Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Root of All Evil: Part 1 (The God Delusion)

Okay, enough of that brain-curdling tripe. (Way to go, Dave!*) Take a deep breath… let’s return to reality, shall we?

“The Root of All Evil?” is a television documentary, written and presented by that arch secular meanie Richard Dawkins, in which he argues that the world would be better off without religion. Perhaps after viewing the preceding film, you might be inclined to agree.

The documentary was first broadcast in January 2006 on Channel 4 in the UK. Dawkins has said that the title wasn’t his preferred choice — the notion of anything being the root of all evil being fairly ridiculous — but that Channel 4 had insisted on it to create controversy. His sole concession from the producers on the title was the addition of the question mark. This is a companion of sorts to his book, “The God Delusion” that explores the unproven beliefs that are treated as factual by many religions and the extremes to which some followers have taken them.

Dawkins opens the program by describing the “would-be murderers… who want to kill you and me, and themselves, because they’re motivated by what they think is the highest ideal” and goes on to contend that “the process of non-thinking called faith” is not a way of understanding the world, but instead stands in fundamental opposition to modern science and the scientific method, and is divisive and dangerous.

*I keeeed…

Baby Bible Bashers: Parts 3-5

What utter depravity.

L’il Beauty Queens: Part 1 & 2

Let’s shuffle the deck a bit and introduce you to another bizarre form of “child abuse”… Yes, it’s the despicable world of beauty pageants for the little kiddie-winks. Any parallels with the pre-pubescent evangelists is wholly intentional. This is like a Christopher Guest film… but REAL!

A Rational Interlude

A debate from 1999 (LWT) regarding belief, hosted by Melvyn Bragg with Gore Vidal, The Reverend Keith Ward and Baroness Susan Greenfield. In stellar form, Vidal neatly dispenses with Kant’s hackneyed argument that religion is a moral necessity and puts a finer point on the difference between agnosticism and atheism. By the way, isn’t the good reverend just full of the most inane twaddle? Marcus Aurelius was some sort of quasi-Christian even though he was a resolute stoic. What utter nonsense. Oh, and in fairness, Vidal quite inexcusably is waaaay off base in his chronology there, but that’s another matter.

Baby Bible Bashers: Part 1 & 2

After watching this series of videos it’s hard not to side with Richard Dawkins’ contention that the indoctrination of children in the teachings of religion is a form of child abuse. Of course, these are extreme examples, much in the same way as the frighteningly zealous “God warriors” portrayed in the film “Jesus Camp” are, but they exist nonetheless and may perhaps be more prevalent than we might first think.

This notion of “child abuse” is one that, quite frankly, I still have some degree of difficulty coming to terms with, and certainly the backlash from the “faith community” has been one of furious outrage and indignation. A Google search on the topic will rapidly produce a balance of postings at least 50 to 1 from infuriated believers who find the whole idea insulting, “completely stupid” or otherwise beneath contempt.

Well, I’m not convinced by their acrimonious protestations. Funnily enough, in many of them, it seems there’s a good deal of moral relativism involved; the argument being that there are plenty of worse forms of “child abuse” (which undoubtedly there are, but it’s beside the point) or that, on balance, the benefits of religious indoctrination outweigh any conceivable downside. What benefits accrue from such teachings escapes me… a moral code, one presumes. But surely this is something that can be nurtured quite independent of religion.

Anyway, be amazed… and horrified.

Note: The video quality is a bit dodgy in parts.

h/t: Dave!

Dead Ringers: The Weakest Disciple

We now resume normal programming...


Trying to make things a bit more “reader friendly” or something of that nature. The site will probably look like shit for the next day or so. Bear with me.

Update: Ta da! Well, that’ll have to do for now. A lick o’paint, a lick o’paint… as Basil Fawlty’s hapless, cut-rate repairman would say.

MediaCurves: McCain’s Denial Presser

More on McCain's recent presser denying suggestions of impropriety made in the New York Times.

