Evangelos points us to this solid piece by Geoffrey Pullum who last week defended Obama’s choice to use “they” in a sentence about “somebody:” Strunk and White baldly assert that this is an error. They simply say don’t use they with syntactically singular antecedents like somebody. They don’t give a reason; and it is pretty clear they didn’t know anything much about the literary evidence that they has been grammatical and normal with singular antecedents for six or seven centuries…. Read more

Yglesias makes a dynamite observation about part of the reason leaders of social conservatives put so much energy into anti-gay crusades rather than any of a number of other matters of social concern (via Patrick Appel): Most of what “traditional values” asks of people is pretty hard. All the infidelity and divorce and premarital sex and bad parenting and whatnot take place because people actually want to do the things traditional values is telling them not to do. And the… Read more

Via The Huffington Post: Germany’s Central Council of Jews has taken the unprecedented step of backing a proposal to republish Adolf Hitler’s infamous autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf, which has been strictly outlawed in the country since the end of the Second World War.Although many German Jews still oppose reissuing Hitler’s anti-Semitic work, Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the country’s leading Jewish organisation, supports a new scholarly edition of the work designed to inform future generations of the evils of… Read more

This video is must-see if only for the fascinating history of the banana towards the end if nothing else. Read more

Jerry Coyne pushes back hard (again) against the latest publication of the falsehood that American resistance to evolution is the New Atheists’ fault: 1.  The “new atheists” have been on the scene for exactly five years, beginning with Sam Harris’s The End of Faith, published in 2004.  But American’s attitudes to evolution have been relatively unchanged (with 40+% denying it) for twenty-five years.  This means two things: a.  American illiteracy about evolutionary biology cannot have been due to criticism of… Read more

via The Daily Dish Read more

via Holly Pugliares  Your Thoughts? Read more

Inhabitatio Dei finds some precedents with clout for using “they” rather than “he” or “she” as a pronoun for a general human being without gender specified: Here are just a few samples of “they” being used as a universal singular pronoun in Western literature: — Shakespeare: and every one to rest themselves betake; — Jane Austen: I would have everybody marry if they can do it properly; — W. H. Auden: it is too hideous for anyone in their senses… Read more

The official reason was strict public health standards: PARIS — A Muslim woman who tried to go swimming in a head-to-toe “burquini” has been banned from her local pool in the latest tussle between religious practices and secular authority in France. Officials on Wednesday insisted they banned the woman’s use of the Islam-friendly swimsuit because of France’s unusually strict hygiene standards in pools — not because of official hostility to wearing overtly Muslim garb. Under the policy, swimmers are prevented… Read more

  Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a law making it illegal for sex offenders to use social networking sites. Is this a necessary ban to protect the state’s children? Or a misguided move guaranteed to keep criminals who’ve paid their debt living on the margins of society? Read the story here (and its comments section which includes a reply from someone claiming to be a sex offender himself) and then offer us Your Thoughts in our comments section. Read more

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