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Pakistani lawmaker defends honor killings

Posted in Muslims Against Sharia by Skepdude on August 31, 2008

Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by southwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament this week to spare him their outrage.

These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them,” Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, said Saturday. “Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.”

The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditch.

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Psychics Harrass Father Of Disappeared Claremont Girl

Posted in Podblack Cat by Skepdude on August 31, 2008

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Yes, I’m still at Dragon*Con, actually missing Phil Plait’s speech all about his new book. Just got back from manning the table at the other hotel, for Skepticality.

Since I’ve seen enough of Plait around the conference already (even observed him giving Michael Stackpole a copy of his ’still got a few edits’ new book!) – meh. I’ll ask Richard Saunders for the rundown, as he’s attending. I need a coffee more.

Especially after reading this. I used to work in the same town where the serial killer operated – many thanks to Andy D for the tip – From The Western Australian Newspaper:

The father of Claremont serial killer victim Sarah Spiers has described how he fell into chronic depression because of harassment by clairvoyants who demanded money to help find his daughter.

Don Spiers detailed his harrowing experience yesterday as police continued to field phone calls from the public after the release on Thursday of security footage of another victim, Jane Rimmer, speaking to an unidentified man moments before she disappeared.

Mr Spiers, who has long been reluctant to speak to the media, was candid yesterday about his emotional and mental trauma.

He said up to 400 psychics and clairvoyants from across the world had contacted him since Sarah disappeared on January 27, 1996.

He said they were offering false information and “looking to make a name for themselves or get money”.

He had been so desperate to find his daughter in the first six months after she disappeared that he had listened to the “shysters” and often followed their instructions.

“They hounded me to death,” Mr Spiers said.

“I’d be getting it every day. It was just an onslaught.

“They were sending me to certain locations, just running me around. They were telling me all sorts of things. They’d give me cryptic clues.

“They had my emotions on a rollercoaster. You’d be full of hope and you’d be out (searching) and there’d be nothing and then you’d go down (in emotion) again.

“I can’t understand why anyone would do this to someone in my situation. Why would they want to make it worse for me?

“They probably all wanted to be recognised as being high-profile clairvoyants. They are shysters, there’s no question about it.”

He said the relentless approaches from clairvoyants and the false hope they created had led him to have a breakdown late in 1996, when he found himself sitting in an armchair at his home ripping chunks of hair from his scalp.

…As he struggled with depression, he continued to fend off clairvoyants and psychics and was even abused over the phone by members of the public. “We had phone calls from people saying we are the perpetrators or saying that we deserve it,” he said.

If people wish to know more about the case, I highly recommend the book ‘Devil’s Garden: The Claremont Serial Killings’, which features an excellent interview that emphasises the media and the police force stance, refusing to engage psychics in the cases.

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Afternoon Inquisition 8.30

Posted in Skepchick by Skepdude on August 31, 2008

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It’s almost 2am, and I am suffering from geek fatigue, but as your faithful servant, I will rein in my focus and write this post so you all will have something to ponder tomorrow afternoon (it is Saturday, right?).

At what point does advancing skeptical ideas become evangelization? Is this something we should be concerned about?

Or, alternatively, since I am in geek mode, Trek or Who?

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “SKEPCHICK”

My New Product: All Natural Pb®

Posted in Denialism by Skepdude on August 31, 2008

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Sciblings, I know you all are going to run out and buy my new nutritional supplement, Pb®. Pb® is all natural. Pb® is pure. Pb® is elemental. Pb® is balanced. Pb® affects one’s optimal health. Pb® is readily absorbed by the blood stream and accumulates in the body, competing with unnatural toxins that cause illness. Pb® is highly bio-available. And Hoofnagle-brand Pb® is positively charged at our all-natural bioplant facilities, meaning that it repels negative ions.

Pb® can be used by children as well as adults. There are no side effects of supplement products as they are made with all natural and pure substances.

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Always try to eat a balanced diet along with Pb®, avoid harmful substances and exercise on a regular basis to promote your muscle and bone health. Discover the wisdom of Pb®! You can pay by paypal and get same day shipping!

Pb® contains no dairy, whey, soy, nuts, wheat, gluten, artificial colors or flavors.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “DENIALISM”

The fundies are going to love this

Posted in Evolved and Rational by Skepdude on August 30, 2008

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How to deliver a huge load of butthurt to idiotic fundies:

  1. Get them BAWWWWWing about how homosexuals are going to burn in hell.
  2. Laugh at them.
  3. Show them that science turns their idiotic dogma into FAIL.
  4. ???
  5. PROFIT!!

I wonder what the fundies say about this one:

Sperm cells have been created from a female human embryo in a remarkable breakthrough that suggests it may be possible for lesbian couples to have their own biological children.

British scientists who had already coaxed male bone marrow cells to develop into primitive sperm cells have now repeated the feat with female embryonic stem cells.

It raises the possibility of lesbian couples one day having children who share both their genes as sperm created from the bone marrow of one woman could be used to fertilise an egg from her partner.

