News From Around The Blogosphere 9.18.10

September 18, 2010

1. Buddhist monk caught for filming naked women – Net Khai, a Cambodian Buddhist monk was arrested for filming naked women. Not just a few naked women but over 600 naked women bathing in holy water at a temple. The article doesn’t make it clear whether it was with the knowledge and consent of the women or not, which is kinda an important detail. But what’s interesting is that he’s been stripped of his monk status for this, while Catholic priests weren’t even defrocked for raping children.

2. Finally an easier way to become a vampire – Want to become a vampire but having  trouble finding a vampire willing to turn you into one? Well now there’s an easier way. You can buy a vampire transformation spell.

3. David Silverman to be president of American Atheists – I’ve briefly met Silverman twice. Once last year at a Jolly 13 Club gathering and again a few months again at another big gathering of many skeptically themed groups at the same location that also happened to be on Silverman’s birthday. I have no idea how well he’ll do, but I wish him the best of luck. He takes over from Ed Buckner next week.

4. Burqas and niqabs banned from public spaces in France in 246-1 decision – To be fair, the Senate did have about 100 abstentions but still, it’s quite clear the French no likey the burqa. I remain still very undecided on this issue because on the one hand, I support free expression and oppose government telling people what they can’t wear but on the other hand, the burqa is an evil tool that’s been used to oppress Islamic women for a very long time. And as much as they claim to want to wear it, it’s only because they’ve been so indoctrinated as to embrace their own servitude. Now it can be argued that our culture is just the opposite, where women are pressured to wear less clothing. However, the cultural pressures are entirely different in the Western world and not nearly as dominant. As Richard Dawkins said when an imam commented about how we dress our women, “They dress themselves!”

5. IHOP sues religious fruitcakes – The Internation House of Pancakes (IHOP) is suing a Christian group calling themselves the International House of Prayer (IHOP) over illegal appropriating the brands famous acronym. After that trial is over, then maybe they can sue Steve Jobs.

6. Woody Allen comes out as an atheist…again – I don’t know why it came to a surprise to the NY Times that Allen was an atheist since this is hardly news but it was great to read Allen criticize both religion and psychics are nonsense.

7. Salman Rushie defends the “Mosque” “at Ground Zero” – If even a man who’s been on the run from a fatwa for many years has to defend Muslims, it really shows what a manufactured controversy this is.

8. Saudi woman killed for using Facebook – The woman’s own father murdered her.

The unnamed woman from Riyadh was beaten and shot after she was discovered in the middle of an online conversation with a man, the al-Arabiya website reported.

The case was reported on a Saudi Arabian news site as an example of the “strife” the social networking site is causing in the Islamic nation.

Saudi preacher Ali al-Maliki has emerged as the leading critic of Facebook, claiming the network is corrupting the youth of the nation.

“Facebook is a door to lust and young women and men are spending more on their mobile phones and the Internet than they are spending on food,” he said

Damn you Facebook! Wouldn’t it be ironic if with all our troops in the Middle East, if Facebook ended up being the thing that forces the region to join the civilized world?

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News From Around The Blogosphere 4.19.10

April 19, 2010

1. Loose women cause earthquakes?

2. 26% of Millennials are religiously unaffiliated – This is up from 20% among Gen Xers, which in turn was up from 13% of Baby Boomers. This suggests that contrary to what many religious insist, this is not just a brief post-9/11 trend. On the contrary, the religiously unaffiliated have been on the rise for some time now. It’s only now that they’re coming out in numbers that demand attention.

3. Belgium the first nation to ban the burqa – In a unanimous vote, Belgium approved a law that would effectively ban the burqa or any clothing that covers the entire face in public. This is complicated issue and even I’m not entirely sure where I stand on it.


News From Around The Blogosphere 1.23.10

January 24, 2010

1. Man may be capable of running 40 MPH

The newly published evidence identifies the critical variable imposing the biological limit to running speed, and offers an enticing view of how the biological limits might be pushed back beyond the nearly 28 miles per hour speeds achieved by Bolt to speeds of perhaps 35 or even 40 miles per hour.

2. UK bans dowsing rods posing as bomb detectors – I’ve blogged before about the bogus bomb detectors used by Iraqi military officials. Glad to see the media isn’t dropping the ball on reporting this sham.

3. The other day I posted this clip of William Shatner asking “psychic” John Edward some great hardball questions:

Well I didn’t see this clip from the end of the show that seems to further suggest that you can’t fool Captain Kirk:

4. John Travolta & other $cientology vampires feed off Haiti disaster victims – I probably shouldn’t be surprised. After 9/11, Tom Cruise showed up to get the cult free publicity by giving the FDNY bogus “detox” treatments and the $cientologists showed up after Virginia Tech in the wake of that atrocity. They really have no shame.

