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Homophobia: 60 Years After the Death of Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a mathematical genius, a wartime code breaker, a computer pioneer, and, to some extent, a British spy ala James Bond. He was among a number of code-breakers who decrypted Nazi military codes, saving millions of lives in the process.

Turing

The Filipino Freethinkers LGBT Pride March 2014 Banner

Alan Turing is also one of the pillars that has enabled our current information age. The technology behind computers, mobile phones, and even the Internet was based on the mathematical models he developed. Alan Turing innovated mathematical models that would become the backbone of technological progress. Alan Turing helped defeat the Nazis. Alan Turing is a pioneer, a hero, and a genius. He’s easily one of the greatest men who ever lived.

It’s such a shame that 60 years ago, 1954, Turing was prosecuted by the same government he helped protect, and by the same people whose lives he would improve because of his contributions to science and technology. Why was he prosecuted? Because he was gay.

When Turing was convicted, he was given the choice to either spend 2 years in jail, or undergo a hormone “therapy” that would leave him chemically castrated. With this conviction, he also lost his security clearance as well as his role in the government’s communication headquarters. Aside from that, the side effects of the chemical castration caused him severe depression.

He committed suicide at the age of 41.

Such is the face of homophobia. It’s reveals a picture of humanity at it’s most bigoted. It has robbed humanity of a genius and a hero. Who knows what other contributions Turing may have made if he was given the same liberty extended to straight people.

Homophobia continues to claim victims 60 years after Turing’s death. The persecution suffered by Turing persists until today. Homophobic discrimination is still prevalent. Hate crimes are still committed against the LGBT. Gay kids are still being bullied.

This is the reason why there is a need for events that promote LGBT awareness and tolerance.

The Filipino Freethinkers are happy to announce that we will be marching with our LGBT allies as part of both the Metro Manila Pride March (Dec. 6) and the QC Pride March (Dec. 13). We march in the hope that homophobic discrimination will one day be eradicated from civil society.

Turing 2

The Filipino Freethinkers #ThanksTuring Pride March Shirts

To celebrate Alan Turing’s contributions to science and technology, and to bring awareness to the unfair prosecution of great men and women of the LGBT, the Filipino Freethinkers will be marching with Alan Turing shirts and banners.

We invite everyone to join our contingent in expressing our support for the LGBT community.

 

If you would like to march as part of the Filipino Freethinkers contingent in the 2014 Metro Manila Pride March, please visit our event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/624376127673564/

If you would like to march as part of the Filipino Freethinkers contingent in the QC Pride March 2014, please visit our event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/485520478255588/

Posted in Advocacy, Freedom of Expression, Gender Rights, Science, Society0 Comments

A Conversation with Paul Bloom

A Conversation with Paul Bloom

This week, we talk with Paul Bloom, Yale professor of psychology and cognitive science. We discuss whether religion is necessary to be moral, why politicians are babies, and if the Internet makes us better people.

Posted in Media, Religion, Science, Society, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 57 (Audio): Three Questions That Predict Atheism

FF Podcast 57 (Audio): Three Questions That Predict Atheism

FF Podcast 57: Three Questions That Predict Atheism

Red woke up one day and forgot he was an atheist. Thank goodness for tests!

This week, we discuss three questions that supposedly predict whether you are an atheist. We talk about analytic thinking and whether atheists are smarter than believers.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Philosophy, Religion, Society0 Comments

Atheist Confession: “I like Pope Francis.”

Pope-Francis-GETTYI’m going to say something many of my fellow secularism advocates would probably not appreciate: I like Pope Francis.

Why?

I like Pope Francis because, in my opinion, he is more liberal than many liberals. American conservatives already hate him for his seemingly liberal position on many issues. He’s so liberal that Sarah Palin is actually taken aback by what she calls his “liberal agenda.” The Pope is so liberal that writer Damian Thompson, in an article he wrote for “The Spectator,” had to ask if we were in the early stages of a Catholic civil war.

Apparently, even Catholics think the Pope is too liberal. Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes:

“Some have given up on Pope Francis. Others say he is ‘the false prophet’ who will accompany the anti Christ in the end times. Others don’t like his dress sense, grumble about his media gaffes and some think they are all intentional and that he is a very shrewd Jesuit who wants to undermine the Catholic faith.”

I like Pope Francis because he openly criticized Capitalism and even compared it to “the worship of the ancient golden calf”:

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

I like Pope Francis because he did a lot of cool stuff in 2013.

Mark Pygas wrote an article about the Pope in Distractify and among the highlights include:

He criticized the Church’s frivolous spending. He let a boy with Down’s Syndrome ride the Popemobile. He denounced the judgment for homosexuals. He encouraged the protection of the Amazon Rainforest. He acknowledged that atheists can be good people. He condemned the global financial system. He amended the Vatican law to make sexual abuse of children a crime, and also established a committee specifically to fight that kind of abuse. He declared that the Church has an unhealthy obsession with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. He broke tradition by performing the ritual washing of feet on women and Muslims.

I like Pope Francis because the things he did, which earned him “Person of the Year” honors, are things that I have, in my own little way, been trying to do as well: denounce judgment for homosexuals; bust myths about the “evil” atheists; criticize corporate greed, government corruption, and the sexual abuse of children by the clergy; point out the Church’s irrational position on abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.

The Pope and I are like bros, you see? We have been supporting some similar advocacies, the only difference is, he does it even better than I do – with a much bigger platform and with greater effect.

I can honestly say that Pope Francis did a lot more for secularism than many advocates of secularism, including me.

Because of the Pope, it’s now extremely easy for me to discuss evolution and the Big Bang with Catholics. Before, they could just avoid the conversation entirely, claiming that it’s a “matter of religious belief.” Now, I can conveniently remind them that the Pope, the leader of their religious affiliation, agrees with me.

Apart from those, I also like that the Pope “revised” the Ten Commandments:

1. “Live and let live.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life.