This is ‘playing god’ and ‘unnatural’, you say? Using that line of reasoning, agriculture should also be banned because it is also ‘playing god’ and ‘unnatural’. For all the frothing, ranting, and general BAWWWWing that fundies do when confronted with science, I don’t think that they actually want to ban agriculture. If that is what they want to do, I suggest a simple strategy that has been nicely termed ‘An Hero‘.

Unethical, you say? How exactly is this any more ‘unethical ‘ when compared to artificial insemination? Are you aware of how many theistards conveniently use IVF technology when prayers simply don’t seem to work or when their god has better things to do than give his ass-licking brainwashed sheep a child? Who decides what is unethical, and why should religious nuts be given a free pass in dictating what is ethical and what is not? The Catholic Church, in an act of supreme fucktardery, has declared birth control unethical sinful. Therefore, which particular brand of theistardery holds the key to determining what is unethical or what is not?

PROTIP: ‘Sinful’ in your particular brand of dogma =/= Unethical

If you want to use the Holy Babble as a guide, why should it be so? Why the Bible? Why not the Koran? Why not Dianetics?

Why not the Book of Anon?

First Anon made the internet. The internet was without any form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of Anon was moving over the series of tubes. And Anon said “Let it be light through the tubes”, and there was light. And Anon saw that fiber cables were good.

Stop groaning, folks. Serious business resumes now.

We don’t ask gardeners about economics or interior decorators about carpentry, so why should we ask religious leaders to about science whenever a new scientific breakthrough/issue is brought up? Why should we even care what the religious nuts think? Why does the media even bother? There is no logical reason for science to constantly tip-toe around religious toes although science is expected to do so by the appeasers and their precious theistard bedfellows.

If we were to have a serious discussion about science on how it relates to ethics and how it would change human life, religious dogma needs to be left at the door where it belongs. Humanity’s very future and the importance and urgency of this quest demands it.

tl;dr version: It is time to stop kneeling at the altar of theistarded dumbfuckery.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “EVOLVED AND RATIONAL”

Frog on a cross! Or: The pope has no sense of humor

Posted in Left Coast Librul by Skepdude on August 29, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI may not know art, but he knows what he likes. And he doesn’t like this frog. For obvious reasons.

A reasonable person might just look at it, chuckle and roll their eyes. A reasonable person might see the whimsy and the message the artist was trying to convey. No one has ever accused Pope Benedict XVI of being a reasonable person.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “LEFT COAST LIBRUL’S WEBLOG”

Jesus Took My Stuff

Posted in Skepchick by Skepdude on August 29, 2008

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When I was nine years old, my mother became a born-again Christian. This was a pretty common occurrence in the area in which I grew up, as most mothers didn’t work, and truthfully, boredom and depression would kick in. She met a member of a church whilst waiting for me at the school gates, got chatting, and was offered the secret to eternal happiness and fulfilment: Jesus.

The organisation turned out to be one of those Pentecostal happy clappy Church of Christ jobbies, an import from the USA and quite unlike the stiff upper lip Church of England services one usually had to endure at weddings and funerals. The minister and his wife were young, attractive and American, which to my young mind was the height of exotic. We were very poor, but the weekly tithe seemed a small price to pay for the revelation that Jesus loved us and would supply everything we need if we asked hard enough. Or, would move in mysterious ways, and that was also OK, cause who needed a new bike when you had eternal life?

I went to a couple of services and social events with my mom, found it fun and full of promise and soon made the very adult decision to also become a Christian. My sister and father followed suit, and we were all baptised in a heated swimming pool followed by a finger buffet and a round of ‘You Can’t Get To Heaven On Rollerskates’ accompanied by me on tambourine.

Fast-forward a year, and the gloss started to wear off as Jesus made his first claim on my possessions. I wasn’t materialistic, I was merely a kid, and I liked my stuff. As I mentioned, we were poor, so stuff was hard to come by and birthdays and Christmas were pretty much the only opportunities I had to add to my bounty of treasures. But, I did own the entire collection of

Jackson and Livingstone Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks

If you haven’t played these, starting with the masterpiece Warlock of Firetop Mountain, stop reading this and go and grab a copy from eBay. You must at least be familiar with the concept: a book in which you choose your own adventure. “You turn a corner and an Orc is standing in front of you! To hit him with your fist, turn to page eight. To throw a turd at him, turn to page 43″. Etc. Conceptually genius, and I had ‘em all. I even had the spinoff board game which cost me my entire birthday money. But, my mom started to express concerns that the books were ‘satanic’ in nature (well they did have demons and magic in them) and suggested that Jesus would not approve. After a sleepless night of asking Jesus (and some secret masturbation for which I prayed for forgiveness), I concurred, and the next day we built a bonfire and burned the whole lot, board game and all. I remember thinking that I was destroying something inherently evil. Then again, I was a small girl and not really in a position to tell evil from madness.

