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I promised myself I would not do this again, but it happened anyways *sigh*.  I went back to Usneakydevilu’s blog and perused the articles there.  Bad move, I’m guessing my SIWOTI gnome needs feeding and wanted the *full* buffet style treatment.  I am aware of the  nuclear grade delusion running front and centre there, but the post on “Intellectual Rape; Liberal Teachers Invade the South to “Evolve” Students Ideology” actually made me pause and contemplate what the sound of infinite *head-desking* might sound like; I could not resist arguments this ridiculous – they need to be fisked and shared with the world.

So gentle readers, I once again unsheathe the red pen of justice and prepare to lay bare the fatuous murmurings of the delusional and hopefully satiate that damn SIWOTI gnome for awhile.  First a line by line analysis and then a summary at the end.  I realize we are waaaaay into TL;DR territory, but let me assure you hilarity ensues through the entire piece.

“Intellectual Rape; Liberal Teachers Invade the South to “Evolve” Students Ideology”

(Lets start with the title – Intellectual rape? Rape is a violent non consensual act .  So we are to believe that students somehow being violently taught something against their will a la “A Clockwork Orange“.  Or more likely, it is just tasteless hyperbole setting the stage for a whinge filled rant on the theme of religious scare mongering and projection.   Anyhow, please note the conservative anti-intellectual use of the  dog-whistle  “evolve” because it is well known that Evolutionary Theory (aka rational scientific knowledge) is just plain wrong.)

EXTRA! EXTRA! The South has been invaded.

But unlike The Civil War, this invasion is to enslave rather than to free. [my link]

(It is fascinating to watch the inversion of values take place.  Watch as rational discourse, inquisitiveness and critical thinking, the hallmarks of education are portrayed as evil evil evil bad things!)

Today, if you spend any amount of time on any high school or college campus in the South, you will find a rapidly growing number of ”teachers” from northern and western U.S. states.  These teachers are proud to say that they are from cities like New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and a slew of other non southern cities.  You could say these teachers are going where the teaching jobs are and that could be true, but I’ve found that it’s not that cut and dry.  (Anecdata is at its best, but great for setting the stage for the fetid pile of BS that is about to come) 

Liberal teachers are gathering up their intellectual arms and are headed to the South to fight Christian-Conservative values and beliefs, using sneaky guerilla warfare tactics.  (What?  Those sneaky liberals hiding in the bushes and coming out to raid the good decent folk of the south, how dare they? – I think USD is referring to the idea that secular education, as opposed to religious education is based on reality as opposed to magic and that choosing rationality over mythology is a bad thing.)

There is an assertive effort to invade the South and help evolve the “slow and backward thinking” of the people of the South. (Shoddy sentence construction aside – Education tends to dispel irrational belief, and that is *good* thing.)

To inspire evolution liberals know the best way to do so is to insert liberal thought into young inexperienced minds. (Oh ho!,  USD is onto the Evil Liberal Overmindwatch out parents, rationality might slip into your educational system causing people to question their magical beliefs.)

Southern states tend to be more conservative, more religious, while less hedonistic and open to gay lifestyle, abortion and redistribution of wealth (aka less advanced and civilized).  The South gets in the way of more liberal policy and liberal leadership.  In an attempt to change voting practices of Southerners, Progressive-Liberal teachers from the North and West flock to the South to do their ”missionary work” (citation needed), they see Southerners as ignorant, poor fools (USD missed ‘religious’ in his list of adjectives, as religious usually goes hand in hand with said adjectives) in need of purging out of old values and beliefs.

I’ve listened to many liberal teachers and they all teach from the same blueprint, they all say they welcome different opinions and want to inspire thought. (Anecdata again, along with generalizing…but hey what better tools to describe “the enemy”.  Newsflash – dissent, differing opinions, debate – are hallmarks of good education practice as they encourage critical thinking and analysis.)  But these teachers are really telling students, what you have heard and have been taught all your life is wrong.  (Actually, I bet those teachers are encouraging students to think for themselves and look for evidence to base their beliefs and opinions on.  Belief in christian dogma has no rational basis;  refuting the religious brainwashing and dogmatic instructions students have been programmed with *should* be a natural consequence of education.)

What these liberal teachers are doing fits the profile of a statutory rapist where an older more superior intellectual, hoodwink an immature-feeble-minded youth into practicing ones desired action, intellectually raping young minds, throwing their beliefs on top of them.  (Ignorance is strength! – How dare you! Encourage my child to think about the world in rational way? Preposterous!   I’ve spent so many years indoctrinating him with the magic facts from my magic book and you want to undue all of my brainwashing? – False indignation aside, the contents of this paragraph are repugnant.  Educating children to think critically cannot be considered “statutory rape” of the mind.  Questioning, debating, arguing are all facets of intellectual growth and development and thus reside in the core of what teaching is about.  The entire idea behind this post seems to be based on the fear that if children become intellectually equipped to make a rational evaluation of religion they *might* reject their indoctrination and begin to think for themselves.  A scary thought indeed.)        

