21 struggles faced by a dad raising a daughter in a sexist world

…not only are princesses generally helpless and only find fulfilment through marriage, but they are also parasitical members of noxious ruling class steeped in entrenched privilege, the influence of whom keeps Britain mired in Dark Ages deference to a tribe of inbred, crown-topped butler-enthusiasts.


Benefit sanctions: they’re absurd and don’t work very well, experts tell MPs

It [the sanctions regime] is a secret penal system because the decisions [to stop benefit payments] are made in secret, by officials; the claimant is not present; they are not legally represented; the punishment is applied before there is any hearing; if they get a hearing it is only long after the punishment has been applied. The scale of penalties is greater than the scale of penalties that are available to the magistrates courts… You are talking unmistakably about a penal system which has a set of characteristics which I would suggest are totally unacceptable in a democratic society.



Liberal Democrat complicity in Tory ideology makes then irrelevant in 2015

Re: Vince Cable slams excessive Conservative cuts on working poor

The Liberal Democrats seem to think there are some sort of moderating government party, whose job it is to form coalitions and keep the majority partner on the straight and narrow.

Except that thanks to their complicity with the Tories since 2010 they have worsened inequality, eroded civil liberties and made the poor poorer while letting their rich mates get away with less than their fair share.

Because of this, support for the Liberal Democrats has plummeted and they ate likely to lose many seats in 2015. They are far less likely to be in a position to form a coalition government. And we’ll all be better off without this spineless bunch in positions of power.

Image: Institute of Physics

CC-BY-SA https://www.flickr.com/photos/rogersg/7944915940/

State surveillance is not comparable to online privacy issues

Often, when opposing state surveillance such as that revealed by Ed Snowden, activists are questioned why they use online services that actively collect data about them. There is one core reason why this comparison is unhelpful and irrelevant.

“You are the product” goes the saying, which is true. Companies like Google and Facebook collect streams of data about who we are and what we do. Some have called this “self-surveillance”.

When we “self-surveil” and grant companies the ability to use – and sell – our data, we expect – and get – something back. We get a service. We pay a small privacy price (largely inconsequential, I’d argue) in exchange for a service.

On the other hand, the state demands we let them take our data. They chose warrant-less mass-collection over targeting, leaving us in the dark about what they’re collecting. We get nothing in return – there is yet to be a convincing case, backed up with evidence, that the mass surveillance of the citizenry in any way makes us safer.

There is one, undeniably crucial difference however.

The state has the power to use that data against us in a devastating way.

We can be detained, without charge, for fourteen days – the longest pre-charge detention period of any comparable democracy. Previously this limit was 28 days, and there was an attempt to raise it to 90 – that’s 3 whole months of being locked up for being a suspect.

Outside of detention, the state has the power to severely limit our activities with only “suspicion” as a reason, destroying the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I don’t see any social networks able to limit my civil liberties…

Image: CC-BY-SA George Rex

WordCamp Europe 2014: Sofia, Bulgaria

All images in this post provided under the CC-BY-SA license.

By User:Shaleiha guldam (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Banning the Niqab is not secularism and the NSS should know better

Just as I said about the French ban on face coverings, an English school banning the niqab is equally divisive. It’s disappointing to see the National Secular Society supporting the policy.

Religious Freedom

Banning the niqab is restricting the religious freedom of the individual. Why does a school have the right to decide what children can and can’t wear? Especially when attire is part of religious observance.

Facial Expressions

Teachers need to see a student’s whole face in order to read the visual cues it provides.

Every day I work, converse, collaborate, make decisions and develop friendships with people without seeing their faces. I do so with people in the same town or on the other side of the world. We learn from each other, too.

This notion that a niqab diminishes the ability of teachers and other pupils to interact with a student is nonsense. Yes, a large proportion of human communication comes down to body language, but removing that does not erect an impassible brick wall. Come on, do you really think the telephone would have taken off if that were the case?!


The school’s appearance policy states that “inappropriate dress that offends public decency or which does not allow teacher student interactions will be challenged”.

I beg your fucking pardon – offends public decency?!

1. What is indecent about covering your face? Walking around naked in public is indecent. Abusive behaviour is indecent. Not showing your face affects no-one. If I don’t want you to see part of me, that’s my right. It is categorically not indecent of me to choose who I show myself to.

2. An organisation that campaigned against the ridiculous provisions of Section 5 of the Public Order Act which effectively criminalised insult should be ashamed of using “offence” as an excuse to support curtailing a person’s individual liberty.


The ban is not Islamophobic. It is not an attack on the religion of Islam. However, the decision, and the NSS’ support of it, does fuel the perception of ‘Islamophobia’.

Supporting a ban that does nothing to address real community division only serves to anger groups in the community and further divide them.

It’s also a little galling to see the NSS invoke Conservatives who are big supporters of the free schools agenda which the NSS knows full well further promote religious privilege and division.

Secularism harmed

The National Secular Society, by supporting a ban on religious dress are harming the cause of secularism in the UK.

They are further dividing communities, limiting individual religious freedoms and sending out the message that secularists are here to shut down religious expression.

Secularists believe in freedom from religion and freedom of religion. The NSS ought to remember that.

Image: By User:Shaleiha guldam (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons