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In light of the impact that High Speed Trading had on the financial markets yesterday, and given that high-speed computer trading (where computers execute literally thousands of trades a second) are coded to intentionally destabilize the markets to take advantage of the resulting volatility, I'd like to make a simple proposal: All trades must be the result of a direct order by a trader.  It doesn't matter whether a small investor is trading 10 shares of stock, or a fund is trading 10 million, I want to see that order come from a human being.  It can be executed by a computer, but there must be a one-to-one traceable record that says "such-and-so trader at Barclay's / Chase / Royal Bank ordered the purchase of 500,000 shares of XYZ, and that order was executed at such-and-so date and time".

What this will mean:
  • It will make the person who ordered the trade personally accountable for that trade and its knock-on effects.  This will also make it harder for large funds and banks from engaging in arbitrage, since every trade will point to a responsible person. It will also make it harder to trade in risky derivatives for the same reason.
  • It will stabilize the markets by removing automatic means of creating and capitalizing on fraction-of-a-second market swings.
  • It will level the playing field, at least to some extent, so that small investors have a chance to compete with larger investors.
  • It will hopefully help to scale back the blatant abuses being engaged in by so much of the financial industry Obviously this won't directly stop banks from pressuring poor people into high-interest-rate credit cards and mortgages, but if the banks can't trade so easily in derivatives, it will make it harder for them to finance such risky loans.
I'd like also to see a Tobin Tax implemented to discourage speculation, high-speed trading, and day trading and encourage long-term investment.  The tax could be structured so that rates are higher for day traders and large institutional investors than they are for small investors who are in it for the long haul.

We need to loosen the death-grip that the Jamie Dimons of the world have on the financial markets.  People like him are being paid tens of millions of dollars a year to manipulate the markets to their own enrichment, while ordinary working-class and middle-class people get screwed, and that has to stop.

gallinggalla: The words SOPA and PIPA, crossed out with int'l "no" symbol (red circle w/ diagonal line) (pic#2017130)
Just say "NO" to SOPA and PIPA.

For more information: Wikipedia, Ars Technica.

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Thoughts on Christianity and Islam.  Maybe I'm engaging in syncretism.  And I fear that I'm in danger of misappropriating from Islam; I'm open to critique about that.  But I need to put this out there.

I must reveal this: eight years ago, when there was an organization for LGBT Muslims - Al-Fatihah - I prayed with them several times, and gave serious thought to converting to Islam.  But I never did: I never said the Shahada (at least, not with intent).

Faced both with death threats from intolerant Muslims, and constant surveillance and harassment from the FBI, Al-Fatihah folded.  When I last checked about 18 months ago, the organization's website was still down.

So, here I am now, a Christian.  I go to church regularly (and not just on Sundays) and pray to a greater or lesser extent on most days - if nothing else, I say grace before eating.  But after more than a year of regular attendance, prayer, retreats, and Bible study, I cannot wrap my head around the Trinity.

God I get.  The Holy Spirit I get from my Jewish background, where it is spoken of as Shechina, as God's female aspect.

But now I'm going to say it: I do not believe that Jesus was the son of God.  I don't think Jesus though he was; he always referred to himself as the Son of Man.  I do not believe that God somehow entered Mary - I recoil at the very thought of that - and implanted God's son.

I believe that Joseph and Mary were two people who loved each other very much - so much that they decided to have children (note the plural).  One of their children was Jesus, who was blessed by the Word to be a prophet.  A great prophet he was; as great as Abraham, Sarah, Moses, John the Baptist, Joseph,  Mary, and Muhammad.  He sacrificed his own life for the sake of his message and his struggle for social justice.

But let's be frank.  Let's take Mary off the pedestal that we, as a patriarchal society have put her on, and stop making her an idol onto which we put our own misogynistic, racist agenda.  By letting her come down from that pedestal, we have to acknowledge that she was fully human and fully capable of making her own decisions in matters of faith, and fully capable of prophesy.

