Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Orly Taitz Part 02

Judge to Orly Taitz: Why Shouldn't I Fine You $10k?

Orly Taitz

So... need anything else to convince you she's a nut?

Gloria's parents finally sentenced.

Parents jailed over baby's death

I blogged about baby Gloria, who died of treatable, though serious eczema in 2002, a couple months ago. Now, finally, her parents have been sentenced.

Her father, a Homeopath, was jailed for 6 years, yet still faces further trial (for allegedly threatening his lawyers). Her mother was jailed for four years.

They were both convicted of 'most serious case of manslaughter by criminal negligence', after the court was told Gloria died in screaming pain, from serious health problems that could have been prevented, and indeed, they had neglected to take her to hospital a number of times, despite appointments being booked.

It was noted that both parents were well educated and would have known their baby was in pain and very unwell. It was also noted that Gloria's parents lingered due to 'jet-lag', rather than immediately taking their daughter to hospital after returning from India.


What these people did to their daughter was disgusting. The poor baby was constantly screaming and crying, her skin broken and weeping, she was wasting away and in constant, constant pain. Yet, instead of taking the baby to hospital and getting her the treatment that would have saved her life, they repeatedly missed appointments, refused treatment and 'treated' her with homeopathic remedies instead.

These people should not be allowed to have further offspring and they should not be allowed anywhere near any child ever again. Ten and four years just doesn't seem enough for what they did.

Maybe now, some people will realise that homeopathy is a load of balls. When used instead of life-saving treatment, it leads to this.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Offensive and bigotted? You Has It.

Atheists... do you feel sad when a loved one dies... heck, do you even attend to their funeral if that loved one was religious? Do you go to weddings? How do you get married, like I know you can get married, but I mean like is there some speaker/"priest"?

1) Do you feel sad when a loved one passes away? Will you miss that person... would you ever want to see that person again? (If not, then I think you're too full of logic?) 2) Would you attend t... 1) Do you feel sad when a loved one passes away? Will you miss that person... would you ever want to see that person again? (If not, then I think you're too full of logic?)

2) Would you attend to a loved one's funeral... if they were religious and they passed away? Would you cry at their funeral... thinking you will absolutely NEVER see them again. Ever. Or do you not love that person truly enough that you'd wish to see them or that you'd be depressed or sad about their death for a while or long time...?

3) Do you go to religious weddings (like friends' or a relative's?)?? I know you can, but I can just imagine what you'd be thinking when the priest is saying "We are here in the Presence Of God"... probably "There is no God..."... hmm?

4) How do you get married... I know anyone has the right to get married, but how does the speaker/"priest" talk? What does he/she say to make you hold your groom/bride's hand and to make you say "I Do/I will"?

5) If there truly is no God (according to your standard "belief"), no judgement, no reincarnation, nothing spiritual... wouldn't that give a seriously and really SUICIDAL person MORE "hopeful" reason to just kill himself/herself and never live again (in anyway: afterlife, etc.)...

Because I think that the "Suicide = hell" kinda scares others but sometimes it doesn't stop a suicidal person... but this question is like 1) somewhat... so answer! I don't care how much you say there is no God at all, my faith stands still and I am not asking these questions to disrespect you, I just want to know and kind of get you thinking about them.

Sometimes, this new site I've been palying on recently comes up with some humdingers, it really does. I'm sure this person didn't realise quite how horrifically ignorant, offensive and bigotted they were being when they wrote this.. but bloody hell...

After being told by half a dozen atheists within thirty minutes that it was offensive, she'd since closed the topic.

Sunday Angel - a day late

Sorry - a bit busy yesterday, totally forgot to do this XD

For your enjoyment, I thought I'd share something from my area. This is Bath abbey, in Somerset, a building I have visited frequently since I was about eleven. On the right, you can just see the Roman Baths and the Pump Rooms.

Where are the angel's, you ask? Well, right here:

Yupp. They're climbing up and down the 'ladders' on either side of the abbey.

