28 January 2012

Stephen Fry is awesome at Inteligence Squared

 On 19 Oct 2009 Intelligence Squared, hosted a debate :-

The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world

Speakers included :- Stephen Fry, Archbishop John Onaiyekan, Ann Widdecombe, Zeinab Badawi, Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

Stephen Fry shows why he is so awesome:-

Stephen Fry

I genuinely believe that the Catholic Church is not, to put it at its mildest, a force for good in the world, and therefore it is important for me to try and martial my facts as well I can to explain why I think that. But I want first of all to say that I have no quarrel and no argument and I wish to express no contempt for individual devout and pious members of that church. It would be impertinent and wrong of me to express any antagonism towards any individual who wishes to find salvation in whatever form they wish to express it.

That to me is sacrosanct as much as any article of faith is sacrosanct to anyone of any church or any faith in the world. It’s very important. It’s also very important to me, as it happens, that I have my own beliefs. They are a belief in the Enlightenment, a belief in the eternal adventure of trying to discover moral truth in the world, and there is nothing, sadly, that the Catholic Church and its hierarchs likes to do more than to attack the Enlightenment.

It did so at the time: reference was made to Galileo and the fact that he was tortured, for trying to explain the Copernican theory of the Universe. Just imagine in this square mile how many people were burned for reading the Bible in English. And one of the principle burners and torturers of those who tried to read the Bible in English, here in London, was Thomas More. Now, that’s a long time ago, it’s not relevant, except that it was only last century that Thomas More was made a saint, and it was only in the year 2000, that the last pope, the Pole, he made Thomas More the Patron Saint of Politicians. This is a man who put people on the wrack for daring to own a Bible in English: he tortured them for owning a Bible in their own language.

The idea that the Catholic Church exists to disseminate the word of the Lord is nonsense. It is the only owner of the Truth for the billions that it likes to boast about, because those billions are uneducated and poor, as again it likes to boast about. It’s perhaps unfair of me, as a gay man, to moan at this enormous institution, which is the largest and most powerful church on Earth, has over a billion, as they like to tell us, members, each one of whom is under strict instructions to believe the dogmas of the church, but may wrestle with them personally of course. It’s hard for me to be told that I’m evil, because I think of myself as someone who is filled with love, whose only purpose in life was to achieve love, and who feels love for so much of nature and the world and for everything else.

We certainly don’t need the stigmatisation, the victimisation, that leads to the playground bullying when people say you’re a disordered, morally evil individual. That’s not nice, it isn’t nice. The kind of cruelty in Catholic education, the kind of child—let’s not call it child abuse, it was child rape—the kind of child rape that went on systematically for so long, let’s imagine that we can overlook this and say that it is nothing whatever to do with the structure and nature of the Catholic Church, and the twisted and neurotic and hysterical way that its leaders are chosen, the celibacy, the nuns, the monks, the priesthood, this is not natural and normal, ladies and gentlemen, in 2009, it really isn’t.

I have yet to approach one of the subjects dearest to my heart, I’ve made three documentary films on the subject of AIDS in Africa. My particular love is the country of Uganda, it is one of the countries I love most in the world. There was a period when Uganda had the worst incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world, but through an amazing initiative called ABC—Abstinence, Be faithful, Correct use of condoms—those three, I’m not denying that abstinence is a very good way of not getting AIDS, it really is, it works, so does being faithful, but so do condoms, and do not deny it! And this Pope, this Pope,  not satisfied with saying “condoms are against our religion, please consider first abstinence, second being faithful to your partner,” he spreads the lie that condoms actually increase the incidence of AIDS, he actually makes sure that aid is conditional on saying no to condoms. I have been to the hospital in Bwindi in the west of Uganda, where I do quite a lot of work, it is unbelievable the pain and suffering you see. Now yes, yes it is true abstinence will stop it.

