Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Price Of Love

I'm unclear if those opposed to marriage equality have started their campaign yet. It's hard to tell: we had a statement from bishops, of course, but the slice of the population that turns to them for moral guidance dwindled long ago. Indeed if anything support for marriage equality jumped after they launched their sixteen page document. I wrote about it, twice, but expected a more comprehensive front to emerge.

I had hopes for the cumbersomely named "Defend Marriage in Ireland: Husband And Wife" group. From what I can tell they're the Facebook account of Manif Pour Tous Ireland, and, while they have only 358 followers at present, I can confidently say that up to 13% of their followers actually hail from Hibernia. Perhaps this will grow. They're fairly good at facilitating different opinions in their Facebook discussions so it's worth popping over. Do say hi if time allows.

This post seemed a mite odd. It claims that the cost of legislating for marriage equality in the UK was 1.5 billion GBP. The only citation given was a Facebook post by a small, anonymous account so I don't give it much weight, but as part of my counterargument I stole from the King of Iona's playbook and listed some major Irish employers who list marriage equality as something they value.

Now, of course no-one's marriage should have to be justified in terms of economic benefit. I put the below quotes together in case you know someone on the fence about voting yes. If they consider the protection of Irish jobs a compelling reason to pass the referendum then their vote still counts. As the discussion was around non Irish multinationals operating in Ireland I've limited myself to that subset. I've also focused exclusively on the top 100 employers in Ireland, as measured by number of employees. This is mainly due to time constraints; I might revisit the list later. Finally I only include companies that have actively campaigned for or taken legal action in favour of marriage equality. Employee headcounts taken from Irish Times's rather useful www.top1000.ie.

Without further ado:

Intel Ireland: 4,700 Irish jobs. Intel has openly supported and campaigned for marriage equality since 2012.

Fringe Catholic Group Issues Statement Opposing Marriage Equality

If you live in Ireland you probably know some Catholics. You might have gone to school with them. They could be your colleagues, your doctor, or the person who bags your groceries. But what most of us don't realise is that there is a small splinter group who are quite different indeed.

Styling themselves 'The Hierarchy', this self-appointed group of elites eschew secular dress in favour of ornate robes, jewellery, and improbably large hats. Unlike most Catholics who happily integrate into wider society, they prefer to live in secluded palaces. Women have been barred from entry since the inception of the group in the first century BC. They do not marry or (usually) father children, instead replenishing their ranks by recruiting Catholic priests who share their conservative world views.

If you follow the media, you'll see that this group of 26 Catholics (henceforth referred to by their preferred term of 'bishops') recently issued a statement opposing access to civil marriage for same sex couples.

"A same sex couple cannot be husband and wife", reads the statement in part, showing a keen understanding of the issue under debate.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On The Grave Injustice Of Marriage Equality

This week Ireland's bishops spoke with one voice on marriage equality, describing it as a 'grave injustice'. Strong words, and I found myself wondering if such forceful language had been deployed by these unmarried men before.

(tw: child rape, imprisonment, slavery, theft, sale, and deaths of children.)

I thought it would be useful to examine statements surrounding Ferns, where for decades members of the clergy raped and sexually assaulted at least a hundred children. It seemed apt: the bishops are doubtless aware of the particulars as two of their members (Herlihy, Comiskey) expended considerable effort ensuring the rapists and sex offenders did not trouble the attention of the authorities.

What phrase best describes this calculated concealment of depravity? Bishop Brennan's official statement chooses to condemn the affair as 'failings'.

I've done some amateurish tinkering around the edges of Theology and accept that the depth of the hierarchy's moral expertise may be shrouded from me by their years of study, but it seems to me that a failing is considerably less serious than a minor injustice, let alone a grave injustice. They must fear marriage equality greatly if they choose such words.

