Just a Little Common Sense

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Archive for the ‘Good News’ Category

Responsible Charity

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Perhaps you remember Hemley Gonzalez. He is the one who did some amazing work raising awareness about some of the more controversial stuff behind the Missionaries of Charity – namely Mother Theresa’s Sisterhood’s opposition to hygiene, their refusal to administer pain-killers or use modern medical equipment, their rather mysterious attitude bookkeeping, and the horrible state of their sanitary facilities, all despite the millions of dollars this organisation receives in donations each year. He quickly became one of Mother Teresa’s most outspoken critics, even being interviewed by the indian Forbes magazine.

The short version of his story goes as follows: He went to india as a backpacker, felt inspired after reading a book about Mother Teresa’s work, and decided to visit Kolkatta to help. Upon arrival he was shocked by the crass difference between reality and the idealised image presented by the media and the Biography he’d read. Yet he stayed for two month, helping the best he could, faithfully documenting everything. Back home, he started a Facebook group called STOP the Missionaries of Charity, successfully kicking up some dust.

He could have left it at that. Like most of the Western world he could have sat at home whining and complaining, enjoying the attention, and never offering actually constructive criticism.

Of course I wouldn’t be writing about him now if he’d opted for that course of action. Being the inspiring person he is, Hemley went back to the US, spent two years networking, gathering support, and getting all the necessary applications and paperwork on the way. Currently, since December 2nd 2010, he’s back in India, enrolling kids in school, providing food, clothing and medical care, helping families make a living so the kids will be able to stay in school… only this time, it’s in the name of his own charity organisation, Responsible Charity. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Phil

December 17, 2010 at 19:15

How Homeopathy Works

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A Call For A Black Christmas

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It’s christmas season, the season of love, family, blankets, hot water bottles and endless amounts of cookies. And above all, the season of blind consumerism and enormous waste.
Also, it’s the season in which people all over the westernized world quadruple their electricity bills so they can display a little plastic Santa Claus mechanically climbing up and down their fully lit house front, in order to win a petty little contest to confirm that they wasted more money on decor and electricity than anybody else in their neighborhood. Awesome.

Picture by Wikimedia Commons

Here’s my proposal: Don’t participate. Have an XMas-tree in your livingroom if you must, but stop lighting up your house like you want it to be seen from outer space. Instead, use the fest of love to do something good this year:

  • Don’t buy plastic-decor
  • Waste less energy
  • Think of those less privileged, and
  • Donate to charity (A list with recommendations will follow shortly)

Read the rest of this entry »

Making Dumb Remarks Seems To Invoke More Scorn Than Raping A Child

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Finland’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is facing a crisis after a TV programme last week, in which church member and leader of the country’s Christian Democrats, Mrs. Päivi Räsänen, presented a fundamentalist view on the issue.
Immediately after that TV programme was aired, a wake of resignations hit the church, now already exceeding 20 000 and counting.

On Saturday, some 4,500 members resigned from the church. On Sunday, a further 5,600 had quit, according to figures released by the Finnish-language online service eroakirkosta.fi.

Under normal circumstances, resignations total about 400 members over the course of three days.

I think it’s a good thing that this is happening. With homophobic and misogynist statements, churches everywhere are continuing to dig their own graves. What I do find amazing, though, is that homophobic remarks seem to trigger more membership-resignations than reports on the rape, abuse and torture of children, neatly topped by an organized cover-up of those crimes.
It’s not like people didn’t leave the Roman Catholic Church in the aftermath of the child-abuse scandals, but the numbers are nowhere as high as one would expect. The general consensus still seems to be that the continuous abuse of children is to be blamed on a “few bad apples”, and that the church as an organisation carries little if any responsibility.
The public seems quite ready to accept that there is a very real and dangerous connection between the church, the ideology they stand for, and things like homophobia and misogyny, but extremely reluctant to accept that the enormously high rate of child abuse is also a flaw that is innate to the very structure of the church and its absolutist ideology, an inevitable side-effect of how the organisation is run and the twisted ideas of how to deal with human sexuality that they operate under.