This rather extensive and detailed carving represents 'Jacob's Ladder' from the Book of Genesis (28:11–19).

Jacob left Beersheba, and went toward Haran. He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it [or "beside him"] and said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you." Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was afraid, and said, "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

I've always rather loved the carvings on Bath abbey - which is why I'm sharing. If you ever get the chance to visit Bath, make sure you take some time to view the Abbey. Inside and out, it is a gorgeous representation of religious architecture and design.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Something confuse and amuse...

In response to this (rather ignorant) question:

How do you explain how people came into existence? Or better yet....what caused the universe to be formed?

luda_belle13 said:

i believe everything sciencetific is a conspirecy!
with the technology we have how do we know its real?
i know, i know, the space shuttle landing and evryhting was so long ago, tech. is so much more advanced now, but how do we know that the gov't. not hiding something from us? maybe its been around for thousands of years and now they're finally sharing it with us?! noone knows. each generation eventually dies off so theres no actual proof.
with the bible, thats the only proof we have of god, jesus and even those years and centuries. . . they say that there was dinosaurs but why doesnt the bible tell us about them?... it was supposedly B.C. . . so it'd be before god right?. . . so how'd he create us? . . . what did.
i think that the way we came to be is just something everyone shouldnt worry about. just something to leave to the actual creator.
if your a christian. jew, catholic, atheist, scientologist... believe what you want. i think we will all find out some day. =]

And despite reading it several times, I'm still not sure what this comment is actually about...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Cosmic Ordering App

Noel.. Noel.. I used to respect you. I used to rather like you. Admittedly, I was rather young, but still, I really did. (I hated Blobby, though, you can keep that great big pink.. thing.)

Obviously, this 'Cosmic Ordering' thing of his is nothing new to me, I first encountered it when he showcased some random doodles on his hands in his game-show 'Deal Or No-Deal' (loada crap, avoid it like the plague). The thing's started off this craze of attention - and in my cynicism, I feel the thing was more of a stunt to gain more viewers and screentime.

Here's what the cosmic Ordering website says about it:

Cosmic Ordering harnesses the power of positive thinking and the creative energy of our thoughts to manifest whatever we desire. There are no limits, you can ask for anything, a new love or a new house, money or wealth, health or healing... whatever you desire can be yours. The only demand is that you be positive, be open and be at ease, requesting your cosmic order without worry or attachment to the outcome.

Cosmic Ordering is the process of identifying something you want or need in your life and then simply placing the order with the cosmos by asking for it. Visualize what it is you want, lightly holding that request in your mind without worry or attachment to the outcome, and then releasing it to the the cosmos. The cosmic ordering service should then be left to fulfil your order in its own creative way. There are many theories about how it works, but the general consensus is that at some level we are all connected, our thoughts are creative and energetic and can communicate through the cosmic connections. Whether it is our own creative thoughts, or some other power that finally manifests our desires is a question for each individual and one of the wonderful mysteries of life. The important thing however is that it works. How often have you thought about someone you haven't been in contact with for a while and then shortly afterwards they contact you? Our thoughts are powerful and creative. Cosmic ordering is about harnessing that positive energy and using it to help realize our dreams.

Yeeaaaahhhh. This is rather reminding me of something else.. I think I wrote at least one blog post about it sometime earlier this year...

AH HAH! I found it.

There was this post I wrote on something similar, and then here's what I was actually thinking of:

The Universal Law Of Attraction


The Secret

Eeyupp - there you go. It's all basically the same thing.

Anyway, what this post was supposed to be about, is that new App Noel's gone and created. Well, obviously Noel didn't actually create it, but he's put his name to it and is probably making a mint off've it. As these things go.

I'm a bit - ok, a lot - of a skeptic, but this thing just strikes me as a really obvious way to con money out of people. Especially considering the official Cosmic Ordering website has a FREE version of this available online.

Unfortunately this is only one of many weird religious/spiritual apps.

NHM & Loch Ness

I laughed. Oh, how I laughed.

