Aug, 2012


The Children’s Development Khazana is a bank staffed and patronized exclusively by children. It started in New Delhi in 2001 and has since opened up more than 200 branches in half-a-dozen countries.

The branches are run almost entirely by and for the children, with account holders electing two volunteer managers from the group every six months.

“Children who make money by begging or selling drugs are not allowed to open an account. This bank is only for children who believe in hard work,” said Karan, a 14-year-old “manager”.

During the day, Karan earns a pittance washing up at wedding banquets or other events. In the evening, he sits at his desk to collect money from his friends, update their pass books and close the bank.

“Some account holders want to withdraw their money. I ask them why and give it to them if other children approve. Everyone earns five per cent interest on their savings.”

Aug, 2012

From Talking Philosophy:

Gun control, the limiting of gun ownership, can be supported by a very reasonable utilitarian argument. By restricting gun ownership, the likelihood of people getting injured or killed by guns is reduced. While denying people the right to own guns can be taken as a harm, this is supposed to be offset by the greater reduction in harms to the potential victims of guns (or people with guns).


In the United States, people are often inclined to view gun control as a special sort of matter rather than being a matter of general principle about the legitimate extents of liberties and limitations. On the right, gun ownership is sometimes venerated and defended with zealous devotion. On the left, guns are sometimes seen as inherently terrifying (perhaps even as mechanical monsters whose very existence threatens life and limb).


the main argument for restricting specific gun liberties or rights is to reduce or prevent harms that would be more likely to occur without restrictions. This is, obviously enough, based on the more general principle that rights or liberties can be restricted under the justification of preventing or reducing harms. As such, it would seem useful to discuss the matter of gun control in this more general context.

Given that the goal of gun control is to reduce or prevent harm, it might be tempting to argue in favor of complete gun control or, at least, incredibly strict restrictions. After all, if such a level of control could be established over the entire population, then the amount of harm involving guns would be greatly reduced. The general principle at work here would be, obviously enough, that a complete ban or incredibly strict restrictions would be justified by the fact that they would significantly reduce the harms that involved guns. While this has a certain appeal in regards to guns, it seems rather less appealing when applied to other things.

If the goal is simply to reduce the number of deaths, then gun control would be rather low on the priority list of things that need to be strictly controlled. After all, far more people perish due to automobiles, tobacco, alcohol and obesity than die in incidents of gun violence.  As such, if guns can be severely restricted under the justification that doing so would reduce the number of deaths, then it would follow that automobiles should be subject to the same level of restrictions because they generate a significantly greater death toll. Also, the causes of obesity should be addressed by very strict laws regulating what foods people can purchase, consumption volumes and exercise. While some do advocate for such restrictions, most would see these as absurd. However, if banning Big Macs and cars is absurd, then banning guns would also seem absurd.

Link to the rest at Talking Philosophy

Aug, 2012

I can’t tell you much more about the customers today, because of my limited contact with them. I work in the kitchen, so I don’t see much of the clientele. What made today so difficult—more difficult than always being behind on food, running out of one thing or another, needing to be in two places at once, etc—was the attitudes of the other employees.

No one really stopped talking about the reasons why today was as busy as it was. The people I work alongside kept going on and on about how powerful it was to be part of such a righteous movement, and how encouraged they were to know that there were so many people who agree with Dan Cathy. They went on at great length about how it was wrong not just for gays to marry, but to exist. One kid, age 19, said “I hope the gays go hungry.”

I nearly walked out then and there. That epitomizes the characteristics of these evangelical “Christians” who are so vocally opposed to equal rights. Attitudes like that are the opposite of Christ-like.

Thats more from our anonymous gay Chick-fil-A employee who is speaking out after yesterday’s record-setting sales day for the chicken company. Bigotry sells! (via newsweek)

Aug, 2012

From Atlantic Wire:

Following the spate of “Internet is ruining our lives” articles that blame technology for all of our social, mental, and emotional woes, a new narrative has emerged that takes the burden off of our gadgets and puts it on ourselves. Take this Anil Dash blog post about JOMO, or the joy of missing, that’s getting passed around the Internet today. “So often, we point the finger at our technologies for creating the fears, the insecurities, the tensions that arise in our social lives as they get increasingly run by social software,” he writes. Dash, however, has another theory about the way technology affects our lives: “But if tech is to blame for our feelings (and I’m not sure I want to concede that point), then certainly we can make apps and sites and software that makes us joyously celebrate for the good time that our friends and loved ones and even complete strangers are having when they go about living their lives,” he says. It’s not “technology” that’s doing this to us, it’s the way we’re using it. It’s us.

Link to the rest at Atlantic Wire

They say money is the root of all evil. But the root of all money is people. The devil didn’t make you do it. And technology doesn’t ruin our lives. We do.

