Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday smirk II

I know, I know, I already did a Friday smirk, but I simply couldn't resist this one... (big bake-off fans round our gaff, can't see the attraction myself other than cake-schadenfreude when it all goes Pete Tong..)

He who cannot be named..

Excellent article by Atheist Ireland on blasphemy and why the whole concept of blasphemy runs counter to well established and internationally recognised human rights. The particular thrust of the piece is around atheists being persecuted by religious authorities but the largest numbers of people suffering because of ideas and laws on blasphemy are usually religious, they just happen to believe the wrong one for the place they happen to be! Such is the idiocy of the idea, obviously the truth of a religion is perfectly correlated with imaginary lines drawn on a map!

As a really clever, famous bloke once said,

"Every great idea starts out as a blasphemy"..

Great balls of fire..

Love this story. After almost 8 billion kilometres of travel (and you thought the mileage on your car was a bit scary) the Rosetta probe is about to receive it's last ever command, the instruction that will send it crashing into the surface of the comet it's been orbiting for the last 25 months. Right up until the moment of impact the probe will be sending data back to Earth and even in it's final seconds will hopefully have new things to reveal. As the probe gets further away from the Sun and light becomes ever fainter it would have become more and more difficult to scavenge enough power to run the instruments on-board the craft, so this is a fitting end to what has been a wonderful mission, congratulations to ESA (European Space Agency) are well deserved!

Friday smirk


It's not often you hear about an upset in the heady world of international chess but a storm is currently brewing around the Women's game. The governing body of that sport/game recently announced that it was to hold the world championship in Iran and reminded competitors that they must respect "cultural differences", i.e. wear a head scarf. The wearing of a hijab has been a legal requirement for women in Iran since the country was taken over by an Islamic theocratic regime in 1979 , women found not wearing one face arrest, fines or even corporal punishment. Quite understandably a large number of the grandmasters have said that they will boycott the event.

Personally, I don't see any difference between the Iranian regime discriminating against Women and the South African regime discriminating against black people, both equally repugnant and both obviously opposed to any reasonable societal standard. I supported the sporting boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era and I support a boycott of Iran on precisely the same grounds, as far as non-essential collaboration with such regimes goes, i.e. things like sport, I wouldn't ever go there. For the same reason I am against Qatar hosting the football World Cup in 2022 (not that corruption in our own UK game is any better). If the Governments of such regimes wish to have their own events, i.e. tournaments that "respect" their antiquated views on discrimination, then they should crack on, I'm sure they'd be great fun, just don't expect many foreign visitors.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


This bizarre tweet just popped up in my stream! Just imagine exchanging the word "Archangels" for "vampires", "fairies" or "Elvis", most would think this guy is a complete fruit-cake. But use the word "Archangels" and billions just think, oh he's a Catholic.

Holding stuff in your head

Man, do I feel like this today; working on a new piece of software that tries to intelligently disambiguate company names in text using web scraping/spidering and natural language processing techniques - it's hard to hold it all in my brain at one time meaning that bits drop out of consciousness  (i.e. I lose sight of the detailed workings of them) Then I break the out-of-consciousness pieces whilst advancing other areas that are in working memory forcing me to re-acquire them; then the phone goes and some pointless cold-caller makes me lose the whole lot for a while... it's a funny old game software development.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


New J&M up today, blazing a path for modesty, if only the real garment was actually about that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Thought for the day

Made me think anyway; it's not quite accurate since key Islamic places like Mecca and Medina aren't quite in the circle but close enough, the point is well made.

Debatable debate

I watched the Clinton-Trump debate on TV and I'm feeling depressed now. To call this a "debate" stretches the meaning of the word to its limit and then some. I would characterise this as more of a playground spat, a word-salad of name calling, childish interruption and hyperbole, a rich vein of sound-bite babble. In summary, plum pickings for those simply watching to play bullshit-bingo.

Trump didn't actually complete a whole sentence, he spoke in the most annoying (and unintelligible) style ever imaginable, it was like a stream of chopped-up, disconnected consciousness just spewing out into the microphone devoid of any cohesion or sense. Unfortunately for Clinton, Trump was so ridiculously illogical and incoherent that he rendered reasonable argument almost impossible; you can't argue (sensibly) with someone who has no structure, content or logic on their side, and worse still, when HC attempted to point out the obvious fallacies it made her look arrogant and/or smug.

