philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
He may not think he's a good doggy, but zomg is he adorable!!!


(via SMBC)

Quick explanation: Hobbes claims that a "state of nature" is a society without rules i.e. a state of anarchy, such as you'd find in the more chaotic periods of a civil war. (Hobbes himself lived through the English Civil War.) Under a state of nature, as Hobbes puts it: "life is nasty, brutish and short".

For Hobbes, the whole purpose of a society was to avoid this state of nature. That is why we all agree to follow the laws of the land, such as those proposed by a King.

However, there is always the risk that society might collapse and we might revert back to a state of nature. In that case all out rules concerning what is good would be somewhat irrelevant since people would act out of desperation in whatever way they needed in order to survive.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
First Michael Gove tells the striking teachers that there's no money.

Then he announces that the government can afford to provide every school with a copy of King James Bible (where clearly the language is perfectly suited to schoolchildren *facepalm*) specially published with a foreword from Michael Gove himself! (What a treat!)


"It's a thing of beauty, and it's also an incredibly important historical artefact. It has helped shape and define the English language and is one of the keystones of our shared culture. And it is a work that has had international significance."

The King James Bible is of so much significance that they cannot bear for school children to miss out. Meanwhile, teachers' pensions? Who cares about those, eh?

There just isn't enough facepalm for all this s**t. Jesus f---ing Christ...
philosoraptor42: (Default)

I have now worked my way through Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou's "The Bible's Buried Secrets" and I f---ing LOVE it.



I think the great thing about it is that, while she is often stating outright what popular scholars will more often cover with more guarded language, she doesn't end up saying anything terribly controversial. During the second episode there was one point where I thought she'd skipped a step in her argument.... because she had. Intentionally. By the end of the episode she'd filled in the blanks and the argument was pretty solid.

She has clear and careful arguments which are rooted in the historical evidence and she's always careful to remind us that history and archeology is an ever shifting discipline which has to cater to new evidence constantly. She makes clear where she has strong backing in his discipline and where she is going out on a limb.

And to think there are people on the blogosphere comparing her to blooming Dan Brown. (This guy's a symbologist <A what?> and he's discovering patterns in symbols and numbers. <Based on historical evidence?> -No, based on patterns in symbols and numbers. I just said. <Well that's stupid isn't it?> - No, it's brilliant. Look he's discovered that Jesus was politically important <bollocks> and that he had a wife <based on bollocks> and that the female protagonist is Jesus' direct heir <which after two thousand years means precisely bollocks>. -Well it's an exciting enough story, right? <No, the writing's bollocks too.>)

The choice of topics has been pretty cool too. Did King David really exist as the powerful king he is described as in the Bible? What function might tales about King David have served? Were the Israelites always monotheists? When might they have shifted to monotheism and why? But perhaps the real kicker (and the thing that I suppose has earnt her the Dan Brown comparison) is whether God had a wife. Her issues with the influence of patriarchy on ancient stories carry on with her criticisim of the way Eve is presented in the Garden of Eden story. Along with that she asks: What elements are read into the Garden of Eden story today that are not even in the text? Was there a real Garden of Eden? Did the story have political relevance?

Also interesting is the number of people responding not with "BLASPHEMY!" but rather with "well yeah... of course". People being shocked by the claim that King David never existed, that Yahweh had a wife and that the Garden of Eden was originally a temple would be unsurprising. To hear them saying that this is all obvious is a bit of a shock.

Now going round the internet there is no shortage of people trying to poke holes in Dr.Stavrakopoulou's arguments. There are claims that she doesn't show alternative viewpoints. (Not only does each show feature at least one viewpoint from each of the Abrahmaic religions, but she often disagrees with scholars in religion and/or archeology too.) There are claims that her accounts are too superficial. (A dodgy argument when we are dealing with a TV programme for a typical layman audience with only a single hour on each of the three big topics.) There are claims that she is putting forth the arguments as her own innovations. (She also speaks to scholars/archeologists who agree with her arguments and are working on the vital evidence. The title of her programme "The Bible's Buried Secrets" means that the evidence for her claims is found in archeology i.e. "buried", not that she's uncovering some kind of conspiracy.) So yeah, some people are wrong on the internet. Big surprise.



Francesca Stavrakopoulou's Three Claims

Claim One: King David was a myth.
(Youtube link for part one of episode one)

Read more... )



Claim Two: God had a wife
(Youtube link for part one of episode two)

Read more... )



Claim Three: The Garden of Eden is the Temple in Jerusalem
(Youtube link for part one of episode three)

Read more... )



Stavrakopoulou VS Widdecombe

Read more... )



Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou has an article about Abraham here:
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-bible-a-history/articles/abrahams-inheritance

I'm putting her book on my Christmas list:
http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Religious-Diversity-Ancient-Israel-Judah-Francesca-Stavrakopoulou/9780567032164

Also, you can find my transcript of her appearance on the radio programme "Museum of Curiosity" here:
http://fatpie42.livejournal.com/128831.html

And I'm really interested to see what she has to say in the future. Awesome stuff....

philosoraptor42: (Default)

PC Bloggs - Police Officer's Blog

Young People Are Angry


 
 
 
The aftermath of a fundamentalist terrorist attack.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Young people being angry.
 
