Turkish creationists censor 1 million WordPress blogs

August 19, 2007

It’s an act worthy of Nicolae Ceauşescu, or Idi Amin — but the Turkish creationist Adnan Oktar has taken legal action that effectively blocks more than a million weblogs from access in Turkey — all the blogs on WordPress, the host of this blog.

Here’s the general announcement to WordPress clients. This site has the text of the threats from Oktar’s lawyers to WordPress.

Here’s a link to Matt’s blog, which has more discussion.

Adnan Oktar is the guy who pays people to write under the name Harun Yahya. Under that name he has published dozens of anti-evolution screeds. You may recall that, in the past year, he has financed the publication of an 800-page book, handsomely bound with scores of pictures (many of them plagiarized), claiming evolution could not account for features of living things. The scientifically vacuous book was delivered to schools and libraries across Europe in 2006, and then to thousands of U.S. scientists, teachers and libraries earlier in 2007.  (Here’s a good summary of creationism and Islam, from Taner Edis.)

I suggested in comments that protests should be made to the European Union. Turkey is working to gain admittance to the EU, and childish, totalitarian eruptions such as Oktar’s getting a court to censor a million blogs, significantly detract from Turkey’s chances and case. There is high irony here, too — Oktar is one of those who has willingly spread false claims that evolution was a cause of the Holocaust (when he’s not busy denying the Holocaust happened; consistency and accuracy are not among his strong points) — heck, just a few months ago he was claiming evolution is the cause of terrorism.

Do you have better ideas about what to do?

I hope the few of you who read this blog will spread this word far and fast.

Such disruptions of communication over an entire nation are the dreams of terrorists. Are we to understand that Adnan Oktar does this because Darwin convinced him? Or are his actions direct denial of his earlier claims?

I have been a journalist for a long time, having joined the Society of Professional Journalists in 1974. I spent many years in Washington, slugging it out against people who wished they had the power of censorship, and some who actually did have that power in other nations. I do not recall any similarly stupid activity outside of totalitarian governments, most of which are now gone.


Cub Scout asks creation of Navajo religious award

August 19, 2007

If he’s successful — and he should be, I think — 9 year-old Kinlichiinii John will make history. He asks the Boy Scouts of America to recognize the Navajo religion Azeé Bee Nahagha, his own faith, so that he can earn a religious award as a Cub Scout.

He already has the backing of the President of the Navajo Nation, Joe Shirley, Jr.

Kinlichiinii John and his family, visiting Window Rock, Arizona -- seeking a Navajo religious award

[Associated Press via Santa Fe New Mexican] Cub Scout Kinlichiinii John of Clermont, Fla., front middle, poses with his family while holding a Cub Scout manual in his hands during his visit to Window Rock, Ariz. on Aug. 1, 2007. John recently visited Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley in Window Rock, where Shirley offered his support to John, who hopes to earn and establish a Boy Scouts of America Religious Emblem that recognizes his faith in traditional Navajo spiritual way of life, or Azee Bee Nahagha _ also called the Native American Church. Although emblems exist for 35 other religious affiliations, no emblem exists for American Indian religions. (AP photo/Navajo Nation, George Hardeen)

It is neither an easy task, nor a sure thing. While the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America recognizes religious awards, it leaves the rules governing such awards to the religious groups themselves. BSA rules on whether the faith measures up to Boy Scout standards, and authorizes Scouts to wear the religious medal when they earn it, or to wear an emblem over their left pocket to signify they have earned their faith’s religious award.

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Got a manual typewriter you can donate?

August 19, 2007

Few of us use manual typewriters for business anymore. But there are a few people who use them.

From comments to a previous “typewriter of the moment” post:

It is so thrilling to see how the ‘little’ things such as our manual typewriter can connect people in far away places to real feelings! They are lucky kids indeed but how lucky are we that we get to be a part of it :) If you have a manual typewriter that you would like to see used and loved by “generation ?” feel free to send it to us. One just is not enough!
CSWS 9450 22nd Ave SW. Seattle. WA. 98106

With Love
Sarah Airhart
Founder of the Community School of West Seattle.

So, if you’ve got a working typewriter in your attic or basement, or in your office acting as a paperweight, now you know where to send it — I’ll wager Sarah will give you a receipt so you can deduct the value of the machine from your income taxes.

But even if there were no deduction, wouldn’t the interest of the kids be enough?

Kids at the Community School of West Seattle

Dreaming: Ideal set of classroom technology

August 19, 2007

What would your ideal classroom have in it, especially with regard to technology? Brian Smith wants you to tell him what you need, and what you want, and what you dream about — here, and here.

Pushing the corporation’s training into the 21st century, almost two decades ago for AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines and SABRE (which has been split off subsequently), a group of us in the future-looking department benchmarked corporate and academic training and education. One of our trips took us to IBM’s training center in White Plains, New York — IBM then being considered rather the leader in corporate training and education (running neck and neck with Arthur Andersen; tempus fugit, o tempora, o mores).

IBM put us through a wringer designed to make us think hard. For one example, they asked us why we weren’t benchmarking our own pilot training, which they had benchmarked a few years earlier. Pilot training at airlines in the U.S. was the best in the world, one fellow noted: You hire people who already know how to do the job well, and you have the pick of the best; you train them in simulators and in an intense classroom situations; then when they go to the job, they have trained people behind them to make sure they do it all right; then you call them back every year to refresh with the latest technologies. (Most other training at airlines still is not up to the pilot training standards, which is good for safety as far as pilots are concerned; aircraft mainenance is close behind. One gets an appreciation for true concern about safety when studying that process. But I digress.)

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Groucho Marx

August 19, 2007

Groucho Marx in an NBC publicity photograph

Groucho Marx in a 1958 NBC publicity photograph. NBC Television-NBC Photo/Photographer: Elmer Holloway

30 years without Groucho is too much.

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