Everything I'd like to tell you, ever.

Everything I'd like to tell you, ever, is said eloquently, humorously, heart-warming-ly in these three short videos:
1. Bill Hicks: It's Just A Ride
2. Carl Sagan: Cosmos, Opening Scene
3. Charlie Chaplin: The Great Dictator Speech

It's just a ride. Let's explore inner & outer space together, forever; let us all unite!


Notes from the Secular Conference 2014 in London

The Secular Conference is an annual event held in London that attracts activists, writers, scientists, politicians, and all sorts of brave people that 'defend secularism, including those of faith and none'[1].
With a vast majority of women and POC, both in the panels and the audience, this year's event was a special kind of awesome. I encourage you to go through the list of speakers, and support/follow/network with them individually as they are an eclectic bunch of precious allies.

Highlights of the weekend include:

 The closing speech of Iranian activist, ex-Muslim, and fierce leader Maryam Namazie calling for the adoption of the Manifesto for Secularism, which I have endorsed as an individual, but also on behalf of the Humanist Union of Greece (member of the Secretariat), and the Atheist Union of Greece (founding member). 
I invite you to join, sign, and share.

 All of the speakers. Cannot be stressed enough: look them up, support their projects.

 FEMEN Queen Inna Shevchenko, the brave and eloquent human rights lawyer Maha Kamal, the always charming Prof Richard Dawkins& myself getting together to form an impromptu Vaginal Coalition Against Bigotry
Va.C.A.B., photo ©Daniel Adamson
A few of the photos I took during the conference:

More photos here.
Join the discussion on twitter using #SecularConf2014.

Curious about what secularists are facing in Greece?
Read this concise report on Theocracy in Greece put together by the Atheist Union of Greece: 

And sign HUG's petition to abolish the Greek anti-blasphemy laws here:


Aspects of rape culture | Danaë: well-played, Gustav, and the other boys

'[...] Danaë's rape scene is also a popular theme: imprisoned in a tower of bronze (strong) by her mortal father she gets raped by Zeus, this time turned into golden (stronger!) rain. Nothing here condemns, or even suggests rape. Even in theory, one would find it hard to conceive any representation of rape that would so eye-popping-ly erase rape compared to turning the rapist into a beautiful golden stream that runs between the legs of a naked, beauteous, young woman who is clearly 'aroused'i. Apart from a woman locked inside by one man, and invaded by another, she might also be the archetypical, quintessential 'not-if-she-enjoyed-it' go-to reference, and she is joined there by descendant filmic variations like Gone With The Wind's (Victor Fleming, USA, 1939) Scarlett (Vivien Leigh), Lust, Caution's (Se, jie) (Ang Lee, USA, Chine, Taiwan, 2007) Wong Chia Chi (Wei Tang); most controversially met in Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, USA, UK, 1971); most un-noticeably in Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, USA, Hong Kong, UK, 1982), and Secretary (Steven Shainberg, USA, 2002), and even appears as a trope twice in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, UK, USA, 1975). Arguably the most sensual painterly version of this theme, Gustav Klimt's 1907 symbolist painting, is sold in gigantic prints by the hundreds in IKEA, purchased by unsuspecting admirers—maybe paid for in two euro coins (that feature Europa, another intensely spectacularised rape story)! 
This is truly extraordinary; well-played, Gustav, and the other boysii.[...]'

--Eliza Goroya, (part of my research for UCL)

iWord found in popular culture digester par excellence, wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dana%C3%AB_(Klimt_painting)

iiCorreggio, Rembrandt and Titian are a few examples.   


Aspects of rape culture | Dogville: We were to meet in freedom

'I've chosen, Grace. I've chosen you...Tonight we free ourselves of Dogville!'i he says, as he begins to thrust his body on top of her. Grace (Nicole Kidman) seems motherly, comforting, but quietly undeterred in her position; she speaks quietly, but her words are sonorous when she womansplains[sic]ii that '[…]it would be so beautiful, but, from the point of view of our love, so completely wrong'. Being consent-illiterate, and having ignored her non-verbal cues thus far (she doesn't kiss back, does not react to his touch), he is now forced to see what she is saying. It cannot be ignored:
'We were to meet in freedom', she concludes. And he, reluctantly, stops.
So, hey, freedom is somewhere and is not there. It is a place where people meet, and somewhere her in particular and Tom 'were to meet'. Lovers do not meet in unfree places: rapists and victims do. Not only does she theorise freedom as a place that is not there, and that is un-Dogville-like, but she also suggests an incompatibility of being able to give consent within unequal power dynamics—within places that anatomise 'intimidation, force, and predetermined gender roles—the tools of rape'iii as 'established by societal norms before rape happensiv'.

iiAlluding to, and playfully reversing, the term 'mansplaining' coined by Anna Robinson to describe what San Francisco author Rebecca Solnit was describing in a blog post titled "Men Explain Things to Me." http://www.nationinstitute.org/blog/nationbooks/3059/the_art_of_mansplaining.
iiiFeldman, The Subject of Rape, p. 18.



The situation in Ukraine from a human rights' activist perspective: Eliza Goroya's speech in the Ukrainian Parliament, Kyiv, 03/02/14

Ukrainian Parliament, Kyiv, 03/02/14in the presence of former Presidents of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko and Leonid Kravchuk.

My name is Eliza Goroya and I am a member of the Greek Helsinki Monitor.

I was invited here today to provide some insight as a Greek human-rights and anti-Nazi campaigner.

But how is the Greek struggle relevant to the Ukrainian one?
Well, we both have many angry people. And also a macho soccer culture to facilitate all this anger.
People feel indignant because they have lost their trust in the political system—and for good reasons. Both Greeks and Ukrainians have  also lost their trust in the unobstructed administration of justice and the legislation process.Both countries are facing a financial crisis and citizens feel like their country is 'being taken away from them' when the respective governments have to chose bailout options and, therefore, negotiate external influence. This naturally triggers issues of national identity, independence, patriotism and –to an extremist minority—radical nationalism. The state's first reflex should be to protect the vulnerable minorities that will be targeted by this extremist reaction to austerity, and to broaden and welcome the dialogue—rather than silencing these tendencies—without, of course, at the same time tolerating hate speech.
Her Queerness in the Parliament
But human rights' active protection—what is essentially the way the state can protect its minorities —is constantly disregarded in both countries.
On that note, I would like to congratulate Ukraine on succeeding to lose every single case out of 211 at the European Court of Human Rights—not surprisingly, you'll find yourselves in the company of Greece in this one too.
Meanwhile, all around the world we see a vibrant human rights movement. Sadly both Ukraine and Greece are still struggling to catch up with their more tolerant and progressive counterparts.
We are asked whether we want to keep clinging towards that more conservative, divisional past or listen to the global pulse towards inclusiveness.
Regarding extremism in Ukraine, I must admit that although we must be concerned about the rise of radicalism, nazism doens't seem to be the main problem here. And it doesn't seem that it is an anti-nazi strategy that will soothe the situation—this would only build up the tension as it would conveniently hijack all the movement for its tiny minority extremist part. It would even legitimize that small portion of extremists and it would lead to a direction of divisions and disorientation.
We should answer to radicalism with even more democracy and provisions for the vulnerable.
It is a passionate, never-sleeping, never hesitant, all-inclusive rhetoric that should take over.
It is our voices and the words we use—the humanity our words spread that build the cohesion and the diversity of the civil society.

Regarding the recent legislative actions:
The Ukrainian anti-protest laws were, admittedly, a rushed move to regulate protests—but also a move to restrict the freedom of expression, the freedom of the citizens to criticise the government; and were also violating the legal legislative procedure.
I shall not dwell on this, as these laws have been now correctly appealed and we salute the corrective gesture.
Most importantly, regarding the new amnesty-related law that will be discussed here, in the Ukrainian parliament, on Wednesday, and suggests to offer amnesty for protesters that have been arrested during anti-government protests only if protesters would leave the streets and end their occupation of government buildings: I will now support that it is not a solution.
Our counterpart, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, informs us that “[...]w
hereas international and domestic law alike clearly affirm the universally recognised principle of individual liability: one can be held liable for his own conduct, collective responsibility is outlawed; this Law in fact establishes collective responsibility, as release of certain individuals is made conditional on acts or abstention of others. Not only does the law run counter to the fundamental rules of international, constitutional, and criminal law; we state that its adoption violated a number of the Parliamentary rules of procedure. It cannot therefore be regarded as a legitimate resolution of the present social and political crisis. [...] We call upon the President of Ukraine to not be an accessory to the Article 147 offence and to not sign the Law On Eliminating negative consequences and preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons as respects the events taking place in the course of peaceful assemblies.
We are convinced that unconditional release of all those detained in the course of the protests, prohibition for the police to make arrests of protesters at hospitals, a ban on violence committed by the police and protesters, as well as security of the protesters against the aggressive opponents, a.k.a. ‘titushki’ is a prerequisite for negotiating any further decisions seeking a settlement of the social and political crisis."

President Yanukovych, members of the opposition and every one else that has played a part in the current situation:
You are standing in front of your legacy. Forming it; right now.
Admittedly, President Yanukovych has, unfortunately, missed his opportunity to be remembered as a 'Lech Walesa'. And we will all agree that he is no 'Nelson Mandela' either. 
But he—and the opposition leaders if they cooperate—can be remembered as the politicians that, within their privilege, they overcame personal ambition, political and economic gain, and heard to what the people are demanding: and people—more than Ukrainians being pro-Europe or pro-Russia, Ukrainians, are Pro-UKRAINE—they want to have a voice, they are calling for a democratic reform. And that might spare Ukraine from further bloodshed and even a, much-feared, civil war. 
 The ultras invite people to organise themselves “not against Russia, not pro-Europe, but for Kyivans, for our city!”. Democratic ideas as such will be hijacked by extremists if they are not brought back into mainstream politics. Therefore, a referendum on EU relations, the creation of a broad coalition government, a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system could be possible solutions.

