28 October 2011

The new war on Woman

          It's been a turbulent few months in the battle for womans rights, in the UK and the USA.

 But just in time has come a UN report from UN special rapporteur on health, Mr Anand Grover who says all states must provide safe abortion and contraception for women.

Criminal prohibition of abortion is a very clear expression of State interference with a woman's sexual and reproductive health because it restricts a woman's control over her body, possibly subjecting her to unnecessary health risks. Criminal prohibition also requires women to continue unplanned pregnancies and give birth when it is not their choice to do so.
States must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality.
Absolute prohibition under criminal law deprives women of access to what, in some cases, is a life-saving procedure. Even where a clandestine abortion can be performed in a relatively safe, hygienic setting, it may be financially inaccessible for the most vulnerable women. Poor and marginalized women may instead turn to unsafe, self-induced abortions.

The complete report is here

I suspect the Queens cousin Lord Windsor will not agree.

I also suspect we will be hearing from the Rightwing  Christians and conspiracy nuts around the world that this is yet again the UN trying to take control of their country.

There has been a UK politician that has been the centre of some attention for the last few years. Her name is Nadine Dorries, as far as I can tell she became well known during the MP expenses affair, for which she was eventually cleared.

She has a blog, but she has also admitted in the past, that 70% of the content in her blog is fictional.

Recently she tried unsuccessfully to change the rules on abortion in the UK, this obviously shows she is not really on the side of woman, but working as the spokesperson of a right wing Christian anti-woman movement. Nadine Dorries wanted to stop abortion providers giving NHS-funded counselling to women. So basically the idea was that those that provide the abortions, should not give counselling as well. This argument was dismissed quite easily

She said it was about offering women more choice but was accused of trying to "import American sensationalism"  by Diane Abbott MP to the abortion debate.

The Dorries amendment would have stripped abortion providers such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) from offering counselling to women, MPs rejected her call to offer women the "option" of independent counselling by 368 votes to 118. There are some other advice agencies, but an investigation has shown that some of them are giving absolutely dreadful advice. 

In one centre, Skylight Counselling, a Care Confidential affiliate in Coventry, the researcher was given material linking abortion to breast cancer and infertility, and was warned about "post-traumatic stress", should she choose to have a termination.
Deliberately bad advice is common in the USA as well.

Nadine is not really keen on Dr Evan Harris, and had a bit of a chat with him on Sky News

   Other weird things this woman has been advocating is the "Just say No" method of sex education, one that has been such a failure in the USA

Young single mothers remain the most impoverished group in society, and the Anti-choice campaigners have a mantra "Support the mother". Does this ever happen? I think not. Again it's more Christian rhetoric but with no substance. Half of those who get abortions in the UK are already mothers, and will have various reasons for not wanting another child, supposedly Nadine says she can stop 60,000 abortions a year. Creating even more single mothers! What do Tories hate more than Unions? People on welfare, and then again the August riots were blamed by many on the lack of parental care, or the amount of single parent families. Soooo..we have a case of trying to have it both ways, so very strange.

As an aside, Nadine is a nominee in the New Humanist Bad Faith Award.

I'm not the only one who is not keen on her http://nadine-dorries.blogspot.com/  seems to be a bit of a fan club.

For anyone who is really interested in the numbers, the Guardian Data blog has done some visualizations on the number of abortions in England and Wales

The USA house of representative recently passed the  H.R. 358, the “Protect Life Act.” The measure, introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), is to prohibit federal funds from going toward any health care plan that covers abortion services; it also would block funding from being withheld from institutions that are opposed to providing abortions.

The bill is one of two abortion-related measures introduced by House Republicans in this Congress; the other is H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which passed the House in early May on a near-party-line vote.

On the state level, the attack continues with legal attacks on the suppliers , and Personhood laws. Here is an example:-

“SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ:
Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

Naturally hand in hand with womans rights is birth control, this often leads to farcical statements such as the one made by presidential candidate Ron Paul this month. But it even gets better in the race for "How much more crazy can I get" is Sen. Jim DeMint with his push to stop people talking about abortion over the Internet.

The Australian leader of the Opposition Tony Abbot hasn't decided what his Abortion position is this week.

When men are motivated by religion, it's usually the woman who get crucified first.

Comprehensive information on Abortion Laws can be found here http://www.worldabortionlaws.com/

For further information Please see Abortion Rights

More Factual information can be obtained from Education for Choice  and Reproductive rights

"No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg."  - Frederica Mathewes-Green

22 October 2011

Derren Brown - The Assassin

Derren Brown, you either like him or hate him, personally I like him.

He has done some entertaining shows, but last night he demonstrated how it might be possible to make someone do something they wouldn't normally do via hypnosis. He turned someone into an Assassin (maybe).
I was interested in hypnosis for many years, well I still am, but I never really got anywhere with it.

Now I actually believe that what Derren did is possible, but only for one reason. I have (somewhere) a book called  "Open to Suggestion: The Uses and Abuses of Hypnosis" by Robert K Temple.

Temple is one of those writers that produce books on subjects that he is not expert on, but he knows enough, to make you think he might be right. I suspect the Sirius Mystery is rubbish, but his book on lenses "The Crystal Sun" is interesting, and his book "The Genius of China" was a delightful read. I've not read any of his others.

Back to "Open to Suggestion", in one chapter he is talking about psychiatrist and self taught hypnotherapist Milton Erikson, and how he was once asked to make someone do something he wouldn't do. It was observed that Erikson tried and failed, but he didn't do the normal word games and redirection that he was famous for, and this was considered odd by those who knew Erikson. 

So I'm just saying..it's possible...really...

We all get stuck in our belief systems, however sensible we think they are. To me, the New Age community is particularly guilty of not testing or challenging what it claims. - Derren Brown

New Humanist Bad Faith Awards 2011

New Humanist Magazine are running their Bad Faith Awards for 2011.

