll abort babies at any time." Kelly does not refute this.

Kelly goes on to describe the procedure she underwent, which took place over the course of five days. She also explained what happened to her in the years after the abortion. In her words, "I was traumatised, so I had lots of symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I had very low self-esteem, I was promiscuous, I used drugs, I had eating disorders. Lots of horrible things."

In his post, Ron writes the following:

Don't beat yourself up, Kelly. You were only 13... but you might like to beat some others up. You might even find some of them on this blog. They would have supported your "choice".

I was not pleased with Ron's assertion. Indeed, I was pissed off. I have been patient with him in the past, explaining my position with some level of civility. But try as I might, he will not listen. I have in the past explained that I support choice, not compulsion. I have agreed with him that compelling a woman to obtain an abortion is evil.

But, still, he writes what I have quoted above. He claims to present the truth about abortion, but he willfully lies and deceives. He presents himself as a Christian, but his words are more like those of Satan, the Great Deceiver. He has accused Emervents of libel; let him now accuse me.

My comment on his blog, awaiting moderation, follows:

lie:
(noun)
1.a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
2. something intended or serving to convey a false impression.
3.an inaccurate or false statement.
(verb)
5. to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive.
6. to express what is false; convey a false impression.
source

As has been stated on this blog by myself and others of my position, we believe in choice, not compulsion. It is clear from the video that Kelly did not choose to have an abortion, but was compelled by her parents.

By your words, Ron, and I quote, "They would have supported your "choice"", I accuse you of presenting a lie.

I ask only that you live by the title of your blog: Tell the truth.

Or do I ask too much?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Bastard Fairies

I'm a regular reader of the blog Pharyngula. Recently, a video was posted. Following be that video.



I did like very much, so I sought more. And so at The Bastard Fairies website did I find myself being. Wandering around the site I did continue to like. And then I saw it: Free Music! I do like free music. I did then download the advertised free music. And listen to it. And I did like much, much more.

I do highly recommend.

Check out their YouTube page. Go download their free music.

Your life will be better for it. I guarantee it.*

* No warranty is provided that your life will indeed be better. Guarantee offered only as an opinion of the awesomeness of The Bastard Fairies . Should you find that your life is not better, go develop a better taste in music.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are they cowards and hypocrytes as well as liars?

Emervents recently commented on my previous post, in which she remarked that she had received much hate mail, which I presume to be from anti-choice wing-nuts. I've also noticed on the Tell the "Truth" blog that Ron has a habit of specifically writing posts that directly, by name, refer to comments Emervents has made on his blog.

I find this very interesting. I too am a regular commenter for the pro-choice position on that blog, and though I have had some comments in reply to mine, never has Ron seen fit to take me to task. And even though I, like Emervents, have my name linked to my Blogger profile, from where one may visit this blog, I've heard nothing: no comments from them on this blog, no email in my inbox. Well, there was one comment on his blog that made clear a reader of Ron's blog had visited me here, in which she confused humanoid for hominoid.

But anyway, the point I note is that Emervents and I seem to be being treated differently. The question thus arises, Why? Am I simply misunderstanding the response? Are my comments not worthy of responding to? Are my comments so dazzling that they are unable to respond? Am I reading to much in to this, seeing an illusion, a phantasm of my own creation? Or is it that Emervents is a woman, whereas I am a man?

I think the answer may lie in that last question. It is an aspect of the ideology of the anti-choice brigade to seek to control women, specifically the reproductive choices women are able to make, but also more generally. They view women as inherently weak, in need of special protection and care. They patronise, and so demean, women. A strong, articulate woman who develops and holds to her own beliefs contrary to their own is a woman to be feared. She is a virago and a witch, to be burnt upon the stake. They seek to harangue and shame women into compliance, and to point her out as the danger that an independent woman is. They would deny women the agency to act of their own accord. A woman is to be seen only as mother, and any action contrary to that by a woman is a horror and an abomination; such a woman is a monster to be destroyed.

Not so a man. A man possesses his own agency, and by it may take a foolish and false opinion. If he is to be confronted he is to be educated, not attacked. A man is his own. He is strong, and resilient. He will, indeed he ought, to fight back, so do not attack him. Far easier to go after a woman.

One more thing to note. In his most recent address to Emervents, Ron reprimands her for using anecdote. Apparently, "She told me so" (as Ron words it) is not an acceptable means of contributing to discussion. The irony of such a charge is grand, for the anti-choice brigade display no hesitancy in providing anecdote as evidence of the evil of abortion. Time and again, they will take any story that supports their position of the evil and harm of abortion, stories that are but anecdote.

Indeed, they are cowards and hypocrites as well as liars.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Are these people serious?

There's a new post by Ron on his Tell the "Truth" blog.

It's a serious WTF? post.

Ron links to an article in the the Age newspaper about the trial of teacher charged with "11 counts of sexual penetration of a 16 or 17-year-old child under his care or supervision". The article deals with the allegation that when the student became pregnant whilst in a sexual relationship with her teacher, the teacher paid for an abortion obtained by the student. Ron gets his knickers in a twist because the woman, now 25, in testifying at the trial stated that after she had undergone the abortion of her pregnancy "She could not get past it in her mind, but, she said, Morrow acted as though it had never happened."

In his post, Ron quotes the article. Here is that quote, taken from his post:

"The woman, who cannot be named, said she could not get the abortion out of her mind but Morrow acted as if it had never happened."...

"One or two days before the abortion Mr Morrow and I went to a motel. We had intercourse, the occasion was for his birthday," she said. "I had a whole romantic set up for the hotel. Candles. . . a small picnic."

The next day he accompanied her to the clinic and paid for the procedure, she said.

Notice what he has chosen to focus on and specifically point out by bolding text? Yep, the girl's response in the days following the abortion. Okay, his blog is focused on the issue of abortion, so it is perhaps not unreasonable that he chose to focus his attention on that. But remember the context: a teacher has a sexual relationship with a student, during which she becomes pregnant and obtains an abortion.

Ron's concern is the student's response in the days following the abortion, not that a teacher has abused his position and engaged in a sexual relationship with a student. Is he fucking serious? And then he has the unmitigated gall to go on and suggest that the issue of abortion is directly linked to the issue of teacher sexual-misconduct with students. It beggars belief.


~*~


My comment awaiting moderation on the post follows:

An average abortion?

Oh, wait. I see. Quote marks enclosing the word average means it really is a normal, everyday, circumstance for teachers to abuse their power and engage in illegal sexual relationships with their students. And of course it is a normal everyday experience for the female students so exploited to have abortions. Those darn irresponsible teenage girls and their unprotected sexual shenanigans. When will they ever learn?

What I find quite astounding about your post is that you choose to focus on the abortion rather than on the illegal, immoral, unethical and unprofessional conduct of the teacher. The issue in this story is not that a teen chose to abort her pregnancy, but that a teacher abused his position to engage in a sexual relationship with a student.

And to suggest that the issue of whether or not to legalise abortion is in any way tied to the issue of sexual misconduct by a teacher towards a student is not only egregious but outrageous.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Confused or Lying?

There's a new post by Ron over on the blog for "Tell the Truth" Coalition. I read it last night and it's taken me a while to process what I was reading. I knew there was something wrong, but couldn't put my finger on it. I was confused. The post was making claims that didn't follow from earlier claims.

It is now a day later and I have realised the problem: it's full of non sequiturs. I had been rendered dumb by the sheer inanity of it all. Having realised the problem, and now recovered, my analysis follows.

The central claim:
abortion causes more abortion.

The evidence:

Well, none actually.

What is being claimed as evidence, however, is that a study by Dr. Sabura Allen of Monash University, presented at the International Congress on Women's Mental Health and reported on in the Herald Sun, shows that women who are living with Depression have more sex than women who are not living with Depression. Let's call this C1.

Following this is the claim that abortion is directly linked to depression, a claim that has already been shown to false. Anyhow, this be C2.

The next claim is that women who have one abortion are more likely to have another abortion. This is actually the Conclusion. Let us call it Con for short.

From there it is further claimed that the reason for the Con is that women
will be having more sex in a desperate attempt to find the love you have just lost.

Yes, it is an inane claim, but it counts as C3.

So, do the claims merit the Con? No.

Although I have not read the study (it is yet to be published) and have only a newspaper report to go on, it is reasonable at this stage to believe that C1 is true. I urge the reader to go to the linked article for further clarification of what the study actually describes on this point. As noted earlier, C2 has been debunked. By stating C2 Ron is attempting to not only assert that abortion causes depression, but infer that a woman who does obtain an abortion will develop a Depressive Illness. He is also attempting to create a causal loop, a vicious cycle a woman is in grave danger of slipping in to, whereby (⇒) abortion ⇒ promiscuity ⇒ abortion ⇒ promiscuity ⇒ , and so on. It is a lie. Correlation does not equal causation, but it is an error to think so that many people do commit in all manner of circumstances. Anyhow, no such correlation has even been established.

The final claim, C3, is a pernicious little statement. It is attempting to assert that the reason a woman becomes 'promiscuous' (because she is Depressed, remember) is because she has had an abortion. The "love you have just lost" is a reference to the embryo or foetus of the women and the pregnancy she has aborted. It is a gross lie.

I mentioned at the beginning that the post by Ron was full of non sequiturs. This is because none of the claims follows the others, in whatever order one tries to put them in, and none lead to the Con. It is a confused mess of an argument. One might be generous and allow for some errors in logic by presuming the arguer does not know that non sequiturs make a mess of, and destroys, their argument. One might further point out such error in an attempt to educate. One can not be so generous in this instance. The argument presented by Ron is typical of anti-choice campaigners. They will lie, distort, and manipulate evidence in their attempts to convince others of the rightness of their position. When shown the errors they have have committed, they ignore it, and persist with their lies.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mercy?

The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported on allegations of abuse by Mercy Ministries, a Christian organisation associated with the evangelical (read fundamentalist) Hillsong Church, that purports to treat young women living with a mental health or eating disorder.

Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bullemia, are serious health concerns that can lead to a number of further consequences to one's health, and even death. It is not an issue that is to be taken lightly. Medical care, including psychological care, is paramount in treating and recovering from such disorders.

The allegations of abuse by women who have attended the Mercy Ministries programme are disturbing. These claims include Bible Study, prayer, exorcisms, separation (i.e., no physical contact allowed between friends) and harsh punishments for breaking the rules. It's alleged that residents in the programme are required to sign over Centrelink benefits they may be in receipt of to the organisation, as well as the organisation claiming a Carer Benefit for each resident. There is no qualified psychiatric care, and medical care consists of an occasional visit to a GP that is monitored by a representative from Mercy Ministries.

The result of this supposed care: women emerging in worse shape than they went in, requiring urgent and greater intervention and care, having to deal with not only the issue they sought help for, but also the trauma of their supposed care.

That such abuse and mistreatment could occur is abominable. Just what are the requirements of establishing and operating a care facility such as Mercy Ministries? What oversight is there by the Health Department?

I am angry.

For more information about eating disorders, visit the Eating Disorders Foundation of Victoria website.

Monday, March 3, 2008

In the beginning...

G'day, and welcome to Holocene Hominoid.

As this is my first post I'd thought I'd start off by writing a general introduction with a Q&A.

Here goes.


So, you want to write a blog. Why?

I've been thinking about staring a blog for a while now, but have put it off because I've not been sure why I wanted one or what I would write about. After all, what could I write that would be worthwhile publishing and present to the world. There are others out there who write about what I am interested in, but are more knowledgeable and qualified.

Well, I'm calling bullshit. Such thinking is a load of tosh. I'll write because I have something to say, and that's all the reason needed.

So what is it you want to say?

Buggered if know. I'll think of something. Like the blog description reads, miscellaneous musings and random ramblings.

But I am interested in science, anthropology, archaeology, and many other ologies, human rights, feminism, skepticism, atheism, and, well, whatever takes my fancy, so I'll probably end up writing about such things.

Fair enough, but then why now? What spurred you to action?

A vile little pamphlet in the mail delivered by Tell the Truth Organisation, and its associated blog.

I can not remain silent. Christofascism used to be something foreign, but it is now raising it's ugly head in Australia. It must be fought against.

What about the name, Holocene Hominoid? Please explain.

You may have heard of the Jurassic, perhaps even the Triassic. These are geological periods. We live in the geological period know as the Holocene.

As for hominoid, well, I am a member of the species Homo sapiens. Humans are apes, and hominoid means ape. Usually when people think of apes they think of the great apes - chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. We humans are great apes too. Collectively we are called hominids (from the biological classification of the Family, Hominidae). But often, people don't know about the lesser apes, the gibbons (Hylobatidae).

Poor gibbons, left out and all by their lonesome. Won't someone think of the gibbons?


Well, together, the two Families of Hominidae and Hylobatidae comprise the Superfamily Hominoidia, the apes. Hence Hominoid.

Put together I am a Holocene Hominoid.