Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In the thick of it

For fans of "in the thick of it" and people not easily offended by a bit of graphic cussing, here is Crispin Jago's take on a topical problem for the Pope and the Catholic Church generally, excellent work brother..

Monday, November 29, 2010

Paxman - Hitchens

Great interview very moving, I really hope CH lives longer than statistics suggest he will, the world will be dumber without him in it.

Are you blind ref?

Admittedly the title of this post isn't the most cutting of referee chants I've ever heard but how about the Scottish FA firing a referee because he sent an email they didn't think was funny. Yes, you've guessed it, the joke was on the Catholic Church and we all know how that crowd is so well grounded and confident in their convictions that they simply shrug their broad shoulders and laugh off any humour directed at them, or.... not.

Referee Hugh Dallas was fired by the SFA for sending a "tasteless message" relating to the Pope's visit to Scotland, you can see the joke image he sent above, personally I thought it wasn't that funny, more like a public information sign, but it has cost him his job. So, who are the bastards in the black? In this case, Catholic clergy apparently...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Whatever next..

This might be the most realistic CGI i've ever seen, imagine what a movie would look like with this much work in it, amazing.

Silestone -- 'Above Everything Else' from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday smirk

What those nasty, mean Atheists really think about prayer...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One acknowledges those godless johnnies...

I read with some delight today that the Queen of England actually took the opportunity of the commencement of the 5 year term of the general synod of the Church of England (who she is the head of) to point out that religious people have no monopoly on morality, she said the following:

"It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the well-being and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and none,"

Ouch, that had to sting for some! I hear this argument all the time (ad nausea) i.e. "we need religion otherwise how would we know how to be good" what a bunch of poppycock, the evidence of our (real) lives is more like we need religion to learn how to avoid being moral and then come up with excuses for it (like my invisible sky daddy told me to do it).

Good for the Queen, perhaps she's been tracking the growing Atheist/Rationalist vibe on the internet in recent years, now that she has her own Facebook page and all, oh and I can't help feeling that Philip needs a holiday, just look at the expression on his face!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Rationalists among us would be forgiven for thinking that at the start of this week that they'd be on a pretty sure footing asserting that, "a leading 1st world economy like Ireland can't go bankrupt" and the "Pope is Catholic", now it's Sunday and I'm feeling a little unsettled. Firstly it looks like the Irish economy is a lot worse off than any one thought, they have conceded defeat and called in the IMF, it also looks like we'll be bailing them out with a few billions too, because let's be honest, that's what we do these days, i.e. knock our pans out to earn a living and then give the money away to incompetent hucksters because they lost all theirs. I bet our friends over the sea curse the day the nickname "Celtic Tiger" was coined. Secondly we have an alarming comment from the Pope that supposedly condones the use of condoms in certain circumstances in order to prevent the spread of HIV. What horror is this? The bottom has fallen from the world of us secular rationalists; a Pope saying something almost sensible and not spouting ignorant, dogmatic and self-serving drivel, I must admit the example of male prostitutes wouldn't seem to me to be the main-stay of the HIV challenge but hey, I guess you have to start somewhere.

Lets face reality though, tomorrow we'll be waking to hear that the bill to bail out the Irish will be much bigger than expected and we'll all have to give up the use of a limb for a few years and the Pope will "clarify" his message pointing out that the ghost of Mother Theresa told him that it's only valid to use johnnies in months containing the letter "Z", such is the way of the world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tyresome fanatics

Here is an uplifting story for a change, members of the Westborough Baptist Church (infamous for being complete dick-heads) came unstuck the other day when after having protested the funeral of a soldier they returned to their mini-van to discover its tyres slashed, when they sought assistance from local garages they couldn't find anyone who would help them eventually they had to be towed away on a flat-bed truck..

Whilst no one should condone damaging property I can't help feeling a twinge of schadenfreude about this, no doubt they will claim Christian victimisation, smirk...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Occupational hazards

Anyone in the computer software business will recognise this phenomenon, it feels like it takes just as much time to write software now as it did 20 years ago, maybe its just me or maybe people expect it to do more these days, although customer expectations tend to be universally unrealistic throughout history from what I can tell.

Its really difficult to explain to someone who doesn't understand what software is why it takes so much time and such deep concentration to create it; a good analogy might be writing books however I think even writing books might be easier, there's more leeway with a book at least i.e. books don't crash when you spell a word wrong.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Is it a bird?

Being partial to some activities others may call extreme this video caught my eye today, it's of a kite surfer (Lewis Crathern) using a 60mph breeze on the South coast to jump over Brighton pier, yes, jump over!


Primitive thinking

An article came up yesterday which tells a thoroughly modern story about an internet sting using that most socially cutting-edge of human inventions, Facebook, to catch someone red-handed in the West Bank town of Qalqilya. The only problem with the story however is that the crime this person has committed is one of the oldest and yet most bogus of all crimes ever invented by man in order to control other men, blasphemy.