Nazis Got Bitchslapped

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It’s the most uplifting news-story I’ve read in a while. The magazine Focus online reports that the German town of Riese, Saxony, changed the name of one of its streets. Allow me to explain why this event bears any significance at all: They changed it from “Mannheimer Straße” to “Geschwister Scholl Straße” (engl.: Siblings Scholl Street). For those who are not familiar with the latter name: Sophie and Hans Scholl were famous figures of the resistance-group Weiße Rose (White Rose) during the 1940ies and were executed in 1943 by the Nazi regime.
You’re probably still wondering. Some germans changed the name of a street to honour some prominent figures of the Resistance… so what?
And here comes the punchline: Housed in that street is the publishing house Verlag Deutsche Stimme (engl.: German Voice Publishing) and a good few other right-wing-extremist addresses such as the local quarters of the German Nationalist Party, NPD. All of them will have to print the names of some of the most well-known resistance-fighters onto their cards and letter-heads from now on. The only two who voted against the change of name were the two delegates from the NPD.

Fucking Priceless.

FDA Approves Implantable Mini Telescope

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It sounds like a story straight from a SciFi-book: VisionCare has released a pea-sized implantable telescope designed to improve the vision of patients suffering from macular degeneration.

The Intraocular Telescope

Macular degeneration is an often age-related disorder that damages the macula, the center of the retina that is required for focused, sharp sight. The disease can spread to wider parts of the retina, resulting in blindness. The device is implanted directly into the eye, where it magnifies the image approximately 2,5 times so that it can be picked up by neighbouring, unaffected parts of the retina (which usually are responsible for peripheral sight). This means the patient gets a clear, magnified image on the implanted eye, and has to use the other eye for peripheral sight, which is a skill that has to be learned first. Still, this means that it gives people back the abilities to read, watch TV, and recognize faces – all skills that are nearly impossible for someone suffering from an advanced case of the disorder.
On the website of VisionCare you can find more pictures and a promo-video explaining the disease and the device in detail.

Despite the futuristic ring of the title “Intraocular Telescope”, we’re basically talking about a glorified magnifying-glass here. It is not yet a very sophisticated device, even though it is quite a technological feat and a great step in medicine. It’s a huge help to millions of people suffering from age-related blindness. What I find most interesting about this are the possibilities it is likely to provide in near future, namely enhancing the abilities of healthy human eyes.

Female Gay Atheist Prime Ministers

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I came across two great stories today. Both are about Female Prime Ministers, namely the ones of Iceland and of Australia. Both of them are pretty much the pope’s worst nightmare come true: Women in positions of political power, who are not ashamed of their sexuality and even worse, are open apostates.

Yesterday, the Telegraph published a story about the marriage of Johanna Sigurdardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland. She married her long time partner Jonina Leosdottir on last Sunday, the day gay marriage became legal in Iceland after the legislation was unanimously passed on june 12. They had been in a civil union since 2002, which has now been formally transformed into a marriage.

The other story has been covered already, but it’s so great that I’m gonna share it again anyhow: Australia’s PM Julia Gillard openly talked about her lack of faith on a radio interview with 744 ABC Melbourne at 9 am this morning. The Interviewer asked her straight out whether she believed in god, and her reply was an unambiguous “no I don’t, John. I’m not a religious person.” She then elaborated on her upbringing in a Baptist family but said that she chose to “pursue a different path in my adult life.” The interviewer also asked her about how she was going to attract the “vital christian vote”. Her awesome reply was that she was “not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel”. She gained some points on my  authenticity-scale with that one. Her clear message was that she was concerned for Australia as a whole and was not going to suck up to a particular group in order to gain votes. I like that. You can find the interview here, the bit about religion starts at 6:30 min before the end of the segment. (it’s got a weird backwards-counting timer, hence my odd phrasing)

I think this is great news. It is an indicator that there is some change happening. Public perception is shifting, on the topic of homosexuality as well as on the topic of religion. It’s awesome to see it moving into the right direction.

Written by Phil

June 29, 2010 at 13:54

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