"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Friday, August 29, 2008

Denyse: Doubleplusgood Duckspeaker

Sometimes I think that "Intelligent Design Creationists" must be just un-be-frikkin'-leivably stupid. Other times I think they must be pathological liars. Normally, however, in the interests of brotherly love, I'm prepared to accept that they're just un-be-frikkin'-leivably stupid pathological liars.

Could I be wrong?

Let's take Denyse O'Leary as a example.

Sure, only a blithering idiot would say that intellect confers no evolutionary advantage... But I don't really think that Denyse O'Leary has the mental ability of, say, a four year old.

And certainly, when Denyse says that evolutionary science needs a "paramedic", she's being dishonest about not only her own qualifications to talk about the subject, but also the opinions of practically every biologist working in the field, who will confirm this is simply not true.

But if these positions are not based on either mental deficiencies or deliberate falsehoods, maliciously intended to deceive... Then what is going on?

Today it hit me. It's not really about actual dishonesty or actual stupidity. In fact, it's not about thought at all.

Here's George Orwell from "1984", on what he called Duckspeak:

"Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak […]. Like various words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment."
I am, of course, being facetious. But you get my point...


Slough is Hell: It's Official

Slough Bus Station"Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!"

- John Betjeman, 1937

For a time I lived in Slough, a small town just west of London. It's one of those places which feels slightly doomed, like it's built on anti-ley-lines... Like they could bulldoze the place to the ground and build the most wonderful landscape on top of it, and it would still be a bit crap.

Now any doubts about Slough's status can be put to rest by this local BBC news weather report, showing an average daily temperature near the town of 232ºC (450ºF). Proof that it is indeed, Hell on Earth.


Cosmic Jewish Zombie Jesus

An old joke done well. (Found at En Tequila Es Verdad who saw it on Bay of Fundie).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jesus is the Reason for the V-sign

fail owned pwned pictures

HT: Fail Blog.


Dark Knight - A World Without Rules

A couple of days back, I went to see The Dark Knight, at the Imax in Glasgow.

I wanted to blog about its themes of vigilantism, criminality and personal responsibility; and its exploration of the corruption of power, the need for heroes, and moral ambiguity...

But all I can think about is my friend leaving his empty sweet wrapper on the floor as went to leave the theatre.

Maybe he'd been dazzled by the gargantuan screen, the foudroyant special effects, the ear-jarring digital stereo?

I picked up the wrapper and gave it to him.

He dropped it again. "They clean up the place", he said. "I paid eight quid", he said.

I picked the wrapper up again, and put it in the bin on the way out.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

St Denyse of O'Leary Blows Off

Reading Denyse O'Leary is like watching a four year old play fight. She's constantly swinging at enemies which don't exist except in her head.

Over at Uncommonly Dense (and linked farmed, natch, at every one of her 31 other blogs), Denyse takes a pop at

"The currently raging Darwin cult".
She actually calls her post Preach it, brother! A regular shower of blessings from Saint Charles Darwin.

What the ____ is she talking about?

What Darwin cult?

Where is there a Darwin cult except in the mind of Mrs O'Leary?

Here's a clue - it doesn't exist.

Most of O'Leary's post is made up of a lengthy quote from Hiram Caton, author of a new book on the "real" Charles Darwin.

To be sure, Caton makes fun of Richard Dawkins and militant atheism... But there is nothing about Dawkins' personal reverence for Darwin which pretends that he's anything other than human.

Further, Dawkins doesn't talk for all scientists, yet alone all atheists. O'Leary actually has Caton saying as much (my emphasis):
"Dawkins thinks... Natural selection has given us the big brain capable of emancipating ourselves from our apelike past... Well, not all evolutionists agree. There is another point of view at his own Oxford University, where the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion is in the midst of an extensive, well-funded investigation of the evolutionary origins of religion."
Here's the problem. In the fantabulous world of Denyse O'Leary's head, evolutionary science is an unchanging religion called "Darwinism", with Charles Darwin as its prophet and Richard Dawkins as its High Priest. O'Leary apparently genuinely and sincerely believes that the personal failings of Mr Darwin or Mr Dawkins lessen the validity of evolutionary science. In her febrile imagination, "Darwinism" is about to crumble, and Intelligent Design Creationism will magically replace it by default.

