Paul Fidalgo's picture

Robin Williams and Jombie Wanted for Questioning

A family in Saudi Arabia is tired of the harassment, tired of the violence, tired of the theft of property. They're not taking it lying down, and are going to bring the perp to justice. Who is this Menace 2 Saud-ciety?

Why, a genie of course.

Per the BBC:

A family in Saudi Arabia is taking a "genie" to court, accusing it of theft and harassment, reports say.

They accuse the spirit of threatening them, throwing stones and stealing mobile phones, Al Watan newspaper said.

Here's the best part:

A local court says it is trying to verify the truthfulness of the claims "despite the difficulty" of doing so.

I'm going to be really interested in what that final police report says. What happens if they have to take the genie to court? And what if it has to serve time? Do they make penitentiary lamps?

Originally posted at Bloc Raisonneur

Jim Downey's picture

Talk about "Fantasy Island" . . .

Turkish TV gameshow looks to convert atheists

STANBUL (Reuters) – What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?

Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.

The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion -- Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.

Hmm . . . no, I can't see where someone would lie about being either an atheist to begin with, or about their "conversion", just to get a free trip out of the deal (not to mention the fame from being on TV). Nope, can't see that happening at all.

Jim Downey

HT to ML for the story.

Jim Downey's picture

"Gimme that old time science..."

If I were feeling more creative, I'd whip up a filk of the traditional spiritual, but not today. Someone else feel free.

Anyway, I think this is progress:

US churches to discuss evolution vs creation

ATLANTA - After a lifetime in the church, the Rev. William L. Rhines Jr. lately has started to question one of the Bible's fundamental teachings, that God created man.

It's an especially touchy topic in his Wilmington, Del., congregation, where generations of black worshippers have leaned on faith to endure the indignities of racism.

But as the world marked the 200th birthday of evolution theorist Charles Darwin on Thursday, Rhines figures its time for even the most conservative congregations to come to terms with science.

"We're becoming more middle class, upper middle class, so we have more free time ... to ponder these eternal issues," said Rhines, who will encourage a discussion at Ezion-Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church.

* * *

Jim Downey's picture

Step by step.

Via Sully, a very interesting piece titled "Studying Islam has made me an atheist" in the Spectator. I would urge you to read the whole thing, but this one passage pretty much says it all:

Gradually, scepticism of the claims made by one religion was joined by scepticism of all such claims. Incredulity that anybody thought an archangel dictated a book to Mohammed produced a strange contradiction. I found myself still clinging to belief in Christianity. I was trying to believe — though rarely arguing — ‘Well, your guy didn’t hear voices: but I know a man who did.’ This last, shortest and sharpest, phase pulled down the whole thing. In the end Mohammed made me an atheist.

Jim Downey's picture

Revenge? Justice?

This will not be an easy post to read. If you're looking for something light and happy, move along.

So, when is something an act of revenge and torture? And when is it a simple act of justice?

A doctor can remove your hand to save you from death by gangrene, or a doctor can remove your hand as a state-sanctioned punishment. What is the difference?

Jim Downey's picture

More "living on medieval time".

Yeah, I guess people do believe this kind of crap:

Police detain 49 for "satanic" clothes

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Police have arrested 49 people this week in a northern Iranian city during a crackdown on "satanic" clothes, IRNA news agency reported Thursday.

The measures are the latest in a country-wide campaign against Western cultural influence in the Islamic Republic, where strict dress codes are enforced.

"Police confronted rascals and thugs who appeared in public wearing satanic fashions and unsuitable clothing," Qaemshahr city police commander Mahmoud Rahmani told IRNA.


Someone stop the planet, please - I'd like to get off.

Jim Downey

Jim Downey's picture

Meanwhile, in insanity news elsewhere in the world . . .

One of the more common complaints I see here and at some of the atheist-inclined sites I read is that those of us in the West only complain about the absurd religious antics of the various and sundry Christian cultists. Well, yeah, that's because the dominant religious tradition in the West is some version of Christianity. But that doesn't mean that I don't find other religious practices equally absurd.

And in that spirit, let's take a quick look at three recent manifestations around the world. In comments, feel free to add others.

First, this gem from South America:

EL ALTO, Bolivia (Reuters) - Muttering incantations at a witches' market above La Paz, Faustino Tinta sets fire to a dried llama fetus and wax trinkets, an offering his client hopes will help Bolivian President Evo Morales survive a recall vote.

* * *

"Evo is going to have the support of more people. He is going to win the referendum," said soothsayer Maria Samo, tossing coca leaves onto a crucifix placed on a piece of woven material in her own stall nearby.

Jim Downey's picture

You Still Can't Write about Muhammad.

