Archive for July, 2009

Server Junk

For various reasons, I need to move the site to a different server. I’m hoping this will be painless, but it’s possible it may be painful. If I temporarily vanish, this is why.


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The early reviews of the new Harry Potter are in, and they’re pretty good:

The Vatican lauded the latest Harry Potter film on Monday, saying Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince made the age-old debate over good vs. evil crystal clear.

Wait, crystal clear? I read the book, and I’m pretty sure that the battle between good and evil was anything but crystal clear.

I suppose it’s possible that the movie changes all those parts. But I’m guessing it’s a reasonably faithful adaptation.

Which means that the Vatican must be referring to their own idiosyncratic notions of good and evil.

For instance, perhaps they consider Dumbledore “evil” on account of his support for gay marriage and euthanasia. And maybe they consider Voldemort “good” because his pursuit of horcruxes demonstrates that (unlike those nasty Darwinist muggles) he believes in an immortal soul.

Or perhaps the priests are merely using moral language to disguise an affinity for watching horny teenagers:

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano even gave two thumbs up to the film’s treatment of adolescent love, saying it achieved the “correct balance” and made the stars more credible to the general audience.

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In recent years the Catholic Church has been creating new sins with abandon, including “causing social injustice [except when the Catholic Church does it],” “becoming obscenely wealthy [except when the Catholic Church does it],” and “road rage [except when the Catholic Church does it].”

And if there’s one man you can count on to take a firm stand against pleasure-providing, consensual activities, it’s the Pope.

Which is why it’s not terribly surprising to find him weighing in against drug use:

In particular, the Holy Father noted Mexico’s work to eliminate “violence, drug trafficking, and inequality and poverty, which are fertile ground for delinquency.”

I can already hear you objecting that the Pope is only opposed to drug “trafficking,” not drug use, to which I will simply point out that without drug “trafficking,” there is no drug use, except maybe for drugs that you grow yourself in your closet using a hydroponic setup that you lied to the sales clerk and told was for “legitimate vegetables,” drugs that you made in a trailer in the woods from common household items you bought at supermarkets and hardware stores, and model airplane cement.

At this point you might be wondering why exactly the Pope cares about drug use. After all, the College of Cardinals has been known to smoke some wacky stuff during papal elections, and Benedict is himself supposed to have experimented in the past with Nazi crank. And you’d think that as a well-known Cypress Hill fan, he’d have more appreciation for the “bubonic chronic.”

Well, it’s possible that nostalgia-minded priests are encouraged by the parallels between the War on Drugs and the Inquisition. Also, drugs have “an obvious affiliation with the desires of Satan,” especially his desire to eat at White Castle. And probably the Church views the War on Drugs as a useful proxy for its war against Santa Muerte.

According to the internet, though, it’s primarily because Pope Benedict is the antichrist, who will necessarily support the drug war:

“If cannabis was one of the main ingredients of the ancient anointing oil _ and receiving this oil is what made Jesus the Christ and his followers Christians, then persecuting those who use cannabis could be considered anti-Christ,” Mr Bennett concludes.

End times could be near! I’ve already picked out which house I’m moving into after the rapture, but have you?

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One of these is Devo, I’m pretty sure. But which one?

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Application for Federal Assistance

DATE: July 9, 2009

CONTACT: your.religion.is.false -at- gmail.com

NAME OF FEDERAL AGENCY: National Institutes of Health


“Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls”: Religious Implications of Hydrological Phenomena




POSITION/TITLE: Author, Your Religion Is False


It does now!



To investigate the effect on god-belief of human exposure to various hydrological phenomena.


Over the past decade, Canadian/American indie rock supergroup The New Atheists have been steadily producing books arguing that the god of the Christian bible (among other gods) doesn’t really exist. Although the biological sciences seem to provide unambiguous support for this view, it is possible that god willing some of the other sciences may countervail.


In 1977, Francis Collins (who is the new director of your agency, but please don’t let that sway your opinion) was hiking in the Cascades, when he came across a waterfall frozen into three streams. As this reminded him of the Trinity, he fell on his knees in the dewy grass and devoted himself to Jesus Christ. So far this experiment has never been replicated.


We will collect a large assortment of scientists and randomly assign them to visit hydrological features, including aquifers, beaches, catadupae, drainage basins, endorheic basins, flood plains, infiltration basins, losing streams, percolation trenches, riparian zones, streams, and waterfalls. (I, for instance, will be randomly assigned to the “beach” treatment.)

Each scientist will be measured both before and after his trip using the Dawkins Scale of Religiosity, after which we will use some type of computer (which we will purchase with the grant money) to make graphs and play Minesweeper draw conclusions.

Based on the results of this first experiment, we will repeat on a larger scale, expanding the subject pool to include non-scientists, monkeys, kangaroos, and human embryonic stem cells.

If all goes well, I think we can get our work published in one of the InterVarsity Press science journals. We’d also present at some of the Campus Crusade science conferences, of course. And we’d be happy to facilitate inclusion of our results in the science curriculum in Texas.


We’ve also applied to the BioLogos Foundation for funding. If you could put in a good word for us with Director Collins, that would be just swell!

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There are certain events you dread as a parent: Your daughter’s first date. Explaining “birds and bees.” A late night phone call from the hospital. And having to tell your 16-year-old daughter how you’re not going to let her drive, because you don’t want to have to arrest her:

In a country where women are barred from getting behind the wheel, his daughter’s desire is not only forbidden, it’s also a touchy subject for Gifari, who’s spent nearly half his life working for the government body charged with enforcing the law.

“I told her that driving is allowed in Islam,” Gifari said in a rare interview with a Western reporter. “But it is more of a cultural thing. We already have a lot of problems on the road when it comes to sexual harassment, with guys flirting with girls in the car. If a woman drives, it’s only going to bring more problems.”

Fortunately for Gifari, he appears to have the persuasive manner that’s so helpful in parenting:

As for his own daughter’s desire to drive a car, Gifari said, after a half-hour chat, she agreed with her dad that the timing wasn’t right.

“Maybe in a few years traditions will change,” Gifari said. “But right now it’s only going to bring problems — and it’s not one of the government priorities.”

And he didn’t even have to cut out her tongue! Is it too early to nominate him for Father of the Year?

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I’m sure that (like me) you set a special alarm and woke up bright and early so that you could read the Pope’s new encyclical CARITAS IN VERITATE (“Who cares whether all this stuff is true?”) And then (like me) I’m sure you found it interminably long and incomprehensibly boring.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to pick out four key themes:

1. Fascism:

To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority

(I think he stole this idea from Hayek, or possibly Orwell, or maybe both.)

2. Monoculture:

Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations.

(This seems possibly related to Jesus’s famous recommendation to “Put all thine eggs in one basket.”)

3. Redistributionism “governed by politics”:

Economic life undoubtedly requires contracts, in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics

(Although he didn’t give any specific examples of “redistribution governed by politics,” the morning papers are consistently full of such stories, like “congressman seeks taxpayer dollars for tony private club” and “congressman uses taxpayer dollars to fund remote, mostly-useless, eponymous airport,” and “city council member awards lucrative sludge-hauling contract to bribe-paying bidder.” Obviously, the endorsement of such behavior by the church is not without precedent.)

4. Anti-atheism:

ideological rejection of God and an atheism of indifference, oblivious to the Creator and at risk of becoming equally oblivious to human values, constitute some of the chief obstacles to development today.

Oh, yes, those horrible, horrible atheists. Why, I’m sure with their oversized presence in politics they’re getting in the way of all the religious people clamoring for nationalized health care, or perhaps they’re getting in the way of the religious people arguing against nationalized health care.

I bet it’s the atheists who are standing in the way of all the pro-gun Christians, as well as in the way of all the anti-gun Christians.

And it must be the atheists who are fighting against minimum wage increases, while simultaneously fighting for minimum wage increases.

Why, if you can think of a political issue that some Christians support and other Christians oppose (which includes, oh, pretty much all political issues), then probably it’s the nasty “oblivious to human values” atheists who are fighting for and against it. You tell it to them, Benny!

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