left biblioblography: February 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do Do That Voodoo That You Do…Not So Well

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

I'm not the one who's so far awayBrother Voodoo 2
when I feel the snake bite into my veins.
Never did I wanna be here again,
and I don't remember why I came. – GodSmack, Voodoo

This would be wildly amusing, if it weren’t so tragic:

Voodoo ritual sparks fatal New York apartment fire

An apartment fire in New York City that killed a retired school teacher last weekend was sparked by candles lit for a voodoo ritual to bring good luck, city officials have said.

The blaze began after a woman visited the apartment of a man in Brooklyn and paid him to perform the ritual.

Candles on the floor then ignited bed linen either while the couple were having sex or briefly afterwards.

It is not known if intercourse was part of the ceremony, city officials said.

The woman reportedly paid the man, who is known as a priest in the neighbourhood of Flatbush, $300 (£185) to carry out the service.

The man first tried to put the fire out using water from a bathroom sink, but the blaze quickly spread after a window was opened, allowing wind to fan the flames, a fire department official said.

Mary Feagin, a 64-year-old resident of the building, was trapped by the blaze and was later found dead in the building.

Eleven residents and 20 firefighters were injured in the fire, while 50 families were left without a home.

It took nearly seven hours and close to 200 firefighters to bring the blaze under control.

It is not believed the ceremony that caused the fire was an official voodoo ritual, but rather a home-grown practice.

That superstition flourishes is occasion enough to grind the teeth, but that people in the pursuit of magical nonsense go about endangering and even killing other folks is abominable. Everywhere we look, we see some sort of mumbo-jumbo used to part foolish folk from their money. Voodoo (also known as Voudou) is no different than any of the other masturbations we term ‘religion’. While as a practice it doesn’t quite do the damage Hollyweird presents (any and every time it’s in the movies) due to the bad press it received from St. John’s "Haiti or the Black Republic", it is still basically an intricate hierarchy of non-existent deities who are likely as effed up as any European tradition.

No doubt there will be some who protest and claim that I caricature a ‘true’ religion, but the fact is, all religions are caricatures, and are composed of stuff and nonsense.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Funny - The Heroic Trio

Probably one of the most (unintentionally) hilarious kung-fu flicks of all time, the Heroic Trio is about 3 gorgeous women who fight bad guys that are farcically evil. Right along the lines of 'Mars Needs Women!', it's the Eastern raspberry.
I would of course, marry Michelle Yeoh in a heartbeat - and for me, the highlight of this film is having Michelle run around in a skin tight red outfit. The violations of all the laws of physics in this movie alone are crazy funny.



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Defunding Planned Parenthood–The Latest Dog And Pony Show From The Reichwing Crazies…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

planned parenthoodJust when you thought that maybe, just maybe, the dust has settled from the last insane farce the Far Right kicked up, we have us some real crazy a-showin’ up:

In Hour-Long Attack On Planned Parenthood, Beck Inexcusably Ignores Key Fact

Glenn Beck devoted the February 18 edition of his Fox News show to promoting the false claim that Live Action's undercover videos showed Planned Parenthood abetting the sex trafficking of underage girls. Beck did not mention once during his hour-long show that, before any of the hoax videos were released, Planned Parenthood contacted the FBI to report the possibility that sex trafficking was occurring.

And if lunging face first into his own omelet isn’t enough, Glenn Dreck has to go even further:

Beck Claims There Are "Dozens Of" Videos Of Planned Parenthood Helping A Pimp Get Abortions For Underage Girls. From the February 18 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: If I told you there were people in Afghanistan under the noses of our troops that were assisting mullahs that were keeping underaged girls in a slave trade and our troops were not reporting it and they were watching it go on, they were in fact assisting or advising the pimps, would you say those troops need to come home and be court-martialed? Those troops should not be serving us?

I think the answer would be yes.

If I told you that our dollars in Egypt were being used to keep young girls in -- even if they were living in luxury but they were being kept so men could come and rape them and our money was going to give them medical support, to make sure that they're healthy, to make sure that they didn't have children, they got abortions from the rapes every night. If I told you that we had video of people, our own people, assisting them, would you say that would be a front page story?

It's not a front page story because it's happening here in America, and it's happening at Planned Parenthood and nobody wants to think about it.

That's why I think in time abortion will be recognized as the horror that it is.


BECK: There are dozens of videos doing -- showing horrible things happening at Planned Parenthood where a pimp will come in and will say, hey, I've got all these underage girls and I got to get them abortions, can you help? And they say, yes.

I have the distinct impression that Glenn Dreck has allergic reactions to fact checkers, as it is obvious he doesn’t employ them. Abortion only constitutes 3% of PP’s overall yearly procedures. Yet somehow, all the crazies focus on the small percentage they object to and blow it out of proportion. Which is stupid. And also a strawman.

