Come to the Dark Side, we have numbers

Darth Maul - definitely One Of Us

The Dark Side Skincare and Cosmetic Range Also Available.

There’s a census coming up soon here in the UK. Now, just as in most countries, the stuff the Government learns from the census is taken far more seriously by ‘Them, the Government’ than it ever is by ‘We, the people’ ticking the boxes.

The information on religion has in the past been used to attribute cash – real, hard, taxpayer’s cash – to religious projects and organisations rather than secular ones, on the grounds of there being significantly more people who claim to have a faith than those who come straight out with it and say ‘Nah, it’s all nonsense.’

The trouble with such a system, and letting the great British public loose with it, is that the nature of the great British public is fundamentally to take the piss and go for the gag. No really – we’re a nation that, above all – above its ability to queue, above its insensitivity to flavour and its casual racism, above even its own staggering apathy, prides itself on its over-inflated Sense of Humour. Get a Brit in an airport and watch them physically struggle not to make jokes about the bomb in their luggage in loud theatrical whispers. We’re just that funny.

Now, what that means in real terms is that while there are genuinely a minority of people who have a strong, guiding faith, and a minority who don’t believe in anything and are quite prepared to say so, the actual majority of British people are piss-taking shruggers who really couldn’t give a toss about religion.

That means, when faced with the census, and having to define their ‘religious affiliation’, they do one of two things. Either they shrug and go ‘ah to Hell with it, I’ll tick the box I was brought up in’…or, if you give them a comedy option, they will flock to it in droves.

Which is why in the 2001 census, Christianity claimed 70% of the population, despite dwindling church attendance records, and why a staggering 0.7% of the population of England and Wales chose ‘Jedi’. Yes, really.

Now, on the one hand, I love this, and it genuinely does represent the sense of humour – and largely the position – of the more than 390,000 people in England and Wales, who really, frankly, couldn’t give a damn about religion, and chose to be a Jedi in 2001. It was a movement that wasn’t confined to England and Wales – in Scotland, there were 14,000 Jedi. In Australia, more than 70,000. Over 53,000 in New Zealand, and 21,000 in Canada. Worldwide, there were enough Jedi hanging about the Earth in 2001 to kick the Sith’s ass back to a galaxy far far away. I even toyed with the idea myself, before going for the more accurate and honest ‘No Religion’ option (You could tell, couldn’t you?).

On the other hand, every Jedi contributes to the idea that Britain (and the other countries where the Jedi option is on the list) is a country ‘of faith’ – as indeed do those who choose the faith of their childhood if they no longer actively espouse it. And while I’m not about to tell anyone they don’t believe in a religion they say they do, the latest research shows that just 15%  – rather than 70% – of people in the UK go to church at least once a month.

In the 2001 census, incidentally, those who had the courage of their atheism in England and Wales amounted to 14.7% of the population. Now let’s do the maths. 14.7 plus 0.7 would equal 15.4% – that’s more than the UK population of regular churchgoers.

So how about this: If you can persuade Imperial Stormtroopers these aren’t the droids they’re looking for; if you can pull spaceships out of swamps with the power of your mind; and if you can come back from the dead for cameos in other people’s lives, looking all blue and fuzzy, and just occasionally being played by an entirely different actor – then you can call yourself a Jedi. Unless you can bring the Force-mojo, save the laugh for people who appreciate it – the British Government don’t – and come join the dark side; tick the ‘No Religion’ box in the 2011 census.

Anthropocentrism: All of God’s Special Little Snowflakes

Reposted from Amy’s blog The Cupcake Atheist.

My four-year-old has a book of science activities.  One rainy day not so long ago, my husband and son decided to pull out the book and complete a biology activity on classifying living things.  The objective was to cut out pictures of animals in old magazines and decide how to they should be grouped together.  Should they be grouped by the number legs they have?  By whether or not they are plant-eaters or meat-eaters?  Sea or land animals? Daytime or nighttime creatures?

Let’s be honest, here.  My boy is only four.  Even with my husband’s help, the project basically turned into playtime with magazine clippings, safety scissors and glue sticks.  By the time they showed off their final product, the animal photos glued on their poster weren’t even close to being classified in the right groups.  Mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles had all been mixed together on his poster board in a beautiful, biologically diverse, gluey mess.  For some reason, amphibians and those spineless invertebrates didn’t make the poster. Maybe we don’t subscribe to the right magazines.