 
 


You can understand anger at the police when an unarmed man is accidentally shot by an officer wearing too-big gloves in a raid based on malicious intelligence.  Incidents like that are embarrassing to say the least.  Yet the residents of Forest Gate did not see the need to rush onto the streets and set fire to their own local shops.

Mark Duggan, who was shot on Thursday, came within a whisker of shooting dead a police officer before he was "gunned down" - as the papers describe it.  The Daily Mail, Independent and Guardian have been quick to quote friends who called the gunman "a good daddy" and "not a trouble-maker".
 
Now local dismay at Duggan's death has been hijacked by arsonists and rioters, who have created scenes similar to those seen on London's streets after the July Bombings.  Yet the usual apologists are already out bemoaning police action to every BBC camera crew they can find.  If the killing of an armed attempted murderer justifies widescale looting and petrol bombing, and the hospitalisation of eight police officers, you wonder how the family of Jean-Charles de Menezes - a genuinely innocent victim of botched police work - restrained themselves from blowing up Parliament.

(Read the rest at PC Bloggs)


Winston-Smith - Youth Offender Worker's Blog

The Riots in London are a Culmination of Decades of Failed Social Policies

The underclass are rising up. No longer content with simply burglaring and mugging the decent law abiding working classes that have the misfortune to dwell amongst them, they have now decided to torch and terrorise the very communities they come from. What we are witnessing in London and in other cities across Britain at the moment is an attack upon the decent and law abiding citizenry of the country. Their places of work have been attacked, looted and even burned down. Opportunisitic burglaries have occured and violent attacks upon the police and innocent individuals are widespread. Fear is endemic and people are anticipating a fourth night of chaos and disorder. The once great nation of Britain is being brought to its knees by a festering parasitic underclass that has been fostered by decades of failed social policies in the spheres of education, criminal justice, social services and welfare provision.
(Read more at Winston-Smith)


Scenes From The Battleground - Teacher's Blog

These Riots Prove Whatever the Hell it was I was Already Saying

I thought I’d join in with the latest internet craze: explanations of the riots which are actually thinly veiled efforts to raise completely unrelated issues. Let me be the first to claim that the riots were the inevitable result of mixed ability teaching, performance management and Brain Gym. Or something.

Well, okay, I won’t actually try and make that argument, but having already seen attempts to blame the riots on tuition fees and “high stakes testing” I could make those arguments and still not be responsible for the most ridiculous riot-related claims in the education blogosphere.
(Read more at Scenes From The Battleground)

An important part of this blog entry within the main of the article:
Even though so many of the rioters are young, the education system could not have prevented this. Better discipline in schools cannot ensure better discipline in the streets.  I never cease to be amazed how the sources that suggest discipline in classrooms used to be clearly much better also suggest behaviour outside the classroom wasn’t. Schools can’t social engineer the whole of society and despite all the reforms I want to see in our schools, none of them are likely to make a difference to a breakdown of law and order.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Today Radio Four's Today programme interviewed Polly Toynbee, well-known Guardian writer and President of the BHA, along with Tom Burkard, who has experience of the UK education system (though notably he's got a strong American accent) and is part of an organisation called for Centre for Policy Studies.

They were debating the recent decision to do away with the EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance i.e. income support for children in their late teens from particularly low income families) as part of the Coalition government's brutal tax cuts. Polly Toynbee was picked because she's a well-known socialist who is obviously going to be wholly against scrapping the EMA. Meanwhile they seem to have picked Tom Burkard because he's the only person they could find with the right background who would be heartless enough to wholly insist on scrapping it.

The interview becomes rather ridiculous towards the end when he's insisting that children from extremely low income families who want to go onto further education (i.e. A Levels, not university) will have no trouble getting part time jobs because his step-daughter found it easy. Still perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised when we see the website for the Centre for Policy Studies, whom he is representing. On that website they happily brag about their connection to the economic liberalism of the Thatcher era. (More recently they are insisting on the vital importance of marriage in society. *groan*)

It feels like the old libertarian thing which allows poor people "the freedom to remain poor", unless they are lucky enough to get the opportunity to pull themselves out of it (which'll be pretty rare).

This is the same Today programme on Radio Four which brought you the interview with Gary McFarlane.
Interviewer: There are more student protests today in advance of tomorrow’s vote on tuition fees and it is tuition fees that have captured most of the headlines and attention in previous protests. The people who have reported on these marches have been impressed as well by the number of students whose main concern is the scrapping, in England, of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). It gives cash up to 30 pounds a week directly to youngsters between the ages of 16 and 19 in low income homes if they continue with their studies after GCSEs and, they say, they need the money.