4. Develop a healthy sense of leisure.

5. Sundays should be holidays.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people.

7. Respect and take care of nature.

8. Stop being negative.

9. Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs.

10. Work for peace.

Now, before our readers declare me as a gullible, atheist, Pope-fanboy, I should clarify that I’m not declaring the Pope as the second coming of Chuck Norris. As much as I like him personally, I’m aware that there are reasons to get off the bandwagon.

In the article, “5 reasons you should stay off the Pope Francis bandwagon,” writer Timothy McGrath provides a breakdown of “concerns” regarding Pope Francis. McGrath reports that:

1. There are unanswered questions regarding the Pope’s inaction during the Dirty War in Argentina.

2. The Pope handles child sex abuse poorly.

3. The Pope’s current views on abortion and gay marriage is inconsistent with his previous stance.

4. The Pope continues the “inquisition” against American nuns.

5. The Pope may have performed a live exorcism.

And it seems too, that the Pope has recently backtracked on his liberal stance. Nick Squires, in his news article, “Pope: Children Need Mother and a Father,” reports that:

“Pope Francis appeared to bow to pressure from Catholic conservatives on Monday when he delivered a robust affirmation of the importance of the traditional family.”

I think that’s a little disappointing, but I’m still giving Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt.

Some people think that Pope Francis is just an extremely talented, one-man Catholic propaganda machine. I’m not ruling out that possibility. It’s entirely possible that he has an army of publicists and public relations specialists that script every single response and gesture that the Pope makes, even when cameras are not around, in order to convince the world that he is a good person.

Yes, that’s entirely possible.

If that were the case, he’s been doing a really good job. In fact, he seems to do it without much effort, which leads me to think that maybe, just maybe, he’s just a regular good person who just happened to be Pope.

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I tried very hard to hate the Pope as soon as he was elected. I wanted to hate him, not because of anything he did (he hadn’t done anything yet when I first decided to hate him), but simply because of a personal bias. I didn’t like the Pope, because I don’t like Catholicism, and the Church, and anything that is associated with what I consider to be symbols of oppression and subjugation. I didn’t like the Pope, because he was supposed to be the bad guy. I didn’t like the Pope because I was prejudiced.
In my desire to criticize religious organizations and promote my own agenda, I became similar to the homophobes who would hate someone just because they were gay, or self-righteous bigots who would assume the worst of atheists just because they were atheists. I hated the Pope just because he was Pope, and it was wrong of me to do so.

When I asked myself, “If Pope Francis weren’t Pope, would I like him as a person?” I realized that I like him.

He has a Master’s Degree in Chemistry. He believes in the Big Bang and evolution. He thinks atheists can be good people. He says that the Church shouldn’t be so obsessed with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. He’s not afraid of the mafia. He doesn’t like capitalism and America thinks he’s a Marxist.

What’s not to like?

I realized that the only thing I didn’t like about him was the fact that he was Pope. If he were my college professor, or my neighbor, or my boss, I would probably like him. In fact, if I were single and the Pope was a girl around my age, I would totally ask her out.

So, I guess I’m an agnostic/atheist who’s a fan of the Pope. Is that weird?

 

Image Source:

http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article8629389.ece/alternates/w620/Pope-Francis-GETTY.jpg

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Politics, Pop Culture, Religion, Secularism, Society4 Comments

FF Podcast 57: Three Questions That Predict Atheism

FF Podcast 57: Three Questions That Predict Atheism

This week, we discuss three questions that supposedly predict whether you are an atheist. We talk about analytic thinking and whether atheists are smarter than believers.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Podcast, Religion, Science, Society0 Comments

Money Can Buy Happiness

A few days ago, I published the article “Nothing Will Make You Happy,” which introduced readers to a controversial claim made by Harvard professor of psychology, Dan Gilbert. In the TedTalk, “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” Gilbert stated that after a year, a paraplegic and a lottery winner will have similar capacities for happiness.

The reason for this is because human beings have developed a psychological immune system that automatically distorts our perception of our own circumstances, automatically making positive perceptions of even bad situations. He called this kind of happiness – synthetic happiness. What this information implies is that external situations do not necessarily affect a person’s capacity for happiness.

The notion that one can be happy even if one was poor, or ugly, or obese, or unhealthy, or unsuccessful, is very comforting for the least motivated of us – me, at least.

However, Gilbert also mentioned the effect of freedom on our capacity for synthesizing happiness. People with less freedom find it easier to rationalize their situation. People with more freedom are not as good with creating synthetic happiness. Knowing that making one choice over another will not improve your situation, your brain starts to rationalize why it’s okay to stop trying because “this isn’t so bad.” But as long as we know that we are capable of acquiring or achieving more, we will inevitably be unsatisfied with our current status. My own freedom and “potential” may be preventing me from achieving a perfect state of synthetic happiness.

Now, I’ll still be as capable of happiness as a rich person even if I was poor. Yes, I can still be happy, but overwhelming evidence suggests that I’ll be happier if I was not poor.

Happiness and sadness are not two sides of a coin. These states exist in a spectrum. Some are simply happier than others. The problem with happiness is that it’s not easy to measure because there are plenty of factors that can increase or decrease happiness. It’s hard to tell what exactly makes a person happy.

The article, “Money, Marriage, Kids,” by Chuck Leddy, for example, explains how having money, being married, and having children can influence a person’s happiness. So, a rich person who isn’t married, and has no children, may self-report less happiness than a person with less (but enough) money, who is married and has children.

We’re not going to be 100% sure what makes other people happy, but there is evidence that there is a positive correlation between money and happiness.

MONEY
 

In 2008, Justin Wolfers, an Australian economist and public policy scholar, wrote a six-part article series called, “The Economics of Happiness”, in Freakonomics.com:

Part 1: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox

Part 2: Are Rich Countries Happier than Poor Countries?

Part 3: Historical Evidence

Part 4: Are Rich People Happier than Poor People?

Part 5: Will Raising the Incomes of All Raise the Happiness of All?

