left biblioblography: January 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Because Sometimes The UN Gets It Right

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasisrules_kenya

I don’t much respect for the U.N – they pander way too much to religion, and they buckle every time the U.S howls at at the moon.

This time, however, they’re on the money:

African Union: Ban Ki-moon urges respect for gay rights

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged African leaders to respect gay rights.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long, Mr Ban told an African Union summit.

Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries - a situation which has drawn increasing criticism from activists and the West.

Mr Ban also said the Arab Spring proved leaders "must listen to their people".

The only issue with that last sentence, is that they do, in some ways.  The problem there, is that all of the Big 3 specifically prohibit homosexual behavior (although a lot of high-ranking Muslims seem to indulge in a different pastime, pederasty, regardless).

Someone should probably inform Nigerian, as of last month, a bunch of discriminatory fuckwads if ever there were any:

Homosexual acts are already illegal in Nigeria. But for its lawmakers that doesn't appear to be categorical enough.

"This is to be pro-active so no-one catches us unaware," says Senator Ahmed Lawan, one of the backers for new legislation that would further criminalise Nigeria's gay community.

The Prohibition of Same-Sex Marriage Bill last week sailed unopposed through the Senate - the country's highest chamber.

Under the new bill, same-sex couples entering into either marriage or cohabitation would face jail terms of up to 14 years.

Those "witnessing" or "abetting" such relationships would also face custodial sentences, and groups that advocate for gay and lesbian rights could also be penalised.

'You are evil'

The lawmakers say they are simply reflecting the prevailing values of Nigerian society.

"We are protecting humanity and family values, in fact, we are protecting civilization in its entirety," Mr Lawan tells the BBC from his office in the capital, Abuja.

"Should we allow for indiscriminate same-sex marriage, very soon the population of this world would diminish."

Ahmed Lawan says both Muslims and Christians are opposed to same sex marriage

Far from being on the extreme fringe, the senator's views are moderate compared with some of his peers.

During the third reading of the bill, one northern politician said he believed the punishment should be death.

That was voted down, but at a tense public hearing at the National Assembly activists who spoke against the legislation were jeered and heckled.

"They said: 'You are evil, you are a devil, and if you were my brother you'd deserve to be killed,'" says John Adeniyi, one of those brave enough to speak out.

"And it made me feel like the world is not a place worth being in."

This has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating: the only real opposition to gay marriage is the religious one. It is one of the many, MANY reasons we atheists are anti-religion. It teaches people that discrimination is fine; that their off-ramp is the only exit; that slaughter and mayhem are wrong, but only if not sanctioned; that spirits dwell on the fringes of darkness, waiting to pounce, to gobble us up or lead us down to the Malebolge of depravity; and of course, that we are all slaves to the words of ghosts that never were.

Religion: getting more people killed for nothing.

Till the next post, then.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Twofer–HISHE

My roommate turned me on to these – How It Should Have Ended is an hysterical send-off on popular movies.

How the Lord Of The Rings Should’ve Ended:

And how Captain America Should Have Ended:



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brain Damage–Is Religion Wrecking People’s Thinking?

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
(Hat tip to Religion Gone Crazy for this)

There's someone in my head but it's not me.
And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon –
Pink Floyd, Brain Damage


The auto-response on this from the religious would be, “oh, wait, that’s just a video, it doesn’t count”. Countless excuses will ensue, mixed in deeply with cries of ‘persecution!’, accusations of confirmation bias, pathetic excuses, you know the drill.

Regardless, Scientific American released this article mid-2011, titled:

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain

The article, “Religious factors and hippocampal atrophy in late life,” by Amy Owen and colleagues at Duke University represents an important advance in our growing understanding of the relationship between the brain and religion. The study, published March 30 in PLoS One, showed greater atrophy in the hippocampus in individuals who identify with specific religious groups as well as those with no religious affiliation. It is a surprising result, given that many prior studies have shown religion to have potentially beneficial effects on brain function, anxiety, and depression.

A number of studies have evaluated the acute effects of religious practices, such as meditation and prayer, on the human brain. A smaller number of studies have evaluated the longer term effects of religion on the brain. Such studies, like the present one, have focused on differences in brain volume or brain function in those people heavily engaged in meditation or spiritual practices compared to those who are not. And an even fewer number of studies have explored the longitudinal effects of doing meditation or spiritual practices by evaluating subjects at two different time points.

In this study, Owen et al. used MRI to measure the volume of the hippocampus, a central structure of the limbic system that is involved in emotion as well as in memory formation. They evaluated the MRIs of 268 men and women aged 58 and over, who were originally recruited for the NeuroCognitive Outcomes of Depression in the Elderly study, but who also answered several questions regarding their religious beliefs and affiliation. The study by Owen et al. is unique in that it focuses specifically on religious individuals compared to non-religious individuals. This study also broke down these individuals into those who are born again or who have had life-changing religious experiences.

The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again.

For those of you unfamiliar with the hippocampus:

The hippocampus is a major component of the brains of humans and other vertebrates. It belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in each side of the brain. The hippocampus is closely associated with the cerebral cortex, and in primates is located in the medial temporal lobe, underneath the cortical surface. It contains two main interlocking parts: Ammon's horn and the dentate gyrus.

