1. "I am an atheist myself so I suppose I should be sympathetic to Maher and Harris here, but I’m not because because it’s an irrational intellectually nonsensical point of view. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in this world. And a few thousand of them —- hell it could be a few hundred thousand of them —- are members of the extremist fringe that wreaking havoc in the middle east and causing everyone else to pee their pants. Nobody disputes that these particular Muslims are assholes. But you can’t blame the religion itself when there are more than a billion adherents who aren’t killing anybody and don’t want to kill anybody. As Affleck says, they’re just going about their lives, trying to do their best for their kids, working, praying, screwing —- everything everyone does. If Islam is an inherently violent religion, then more than a billion of its believers don’t seem to be getting the word.
     
    It’s infuriating. Do we condemn all of Christianity because of Operation Rescue? Is it ok to condemn all of Judaism because of the violent right wing settlers? Is Buddhism inherently violent because some Buddhist monks in Myanmar and killing people left and right? It’s not as if we haven’t seen exactly the same behavior among humans forever for entirely secular, avaricious, tribal, egomaniacal, nationalistic reasons. This is what we do! That this particular group of human assholes has seized upon religion for their justification for it is meaningless. It’s always something."
    — 

    Digby: They Don’t Even Know They’re Bigots.

    I, too, am an atheist, and I agree with everything Digby says, here.

    (via wilwheaton)

    Seriously!

    (via wilwheaton)

     
  2. thepoliticalfreakshow:

    Remembering Hispanic/Latino Victims of Murder/Police Brutality In America

    Dillon Taylor, 20 (Utah): Killed August 11th, 2014 By Salt Lake City Police Officer Bron Cruz After Police Responded To A 911 Call, Dillon & His Brother Were Simply Walking Down The Street To Visit Their Deceased Mother’s Grave, Police Murdered Him, And The DA Ruled The Shooting Justified, Which Means Dillon’s Murderer Goes Free

    Today the Salt Lake City District Attorney ruled that the shooting death of 20-year-old Dillon Taylor was justified. Taylor was on his way to visit his mother’s grave, along with his cousin, Adam Thayne and his brother, Jerrail Taylor, just moments before a group of cops rolled into the parking lot on August 11, 2014. Both Taylor’s brother and cousin say he was wearing headphones.

    Police claim that they stopped the three young men because of a 911 call about someone waving a gun around. They also claim that Taylor matched the description given during that call. Taylor did not have a gun on him, and no gun was ever recovered from the area of the shooting. According to the St. Louis Tribune, the caller told 911 dispatch:

    “Some gangbangers” walking near 200 East and 1900 South had “flashed” a gun.

    “They’re obviously looking for trouble, just the way they look.”

    That caller is eerily similar to the caller that reported a black man, John Crawford, with a gun in Walmart. Crawford was purchasing an air rifle from the store. That 911 call led to his death; another shooting that was found “justified” by a system that seems to have lost all sense of right and wrong.

    In the video you can see police approaching the three young men in the parking lot of the convenience store where Taylor was shot. It’s clear from the video that both Thayne and Jerrail Taylor heard and saw the police, and responded accordingly. Although there is no sound in the beginning of the video, both men put their hands up, apparently following a police directive.

    Dillon Taylor continued walking at a normal pace, consistent with someone who did not realize that there was a cop behind him, pointing a gun at his back.

    Here’s the video from the officer’s body cam, via KUFRNEWS:

    *warning this video contains graphic images

    The Salt Lake City DA’s verdict in this case is simply insane. Dillon Taylor did not have a gun. He had not committed a crime. He was executed for not being able to hear the police commands.

    This was not an honest verdict. The reasons cited as ‘justification’ for this murder are beyond sickening. The DA claims the killer cop saw the three young men ‘causing a scene’ while crossing the street.

    The three approached a vehicle stopped at a red light, and Taylor spoke to the driver while the other two were “throwing their hands in the air, kinda making a big scene,”

    according to officer Bron Cruz, the cop who fired the gun and ended Dillon Taylor’s life.

    Most of us would agree that someone “causing a scene” by talking to someone in a car or throwing his hands in the air, is not a “justifiable” reason to murder a 20-year-old kid. Yet the DA in Salt Lake believes that it is. It’s stomach turning.