Yes, I’ve seen the video – it was this ‘Pro-Life’ (a ridiculous appellation at best) group by name of Live Action, who ‘went undercover’ and ‘stung’ a PP worker. That they chopped up selected highlights and put them before the ‘interview’ bodes ill, along with the effort at Indie-level production values, that subjects the viewer to the filmer’s bias and removes all objective value as evidence from the video clip.

And PP workers aren’t police officers. Was the woman supposed to slap the cuffs on these people? No, she did her job, and contacted her superiors after the interview.

It’s stupid enough that this even became news – but it’s also being used as some sort of effort to defund PP:

Led by Republicans Mike Pence and Chris Smith, two abortion-related measures are headed to the House of Representatives, where Republicans now have sufficient votes to pass them without any support from Democrats.

Mr Pence is aiming to stop Planned Parenthood, a reproductive care organisation, receiving federal funds.

Planned Parenthood offers services including contraception, gynaecological and breast exams, and family planning, but is a favoured target for the anti-abortion lobby because it is America's leading provider of abortions.

It serves about 3 million women each year in its more than 800 clinics, and provided 324,008 abortions in 2008. The organisation says abortions account for only about 3% of its budget.

Anti-abortion activists have long had Planned Parenthood in their sights, keeping an almost constant vigil of protesters outside their clinics.

Their campaign to deny it federal funds has been aided recently by the release of several hidden camera videos showing a man posing as a pimp asking Planned Parenthood workers about services for under-age prostitutes.

I also think there might be an issue with the legality of recording people without permission, but I’m unsure.

So, SIGN THIS PETITION. Write a few emails to your representatives – let’s go and get this nonsense shouted down.

Till the next post, then.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Laugh Until You Cry...I Know I Did

In my deepest, most depressed mood ever, I watch this video, and all melancholy is replaced by hysteria (no, no, it's incredibly amusing).
Here are the guys who got thrown out of the auditions for stuntmen on Enter The Dragon:

The scary part is - I've met people like this.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Darwin Day–And A Nice Surprise From An Honest Politician


Darwin Day is our ‘holiday’. It really is. The celebration of the birth of a person who shook the rafters and changed the world. Brought the religious to their knees (albeit, unwillingly). I won’t even go into the incredible lengths that some folks take to dodge reality.

Now, I found this tidbit of news quite amusing, and reassuring as well:

Congressman jabs at religious right with 'Darwin Day' resolution

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Rep. Pete Stark, who made waves in 2007 by coming out as Congress' only avowed atheist, delighted secular humanists and took a jab at religious conservatives this week by offering a resolution to proclaim Saturday as "Darwin Day."

Stark, D-Calif., on Wednesday introduced H. Res. 81. It praises Darwin's theory of evolution and the "monumental amount of scientific evidence he compiled to support it," which "provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on earth."

The resolution goes on to state that "the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change," and that "the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States' education systems."

Stark on Thursday explained he's "just trying to get people to understand that we're trying to get our kids to be scientists, were pushing for green jobs and green development, and you can't stick your head in the sand and not recognize that we're in a modern age. To get there, it seems to me, we have to understand that science is all part of what we're doing.

"I'm sure there are people out there who'd say I'm the devil's advocate, but I'll give the devil as much chance as any god that people choose to deal with," he said. "To say some unknown god up there in the stratosphere directs all of our lives and our development is naive."

Tom McClusky, senior vice president of the conservative Family Research Council's legislative action arm, said after reading Stark's bill he "had to look at my calendar to see if it was April 1. ... If he really thinks this is a priority, I guess it shows why he's not in the majority anymore.

"I don't think he gives a good reason of why someone like Charles Darwin needs to be celebrated and recognized by the federal government. It's a waste, I think, of taxpayers' time," McClusky said, asking why Congress shouldn't instead honor someone like Booker T. Washington or Thomas Edison "who actually invented things, not just threw out theories."

But American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt issued a statement calling Stark's resolution "a thrilling step forward for the secular movement. Not only is this an opportunity to bring the scientific impact of Charles Darwin to the forefront, but this also signifies the potential for greater respect for scientific reasoning on Capitol Hill."

Don't hold your breath for passage. H.Res. 81 was referred to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, where -- in this conservative, Republican-dominated House -- it'll surely be deemed not fit to survive.

Here’s a really, really good question: who the fuck cares what Tom McClusky says or thinks? As for the Family Research Council, somebody’s rightfully called those primitive anachronisms exactly what they are: a hate group. Yet no matter how ass-backwards these clowns are, they sure seem to get into everything, kinda like fleas.

So, here’s the petition. It may prove to be pointless – but then again, the chorus began as a single voice.

Till the next post, then.


