Saturday, April 26, 2008

Do You Speak Mumbo-Jumbo?

Into crystals, into healing! Energy vortex quite revealing!

You need a highly refined bullshit detector these days to negotiate the obstacle course of "new age", "alternative", pseudo-scientific claptrap that professional hucksters and well-meaning dupes throw all over the landscape.

In his book The Devil's Chaplain, Richard Dawkins has gathered together some examples that are real gems. They provide a little peek into that magical world, inhabited by many of our fellow citizens, where scientific language, new age hot air, and meaningless but superficially impressive terms are so smoothly blended that bullshit often easily passes for truth.

Well, sometimes the blending isn't all that smooth...

Conduits of Velocity and Energy?

In a lecture on 'Afrocentric healing', the psychiatrist Patricia Newton said that traditional healers

"... are able to tap that other realm of negative entropy - that superquantum velocity and frequency of electromagnetic energy and bring them as conduits down to our level. It's not magic. It's not mumbo-jumbo. You will see the dawn of the twenty-first century, the new medical quantum physics really distributing these energies and what they are doing."

Dawkins weighs in:
"Sorry, mumbo-jumbo is precisely what it is. Not African mumbo-jumbo, but pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, even down to the trademark misuse of 'energy'. It is also religion, masquerading as science in a cloying love-fest of bogus convergence."

Want more? His book's a very good read and I recommend it. Also by Dawkins: The God Delusion.

An Apple a Day
While we're on the subject of hucksterism triumphing over credulity: Did you know that vitamin and "supplement" sales are a mega-million dollar industry in the USA? We're talking about serious money here.

Reading all the sales and marketing hype surrounding these "essentials" makes me wonder how I even muster the energy to roll out of bed in the morning without them.

Golly, how in the world did people managed to live to reproductive age before all this stuff was available? For that matter, why aren't most of the people in the world staggering around in a vitamin deficient daze? How can they function? You'd think they'd be so weak and sick they could barely walk.

Fly Away! Fly Away!
Millions of Americans worried about catching a cold or the flu (eg. on an airline flight) take "Airborne", which they can conveniently purchase at their local drug stores and supermarkets. The manufacturers of Airborne have such faith in the credulity of their customers that they proudly trumpet the "fact" that Airborne was "Invented by an elementary school teacher". Wow, that's proof enough in my book that the stuff works! As any high school student can tell you, most of the significant advances in medicine during the 20th century were made in home labs by schoolteachers...

Koolaid anyone?

Holy Moly!

News Flash - Los Angeles, CA
July 2007

Victims Rave as Church Caves on Case

"Oh Buggery, Buggery and Coverup, what hath though wrought?"
- Roger Mahoney, Archbishop of L.A.

The Cave-In ~ Owning Up To Sin
Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney, "Archbishop" of Los Angeles, a well-known "holy man" who heads up the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, finally decided to throw in the towel and settle, for a cool $660 million, with the more than 500 people who say they were abused by Roman Catholic clergy members in the Los Angeles diocese. Trial was scheduled to start the following day...

A Snappy Dresser ~ With a Fondness for Gowns
Cardinal Mahoney is widely known in Southern California for his flamboyant costumes, which rival those worn by elite Hollywood stars in movies such as the Star Wars trilogy. He appears in the above photo wearing his trademark "Chapeau Rouge" or Red Beanie. A snappy dresser, the Cardinal favors long, flowing, floor-length gowns rich in brocade and trimmed with golden thread. The big, flashy pendant he's wearing is a symbol of his authority. He has a lot of these symbolic totems, including staffs and wands, which he uses to impress the credulous faithful.

The Bucks? "Not a Problem"
On the day the settlement was announced, Mahoney was overheard stating with characteristic nonchalance that while $660 million was a lot of "moolah" for one Archdiocese to cough up on such short notice, they planned to sell "a little church property" to cover the tab. According to reliable sources, the Catholic Church owns a lot of valuable property in Los Angeles and throughout the United States, which it enjoys tax-free thanks to a cozy relationship with federal, state, and local governments. As the good Cardinal is often wont to say: "Thank Almighty God we don't really have a separation between church and state - it would bankrupt us!"

Amen Brother...

Rational Thinking vs Religion - Part One

Thoughts On Religion
Intelligent People Who Think For Themselves

Richard Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain:

"Why has our society so meekly acquiesced in the convenient fiction that religious views have some sort of right to be respected automatically and without question? If I want you to respect my views on politics, science or art, I have to earn that respect by argument, reason, eloquence or relevant knowledge. Ihave to withstand counterarguments. But if I have a view that is part of my religion, critics must respectfully tiptoe away or brave the indignation of soeicty at large. Why are religious opinions off limits in this way? Why do we have to respect them simply because they are religious?"

