Are ISIS Muslims? Insisting “no” is intellectually dishonest.

Last year, the Sydney siege prompted many to demonise people with mental illness and to claim that the perpetrator couldn’t have been a true Muslim (see my post about it for more). With the recent attacks in Europe (and it’s all about Europe), this is recurring on a massive scale. Some examples: Translation: Like McDonald’s, Islam apparently has an official brand, as opposed to being a religion of great diversity. Also, saying ISIS are Muslims means apparently being stuck with the strawman that you think of them as “being”/representing Islam. Translation: ISIS performs atrocities because their combatants are ‘crazy’. People […]

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5 things to remember about China’s one-child policy

In a village north of the Longgang Zhen (the town) in Yangxin county. The hand-painted white text on the wall (below the pig-breeder’s ad) apparently threatens village women who’ve exceeded the two-child limit with tubal ligation. [CN: Reproductive coercion, crimes against humanity] Last week headlines that China has abandoned its one child policy (after 35 years) have rocked international news media. There are many aspects of Chinese history that get really simplified when most non-Chinese people talk about it. This is one of them. Here are some important things to keep in mind. 1. The policy was never absolute Enforcement […]

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If porn is warping the behaviour of adolescents, this is how NOT to react

[CN: Discussion of porn and sex acts] An article from The Age was crying out for a fisk: How online porn is warping the behaviour of boys with girls. Porn is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, there is conservative moral panic about things that aren’t really a problem (see an old post about the “Center for Healthy Sex”). And then there are legitimate criticisms of many of porn’s tropes and trends and what they’re saying. Allison Pearson tries to do that but ends up missing the point by miles. We need to educate and embolden our daughters to […]

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The Australian government is pretty good at misleading charts

The Abbott government introduced a new page in Australian tax assessments that provides a breakdown of where your taxes go. I’m not sure whose idea it was but I really like the concept. It might be one of the only positive achievements of Abbott’s 726 days in office. But the way it’s executed is seriously misleading to be in line with the Abbott government’s agenda. Here’s an example tax return with the personal details and amounts deleted: It starts off with some alarmist (ie. bold) text about the level of Australian Government debt. This is supposed to be a big […]

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Your activism needs an ethics committee

[CN: Racism and racist violence (esp. in the video)] Itamar Rose is an Israeli who makes satirical social experiment films on issues considered taboo and contentious [largely to an Israeli audience]. Some examples of videos he was involved in: Seeing how many passers-by in the majority-Jewish New York neighbourhood of Brighton Beach would donate to a fictional charity called Jews Kill Arabs. Going to Sderot (the Israeli town that has born the brunt of rocket fire from Hamas and other groups in Gaza) and asking residents to roleplay Palestinians under the occupation. Asking women to record a Channukah greeting to […]

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Pinkified games, pinkified code

The last 12 months have seen a lot of media coverage of women’s representation in gaming, coding and the tech industry. Most of the steps so far have been cultural (eg. responses to Gamergate) but there has been some direct action. The loudest being Intel pledging $300 million to improve diversity and representation. But when it comes to typical websites and experiences, the landscape is still looking pretty bleak. Since gaming and coding are closely tied together in the way programming is promoted to young people, it’s worth looking at some gaming and coding examples. First up, we have an […]

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A closer look at anti-smartphone memes

If there’s one thing I love to hate-read more than anti-smartphone moral panics (see some previous examples), it’s anti-tech memes. They distill the moral panic clearly, without much chance to obfuscate. They also get shared a lot. Recently I saw someone share an article called 27 powerful images that sum up how smartphones are ruining our lives. There are loads of almost identical articles, eg. These 40 Cartoons Perfectly Illustrate How Smartphones Have Taken Over Our Lives, These 30+ Cartoons Illustrate How Smartphones Are The Death Of Conversation and These 19 Cartoons Nailed Our Smart Phone Addiction, And It’s Kind […]

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How do you know someone’s vegan? They’ll tell you!

I’m sure you’ve seen the one-line that’s the title of this post: Although the above joke is about vegans, it’s a standard template used against lots of other groups (as we’ll see below). An interesting connection to the vegan version of the joke is the countless times I’ve seen LGBT people accused of “flaunting” their sexuality, shoving it in people’s faces and even imposing it on others. This is often set off by the most indirect factors, like someone having a picture of their same-sex partner at their desk at work. And it’s not like the increasing public support for […]

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Science, religion and appropriating metaphors

I haven’t written about the ‘science vs religion’ thing for ages, but an article caught my attention –– first because I thought it was ridiculous and later because it did force me to think about using scientific metaphors, which is always a positive. It’s The Missing Link: The Coessential Nature of Science and Faith by Nicholas Metrakos, appearing in Orthodoxy Today. The relationship between science and religion has been debated for centuries and it’s not going to end anytime soon. But what could possibly be left to say about it? As a beginning scientist and Orthodox Christian, I think the […]

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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. Click here for the privacy policy

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