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Social Justice

Autism: Beyond Awareness

April is National Autism Awareness Month. If you aren’t autistic and aren’t close to anyone who is, you might think this is a good time for autistic people–a chance for children and adults who aren’t often in the limelight to get some attention and advocacy. If only it were so simple. This is only the second time I’ve written about autism here. My previous post–and especially the links quoted/cited there–is a good place to start with regard to reconsidering autism advocacy in general.

Islam in Scotland

As of this writing, there are over 75,000 Muslims in Scotland, representing 1.4% of the population. They are a small but very visible minority, especially in the major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. In fact, I’ve spent the past week staying next door to the Edinburgh Central Mosque, which is a lovely building in its own right, and obviously Muslims are a common sight all around it. Islam has been in the news this week for a particularly sad occasion: the murder of one Muslim by another, over religious differences.

Free Speech in the UK (and Europe)

I took a lot of pictures of cats today. There doesn’t seem much point in writing about that. Free speech is another matter! The “moral panic over moral panics” lives in the UK (and mainland Europe) just as well as it does in the United States, it seems. Here we have an article decrying UK universities and their student unions for stifling free speech and debate: Launched by online magazine [_spiked_](http://www.

Nobody Sets the Evil Bit

In case you didn’t know, many of the rules that built the Internet started as RFCs–requests for comments. These were online discussions in which proposals were made, discussed, and (sometimes) adopted as official rules. Each one has a number, and many Internet technologies you’ve heard about (or at least use every day) have their origins in one RFC or another. For example, the original email protocol was defined in RFC 196; the original hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), which all websites use some version of, was first officialized with RFC 1945; and version of the Internet protocol (IPv4), which specifies a network addressing system that essentially every network-connected device uses, came out of RFC 791.

Money for Sex: A Double-Standard

I recently had a conversion with a friend about the idea of exchanging money for sex–what one would also describe as sex work, or prostitution (though the latter word is not at all preferred). The question became whether I, personally, would entertain the notion of being paid for sex. Well, why not? It’s something I enjoy anyway. It’s not something I would ever ask to paid for, and I don’t see why I would accept money from a friend or romantic partner, but I’m not totally against the idea.

The Latest in Trans Panic

It’s almost as if some states in the US are having a contest to see which can be the most oppressive toward people who aren’t a threat to anyone. Today, in a fit of pique against the city of Charlotte daring to not be a completely bigoted hellhole, the legislature of North Carolina passed (and the governor signed) a new law declaring that state laws override local ones when it comes to anti-discrimination measures.

Two Words

Labels for political ideologies can be useful, to a point, but they often don’t communicate the underlying sentiment. Liberal. Conservative. Progressive. Socialist. One can have intellectual discussions of any or all of these. But what if it was simpler? What if you could describe it in just two words that, in and of themselves, express an understandable value system? This is a post I’ve wanted to make for a while. I’ve thought about it for quite some time.

International Women's Day

It’s fair to say that, historically speaking, women have gotten the short end of the stick. Though they have contributed no less than men to the construction and functioning of our civilizations and cultures, they have typically been deprived of any just compensation for their contributions–or even the most basic agency. Things are somewhat better in 2016, depending on who you are and where you live. The world is, overall, a better place for women than it was in 1908, when women marched in New York City for voting rights and better treatment.

Subtle Sexual Harassment

Geobiology professor A. Hope Jahren recently had an article in the New York Times about sexual harassment in the world of academic research. The problem seems all too commonplace: Since I started writing about women and science, my female colleagues have been moved to share their stories with me; my inbox is an inadvertent clearinghouse for unsolicited love notes. Sexual harassment in science generally starts like this: A woman (she is a student, a technician, a professor) gets an email and notices that the subject line is a bit off: “I need to tell you,” or “my feelings.

Flirts, Compliments, and Catcalls

Every so often I’ll come across some guy lamenting that women just can’t take a compliment anymore, as if what was once a sea of happily receptive women has been hardened into a glacier of frigid ice queens. Nothing I say here will be news to women, who live with the reality every day. My audience here is the hypothetical heterosexual man who is perturbed that he’s not allowed to tell women what he thinks of their appearance.