Posts By ds

Want to hear about Islam? Why not hear it from a woman who grew up as Muslim in the Middle East?

 

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Some of my best friends are Jewish, and other confessions of an Ex-Muslim…

 

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From Yasmine

One of my earliest memories is of being bound to my bed as the soles of my feet were whipped. At five or six years old, this was my punishment for not correctly memorising surahs, chapters, from the Quran, or for missing one of the daily prayers.

Lying on my bed, in the room that I shared with my sister, I would feebly struggle to free my feet from the skipping rope that bound them. But it was pointless. My strength was no match for the man who had restrained me there. I would scream as the plastic stick whipped across the soles of my feet.

“So, you think you’ll memorise properly next time?”

“Yes!”

I would futilely plead to my mother with my eyes. Why wasn’t she raising her voice, or her hand, to protect me? Why was she just standing there next to him? My young mind grappled with what could possibly be holding her back. Was she afraid of him? No. She didn’t seem to be. Could she be complicit in this? No, never. But in fact, it was her that asked him to come over, so maybe she is partially to blame? No, that can’t be it.

I could not accept that the only parent that I knew would willingly give me up to be bound and beaten. He was the evil one, not my mother. That had to be the truth. So why, then, did she phone him and ask him to come over?

“Next time I come here, I want to hear all three surahs, you understand?”

“Yes…”

“Which three surahs are they?”

If I hesitated for a fraction of a second, he would raise his hand again. Almost excited about the opportunity. When there was no fresh skin for his blows to land, they would fall atop my already bruised and torn feet. My body would be slick with sweat. My quickened heartbeat made it difficult to breathe, but I knew I could never end this until I found the strength to push on.

“Al Fatiha, Al Kauthar, and…Al Ikhlas.” Three short surahs necessary for the five daily prayers.

“If you make one mistake, one mistake, I will show you how I can really hurt you.”

Ingersoll: The Foundations of Faith — The Old Testament

 

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From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

ONE of the foundation stones of our faith is the Old Testament. If that book is not true, if its authors were unaided men, if it contains blunders and falsehoods, then that stone crumbles to dust.

The geologists demonstrated that the author of Genesis was mistaken as to the age of the world, and that the story of the universe having been created in six days, about six thousand years ago could not be true.

The theologians then took the ground that the “days” spoken of in Genesis were periods of time, epochs, six “long whiles,” and that the work of creation might have been commenced millions of years ago.

The change of days into epochs was considered by the believers of the Bible as a great triumph over the hosts of infidelity. The fact that Jehovah had ordered the Jews to keep the Sabbath, giving as a reason that he had made the world in six days and rested on the seventh, did not interfere with the acceptance of the “epoch” theory.

But there is still another question. How long has man been upon the earth?

According to the Bible, Adam was certainly the first man, and in his case the epoch theory cannot change the account. The Bible gives the age at which Adam died, and gives the generations to the flood—then to Abraham and so on, and shows that from the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ it was about four thousand and four years.

According to the sacred Scriptures man has been on this earth five thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine years and no more.

Is this true?

Fires of Hell…

 

From Harmony James (homeschooled, raised in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist home)
Thanks to Bruce

Raised in the back woods hidden away

And kept out of sight

Is it any wonder I would want to run to the light

I ain’t ever been drunk on liquor

I ain’t ever been kissed

I heard at the store there’s a whole lot more

Of sins on that list

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

Took that Holy Bible right to the bottom of the lake

Where I’m going I will not be carrying that kind of weight

Pure as the driven snow but now all set to be defiled

The sins of the father once again passed on to the child

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

Get down on your knees dear mama

Get down and pray

I get a feeling you’ll be kneeling for my soul to be saved

I’ve wandered astray

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell
~~

TODD WALTON: Luz

 

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Ampersands thanks to Max

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

So it’s Friday and I’m having one of those mornings where I feel certain the universe is an all-powerful sentient being picking on me for no good reason. Put another way, I’m feeling sorry for myself. If you’re human and have been alive for at least seven years, you know what I’m talking about. The rational sectors of our brains know the universe has more important things to do than intentionally make us miserable, but when we’re in the throes of such angst the rational sectors are offline.

I decide to exercise my way out of my bad mood by walking to town. I usually drive into town on Fridays in August and September because Jack almost always has a big watermelon for me at the farmer’s market, and a big watermelon is not schlepable in my knapsack.

But I need to shake off this sense of being a victim of a malevolent universe, so I decide to walk to town, mail a package, hope the very important letter that should have come two days ago is waiting in my P.O. box, walk home, and then drive back to town to get the melon.

Halfway down the hill, a long half-mile, the walking is definitely resolving my angst and I’m about to turn around and go get my truck when some idiot talking on his phone while driving almost hits me and my certainty the universe is out to get me returns in force and I decide I better walk all the way to town.

Fast Growing Numbers of Young Adults Religiously Unaffiliated…

 

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Colin Kaepernick on Terence Crutcher and ‘Racism Disguised as Patriotism’

 

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From The Nation

A new generation of athletes and sports fans are learning that courage is contagious.

In recent weeks, everyone from Beltway pundits to the online bigot brigade have tried to turn Colin Kaepernick into a caricature. He’s been reduced to his afro, his socks, or a T-shirt he wore depicting Malcolm X and Fidel Castro. By turning him into a joke, his opposition hopes they won’t have to reckon with the substance of his message or the fact that the protests are spreading.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick is not backing down. In recent comments following the police killing of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, he disproves anyone in the media who still claims he’s being unserious or just looking for attention:

There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country and people don’t like to address that and they don’t like to address what the root of this protest is. You have players across this country, not only in the NFL but soccer and NBA and high school players, they don’t like to address this issue that people of color are oppressed and treated unjustly. I don’t know why that is or what they’re scared of, but it needs to be addressed.

Kaepernick also spoke about the killing of Terence Crutcher, saying, “This is a perfect example of what this is about. It will be very telling about what happens to the officer that killed him.… It’s very interesting to me how the situation that happened [Monday], they shot and killed a man and walked around like he wasn’t a human being. People are getting killed and not being treated as human beings. No one went and checked on him, no one tried to resuscitate him, nothing. They walked around, went about their business and made up lies to cover up their murder that they just committed. That’s not right, and they should be in prison.”

The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump…

 

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From The New Yorker

Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity.

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, / As, to be hated, needs but to be seen,” the poet Alexander Pope wrote, in lines that were once, as they said back in the day, imprinted on the mind of every schoolboy. Pope continued, “Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, / we first endure, then pity, then embrace.” The three-part process by which the gross becomes the taken for granted has been on matchlessly grim view this past week in the ascent of Donald Trump. First merely endured by those in the Republican Party, with pained grimaces and faint bleats of reluctance, bare toleration passed quickly over into blind, partisan allegiance—he’s going to be the nominee, after all, and so is our boy. Then a weird kind of pity arose, directed not so much at him (he supplies his own self-pity) as at his supporters, on the premise that their existence somehow makes him a champion for the dispossessed, although the evidence indicates that his followers are mostly stirred by familiar racial and cultural resentments, of which Trump has been a single-minded spokesperson.

Now for the embrace. One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.”

Rational Suicide: ‘Go Gentle’ Makes Voluntary Euthanasia Personal…

 

From Australia

Just weeks after launching a campaign to introduce voluntary euthanasia laws into Australia, Go Gentle Australia has launched a campaign to enlist public support and remind politicians of the unnecessary human suffering current laws cause.

Cummins & Partners devised the powerful campaign which allows Australians to submit a version of the South Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016, replacing the word ‘Person’ with their own names and then use it to lobby their local politicians.

Shortly after the launch of Go Gentle’s push to have new laws introduced, Go Gentle co-director Andrew Denton told Mumbrella the advertising industry has a huge role to play in convincing parliamentarians to change the laws.

