Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Old jokes re-worked

It was the Pope's investiture ceremony and as the crowds made their way across Saint Peter's square toward the Basilica, a Rottweiler suddenly lunged towards an eight year old girl, with its jaws wide open ready to attack. The crowd nearby gasped in horror but, quick as a flash, a man jumped out of the crowd, grabbed the dog by the throat and throttled it. As the dead dog lay there, and the crowd cheered in admiration, a journalist from the Catholic Herald who had witnessed the heroic deed, went up to the man and said, 'That was brilliant, I can see the headline now –

'Catholic Hero Saves Young Girl From Certain Death'. The man replied, 'No you've got it wrong. I'm not a Catholic!' 'Don't worry' said the journalist, 'I can see the headline now –

'Christian Hero Saves Girl From Jaws Of Rottweiler'. The man replied, 'No you're wrong again. I'm not a Christian; I'm an atheist'

The journalist said, 'Don't worry; I can see the headline now – 'Atheist Bastard Strangles Family Pet'

Monday, March 19, 2012

Secular views


Nice article in the Spectator today by Nick Cohen, related to the cartoon I posted the other day. Secularism and leading secular advocates are targeted by religious leaders and apologist politicians in the UK all the time as if they were militant and extreme, they're neither of course, as Cohen points out,

Secularists (just) want to separate church and state, as the not noticeably militant French and Americans do. We oppose the division of children on sectarian lines, which often mean racial lines as well. We despair of a supposedly PC liberal establishment that will ignore the subjugation of women, when subjugation is conducted in the name of a god or gods.

It's quite possible to find truly militant secularists in history and perhaps even today in places like China or North Korea but comparing secular supporters in the UK with such regimes is like comparing the Waffen-SS with the cub scout movement. (last time I checked there wasn't a genocide badge available at our local pack although the entry criteria for both organisations are strangely and similarly irrational and God fearing).

Sky news promoting woo woo


I unusually caught view of Sky news as I was eating breakfast this morning (normally we just have the radio on); there was a piece on the latest decision by the Government to drop NHS funding for homoeopathic drugs which was a little scary.

I'm totally in favour of adults being able to choose whatever medicine they like for themselves, however there are two caveats I would apply to that view, 1) people shouldn't be able to impose (scientifically) unproven medicine or alternative practices on children (even their own) and 2) the Government should not be using tax payers cash to fund unproven stuff like homoeopathy. In the Sky report the lady delivering the piece started off by saying that homoeopathy was scientifically unproven, but then went on to say that since homoeopaths thought that it worked she didn't see why it couldn't continue, i.e. just in case it did work (causing much nodding in the studio), no one gave the rational counter-arguments. I suspect this is a very common view and that's the problem isn't it; what objective yardstick does a society use to determine if something works or not and therefore whether or not to spend public money on it.

Should we base our decisions on the subjective view of a bunch of people who stand to benefit from a positive endorsement or should we use a separate objective way of determining the truth, i.e. science? The scary part is that people don't seem to understand this glaring distinction, no one on the rational side of this argument is trying to outlaw homoeopathy completely, we're simply saying that until it is proven using the yardstick that we use for everything else in medicine then public money should not be used to fund it, if supporters of these approaches felt like spending their ample profits from selling sugar pills on scientific studies showing them to be effective above and beyond simple placebo then we would listen, so come on homoeopaths, show us the money!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Guess the Archbishop...

The general synod of the Church of England is expected to approve Richard Dawkins as the new head of the Church of England. A spokesman explained; ‘Whereas most of the candidates prevaricated over the question of the existence of God, Richard was quite clear. His knowledge of the Bible is second to none and he isn’t a woman, so he seems ideal.’

Lambeth Palace has so far denied that Archbishop Rowan Williams sudden and unexpected retirement was because he wished to enter a gay civil partnership with Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

About as logical as the real choice will be I expect... from Newsbiscuit of course.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stridency

A lovely illustration of the way a lot of secularists feel they're judged these days for simply holding a rational and balanced point of view. The fact that humour like this exists at all sounds strident and unreasonable to many, it's their loss.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Excuses, excuses


There's a global atheist convention happening in Melbourne this year (next month) the usual cast of speakers will be there; however to help promote lively debate the locals have had a bunch of bus banners done, they say "If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse" - unnecessary death, pain and suffering is certainly a problem for our theistic brothers and sisters to explain ("mystery" is always and conveniently their answer). As a famous comic once wise-cracked, if only God could spare some time from relentlessly and methodically killing millions of African children (and a few Afghan and Belgian ones this week) he might be able to provide a simple unequivocal and direct indication of his existence... we won't hold our breath..

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jesus, phone home


We're all used to people finding images of Jesus in everyday objects like Marmite and various cheese based snacks however some bloke in Wiltshire stumbled over this revelation in a tree stump, what is it I hear you ask.... it's ET of course, now get on your knees and phone home!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

American fundie tactics


Something very sinister just happened to the abortion debate here in the UK - we seem to have imported some good old fashioned intimidation tactics from our more vociferousness American cousins (well the Christian ones at least) Anti-abortion protesters outside the BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) have started taking pictures of women entering that establishment and according to eye witness accounts are "crowding" around some of them as well.

