Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Love Having an Excuse to be Smug

Having previously stated that "studies" are at best a starting point for science and at worst a load of latrine ballast, I will be seen as somewhat hypocritical for bringing this up but I refuse to be less hypocritical than the rest of my species. (Why not at least be honest about it?)

In that spirit, here is an article about some findings which indicate that religion is bad for society. Certain creationists (many in fact) have argued against evolution in part by claiming that belief in it is the cause of all racism, war, greed and bad weather and thus must be false. I thought that the supposed societal effects of believing something should not be used to determine if it is true or not but not everyone sees it that way. Would this mean that if it is true that religion has a negative effect on society that all religions have been proven false? (Does that mean I win? Can we all go home?)

I know, I know. It could be that the high suicide rate and teen pregnancies and murders are what is causing high religious observance (God 'elp us!) or they could both be caused by a third, non-obvious cause. But why philosophize? Let's just blame God. (Just kidding big guy! Don't hurricane me or nothin'. He he - gulp)

But in matters of theology the last word should go to someone who really knows the issues and is an esteemed thinker who is known for wisdom and intellectual depth. Unfortunately she is on vacation, so in her stead I give to you, ladies and gentlemen...
(drum roll)

A man of high office and low brow...
Alabama state Sen. Hank Erwin When is this planet going to instituted mandatory intelligence tests for politicians? It is not like people have not been made to look ridiculous over this thinking for weeks now. This means he either is completely out of touch with what is going on around him or he has no ability to learn from the stupidity of others. Either way he looks over qualified for being a senator. Send him to Canada so we can make him our new God.

PS. Since Hurricane Rita did not look much like a fetus the way Katrina was supposed to have, I went back and looked at many hurricane photos and noticed a disturbing trend. They all resemble the anuses (ani? anusese?) of sodomites. (At least that is what I assume a sodomite's anus looks like under false colour radar and such. It is an experiment that I am not rushing out to perform.) Someone had better inform Sen. Hank Erwin. This sounds like it would be right up his alley. The Pope will want to get to the bottom of this too.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Pope is One Daft Old Man.

Pope Benedict XVI (aka Joseph Alois Ratzinger, aka Father Whitewash) is taking pedophilia and child molestation seriously now. He is blaming all the homosexual priests. Funny, I would have blamed the pedophilic, child-molesting priests myself or at least the bishops, priests and cardinals who helped them cover up their crimes but I guess that might hit a bit close to home for the good vicar of Christ. (Hey Ratzinger. How is Cardinal Law doing these days? Is he still kissing your ass for giving him that cushy Vatican appointment which got him out of Boston before the consequences of his complicity caught up with him?) I guess a scapegoat is as good as a perpetrator and since you can't blame the Jews for everything these days (unless you live in the Middle East) you need someone to blame. Not enough people know what you are talking about when you criticize the "dictatorship of relativism" so "rooting out the queers" makes for a much better distraction. Plus, it will allow him to conduct an inquisition - old habits die hard:

"An inspection of the 229 Catholic seminaries in the US is due to begin this month.

The review, known as an Apostolic Visitation, will examine whether there is "evidence of homosexuality" within the seminary."

Any evidence of pedophilia will, of course, be ignored until the papal statute of limitations on such crimes runs out or longer in nations which do not abide by the papal statute of limitations.

An "Apostolic Visitation" eh? Sounds like something we should call the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal about. Is the Pope going to be at all 229 seminaries at once like those saints of yesteryear?

BTW: Maybe the church could spend some of the time it was going to use to root out homosexuals and use it to issue an immediate request that all nations make sexual abuse - even by clergy - a crime with no statue of limitations and perhaps more importantly, to make non-disclosure of such crimes and assistance in covering up such crimes itself a sex crime - again, even when committed by clergy. They still have not gotten around to that. In fact, they find the report on the Philadelphia sex abuse conspiracy to be "a vile, mean-spirited diatribe". [sniff.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Kabbalah is a Science. No Really.

Madonna's husband Guy Ritche (director of the "movie" Swept Away) has added his famous wife's religion to the lists of sciences. Yes, Kabbalah is now, according to this Guy guy a science.

Quick Guy, what qualifies something as a science?

Rather than subject you all to an infinite expanse of Jeopardy music I will give Kabbalah a quick evaluation. Are the elements of Kabbalah ever subjected to the scientific method. Do practitioners ever formulate experiments which have the potential to support or falsify the statements of Kabbalah? Have their statements ever been altered due to the results of such experiments? Do practitioners of Kabbalah publish their statements and experiments testing them so as to solicit criticism from their peers? Three strikes. While we are at it maybe Tom Cruise could answer the same questions about Scientology. Are their any celebrities out there who are interested in real science? Even the televised holy folk have Dr. Pat Robertson to hold up the science end of their world.