‘Be The Bill’ launched with South Australian, Kylie Monaghan, submitting the ‘Kylie Monaghan Voluntary Euthanasia Bill No. 1’. Each subsequent Bill submitted by people will numerically named to reflect growing public support for the bill.

Denton said the goal of the campaign is to reflect that the majority of Australians support the right for people to die in dignity without suffering.

“The majority of Australians support choice at the end of life, but despite this there is still no law,” Denton said.

Freethinker: H.G. Wells…

 

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From Freedom From Religion

On this date in 1866, (Herbert George) H.G. Wells was born to a working class family in Kent, England. Young Wells received a spotty education, interrupted by several illnesses and family difficulties, and became a draper’s apprentice as a teenager. The headmaster of Midhurst Grammar School, where he had spent a year, arranged for him to return as an “usher,” or student teacher.

Wells earned a government scholarship in 1884, to study biology under Thomas Henry Huxley at the Normal School of Science. Wells earned his bachelor of science and doctor of science degrees at the University of London. After marrying his cousin, Isabel, Wells began to supplement his teaching salary with short stories and freelance articles, then books, including The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898).

Wells created a mild scandal when he divorced his cousin to marry one of his best students, Amy Catherine Robbins. Although his second marriage was lasting and produced two sons, Wells was an unabashed advocate of free (as opposed to “indiscriminate”) love. He continued to openly have extra-marital liaisons, most famously with Margaret Sanger, and a ten-year relationship with the author Rebecca West, who had one of his two out-of-wedlock children.

A one-time member of the Fabian Society, Wells sought active change. His 100 books included many novels, as well as nonfiction, such as A Modern Utopia (1905), The Outline of History (1920), A Short History of the World (1922), The Shape of Things to Come (1933), and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1932). One of his booklets was Crux Ansata, An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church. Although Wells toyed briefly with the idea of a “divine will” in his book, God the Invisible King (1917), it was a temporary aberration.

Wells used his international fame to promote his favorite causes, including the prevention of war, and was received by government officials around the world. He is best-remembered as an early writer of science fiction and futurism. D. 1946.

“Indeed Christianity passes. Passes—it has gone! It has littered the beaches of life with churches, cathedrals, shrines and crucifixes, prejudices and intolerances, like the sea urchin and starfish and empty shells and lumps of stinging jelly upon the sands here after a tide. A tidal wave out of Egypt. And it has left a multitude of little wriggling theologians and confessors and apologists hopping and burrowing in the warm nutritious sand. But in the hearts of living men, what remains of it now? Doubtful scraps of Arianism. Phrases. Sentiments. Habits.”

—H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography, 1934, cited by Ira D. Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, 1945

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Values and Virtues

 

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From Dave Smith
To Be Of Use (2005)

Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one. ~Thomas Jefferson

VIRTUES and values are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Values are moral codes, often inflexible, based upon our particular social, cultural, religious, or political circumstances. They are codified, standardized, absolute, and then imposed by authorities and used to judge others. Example: The Ten Commandments

Virtues are a person’s admirable character traits, principles that are adjustable to changing circumstances. Examples: courageous, honest.

What qualifies as “courageous” in one situation or society will not be the same for a different situation or society. Holding on to or identifying with the virtue of “courageous” can, however, allow the best in us to come forward regardless of what situation we find ourselves in.

One shortcut to defining personal virtues is to ask “What do I consider are the character traits of a good person?” And then go further to ask “How do I actually practice the virtues I want to live by?”

Virtue based morality
We tend to judge others based on abstract interpretations of values that our own social group, religion, or wider culture has adopted. This divides us against each other. Rather, if we could step back and appreciate the personal virtues of others, a lot of the hostility inherent in competing doctrines of religious and political systems would seem much less important. This happens all the time in personal relationships when a relative or neighbor holds opposite views from our own on current issues, but we admire and care for each other deeply. When our heads get in the way of our hearts, we get out of balance emotionally and wars can result.