Aug, 2012


‘Earliest’ evidence of modern human culture found

How far back do you think human culture goes? You know, the sharing of creative ideas like tools and creation?

Decades of study on some basic tools pulled from a cave in South Africa have finally determined that traces of modern human culture surfaced as far back as 44,000 years ago. That’s more than double the last estimates!

The San hunter-gatherers of South Africa (one pictured above) still use basic bone, wood and stone tools. Artifacts found in this South African cave are so close to the tools used today that there’s no doubt that 44,000 years ago, a cultured clan was making and using them regularly. They even mastered organic poisons taken from castor beans to tip their spears with.

This is a very cool find, and adds some detail to the timeline of human evolution. Considering that our modern anatomy only showed up ~150,000 years ago, it’s exciting to discover that shared tool creation and culture weren’t that far behind.

So let’s all try to act a little cultured today in their honor, shall we??

(via BBC News)

Jul, 2012

From Kiese Laymon’s post at Gawker:

I’m 17, five years younger than Rekia Boyd will be when she is shot in the head by an off duty police officer in Chicago. It’s the summer after I graduated high school and my teammate, Troy, is back in Jackson, Mississippi. Troy, who plays college ball in Florida, asks me if I want to go to McDonald’s on I-55.

As Troy, Cleta, Leighton and I walk out of McDonald’s, that Filet-o-Fish grease straight cradling my lips, I hold the door for open for a tiny, scruffy-faced white man with a green John Deere hat on.

“Thanks, partner,” he says.

A few minutes later, we’re driving down I-55 when John Deere drives up and rolls his window down. I figure that he wants to say something funny since we’d had a cordial moment at McDonald’s. As soon as I roll my window down, the man screams, “Nigger lovers!” and speeds off.

On I-55, we pull up beside John Deere and I’m throwing finger-signs, calling John Deere all kinds of clever “motherfuckers.” The dude slows down and gets behind us. I turn around, hoping he pulls over.


John Deere pulls out a police siren and places it on top of his car. Troy is cussing my ass out and frantically trying to drive his Mama’s Lincoln away from John Deere. My heart is pounding out of my chest, not out of fear, but because I want a chance to choke the shit out of John Deere. I can’t think of any other way of making him feel what we felt.

Link to the rest at Gawker.

If you haven’t read this yet, it’s a powerful piece, highly recommended and worth the entire read.

Jul, 2012




Each morning, like clockwork, they board the subway, off to begin their daily routine amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

But these aren’t just any daily commuters. These are stray dogs who live in the outskirts of Moscow Russia and commute on the underground trains to and from the city centre in search of food scraps.

Then after a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.

Experts studying the dogs, who usually choose the quietest carriages at the front and back of the train, say they even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop – after learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train.

Scientists believe this phenomenon began after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, and Russia’s new capitalists moved industrial complexes from the city centre to the suburbs.

Dr Andrei Poiarkov, of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute, said: “These complexes were used by homeless dogs as shelters, so the dogs had to move together with their houses. Because the best scavenging for food is in the city centre, the dogs had to learn how to travel on the subway – to get to the centre in the morning, then back home in the evening, just like people.”

Dr Poiarkov told how the dogs like to play during their daily commute. He said: “They jump on the train seconds before the doors shut, risking their tails getting jammed. They do it for fun. And sometimes they fall asleep and get off at the wrong stop.”

The dogs have also amazingly learned to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, said Dr Poiarkov. And they use cunning tactics to obtain tasty morsels of shawarma, a kebab-like snack popular in Moscow.

With children the dogs “play cute” by putting their heads on youngsters’ knees and staring pleadingly into their eyes to win sympathy – and scraps.

Dr Poiarkov added: “Dogs are surprisingly good psychologists.”

This is just perfect

Awesome. And shawarma!

Jul, 2012



I get very annoyed at the social justice folks on Tumblr, despite strongly agreeing with the ideas behind the various movements, because a lot of the “justice” done here is really no more than finger-pointing and blaming and shaming. The article does a good job of addressing the overarching issues behind gender/ other equality movements and how it is impossible for them to exist in a vacuum. I especially appreciated the description of a landing zone, as I haven’t really seen anything like that around here…

What I continue to take away from discussions like these is that you truly can’t gain understanding and respect for any group without supporting understanding and respect for all groups… The unfortunate truth is that, despite varying levels of privilege, we’re all being ground down by the same shitty machine.

{Thanks to my friend for sharing this}

One thing I loved about my sociology class was that we looked at the many sides of gender issues, not just women’s. If you want to make a strong argument of any kind why binary genders are harmful to society, you need to look at all sides of the issue, not just the one that pertains to you.

Link: Why our gender system sucks for men too