What is MediaCurves? From the company's website:™ provides the media and general public with a venue to view Americans’ perceptions of popular and controversial media events and advertisements.™ conducts national studies to obtain Americans’ views on advertisements, talk show appearances by political figures, and controversial statements by actors, actresses, political figures and sports personalities.

Oh boy, with all the election coverage, this is going to be fun! By the way, quite interesting isn't it how closely the Democratic and Independent responses track almost exactly the same...

Friday, February 22, 2008

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

An independent documentary film about the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system and its effect on American culture. The film discusses disparities the filmmaker sees in ratings and feedback: between Hollywood and independent films, between gay and straight sexual situations, and between violence and sexual content.

This is a rather long film, but well worth the investment of time, I think. The Kafkaesque nature of the MPAA is a truly bizarre anomaly in a “free society” (as it’s laughably called).

A Disregard for Science

Disregard for Science

Turns out that a simple search on Google under “disregard for science” brings up Canada’s “New Conservatives”... Sweet. Way to go STEPHEN HARPER PARTY!

ht: Red Canuck

From Persia to Iran: Part II

More slides of the country John McCain wants to "bomb, bomb, bomb..."

From Wikipedia:

In the early 1950s, there was a political crisis centered in Iran that commanded the focused attention of British and American intelligence outfits. In 1951 Dr. Mossadegh came to office, committed to re-establish the democracy, constitutional monarchy, and nationalizing the Iranian petroleum industry, which was controlled by the British. From the start he erroneously believed that the Americans, who had no interest in Anglo-Iranian Oil company, would support his nationalization plan. He was buoyed by the American Ambassador, Henry Grady. In the events, Americans supported the British, and fearing that the Communists with the help of Soviets were posed to overthrow the government they decided to remove Mossadegh from the office. Shortly before the 1952 presidential election in the US the British government invited Kermit Roosevelt of the CIA to London and proposed that they cooperate under the code name “Operation Ajax” to cause the downfall of Mossadegh from office.

In 1951, under the leadership of the nationalist movement of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the Iranian parliament voted unanimously to nationalize the oil industry. This shut out the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), which was a pillar of Britain's economy and political clout. A month after that vote, Mossadegh was named Prime Minister of Iran.

Under the direction of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a senior CIA officer and grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, the CIA and British intelligence funded and led a covert operation to depose Mossadegh with the help of military forces loyal to the Shah, known as Operation Ajax. The plot hinged on orders signed by the Shah to dismiss Mossadegh as prime minister and replace him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, a choice agreed on by the British and Americans. Despite the high-level coordination and planning, the coup initially failed, causing the Shah to flee to Baghdad, later leaving for Rome. After a brief exile in Italy, the Shah returned to Iran, this time through a successful second attempt at the coup. The deposed Mossadegh was arrested, given a show trial, and condemned to death. The Shah commuted this sentence to solitary confinement for three years in a military prison, followed by house arrest for life.

With Iran's great oil wealth, Mohammad Reza Shah became the pre-eminent leader of the Middle East, and self-styled "Guardian" of the Persian Gulf. He became increasingly despotic during the last years of his regime. In the words a US Embassy dispatch, “The shah’s picture is everywhere. The beginning of all film showings in public theaters presents the shah in various regal poses accompanied by the strains of the National anthem… The monarch also actively extends his influence to all phases of social affairs…there is hardly any activity or vocation which the shah or members of his family or his closest friends do not have a direct or at least a symbolic involvement. In the past, he had claimed to take a two party-system seriously and declared “If I were a dictator rather than a constitutional monarch, then I might be tempted to sponsor a single dominant party such as Hitler organized”.