Part 6: Delving Into Subjective Well-Being

If you’re not inclined to read all of that evidence, you can find a summary of the same data in The New York Times article, “Maybe Money Does Buy Happiness After All,” by David Leonhardt.

If you don’t want to read that either, here’s Wolfers’ conclusions:

The facts about income and happiness turn out to be much simpler than first realized:

1) Rich people are happier than poor people.
2) Richer countries are happier than poorer countries.
3) As countries get richer, they tend to get happier.

Moreover, each of these facts seems to suggest a roughly similar relationship between income and happiness.

There is no ambiguity here. Money makes people happy. However, it’s still possible to have plenty of money and not be happy.

In a research paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (2011), Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert, and Timothy D. Wilson suggested that “If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right.”

In the same paper they proposed very useful recommendations on how people can maximize the amount of happiness they buy with their money. The abstract of the study reads as:

“The relationship between money and happiness is surprisingly weak, which may stem in part from the way people spend it. Drawing on empirical research, we propose eight principles designed to help consumers get more happiness for their money. Specifically, we suggest that consumers should (1) buy more experiences and fewer material goods; (2) use their money to benefit others rather than themselves; (3) buy many small pleasures rather than fewer large ones; (4) eschew extended warranties and other forms of overpriced insurance; (5) delay consumption; (6) consider how peripheral features of their purchases may affect their day-to-day lives; (7) beware of comparison shopping; and (8) pay close attention to the happiness of others.”

To conclude, here’s a quick FAQ for possible questions that might still be lingering in the reader’s mind:

Is a poor person as equally capable of happiness as a rich person? Yes.
Is it possible for a poor person to be happier than a rich person? Yes.
Would poor people be happier if they had more money? Yes.
Are poor people, on average, just as happy as rich people? No.

There is no single path to happiness.

One can earn it through achievements, one can find it in marriage and in children, one can “synthesize” happiness out of “nothing,” and it turns out, one can also buy it (as long as one knows what kind of purchases provide happiness).

So, to those who have plenty of money, here’s a terrible pun, “Happy shopping!”

 

Image Source:

http://younginvestorsoftoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/money-buys-happiness.gif

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Science, Society0 Comments

“Nothing” Will Make You Happy

HappyI live from paycheck-to-paycheck. I don’t make a lot of money. I don’t own a lot of useful things – mostly cards and toys. I do not own a television. The only furniture in my room is a bed on the floor. It doesn’t have a bed frame. Most of my immediate family are abroad. The only family I have here, in the Philippines, is my brother. I see him once a week. I have no savings. I’m rather obese; obese II to be exact. I’m 31. Friends of mine from college run businesses, own homes, have started families, have travelled to many places. I, on the other hand, don’t have any savings. In fact, if my mom doesn’t send me a few bucks each month, I won’t be able to pay my rent.

In other words, I’m not one would call a “success story,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people thought I was kind-of a loser.

The weird thing is, I’ve always considered myself a happy person. Despite the fact that I’m often broke, overweight, and getting old, I’m happy. The only time I feel genuinely sad or anxious is when I get into an argument with my girlfriend, or when someone dies, or when I have to take an exam I’m not prepared for, or when the Netrunner data pack I wanted was out of stock. I sometimes think that there’s something wrong with me, because I don’t get as sad or as anxious as most adults do.

When I published the article, “Sad, Sad World,” a few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked, “Are human beings supposed to be sad, by default?” I said, “Our brains are more efficient at retaining memories of negative events and experiences, so, yes.” “Then, why am I not sad?” she asked. I didn’t really have an answer.

I thought about the same thing. I realized that my understanding of what makes people sad and happy is rather incomplete. So, I did more research.

Yesterday morning, I came across the TedTalk, “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” by Dan Gilbert. In this TedTalk, Gilbert challenges common notions of what creates happiness. He claims that we are generally unaware of what makes us happy, we don’t know makes us sad, and we overestimate how negative experiences might affect our capacity for happiness.

He shares data that supports the notion that human beings have what he calls a “psychological immune system.” He claims that human beings have developed a mechanism that allows them to feel better about their own circumstances.

Gilbert begins his talk by asking the audience to make a choice between two different scenarios:

“Here’s two different futures that I invite you to contemplate, and you can try to simulate them and tell me which one you think you might prefer. One of them is winning the lottery. This is about 314 million dollars. And the other is becoming paraplegic.”

He then makes the claim that, after one year, both paraplegics and lottery winners are equally happy. In other words, a person’s capacity for happiness is not limited by his or her circumstances. In fact, studies reveal that most people have a tendency to overestimate the amount of misery they’ll experience from negative events.

Gilbert says:

“From field studies to laboratory studies, we see that winning or losing an election, gaining or losing a romantic partner, getting or not getting a promotion, passing or not passing a college test, on and on, have far less impact, less intensity and much less duration than people expect them to have.”

Another interesting notion Gilbert discussed is the distinction between natural happiness and synthetic happiness. Natural happiness is the positive feelings we gain from getting the things that we want. Synthetic happiness is, in my opinion, a fancy term for “sweet lemons.”

The idea of “sweet lemons” is rumored to have emerged from the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” The idea of “sweet lemons” has a negative implication, however. It implies that a person has successfully fooled himself into thinking positively about undeniably bad circumstances. Similarly, a lot of people are skeptical about synthetic happiness. As Gilbert says, “We smirk because we believe that synthetic happiness is not of the same quality as what we might call “natural happiness.”

We assume that people who cherish their sweet lemons can’t possibly be as happy as people who are happy because of external reasons (wealth, health, fame, beauty, etc). That’s the very notion Gilbert is challenging. He says:

“I want to suggest to you that synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for.”

The point Gilbert is trying to make is that a lot of people erroneously consider happiness as something that could be found or earned, when, in fact, it’s something that one can simply create. While most people think that external circumstances determine happiness, Gilbert presents evidence that prove the opposite.

Everyone has a psychological immune system that can synthesize happiness. However, Gilbert reminds us that not all immune systems are created equal. Some people do it better than others, and some situations are more ideal for such synthesis to occur.