It’s the strange thing about this church, it is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed. Now, they will say we with our permissive society and our rude jokes, we are obsessed. No, we have a healthy attitude, we like it, it’s fun, it’s jolly, because it’s a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult, it’s a bit like food in that respect only even more exciting. The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese, and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell.

Do you know who would be the last person ever to be accepted as a prince of the Church? The Galileean carpenter. That Jew. They would kick him out before he tried to cross the threshold. He would be so ill-at-ease in the Church. What would he think, what would he think of St. Peter’s? What would he think of the wealth, and the power, and the self-justification, and the wheedling apologies?

The Pope could decide that all this power, all this wealth, this hierarchy of princes and bishops and archbishops and priests and monks and nuns could be sent out in the world with money and art treasures, to put them back in the countries that they once raped and violated, they could give that money away, and they could concentrate on the apparent essence of their belief, and then, I would stand here and say the Catholic Church may well be a force for good in the world, but until that day, it is not.

Thank you.

The Result:-

Initial Vote: 678 For, 1102 Against, Undecided 346

Final Vote: 268 For, 1876 Against, Undecided 34


But perhaps, you know, we should believe in Adam and Eve. Geneticists have established that every woman in the world shares a single female ancestor who lived a hundred and fifty thousand years ago. Scientists actually call her "Eve", and every man shares a single male ancestor called "Adam". It's also been established, however, that Adam was born eighty thousand years after Eve. So the world before him was one of heavy to industrial-strength lesbianism, one assumes. Stephen Fry

19 January 2012

Britian The Rogue State of Libel

If you publish, if you write, this is a book to read to understand just how bad the UK libel laws are.

On 21 July 2008, the United Nations declared that the practical application of English libel law "has served to discourage critical media reporting on matters of serious public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work". England's authoritarianism was not a local concern, but created the global danger that one country's "unduly restrictive libel law will affect freedom of expression worldwide on matters of valid public interest".
Libel law was making England look like a pariah state. The internet ensured that all online publications everywhere on the planet could be read in England. Thanks to the Duke of Brunswick and his obedient servant, a single view of a web page in the UK constituted a publication of the libel in England, however old the offending words were. True, wealthy men could sue only if they had a reputation in England that critical reporting could damage. But as many oligarchs had a London home, or had business dealings in the City, they could overcome that obstacle with ease.

The USA did the right thing:-

US Senate passes 'libel tourism' bill
WASHINGTON — The US Senate on Monday passed a bill to shield US journalists, authors, and publishers from "libel tourists" who file suit in countries where they expect to get the most favorable ruling.
The popular legislation headed to the House of Representatives, which was expected to approve it and send the measure to US President Barack Obama to sign into law despite misgivings from key US allies.
Backers of the bill have cited England, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore as places where weak libel safeguards attract lawsuits that unfairly harm US journalists, writers and publishers.
The Senate approved the measure in a "unanimous consent" voice vote.
The bill's supporters have said that "libel tourism" undermines free speech rights under the US Constitution's cherished first amendment, and so erode accountability of powerful figures in a healthy democracy.

The book is available at The Guardian Bookshop

More information on UK Libel can be found here http://www.libelreform.org/

Libel laws are not just a Fleet Street issue. We have heard from scientists, campaigners, writers, academics and patients that their discussions and publications are being shut down by the threat of libel action. Critical and open debates are vital in medicine and the public are badly missing out without them. Tracey Brown, Managing Director of Sense About Science:

18 January 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Don't forget 
Freedom is in Peril

Sheep Lawsuits Feminism and Venn Diagrams

                I'm have often wondered why so many women support religion, I have always supposed that it has to do with the fear of death and separation from loved ones. But then again, maybe it's the certainty that it supposedly provides.
But Christian Feminists? Really this is truly an oxymoron

Lets see the compatibility:-

Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is a "person whose beliefs and behaviour are based on feminism."

Christianity is whatever you want it to be, whenever it is convenient for you, as long as you believe Jesus Christ was some sort of godly figure, and will save you from death. You have a choice to be in one of 33,830 denominations.
But it comes down to men on top, and women down the bottom...look see! I have even made a Venn Diagram.