Once we do that, we have to acknowledge that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus all made the conscious, fully informed, fully consensual decision to submit fully to God.  They were, in other words, Muslim.

This coming year, 2012, some members of my church congregation, including myself, will be reading the Bible cover to cover, and having discussions about it online.  But I'm adding the Qur'an to that list and will be reading it side-by-side with the Bible.  I don't believe that Jesus was the last prophet, nor do I believe that the message conveyed by Muhammad was meant only for certain people.  I don't believe that the Bible is the last Word of God.  I believe that the Qur'an has things to say that the Bible missed or misinterpreted, and I intend to try to understand whatever little I can of the Qur'an.  I'm prepared for the potential of cognitive dissonance, and I will have to let possibly conflicting messages wend their way through my mind.

I would like to be able to practice the faith of Islam.  But to do so requires community.  There is not one masjid in Philadelphia that accepts openly queer trans folk such as myself.  There is not one masjid that does not relegate women to second-class status.  The people of Al-Fatihah had to pray in an independent bookstore, or at the Quaker Friends Center, or even in a synagogue (that's how I first became aware of their organization).  And now Al-Fatihah is no more.  The Yahoo and Google groups for LGBT Muslims have dried up.  Muslim Wake Up is gone.  I don't even know where I'd find two witnesses to say the Shahada with.

I feel stuck and conflicted.  Christianity is not my first choice of faith, but as an institution, I've found a church community that is (more or less, nothing is perfect in this world) accepting me as a queer transgenderqueer woman.  But even at this liberal church, I have to keep my views about Jesus and Mary and Muhammad to myself.

So I'll read the Qur'an alongside the Bible and see what happens, and maybe I'll find an answer.

And I'll pray that God forgive my many sins, even though I fear it's too late and I am irretrievably condemned.
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[NB: This is originally a private rant from several months ago, when I was still trying to salvage the friendship.  Within the past two weeks, I have had to end the friendship; please see the update below.]

This is a frakkin' rant.
  • Here, have a list of my disabilities:
    • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome — and be aware that managing this disorder requires me to do a constant balancing act between how much pain I can tolerate vs. how much medication-induced sedation I can tolerate
    • Gout
    • All sorts of joint problems, including frozen shoulder (technically, adhesive capsulitis) in both shoulders, which requires me to do very painful exercises to keep my shoulders from freezing completely; chronic back pain due to kyphoscoliosis, which in the last year has become relentless and appears to be radiating into my left foot; carpal-tunnel syndrome; numerous other joint problems, including joints (knees, fingers especially) that just go out at the drop of a hat
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Asperger's syndrome
    • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • Life-long, severe depression intractable to medications and therapy
    • Anxiety disorder
    • Dissociation, including derealization, depersonalization, and at least borderline / atypical DID (dissociative identity disorder)
    • Just sheer exhaustion from having to deal with transphobia, transphobic-misogyny, and binarism, as someone who is transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, and female (yes, it is possible to be all of those at once)
    So, when you go on about how "there wasn't air conditioning until after WWII, so quit bitching about the heat", how do you think that makes me feel? Keep in mind that before A/C, a lot of people frakkin' died from the heat, especially elderly people and people with disabilities. When I so-called "bitch" about the heat, it's because I don't have A/C and dealing with the heat is hard and exhausting. That "there wasn't A/C 100 years ago" is just victim-blaming. It's like, three hundred years ago, (colonial / European) medicine consisted of bleeding, so all those people without health insurance, quit yer bitchin'? Just because you can handle the heat (or what have you), doesn't give you the right to expect everybody else to handle the heat as well as you.
  • Loudly referring to the two women immediately in front of us on the sidewalk as "men" because they're wearing loose-fitting (and damned comfortable-looking, maybe I'll get some for myself) shorts is all kinds of fucked up. It's misogynistic, it's transphobic (even if the women in question are cis — which neither of us knew one way or the other), it's gender-essentialist, it's frakkin' wrong. The fact that you yourself are trans makes it worse. You ought to know better than to join cissupremacist society in policing gender and its expression. Stop it.
  • We are both trans women. (The fact that I am also genderqueer doesn't invalidate me as being a trans woman.) We have both suffered from cissupremacist society's often violent policing of our genders and how we express it. Therefore: Do not publicly — on the subway or anywhere else — tell me that I should paint my toenails. Do not take me to a sidewalk stall and hold up a frilly dress against me and tell me how good it'd look on me. Do not police my gender or its expression, and do not frakkin' ever, EVER, out me to anybody, stranger or no, without my permission!.

