Looking for an Ark Encounter?

20045521_1596311390399211_7503626277058911484_oYou have to see this, dears.  Creationist Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Creation Museum in Pittsburg, Kentucky, and Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Virginia, has had the latter lit up in rainbow colours at night.

Ken Ham, maintains that the Biblical record of creation is historically and chronologically accurate, the entire universe being created by God in six days, 6000 years ago.  He completely refutes biological evolution, despite looking so simian himself that he could get a part in a Planet of the Apes movie – without any need for make-up.

Kenny baby has now had his ailing exhibition lit up in an attempt to “reclaim” the rainbow from the LGBT+ community.

The photo on his Facebook page was accompanied with the following statement;

“We now have new permanent rainbow lights at the Ark Encounter so all can see that it is God’s rainbow and He determines its meaning in Genesis 6.

The rainbow is a reminder God will never again judge the wickedness of man with a global Flood—next time the world will be judged by fire.

The Ark is lit permanently at night with a rainbow to remind the world that God owns it and He decreed it’s a sign of His covenant with man after the Flood—Christians need to take back the rainbow as we do at the Ark Encounter.”

Personally, I think it looks simply FABULOUS!  I simply LOVE it.

Ark Encounter, which was originally meant to be a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark, with displays and anitromic animals – and dinosaurs – opened on 7 July 2016, after a controversial start.  Tax incentives were given to AiG to build the project on the grounds that it would attract tourism into the area.  Public money was used to build roads and other infrastructure to the attraction also on the basis that it would be recouped through tourism.  Both of these measures brought complaints from American secularists and atheists, pointing out that the US Constitution expressly establishes a ‘wall between church and state’.  Nonetheless, the project went ahead.

Then AiG discovered they could not make it as authentic as they liked.  Irksome little things such as health and safety laws, fire escapes, public lavatories, sanitation, electricity ducts, ventilation, light, etc, meant that instead of a full boat with one door and window, Ken Ham had to build half an ark with several windows, resting on concrete pillars, and supported by modern buildings to the rear.

Following complaints of discriminatory employment practices, the US Federal Court ruled in 2016 that AiG could insist in their terms of employment that employees must believe that the Bible is the historically accurate word of God and accept and believe in Young Earth Creation.

Ken ham  boasted that the number of visitors would be over 2 million per year.  In fact, people have failed to appear in such numbers, and Ham himself has kept downplaying the estimate of visitor numbers.  In an interview in Gospel Herald, Ham stated that in the first year Ark Encounter may hit their own lower estimate for the first year of operation of 1.1 million visitors.  The Lexington Herald Leader reported on 2 July 2017 that Ark Encounter co-founder Mike Zorath stated that the Ark would welcome it’s 1 millionth visitor in July.

And what caused this failure in visitor numbers?  Well, first Ken Ham tried to claim it was due to opening in the middle of the holiday season.  That may well be true, but it was Ken Ham himself who chose to open it on 7 July 2016, to reflect Genesis 7:7, “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”  So if it failed, due to bad timing, Ham has no-one but himself to blame for that.

But then, he can always blame the atheists.  Which is precisely what Ken Ham did in a June 2017 AiG blog post;

“Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure.

Sadly, they (atheists and the secular media) are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking.”

The latest controversial move is AiG selling the park – to themselves.  AiG applied for an exemption to a new local safety tax in Grant County, Virginia, on the grounds that it was a religious organisation.   On June 29, Williamstown City Attorney Jeffrey Shipp rejected their request, stating that it was clear that Ark Encounter is a for-profit entity, which is how it has been listed with the Secretary of State’s office since 2011.  AiG’s reaction was to sell their main parcel of land at the park, which the Ark sits on, to their not-for-profit subsidiary, Crosswater Canyon, for the princely sum of $10, so that it can be reclassified as a religious organisation.

Seems to me that Ken Ham and his associates need to make up their mind.  It is either a visitor attraction, or a religious organisation.  If it is the latter, then it should not be given tax incentives which would breach the secular US Constitution.

Of course, if he is really struggling, he could always turn the largest timber structure in the world into the world’s biggest LGBT+ nightclub.  Whaddya say, Kenny baby?

Ehe Fuer Alle ~ Germany Votes for Equal Marriage

30-germany.w710.h473Another European domino falls.

