Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Protection of Education

I've had a passing interest in Scientology ever since reading Cyril Vospers book "The Mindbenders". But after South Park's episode entitled "Trapped in the Closet" i've been reading further. What makes people fall for such awful, third rate space opera? How is it that normal, right thinking people go for cults such as scientology, christianity, the moonies, islam & all the other myriad fictions that people spend so much of their time, resources and thought upon. I think it's education, or the lack of it.
At the moment here in the UK it's cool to hate science. Nobody turns a hair when someone says they have no idea how their car works, how their computer displays the web they surf, that they dislike mathamatics to the point of a numerical dyslexia, how they hate "chemicals" in their food (of course, they, their food and the whole damn universe is made of "chemicals"). The list goes on and on. I don't think this way of thinking is limited to the UK either. Over in the US the number of people who believe the christian creation myth is actualy the way the Earth is the way it is is frightening! And that they are forcing education boards to include creationism in schools is something america should be ashamed of. Add to this the poor quality and lack of enthusiasm shown by the teachers of the sciences and you can see why media studies has overtaken physics (by a huge margin) at A level. A recipe for disaster.
This is how these cults get a handle on our youth. Poorly educated, often with parents who are up to their necks in one of the religions, have no defense against these cults when they come into contact with them. A little decent grounding in a few of the sciences and the picture would be much different. Try and explain the scientology xenu myth to someone who has a "general reader" grasp of cosmology and geology and he'd laugh in your face. The same goes for dianetics and scientology's denouncing of modern psychiatry (and their personality tests & e-meters). Even a basic grasp of psychology would reveal their infantile writings to be the tawdry clap-trap it really is. Go to the paleontology dept. of your local university and mention the christian flood, see how far you get.
There will be many who will say that we must respect others beliefs no matter how stupid thay are and how much damage they cause. I can't disagree more. There have been more wars fought over people's fictional mythical beings than for any other reason. When people could have been fed, clothed and housed these cults build churches, mosques, synagogues, orgs. The money people earn is taken in tithe for their mythical deity. Babies suffer the mutilation of circumcision. And the nastiest con trick of all. That if you work like a dog in this life and give all your money to the church, then your reward will be in the next life.
Religion is just a form of social control. When man first started settling into communities and gave up hunting and gathering something new arrived. Inequality. All of a sudden there were haves and have nots. Also, one man could not break, till, sow, tend, harvest and store all the crops that came with agriculture. How could the haves not only protect their advantage but also use the labour of the have nots to their gain whilst all the time making sure no uprising occured? The answer was religion.
What can reach under the into the huts and inside the very thoughts of those to be subjergated? An omnipresent, wrathful god who sees all. Lets take a look at the ten commandments from the point of view of a succesful landowner / farmer in one of these new communities. His problem is to keep his elevated status whilst using the labour of the serfs around him. Always bearing in mind that he is vastly outnumbered and cannot, in the way a hunter would guard his kill, keep hold of his stores of harvested food by his own personal threat.

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

This is the new shit! All you old myths are superceded.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing

All your previous icons are superceded.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.

No discussion, be it serious, in jest or as a swearword is forbidden.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

We're going to have one day a week to reinforce this myth. By order!

5. Honour thy father and thy mother.

I've hoodwinked one generation. I don't want to have to keep doing it!

6. Thou shalt not kill.

Read as "Thou shalt not kill me!"

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Could be my daughter / wife. Hands off!

8. Thou shalt not steal.

Read as "Thou shalt not steal my stuff!"

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Your not to tell people what I actually do. If you do, you a liar! (& that's a no-no)

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, wife etc.

Because they may be mine. Hands (and thoughts) off!