Next I sought out official statement on the Magdalene laundries. This business scheme consisted of religious orders imprisoning tens of thousands of women and girls as a source of slave labour, using violence, head shaving and psychological abuse to maintain control. The operation wrapped up in 1996. Paying the survivors their due wages and pensions seems to me a just step, but again I lack the moral expertise that is endowed to members of the Catholic hierarchy. They're not paying.

How, I wondered, did this mass enslavement for base coin rank alongside allowing two men or two women in love to make a solemn commitment to devote themselves to each other for the rest of their lives?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prominent Fluoridation Opponents Enjoy Drinking Fluoridated Water

Screenshot of fluoride content of San Pellegrino, 0.6 parts per million.Fighting against a cheap and effective healthcare strategy is thirsty work. What better way to relax than by pouring yourself a nice tall glass of fluoridated water?

Not from the tap, of course. For these special occasions you should turn to San Pellegrino. Crisp, refreshing, and served in an iconic tinted glass bottle, you'll be relieved to hear that it contains 0.6 parts per million fluoride. Sit back, take a well earned break from opposing the 0.7 parts per million fluoride in Irish tap water, and enjoy the one part in ten million difference.

Don't let your hard work claiming that fluoride causes everything from man flu to the black death prevent you from drinking the stuff. In fact, if you've claimed that fluoride causes depression, and claim that you cured your own severe depression by eliminating fluoride, you should probably drink even more fluoridated water.

What better way to toy with people's genuine mental health issues than to encourage them to cease medication in favour of an evidence-free crackpot scheme that you won't even follow yourself?

This I feel must be the logic of Aisling FitzGibbon, aka The Girl Against Fluoride, a highly qualified angel healer, proponent of 'curing' autism rectally, and adviser to Sinn Fein on matters of public health. Pictured to the left we see a screenshot of her ink361 page, proudly displaying a book of grain, lactose and refined sugar free recipes alongside her San Pellegrino.

Next we see writer, restaurant critic and Michelin star winner Paolo Tullio. Thankfully he has not offered to manipulate angel healing rays on our behalf, but he has issued a video saying he believes fluoridation may be dangerous. He then calls on the Irish government to end the practice. His primary reasoning seems to be that his home tap water smells of chlorine.

Fearing that fluoride is dangerous, and opposing the government's fluoridation programme, is it safe to assume he avoids parting with coin for high fluoride San Pellegrino?

Let us read some of his reviews:
"Although a bottle of still water was on the house, both Rocco and I wanted sparkling, so we added a bottle of San Pellegrino to our drinks order."Paolo Tullio at La Dolce Vita, Dublin 18 
"Two bottles of San Pellegrino and a bottle of Peroni beer completed our order."Paolo Tullio: Oliveto The Pavillion Complex, Dun Laoghaire 
"There were a few wines under €30, but the bulk of the list falls into the €35 to €55 range. I chose a decent Pinot Grigio, which was listed at €33. We also had two large bottles of San Pellegrino at €5 each."The Exchange Restaurant
I tweeted Tullio on the topic and he was kind enough to reply. He seems a decent sort, but rather confused on the area - he thought Ireland was the only country in the world to fluoridate, compared the chlorination of water to drinking bleach, and said he boiled Italian tap water because of the smell of chlorine. He has accomplishments in many fields, I just don't reckon science is one of them.

So why include him on this rather short list? Well, if opponents of water fluoridation have no problem with drinking fluoridated water, maybe we should wonder if their claims are worth entertaining.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sinn Fein Takes Health Policy Advice From Vaccine Opponents

"Drugs are overprescribed... One reason for inappropriate prescribing may lie in the opaque relationship between the medical profession and the pharmacuetical [sic] industry. Major pharmaceutical companies, such as United Brands, sponsor medical conferences for doctors in luxury hotels. Moreover, there are no restrictions on general practitioners or hospital consultants investing in shares in the pharmaceutical or other healthcare industries or in private hospitals or clinics. The conflict of interest between the doctor as healer and the doctor as drug manufacturer needs to be recognised."
The above pastiche of distrust and conspiracy comes not from an angel healing periodical but from Sinn Fein's health policy. Do read the whole thing if time allows. You will find no attempt to balance talk of financial irregularities in luxury hotels with promotion of best medical practice. There is no paragraph suggesting that your local GP is likely a decent sort, or that their offer of a flu jab may not be linked to a clandestine conspiracy.

