“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for August 2007

Site(s) of the Week/Month 26

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My sites of the week/month is a bit different, it is a radio show (podcast) and the organisation behind it.

According to wiki, the Center for Inquiry is “dedicated to promoting and defending science, reason, and free inquiry in all aspects of human interest.” That is my kind of organisation!

It has a radio show and podcast, Point of Inquiry

They make excellent use of modern technology and their player, which brings up previous shows, is a joy to use, I particularly liked the Truth Matters programme with Ophelia Benson. She is one of the forces behind that great site: Butterflies and Wheels

So my sites of the week/month are: Point of Inquiry and the Centre for Inquiry.

Written by modernityblog

31/08/2007 at 02:17

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Conspiracy Theories and Selective Distrust

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In an age of pop stars and celebrities, where the utterances of Paris Hilton are often taken as Delphic pronunciations, the phenomena of conspiracy theories and selective distrust of scientific evidence is disturbing.

The scholarly journal Public Library of Science Medicine describes another alarming episode, HIV Denial in the Internet Era:

“That HIV is the primary cause of AIDS is the strongly held consensus opinion of the scientific community, based upon over two decades of robust research. Deniers must therefore reject this consensus, either by denigrating the notion of scientific authority in general, or by arguing that the mainstream HIV community is intellectually compromised. It is therefore not surprising that much of the newer denial literature reflects a basic distrust of authority and of the institutions of science and medicine. In her book, Christine Maggiore thanks her father Robert, “who taught me to question authority and stand up for what’s right” [10]. Similarly, mathematical modeler Dr. Rebecca Culshaw, another HIV denier, states: “As someone who has been raised by parents who taught me from a young age never to believe anything just because ‘everyone else accepts it to be true,’ I can no longer just sit by and do nothing, thereby contributing to this craziness” [17].”

I suppose that basic denier’s methodology applies across a range of bizarre views (9/11 Truthers. Holocaust denial, etc)

(Hat tip: Mrs. Trellis)

Written by modernityblog

28/08/2007 at 15:06

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True Boycotters’ Motives?

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It was just a matter of time, but the boycott Israel campaign have a new ally, as Engage reports:

“A nationalistic party in Ukraine issued a press release calling for the boycott of Israeli and kosher goods since “buying them helps the Jews and Israelis conquer and destroy Ukraine’s economy”

The filthy antisemitic picture says it all, welcome to the real world of the boycott.

antisemitic filth from Ukrainian Nationalist Party

I wonder when David Duke will lend his support to the boycotters’ endeavours?

Written by modernityblog

27/08/2007 at 19:16

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On The Cards

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This is a very worthwhile endeavour, the Committee for Advancement of Refugees from Darfur (CARD) which is:

“campaigning on behalf of the 1300 Refugees from Sudan, who entered Israel over the past few years. Upon their arrival, refugees from Sudan are arrested and detained due to their status as nationals of an enemy state. The Committee’s various member organizations work tirelessly to release these Refugees temporarily to Kibbutzim and Moshavim until a permanent solution in their matter is found. In addition, the Committee oversees the various humanitarian efforts aimed at improving the lives of the refugees during their detention.”

Written by modernityblog

26/08/2007 at 22:16

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Oh The New Statesman

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I like a read, a nice relaxing read and I am often tempted to buy the New Statesman, which has improved immeasurably since the 1970s. The New Statesman’s changed format is better, more readable and it has higher quality production values, overall very enticing.

Well, I would be tempted, but alas not, if the New Statesman is going to put out nonsense like Pilger’s latest article, which starts “Those calling for a boycott of Israel were once distant voices. Now the discussion has gone global. It is growing inexorably and will not be silenced.

Jon Pike corrects many of Pilger’s worst mistakes, but the comment boxes are full of barely concealed contempt for Israelis.

It is sad the New Statesman and many of its readers have come to this.

The comments from Philip Mendes of Australia are most apt:

“However, his pro-Palestinian bias leads him to simplistically portray the Middle East conflict as involving powerful and evil Israelis oppressing defenceless and innocent Palestinian victims. In reality, this complex national conflict involves good and bad and extremists and moderates on both sides.

Pilger also proceeds to endorse calls for an academic boycott of Israel, and even implicitly urges the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement by a single democratic state which is code for an Islamic Arab State of Palestine. These recommendations are based on the ethnic stereotyping of all Israelis, and suggest a hatred of the Israeli people.

They are also totally disconnected from reality. If Israel is really the world’s fourth biggest military power as alleged by Pilger, then why on earth would the Israelis voluntarily give up their sovereignty to live in a state dominated by their mortal foes? Go figure.”

Oh, and I won’t be purchasing a copy of the New Statesman again.


The New Centrist reminds us of that disgusting NS cover “Kosher Conspiracy” and their feeble response back then:

“We (or, more precisely, I) got it wrong. The cover was not intended to be anti-Semitic; the New Statesman is vigorously opposed to racism in all its forms. But it used images and words in such a way as to create unwittingly the impression that the New Statesman was following an anti-Semitic tradition that sees the Jews as a conspiracy piercing the heart of the nation. I doubt very much that one single person was provoked into hatred of Jews by our cover. But I accept that a few anti-Semites (as some comments on our website, quickly removed, suggested) took aid and comfort when it appeared that their prejudices were shared by a magazine of authority and standing. Moreover, the cover upset very many Jews, who are right to feel that, in the fight against anti-Semitism in particular and racism in general, this magazine ought to be on their side.”

I am just waiting for John Pilger to say “but some of my best friends are Jewish”

Written by modernityblog

25/08/2007 at 01:26

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Pegah Emambakhsh

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The plight of Pegah Emambakhsh has been highlighted at HP, and what is remarkable is that the British government appears to be so ill informed of Iran’s treatment of gays.

Most people should be familiar with Iran’s hanging of two gays in 2005, and the Iranian regime’s generally oppressive attitude towards gays, as Doug Ireland describes.

IRQO has stark details on attacks on gays in Iran.

More recently the regime closed down a newspaper for simply conducting an interview with a gay Iranian exile:

“Tehran – Iran on Monday shut down a leading moderate daily for the second time in less than a year after the paper published an interview with a woman accused of being a “counter-revolutionary” homosexual.

The ban on Shargh (East), the favourite newspaper of Iranian liberals, comes amid growing pressure on the press in Iran and follows the closure of fellow moderate daily Ham Mihan last month.

“The main reason for the ban was an interview with a counter-revolutionary who promotes immorality,” Alireza Malekian, the director of press in the culture ministry, told the state-run IRNA news agency.

Shargh on Saturday published a full-page interview with Saghi Ghahreman, an expatriate Iranian poet who lives in Canada, under the headline “Feminine Language.”

I do hope that the mandarins in the Foreign Office and immigration services learn to use Google

Written by modernityblog

24/08/2007 at 20:05

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Germany, What To Do?

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Germany, as a country, has tried to distance itself from Nazism, and yet events like these are occurring more often:

“Locals in a small east German township stood by as a drunken mob of about 50 youths howling neo-Nazi slogans hunted down eight terrified Indian tourists.

The attack in Mügeln, near Leipzig, was the latest in a series of violent assaults on foreigners in eastern Germany that is beginning to alarm the Government in Berlin.

The inhabitants of Mügeln were celebrating their traditional Old Town street festival on Saturday night when a horde of German youths started to pick a fight with the visiting Indians.

After pushing and shoving them the youths chased them out of a beer tent and pursued them down the narrow streets of the town centre.

The young Indian men took refuge in a pizzeria and tried to barricade the doors with tables.

By the time that the police arrived – about 70 officers – the Germans had smashed their way into the pizzeria. The eight Indians were treated in hospital but have now been released.

The town authorities are still in denial about the reasons for the clash even though witnesses say that the mob was shouting slogans such as “Long live the national resistance!” and “Get out of Germany!”.

“I really don’t know if there is a far-right background to this incident,” Gotthard Deuss, the Mayor, said yesterday. “There are no known right-wing extremists here. This is a town with barely 5,000 inhabitants and everybody knows everybody.”

The regional police chief, Bernd Merbitz, went a little farther, saying: “We are investigating all possible motives, including the possibility that this was an act aimed at foreigners.”

Saturday was a red-letter day for neo-Nazis across Germany – it was when they mark the anniversary of the death in 1987 of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy as leader of the Nazi party. Mr Deuss had apparently been warned before the celebrations that far-right sympathisers could try to disrupt the festivities. “

Written by modernityblog

22/08/2007 at 22:14

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