    For your edification, just like cis women, trans women can be femme, butch, androgynous, etc. I happen to be androgynous; I present more femme on some days and more butch on others. But one thing's for sure: I hate using makeup or painting my nails; I don't like dresses or most other feminine clothing; and I have a right to modify my manner of dress to keep myself safe on the streets, and don't you DARE imply otherwise.
  • Your suggestion that I counter a cis gay man telling me that his conversation with a trans woman is "bizarre" by telling him that my conversations with gay men are "bizarre" is busted and wrong. Countering transphobia with homophobia is an oppressive act. If someone is being transphobic to me, I need to address their transphobia, not further an oppression that they experience (and don't tell me that cis gay men aren't oppressed).
  • Stop calling gay men "she", unless you know they are ok with it. See the above point: Misgendering a gay man because he misgenders you, ain't cool.
  • Finally, although it hasn't really come up yet, I am warning you: If you question or invalidate my gender because I haven't had and probably won't have surgery, or because of any other aspect of my transition-related history, or because you don't "believe in" genderqueer identities, our friendship will be over.

Ok, now the question is how do I actually address these points with my sort-of friend? I'm pretty meek in person (though I did call her out on calling those two women "men"), and really, really afraid of anger, including my own.

UPDATE 6-Dec 2011:

Ok, I give up.

I've already told you that I'm Jewish*, and so is my whole family.  Yet, you think it's ok to go on a two-minute rant about how Jews think we're a special club and how we think we're better than everybody else.  When I remind you that I'm Jewish, you then have the temerity to tell me "Oh, that's ok, some of my best friends are Jewish**" and then complain that "I didn't know you were so sensitive about that".

You know what that means?

Friendship over, sweetheart.

* I believe it's possible to be Jewish (by upbringing, culture, and heritage) and Christian at the same time.  I did not abandon my Judaism by becoming Christian.

** She literally used those words; I did not paraphrase her.
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FYI, the un[en]titled posts do not constitute my uncritical endorsement of Occupy Philadelphia or the Occupy movement in general.  I have not participated meaningfully in Occupy Philadelphia since late October, for a number of reasons that can generally be summed up as "too many parts of my body are hurting for me to sit on concrete in the cold and the rain for hours; being disabled and visibly trans, I cannot afford to be arrested and subject to abuse from a highly transphobic police force; and Occupy doesn't truly represent even a fraction of this city's 99% as long as Occupiers fail to address the movement's own racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other supremacisms".
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[NB: I originally wrote this on October 7th, shortly after Occupy Philadelphia began.  I had kept it private for a while.]

i did not know that

being beaten and spit on by cishetero bullies

egged on by cishetero adults in power suits

and somehow managing to claw my way

to some level of financial security

at the cost of my sanity

sacrificed to those same cishetero adults in power suits

then deciding to stop lying to my self

and come out

and watching my income drop by 60%

then being unemployed for 30 months

and losing my home

and losing my health insurance

and losing my sanity

and losing my health

then getting a glimmer of hope

(wow, i can buy food and gas this month

without dipping into my dwindling savings)

and having that hope dashed

by people wearing power suits

as my body hurts:

nerves in my leg freaking out

muscles in my back freaking out

(they don't deal well with a spine bent to one side)

shoulders freezing up

thyroid burnt out

mind patched up with drugs

that i cannot afford:

i did not know that being all that

and daring to be angry at those with the power suits

and daring to give public voice

to my anger

together with thousands of other people

daring to give public voice

to our anger

makes me a hipster

but if so

then so be it.
gallinggalla: (Default)
[NB: I originally wrote this on October 7th, shortly after Occupy Philadelphia began.  I had kept it private for a while.]