In a move which has surprised many, Germany has held a snap vote which has approved same-sex marriage and adoption.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democrat Party (CDU) is in a coalition with the Social Democrat Party (SPD), has previously been strenuously against equal marriage on the grounds of “children’s welfare” and admitted to having a “hard time” with the issue. However, on 26 June in an interview with women’s magazine Brigette, Chancellor Merkel said she had a “life-changing experience” when she had dinner with a lesbian couple who are fostering eight children, and would allow a free vote on the issue in the future.

As the news spread supporters of equal marriage spread the message on social media, including sharing the hashtag #EheFeurAlle (Marriage for all) on Twitter, and calling for a vote as soon as possible. The SPD seized this initiative by calling for a vote by the time the German parliament went into recess by the week ending 30 June 2017. Although the SPD are trailing the CDU in the polls for the upcoming German election, they had signalled that there would by no future coalitions unless marriage reform was agreed upon. The Green Party, the far-left Linke Party, and the pro-business Free Democrats said likewise.

So it was, amidst Angela Merkel claiming she had been “ambushed” that the vote took place on Friday, 30 June, and was passed by 393 to 226, with four abstentions. Chancellor Merkel voted against, and said afterwards that she still believed “marriage was between a man and a woman” but did add that the passing of the bill would bring more “social cohesion and peace”.

Germany now joins the club of European nations which have legalised equal marriage. The others are;

Belgium (2003)
Denmark (2012)
England (2013)
Finland (2017)
France (2013)
Iceland (2010)
Ireland (2015)
Luxembourg (2015)
Netherlands (2001)
Norway (2009)
Portugal (2010)
Scotland (2014)
Spain (2005)
Sweden (2009)

Other types of civil partnerships are recognised by:

Andorra (2014)
Austria (2010)
Croatia (2014)
Czech Republic (2006)
Cyprus (2015)
Greece (2015)
Hungary (2009)
Italy (2016)
Liechtenstein (2011)
Slovenia (2006)
Switzerland (2007)

The tiny state of San Marino has recognised unregistered cohabitation since 2012.

There is no recognition of equal marriage in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Monaco, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Vatican City. Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine have specific constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Malta’s new Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has committed his government to passing same-sex marriage this summer.

In the UK, equal marriage is now law in the UK bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, in Gibraltar, the UK dependencies of Gibraltar, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Alderney recognises same-sex foreign marriage, the tiny island of Sark has no recognition, while the Bailiwick of Jersey and the province of Northern Ireland have civil partnerships, with the latter stalwartly holding out against equal marriage.

That’s Northern Ireland where the UK government just recently squeaked into power after giving a £1 billion bribe to the homophobic, transphobic, anti-abortion, Biblical creationist, climate change denying Democratic Unionist Party  to support them, dears.

Schoolboys Protest No Shorts Rule – By Wearing Skirts

Isca Boys

Boys at Isca Academy

And my faith in humanity is restored.

As temperatures in the south of England soared to over 30C (86F) recently, 15-year-old Ryan Lambeth was one of many boys attending Isca Academy, Exeter, (Isca being the Roman name for Exeter) who complained of the heat in the long black trousers which are part of the compulsory school uniform, and requested to wear shorts to know avail. It was Ryan’s mother, Claire (43) who asked one teacher that if girls can wear skirts, why can’t the boys wear shorts? But the school refused to move on the issue.

His mother’s actions did however give Ryan an idea. He decided to borrow and wear an Isca Academy uniform skirt, and contacting his friends, so did five others that morning.

The idea may also have come from a 14-year-old who wanted to wear shorts and was sarcastically told by the headteacher “Well, you can wear a skirt if you like”. Whatever, the idea took off as more and more boys borrowed uniform skirts from girlfriends and sisters, braving the giggles and taunts from others. By Thursday, 22 June, around 30 boys turned up in Isca Academy girls skirts. Not one boy was punished, and as the idea took off, the taunts soon died away and the boys were being championed for their stance. Only one boy was pulled up for his skirt exposing too much of his hairy legs. Some other boys had reportedly shaved their legs.

Even as temperatures dropped to more liveable 20C (70F), the boys continued to wear the skirts, partially to keep up the protest to wear shorts and partially because some prefer the air and freedom which the female uniform affords them. By this time the headteacher, Aimee Mitchell announced that the school was prepared to think again.

“We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible, Ms Mitchell said, “Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families. However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.”

