7 things to stop saying about the Sydney siege

With such a tragedy hitting Sydney never has the expression opinions are like assholes –- everyone has one been more apt. Some of that talk has been racism and xenophobia (but not in my social media feeds, yay living in a bubble!) which should of course be condemned. But I’ve seen other, subtler problematic stuff said, across the political spectrum. Here are 7 things I think we should all stop saying: 1. This was definitely terrorism/definitely not terrorism This was a crime committed by a single person who is now dead. Certainly the siege had the effect of terrorising many […]

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When is violence justified?

[Spoiler for Django Unchained] The climax of the movie is when Django comes back to the house for a final showdown. One sequence is just classic love-him-or-loathe-him Tarantino: Django is at the top of the stairs explaining how he will take revenge on the white people of the household Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, the sister of the slaveholder Calvin J. Candie is at the bottom of the stairs Django tells a black woman to say goodbye to Lara, then shoots Lara Lara flies back in an exaggerated trajectory and obviously the wrong angle To me, the two reactions Tarantino was going […]

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Dear international tourists: don’t come to Australia

Australia is now a proper rogue state, deserving universal condemnation not tourist dollars If you’re outside Australia, you’ve probably seen our Prime Minister Tony Abbott made fun of on international news (or US satirical tv). These included his promise to ‘shirtfront’ Putin over MH17, putting his foot in his mouth over the Scottish independence referendum, his deliberate obstructionism of any climate change progress at G20, his grin and wink at a woman who said she worked in phone sex to make ends meet, his resurrection of terra nullius etc etc. One problem with such coverage is that it overplays the […]

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Jew cooties and trans disclosure

NOTE: This post is an analogy between different kinds of discrimination. While I normally avoid these, I thought it was necessary here as I’ll explain below. Still, take it for what it is, a limited and necessarily-flawed analogy. A man and a woman hook up. The next day, the man finds out the woman is Jewish. He is outraged that she was so deceptive in not telling him. “If I knew she was a Christ-killer, I wouldn’t have touched her with a ten foot pole! What she did is disgusting and grossly immoral.” He presses sexual assault charges. How sympathetic […]

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Geography, Ebola and “Africa” as a single place

The idea of Africa as a single place is common in Western countries, which has many consequences. I’ve looked at some of these before in terms of the idea of dividing countries up into first world and third world (here and here). There is a great website focussed around the tropes associated with people’s ignorance of Africa called Africa is a Country. If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see how expansive the continent of Africa is. In the mental map of many non-Africans though, it occupies almost a single point, which probably contains the following 7 features: famine […]

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Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom is very racist & sexist

Many kids have movies they love to watch over and over again. One of mine was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I’ve just seen it again for the first time in 15+ years. I suspected that it’d probably be quite racist but it exceeded my racism+sexism expectations by a lot. Another childhood favourite struck off the list! Many people hate the mere idea of criticising a movie for being racist/sexist. A good resource about the problems with this is these three posts by Heina Dadhaboy. And if you want a case of specific harm from racist movie stereotypes, […]

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Cargo cult skepticism

There have been Deep Rifts™ within the atheist and skeptical communities [in English-speaking countries]. These have now been covered enough in the wider media that you might have heard of them even if you don’t identify with any of those groups. Just in the last 2 months, there have been numerous sexual assault/rape allegations against Michael Shermer, an art exhibit made by Amy Davis Roth out of all the harassment her and other women in the community have received and numerous “debates” around some really sexist stuff said by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. I won’t make an argument because […]

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Against the term “offensive”

I have a pet peeve: the use of the term “offensive”. Ok, it’s more than a pet peeve – I think its use in public discourse is misleading and harmful. To start, here are some uses of “offensive” that are particularly cringeworthy: You don’t have a right not to be offended It’s good and important to be offensive The PC crowd is desperate to be offended He’s a #bravehero who doesn’t worry about causing offense Do I offend you? Tough Often what follows is rank bigotry. What provides it cover is the conflation of offensive’s two meanings. The first is […]

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The “secrets” of happiness are simple

Most of us blunder through life’s complications – but if Einstein, Gandhi, Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama have taught us anything it’s that the simple truths about happiness are still valid. Here is the collective wisdom of the last few thousand years that They don’t want you to know about: Eat healthy. You are what you eat. Make sure that your chef is always using enough fresh, organic, biodynamic vegetables in cooking. Sure, it might be more convenient to have your chef pan fry that wagyu steak but that’s a shortcut. Isn’t it more delicious, tender and healthy to […]

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Lack of feminism is an existential threat to humanity

No, I don’t think I’m exaggerating here. The consensus for population growth has been that the world will peak at around 9 billion towards the middle of this century with a levelling off or even a slight drop-off. The main reason for this is that we’re having fewer children across the world – the effects of which will be felt decades later. Now, a new study in Science that the UN and others are paying lots of attention to is adjusting the projections upwards based on more recent data. Things do not look good for sustainability. There is now a […]

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About this blog

The thinly-veiled identity of lives and rants in Sydney. Views not his own, provided by hivemind. All my original work on this blog is licensed under a CC BY-NC License.

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