I have often commented on the UK Nadine Dories as one woman who pushes the Christian view of abortion and sex education. This basically consists of the first will stop, if the second is all about saying no. This is just plain weird.
Australia has her equal in Melinda Tankard Reist, who famously was once an adviser to Sen Brian Harradine, the man who kept RU486 out of the hands of Australian woman for as long as he could.

No place for sheep is the blog of Jennifer Wilson, who also writes in various other places, such as ABCs The Drum.

On the 14th January Jennifer received a notice from MTR and her lawyers to delete all posts about her, claiming that she was upset about being called a Baptist, and was duplicitous and deceptive about her religion.

As you might guess this brings lawsuits in Australia to a new level, it doesn't look to be a case of seeking to clarify the facts and for a correction, but as a means to silence someone through Lawfare.

Australia has a semi-nationalised healthcare system called Medicare, maybe it's time the Legal system was nationalised as well, as it's only seems to serve those who can afford it. But then that's why it's called a Legal system, and not a Justice system.

Further Reading:-

PZ Meyers gets into the act
As does Russell Blackford
Herald Sun
The Australian Sex Party also add their bit, and they are not happy.

Actually I never asked my friend Spitfire about her actual Church.

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.  If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.  But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her.  And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.  If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.  If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.  (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

17 January 2012

Spitfire shows us Christian love

Where our Heroine encounters Christian Love.

This is for Jennifer Ahlquist, who has experienced Christian love such as below.

“If this banner comes down, hell i hope the school burns down with it!”
“U little brainless idiot, hope u will be punished, you have not win sh..t! Stupid little brainless skunk!”
“Fuck Jessica alquist I’ll drop anchor on her face”
“definetly laying it down on this athiest tommorow anyone else?”
“Nothing bad better happen tomorrow #justsaying #fridaythe13th”
“Let’s all jump that girl who did the banner #fuckthatho”
“literally that bitch is insane. and the best part is she already transferred schools because shes knows someone will jump her #ahaha”
“”But for real somebody should jump this girl” lmao let’s do it!”
“Hmm jess is in my bio class, she’s gonna get some shit thrown at her”
“I want to punch the girl in the face that made west take down the school prayer… #Honestly”
“hail Mary full of grace @jessicaahlquist is gonna get punched in the face”
“When I take over the world I’m going to do a holocaust to all the atheists”
“gods going to fuck your ass with that banner you scumbag”
“I found it, what a little bitch lol I wanna snuff her”
“if I wasn’t 18 and wouldn’t go to jail I’d beat the shit out of her idk how she got away with not getting beat up yet”
“lol I wanna stick that bitch lol”
“nail her to a cross”
“We can make so many jokes about this dumb bitch, but who cares #thatbitchisgointohell and Satan is gonna rape her.”

 The list of threats and and those caring Christians who made them, are here

There is actually also a Comic Book character called  Madame Mirage to me the idea of an evangelical Superhero is rather scary. In reality, it's Jennifer who is the real hero.

Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior. - Socrates

11 January 2012

I support the Sparticus Report

          I have always been suspicious that the UK Tory government runs purely on ideological reasons seemingly at odds with the economic reality at the current time.

One of its projects has been getting disabled people off benefits and back into work, there is of course a slight problem with this, seeing that the economy is a bit of a mess there are actually no jobs to go to, it also doesn't help that is disabled people have to go to Serco and have their disabilities examined by an amateur with check list.

There has been some excellent work done by Sue Marsh , Bendy Girl and other to highlight just how ridiculous this system has become.

On the 9th January they released a report "Responsible Reform" commonly known as the Spartacus report on how the government basically misled the public on their alleged consultation about changes to the disability living allowance DLA.

The government has said it wishes to cut the money paid to the DLA by 20%, a slight problem is that fraud or the DLA is only 0.5% is that it is certainly not something they are going to improve on very much. So the Government a doing what they do best, and attacking those who aren't good at defending themselves.