There are echoes here of a story I reported four years ago, when Swedish train drivers complaining of heat in their cabs reaching 35C (95F) were refused shorts and instead turned to wearing uniform skirts. The train operating company could not touch them, as doing so would be a discriminatory move and thereby illegal (see https://xandradurward.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/training-skirts-takes-on-a-new-meaning/). Likewise French bus drivers in Nantes have followed the same lead, turning to wearing skirts as temperatures soared to 38C (100F).

What really impresses me about the Isca Academy story however, is the way that the idea took off, and how the boys were able to carry out their protest without fear of bullying. That has got to be a positive move, which shows that perhaps the younger generation has a more accepting attitude to dress choice of others. In England 120 schools have adopted a gender-neutral policy towards uniforms, allowing pupils to explore and express their own gender identity by choosing whether to wear trousers or skirts. This is part of a move to combat homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying. Sadly, there are no similar figures for Scotland.

When the Isca Academy story broke, some here in Scotland suggested that if schoolboys up here wore kilts, few would even bat an eyelid. They may not, but I would suggest those saying that have never worn a kilt, or are at least forgetting a couple of things about them. For a start, kilts are not skirts; there is a distinction between the two. The modern small kilt, the philabeag, grew out of military wear (no, it was not invented by an English mill-owner – that is an anti-Scottish myth), and had drawstrings to form the pleats at the rear. It was itself adapted from the long plaid great kilt, the philamhor, which was a robe going back in antiquity to many other types of robes worn mainly by men.

But moreover, the kilt is a very heavy garment. A normal philabeag is 8 yards of heavy, tightly woven wool, which is wrapped around the body. Yes, it can be airy (particularly if a man wearing it is a “true scotsman”, if you get my meaning), but anyone who has ever worn a kilt, myslef included, will soon tell you just how warm it gets in the kilt. I most certainly would not have wanted to wear a kilt in the recent high temperatures, particularly as my family tartan, like most tartans, is dark and thereby draws the heat.

The light blue and black tartan (while are so many school skirts, even in England and the USA tartan?) of the Isca Academy uniform would not draw so much heat, and as the skirts are obviously made of much lighter material than a kilt, they seem to be the obvious answer for hot weather, for all genders.

Kinda cute skirts actually – I would wear one.

Xandra 100

100XandraHello Dears,

Well, a while since I’ve been in here.  Naughty Xandra!  I need a sound spanking (please).  But when I did log back in, imagine my surprise that I now have 100 followers.  You are all such darlings, and I am overwhelmed at having so many people following me.  I am truly touched (but we all knew that) and it will galvanise me to get back here and keep posting.

Meanwhile, a huge thank you to all my followers and hugs and kisses to each and every one of you.  I love you all.

Loves,

Xandra.  xxxx

 

Whatever He Said, Bill Nye Does Not Speak For My Gender

Nye.jpeg

Nope. He never said that.

And he would be first to admit that.

There has been a debacle about Bill Nye allegedly contradicting himself in his show Bill Nye Saves the World, in which he says that gender is on a spectrum, with some claiming that in his 1996 show Bill Nye the Science Guy he said that gender is determined by chromosones. It did not take long for the transphobes to get to work, one of whom produced a meme from the show of Bill with the caption “Gender is determined by your chromosones”.

Despite the meme being roundly debunked by Snopes and many other sources on the internet, there are still some trying to claim it was genuine, and denying the gender spectrum.

Let’s get this clear right away. Bill Nye never said one thing about gender being determined by chromosones ~ ever, end of. On the episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy etitled “Genes”, Bill said;

“Our genes are stored in parts of our cells called chromosomes. They look like this. Chromosomes contain all of the genetic information, all of the instructions you need to make a person. Now humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.”

This is what the bigots have latched onto, along with one sentence, not from Nye but rather from actress Amy Broder in a later episode entitled “Possibilities” in which she said;

“You’re either X and X. Girl. Or X and Y. Boy. The chance of becoming either a boy or a girl is always 1 in 2.”

Neither Bill Nye nor Amy Broder were talking about gender at all, they were talking about biological sex. That is what is determined by chromosones, not gender.

But even then the episode in which Broder was speaking was fatally flawed, as it maintains that there is only a biological sex binary. The very existence of babies born intersex tells us this is not so.

In the episode of Bill Nye Saves the World entitled “The Sexual Spectrum”, Bill corrects this by stating;

“Females usually have two Xs and males usually have an X and a Y. But it turns out, about 1 in every 400 pregnancies have a different number of sex chromosomes. Some people only have one sex chromosome, some people have 3, 4 or even 5. For me, I usually feel like I have a lot.”

But then we can be forgiveable to Bill, for the understanding of biological sex was a lot different in 1996 than it is today, and in “The Sexual Spectrum” Bill himself states;

“If you’re like me, and I know I am, you’re still learning about this field of science. We used to think that there were just two settings. Male and female. But it’s actually a lot sexier than that,”

And…

“Take sex. We used to think it was pretty straightforward. X and a Y chromosome for males. Two Xs for females. But we see more combinations than that in real life… …We have to listen to the science. And the science says that we’re all on a spectrum.”

So, Bill Nye himself admits that he is still learning and he is no expert in the field of human biology and gender. And this is important. Let us for a moment imagine that Bill Nye had said that chromosones determine gender.

I really admire Bill Nye for his intelligence, his biting wit and great sense of humour, but just what are his qualifications? Well, Bill is in fact a graduate in mechanical engineering, with all his other scientific knowledge having absolutely no academic qualifications. He also has a hugely successful comedy career behind him.

So in other words ~ and I’m not being cruel here, just truthful ~ Bill Nye is no more qualified to speak about my gender than I am to teach him about the hydraulic resonance suppression tubes he invented for Boeing 747 aircraft, or how to deliver comedy lines to an audience. As an objective scientist, I’m pretty sure Bill himself would agree with that estimation.

Same goes for Amy Broder. She is no more qualified to speak on my gender than I am to teach her about acting. Actually, on second thoughts, having seen her perhaps I could (saucer of milk for Xandra).

And of course, Bill Nye is absolutely correct that science has taken great steps in 21 years, and we now have a much greater understanding of sexuality and gender than we did a generation ago. Hell, as someone over 40 (I’m not saying by how much, dears), I had not even heard of the terms genderfluid and pansexual until a few years ago, generally because they were still relatively unheard of. But when I read up on both, having lived in confusion all my life, they hit me straight between the eyes and I realised “This is ME.” Like Bill, even I am still trying to make sense of it. I’m pretty sure most genderfluid and/or pansexual people feel the same way.

Yet there are those ignoramuses who will continue to deny that there is a gender spectrum and that there is only a gender binary. This makes it especially hard for the genderfluid, because we face this ignorant prejudice and hatred not only from the cishet majority, but also from some within the LGBTQI community, including some transgender people who outright deny the very possibility of someone being genderfluid.

But what such people do not realise is they are playing the bigots game for them. The gender binary argument using chromosones was not too long ago also used by homophobes denying homosexuality or bisexuality. It is still prevalant today among some religious bigots who use the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” line.

People, and science, were wrong about sexuality then. Just as it now known that they were wrong about gender.

And this is the part that infuriates me; that many people, including some very intelligent and otherwise very liberal ones, simply cannot seem to get it into their heads that biological sex and gender are not one and the same thing. They are not and never were. The genitalia on a foetus forms weeks before the brain develops. And despite the fact that there are many guys (both straight and gay) who seem to think through their dicks, it is in the brain that gender is determined, not the genitalia. That is as true for gender as it is for sexuality.

The fact is that there is only one person who is the true expert on their gender; YOU. That is true for all of us, be we cis, transgender, genderfluid, whateva. Therefore not one person has the right to judge, discriminate, or decry the gender identity of another.

Even though I actually think it’s cishet people who are the weird ones, and who are missing out on a whole lot of fun.

The ‘Homophobic’ Tweet Which Never Was So

aaaa-mundelltweet

Nasty? Yes.  Homophobic?  Get a grip, dears.  Just another “SNP BAD!” non-story.

“Tory minister slams SNP blogger over homophobic tweet” screams the headline in Pink News.

Except that the blogger in question, Reverend Stuart Campbell – who posted the Tweet under his “Wings Over Scotland” Twitter page – is not an SNP spokesperson, is not even a member of the Scottish National Party, and even makes the point on the Wings Over Scotland website;

“The site advocates Scottish independence, but is not affiliated or connected in any way to the SNP, and neither gives to or receives money from the party, nor indeed any other party.”

Still, I suppose it’s better than the enormous gaffe that Pink New came up with earlier, where their headline read “Tory minister slams conservative blogger”.

