Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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America’s romanticised assault – the kiss and the statue

I learned about this sculpture in the States, titled “Unconditional Surrender” by Seward Johnson, via a photography group on Facebook that I’m a member of (and shut down the discussion I had about it, due to it apparently not being the “proper platform” for a discussion of what art represents or emotions it elicits – partly due to admins noting the hostility in comments on other pieces written about this incident).

A photographer captured this statue in black & white and, after I raised the issue of this being an assault [edited for spelling etc], this commenter began in response to my pointing out it’s assault to grab people and force kisses on them:

“I am a believer in the rights of women and they should be protected at all costs and I am very much against violence against women and would put all such men in jail and throw away the key but…”

But, indeed.

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Russia Running Rings Around Homophobia

Please go to More Links for updates since I wrote this.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time and after a loooong writing break, am finally getting around to it. It’s long, but I hope it’s worth it.

We can make it happen.

We can make it happen.

I went to Russia a few years ago. It was a great holiday, and I was hopeful about a return trip someday. However, developments since Putin somehow managed to retain his presidency have basically removed that option.

It is hard to say exactly why the “Gay propaganda law” has been put in place. A common (but not universally accepted) suggestion is that one goal of a ruler who wants to keep their power is to suppress views they do not like, and that’s precisely where these laws come from, pandering to the “traditional” views of some of the people, and the church. Create scapegoats that aren’t you, but some imagined “other” that are a real threat to your livelihood. In this case, it’s “protect children from things that might make them gay” – obviously based on a fundamental misunderstanding of both sexual orientation and what’s important for young people*.

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FBrape campaign

fc-webicon-facebook

On May 21st 2013, the Women, Action  & the Media group wrote an open letter to Facebook, which was signed by over 100 advocacy groups, asking them to review their policies on permitted content.

Background

There has long been a problem on the site. While its “community standards” seem to be fairly clear:

Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech*. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.

Facebook does not tolerate bullying or harassment.

Sharing any graphic content for sadistic pleasure is prohibited.

Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

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Shisha scheisse

Inspired by a recent tweet from Rhys, I have decided to reproduce a little bit of work I did on explaining “shisha” to someone otherwise unaware.

I still quite frequently find that people are ignorant of what it is (and isn’t) and what the potential harms are – indeed many will claim it is safer than “traditional” cigarettes. So I’ve tried to summarise all of that here. Please feel free to add your favourite sources on this topic in the comments.

What is shisha?

Shisha or sheesha is a method of smoking flavouried tobacco through an apparatus called a hookah. It is also known as “waterpipe tobacco” because the smoke passes through water before it’s inhaled.

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Circumcision debate

UCLU ASHS 28/02/13

Antony Lempert (GP & Chair of the Secular Medical Forum)

vs.

Jonathan Arkush (Vice President, Board of Deputies of British Jews)

Here’s the full audio of the debate; it’s about 1hr 10mins but I’ve put highlights in my Pod Delusion report! I’ve also put timings on my notes below so that you can skip to the relevant bits if you like.

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The silent misogyny

This post brings in a few different stories to make my point, which ultimately is a simple one, yet it still seems to pass many people by. The insistence that women are already equal (more or less) and feminism is stupid is one I am faced with quite frequently. Obviously I disagree – if you know me or my writing you probably know I will make a case for the importance of feminism, or, if you prefer, pushing for gender equality.

I find the definition of words used in such debates to detract from the point somewhat, but in the interests of clarity… skip to the end*, because I don’t think that’s the interesting bit!

No breasts, please, we’re bishops

I’m sure you will have seen the news that the church has decided women can’t be bishops. I’ve had a few conversations about this and as I have a lot of friends who are also entirely non-religious, a lot of the talk has been along the lines of:

Well it’s irrelevant…

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Media manipulation from Hillsborough to Leveson

Soho Skeptics

7/11/12

Chris Atkins is probably best known for his documentary film Starsuckers and he told us a bit about how it came to be and some of what’s happened since at the first Soho Skeptics event last week.

Chris pointed out that his talk could probably be summed up by one story that was doing the rounds that day – that of Brian Cox supposedly slamming the BBC for not letting them listen for alien transmissions live on air, lest it conflict with editorial guidelines…

But moving on to the talk for real, we started with documentaries. What is their purpose? They should communicate truths to the audience. Chris cited 3 of his favourites as Fog of War, Man on Wire, and Inside Job. However, he likes to do the opposite; tell the story through lies in order to expose people.

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