Natural History Museum takes punt on discovery of Loch Ness monster in extraordinary money deal with bookmaker

And it gets worse. Honestly.

The Natural History Museum will put the Loch Ness Monster on display in a deal negotiated with bookmaker William Hill.

The London museum secured rights to showcase Nessie's remains in return for verifying her existence according to documents from its archive.

In a deal struck in 1987, the bookmaker paid the museum a yearly stipend of £1,000 to guarantee that its experts would provide 'positive identification' should Nessie be found. The agreement also covered the Yeti.

See? SEE?

Oh, please keep going, go on.. more!

Mr Sharpe has confirmed William Hill continues to pay the retainer, which will have netted the institution at least £22,000 and counting.

Mr Sharpe said: 'We have maintained our relationship with the Natural History Museum and are delighted to do so.

'As we rely on the Met Office to rule on white Christmases, we are dependent on the museum to tell us whether any carcass that may emerge from the loch is a haddock, or a previously unknown creature from the deep.'

Oh, this is brilliant. You couldn't make this crap up.

A previous letter sent to museum staff in 1959 warned against taking part in monster hunts in case it 'damaged the institution's reputation'.

The letter read: 'The trustees wish it to be known that they do not approve of the spending of official time or leave on the so-called Loch Ness phenomenon.

'If, as a result of the activities of members of staff, the museum is involved in undesirable publicity, they will be gravely displeased.'

'Gravely displeased' - I like that. I really, really like that.

A spokeswoman for the museum claimed: 'I have spoken to some senior figures in the museum and they know nothing about a deal with William Hill.'

I am in no way surprised. What type of museum would admit to this sort of thing? Oh, right..

OHLORD this amuses me.

A designer I can admire

Meet Fashion Designer Mr. Fast. Look at him. Memorise his face. This man is a designer I can admire (though not exactly for his designs...)

Mr. Fast actually went against the grain and used 'plus size' models in his show at London Fashion week!

He did actually mix them in with his 'size zero' models, but bloody hell, he actually used almost-normal sized girls for his catwalk show. I am amazed. This is like, the start of an era. Where people begin to realise that, actually, women don't all come one-size-fits-all-stick-insects!

It's something that has annoyed me for years - I'm on the curvy side myself, and almost all the women I have ever known have been exactly the same. The majority of the female population of the first world countries have big hips, rolly tummies, thick thighs, big bums and big boobs. That fashion designers still create outfits specifically for the stick-then, twig-like clothes-horses they call models, has been a mystery to me all through my teens and twenties.

So, seeing this step towards recognising that humans come in all shapes and sizes is rather nice. I hope they keep it up.

I mean, LOOK at the fabulous curves on these women. They have boobs, they have hips, they have bums and thighs. They look healthy and bright and comfortable - which is not something I ever get from the zero-size models, who, to me at least, all look ill - like, one step away from starving to death or something.

Keep it up Mr. Fast. You get this normal-sized woman's approval.

Discussing morals; Part 2

First off, atheism is a religion, even if you do deny it.

Secondly just your royal high and mightyness saying my "anecdotal evidence" is discount does not phase me in the slightest.

Understand, I don't wish you any evil .. .. .. but honestly, anyone who
-- refuses to see the extant evidence of Intelligent Design, and
-- pretends there is no being higher than themself, and
-- that these short seventy to one hundred years make sense in light of eternity, and
-- insists the only meaning of one's existence is what they can accumulate, and what people will remember about them for a few years,
.. .. .. well, I don't understand why they even seek to live; I can't see that they have any purpose for existing. So, I just don't give any more credence to what they say, than their shallow hearts give me.


I'm shaking my head here. His post is depressing - and also off-topic. But never mind.

I ranted;

Atheism is not a religion. It has no holy days, there is no worship, there is nothing to worship, there are no commandments or laws, there are no leaders, no silly outfits or stupid hats, there are no set ways to BE an atheist - I could go on. Atheism is, as I say, very simply the lack of belief in a god/s/diety/higher being/power.