5. Vanity Fair visits the Creation “Museum” – And they brought Paul Bettany, the atheist actor who portrays Charles Darwin in the new film “Creation” with them to take photos. My favorite part of the article was this:

The Creation Museum isn’t really a museum at all. It’s an argument. It’s not even an argument. It’s the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism. This whole building is devoted to the literal veracity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis: God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin. That’s an awful lot of explaining to do. This place doesn’t just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology.

6. Denmark’s Prime Minister says burqas not welcome in Denmark – Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and according to its Prime Minister, it’s the burqa:

THE face-covering burqa and niqab veils worn by some Muslim women “have no place in Danish society”, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen has said. “They symbolise a view of women and humanity that we totally oppose and that we want to combat in Danish society,” he said.

Denmark was “an open, democratic society where we look at the person to whom we are talking, whether it’s in a classroom or on the job”.

“That is why we don’t want to see this garment in Danish society,” he said.

Now why can’t the U.S. have politicians with that kind of balls?


Islamic garb and public policy

January 8, 2010

I saw two stories today regarding conflicts between Islamic wardrobe and authorities.

First, France is going forward with banning the burqa. I’m sort of mixed on this because while there are obvious situations where a hidden face cannot be allowed to deter crime, it’s hard to conclusively argue that it’s harmful in most public settings. However, of course, the bigger issue is that the burqa itself is a form of slavery, which President Nicolas Sarkozy and others point out:

Mr. Sarkozy has said the head-to-toe garment is unwelcome on French soil. The leader of his party bloc in the National Assembly called it a “negation of life in society.” The spokesman for the Socialist opposition condemned it as “a prison for women,” a description only slightly less damning than that of his Communist colleague who termed it “ambulatory prison.”

They’re not wrong. Of course the other element to this whole controversy is that Islamic women have grown up their whole lives in a society that has brainwashed them into thinking the burqa is a good thing and not the prison that it is. So if you ask them, they’ll happily insist that they’re choosing to wear it with their own free will. But what is free will to the brainwashed? This is a delemma we see in cult members. As far as they’re concerned, they’re making free choices even when they’re really under a form of mind control.

The second story is a little closer to home. Muslims are protesting the latest full-body search security measure implimented at airports with regards to women in head scarves. In this case there’s a particular woman, Nadia Hassan, who was searched. This is also a very morally ambiguous case because if the woman was profiled based solely on her race and religious, that very questionable behavior. Then again, the whole full-body search seems extreme to begin with. However, we are talking about airport security, which is a legitimate concern.


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.13.09

December 13, 2009

1. Ray Comfort caught plagiarizing Origin of Species intro – I was reluctant to even bother reporting this story because it was about as irrelevant as that unauthorized use of Imagine in Expelled. I mean there are just so many better things to focus our criticisms on than the fact that the only part Comfort actually contributed his own original content too was not even original. But once PZ Myers decided to report it, I figured I might as well too. It turns out that Comfort stole the first three pages from an essay by University of Tennessee professor Stan Guffey. Also note that those were only part of the Comfort introduction that wasn’t idiotic, tired, and long-refuted creationist nonsense. Guffey is considering legal action.

2. Study finds monkeys have syntax

A study carried out in Ivory Coast has shown that monkeys of a certain forest-dwelling species called Campbell’s monkeys emit six types of alert calls. The primates combine these calls into long vocal sequences which allow them to convey messages about social cohesion or various dangers, including predation.

3. Christopher Hitchens tells the real story of Christmas

4.  Engineered Bacteria Turn CO2 Into Fuel

In a new approach, researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have genetically modified a cyanobacterium to consume carbon dioxide and produce the liquid fuel isobutanol, which holds great potential as a gasoline alternative. The reaction is powered directly by energy from sunlight, through photosynthesis.

5. French justice minister tells Muslim men who force their wives to wear burqas that they’re not welcome in France – That is freakin’ awesome. Why can’t we have people like this running our country. Thatwoman, Michele Alliot-Marie, deserves some kind of metal.

‘The wearing of the niqab or burkha is a problem that affects our ability to live together, the values of the republic and in particular human dignity.

‘For instance, someone who would be seeking French citizenship and whose wife wears the full veil is someone who would not appear to be sharing the values of our country.

‘Therefore in a case like that one, we would reject his request.’