This makes for interesting reading:

Although it had historical precursors, this idea derived its main impetus from a famous report by Scoville and Brenda Milner describing the results of surgical destruction of the hippocampus (in an attempt to relieve epileptic seizures), in a patient named Henry Gustav Molaison, known until his death in 2008 as H.M. The unexpected outcome of the surgery was severe anterograde and partial retrograde amnesia: H.M. was unable to form new episodic memories after his surgery and could not remember any events that occurred just before his surgery, but retained memories for things that happened years earlier, such as his childhood. This case produced such enormous interest that H.M. reportedly became the most intensively studied medical subject in history.

This would go a long way towards explaining much of the flatline behavior of the true believer.

It also lends new meaning to the term, ‘shrinkage’.

Till the next post, then.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Twofer–Dwight Schrute

Mostly, I don’t watch The Office anymore. But when I do, the most brilliant comic moments are from the character Dwight Schrute (played by the ever-hilarious Rainn Wilson).

And then there’s the obligatory montage:



Sunday, January 15, 2012

And The Twit Of The Year Race Is On! (Or Rather, The Republican Presidential Nomination)

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

And what a line-up it’s been!

The idiots have lined up, and it’s a cross between a spit-take, a face palm, a headdesk, and picking one’s metaphorical jaw off the floor.

We have the Right Honorable Newt Gingrich, he of the many wives, who right out of the gate, announced that he would dispatch US Marshals to arrest ‘activist judges’ Even his Republican peers (none of whom can rightfully called ‘rational’ by any standard) found this to be a tad…nuts. The likelihood of his getting the nomination is now out. (Phew!)

Sadly, the remainder is still scary enough. Rick Santorum alone is enough to eyeball a high-power rifle. This guy is seriously nuts. He’s the epitome of everything America is not. He’s intolerant of gay rights: his view of abortion is frighteningly anachronistic; he keeps using the code words ‘activist judges’ (a phrase that instills fear in conspiracy theorists galore, but translates to ‘not popular with the conservative crazies’). I don’t even need to cite anything more than his web page.

I’ve laid into Rick Perry before: his status as a fucknut changeth not. 

Ron Paul is a mixed bag of nuts: he thinks that ‘life begins at conception’, has the prevalent asinine dictate against abortion (touting himself as ‘an unshakable foe’), also thinks there’s a war against religion going on,  and proclaims global warming a hoax. What makes more moderate Republicans (almost an oxymoron, there) want to vote for him is that he actually sounds more rational than the rest of the monkeys in the zoo.

At least Ms. Monkey is off the ticket – never thought I’d ever be booing a woman running for president, but there you have it.

The last two are the least worrisome, which is weird, because they’re both Mormon.

Huntsman seems nearly intelligent – he doesn’t boo science or substitute crazy for reality (well, at least mostly). He doesn’t deny global warming, or evolution.

Romney is still an anti-woman’s choice, but is at least willing to change his opinion. Problem is, it’s usually way off into right field.

We can only hope that Obama gets re-elected. While he hasn’t been the best president ever, he still rates well above the baboons that ride the GOP elephant.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Twofer–The Family Guy’s Take On Religion

If you’re looking for an MMA-style takedown on religion chock full of laughs, one has to look no further than the Family Guy.

Guns and religious history:

And the world according to Carl Sagan (for rednecks):

Funny as these both may be, the scary part is that they’re not too far from the truth.



Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Madness Of Muslim–The Religion Of Peace Claims More Lives

Myth of Violent Islam_gif

(Hat tip to Pharyngula at FreeThought Blogs)

Nigeria Christians hit by fresh Islamist attacks

Nigeria has been hit by a fresh wave of violence apparently targeting the country's Christian communities.

At least 17 people were killed in Mubi in Adamawa state as gunmen opened fire in a town hall where members of the Christian Igbo group were meeting.

There were also reports of a deadly attack in Adamawa's capital, Yola.

The Islamist Boko Haram group said it had carried out the attack in Mubi and another in Gombe on Thursday night in which at least six people died.

The group has staged numerous attacks in northern and central areas in recent months - on Christmas Day it attacked a church near the capital, Abuja, killing dozens of people.

One Boko Haram faction has warned all southerners - who are mostly Christian and animist - to leave the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria.

Adamawa state borders Borno state, where Boko Haram emerged.

Last week President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Yobe and Borno states, as well as Plateau state in central Nigeria and Niger state in the west, following a surge in ethnic and sectarian violence.

But the pace of attacks has increased and he must now consider whether to extend the state of emergency into other states and beef up the military presence in the north in response, says the BBC's Mark Lobel in Lagos.

Meanwhile, the government is also facing the bleak prospect of a general strike in two days' time amid popular fury over its removal of a fuel subsidy which has seen fuel prices double for ordinary Nigerians.

As I have stated previously, Islam (which I have dubbed Ass-lame) seems to inspire more barbarism than the other two of the Big Mono-Three. We have all heard the apologia behind this: Islam once went through a golden age, it contributed to western civilization in various disciplines, some of the greatest minds of the Middle Ages were of the Islamic faith.

This, however, is a poor excuse for the current behavior of its constituents. Islam is a rape culture: it is a brutal boot used to grind the poor beneath into the ground: it bypasses anything vaguely resembling civilized action: it gives excuse to misogyny and promotes patriarchal bullshit.

It is, in short, YAUA (Yet Another Useless Anachronism). The sooner this nonsense it gone, the better off the species will be.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tuesday Funny–MadTV Gets The Psychic Thing Spot on…

Is this a bull's-eye, or what?