Grant Rants

Posts Tagged ‘the stupid it burns

Climate change, tyrants and killers, oh my!

- May 24th, 2012

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens, and the rest of you!

There is stupid. There is burning stupid. There is atomic radioactive stupid. And then there is this:

Leo-blog--The-Heartland-I-007

Apparently, according to an American think tank Heartland Institute – and I assume the word “think” is being used in the form of a joke. Yyou know how the young folks say something that is good is “sick”. Like that. -  accepting climate change data is the same as being the Unibomber. How exactly? Well, Heartland isn’t exactly clear on that bit. Something about mass murders being on the fringes of society and those doing climate change science on also on the fringes. So anyone who believes climate change is happening is the same as a reclusive math genius who living in a ramshackle cabin scribbling out a nonsensical manifesto and making pipe bombs. Or something.  I mean you can see the connections right?

This is a stupid beyond stupidity. It’s stupidosity exceeds all known levels of stupidism. It burns hotter than any flame. It is fusion level Three Mile Island meltdown stupid.

I defy anyone to defend it.

Living on sunshine: When the burning stupid kills

- April 26th, 2012

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

There is burning stupid we can mock, and then there is the kind of atomic burning stupid that you really would mock if its results were not so tragic.

Take this story coming out of Switzerland, by way of a for instance. A woman in her 50s starved to death because she decided to stop eating and drinking and was living instead on sunlight…you know, like her blood wasn’t made of hemoglobin but chlorophyll. Why did she think that this would work? Because she watched some moronic film about a Indian guru who claims to have lived without food or water for 70 years.thestupiditburns

No, this was not a story from the Onion. It was real. This woman died because of a fanatical belief in a (painfully obvious) fraud. The human body is an amazing thing. It can adapt to all kinds of stressful situations. People have gone without food during fasts for 20 days or more. (although you can bet they were not in great health by the end of it.) But that cannot last for long. And you cut water out of the equation and well, that time frame gets reduced from weeks to days at best.  In short, no one lives long without fuel. Certainly we cannot live on sunlight. Cause you know, we aren’t plants. And even plants need water.

The poor woman died.  Wasn’t there anyone around, friends or family to look out for her? Wasn’t there a neighbour or something who said “Hey, Alice from 3b is looking a little on the crypt keeper side of things lately, huh? Maybe we should check on her?”

I am honestly not sure what is more pathetic about this story: That someone could be so taken in by obvious hokum that they died, or it seems that no one was around to notice she was wasn’t eating and was wasting away.

Can’t be bothered to wash your hands? 2319! 2319!

- July 29th, 2011

Since there are still those who choose to try and go in and out of our local hospitals – all of which are dealing with C. difficile outbreaks – without washing your hands, I have a suggestion for the Niagara Health System.

I know you have security guards at your entrances now monitoring people who come and go, but I’m not sure the message is getting across. The guards, the hand wash stations, the big red signs….its just all a little subtle, don’t you think?

So to encourage people to take 30 seconds out of their days to wash their hands and no spread plague around the hospital or out in the community, I suggest you the members of the CDA. A few incidents like this and I guarantee you hand washing compliance will no longer be a problem:

The stupid, it burns: converting the heathens edition

- July 26th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

There are some things that one has to accept, if not particularly like, as a “public” atheist. That is to say, someone who talks about atheism in a public forum – even someone with a modest audience like myself – just has to accept some things unavoidable. Near that top of that list are attempts by believers to convert you.

Nearly every month, at least one brave soul (if you’ll excuse the phrase) sends me an email or letter trying to convert me to their version of Christianity. (I’ve never had a Muslim or Jewish or Scientology believer send me a letter, oddly, even though I’ve taken aim at all of those religions.)

What is staggering about it all is that each and ever letter writer seems to think they have come up with some new argument that I’ve never heard before. These run the gambit between the plain burning stupid (“You have a Jesus shaped hole in your heart” No I don’t) to the ignorant (“you are just rebelling against god!” No I’m not) to the somewhat sophisticated (“have you considered the cosmological argument?” Yes I have.)