'Atheism can be either the rejection of theism, or the position that deities do not exist. In the broadest sense, it is the absence of belief in the existence of deities.'

It may not phase you, being told that your evidnece is nothing but anecdotal, that's fine, but you have to concede the point that it would be laughed out of the discussion by most people.

You 'don't wish me evil...but'? That sounds like you do. Ah well.

'Extant evidence for ID'? I don't 'refuse' to see it at all, because I can't refuse to see something that doesn't exist. There simply is NO evidence for ID. Everything ID proponents put forth is nothing more than bunkum. Seriously. 15 year old science students can debunk the 'evidence' for ID.

'Pretends there's no higher power'? Again, I can't pretend something doesn't exist, if it actually doesn't. There is no evidence to convince me that your god (which one is it by the way? From your comments, I'm guessing the biblegod?) is real - and most evidence given can be used to 'prove' ANY god you happen to choose, not just yours.

'Makes sense in light of eternity'? Pardon? I happen to believe that this is it. My life, seventy to a hundred years of it, is all there is. So I live it like that's all there is. I stop to admire the world around me, I take great joy in it. Just this morning, on my way home from work, I stopped and spent five minutes watching a Wolf Spider build its web. It was fascinating and glorious. I simply do not understand those people who think they will live on after death - what is the point in doing anything in this short period in a mortal body, if once dead, you can go on and do anything, go anywhere, know anything? Why not just let yourself die now and get to the next life as soon as possible?

'What they can accumulate / remembered for a few years'? I don't know where you're getting your opinions on how atheists live and think, but it's a load of crap. I don't care for material gains or accumulation of wealth - these things are helpful, but they are not the be-all-end-all of my life. My personal reason for living is to continue my bloodline and educate the next generations in my chosen speciality - I love to teach, I love to see my students learning and enjoying my subject, and if only one student in my life continues on in my subect, takes it to the next level, I will be happy, fulfilled. I will feel my life has been worth it.

Obviously, you have a very closed heart and mind. Your post is depressing, in it's lack of understanding and sheer close-mindedness. I do not accept your apology, because I do not beleive it to be sincere. Open your eyes and actually learn about the people around you, instead of pre-emptively forming an opinion and going through life ignoring anything and everything that contradicts it.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Discussing morals.

Please excuse my typos, I was rather tired while taking part in this discussion.

It all started with this:

When did practicing morals become a bad thing?
In today's society, it seems that morality has been thrown out the window (in my honest opinion.) Now I know we are not all perfect, but it just seems to me that out of being politically correct, under the guise of having an "open mind." So many things that many of us were raised with an entirely different set of morals, which was not accepting of what was deemed bad behavior. When did that stop being the case?

I responded with:

On the one hand, I agree that things are not going well at the moment - but it has little to with religion (as a lot of your responders have so far stated) - it is more to do with upbringing. Here in the UK, I am daily confronted with parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children, who do not set good examples or who simply just do not care. This results in generations who do not recognise authority, have emotional-development problems and so on.

On the other hand, morality is a fluid meme. Thing's we consider wrong now, have in the past been considered perfectly normal - and the same goes in reverse. For example, Pederasty - the ancient Greeks found it perfectly normal for an adolescent boy to apprentice to an older man and often they would share bodies. (Though it's all a bit more complicated than that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... )

I find that those who prefer to foist responsibilities onto their chosen god/s are some of the least moral people around, as if, to them, they can do no wrong so long as they follow the letter of the law as written by their god/s. but of course, in a lot of instances, this is simply stupid.

As I said, morals themselves are fluid and always changing (mostly due to new circumstances and the group consensus) so I doubt they're actually being 'thrown out the window'. They're simply evolving and changing - though the very basics of morality (protection of self, family and 'tribe') will likely never change.

And the OPs response:

Well, I respect what you've said but I do disagree because as I've stated, those who were raised in the same era that I was know what I mean. We were raised with values that were accepted and reinforced by the community at large. Everyone knew what was expected and what was right and wrong and there was no "fluid" to it. I've discovered from a lot of answers on this poll so far that I'm too set in my ways to abandon the values I was raised with just to be on the side of political correctness. Thank you for participating in the poll.