My friend Dan cancels out my every vote by voting the opposite of me. I never ask him if he wants a ride to the polling place. We have big-time arguments about politics, but I love the guy for who he is… for what he is inside. If we could look at a whole culture for who they are inside, what they really care about and how they live their daily lives, we may be less interested in looking down at them as a group.

If we moved from value-based morality which causes hate, violence and wars, to a virtue-based morality which is more human and honorable of other people’s strengths and rights, we would be more forgiving of those practices or weaknesses which harm no-one else, and the world would be a more creative, peaceful place.

The old blues song said it best…

If I should take a notion
To jump into the ocean,
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.

If I go to church on Sunday
And I shimmy down on Monday,
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.
~~

Americans have long been suspicious of Atheists. Misogyny, nativism, and racism have often been tied up in their fear…

 

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From The Atlantic

In general, Americans do not like atheists. In studies, they say they feel coldly toward nonbelievers; it’s estimated that more than half of the population say they’d be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who didn’t believe in God.

This kind of deep-seated suspicion is a long-standing tradition in the U.S. In his new book, Village Atheists, the Washington University in St. Louis professor Leigh Eric Schmidt writes about the country’s early “infidels”—one of many fraught terms nonbelievers have used to describe themselves in history—and the conflicts they went through. While the history of atheists is often told as a grand tale of battling ideas, Schmidt set out to tell stories of “mundane materiality,” chronicling the lived experiences of atheists and freethinkers in 19th- and 20th-century America.

His findings both confirm and challenge stereotypes around atheists today. While it’s true that the number of nonbelievers is the United States is growing, it’s still small—roughly 3 percent of U.S. adults self-identify as atheists. And while more and more Americans say they’re not part of any particular religion, they’ve historically been in good company: At the end of the 19th century, Schmidt estimated, around a tenth of Americans may have been unaffiliated from any church or religious institution.

Ukiah Bakery Selling Mendocino-Grown Bread

 

Zach Schat, seen Thursday with freshly baked loaves of Sonora Wheat bread, is using locally produced flour to bake one of the sourdough varieties he sells in his downtown Ukiah bakery.
Zach Schat, seen Thursday with freshly baked loaves of Sonora Wheat bread, is using locally produced flour to bake one of the sourdough varieties he sells in his downtown Ukiah bakery. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal

The Sonora Wheat loaves need to be baked longer, so they have a thick crust, and the long fermenting process gives them an “incredible shelf life,” Schat said.The Sonora Wheat loaves need to be baked longer, so they have a thick crust, and the long fermenting process gives them an “incredible shelf life,” Schat said. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal

The main challenge in baking with the Sonora Wheat, he said, is it has a lot less gluten than most of the wheat strains used for breads. And, as most people know by now, gluten is pretty much what makes bread worth eating.

So instead of the one-day process for a typical sourdough, Schat has designed a three-day one for the Sonora Wheat.

“About 2 a.m. Tuesday we start the pre-ferment process, then we mix the dough on Wednesday, and on Thursday we put it in the oven,” he said, explaining that it took many weeks of trial and error to make a consistently good loaf that he thought people would want to eat.

And like many people in a frustrating relationship, Schat turned to family members and other trusted advisers for help.

Doug Mosel — Mendocino’s Bread Grower

 

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From Our Companion Blog Mendocino Talking

(Since landing in Mendocino County, Doug Mosel has involved himself in several worthwhile community projects: running the successful Measure H campaign against GMOs; co-founding the Agriculture & Ecology Hour on KZYX; and most recently creating the Mendocino Grain Project where he farms, mills and distributes locally-grown grains and flour to CSA members of the project and local stores. —DS)

For all my life I’ve introduced myself as a Nebraska farm boy. It’s deeply ingrained in me (no pun intended)… the core of my being. Although I left the farm to go into the big world and leave that all behind, I think I’ve now come full circle here on the west coast.

