Friday, 13 March 2009

I had a bit of a rant

I'd seen this story, but was waiting for corroborative evidence from other sources because it just seemed, well, sick.

And sure enough, it is very sick.

Can the vatican (you'll forgive me for not using capitals, ever, when I talk about religion, they don't deserve them) not see how stupid they sound/seem?

So, let's go through that whole religion thing again, just for the n00bs: You do what I (a man) says, or you will die, or burn in hell, or be outcast, or generally treated like shit. Sounds like a guy to me! I just can't imagine why women want to be a part of the priesthood. Are you mental? (Quote from 'Ultraviolet', great film)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Deborah 13: Servant of God

One of the saddest things I've seen on British TV, recorded in the UK, a 13 year old girl, raised by her parents, home-schooled, isolated from people her own age. 4th of 11 children, with no contact with people her own age. Sent out (or maybe volunteers, who knows?) to proselytise on a friday night, complete with bible tracts and an attitude for God.

Everything seems to be a sin in her little world, and it's a very little world indeed.

The family are easily described as young earth creationists, they actually think the planet is 6,000 years old. The bible is taken as literal.

Interviewer: 'What are you training them for?'
Father: 'Eternity'

Of course, everything the family watch on the internet (no TV) is from creationist broadcasts which basically repudiate anything not agreeing with the literal interpretation of the bible.

My main problem with the whole family isn't with the parents, but with the oldest sibling, currently at university, who seems to protest a little too much. He's probably the biggest influence on the youngsters, yet still, after going out into the big wide world, continues to contribute to the continuation of the usual fallacies.

He's the role model.

The whole programme reeks of guilt as I'm watching it.

Oh, no, the Big Bang is a can it be proved by science?
He takes her to meet his house-mates at his Uni digs.
On the way:
Brother looking at the landscape... 'look at it! Created, I think!'

So she meets his house-mates. Very embarrassing for the housemates.
Then shopping. 'Oh, what a shallow life, compared to when the "elements are all melting up"'. Rapture anyone?

Oh, it's too much. I'm not sure I can watch it to the end. The poor girl has no real social skills, no sense of perspective. Everything is about her and god, but no question of what other people do with their lives.

Interesting error: the bible, apparently says 'no drinking'. I seem to remember something about weddings and water into wine. No?

According to this girl, people who tell 'little white lies' and 'paedophiles and murderers' are all going to hell.

It's all guilt, guilt, guilt.

The last 60 seconds of the program shows a 13 year old girl struggling to make sense of cognitive dissonance, she has seen real life, people who don't think as she does. And she struggles to reconcile what she's seen with what she believes, and in my book fails. And she looks wretched going through that. Not her fault. The fault of the people who indoctrinated her. Very sad to watch.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the father of this family (his father was a churchman of some kind) fell in with the Jehovah's Witnesses, then went off to start his own cult, beginning with his wife. Lots of witnessing going on, and strict adherence to biblical truth.

apologies if that seemed a bit stream-of-consciousness, I began blogging after watching the first 60 seconds, I wanted to get down what I was seeing, I couldn't really believe it.


(thanks to GemmaK for the head up)

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Freedom of Speech vs Religion Update

Here's the petition for those who live in the UK, or are ex-pats and allowed to vote in the UK


Simple, Elegant Science.

Great story from the Singularity Hub (always worth a read to see what's coming in the future) about 'flu' viruses and a possible one-shot treatment.

Normally, we vaccinate against flu by using attenuated or killed viruses. This means that a damaged, non-infectious version of the flu virus is injected into the patient, triggering an antibody response. This is like being intoduced to a deadly enemy by photograph. Once you recognise the enemy, you are fore-warned. If the enemy invades, the immune system has a picture and destroys the threat. as the saying goes, 'fore-warned is fore-armed'.

The Singularity Hub story shows lateral thinking in action. The problem with viruses is that they mutate, as does everything, it's called evolution. So how do we protect against something that is constantly mutating?

Here comes the elegant bit:

Don't try to protect against the part of the virus that mutates, protect against the part that stays the same!

Of course, this may not be a case of lateral thinking, it's more likely (reading from the article) that it was an accident. But now that we have a tool to use, how far can we take it?

Is it possible that this approach can be used against HIV? I hope so. Flu is the beginning, and the article makes it clear that the vaccine is still in its infant stages, with trials in time for the 2011-12 flu season at the earliest.

After the good news that stem-cell research has indeed provided a cure for Chrohn's Disease, I feel optimistic. Research for the sake of research provides answers, sometimes it provides cures, sometimes more questions. We keep on searching.

(thanks to Singularity Hub)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Freedom of Speech vs Religion II

I was going to attempt a dissection of what is actually going on at the UN and how it related to western democracy, but it looks like the Hitch has beaten me to it.

There are a few comments at the Slate, below the article, which seem to make sense, like 'there's no way the US will go for it', or 'it's a non-binding agreement, who cares?' type of thing. Unfortunately, the non-binding agreement has already been passed (Sept '08) and adopted. This is the next stage, in the General Assembly. No power of veto. If you're not there to vote, you don't count, and it becomes a resolution.

Who cares? Well, maybe the hundreds, maybe thousands or more, young women who are ritually subjected to genital mutilation, which, incidentally isn't against the Declaration of Human Rights anymore, because we can't discuss it in the UN due to the non-binding resolution mentioned earlier. The workings of Islam cannot be discussed due to perceived 'offence'.

Then again, maybe it's the gay men and women born in Muslim countries.

Or the children who are raped by family members (but usually only if they have reached puberty, and it's their fault anyway according to the law, the little teasers!)

Or the young married women who are raped and then (because they are women, therefore unreliable and temptresses anyway) stoned to death for adultery. Of course the rapists are punished. sometimes.

Don't be smug, regardless of where you live in the world, this barbarity still happens in your country, even within your community. Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not happening.

Religion has to have its fangs pulled. I'm open to ideas on practical ways to achieve this, but don't look to the UN with its horse-trading for oil and natural resources.

Personally, I'll be doing my best to eradicate the feeling amongst my friends and colleagues that religion doesn't really do any harm.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

A lesson in humanity

As this is my blog, I usually make a point of commenting upon a story and linking to other blogs or news items. You can always look at the blogs I read at the bottom right. But sometimes I come across something by accident that deserves a big shout.

Here is Michael Kleinman's blog. Read it, please. (I don't normally do polite requests)

(via Twitter)

Still getting to grips with even newer shiny-tech, but glad it's happening.