dreamer_easy: (*health)
How climate science deniers can accept so many 'impossible things' all at once (GA, 23 September 2016) No use being smug about it - every human brain is full of shortcuts, bugs, and quirks, and the best we can do is to be aware of them. And stay curious.

Who Will Debunk The Debunkers? (FiveThirtyEight, 28 April, 2016) "Does skepticism self-destruct?" Once again smugness is a trap for peeps like me who enjoy pulling the rug out from under fallacies: we can end up creating new ones.

The Devil's Wager: when a wrong choice isn't an error (Mind Hacks, 25 April 2016)

Born to Be Conned (NYT, 6 December 2016)

Living with social anxiety disorder (and how it differs from shyness) (ABC, 16 June 2016)

Australian Psychological Society issues official apology to Indigenous Australians (SMH, 15 September 2016). "Professor Patricia Dudgeon, who was Australia's first Indigenous psychologist, said the science of psychology relied on a Western, individualistic understanding of "self", which was fundamentally different to the communal sense of self experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.'You've got family, community, country, land, culture and spirituality. A patient sitting in front of you - you can't just see them as an individual removed from that.'"

Gambling is killing one Australian a day, but it rakes in billions in tax (SMH, 28 September 2016) Governments make $5.8 billion a year; this costs the community $4.7 billion and 400 lives.

Australian suicide deaths rising among women and teenage girls, ABS figures show (ABC, 29 September 2016)

Dogs understand both language and intonation, making their brains similar to humans' (ABC, 31 August 2016)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God' (The Independent, 31 January 2015). "Now, if I died and it was Pluto, Hades, and if it was the 12 Greek gods then I would have more truck with it, because the Greeks didn’t pretend to not be human in their appetites, in their capriciousness, and in their unreasonableness... they didn’t present themselves as being all-seeing, all-wise, all-kind, all-beneficent, because the god that created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac."

Indigenous youths 24 times more likely to be in detention, Amnesty International report finds (ABC, 2 June 2015) | Fact Check: Amnesty International claim on 'shocking' Indigenous child incarceration rates checks out (ABC, 19 June 2015)

Australian prison population grows 20 per cent in last decade (SMH, 29 January 2016)

Children from Indigenous communities more likely to suffer unintentional injuries, study finds (ABC, 19 February 2016). "We're not sufficiently investing in appropriately targeted preventative programs for Indigenous children."

'Blackbirding' shame yet to be acknowledged in Australia (SMH, 3 June 2015). For most of my life I thought slavery was something that other countries had done. Only in recent years have I learned about the work we forcibly extracted from Indigenous Australians and South Sea Islanders.

White man in the photo is the 'third hero' that night in 1968 (San Francisco Globe, 9 June 2016). Australian Olympic athlete Peter Norman, his gesture of support for John Carlos and Tommie Smith as they made their Black Power salute, and what it cost him.

The McDonald's Hot Coffee Case (Consumer Attorneys of California Web site). "It is the case that gave rise to the attacks on 'frivolous lawsuits' in the United States. Almost everyone seems to know about it. And there's a good chance everything you know about it is wrong."

TSA's 95% failure rate shows airport security is a charade (Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2015). It's just for show.

A Social History of Jell-O Salad: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon (Serious Eats, 29 August 2015)

Are you a grammar pedant? This might be why (GA, 29 March 2016). "Introverts, it turns out, are more likely to get annoyed at both typos and grammos." Not this little black introverted duck. Mistakes happen. The nitpicking is far more irritating.

Finally, on violence.

If ya think that's all of the backed-up links, you are sorely mistaken. XD
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Vast majority of boat arrivals in past 40 years given refugee protection (GA, 1 March 2016) "Data shows 80% protection rate markedly different from determinations made in Nauru or Manus Island centres."

Military camp ethos prevails in a Maribyrnong detention centre run on fear (29 February 2016)

Nauru and Manus Island are Australia's Guantanamo Bay (SMH, 28 February 2016). A cautious but convincing comparison of the Australian and US detention centres.

Arguing online or offline? Make use of the Refugee Council of Australia's quick mythbuster and detailed mythbuster fact sheets.