    In most cases police resort to victim smearing, bringing up past criminal history or traffic tickets or anything else they can dig up on someone they kill. Thayne and Jerrail Taylor were taken to the police station and released. No charges were filed because no crime had been committed by any of them.

    Immediately following the shooting, Dillon’s brother and cousin claimed that the three were racially profiled. Judging from the words of the 911 caller and the actions of the police, I would say they were right. What’s more, the police lied about the race of the cop that killed Dillon Taylor, stating from the beginning, “he is not white.” As you can see from the video above, officer Bron Cruz is white.

    Since there is no doubt that police lied about the shooter’s race, why shouldn’t we assume they are lying about everything else?

    Dillon Taylor’s brother provided an eye witness account of what happened that night, but the DA blatantly dismissed it, along with the statements of other witnesses. Instead he chose give greater weight to the account of the person accused of the crime… because in this case, the accused is a cop.

    Here’s a video of Jerrail Taylor talking about the night his brother was killed by Bron Cruz, filmed at a #justicefordillontaylor protest a few weeks ago:

    Source: Addicting Info

    Jesus fucking christ. Come on, America.

     
  3. weloveblackgirls:

    Solidarity, on a global scale.

    The solidarity never left us

    (Source: socialjusticekoolaid, via shewhoismilitant)

     
  4. If you look closely, you might discern two things that can be construed as stick figures. “I drew this at school. We were drawing our friends so I drew me and Zacky because actually he is my very best friend, mama. I know he’s my brother, but he is also my friend because I really love him and I miss him when I’m at school.” Aw, I think Zacky feels the same way, kid. #refrigeratorworthy

     
  5. Don’t worry, folks. She might be a doctor, but she still dresses like a princess. None of those pesky pants suits or scrubs for this MD!

     

  6. "The rise in autism has been with us for more than two decades, and we have little to show about what’s causing it. We have many hundreds of thousands of functionally disabled people who didn’t exist before, and we have our heads in the sand."
    — 

    - Jill Escher, mother of two autistic children, whose personal research led epigenetic researchers to make a possible connection between synthetic hormones prescribed in the 1960s for fertility and a risk of autism that travels through generations. 

    (via utnereader)
     

  7. In case any of you are ever questioning your abilities as a parent, maybe beating yourself up or at least second-guessing yourself over some of the decisions you’ve made for your kids, just know that I (willingly and knowingly) bought both of my kids wooden swords at the Ren Faire yesterday.

    A+ decisions, always.

     
  8. My mom bought these pretend food sets for Zach (who loves to cook) in France this week. Naturally, one of them is an “aperitif tray.” Can’t wait to teach him how to make & serve us canapés and cocktails. Finally gonna start earning his keep around here!

     

  9. After a fairly quick and easy transition with Zach this morning at escuelita (I mean, they didn’t call me to come back so I assume he didn’t lose his shit when I left), I got a coffee, went to the park and sat in the sun, reading a book and listening to Carcass and Napalm Death in my headphones. If there’s a better way to spend a beautiful fall day when your big kid is off at big kid school and your little one is demonstrating his new-found independence from you, I can’t think of one.

    There are a lot of days when I envy women with careers, but today was a rare, happy day when I did not regret my decision to not lean in.

     

  10. I had a great time tonight being stupid with old friends, but now I remember that my younger kid is going to get up in 90 minutes and expect me to interact with him. I should have just stayed at my friend’s house, huh? At least I could have slept in a bit.

     
  11. Day 2 of preschool. Remains unimpressed. Here he is, declining to participate in circle time. “Don’t like dose babies, mama.” This experience is really making me appreciate Milo’s social qualities.

     
  12. thinkmexican:

    Paloma Noyola: The Face of Mexico’s Unleashed Potential

    When a report emerged in September 2012 that a girl from one of Matamoros’ poorest neighborhoods had attained the highest math score in Mexico, some doubted its veracity. It must be fake, they said.

    But it wasn’t fake. Her name is Paloma Noyola, and what most reports failed to mention is that almost all of her classmates also scored very high on the national math test. 10 scored in the 99.99% percentile.

    Paloma and her classmates also scored in the top percentile in language. Something special was happening at José Urbina López primary school in Matamoros, and Wired went to take a look.