Now this is not saying that Kabbalah is without any factual knowledge or that it is not based on the experience of those who invented it (though what I have been able to discover about it makes it sound somewhat fluffy in the knowledge department). Local tribal shamans in the rain forests have a good deal of knowledge about local medicinal plants and other technical knowledge yet shamanism is not a science because it has nothing resembling a scientific method or peer review. Trial and error can discover a lot of knowledge but it can also result in some pointless and potentially dangerous practices being incorporated into your culture as traditions.

What is interesting is that when some movements or followers of a belief (astrologers, pet-psychics, dowsers etc.) wants to be considered legitimate they claim to be a science but when the rules and obligations of science are put to them they claim that science and scientists are closed-minded and oppressive by nature (that never includes themselves).

Oh well. (I seem to have no other response to life these days.)

UPDATE: It gets worse. It always gets worse doesn't it? Guy's latest movie Revolver is in the running against Swept Away for worst movie ever. ("Clever people get it.")

That last link is to an article which reminded me that this new modern "Kabbalah Center" Kabbalah is like a Scientology version of the old Kabbalah sect:

"Other revenue is raised from the sale of dubious merchandise, such as an Pounds 18 red string wristband and special water costing Pounds 2.80 a bottle. And the path to what the organisation's leaders call 'the divine light' does not come cheap. Visitors to the London HQ are asked to pay Pounds 151 for an initial consultation.

Rabbi Berg himself is a controversial figure. Among his many wild claims is the assertion that a 'positive flow of energy' can cure illness and make people rich, and that Jews would have survived the Holocaust had they only studied Kabbalah."

Really? Maybe the "special water" helps you fly over barbed wire barricades and makes you impervious to bullets. No wonder it costs 2.8 pounds for a bottle. What a deal! But if Hamas ever gets hold of this stuff there will be suicide air raids. Don't fire until you see the red of their wrist bands.

Does this new Kabbalah involve smoking crack for "ceremonial purposes"?

Monday, September 19, 2005

No fair!

If women can write their names in the snow, what will they need men for?

Bobbing for Power.

I don't know. There is something unseemly about generating electricity through "bobbing". It sounds like some hair brained Bill Clinton era plan.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Cry, Lie and Exploit Your Enemy's Dead Mother.

Aaron Broussard should be pumped into Lake Pontchartrain with the rest of the toxic ooze.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ophelia - Blame Bush

UPDATE: Hurricane Ophelia did little damage to New England (thus getting Bush out of the conundrum described below) and is currently dumping most of its rain on the Maritimes. This is seen as proof that George Bush is using evil supernatural forces to control the weather. As someone who lives in the Maritimes I would like to tell Beelzebub Bush to knock it off. Our weather is damp enough without your machinations.

I would like to suggest to the left-wing that they wait until the winds of hurricane Ophelia drop below hurricane levels before blaming Bush for his slow response. I mean this is a no loose situation for them if they don't jump the starter's pistol. If Bush is quick getting aid to North Carolina it will be seen as proof that he cares more about whites on beach fronts than blacks in New Orleans and if he is too slow it will be said that he has learned nothing from Hurricane Katrina about disaster relief. What does it say about him that he can be consistently outwitted by the media, given the state of today's media? It is like watching a cat with its head stuck in a paper bag trying to back out of it by walking backwards. Sad but funny. I would like to think that the media is not hoping for a huge death-toll to blame on Bush. Even if I am not delusional in that hope, I am certain that if so much as one person dies there will be a rush to think up ways of implying that his Iraq policy is to blame without actually saying it. Like by finding someone who will say it and interviewing them at length - that usually works.

Maybe the media is a Biblical style plague that is being set on Bush by God to punish him for cozying up to the hard-line God botherers and using the Lord's name in lame (that's like using His name in vain only in a more obvious and self-serving manner). Hey if anti-abortion people can believe that Katrina looked like a giant storm fetus I can have my theory.

Teach the controversy!

Monday, September 12, 2005

It's the JOOOOOOOOOOZE! (And the Freemasons.)