Catching up on links:

Maribyrnong detention centre: 'They just kept pushing down' (SMH, 14 February, 2015)

FactCheck: did 1200 refugees die at sea under Labor? (The Conversation, 3 March 2015). Using "the best available data", this is "broadly correct", with about 1100 drownings under Labor and somewhere between 400 and 760 drownings under the Coalition. (I hope that the apparent cessation of drownings is genuine, and not an artifact of the current government's policy of secrecy, especially given our unsafe policy of turning boats back.)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
... compare the Refugee Council of Australia's press release with the Weekend Australian's interpretation of it. Suddenly we're the world's most generous resettler of refugees, instead of number 46.
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
One of my weird little hobbies is looking for the original context of soundbites and quotes which are bandied about in the media and online. Today I came across this:

"South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who claimed 'tragedies happen, accidents happen' after an asylum seeker boat sank between Australia and Indonesia"
That was in Adelaide Now last week, but a quick Google shows that the quote - if it is a quote - has been gleefully bandied about as "evidence" of callousness, hypocrisy, etc etc, ever since. An Australian piece from the time dates it to about 18 December 2011. ETA: Seems to have been an interview on ABC radio.

I'll keep searching for the exact original context, but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you a doorstop interview with Hanson-Young, dated 19 December 2011, which impressed me. (This media release is essentially a summary.) Within five minutes she's displayed not just compassion and a consistent policy, but has explained in detail the alternatives to the failed policy of deterrence. (Details of turnbacks - evidence of the policy's failure - will continue to be kept from the public. Meanwhile, a boat has been sighted in Australian waters; its Vietnamese passengers, Catholics fleeing religious persecution, are in danger of refoulement.)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Jack held his breath, and then was gone: I'm pretty sure I had a narrow miss with hypoxic blackout as a young girl, after trying to swim underwater for as long as I could. In my case, I was lucky - I had a sudden, raging, lengthy episode of tachycardia, which I think must have saved my oxygen-starved brain from blacking out. Neither children nor adults should try to hold their breath underwater for long periods. It can kill.

Doctors in plea over cutbacks to hospital funding: "The Australian Medical Association's annual public hospitals report card showed nationally the number of hospital beds per capita had not grown, and the capacity of hospitals to move patients from emergency departments to wards or to perform elective surgeries had not improved." Can someone explain to me why Australia's hospitals aren't swimming in money? What are we spending it on that's more important? (Oh yeah, that's right.)

Women and children not first, as it turns out: Chivalry on Sinking Ships Only a Myth, Researchers Find. That's that old chestnut roasted, thank heavens.

Good news from the US: Teen Birth Rates Plunge To Record Low As Adolescents Now Have Better Access To Birth Control

Not so good news: Former sex trafficking victim shines light on dark underworld of Super Bowl

Tick male or female - where's the other box?: on accommodating intersex people on official forms.

The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths of All Antibiotics (US) / Superbug threat on the rise through farm animals (Aus): one of a number of reasons dedicated carnivores may want to try organic meat, or having a weekly vegetarian meal.

[livejournal.com profile] outsdr's piece on Dating Myself is a riot. (And so is Mindhack's exasperated response to the Daily MFail. At least no mutant three-lobe killer rapists have answered your personals, Tim.)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Dutch the dog will only be euthanised if and when his owners' appeal fails.

"The judge expressed his deep concern over the 'lynch-mob' mentality spurred by Internet accounts of the attack that contain false, inflammatory, incomplete and misleading information. He noted that these postings have resulted in threats of violence against the victim with no apparent attempt by the defendant to correct the accounts or to mitigate threats against the victim. The defendant was instructed to refrain from further Internet postings that could result in harassment or intimidation of the victim."
- Judge Imposes Penalties in Vicious Animal Case

Dogshit!

Feb. 10th, 2013 12:05 pm
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
You know how obsessed I am with checking up on Internet bullshit. Almost every day on my Tumblr dash I see outrage, and not just indignant huffing, but posts about genuine injustice - but the maddening thing is that the folks reposting it don't question the content and don't bother to check it.