This is, of course, utter bull____.

In Caton's view, religion has played an important role in human development, and Dawkins overplays the ability of Darwin's explanations to answer life's questions.

So what?

Denyse O'Leary is being fundamentally dishonest with herself and her readers by pretending that Caton thinks evolutionary science is itself in any way under threat.

He himself writes on the website plugging his book:
"This is not to suggest that we discard Darwin as a hero of science and secularisation. Far from it. But since our commitment to rationality obliges us to get it right, let’s replace the legendary Darwin by the real man and his times."
Memo to Denyse O'Leary: this does not help Intelligent Design Creationism.

The Sneer Review published a graphic this week which Mrs O'Leary and her readers would do well to dwell on.

And yet still, St. Denyse fights on...


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Evolution Cthulhu Style

Who says evolution is purposeless?

Cthulhu is the Way!

HT: cthulhu.com.


Cthulhu is the Way

Hello. I am PTET.

Just recently, people from all over the world have been visiting my blog to see a picture I found of a little girl sitting on the lap of a cthulhoid monster.

I wondered if this was telling me something.

After all, everywhere we look we see signs of the end of days...

The anti-christ walking the earth...

Personally, I think that all this interest in Cthulhu can only mean one thing. The time is coming for the Great Old One to rise from his lair deep beneath R'lyeh and to come at last and eat us all.

For it is written in the Necronomicon that at the proper time:-

"the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth....Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."
Doesn't that sound like fun?

The thing I really like about Cthulhu is that his message is so simple: you are irrelevant and I will eat you.

There's no "five pillars" or "eight-fold path" to worry about. There's no "Jesus" and his bipolar Dad. If Jesus *does* come back, Cthulhu will eat him, just like he'll eat you.

Cthulhu doesn't care if you are black, white, brown or yellow. He loathes us all equally. But it's deeper than that - our very existence is irrelevant to him.

Cthulhu gives us a very simple choice. We can either worry so much about being rendered limb from limb in an orgy of unspeakable destruction that we go completely insane - or we can just get on with our lives.

It doesn't matter if bad things happen. If someone is nasty to you, just think "What would Cthulhu do"? He'd eat them. Just like he'll eat you.

So what can you do to prepare for Cthulhu's return? It doesn't matter. Whether you run away or line up for orderly disposal, he's going to eat you anyway.

In the meantime, we should live our lives well and responsibly... We're human, not monsters. And remember, never hurt anyone in Cthulhu's name. After all, our very hearts belong to him... Along with our lungs, spleens, livers, brains and kidneys.

Cthulhu is the way. Why choose the lesser evil?


If you're ready to accept your inevitable doom,
send in your comment or video now. Just say
"I'm ready to be eaten by Cthulhu".

Cthulhu loves the little children,
All the children of the world...
Baked or boiled, steamed or fried,
In the sauce or on the side,
Cthulhu loves the children of the world.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Denying Evolution

All hail Spacefish from B3ta.

EDIT: Thanks for visiting PTET!
Be sure to check out Rexella explaining the Rapture ...


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Atheist Blogroll

PTET has been assimilated by the BorgAtheist Blogroll. Check out the fabulous blogroll widget in my sidebar.

Here's the blurb:-

"The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information."
Sounds good to me :)


Denyse 0, Intellect 1

I do feel sorry for Denyse O'Leary.

She writes over and over again about how scientism and "Darwinism" are about to fall apart around us, and gets little in return but mean people pointing out how silly she sounds.

Now she's moved on to that favourite fundamentalist canard, "If man arose by chance, life would have no purpose or meaning". (CA620 in the Index of Creationist Claims).

Over at Uncommonly Dense (where dissenting opinions are banninated), she writes:-

"The Darwinian view is, as I have noted before, that our minds are illusions created by our neurons - which are in turn under the control of our selfish genes. These systems did not originate in order to discover truth but to enable us to leave offspring...