Trump would say something asinine like "every country in the world is ripping us (USA) off" and depressingly I sensed that somehow he scored a point with that. After all, how could you respond to something as infantile as that without coming across as patronising? The whole thing quickly descended into a pointless back and forth of "yes it is", "no it isn't" sniping, a place from where the only winner becomes the person who's most cocky, belligerent and bullying (which is clearly Trump) I'm left hoping that rational, bully-hating Americans turn out like they've never turned out before, Hillary is not perfect by any means but we cannot have this dangerous buffoon in charge of the free-world, we could lose everything.

For the avoidance of doubt, here is the final tally of lies, half-truths and "pants-on-fire" statements made during the campaigning so far..

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fatal insults

Another martyr to freethinking today. Respected Jordanian writer, satirist and activist (and atheist) Nahed Hattar was shot in the head on the courtroom steps as he was attending his own trial for "offending Islam". Hattar was charged earlier this year for posting a cartoon on Facebook earlier this year; the cartoon simply had an image of "God" in it (looks more like Father Christmas to me) the actual purpose of the cartoon was to mock ISIS, the irony was clearly lost on the (religion of peace) cleric who violently took his life. Another day when Mankind takes a small step backwards instead of moving forward, there seem to be more and more days like this lately.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday smirk..

For everyone who works with software and computers and has struggled with the way in which things tend to need to be expressed and taken very literally (especially on Friday afternoon), here's a little something from the wonderful xkcd ..

Irish lies are smiling..

I came across this little story today, it's about an Irish MLA (member of the legislative assembly) and DUP member, Thomas Buchanan, who's in in the papers at the moment for supporting an event that aims to promote creationism to children by telling lies about the facts of evolution. The Assemblyman is on record as saying.. 

“I long to see the day when every school in Northern Ireland will stand up and teach creationism, and turn away from the peddled lie that is evolution.”

Clearly the man is an idiot and doesn't deserve the trust and support of his electorate. Any politician who can blatantly deny proven and demonstrable scientific facts like this and favour the teaching of ancient myths and fairy tales in the science curriculum isn't fit to lead anyone. By all means teach the myriad of creation myths in the RE or philosophy class and feel free to hold your own special affection for the Hebrew one if you feel that way inclined, but don't think that ignorance is an acceptable position from which to exploit children; rational people will point you out and expose your lies.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New under the Sun?

As we all know, there's not much new under the Sun. This saying from the Christian Bible is a truism about life but also a truism of itself and most of the other major religions in the world; as illustrated perfectly by the latest J&M cartoon today. Copies of copies of copies, fireside stories told from generation to generation and like random mutations in DNA these analogous memes also had their own twists, turns, elaboration, exaggerations, deletions and mistranslations baked in over the years of telling.

Divide and conquer

It looks like violence is flaring up again over Kashmir, the disputed territory located in the North Western corner of India. Both Pakistan and India claim this region for themselves and the wrangling has been going on since India gained independence from the UK back in 1947. What makes this dispute more worrying than the usual third-world border bust-up is that both states have nuclear weapons and don't seem backward in coming forward with sabre rattling threats whenever something like this happens. Of course religious differences form the bedrock upon which this dispute gains sustaining oxygen to fuel its flames, the majority population of Indian controlled Kashmir is Muslim as opposed to the majority position in India which is Hindu and there are many claims of human rights violations by the former against the latter.

Of course the only lasting solution would be to create an independent state with a secular constitution based upon reason that embraced democracy and the rule of law. Then the long suffering regular people might start to actually benefit from advances in social equality, education, medicine, technology, agriculture and commerce rather than be hamstrung by ancient myths and subservience to authoritarian, corrupt and theocratic systems of government. Although, from where I'm sitting, the chances of that happening seem just like post-Brexit UK economic growth forecasts, i.e. pretty close to zero.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Last of the Summer...

A while back a good friend of mine, and fellow all-grain brewing artisan challenged me to a home-brew taste-off, one sunny Friday afternoon in July we assembled a selection of our favourite brews and staged a tasting event.

Copious quantities of beer in a myriad of styles were presented, and so we settled in to studiously work our way through these fruits of our labour, in suitably contemplate fashion. The day was a complete success, by the end of it neither of us could quite form a cohesive sentence, but hey ho, you only live once and it was the weekend! As for the final tally, it was a remarkably close run thing, excellent beers from both "brew-houses". Fortunately I clinched it with an American style IPA (India Pale Ale) made with Mosaic hops, called "Mosaic Man" - it was showing particularly well on the day a real fruit bomb. Great fun all round, we vowed to hold another brew-off in the Winter sometime and rope in some more (willing) victims as arbiters. 

