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More than you’d think really.  Human beings seem to intrinsically value fairness and equality and yet, as of today have constructed societies based on moving as far away as possible from any sort of equitable norm.

Take note of the piece on John Rawls and how using the Veil of Ignorance idea as a cognitive filter for making decisions.  I think it is a great idea adding to the list of processes one should go through in making tough decisions in the personal, moral and political sphere.

“Pornography has socialized a generation of men into watching sexual torture,” Dines said. “You are not born with that capacity. You have to be trained into it. Just like you train soldiers to kill. If you are going to carry out violence against a group you have to dehumanize them. It is an old method. Jews become kikes. Blacks become niggers. Women become cunts. And no one turns women into cunts better than porn.”

-Gail Dines, quoted By Chris Hedges in “Pornography is What the End of the World Looks Like“.

We’ve all heard plenty about the so-called “friend zone”, which is where a person you want to date, just wants to be friends, and somehow that’s unfair and bad and mean.  Let me tell you about its converse, the Un-Friend Zone.

A while back at work, we got a new deskside support/IT guy.  He quickly identified me as the person in the department to talk to, because I know what I’m doing – and what everybody else is doing – with computers (even if they don’t).  We were going through a major hardware and software upgrade at the time, so IT Guy came around a lot.  He and I would get to chatting while he was working, and we discovered we had lots of nerdy things in common.  We really hit it off together.  We started chatting over instant messaging when he wasn’t around in person, and he really brightened slow days for me – and I assume I did the same for him.  I was happy because I don’t make friends easily, and yay, a new friend!  It got to the point where I was considering asking Arb if I could invite him to join our tabletop roleplaying group, because I thought it would be fun to be outside-work friends as well as work-friends.  I was positive it was strictly a platonic thing, because he was at least ten years younger than me, and I’m not conventionally attractive, and he never said anything remotely flirtatious and neither did I.

Then one day, I said the fateful words: “My husband…”  The conversation faltered.  (It’s not like I was keeping Arb a secret, just that I’m not one of those people who’s constantly all “My husband this…” and “My husband that…” and “Well my husband says…” to every opinion offered.)

He didn’t message me the next day like he usually did, so I messaged him.  He was really terse.  I messaged him again a couple days later, same thing.  And the other IT guy started coming for all our deskside support calls.

Ladies and gentleman, behold the Un-Friend Zone: where you think you’re making a new friend, and the other person wants more than friendship, and then when it turns out you don’t feel that way about them, they drop you like a hot potato.  Obviously there can be hurt feelings involved, and that could require some space to get over; I get that.  But on this end of the stick it feels like it wasn’t worth spending time with me and getting to know me, if the payoff isn’t going to be a sexual/romantic relationship.  And that’s crappy.  (It’s not a gendered phenomenon either; Arb has had women do it to him as well.)

I don’t think I have an obligation to be constantly flashing a verbal neon sign that says MARRIED MARRIED MARRIED MARRIED, just in case somebody is attracted to me and I don’t realise it.  On the other hand, I really object when the opening line from a stranger initiating conversation is an inquiry about my sexual availability.  (and yes, this happened to me frequently before I aged/fatted out of the prime fuckability category)  I don’t know what the solution is.  But I wish people who are looking for mates, wouldn’t object to making platonic friends along the way.

Lashing   Dear Religious people,

Have you thanked your local atheist today?  If not, you should because atheism and by extension secular society, is saving you from the immoral loopy shit your bronze age beliefs demand.   The latest demonstration of how immoral and barbaric religion is comes to us from the Sudan. (read more about Mariam at Al Jazeera)

“Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese mother, doctor and Christian, has been sentenced to flogging and death unless she recants her Christian faith. She is 8 months pregnant and has a two-year-old son. Please, join the international community in asking  Sudan not to execute her for being a Christian.”


You “go hard” there Islam – the religion of peace and friend to women across the globe.

“Ibrahim is charged with adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan is considered void under Shari’a law, for which the penalty is flogging. She’s also charged with apostasy, or abandonment of religion, for which the penalty is death.”

Well you can see the problem here, obviously, that if you decide to change from one fatuous belief system to another, the penalty is death.  Funny we don’t hear about these sorts of things in North America.  You can thank god that the United States wasn’t founded as christian nation – if it was, this sort of egregious crime against humanity would be common place in the lower 48 all the time.

You know why it isn’t?  (hint: rhymes with ‘Fecularism’)

The very secular foundations of society that the christian right is chipping away at are the very same foundations that are preserving the “not-allowing-stupid-religious-shit-to-go-down” haven that Americans inhabit.