Regular readers of this blog - a long-suffering and doubtless weary troop - will know that I've something of an interest in anti fluoridation campaigners in Ireland. An entry on Sinn Fein is therefore predictable - they've been tying up valuable county council time with anti fluoridation motions in Dublin and Cork, blithely ignoring that councils have no power to make such decisions. Their minister for environment, community and local government tried for a bill to have it banned. Why does Sinn Fein feel such rancour towards an intervention supported by the nation's medical and dental communities? The matter is hardly opaque. Six million English citizens drink fluoridated water, the rest do not. It is a simple effort to contrast the fluoridated and non fluoridated areas of our neighbours. Indeed I felt certain that Sinn Fein would leap at an opportunity to support a measure that leads to a 28% reduction in tooth decay for children in disadvantaged areas while nearly halving tooth decay related hospitalisation of children under five, but it seems they jumped the other way.

Have the boffins in Sinn Fein's underground laboratory make a game changing discovery? Has there been an explosion of new research that only they are publicising? Or are they merely casting aside best evidence and community benefit in favour of a populist publicity stunt?

To answer my question we must look at those who answers the questions posed by Sinn Fein. And who better to elucidate than Brian Stanley TD, spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, who last year attempted to cease fluoridation?
"I am delighted to have two leading campaigners in Leinster House adding weight to our campaign. Both Aishling Fitzgibbon, aka Girl against Fluoride, and leading environmental scientist Declan Waugh." - Brian Stanley
This seems the total of his outside support. Stanley eschews the temptation to promote style over substance and introduces Aisling FitzGibbon first. Her credentials are impressive: as a Master Integrated Energy Therapist she has paid for a certificate that enables her to redirect healing angel rays into people's pets. For the right price she will 'cure' your vulnerable child of autism through a regimen that includes pumping bone broth up their anus. Naturally she opposes vaccination, describing it as her next step once fluoride is vanquished.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Armaggedon, The Young Earth, And The Cancer Cure Suppressing Freemasons

Most evenings I pass a brace of Jehovah's Witnesses outside a GPO. For comic juxtaposition they place themselves to the left of a statue of Cú Chulainn lashed to a tree stump, ready to attack all comers until his death. The Jehovah's Witnesses give a warmer welcome and are sometimes willing to discuss their organisation's worryingly regular habit of announcing the imminent end of this mortal realm.

Proceeding a figurative hop, skip, and jump will often land me next to Dessie. He's a likeable chap who considers the earth to be at most 11,000 years old. On past occasions I've met Hare Krishnas who sought to dissuade me of my heliocentric beliefs. Let us say that it is a vibrant marketplace of ideas where any viewpoint can be expressed without falling prisoner to the confines of reality.

It was there (where else?) that Immuno Biotech chose to plant a stall emblazoned "Cancer Cure". The subtext is "The Cure They Don't Want You To Have!" At this point I must make my apologies for the quality of the image. You see, my camera hand is as shaky as the claims of their salesperson Mike. [Edit: better shot by @pedView. Second edit: New shots by me taken two days later.]

Saprophyte. Festering pustule on the rectum of humanity. Mike.Dross and drivel in higher resolution.
And what claims they make!
"If you keep to the protocol[€450 for 8 doses], it [their snake oil] usually eradicates stage 4 cancer in a year."
There is no such thing as stage five cancer: stage four is the deformed pinnacle of what tumours can throw at us. The chances of surviving a half decade with almost any type of stage four cancer is below 30%. If Immuno Biotech had a product that could 'usually eradicate' all forms of cancer we would hold feast days in their honour. I would cast aside my keyboard and plug in a prayer mat, and doctors would learn their trade in institutions named to immortalise its founder.

