Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Stupid Human Tricks
. . .what's going through the mind of the flies:
OK, quirky. I like quirky. But I also wonder what people who experienced this kind of thing thought about it later. That the product being promoted was as nasty as flies? That the advertisers who came up with this were just mean bastards? Not to get all PETA about it, I think that it's a fairly cruel trick. Yeah, sure, the tag at the end says that the banners were mounted with wax, and came off on their own after about an hour, but still the flies were clearly struggling.
OK, I never really had a 'moment of enlightenment', when it came to religion. I grew up in the Catholic church, but somewhere around the time of puberty I started thinking about what they told me to believe and it just didn't really make any sense. That grew into a questioning of all kinds of religious nonsense over time, rejecting all of it and trying to be rational and realistic about the world. For me, it was just a process, not an event.
So I must admit to being somewhat interested to see what it is that causes some people to just break away from their religion - what is the "final straw", so to speak. Like this one:
Over the past few days, a remarkable letter was published in four parts at the blog of Marty Rathbun, a former high-level Scientology official who has left the church and now criticizes Scientology's leader, David Miscavige.
* * *
Yay! Religious fervor leads to five women being paraded through town, stripped, beaten:
Police say that people in Pattharghatia believe that certain women in their village are possessed by a "holy spirit" that can identify those who practise witchcraft.
"These women recently identified five women from the same village as being witches who practised witchcraft and brought miseries to the area," a police official said.
Soon, an unruly mob broke into their huts, dragged them out and started beating them up.
There's even video of it there on the BBC site. Worth watching, if you need to be reminded just how insane religion is.
Or, perhaps it isn't completely insane. Maybe there is another explanation:
Experts say superstitious beliefs are behind some of these attacks, but there are occasions when people - especially widows - are targeted for their land and property.
Who, me, cynical?
Colorado sheriff: Runaway balloon saga was hoax
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The parents who set off a worldwide drama by reporting their 6-year-old son was inside a flying saucer-like helium balloon hurtling over Colorado concocted the stunt to market themselves for a television show, a sheriff said Sunday.
* * *
Alderden said the parents Richard and Mayumi Heene "put on a very good show for us, and we bought it."
The sheriff said no charges had been filed yet, and the parents weren't under arrest. He said he expected to recommend charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities and attempting to influence a public servant.
Now who is the slightest bit surprised by this? I mean, seriously? That it completely captivated the media for most of Friday doesn't change the fact that the whole thing smelled from the very start.
. . . when I am *really* glad I am not in the demographic for most of what is marketed these days. Like now:
Tired of a night out clubbing only to come home with a limp ego? Then try AMP UP BEFORE YOU SCORE, an actual iPhone app that helps you change your game and increase your chances to score with any type of woman, whether she's a "rebound girl," "aspiring actress," or a member of the ever-growing herd of "cougars."
Once a woman is defined by type, the rest is a snap. Check the app for her profile, and review the cheat-sheet providing details as to what she's into, and more importantly what sure-fire pick-up lines will cinch the deal.
No, it's not a joke. Well, it is, but it isn't *really* an intentional one. Except in the hey-I-meant-it-ironically way that seems to be the escape clause for everything these days.
Ah, brave new world, that has such technology in it. Who could have imagined such a thing?
Not what you think.
Heard this Saturday morning on Weekend Edition, and about split a gut:
Rabbi Shea Hecht plucks a chicken off a truck parked behind a synagogue in Queens, N.Y., and demonstrates how to swing a chicken.
"You take it by the wing," says the white-haired Hecht, careful not to get the chicken's feathers or anything else on his black suit and tall black hat. "You put one wing over the other wing. See? It's very relaxed. And you swing it very softly over your head like this."
Hecht holds the bird, waves it three times above his head, and says the prayer of Kapparot (or Kapparos, depending on heritage). He prays that his sins will be transferred to the bird and he will escape the divine punishment that he deserves. The prayer is more than 1,000 years old, and countless Orthodox Jews will recite it in the days before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, which begins at sundown Sunday. Hecht says waving the chicken isn't the point of this ritual.
Heard about this on "Wait Wait... " this morning:
KALONA, Iowa (AP) — A tourism gimmick in the southeast Iowa town of Kalona is giving new meaning to the phrase three hots and a cot.
