So, does the Religious Right all have a heart attack now, or later?

The Fresh Ten

Recent events have made it clear that we are suffering from a broken moral compass.  People today could use some general guidance.

Since the original ten commandments seem somewhat narrow and obsolete (too much focus on livestock, servants, and jealous god issues), here is a modest first draft of a fresh set. 

  1. You shall treat all people with respect regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, or national origin.
  2. You shall not kill, assault, nor intimidate with threats of physical violence.
  3. You shall not rape, sexually coerce, nor intimidate with threats of sexual violence.
  4. You shall cultivate intellectual curiosity, be open to new ideas, and  respect the scientific method.
  5. You shall not cheat, nor cheat others out of what is rightfully theirs.
  6. You shall not lie, deceive, nor spread lies about others.
  7. You shall not steal, that is to say take or use what rightfully belongs to another person in a manner that causes harm. (Stealing is a trickier concept than it once was. How do you say yes to Fair Use and no to software patents?)
  8. You shall keep your promises.
  9. You shall not waste natural resources nor pollute the shared environment.
  10. You shall take responsibility for your actions and their consequences.

This is from Communicatrix’s (?) aunt.  Very well said – I am an atheist but I can totally get behind every one of these commandments.

Last week’s news

Gender-Spotting Tool Could Have Rumbled Fake Blogger
New Scientist (06/17/11) Paul Marks

A gender analysis program developed by Stevens Institute of Technology researcher Na Cheng and colleagues could have successfully determined the sex of a 40-year-old U.S. man writing online as a gay Syrian girl, according to tests.

The software permits users to either upload a text file or paste in a paragraph of 50 words or more for analysis. The program was based on a vast corpus of documents that the researchers screened for psycholinguistic factors, and they winnowed the more than 500 factors they uncovered down to 157 gender-significant ones.

These cues were then combined by the program through a Bayesian algorithm that guesses gender according to the balance of likelihoods suggested by the factors. The program has three gender judgments to choose from–male, female, and neutral.

A judgment of neutral might signal that someone is attempting to write in a gender voice that is unnatural to them. When fed text, the software’s assessment of a male or female author is only precise 85 percent of the time, but the researchers say its accuracy will improve as more people use it and alert it to wrong guesses.


This was a huge deal to some of my online buds last week, particularly the gay activist ones.  It was interesting hearing their reactions to this, but since it was last week, I can’t remember why.



On the Eve of Yom Kippur

September 20, 2007

World Tour:
Pictures of Auschwitz

The graphic pictures still chill the heart. Now, a
different kind of picture will chill the heart. This week,
in the midst of the Jewish High Holy Days between Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
announced that it has been given an album of 116
preliberation pictures of Auschwitz–the death camp in
southern Poland that, more than any other, carried out
Hitler’s “final solution.”

It is only the second such album known to exist. This one
shows SS officers dining, singing, and sunning in relaxing
breaks from their work–the work of killing 1.1 million

Most of the murdered, about 90 percent, were Jews. All
told, the Nazis murdered six million Jews, about one third
of Jewish people worldwide. Today, we’ll link you to a
slideshow of the album’s pictures, narrated by an archivist
at the Holocaust museum. But first, we’ll let four
Auschwitz survivors recount what happened when the SS
weren’t on break.

Monty Burgerman,
taken to Auschwitz as a teenager

“When we arrived, the SS guards marched us to the left or
to the right. If you went one way it meant you were going
to the gas chambers, and if you went the other way it meant
you would be kept alive to work. My dad, who was 47 at the
time, was sent to the side for the gas chambers. . . .”

“My brother’s wife had a two-year-old baby with her but the
SS would not let them stay together. When she tried to hold
on to it, they grabbed the baby off her and threw it on the
ground. An hour after our arrival we could feel the heat
and smell the fumes from the gas chambers. It’s impossible
to describe the evil at Auschwitz.”

Elisabeth De Jong,
taken to Auschwitz as a young woman

“In a short while a number of SS men came to see us with
some papers. They explained that ‘In Block 10 We Do
Experiments on Women.’ You will have to sign this paper
that you understand this and will be submitting to this out
of your own free will. But you have a choice. If you do not
want to sign up you will be taken down to the trucks and
off to the gas chambers to be gassed. . . .”

“Later on we looked around in Block 10 and saw all these
women with all sorts of burns, wounds, and holes on their
bodies or limbs missing. . . . We were shaking with fear
and crying. The experiments started two or three days

Dora Niederman,
taken to Auschwitz as a teenager

“They told us, See right there? There are your parents.
There. All burning. The chimney burned all days, 24 hours a
day. You could see and smell the smoke all day. . . our
parents, sisters, and brothers . . . my whole family.”

“You couldn’t do anything because Auschwitz was wired.
Electric wiring. All around electric wiring. Lots of people
threw themselves on the wires. I saw two girls throw
themselves on the wires. And got instantly burned. And they
took them off and they were dead.”

Judith Jaegermann,
taken to Auschwitz as a girl

“On Mama’s birthday, Mengele personally carried out the
selection. Again we were standing in line, four rows deep,
and had of course not the faintest idea what was going to
happen to us next. We always stayed together and rubbed
each other’s cheeks, so that we would look healthier and
more capable to work.”

“While we were standing there to wait for our destiny, I
saw Papa standing at a distance watching the selection
process. At that very moment I knew that I would never see
my dear Papa again, no matter where we would be going now.”

“I tore myself away from my row and ran to him, not
listening to the shouts of the women, that all would be
punished or killed because of my leaving the row. I hugged
Papa with all my strength and knew instinctively that this
was our farewell forever. Then I walked calmly back to my
row, feeling that I had said goodbye to Papa, who was
standing there crying.”

–Michael Himick

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Basic Human Rights

This list is excerpted from an online class I’m taking through LinuxChix called Spineful Living.

A lot of straight white males may think this is nonsense, that of course everyone knows these things and accepts them as fact.  Not true, though, for many women I know.  It seems to extend to other minorities, as well.


You have:
1. The right to feel good about yourself

2. The right to act in ways that promote your dignity and self-
respect as long as others’ rights are not violated in the process

3. The right to be treated with respect

4. The right to say “No!” and not feel guilty

5. The right to experience and to express your feelings

6. The right to slow down and think

7. The right to change your mind

8. The right to ask for what you want

9. The right to do less than you are humanly capable of doing

10. The right to ask for information

11. The right to make mistakes

Do you wrestle with any of these?