"...modern Theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the Golden Calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Quoting Gore Vidal-
"The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal - God is the Omnipotent Father - hence the loathing of women for 2000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is not just in place for one tribe, but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good."

Sam Harris in Letter To A Christian Nation:

"According to a recent Gallup poll, only 12 percent of Americans believe that life on earth has evolved through a natural process, without the intervention of a deity. Thirty-one percent believe that evolution has been "guided by God."

"The same Gallup poll revealed that 53 percent of Americans are creationists. This means that despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of life and the greater antiquity of the earth, more than half our neighbors believe that the entire cosmos was created six thousand years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue. Those with the power to elect our presidents and congressmen - and many who themselves get elected - believe that dinosaurs lived two by two on Noah's ark, that light from distant galaxies was created en route to th earth, and that the first members of our species were fashioned out of dirt and divine breath, in a garden with a talking snake, by the hand of an invisible God."

Wow! Sam, you hit the bullseye dead center. Makes me proud to be an atheist...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Do You Believe In Magic?

Are you or a loved one possessed by a demon? By demons? Relax, relax, it's OK, you're gonna be fine. Really, I'm serious. Come here, I want you to meet some friends of mine....

Pope's exorcist squads will wage war on Satan

Article in the London Daily Mail By NICK PISA - More by this author » Last updated at 16:34pm on 29th December 2007

Pope Benedict XVI during his Urbi et Orbi

Satanism on the rise: Pope Benedict has unveiled plans to set up specialist exorcism squads

Enlarge the image

The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism.

Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.

They have introduced courses for priests to combat what they call the most extreme form of "Godlessness."

Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.

The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican "exorcistinchief," to the online Catholic news service Petrus.

"Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on," he said.

"Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.

"Thankfully, Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil - going back to the time he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." The CDF is the oldest Vatican department and was headed by Benedict from 1982, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, until he became Pope in 2005.

Father Amorth said that during his time at the department Benedict had not lost the chance to warn humanity of the risk from the Devil.

He said the Pope wants to restore a prayer seen as protection against evil that was traditionally recited at the end of Catholic Masses. The prayer, to St Michael the Archangel, was dropped in the 1960s by Pope John XXIII.

Scroll down for more...

The Exorcist

The 1973 film The Exorcist deals with the demonic possession of a young girl: Now the Pope wants specialist exorcism squads in every parish

"The prayer is useful not only for priests but also for lay people in helping to fight demons," he said.

Father Paolo Scarafoni, who lectures on the Vatican's exorcism course, said interest in Satanism and the occult has grown as people lost faith with the church.

He added: "People suffer and think that turning to the Devil can help solve their problems. We are being bombarded by requests for exorcisms."

The Vatican is particularly concerned that young people are being exposed to the influence of Satanic sects through rock music and the Internet.

In theory, under the Catholic Church's Canon Law 1172, all priests can perform exorcisms. But in reality only a select few are assigned the task.

Under the law, practitioners must have "piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life."

The rite of exorcism involves a series of gestures and prayers to invoke the power of God and stop the "demon" influencing its victim.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ole Red Shoes

A Snappy Dresser

Pointy hats, fancy dresses, red shoes... Whew!
Pope's got the sartorial sixth sense mojo going for him these days...

Don't know about you, but I thought all the hoopla surrounding this guy's visit to the USA was nothing more than a craven attempt by media hotshots to kiss religious ass; especially Catholic ass.

Well, actually, it was more than a craven ass-kissing. It was pathetic, spineless, unwarranted, and frankly hard to watch...

The Washington Post led with a front-page story that was notable for its total lack of skepticism about this windbag from Rome who parades around maintaining he's got a close and personal relationship with the "creator of the universe". I long for the day when the now cowed and credulous press wakes up, starts asking some tough questions, and calls him what he really is: A Fraud.

A Cult by Any Other Name
Before the doe-eyed and credulous get all worked up about my disdain for the notoriety accorded this "Papal Visit!", let's pause for a moment to remind them who this pope guy is and what he represents:
He's the supreme leader of one of the largest, wealthiest, and most well-organized cults in the world. Yeah, trust me, it's a cult. A very dangerous and destructive cult.

While he may seem like "such a nice man", what with all his blessings and homilies, on closer inspection, his "holiness", "The Pontiff", turns out to be the flinty-eyed CEO of one of the biggest anti-thinking, anti-woman, money-grabbing rackets on the planet. Don't let the current lull in the action fool you; these folks don't favor of "freedom of the press", and given half a chance, they'll kick your ass around the block for disagreeing with anything that they say is "gospel truth".