But producing... infants... is not an intellectual enterprise. So whatever is going on with the intellect, and therefore about philosophy of science, is not Darwinian, apparently."
Denyse supposedly doesn't think that the use of "intellect" has benefited human genes in any way. It hasn't helped us live longer, or survive childbirth, or take over the planet. It hasn't let us visit the moon. It hasn't given us the capacity to to feed or destroy all of mankind. It hasn't given us the power to take responsibility for our own destinies. No siree.

What did "intellect" ever do for us? For Denyse, it seems, not so much.


Update: The Barefoot Bum has made the last line of this post his "Quotation Of the Day".
Check out the list. I am deeply honored.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dinosaurs helped build the pyramids

Far from becoming extinct 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs actually co-existed with early humans, and even helped in the construction of the pyramids.

This is the word of Vince Fenech, Evangelist pastor and director of a fully licensed, State-approved Creationist institution which admits children aged between four and 18.

“Of course the ‘dinoceros’ existed (as Fenech pronounces the word). It is mentioned in the Book of Job. They were used to help build the pyramids,” he says, adding that this latter observation is only “his personal belief”, and that it does not form part of the school’s curriculum.

From Malta Today, October 2007, via Fark today. Pic courtesy Monty Propps. Heaven knows how I missed this story before.

Jesus Christ on a frikkin' bike.


Atheism: afaith based non-religion

I try to avoid Theologyweb. Its high-school-debate mentality and preponderance of born-again home-schoolers mean discussions there invariably come to resemble school girls scratching each other eyes out over some "High School Musical" plot point. Let's say more heat is generated than light. That, and I end up losing my temper and not wishing loving kindness and compassion on my "opponents".

Case in point, I ended up posting in a thread absurdly titled "Atheism: A faith based religion", which threw up this gem:

My point, is to show that atheism, or the belief that there is no God, is just as guilty of having "faith" in the supernatural where cosmology is concerned. That is to say, that either they must believe in a universe that is created by supernatural means (even if they believe that science will progress to a point where it is no longer supernatural, it is still supernatural now).
Did you get that? Anything science cannot explain is "supernatural". Thus it takes "faith" to believe that anything which science cannot currently explain actually does exist. Like, say, the universe and everything in it.

The guy appeared to see the vacuity of this argument eventually. Which was nice. But he had trouble with the difference between non-belief and insistent denial. As it happens, the very wonderful Cectic ran the following cartoon this week... Spooky or what?


Dog With Tits

As Voltaire did not say but might have:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Freedom of speech is an issue close to my heart. The very concept is under threat, from religious fundamentalists, right-on-do-gooders, humourless bureaucrats, spineless corporations, sycophantic media-whores and a largely indifferent public.

But hey. People in our culture do live way longer, and we treat our women better and have more stuff in general than at any time in human history... So it isn't all bad.

True, we need to consider carefully the battles we wish to fight. I certainly will defend the right of Christian Fundamentalists to argue that abortion should be banned or that talking-donkeys should be taught in schools... But rights without responsibilities are worthless... And they like everyone else should be held to account for the veracity and consequences of their actions.

Anyway. Now to the dog with tits.

A blogger called bpperry3 took a random picture of a dog from the internet and stuck some tits on it. The owner of the dog found out about this, and complained to various official parties that his copyright was being infringed. He managed to have the photoshopped image removed. Bpperry took umbrage, and has asked people to copy the dog-with-tits picture all over the net. He's not pretending that this a life-threatening or world-changing issue. But it is, after all, only a dog. With tits. It's not like Muttley is going to be upset - or even recognized in the street. Other dogs are not going to laugh and point at her (or is it him?).

I'll reserve judgment on the larger moral questions involved. The web is full of horrific images, ideas and calls to action that I would not defend.

But dudes. It's a dog. With tits.

(I've covered up the eyes in the image shown here, so as not to cause offence to the dog).


Friday, August 22, 2008

Glasgow - City Of Culture

"I could cope,
I could cope with all
the stupidity, the cruelty,
the ugly things that
happen - it it wasn't
for the fact that
once in a while you'll
do something that's so
beautiful that it gives
me hope for us all,
for a moment..."