After high school, I had wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and had applied for a scholarship to Purdue University, but changed my mind and moved to Washington D.C. where my brother lived. While there I was accepted at VPI, Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. At the time it was a military school, all strait-laced, spit polished and regimented and I could only stand it for two weeks. So I went back and enrolled at the University of Nebraska… which lasted 3 semesters of figuring out that Physics and engineering didn’t work well for me either.

So back to D.C. where I took a job with the Association of American Railroads starting in the basement. At the time, the railroads were still a very romantic part of this culture. We had really nice linen covered table dining cars. AAR was the legislative and public voice of the railroads. Reams of information, comic books, PR brochures, etc. being shipped out was my job. In a year or so they invited me upstairs to distribute the mail, then after a few months I was invited to become a clerk in the law department before ending up as the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Vice President.

Love A Spud

 

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From Dave Smith

Me? I’m a potato junkie. I’ll take one in any form you can think of except raw, and I’ll consume it with or without relish and abandon. I’ll take it…

mashed
smashed
…or succotashed

fried
dried
…and served on the side

sliced
diced
…and lightly spiced

boiled
broiled
…and lightly oiled

heated
kneaded
…and onion-treated

faked
creped
…or shaked-and-baked

floured
soured
…and cauliflowered

chilled
grilled
…and parsley-filled

steamed
creamed
…or fry-machined

whipped
chipped
…or butter-dipped

fluffed
puffed
…or broccoli-stuffed

breaded
shredded
…or lettuce-bedded

teased
cheesed
…and topped with peas

wrinkled
crinkled
…or cayenne-sprinkled

wet-farmed
dry-farmed
…and organic farmed

Love ‘taters

~~

Assisted suicide and the death that caused a wedge between siblings…

 

Sean Davison and his mother Patricia in Kathmandu in 2001, to celebrate her 80th birthday.

 Sean Davison and his mother Patricia in Kathmandu in 2001, to celebrate her 80th birthday.

 

From Australia

“I will be informing the police that you murdered our mother.”

Sean Davison received the single-line email at 1pm on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 19 months after the funeral.

The New Zealand man hadn’t seen his sister Mary since they had posed for a photograph together in front of the coffin, which they helped paint in the bright colours, black cats and beaches so loved by their mum.

Sean Davison and his mother Patricia at her home near Dunedin, in August 2006, two months before her death.

 Sean Davison and his mother Patricia at her home near Dunedin, in August 2006, two months before her death.

“I’ve had enough, this is not life,” Patricia, 85, had repeatedly told her four adult children from her sick bed in late 2006. Cancer had spread to her lungs, liver and brain.

Patricia – a former GP and psychiatrist who loved painting and dancing – was in constant pain and desperate to die. She jokingly asked to be drowned in Otago Harbour, which she could see from her home near Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island.

She stopped eating to hasten her demise but was still in a pitiful state 33 days later, on October 25. On her request, Davison, who had travelled from his home in Cape Town, South Africa to nurse her, crushed up the dozen morphine pills she had stockpiled.

In 2011, Sean Davison was sentenced to five months' home detention in Dunedin for helping his suffering mother to die.

In 2011, Sean Davison was sentenced to five months’ home detention in Dunedin for helping his suffering mother to die.
“You are a wonderful son,” she told her youngest child, after he helped her drink the lethal dose in a glass of water that she lacked the strength to grasp.

How a new form of atheism can combat jihadists who wish to end the world…

 

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From Time

The world isn’t ending, but we face a tremendous problem from people who believe it is. The beliefs of many radicals have become increasingly apocalyptic over the past decade. They’re convinced the end of the world is imminent and that they have a special role in bringing it about. Whether or not you’re interested in the apocalypse, terrorists who believe it’s coming are interested in you.