Last week the town's Chamber of Commerce and Washington County sheriff pulled over people with out-of-state license plates and offered them an all-expense paid visit — including free meals and a night's lodging just as if they were really being arrested — to the town of 2,300, about 20 miles southwest of Iowa City.
* * *
Then, along came Ron and Cheri Cunningham of Sedalia, Mo.
"I was behind a truck that I'd followed for about 15 miles. I wasn't speeding. I didn't know what I could've possibly done," Ron Cunningham said.
Mr. Cunningham and his wife enjoyed their visit, however. But then, they're from Sedalia. Almost anything would be an improvement.
Anyway, I've been to Kalona, back when I lived in Iowa. Used to drive through it pretty regularly, in fact, when the highway ran through it. They have a nice cheese shop there. But when the DOT relocated and modernized the highway, it was an improvement. And if I was driving by now I would really resent being pulled over for such a promotional stunt - it is nothing more than an abuse of police powers, and undermines the respect for those powers.
Yeah, at this point, they'd have to arrest me to get me to go back to visit Kalona.
(Cross posted to my blog.)
Well, about "infotainment" that passes for news these days, anyway:
(Howard) Kurtz: “I don’t fully know. Katie Couric may make $15 million a year, but she grew up in a middle-class family in Arlington. Brian Williams was once a volunteer fireman. Dan Rather graduated from Sam Houston State College. And it’s not just the anchors—the opinion guys, O’Reilly, Rush, Olbermann, Matthews and the like, make millions each year. Does that mean their values change, that they’re automatically out of touch? In some cases, perhaps, but I don’t think that’s universally true.”
OK, seriously now - do you really think that someone who makes millions of dollars a year really has any connection with the life that you or I live?
The point of that article is that what top network news anchors are paid exceeds the entire budget for NPR's news shows 'All Things Considered' and 'Morning Edition'. Together. And it is a good point:
Another item from my recent trip to Pittsburgh . . .
We're happily driving across Illinois on I-70, making good time. It's been . . . well, decades . . . since I had driven through Effingham, and I wasn't in the slightest prepared for what I saw when I crested a particular hill. This:
Yeah, that's a real picture. See the size of the itty-bitty people at the base of the thing? From their website, the thing is said to be 198 feet tall.
It looms there, looking very much like some kind of alien construction, all shiny* and sharp edges. Surreal. There are very few instances when I viscerally feel my lack of religious belief, but this certainly was one of them. I almost drove off the road looking at that bizarre thing.
*No, not that kind of shiny, silly!
"It's OK if you are a Christian."
What is? Well, this:
LOUISVILLE — A mother is angry about a trip led by the head football coach at Breckinridge County High School. The coach took about 20 players on a school bus late last month to his church, where nearly half of them — including her son — were baptized.
Michelle Ammons said her 16-year-old son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, and she is upset that a public school bus was used to take players to a church service — and that the school district's superintendent was there and did not object.
* * *
But Superintendent Janet Meeks, who is a member of the church and witnessed the baptisms, said she thinks the trip was proper because attendance was not required, and another coach paid for the gas.
Meeks said parents weren't given permission slips to sign but knew the event would include a church service, if not specifically a baptism. She said eight or nine players came forward and were baptized.
In spite of how it might seem sometimes, I'm politically independent - I tend to support specific policies (and to a very limited degree individuals), not this or that party.
And one thing I have long objected to has been the existence of an 'American Royalty' within our political system. Here in Missouri we just got rid of one Republican governor who is the son of a long-term US Congresscritter. On the Democratic side, the Carnahan family has held or currently holds several important political offices.
Nationally, it's even worse. Look at the Bush family, and the debacle of having W rise to power almost solely on the power of his father & family. Al Gore is the son of a Senator. The Clintons have long operated as a family unit, sharing power and position.
And then there are the Kennedys.
Hey, remember the story of the nice Christian teacher who liked to impress the kiddies with the Power of the Lord by branding them with crosses?
Well, gee, guess what - the school district that used to employ him had to settle with one of the branded students:
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio—A Central Ohio school board has approved a $121,000 settlement with the family of a student who said his teacher burned the image of a cross on his arm.
School board members in Mount Vernon agreed Wednesday night to resolve a federal lawsuit by paying $5,500 to the boy and his family and $115,500 to their lawyers.
The family still has a similar suit pending against the eighth-grade teacher, John Freshwater.
So, we now know the cost: $121,000. Well, that and a small thing called the Separation of Church & State.