OK, so there we are. Now to make all this stick we have stories told around the fire of plagues, storms and tempest, boils and a myriad of other very nasty things. Don't forget the good old work ethic. Your rewards to be reaped in the afterlife. Nauseating! Religion as a social control. Upholding the class structure and promising rewards that never materialise. Scientologists take note! You are promised the whole damn universe and immortality for only your life, friends, family, freedom, thought and of course money. More and more money. They get to the end and are told there's been a few mistakes and your going to have to start again. Oh, and by the way, start paying again too! It's at this point that many who reach scientology's OTVII realise there's something amiss and bail out.
Education (if the information had been available) would have protected those early communities from the barbarous control engendered by religion. It will protect you kids from cults like scientology (they will come accross it) and other cults. It will protect them from from the other more traditional cults like islam and christianity. And it will open your eyes too.
There is more wonder to be had in modern cosmolgy than all the creation myths rolled into one. And to stand and face the universe as a short lived primate, to start to grasp this wonderful universe we inhabit, to realise we only have one life to make the best of, takes more courage than to lean on the mouldy, corrupt crutch of cults / religion. Plus, it offers so much wonder, joy and sheer pleasure in knowing than any fictional, faith based myth can ever offer you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Scientology

Please take a monet or two to read www.xenu.net and then vote at http://www.petitiononline.com/yarbaro/petition.html . I know electronic voting means little, but it will be an interesting vote none the less. I'll add my own thoughts about scientology and the other cults (Islam, Moonies, Christianity etc.) later.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

US Re-Define Torture.

I have just come accross this in the Washington Post (see below). Now I know why Condi Rice is flying all over Europe deftly dodging the questions about 1000's of logged CIA flights by saying that the US doesn't torture it's detainees.
Well if the definition of torture is "Organ failure or death" of the person being questioned then leaves the questioners with a whole host of nasty, barbaric techniques developed over 1000's of years by the Inquisitions of this world designed to inflict maximum pain, suffering and fear without causing the death of the poor sod on the recieving end. I expect a euphamism soon (this administration are good at euphamisms, remember "manipulative self injurious behaviour" for suicides in Guantanamo?) along the lines of "Questioning in a sensory input controlled environment" or some such bullshit.
War is Peace, Ministry of Truth.... sound familiar?



Justice Expands 'Torture' Definition
Earlier Policy Drew Criticism
By R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan EggenWashington Post Staff WritersFriday, December 31, 2004; Page A01
The Justice Department published a revised and expansive definition late yesterday of acts that constitute torture under domestic and international law, overtly repudiating one of the most criticized policy memorandums drafted during President Bush's first term.
In a statement published on the department's Web site, the head of its Office of Legal Counsel declares that "torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and international norms" and goes on to reject a previous statement that only "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death" constitute torture punishable by law.
That earlier definition of torture figured prominently in complaints by Democrats and human rights groups about White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, who oversaw its creation and is Bush's nominee to become attorney general for the second term. The new memo's public release came one week before the start of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Gonzales's nomination.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin said in the new memo that torture may consist of acts that fall short of provoking excruciating and agonizing pain and thus may include mere physical suffering or lasting mental anguish. His opinion is meant, according to its language, to undermine any notion that those who conduct harmful interrogations may be exempt from prosecution.
This second effort by the Bush administration to parse the legal meaning of the word "torture" was provoked by the damaging political fallout from the disclosure this summer of the first memo, drafted in August 2002 and criticized by human rights lawyers and experts around the globe.
Many of the critics charged that the first memo -- which they said laid out a very narrow view of what behavior might constitute torture and was crafted to help interrogators at the CIA evade prosecution -- created the context for a record of persistent ill treatment by that agency and the U.S. military of detainees at prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba's Guantanamo Bay and undisclosed locations.
"Clearly the release of this now is backfilling for Gonzales's confirmation hearing," said I. Michael Greenberger, a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton administration who now heads the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "These memos have been a tremendous source of embarrassment to both Gonzales and the administration."
Greenberger said that recent accounts of widespread abuse at U.S. detention facilities -- including disclosures that military interrogation practices were sharply criticized over the past two years by FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency personnel in the field -- have given ammunition to those within the administration who favor adherence to international norms against torture.
"It could be that this is not just a cynical ploy but a real sign of change," Greenberger said.
One of the most controversial provisions of the earlier memorandum, signed by Levin's predecessor, Jay S. Bybee, was an assertion that the president's executive powers were sufficient to permit tolerance of torturous acts in extraordinary circumstances. The International Committee of the Red Cross had declared in response that the prohibition on torture, embodied in a global convention signed by the United States, has no exceptions.
But advocates of strict adherence to the convention previously lost interagency battles to hard-liners in the Defense Department, the Justice Department and the White House, who maintained that the president has expansive powers during the war on terrorism. The new memo pointedly sidesteps this issue, stating that the "consideration of the bounds of any such authority would be inconsistent with the president's unequivocal directive that United States personnel not engage in torture."
The memo, which states that it "supersedes the August 2002 memorandum in its entirety," also drops an attempt in the earlier version to rule that harmful acts not specifically intended to cause severe pain and suffering might be legal, and to define "specific intent." Instead, it deliberately left the notion of "specific intent" undefined to avoid, Levin wrote, any notion that conduct amounting to torture might under some circumstances be considered legal.
The memo also explicitly states that "a defendant's motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question" of his or her intent under the law.
Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, which has been critical of the Bush administration's legal opinions regarding the treatment of detainees, gave the memo a generally positive review and said its "definition of torture is not as tortured as it was."
But John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who helped draft the first memo while working in the legal counsel's office, said the new version "makes it harder to figure out how the torture statute applies to specific interrogation methods. It muddies the water. Our effort . . . was to interpret the statute clearly