You oppress women and you’re not welcome in our country. Sounds like the height of rationality to me.

6. Atheists save the world against the virus of religion in Marvel comic books

In an issue of The List: Wolverine, the heroes Fantomex (a genetically engineered supersoldier) and Captain Marvel are faced with an army of zombie-like creatures, people who have been infected with an evil virus that can only take over your mind if you believe in some sort of god. So they swing into action, safe from the infection, because neither one believes in gods.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.25.09

November 26, 2009

1. Suicide bomber Barbie – Okay, actually it’s just Barbie in a burqa. This only goes to show that Barbie will never stop keeping women down in society. But I guess at least it’s for a good cause:

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s for Save The Children.

2. War on Christmas continues with new athvertisement – And though I really shouldn’t have to say this, of course there’s no such thing as the “War on Christmas.” But it’s fun to play along with Fox News’ little conspiratorial delusion. The American Humanist Association is sponsoring a new nation-wide campaign involving ads with the slogan, “No God? …No problem! Be good for goodness’ sake.” This is the latest variation on a common theme. And despite the fact that it doesn’t say anything negative at all about anyone’s religion, I guarantee that it won’t be long before we hear from outraged Christians who feel personally slighted by the ad.

3. Marietta, Georgia considers dropping “so help me God” from police officer oath – Of course there’s some strange controversy over it. Councilman Van Pearlberg apparently just inquired as to whether it had ever been challenged, which somehow led to the option to remove it being considered. Pearlberg, however, claims he never actually objected to it and thinks it should not be removed, while also saying, “I don’t think anybody should be forced to say anything…I just don’t know what the alternative would be.” Keep it as part of the oath or give people the freedom to say what they want? Which is it? They’re mutually exclusive positions. If what you’re saying is that people should not be required to say it but they can should they be so inclined, then why not just obey the Constitution and remove it while leaving open the option for individuals to unofficially include it should they desire to do so?

4. Matt Barber blames everyone for Will Phillips’ decision except Will Phillips – Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right organization, has publicly come out to respond to 10-year-old Will Phillips’ decision to not stand for the Pledge until gay marriage is legalized. Basically, that response is simply ranting about how all of Barber’s ideological opponents are responsible for brainwashing the kid. He’s apparently a pawn of his evil parents, liberals, atheists, gay activists, Hollywood, etc. To whoever that newscaster was who asked Will Phillips what a gay-wad was, Matt Barber’s your man. Hopefully Jon Stewart can dispatch some pro wrestlers to force an apology. What I want to know is, who is responsible for Matt Barber’s being a flaming moron?

5. Small children prove more knowledgeable about evolution than Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron:

6. Chris Matthews vs. Bishop Tobin over recent Catholic extortion tactic:


Al Qaeda threatens violence in France

July 1, 2009

danish-cartoon-bombThe other day, I blogged about how France is considering banning the burqa. Now while I strongly oppose the burqa, I expressed some doubts that banning it outright would be an appropriate course of action.

Well, rather predictably those Islamic fundamentalists in Al Qaeda have responded with threats of violence:

“We will not tolerate such provocations and injustices, and we will take our revenge from France,” said the statement, signed by Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, calling himself “commander of al Qaeda in North Africa [Islamic Maghreb].”

Now when they go and do things like this or the riots over the Danish cartoons, I’m certainly more inclined to support France banning the burqa if for no other reason than to piss off these assholes. However, I do still support civil rights and am still a bit uncomfortable with the idea of governments dictating what wardrobes the people can and can’t wear even when that clothing is a symbol of slavery and the women only wear it  because they’ve been indoctrinated to go against their own interests.

As much as I think I understand the manipulation that was required to keep these women in submission, many genuinely believe that wearing the burqa is actually giving them the freedom to reject the hyper-sexualization that is so often criticized in the West. Of course it’s mostly nonsense. Though a reasonable discussion can be had discussing how our culture may be manipulating women in the West to wear less clothing. But of course in the West, women have options. The pressures to wear less aren’t nearly as strong as the pressures in Islamic cultures to wear more. And many women in the West do freely choose to dress more conservatively.

But still, even with all the indoctrination, should government have the authority to tell a women they don’t believe that she sinserely in her heart of hearts wants to wear the burqu but only thinks she does and then legally require her to dress differently? Deluded as she may be, this girl seems to genuinely want to wear a burqa:

My personal opinion is that we should be more focused on stopping the disease than the symptoms. We should be putting more effort into educating people in critical thinking. Then maybe they’ll choose to take off the burqas themselves.