I also responded to this response:

-- Right and Wrong
-- Good and Evil
-- Moral Obligation

These are concepts that have been mentally outlawed by those who identify themselves as Liberal/Progressive.

The reason is because these terms, spoken aloud, bring about thoughts of Courtesy, Self Control, Responsibility, Accountability,

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. and GOD.

Uh.... no.

Which probably wasn't the best way to start, but, well, that was my first reaction... but he responded, and it's turned into a bit of a discussion. Seriously, bear with me on the whole 'I'm knackered' thing.

You can claim "no," but you have a long way to go to convince anyone.

You see? Those who do not base their ethics on Concrete Moral Values can convince themselves that anything at all is morally acceptable.

I clinched an "A" in a College Ethics class with that position, under an Atheist Attorney Professor.

I am specifically disagreeing with this: 'The reason is because these terms, spoken aloud, bring about thoughts of Cou[r]tesy, Self Control, Responsibility, Accountability, and GOD.'

To put it bluntly, I disagree with your 'these terms are mentally outlawed' premise. Where is your proof that 'right, wrong, good, evil and moral obligation' have been 'mentally outlawed'? Also, where is your proof that they were specifally 'mentally outlawed' because of the specific reason you gave?

I am an atheist, as you may have guessed, and I have no problem with any of the so-called 'outlawed concepts'. I have absolutely no problem accepting my responsibilities and obligations as a member of the human race, and niether do any of my atheist aquaintances, friends and family. So your premise is proven false at the first step.

I certainly don't automatically think 'God' when I hear those concepts mentioned, by the way, and I seriously doubt many people do at all.

I and most, if not all, atheists, secular humanists and so on, DO have concrete morals and values - they just have nothing to do with the dictates handed down by various religions. I'm happy for you that you got that 'A', but it adds nothing to the conversation, except a jumped up feeling of superiority and authority on your part.

Okay, I corrected the typo.

My proof that 'right and wrong, good and evil, and moral obligation' have been 'mentally outlawed' is in the fact that so many Liberal/Progressives HIT THE CEILING when you bring them up, viciously attack, demean, denegrate .. .. .. and the vast majority of Liberal/Progressives are declared Atheists. They react in that manner because they take it as an attack on their religion.

The problem comes when your Ethics are self-defined. As I asssert, "Those who do not base their ethics on Concrete Moral Values can convince themselves that anything at all is morally acceptable."

Something being "acceptable" and/or "popular" in a society does not make it good or right. It simply means (if that which is made acceptable and/or popular is abberant) that society is corrupt.

First off, atheism is not a religion. (Why do I constantly find myself having to explain this to people?) Atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in a god/s/deity/higher power. That's it. There is nothing religious about it, because the very definition of being atheist is that you don't have a religion.

Secondly, that's not proof, it's annecdotal evidence, and as such it counts for very little. Also, just because a percentage of people you have spoken to have reacted in a certain way, does not mean every single member of that group will do so. (For example, I have met some truly despicable christians - should I now tarnish all christians with the same brush?)

However, I didn't talk about 'society' and 'popular'. I spoke about people, without the aid of religion, having concrete values.

There are certain morals that are, when you get right down to it, biological. The need to protect ones offspring and immediate family, for example, which translates into the wider 'tribe'* - thus, through this need to protect ones offspring, family and 'tribe', we all have the concrete view that killing each other is 'wrong', that rape, theft, violence towards one another is all 'wrong'. It's obviously a bit more complicated than that, but these things are - for want of a better term - 'built in'.

Of course, there are those amongst us who override these 'built in' morals, and do commit despicable acts towards other members of their 'tribe' and even immediate familes.

But yes, some morals - the less 'built in' and more simply 'I dislike this' or 'to keep control of you, this is outlawed' type - do change. For example, (as I mentioned in another comment further up the page) the way people view Pedarasty has changed a great deal since Ancient Greek times. Back then, it was perfectly normal, if not encouraged, that an adolescent boy would apprentice to an older man and often share his body with him.