 Summery of Responsible Reform from Ekklesia
'Responsible Reform' is based on the responses to the government's own consultation on its planned DLA reforms, which were only made public once disabled people requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.
Among the report's key conclusions are that:
* Only seven per cent of organisations that took part in the consultation were fully in support of plans to replace DLA with a Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
* There was overwhelming opposition in the consultation responses to nearly all of the government's proposals for DLA reform
* The government has consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants
* The report shows that nearly all of the recent increase in working-age claimants of DLA has been associated with mental health conditions and learning difficulties. Between 2002 and 2010, the number of working-age DLA claimants - excluding those with mental health conditions and learning difficulties remained remarkably stable
* 98 per cent of those who responded opposed plans to change the qualifying period for PIP from three months (as it is with DLA) to six months
* 90 per cent opposed plans for a new assessment, which disabled people fear will be far too similar to the much-criticised work capability assessment used to test eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA)
* Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warned that the government's plans could breach the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
 The easy read version of the Report can be found here at United Response. While the full version is here at Ekklesia.
The latest Sue Marsh article at The Guardian

The news on this report and the Government is getting out slowly, and hopefully will cause the Government to actually do something actually positive for the disabled. Chanel 4 News

This Government has let the Banks and tax evaders get away with £Billions and don't seem to be that great at trying to fix it, oh wait, yes, this is the Tory party, when I said "Banks and tax evaders" I really should have said "Tory party supporters".

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.
- Charles Darwin

06 January 2012

Diseased Books and the AVN

There can't be much more heart breaking than loosing a child, but when you use this as a springboard to push an agenda that will only bring death to more children, then my sympathy will disappear very quickly.

Stephanie Messenger works closely with Meryl Dorey and the AVN (Generally known as the Anti-Vaccination Network), and have authored together yet together another antivax book
On the webpage that sells her book (that I won't link to) she make 3 pronouncements:-

A few simple facts for people to check out:

1. Japan stopped vaccinating young babies and their SIDs rate plummeted to near none. SIDS in Australia mostly happens at 2, 4 and 6 months – a coincidence – I think not, some will definitely be vaccination deaths!
 This is actually entirely false, the Japanese do vaccinate children, but have a different schedule
 yes they don't use the MMR but 3 single injections, and use the oral Polio tablet, not an injection

                                         Mandatory Vaccines in Japan:

3 Months - DPT (Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus)  then again at 4 months, and 6 months & 18 months
3 Months - BCG (Tuberculosis)
6 Months - Polio - and again at 18 months
3 Years - MR (Measles and Rubella) - Total of 3 shots given over a period of several weeks / months

Heath care in Japan is extremely good, and this will be one reason that SIDS is much lower than in other counties. SIDS has been failing in all countries according to SIDS and KIDS  Japan and The Netherlands have the lowest incidence, while noticeable the highest incidence is among peoples with a high number of smokers such as Native Americans and New Zealand Maori. 

Again from SIDS and KIDS is a report that demonstrates that immunisation decreases the risk of SIDS

2. The U.S.A. has paid out billions in compensation for vaccine injury. Why do doctors here deny it is happening – are they scared of being sued?
Yes the USA has paid out $Billions, but then just see how much courts award most legal claims in the USA. The actually numbers of verified clams are quite low, recently in the hundreds compared to the amount of those people who actually get vaccinated. The USA started these special courts as the drug companies stopped manufacturing the vaccines after loosing a few court cases.

Here is the latest January 2012 Vaccine Compensation Report from the USA.
It's noticeable that 2011 was a record year for payouts, but note that it takes 2-3 years for the clam to be processed, and there is also the adults and the resent nationwide flu jabs.
Total payouts for 1989 - 2012 (so far) $2,366,649,931.96

In the UK 1997 - 2005  £35 Million has been paid out due to Vaccine Injury

Note the no-one is saying that vaccination is 100% safe, that is why these vaccination courts where set up, but it's the simple case that so many more people would die if there were no vaccination.