Anonymous street poem, found in the West End of Glasgow.

Is this new at Nice'n'Sleazy or had I just missed it?

Aaaah, the Glasgae banter...

King Robert of Sicily
about 1927

George Henry Paulin (1888-1962)

The tale of King Robert comes from a poem by H.W.Longfellow (1807-1882). He was an arrogant king who was deposed by an angel, stripped of his robes, and forced to asume the role of a jester, with only a monkey for a friend.

(From the Kibble Palace)

Something for all the family...

Glasgow is a post-industrial city. Its murder, unemployment and heart-disease rates are amongst the highest in the Western World. It is not in Kentucky.

If you'd like to know more, check out its comedians. Try Sandy Nelson and Limmy.

I recently moved back after ten years away. It's nice to be back.

I took these pictures with a Nokia N95 during August 2008.

I hope you enjoy them.


Grantura - Mountain

Grantura are mates from my London days. Here's their latest single, as played by Terry Wogan yesterday morning. Hooray! For all you colonials and foreigners out there, this is a "big thing" :)

Way to go guys!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beyond Good & Bad

C. S. LewisBack in the old days, before Denyse O'Leary started persecuting me for my lack of beliefs (and presumably marked me as beyond redemption), I used to get concerned Christians writing to me regularly, trying to save my soul.

Invariably they'd put me on to C.S. Lewis. I guess they thought that if one old smart guy was able to convince himself to believe in fairy tales, then I should too. I'm sure it was meant as flattery.

Sadly, they'd then try to convince me that all of modern science was a conspiracy against Jebus, and we'd quickly fall out. Such is the way of things.

This was all brought back to mind when Gmail threw a Lewis quote at me quite by accident yesterday:-

"We are what we believe we are."
I don't think that's quite true. But it's interesting to think about what Christianity says we are...

It says we're all flawed. That I've no problem with. But for many Christians, it says we're all bad. Fallen. In need of saving. Intrinsically, well, evil.

GodBut if Christianity does say that, then what does that say about its God, who made us in his image?

If you take the Bible as gospel, God-given truth, then there's no doubting that its deity does appear to have some very human, very fallible properties. All evil is his doing, just as much as all good. He's jealous. He's moody. He plays favorites. He's open to flattery. He's insecure. And, golly gosh, he changes his mind.

If God does exist, and He really is an all-encompassing, universe expanding being, then does it really make sense for him to be like that? I don't think so. Who was it who said that all theology is basically an attempt to explain away the problem of evil. Now that is a smart man I'd want to be like.


My parents grew up as Christians, and they definitely grew up believing that people are intrinsically fallen (even if, as I think with most believers, they didn't actually think people were bad).

I grew up in a different environment... It was idealistic. People, I believed, were intrinsically good.

I was wrong. I confused the capacity for good with goodness in nature, just as I think much of Christianity confuses the capacity for "badness" with "badness" in nature.

What I've come to realize is that people just are.

It's what they do which defines them, not what they believe.

It's interesting, I think, that much of Christian theology is based around arguing specifically that this is not the case... That all that matters is what we believe - not what we do.

Hey ho.

And with that, here's another accidental discovery, Nice work, Dale - but I don't agree...


Rexella Van Impe gies it laldy

Thanks again to Notes From Off Centre for being the sanest, sensiblist, and salubriousest Christian Blog on the Net... and for bringing Rexella into my life. Make sure you stick around for Jack's breakdown at 3:42.

And Rexella, if you're reading this... I'm always there for you if things don't work out with Jack. No pressure. As a friend.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brushes with Buddhism, Part 2

I lived in central London for almost six years. I mean central. I could roll out of bed and stagger across the road for cocktails in Soho or shopping in Covent Garden. I walked twenty minutes across the Thames to work each day. My corporate life was pretty good too. I didn't have to wear a suit. I hung out with z-list celebrities and could choose to answer or delegate whacked-out complaints from the public as I liked. I was circling near the top of my career path, and my exposure to assholery was surprisingly limited.