To my rapturous joy, near the top of the poster was a picture of a sleeping Homo sapiens.  That’s right.  My husband had thought to include a picture of a human baby.  It was glued squarely between an ocelot and a rhinoceros (at least they got them in the same phylum and class, right?).  Still, I thought it was quite clever of my husband to use such a simple exercise to demonstrate the characteristics we share with the animals on this planet and, in doing so, show that we are animals too.

Parents expect their children to have short memories, and are thus caught off guard when something we think was overlooked or forgotten ends up being significant.  Several days later, I was pretty sure my son had moved on from the kingdom Animalia to more exciting things like trucks and candy. Out of the blue one day he asked me, “Mommy, are we animals?”  My mind immediately went back to the science activity he’d completed the week before.  “Yes, we are animals,” was my response.

“But, Mommy, we seem… different.”

There it was.  An uncomplicated observation from a very brainy boy.  There was no disputing it. He was right.  We are… different.  So how to help him understand our place in the animal kingdom?  I was taken back to my own childhood were I was raised in a very anthropocentric mindset.  Not only was I taught that human beings were the most significant and special of all god’s creatures, my parents took it even further than that. I was taught that I was god’s special girl, that god knew me before I was even born, and that god knew the number of hairs on my head at all times. Why this hair-counting, voyeuristic god didn’t completely creep me out at the time, I have no idea.  Maybe I wanted very much to hear how special I was and maybe the god myth filled that need.

Yes, humans are different, but are we supreme?  And if we are supreme, was it a god or gods that made us that way? The Bible would lead us to believe so.  Why, it is completely integral to the Genesis story.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ Holy Bible, NRSV, Catholic Edition

What does science tell us?  Well, for starters science in no way confirms the Genesis account.  Science tells us that we are very tiny life forms in very, very big universe.  Compare your mass to the mass of the planet.  Then, compare our planet to our entire galaxy.  Then think about our galaxy in terms of the entire observable universe.  It blows the mind.  We are so tiny compared to all of that, how can one ever begin to feel special or significant?  We are not only tiny in size, but in time as well.  The age of the universe is reckoned at approximately 13.7 billion years. The Earth itself is dated at 4.5 billion years old.  Out of that 4.5 billion years, anatomically modern humans only originated in Africa around 200,000 years ago.  This means that for the majority of the life of the universe and, indeed, our planet humans have not been around. How then can we be supreme, the most significant entities in the universe, as Christianity would have us believe?

The answer is that we are not supreme.  We are, collectively, a blip on the radar.  The earth will still be here long after we are gone.

How, then, are we to go about the 80 or so years we have on this planet knowing how tiny and inconsequential we are?  The answer is that we are not insignificant.  We are living things!  You, reader, are the product of millions of years of gradual, inching evolution.  Every cell in your body is a triumph of nature.  You are incredible because you are here and you are alive.  It is not necessary to believe in a deity or that as humans we have something supernatural within us that separates us from other animals.  Our significance is our place in the natural world, and the fact that that place is only temporary.

My little boy is far to young to understand this, so my response was a visit to the new Africa exhibit at the zoo.  My overly-cautious little one looked on as I stood inches away from a chimpanzee, separated only by a pane of glass.  The chimpanzee put his hand up to the glass.  I held mine up to meet his.  His eyes met mine and we considered one another.  In absolute awe (and yes, a little choked up), I looked back at my tiny son as if to say, “See.  Not so different.”

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.” – - Richard Dawkins, Unweaving The Rainbow, 1998.

You may be in the Taliban if…

Wondering if you might be a terrorist yourself ?
Do the Terrorist Test here!!!

YOU MAY BE A TALIBAN IF…”

1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.
2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.
3. You have more wives than teeth.
4. You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon “unclean.”
5. You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.
6. You can’t think of anyone you HAVEN’T declared Jihad against.
7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.
8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.
9. You’ve often uttered the phrase, “I love what you’ve done with your cave.”
10. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least one.
11. You bathe at least monthly whether necessary or not.
12. You have a crush on your neighbor’s goat.
Unfortunately, I can’t claim responsibility for this, thanks to whoever it was who sent it to me.

