friday atheist re-blogging

Being the day when a carpenter who has fantastically scant evidence for ever having existed in the first place was hung up on the objects of his trade and encouraged to die, I thought I start my erratic wasting a couple of hours by mocking god-botherers.

Pharyngula mostly writes about biology and has dead sexy aquatic porn, like photos of Hagfish embryos. Quite regularly though he likes to ridicule, and laugh at creationists, believers, all the usual vacuousness of faith, especially if it comes from a scientist.

In a lazy Friday destruction of Dr Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, he says, “I would suggest that this argument by Collins would be better answered by supporting the divinity of Julius Caesar. His existence is far better supported than that of Jesus; we even have examples of his writings preserved, with monuments and first hand personal accounts of his life. He allowed himself to be called a god — Deo Invicto, no less — and his successor built temples to the Divus Julius. It’s awfully silly that Collins thinks the argument that either Caesar or Jesus was a god generates uncertainty, that he resolves in one direction for one of the pair, and in the other direction for the other.”

Far more important though, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month if you live in the United States. I doubt a month will make much difference though, but I would like to see all my friends who have complete assholes for partners stop making excuses and choose April as the month to take out the garbage.

Back to China.

The Chongqing Nailhouse suddenly became news if you spoke English. The New York Times had a piece, and I was sitting at Orange a couple of days ago and saw it in The Age too. Hamish McDonald used to be the Beijing correspondent replaced a while ago by Mary-Ann Toy, but there’s no change in the approach to China coverage from either The Age or Sydney Morning Herald. Admittedly I read a lot of blogs and news coverage coming out of China, but these papers are consistently a week or two behind, provide inadequate and cursory appraisal, and largely seem to get their news from a small subset of China blogs. If that’s all it takes to get a gig at The Age, I wanna be in the Guangzhou office. (I’ll just read 在桥下流 and put my name to whatever Feng37 blogs about.)

One of those news sources is the excellent Global Voices Online, founded by Rebecca Mackinnon. Writer 杨恒均 Yang Hengjun talks about how he kept on finding himself drawn into encounters with the various writers from the website (ESWN translates the Boxun article), again Feng37 turns up, translating Yang’s novel 致命弱点 Fatal Weakness.

Oh, and don’t drink the water in Guangzhou, how many times do I have to say that? “It contains high levels of ammonia, fluoride, faecal coliform bacteria and heavy metals.”

Meanwhile even in China people said, 哀悼。。。 and 难受… when they heard about 鲍德里亚 I mean Jean Baudrillard dying.

Another Global Voices person is Ethan Zuckerman, who has been in Doha, Qatar for the Third Annual Al Jazeera Annual Forum. He’s been covering it in a series of posts I’ve been devouring each day. Together they constitute an incisive look at Al Jazeera and the media in Qatar, the Middle-East and globally. Read them all or pick one at random: Things to do in Doha when you’re dead tired, Seymour Hersh kicks things off at the Al Jazeera Forum, International news: pack a parachute?, “Politics, media and misinformation” – a panel that contained all three…, Falling down on the job, A new era? Al Jazeera’s cautious embrace of citizen media, Al Jazeera English. I want it., Lessig: “Help us in the US to remember these ideals. Help us by living them yourselves.”, Al-Jazeera panel on the rights and safety of journalists, Media in the Middle East: bridges or walls, or the need for a cigarette, Last post from Doha: Five Stories.

Mainstream Media and the dereliction of Theatre. Both Nicholas Pickard and Alison Croggin from different incidents come to the same point about their respective city’s papers attenuated interest in performing arts, which is pretty similar to their coverage of China, viz. the nailhouse above. Over the other side of the world, New York Times previews Becky, Jodi and John that opened a couple of days ago.

Of course I have to finish with trannys, what do you think I am?

The title is sheer class: I was born a boy, but even my fella never guessed. The article illustrates that with a supportive family being transsexual is no big deal.

Another sublime one-liner dressed in a lurid font, Meghan Chevalier’s Confessions of a Transsexual Porn Star, who is the rather famous subject to whom the title refers. I sometimes wonder about my social standing when I seem to have quite a familiarity with the world of shemale porn…

faith is a corrosive virus

A couple of days ago I was reading an article in which the manifestations of – especially fundamentalist – religion were compared to psychosis, the hearing of voices, being dictated to by a higher external source, and cultivating an extreme us-and-them attitude. As much I really don’t care what people think or believe in, as at the heart of all religions is a compassion and respect for each other, a morality that continues to exist in the foundations of secular contemporary societies, I also would really like to live in a world in which atheism and a large scepticism and mistrust for superstition was the accepted norm.

Actually, I’m very anti-religion and really cannot comprehend how rational, intelligent, educated people can be awash in dogmatic supernatural personality cults, so reading Richard Dawkins annihilating faith and dogma from a scientific perspective was one of the pleasures of breakfast today, and Ethan Zuckerman at …My heart’s in Accra is my blog of the moment.

“Faith can sometimes be caught like a virus from a charismatic preacher or a book,” Dawkins tells us. But it’s usually hereditary. Children always seem to adopt the same religion as their parents. Somehow they always believe that it’s the right one. This is a result, Dawkins believes, of indoctrinated as children.

The arrogance of faith, Dawkins argues, is that people argue, “I know the truth and nothing will change my mind.” Or “my holy book”, “my priest” or “my inner voice” tells the truth and there’s no need to look further. Science, Dawkins argues, is filled with doubt and skepticism, while faith is exactly the opposite.

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