Nathan BarleyBut after a while, I was surprised to find that I wasn't happy. Most of my energy - and all my creative energy - was going into other people's work. Worse, it was work I didn't care for. I tried to make things better. I did change some things. But all in all, the corporation was happy with the gunk it was producing, and terrified it'd lose money if anything changed.

I looked for other jobs, doing similar things, making stuff I thought I might be proud of... But everywhere the corporate "thing" seemed to loom larger. If I was going to advance, it was going to be in a suit-and-tie, with increased seriousity, less levity, and a damn site less free reign.

It was time for a change.

And so, I packed up my stuff and moved back to Glasgow, where I'd spent most of my life before. Sure, I'll probably end up back on the corporate trail... But it was time to try some other things first, and to see what would stick.

But what to do first? I needed a break. I needed to get fit, to clear my head, to break bad habits, to get back the soul that London had squeezed out of - that I had let it suck away...

And so, gentle reader, I found myself heading to a Buddhist Retreat, to the Holy Island, off Arran on the West Coast of Scotland, for a week long program of meditation and yoga, booked pretty much at random and very much at the last minute.

I knew people who had been there before, as well as to Samye Ling and to Plum Village. But the Holy Island sounded quieter, smaller, more isolated and relaxed. It was a good choice.

There were around thirty of us on the course. I expected lycra-clad, po-faced new agers, all slender muscle tone and hostile to humour. Instead, they were lovely, a great mix of people and abilities. The teachers were superb. We learned various yoga styles and techniques throughout the week, and by the end I felt fit, fabulous and healthy. It cost bugger all. The food was stunning. There was no booze, no fags, no TV, no internet, and not a bad word said all week.

After my staggeringly unhealthy London lifestyle, it was a joy to get up at seven each day, to breath the morning air, to hear the seagulls and smell the sea. Everything was optional, but I tried to make the most of it. Most mornings I joined the island volunteers (some Buddhist, some not) for prayers and meditation. After breakfast, there were usually two yoga classes before the high point of everyone's day. Lunch. Did I mention the food? It was all vegetarian of course, and truly legendary. Then we'd have one or two more classes in the afternoon, and usually a talk in the evening, before soup, a walk, and an early night.

The main theme of the week was mindfulness, a central teaching in Buddhism, but now getting a lot of press as a stress-free, drug-less alternative to pretty much all of the ills, travails and horrors of modern life.

A small few of the talks were a bit new-agey for my tastes, but hey, there's wisdom everywhere if you're open to it, and I was certainly in the mode for learning lots.

A true high-point was the visit of two High Lamas to the Island. Even the long-term-island volunteers were impressed. Taking questions from all-comers, they answered in Tibetan.

"Is there truth in all religions" asked a friend.

"There is only one path" came the answer through the translator.

"So Buddhism is the only true religion?"

"Attachment to the path is not the path".

Put that on a t-shirt.

One lovely girl asked about anger she felt when reading news stories about places such as Zimbabwe and Burma.

"Anger hurts only yourself... When you are in a position to change something, you should do what you can to change it... Anger only leads to more anger..."

Another question asked whether the monks felt that there was a growing understanding of the need for peace and love worldwide. Were things getting better? The answer was just brilliant...

"In my experience, I find where loving kindness and compassion is practiced, we find more loving kindness and compassion. Where it is not, we do not".


And so, I returned to the real world, refreshed, healthier, and with a million more stories to tell :)


You Suck - Which Is Why You Need Jesus

Notes from Off Centre has a hilarious parody of Jack Van Impe, a whack-job Americanian TV preacher with a kind of Bible-verse-Tourettes. Here he is, getting all hot and bothered about The Da Vinci Code...

I know how he feels. It was a terrible book. (And that Rexella chick is hawt).

In any event, reading up on Bible Jack led me to Stuff Christians Like, a great blog with great stuff - like this truly awesome "You Suck" Jesus t-shirt. As they say:

"Perhaps if the pilgrims had keychains, we could have avoided the whole Witch Trial thing."