Dec 032012
 

Ordinarily, I post these as they are … this time, I need to pass comment. For reasons which I understand, though with which I vehemently disagree, the editors of Gscene chose not to publish my article as originally submitted, even after having requested substantiation of my comments and claims. While they are understandably hesitant to invite legal challenge, I care not. Therefore, I present the original text I submitted, along with the actual published article, with particular attention being drawn to my paragraph relating to the “roman catholic church” – which I did not capitalise for a reason, the content of which has been diluted so far that it’s practically homeopathic and which offends me in its insipidness, and also to the paragraph regarding islam, again neutered like a bad dog, and this time edited so that it no longer even makes sense!

 

 

Canada Dry

And so man* created gods in his image. Unfortunately, that image is a jealous, violent, ill-educated, petty, belligerent, cruel and evil one. Not the better angels of our nature by any means.

Am I being unfair? Intemperate? I don’t think so … I can think of nothing that has caused more misery, suffering, hatred, distress, death or disfigurement in the whole of human history. Religion has – not just permitted, but – required; slavery, objectification of women, vilification of those of other or no religion, wars of aggression, loathing, ethnic cleansing, beating and murder of homosexuals, beating and subjugation of children, racism, cruel – nay criminal – mutilation of genitalia, xenophobia … the list is practically endless. No other aberration of reason and humanity can make such expansive and loathsome claims.

Born in the time of our utter ignorance of everything, offering facile (and fraudulent) claims to answer the difficult questions of existence, presenting false, shallow solace to those who are in pain, salving the pricked ego of those who’ve considered the possibility of “no more me”, religion has absolutely nothing going for it, save vague concepts of tradition, comfort and respect.

The leader of the roman catholic church is the criminal head of the world’s largest paedophile ring and protection racket; it’s only the mantle of religion, claiming as it does incomparable privilege and exemptions, which prevents this vile subhuman monster facing the punishment for his decades of crimes against humanity.

Those of the muslim faith, calling for the death of (admittedly rather bad) filmmakers and their supporters, stoning gays, throwing acid into the faces of women – nay, girls – “suspected” of looking at men in the “wrong” way, baying for the death of people who do nothing more than draw pictures, wallowing in their sheer pig-ignorance; were it not for the “shield of faith” which requires we respect their beliefs, they’d be viewed for what they are – barely more than animals.

In the USA, otherwise normal Americans who shoot and kill doctors in the name of the sanctity of life, previously loving parents who throw out their own children as being “better dead than gay”, a credible candidate for the Presidency who believes in magic underwear and that Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel (while an atheist is nigh unelectable); these bizarre, illogical conditions couldn’t exist absent the entrenched, privileged position of religion!

The litany is near endless. Religion makes its hay by valuing and prizing ignorance, eschewing reason and the search for knowledge, refusing to acknowledge that it is a world view, and making pseudo-factual claims about, well, everything and that as such it should be subject to the same evaluation of the evidence as any other such world view. Those of us who adhere to the view that, actually, no, if you believe in the power of intercessory prayer, or that the mind is separate from the brain, or that there is a “part” of you which continues after death, or that evolution is inaccurate, or that the earth is about 6,000 years old, then such beliefs should be challengeable (and challenged!) and tested are told that we are being disrespectful.

Why, yes. Yes, yes we are. Utterly disrespectful. So … what? I suffer at the hands of the brainless being disrespectful towards me; I’m a gay atheist – while there are certainly groups who suffer more disrespect, nonetheless I receive more than sufficient denigration from the religious. Which is their right; I may – and of course do – disagree with their beliefs and attitudes, but their right to hold their pernicious, antediluvian views is something I hold nearly sacred. As is my right to challenge it. Why the road doesn’t run two ways, I do not understand.

Or, perhaps I do. My views stand up to scrutiny, and I am able to defend them using logic; the corollary being that I will change my views if the evidence requires it. The views of the religious are nothing more than wishes and hopes, will o’ the wisp fantasies, castles of credulity, precariously balanced upon foundations of faith. As such, there are no arguments which can reasonably be brought to bear. There is no logical recourse for faith, belief, religion.

Perhaps the greatest mind of recent time speaking on the issue of religion and its maleficent influence in and on the world was, now sadly the late, Christopher Hitchens. A couple of his quotes may serve in a few words to state what I’ve tried to say in many:

“I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion, and organised religion.”

“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”

My own modest attempt at a pithy epithet: “Religion is the single greatest crime we have committed against ourselves.

 

So, to conclude, no, “jesus” most assuredly does not have a place in my heart, and religion can take a long walk of a non-existent pier; you can take “christmas” and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine; I’ll see my family around that time, because it’s nice to do so, and let’s face it, there’s nothing else to do anyway. But, religion?  Keep the fairy tales for the children, and let’s all grow the fuck up.

*Sexist pronoun excused on basis of poetic requirement.

 

 

 

 

 GScene - December 2012 - Canada Dry - Religion

 

Nov 182012
 

I highly recommend you pop over to “Inside Greg’s Brain” and have a read. It belongs to my friend Greg Cox, and he’s a lovely young chap; intelligent, educated – and striving to be more so – interested in the world in a variety of aspects and with a range of things to say on a variety of topics.

If that’s not enough, he’s also very cute, and soon to get braces . . .

Nov 022012
 

First things first, let me state for the record, I have most assuredly drunk the Kool-Aid, and am that most reviled of things, an Apple Fanboy. I tried to resist, wouldn’t try, touch the water, for so long.

My first foray into Apple-land was my MacBook – oh, it was a strange beast, things didn’t work in that Windows way to which I’d become so accustomed. But I adjusted rapidly and, with only two minor tweaks, am now completely happy with Mac OSX. More than, in fact.

iPhone – oh, pride went before a fall on this one! I had a BlackBerry, then an Android ‘phone, always advocating the open nature of this system compared to Apple. What a mistake!! In a year of owning my Android handset, it wasn’t available to me for over a month, as it was away being repaired, leaving me with as good as nothing!

I love my iPhone. It’s an iPhone 4, and there are some things I’d change, but overall it’s absolutely brilliant. Doesn’t require hacks, or constantly reinstalling the OS just to make the handset work. It’s beautiful, design wise, inside and out. It does, as the saying goes, just work.

So why am I disappointed?

 

Recent history …

 

OSX – Mountain Lion

I was happy to pay for this upgrade, especially given the low price. Some of the features (this also applies to iOS 6) were useful, especially the Facebook integration, made it worth having. Until, that is, the awful problems with Mail. It became almost unusable. It took me, with my not-too-great understanding of the behind the scenes issues, and a very dear friend who can navigate OSX almost blindfold, to make the app useable again. That’s not good. That’s not Apple.

iOS 6

Again, integration with social media FTW, as I believe the kids will have it. Very much to be desired.

However, having updated it, strange thing happened. Like, contact pictures randomly being reassigned to people. None of them is right. I’ve tried everything I can imagine to make it better to no avail. Even *new* contacts added are pulling contact pics from other people . . . I’m not sure how to address this.

Also, text expansion/keyboard shortcuts – I make great use of these. Email addresses, telephone numbers, etc. These are all things I love(d). And it’s not that they don’t work now; neither is it that they do; it’s that you can’t tell from one moment to another whether or not they will. That’s fucking annoying.

So when I saw today’s update to iOS 6.0.1 I thought it might finally address some of these really annoying factors and was happy to sign up. More Kool-Aid? Yes please!!

 

No.

 

The “problems” which it sought to address were to me nonexistent, and even were they to exist, far less problematic than those to which I’ve already referred. Nonetheless, I proceeded.

 

Agony. A – GO – NY!!

 

Over two hours of waiting for the update to install – via iTunes, not OTA – and eventually I had to give up. When restarting it, it failed to restore properly. I’m now trying to get my ‘phone back to where it began 2 hours ago.

 

Apple

I love Apple, and Apple products. I really do. I just feel like recently things have been rushed out too quickly, without being tested sufficiently. They’re starting to make me feel like a Windows/Android user, and if that’s what they want, then they need to charge Windows/Android prices. I’m happy to pay for the premium; provide it!

 

Oct 232012
 

Yesterday was the first time in far too long that I went to the theatre. It was also utterly convincing that I should go more often – what an utterly brilliant way to reintroduce myself to “cultcha”.

Having been introduced to Fascinating Aïda some six months ago or so, I was naturally already enamoured of them. If you’re not yet au fait, I highly recommend you familiarise yourself with them. Nonetheless, I had never seen them live.

Led by the utterly magnificent Dillie Keane, whose near 30 years at the helm don’t show at all, drives the troupe and the audience as one with a force and exuberance which belie her age, and shows how very “down with the kids” she actually is, throughout the 2 hours or so of the performance. Given her age, oeuvre and style, it is perhaps an unavoidable comparison, but her style is highly reminiscent of Victoria Wood. A woman of a certain age, sitting at a piano, singing satirically? Yeah, that’s Victoria Wood. Add in a wonderfully broad, rich vocabulary and a wonderful assumption that her audience will follow and understand what’s being said (rather than dumbing down and speaking to the lowest common denominator, as is so often the case) and the comparison becomes more cemented.