This years contestants are :-

Michele Bachmann

Anjem Choudary

Tom MacMaster 

Rick Perry 

Melanie Phillips 

Nadine Dorries

    Nadine seems to be a bit unimpressed with this nomination

Humanism is a worldview which says that reason and science are the best ways to understand the world around us. Dignity and compassion should be the basis for how we act toward others.

--American Humanist Association

15 October 2011

Gresham Lecture on AntiVax in History

A History of the AntiVax movment

 Gresham Lecture by Professor Gareth Williams on AntiVax in History
it's about 60 minutes long, but worth watching.

 This is actually a cartoon ridiculing the antivax people, as they believe they are taking on the Cows attributes

Take note at about 40 minutes where you will see chiropractors saying vertebral subluxations to be the cause of all disease, so therefor Vaccination and Germ Theory are invalid..errr yeah...right, but some still believe it.
Professor Williams also mentions a more recent anti-vaxer called Viera Scheibner,  I have saved you the google search as he recommends, just watch this from Australian 60 Minutes:-  

  Today one of the big sources of Vaccination misinformation is the Australian Vaccination Network, headed up by Meryl Dorey you can read here how Stop the AVN is combating this menace.

 “I hope that some day the practice of producing cowpox in human beings will spread over the world - when that day comes, there will be no more smallpox” Edward Jenner

Censorship in the UK, coming some time or not?

               Recently the UK Government asked Reg Bailey the CEO of The Mothers Union to have a look at the modern pressures on children.

Dr Petra reviews it far better than I ever could here

 But basically the finding are :-

  • putting age restrictions on music videos to prevent children buying sexually explicit videos, and to guide broadcasters over when to show them
  • covering up sexualised images on the front pages of magazines and newspapers so they are not in easy sight of children
  • retailers to offer more age-appropriate clothes for children and sign up to a code of practice which checks and challenges the design, buying, display and marketing of clothes, products and services for children
  • restricting outdoor adverts containing sexualised imagery where large numbers of children are likely to see them, for example near schools, nurseries and playgrounds
  • giving greater weight to the views of parents above the general public in regulating pre-watershed TV
  • providing parents with one single website to make it easier to complain about any programme, advert, product or service
  • banning the employment of children under 16 as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing, and improving parents’ awareness of advertising and marketing techniques aimed at children.
  •  making every customer make a decision at the point of purchase over whether they want adult content on their home Internet, laptops or smart phones, rather than receiving it automatically

Oh look, it's censor the Internet!

I have lots of knowledgeable friends in the ISP game. It's sad to say that over the last 5-6 years it's been an increasing smaller pool of ISPS in the UK to choose from. In some parts of Yorkshire you don't have any choice at all!

As Broadband has been rolled out, it's been getting more expensive to buy the infrastructure from wholesalers eg BT Wholesale, so this has been the main reason for the consolidation.

The UK government has been trying to get the ISPs to store peoples Web browsing history, and the headers of their emails for about 6-7 years now, and not much progress have been made. So it's surprising that David Cameron has promised that Web Filtering will be the default options for new accounts. But then the ISPs say, actually No, it's going to be an option.

So..it's starting to look a little less draconian, and more like a sales tactic for a system that probably any school child could get around in a few minutes.

How can you actually filter the Internet?

Currently the following methods are used in the smaller scale of businesses, schools and homes. The obvious methods are:- 

DNS Blocking:-  such as you can get via Open DNS http://www.opendns.com/ 
You could possibly get around this buy changing the DNS servers in the Network setting, or you can put different DNS servers in the local Hosts file. Or type in the IP address if you have it.

Forcing Proxy and filter list:-s eg Squid Proxy http://www.squidguard.org/
A web proxy is basically a server that intercepts your request for a web page, and either filters it, returns a copy of the page on the server to you, or asks for the page and passes it back to your web browser. This can be a bit more tricky to bypass as it should in theory intercept all web traffic

From  Fortiguard :-

Based on automatic research tools and targeted research analysis, real-time updates enable you to apply highly-granular policies that filter web access based on 78 web content categories, over 56 million rated websites, and more than 20+ billion web pages - all continuously updated via the global FortiGuard distribution network.

How to bypass an Internet filter?

You could use a web based proxy such as  www.loband.org

Using a VPN or SSL to connect to a remote server and forward all your traffic through it. This can be done via the setting on the router itself, or with some easily down loaded software on your PC, such as http://www.witopia.net 

 Something that seems to have passed under the radar has been the new standards for advertising billboards in the UK.              

 So no more Wonderbra ads.

                         GOODBYE BOYS 

“When governments start covering the eyes and ears of the whole nation, however, there is a real problem. We only need to look at those governments that have taken it to the extreme and burnt books to understand that. But there are more subtle ways to inhibit the flow of ideas that we need to be just as alert to.”
-- Kate Lundy, Australian Labor Party Senator

04 October 2011

DIY Atheist Bus slogans

Remember the Atheist Bus Campaign?  Now you can make your own slogans

Just some simple web based amusement.

“People don’t like being preached at” – Steven Green of Christian Voice condemning atheist posters on London buses.

02 October 2011

Little me is famous

Little me is famous! Well in Melbourne, thanks to Embiggen Books.

Embiggen Books on twitter asked for some suggestions to show Booksellers understand electronic books using the hashtag #bookshopsaredead

 Some responses included

"Death on the remainder pile"
"Brave New Bookshop"
"Bleak Bookshop"
"Something Digital Comes This way"
"Why I am not a bookseller"

Personally I thought my "Joy of Press" was a winner...but "We need to talk about Gutenburg" finally made the cut.

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.  ~Henry Ward Beecher