So here's Dutch the service dog, cruelly condemned as a vicious dog after nipping someone after they punched him and beat him with a metal bar. Dutch is rapidly heading for 5000 reposts - but a quick Google search turns up a very different version of the story. Quoth the Animal Services Supervisor: "I have been in this job for 15 years... This is the worst incident of an animal attack that I have seen. In the dozens of vicious animal cases I've investigated, I have never seen a case where the animal was as aggressive in pursuing the victim multiple times." The account circulating on Tumblr omits obvious details, such as why the victim was hitting the dog in the first place, not to mention her $24,000 medical bills.

Obviously, I hate the idea of anyone's pet being put down. It seems to me it's the humans at fault here - Dutch's owners, and the journalists who unquestioningly published their version of the story. I don't know much about dog safety, but I'd much rather Dutch was rehabilitated, or muzzled, or whatever else will allow him to stay with his family (or perhaps with a better one); and the Animal Services guy holds out hope for that. I'll still sign the petition in the hopes that Dutch will be given that chance. (But I'll be damned if I donate to his owner's legal fund.)

(Stuff like this gets on my wick almost every day. It's only when I'm hypomanic that I become compelled to kvetch about it! Ye gods, I might as well try to spell-check the Web. ETA: I suppose my kvetching is the equivalent of everone else's moral indignation! XD)

ETA: update.
dreamer_easy: (Default)
I'm really tired, so let me do this in point form.

  • Jim Wallace lies, repeatedly, that gay men live twenty years less.

  • Everyone and their dog points out this is based on outdated research from the 1990s.

  • Wallace claims that his evidence in fact dates from 2009 and 2011.

  • Wallace's 2009 reference cites a book published in 2003. That book, in turn, cites a literature review published in 1999.

  • Wallace's 2011 reference says nothing about gay mens' life expectancy.
And thus, Wallace's "evidence" vanishes. Poof!

Further reading:

Here is Wallace suffering "virulent censorship" by having his views reported in the Herald Sun, the newspaper with the highest circulation in Australia:
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/smoking-gay-quotation-misrepresented-acl/story-e6frf7kf-1226466350411

And here is crikey.com's debunking of the press release:
http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/09/06/get-fact-do-gays-have-more-health-problems-than-smokers/

ETA: Jensen: "I do not know whether there is sound evidence for this or not." Put up, your grace, or shut up. Library's that-a-way.

Lie redux

Sep. 11th, 2012 07:29 am
dreamer_easy: (Default)
Apparently Archbishop Jensen repeated the lie that gay mens' lives are twenty years shorter than their straight counterparts. I say apparently because I didn't actually watch Q&A and I haven't confirmed exactly what Jensen said yet; Jon had it on with the sound off and was reading out the more amusing Tweets, which sent me to Twitter for more commentary. Many people complimented Jensen on his calm and reasonable demeanour, and while that's commendable, false witness does not become true when it's borne politely.

The most maddening thing about the context of all this is the discussion about gay marriage. Surely if anything reduces a person's chances of contracting HIV, it's monogamy?!

Anywho the transcript will be up this arvo.

ETA: And here we are:

"Now, I think it is true to say - I think it is true to say - it's very hard to get all the facts here because we don't want to talk about it and in this country censorship is alive and well, believe me. So what I'm about to say, I don't want to say because I know I'm going to be hit over the head for the next 100 years about it so - and it's a virulent censorship. Now, I will still go ahead. What I want to say is that as far as I can see by trying to get to the facts, the lifespan of practising gays is significantly shorter than the ordinary, so called, heterosexual man. I think that seems to be the case. Now what we need to do is to look at why this may be the case and we need to do it in a compassionate and objective way. Some people say it's because of the things I say and the position I take and that creates, for example, a spate of suicides. That may be true but how can we get at the facts if we're never willing to talk about it? Now, there may be other things as well."