Gilbert says:

“It turns out that freedom — the ability to make up your mind and change your mind — is the friend of natural happiness, because it allows you to choose among all those delicious futures and find the one that you would most enjoy. But freedom to choose — to change and make up your mind — is the enemy of synthetic happiness.”

Having more freedom allows you to take the necessary steps to achieve natural happiness, while having less freedom, or being unable to change your situation, forces your psychological immune system to synthesize happiness from within.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

In “Sad, Sad World,” I discussed how our brains are geared to pay more attention to negativity, so we have a tendency to notice and recall negative experiences and events more often. However, based on “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” our happiness can function independently from the negative experiences and events we encounter.

So, essentially, you can acquire natural happiness from fulfilling your dreams and goals. But you can also acquire, or synthesize, happiness should you fail to fulfill these goals. In other words, “nothing” can make you happy just as much as “something” can, because we have a built-in happiness synthesizer that can turn our existential lemons into lemonade. Pretty sweet, don’t you think?

 

Sources:

Gilbert, D. (2004). “The Surprising Science of Happiness.” Retrieved on November 10, 2014. From: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy?language=en

Kay, A. Jimenez, M. Jost, J. (2002).  “Sour Grapes, Sweet Lemons, and the Anticipatory Rationalization of the Status Quo.” Retrieved on November 10, 2014. From: http://www.psych.nyu.edu/jost/Kay,_Jiminez,_&_Jost_%282002%29_Sour_Grapes_Sweet_Lemons.pdf

 

Image Source:
http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/images/i/000/003/984/i02/happy-worker.jpg?1369767137

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Science, Society5 Comments

Quick, Delete Your Hentai!

“Oh no! My childhood is ruined!” I never could relate with people who claim that they’ve been robbed of something precious when they find out certain details about shows they enjoyed as kids: things like the incestuous implications of Finding Nemo, or the fact that the cast of Power Rangers (who many thought were all martial arts experts) were never involved in the fight scenes, or being told that Santa wasn’t real.

However, the other day, someone told me about Voltron porn. I don’t mean robots having sex (although I’m sure they have that as well), I’m talking about the Voltron pilots having sex. It made me upset. See, when I was a kid, all I wanted was to marry Princess Allura from Voltron.

Hentai Image 1

Princess Allura

At night, before I went to sleep, I thought of Allura. I imagined giving her a necklace or a bracelet, and she would say, “Thank you,” and I remember being extremely happy about that. I think Princess Allura was the first woman I desired, or had a crush on, or maybe even loved in a romantic way.

Now, I understand what those people, those who claimed that their childhood was ruined, felt. I don’t want to see Princess Allura, naked, having an orgy with the rest of the Voltron team. If I were to describe how I felt, it’s something along the lines of, “Some asshole decided to piss on the purity and innocence of my seven-year-old romantic feelings.”

Does it bother me that some douchebags make porn of Princess Allura? Hell, yeah! Do I think that people who possess pornographic material of Princess Allura should go to jail? Um, no. In fact, I think it’s normal to watch cartoon porn. I think some people need a harmless means of fulfilling a childhood fantasy.

I get it.

This picture, for example, makes me sort-of nostalgic, and sort-of happy, and a little bothered, and a little aroused:

Hentai Image 2

Childhood ruined?

It’s rather jarring, this image. I’m forced to see Princess Allura in a completely different light, and my childhood and current world views are on a collision course. It’s like someone transported my childhood consciousness from the past into my present body, forcing it into adulthood in 10 seconds. It makes me feel odd, but I don’t think it’s wrong.

I’m aware that some people like Sailor Moon hentai, and some people like Teen Titans hentai, and some people like My Little Pony hentai. I wouldn’t be surprised if these people kept copies of these cartoons. I think it’s normal. What I find disturbing is not what these cartoons depict, but the information that people could go to jail for having hentai.

Rossa Minogue discussed the case of Robul Hoque in the article, “Robul Hoque: sentenced for a thought crime.”

Minogue reports:

“During the trial, Hoque’s barrister, Richard Bennett, insisted that the material was available on legal pornographic websites and the presiding judge, Tony Biggs, emphasized that ‘no actual children or perpetrators [were] involved’. Even so, the judge believed that the possession of the ‘repulsive’ comics and cartoons were worthy of a prison sentence, because, he said, anything that may encourage child abuse should be ‘actively discouraged’.”

I think that’s absurd. What this ruling means is that people could go to jail for possessing naked cartoon images of Sailor Moon and her friends. Usagi Tsukino, the lead character in the series, is only 14 years old, and if you own pornographic cartoons with her image, you could go to jail too.

No, seriously. You really could:

Republic Act No. 9775 – Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009

Section 3. Definition of Terms. –
For the purpose of this Act, a child shall also refer to:
(1) a person regardless of age who is presented, depicted or portrayed as a child as defined herein; and
(2) computer-generated, digitally or manually crafted images or graphics of a person who is represented or who is made to appear to be a child as defined herein.

With regard to child porn, the law does not distinguish between cartoons and real people. Sailor Moon hentai is also child porn.

As for Hoque, his only crime was something a lot of people do on a regular basis, which is to download hentai. In my opinion, Hoque is a threat to children as much as people who watch “My Little Pony” porn are a threat to ponies, and as much as people who are into pixie porn (porn about elves, pixies, and other fantasy creatures having sex) is a threat to pixies. Speaking of pixie porn, another guy was sent to jail for watching fairies fuck.

I don’t think that’s right. Just because a person likes to see sexualized images of talking ponies, doesn’t mean that they’ll start having sex with actual ponies.

Minogue says:

“People getting off on cartoons is in itself very odd. And the fact that the images and animations Hoque possessed depicted children makes it all the more creepy. However, apart from Hoque’s two prosecutions for possession of erotic art depicting children, he has no convictions for child abuse, possession of actual child pornography, or convictions for anything else, for that matter. In other words, there is no reason to believe he is a threat to children.”