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Open Letter to Dr.Steve Abrams.

I emailed the letter below to Dr.Steve Abrams at sabrams@hit.net after reading the BBC News report mentioned in the mail. Perhaps you should drop him a line too...

Sir,
I notice that at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4419796.stm you are quoted as saying "This is a great day for education." after the Board of Education's vote approved the new language criticising evolution by 6-4. Here in the UK we can only watch in saddened awe as you, your country, and worst of all, your children, are dragged down into the blinkered, dark of using theology to explain the universe around you. Your children, if they ever leave your borders, will be ill equipped to join the rest of the world in our search for knowledge. Your country will become as strange a backwater as the Afghanistan of the Taliban. Just as closed, just as fundamentalist. But what frightens me most is, much more powerful. As you, in your everyday life, use the fruits of the scientific method. Your computers, automobiles, textiles, buildings and medical services. And the myriad other wonders that science has given you. You decry the very method that has produced them. And in your selfishness, remove from your children, and their children, access to proper science uncoloured with your medieval superstitions. You Sir, are a coward! Unable to face the universe alone. You must use the crutch of religion so you may keep your fictitious father figure holding your poor, frightened little hand. It is time you grew up, took on the role of mankind. An eager, curious animal lucky to find itself in a universe full of majesty and wonder. More than enough for any man. Your theological mumbo jumbo pales into insignificance. Time to leave the nursery little boy...
Les. J. Hemmings Folkestone, UK

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Been Gone for a While.

Sorry all... no posts for a long long time. Nothing to post about? Hardly... with the Iraq war still decending into civil war. Iran and Syria in the frame. Bush's cronies starting to get busted over their lies about WMD and the malicious outing of CIA agents. There's been lots to post about.
It's been here at home, lifes little details. The things that mostly fill our minds. Health, love, money, work etc. These things need to be settled before you can turn your mind to the outside world.
I had an operation (Google Jeep Disease if your feeling brave), got over a bout of depression. (I think.. I hope..) with the aid of my partner Claire and a drug called Tramadol. Prescribed for the post operative pain but with the side effect of making my moods much like other peoples around me. No more stepping off of the precipice into that monochrome world of hurt and lonliness. These little capsules have saved my relationship, dropped 20 years off of my age, given me a future to look forward too and let me feel love again. Big claims for a what is a synthetic opiate not prescribed for depression. But i couldn't be without them.
It's not only me though. A friend of Claire's at her work has a partner who got prescribed Tramadol for Sciatica. When Claire mentioned Tramadol and my mood stabilisation she squeeled "What were they called?" It seems her partner has a huge alcohol problem, low self esteem and depression. When he takes Trmadol for his Sciatica he levels off into a loving, stable, nice bloke to be with.
Luckily, when Claire and I bowled into my doctors and told him the effects these capsules were having he agreed to continue prescribing them. Although he had never heard of the effects I was experiencing. I'm so glad he did. Life is good again. So perhaps my blogging will become a little more frequent with some personal stuff now I feel I can open my life a little to the outside world. I think you have to be settled inside before you can drop the barriers and let people in.
Anyway, it's good to be back :o)