Instead they have a limited number of glossy pamphlets, a name that calls to mind bad science fiction, and a stall of lower quality than a neighbouring group who believes that dinosaur bones are intended to test our faith.

Let's look at how they attempt a shroud of respectability:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lush Gets Into A Lather Over Fluoride - Vaccines Next?

Lush makes a damn fine soap. Their staff are friendly, energetic and helpful, and I often pay a visit when wrapping up my Christmas shopping. Until recently my only complaint was that I can smell their shops at twenty paces.

Rebecca Lush Blum I didn't say that science is not important. I was simply trying to clarify what information I was seeking. The issues of fluoridation and vaccination are obviously very divisive. However, I am simply concerned at the moment about evidence that this campaign is homophobic. I've read the blogs Geoff and am listening to the podcast, thank you. Is there any more evidence this campaign is homophobic? Thanks, Becca
That changed this week when they described vaccination as 'very divisive' and announced the launch of an Ireland only anti fluoridation campaign. Rebecca Lush Blum (above) is the charitable giving manager for Lush's multi million Euro charity fund and spoke in her official capacity on Lush's Cork Facebook page. Her description of vaccination as 'very divisive' is dangerous. It's also nonsense. Vaccination rates have never been higher - 96% of Irish two year olds are now covered by the six in one vaccine, despite the fact that we give charitable tax status to vaccine opponents. This represents a significant victory against the vaccination opponents that caused an outbreak of measles in Cork a mere two years ago. I find it outrageous that a Lush spokesperson in the UK would seek to pretend there is any sort of Irish debate on whether or not we should protect children from easily preventable diseases.

How did this all start?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Curious Case of the Girl Against Fluoride and the Disappearing Christy Moore

Imagine for a moment that you're a qualified master angel healer. You've paid for a certificate in nutritioniology from a quack who claims to cure cancer with urine and castor oil. You claim to be able to treat autism in children by methods including the rectal administration of bone broth, you oppose fluoridation and vaccination, and your campaign's creative manager is convinced homosexuality is caused by plastics and contraception. You want to raise some cash for a campaign to change how Ireland provides drinking water. What do you do?

Some assume that an ability to commune with intergalactic angels and divert their healing rays into people's pets guarantees a steady source of income. And training from someone who claims to cure cancer using only urine and castor oil strikes me as a qualification that could easily be monetized. As for ensuring children on the autistic spectrum reach their full potential using an enema kit and some bone broth - well, the commercial applications are obvious, if we take on faith that the various sources of income open to Aisling FitzGibbon (aka The Girl Against Fluoride) are grounded in truth.

FitzGibbon is not taking this approach to gathering coin for her anti fluoridation campaign. Instead she's elected to host a fundraising gig. It's appealing: the venue, Whelan's, is excellent, and 20 Euro to see the rightly described 'legendary Christy Moore' is an offer that had me almost tempted to put hand in pocket. I also quite enjoy Kila. Here's one of the many announcements of the fundraiser:
But is Christy Moore aware of the engagement? The concert is not now and has never been on his future gigs page. You'll note that the screenshot above is of the edit history: this is in fact an old copy. After folks bought tickets to see Christy Moore, someone using FitzGibbon's account edited the post to remove all references to him. The current edition is below:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dr Ali Selim - Voice of Irish Muslims?

"If Allah had willed, He could have made all of you humans a single people. But, He decided to let you choose your own path after showing you the Truth, and thus test yourselves. Outdo one another in actions that serve humanity and thus grow your "Self". To Allah is your final Destination, of all of you." Qur'an, 5:48
The hard right of authoritarian Islam and the hard right of anti Muslim bigotry are unnatural bedfellows, yet are as one in their desire to paint Islam as monolithic. These two heads of the same monster are conjoined in a delusion that Islam's 1.6 billion adherents throughout all cultures and societies have no diversity of thought, opinion, or desire. It is a monster that attacks those considered Muslim. It is the same monster that attacks those considered not Muslim enough.