However, by 1975, he abolished the multi-party system of government so that he could rule through a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party in autocratic fashion. All Iranians were pressured to join in. The shah’s own words on its justification was; “We must straighten out Iranians’ ranks. To do so, we divide them into two categories: those who believe in Monarchy, the constitution and the Six Bahman Revolution and those who don’t… A person who does not enter the new political party and does not believe in the three cardinal principles will have only two choices. He is either an individual who belongs to an illegal organization, or is related to the outlawed Tudeh Party, or in other words a traitor. Such an individual belongs to an Iranian prison, or if he desires he can leave the country tomorrow, without even paying exit fees; he can go anywhere he likes, because he is not Iranian, he has no nation, and his activities are illegal and punishable according to the law”. In addition, the Shah had decreed that all Iranian citizens and the few remaining political parties must become part of Rastakhiz.

What's in a Name?

It's always something of a mystery why raving sociopaths choose the names they do... I leave it to you to ponder why SDA's virulently racist commenter "John West" selected this particular handle.

Optical Illusions

Courtesy of reader Dave, check out this dazzling site filled with some really marvellous, and sometimes infantile, optical illusions. (Warning: Make sure you've taken your Dilantin® first.) On a semi-related note, allow me to recommend a wonderful book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas Hofstadter that plumbs the interrelationship between form and content.

"These pages demonstrate visual phenomena, and 'optical' or 'visual illusions'. The latter is more appropriate, because most effects have their basis in the visual pathway, not in the optics of the eye."

Blogging Tories: Pro Eugenics!

Keen observers may have noticed a disturbing and rather alarming trend amongst a number of Stephen Taylor’s “Blogging Tories” towards openly supporting the loathsome and generally discredited notions of “eugenics” of late. It may be something of a stretch to suggest that this hideous vogue dovetails rather neatly with their overt support of “full-time Nazis,” their joyful glee at the thought of murdering homosexuals, their sympathetic hearing of the rants of Ernst Zundel, their rabid Islamophobia, and their dismissive mocking of the Holocaust, but indeed, this seems to be the case.

Yes, the irony is most bountiful, given the unfortunate “liberal” and “progressive” lineage of this hideous strain of thought that seeks to eliminate socially “blemished” and unacceptable genetic strains from the human gene pool. What on earth is going on with these people?

Behold this amazing comment of one "John West" at SDA:

"The theory that a result is more likely genetic than environmental is obvious when you consider the cushy up-bringing, educational opportunities and other advantages that so many Liberals experience in Canada, yet so many of them are still retarded, illogical, weak-spirited, dependent, unappreciative, small-minded, petty, arrogant fools who make the lives of millions a daily frustration.

Such flawed individuals can only be due to bad genetics. It's nearly impossible to learn to be such a waste of skin."

This is today's Conservatives, ladies and gentlemen. This is the virulently hateful, genocidal "mainstream" of thought over at "Canada's Best Blogger"...

Monty Python: Science Fiction Sketch

Dead Ringers: Labour vs Conservatives

Easy to make parallels to our own situation... Liberals, Conservatives... Really, what's the bloody difference? The Afghanistan file is a brilliant case in point.

Slang Time with Stéphane Dion

Some definite comic possibilities here...

Surely some Lib whiz-kid can come up with something better directed at Harper along these lines. The effect is pretty amusing regardless, but I'm sure we can do better.

UPDATE: Come on Libs... Visit this pathetic site and tell me you can't come up with something more devastatingly funny, cutting and viscously honest.

Leonard Cohen Cafe

Hitler Wasn’t an Atheist

It’s perhaps somewhat ironic that doltish Christian apologists insist on characterizing Adolph Hitler as an “atheist” when, in fact, he enthusiastically advocated an alternative “religion peculiar to our race”; a "religion of blood" that would “throw off the veneer of Christianity” and be devoted to the occult mysteries of blood and soil (nationalism). Far from being an atheist, Hitler was a self-declared “enemy of intelligence” and might be more properly described as a pagan deist. The notion that Christianity is little more than a superficial veneer that masks these powerful emotional undercurrents of irrationality and unreason in the guise of a different set of ritualistic obsverances is, as they say, “provocative”…

The Republicans' Fear Factor

This latest melodramatic ad by the GOP complaining about expiration of The Protect America Act is, as Glenn Greenwald points out, Republican politics in a nutshell. "Impressively, the ad dramatically packs every component of GOP politics into one minute: There are dark, primitively omnipotent Arab Terrorists lurking darkly and menacingly, planning to slaughter you and your whole entire family right now. You have only a few seconds to live, literally or metaphorically. The clock on your life is counting down right now. You are in severe danger." Thankfully, it seems many Americans are growing sick and tired of this fear-mongering bullshit.