the suit that i bought to impress the employers that had no intention of hiring me hangs lifeless in my closet

these are desperate times you know, and desperate times call for forgetting the desperate

"we've a need for a sales pitch by a swinging dick, we've no need for a trans aspie chick"

the clothes that i wore exactly once, in the store, lie in a heap on the floor

i cannot fit into your mold

the price of your luxury condo is more than the budget of a small non-profit trying to save lives

with your precious tax abatement you could save a thousand poor people from dying of hiv

with your orchestra tickets you could feed a thousand hungry people as you ponder why no one plays classical music at occupy philly

you could buy books for a thousand public-school students for the cost of one of your power suits

social workers struggle to survive as you buy caviar with their money

you feed on our blood as you do your best to break us

well you broke me today

and i hope your happy.
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Today, I listened to Nine Inch Nail's The Downward Spiral (Spotify*) for the first time since 1996 or so.

The song I remember most clearly is "Closer". Probably because it's the worst song on the album. (I actually like most of the songs - just not that one.)  But I digress.

Trent Reznor must be one of the more self-unaware people around.  Here's a guy who, at least in the 1990's, pushed a message of nihilism and Nietschean man-for-himself philosophy.  Certainly he presented The Downward Spiral that way.  Yet, listening to that album after a 15-year hiatus, what strikes me is just how hopeless and hollow the narrator feels.  After expending himself on drugs, heartless and possibly abusive sex, and power games, he collapses in a heap of emptiness, exemplified by the title track and by "Hurt" (Spotify).  You wouldn't be blamed if you thought The Downward Spiral was actually a critique of nihilism, a statement that chasing after momentary pleasures (especially in a way that hurts others) leads you to a spiritual wasteland.

It seems that one person who had better insight into Trent Reznor's demons than Reznor himself, was Johnny Cash.  The song that is regarded as Cash's epitaph is his cover of "Hurt" (Spotify).  You just get the sense that Cash was looking back on his life and regarding the mistakes he had made, the broken-ness of his own life and acknowledging that he was far from perfect.  He turned the crackling ennui of "Hurt" into an expression of human sadness.  By doing so, Cash turned Reznor's nihilism on its head, leaving us with a message of hope.

Also: It's pretty cool that Johnny Cash evidently listened to Nine Inch Nails.


* These links will open the album or the track directly in Spotify, if you are a subscriber.  You might have to tell your browser to use Spotify to open the links.

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So, after having spent decades bemoaning the fact that I have a vocal range hardly more than an octave, it turns out that I have a vocal range of more than two octaves.

What happened?  I started singing lower.

A few months ago, I bought the Massive Attack album Heligoland.  (I'll note briefly that I think this album is more mature and musically diverse than Mezzanine.  So glad that 3D and Daddy G have moved beyond Mezzanine's focus on dick-waving.)

The song in question is Splitting The Atom.  From Daddy G's bass to Horace Andy's near-alto, there's nearly a two-octave span.  I enjoy the song - including its vocal range - so much, that I started to sing Daddy G's parts at his pitch.  Then I'd sing Paradise Circus at Hope Sandoval's pitch (there's just one note that she reaches on that song that I can't quite get to).

So that's my vocal range: at least the middle of bass to the lower register of alto.

In an academic sense, I've always known that random physical characteristics do not determine a person's gender.  But I've long felt self-conscious about my voice, fearing that it's what defines me as so-called "male".  Singing to music has helped me wrap my head around that just a bit.  I still feel self-conscious about my presentation in general, but I'm getting a bit more comfortable with my voice, and no longer feel the need to artificially pitch my speaking voice up.