Monday, February 07, 2011

Tuesday Twofer - Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman!

Mary Hartman Mary Hartman was an old Norman Lear production, between the years 1976 and 1977, and it was another one of those 'awkward' shows (you know what I mean if you'd watched these then and now: back then, their idea of censorship was cutting edge, now it's just funny). In fact, it got enough guff that they put it on later (as opposed to canceling outright - but they didn't) because it wasn't 'wholesome' enough.

Favorite lines from the show:

"I hope I'm not thinking what I think I'm thinking."
"Oh, Heather wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do that at Heather's age, and she reminds me of me a little at that age, so Heather didn't do it."

Of course, you know you've been iconized when you've been spoofed by Carol Burnett:

Interesting how the icons of yesterday become the faint echoes of times past...


Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Dance Of The Geomance–Or, How People Are Swayed By Feng Shui

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

feng_shuiAs it is now Chinese New Year, Gong She Fa Zi.

At the onset, I’m a raging sinophile. I’ve been studying Chinese martial arts for years. Been to China twice. The people are friendly, the country is lovely, but the air quality is terrible. Oh, and don’t drink the water. Seriously. They don’t drink it either. Bottled water is a huge industry over there, bet on it.

A culture that’s so old and diverse, that speaks to some folks. The air of age, and the breath of history, both pass over the spectator and a mystery is left behind, itching to be solved.

Then again, an argument from antiquity can be fallacious. And does not exempt the game played from the critical eye.

No doubt you’ve had the minor brush with this new craze, Feng Shui. New as in the sense of being marketed to the American public as some decoratorial meme, with an eye to sell some extra magic to the unwashed masses under the guise of self-improvement.

Feng Shui is defined as:

an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu (simplified Chinese: 堪舆; traditional Chinese: 堪輿; pinyin: kānyú; literally: Tao of heaven and earth).

The term feng shui literally translates as "wind-water" in English. This is a cultural shorthand taken from the following passage of the Zangshu (Book of Burial) by Guo Pu of the Jin Dynasty:

                Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.

Historically, feng shui was widely used to orient buildings—often spiritually significant structures such as tombs, but also dwellings and other structures—in an auspicious manner. Depending on the particular style of feng shui being used, an auspicious site could be determined by reference to local features such as bodies of water, stars, or a compass. Feng shui was suppressed in China during the cultural revolution in the 1960s, but has since seen an increase in popularity, particularly in the United States.

As I understand it, Chinese history has been fraught with all sorts of calamities and misfortunes. As to Qi, a successful argument can be made that it is what constitutes the life-force of the individual. That’s it. No flying Taoist monks need apply, no ‘distance death touch’ or any of that other flighty crap. As to positioning furniture and whatnot for a more harmonic living space, that makes a half-ass kind of sense. But omens? Augurs? Ancestral spirits? Sadly reality doesn’t allow the ‘squeeze-my-eyes-shut-and-wish-really-hard’ technique to work.

Now, prepare to have your irony meter blown. Check out  who the biggest detractors are:

Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), one of the founding fathers of Jesuit China missions, may have been the first European to write about feng shui practices. His account in De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas... tells about feng shui masters (geologi, in Latin) studying prospective construction sites or grave sites "with reference to the head and the tail and the feet of the particular dragons which are supposed to dwell beneath that spot". As a Catholic missionary, Ricci strongly criticized the "recondite science" of geomancy along with astrology as yet another superstitio absurdissima of the heathens: "What could be more absurd than their imagining that the safety of a family, honors, and their entire existence must depend upon such trifles as a door being opened from one side or another, as rain falling into a courtyard from the right or from the left, a window opened here or there, or one roof being higher than another?”

Well, in fairness, what could be more absurd than imagining that the human individual is born crippled, that some imaginary guy sacrificed himself to himself to correct a mistake he made, that somehow everybody keeps going after death, that a sea was split to allow pedestrians, that those pedestrians wandered around for forty years before completing a walk that would take 10 days in sandstorms…You get it.

This one’s even more…amusing:

It is entirely inconsistent with Christianity to believe that harmony and balance result from the manipulation and channeling of nonphysical forces or energies, or that such can be done by means of the proper placement of physical objects. Such techniques, in fact, belong to the world of sorcery.

I don’t think commentary is necessary. Res ipsa loquitor.

Back to the topic: Arranging your environment is something humans do. It happens. Mirrors make sense: we are an introversive species. Reducing sharp corners is always a plus. But we’re talking about basic interior decorating (I’m a confirmed bachelor, so don’t ask) – and apply some strategic thought to the location, shape, and function of a building also makes a bit of sense.  But curses? The Chinese equivalent of Elvis? Ancestral spirits?

Pending any real evidence – that’ll be a thumbs down. Until convinced otherwise.

Till the next post then.