The Jews and the Freemasons (possibly with the help of the Men-In-Black and their cyborg friends at the RAND corporation) have Tony Blair in their power and have been using him to unjustly overthrow a harmless totalitarian mass murder in Iraq in a sinister attempt to take over the world. That is according to one of the Prime Minister's own advisors.
A Government spokesman confirmed last night that ministers and officials consulted Mr Thomson on issues concerning Muslims but refused to be drawn on his views. "We talk to a lot of people, including many whose views we do not necessarily agree with," she said.
And people wonder why politicians don't consult with the public more often. Maybe they should consider listening to fewer people. The rest of this article is too pure and good to spoil so I recommend that you read the article about Prime Ministerial Advisor, Ahmad Thomson's views for yourself. Certainly anti-Jewish racism is not common among Muslims communities is it?

"Holocaust Day must be scrapped, say Muslim leaders" Apparently it is too exclusive so it is offensive to Muslims (and Nazis - no one ever thinks about how the Nazis feel [sniff]).

And just when you thought the world is too weird to get any weirder, someone's religion comes riding in to dispel that thought. The Jehovah's Witnesses are taking court action to try to stop people from reading content from old issues of The Watchtower handout.


Those pamphlets that they have been shoving through every mail slot, under every door and into the hands of every bleary-eyed Saturday morning heathen in the universe are now kind of embarrassing to them. And yet they keep on distributing new ones. Maybe they could hire the JOOOZE and the Freemasons to round up all their old tracts while they are doing maintenance work on the Big Brother infrastructure in all our homes. They should really put a "best before" stamp on all future info.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Double Standards or Double Vision?

The media has been criticized over how they have been portraying blacks during this disaster. One of the main symbols of this is the fact that Yahoo! News has published two different photos of people getting food from a grocery store and while the one which shows a white couple has a caption which describes them as "finding food" the picture of a black youth has a caption which describes him as having "looted" from a grocery store. Now as much as I dislike having to be in the position of defending the media and as much as I would question the application of the term "looting" to getting food from an abandoned store in a collapsing city during a disaster with no probability of anyone coming back to take inventory anytime soon, I have some problems with this controversy.

There have even been celebrities condemning this double standard (Celebrities are involved! This is serious!). But this seems to be a classic example of the need to get both sides of an issue before you take sides. Yahoo! has made these pictures available without doing any editorializing. They have accepted the captions as written by the originating sources which in this case are not the same.

If I hire a woman to work for $100 a day and my competitor hires a man to do the same job for $120 a day, it is not proof that our industry is against equal pay for equal work. It might just be that I am a cheap SOB.

The claims that the failures (real and/or perceived) of the relief or preparedness effort is a result of racism and indifference is also something that requires a strong case to be made rather than just throwing out accusations. I can not help wonder how many people who might have wanted to join the Red Cross or FEMA or the National Guard will reconsider if they are going to be called a racist if their efforts are not 100% successful. On the evening news tonight, one refugee outside of New Orleans claimed she had been treated like less than human (with repeated emphasis on the term) because people could not help her. She gives the example that she asked at a FEMA office if they could help her find information on a family member inside New Orleans and they told her they did not have the data base yet. She later found out that FEMA had been given the data base. How could it possibly be that the FEMA organization has this information but this branch office does not? Her assumption is that the FEMA employees had the info but did not want to be bothered helping her.

Now it is easy to see why someone who has been through a disaster and is terrified for the welfare of a loved one would be over reacting due to frustration but fore the media to pick this out as an example of how heartless and half-assed the relief effort has been is disgusting. There is not even a private enterprise on this planet that works at 100% efficiency let alone a government agency in the middle of a disaster zone. I remember working in a public sector office that dealt with the public (government offices being about as far from 100% efficiency as you can get despite the hard working and dedicated employees they have - no really it is true... well, mostly) and being told by people that we were treating them like dogs because they were being asked to wait their turn as we dealt with people who had been waiting longer than them. I eventually asked myself why I was taking crap from people who I was trying to help. If I had been doing something life saving I might have had an answer to that but I suspect that even rescue workers have their limits.

Maybe it is the result of Karma that the media is being accused of racist portrayals given that they are uncritically repeating such accusations about the relief effort.

Am I Defending Bush or Not?

I noticed that the Sandmonkey has been keeping track of some of the stupidity that gets dredged up by disasters like so much gulf coast bottom-feeding goo. He has observed some of the recent theories of the reasons for Katrina and offers his own (tongue-in-cheek) theory which is probably going to catch on.

Pat Robertson has yet to theorize about God lifting his magic shield that protects America. I wonder why he is being so... unPat like. Hummm.