Of course, I have not heard a new and convincing reason to become a religious believer in more than 20 years. I’ve heard it all. I’ve considered it all. None of it matters. In fact most atheists who think about these things have heard all these arguments multiple times, from multiple people.

That they don’t hold water with us because of their complete inability to demonstrate the truth of faith claims doesn’t seem to stop anyone though. This article from the National Catholic Register was emailed to me on Monday. In it,  Jennifer Fulwiler claims that she has five Catholic arguments that will “make sense” to atheists and thus, turn us in to good little Catholics. The person who sent it to me really thought Fulwiler had “slammed dunked” atheism…

To say she falls flat on her face on the first “argument” is an understatement. You know, like saying that Glee is an abomination. Sure, that’s accurate, but it just never seems to go far enough.

The first argument that will make sense to me as an atheist lead me to the doors of the Vatican? Purgatory.

For those who did not have the happy-joy-joy experience of going to Catholic school like I did and are unfamiliar with the concept, purgatory is basically like god’s waiting room. After you die, if you were not that a godly a person but not enough of a schmuck to get sent to the basement to toast marshmallows,  you get sent to the waiting room. Like a time out. You wait for a couple of eons and then you get to heaven. Basically it’s like waiting to update your driver’s license at the MTO. You’d eventually get to the front of the line, it will just seem to take several life times.

Of course, the idea of purgatory has been part of one of the greatest con-jobs in history – the Catholic indulgence. In the middle ages the Vatican had a cash flow problem, so cooked up this idea to sell certificates called indulgences that were, in effect, get out of purgatory free card. The more you spent, the more time you’d get off your postmortem sentence in limbo. Really it was the predecessor today’s miracle cure, snake oil salesmen and faith healers, and the practice was one of the things that really irritated Martin Luther, whose criticisms of the Vatican kicked off the Reformation.

Anyway, getting back to the matter at hand, I have to point out the irony of a Catholic trying to convince an atheist to become a believer by referencing a belief in a supernatural waiting room. So for those of you who think this woman is on to something and will try to use this line of crazy “reasoning” let me explain to you a couple things that might help.thestupiditburns

So an atheist doesn’t believe a god or gods exist, right? I mean, that is what being an atheist IS. So if I don’t believe god exists, why would someone blathering on about limbo convince me of anything? It’s like when believers try to convince me by claiming the devil is going to get me. Again, if I don’t think your god exists, why oh why would you think that I’m going to be frightened by your boogie man in red pajamas?

Tip to Miss Fulwiler – NONE of your five arguments make sense to an atheist. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. You can talk all you want about a loving sky god, or the communion of saints or the pope’s fashion sense or whatever. None of it going to get you anyplace with an atheist unless you can first do one thing: demonstrate with evidence that your faith claims regarding the existence of god are true. QED. If you cannot do that, you aren’t getting any place with the heathen.

The Blonde Nonbeliever blog has a pretty good break down of what these conversations are like from the point of view of, well, a nonbeliever. Worth a read.

The stupid, it burns: Facebook vs. my sanity edition

- July 11th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

I’m convinced that Facebook is waging some kind of psychological warfare on me. It’s relentless. Merciless. It stops at nothing to inflict upon me the hottest, fiery burning stupid it can possibly create.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that  Facebook is an epic domain of the burning stupid in a way that can eclipse even Glee.  It’s staggering what you can find on there if you spend a few minutes looking. I mean it’s common place to see a couple having it out in series of posts and the whole time you are thinking “why aren’t you two having this conversation IN PERSON. We’re not cyborgs yet!” (Although the robot apocalypse is surely coming.)

Then there is the guy who took a woman hostage, had the police outside, and posted about the whole thing on Facebook until he finally was arrested. First off, everyone knows that Twitter is really the more effective forum for this sort of thing and two, just how far gone do you have to be? Bad enough you took someone hostage and shot at police, but you are going to document the entire thing in public? Criminals are stupid.thestupiditburns

But the serious assaults launched upon my brain by Facebook comes in a much more subtle fashion, mostly from the ads that frequently vie for your attention on the right hand side of the screen. Facebook must use some kind of algorithm to place “personalized” ads. Like if you were constantly posting stuff about, say, how much you love Glee, you would always see ads about the Heart of Darkness and brain damage. In my case, I get carpet bombed with ads about religion.