Oh, and just for extra fun: guess who else is suing the district? Yep:
Buddy of mine sent me a link to an excellent article that I'd missed. It's an opinion piece from the UK paper The Independent, and is trying to explain to the average Brit the hows and whys of the health care debate happening in this country. It's usually insightful to see how others see you, and this piece in particular is quite good. An excerpt:
Johann Hari: Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason
How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality?
* * *
Following up to this post, a news item:
MINNEAPOLIS – Continental Express Flight 2816 smelled like diapers. It had no food and a full toilet. Its 47 passengers had been stranded on a tarmac in southern Minnesota since after midnight.
"They are getting really upset — you know, with the plane," the captain told her dispatcher just before 3 a.m. on Aug. 8.
Recordings released Friday of conversations among the captain, dispatcher and staff for another airline at the Rochester, Minn., airport expose a breakdown that kept the plane sitting on the tarmac for almost six hours — for no clear reason — and triggered a Department of Transportation investigation.
I hadn't heard that the DoT was involved. Good for them. Anyway, here's some more from the news article:
the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s."
Seems like some Christians could stand to re-read their bible:
Two Florida school administrators face contempt charges and possible prison time for saying a prayer at a school luncheon.
Frank Lay, principal of Pace High School, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman are accused of violating a consent decree banning employees of Santa Rosa County schools from endorsing religion.
They face a non-jury trial September 17 before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. The statute under which they are charged carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison, subject to sentencing guidelines.
Of course, the folks at Liberty U, who are backing the accused, say that this is an infringement of their 1st Amendment rights:
Republican mayoral candidate Anna Falling said Tuesday that putting a Christian creationism display in the Tulsa Zoo is No. 1 in importance among city issues that also include violent crime, budget woes and bumpy streets.
"It's first," she said to calls of "hallelujah" at a rally outside the zoo. "If we can't come to the foundation of faith in this community, those other answers will never come. We need to first of all recognize the fact that God needs to be honored in this city."
Falling, who has founded several Christian nonprofit groups and is a former city councilor, also said the next mayor needs to appoint people to boards, authorities and commissions who will "honor God."
"We will also look for people who want to characterize the origins of both man and animals in a way that honors Judeo-Christian science that proves God as the creator," she said.
Man, it must be nice that everything is so rosy in Tulsa that getting a creationism display in the local zoo is public priority #1.
. . . why when I travel to Pittsburgh in a month, I'm willing to drive the 12 hours rather than fly:
Security and rules kept passengers confined all night in a small plane at Rochester due to thunderstorms.
When Link Christin boarded a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to the Twin Cities on Friday night, he expected to be on the ground in about three hours and ready for a comfy bed.
Instead, he was among 47 passengers who spent the night trapped inside a small airplane, parked at the Rochester airport, complete with crying babies and the aroma of over-used toilets.
* * *
The airline crew on the plane reached their maximum work hours in the air, so another crew had to be flown in. The alternative of chartering a bus didn't work out. And letting the passengers into the Rochester airport was not possible because they would have to go through security screening again, and the screeners had gone home for the day.
Gee, this is *so* surprising:
Atheist advertising signs on Des Moines Area Regional Transit buses that created a storm of controversy when they first went up on Aug. 1 have been taken down.
And what did these offensive, despicable, inflammatory advertisements say? Did they mock the absurdity of Zombie Jesus, or point out that the Mormon magical underwear was just silly? Did they cite conflicting verses of the Bible, or run a tally of how many people God killed in the Old Testament? Maybe show chanting kooks at soldier's funerals or members of the Taliban beheading some infidel?
Of course not.
What they did was say this: "Don't believe in God? You are not alone."
And then give the name of the group sponsoring the ads: Iowa Atheist and Free Thinkers. Here's their comment on the whole absurd thing:
OK, I'm having a hard time believing this, good skeptic that I am:
Government wants more CCTV cameras in homes
Latest Home Office initiative wants to watch 20,000 problem families 24/7
The UK Government's Children's Secretary Ed Balls has announced a controversial new CCTV monitoring scheme, in which thousands of problem families are to be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Balls claims that the £400 million "sin bin" scheme will put up to 20,000 problem families under 24-hour surveillance in their own homes, to ensure children go to bed and school on time and eat proper meals.
"Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction," reads a report in the Sunday Express.
The other sources I find also link to the Express article, which can be seen here. Here's a bit from Wired: