Thursday, February 12, 2009

Less than 50% of U.S. Believes in Evolution?

Public acceptance of evolution, selected countries, 2006, from new scientist, as published in the economist

Saw a story about Darwin's Unfinished business in the Economist and this chart just stunned me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Seriously, This Man is a U.S. Senator? Robert Byrd: An Embarrassment

Unfortunately, I'm sure he's not the lone daft fool in Congress. But wow, he really is spectacular.

This would be funny if our tax dollars didn't pay his salary and he didn't have a meaningful vote on all the key issues that impact our daily lives. I'd sooner be represented by the howling woman in the alley than this joker. Byrd shouldn't be trusted to wash dishes at a Stuckey's.

Next time anyone sees an out of context clip from another country showing some governmental mishap and feels momentarily superior, I'd implore them to check themselves. Byrd has been in the Senate for 49 years. What must people outside the U.S. think of us if this is the kind of person we elect to be one of our "leaders"? Good grief.

Yoga Doesn't Need Narrow Minded Jackasses Like John MacArthur

Unbelievable. I find it utterly terrifying that there are large numbers of people in this world who not only agree with this clown but think he is some wise leader to emulate.

More John MacArthur nonsense on video over at YouTube.

Indian Marriage Scams

NPR: Wife's Story Highlights Indian Marriage Scam

The men who execute these scams are truly despicable. No question about that. But here's a thought: encourage marriage based on love.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Indian Kidney Theft Story Defies Any Anti-Death Penalty Arguments

screen shot of India kidney theft story Jan 30, 2008

If you are anti death penalty, please read this story about an organized kidney theft operation in India and explain to me the benefits of pursuing the path ---- funded by people's tax dollars ---- of incarceration and rehabilitation for the kind of purely evil person who conceives such an abominable scheme.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How can anyone take Nigeria seriously?

I found the below article in the New York Times last Tuesday. The circumstances of being on a plane and having the hotel provide me with a copy of the paper that morning were unique. Ordinarily I don't read newspapers. I definitely don't skim through every page of a newspaper [this 'world brief' blurb was buried on page 32 or something]. And I'm not a hawk for human rights stories or the domestic policies of African nations. But this story caught my attention and stuck with me.

World Briefing | Africa
Nigeria: Bill Would Make Meeting With Gays a Crime
Published: December 12, 2006
Lawmakers are debating a bill that would ban any form of association with a homosexual, even sharing a meal at a restaurant. The legislation would also prohibit belonging to gay clubs or reading books, watching films or visiting Internet sites that “promote” homosexuality, and proposes penalties of up to five years in prison. It is widely expected to pass. Engaging in homosexual acts is already illegal, with those convicted facing prison terms in the mainly Christian south and execution in the mainly Muslim north. Gays are so closeted and fearful there has been no public opposition to the legislation.
*end article*

Now I watched the West Wing and intellectually admired the storylines about gender inequality in some Muslim nations, but never thought much beyond the abstract notion of it. And you hear about various governments being less open and free than ours. But all governments have warts, all systems are impefect [e.g., 2000 election anyone?]. So, to some extent, it can be difficult to get charged up about degrees of freedom in a country's political process. I tend to blow these things off as inevitable.
But reading something like this Nigerian law that "is widely expected to pass" --- that is just so completely backwardit amazes me. How can anyone take such a country seriously? Where is the global disdain for this kind of thing, as there was for South Africa's apartheid? I'm sure it's not the worst governmental offence in the world, and I imagine that there's little I can do to effect any evolution in such assinine thinking, but it was enough to make me wonder what can be done. Are there groups that pay attention to companies that profit from dealing with countries like this? How/where can I get a list of them? How can people let those companies know that they should be embarrassed to deal with a country that has pre-caveman notions of what's 'right' and 'wrong' in society? In a world where Darfur has to advertise to get help and issues covered in big budget movies with all-star casts won't make people think twice about buying more diamonds, I hold little hope for stirring outrage for Nigeria's current laws against 'promoting' homosexuality or 'associating' with homosexuals. Just had to post my little rant and tilt at this windmill for a moment.
Wikipedia entry on gay rights in Nigeria.
BBC article on this issue.
Amnesty International's coverage on Nigeria

Originally posted 12/16/06

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mandatory religion

I was reading The Economist on a plane last night and among their usual glut of great stories, one in particular stood out to me. This apparently isn't a new story, but it was the first I'd heard of Lina Joy, a Malaysian woman who has been trying to convert her official religion to Christianity from Islam.

There is a lot to be discouraged about here, and others have weighed in on this with more informed perspective than I can, but beyond the ruling itself, what boggled my mind about this is the requirement of including one's religion on one's state identification card. Below excerpt is from the Economist article, emphasis is mine:

"In many places, constitutional guarantees of liberty are undermined by laws constraining religious belief. Indonesians, for example, are also obliged to state their religion on their identity cards and to choose between just six officially recognised faiths."

Due to both the daily grind of earning a living and the modern diversions we have at our disposal in the US, it is too easy to forget that so many people in the world today live under such astonishingly ass backwards policies. Good reporting from the likes of The Economist help make the otherwise distant and abstract feel more real.