This is because, I suppose, I often post links to stuff by Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins and the like. Atheist stuff. You know, cause I’m an atheist. In the warped mind of the Facebook adbots, this means I must want to buy religious stuff. It’s like if you posted a lot of stuff about the Beatles, and then got lots of ads about buying Glee CDs. You’d just want to pull your hair out.

I get ads for the oxymoronically named “Liberty University” – the outfit started by Jerry Falwell that regards evolution as affront to their religion – faith healers, psychic fairs, and Muslim dating websites. (I know, I was surprised those existed too.)

But this latest one takes the cake. I defy anyone to explain what in Odin’s empty eye socket this is supposed to be selling. Take a look:

CrazyasYup. They are selling a “blessed divine mercy quantum pendant” PLUS the science of wellness energy for life! Not to vent about this, but that is that even supposed to be? It’s totally meaningless. You just strung together a bunch of words, you jerks!

It’s like I could sell “Thor’s Mango Singularity Bracelet + Science of Quasar Cooking” I mean, what? How damaged would your brain have to be to think that meant anything?

Also curious is the price point. Apparently this blessed quantum pendant is normally worth $200. I can only surmise that it is initially constructed using the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva and then shipped to the Pope to be blessed. Hence the 200 clams they would usually ask. But NO! For a limited time you can buy this insane junk meant for suckers pendant for the low low price of $29! I guess quantum powered knick knacks just don’t sell like they used to.

I actually decided to check out the website in the ad, mostly because I must be into self abuse. In a completely bizarre video, they claim that these pendants were made using volcanic lava (as opposed to the other kinds of lava one can find on every street corner, I guess.) and will protect your family using something called “scalar energy.” (scalar fields are part of quantum theory in physics, although never observed in nature, contrary what the snake oil pendant sales folks will tell you.) If you Google it, you’ll all manner of loony references to scalar bracelets and pendants and whatever.

It’s really no different than those insipid Q-Ray Bracelets. Remember those? The hideous bracelets with teeny magnets in them that was supposed to cure all that ails you? You can still find infomericals about them from time to time, although they no longer contain specific claims about health and wellness because Health Canada told them stop. Turns out, you just cannot run about making health claims about something that does absolutely nothing. If only Health Canada would crack down on the homeopaths and Feng Shui peddlers too.

Anyway, the point being that if you are ever considering buying a super blessed, quantum scalar amazing health wellness Thor’s mango pendant…don’t. It’s just junk and has nothing to with science, or health, or wellness, or mangos.

Look there is a basic rule I have about people who start talking about quantum mechanics. It’s a very complex and confusing science. There aren’t many people who understand it and those that do tend to be highly educated brainiac types. Your average Joe Slob, like you and me, don’t understand it. We cannot even really come close to understanding it unless we decide to really invest time in serious physics education. So when you hear someone start talking about quantum physics in relations to jewelry, or spirits, or religion or whatever, just throw a pie in their face. It’s like the physicist Richard Feyman once said: “if you think you understand quantum theory, you don’t understand quantum theory.”

I get feedback: Royals, rants and lost causes edition

- July 5th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

So last week I penned a Grant Rant about the nauseating arrival of the royal couple to Canada, the endless media fawning over them, and the ridiculousness of making new citizens swear allegiance to a monarch.

Among those commenting is the post who goes by the handle “kitter” who said:

Ugh, I’d rather hear about our Monarchy than listen to people b*tch and whine about them over and over. So much energy is wasted on hating something out of one’s control, and yet Mr. Lafleche seems to have no end of it, given all of the complaining he does about the never ending stream of things he seems to hate.

So the thrust of what “kitter” is saying is why be critical of the royals when, really, I cannot do anything about them. I may not like them at all, but it’s not like Grant LaFleche, on his own, can make a Canadian Republic that finally grows up and frees itself of the bobbles of its youth.