This sets a very dangerous precedent. Hoque did not harm anyone, but was convicted anyway because naked cartoons of young girls gave him a hard-on. He’s now listed as a sex-offender, a label usually assigned to child molesters and rapists. However, he was not convicted because he committed a sex crime, but because he kept hentai. That’s weirder than having erotic experiences with cartoons.

Now, tell me, should we start telling our friends to start deleting their hentai?

 

Image Sources:

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/236x/85/07/cf/8507cfacc87f25954db38c60e4f5f248.jpg

http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/cleoius/687725/3980/3980_320.jpg

Posted in Personal, Politics, Pop Culture, Society3 Comments

Post-Sex Pillow Talk & Other Things Couples Should Practice Before They Get Married

SEX“I like sex.” Not a lot of Filipinos can make such a statement in public without feeling a little bit of embarrassment. Not a lot of Filipinos are willing to admit that sex plays a vital role in their personal happiness.

My formative years were spent in a Christian school and, as a child, I was trained to see sex as something dirty, embarrassing and undignified. I transferred to a secular school for High School, but “sex” was still one of the bad words that, upon mention, could result in a trip to the guidance counselor.

In high school, sex was a dirty little secret that many of us were curious about. We would huddle behind the gym and talk about sex, while we tried to smoke our first cigarettes. Some boys would talk about porn, and it was a big deal then to have seen porn, because the Internet has yet to make it accessible. We said “sex” in whispers and low voices, because that’s how we thought sex should be discussed – secretly.

It would take some time before I developed a healthier attitude towards sex, an attitude that was free of the embarrassment and shame I associated with it because of how my environment responded to the word. In a conservative, self-proclaimed, Catholic country, not a lot of people are open to sexual discourse. In fact, many people feel that having actual sex is easier than talking about sex. Needless to say, a lot of people are missing out on important information.

 

Sex like Vegetables

Having sex is like eating vegetables. Vegetables can burn calories, improve our immune system, and lower the risk for many diseases, including cancer. Sex can do all of that too. Furthermore, sex reduces stress and can even help us sleep.

Most people, couples even, underestimate the value of sex within the relationship. In fact, when choosing a mate, it’s not even something we mention. None of us would openly admit that, “I’d like to have a partner I’ll have fun having lots of sex with.” Sexual compatibility is still a severely underrated factor in the success of a marriage.

In fact, some people still think that marrying before sex is a good idea.

I don’t think it is a good idea to marry someone you haven’t had sex with. In my opinion, sexual compatibility is just as important (if not more important) to the success of a relationship as having similar values or sharing common interests.

 

Sex All Day, Sex Every Day

In the article, “The Ins and Outs of Sexual Frequency,” Dr. Amy Muise explains that frequent sex actually protects people from the negative effects of neuroticism. A neurotic person has a high tendency to experience anxiety and depression. According to studies, this quality has the worst effect on the quality of a romantic relationship. Thankfully, frequent sex buffers against these effects.

Aside from that, Muise explains:

“In addition, both men and women report greater sexual satisfaction and higher levels of overall relationship happiness when they have more sex. But, this goes both ways: satisfied couples have sex more often and frequent sex leads to increases in sexual satisfaction.

One problem with estimates of sexual frequency is that they often only consider the frequency of sexual intercourse. As we discussed previously, many different activities are considered sex (e.g., oral sex, genital touching) and expanding definitions of sex can be beneficial. In a recent study of long-term couples, the frequency of affectionate behaviors such as kissing, cuddling and caressing were also associated with increased sexual satisfaction for both men and women.”

Sexual frequency is important, but our notions of “frequency” is varied. Some couples think that having sex twice a week is too much, while others think it isn’t enough. Muise explains, “If you’re happy with how often you’re getting some, then it doesn’t really matter what others do.”

That’s precisely one of the reason’s why sexual compatibility is important. We have to be familiar and comfortable with how often our partner desires to have sex.

 

Talk Dirty to Me

Here’s an interesting fact: the sounds we make while having sex could enhance our partner’s sexual pleasure. In another study, it was learned that communicating one’s sexual preferences during sex is linked to one’s own sexual satisfaction.

In the article, “Let’s Talk About Sex…During Sex,” Dr. Amy Muise explains “that moaning, groaning, and words of encouragement during sex enhance your partner’s sexual pleasure.”

In the same article, Muise reports that sexual self-disclosure is important to sexual satisfaction. It’s important that our partner is aware of what we find pleasurable. For some couples, these discussions happen outside the bedroom. But studies reveal that it’s just as important for such sexual communication to happen “in the moment.”

Muise explains:

“The researchers found that even a small amount of anxiety can influence the degree to which you communicate pleasure with your partner during sex, and improving these communication skills may have positive results for your sex life.”

 

Pillow Talk

It’s not just sexual frequency or the quality of communication during sex that can influence relationship satisfaction. What we say to our partners after sex also matters.

In the article, “Pillow Talk Speaks A Lot About Your Relationship,” Jana Lembke discusses how pillow talk is a good indicator of relationship satisfaction. One study predicted that positive disclosures following sex would be associated with greater trust and closeness between partners.

The study revealed that:

The more couples engaged in positive pillow talk, the higher they rated their trust for their partner, their level of closeness, and their general relationship satisfaction.

A woman’s orgasm greatly influences her willingness to engage in positive disclosures. The study shows that, with regard to pillow talk, it doesn’t matter how a woman’s orgasm was achieved (whether through intercourse or another form of stimulation). However, women who didn’t orgasm had a tendency to engage in negative pillow talk toward their partner, while women who did orgasm made more positive pillow talk.

Couples who are monogamous and committed engaged in more positive disclosures after sex and reported higher relationship satisfaction after pillow talk.

 

Sex Before Marriage

In my opinion, there are three things you would want to know about your partner before you marry them:

1. You would want information about a partner’s sex drive. This is important because having a partner who wants to have sex as often as you do has an impact on your happiness and relationship satisfaction.