Solutions are hard to come by. But there is a way to counter extremism that’s potentially as effective as it is unpopular. It’s a social and intellectual strategy that aims to undermine the religious beliefs that motivate jihadists—and one of the most controversial set of ideas to emerge in the West in the last quarter century: New Atheism.

New Atheism emerged in direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks executed by al-Qaeda, which demonstrated that acting upon certain religious beliefs could lead to catastrophe. The movement offered a heretofore unwelcomed perspective: That every religion has negative consequences, and that even religious moderates contribute to the problem because, by affirming that faith is a legitimate reason to hold beliefs, they enable religious extremists.

TODD WALTON: Gene and Grandma

 

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Mischief painting by Todd

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“My blanket. My blue blanket. Gimme my blue blanket!” Gene Wilder’s line from The Producers

Gene Wilder died in August. He was eighty-three. Thinking about him took me back to the first time I saw the movie Young Frankenstein on the big screen in San Francisco in 1974. And I remember feeling as I watched the film that I was witnessing one of those extremely rare creations, a work of art that would never grow old and never be successfully imitated—the result of the unique chemistry of six superlative actors and a brilliant director, none of them duplicable: Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Terry Garr, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, and Mel Brooks.

To my surprise and dismay, many people did not agree with my assessment of Young Frankenstein. Indeed, the three people I attended the movie with enjoyed the film, but thought it silly and forgettable. I saw the movie three more times during the initial release and found everything about the film more inspiring with each viewing. Indeed, I was so inspired by Young Frankenstein, I wrote two screenplays and two plays imagining Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn in leading roles.

Alas I was never able to get my creations to Gene or Madeline, but even now, four decades later, I still imagine them playing parts in my stories and novels and plays. As the neurobiologists say, I resonated profoundly with Gene Wilder. I enjoyed him in later films, but never again loved him as much as I did in Young FrankensteinBlazing Saddles, and The Producers, all directed by Mel Brooks.

Saudi-Born Atheist Rana Ahmad: My Family or the State Would Have Killed Me If I Hadn’t Fled; The Hijab Robbed Me of My Childhood… 

 

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From memritv.org

See clip here… http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/5639.htm

Rana Ahmad, an atheist who renounced her Sunni Muslim upbringing and fled Saudi Arabia for fear of execution, talked about her previous life and her “awakening” in a Deutsch Welle TV interview on August 16. Forced to wear the hijab at age 9 and the niqab at age 13, Ahmad said that this “robbed her of her childhood.” She said that she was living “in a stupor” until she became aware of the world of knowledge through the Internet and began to read and do research. “How come the education systems in Islamic countries do not provide this information?… What are they afraid of?” she asked.

Following are excerpts

Rana Ahmad: “I come from a Sunni Muslim family, which is an extremist family, compared to other families in our society. I studied English and worked in hospitals, did some secretarial work…”

Interviewer: “So you acquired an education?”

Rana Ahmad: “Yes.”

Interviewer: “You went to girls-only schools?”

Rana Ahmad: “Right.”

Happy Birthday to Avijit Roy, the Bangladeshi Freethinker Slaughtered for His Atheism…

 

 

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From Adi Chowdhury
The Bangladeshi Humanist 

“Our aim is to build a society which will not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy but would rather be based on reason, compassion, humanity, equality and science.”

— Avijit Roy

Tomorrow [Sept 12] marks the 45th birthday of Avijit Roy, an icon of freethinking and secular humanism, as well as a victim of the toxic atmosphere of religious fundamentalism suffusing Bangladesh.

Avijit Roy was not simply a prolific writer. He was not simply the man behind the renowned book The Virus of Faith. He was not simply a prolific activist. He was not simply a coordinator of international protests. He was not simply an atheist, not simply a science enthusiast, not simply a humanist, not simply a blogger.

Avijit Roy was a fighter. He was a fighter, relentless against the oppressive forces of superstition and dogma closing in around him, suffocating society, poisoning minds, mangling thoughts. He was a fighter against those maligning the most valuable of human virtues–reason, science, and compassion. He was a fighter against those peddling pseudoscience. He was a fighter against those suppressing skepticism and promoting the vice of blind faith. He was a fighter against those promulgating baseless myths and bronze-age ethical values.

