This Weeks Reader May 11, 2008  

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Black cats unlucky at shelters
A 2002 study in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science that examined adoption rates over nine months in a California pound found that black cats were about half as likely to be adopted as tabby cats and two-thirds less likely than white cats. But for cats in general, the odds are not good: of the approximately 3,000 cats of all colors offered for adoption during that time, only around 600, or 20 percent, found homes. Those remaining were euthanized.

Activision/Blizzard leaves, still hopes to profit from ESA
Activision has been feeling the weight of its upcoming merger with Vivendi, not only by dropping out of the ESA, but also firing shots at its largest competitor, EA. Despite the company's power, however, there are certain things it can't do on its own, and leaving the ESA seems almost selfish. Activision Blizzard won't take part in E3, but it will take advantage of the show's existence. It will no longer be a part of the ESA, but it will benefit from the ESA's lobbying efforts. In some ways the plus-sized company is asking for a free ride, and other smaller publishers may be watching to see if Activision Blizzard can get away with it.

Blizzard attempt to kill WoW bot bad news for copyright law
Public Knowledge doesn't seem to want to side with either party in these suits. "This is a case pitting distasteful gaming behavior against an unsavory over-assertion of copyrights," Sherwin Siy, Public Knowledge staff attorney stated. Blizzard is trying to stop a company from profiting from cheaters, but in doing so it may alter EULAs and TOS agreements, to the detriment of users.

"Under Blizzard's theory, a copyright owner could not only contractually impose the most onerous restrictions on its customers—restrictions that undermine rights guaranteed by copyright and First Amendment law—but could also enforce those conditions with the threat of copyright law's high statutory damages," argues Public Knowledge in its brief. "Blizzard's attempt to use contract to alter and displace those aspects of copyright law it does not like, while using copyright penalties to construe and enforce the terms of that alteration, is untenable, and the Court should not endorse it."

In Love With the History Our Teachers Never Told Us
He added: “In our version of America, we don’t go back nearly far enough. It’s the winners who make history, and that’s why we start with the Pilgrims: with the Anglo-American and New England version of the story. Culturally, we need to expand the story to include the Spanish in particular, but also the French and the Portuguese. Not only are we not an Anglo nation now, but we never really were. Early America, if you think about it, was a lot like America today — very diverse — and even the parts of the story we think we know, we don’t know at all.”

Suspended lashing for Iranian feminist
ran has handed a feminist a suspended sentence of 10 lashes and six months in prison, the Kargozaran newspaper reported yesterday, in the fourth such punishment for a women's rights activist in Iran within weeks.

The sentence for Rezvan Moghadam imposed by Tehran's revolutionary tribunal is suspended for three years, meaning it will be implemented if she repeats the stated offence within that time.

Maryland Court Rejects Muslim Divorce
Maryland's highest court has rejected a talaq divorce performed by a Muslim man in order to prevent his wife from getting anything in their divorce under state law (see full ruling here). Under Islamic law, a man can divorce his wife merely by saying "I divorce you" three times. In this case, the man, Irfan Aleem, a World Bank economist, went to the Pakistani embassy and signed a piece of paper saying that so they would immediately grant him an official divorce and he would not have to split up his $2 million estate with his wife. The Maryland court said no, they will not recognize that divorce and he still has to go through the laws of the state in order to get one, saying, "the enforceability of a foreign talaq divorce provision, such as that presented here, in the courts of Maryland, where only the male, i.e., husband, has an independent right to utilize talaq and the wife may utilize it only with the husband's permission, is contrary to Maryland's constitutional provisions."

National News
They got horse racing in Heaven
Me? I'm truly baffled. Not by Eight Belles' injury and death. By the notion that God has a stable of race horses. (Yes, I expect it's a figure of speech, but listen to a lot of people talk and Heaven will be just like Earth.) Are there races there? Parimutuel betting? Who'd run against God's horse? Does he have favorites? Do they all win - is it heaven if they lose? Or do they just stand around all day - that wouldn't be heaven for the horses...

I don't mean to make fun, but... doesn't it sound like a bad movie? It's just ... baffling.

Nonbelieving Literati
Something or other
But not long after the third part (or, excuse me, chapter) I had to put in a bookmark and set the story down. My thoughts were flying left and right as I examined the injustices of sexism now - especially in media advertising, which has always been a sore spot. Who do you expect to see in a laundry detergent commercial? Who knows that Jif is the superior peanut butter brand? Where are the fathers like mine that grumble over a dirty house and always having to wash the dishes and enjoy, more often than not, to cook and go grocery shopping? For the injustices of sexism one way also mark poorly the other: if a woman's place is in the kitchen, then that is not the man's place. And this hardly allows people to grow to be whomever they can.

An Antarctic Total Solar Eclipse

The Gegenschein Over Chile

Wright v. Robertson

The Christ-Centered Marriage
The thing is, Jesus never actually participated in our marriage. Oh, sure, we prayed before making major decisions and we prayed for fellow believers who were experiencing difficult circumstances; we prayed before meals and in church; but we certainly didn’t pray before doing the routine things that married couples do every day: buying groceries, getting the car fixed, making love...