2. You would want to know how willingly your partner communicates, verbally and non-verbally, his or her sexual needs. This is important because your partner’s willingness to express his or her sexual appreciation can increase your overall sexual satisfaction.

3. You would want to know whether or not your partner engages in positive disclosures, positive pillow talk, after sex. This is important because positive disclosures done after sex increases a couples level of closeness, trust, and relationship satisfaction.

However, this is information that you’ll only have access to after you have sex with him/her.

There is nothing wrong with safe, consensual sex, between adults. There is nothing wrong with valuing sexual compatibility. I think it’s time to shed the negative attitudes we developed towards sex because of our indoctrination into various religions. Marrying before sex increases the likelihood that we end up with people we’re not sexually compatible with.

Why risk that, when we can simply do a little “research?”

 

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http://i.imgur.com/X4Mmk.jpg

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Science, Society1 Comment

FF Podcast 55 (Audio): Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

FF Podcast 55 (Audio): Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

FF Podcast 55 - Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

There’s a new bible story film adaptation. Will you see it? This week, we talk about Christian Bale calling Moses, his character in Exodus: Gods and Kings, a schizophrenic and a barbarian.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Entertainment, Media, Pop Culture, Religion, Society0 Comments

Why We Tinder

In my youth, I have dabbled a bit in the study of human attraction. I’ve always been fascinated with how complex human interactions progress from the first encounter, to the escalation of desire, to its consummation, and eventual decline.

How do you go from meeting a person you know nothing about, to deciding to share a bed, to committing to spend the rest of your life with this person?

“There has to be some magic there, somehow,” I thought. “There has to be something, a mystical, mysterious force, an erotic demon spirit maybe, that compels people to gaze at each other lovingly, in anticipation of joy, and comfort, and love, and every wonderful promise that the world can offer.”

Then, I heard about Tinder.

tinder-slide“Tinder is an online dating app that uses your Facebook profile to match you with people who are nearby and who have similar interests,” a friend explains to me. It seems simple enough, right? You swipe left for people you’re not attracted to, and swipe right for people you are attracted to.

One of its main features is that it only allows you to chat with people who already find you attractive. This may sound a little funny, but this simple dating app has inadvertently revealed a lot about people, in general.

 

Dating Sucks for Everyone

In an article from News.Mic, Erin Brodwin discusses how “New Research Reveals the One Simple Reason Tinder Is So Addictive.” One simple reason for the massive success of Tinder is that it skips the agony of trying to figure out whether or not a person you are physically attracted to is also attracted to you.

Brodwin reports:

“In a recent study from the University of Kansas, heterosexual men and women could tell pretty easily — 80% of the time — when someone wasn’t interested. But when someone was flirting, the other person rarely — 36% of the time for men and just 18% of the time for women — had a clue.”

In other words, we know, almost to a certainty when someone doesn’t like us. However, It appears that the “flirting” stage of the romantic pursuit that’s often glamorized in many Hollywood movies as something supposedly exciting and fun, is mostly confusing and dreadful in real life. We’re just not as confident and self-assured as the characters we see on film.

To make matters worse, just in case we do sum up the courage to talk to a complete stranger whose intentions, motivations, and desires in life is unknown to us, it’s still possible that they won’t like us, or that we’ll have absolutely nothing in common with them.

Brodwin adds that, “Dating is impossible. It’s the worst game adults have invented for themselves since hunting and gathering.”

I agree. I wonder how many hours the human race could have collectively saved if none of them wasted any time trying to win over someone who wasn’t attracted to them.

 

Why Tinder Works

Tinder works because it removes a lot of these unknown variables out of the equation. It uses an algorithm that arranges your selection pool according to similar interests and proximity. Furthermore, once you have a match, you no longer have to agonize over whether or not this person finds you attractive. A match is a match. At the very least, this person is “okay” with your face.

In the article, “The Science Behind 3 Popular Dating Apps,” Dr. Gary Lewandowski discusses the science behind Tinder. He mentions three scientific facts that make Tinder a very efficient application for seeking potential partners.

1) Tinder prioritizes matches with people you already have similar interests with, and “similarity plays a large role in attraction.”

2) Tinder makes suggested matches based on physical proximity. Lewadowski writes that, “the available research suggests that we are more attracted to those who live nearby.”

3) Tinder matches you with people who already like you. This feature, by itself, saves millions and millions of neurotic, insecure, individuals from obsessing about whether someone likes them on the most basic level, physically. But apart from that, Lewadowski adds that, “Matches on Tinder also benefit from the principle of reciprocity (i.e., liking those who like you), which research suggests also increases attraction.”

 

Tinder is Brutal

There is, however, one thing about Tinder that not a lot of people talk about. It’s fucking brutal. You are given the power to evaluate and make judgments on a person’s date-worthiness based on their appearance. What if you don’t find a match after swiping right through a hundred profiles? If you’re familiar with the logarithm that the program uses (more often than not, it puts those who “liked” you at front-end of your selection pool), the whole thing becomes a little depressing.

Human beings have always had an instinct to make judgments about people based on a first impression. In the real world, it’s quite common for people to observe their environment and the people near them. Regardless of how often it happens though, people aren’t really comfortable with the snap-judgments other people make about them.

Tinder’s brutality lies in its unremitting honesty. It allows people to comfortably revert to the primal instinct of selecting mates based on how they look like. After some time on Tinder, an individual would inevitably realize that he or she is only really interested in a person’s hobbies, or interests, or witty remarks about themselves, AFTER said person has been deemed as cute, or pretty, or handsome enough to warrant additional interest. In my opinion, the practice of casually rejecting human beings develops a habit of dismissal: “This one’s too fat, too thin, too old, too dark, too poor, too slutty, too religious, too vain, has too many selfies, etc, ad infinitum.” This illusion of abundance makes it quite easy to forget that none of us are entitled to perfection.