These days, not only is homosexulaity itself frowned on by a large percentage of the world, the very idea of a young boy entering into a relationship with an older man is viewed as morally wrong for a number of reasons (not least of which, is the age issue.) I personally have no problem with it, so long as the 'boy' is old enough and mature enough to understand what he is doing. But there are plenty out there who do not even agree with that.

Another example is the way women are treated now. It wasn't so long ago that women were frowned upon as morally corrupt for expressing an interest in sex, or who were condemned if pregnant out of wedlock.

In some places, of course, these ways of thinking are still true (in the middle east and certain countries in Africa, for example) and even now, there are women who remember (and will live the rest of their lives with the memories hanging over them) of being sent away and locked up, having their babies taken forcibly away from them and so on, because those in power believed it morally wrong for them to have gotten pregnant - not caring, of course, about whether it was an consensual-accident, or if it was rape that lead to the pregnancy.

The simple act of having sex out of wedlock is what, for the most part, lead to these women leading miserable lives. Now, of course, we see the way those women were treated, for the morally bankrupt and certainly wrong and even evil thing it was. And this was within the last one-hundred years!

*By tribe, I mean both the immediate tribe, that of the family and friends, as well as the wider tribe of race or nation or religious group, and also the whole human race. There are many permutations of this.

P.S. please excuse my typos, it's rather late where I am, and I'm rather tired.

Of course, this may not make any sense at all, or be terribly wrong in palces, and if so, I take full responsibility, because I've been doing Math homework all day, which means my brain is basically in overload and probably about to blow up, or something. So, if I got anything wrong? Point it out, and I'll probably throw a hissy fit and then edit.

Anyway, I'll likely update with his response at some point. Maybe tomorrow, when my head isn't spinning and trying to eat the light anymore.

Sunday Angel

Beato Angelico, 'The Annunciation', circa 1438-45, San Marco Museum, Florence

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Amazing standing broom!

You know what? This amuses me. This amuses me a lot. They actually did a report on a well balanced broom. It amuses me even more that the store owner reckons that 'a little holy spirit' is behind it.

Is there nothing in this world that cannot be explained by 'little holy spirit['s]'?

When you watch this, be warned that your IQ may drop a little in a self defense.


Did no-one point out the problem with these things?

Seriously, people, do we want our kids thinking lego blocks are candy?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Derren Brown and The Lottery

I'm still unsure of how he did it. I saw the wednesday clip live, and then watched his 'explanation' on Saturday.

I didn't believe a word of the 'pure math' explanation; Automatic writing? Using the Mean Average? My arse.

The 'Insider' explanation held a little more water with me, but still seemed a bit far fetched.

The 'Split Screen' idea that has been doing the rounds on the net seems, at least to me, to be the most plausible. Though a little dissapointing, considering this is Derren Brown we're talking about. Someone I highly admire, for his understanding of human psychology and abilities of manipulation.

Here's the link that explains the 'Split Screen' theory, if you want to read it.

I'll be watching the rest of the series with a critical eye, though the next episode looks to be thoroughly interesting.

As if the Catho's weren't bad enough...

Child molester to become ordained minister

Mark Hourigan, convicted child molester (sexually abusing an 11 year old boy) is going to be ordained as a Minister in Kentucky.


Hourigan has served his time and he has agreed not to have any contact with children as a condition of his probation, but his probation is over - and though he will be forever on the books as a sex-offender, he is no longer barred from contact with children.

In fact, as a minister, I should think he'll be in frequent contact with the children of his flock. Maybe I'm biased, maybe I'm prejudaced, but I have a feeling it won't be too long before Hourigan is back in custody again, even if 'god [HAS] touched his heart'.

Child Brides

Obviously, this is something I've known about and ranted about before (and often, respectively) but after logging on to the news this morning, I was confronted with not one, but two reports concerning the barbaric act.