The Prisoner (Video Companion)

Some interesting trivia and factoids about the famous British cult TV series from the 60s. Arguably one of the best television series ever...? This won't be terribly edifying to devoted fans, but it does include some nice clips.

More Classic George W. Bushisms

Doris Kearns Goodwin on Abraham Lincoln

The always delightful Doris Kearns Goodwin shares details from her most recent book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln."

Maybe, like me, you've sometimes amused yourself by putting together an imaginary dinner party in your head and have wondered which five (or ten, or whatever) famous people you would invite... Well, Goodwin would definitely be on my list.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rossini: The Thieving Magpie

Guy Fawkes & The Gunpowder Plot

Nick Knowles explores the facts and the fiction behind the legendary Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot in this lighthearted historical mockumentary.

Bible Stories: The Liquid Summer Camp Announcement

Kooky Christians: Cartoons Are Evil!

It seems the Christofascists don't like competition when it comes to pedaling ludicrous nonsense to children.

Story Pirates: Flying Cats

A short movie based on a sentence by Jah-Kym McMillan (age 8).

THH22M: Liberal Ad Outakes

Tweety Sandbags an Obama Supporter

An Obama supporter (State Sen. Kirk of Texas) isn't up for "Hardball" but Matthews is utterly stumped when asked to name one significant legislative accomplishment of the Senate as a whole. Zing!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

From Persia to Iran

The first part of an elegant slide show by Farhad Nabipour that combines marvelous images of Achaemenid architecture, sculpture and artifacts juxtaposed with pictures of modern Iran, together with a soundtrack by Pink Floyd. An odd mixture perhaps, but surprisingly effective. Probably even better when slightly stoned.

Fiat Empire

A interesting documentary film that maintains the Federal Reserve's practices are a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Seems to make a lot of sense to me, but of course, that doesn't mean much. I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to economics; confuses the dickens out of me.

Great Moments In Presidential Speeches

A compilation of some of Bush's more hilarious moments. Many are genuinely funny, and not necessarily in a mean-spirited way.

Canadian Politics 101: Postmodernism

Canadian Politics 101: The NDP

Canadian Politics 101: The Conservatives

Faux News: Fair, Balanced... And Credible!

Ah, Bill... What a poltroon. He really needs to get a grip on his irrational loathing of NBC News.

Barbarians: End of the World

Ironically, the story of two babies born at the same time…

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's Over, Hillary

After tonight's results I'd be quite surprised if she managed to pull a win out of Texas, and even Ohio that supposedly plays to her lower income demographics, is starting to look iffy. Time to face facts: Hillary is through. She's fallen and she can't get up. Let's hope Dr. Dean pulls the pull on this trainwreck before too long.

UPDATE: Despite several days of coverage on CNN suggesting that Hawaii (a plum assignment) would be "competitive" Obama blew Clinton out of the water by a margin of 3-1. So much for the prescience of reporters in the field.

UPDATE2: Oh no. It seems I'm in the same camp with the likes of Larry Kudlow. Maybe there's hope for Clinton yet. Larry's almost always wrong about absolutely everything.

Newsflash: Brit Hume, Still a Douchebag

Oh my God, Michelle Obama is a liberal! And even worse, she might be that most heinous and treasonous kind... an "Arts liberal"! Heaven help us all. Gee, I wonder what Alexander Britton Hume, Sr. studied at the University of Virginia... Any guesses?