Yet, this is *not* Victoria Wood, rather a completely different experience. Dillie Keane is utterly and unapologetically Dillie Keane, and nobody else could be her. Her linguistic and pianistic dexterity are of an ilk with the marvellous Tim Minchin, and the subtle world-weariness and cynicism are completely in keeping with his work; however, whereas Minchin has a definite agenda, and message to impart (which is not in an wise a bad thing!), Keane is more sardonically observing and commenting, pointing out the insanity and hilarity of existence, touching briefly on its pointlessness though never sinking to depressiveness. Further to this, the content is updated and added to regularly, with portions of the “Bulgarian Folk Songs” last night referring to both the Lance Armstrong fiasco and George Osborne’s encounter with the proles on the train! Wonderful!

Adèle Anderson, the second longest serving (is it a sentence?) member of the group, adds a wonderful counterpoint to Keane’s slightly more polished persona and performance; vocally not the strongest performer, there is yet something wonderfully engaging about the gravelly, harsher aspects to her singing.

The “rotating” member of the troupe, currently Liza (with a ‘zee’) Pulman, complements the two older ladies, with both a youthful exuberance and a truly wondrous soprano voice; were she to star on the stages of the West End, she would seem not one jot out of place. As with Keane, Pulman’s upper class voice, decorous deportment, and slight priggishness (presumably accentuated for the purposes of the persona) contrast deliciously with the sheer filth of the humour of many of the songs (I’m thinking of YOU, Dogging!) adding to the almost guilty-secret of laughing at some of the content.

Were the show to consist solely of satire, that alone would be a joy; yet two of the songs were not at all satirical, rather absolutely touching and moving songs. “Goodbye Old Friends” had genuine tears in my eyes, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more genuine song anywhere.

The group will be touring again next year, for their 30th anniversary, and if you can’t see them before, see them then. Utter joy!

 

Autographed CD cover

 

May 162012
 

 

Once again: “Plausibility” does not mean “knowing the mechanism” : Respectful Insolence: “Now on ScienceBlogs: Teaching After The Test: An argument for a national school schedule

Last 24 Hrs Life Science Physical Science Environment Humanities Education Politics Medicine Brain & Behavior Technology Information Science Jobs RESPECTFUL INSOLENCE “A STATEMENT OF FACT CANNOT BE INSOLENT.” THE MISCELLANEOUS RAMBLINGS OF A SURGEON/SCIENTIST ON MEDICINE, QUACKERY, SCIENCE, PSEUDOSCIENCE, HISTORY, AND PSEUDOHISTORY (AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT INTERESTS HIM)Latest Posts Archives About RSS Contact Who (or what) is Orac? Orac is the nom de blog of a (not so) humble pseudonymous surgeon/scientist with an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent’s posterior about his miscellaneous verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few will. (Continued here, along with a DISCLAIMER that you should read before reading any medical discussions here.)

Orac’s old Blog is archived at Archived Insolence.

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(Via .)

May 162012
 

I’m rubber, you’re glue: “

Why do cult leaders and religious fanatics try to insult atheists by comparing atheism to a cult and atheists to religious fanatics?

Zealous atheists resemble religious fanatics.

Rabbi Dow Marmur

#Atheism is a cult with a small following.

Deepak Chopra

I really don’t get it. It’s as if I were to sneer at creationists by calling them scientists, or clobbered seminaries by referring to them as research institutions (those are things I would not do, by the way).

Rabbi, you’re a guy who has dedicated his life to learning arcane and largely irrelevant nonsense from holy books. You go through weekly (probably daily) religious rituals, you believe in improbable foolishness, you wear special garments — you’re a religious fanatic. My profession is educator: I spend every day putting together information and evaluating the work of my students. I dress as I will. I have no rituals, other than the deadlines dictated by the academic calendar. That I reject your brand of theology (and all brands of theology!) does not make me religious, nor does it make me a fanatic.

Chopra, you’re a guy who peddles feel-good woo to the gullible. You’ve got bizarre, unsubstantiated beliefs about a conscious universe that aspires to fulfill the desires of individual humans; you rake in big speaker’s fees and sell empty fluff in books to the fools who follow you. You’re a cult leader. Atheism tells people to think for themselves and learn about reality; we have a few people who rise to prominence in the movement by their words and actions, but they aren’t exactly leaders — they get barraged constantly with criticism by their fellow atheists.

So I’m a bit lost at what point those two loons are trying to make. Their comments don’t seem to fit atheists or atheism at all, but do apply with a vengeance to themselves.



 

(Via Pharyngula.)

Nov 152011
 

Ok, I admit it, I’m an ante-diluvian Luddite, and shouldn’t be allowed near that-there Interwebs without supervision.

But I just … don’t … get … Twitter.

I’ve pared back the number of people I follow from 200+ to around 100, fewer than most of my friends follow. I still can’t read it all. And I know – I know – that I should just ignore the posts I miss. But I simply can’t do that. I get frustrated at missing things, and whenever I give Twitter a go, I’m perpetually scrolling down to pick up where I left off.

I find Twitter frustrating, aggravating and just not for me.

So I’ve finally deactivated my account. I’ll stick to telegrams from now on …

Nov 142011
 

… at best. At worst, he’s deliberately misunderstanding and misrepresenting an issue, framing a genuine concern for animal welfare as “an(other) assault on religious freedom in Europe“.

Never mind that Europe is probably the freest place in the world in which to hold, practise and preach your particular brand of self delusion. Sorry, religion.

Never mind the genesis of the kosher and halal rules are, at best, confused.

Never mind the fact that there are glaring errors in the definition of “clean” and “unclean” animals (really, the hare chews the cud, does it? Morons!).

Lyons expounds here upon his opinion that the Dutch ban on kosher and halal slaughter is “[t]aking a knife to liberty and tolerance”. Because, of course, the Netherlands are well known for being a repressive, restrictive and illiberal state. Yes, that seems right …

Taking it as a given that there is a “recent intolerant trend in Europe against religious minorities”, without providing the slightest evidence for this (hint: there is none), he proceeds to rape reason with Godwin, equating the Dutch law promoting animal welfare with – wait for it – the Nazis. Observing quite accurately the fact that “the last time kosher slaughter was banned in the Netherlands was during the Nazi occupation” he proceeds immediately to call this an “embarrassing parallel for modern-day Dutch politicians”.

Well, no, it isn’t. Because, you fucking idiot, the Nazis banned kosher slaughter because it was, y’know, FUCKING JEWISH and the Dutch ban is because it’s FUCKING CRUEL! Does that distinction escape you, Lyons?

His piss-poor potshots against our oh-so-illiberal intolerance continues:

“While such restrictions are often imposed in the name of modern, liberal values, they are their very opposites. A free and open society should be able to tolerate a diversity of beliefs and practices, even when they are at odds with the views of the majority.”

Ok, almost completely right. Just remove “practices”. Believe what you will; fine. Do what you will; not fine.

I may believe that stabbing all people with brown eyes through the very centre of their foreheads with a silver plate cake slice will guarantee their eternal bliss. In no way should there be any legislation in place to prevent my so believing.

However, if I were to act upon that belief … well, you see where I’m going.

The bottom line: we are obliged to respect people’s right to hold whatever beliefs they wish (or have been inculcated to believe). We are NOT obliged to respect those beliefs themselves. And we are absolutely not obliged to accommodate practices which are in conflict with what we as a society have come to see as acceptable.

Cruel, painful, agonising slaughter of animals to comply with the archaic, barbaric strictures of an Iron Age, bucolic belief system which, even at its inception was unsophisticated, ill-informed and idiotic compared to the many far more advanced societies around it, is wrong. Simply, and utterly wrong.

The Dutch are to be applauded.

The rest of us are to be upbraided for not having done the same.

The proponents of kosher or halal slaughter are to be ignored, or mocked, or both.

And Rob Lyons is a fucking moron, who is to be ignored. And preferably never published again.

 

Jul 262011
 

Given I’m rather into writing and language, this site has grabbed my attention rather. I can’t recommend it enough – you should head over there now and jump in. It’s not too old, which means catching up on the back posts is doable – so do it before there are too many to review!

If you don’t know what a pilcrow is, or why the @ symbol is what it is, this is your new favourite site!

 

Jul 182011
 

A report at Irish Central tells us today that Irish Priest will refuse to recognise and obey a new piece of legislation which requires them to report certain issues to the police which are revealed to them during confession, specifically child abuse. Which anyone of even a moderate level of common sense would presumably see as, at best, a good start.

But, of course, the priests consider that minimal requirement an affront to their religious freedom. In which case, please, by all means, be affronted, but fuck your religious freedom; I would sooner every single catholic on this planet be convinced they are going to burn in hell than that one innocent child be RAPED, SODOMISED, ABUSED by an adult in whom they are told to put their trust.

Of course, the monkey-monks see things differently;

Father P.J. Madden, spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests, however, insisted that the sacramental seal of confession is “above and beyond all else.”

 Fuck you.

Thank goodness, at least, that the Irish government appears to have found its balls and is seriously using them now. No more pussy-footing around, the gloves would appear – for now at least – to be off:

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on July 14 that canon law can not supersede state law.

Minister Fitzgerald said the government was firm on this point.

Good; be firm!

Don’t let them fight their evil little propaganda war against you and get away with it. Throw the fuckers in jail at the first sign of breaking this law. Because claims like the following – from David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute – fraudulent, misrepresentative lies, that raise fear and pedal panic, are only going to increase:

” … such a law is very unlikely to lead to a single conviction and, at a maximum, will be counterproductive and will make society less safe, rather than more safe.”

You fucking lying fuck. Fuck off!

Throw them in jail, or throw them out of the country.

St Patrick didn’t throw the snakes out of Ireland, the saints, the priest, the church – they are the serpents, and their pestilential influence should be at an end.