Yah well, nothing changes if people don’t start talking about it first. There are many people in this country who feel no affinity for a family of rich folks in the UK. There are many who don’t love them, don’t care what they wear or how charming they are supposed to be, don’t want their proxy in Ottawa, don’t want our tax dollars paying for them in any way, and don’t see ourselves and our country and our lives reflected in them in the least. Asking what, if anything, the royals legitimately contribute to Canada is not an empty question. I rant about it, some other guy someplace else talks about and maybe enough people start talking about it that we finally do something about it. That is how change works, son.

Still, being critical of the celebrity circus that is the royals is not a common position to take in the press apparently, as my fellow pundits fall over themselves to squee squee squee over Will and Kate like teenaged girls watching a Justin Bieber/Glee telethon. Yet not a single one can say why we should care. Why should we give a flying rats behind about the monarchy? What does a hereditary royal family contribute to a democratic society? How are they any different, in substance, to pop stars? The justifications  offered don’t rise much above the inane,  mostly some combination of “well we’ve always done it this way ,” and “*gasp* look at the dress Kate has on today!”

Take fellow Sun media columnist, and fellow Calgarian, Warren Kinsella by way of a for instance. WK says yes, the monarchy is undemocratic and, yes, costs the taxpayers money and yes, they not relevant to the lives of Canadians or the business of the nation. But, he tell us, the Senate sucks so it’s ok:

Sure, the monarchy isn’t very democratic, and it costs taxpayers money, and it is largely irrelevant to the everyday lives of Joe and Jane Frontporch. But the same thing can be said of the Senate — which, unlike the monarchy, periodically attempts to impose its undemocratic will on the democratically elected House of Commons.
The monarchy, I suggested to the antimonarchy mouthpiece, doesn’t hurt anyone. Moreover, if it makes some Canadians feel good — and God knows, in the nasty, brutish and short-sighted Stephen Harper era, feeling good about something is a rare occurrence — then what’s the harm?
William and Kate are charming and seem genuinely smitten with Canada: We could do a lot worse.

Did you get that? We should just lay down and accept the monarchy without complaint because our senate is pretty well screwed up. This is a bit like saying to a cop, after you are pulled over for speeding that you shouldn’t get a ticket because someone else stole a car. You cannot defend one stupid thing by pointing to something that is even worse.

Yes the Senate is in dire need of reform – something no government in my lifetime has really had the stomach to do because it ultimately requires amending the constitution and since we don’t have an effective means of constitutional change, it’s always messy. But that doesn’t give the royals a free pass because the latest crop is “charming.”

(By way WK, its not that monarchy is “not very” democratic. That implies it is at least a bit democratic. A hereditary monarch is, by definition, not democratic at all and that’s the problem. Just sayin’.)

He also makes some noises that the Queen has outlasted our prime ministers and American presidents and offered “sage advice” to them all. Well that last bit we can just dismiss, yes? The governments of Canada and the United States don’t ring up the Queen to find out if they should go to war or what kind of tax policy to set. And yes of course the Queen outlasts public officials because she doesn’t have to run to office and isn’t accountable to anyone for what she says or does. If we, as citizens, don’t like what Stephen Harper is up to, we can toss him out in the next election. Americans impose term limits upon their elected officials to prevent anyone from gaining a monopoly on power.

Claiming the longevity of a monarchy as a virtue is like saying “oh uh, that mountain is more awesome than fruit because the mountain lasts longer.” Sure, but you cannot eat it.

The world is ending….again…

- April 28th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

So I was on St. Paul Street west heading downtown today when I passed by this near the train station:

P2160033

That’s right folks, the world has less than a month before the whole kit and kaboodle comes to an end. How do we know? Well the “Bible Guarantees it!” It says so in a yellow stamp with spiky edges. That means it’s true!  You cannot argue with the mighty yellow stamp of guarantee!