The media has decided that the fact that there are National Guardsmen in Iraq is why it took so long to get help to New Orleans. James S. Robbins examines that claim (Tip of the hat to Powerline). But then just because a theory is demonstrably false is no reason to stop reporting it as if it were credible. Just as the media still believes that journalists are being systematically targeted in Iraq (despite the fact that they never go there and have never offered any proof of this allegation) so the "truth" will always be that there were no National Guard personnel on American soil when Katrina hit. So I would be on Bush's side on this right?

Not Quite. It seems that FEMAs list of charities which they are encouraging people to donate to includes only two secular groups, the Red Cross (it kind of looks Christian so that's ok) and Chicago-based America's Second Harvest (it sounds like something from revelations so no one will know it is one of those evil non faith-based groups). This not only preserves the illusion that only religions have enough compassion to do this kind of charitable work but helps steer as much of the donations toward faith based organizations so that they will be able to be out in front of the long term aid efforts. It might just help if his faith-based social spending policy is ever put to an objective evaluation for effectiveness. He can point to the fact that religious organizations spent more money on the relief effort than any secular groups.

Oh, and guess who did make the FEMA list. Go on guess. Ok I will tell you.
(Drum roll please......................................................................)

Pat Robertson.

It kind of makes sense in a stab-yourself-in-the-eye kind of way. Old people are dying of hunger so the government is encouraging people to give money to a preacher (if that is what they call people who believe in invisible force-fields these days) who makes weight loss drinks which defy aging.

I think I will send my cash to someone other than Pat. Just to be safe.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

How Does This Help?

I have been away for a few days but I was able to follow the gulf coast storm and aftermath. It is truly mind boggling.

During a disaster of this nature, whether you are in it or watching from a far you need to ask one question: How does what I am doing help?

When 9/11 happened there where two evangelical Christians in my workplace. One started planning a fund raiser for the aid effort and disaster recovery. The other voices concerns that Canadians were helping the people of a wealthy country when there were poor people closer to home and there were war victims all over the world everyday who no one ever cared about. Surely the U.S. government has sufficient resources to deal with this sort of thing, she felt. One needs to ask whether throwing "insightful" commentary out like cold water on those who would respond quickly to sudden calamity is helpful. Does not helping New Yorkers somehow benefit the chronic poor? Letting nationalistic and jurisdictional formalities stand in the way of people's compassionate nature is something that, thankfully, most people don't see the wisdom of.

And as for saying that someone else should handle the situation, American organizations like USAID did not sit back waiting for the UN to get done picking a 4 star hotel to coordinate from after the tsunami. Passing the buck in a time of crisis is not helpful. (There is also the point that people in disaster areas are generally not being shielded from help like people in Eritrea or Zimbabwe or Niger).

Something else, by the way, which is not helpful, is shooting at people who are trying to rescue you and your neighbors. The people who are screaming to be helped at the Superdome should be told all of the reasons why help is so slow and part of that explanation is that people from their own community are screwing them over. (But then they were not told that the lower levels of the dome might flood so why start telling them things now?) If I found myself attacking ambulances and tipping over boats that were trying to evacuate desperately ill patients from a hospital where some of these patients were lying in their own excrement while staff manually ventilated them, I would ask myself: How is what I am doing helpful?

Also, with all due respect to the cops and national guard who are doing the impossible in an impossible situation, it seems that peaceful democratic nations have forgotten what martial law is meant to be like. They were saying on the news that when the cops see someone walking around with a gun in their waist band they can do nothing because the jails are flooded. My suggestion? Try shooting them. They are running around raping and murdering refugees, firing at supply helicopters and interfering with search and rescue and evacuation. Mow them down. I am not against gun ownership but when a person uses one to wage war on humanity in a disaster scene they need to feel more of the "martial" and less of the "law".

Over all I am as impressed by the dedication and seemingly superhuman effort of the volunteers and relief workers as I am by the fact that even after 9/11 and the tsunami our planet's civilizations are still unable to properly anticipate and prepare for even foreseeable calamities. This will not be the last time huge numbers of people need to be evacuated from somewhere so why don't certain nations on each continent station small fleets of heavy lifting choppers with large enough cargo holds to carry large groups of refugees out of harm's way. Wait a second, wouldn't that be something our militaries need anyway?

P.S. To the looter who was carrying the big pile of shirts and blouses and grinning like sailor on shore-leave: Do you have some cunning plan to sew those things into a boat like some episode of MacGyver or are you just excited about playing dress-up while you wait to die? Why would an able-body person like yourself, if he were going to steal something, not just steal a skateboard or a bike and head off down that open freeway that the busses are using? How are luxury goods going to help you? Why are you so happy?


Day By Day© by Chris Muir.