Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lazy linking - gotta catch up

Here are a few links which has caught my attention the last few days (all links open in new windows).

Annals of the Malaria War: Legions of Health Workers Launch an Attack - an interesting blogpost on the fight against malaria going on in Africa.

These Nuclear Physicists Think David Suzuki Is Exaggerating about Fukushima - I don't generally link to Vice, which I think is generally a horrible magazine, but this article is actually pretty interesting. They interview other nuclear physicists about the claims made by David Suzuki about Fukushima. Good skeptical journalism.

Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers
I can't remember if I've linked this one before, since it is a pretty old article, but it is well worth reading - it explains why diversity is a good thing. I will probably write a blogpost about this at some stage.

The Bloody Benders, America's First Serial Killers - not science related, just history related.

Rachel Maddow Nails How Utterly Nutty Wis GOP Has Become (Now With Even More Voter Suppression). I think it is safe to say that certain parts of the GOP is not exactly trying to ensure that they represent the interest of all the citizens, or even the majority.

In the Ivory Tower, Men Only. "For men, having children is a career advantage. For women, it’s a career killer."

Why insurance is the wrong model for health care. It cannot be repeated often enough.

Reducing the World's Most Powerful Woman to a Dress. As I wrote on facebook when posting this link:
  1. It is extremely US-centric. A candidate for heading the Federal Reserve is hardly the most powerful woman in a world where Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany.
  2. That being said, the greater point of the article still stand - why are there different standards for men and women?
Occupy Wall Street activists buy $15m of Americans' personal debt


Twisted justice in Texas

This is an interesting story - a group of people are breaking the law in order to kill other people. Only, they are not the usual sort of people doing this, but rather they are officials from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the people they are trying to kill, is the people on Death Row.

Death penalty states scramble for lethal injection drugs

Texas, which declined to comment on the pending case, is among 32 death-penalty states scrambling to find new drug protocols after European-based manufacturers banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions -- among them, Danish-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital. 
"The states are scrambling to find the drugs," says Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center. "They want to carry out these executions that they have scheduled, but they don't have the drugs and they're changing and trying new procedures never used before in the history of executions." 
States have been forced to try new drug combinations or go to loosely regulated compounding pharmacies that manufacturer variations of the drugs banned by the larger companies. The suit against Texas alleges the state corrections department falsified a prescription for pentobarbital, including the patient name as "James Jones," the warden of the Huntsville Unit "where executions take place," according to court documents. Additionally, the drugs were to be sent to "Huntsville Unit Hospital," which, the documents say, "has not existed since 1983."
In short, a number of US states don't have the drugs they use to execute people any longer, after European companies have banned the use of those drugs for that purpose - the companies in question are threatening to stop exporting the drugs to the US if they are used to kill people.

In response, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has, allegedly, tried to get the drugs in illegal ways.

Yes, you read that right: The Texas Department of Criminal Justice allegedly breaks the law in order to execute people.

I cannot even begin to understand the twisted priorities of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - it is more important to them that people get executed than obeying the law they are supposed to help uphold!

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Speaking out and listening

I came across an article on Everyday Feminism called Your Silence Will Not Protect You, where the author talks about how she lost a few friends because she started to speak out against the everyday racism she encountered from her friends.

It is a good article, explaining the perspective of someone who speaks out against the privileged and thus makes herself marginalized

You, as a person of privilege, must understand that it’s hard, especially if the person in question is a friend, to raise issues regarding what makes marginalized people uncomfortable about oppressive behavior. 
One of the reasons for that is that when we raise our discomfort about being othered, we other ourselves. 
We automatically become the one person of the group who can’t take a joke, the one who is too sensitive, the bitchy or the angry one.
As I've said before, I speak from a position of privilege, nearly extremely so - I am a white heterosexual man, who doesn't have to worry economically, since I am living in a welfare state. Even so, I feel how I get marginalized when I speak out against other peoples' behavior - I am the one who cannot take a joke, who is too sensitive etc.

I am lucky enough that I generally don't have to worry about what other people think of me, but even so, I find it hard to keep on fighting against racism, homobigotry and sexism all the time, and not just letting it slide once in a while. The reason I don't, is because I want to help other people to not feel marginalized, and because I want to do mine to change society. And I can only do this by keeping speaking out, every time I come across such things.

That, and listening when other people speak out. Speak out against something I do or say. Against my blunders, which I'll never notice from my privileged position. This is how I can become better at helping, at changing the world for the better.

All too often, people will fight for something only as long as they feel good about themselves. They will proudly declare themselves allies of whatever group they claim to be helping, but instead of speaking for or with that group, they will speak over and instead of that group. This is not helping them - it is taking their cause and using it to feed your ego. If someone points this out to an "ally" that they are doing this, they will refuse to listen, and put their ego on full display.

This is not how one helps other people.

Instead, stop up and listen - listen and learn. We all make mistakes, and everybody knows this, but if we want to help, we apologize and try to correct those mistakes.

So, going back to the original article - if you ever find yourself in a position where someone from a marginalized group tells your that your behavior makes them uncomfortable, remember to listen, and try to keep the advice from the writer in mind.
Also, remember that an apologize can make a big difference (and learn the difference between an apology and a non-pology).