What does this mean? Well, something like this:

Ok so seriously, what is this all about? Well, there is a quack in the United States – 89-year-old evangelical, radio show host and general odd ball Harold Camping – who has convinced the credulous that May 21 is indeed the day god is going to come back. If you ever read your Bible, you know this is not exactly happy fun times. Lots of warfare and bloodshed and suffering…like watching a Glee marathon basically.

There is an entire, and expansive, evangelical Christian sub culture that obsesses over the end of the world. They are rather like the nit-wits who think the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in 2012. It doesn’t, the calendar just comes to an end, just like our annual one does on Dec. 31. A new cycle starts the next day. This fact doesn’t stop those who apparently wish for the world to end to invent whole scenarios, some of which often include a non-existent planet (kept secret by NASA of course) slamming into the earth.

The Christian doomsdayers, on the other hand, spend a great deal of time reading the rather gruesome and slightly trippy Book of Revelation. The book, purportedly written by a guy sentenced to live alone on a barren island where he existed as a cave dweller (which might go a long way to explain the completely bizarre contents of the book) lays out the fairly bloody return of Jesus  who starts  a huge dust up with the Glee the forces of evil before a heavenly dictatorship is established. Fun times.

So these end-of-the-worlders comb through the texts – which they take to be literally true instead of being metaphorical or the rantings of a man suffering from isolation madness – looking for clues that will allow them to figure out the exact day the world will end and how it will end. Any unfortunate event from wars to earthquakes to Rock N’ Music, is taken as proof the end times are upon us. The fact that wars and quakes have been part of human life from the start, and that Rock N’ Roll is just awesome, is no never mind to them.

The most popular version of this macabre fantasy are the nearly unreadable Left Behind series of books and equally horrible film of the same title. On the day in question, called the Rapture, god is going to suck believers up into heaven right in the middle of whatever they doing. Like the transporter beam from Star Trek, I suppose, but it’s oddly going to leave everyone’s clothes behind. Not sure why. The rest of us slobs are left here to fight it out until Jesus comes back to open up the can on non-believers, believers in other religions, and everyone responsible for making the film The Last Airbender.

Anyway, how does Mr. Camping and his legion of lemmings know the world is going to come to an end on May 21? Well, aside from having a direct hotline to the sky god, Camping claims to have figured out the clues in the Bible that determine the date in question. And now there is a small army of loony tunes driving around North America and putting up billboards like the one on St. Paul Street, claiming the end is nigh!

Of course, what they fail to tell you is that Camping has done this before. In 1994 he and a bunch of his lemmings stood outside one day holding open bibles up to the sky waiting for Jesus to beam them up. Nothing happened. (I know, shocking.) That did not phase Camping though, who merely said his calculation was off a bit, but this time he has it right! It’s the one thing about these guys – getting everything completely wrong never ever causes them to question their beliefs or their sanity.

The whole thing would be hilarious if it were not for the real death fixation these people have. They yearn for a day when everything humanity has achieved and has yet to achieve is reduced to cinders; when democracy, science, art and everything of merit we have created is wiped from existence. And in its place they yearn for a cosmic dictator who will strip them of all strife and responsibility and just tell them what to do forever. Which mostly amounts to tell the boss how awesome he is. Tell me that wouldn’t get dreadfully boring in a hurry.

It’s a profoundly disturbing and depressing view of life. Imagine going through you days desperately wanting civilization to go out in an orgy of blood and suffering, only to be disappointed again and again when the day never comes. It’s a waste of life if you ask me.

So the best we can do for them is to treat them gently and make sure on May 22, we have some “Sorry it wasn’t the Rapture” cards ready for them. They are going to need some support.

Praise be to Jesus or, Zod!….cause he is on your pizza.

- April 7th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

First let me explain that content on the Grant Rant blog will be a little lighter than usual until May 2 because I am busy doing federal election coverage. I will be posting content my election blog which you can find here. But no fear, I will still be around point out the stupid the burns.