I'd like to point out that Jensen was remarking about the "virulent censorship" of his views while speaking on a national public TV program, and that Wallace's use of the same lie was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, a newspaper with a circulation exceeding 200,000.

tbh, I think that in this case "censorship is alive and well" and "it's very hard to get all the facts" are euphemisms for "inconveniently, I cannot find any evidence to support my claim".
dreamer_easy: (Default)
"I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health - which it presents when it wants more money for health - are that is has higher rates of drug taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years. The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke."
- Jim Wallace, Australian Christian Lobby, yesterday

"Over the past few months we have learnt of a number of reports regarding a paper we published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on the gay and bisexual life expectancy in Vancouver in the late 1980s and early 1990s. From these reports it appears that our research is being used... to suggest that gay and bisexual men live an unhealthy lifestyle that is destructive to themselves and to others. These homophobic groups appear more interested in restricting the human rights of gay and bisexuals rather than promoting their health and well being.

The aim of our research was never to spread more homophobia, but to demonstrate to an international audience how the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men can be estimated from limited vital statistics data. In our paper, we demonstrated that in a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 21 years less than for all men... In contrast, if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996. As we have previously reported there has been a threefold decrease in mortality in Vancouver as well as in other parts of British Columbia.

It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive mesaure. Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces everyday. It cannot be attributed solely to their sexual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor... In summary, the aim of our work was to assist health planners with the means of estimating the impact of HIV infection on groups, like gay and bisexual men, not necessarily captured by vital statistics data and not to hinder the rights of these groups worldwide. Overall, we do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights of gay and bisexual men or any other group."
- Robert S Hogg et al, December 2001

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."
- God, quite a while back
dreamer_easy: (Default)
How my book became part of the 'satanic sex stabbing'
"No one wants to look at the story of Chandler and Larrabee as the story of two people. Instead, it's another piece of Internet content, and showing the whole truth takes the fun out of it. In the age of the hit count, this story had all the elements of a traffic monster... Whatever really happened was so much less entertaining than what could have happened, so why not use technically true words that make the story what they wanted it to be?"
While I'm at it, here's another:

It's Me in That 9/11 Photo
"Had Hoepker walked fifty feet over to introduce himself he would have discovered a bunch of New Yorkers in the middle of an animated discussion about what had just happened. He instead chose to publish the photograph that allowed him to draw the conclusions he wished to draw."
Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.
dreamer_easy: (Default)
Quoth one of those list things at cracked.com, "5 Unexpected Downsides of High Intelligence":
#4. You're Less Likely to Pass On Your Genes... A 2008 national census reported that women who had dropped out of high school had the most children on average. And the more education women achieved, the fewer children they were likely to have, with the fewest children being born to women who had finished graduate school.

The explanation, according to the Census Bureau, is simple: Women wanted to finish school before they were saddled with nine months of fetus-carrying. Then, for smart people of both sexes, there's the career to think about, and promotions, and who has time for a needy mini-human during all that? And of course, IQ plays a direct role here, since it has also been found that women with lower IQs are less likely to know how to use birth control properly, leading to more unplanned pregnancies."
As someone who happens to possess a filthy huge IQ, this argument disturbs me for several reasons, the chief one being the conflation of intelligence with education. The unstated assumption is that kids drop out of school because they're stupid. However, according to a presentation online at the National High School Centre site, the reasons for dropping out are: "bright but bored", "life event", and "academic failure". Even the latter isn't automatically the result of thickness: the same presentation notes that poor schools may lack the resources to give additional help and attention to all the students who'd benefit from it - mentors, tutors, homework support, attendance monitoring, etc. So not finishing high school might be the result of being dim, but it could also be the result of being poor, having a disability, being mentally ill - or even being smart.

I also wonder how many of those "life events" were unplanned pregnancies. Countless American girls and women (and boys, and men) have been denied sex education and access to abortion, regardless of their IQs. Which comes first, the baby or the drop-out?

There are lots more objections that could be raised, but I haven't had to think hard or dig deep to find several reasons other than low IQs to explain higher childbirth rates for some American teens. idk how seriously anyone takes Cracked's articles, but the links to studies gives it a veneer of respectability it probably doesn't deserve (one of those studies is from 1978!). It veers dangerously towards the Marching Morons fallacy. If human intelligence is genetic, and dumb humans breed more than smart humans, and human beings have been around for hundreds of thousands of years... then how come we're still smart enough to invent stuff like the Internet? On second thoughts, don't answer that.
dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
Something I've wanted to look into for a while is the claim, most familiar from Jack Chick's anti-Islamic tracts, that Allah is not the same god as the chap in the Bible, but instead a pagan moon god. Here's the claim, as stated in Chick's tract Allah Had No Son:

"In the 1950s a major temple to the moon god was excavated at Hazor in Palestine. Two idols of the moon god were found, proving Allah was a pre-Islamic pagan deity. Here is a photo of Allah sitting on a throne... notice the crescent moon on his chest."
Chick gives a footnote to a book called Islamic Invasion by Robert Morey. Helpfully, an anti-Islamic site hosts a copy of the appendix from Morey's book with the exact bit Chick quotes:

"In the 1950's a major temple to the moon god was excavated at Hazor in Palestine. Two idols of the moon god were found. Each was a statue of a man sitting upon a throne with a crescent moon carved on his chest. The accompanying inscriptions make it clear that these were idols of the moon god. Several smaller statues were also found which were identified by their inscriptions as the daughters of the moon god.
So those are the claims. But how do they compare to the archaeologists' reports?

Hazor was a major Bronze Age city in Canaan, north of the sea of Galilee, mentioned in the Bible and in Egyptian documents. Its ruins were excavated in the 50s by an expedition from the Hebrew University, and one of the team's most exciting finds was a small shrine which contained several stelae, and one basalt statue - the figure in Chick's photo.

As you can see, there are already problems with Robert Morey's account. Only one statue was found, not two, and this was not a "major temple" - head archaeologist Yigael Yadin called it the "little sanctuary" and "miniature sanctuary", and the statue and stelae are tiny - the statue is only 40 cm high.

But there are bigger problems. There were no inscriptions in the shrine. The archaeologists could only make educated guesses about the identity of the statue - at first, they weren't even sure if it was a god, and not a priest or a king. What's more, no other statues were found - let alone "smaller statues" identified by inscriptions as "daughters of the moon god". Morey hopes to make a connection with the "daughters of Allah", three goddesses whose worship is condemned in the Qu'ran; Chick makes this explicit in another tract, Men of Peace? (although now, for some reason, he's moved the excavations to the 1940s).

Yadin concluded that this was indeed a moon god, and suggested some possible deities it might represent. But once you remove the untruths, the only connection left between Hazor and Islam is the crescent moon. I guess if you're willing to invent evidence, you could connect Allah to any god you like ... but isn't there a commandment about that sort of thing?

(A word of thanks is due to the librarians at Macquarie University, who had no idea what I was up to, but went above and beyond the call of duty to help me with a small mountain of books!)

ETA: Note to self: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5615/neareastarch.76.issue-2

___
Yadin, Yigael. "Excavations at Hazor (1955-1958)". in E.F. Campbell, Jr and D.N. Freedman (eds). Biblical Archaeologist Reader (vol 3). Garden City, NY, Anchor Books, 1961-70.
Hazor : the rediscovery of a great citadel of the Bible. New York, Random House, 1975.
— "Symbols of Deities at Zinjirli, Carthage and Hazor" in Sanders, James A. (ed). Essays in Honor of Nelson Glueck: Near Eastern Archaeology in the Twentieth Century. Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1970.
Yadin, Yigael et al. Hazor I : An Account of the First Season of Excavations, 1955. Jerusalem, Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1958.
dreamer_easy: (*otters)
Thought better of and deleted a cranky posting here about Twitter, magazine interviews, and how fans are credulous fools, fools I tell you blah blah blah. There is a point worth making, though, and it's this: when you read an interview in a magazine or newspaper, you're not reading a word-for-word transcript of everything that was said. Even when journalists are honest and scrupulous, small edits - just tidying up, summarising, or paraphrasing - can inadvertently change the meaning of what was said. When responding to an interview which offended you, it's important to keep this in mind.

A concrete example: yesterday, Matthew Graham Tweeted angrily in response to the interview with Philip Glenister in the Radio Times. Graham was particularly incensed at Glenister referring to "the writers" rather than naming he and Ashley Pharaoh. But the journalist who conducted and wrote up the interview says the phrase was hers, not Glenister's. And yet, there it is in between the quotation marks, after "A slightly apologetic-sounding laugh". It looks like a transcript of their conversation. But of course, it isn't - it's more like a prose rendering of it.