I speak in a baritone.  I sing in a baritone / tenor / low alto.  People will have to just deal, and if they use that fact to make a judgement about my gender, that's their problem, not mine.
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[NB: I know that I'm responding quite late to the news of the virus that infected the Predator drone command-and-control center.  I couldn't formulate a coherent response at that time.  A recent discussion with a friend of mine brought this issue to the fore.]

You call yourself pilots

Pilots risk their lives to carry out their missions

You sit in front of your video screens in air-conditioned comfort

You call yourself soldiers

Soldiers look human beings in the eyes before shooting them

Soldiers know that they might shoot first

Soldiers lay their lives on the line

You tell jokes, eat sandwiches, surf the net

You wank your joysticks

And half a world away, innocent people die

War is just a video game to you

Only cowards fight push-button wars

Only cowards inject lethal chemicals into an innocent man's veins without even looking at him

Only cowards order an innocent man's death because they can't admit they were wrong

Push a button and a dozen Afghanis die

Push a button and an innocent man dies


May the souls of those killed by our drones and our wars for oil, rest in peace.

May the souls of Troy Davis, Manuel Valle, and all other people murdered by the state, rest in peace.
gallinggalla: Flammable (Organic chemists will understand the significance) (pic#700851)
Google's proprietary Dart language.

I have to agree with Peter Bright's conclusion.  Javascript is busted.  Dart is not the way to fix Javascript problems.

So, Google?  All those Javascript developers - those who developed jQuery, node.js, Firebug, YUI, all sorts of highly-interactive, highly dynamic Web apps, including your own frakkin' Google Apps developers?  All of those people who poured blood, sweat, and tears into developing libraries, frameworks, developer tools, debuggers, and apps?  All those people who worked 14-, 16-, 18- hour days, who put their lives aside, who amped themselves up on coffee, Jolt, Red Bull and G-d knows what else to get through it?  Who sacrificed their relationships, families, friendships, and health to deal with Javascript's quirks and limitations, not to mention those of the DOM?  Who spent countless years collaborating with each other on the often fractious, unwieldy ECMA design committees?

You're demanding that they just throw this all away - everything they've learned about large-scale software development with a language not originally designed for that, everything they've created, all the tools and glorious wonderful interactive dynamic Web 2.x sites, and all for a proprietary language that you developed in-house, with no input from the developer community or from vendors of browsers other than your own.  You piss on the ECMA Technical Committee and on collaborative development in general.  And you expect us (yes, I'm a burnt out former developer) to swallow your proprietary language and your arrogance without complaint.

What the fsck ever happened to "Don't be evil?"  You're turning into another Microsoft; indeed, you're beating Microsoft at their own game.  At least Microsoft is being dragged kicking and screaming towards greater support for open Web standards.

Page and Schmidt: You want to break the Web.  You want to turn the Web into your proprietary playground.  You want to own every bit of our personal information, every app that we use, every piece of data that we need to store someplace.  You want to destroy any notion of personal privacy:

On December 2009, Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, declared after privacy concerns: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities." Privacy International ranked Google as "Hostile to Privacy", its lowest rating on its report, making Google the only company in the list to receive that ranking.
You actively collude with the Department of Homeland Insecurity, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Justice Department, and other Federal agencies in suppressing free speech and other Constitutional guarantees and in disrupting social justice movements.

Google, you have become the evil that you once sloganeered against.  What happened? Or was "Don't be evil" just a marketing ploy?

Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, you are part of the 1%.  Stop being evil.  Stop trying to take over the web.  Support Harmony in particular and the evolution of Javascript into a better development platform in general.  Have some respect for the thousands of person-years expended by Javascript developers.  Have some respect for Web standards and their development.  Have some respect for privacy and stop enabling our government's shredding of our constitutional rights.

Collaborative development is slow, but maybe that's what we all need now.  This never-ending push for features for the sake of features, churning for the sake of churning, change for the sake of change, all without consideration of the human cost has got to stop.