It is for this reason that I do not welcome Dr Ali Selim's recent contribution to the debate on Irish schooling, where he obliquely claims that diversity in Irish society can be enhanced if diversity within Irish Muslim society is eradicated.

He estimates 65,000 Muslims in Ireland, presumably a figure that includes all 49,204 self described Muslims from our 2011 census. Selim uses his self appointed position as their spokesperson to present them as monolithic on many matters. Let us examine some of his claims:
"[Islam] forbids pre- and extramarital sexual relations, whereas RSE perceives sexual relations outside wedlock as part of normal practices."
I am of course shocked to learn that an authoritarian religious apologist frowns on relationship and sexuality education, and uses their faith and self constructed platform to oppose same. That said a favouring of marriage as an environment in which to raise children can hardly be considered the unique preserve of the Muslim faith, and I'm aquiver with anticipation for Selim's paper showing Christians do not share this position. Perhaps he will soon be calling for the introduction of Catholic values to some of Ireland's schools? It is hardly incoherent to favour waiting till marriage yet also wish to equip one's children with an understanding of relationships, human sexuality, self respect and respect for one's partner and it's baffling how Selim can pretend no Irish Muslim holds this view.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Iona Institute Declares Its Support For (Some) Marriage Equality

Yesterday the otherwise affable Oriental Cutlery tweeted a link to the Iona Institute's latest video. I encourage fans of unmuddled thinking to avoid watching at an hour where exasperation or a breeched balderdash threshold could cause insomnia or gritted teeth.

Today I experienced both surprise and chagrin when I realised that fully one fifth of their broadcast was an impassioned plea for marriage equality for same sex couples.

Not all same sex couples, mind you, but it's encouraging to see them take these faltering, progressive steps.

I reproduce the segment for your convenience:
We believe that children should be raised by their own mother and father in a loving marriage whenever possible. Of course, circumstance can often mean this isn't possible. But we believe children should not be deprived of a mother or father's love as a matter of deliberate design. - Iona Institute, Marriage Equality Supporters
www.marriagequality.ie. The banner on their page says "civil marriage for gay and lesbian people"
Some think marriage equality is the struggle for civil marriage for gay and lesbian people. To hold this view is of course to think bisexuals can never fall in love with someone of the same gender. This is not the injustice the Iona Institute seek to right. Instead I feel they speak to the inordinate challenges married transgender parents face.

A man assigned the sex female at birth can marry a cis male, give birth, and then later decide to come out. He may then begin the process of changing his gender presentation to better match his internal sense of gender.

Some marriages are strained by this. Some come through it. For those who choose to seek legal recognition of their correct gender they may face a stark choice: the State will only grant them recognition if they divorce. I can only imagine the sense of betrayal that must accompany one's government forcing a citizen to choose between recognition of their marriage or their gender.

The Iona Institute are convinced that the biological component provided by each parent is paramount in parenting. They hold marriage dear as the ideal institution in which children should be raised. They oppose any legal step that would, by deliberate design, weaken this arrangement. It follows with certainty, therefore, that they support marriage rights for transgender citizens of this state, regardless of gender.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


I've often welcomed guest posts from those of differing opinions to me, and have had the pleasure of hosting several from those of people of faith. Today's post from a Catholic friend differs from these in that it has my full agreement.

Fiona Hanley writes from the perspective of an ordinary Irish Catholic. She's not speaking for an institute or a hierarchy, so it's a voice you may not have heard before.

Today is June 8. It’s Pentecost, marking the end of the Easter period and birthday of the Church. According to the Gospel, apostles have locked themselves in a room terrified. They get a visit from Jesus saying ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ Well indeed. Harsh but fair.