Case in point, while I am on the subject, is this story out of the Land Down Under. Jesus, the purported savior of the world, made a cameo…in a pizza. Yup, it’s happened again. Someone looks at a blob of something and decides it’s a face and not only a face, but the face of the supreme ruler and creator of the entire universe. I have always found those who take this seriously extremely odd. I mean, read your Bible. This god fellow used to know how to make his presence known. Destroying entire cities, a talking burning bush (which would be HUGE in Vegas. Think about it.) walking on water, raising the dead…oh and don’t forget that whole global genocide/ecocide flood thingy. Today he is apparently reduced to appearing in melted cheese and bird droppings. Should to raise a question or two, huh? Past his prime I guess.

Although it is highly annoying that a news outlet once again decided to cover this kind non story – how pareidolia (the capacity of the human brain to find patterns where there are none such as ink blots or clouds or whatever)  – at least it doesn’t take the subject too seriously…even if it includes zingers like this from a Catholic proffessor:

We Catholics can have a laugh at this, but if that image leads you to a deeper level of faith, or just a sense that Jesus is part of your life, then it can’t be a bad thing,” he said. “Faith is best shared around a meal at the dinner table.”

Yes, lets find a way to praise the hysterical over reaction to NOTHING as a good thing.

Of course, as a friend of mine from Ottawa recently pointed out to me, the faith heads may have this entirely wrong. The truth could be far, far more sinister. The face on the pizza is not Jesus meek and mild, but rather the visage of General Zod, Kryptoian super-criminal and sworn enemy of Jor-El, Superman’s father. He is a rather unpleasant fellow, bent on making us all kneel as he rules the entire planet “Hu-ston.” With all that accumulated knowledge when will the dummy learn to use an atlas.

Still here is a side by side comparison of the Zod-pizza and the good general himself. You decide:

699420-jesus-in-a-pizza zod

The stupid it burns: March of the Psychics edition.

- February 7th, 2011

Ah, the psychics are back in Niagara, peddling their brand of con-artistry, always ready to make an easy buck off of the backs of the desperate and the gullible.thestupiditburns

Ok so this is not exactly new. These yoyos have been around for, well, forever. The difference now is that there isn’t any reason to take them seriously. Hundreds of years ago a clever man with even a moderate skill at reading people’s body language and navigating through what a person says or does not say, could fool the ignorant into thinking he had supernatural powers to tell the future or talk to dead people. Today, we know that while having skills at observation and deduction can be impressive, there is nothing supernatural about it.

So you’d think that people, having the benefits of science in the 21st century wouldn’t buy into anymore right? Yah, well, people think Glee is a great TV show, so what do I know?

So many people fall for this clap trap, including  a Niagara Falls psychic fair over the weekend. The purveyors of this nonsense even have helpful advice about how to properly select your own psychic.  It’s no different than say, choosing a family doctor we are told:

If you’ve never dabbled in the spirit world, it turns out finding your first psychic isn’t much different from picking a doctor, accountant or lawyer.

Yes, it’s just like that. Doctors and lawyers and accountants have professional credentials and high levels of education and training that you can easily examine and check if you wanted. A psychic just needs to buy a cheap set of cards from the local toy store or some “crystals” and can start charging you money. Clearly, it’s the same thing….well, maybe for lawyers.

It just goes on getting worse. We’re given an explanation for how psychic powers actually work:

People who aren’t familiar with psychics can be overwhelmed by the different tools they use. If you’ve never had a reading, how do you know if you should have your palm read? Or a tarot card reading? Or even crystals?
It’s not that important, said Cheryl, a Hamilton medium who uses only her first name for privacy reasons, and the organizer of the show that ran three days at the Stamford Lions hall on Portage Rd.
The tools are just different ways of picking up on the vibration that exists within the person whose fortune is being read.
“Every living being has a vibration,” said Cheryl, who uses a deck of tarot cards handed down to her from another psychic she learned from.
“Basically, it all comes down to the vibration of who you are. That should come through regardless of the tools you use,” she said.

Really? And what is this vibration? What causes it? How it is detected. What scientific evidence can be offered to suggest it is even real? Is it more than zero? I have a tuning fork that vibrates like all get out. Can I read the future with that?