Sermonette #5: Breaking Out is Hard to Do
Accordingly, transitions in thought and lifestyle are neither smooth nor easy. Even when one has rejected the teachings of one’s parents and friends with regard to religion, sometimes one is still torn between what we want and believe versus what we have been taught is “right.” The baggage we have inherited from parents, friends and our worship communities has shaped our values. The baggage can still be upon our shoulders months or even years after rejecting the fundamental assumptions upon which the baggage is based. Even when one has critically dissected the issues and intellectually rejected the doctrines, we can still live, out of sheer habit, in accordance with what was rejected, and thereby create a discrepancy between what we hold in theory as true and what we live in practice.

X-mercy Story - Melody's story Part 1.
When I got to Mercy Ministries I had the Resident's Handbook thrust into my hands. I remember reading it and wondering why they were suddenly taking away any independence and self management I had. It is true that I went into the program seeking treatment for my illness, which I was coping with- but at the same time I knew it was holding me back. I had been responsible for seeking support from professionals in the past, I was studying at University, and yet it seemed like Mercy Ministries were trying to revert me into being totally dependent, totally controlled, and a child who was not trusted to make her own responsible decisions.

X-Mercy Melody's Story part 2
Two staff members, one of them being my Mercy Ministries counsellor had me in a room with them. They shut the door and pulled the curtains so that nobody could see in, then had me stand in the middle of the room while they laid hands on me, and cast the demons out of me one by one, calling them by name. They spoke loudly, then quietly, then loudly again, alternating between speaking in tongues and speaking in English. I wanted to cry. I didn't understand why they were yelling. I was so frightened. At one point, one of the staff members tried to reassure me "Don't worry," she said. "I am angry at Satan, not at you."

After the exorcism, I was told that I shouldn't have any more symptoms because the demons that were causing them had been cast out. Although I am embarrassed to admit it, I held on to what they had said. I wanted to believe them. That I had been healed, that I wouldn't have any more symptoms, that they had "fixed" me. And I was okay, for about two days.

When the next panic attack hit, being unable to manage it the way I had been taught by my doctors, I went to staff to ask for help. I was having a lot of problems with my breathing. They took me to their office, closed the door, and proceeded to tell me about how disappointed they are in me. I was told that they had already cast the demons out of me, therefore if I was having any symptoms now, it was for one of two reasons. 1) I was acting for attention, or 2) I had knowingly and willingly invited the demons back into me.

I was devastated. I couldn't work out what I had done wrong. Maybe I wasn't a good enough Christian? Maybe God didn't want to heal me? Maybe I really did have demons inside of me???

Is Religious Faith Irrational?
And none of these beliefs make us fundamentally irrational people. It is entirely possible to have certain irrational beliefs -- even significant beliefs, even stubbornly held ones -- and still be a basically rational person in most other areas of our lives. It's not just possible. It's universal. We all do it. In fact, hanging on to mistaken ideas once we've committed to them seems to be a basic part of how our minds work. And despite that, we're still generally rational people, able to process information and analyze it effectively and make appropriate decisions about how to act on it... most of the time.

An Atheist Goes to a Wedding
So here’s what the preliminaries of the wedding made me think of. In all the crazy motion of life, a wedding is an attempt to fix a certain moment in time: If only for a few minutes, let us stop moving; give us a break. We humans, for whatever evolutionary reason, require our ritual occasions to put us back in touch with the rest of our species, both living and dead. Some of us may even choose to reflect for a short time, to revel briefly in our commonality. Let differences be forgotten for this instant; give our reciprocated animosities a break.

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7 comments: to “ This Weeks Reader May 11, 2008

  • Anonymous
    Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 2:57:00 PM CDT  

    Thanks for another wonderful selection. Several of these are new to me, but they look interesting.

  • John Evo
    Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 3:09:00 PM CDT  

    Always a good round-up of stories OG. There's something for everyone.

    I feel really bad hearing the stats on black cats. Especially if the anecdotal stories about them being chosen by wackos that are into sacrificing animals.

    So, you probably won't get adopted and if you do, your human might set you on fire. Great.

    Very cute kitten video, by the way.

  • The Exterminator
    Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 4:00:00 PM CDT  

    I'm not sure that black cats aren't adopted because of superstitition, or because so many Americans are racists. Does Jeremiah Wright have anything to say about it?

    My favorite pet of all time was a black cat who followed me home from the street: Circe. She skulked purposefully behind me for about four city blocks -- including crossing at green lights -- getting closer and closer and closer as we walked, and talking/meowing the whole time. Finally, when we got to my apartment, I held the door open and said to her, "Well, come on in if you're going to." She did, rubbing up against my leg warily, and then accompanied me into the elevator. By the time we arrived at my floor, we'd formed a bond.

  • Venjanz
    Monday, May 12, 2008 at 3:05:00 AM CDT  

    Whoever made that Wright vs. Robertson thing is pretty ignorant... unless it's a joke of some sort?

    If so, I don't get it.

  • Ordinary Girl
    Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:03:00 PM CDT  

    V, explain your reasoning. I'm listening.

  • Venjanz
    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 1:26:00 AM CDT  

    Well I'm stuck here, to be honest. I can't decide if you were being serious about wanting me to explain why that Wright v Robertson thing was ignorant, or what.

    I deal more with political issues more than you do, but surly you can see how this comparison is, well... short-sighted and ignorant.

    Come on, now. Don't do me like that.

  • Ordinary Girl
    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 3:21:00 AM CDT  

    I'm completely serious.


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