The winning beer below; as you can see, it's a fine specimen and tasted as good as it looked.

Weather bees

Two alarming weather related stories today. First we have the alarming news that Asian hornets have arrived in the UK, previously it was thought too cold for them here but apparently no one told the hornets. This rather scary looking predator has a penchant for decapitating honey bees, and poor old European bees haven't yet evolved any natural defense against these killers. Japanese bees have learned to swarm onto attacking hornets, vibrating their bodies against them, causing an overheat. Even so, a swarm of hornets can pretty much wipe out a bee colony by sheer blunt force of size and power.

Secondly we have the even more alarming fact that August 2016 was the hottest (on average) August any human currently alive has ever lived through. The question is, are invasive species (like Asian hornets) linked to the average temperature? You betcha.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday smirk

Design for the new Hinkley point power station revealed..

Exodus 22:18

Amazingly (in this day and age) we still have to have people who campaign against huckster preachers visiting our capital city (London) and preaching to paying audiences on topics such as curing demonic possession and how to deal with witches; Pastor Daniel Olukoya currently speaking at the Excel centre in London's East end is such a preacher (see book above). 

To vulnerable and gullible people in our society this represents a clear and present danger. As recently as 2010 Kristy Bamu (aged 15) died whilst being "exorcised" (aka tortured) by relatives in the borough of Newham and Scotland Yard have investigated nearly 100 such cases in recent years. Since moderate believers don't seem to be willing to reliably challenge this kind of primitive literalism and the criminals and con-men who peddle it, the job often falls to atheists, humanists and other sceptics like Leo Igwe who more or less stands alone as a beacon of rationality in a fog of superstition and barbarity in places like Nigeria from where this peculiar brand of lethal racket emerges. And they say "faith" is a virtue?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rivers of blood

This photo was taken in the Bangladesh capital Dakha, it shows the result of stupidity combining with climate. The streets are full of red coloured water because a heavy rain storm corresponded with the Islamic festival of Eid when animals are "sacrificed" by cutting their throats while the animal is still alive (usually in back-alleys and garages) Since the animals' heart is still beating blood will spurt everywhere in large quantities hence the water pollution shown in the photo.

Judging by the amount of blood in the pictures I can only imagine how many unfortunate goats, sheep or cows were dispatched. Not only is this practice inhumane it will almost certainly lead to some horrendous future odours and potentially Human epidemics as the drying blood clogs up poorly maintained drains and waterways. In such a ramshackle city it's inconceivable that infected slurry won't find it's way back into the drinking water system, a highly unpleasant thought. What with atheists and secularists being hacked to death in the streets, primitive blood letting rituals and rivers of blood instead of tarmac I doubt the Dakha tourist industry will be up to much for the foreseeable future, I'm certainly in no hurry to book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


I often think of science covering the set of things we're reasonably sure we know because we have evidence for it. Everything else, i.e. all of the things we don't know or possibly can never know are covered by "faith" or in other parlance, making stuff up and believing what you would like to be true. Religion then, becomes the job of convincing (usually by threat, violence or indoctrination) other people to believe the same made-up stuff as you simply because Human beings (social apes) have evolved to hate being outliers. Then you have blind-faith, which is believing stuff despite evidence to the contrary, or in other words the set of people that stick their fingers in their ears and shout "la la la".. which, disappointingly, is most people on the planet.


Read a funny article this morning about our decision to leave the European Union; the author was berating the term "Brexit" claiming it has no real meaning (I thought it meant Brexit?) Anyway he coined a new term which I thought was far more appropriate, and genuinely amusing, from now on I shall be referring to our political faux pas as ...


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Climate of change

Whilst on the subject of climate change, there's a wonderful cartoon on the XKCD site today it's really worth clicking on the link to go see. It shows a complete time-line of average temperature change from 22,000 years ago up to today, which (as an aside) is amazingly only ~10% of the time modern humans have existed on this planet.

What's interesting to note is that 22,000 years ago the average temperature was only around 4 degrees Celsius lower than today and yet the location of the current day city of Boston was pinned down below an ice sheet one mile thick. Current models show that at the current rate of warming we can expect at least this on the positive side as a result of us pumping around 1000 billion tons of Carbon dioxide into our atmosphere since 1850. What this will do is still unknown at the street by street level but never the less, at the macro level it's pretty obvious that the results won't be desirable for people living anywhere near the coast, warming at these scales will mean sea levels increasing by meters.

