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Showing posts from January, 2015

What is patriotism?

"Patriotism is another form of isolationistic practice where one group believes it is better than another," said Ralph Minogue. For Tolstoy: It is quite possible that governments regard this sentiment [patriotism] as both useful and desirable, and of service to the unity of the State; but one must see that this sentiment is by no means elevated, but, on the contrary, very stupid and immoral. Stupid, because if every country were to consider itself superior to others, it is evident that all but one would be in error; and immoral because it leads all who possess it to aim at benefiting their own country or nation at the expense of every other--an inclination exactly at variance with the fundamental moral law, which all admit, 'Do not unto others as you would not wish them to do unto you.' * * * Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable signification is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for t

The 'Evolution Academic Freedom Act' and the teaching of the theory of evolution in schools

The teaching of evolution in public schools in the United States has long been held in deep suspicion by a large portion of the population. More than half of Americans believe literally in the Biblical creation story (CBS News poll, 2004) . This sort of belief varies widely by region. In the southern states of Alabama and Arkansas, three-quarters are Biblical literalists, whereas in the northeastern states of Vermont and Massachusetts, less than a quarter are Biblical literalists (Rasmussen poll, 2006) . As public education standards are determined on the state level, certain states have repeatedly battled to keep evolution in their science curricula. Attempts to replace the teaching of evolution with creationism "has been before school officials, legislators and courts in Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia" over the past several decades, according to CNN. Louisiana passed a law branded as "academic freedom" encouraging t

A teenager’s vision of utopia: Kill off the criminals!

'Death Note' is a clever, absorbing manga series about a teen who acquires supernatural power to kill people. "Death Note"  is the clever, absorbing, illustrated tale of a teenage boy who stumbles across a supernatural tool. Simply by writing someone's name into the so-called Death Note, a book originally belonging to a death god, the teenager is able to determine the time and manner of their death. The book's new owner doesn't write in the names of his personal enemies, as one might expect some teenagers to do. Rather, as an excellent student and the son of a police officer, he immediately begins a social experiment by writing in the names of jailed criminals. He believes he is crafting a crime-free utopia over which he will eventually rule as a righteous dictator (after he graduates, of course). His mentor in this project is the death god himself. The being's name is Ryuk, and he is one of many shinigami , the Japanese word for the death go

Hundreds of Dera Sacha Sauda followers castrated in their ashram?

India has received news of the alleged forced castration of some 400 followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the leader of the religious group Dera Sacha Sauda. One of the followers, Hans Raj Chauhan, age 34, who was a cult follower for 15 years, claimed that he and other followers had been castrated with the promise of some kind of elevated religious experience. He said that the castrations occur monthly in the ashram and that individuals who receive the "very painful" operation must rest for over a month afterward. The Punjab and Haryana High Court said on Dec. 17, 2014 that such an incident should be considered inhumane even if Chauhan had given his consent, and on Dec. 23 the court ordered an investigation. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is also facing rape and murder charges. India Today reported: "Senior advocate Anupam Gupta, appointed amicus curiae by the court in the Rampal case, had told the court that the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda were being trained by Army men

Hollywood celebrities protest hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei

The Sultan of Brunei is one of richest people on the planet. He recently imposed a harsh form of sharia law upon his small country. Americans have reacted by boycotting his hotel. This article was originally posted to Helium Network on May 10, 2014. Photo: Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei, taken by Sam Garza of Los Angeles © Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license Wikimedia Commons. Hassanal Bolkiah, the 67-year-old Sultan of Brunei and one of the wealthiest men in the world, recently announced that the country would be held to a form of sharia law beginning May 1, 2014 . "Sharia" refers to law based on Muslim religious principles. Brunei is majority Muslim; the one-third of the population that is non-Muslim will also be subject to at least parts of the law . Sharia — spelled "Syariah" in news reports coming out of Brunei — is subject to variations and interpretations, and different regions have their own versions of it. In Brunei, the new law

You can write your essay now: Demystify and enjoy the writing process

Addressing some common objections that students raise about writing essays. Change your attitude from negative to positive! Your teacher has just assigned you the task of writing an essay. Well, not just was, in fact, assigned two weeks ago. Now there's only one week to go, and every time you think about it, you tense up. You hate everything about this writing assignment, and your hatred of it gives you writer's block. Wait a minute: That little piece of insight could drop down the drawbridge to the castle. The reason you have writer's block about your homework assignment might be that you hate the idea of it. Let's run through some common objections that students raise about writing essays. If you can change your attitude from negative to positive, chances are that you won't feel creatively blocked anymore. "The topic is too depressing" History: What a downer, yeah? Slave traders kidnap and imprison people and sell them at auction, after which s