Thursday, December 30, 2010

If it quacks like a celebrity...

Here's a funny-sad-sad-funny kind of thing; celebrity quackery was as bouyant as ever in 2010 the WEB site "Sense about science" or SAS has a round up of some of the more quacktastic claims and assertions made by various major and (very) minor celebrities this year, take a read, it's toe curling.

Here's a quick sample:

- Cage fighter Alex Reid's top tip before fighting is to "reabsorb" his own sperm (because it's as good for you as a plate of steak and eggs apparently)

- David Beckham and Kate Middleton wear little plastic wrist bands with holograms in them which are claimed to enhance energy and fitness... (no good for brain power then?)

- Naomi Campbell's maple syrup, lemon and pepper diet (tasty!...)

- Sarah Harding eats charcoal (smelly farts?)

The list goes on, and on, and on, thanks goodness for our celebrities, making us all feel super intelligent 24/7..

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Man the barricades

Before you religious types out there fuelled on mulled wine and evensong, get all warm and fuzzy over Christmas, here's an interesting survey, (page 70) for the first time (at least that I can recall) England is a majority "non-religious" country, 50.7% having "no religion" and 20% Church of England. Of course this is just one survey and is probably exceptional, but hey, no raping and pillaging so far... although there was that thing on radio 4 by the Pope that was pretty offensive.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The wind down

Last day at work before the Christmas break, I've told everyone that I'm kicking them out of the office at midday, so far no one has complained... This afternoon I expect I'll be running around getting those last minute bits and bobs and looking forward to the time I can shut the doors, kick off my shoes in front of the fire and start relaxing officially!

Have a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Distant relatives

I see in the news today that yet another sub-species of humans has been discovered. Not a living one of course but an ancient one; 50,000 year old bones found in caves in Siberia have had their DNA tested and it turns out to be a completely separate (and now extinct) line of human beings, labelled "Denisovans" after the region they were found in; this makes four known species that existed at the same time as modern homo-sapiens emerged from Africa.

From the sequences in the DNA its is likely that this species interbred with ours so at least a part of their legacy remains in peoples of that region but their main line petered out long, long ago. Just think, their entire species evolved, lived, feared the unknown, loved their children, laughed, cried and probably invented purpose and supernatural forces where there were none for thousands of generations, and then one day they went extinct, without ever hearing the words "Allah", "Yahweh", "Jesus" or even "iPad". Maybe going extinct and allowing another species to take your place is the only way to shed the clutches of ones memes?

Monday, December 20, 2010

King of woo woo

It's not often I agree with something in the Daily Fail; but I find this article about Prince Charles quite agreeable.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favour of any monarchy, anywhere, and if our particular line ended with Elizabeth and the whole medieval gravy train was consigned to museums, books and weekend battle re-enactments that would be just fine with me. Even thinking about paying for this science hating, mumbo-jumbo spouting dullard to gain the throne of England is upsetting, it's like rubbing metaphorical salt into an open intellectual wound.

On the other hand, a few years of Charles at the helm "pushing" his coffee bean enemas to combat cancer might be what is needed to tip the whole thing over the edge, the people of this country might finally come to their senses and relegate this institution to a more fitting 21st century role, i.e. as permanent exhibits in Madame Tussauds!

Company do's

We had our company Christmas do last Friday; being small we usually tag along to one of those corporate event type things in a big tent at Ascot racecourse or Legoland or similar with lots of other small companies (who we don't know), reasonable fun but fairly sterile, lots of chubby accountants doing dances they really shouldn't and inebriated secretaries doing things with their saliva with that they'll probably regret on Monday morning. So, this year we decided to try something different, we all trooped off to an afternoon/evening of cookery school! (cue lots of moaning from the younger male members of staff)

The deal was basically to split into two groups, one cooked (under instruction) while the other did a wine tasting, then we swapped. At the end we all ate what we made and were judged by our helpers, our menu was Thai fish cakes, pork Wellington and crème brulee, not trivial! and the whole thing was against the clock. I'm not sure which was the best group to be in, i.e. the ones cooking before the wine tasting or after, all I can say is there wasn't much spitting going on so everyone was quite merry, quite quickly.

I ended up in the "after-wine" group and I must admit we had the higher instance of food fights, smoky pans and general larking around, but aside from all the Christmas spirit, it was fascinating to see how some people coped with cooking a full meal. Getting the quantities, timings and temperatures right proved tricky for many, particularly the younger (male) ones who had the double distractions of free flowing wine and attractive female helpers. Surprisingly though, in the final analysis the food that emerged was really good, no one had any great disasters and we all ate pretty much everything we made.

All in all a thoroughly successful event, I recommend it!

This is where we went

Friday, December 17, 2010

To timid to say what you really think?

Gasp... Pat Condell certainly isn't...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The oldest game in town

It's been a quiet 7 days on this blog, I've not read or seen much as we've been away for a little break and I wasn't allowed to pack my laptop (orders from on high!) I'm not sure about this kind of blatant censorship, it doesn't feel right to me, anyway, luckily I was able to get a couple of "read-only" fixes via my phone and I see that a little blasphemy story has bubbled up in the last couple of days.

Apparently a Pakistani doctor is being held under Blasphemy law because he threw away the business card of a salesman who had the name "Mohammed". Now we're all well used to this kind of irrational nonsense from theocratic states, there are a plethora of examples to choose from, however what amused me more was the analysis from the Pakistani press. Critics say the laws should be removed because they are increasingly "used to settle grudges, persecute minorities and promote extremism" - and there we have it ladies and gentlemen, a nice summary of one of the strategic pillars of all mono-theistic religions spanning the last 4000 years. Come on people, blasphemy has ALWAYS been used for this purpose.

So, please, all moderate and civilised Muslims in Pakistan, wake up and smell the pakola, ditch these superstitious medieval throw-backs as soon as you can!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Elf abuse

If you're looking for evidence that religion detrimentally affects some people's mental health then look no further than the Danish pastor in this article, Jon Knudsen, the pastor of the Løkken Free Church in Jutland loves Christmas but hates Elves, so much so that he's strung one up outside his church, having first constructed a gallows specifically for this purpose.

At this point you may be wondering what the good Pastor has against innocent children's fantasy figures but apparently he claims that Elves come from the Devil and his (warped) logic dictates that anything of the Devil must be rejected as signified by a mock execution. Knudsen goes further describing elves of all sorts as “poltergeists that come from the devil and make children sick”.

I guess when you spend your whole life making stuff up then wacky nonsense like this spills out of your brain with relative ease; let's hope he doesn't incur the wrath of the (real) king of Christmas, our cosmic overseer and spiritual inspiration for millions, you  know, Santa Claus! 

No presents for Paster Knudsen then, naughty boy!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fridge Phelps

This one tickled my funny bone today...

On a more serious note I'm encouraged to see sites like b3ta (where this was copied from) featuring more humorous ridiculing of certain religious facets and behaviours, there is nothing more demystifying than taking the p*ss out of something that has aspirations beyond it's content (as long as its actually funny of course!)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Interesting week

So, this week we've seen a blow struck against openness in society, the founder of Wikileaks (Julian Assange) has been in trouble. Having published thousands of US diplomatic cables on his whistle-blowing site he now seems to be wrapped up in a bunch of legal wrangles involving an alleged sex crime in Sweden.

I must say it seems hard not to believe that Mr Assange is being "taken down" by a US administration hell bent on seeking revenge for embarrassing them. It will be interesting how this pans out under the spotlight of the media frenzy around the contents of the leak; the web-site itself has been attacked using a DoS (denial of service) tactic (suspicious) and the Swedish government has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Assange who is believed to be residing in the UK at the moment. Personally I don't see why Mr Assange should be prosecuted for what he's done, he's no different from the various newspapers and television channels that have re-cycled these articles, and I have to assume the editors of those papers are sleeping easy at nights and not expecting black clad ninjas attached to black-hawk helicopters to burst through their bedroom windows at any moment?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Irony overload

Lord Carey, former Arch Bishop of Canterbury has launched a campaign essentially encouraging Christians to show that they aren't ashamed of being Christians. Personally, most Christians I encounter don't have this problem (often the opposite) so I am left thinking that the sub-text of this campaign is really a protest against perceived secular encroachment on Christian privilege, an entirely different kettle of fish. Some age old canards are being wheeled that support this idea, according to Carey our society is "ashamed of Christmas". I can only conclude that I must be blind, apparently there is a "war on Christmas" and our shared Christian heritage, really, where?

I've never met anyone, ever, who wanted to do anything to Christmas, atheist, secularist, Muslim, Jew or otherwise. I actually quite like Christmas, not because of the Christian significance of it or the consumer frenzy it has turned into, but simply because it's a holiday and I get chance to spend quality time with my children. I honestly couldn't care less what Christians feel about Christmas, so long as they don't teach my children that it's true or claim privilege under our law by blindly asserting that what they believe is somehow special, in that context any religious festivals are just fine with me.

I also enjoy Star Wars films, but I don't have to believe "the force" really exists..