This church he heads is the same outfit that, a mere 400 years later, finally got around to "pardoning" Galileo (a man Einstein hailed as the father of science) for his heretical support of the Copernican view of the heavens. What's more, there still at it! These morons undermine women, protect pedophiles, repress normal sexuality, believe in demons and in exorcisms, and actually think that condoms are the work of the Evil One. That's just the itty bitty tip of the iceberg.

BTW: Galileo's heresy? If you can believe it, the old fool was arguing that the earth wasn't the center of the universe. Yeah, what a dope....

Absent the choke-chain of scientific reason (what Carl Sagan referred to as a flickering candle in the dark of a demon haunted world) the pontiff and his minions would still be righteously torturing people, merrily burning them at the stake, stealing children from parents, handing Jews over to Nazi killers etc. etc. All in the name of the "Prince of Peace".

I mean, even the birds know better than to cut him any slack...

OMG! OMG! The "Dove of Peace" is going to rip his nose right off his face or shit-stain his dress, and he knows it!
Is there a reporter in the house? For god's sake, somebody do something!

Wait. Wait. Wait a second. OK. OK. Never mind, that's a photo of the old pope...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bush's "War" on "Terror"

Any time you hear the phrase "War on Terror", it's worth taking a moment to reflect on what one of the all-time Grand Masters of Propaganda, Herman Goering, had to say about the art of leading the public by the nose. His name ring a bell?

Hint: Herr Goering was Adolf Hitter's right hand man. Here's what he had to say on the subject:

"Why of course the people don't want war. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
- Herman Goering - Nazi Super-Asshole

Spin, Spin, Spin

You gotta hand it to Bush's handlers. They know their history and they sure as hell know a free ride in a Hummer stretch limo when it comes rolling their way. If there was a Nobel Prize for creating a propaganda screen big enough to hide the North American Continent, they'd sure get my vote.

Note that it's not called the "War on Terrorism". That would barely get you a C- in Propaganda 101. The War on Terror, on the other hand, gets you an A+, combining as it does the triple-header of Panic, Overwhelming Fear and Anxiety - all conveniently bundled together in one short, powerful word. Best of all, Terror's a feeeeeling - and everybody, I mean everybody gets the picture.

Those Spin Doctors must have been positively orgasmic with glee. Picture it: half a dozen sleazebags sitting around a table, all worked up:

First Spinner: "That's the beauty of it! Terror's a ghost, Gentlemen, a demon spirit, a shape-shifter - hell, it can be anywhere at any time! It's whatever we want it to be. What message could be better for getting people to do whatever-the-hell-we-want than making 'War on Terror'?"

Second Spinner (laughing): "Demon's on the loose, folks!. Danger, danger, danger! Gotta go on the offensive or we're sitting ducks! Oh, almost forgot, did we mention NUKES?"

Third Spinner (serious): "Who could argue against it? What could they possibly say? And, heaven forbid, if anybody's suicidal enough to oppose it ...
We'll just make 'em out to be way worse than low - hell, they're so Un-American that they might as well be Traitors."

Alerting The Public
Only one small problem stands between the spinners and success: You need more than a roomful of Spin Docs crying "Terror, Terror, Terror" to keep the public focused on the message. You need coverage.

No problem, dudes! That's where the members of the press come in. You know, "The Media". Talk about a World-Class Snow Job - they're still buying it! "War on Terror", "War on Terror"; I don't know about you, but I'm sick of hearing it.

Bottom Line
The world's a dangerous place and we're living in it. From time to time - no question about it - some bad shit is going to happen. Nothing new about that. We took a hit on 9/11, but we're a Big Country. We didn't fold up our tent and leave town. We were shocked, horrified, and saddened by what happened on 9/11, but we got over it. So let's get real:

The "War on Terror" is prize winning propaganda; a smokescreen behind which Bush & Co. enrich their already rich buddies and have the audacity to screw around with our precious liberties. In other words, it's bullshit. Bullshit of the worst and most dangerous kind.

Americans aren't terrorized, and we don't need a "War on Terror" to keep us from cowering in fear of "the terrorists". What we really need now is a War on Bullshit.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

About "Father to Daughter"

A Concerned Father's Letters To His Daughter

I live outside Washington, D.C. My older daughter is attending college waaaay out on the West Coast - the San Francisco Bay Area to be more or less exact. As any Easterner will be happy to tell you, it can be both weird and dangerous "way out West" and I'm quite concerned for her safety and welfare.
So what's a dad to do?

1) Keep an eagle eye on the news from California. Believe me, I do!
That's how I found out about the dangerous reptiles and giant crustaceans...

2) Email her about any dangerous trends and conditions.
You'll find three of these cautionary missives in the section on Humor.
In particular, I hope you enjoy the letter about the Giant Spider Crabs that are making life so hellish in the S.F. Bay Area and I urge you to waste no time learning the awful fate of the poor Billys...