If I'm honest, a seasoned professional like Graham really ought to have known that, and allowed for it! Oh well, we all do silly things online. Just keep in mind, the next time an interview ticks you off, that you may be reading the journalist's words and not the interviewee's.

ETA: Glenister's response. "It was absolutely misconstrued. I didn’t come up with the line at all. It was always their line." (Sadly, Graham appears to have deleted his Twitter account.)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Veiled women may be fingerprinted in NSW: "Muslim women who file complaints with police while wearing full-face veils may be fingerprinted in future to confirm their identity... after Sydney woman Carnita Matthews, 47, who had been sentenced in 2010 to six months' jail for falsely accusing a police officer of trying forcibly to remove her burqa, won an appeal against her conviction... [Judge Clive Jeffreys] said there was no evidence to confirm that it was Ms Matthews who had filed the complaint because the person who made it was wearing a face veil."

Given the general Western obsession with the veil, and misleading media reports about this case, I wanted to make a note here of the multiple reasons Mrs Matthews' conviction was overturned.

Firstly, the lack of evidence that it was actually Mrs Matthews who filed the complaint in the first place. This is the part of the judgement on which the media frenzy has concentrated. The complaint was lodged in the form of a signed statutory declaration; the police just assumed the veiled woman who delivered it was Mrs Matthews, and "failed to check her identification". ETA: Neither the police, nor the JP who oversaw the stat dec, checked the woman's identity. Given this laxness, it's not difficult to imagine a well-meaning friend, an interfering family member, or even just a troublemaker impersonating Mrs Matthews.

Secondly, the signature on the stat dec wasn't Mrs Matthews'. (Actually, this is an interesting point. At the original trial, Mrs Matthews did state that she hadn't signed the stat dec in question, but this was "rejected with Magistrate Rabbidge saying the signature on it was almost identical to that on her driver's licence." Whereas the judge at the appeal "said the signature on the complaint was also very different to the one on her licence.") ETA: The Terror says that Mrs Matthews' solicitor has admitted the signature is hers. They're asking for permission to publish the signatures on both the stat dec and Mrs Matthews' driver's licence. Arguing for privacy, her solicitor said: "They are not just seeking the documents. They are seeking the signature of my client." Which is on her licence. Frankly, I suspect the Terror of disingenuously misinterpreting his remark. ETA: They appear to have backed away from this claim. Nor, apparently, have they been able to find an expert willing to say the signatures are identical.

And thirdly, if it was indeed Mrs Matthews who made the complaint, she didn't lie. Media reports tend to omit this rather significant point. The stat dec: "I felt very uncomfortable so I partly lifted my veil. He wasn't satisfied with that so he moved closer to me in a threatening manner, moved his hand closer to my veil where I felt that he was going to rip it off my face. I then in fear before lifting up my veil stated I am not allowed to show my face." (Note that she didn't claim he "ripped off her burqa", as Channel Nine news reported!) The SMH: "The video showed him reaching into the car to breath-test the woman but he is not seen touching her veil." The judge: "I'm not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she made the complaint and even if I was... I would not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was knowingly false." ETA: The Terror has what appears to a complete copy of the police video (not the edited highlights you may have seen on TV or online) which shows the moment of misunderstanding which apparently triggered the whole mess.

Having just had a dose of the poisonously stupid comments at the Terror's Web site and YouTube, I'd like to end with a word of common sense:

"The chairman of the Islamic Council of NSW, Khaled Sukkarieh, says there is no problem with asking a Muslim woman to lift her veil, but it would be preferable if it was by a female officer."

ETA: My letter's in! :D
http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/enough-talk-now-lets-get-this-show-on-the-road-20110622-1gfeo.html

ETA: Mrs Matthews has apologised to police. Her solicitor: "Carnita, after seeing the in-car video for the first time, was severely embarrassed about her behaviour. She certainly does apologise to police and agrees he was not being racist. She asked me to publicly apologise." (I'm not sure she could have made this public statement while the case was still before the courts.)

The NSW Police mean to appeal her appeal - alarmingly, apparently on the basis of "further information that has come to light in the media since the appeal judgment". If they really have found fresh facts in the media coverage, they'll have had to sift through a mountain of bullshit to get at them.