    The high test scores turned out to be the work of a young teacher who also came from humble beginnings. Sergio Juárez Correa was tired of the monotony of teaching out of a book and wanted to try something new to help engage his students when he came across the work of Sugata Mitra, a UK university professor who had innovated a new pedagogy he called SOLE, or self organized learning environments. The new approach paid off.

    Although SOLE usually relies on unfettered Internet access for research, Juárez and his students had very limited access. Somehow, he still found a way to apply Mitra’s teachings and unleash their potential.

    From the beginning, Paloma’s exceptional abilities were evident:

    One day Juárez Correa went to his whiteboard and wrote “1 = 1.00.” Normally, at this point, he would start explaining the concept of fractions and decimals. Instead he just wrote “½ = ?” and “¼ = ?”

    “Think about that for a second,” he said, and walked out of the room.

    While the kids murmured, Juárez went to the school cafeteria, where children could buy breakfast and lunch for small change. He borrowed about 10 pesos in coins, worth about 75 cents, and walked back to his classroom, where he distributed a peso’s worth of coins to each table. He noticed that Paloma had already written .50 and .25 on a piece of paper.

    As Mr. Juárez implemented more of Mitra’s teachings in his classroom, Paloma continued to stand out as an exceptionally gifted student:

    Juárez Correa was impressed. But he was even more intrigued by Paloma. During these experiments, he noticed that she almost always came up with the answer immediately. Sometimes she explained things to her tablemates, other times she kept the answer to herself. Nobody had told him that she had an unusual gift. Yet even when he gave the class difficult questions, she quickly jotted down the answers. To test her limits, he challenged the class with a problem he was sure would stump her. He told the story of Carl Friedrich Gauss, the famous German mathematician, who was born in 1777.

    When Gauss was a schoolboy, one of his teachers asked the class to add up every number between 1 and 100. It was supposed to take an hour, but Gauss had the answer almost instantly.

    “Does anyone know how he did this?” Juárez Correa asked.

    A few students started trying to add up the numbers and soon realized it would take a long time. Paloma, working with her group, carefully wrote out a few sequences and looked at them for a moment. Then she raised her hand.

    “The answer is 5,050,” she said. “There are 50 pairs of 101.”

    Juárez Correa felt a chill. He’d never encountered a student with so much innate ability. He squatted next to her and asked why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it.

    “Because no one made it this interesting,” she said.

    Although this Wired piece focuses mostly on Sugata Mitra, it does once again highlight the story of Paloma Noyola. Unfortunately, after a brief spurt of media attention, little on Paloma was ever mentioned and, as was pointed out by Wired, nothing was ever said of Mr. Juárez.

    As with most stories in the Mexican press — and those popular with the middle-class — things suddenly become very important once it’s featured in a gringo publication. Which is a very sad commentary. We hope, however, that this story pushes those in the press, state and federal government to look not to the United States for validation but to Mexicans like Sergio Juárez doing good work in places like Matamoros.

    The clear message in this story is that there are thousands of Paloma Noyolas going to school in Mexico who, just like her at one time, are not being challenged and therefore aren’t very interested in school. This story can, if we want it to, raise enough awareness to shift the discussion from poverty to opportunity.

    Paloma truly personifies both Mexico’s challenges and unleashed potential.

    Read the entire Wired story here: How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

    Editor’s note: As an addendum, Wired provided information on helping support Sugata Mitra and his School in the Clouds project, and although they donated school supplies and equipment to José Urbina López School, we’re interested in seeing if we can help set up a similar fund for Sergio Juárez, the teacher featured in this story.

    Also, $9,300 was raised to help fund Paloma’s education last year. We’re going to follow up with the economist who led the fundraising campaign to see how she’s doing. Stay tuned for the updates.

    Stay Connected: Twitter | Facebook

    (via neomexicanismos)

     

  13. It’s been a long week. After three days of getting both kids up, fed, dressed and out the door by 7:15am (Matt’s out of town so of course horrible insomnia kicked in and Zach woke up multiple times each might/up for good by 5:30 every morning), I realized that Milo’s hour-long school commute might be untenable for an entire year. I also started realizing that the after-school portion of the day was going to suck, especially once winter set in and hanging at the school playground wasn’t an option. I heard that there might be some open spots at a school a little closer to us, so after dropping Milo off at school, I dragged Z back to the train and went to investigate.