Barbarians: The Savage Goths

A Short History of Evil

Barbarians: The Primitive Celts

Here's the first episode of the series.

The Double-Talk Express

And Now For Something Completely Different: Brainy Barbarians

So you think you know everything about the Romans, do you? They gave us sophisticated road systems, chariots and the modern-day calendar. And of course they had to contend with barbarian hordes who continually threatened the peace, safety and prosperity of their Empire. Didn't they? Terry Jones' "Barbarians" takes a completely different approach to Roman history. Not only does it offer us the chance to see the Romans from a non-Roman perspective, it also reveals that most of the people written off by the Romans as uncivilized, savage and barbaric were in fact organized, motivated and intelligent groups of people, with no intentions of overthrowing Rome and plundering its Empire.

This episode focuses on the inventiveness of different peoples that the Romans regarded as "barbarians," Although that's perhaps stretching the term a bit beyond its conventional definition because in this case it's applied mainly to the Greeks of Syracuse and Rhodes, and to the Parthians (successors to the Persians).

The first part of the series is available at Guba.

A Bumpy Ride Ahead

Unsurprising results so far, but as noted by Khan, it may make little difference if, by manipulating the constitution, the powers of the prime minister have effectively been transferred to the president.

Castro Steps Down

Fidel Castro announced his resignation as president of Cuba and commander-in-chief of Cuba's military today, according to a letter published in the state-run newspaper, Granma. It should be interesting to see what position the various presidential candidates take on this new development with respect to future Cuban-American relations.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy "Family Day"

I almost forgot. (We don't celebrate the family out here in B.C., being the heathen degenerates that we are — on the coast, at least.) Anyway, here's an old favourite.

Unhappy Campers: 02-18-08

Trailer Talk: Business Advice

Speaking of pecans... I just love this guy. He really cracks me up for some goofy reason. I wish he'd make another video to update folks on what the status of the Butter for President campaign is these days.

Vote Hucklebee!

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over this. Good grief, what catastrophically stupid people. No wonder Jerry Falwell felt right at home in Lynchurg (home to the esteemed Liberty "University" folks — you know, the one that's populating the ranks of the Bush administration's bureaucracy).
h/t: Crooks & Liars
Correction: My bad. I just remembered that Liberty-U and the Thomas Road Baptist Church are in Lynchburg, VA, not Tennessee. Well, whatever... These loons are still as nutty as a pecan pie.

Fair & Balanced

Past (and future?) Faux News coverage of Barrack Obama.

Blogroll Housekeeping

I’ve revived the old blogroll, but it’s from an saved copy of my old template from a ways back. If I’ve inadvertently left you off, please feel free to let me know. As well, if you want to recommend a worthwhile site to include that I might have overlooked, that would be appreciated also. Note that there won’t be any “huns and vandals” on it this time however. Screw them.


More of that fabled "conservative humour" we hear so much about...
p.s. It's Canuckistan, you morons!

Persepolis Recreated

Starting with the work of the German scholar Friedrich Krefter, who spent decades creating a model for a reconstructed Persepolis, film maker Farzin Rezaian and his team have produced a documentary that presents a virtual reconstruction of parts of the Persepolis palace complex. The film that includes commentaries by many of the leading authorities on Achaemenid architecture and history, brings to life and reveals the splendour of the Persepolitan palace complex before its destruction by Alexander the Great.

Please take note the Blogging Tory (that I won’t name to spare him embarrassment) who boldly said these completely hilarious words last month: “Tribal wars between pagan peoples had made the peoples of the Middle East unable to rise up as a unified force and create an empire as had the peoples of Rome, Constantinople, and Cairo.” Uh-huh.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hillary Goes Negative (Surprise!)

Pakistan Elections Tomorrow

HIGNFY (S17E04: 1-3)


Somehow, I don't think this situation is going to go well at all. Does anyone have a clue what our government's position is on this? I certainly haven't heard a peep out of them about it. It would be most interesting to know.