This is typical, however, of how the entire new age industry works. Offer an answer with confidence that makes it sound like you know what you are talking about, when in fact it’s total nonsense. I mean replace every use of the word “vibration” with “jabberwacky” and see if the meaning has changed in the least.

Like homeopathy peddlers, psychics rely on you not asking questions and above all to avoid that annoying thinking and junk. It’s like, so close minded and stuff to demand actual evidence. It’s all about the vibrations, man.

Then things get down right bizarre, even for standards of new age mediums:

Hair reading is one of the more uncommon methods, said Ted Leydon, a New Jersey-based reader who gets images of someone’s future by brushing their hair with his fingers.
It’s a technique he discovered when he was a boy and would finger-brush the hair of his older sisters….
When he reads their hair, their thoughts are going to their hair to his hands, said Leydon, who has visited more than 100 countries, but hasn’t encountered another psychic who reads hair like he does, he said.
“I would catch the energy from the working on their hair. It sometimes comes across with their innermost feelings.”

You get that? Hair reading. When you think something, your thoughts travel from your brain, into your skull, then into your scalp, and through your hair follicles into the fingers of the creepy man running his hands through your hair, and then are transferred from his fingers into his brain.

Of course, even this doesn’t have it’s own internal logic does it? Is hair fetish guy reading your “inner most feelings” or the your future? Or both? Also, one has to ask this guy several questions: What if I am wearing a wig? What if I am bald? Does hair colour or shampoo make a difference? Does my hair’s ability to transmit thoughts change as I age and my hair turns grey? What is the process by which thoughts are transferred to hair?

My hypothesis is that little hair gremlins riding teeny tiny hybrid cars made from cheese and dandruff get telegrams from the vibrational elves that live in your brain. They can take those telegrams to the hyper-dimensional dwarfs who exist on the psychic’s fingers who can then break the Morrison-Gaiman hyper-time barrier to bring those messages to his brain. What? Tell me how that is wrong?

The bottom line is psychics are frauds. Con men. QED. The most talented among them are pretty good at assessing your body language, picking up clues about who you are from what you say or don’t say. No psychic ever has even been able to demonstrate any ability to do anything whatsoever beyond common place observation and deduction and guess work.

As Carl Sagan used to say, extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence. And now, take it away, Richard:

He doth protest too much…

- January 27th, 2011

thestupiditburnsGreetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

I’m not sure why I keep reading Holy Post from our friend competitors at the National Post as it always leaves me venting. It’s probably pathological. Like when you keep rolling your tongue over a canker. Don’t look at me like that, you know you do it too!

Often, there are proclamation this religion blog that range from the silly to the burning stupid. Today’s offering from Charles Lewis borders on that flaming attack on the brain. His thesis: secular society is a whinny, complaining bunch of malcontents who cannot take responsibility for what they do. Why, he says, the Governor of the Bank of Canada warned Canadians not to carry so much personal debt. That is just common sense, and the governor shouldn’t have to tell Canadians that. If only Canadians were a more religious bunch, why then the Bank of Canada won’t have to waste it’s breath.

That is the sort of rationale that pretty much only convincing after taking a combination to the head from Manny Pacquiao. So the Bank of Canada trying to get Canadians to think about their finances is the result of an irreligious country? Perhaps public health statements about eating right or getting a flu vaccine falls into that category too? It’s common sense. Why should any of them tell us anything? All we need to do is talk to our local priest, says Mr. Lewis, go to confession and get some tough love and we’d actually take responsibility for ourselves.

It’s utter nonsense.

First, our public institutions are secular while the citizens practice a kaleidoscope of religion. Most Canadians are religious in one form or another, fact that disarms Mr. Lewis’ rant right from the start.

The separation of church and state is what makes a western democracy work. That is what secularism is. It’s not an “anti-religion” idea, its a political notion that makes our governments and other institutions work.  There is a reason we don’t give clerics political power. Thomas Jefferson put it best when he said that “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.”