    I’ll save you the aggravating details (in short: no there’s no spot; yes there is please wait here; why are you here oh ok you’ll have to wait longer bc you need to talk to the parent coordinator and no I don’t know where he is [news flash, the PC at this school is useless!]; no there’s no spot; then, finally, wait a minute I’m going to do a physical headcount in the classrooms and see if there are any open spaces; yes there are, you have a spot!), but it was a long and aggravating morning that ended with good news. Except, of course, that I didn’t have Milo with me. “Oh you can’t register without the child.” (What’s the point of this rule?! You have proof of birth etc. Have people in the past fucked with the system for lulz or something? Like a bunch of 4chans kept showing up every summer and making up fake docs and registering fake kids just to post NYC DOE lulz? And finally the city was like, fuck these assholes now everyone has to bring their kid in person?) I explain that since I didn’t know if there open spots, I hadn’t brought my kid because I hadn’t wanted him to miss school. When I asked if I could just fill out some paperwork to take the spot and bring in Milo the next day, I got the “oh sorry we can’t register him unless he’s here and I can’t guarantee the spot until all of the paperwork is completed.”

    So off Z and I go, back on the train, back to BedStuy to pull Milo out of school. Back on the train to the new school, now with fully cranky toddler and confused four year old in tow. Paperwork, more waiting, more paperwork in between two year old screaming, all while I can feel my stuffy nose moving into serious sinusitis territory. BUT! We did it! We got a spot! At a school that is a mere 30 minute door to door commute, with a lovely teacher in a brand new pre-k classroom.

    Milo was much too weirded out by the day to jump into a new class mid-day, so I took them home, trying to fight off exhaustion and sickness, failing miserably but whatevs, man. That one day of shit has saved us a full year of misery and woe. Our commute this morning was so much better. Added bonus, his best friend goes to his new school, and there are several affordable after-school programs that are offered for pre-k kids.

    In other everything’s coming up Milhouse news, a spot opened up in the 2s program for Zach at Milo’s old preschool. Perhaps two mornings a week with other two year olds will help Zach to stop referring to other kids his age as “babies” (in a scornful and lofty tone like oh god look at those fucking BABIES would ya these babies should get a life amirite mama).

    This is all a very long-winded way of saying that I feel like I earned this night eating some left-over frozen pizza and drinking left-over wine and watching War Games on hbogo. And am thoroughly going to enjoy going out on Friday night with some buddies to see a double header of Shannon & the Clams/Liquor Store plus midnight show of Powertrip/White Lung.

    Most importantly though, Milo had a great day at his new school today. His teacher welcomed him with a big hug, and when I tried to say good-bye, he dismissed me with “you have to go now because I need to get ready to learn things.” He’s a pain in the ass, but I love him from to the outer reaches of the universe and back.

     
  14. Poor Sweet Baby. He screamed, cried and struggled so hard it took both myself and a nurse to hold him down so the Urgent Care doc could remove a glass sliver in his foot. After a few unsuccessful attempts, they almost sent us to the ER so he could be sedated. Finally got it out. He can’t/won’t walk on his foot yet, but should be fine by tomorrow. (I hope! He’s too heavy to carry around all day.) I’m still shaking though bc on our taxi ride home, a careless garbage truck driver almost caused us to crash into the wall of the expressway. The truck pushed us so far over that the side of the taxi was completely scraped up. Milo and I screamed, we braced for impact but luckily our cabbie was a good driver and didn’t lose control. To top it all off, the humidity today is triggering my asthma so I’m stuck puffing away on my inhaler. Can today just be over already please? And why did this have to happen during a week when my husband is out of the country? (at Casa de Chaos)

     

  15. Anonymous said: What about your husbands nationality?

    Goodness, really? His nationality (this does not mean what I think you think it means) is American. His cultural/ethnic/racial background (what I think you’re actually asking about) is Jewish (via ye old time honored Pale of Settlement to NYC by way of Ellis Island (yay something fun finally!) and Irish/Polish.

    I don’t get it. Am I about to be boycotted/lauded/a recipient of scholarships/chastised for cultural insensitivity or something?