Developers, designers, testers, QA folks, doc writers, tech bloggers, game designers, please, please, join the Occupy movement happening in your city.  Take control of software development away from the giants and put it into your hands.
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Rick Perry thinks that calling for a third round of qualitative easing by the Feds is treason.

"Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion," said Perry, on his first full day of campaigning for the Republican nomination.


"If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas," said Perry.

Hey, Rick? First, threatening violence against a government official is illegal. Second, making implied death threats against a government official – which you are doing by calling Bernanke's policies "treason" and letting the audience connect the dots to "treat him pretty ugly" is even more illegal. Third, you're hardly behaving like a Christian, Mr. "Preach To 30,000 One Day And Make Death Threats The Next" Perry. As a matter of fact, you're behaving more like the antichrist in my book. Third, Bernanke is Jewish, and I find it hard to believe that didn't factor in the level of violence of your statement. This is especially scary considering that Jews (Leo Frank, for example) were lynched in the South.

You should be ashamed of yourself, Perry. You should also be sitting in a jail cell for this terroristic statement.
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I'm a moderately devout Christian. And I agree with the American Atheists that the WTC cross has no place at the memorial.

We should not be privileging Christianity, or any particular religion, in public discourse. We should not be privileging theism over atheism and agnosticism.

I practice my religion in private, at home and in my church. I don't ram it down people's throats. Crosses belong in churches, not in the public square.

The United States is explicitly a secular nation. We must keep it that way, so that all people are free to practice their particular beliefs (theistic or not) as befits them.

Turning the US into a so-called "Christian" nation will grievously harm *all* belief / non-belief. If the Christianists think they are somehow "saving" this country or Christianity by trying to impose their extremist theocratic views on us, they had better think again, because what are they doing but seeking to impose "sharia"* with a cross stamped on it? If they get their way, will they dictate their particular brand of Christianism on my church? If they do, they will lose me, for I will not bow down to their theocracy and will very willingly become unchurched.

Having symbols of other religions and of atheism at the memorial will be better than the current situation. But rather than getting into squabbles about "your symbol is bigger than mine, so I'm SUING!!!111!!!!elevensies!", better that there should not be religious symbols at the memorial. We should be honoring the memories of all people that died – atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, people of other faiths and beliefs – and not just Christians.

* "sharia" in quotes, because the Christianists have absolutely no understanding of sharia.

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So, a terrorist blows up a bomb in Oslo, Norway, and then slaughters more than 80 people, most of them teens, at a summer camp on the island of Utøya.

A police official had this to say:

"It seems it's not Islamic-terror related," the official said. "This seems like a madman's work."

So, the guy is a member of a Christian ultra-right group, and he's a "madman". If he were a Muslim, he'd be labelled a terrorist. But because he's Christian, he's not a terrorist, and his actions are referred to as killings, not as terrorism.

Gotcha. Because Christians, Jews, and atheists can never be terrorists. Christians can slaughter over 90 people in Norway, over 300 people in the Oklahoma City, US, or shoot a Congresswoman and kill bystanders in Arizona; Jews can enter mosques and massacre people who are praying there during Ramadan, and these are considered isolated acts of violence by "madmen", "person with a grudge", "psychopaths", etc. But not terrorism. Oh, no. Not ever. Because only Muslims engage in terrorism, right?

Fucking HELL no. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism. It doesn't matter if it's carried out Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists. The people who commit these acts are terrorists, period.

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I see that noted atheist AC Grayling has decided to start himself a private college, and has invited other noted atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker, to teach.

Several public universities in England have apparently raised their tuitions to £9,000 a year, which is pretty freakin' steep in a country where the government is cutting back aid programs left and right. So I'm really glad that AC Grayling and friends are helping out:

Grayling said he was motivated in part by fears that government cuts to university humanities and arts courses could leave "the fabric of society poorer as a result".

So what's annual the tuition at New College Of The Humanities? £18,000. Right. That tuition looks to make Grayling and Dawkins a lot richer, but I don't think the fabric of society will be any richer.