Witness the fucking evilly deranged face of theocratic rule and tell me that this is what you want for your society?  Getting a little closer to god gets you a little closer to barbarity.   How depraved must one be, in the pursuit of a religious based  society, to somehow think that theocratic rule is good?

“Mariam is the daughter of a Christian woman and Muslim man.  She was raised Christian after her father left.  However, Sudanese law mandates that children born to Muslim fathers are considered Muslim.

The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is abhorrent.” 

This does NOT happen in modern secular society.

Your pious objections to secularism are noted; you can now sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up and think about the good that secularism has done for you and your freedom to believe in vacuous mythology of your choice.   Maybe, just maybe, instead of campaigning for and electing people with ‘good christian values’ you could decide to support someone that is defending your very (comfortable) way of life, here in reality, where it matters.

Continue to erode the secular aegis at your own peril.

Lastly, get off your damn knees, stop praying, and go do something useful for once –  sign the petition to save Mariam’s life.

If you have not picked up or borrowed Blood Lands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder yet, I suggest you do so.  It is a shockingly candid dissertation on what happened to the people on the Eastern Front between Stalin and Hitler.  I quote from that text:

   “Partisan operations, effective as they sometimes were, brought inevitable destruction to the Belarusian civilian population, Jewish and gentile alike.  When the Soviet partisans prevented peasant from giving food to the Germans, they all but guaranteed that the Germans would kill the peasants.  A Soviet gun threatened a peasant, and then a German gun killed him.  Once the Germans believed that they had lost control of a given village to the partisans, they would simply torch the houses and the fields.  If they could not reliably get grain, the could keep it from the Soviets by seeing that it was never harvested.  When Soviet partisans sabotaged Bloodlands_Europe_between_Stalin_and_Hitlertrains, they were in effect ensuring that the population near the site would be exterminated.  When Soviet partisans laid mines, they knew that some would detonate under the bodies of Soviet Citizens.  The Germans swept mines by forcing locals, Belarusians and Jews, to walk hand in hand over minefields.  In general, such loss of human life was of little concern to the Soviet leadership.  The people who died had been under German occupation, and were therefore suspect and perhaps even more expendable than the average Soviet citizen.  German reprisals also ensured that the ranks of the partisans swelled, as survivors often had no home, no livelihood, and no family to which to return.

    The Soviet leadership was not especially concerned with the plight of Jews.  After November 1941 Stalin never singled out the Jews as victims of Hitler.  Some partisan commanders did try to protect the Jews.  But the Soviets, like the Americans or the British, seem not to have seriously contemplated direct military action to rescue Jews.  The logic of the Soviet system was always to resist independent initiatives and to value life very cheaply.  Jews in ghettos were aiding the German war effort as forced laborers, so their death over pits was of little concern to the authorities in Moscow.  Jews who were not aiding but hindering the Germans were showing signs of a dangerous capacity for initiative, and might later resist the reimposition of Soviet rule.  By Stalinist logic, Jews were suspect either way: if they remained in the ghetto and worked for the Germans, of if they left the ghetto and showed a capacity for independent action. The previous hesitation of local Minsk communists turned out to be justified: their resistance organization was treated as a front of the Gestapo by the Central Staff of the Partisan Movement in Moscow.  The people who rescued Minsk Jews and supplied Soviet partisans were labeled a tool of Hitler.”


-Timothy Snyder.  Bloodlands, Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. p 238-239.


That is a small sliver of what war is.  The systematic destruction of empathetic thoughts in pursuit of ideology and conformity.

The first step – always the first step – is to identify another human being as the ‘other’.  Once that othering has been established there is no evil, no heinous action,  that is out of reach.  (Funny how religious belief is all about othering, but I’m sure it’s a completely different situation.)


This book is best read in small doses, as it is chock full of humanity doing horrible things to itself.   Consider yourself warned.

It is a new year.  Some small sliver of optimism remains –

If you look at the world and say “Yes, there are enough homes for people, yes, there is enough food for people, but if we give it away for free they won’t have earned it and the economy will collapse.” Then you have chosen money (a constructed medium of exchange) over living beings who only want to continue living in peace and safety.

And I have no qualms telling you, that is the wrong choice, and you have been brainwashed by this destructive, exploitative system.

From markusbones on Tumblr.

“When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with.

The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.

And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence”

— Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking, 1978 Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

    Violence and child rearing should never intermingle.  With the understanding we have of the correlations of violence at an early age with future behaviour, there are no excuses for beating your child. Not one.

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