The Catholic Church has never said sorry properly for abuse meted out and covered up. Sure, there have been mealy-mouthed lawyer-approved expressions of regret for actions of individuals on the other side of the alter rail. All the words of apology jumbled up to mean nothing at all. Co-operation with enquiries proceeded like a snail under a brick. It’s difficult to understand why there was no full, unconditional apology and expression of responsibility. A professional Catholic of all people should know that without atonement there will be no forgiveness. There are only seven sacraments and that’s one of them.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

An Evening With Faith Healers

On Wednesday I'll be recording my fourth appearance on Premier Christian Radio's 'Unbelievable' show. If you like Christian and non Christian debate I recommend you check out their archive. The host, Justin Brierley, makes an excellent moderator and always ensures both sides get fair hearing.

My last two shows were on miracles. After they aired a faith healer called David contacted the host and offered to take me on an evening of healing on the streets of Dublin. I was reticent - David is based in the Middle East and if nothing else I did not want him to incur the financial expense of such a journey. I think we left it as something along the lines of 'only if you happen to be here'.

Time passed and David contacted me with dates of his planned visit to Ireland. By happy coincidence we later discovered that one of his Irish cohorts knows my brother in law. We agreed to meet, spent an evening in Dublin city centre, and got on rather well.

That was perhaps seven months ago. At the time Justin asked me if I'd like to go back on his show to discuss the experience and if I'm honest I ducked the request. I liked, indeed admired David, and his ministry didn't raise any flags normally associated with faith healers. He does not accept remuneration, does not seek fame or recognition, avoids those with obvious serious ailments lest he causes offence, and seems to genuinely brighten the days of those he encounters. I felt my choice was between arguing with a likeable fellow with heartfelt intentions or taking a very soft approach and inadvertently endorsing faith healers who have a negative impact on society.

Recently Justin asked again. David seemed game, I had a day off around the time and I thought why not. This post is as much my effort to collect my thoughts and give David fair warning of points I'll raise as anything else. Given the gap in time I'm sure our recollections will differ in places, any lapses on my part are unintentional. Given how long and unwieldy this post has become I'll only discuss the first few encounters.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Preserving Ethos Argument - Does It Hold Up?

"...it is not discrimination for a religious employer to act against a member of staff who is undermining their ethos." - David Quinn, March 9th, 2013 

A castle I rented. Seriously. It was cool. Irish Landmark Trust. Check it out.
Surrounding forest reclaiming a woodland walk. It was like location scouting for a Tomb Raider movie.
Mrs Shorts and I spent an enjoyable St Patrick's week in Cork. We rented a small castle, found a semi abandoned 18th century walled garden, toured ruins and visited Fota Island. We had lunch in Ballymaloe. We toured the Jameson distillery. When I returned to work I told colleagues about the time I spent with the woman I love, showed holiday pictures, and recommended castle rental.

I can do this in Ireland because I do not have a religious employer and my sexuality is not considered a threat to anyone's sincerely held beliefs. If Mrs Shorts was a Mr and I had chosen education as a career path I would likely have required a cover story. I could have avoided any discussions with colleagues, I suppose, or pretended I had travelled alone. But renting a romantic castle for solo use is a little suspicious so I may have had to pretend I spent the week at home. Photos, naturally, would have to be kept from social media. Perhaps I could invent a partner of approved gender and spin tales to fit. It would be awkward to explain why said partner could never attend work social events, but that is a price considered appropriate to protect the delicate sincerely held beliefs of some.

Monday, March 24, 2014

GAPS In Thinking - Irish Times Promoting Medically Negligent Pseudoscience

Some six days ago the Irish Times allowed themselves the spectacular abandonment of judgement required to print a fluff piece supporting Dr Natasha Campbell McBride's GAPS diet, a supposed cure for autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, diabetes, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia. Twelve hundred words of grovelling propaganda did not allow a single note of criticism or a voice of medical reason - her bizarre claims given credence through an absence of balanced reporting, fact checking and critical thought.

McBride is indeed a medical doctor. To find details of this degree we must travel to 1984 USSR, fully five years before David Hasselhoff sang to the destruction of the Berlin wall. The Soviet Union's coffers drained into both an Afghanistan conflict and an unpluggable trade gap, the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station in Chernobyl supplied 10% of the Ukraine's electricity needs and General Secretary Yuri Andropov battled endemic corruption throughout the union. Her certification comes from this time, from the Bashkir Medical University, in a country that no longer exists.