But, at least we can count on New College to be intellectually honest, right? After all, we religious folk are just dumb rocks who have to believe in sky daddies because we miss our mommies, right? But atheists have got the ethical way of living nailed down. Nah, they'd never commit plagiarism. They'd certainly never ever copy course syllabi verbatim from public universities.

"Every university is worried about students plagiarising essays," said Justin Champion, a senior historian at Royal Holloway college, who spotted that the titles of modules he wrote were reproduced on the New College website.

"Here we have a whole degree programme being plagiarised. I personally feel quite insulted because I wrote quite a lot of the syllabus. If the University of London didn't exist and public money hadn't been used to draw up these syllabuses, they wouldn't have been able to do this, or they would have had to invest a lot of money."

If, as AC Grayling claims, New College is offering "added value" – enough to justify £18,000 tuitions – you'd think they'd take the trouble to develop their own course syllabi.

Oh, did Grayling et al engage in due diligence regarding their business model? ... Nope. Seems they're running this project on a hope and a prayer. Ironic, that. (I'm sorry, but £10m in private equity funding seems like peanuts when it comes to funding a brand new college, no matter how small.)

Not to mention that the four leading lights of NCH (Grayling, Dawkins, Pinker, and Ferguson) are white men. Great effort at diversity, there. I'm sure that POC and women will feel like their views, perspectives, and research will be taken seriously.

Dawkins et al think that people of faith have a God delusion. (Nice bit of ableism, that.) Personally, I think that some fundamentalist atheists are suffering from hypoethicalism. Might want to seek treatment for that, y'all, because you're starting to look like fools.

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"Be Muslim for a month in Istanbul: pray five times a day and fast".

A chance to be immersed in Islam, particularly Sufi traditions and the mystic Rumi - without having to convert


A social enterprise is offering individuals the opportunity to immerse themselves in Islam, without having to convert, through a trip to Istanbul that takes in the regular sights and sounds but also includes prayers at dawn and midnight and lessons on Islam and its basic practices.

It draws heavily on the country's Sufi traditions – with a particular emphasis on the poet and mystic Rumi. Ben Bowler, from the Blood Foundation, which runs the project, said: "We wanted to focus on Rumi because he is a unifying figure. Turkey has a relatively open brand of Islam and Istanbul is an existing tourist destination."

"There is a willingness to engage with the west. We might not have found it in the Middle East or parts of south Asia. If we were in Saudi Arabia it would have been harder."

So, let's see:

  • Find a Muslim country that is friendly to the West, because we sure don't want to challenge non-Muslim Western people's world view of what Islam should look like. Check!
  • Make sure said country has a big cosmopolitan city and lots of touristy stuff to do, cuz we don't want to make it this Muslim-for-a-day thing too hard. Check!
  • Present praying five times a day as a contest. Check!
  • Charge typical tour-package fees (the £600 doesn't include airfare) to keep the riff-raff out. Check!
  • Lie by calling it "Muslim for a month" even though it's for nine days Check!
  • Focus on Rumi and Sufism, because those are the easiest for non-Muslim Westerners to "get into" and mis-appropriate for the cachet of being all advanced and open-minded. You know, that ally-cred thing. Check!
  • Put a liberal "we're doing this to increase understanding" spin on it so that non-Muslim Westerners don't have to feel guilty about appropriating Islam. Check!
  • Hey! Look! No commitment! Get your instant Islam fix! Check!

Yeah. Something that pisses me off is people wanting to get spiritual quick-fixes without doing the work or making a commitment, and somehow it always winds up being people with relative privilege cherry-picking the easy parts of non-dominant religions and cultures. I mean, how many "Be Christian for a month" tourist packages do you see?

It's like Madonna thinking that she's a special and enlightened honorary Jew because she practices a fake commercialized newage Kabbalah scrubbed clean of its years of study and torn violently off from Judaism. (Although, it seems Kabbalah isn't good enough for her any more; easy come easy go, I guess.)