Bigots Win, NY Islamic Cultural Centre May Move

Not so long ago, it was announced that an Islamic Cultural Centre was to be built within a 2-4 block radius of the World Trade Centre memorial site, otherwise known as Ground Zero.

The site was chosen for several great reasons, thought mostly because it is a great location and was available for what is effectively ‘chump change’ relative to other areas in lower Manhattan.

The reason that the building site was so incredibly demure was due to the landing gear which, after leaving one of the planes which struck one of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, crashed through the roof of what was once the great Burlington Coat Factory. The factory closed and has been disused ever since.

To be clear though, this is not a mosque, it is, as it says, an Islamic Cultural Centre, which is complete with: a 500-seat auditorium, theater, a performing arts center, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a basketball court, a childcare area, a bookstore, a culinary school, an art studio, a food court, and a memorial to the victims of the September 11 attacks. The prayer space for the Muslim community will accommodate 1,000–2,000 people.

Nonetheless, after what can only be described as relentless criticism from bigots and Christian hypocrites from all over America who call the proposed centre a “9/11 victory memorial”, the site’s Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf claims now that he is ‘open’ to other locations.

How sad is it that it has come to this!?! Seriously America, your bigoted few are happy to have 20 churches, multiple banks, strip clubs and burger joints in this same radius, and yet in an inconspicuous and out of the way area, you won’t let a cultural centre be built. So disappointing!

Seriously, it has been stated by the Imam (while certainly – and admirably – a moderate, he is still just another religious leader, but that doesn’t preclude the building) that there is a population within NY who are Muzzie, who have been alienated and almost cast out (to a degree) since 9-11.

This cultural centre is a refuge, a place where Muzzies can go to hang out, play with other Muzzies and further segregate themselves from a society who is afraid of them congregating together in one place. Nonetheless, they want it, and it would be nothing short of complete bigotry and hypocrisy if it were not allowed to occur.

The only reason I would accept a resolution to not build the cultural centre is if all churches, temples, and community centres in the surrounding areas were also dismantled and handed back to the property.

Don’t forget, that the reason they built there was two fold. Firstly, it is inner city and close to all other inner city amenities. Secondly, it is inner city and was available for just over USD$5.5 million, which is spare change.

If the cultural centre is not built, then this block in lower Manhattan sits devoid of anything, with boarded and broken windows.

Seriously, New York, wake and smell the bigotry!

Homeopathy Works; a case study.

Conference presentation, Homepathic Australia, Paper three, workshop morning session “Case studies of common pathologies missed by allopathy”. Dec 5th, 2010, Yass Town hall, NSW.

Patient X has presented with a wide variety of asymptomatic symptoms for the past few years. For a while, in my professional opinion, allopathy had in the past not recognised her suffering.
Her first presentation was phantom limb syndrome. This was about three years ago. She complained that her missing arm was causing her great pain. I examined both her arms and came to the conclusion that she was eating far too much unnatural meat. I advised her to triple her natural carbohydrate consumption and eat a little salad with each meal. She should have 10 pieces of fruit after waking but before lunch and I gave her a script for 30 pillules of 10X arsenicum ( = 30C but steady slow release) three times a day. I also added 45 pillules of 7x argentium with each water intake (sterilises the water and has antibiotic properties). If she felt that she wasn’t full (change from meat diet) she should take 2 tablespoons of natural honey with every hunger pang.. Phantom limb syndrome is due to a protein imbalance.

The following week she returned, her phantom arm gave her no pain anymore and was now fully functional again. I cautioned her to continue on the diet and pillules if she kept on wanting to continue cheating at bridge.

She had another problem, she felt she was suffering from non specific alopecia. I knew exactly what she meant. People do lose their hair in that “don’t touch me there” place (known to us pro’s as the untouched loss of map mane chorea). I wouldn’t have to examine. I tripled the base dose of arsenicum and advised her to take 4 sea sickness pillules on rising.

Three days later she came back and said I was a miracle worker. I advised her that homeopathy is also preventative and to stay on her current courses. She asked me to repeat myself 4 times. I realised that she needed ear candling and wrote a note for her to go to the pharmacy.

She became an incredibly good patient over the years. She swore she always kept up her preventative homeopathy told me she gave up smoking (but did to my chagrin, used nicotine patches and gum) and had become a natural celibate.