So to the offensive tweet itself. It surrounds Oliver Mundell MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), the son of Secretary of State for Scotland, and Scotland’s only Conservative Member of Parliament, David Mundell, who after being closeted most of his adult life, came out as gay in January 2015.

The supposedly “homophobic” Wings Over Scotland tweet read “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad embraced his homosexuality sooner.”

If that is at all homophobic, I for one am failing to see it. It is certainly quite nasty to wish someone had never been born, and that is quite a low blow for Rev Stuart Campbell, an ordained Christian minister, and I do believe that Stuart should apologise ~ on those grounds. If it were meant as a joke, it’s not even funny. But was it homophobic? I don’t think so. I’m certainly not offended by it ~ and you’d have to go to great lengths to find a bigger Scottish poof than me.

aaaa-afluffy

David “Fluffy” Mundell

Nonetheless that did not stop David Mundell (known as “Fluffy” to Scots Nats ~ a reference to his hair and beard, NOT his sexuality) from immediately playing the homophobia card;

 

“This sort of behaviour has to be called out. We’re not going to face down homophobia unless we call out people who practice it” said the Scottish Secretary.

No show without Punch, his son Oliver, who was elected as Conservative MSP for Dumfriesshire in 2016 was not long in answering either. And like Pink News, chose to take the opportunity to smear the SNP;

“It is really important they call out this kind of behaviour. There are lots of reasonable people within the independence movement. But there are still some unpleasant figures who get given airtime by senior people within the SNP,” he said, “This is an individual who has interacted with SNP MSPs and MPs, and distributed material in the last independence campaign. There is duty for all of us in politics to call out those within their own ranks who are offensive and unpleasant… …I get a lot of abuse online. There are certain individuals you don’t want to give oxygen to but sometimes comments people make just cross the line.

“For other families who have gone through similar situations, comments like that make it more difficult for people to be who they are,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the kind of Scotland anyone wants to live in.”

Of course, Rev Campbell is not in the SNP ranks, and by his own admission in Wings Over Scotland, has no affiliation to them. But don’t ever let those troubling little facts get in the way of a Tory “SNP BAD!” story. It is also interesting to note that Stuart Campbell has since tweeted that several people have approached the SNP for a comment – or an apology – for the tweet, but not one person has approached him.

For my money, homophobia is a problem in Scotland and one which is all too often ignored or brushed under the carpet. And the independence camp are far from blameless in this. During the campaign for the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, openly lesbian Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson came under attack from an online troll who made some thoroughly disgusting comments about her sexuality.

It is worth noting however, that it was members of the SNP and Yes Scotland who were first to immediately rally behind Ruth and distance themselves from the troll, they exposed his true identity, shamed him into apologising, and had him kicked out of both the SNP and Yes. Ruth Davidson tweeted that she felt that the Scots Nats defending her treated her “with gallantry”.

But then, the unionists were not so angelic either. The official unionist campaign, Better Together, once put an LGBT rainbow banner up on their Facebook page. Less than 24 hours later they had to remove it, due to vile homophobic comments ~ from their own supporters.

And of course, the Tories have not always been the champions of the LGBT+ community. Quite the opposite, historically and traditionally the Conservative Party have been deeply homophobic, transphobic, and one of the greatest obstacles to LGBT+ rights in the UK ~ and in some quarters within their party, remain very much so.

But homophobia is such a serious problem that to make false claims of it are also potentially damaging. It is like the person of colour who plays the race card where no mention of their race has been made or inferred, or the Israeli (or pro-Israeli) who reacts to valid criticism of the state of Israel by claiming anti-Semitism and bringing up the Holocaust.

Remember the boy who cried ‘Wolf’? Nobody listened to him in the end. Therefore, as odious as Rev Campbell’s tweet was in wishing Oliver Mundell had not been born (and which he really should apologise for), it was by no means homophobic, and to claim it was can only ultimately harm Scotland’s LGBT+ community.

Finally, Oliver Mundell is correct; no-one wants to live in an intolerant Scotland, or UK for that matter. We had enough of that when the notorious Section 28 made it illegal to ‘promote’ ~ i.e. have publications about or even discuss ~ homosexuality in schools.

Introduced in 1988, it was eventually repealed in Scotland in 2000, despite opposition from many Conservative MSPs ~ including David Mundell.

Yes, Fluffy ~ I’m no slouch at smear tactics either, dear.