The first was found in the Daily Mail (shut up, I read it for the laughs and rant opportunities) and told of the 12 year old girl who died trying to give birth to her still-born child, after three days of labour and horrendous blood loss. I had a look around, and found it confirmed by various other news reports.

Fawziya Abdullah Youssef - who was married at eleven, to a 24 year old Saudi Arabian man - died of severe blood loss in the al-Zahra district hospital of Hodeida province in Yemen, and her story is only being told because of a serendipitous discovery of her situation by Ahmed al-Quraishi, Chairman of the Siyaj human rights organization.

Fawziya is only one of many such cases in Yemen, the poorest of the Arab countries, where there is no law to protect such girls from what is essentially government sanctioned pedophilia. Due to a lack of education, strict tribal customs and a surplus of the very poor, girls like Youseff are often forced or even sold into marriage (her parents receiving hefty dowries.)

Yemen's Government actually attempted to raise the age of marriage to 17 earlier this year, but apparently it was deemed 'un-Islamic' and sent back for review. I don't hold much hope for that actually ever making it past the review stage.

The second story was found in Reason Weekly, and concerned yet another child bride, this time 10 years old and in Saudi Arabia.

The little girl, who is nothing more than a babe herself, has been forced, by her father, to return to her 80 year old husband, after spending ten days hiding at her aunt's house, following her marriage to the man.

Apparently, the man had previously been engaged to her older sister, but when her sister decided to end the engagement to continue her education, their father offered him the younger girl.

“I was allowed to have a look at her according to Shariah and found her acceptable”

Like a piece of meat, perhaps?

And people have the gall to tell us that Islam respects women? That it is a peace loving religion and all that other rot that gets said about it by fundamental and even moderate Muslims?

If that were so, we wouldn't constantly be hearing reports about child brides, suicide bombings, random acts of downright cruelty and terrorism. I find myself wondering why we, as a country, still deal with places like Saudi Arabia, when they allow things like this to happen.

Oh, but of course, it'll be all about Politics and oil. Our government can go blithely ahead, ignoring the truly shitty lives these women and girls are leading, the crap that countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey get away with, because these are petty issues, beneath their notice.

It makes me sick to my stomach, whenever I hear of these reports.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sunday Angel

From the cover of Nezami Ganjavi's 'The Quintet' - a collection of persian poetry.

As we all know, Islam is essentially descended from Christianity and Judaism - and as is to be expected, Islam developed it's own host of angels. I think this is an illustration of the four archangels (if I am wrong, please get in touch and I'll edit this) Jibril (Gabriel), Mikal (Micheal), Izra'il (angel of Death) and Israfil (angel of Last Judgement).

'The Greatest Show On Earth'

I've got my hands on a copy (stolen off my mother, she had to leave it behind when she went on holiday, the thing's too heavy for her hand-luggage!) and I am now reading it.

I'll give y'all my verdict when I'm done. (But so far? I'm enjoying it XD)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Islamic Search Enginge?

Yupp, you read that right - 'Islamic Search Engine'. After seven months of development, the ImHalal service has been released for Islamic browsers.

Islamic search engine ImHalal filters out potentially sinful material.

This report, from the Times Online, was sent to me by an amused friend, and I thought I'd share. And rant a little.

It's certainly amusing, in that these people are so concerened about what the internet provides, that they had to create their own search engine for it. But it's also - in my opinion - ignorant, dangerous and down-right hateful. For example, this paragraph from the article:

The filter works by examining the user’s search terms and the websites that come up, trawling for a “danger list” of words that may indicate forbidden fruit. On the site, sex-related terms such as “gay”, “lesbian” or simply “sexy” merit a haram level of three. But “beer” and “pork” only merit one point, while “drugs” earns two.

I gave it a go. Type in 'homosexual' or 'gay rights' and you get the 3 point haram level and a warning:

Oops! Your search inquiry has a Haram level of 3 out of 3! I would like to advise you to change your search terms and try again.