Sneaky Code terms being used to molest young minds are:

  • Question authority, Question what you are being told (But when you question their liberal ideas, they don’t call on you anymore) ( Oh!  *clutches pearls* Shades of the persecuted majority! – Which ‘liberal ideas’ are we talking about?  Did you make your arguments logically or did they start with such poppycock as “the bible says…” or ” jesus teaches…”  Making arguments based on fictional sources and fairy tales shouldn’t earn you any special place in an educational environment.)
  • Think outside your norms (Your views are obsolete, get new better values and beliefs)   (What? Question dogmatic belief?  Unthinkable.  But, really, basing your world view on the ramblings of semi-literate  bronze age shepherds is kinda backwards, as we are in the 21st century and have progressed and amassed knowledge far surpassing that of our ancestors.)    
  • Ask Why! Why do you believe what you believe? (The never-ending “Why”. Why is what a Liberal teacher tells you.)  (“Why” is one of the most important questions out there.  The question “why” begets curiosity, clarity and critical thinking.)
  • Acceptance. “I wanted to make my classroom a place of acceptance, of exploring new ideas and identities”. (But no acceptance of Christian conservative thought but acceptance of GLBTQI= GayLesbian…) (Persecuted majority twice in the same set of bullet points – defensive much?  If the views of christian conservative thought (oxymornic statement at best) deserve merit then they should be able to stand on their own.  Criticism should be welcomed as the arguments are sound…the problem is that many of tenets are not and thus cannot be defended rationally – cue the reliance on dogmatic belief and doctrine rather than rational,critical analysis.)

I stumbled across a blog of an Anarchist teacher and thought that’s a oxymoron if ever I seen one. How can you not want any rules or human regulations but you’re a teacher in a system of rules and regulations.  (This is actually an interesting question, but again it is clouded by closed binary thinking.  Anarchism, like most ideologies, is on a spectrum and is not easily categorized.  Clearly, having read the teachers post she is doing her best to integrate her values into the system proscribed by the school.  Creating a safe environment to explore issues and ideas is goal all teachers share (or at least they should).  We should get back to the fear and paranoia though…  )

These Northern and Western liberal teachers are invading the South with great passion.  They are on a mission to change people’s values and beliefs to fit their progressive agenda. (Citation needed – But hey, when you are a defender of the faith, who needs citations!)

Liberal teachers are intellectually raping our young students, “our kids”, we need to know this is going on and challenge these sneaky bastards on every front.  (Well, way to stick to your thesis, despite it being catastrophically wrong.  I mentioned projection at the beginning of my editorial, we’ll be getting to that soon enough.  Teaching children to be curious and to develop critical thinking skills is not “intellectual rape“, it is teaching children how to mature intellectually and begin the process of becoming a rational thinker.)

There’s nothing wrong with knowing God, there’s nothing wrong with having conservative values, and just because it’s “change” doesn’t make it good change.  (Indeed, there is nothing wrong with “knowing god”, but the key to that statement would be this: you would have to come to that decision on your own and not predicate your decision on the bullshite religious dogma you were force fed as child.  Seems reasonable, no?)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mr.Mckenna on relativism and how it makes us into polite but foolish people.  I see the religiously addled beginning to froth thinking perhaps that once we get rid or relativism we can get back to the unctuous vapidity of absolute morality…no no kiddies, what we are talking about here is moving debate back toward rational discourse.  Delusional filled magic books and reverence for sky-daddies will get the rough treatment they deserve.

Patriarchy offers so many yummy selections of shit sandwich for women.  Rape culture, sexism, inequality are hallmarks of the patriarchal construction of our society.  The implicit nature of Western patriarchal norms have nothing on what is going on in cultures where said norms are  firmly entrenched in the bedrock of society.  Modern medical technology coupled with ‘traditional’ societies views on women make female lives even more tenuous.

Dr Neelam Singh is on the front line of India’s battle to save its girls. 

Modern medical technology – specifically ultrasounds for determining the baby’s sex – coupled with ancient cultural values which give preference to boys, mean that hundreds of thousands of girls are never being born.

There were only 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six in India, according to the 2011 census, compared with 927 for every 1,000 boys in the 2001 census. Today’s ratio is the highest imbalance since the country won independence in 1947.

