A new edition of Octavia Butler's classic postapocalyptic Afrofuturist novel "Parable of the Sower," with an introduction by Hugo winner NK Jemisin

Macarthur "genius prize" recipient Octavia Butler (previously) is one of science fiction's most important figures, an author who wrote cracking, crackling, accessible and fast-moving adventure stories shot through with trenchant and smart allegories about race, gender and power (I like to think of her as "woke Heinlein"). Read the rest

HPV immunization has "wiped out cases of cervical pre-cancer" in Scotland

In the UK, the routine vaccination of young girls has virtually eradicated new cases of cervical cancer associated with human papilomavirus.

Researchers said the vaccine has nearly wiped out cases of cervical pre-cancer in young women since an immunisation programme was introduced 10 years ago. They found the vaccine had led to a 90% cut in pre-cancerous cells. And they said the effects of the programme had "exceeded expectations". Over the last decade, schoolgirls across the UK have routinely received the HPV vaccine when they are 12 or 13.

Boys are now vaccinated too.

HPV vaccination is very controversial in America and only a few states require it. Studies show that getting the vaccine doesn't increase risky sexual behavior among teens, but to be discussing it that way in the first place accepts a frame of reference that can never allow progress. Loudly, the arguments are about whether "risky sex" is worse than cancer. Quietly, the arguments are about God punishing those who have sex before marriage. To participate in debates like this is to instantly lose them. Read the rest

Megachurch preachers and their expensive sneakers: @preachersnsneakers IG

The preachersnsneakers Instagram is 🔥🔥🔥. Read the rest

Megachurch Pastor Hope Carpenter: 'I cut people. I got a knife right in that pocketbook.'

“I cut people. I got a knife right in that pocketbook,” Carpenter said, gesturing toward her seat.

Brexit Crisis: Church of England to host Emergency Tea Parties

With the Prime Minister's Brexit deal failing for the third time to receive Parliament's blessing and the looming possibility of crashing out the EU without a deal, or a snap general election, or a second referendum, or another series of Parliamentary votes, or a general-purpose popular uprising, or alien intervention, the Church of England has a plan: tea parties.

Churches are being encouraged to host “informal café-style meetings” over the weekend of 30 March “to bring together people of all standpoints and encourage open discussion.” The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have today backed newly-commissioned resources to invite people to “get together and chat over a cup of tea and pray for our country and our future”.

Under the slogan “Together”, the packs include specially-chosen Bible passages, prayers and questions designed to prompt conversations. The introductory notes urge participants to have “respect for the integrity of differently held positions, encouraging communities which feel the same about the issues to use their imagination to consider the viewpoints of those who feel differently.”

Photo: AS Food studio / Shutterstock Read the rest

British schoolchildren receive chemical burns from "toxic ash" on Ash Wednesday

Between 73 and 100 students (as well as at least 17 teachers and administrators) from St Augustine’s Catholic High School in Redditch, England received chemical burns to their foreheads from "toxic ash" used to mark them as part of a Catholic ritual on Ash Wednesday. Read the rest

Prince's shoe-maker used to supply 30-40 pairs of high-heeled boots/month, totaling 3,000 pairs

Prince was self-conscious about his height -- 5'3" -- and wore high-heeled boots (either 4" or 3 1/3") whenever he went out in public, and moreover, he did not like to be seen wearing the same pair of boots at two different appearances on the same day. Read the rest

Former Archbishop of Canterbury cheers on students who are walking out to demand action on climate change

Months of student strikes have roiled the UK as pupils across the country have refused to go to class while demanding action on climate change, inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg's one-person strike at the Swedish Parliament. Read the rest

University dean resigns after school denies Chick-fil-A a location on campus

Cynthia Newman, dean of the college of business administration at Rider University in New Jersey, has resigned from that position after her school denied Chick-fil-A a campus location "based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community." (Newman will continue as a tenured professor though.) According to the university administrators, Chick-fil-A's "corporate values have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider."

I first suspected Newman stepped down because she loves Chick-fil-A's waffle fries so much, but she says she actually has "a problem with University leadership passing judgement on Chick-fil-A’s values which are reflective with the values of the Christian as well as other faiths.”

“I endeavor every day to do exactly what Chick-fil-A puts forward as its overarching corporate value: to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to me and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with me," Newman said in her resignation speech.

From CNN:

Newman wrote that she asked administrators to apologize for offending Christians, but ultimately decided to step down after the university stuck to its original stance.

"While we respect Dr. Newman's personal decision, we maintain that the decision about choosing an on-campus restaurant franchise was in no way a judgment on religious values," Kristine Brown, a spokeswoman for Rider University, said in a statement to CNN.

"Rather, our intention was to foster a sense of respect and belonging of all members of the campus community, including those who identify as LGBTQ+."

More in the Rider University newspaper: "Dean steps down from position due to religious beliefs" (The Rider News) Read the rest

GOP lawmaker driven mad by bill that would decriminalize children who take naked photos of themselves, delivers a frenzied rant about anal sex on legislature's floor

Washington State is contemplating HB 1742, legislation that would end the practice of charging children who exchange consensual sexts with child porn offenses that can lead to prison and a lifetime on the sex-offender registry. Read the rest

Juror's concern that man on trial didn't swear on the bible results in the verdict getting tossed

On Friday, an appeals court judge in Camden County, New Jersey tossed out a verdict against Dr. Abbas Husain who in 2011 a jury found guilty of having sexually harassed an office employee. It came out later that one of the jurors was "very passionate" and concerned that Husain, who is Hindu, hadn't put his hand on the bible when taking the oath to testify. The juror had raised her concern with other jurors. From NJ.com:

“The juror's comment regarding the Bible raises the specter of religious bigotry,” the court’s ruling said.

The decision reversed a Camden County Superior Court judge’s denial of a new trial for Husain in 2016. A jury in 2011 found Husain created a hostile work environment, sexually harassed and retaliated against a then-part time office employee, who was awarded $12,500 in the civil case...

“The Law Division judge said the juror who made the observation was only concerned with Husain's credibility, i.e. that a person who refused to place his hand on the Bible was incapable of taking the oath seriously and was therefore incredible,” the decision said. “He contrasted this with out-and-out religious bigotry. But if he was correct, that too is simply impermissible. The exercise of a person's religion should not make him or her per se incredible.”

“Only a new trial would ensure that the outcome was untainted,” the decision continued. “The possibility that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice is too great for us to decide otherwise.”

Read the rest

Japan's robot deity delivers Buddha's teaching

This is the Android Kannon, a robotic manifestation of the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with mercy. Read the rest

Wyoming GOP Senator explains death-penalty vote by saying that being executed was good enough for Jesus, so it's good enough for criminals

A bill to repeal Wyoming's death penalty law has failed in the state senate, thanks, in part, to the vote of Sen. Lynn Hutchings [R-Cheyenne, contact details], who said, "The greatest man who ever lived died via the death penalty for you and me. I’m grateful to him for our future hope because of this. Governments were instituted to execute justice. If it wasn’t for Jesus dying via the death penalty, we would all have no hope." Read the rest

Trump's pastor to flock: Give me your January salary or God will punish you

Donald Trump's “prosperity gospel” spiritual advisor Paula White, a pastor who is reported to reside in an 8,000 square foot house and travel on a $2.6 million private jet, is commanding her congregation to cough up their January salaries to her or else God is seriously going to punish them so hard. Read the rest

Teen self-injects verses from the Bible and the Koran that have been transposed into DNA

In the first injection in a human being of macromolecules whose primary structure was developed from a religious text a French 16 year old named Adrien Locatelli describes how he paid Vector Builder $1300 to transcode verses from the Bible and the Koran into macromolecules and then injected one verse into each leg (the Bible verse was written into the DNA of an adeno-associated virus and injected into his left thigh; the Koran verse was encoded into DNA but not merged with a virus and was then injected into his right thigh). Read the rest

LA's teachers are ready to strike on Tuesday, rejecting privatization of public education

Last year saw a wave of teachers' strikes across America, but mostly in red states where public education has been starved of funds, putting teachers on starvation wages, subjecting kids to dangerous conditions, and stripping schools of resources and even putting schools on four-day weeks. Read the rest

Arizona's kick-ass new bisexual Senator took her oath on the US Constitution, administered by cringing, homophobic Dominionist Mike Pence

Last week, incoming Senator Kyrsten Sinema [D-AZ] was sworn in by Mike Pence, in his aspect as President of the Senate, choosing to take her oath on a book containing both the Constitutions of the United States of America and Arizona, a tome repeating the framers' prohibition on the US government's establishment a state religion or discrimination on the basis of faith or lack thereof. Read the rest

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