Friday, September 30, 2005

Good Book = Bad influence

An American Social Scientist, Gregory Paul, has conducted a large scale survey (as reported in The Times) which he claims refutes "the widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster."

Mr Paul used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach the conclusion that belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems. Apparently, the more devout a society is, the more likely it is to suffer from crime, suicide and social dysfunction --- not to mention gonorrhea and syphilis.

Space Cadets

A sleepy little town in Puerto Rico is to build one of the world's only alien landing strips.

A local school-teacher, Reynaldo Rios has already encouraged one of his neighbours to erect a sign on his land saying "Extra-terrestrial route". The next stage is a $100,000, 80foot long landing zone, complete with pyramids as control towers because "aliens like those."

The local mayor has lent his support to the plans. He's one of the many locals who claim to have already seen UFO activity in the skies near their homes. Cynics have suggested that these strange lights and flashes are more likely to have been the activities of a US air force aerostat; a tethered blimp with a radar system situated nearby to detect low-flying drug smuggling planes. However, hundreds of paranormal-hungry tourists have already visited since Rios' sign was erected and some commentators are already suggesting the area could become the next Roswell.

Meanwhile, over in California, the Unarius society remain convinced that their friends the Space Brothers will visit the landing zone they have prepared. They're holding their 22nd International Conclave Of Light on October 7-9, where, for the bargain fee of $195, you can learn more about the 32 planets of the Interplanetary Federation and Earth's own invitation to become the 33rd member of this inter-galactic 'United Nations.' Some meals and all Conclave activities are included in the price.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Papal Bull

The Vatican has reacted angrily to claims made by the UN's chief war crimes prosecutor, Caria Del Ponte, that the Roman Catholic Church is hiding Ante Govina, a former Croatian general currently indicted for his part in the horrors of the war in the former Yugoslavia.

General Govina is said to have masterminded the massacre of at least 150 Serb civilians and the expulsion of 150,000 others. Ms Del Ponte told The Daily Telegraph that she has information that "he is hiding in a Franciscan monastery and so the Catholic Church is protecting him. I have taken this up with the Vatican and the Vatican totally refuses to cooperate with us."

A Vatican spokesman said that Ms Del Ponte had failed to present them with sufficient evidence and was trying, improperly, to use the Vatican as an enforcement tool.

Those with long memories will recall that this 'use' is something the Vatican has never liked. It would, for instance, have restricted its officials' ability to spirit the Nazi 'Transportation Administrator' Adolf Eichmmann out of Germany at the end of the Second World War when he was wanted for his central role in the extermination of millions.

Blood Money

A Roman Catholic Bishop in Mexico has claimed that the church has no obligation to investigate whether its donations come from drug trafficking.

Speaking to the Televisa television network, Bishop Ramon Godinez said: "If they have money, they have to spend it; I don't know why such a scandal has been made of this. If a drug trafficker gives, we are not going to investigate if he's a trafficker or not.

"Let me explain: We live on this, on the offerings of the faithful. And we do not investigate where they acquired the money."

Earlier on he'd already claimed that money can start out being "dirty" but "can be transformed" when it enters the church.

The statements are especially interesting since only the week before Pope Benedict XI had just been explaining the terrible effect of drugs and corruption on life in Mexico.

"All this leads to various forms of violence, indifference and contempt for the inviolable value of life," the pope said.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Talk to God

Click here. It's better than working anyway.

Jerry Spinger The Opera

In spite of the threat of pickets, legal action and general harrassment from Christian Voice, the Jerry Springer The Opera tour is going ahead.

Book now to avoid disappointment, help protect freedom of expression and most excitingly (if you believe this press release) "bring the judgement of Almighty God on the United Kingdom."

So much Word, so little time

The Bible has been condensed to an easy 100-minute read by former teacher Rev Michael Hinton, who claims to have cut out the sub-plots and "majored" on Jesus.

It will be interesting to see if he's kept all that stuff about when it's ok to rape and pillage. Eg:

Deuteronomy 21, Versus 10-14.
When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive. And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife. Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head; and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and mother a full month; and after that thou shalt go unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

Or all the stuff about the evils of not being straight, revenge, etc and blah, blah, blah.

And as one smart Christian blogger asks, did Rev Michael include the following passage from Revelation?

Revelation 22:18-20

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Mind you, I'd rather take away than add. There's an awful lot of plagues in there. And I don't think my neighbours would thank me for bringing down all those locusts for a start.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tony Blair's toenail clippings

Tony Blair is very difficult to pin down. Is he an evil genius? Or is he just a fool?

Most of the evidence - eg the systematic destruction of the socialist principles of the Labour party, his distant relationship from the truth, his wholesale abuse of the present participle (“Continuing in making Britain a better place for living” etc) and his delight in adventures like the Iraq war - indicate that he’s more bad than brainless, but every so often something will suggest at least a few leaves on his internal tracks - if not a full points and signals break down.

Take the new book by journalist Paul Scott. He claims that Cherie Blair submitted her husband's toenails to Jack Temple, a health guru with an interesting line in "dowsing."

Jack Temple (now deceased) makes a cameo appearance in the Joy Of Sects thanks to his relationship with Cherie's other famous friend, 'lifestyle guru' Carole Caplin, ex-of Exegesis (a fascinating early 80s group dedicated to 're-birthing' its members in singularly combative counselling sessions and, if you give any credence to murky rumour, also into group-sex).

Annoyingly, I hadn't heard the detail about the toenails when I was writing. But, I'm delighted notice has been brought to it now.

If what Scott says is true, the implications are incredible: judgements about UK government have been made on the basis of what a man said after waving a stick over clippings from the Prime Minister's toenails.

Scott also claims that Mr Blair still talks regularly on the phone to Caplin. And that Caplin used to wash Cherie while she was in the bath.

It's enough to make you almost like Princess Anne - since Scott also claims that when the Prime Minister's wife approached the horse-faced royal and said "Do call me Cherie," the princess replied: "Actually, let's not go that way; let's stick to Mrs Blair."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Train up a child

I don't think that these people are joking, but they are amusing:

Yes, it's Biblical Action Figures to help get the kids thinking right...

Still, at least they aren't racist; and you get an angel worth $4.95 with each additional purchase.

[with thanksto Dan E for the link]

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Good advice from my Dad

If you find some money on the street, look around and see if there's any more about.
I found a £50 note last night...just lying there... unclaimable... lost...hurray.... but was so excited I forgot to check if there was more still. I could be contemplating an even bigger spree.
Mind you, I'm not complaining. Has set my day up quite nicely - and the sun's shining.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ruth Kelly

In no position to talk

I saw in this morning’s Guardian that a new government report has been published, stating that extremist organisations are operating across the nation's campuses and pose a serious threat to national security. Disturbing to have it confirmed, but not really surprising news.

I was, however, mildly astonished as I read on and discovered that the UK education secretary Ruth Kelly yesterday ordered University vice-chancellors to clamp down on student extremists.

"Institutions have a duty to support the moderate majority as they study, to ensure that those students are not harassed intimidated or pressured,” she said.

Does this mean that she’s asked them to ban Opus Dei, the extreme Catholic group whose meetings she’s known to have attended and which she claims lends her “spiritual support”? After all, they’ve been known to recruit members from Universities around the world... and if the claims of ex-members like Maria Del Carmen Tapia (you can buy her book here, it’s a bracing read) harassment, intimidation and pressure are their stocks in trade.

Had Ruth Kelly had her road to Damascus moment and realised that extreme religious groups are a danger to young minds and should be kept as far away from education (ahem) as possible?

I was astounded … and then quickly deflated when I realised that she didn’t mean all unhealthy and violent extremists. Just the “terrorist” ones (which should naturally be read as a thinly veiled euphemism for “Islamic”). Opus Dei, with their past record of active member support for institutionalised state terror and brutal mass murdering regimes such as Franco’s in Spain and Pinochet’s in Chile, presumably don’t count.

In fact, as I delved deeper I realised that Kelly was actually advocating a line that sounds entirely in keeping with Opus Dei’s past record (albeit with a New Labour twist). She wanted, as the Times put it, vice-chancellors to “spy on” student extremists. That sounds much more like the right hymn book. One that even Opus Dei would think twice about proscribing, or as they prefer to put it, advising their members NOT to read.

Kelly also had a dig at free expression. “Freedom of speech”, she said, “does not mean unacceptable behaviour.”

…and this kind of uncontrolled talk should not be tolerated:

“I believe that higher education institutions need to identify and confront unacceptable behaviour on their premises and within their communities," she said.

Yesterday’s words once again highlight the conflict of interests in Kelly’s position as education secretary and her association with Opus Dei.

How can she claim that “extremists” are bad –and should in fact be reported to the police – when she herself is so closely tied to an extreme – and many might say extremely dangerous religious group? How can we hope for UK students to develop freely and without hindrance when our education secretary displays such disturbing authoritarian, censoring tendencies?

What’s more, on a practical level, isn’t attacking “extremists” ability to communicate just going to give them an even greater persecution complex and make them even angrier?

It's really not good enough. She's not good enough in fact. If you’re not convinced by these arguments, look at the rest of her speech. You’d think that she wants Universities to be places people go to help boost industry and generate cash rather than to actually learn.
Or look instead at the steadily increasing drop-out rates for UK schools - among the worst in the world. (That’s the world, not just Europe or America. The World).
Look at her government’s continuing insistence on bringing in a two tier (ie rich vs poor) system with city academies.
Look at the government’s plans to open more single faith religious schools (like that’s going to combat extremism and give a real understanding of the nature of faith).
Look at the comments of the head of the National Union of Teachers (Kelly is “the worst education secretary Labour has had” --- and that includes Tessa Jowell!).
Look at her continuing failure to even ensure kids get decent food, in spite of all of Jamie Oliver’s hard work and Tony Blair’s big promises.
Look at the shame of UK schooling.

If education's our future, we can expect it to be pretty bleak thanks to Ruth Kelly.

Bible studies

When taking a quick look at this site, I mis-typed the address as: ... and ended up on a page about Bible studies and proofs for the verasity of the Big Book.
Sabotage! A plot! A plot!
[...or maybe I'm just paranoid]

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I'm back from my holidays and I've been reading through the first design proofs of the Joy Of Sects today and yesterday.

Due to various time miscalculations, my holiday was taken at just the wrong moment for getting the JOS through the proof stage --- The deadline was so tight by the time I got home that my editor had to courier the proofs over by bike.

Was very nervous to see how the words I'd been slaving over for months would look on the page. I imagine that it's a bit like holding your own baby for the first time... (fruit of your mind and all)... wondering if it's ugly and if it's going to turn out to be a good fellow etc - although of course, it's not quite as worrying if you drop the proofs.

Luckily, the design is crisp and clear while the illustrations look great. [These were drawn Joe Lobely (you can see some of his stuff here - will post some of his ace pix for my book soon), and illuminated alphabet by Dan Gibbons and Ben Dobbin (stuff here) - which I would describe as genius if I hadn't gone to school with Dan and wanted to give him a big head... ].

So, I've enjoyed reading them through, in spite of all the little self-made mistakes I've noticed... and pretty soon I should be able to post a couple of sample entries here.