Yes, it is clear: Ukraine is a battlefield of influences—Kremlin, Brussels, Beijing.
In order to battle nationalism, wouldn't it be wise to allow—by supporting an enhanced democracy—the most important influence on Ukraine to be the one Ukrainians have on their country's future? That would directly tackle the radicalism that is fuelled by people's sense of having their countries being taken away of them—them not having a voice, nor power, over their own country.
Not only you must allow the citizens to criticise the government—it should be actively encouraged and both the government and the opposition should pay close attention.

This speech has been not only a call towards welcoming critique but also a sample of what that critique might sound like.

I urge you to encourage citizens to voice their views and feel they are being heard. Let citizens not be afraid of the police. Let this foreigner queer activist not be afraid of what might happen to her if she speaks her mind but to feel, rather, that she has contributed her part in an ongoing constructive critique towards the much-needed democratic reform of Ukraine and of, why not, Greece too. A state's first reflex against the rise of extremism should be to protect the targets: the Jewish community, people of colour, roma, people with disabilities, mentally-ill, hiv-positive and aids patients, ethnic minorities, immigrants, the gays. lesbians, bisexuals, trans-sexual/trans-gendered and all others that urgently need this support.
Thank you


Η ψευδαίσθηση της μίας Εαυτής και η ρευστότητά του

Τρέχοντας στην αγκαλιά του Γκόφμαν, βρήκα στο 'Στίγμα' αυτήν την παράγραφο στην εισαγωγή που εξηγεί κάτι το οποίο επανέρχεται συχνά στις συζητήσεις των--με τον έναν ή άλλο τρόπο--'στιγματισμένων' σχετικά με την έννοια και τη ρευστότητα του/της Εαυτού/τής:

'[...] ο εαυτός* εμφανίζεται ως κοινωνικό προϊόν, αποτέλεσμα των ερμηνειών στις οποίες επιδίδεται το άτομο όταν βρίσκεται σε συνθήκες αλληλεπίδρασης. Από αυτήν την άποψη, η έννοια του εαυτού δεν προϋπάρχει του ατόμου· δεν υπάρχει ένας πρότερος εαυτός που περιμένει να ενεργοποιηθεί και να εκφραστεί στις κοινωνικές περιστάσεις, αλλά ο εαυτός διαμορφώνεται και επικυρώνεται σε συνθήκες δημόσιας ερμηνείας ενός ρόλου (Branaman, 1997, εισαγωγή). Ο εαυτός στερείται κάθε προσωπικό, ατομικό πυρήνα, δεν αποτελεί προσωπικό γνώρισμα του ατόμου αλλά συνιστά μάλλον μία δημόσια πραγματικότητα (Tseelon, 1992, 121). Όπως σχολιάζει χαρακτηριστικά ο Collins, στην αντίληψη του Γκόφμαν είμαστε αναγκασμένοι να έχουμε έναν εαυτό, όχι επειδή έχουμε πραγματικά έναν, αλλά επειδή αυτό απαιτεί η κοινωνική αλληλεπίδραση. Η κοινωνία επιβάλλει στους δρώντες να παρουσιάζουν μια συγκεκριμένη εικόνα εαυτού, να φαίνονται, και όχι να είναι αναγκαστικά, συνεπείς, ειλικρινείς, έντιμοι. Στην πραγματικότητα, ο εαυτός δεν είναι παρά ένα σύμβολο, ένας γλωσσολογικός όρος που χρησιμοποιούμε προκειμένου να αναφερθούμε σε ό,τι κάνουμε εμείς και ό,τι κάνουν οι άλλοι. Ο εαυτός είναι μέρος μιας ιδεολογίας της καθημερινής ζωής, ο αρχετυπικός μύθος της νεωτερικότητας (Collins, 1988, 49).'

Πάρε τώρα αυτό το εργαλείο σκέψης και βάλ'το δίπλα στην κατασκευή
και τον [αυτο]προσδιορισμό κοινωνικού φύλου / έκφρασης φύλου /σεξουαλικότητας etc και την ανάγκη / κανονικότητα στη συνέπεια έκφρασής τους.
You have been queerified.

--Goffman, Εrving: 'Στίγμα: Σημειώσεις Για Τη Διαχείριση Tης Φθαρμένης Ταυτότητας', εισαγωγή-μετάφραση: Μακρυνιώτη Δήμητρα, σ.21.

*Lack of anti-sexist language sic erat scriptum.

01/01/13, London.