The second thing that Jesus took was

My great-grandmother’s mirror

Mirrors, as you know, are easily possessed by demons. At least, that was what we were told when I was 12 years old and my mirror, a bequest from my late great-grandmother, threw itself across the bedroom. Or rather, it fell off the wall. But our particular brand of Jesus-lovin’ was the hysterical paranoid sort and the mirror was deemed possessed and responsible for my recent spate of behavioural issues (nothing to do with being 12 years old and having just lost a parent, you understand. Demons did it). So, they exorcised the mirror, and yes, they exorcised me. I am sort of strangely proud of having been exorcised, as it was every bit as dramatic as you’re imagining. Unfortunately, even though it was then declared demon-free, the mirror was a source of fear for me and I threw it out immediately. Jesus claims another bit of my stuff.

The final thing that Jesus took was my copy of

The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross

This is a brilliant kid’s book, about a headmaster who uses his evil eyes to hypnotise an entire school into behaving well. I loved it, but once religion entered our household, my mom became very uncomfortable with the title and the subject matter. One day, I got home and the book was gone. My mom pleaded ignorance, citing a miracle. Jesus took it. I asked Jesus, via the power of prayer, and he told me that my mom probably threw it out. I still don’t know who to believe, frankly. The son of god, or the mother of me? One of them is a lying bastage. Either way, where’s my freaking book?

There were probably more things, but those are the three which have stuck in my mind, and which, as a rabid atheist, I resent more than 20 years later. Of course, this whole story is a fable about letting irrational beliefs and paranoia affect your judgement, but it’s also about how I have a score to settle with Jesus. He doesn’t know that the brownies I sent him are past their use-by-date…and that time I prayed for forgiveness for masturbating? HA! I DIDN’T MEAN IT!

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “SKEPCHICK”

The strange case of the crucified frog

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on August 29, 2008

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The Pope is angry. Benedict XVI has written a letter to the President of the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy (in the northeast, above Venice), Mr. Franz Pahl, to complain about an art exhibit at the local city museum. Pahl already had a problem with that same exhibit, and he went on a hunger strike during the summer, threatening not to seek reelection (oh boy!) if a particular statue was not removed by the museum curators.

The statue in question is entitled “Zuerst die Fuesse,” German for “First the Feet.” It is by artist Martin Kippenberger, who died in 1997 at age 43, and it represents a crucified frog holding an egg and a beer mug. Well, one can see how that might be offensive to the Pope and to Catholics in general, despite the museum’s reassurances that the sculpture has nothing to do with religion, and is instead an ironic self-portrait of the artist’s expression of angst.

Now, the frog may have been meant to represent Kippenberger (after all, he was German, and the frog holds a beer), but I don’t believe for a second that the sculpture has nothing to do with a criticism of religion. It is hard to imagine that Kippenberger was not thinking of Jesus when he crucified his frog and put a loincloth around its waist, or that he was simply not aware of Christian iconography.

But of course the point is that being offensive is no reason at all to censor art. Indeed, one could argue that the point of art is to challenge people’s perspectives, thereby carrying a high risk of being offensive. If the Pope and his Catholic flock don’t like it, they are by no means forced to go to the museum to see it. If Mr. Pahl doesn’t like it — just like then Major Giuliani of New York didn’t appreciate the “Virgin with Elephant Dunk” exhibited by the Brooklyn Museum a few years ago — he is most welcome to stop eating pasta and resign.

All of this should not, however, put the museum’s director in any kind of defensive position, trying to make up ridiculous explanations for why the art piece should not be offensive to one religious sect or another. I personally find the very existence of the Vatican state in the center of Italy and its seating (as an observer) at the United Nations offensive, but I am not calling for the thing to be shut down. I’m just waiting for a more enlightened world to come about, one where we don’t need sanctimonious “holy men” to tell us what to think, what art we can enjoy and how precisely we are supposed to have sex.

How would I feel if someone made an offensive caricature of whatever I hold sacred? Ah, but therein lies the difference between a religionist and an atheist: I don’t hold anything sacred. I do hold some things important, people I love and ideas I cherish, and I surely get upset when those people or ideas are under attack — especially unfair attack. But one of the foremost principles I do cherish is precisely the right of anyone, anywhere, at any time, to speak her mind, regardless of how offensive it may be to others. Being offensive to people may not be nice, and it is certainly something that can easily be abused even in the name of a good cause. But it is a fundamental right in a democracy, without which the very concept of freedom of speech goes out the window. And once that happens, fascism is not far behind.

READ THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

Richard Dawkins Cursing

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 29, 2008

Well reading out loud e-mails from various cooks that are cursing at him.

Museum defies pope over crucified frog

Posted in Religion by Skepdude on August 28, 2008

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian museum Thursday defied Pope Benedict and refused to remove a modern art sculpture portraying a crucified green frog holding a beer mug and an egg that the Vatican had condemned as blasphemous.

The board of the Museion museum in the northern city of Bolzano decided by a majority vote that the frog was a work of art and would stay in place for the remainder of an exhibition

READ THE REST OF THE ENTRY AT “REUTERS”

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