From today's Wall Street Journal:

You Still Can't Write About Muhammad
August 6, 2008; Page A15

Starting in 2002, Spokane, Wash., journalist Sherry Jones toiled weekends on a racy historical novel about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Ms. Jones learned Arabic, studied scholarly works about Aisha's life, and came to admire her protagonist as a woman of courage. When Random House bought her novel last year in a $100,000, two-book deal, she was ecstatic. This past spring, she began plans for an eight-city book tour after the Aug. 12 publication date of "The Jewel of Medina" -- a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet's harem.

It's not going to happen: In May, Random House abruptly called off publication of the book. The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.

Random House feared the book would become a new "Satanic Verses," the Salman Rushdie novel of 1988 that led to death threats, riots and the murder of the book's Japanese translator, among other horrors. In an interview about Ms. Jones's novel, Thomas Perry, deputy publisher at Random House Publishing Group, said that it "disturbs us that we feel we cannot publish it right now." He said that after sending out advance copies of the novel, the company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

Jim Downey's picture

Huh. And here I thought I was part of the species.

Via PZ, the latest screed over crackergate comes from a Dallas Morning News editorial. Here's an excerpt - see if it makes your head explode:

The Eucharist is merely a "sad little cracker," Dr. Myers wrote, and the Quran nothing more than words on paper. That may be true, and no one is bound to believe that Catholics or Muslims are correct. What we are bound to do, especially in a pluralist democracy, is show basic respect for the human beings who hold beliefs we don't respect. People don't lose their dignity because they believe implausible, even offensive, things.

There's something about these new atheists, for whom P.Z. Myers is a folk hero, that's profoundly inhuman.

Yeah, you got it right: in one paragraph he states without equivocation that all people deserve respect regardless of beliefs, and in the next he says that atheists are inhuman.

What. The. Fuck?

Jim Downey's picture

When is a cracker not a cracker?

OK, you've probably heard about the little dust-up that PZ Myers has been having with a bunch of Catholics. If not, here's the initial post at PZ's site, with follow-up posts here, here, here, here, with this being the most recent post, featuring some of the hate mail sent to Myers. That's over 6,000 comments on his blog alone, by my count. And of course lots of others have weighed in on the subject, including UTI alum DarkSyde yesterday at Daily Kos.

Jim Downey's picture

Death of a woman.

Friends, this is what our war has brought:

Mother who defied the killers is gunned down

Five weeks ago Leila Hussein told The Observer the chilling story of how her husband had killed their 17-year-old daughter over her friendship with a British soldier in Basra. Now Leila, who had been in hiding, has been murdered - gunned down in cold blood. Afif Sarhan in Basra and Caroline Davies report on the final act of a brutal tragedy.

Leila Hussein lived her last few weeks in terror. Moving constantly from safe house to safe house, she dared to stay no longer than four days at each. It was the price she was forced to pay after denouncing and divorcing her husband - the man she witnessed suffocate, stamp on, then stab their young daughter Rand in a brutal 'honour' killing for which he has shown no remorse.

Jim Downey's picture

Just in case . . .

OK, just in case you haven't seen this over at PZ's or elsewhere, here's a hilarious and brilliantly done satire:

It takes some deconstructing, but the consensus is that it is indeed pro-science/skepticism.

UPDATE: Here are the lyrics, and here is a brief bit on the 'cast' - kudos to both authors!

Jim Downey

Dirk Diggler's picture

I'm Too Sexy for my Burka

Oh my, it's worse than I thought. All I can say is... ew!

And please boycott Nike.

Shari's picture

The Young Marriage of 'Ayesha, (Peace be Upon her) to Prophet Muhammad [May the Peace and Blessings of God be upon him]

I guess for Atheists (some of you i have talked to) nothing will be enough because you are here to abuse only. But still i have posted it. Lets see how you react( You will abuse more Wild Guess)

The Young Marriage of 'Aa'ishah, Mother of the Believers may Almighty Allah be pleased with her

by Abu Iman 'Abd ar-Rahman Robert Squires

carloco's picture

World Ordered New

Hello, I'm reeling with a lot of new ideas gathered from you people, and this is a rewrite of my first blog entry which basically sucked.

Here's one of the main reasons I came here.

My brain was altered by the Methodists' "dogmagicians" starting when I was almost 6 years old.

Before then, my agnostic dad kept religion out of my life and off my back, but my mother couldn't live with herself, let alone anyone else, so she split and I got moved into her parents' home and church.

Something has to give, when the people you love and trust tell you with a straight face that a guy was killed and then a few days later, he woke up and walked out of the tomb and flew up to heaven where he's been hanging out ever since, waiting for the big day.