“I feel the demand [for abortions] every day,” Singh told Al Jazeera. “Parents say it’s important to have a son in the family. They want to keep their family name. I see this as the most heinous kind of discrimination towards a girl child.”

Outdated customs coupled with new technology = death for women.

“In India, there is a confluence of factors leading to passive infanticide, active infanticide or sex selective abortion,” Valerie Hudson, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University who studies birth rates, told Al Jazeera.

“Probably the most important is the tradition of dowry [payment to a prospective husband]. Having to marry a girl off may be the equivalent of several years of income for a family. A daughter is often seen as a thief who will rob necessary resources.”

Restrictive property rules, where inheritance is passed from father to son rather than to daughters, male dominated funeral rights and parental hopes that male breadwinners will support them through old age also play a part in skewing demographics, Hudson said.

The world’s largest democracy still fares better than China, where the ratio is 121 men per 100 women. Globally, 163 million girls have gone “missing” from the world’s population due to sex selective abortions in the last thirty years, according to the calculations of Mara Hvistendahl, author of Unnatural Selection.

By 2020, an estimated 15 to 20 per cent of men in some regions of northwest India will lack female counterparts. “In Punjab, there are entire villages with no girls under [age] five,” said Rohini Prabha Pande, an independent demographer who works on gender issues in India. “There are some districts with 700 girls per 1,000 boys,” she told Al Jazeera.”

   It is an ugly cycle as high sex ratio’s favour a more traditional society which in turn promotes less female children which raises the sex ratio.  A destructive positive feedback  patriarchal loop in action. 

“These massive social imbalances could spark a host of social problems.

“When 15 per cent of young adult males in your population will never become head of household or heirs you will alienate these men in ways that cannot be fixed,” Hudson said. Poor men will be the biggest losers in this equation.

“The historical record shows there can be distinct negative impacts on levels of violent crime, riots and rebellion against the state,” when large groups of single young men are alienated and lack family commitments, according to Hudson.

The lack of women is being felt by bachelors, policy makers and women’s rights activists across Asia. By 2020, China could be home to 40 million bachelors who won’t be able to find mates.

“North Korea’s largest export is women across their northern border with China,” Hudson said, noting that the ruling communist party is particularly worried about prospects for unrest from angry, unmarried men.”

   Nothing like hoards of frustrated young men roaming about to stabilize your society.

“After India’s 1991 census, a prolonged campaign by women’s rights activists over the skewed child sex ratio led to the enactment of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act in 1994.

“Technology allowing families to detect the sex of a foetus at an early stage and plan for an abortion has been banned,” said Mohammed Asif, director of programme implementation with Plan India, an NGO which lobbies to save baby girls.

“The government’s law is stringent, but people have been trying to work around it, going to far away clinics and giving fake addresses. Loopholes have been exploited and a key strategy would be to take action against illegal ultra sound clinics,” Asif told Al Jazeera.

Other researchers don’t think legal changes are the best way to improve the situation. If cultural values discourage against having girls, families can find other ways of getting rid of them without advanced screening techniques. 

“Ultra sound technology is just the latest wave to select a son preference,” Pande said. “In rural Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, you see a fairly balanced sex ratio at birth. But when you look at what is happening between birth and age six, they resort to traditional means of neglecting girl children. They are less likely to be immunised, less likely to be taken to a health centre and more likely to be chronically malnourished.”

When women lack autonomy and control of their bodies this sort of discriminate killing can happen as the norms of society trump their reproductive choices.

“Contrary to popular belief, education, status and upward mobility can actually make the problem worse.

“You have a much greater chance of survival as a girl baby if born to a poor family, rather than a rich family,” Hudson said. “Richer families have more assets which could be put in jeopardy by girls due to dowry payments,” she said, adding that wealthy groups worry about having their family name tarnished if their daughter marries from a lower class.

While national trends are cause for concern, the situation is improving in some areas. “Tamil Nadu is one of the few states where we have seen an improvement,” said Sharada Srinivasan, a professor of gender studies at York University in Canada.

In addition to counselling, and the creation of self-help groups for women, the southern state is using the carrot and the stick approach. “The government has created a massive cash transfer programme” to entice parents to keep baby girls, Srinivasan told Al Jazeera. Parents who commit infanticide are increasingly being prosecuted for homicide, she said.

Tamil Nadu also hosts some of India’s new outsourcing and information technology and these post-industrial jobs could improve women’s rights. “Before, women’s work was either at home or on the farm,” Plan India’s Asif said. “With globalisation, girls are now picking up jobs in banking, manufacturing and hi-tech. This is creating a lot of buzz in the family to start considering girls.”