Next time some climate ostrich tells you that it's quite normal for temperatures to fluctuate and that there's nothing to worry about, point out that only a couple of degrees makes the difference between being crushed by a mile of ice or sleeping with the fishes, not much wiggle room there.


There seems to be peculiar kind of karma going on today. Two competing stories are vying for prime air-time, the hottest September day anyone can remember and the Bake-off moving to Channel 4. It seems to be the TV show that's grabbing most attention so far; although discussing the bake-off whilst baking in the heat of climate-change is a pun that none of them have picked up on yet.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Rather unbelievably our Government (Ofcom) seems to be willing and able to spend money investigating (and throwing out) complaints that a children's TV program appears to show a fictitious page of Arabic script being trodden on (by accident) by fictitious computer generated characters. The "taking offence" Islamo-bots swung into action accusing the program of offending Islamic sensibilities by treading on pages of the Koran. As you can see from the picture the text is illegible and almost certainly completely randomly generated, a coincidence at most. Even so the production company has (unwisely) removed this episode. It seems perverse to me that in the 21st century we're still arguing about magic books and imaginary anthropomorphic super-humans in the sky when we have real problems to deal with, like climate change, it looks like tomorrow will be the hottest September day (UK) in the last 55 years, the general trend is becoming very noticeable.

I wish these offence taking idiots (of all religions) would stop, think and appreciate that their particular magic book has absolutely no significant meaning to those millions of us who simply don't believe that any of them are anything other than ancient collections of man-made stories. Part of growing up in this universe should be having to accept that not everything you believe is either true or respected; the religious cry-babies need to grow up and get over it, some people will insult, ridicule, criticise and defame their most deeply held beliefs, and most of those people will be people who hold conflicting supernatural beliefs, however, regardless of where they come from, when you ignore insults in a democracy they tend to lose their power and attraction.


Government Brexit strategy in one diagram; unfortunately your brain won't allow you to see all the points at the same time and as soon as you focus on one concrete element, the others vanish!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Going backwards..

I can't believe it; the Government just released a new green paper stating that it's set to propose relaxing current rules and allowing faith schools higher selection percentages based on faith alone! (currently it's 50%)

Why would any sane person think that INCREASING the religious, ethnic and cultural segregation in our society would, at this point in history, be a good thing? Talk about storing up social problems for some poor bugger down the line to sort out, utterly bewildering, even reckless.

Crunch time?

Watched a bit of the Apple launch event last night; I must say I was completely underwhelmed. Seems like a bunch of new stuff that looks the same as the old stuff except is slightly less convenient because it supports even less of the stuff you already own, and is more expensive. Samsung should have been delighted, if only their new phone didn't burst into flames at the slightest provocation. 

The technology industry seems to be in a bit of a rut at the moment, innovation seems to have slowed in recent years as the economic recession bites. I'm sceptical that ever more complex capabilities dumbed down in order to be packed into an ever more feature dense phone is the right way to go. Then there's the cost dimension, £700+ for a device that's almost identical to the device you last paid £700+ for a year ago seems like a stretch for most non-professional users to me. How many of us actually appreciate the 10% extra resolution on photo's of our pouting kids trying to look like a Kardashian or that extra 30 minutes of battery life that we always kept in reserve anyway. As for wireless ear buds for £150 a pop, they'd last 5 minutes in our house, we'd almost certainly end up with 3 left ones in no time at all.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


An excellent J&M today on the subject of miracles, faith and Mother Theresa (who has just been made a saint by the Catholic church). I find it miraculous that MT got away with duping the public into thinking she was devout and squirrelling away cash from dubious sources for so long without anyone raising even an eyebrow.

Monday, September 05, 2016


Some two year old kid in America comes up with a perfectly "inclusive" solution to the classic philosophical "trolley problem", kill-em-all!!


It's often said by religious people (of differing strokes) that one of the "evidences" of God in our Universe is that Humans tend to be altruistic and that this wouldn't be so if they had come about via natural selection (survival of the fittest etc.) This claim is wrong on many counts, not least of which because it betrays a lack of understanding of what natural selection is actually selecting for (i.e. populations of genes and not individuals) but also falls foul of confirmation bias in the sense that the people who say it always assume that because altruism is "good" that it must therefore be associated with their particular God (i.e. what about cancer?)