Tinder also reveals what we’ve all known all along, but never had the audacity to say. It’s not a level playing field. At the end of the day, we “like” good looking people, and select mates based on what physical attributes we find attractive. There’s no such thing as “game” or “seduction” on Tinder. All that jazz happens after you’re evaluated as physically worthy to be given the opportunity to seduce or woo. In the business of desire, your face is your resume, and you won’t get an interview if you don’t pass the initial screening process.

As Rachel Esco explains in her article, “LOVE & TECH: Is Tinder the death of romance in the technological age?”:

“We are currently experiencing a battle between efficiency and romance. Alas, we have the rise of Tinder, the savior to quench society’ thirst for unabashedly shallow, yet quick routes toward courtship. It epitomizes the death of organic dating.”

Whether or not “the death of organic dating” is something that we should lament is a matter of perspective. Furthermore, we cant completely claim that Tinder is devoid of romance. I mean, marriages have happened due to Tinder.

But, in my opinion, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Tinder has paved the way for a very primal version of human mate selection – simple, brutal, and extremely efficient. For some, finding “The One” could be as easy as swiping right instead of left.

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Politics, Science, Society0 Comments

Sad, Sad World

“The goal towards which the pleasure principle impels us – of becoming happy – is not attainable: yet we may not – nay, cannot – give up the efforts to come nearer to realization of it by some means or other.”

– Sigmund Freud

Existential Crisis
 

When I was in college, a common expression among philosophy majors was the term “existential crisis.” It was used as a general term to explain everything you don’t actually want to explain. Why are you always drinking? Existential crisis. Why did you skip class? Existential crisis. Why didn’t you defend your thesis? Existential crisis. What’s wrong? Existential crisis.

We used the term “existential crisis” as an umbrella term for unpleasant emotions: depression, boredom, and anxiety. Looking back though, we used the term “existential crisis” mostly as a euphemism for unhappiness. So, now, 10 years later, I’m wondering why we ever needed a euphemism for unhappiness, and why were we so afraid to admit that some of us were unhappy.

Honestly, I was embarrassed to admit that I was unhappy because I was privileged, and I felt like I had no right to be unhappy. I was being told how fortunate I was that I was studying in DLSU, and that I had a bright future ahead of me. I was afraid that any reference to unhappiness on my part would be seen as a spoiled brat’s childish expressions of discontent – unnecessary whining. It was inordinately implied, by a lot of people I knew, that only those who were born less fortunate were entitled to unhappiness.

Another idea that was constantly hammered into my teenage brain was that we’re all responsible for our own happiness. To admit unhappiness was to admit to a personal failure. I’ve heard that a person who was unhappy was a person who didn’t pray enough, or didn’t work hard enough to be happy, or didn’t know how to be grateful for what he had.

In addition to the unhappiness I felt, I also felt guilty for being unhappy.

I’m here to tell you one fact that I wish someone told me when I was younger: “It’s normal to be unhappy. In fact, most people are, because our brain is geared towards negativity.”

 

Why is it so hard to be happy?

 

It’s so hard to be happy, because our brains were designed to focus on the negative.

Negative experiences are easier for our brains to recall than positive experiences. Some of us have to work very hard to fight off negative thoughts and negative feelings. We simply remember bad things, bad news, and bad experiences, more than we remember the good stuff.

Being young, or thin, or privileged does not make a person immune to negative thoughts and feelings.

In the article, “Our Brain’s Negative Bias,” Hara Estroff Marano mentions studies done by John Cacioppo, Ph.D, of the University of Chicago.

Marano writes:

“[Dr. Cacioppo] showed people pictures known to arouse positive feelings (say, a Ferrari, or a pizza), those certain to stir up negative feelings (a mutilated face or dead cat) and those known to produce neutral feelings (a plate, a hair dryer). Meanwhile, he recorded electrical activity in the brain’s cerebral cortex that reflects the magnitude of information processing taking place.”

The experiment revealed that there is a greater surge in electrical activity in the brain when the brain is exposed to stimuli it interprets as negative. In other words, we respond more to negativity than positivity.

Marano explains that the human tendency to retain negative information may have evolved in humans in order to help them survive. The brain evolved mechanisms to ensure that human beings are constantly aware of the dangers around them.

Here’s another fact I wish someone told me when I was younger: “If you’re feeling bad only half the time, you’re probably having five times more positive experiences than negative ones.”

 

Five to One

In the same article, Marano explains how the human tendency to recall negativity plays a powerful role in the relationships we have.

Marano writes:

“What really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other. Even couples who are volatile and argue a lot stick together by balancing their frequent arguments with a lot of demonstrations of love and passion. And they seem to know exactly when positive actions are needed.”

She later explains that the balance between happiness and unhappiness becomes more complicated when we include the disproportionate effect of negativity to the average brain. It’s not 50-50. The magic ratio, researchers have learned, is 5:1.

In order to find marital bliss, couples have to experience five times as many positive interactions for every negative interaction that they have.

Other researchers have found similar results when examining other areas of a person’s life. We need to be exposed to positive stimuli five times as often as negative stimuli in order to be “fine.” Furthermore, frequent positivity, even in small doses, has a lasting effect on a person’s happiness.

As Marano explains:

“Occasional big positive experiences—say, a birthday bash—are nice. But they don’t make the necessary impact on our brain to override the tilt to negativity. It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness.”

 

Civilization and Its Discontents

In any case, what these studies reveal is that people are geared towards unhappiness and discontent, by default. It’s normal to be unhappy, and it’s not entirely our fault if we are. Just because a person might be rich, or beautiful, or successful does not make him immune to unhappiness. Everyone’s entitled to his personal agonies, regardless of how “privileged” or “first world” some of these agonies are.

Furthermore, feelings of unhappiness is not an indicator of a personal failure. It could simply mean that a person has not been exposed to positive stimuli five times as often as he was exposed to negative stimuli. Given the amount of negativity we are exposed to just by browsing through the Facebook timeline (our friends’ rants, bad news, negative comments about a celebrity, scandal, gossip, etc.), it should be no surprise that we demand unrealistic amounts of positive stimuli just to be “not unhappy.”

In other words, we’re never going to reach a state of “happiness,” but as Freud has implied, that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

 

Image Source:

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lz5famE0P11qch9x6.png

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Science, Society1 Comment

Married Men, Transgender Women, and the Intricacies of Conditional Consent

In an article from telegraph.co.uk, Laura Perrins discusses how the legal definitions of both consent and rape is is changing. Apparently, courts are beginning to consider the notion of conditional consent.

What exactly is conditional consent?

Let’s say a woman agrees to have unprotected sex with a boyfriend given the condition that he withdraws and doesn’t ejaculate into her. She has given her boyfriend sexual consent, but only if the conditions for her consent are met. If the boyfriend decided not to withdraw, he violated the conditions of her consent, violated her, and has committed rape.

But what if a woman agrees to have unprotected sex with a boyfriend given the condition that he ejaculates into her? If the boyfriend decides to withdraw, has he violated her consent? Is it also rape?

The writer, herself, has her own apprehensions regarding how conditional consent is interpreted.

She says, “Does this new idea of ‘conditional consent’ include any condition being attached to the act? So if a woman only consents to sexual intercourse on the condition that they are in a relationship, which the defendant leads her to believe is true but in his mind there is no such relationship on the current law, this could be rape.”

I’m not here to argue whether or not such violations should be considered rape. The question I’m asking is what kind of information, and how much of this information, does a partner have a right to?

This is not a simple issue. What makes this issue more complicated is that different people have different conditions for sexual consent. Some people will only consent to sex with a partner of the same religion. Some people will only consent to have sex with partners from a given race. Some people will only consent to have sex with rich people.

Some prerequisites for consent are prejudiced, or even irrational. However, if these prerequisites are intentionally violated, whether through deception, manipulation, or physical force, can we all agree that it is unethical?

The issue of conditional consent raises some relevant concerns.

If a woman withholds the fact that she’s a porn star from her partner, knowing that her partner would hesitate to have intercourse with a porn star, is she committing a violation that should be punishable by law?

Should a transgender woman disclose her transgender status to a partner?

If we extend the idea of conditional consent to transgender relationships, would it mean that a transgender woman must ensure that her partner is open to having a romantic or sexual relationship with a transgender woman, before the transgender woman engages in romantic or sexual relationships with her partner?

Honestly, I’m on the fence regarding this issue.

In a conversation, a friend of mine argues that:

“Only situations where nondisclosure harms others, i.e. with HIV, ‘should’ a person disclose. In any other case, it’s their own private decision and none of anyone else’s business. Consider cases as mundane as having a third nipple. Or a micropenis. Or extra thick pubic hair. Which details should a person be obligated to disclose before having sex with another person, and is it really anyone else’s business to say, besides just being between those two people? It really depends on who you’re talking to. Some people don’t mind finding out certain things in bed, some people do. It’s a dynamic of sex and dating that people need to navigate, and aside from increasing the openness of society to the variety of people in the world, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business to tell anyone what they should/shouldn’t disclose to another person.”

I agree with him, in theory.

Although it’s outside my preferences, if I had relations with a transgender who I thought was a cisgender, not having this information probably won’t harm me. But, personally, I would prefer to find out if the person I’m about to have relations with is a transgender woman or a cisgender woman. I am neither entitled to that information nor is she obligated to provide me that information, but I would like to know anyway.

Even though I consider both the transgender woman and the cisgender woman real women, I would still prefer to have relations with a cisgender woman. I asked a friend if this preference for cis meant that I was transphobic. He replied, “If I refused to date a man am I a homophobe or just straight?”

Just to clarify, I do not prefer a cisgender woman because she is “more woman” than a transgender woman, neither am I making a distinction between a “real woman” and a “fake woman.” It’s not either/or, or black and white.

A person’s gender identity and sexual orientation exists in a spectrum. But people still have preferences. Some men are more heterosexual, some men are more homosexual, and some men are more transoriented.

In the same way that most homosexuals will not consent to have sex with women, some cisoriented men will not consent to have sex with transgender women. A homosexual man who refuses to sleep with a woman is not heterophobic. A man who refuses to sleep with a transgender woman is not transphobic. Both these men simply have preferences that exclude certain groups of people.

For the same reason that a transoriented man will probably prefer to be with a transgender than a cisgender woman, a heterosexual cisoriented man will probably prefer to be with a cisgender woman than a transgender woman.

There is nothing wrong with these preferences.

On Preferences

It’s unfair that some men prefer only cisgender women. It’s also unfair that some women prefer only men with jobs. People’s preferences are influenced by many biases: social class, purity myths, homophobia, transphobia, ignorance, religious intolerance, intellectual snobbery, etc. But what influences the prevalence of these preferences are irrelevant. What’s relevant is that regardless of how silly these preferences are, they are prerequisites for a person’s conditional consent.

One can make the argument that a cisgender woman’s conditional consent – “I only want to have sex with single men” – is often violated. That’s true. In fact, a lot of married men intentionally pretend to be single until they have sex with a woman. But the common occurrence of a violation does not make it less of a violation.

Married Man
 

It’s wrong that women who consent to having sex with single men sometimes end up having sex with people who turn out to be married men. But it’s also wrong that some men who consent to having sex with cisgender women sometimes end up having sex with transgender women.

Although I do not believe that people should be required to disclose harmless information that they don’t want to, I think that withholding information that you know is important to your partner is a violation of his or her consent, regardless of how trivial you think that information is. But, I could also be wrong.

What do you think?

 

Image Source:

http://listdose.com/10-useful-advices-for-newlyweds/

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FF Podcast 54 (Audio): Jennifer Laude was a Woman

FF Podcast 54 (Audio): Jennifer Laude was a Woman

FF Podcast 54 - Jennifer Laude was a Woman

Podcast host Red Tani is joined by sociologist Nicole Curato to discuss Jennifer Laude, her murder, and her identity as a woman.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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