Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fatal insults

Another martyr to freethinking today. Respected Jordanian writer, satirist and activist (and atheist) Nahed Hattar was shot in the head on the courtroom steps as he was attending his own trial for "offending Islam". Hattar was charged earlier this year for posting a cartoon on Facebook earlier this year; the cartoon simply had an image of "God" in it (looks more like Father Christmas to me) the actual purpose of the cartoon was to mock ISIS, the irony was clearly lost on the (religion of peace) cleric who violently took his life. Another day when Mankind takes a small step backwards instead of moving forward, there seem to be more and more days like this lately.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday smirk..

For everyone who works with software and computers and has struggled with the way in which things tend to need to be expressed and taken very literally (especially on Friday afternoon), here's a little something from the wonderful xkcd ..

Irish lies are smiling..

I came across this little story today, it's about an Irish MLA (member of the legislative assembly) and DUP member, Thomas Buchanan, who's in in the papers at the moment for supporting an event that aims to promote creationism to children by telling lies about the facts of evolution. The Assemblyman is on record as saying.. 

“I long to see the day when every school in Northern Ireland will stand up and teach creationism, and turn away from the peddled lie that is evolution.”

Clearly the man is an idiot and doesn't deserve the trust and support of his electorate. Any politician who can blatantly deny proven and demonstrable scientific facts like this and favour the teaching of ancient myths and fairy tales in the science curriculum isn't fit to lead anyone. By all means teach the myriad of creation myths in the RE or philosophy class and feel free to hold your own special affection for the Hebrew one if you feel that way inclined, but don't think that ignorance is an acceptable position from which to exploit children; rational people will point you out and expose your lies.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New under the Sun?

As we all know, there's not much new under the Sun. This saying from the Christian Bible is a truism about life but also a truism of itself and most of the other major religions in the world; as illustrated perfectly by the latest J&M cartoon today. Copies of copies of copies, fireside stories told from generation to generation and like random mutations in DNA these analogous memes also had their own twists, turns, elaboration, exaggerations, deletions and mistranslations baked in over the years of telling.

Divide and conquer

It looks like violence is flaring up again over Kashmir, the disputed territory located in the North Western corner of India. Both Pakistan and India claim this region for themselves and the wrangling has been going on since India gained independence from the UK back in 1947. What makes this dispute more worrying than the usual third-world border bust-up is that both states have nuclear weapons and don't seem backward in coming forward with sabre rattling threats whenever something like this happens. Of course religious differences form the bedrock upon which this dispute gains sustaining oxygen to fuel its flames, the majority population of Indian controlled Kashmir is Muslim as opposed to the majority position in India which is Hindu and there are many claims of human rights violations by the former against the latter.

Of course the only lasting solution would be to create an independent state with a secular constitution based upon reason that embraced democracy and the rule of law. Then the long suffering regular people might start to actually benefit from advances in social equality, education, medicine, technology, agriculture and commerce rather than be hamstrung by ancient myths and subservience to authoritarian, corrupt and theocratic systems of government. Although, from where I'm sitting, the chances of that happening seem just like post-Brexit UK economic growth forecasts, i.e. pretty close to zero.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Last of the Summer...

A while back a good friend of mine, and fellow all-grain brewing artisan challenged me to a home-brew taste-off, one sunny Friday afternoon in July we assembled a selection of our favourite brews and staged a tasting event.

Copious quantities of beer in a myriad of styles were presented, and so we settled in to studiously work our way through these fruits of our labour, in suitably contemplate fashion. The day was a complete success, by the end of it neither of us could quite form a cohesive sentence, but hey ho, you only live once and it was the weekend! As for the final tally, it was a remarkably close run thing, excellent beers from both "brew-houses". Fortunately I clinched it with an American style IPA (India Pale Ale) made with Mosaic hops, called "Mosaic Man" - it was showing particularly well on the day a real fruit bomb. Great fun all round, we vowed to hold another brew-off in the Winter sometime and rope in some more (willing) victims as arbiters. 

The winning beer below; as you can see, it's a fine specimen and tasted as good as it looked.

Weather bees

Two alarming weather related stories today. First we have the alarming news that Asian hornets have arrived in the UK, previously it was thought too cold for them here but apparently no one told the hornets. This rather scary looking predator has a penchant for decapitating honey bees, and poor old European bees haven't yet evolved any natural defense against these killers. Japanese bees have learned to swarm onto attacking hornets, vibrating their bodies against them, causing an overheat. Even so, a swarm of hornets can pretty much wipe out a bee colony by sheer blunt force of size and power.

Secondly we have the even more alarming fact that August 2016 was the hottest (on average) August any human currently alive has ever lived through. The question is, are invasive species (like Asian hornets) linked to the average temperature? You betcha.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday smirk

Design for the new Hinkley point power station revealed..

Exodus 22:18

Amazingly (in this day and age) we still have to have people who campaign against huckster preachers visiting our capital city (London) and preaching to paying audiences on topics such as curing demonic possession and how to deal with witches; Pastor Daniel Olukoya currently speaking at the Excel centre in London's East end is such a preacher (see book above). 

To vulnerable and gullible people in our society this represents a clear and present danger. As recently as 2010 Kristy Bamu (aged 15) died whilst being "exorcised" (aka tortured) by relatives in the borough of Newham and Scotland Yard have investigated nearly 100 such cases in recent years. Since moderate believers don't seem to be willing to reliably challenge this kind of primitive literalism and the criminals and con-men who peddle it, the job often falls to atheists, humanists and other sceptics like Leo Igwe who more or less stands alone as a beacon of rationality in a fog of superstition and barbarity in places like Nigeria from where this peculiar brand of lethal racket emerges. And they say "faith" is a virtue?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rivers of blood

This photo was taken in the Bangladesh capital Dakha, it shows the result of stupidity combining with climate. The streets are full of red coloured water because a heavy rain storm corresponded with the Islamic festival of Eid when animals are "sacrificed" by cutting their throats while the animal is still alive (usually in back-alleys and garages) Since the animals' heart is still beating blood will spurt everywhere in large quantities hence the water pollution shown in the photo.

Judging by the amount of blood in the pictures I can only imagine how many unfortunate goats, sheep or cows were dispatched. Not only is this practice inhumane it will almost certainly lead to some horrendous future odours and potentially Human epidemics as the drying blood clogs up poorly maintained drains and waterways. In such a ramshackle city it's inconceivable that infected slurry won't find it's way back into the drinking water system, a highly unpleasant thought. What with atheists and secularists being hacked to death in the streets, primitive blood letting rituals and rivers of blood instead of tarmac I doubt the Dakha tourist industry will be up to much for the foreseeable future, I'm certainly in no hurry to book.