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Classy…

Not satisfied (or sufficiently chastised) with blaming abortion in New Orleans for Katrina and moral decay for 9/11, Pat Robertson blames Haitians “deal with the devil” (literally) for this week’s earthquake.

Another strike against religion – asshats like this maintain a constituency of sheep by claiming to speak for, or interpret the tea leaves of, God/god/Thor/Allah/some other fiction.

Pat – the causes for the above disasters are, in order, weather and unwise city construction, homicidal politics and religion, and finally, plate tectonics, not God.  Other factors certainly played into each disaster and can be discussed, however the relationship between moral behaviour and plate tectonics is not a topic for grown ups, regardless of the religious affiliation.

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Cafe Chianti and Taj Mahal restaurants are ablaze

Just as the title says: The block of buildings on South Street in Halifax that houses Cafe Chianti and Taj Mahal are on fire. There are a number of fire engines on scene…I’ve seen four go past my vantage point on Barrington & Prince, and another responded at ~8:20 while I was walking up from the ferry. There are a number of apartment residences on that block, as well as the restaurants. A portion of southern downtown Halifax is also without power (some of my friends at TUNS Daltech have no power). The Chronicle-Herald has an early report here.

Here’s hoping that the firefighters manage to keep the fire to a minimum.

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I phone the Prime Minister every day

Actually, I don’t. But this very funny Cape Bretoner does. Check out his site! I can’t listen to the calls right now, causebe of orkwe ilterfeing (even though this is unchletime), but I can’t wait to check it out at omhe!

PS – certain members of the ‘Kog may remember a time when I similarly attempted to converse with Russell MacLellan, who at the time (1997-1999) I considered to be our worst premier ever. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20 and I couldn’t predict the nightmare that was The Fiddler.

favourite person, International News, Things We Should Know, war

Lucky or Unlucky?

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, when he was 29 years old, endured a level of misfortune thus far unmatched in the history of humanity.

An engineer, he was on a business trip, and was riding a streetcar when the first disaster occurred: he was unfortunate enough to be taking his business trip to Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945. He later estimated he was approximately 2 miles from ground zero when the atomic device, “Little Boy”, detonated over the city. He was burned, and his eardrums ruptured, but he survived and returned to his hometown the following day, where he was on August 9th.

His hometown? Nagasaki. He was telling his boss about the events in Hiroshima when “Fat Man” was dropped on the city. Almost miraculously, Yamaguchi survived that blast, too.

One tough, unlucky bastard.

Yamaguchi died recently from stomach cancer, at the age of 93.

Read that again.

That’s right, he survived two atomic blasts and died at age 93, to the best of my knowledge the only person to experience this in the reasonably short history of mankind.  Just thought it was worth mentioning.

atheism, censorship, christians, justice, law, minority rights, pedophiles/priests, religion, Things We Should Know

The Emerald Isle: Boldly Moving Forward into the 12th Century…

Let me preface these remarks by saying that if we were Irish nationals, both Kevvy and I would be criminals. Kevvy for his most recent post, and me for what I am about to write. Once more unto the breach, dear readers!

On January 1st, 2010, a new law came into effect in Ireland – the law is, according to legislators, primarily designed to modernise laws regarding defamation. Goodness knows, given the state of defamation laws in England, that area could use a bit of cleaning up in the Isles, so to speak. This, however, is not what is most troubling about this legislation. Contained within the law are provisions making blasphemy, the disparaging of religious beliefs which might offend practitioners of a given religion, illegal.  Of course, as one would expect, some, like Richard Dawkins, are speaking out against what is perceived to be a return to medieval thinking.

The Irish Constitution already contains provisions against blasphemy, however, Ireland and other countries which have similar laws or edicts have chosen largely to ignore them, given that they are impossible to define or enforce, and constitute an unreasonable restriction on free speech. Modern societies have largely recognized the importance of free speech and the benefits of the unrestricted flow of ideas. What is puzzling is that some commentators cannot even identify whose idea this was, or whether religious leaders of any denomination have pushed to have this law enacted.

Some will recall my post on the efforts of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to pass a United Nations resolution making disparagement of religion an offense around the world – even as a non-binding resolution, it is a terrifying prospect that such resolutions can even be seriously entertained in a global context.  This new law is an unreasonable and unwarranted attack on free speech and should not be tolerated. While we are turning our gaze toward Africa and threatening dire consequences if homosexuality is outlawed in Uganda, this type of petty, superstitious nonsense is actually happening in what is presumed to be the ‘civilized’ West. There are people around the world who are suffering unnecessary misery due to the efforts of supposedly well-meaning christians, and direct conflict between religious ideologies is killing hundreds, if not thousands of people a day in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Recently, a court in Malaysia decided it was acceptable for non-muslims to use the word ‘allah’, as long as it is not misused. Thousands are up in arms at what is seen as an insult to islam – never mind that the word ‘allah’ means ‘god’ in Arabic, and could conceivably come up in conversation in a respectful way – and this is just one of many instances where the rule of law has come up against the forces who encourage the growth of superstition and the suppression of competing ideas. The suppression of ideas, even ridiculous ones, is dangerous because it is a slippery slope from protecting one set of ideas from another to defining one idea, or ideology, as better or more worthy of promotion by a government.

Unless there are instances of demonstrable harm (such as are inherent in militant religions of any stripe), people should be permitted to share ideas and let the minds of others accept, debate or deny them as they see fit. It is the only way societies can grow and evolve – technology is great, but without ideas to determine its use, technology is just a tool. Moral ideas, divorced from the burden of religious dogma and developed to provide the greatest benefit for the greatest number, are the force that propels us forward as a race.

A restriction on speech is a restriction on thought, and any infringement on the right to think and speak freely is a violation of human rights, and should be regarded as a crime against humanity.

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Right under our very noses…

CNN is shocked, shocked I tell you, about the discovery of an Islamic “brainwashing center” in Pakistan. In it, images painted on the walls depicting images of beauty and serenity allegedly are used to convince children of the veracity of their view of the “afterlife”, thereby making it easier to convince them to hide explosives under their nutsacks in preparation for their 72 virgins.

Keep posted to these pages, in which I will blow the lid off of hundreds of similar  centres here in my fair city of Halifax, in which “pastors”, “priests”, and “rabbis” try to convince children weekly of the existence of an afterlife, of angels, of the power of prayer; all in the effort to extract cash from their pockets for the rest of their lives.