The 26 year old man accused is supposed to have been making secret rants against Islam and God on his blog. Two things struck me firstly that he is the son of an Islamic scholar (so much for supposedly irrefutable and perfect nature of the message of Islam!) and secondly at its peak there were over 70,000 visitors to his blog (mostly from Arabic countries), clearly someone found what he was saying interesting! As an example of some of the things he's been saying here is a quote from the blog "Islam is a "blind faith that grows and takes over people's minds where there is irrationality and ignorance." In a response which is seeped in irony, local practitioners of the "religion of peace" are calling for his death by public burning, if he's lucky he may escape with life in prison.

The Palestinian Authority demands support from the "secular West", I think they are right to do so as many injustices have been dealt their constituents over recent years many of which go unchallenged. However, if that same authority feels it's OK to subject their own people to it's very own flavour of medieval injustice then that support needs to be reconsidered, the well-being of this particular individual would seem to be better served under the authority of a secular (and free) Israel?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Them's balls!

Clearly this isn't a question of national importance but never the less is one that's handy for those of us bloggers with a puerile sense of humour and always on the look-out for a cheap pun. The question is, who has the biggest testicles in the animal kingdom?

According to a recent scientific reckoning that dubious honour goes to the Bush Cricket who's cajones weigh in at around 14% of body mass, to put this in perspective if these high density danglers belonged to a human male they would weigh around 5KG each!

The current theory about why the Bush Cricket's equipment is so impressive is that it's more beneficial for the species if males mate with as many different females as possible rather than having higher quality individual pairings. But  thinking about it we probably already knew that, i.e. the more females you court simultaneously the bigger balls you need...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Water-boarding on the NHS

According to former president GW Bush the torture act of water-boarding saves lives so don't be surprised if it doesn't show up on the NHS soon, no seriously all those obese people clogging up the system could be forced to confess how many chocolate hob-nob's they've really had and save everyone a lot of time. For those who aren't au fait with modern torture techniques take a look at this video of journalist Christopher Hitches being water-boarded for his art.

Compared with pulling out finger nails this looks fairly tame, although I'm not volunteering for anything I hasten to add, I can imagine its catastrophically unpleasant to feel as though you are drowning for hours on end.

Fans of this kind of thing (and there are many) seldom seem to take into account the overwhelmingly negative evidence that torture is a pretty poor way of gathering intelligence, highly unreliable seems to be the conclusion of most studies done, however if you are trying to prevent the slaughter of innocent people against the clock then anyone can see the attraction. In the end we should probably have a cold hard (scientific) look at whether this kind of thing creates more terrorists than it catches, I suspect the answer is not as simple as we would like.

Swinging the lead

The scientists at the LHC experiment in Switzerland have successfully created the hottest, densest matter collisions so far achieved by us puny humans, by smashing lead Ions together at phenomenal energies and speeds they managed to create a plasma made of quarks and gluons at temperatures of ten trillion degrees.

These are the conditions thought to be present at the big bang, or at least just after it, and understanding how matter behaves at these extremes will help us understand more about how we got here and the fundamental natural laws that govern matter and energy in the universe.

Some people argue that the huge sums of money spent doing things like this are wasted, they ask who cares about quarks and gluons? They'd presumably rather spend the money on more immediate human needs, or perhaps things that they can personally understand more easily. I can sympathise, superficially it does seem like we should spend all our spare money on vaccinations and food for African children, but reality is much more complex than that. My own view is that science and the desire to "understand" is actually a basic human need, less pressing perhaps than acquiring a square meal every day, but certainly easily up there with things like art, music and literature, without the desire to discover new things I think we become entrenched, stale, self obsessed. It seems like the need to "understand" is an innate property of conciousness, certainly whenever it has been suppressed in the past by religions, governments or dictators, human suffering seems to increase; and just like in the game of whac-a-mole, it always emerges again somewhere, somehow.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Transfer window opens

5 Anglican Bishops who don't like the idea that morality is a plastic concept and shaped by reason, society and human solidarity are leaving to join the Catholics. Apparently a transfer deal was done a while ago with the Pope who (of course) loves the idea that morality is something that is determined by his organisation and none other. I can't believe that the Anglican leadership can be happy about this although since the child abuse scandals there seem to be a lot of disaffected Catholics around at the moment so perhaps a more general Christian re-shuffle is on the cards?

What apparently passes both organisations by is the fact that they expect the rest of us to hold their ideas in high regard and with unconditional respect, even to the point of attempting to enshrine this concept in our Laws. Yet they feel happy to change their own beliefs so easily, for the sake of politics you could say, swapping and changing like "cafeteria believers". From the atheist perspective this is simply more evidence that truth and people are not as important to the faithful as tradition and authority (despite what they claim), in other words, the garments of the emperors becoming more and more transparent with each passing year.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

US Elections

Well, all the pundits are saying that the US elections will provide a landslide for the Republican party, from some of the candidates like Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell it would appear that rank ignorance and bat-shit crazy religious beliefs are absolutely no barrier to popularity.

I seriously hope we don't slip back into the dark days of the world being run by a few greedy, delusionally nostalgic tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, come on Democrats what are you doing over there... we find out if this is the start of the end or the end of the start tomorrow!