Does this necessarily make graduates bad doctors? Of course not. I merely voice caution that we cannot give such degrees automatic respect. I am not alone in this view. The qualification does not allow Campbell McBride to practice medicine in the UK or the United States, for example. It seems unwise to grant it more credence than Dr Nick Riviera's Hollywood Upstairs Medical degree.

What's The Harm?

The Financial Cost Of GAPS

I would even go further, depending on your commitment and certain circumstances, you have a good chance of bringing your child as close as possible to normality! -Dr Natasha McBride, heaping guilt on the parents of autistic children before passing them the check.

Like any good sales focused organisation, the GAPS company does not make it easy for prospective customers to gauge the full cost of its products and services. No price tags appear on http://www.shop.gapsdiet.com. You only get the bill at checkout.

For a rough estimate of cost I added one of every item they sell to a cart for a total cost of $3,404.89. (Where a product is available in multiple sizes, flavours or delivery mechanisms I added only one.) The obvious counter is that not everyone will require every product, but do bear in mind that many of these will be recurring costs, from specialised fluoride free toothpaste (a snip at $7.95), fermented vegetables (at $77 an expensive way of getting one's five a day), blended butter and cod liver oil tablets ($46.95, sounds delicious), powdered ox bile ($19.95, what kitchen would be without?), a 'biotic powder' ($63.95) and my personal favourite, an "anti-tumor, anti-parasitic, anti-viral and antiseptic" essential oil that can "destroy all tested bacteria and viruses, which simultaneously restoring balance to the body." (See fifth question on the manufacturer's site. They also claim it is "effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.". It is not.)

I am not sure how to categorise this home enema kit. It comes with a free half pound of coffee, but at $74.95 I presume this would not represent an economical method of getting one's evening brew.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Iona Institute, Putin, the Definition of Homophobia

You are doubtless aware of accusations of homophobia against members of the Iona Institute and John Waters. We are no doubt as one in confusion and befuddlement at such a complex area, and are all relieved to see that the matter has now been passed to appropriate legal teams.

Our brains not being large enough to correctly interpret the term homophobia, perhaps we can instead contrast views of the Iona Institute with those of Vladimir Putin. First, I present their views on children having access to positive LGBTQ role models.

Won't Somebody Think Of The Children!
"“We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships... [w]e have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality... I want to underline this. Propaganda among children. These are absolutely different things – a ban on something or a ban on the propaganda of that thing." -Vladimir Putin

We can contrast this with the Iona Institute's campaigning in favour of Section 37, which permits religious organisations to discriminate against visible members of the LGBTQ community in matters of employment.

"Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act is frequently the target of criticism on the grounds that it permits religious employers to ‘discriminate’ against certain categories of persons, for example, those who are openly gay or lesbian.... We further believe that any withdrawal of this protection is both unconstitutional and an attack on the right of free profession and practice of religion.
In effect, this [granting LGBTQ citizens equal employment rights] would discriminate against the beliefs of parents and the ethos of the relevant religious organisation." - Iona Institute
 While obviously not making a decision on whether either are homophobic, we can say with some certainty that they have a strong preference for restricting openly LGBTQ folks from working with children.

Same Sex Parents

#TeamPanti - some images made from Twitter followers

Some images based on @PantiBliss's Twitter followers.

First I took all her Twitter followers, pulled their Twitter biographies, and ran them through www.wordle.net to make a word cloud. The more commonly a word was used, the larger it appears:

Secondly I downloaded all her profile pictures and rearranged some of them to form a mosaic image. 1,699 images were used. Want to find yourself? search for your username, you'll find one or more grid references to the right. The top left hand corner is 0,0, the bottom right hand corner is 70,70. Click if you'd like to see a larger image.