Last year, a study done by the University of Chicago set out to establish whether or not having a religious upbringing made children more or less altruistic. Putting aside the obvious errors in the argument above, you would have thought that if the claims of religion are actually true then religiously inspired children should be more altruistic than their non-religious peers, interestingly the study found the opposite. A religious upbringing appears to be associated with less altruism than a non-religious one. Children of religious parents were less likely to share and had a higher propensity for punitive responses and to judge.

I've never really thought about this before, it's interesting to think that there may be a correlation between certain cultural practises and how we treat other people, previously I've always assumed that good people are going to do good things and bad people are going to do bad things. But, as Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg adds to this sentence, "but for good people to do evil things, that takes religion", he may well now have some proper evidence to support this claim.

I'm not a racist, but..

Recent J&M cartoon highlighting the phenomenon that is the "but" at the end of sentences starting with the words "I'm not a ....".

For example, "I'm not religious, but..." is one of my favourites, invariably what follows the "but" is some form of contradiction of the first part. Another popular variation on this theme, often used by religious people, is the odious. "It's not me saying homosexuality is disgusting and immoral, it's God".

Sunday, September 04, 2016

One scandal too many..?

I see that Labour MP Keith Vaz is in the spotlight today over allegations that he paid for two male prostitutes to visit his private apartments in London. If Vaz was single and didn't occupy a highly public Islamic apologist platform you could argue that this is a private matter; but since he's married with two kids and doesn't shy from the cameras on matters of ethics and morality I must conclude that he relishes skating on incredibly thin ice, which seems to have just cracked.

Vaz has held a number of ideological and political positions over the years that I disagree with; I would go so far as to say detest. And, as it says in a famous Chinese war manual, "if you wait by the river long enough the bodies of your enemies will float by". Back in the day it was Vaz who lead a march of Muslims in Leicester demanding that Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses" be banned, clearly his "Islamic" credentials are no longer in question. His tenure in the House of Commons has been marred by numerous claims of fiscal irregularity, cronyism and conflicts of interest. He was even suspended from the house in 2002 over false and damaging allegations made by him about a Police officer of some 34 years standing over a matter that seemed very "provincial" to say the least. Of course he was in the thick of the expenses scandal and to cap it all he supported the anti-science motion sponsored by the loony-tunes David Tredinnick on continued NHS funding of homeopathy.

If true I think this scandal speaks directly to the credibility and trustworthiness of the man, enough is enough, he should be sacked from all positions of authority immediately, although I did also note that Corbin is distancing himself from the story and claiming "it's a private matter", another reason to question the judgement of the guy currently in charge of the Labour party too perhaps?

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Slow news

Finished the BBC news front page in record time this morning, not even enough time for my toast to get cold; a quick precis of the lead stories would suggest that Claudia Winkleman has quit a program I've never seen, the Church of England has at least one gay Bishop (I'd hazard a guess that at least 10% of them are gay) and Amazon and Starbucks pay less tax in Austria than the average sausage stall (although to be fair, they do eat a lot of sausages in Austria!)

All in all an overall rating of "meh" for the news today, let's hope something happens before tea.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Liberal dilemmas

Another tasty J&M cartoon that illustrates a modern liberal dilemma, i.e. that of conflating the criticism and/or ridicule of a religion (especially Islam) with racism. 

This category confusion manifests itself in a number of different ways, the net effect is that "racism" as a word (an important word) is becoming ever more meaningless, I have even heard teenagers using it to simply mean "disliked", as in, "do you like my trainers?", "nah, they're racist".

Another example of this confusion would be that I heard a chap on the radio last night who was discussing the murder of a polish man in Harlow, Essex recently. At the end of the segment the man said "we must do everything we can to prevent this kind of racism" - now, in the light of a tragedy like this, I don't wish to be pedantic (I'm going to be) but I doubt this was a "racist" attack. It's unlikely that this unfortunate polish man was a different "race" to his murderer(s) what seems more likely to me is that this was an attack inspired by extreme nationalism, i.e. the attackers were arbitrarily attacking someone because of their nationality (or rather what their nationality was not) rather than their "race". There is no such thing as a Polish "race", native English and Polish people are both Caucasian, in fact the term "race" has no real meaning in Biology at all, genetically we are all so similar that it's a scientifically useless concept. The important point here is that "racism" is bad, but so is extreme nationalism, and they are different things with potentially different remedies. Of course, if we want to be lazy then both can be generalised up into a fuzzy hatred of "the other" but I don't think that's useful if we really want to solve this problem.

