The harm principle

Just linking to a short essay on the harm principle. To summarise you are not allowed to prevent someone from making choices that are harmful to themselves, only choices that are harmful to others.


Children to be taught fact or faith?

The story of a South African science teacher getting reprimanded for teaching science, specifically evolution, has cause quite a stir. Apart from the many comments and related posts on News24 it was even noticed over in America. Naturally, it wound up in a local community paper, giving the views of various locals, where they asked whether schools should teach fact or faith. If you’re ever asking whether you should or shouldn’t teach facts then you’re probably in a lot of trouble. Continue reading

Spiders to Spider-man

A few weeks back I had a lecture on photography and, to practice what we learned, we were sent outside to go and take some photographs. During that time I found a rather large and imposing spider, with a suitably large and imposing web, in one of the trees in the quad. It turned out to be quite a challenge to photograph a spider as it was in an awkward position, I only had the camera on my phone which wouldn’t auto-foucs on the spider, and I was a bit nervous about getting too close. I didn’t get a picture of it that day but I didn’t stop trying.

The spider was in the same quad where I went to eat my lunch so I got into the habit of keeping an eye on it and, occasionally, trying to take it’s photograph. Eventually I learned that my phone would actually hold it’s auto focus without taking the picture if you held down the camera button, which was a tip we were taught. That let me try a couple more times to get a picture and I did have a bit more success then, although I still didn’t know what kind of spider it was. Continue reading

Muslim killings of emo teenagers

In Iraq it seems as though there are Muslim militia groups targeting and killing teenagers who are involved in the emo subculture. They, incorrectly, describe it as Satanism and threaten children with death if they do not change the way that they dress. Religion is the source of the hatred and Reuters reports that a leaflet, from Baghdad, warning teenagers to change their ways includes the phrases, “the punishment of God will descend upon you.”

The government denies that there are any killings linked to the emo subculture, although it said that it was monitoring the phenomenon while simultaneously labelling it as Satanism. Similarly Muslim clerics condemn the killings, though I’ve noted before that the position of believers does not always correspond with those of the religious leaders. Once religion takes hold it becomes extremely difficult to reason with the faithful. That aside, whether or not the clerics actively condemn the killings their own statements are certainly not helping the situation. One Shi’ite cleric called emos “a plague on Muslim society.” Continue reading

New views by country stats

WordPress has now added a new stats option that shows you what country your views are coming from. I think it’s counting unique views as otherwise they just don’t add up, either as total or since I noticed it come online. In any case I find it pretty cool.

South Africa 23
United States 12
Philippines 5
Germany 3
Chile 2
Ireland 1
United Arab Emirates 1
India 1
Kenya 1
Peru 1
Serbia 1
Macedonia 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Canada 1

Looks like I’ve been read all over the world, though mostly in South Africa and America, which isn’t really surprising. I wonder how long before I can light up the entire map.

A few follow-ups

A couple of times I have posted about an event that hasn’t yet been resolved. While it’s nice to hear about things as they happen there is the problem of follow-up. So I’ve decided to take this opportunity to address some earlier stories and what’s been happening there.

In my Valentine’s day post I mentioned that Alexander Aan was facing prison time and possible execution because of Indonesia’s law against blasphemy. I looked a bit to see if there was any progress but I didn’t find anything conclusive. About the best I can say is that Atheist Alliance International has been able to appoint Aan a lawyer. It’s not as good as him being cleared but at least he will have a chance. Continue reading

Field Trip: Acacia stricta

A. stricta

This past week I have been on a field trip up in the George/Sedgefield area. I was part of a small team studying and removing Acacia stricta (hop wattle) plants, which are alien to South Africa. Overall I’d consider the trip a success. We removed a population of almost 1 000 trees over two days, mapped a few other populations and delivered fliers detailing the Early Detection and Rapid Response programme and to help identify various aliens. Outside of our official duties we also bought a few plants of our own, I will share mine shortly, and had some unexpected vehicle problems. Continue reading