Clayfeet

Oct. 30th, 2010 07:27 pm
dreamer_easy: (melanin)
From now on, I'll be posting about Islam, Islamophobia, Park51, etc etc etc, over at my main lj, [livejournal.com profile] dreamer_easy.

In the comments to my first post on the whole Elizabeth Moon/Park51 mishegoss, I said this:
"In the seventies, Black feminist Audre Lorde wrote to Mary Daly criticising the absence of African goddesses from Daly's book Gyn/Ecology. When she received no response, it became an open letter, which is full of respect, gratitude, and good will. It's a model of how to disagree civilly - that is, treating the other person as a fellow citizen, someone of equal worth with whom you must find a way to get along. Now I am old and weary, I aspire to Lorde's grace."
The Open Letter is well known; when Daly passed away at the start of this year, numerous obits and blog postings made mention of it.

Lorde's insights into white feminism's failings are powerful, but thing that especially struck me was her willingness to talk, despite Daly's stony silence. No self-righteousness, no "calling out", just good will and openness - while Daly was guilty of, at best, defensive stonewalling, or, at worst, arrogantly ignoring her.

As it turns out:

Lorde lied.

I'm still slightly reeling.

Her biographer, Alexis De Veaux, found Daly's response amongst Lorde's papers. Daly's letter apologises for the delay in responding (Lorde sent her letter in May 1979, Daly replied that September) and states: "You have made your point very strongly and you most definitely have a point." Daly says she's left a message on Lorde's machine and gives her own phone number; and she suggests they meet in person to discuss Lorde's criticisms. And they did meet and talk for an hour.

Lorde claimed she had never received a reply when she published the letter in 1980 and again in 1984.

I found this out yesterday (I'm reading Gyn/Ecology right now) and was so boggled that I raced into the State Library of NSW to peruse De Veaux's biography, Warrior Poet, for myself. It was true. Lorde was a liar. No, worse, she was a slanderer - like the jealous cyberbullies who spread lies about me. My heart sank and my blood boiled. (I'm lucky someone didn't call an ambulance.)

Daly later wrote: "Apparently Lorde was not satisfied [with their talk], although she did not indicate this at the time." In a 1982 interview, Lorde admitted, "I had no response that had any satisfaction to it". Which can only have been terribly frustrating - but is worlds away from being completely ignored.

What to do, then? Crumple up and throw away the Open Letter? Refuse to read anything more by Lorde?

No. And, no.

The letter's language still offers hope and grace. I invite you. I ask that you be aware. I believe in your good faith. Thank you.

What's more, the letter's criticism of white feminism is still important and useful. De Veaux suggests that, for Lorde, Daly had come to stand for white feminism and all its failings. "Mary Daly the person, then, ceased to exist," she writes, "But as an icon, Daly was an easy, if unwilling, target".

And what's even more, Lorde's work, like Daly's, has that extraordinary power that feminism has, to grab hold of my brain and shake it until the world looks slightly different than it did before. I'm really only getting started on both of them. Too many books, too few years in a life.

Besides, I am too old and too tired to police the edges of my mind, now. I need all the good insights I can get, even if they sometimes come packaged with bad insights. In any case, regrettably, I myself am racist; if I place someone beyond the pale (so to speak) for their prejudice, I'll only find myself standing there next to them.

The genuine openness to talk, the grace and hope, are there in the Carl Brandon Society's statement on Elizabeth Moon and Wiscon. The Society clearly and firmly repudiates Ms Moon's posting, but concludes:
"We ask both the Wiscon concom and Ms. Moon to take advantage of her presence at Wiscon 35 to make programming opportunities for Ms. Moon to engage in open dialogue with the community on this topic. We consider this sort of dialogue to be a primary responsibility of the Carl Brandon Society as an organization — particularly given our history with Wiscon — and we welcome the opportunity to engage in it. We also welcome other voices to work together with CBS in this dialogue."
The chances of real communication would've been slender. Sadly, now they are zero.