"Race", it seems to me, is something people have invented over history as a kind of divisive short hand for whatever the hell they'd like attack at the time, i.e. skin colour, nationality, religion, culture, native language, Celtic or Rangers etc. for this reason it's become a slippery slope kind of concept and a dangerous one. Whenever we invent a term that's malleable like this and is also inherently divisive, we should expect trouble ahead. There's clearly no easy answer, but I wish more schools would teach critical thinking and philosophy; together I believe they could help people straighten out confusing ideas like this in impressionable minds.

In my view there are two sets or categories of entities involved here, one of which should be able to be ridiculed, insulted and attacked and the other should not, the sets are (broadly), 

1. Ideas that people hold and the things that they do, for example religions, politics, rituals, laws, practices, policies, troop movements, flags, countries, languages, hair-styles and so on. (subjective)

2. Human beings and their (un-chosen) attributes like skin colour, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, handicaps, genetics etc. (objective)

Clearly everything in set 1 is man-made or at least requires a human brain in order to manifest itself. Things in set two are products of the natural world, they are things that (subject to some supernaturally inspired debate) are things that people have no real control over. 

It's hard to think of what in set 1 could be criticised and be called "racist" (unless as a proxy for items in set 2) whereas generalisations or discrimination based on most of the things in set 2 would certainly be unethical if not truly "racist".

Mumbo jumbo, for dummies

Have you noticed that Catholic Cardinals these days seem to be in a race to the bottom in an effort to say the most ludicrously bat-shit crazy things in order to desperately hold an ever diminishing audience?

I give you Cardinal Robert Sarah, "Prefect of the congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments". You'd think they could have come up with a snappier job title? Anyway, I don't know about you but at my old school prefects were universally hated for being hand picked by teachers, chiefly (it seemed to us) for their pedantry, sadism, unquestioning compliance to dogma and complete lack of moral integrity.

The good Cardinal claimed many things in a recent speech in Washington, USA, many of which seemed to betray an unhealthy obsession with the sex lives of other people (unresolved issues?) For example, he claimed that same-sex marriage was "demonic" as were transgender toilets, he then went on to claim that "immorality" (his definition of course) was not only tolerated in advanced societies it was "promoted" (where?, how?) and represented religious persecution. To paraphrase, the Cardinal feels that he has the exclusive right (via his invisible friend) to tell the rest of us what's "normal" and what's forbidden and if we complain then we are oppressing HIS freedom.

To cap it all he went on to talk about broken and same-sex marriage "causing damage to little children" - this is clearly the icing on the cake, I would remind the good Cardinal of another thing that harms little children by the tens of thousands, child rapists dressed up as Catholic priests!

I suppose we shouldn't expect any higher standards from this feckless organisation, it's clearly and thoroughly corrupt to the core and clinging onto power and influence as best it knows how. This kind of "demon" invoking mumbo-jumbo may go down well in the more primitive back-waters of Africa and South America (the Catholic church's only remaining growth areas) but Mr Sarah should expect (and hopefully get) roundly criticised and ridiculed in more enlightened lands.

I would love to see a law passed in every country that allows Catholic officials to make speeches only so long as they preface every one with a list of apologies to minorities they have abused and for unethical acts committed (explicitly in the name of their church), of course it could be scripted for convenience and I believe would go something like this,

Before I get to the substance of my speech let me first apologise for my organisation's involvement in the following perverted, immoral, illegal and despicable things,

- Extermination of pagans
- The crusades
- Persecution of heretics
- Reality denial and the retardation of social and cultural progress
- Burning of (supposed) witches
- Religious wars
- Slaughter of Jews
- Slaughter of indigenous peoples
- Collaboration with evil regimes (see photo above)
- Discrimination against Women
- Discrimination againt non-heterosexual people
- Ethnic cleansing
- Promoting unsafe sex in AIDS ridden countries

and last but not least...

- The institutionalised sexual abuse of children in our care

Now that's been clarified, I'd like to talk to you about how, because of an ancient (and secret) qualification in mumbo-jumbo, I am morally superior and you need to do what I say and give me your money or burn in hell forever, oh, and Jesus loves you...