According to the WHO, There are only 19 countries in the world that do have No-fault Compensation for Vaccine Injuries, and I do think it is something Australia should look at implementing. It's not a conspiracy, it's just something that needs to be done properly.

3. There is absolutely NO SCIENTIFIC PROOF a raised antibody level equals immunity. Apparently doctors want scientific proof of reactions, yet there is no scientific proof a raised antibody level gives immunity. There is proof it does not, when most of the cases of whooping cough are in the vaccinated as they are for this current epidemic.
Answered here in Clinical Infectious Diseases, as it's an actual Scientific Journal written by someone who is actually a Professor of Pediatrics, and not a dodgy website like whale.to, or anything with the word natural in the title, it takes a bit of reading and understanding. Yes it's a bit heavy going, but you can skip to the conclusion.

Whooping Cough needs a booster, just like Tetanus, it does wear off, and the unvaccinated are copping it as well.

Measles :- From the World Heath Organisation

  • Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  • In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour.
  • More than 95% of measles deaths occur in low-income countries with weak health infrastructures.
  • Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008 worldwide.
  • In 2010, about 85% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.
Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.It remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. An estimated 164 000 people died from measles in 2008 – mostly children under the age of five.
So....not harmless at all.

Some still believe that vaccines cause autism, and it has been refuted quite thoroughly, for example, here is an actual study done by real scientists in Denmark.
When I say "Real Scientists" I mean those with a real degree, and not someone who graduated from the University of Google.

So why do people still hang on to this belief?
Autism is genetic, so it has to come from the parents, so rather than face this fact, it's easier to go into denial, and blame someone, anyone else.

Some more on Stephanie Messenger at Anti-vaxxors

But on the on the hand, if you actually find Melanies Marvellous Measles a good read, you can follow it up with these wonderful offerings from  http://www.blissfulblightbooks.com/

Soon to follow is Rachel's Remarkable Rubella and Hillary and her Hilarious HPV

Thanks to Reasonable Hank for the heads up on this awful book.

The AVN have had some interesting exposure recently, recently at Woodford, and just yesterday a slight issue with their magazine and accounts.AVN Accounts info can be read here and a synopsis of Woodford can be read at Dave the Happy Singer.

Having children made us look differently at all these things that we take for granted, like taking your child to get a vaccine against measles or polio. Melinda Gates


02 January 2012

Comic:- Starting 2012

I hope that this year improves on 2011, I must admit I'm not optimistic. Spitfire and I will have a few things to discuss over the next year, while I have reason and science on my side, she has mental inertia, inherited privilege and blind faith on hers. 

Spitfire is still a bit peeved about this.

New Year's Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.  ~Mark Twain

01 January 2012

Catholic Church costs Italy six billion Euros a year


                  Italy’s Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR), decided to have a look at how much the Italian state either contributes or subsidises the Catholic church, and the result although an estimate is about 6Billion Euros, or about 7.5 Billion US dollars.  This will always be difficult research project do to how the Churches assets are spread through various diocese and under different corporations, and some institutions will be in association, but not actually owned by the Church.

The results are in Italian here http://www.icostidellachiesa.it/ no English translation so using Google Translate is the only way to read it.

Although others have tried in the recent past to produce an estimate:- Piergiorgio Odifreddi (Why can not we be Christians, 2007) has estimated 9 billion per year, Curzio Maltese (The questing, 2008)  4.5 billion, the Ares (The Chaste Caste , 2008) at 20 billion.  
For its part, the Catholic world is almost always refer to the reply to the Maltese book, entitled The true begging, written by journalist Umberto Folena Future and freely downloadable online , (in Italian) which has no total amount.

PDF on just some of  the Catholic Churches finances in the US  by Curzio Maltese

Wikipedia Funding the Catholic Church in Italy 

"The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy." -Thomas Paine