This is horrible, not only have these people lost the moral argument and been defeated at every turn in Parliament they've also lost their sense of decency as well; no one cares what antiquated desert delusions these people hold, they don't entitle them to harass people going about their lawful business in public places.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Blood suckers

A couple of sad stories wafted across my conciousness this week, in New York we had a baby boy dying of herpes contracted when he was ritually circumcised. For those not familiar with this particular religious rite it involves the removal of the foreskin followed by the "sucking" of the blood from the wound (yes by mouth!); all this of course performed by some strange bloke in a frock. Then closer to home in London we had the trial and conviction of a couple who tortured and killed a 15 year old boy who they accused of being a "witch" and who they beat, stabbed and finally drowned.

Clearly sick people tend to do sick things, peer pressure and indoctrination are very powerful forces in the lives of some, but I reckon if you could give the bereaved relatives of these children the choice right now between adherence to ancient superstitions or being able to get their dead loved ones back I'm pretty sure I know which way they'd go.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Oh Hanna!


I never thought I would be writing a blog post about the toe curling Miley Cyrus (aka Hanna Montana), even my 7 year old daughter thinks all American Miley is a bit naff and she's her target audience! However I spotted a story today that may force me to completely re-evaluate my opinion of this good ol'gal.

Apparently she posted a rather controversial picture on her Twitter feed, one that has the evangelicals of her middle-American heartland jumping up and down with rage and indignation, what on earth could it be I wondered? Perhaps Miley has bared all for her art or maybe she's declared that her heart belongs to Obama - no, it's much, much worse than that. Want to see the picture, here it is...


Who is this corrupter of children, this perverted weasel? Surprisingly it's theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss simply telling it as it is, describing where the atoms in our bodies come from and explaining that stars needed to "die" in order that the heaver elements like Oxygen and Carbon can be manufactured within the nuclear furnaces of their terminal phases and that evolution had to happen to get from atoms to Humans. It's a poetic thought and that's what Miley liked about it, good for her! The fact that Krauss also mentions a wandering Bronze age Palestinian shaman is irrelevant to the majesty of the idea or it's educational content of course.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Not even realising the goose is golden


Come on UK Gov PLC, get your head out of your bottom on science and technology and lets see some kind of cohesive plan for support and business development in the UK, if you're not sure what to do then come and see me, I'm a lot cheaper and more clued up than all those mealy mouthed arts graduates working for you in Whitehall.

Vince Cable the business secretary has criticised the Government today over a "lack of vision" regarding where the country is going to go after it sorts out the financial mess left by the last Government. He also commented on a lack of support for key technologies. Interestingly I notice today that Raspberry Pi, a UK technology project I've talked about on several occasions now has seen a massive spike in interest and demand this week, at one point they were selling an estimated 700 computers per second. At £20 a pop there is no reason at all why the Government shouldn't be all over this project like an evangelical preacher with crystal meth and a male prostitute, putting cash in, diverting school IT budgets, training people and building software to ensure that it becomes a global phenomenon; I bet they won't. Pretty soon Asus or Samsung will be knocking out sub £20 PC's and that will be the end of that.

I can't heap all the blame for a lack of vision onto the Government though, schools and teachers need to shoulder some of it too. Coincidentally, over the last 3 months, I've been visiting schools and talking to headmasters, one of my stock questions is "what strategy or plan do you have to take advantage of the changes to the ICT curriculum?" - guess what, not a single school I spoke to has a plan (at least not one that the Headmaster knows about anyway!) Most of the time I get a goofy response like "Oh computers, don't know much about how all that stuff works but aren't iPad's wonderful" - PATHETIC!

Don't these plonkers know that there is a revolution going on under their noses and they're not doing anything about it, how long will it be before school kids don't actually need books and education is just another social network experience? How will our children compete in a future technological landscape if they lack the basic skills to innovate in this area, we are a small country with few natural resources and our most valuable assets are the brains of our people, will they program or will they be programmed?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Cross dressing virgins say no to gay marriage....


The most senior Roman Catholic cleric in Britain, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has spoken out against gay marriage, claiming that just because he doesn’t have the first clue what he’s talking about, it shouldn't stop him lecturing everyone else on what he believes about the subject.

O’Brien claims that gay marriage would deprive children of a traditional upbringing which should include a mother, a father, and a shady old man who touches them in church.

He told the Sunday Telegraph, “What’s important here is that we think of the children. No-one wants to see unhappy kids – particularly not priests. Crying kids are desperately unattractive.”

“Plus, any child brought up in a happy loving household is likely to be harder to prey on, even if that household is a gay one.”

“Gay marriage is an unknown quantity to the Catholic Church, so who knows what effect it will have on our ability to abuse children – it’s probably better for all concerned if we just leave it well alone.”

Cardinal O’Brien on gay marriage

Church officials have backed O’Brien’s statement, claiming that having a pointy hat and a big gold chair means that their two-thousand year-old opinions on the modern world are incredibly important.

A Catholic spokesperson said, “If we let people live the sorts of lives they want to, which make them happy and don’t affect anyone else, then what role does the church have left in society?”

“Before you know it, the collection plates we send round to parishioners at mass will be empty and we might start having to sell off our billions in assets.”

“This is the slippery slope towards the church becoming obsolete – so of course we’re against it.”

Nice work news thump