While cash incentives, laws against gender selective ultrasounds, harsh punishments and economic changes all play a role, changing deeply ingrained social values is arguably the most important issue, and the most difficult.

Some communities in Punjab and elsewhere are taking collective pledges not to kill or abort girls, considering the practice a source of shame and an example of backwardness. This is where government policy ends and grassroots action begins. 

“There is no way you can tax patriarchy,” Srinivasan said. “Public action has a role to play in changing social norms. History is full of examples of this.”

There are so many factors involved in the commodification of women.  The dowry aspect, the class aspect, the inheritance aspect; all contribute toward the strengthening of the patriarchy and the continued abuse of women.

On a similar note, I’ve been down a similar road when discussion abortion with various anti-choice nutters over the years.  This seems to be one of their examples they point to when they need example of how “evil” abortion is and all the human life lost.  The skewed abortion rates in places like India and China are precisely that way because of the patriarchal rules that make women less than human.  Consider that the quest for a male heir to carry on the family name and inheritance trumps any sort of choice/anti-choice discussion because it is not an issue: a male heir is required, end of discussion.

We do not hear about the oppressive nature of the society that perpetuates the sex selected abortions, oh no, it is usually just “They’re killing baaaaaaabies….” with no regard for the normative patriarchal precursors that set the stage for such a sad state of affairs.

(*update* – For a further breakdown on how the anti-choice gambit works, and how absurdly farcical it is, go to The Words on What.)

The only solution, treat women as fully autonomous human beings.

    They are getting washed away in Bangkok.  The rains have not abated, and the flood waters grow higher and more dangerous every day.

“Residents of Bangkok are escaping the flooded Thai capital in their tens of thousands due to worsening weather forecasts and the government’s evacuation orders.

Flood waters were already seeping into central parts of Bangkok on Thursday morning, with waters entering the Grand Palace, near the swollen Chao Phraya river, the AFP news agency reported.

Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok, said the number of districts that have been ordered to evacuate is increasing by the hour.

“The water level is only expected to rise when the floodwaters combine with high tides that are on the way,” he said.

Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Bangkok governor, said on Thursday that he expected to soon announce an evacuation warning for Sai Mai district, located on the city’s northern outskirts, where waist-high water has turned roads into virtual rivers and swamped petrol stations and homes.

A day earlier, Sukhumbhand said residents of two of the city’s 50 districts – Don Muang and Bang Phlat, both already partially submerged – should leave for shelters.”

I mention Bangkok here because my best friend called me last night from Suvarnabhumi airport.  He said everything was in very short supply.  Water, food, petrol were all extremely hard to come buy.  Transportation is sketchy at best.  He ended up taking a tuk-tuk to the airport in a harrowing 6 hour journey.  He assured me that he was getting the heck out of Dodge as fast as a plane darn near anywhere would take him.

Mass disruption

In the district of Sai Mai, on Bangkok’s northern outskirts, hundreds of residents clambered aboard packed military vehicles with their belongings, desperate to leave.

Yingluck said this week that central Bangkok could be swamped by up to 1.5 metres of water in some places if barriers broke and told residents to get their belongings up to high ground.

“After assessing the situation, we expect floodwater to remain in Bangkok for around two weeks to one month before going into the sea,” she said on Wednesday.

Authorities would guard important places such as the royal palace and power stations, she said.

The floods in the north, northeast and centre of Thailand have disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million, with more than 113,000 in shelters and 720,000 people seeking medical attention.

Flooding has already forced the closure of seven industrial estates, causing billions of dollars of damage, disrupting international supply chains for industry and putting about 650,000 people temporarily out of work.

A fascinating video about how irrational we actually are as a species despite all of our material advancements.  I would have to agree with what Dan Ariely says in this talk, we need to simplify our cognitive models and constructs so we can actually make rational, informed choices based on them.

How a coffee chain changed how many think about coffee…

A big thanks to tildeb over at Questionable Motives for bringing this video to my attention.  The video is about the potential futures of climate change, but from a risk management perspective.  It brings into stark relief the choices we are facing and some of the possible consequence of our potential action and inaction.  I encourage my readership to copy and paste the video onto their blogs/social media as it is such an important issue.

Richard Dawkins has a new new book out called the Magic of Reality.  Doing the promotional rounds in the UK and the US must promote a certain amount of cognitive dissonance for Dawkins as the calibre of the questions he faces varies a great deal depending on which side of the Atlantic he’s on.  Compare and contrast, my faithful readership, the two interviews conducted with Dawkins, one by the BBC and the other by Fox News.

As a North American, the second interview makes me ashamed to share the same continent with ‘commentators’ that espouse the merits of bronze age wisdom in the 21st century.

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