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Image of Hello Kitty shoulder vibrator to give a completely
misleading impression about the content of this post.

My new piece of news is best summed up by the article on Chattahbox:
The Christian right, including clownish Catholic League President Bill Donahue, is incensed over Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen’s admission that she masturbates with the aid of a trusty vibrator, she calls her “best friend.” Donahue condemned the use of a “dildo” as evidence of “insanity.” And the leader of a biblical parenting group declared that Momsen’s solo performances would doom her to a life of failure. And Foxnews.com wonders if Momsen’s “newfound notoriety” will destroy her career. Hmm–by this reasoning, does that mean only non-masturbating Christians are successful and sane? The mind reels.
Ok so yeah, I know it's Bill Donohue, so I really shouldn't be surprised. And I'm not.

However, Bill Donohue here represents the extreme of a more common issue amongst Roman Catholics and other religious traditions too. The idea that children in their late teens shouldn't masterbate. (People who've seen Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" will actually have seen a far more extreme example of this opinion.)

Bill Donohue's comments were made on a discussion on Fox News. Another guest was Shirlee Smith from "Talk About Parenting":
“In my way of raising daughters, she shouldn’t be involved with ‘men’ and any of these men who have driven her to sexual boredom belong locked up because our society says men having sexual encounters with those under the age of consent are criminals.”
Just in case anyone is worried about the choice of the word "men", you'll be glad to hear that in the original conversation she said she was "tired of d**k", so someone on Fox News presumably thought replacing the word "dick" with the word "men" would be less offensive to their audience. *rolls eyes* With that in mind, she's only one year below the age of consent in the US and, within my own country, she's one year above it. The fact that she is no longer a virgin is not the most surprising thing in the world (nor is the fact that she has found early sexual experiences to be less than impressive).

The rather bigger issue I have here is with Donohue's claim that masturbation is somehow indicative of insanity in a 17 year old:
...and now we have Taylor Momsen prancing around with a dildo in hand. Looks like this gal’s got lots of issues. No wonder she voiced her insanity in a magazine called Disorder.”

At that age masturbation is the most natural thing in the world. In the movie I referred to above a child is informed that it can lead to physical illness and I'm not sure that the claim that it indicates mental illness is any more pleasant.

The way they insist on making children ashamed of their bodies is just horrible. However, I happen to have saved the perfect response to this kind of thinking from a certain Jennifer Howze quite early in my blog:
So why do some groups keep condemning efforts to improve and normalise sex education? Why don't they applaud the move to bring education into a safe classroom environment conveyed by teachers or parents rather than leaving it to nuggets whispered by the know-it-all kid in the playground?

It seems obvious to me. What so-called family campaigners' want to teach children about their bodies and sex is shame. Shame explains the thinking that there's something inappropriate and "wrong" for a child to know the correct word to describe a part of their body. That knowing the correct words indoctrinates an attitude of free and easy sexuality. That it sullies their pure souls to know how babies are made and to explain what they can see the cow and the bull doing in the field.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for Seventeen magazine called Vagina 101 that answered the real questions young girls had about their bodies: what should I look like? Should I shave my hair? What's a clitoris and where is it?

It was refreshing to interview highly respected doctors who robustly argued that girls and parents should get over their phobias. "The vagina is no different from an ear or a nostril. It's just a place that's part of us," one said.

The piece won an award, but one chain of grocery stores pulled it from the shelves. Some parents had complained about the "graphic" nature of the medical illustrations and descriptions. They likened it to pornography. One mother of a 17-year-old told a local reporter, "It's dirty. It's dirty."


(Via Right Wing Watch)
(Jennifer Howze Article)

(Cross posted to Atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

A case has recently gone to the UK supreme court that a school called the Jewish Free School (JFS) uses racial discrimination in its selection procedure. The BHA have intervened in support of the prosecutors, insisting that racial discrimination should never be accepted, even with religious reasons involved. Interestingly, this turns out to be a result of the idiocy of Jonathan Sacks again.

The child's father was Jewish and the mother converted to Judaism. As such, the child has a Jewish mother and is eligible. The mother is a practicing Jew and the whole family attend synagogue so there is no reason to dismiss on the grounds of religious observance. Nevertheless, the Chief Rabbi ruled that the mother did not truly count as Jewish because she converted via a Masorti synagogue. Jonathan Sacks apparently doesn't count Masorti conversions and thus by the same reckoning the child does not count as Jewish either. The obsession over the place where the mother converted rather than both her and her son's religious conviction makes this a clear case of selection based on racial rather than religious grounds.