So what exactly is it that gives?

Kids in the cult I was forced into get the dogma drill around 5 or 6, by which time they've begun to feel good about their ability to figure things out for themselves.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Young Iraqis' Doubts About Religion

A glimmer of light appears in the middle east.

[link] After almost five years of war, many young Iraqis, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

"I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us," said Sara Sami, a high school student in Basra. "Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers."

Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: "The religion men are liars. Young people don't believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore."

Dirk Diggler's picture

Assud the Hamas Jihad Bunny

First of all, let me say that I am fairly sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people. One of the most amazing and dynamic professors I had in college was this man. However, the conflict between the Israeli's and the Palestinians is a huge mess that effects everyone in the world, directly or indirectly. Until a peaceful settlement can be reached, violence will be the regions main export.

Of course religion does absolutely nothing to help. As a matter of fact, religion is just another issue to divide us, cause more conflict and further complicate issues. That's why I get so upset when I see video's like this:

And here is a longer version.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Theocracy Shuts Down YouTube Worldwide

YouTube went down for about two hours yesterday - nearly world-wide. The reason? Pakistan's theocracy decided that the very best way to prevent their faithful from seeing an "inflammatory anti-Islamic video" would be to block all of YouTube, instead of blocking, oh I don't know, maybe just the one, single URL that pointed to the actual video itself. Then, it all went horribly wrong when Pakistan's crack team of internet gurus completely screwed up the routing information when they were attempting to block the site, causing a cascading series of routing failures resulting in in general being unreachable.

[link] Many users around the world could not access YouTube Inc.'s site for about two hours on Sunday. The video-sharing company blamed the outage on erroneous routing information introduced by a Pakistani Internet service provider. Pakistani authorities ordered ISPs there to block the site on Friday.


The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered the country's ISPs to block users' access to YouTube on Friday because of an inflammatory anti-Islamic video on the site, said Wahaj us Siraj, convener of the Association of Pakistan Internet Service Providers, in a telephone interview.

"If the video is provocative, then it is better it is removed, rather than provoke unrest in Pakistan," said Siraj, who added that he did not know the contents of the video.

I shudder to imagine what would happen to "provocative" countries if the theocratic nuts in Pakistan had access to nuclear weapons.

Sometimes it feels like the world is in the process of going collectively insane.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Best Thing

First of all, kudos to Allison Catalano, a sophomore at Colorado University, for starting up a chapter of the Secular Student Alliance at her school.

[link] Though there are many faith-based organizations on campus, Allison Catalano, a sophomore at CU, started the Alliance after she felt like there was no place for student atheists to assemble and get to know each other.

However, when talking about the new SSA, CU sophomore and treasurer of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Bader Akacem, seems to have his priorities a little out of whack.

[link] (Bader Akacem) said they (the MSA) would like to meet members of the (Secular Student) Alliance and build a relationship with them. According to him, the MSA often plan dinners and various social events with other student organizations to get to know them and engage in discussion.

“The best thing we have here (CU) are a lot of religious organizations,” Akacem said.

You see, I would have said that the "best thing" at any university would be, you know, the education I was receiving at great expense.

But that's just me. At least Bader is willing to have a polite discussion with the Secular Student Alliance.

This is unlike Tom Miller, the "campus minister" at CU for the Flatirons Baptist Church. He makes no bones about why he wants to "talk" to the dirty, filthy atheists in the SSA - he wants to convert the heathens and save their eternal souls from fiery torment at the hands of Satan and his demons!

[link] (Tom Miller) said it is part of God's freedom to allow people to choose to be either a theist or an atheist. He said he wouldn't mind meeting to discuss different beliefs with the organization if they were going to be open to what he had to say.

“Some (atheists) are not open to dialogue and they'd think I was being obnoxious,” Miller said. “I would be going there to convert them and we'd clash before you even said your first name.”

So, what is the lesson the secular students at Colorado University will be taking away from this? Well, to me it seems to be that Muslim students are polite and willing to at least socialize with you, while adult Baptist "campus ministers" just want to "clash" with you, and then try to convert you.

If I were the baptist "campus minister", I'd re-think my strategy a bit.

Jim Downey's picture

Funny . . . and disturbing.

As the year winds down, and you need a little relaxing fun to kill some time this weekend, you can play dress - up with Jesus and Muhammad! Both are from the somewhat twisted mind of Normal Bob Smith, who seems like he would fit right in here with us other heathens at UTI.

Jim Downey

(Via the comments on this post at ectoplasmosis. Which is just disturbing. I didn't even know there were people who have a 'stigmata fetish'. Let alone that there are inflatable dolls of Jesus that cater to them.)

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