Lewis appears to take secularism to mean “religion is bad and must be destroyed.” It actually means the government is not in the religion business and religion is not in the government business. It’s secularism that protects the freedom of religious practice, not religion itself. Religious institutions are by their very nature exclusive, making exclusive claims upon truth. At their cores, Muslims and Catholics, for instance, cannot both be right. Two faiths linked by history make competing claims about the nature of reality.  To say nothing of unrelated religious claims by Buddhists or Hindus. What secular politics says is “We don’t care. Believe what you want.  We’ll protect your right to believe what you want. You just don’t get any political authority to impose your views on anyone else.”

I mean, look at those countries where religion is authority. Look at say, Muslim dictatorships. Now, Mr. Lewis tells us that “freedom comes from an obedience to greater truths” – why which he means religious truths, the only ones that matter to him. Well in those countries where obedience to religious truths is what runs society, we have honor killings, no civil liberties,  no real rights for women, no freedom of the press, no freedom of assembly. History has shown again and again when religion is given the big stick, freedom dies. Unless one subscribes to Mr. Lewis’ redefinition of freedom. Then oppression itself becomes “freedom.”

His statement also implies that without religion, one can have no greater truths to aspire to. This is plainly poppycock. Ideals like the right of people to decide their own fates, to choose their government, to marry whom the wish, to speak and write about subjects they choose without being censored, to live my life as I choose so long as it does no harm to others…these are manifestly NOT religious ideas. They do not come to us from a catechism or fatwa. The are instead the hard won philosophical and political ideas that begin in ancient Greece, finding modern expression during the Enlightenment and continue to be refined today. These are the high and worthy ideals that Lewis sneers at because, presumably, they do not contain nor require a belief in a god or submit to the authority of a cleric.

These ideas demand personal responsibility. When you step into the voting booth, or write a blog, or run for political office, or don’t, you are exercising that responsibility. That is what freedom is. That is what it means. It is all of us, collectively doing that, that decides and defines what society does. Your own personal choices may or may not be informed by religion. That is up to you. That is what freedom is.

He makes fairly unsubstantiated claims to demonstrate his thesis. He seems to believe, on the basis of no data (remember facts matter. Evidence matters) that people spend their days in their basements surfing porn online (why their basements I wonder? People cannot watch porn from, say, a second floor home office?) and blame sex and violence on TV for their subterranean porn habits. If only they went to see a priest who would tell them not to watch those shows, people would not watch porn and take responsibility for themselves, Lewis says.

Lets put aside for the moment the irony of Lewis saying the Bank of Canada discussing the implications of person debt with citizens is bad but a priest telling what is good and bad behavior  is good, let us ask upon what does Lewis base this lovely little anecdote? Can he produce studies that show basement dwelling porn addicted Morlocks blame network television for their online habits? If I were a betting man I would say no. This is but a sad caricature, a mongrel creation of Lewis’ own imagination that has nothing to do with, well, anything.

There is also something worth nothing about Lewis’ belief that the secularist will blame “amorphous entities” for their own behavior. A god is not an amorphous entity? Not to vent about it, but Christianity for instance is the very avoidance of responsibility. It’s core tenant is that a man was executed in the most horrible manner – a manner so horrible (as Christopher Hitchens often points out) that you would be duty bound to stop it if you could have – that absolves you for your wrong doing. That is not personal responsibility. That is very definition of scape-goating. It is placing responsibility for your wrong doing upon the shoulders of another.

One final thought – Lewis suggests that turning to the Catholic church, among other religions, to get some personality responsibility is a way to go. This is an institution that has for decades avoided responsibility over it’s own conduct when its priests rape children. While children were made and are being made, victims of crime, the church talks not about responsibility and justice but about salvation and sin – all the while shuffling sex abusers around, warning priests not to talk to police and generally trying to cover it’s own backside. Only recently the Pope declared the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal is the fault of fictional secularists from the 1970s (with a bit of nod to Catholics who fell in line with these non-religious folks) who declared that pedophilia was fine and dandy. If that is not a textbook case of avoiding responsibility, I don’t know what is. Maybe Mr. Lewis ought to think a little harder before he holds up his paragons of personal responsibility.