It's like people saying they're Buddhist because they meditate and have a little shrine in their living rooms, complete with thousand-dollar gold-plated Buddha statues. As best I understand it, Buddhism is a way of life that encompasses compassion, non-violence, anti-oppression, and anti-materialism. Kind of like Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are. But that stuff is just so hard, and who wants to do that when you can just spend twenty minutes a day sitting with your legs crossed before you go to your job where you push subprime mortgages onto poor people?

If you want to take up a faith or a belief system, do the work of living it.

gallinggalla: (Default)
So it would seem that "philanthropist" Greg Mortenson is a fraud.

I mean, look at the photo at the top of the story: White male dude rides in to "rescue" brown people from themselves. In the process, he gets US $30,000 speaking fees and flies in private jets while lying to people about the schools he supposedly built in Afghanistan.

But what turns my stomach the most is this [bold mine]:
Three Cups of Tea has sold over 4m copies and brought Mortenson not just celebrity but a wide audience for his views on how to win "hearts and minds" in the Islamic world. General David Petraeus, overall commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and his predecessor General Stanley McChrystal, were both fans of the book. McChrystal wrote to Mortenson in June 2010: "If I'm not involved in the years ahead, I will take tremendous comfort in knowing people like you are helping Afghans build a future."

The former mountaineer has also lectured at top American military academies and been invited to talk with the most senior officers of the American military about his belief that Islamist extremism is best fought through female education.

Great. So a bunch of white Western cis het owning-class dudes use the language of white Western cis het owning-class (WWCHO-C) feminism to justify colonialist wars. And of course, those white Western cis het owning-class feminists – the ones that dominate and control feminist discourse in the Global North – sit on their laurels and say nothing while their words are used to justify invasions, mass killing of civilians, and torture.

WWCHO-C feminists say nothing while Republicans destroy what's left of unions and make life harder for working-class women.

WWCHO-C feminists say nothing while immigrant women are physically and sexually abused and denied health care in ICE facilities and for-profit jails and Arpaio's hellholes. Feminists say nothing when those women's children are taken away from them.

WWCHO-C feminists say nothing as the prison-industrial complex and the War on Drugs tears apart communities of color.

I didn't leave feminism *just* because WWCHO-C feminism is rife with transphobia and fake "allyship". I left because of this shit.
gallinggalla: (Default)
You are a noted male anti-MRA/MGTOW writer who's built up a rather large following at your blog. You're invited to write a series of articles at a major feminist blog.

In one of the articles, commenters make two simple requests: Fix a misspelling, and replace the word "idiot" with one of the suggested alternatives that is not ableist.

There's two scenarios for how you can handle this.

Scenario 1: You fix both the spelling error and the ableist language, and post a short note of correction and apology. This takes you a few minutes, then the thread goes back on track.




Scenario 2: You fix the spelling error and utterly ignore the request to remove the ableist language. A commenter [yours truly] points out that you have a pattern of ignoring or belittling requests to remove ableist language. She's a bit angry, because you've been doing this during your entire time as guest author at the blog, but she keeps it civil (if a bit sarcastic).

You proceed to go on a huge tear, posting one defensive comment after another after another, and standing by as another commenter posts comments that are outright cruel to PWD and survivors of sexual assault (and also racist), until (much too late) a moderator steps in, bans the commenter, and gives you a rude awakening.

It seems to me that following scenario 1 involves a lot less energy – both yours and that of your readership – and doesn't provide a growth medium for trolls like Diane K. Then again, I suppose, David, your special snowflake privilege is just so precious that it's worth it to spend hours writing all those defensive, self-justifying comments and antagonizing your readership in the process. It leads me to believe that you aren't interested in social justice, and that ManBoobz is nothing more than a sophisticated Nice Guy™ game. I will treat you and your blog accordingly.

ETA: ... And you continue to be defensive, and openly mocking of PWD who spoke up against your ableism, even after the moderator tells you you're out of line!!


gallinggalla: (Default)

August 2012

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