He was a martyr as well. He was slaughtered outside a bookstore by Islamic fundamentalists on the charge of blasphemy and criticism of Islam. His wife Rafida Ahmed, also injured and traumatized during the attack (but who fortunately survived), lamented that “criticizing Islam is becoming a very big crime — a sin — in Bangladesh.”

Indeed, a sin that can get you killed–criticizing religion.

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Roy stood tall in a world plagued by superstition and religious dogma. He perpetrated himself as a looming tower of advocacy and activism for reason. He proved himself to be a formidable adversary of myths and pseudoscience. He refused to submit to the authoritarian figure of religion, shrouded in darkness and silencing those daring to speak out. His knees did not buckle even as he found himself entwined in the poisonous social atmosphere that fearfully upholds superstitious religious tradition and lends reverence to unreason.

My thoughts on this great, iconic man can be found in my writing published on Roy’s own blog, Mukto-Mona. Here is my article from the blog:  The Legacy of a Martyred Freethinker.

The following excerpts have been taken from my writing mentioned above:

How the Christian Right’s Sex Hang-Ups Turned Zika into a Bigger Crisis

 

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Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger 1916

From Valerie Tarico

God may have created the Zika virus, but the Religious Right has turned it into a devastating epidemic of brain damage.

Zika could have been an ordinary epidemic like the ever-changing influenza that emerges each winter and spreads across the Northern Hemisphere with sad but rare complications. But the Religious Right’s antagonism to birth control and abortion (and honest conversation about sex in general) has transformed the Zika epidemic into a nightmare that will devastate lives for an entire generation.

In the absence of pregnancy, Zika isn’t usually a big deal. Only one in five people who contract Zika experience symptoms, and those who do mostly feel like they’ve gotten the flu. This is not to say Zika never does lasting harm to adults, just that—like the flu—those cases appear to be rare.

The difference, as most people now know, is that getting Zika while pregnant is really, really bad. The virus attacks the fetal nervous system, eating brain structures that have already developed and blocking development of others. Even babies that look normal may be damaged for life. Unlike the flu, when it comes to Zika, pregnancy prevention or timing is everything.

Three Ways to Rapidly Safeguard Families 

Sam Harris on Trump…

 

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Excerpted and Transcribed from Sam Harris podcast

As many of you know, I have come out strongly against Trump and tepidly for Clinton, and there are many questions about why I haven’t come out for a third party candidate. The reason is that to vote for anyone other than Clinton is to increase the likelihood that we will have President Trump… and I believe that would be potentially catastrophic. Many people have criticized me for my rejection of Trump and my support for Clinton, but unfortunately this criticism never makes much sense.

I’ve been very clear about describing Clinton as the lesser of two evils. There is a ton to say about why she is not a great candidate. I totally understand why some people don’t like her and don’t trust her, but even with all her problems, she will probably be a competent President. In fact, I think she stands the chance of being a good President because she is actually smart and well informed and reasonably concerned about not destroying the world. And that’s true even with all the stupid lies and mistakes trailing behind her. Yes, there is something fairly rapacious and opportunistic about both Clintons. But their vices are mostly aligned with reasonable policies. There are exceptions but I think this is generally true. And, most crucially they are not idiots or ignoramuses.

GENE LOGSDON: Just What We Need, Faster Tractors

 

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From Our Archives
GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)

Ohio’s politicians are considering a bill that would allow giant tractors to go 40 miles per hour on the highway. At present farm tractors are not supposed to be driven over 25 mph on public thoroughfares. The State House of Representatives has passed the bill unanimously and I presume the senators will do about the same. This really cracks me because of a fond experience of my wild oats days. But the law also amuses me considerably just on the basis of its own merits or demerits. For those urbanites who might not divine the reason for this law (if the politicians know, they aren’t spelling it out publicly), farming has become such a wide-ranging enterprise that farmers often rent land far from the home place. The old saying of “trying to farm the whole county” needs to be updated to “trying to farm the whole state.” Getting to the next field sometimes takes more time than getting it planted. Therefore tractors must move faster on the road, (not to mention in the field) or America might starve to death. If that’s not amusing to you, you need to improve your sense of humor.