I even tried 'lingerie' and 'sexual health' and got the 2 point Haram warning:

Oops! Your search inquiry has a Haram level of 2 out of 3. This means that the results fetched by ImHalal.com could be haram!

I suppose on the upside, it does allow one to search for 'abortion' and 'feminism' without any warnings (though I wonder for how much longer this will be the case, as there is a 'feedback' system, for users to send in terms to be filtered out - 'Bikini' has already been sent in). This doesn't, however, make up for the blatant discrimination against homosexuality and even heterosexual sexual health issues.

This search engine is basically advocating censorship of basic, everyday issues and trying to hide that fact behind claims of moderates avoiding the internet over worries about what their children may come in contact with:

Mr Sardeha said: “Before we started this, we got the feeling that a lot of people in the Middle East, a lot of Muslims, really avoided the internet and prevented their children from accessing the internet because they were afraid their children might come into contact with sexually explicit material.”

There are ways of preventing your children from accessing such worrying material - it's not hard. Though it may not be perfect, you can do it without limiting search engines with discriminatory and censorious 'haram' level filters.

Obviously, people can go elsewhere, use other search engines - but that this thing exists is bad enough. Limiting the availability of information in this way can cause harm. People restricted to an engine that explicitly describes 'homosexual', 'gay', 'lesbian' and so on, as 'haram' and will not open any page containing the words, limits the exposure to such that normalises and help to create acceptance of a significant portion of the population of this planet.

In short, I don't like it.

James Randi

I just found out that he's currently dealing with cancer, with something like a 50/50 chance of another 5 years with us.

The guy's a bit of an inspiration to me, and certainly important to most, if not all, skeptic/freethinking/atheist's around the world. He'll be sorely missed, but he's not gone yet.

If nothing else, Randi's a fighter - he's 81 and has been doing live shows for years, giving his talk on Critical Thinking, Skepticism and Debunking - and he's undergoing chemotherapy, so I doubt he'll be taking that step into the long sleep anytime soon.

There seems to be a little worry over what will happen to the JREF and TAM when he's gone - but I don't think they should worry so much. He may be the face of both, but his legacy will keep them going, especially considering there are so many people now involved, with ever more joining and contributing all the time. Phil Plait has already taken over as the new President at JREF and TAM has many supporters and famous faces (not least of whom are Penn and Teller!) so I doubt it will founder with Randi gone.

But as I said, he's not gone yet, and probably won't be for a few more years to come - so, from my tiny little corner of the blogosphere, I wish him well and hope his chemo isn't too taxing. He's a great mind and a great personality and will continue to inspire us free thinkers, skeptics and atheists for years to come.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Sunday Angel

I've decided to give myself a kick up the butt and start properly blogging again.

So, taking a leaf out of various blogger's books (most prominantly, Pharyngula) I've decided to share an image, and maybe talk about it a bit, every Sunday.

As an Artist, I've gone with, well, art (who'da thunk it, right?) and as an atheist, I decided 'Angel's' were an appropriate and artistically interesting subject to run with.

(I know, a godless heathen appreciates art depicting mythical ceatures! I'm sure you'll get over it.)

So! I'm starting this off with an image by William Blake, which, hopefully, will show you that I won't be sticking with the typical, disneyfied images of angels that do the rounds among the religious and woo-fans alike.

William Blake
The Angel of Revelation
Pen and watercolour,
393 x 262 mm
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1914, 14.81.1

Revelation 10:1-7

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down." Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, "There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets."

A gorgeous start, right? And not your typical rendition of an Angel, either - something that I rather like about Blake's work, he didn't use the cliche, effeminate, robed creatures that are so oft' used to depict scenes from the Bible.

This image works perfectly as an illustration of the text, with a very litteral interpretation of the moment Saint John was 'gifted' with a 'Divine vision' - the quoted text above - and later recorded.

While I may not believe any of this really happened, or in anything divine, I can definitely appreciate good art and interesting imagery. It has to be said, holy writings have inspired some fantastic works, some of which I hope to share with you on Sundays from now on.