But I think, in this case, the last word ought to belong to Mary Daly:
"This piece ("Open Letter") has been assigned as required reading by not a few professors in academentia to students in classes where Gyn/Ecology itself has not been assigned, or a mere handful of pages of this book have been required reading. This kind of selectivity is irresponsible. It imposes a condition of self-righteous ignorance upon students, often within the setting of 'Women's Studies'. This is, in my view, a worst case scenario of pseudoscholarship. It is, even if 'well-intentioned', divisive, destructive. It functions, at least subliminally, as a self-protective statement about the purity and political correctness of the professor."
ETA: In Remembrance of Mary Daly: Lessons for the Movement
__
Daly, Mary. Outercourse: the Be-Dazzling Voyage. North Melbourne, Spinifex Press, 1993.
De Veaux, Alexis. Warrior Poet: a biography of Audre Lorde. New York, W.W. Norton, 2004.

PS Elizabeth, if you ever happen to see this - it would be my great pleasure to send you a copy of Waleed Aly's readable book People Like Us. His thoughts on Islam and the West partly reflect your own, but will also provide insights you may not have expected. Email me (korman@spamcop.net) with a postal address (your details to be kept strictly confidential, of course).
dreamer_easy: (anti-bullying)
Woman Who Took Google to Court: Safety the Issue
"Had any of this been done to me over the phone or through the mail or, you know, just posting up stuff around the city, I would have been able to go to the police and ask for help. But online ... the legislation just isn't there. And so, I had to pursue a different angle in order to find this person who's been, you know, harassing me both online and offline... I don't care about being called names. It was a safety issue. But then I realized, 'You know what? This is - this is not Carla. I'm pretty fearless. You know, why am I looking over my shoulders all the time?"
(I'm posting this because of the initial outrage - how dare someone sue Google over a YouTube comment they didn't like? She's not suing Google, and the issue isn't defamation or free speech: it's stalking.)
dreamer_easy: (feh muh nist)
As you may have guessed, during my attempted Year Off Politics, I've been trying to sort of quarantine Srs Bizness over here in [livejournal.com profile] kateorman, along with my obsessive tallying of my reading, while preserving [livejournal.com profile] dreamer_easy for more relaxed everyday chit-chat. I am trying to avoid Issues and things, really I am, but I started reading the newspaper again during the recent election, which was a mistake, and of course I just keep stumbling across things. A trickle of race-and-racism stuff is still popping up [livejournal.com profile] seeingred, plus I've just fired up [livejournal.com profile] suck_it_and_see. I'm not quite sure whether this filing system is working or whether I'm making a dog's breakfast of it. Never mind, it all looks the same in your flist!

Anywho, a couple of links. At least one politician thinks we should Ban how-to-vote leaflets at polling places. I entirely agree. The current situation means no candidate can afford not to be waving bits of paper in your face on the day, which is irksome for voters and hard tew for the volunteers. Ban them and we can all go home and relax.

The Daily Show punctures the non-Ground Zero non-mosque hoo hah, with a little help from a highlighter pen and Charlton Heston. (Hmmm. Actually, I'm not sure I agree re Columbine, because I'm not sure that the NRA's culpability is non-zero. Here I don't mean "not sure" as in "well obviously it isn't I am being sarcastic", I mean "not sure" as in "I don't know". But then, I am biased.)

In conclusion could I just state that if you take Valium but still have insomnia, you can't go to sleep, but neither can you get out of bed.
dreamer_easy: (moon)
Posted another [livejournal.com profile] suck_it_and_see, this time in response to the Climate Sceptics Party brochure that came through the letterbox today. Most of their claims are just irrelevant ("Humans are 18% carbon... carbon dioxide is NOT a poisonous gas.") but there was one I'd never heard before: "Many other factors, such as solar activity, El Nino and lunar orbital cycles, significantly influence the weather and the world's climate."

Lunar orbital cycles?! Google as I might, I can't figure that one out. Anybody got the skinny? (Also, is my explanation clear enough?)

Election tomorrow, thank heavens. Remember, if you don't want a handout at the polling place, just smile and say "No thanks".

ETA: Interestingly, the brochure makes no mention of the hacked email controversy; I wonder if that's because the bit I debunked comes from the same place as the hacked emails? It'd be a bit cheeky to quote them as evidence on the one hand and dismiss them as liars on the other.

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