In that period I had treated her for numerous diseases an allopath has no cure or care for;
a) Non presenting psoriases (again even more arsenicum and argentium with liberal dosing of natural honies and organic fruits).
b) Unidentified black mole syndrome (I consulted with a colleague and sent her off for ephedra).
c) Notional astigmatism (belladonna drops)

Not a single disease I treated her for could have been identified by a “normal medicine” practitioner.

Recently, she complained that she had shooting pains like ice picks above her eyes and kept forgetting who she was. I immediately deduced “stigmatic lobotomy” and put her on the reiki table for an hour whilst I attended more of my patients. She said she felt a lot better and confided; “the doctors can’t do anything for my husband” . Every day she accompanied him to see one of those quacks. “For some reason he never gets better”. I asked her to bring him in with his doctor’s reports.

She did that afternoon. Presented was patient Y. An incredibly obese man, beer bottle horn rim spectacles and black eyed, ostensible catatonic with a missing arm, numerous skin cancer removals and profoundly deaf. What few tufts of his hair were white his face was ruddy blue. I checked his files, accidental amputation three years ago, argyria, steadily obese, excema, inexplicable angina, does not recognise wife since accident with kitchen tools a medical record glucose intolerance.

If those doctors only sent him to me, I could have saved him just like his wife. He died during consultation of an imperceptible heart attack. Had I been in the office instead of washing my hands over their accounts I would have been able to help. Instead I walked in as she gave him his final eyedrops.

All she could say was, “I don’t know what to do now. When should I get a new husband?”.

It was cathartic for me.. to treat person with all the asymptomatic diseases her spouse eventually presented and died of. Its an argument for homeopathic quantum coupling. We know it exists, allopathy doesn’t.

Diary note, February 11, 2011.

Patient X rushed from the airport to the office. She complained of deep painful invisible non localised ligature pain between c3 and c5 and cross constitutional priapism since half way through her wedding breakfast two weeks ago. I deduced, reduced steroidal, non typical and notional hyperthyroidism. Clearly her phantom limb pain was returning. I tripled her Ayurvedic mercury.

Antiquities of the Jews – they are my siblings, why aren’t they yours?

I had a profound experience when I visited Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany late last year. I went through a similar rollercoaster at Anne Frank’s Haus in Amsterdam.

As part of the German educational curriculum, all German kids are taken to an internment/concentration camp in an effort to help them connect with their history. There were several children’s (mid teens) excursions at the camp while we visited and in the main, I was disgusted by the behaviour of the teens.

I watched as one kid walked up to the glass encased ‘uniform’ that the victims were made to wear, gained the attention of his friends, then simulated shooting the inanimate uniform. I shouted at them, already in a daze, and they moved on, laughing nervously.

Having just published my first book, I’m elbow deep in book two, a compendium of irrational beliefs, and the cretinous morons who hold them. One of the chapters is dedicated to a well known holocaust denier – a propagandist who spreads the flame of intolerance, lighting fires as he goes.

It certainly doesn’t help that the pope refers to Catholics as being as badly persecuted as the Jews. It certainly doesn’t help that the underclasses of every society in the world find it easier to regurgitate propaganda than to hold a researched opinion for themselves.

The Jews are among the most poorly treated individuals in history, and they are guilty of little more than wanting to be themselves, maintain their own traditions, their own beliefs and their own lives. Christians and Muslims yearn to spread their morally repugnant religion, Jews do not, and never have.

Personally, anti-Semitism does not make any sense to me.

With that said, this does not excuse the defence of this ridiculous notion of a ‘holy land’. Israel has committed war crimes in the recent past and does not deserve the ‘backing’ of the USA for their ‘sanctioned’ and ‘legal’ attacks on Palestinian flotillas, or the occupation of seized territory. But this is neither the fault, nor the responsibility of anyone outside of the Israeli government and no Jew should bare the brunt of this.

How could the holocaust happen? Furthermore, how can such anti-Semitism persist in countries and times that embrace multiculturalism?

Irrespective of religion, colour or culture, we are human. Despite our borders and the ferocity and vehemence of belief in actual difference, there are none; we are all human.

Borders, gods, cultures and lands are artificial, fake and irresponsible. They insert a meaning into differences, a meaning that is inherently bad because it is inherently different.

If you feel that you are any different to the Jews, I strongly suggest you look at your genome. You are the same. If they are any different, then so are you.