I wonder if the lawmakers have thought this 40 mph rule through. When behemoth tractors could travel “only” 25 mph, it was easier to pass them in a car than it will be now that they are scooting along at 40. And if they are allowed to go 40, you know for sure they’ll be going 45 or 50 soon enough. That’s one thing but not the whole of the problem. It is daunting enough to see a machine big enough to straddle your car approaching you on the highway at 40 mph., but what if it is pulling some monstrous piece of farm equipment as it certainly will be. Today’s 30 and 40 row planters (or more) take up at least four lanes of highway when fully extended, so of course they have to be swiveled around sideways by the miracle of hydraulic power to be transported over a road. To pass something like that on a highway might take fifteen minutes at legal speeds. Disks and other cultivating rigs are even more daunting. Fully extended, these “tools” are also several lanes wide, so they fold up hydraulically, one wing or arm over the other for road travel. Today’s farm machinery has more hoses on it than a fire truck.

Bill Moyers: We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People…

 

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From Bill Moyers

Saving the soul of democracy

Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter — small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the paper’s old hands were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to help cover what came to be known across the country as “the housewives’ rebellion.”

I was hooked, and in one way or another I’ve continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism.

Fifteen women in my hometown decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers. Those housewives were white, their housekeepers black. Almost half of all employed black women in the country then were in domestic service. Because they tended to earn lower wages, accumulate less savings and be stuck in those jobs all their lives, social security was their only insurance against poverty in old age. Yet their plight did not move their employers.

The housewives argued that Social Security was unconstitutional and imposing it was taxation without representation. They even equated it with slavery. They also claimed that “requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage.” So they hired a high-powered lawyer — a notorious former congressman from Texas who had once chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee — and took their case to court. They lost, and eventually wound up holding their noses and paying the tax, but not before their rebellion had become national news.

The stories I helped report for the local paper were picked up and carried across the country by the Associated Press. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed to the AP Teletype machine beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing our paper and its reporters for our coverage of the housewives’ rebellion.

I was hooked, and in one way or another I’ve continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism. It took me awhile to put the housewives’ rebellion into perspective. Race played a role, of course. Marshall was a segregated, antebellum town of 20,000, half of whom were white, the other half black. White ruled, but more than race was at work. Those 15 housewives were respectable townsfolk, good neighbors, regulars at church (some of them at my church). Their children were my friends; many of them were active in community affairs; and their husbands were pillars of the town’s business and professional class.

Freethinker: Some Reasons Why…

 

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From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

I. RELIGION makes enemies instead of friends. That one word, “religion,” covers all the horizon of memory with visions of war, of outrage, of persecution, of tyranny, and death. That one word brings to the mind every instrument with which man has tortured man. In that one word are all the fagots and flames and dungeons of the past, and in that word is the infinite and eternal hell of the future.

In the name of universal benevolence Christians have hated their fellow-men. Although they have been preaching universal love, the Christian nations are the warlike nations of the world. The most destructive weapons of war have been invented by Christians. The musket, the revolver, the rifled canon, the bombshell, the torpedo, the explosive bullet, have been invented by Christian brains.

Above all other arts, the Christian world has placed the art of war.

A Christian nation has never had the slightest respect for the rights of barbarians; neither has any Christian sect any respect for the rights of other sects. Anciently, the sects discussed with fire and sword, and even now, something happens almost every day to show that the old spirit that was in the Inquisition still slumbers in the Christian breast.

Whoever imagines himself a favorite with God, holds other people in contempt.