Also rather cool, Accord Chair, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain declared: “This is a defining moment. For too long state-funded faith schools have had a free hand to discriminate. This will be a big first step towards creating faith schools that serve the community around them, not just themselves.”

(Oddly it seems that the intro to the interview with Andrew Copson was quite biased in favour of Benjamin "at the cutting edge of fighting assimilation" Perl's side of the argument. It claimed that the idea that admitting a Jewish boy with a devoted Jewish convert mother was devastating to the Jewish community. Wtf? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGvBsxx9itc )

(Via BHA)

(Via Ekklesia)

philosoraptor42: (Default)
A lecturer at my old university (University of Nottingham) called Conor Cunningham is presenting a programme called "Did Darwin Kill God?" on BBC2 in the UK.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/darwin/?tab=20

Here's a link to an interview with him. (I discuss my own views on it further down):
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nottingham/content/articles/2009/02/10/dr_conor_cunningham_darwin_feature.shtml

While I was at the university, Conor Cunningham did a course on Darwinism in the theology department. It actually seemed like a smart idea at the time since he was keen to note that intelligent design and creationism are both dodgy. Unfortunately he also has this strange idea that the majority of Christians never actually had a problem with evolution in the first place.

I'd first noticed that he had some odd ideas when he insisted during a seminar from an outside speaker that anthropology is not prepared to look at itself in the same way that it looks at other social conventions. He suggested that medicine, for example, was not looked at with the same rigour as religion. That night one of my mutually-geeky PhD anthropology friends was talking to me over a drink after the science fiction society meeting and explained that actually anthropology of medicine was a major topic. Considering that Conor Cunningham is the research assistant for John Milbank (leader of the very orthodox and not terribly radical movement in theology known as "Radical Orthodoxy") I was surprised that he wasn't better informed.

Anyway, having heard this podcast my respect for the man has slumped spectacularly. He says that most people who criticised evolution did not do so for religious reasons (heaven forbid!), but because of a threat to the legitimacy of the aristocracy. How does he come to that conclusion? Well, from the sounds of it he mainly just takes it for granted.

There's a much longer interview here. I'm not sure it improves his argument, though at least he's not a nutcase:
http://wirksworthii.nottingham.ac.uk/Podcasts/files/rmg/public/culture/conor.mp3
Oh wait, as it nears the 8 minute mark he refers to eugenics as "the social consequence of Darwinism" and apparently the only countries which never passed eugenic laws were "Catholic countries" (guess what Mr. Cunningham's religion is...). *groan!*
philosoraptor42: (Default)
A new article from Mark Lawson on recent events related to science and religion, but he really hasn't done his homework....

"The possibility of an afterlife may now be proved by looking down towards the ground. Doctors at Southampton University are placing pictures in resuscitation areas that can only be seen from the ceiling."


Yeah, except that the people running the research project are actually not expecting any such proof to come out of these tests:

"It is unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens, but we have to be open-minded.

"And if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories.

"This is a mystery that we can now subject to scientific study."

 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7621608.stm

Susan Blackmore did her own studies on astral projection in the past and discovered that the results pointed away from the conclusion that such projection was genuine. As such, it is hardly surprising that those running this study are already expecting similar results with near-death projection too.
 
More nonsense below the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Jennifer Howze in The Times explains that there is a simple explanation for opposition to sex education:
 
So why do some groups keep condemning efforts to improve and normalise sex education? Why don't they applaud the move to bring education into a safe classroom environment conveyed by teachers or parents rather than leaving it to nuggets whispered by the know-it-all kid in the playground?

It seems obvious to me. What so-called family campaigners' want to teach children about their bodies and sex is shame. Shame explains the thinking that there's something inappropriate and "wrong" for a child to know the correct word to describe a part of their body. That knowing the correct words indoctrinates an attitude of free and easy sexuality. That it sullies their pure souls to know how babies are made and to explain what they can see the cow and the bull doing in the field.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for Seventeen magazine called Vagina 101 that answered the real questions young girls had about their bodies: what should I look like? Should I shave my hair? What's a clitoris and where is it?

It was refreshing to interview highly respected doctors who robustly argued that girls and parents should get over their phobias. "The vagina is no different from an ear or a nostril. It's just a place that's part of us," one said.

The piece won an award, but one chain of grocery stores pulled it from the shelves. Some parents had complained about the "graphic" nature of the medical illustrations and descriptions. They likened it to pornography. One mother of a 17-year-old told a local reporter, "It's dirty. It's dirty."

http://timesonline.typepad.com/alphamummy/2008/09/sex-education-s.html

philosoraptor42: (Default)



 More absurdity under the cut... )

Profile

philosoraptor42: (Default)
philosoraptor42

August 2014

S M T W T F S
     12
345 67 8 9
10 1112 13 141516
171819 202122 23
24 2526 2728 29 30
31      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:49 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios