Are you gay? You must have a fart demon.

July 28, 2014

According to Bert Farias of Holy Fire ministries anyway. He’s adamant that stinky demons live in every gay person. Fart demons.

In an interview with Charisma magazine, Farias begged gay people to “not get upset with me” as he explained his groundbreaking new theory.

“[You] will see that I am actually trying to help you,” he assured them.

He continued: “Homosexuality is actually a demon spirit. It is such a putrid smelling demon that other demons don’t even like to hang around it.”

The “real proof” he has for this apparently comes from a biblical story where Jesus sent demons into pigs and the pigs drowned themselves rather than live in pigs forever. I don’t know this story so I take from gotquestions:

Why the demons begged to be allowed to enter the swine is unclear from the account. It could be because they didn’t want to leave the area where they had been successful in doing their mischief among the people. Perhaps they were drawn to the unclean animals because of their own filthiness.

I guess the latter thought is what Farias had in mind. Back to the article from Queerty:

“A genuine prophet of God told me that the Lord allowed him to smell this demon spirit, and he got sick to his stomach,” he said.

Farias also warned that the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the United States is a sign from the man upstairs that our society is in “the last stages of decay” and that there will be severe “destructive physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.”

He can think this if he wants, I guess, but if he’s well known enough, or popular enough, then his weird thoughts on homosexuality will be passed onto other believers who’ll continue to spread this fart demon pig story around as if it’s truly God’s proof that homosexuality is the biggest sin of all, even though the original story has nothing at all to do with homosexuality directly. But, when has that stopped anyone…

Gotquestions again:

The Bible doesn’t explain to us Jesus’ reasoning, but displaying His sovereign power over demons could be one reason why Jesus sent them into the pigs. If the pigs’ owners were Jews, Jesus could have been rebuking them for violating Mosaic law which forbids Jews from eating or keeping unclean animals such as swine (Leviticus 11:7). If the swineherds were Gentiles, perhaps Jesus was using this miraculous event to show them the malice of evil spirits under whose influence they lived, as well as displaying His own power and authority over creation. In any case, the owners were so terrified to be in the presence of such spiritual power that they made no demand for restitution for the loss of their property and begged Jesus to leave the region.

It’s such a stupid story. Small wonder I never came across it before, although now that I look at the Skeptics Annotated Bible, I see where the “I am Legion” notion comes from — this guy with the demons that begged to go into the pigs. I’m more familiar with Legion from Red Dwarf. A far better and more clever story if I do say so. The crew lands on a strange planet with evidence of great intelligence and discover Legion. Kryten does a bang-up job with his logical solution to the problem they have once they realize Legion does not intend to let them leave again. Well done, Kryters. Well done.

Sounds of Sunday: CCR — what were they smoking?

July 27, 2014

Seriously I ask that question.

Follow along with the lyrics for one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s strangest, yet most alluring, songs:

There’s a giant doing cartwheels a statue wearin’ high heels
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn
A dinosaur Victrola list’ning to Buck Owens

Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door

Tambourines and elephants are playing in the band
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon?
Doo, doo doo
Wond’rous apparition provided by magician

Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door




Really. Where do you go from there? Where?

Book of the week: The Martian

July 27, 2014

Science fiction has appealed to me ever since childhood. One of my favourite authors ever is William Sleator. Interstellar Pig still holds a special place in my heart. I’d love to see a movie done for that one, but Jumanji has already been done. (The original book is beautifully illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Look for it.) Creating something similar with space aliens and beach front property probably won’t tickle the bank accounts of any producers right now. Someone did go through the trouble of posting the game rules, though, should a game board ever find its way into this dimension from somewhere else. It would probably look something like Merchant of Venus.

But I digress.

The Martian by Andy Weir was a speed read and very engaging. (Wikipedia notes a film version of this has been optioned. Of course it has.)

An unfortunate accident befalls a crew on Mars and they have to evacuate. One astronaut, Mark Watney, gets hurled away from their space vehicle by debris. He’s presumed dead so his team leaves him behind. Turns out he’s fine and surprisingly not that pissed off at getting left behind. He’s a logical guy and knows it was the best call for his commander to make. “The needs of the many…” if I may borrow from a different sci-fi film.

Watney is an engineer and botanist. Most of the story is told through the log entries he makes each day, explaining what he’s decided to do, what he’s had to fix, and how many times he just about killed himself doing something risky, dangerous, or slightly stupid. And at the time he has no way to contact Earth and NASA due to what led to the evacuation so nobody knows he’s alive.

Fortunately, someone monitoring the satellites around Mars notices some action and gets the ball rolling in terms of rescue options. (Some are better than others.) They notice that Watley’s driven one of his rovers in the direction of the old Pathfinder mission site and soon realize his intention: to get the radio pieces functioning again. With that, they make plans for his pickup at the site where the next mission was supposed to land. Part of that project is already there: the launch vehicle, slowly harvesting atmosphere to make enough fuel to reach orbit. If Watley can get to it in time, his old crew on the Hermes can do a fly-by and collect him. Of course, it wouldn’t be as entertaining a story if it all went off without a hitch…

From what I heard about the book before starting it, Weir made a point of sticking as close to the real science behind potential Mars missions as he could for plotting out Watney’s chances of survival with supplies on hand.

Also, from the Wikipedia page about the book:

Having been rebuffed by literary agents, Weir put the book online for free at his website. At the request of fans he made a Amazon Kindle version available through at 99 cents (the minimum he could set the price). The Kindle edition rose to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles where it sold 35,000 copies in three months. This garnered the attention of publishers: Podium Publishing, an audiobook publisher, signed for the audiobook rights in January, 2013, and Weir sold the print rights to Crown in March 2013 for six figures.

The book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list on March 2, 2014 in the hardcover fiction category at twelfth position.

I wonder if this method is becoming a standard in the publishing industry these days. Don’t risk money on a new author until it’s established that his/her writing appeals to a big enough digital audience to justify selling to the paper lovers. I’m a paper lover. I don’t know if I’ll ever own a tablet and can’t see the point of trying to read a whole book on my iPod. I’m not much for audio book versions either, although I’ve listened to several entertaining ones that are like listening to plays with musical scores and sound effects and everything fun. I’m happy with the hard copy generally.

Another book I quite enjoyed and now own (a withdrawn library copy) is Wool by Hugh Howey.

Howey first began the series in 2011, initially writing Wool as a stand-alone short story. He published the work through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing system, choosing to do so due to the freedom of self-publishing. After the series grew in popularity, he began to write more entries for it. Howey began soliciting international rights in 2012, and has since signed with Brazil. Film rights to the series were sold to 20th Century Fox; Lionsgate also expressed interest.

Howey signed a print-only deal for around $500,000 with Simon & Schuster to distribute Wool to book retailers across the US and Canada.[when?] Howey retains full rights to continue distributing Wool online himself.

The book copy I have was available for sale by March 2013 and the rest of the trilogy has been published and released. I’d recommend that set, too. Look at that, six book recommendations for the price of one. Lucky reader or what?

Atheist Scruples: the business agreement

July 27, 2014

Today’s question:

You’ve agreed verbally to a business deal when you get a much better offer. Do you back out of the deal?

Memo to self: email the auto dealer we spoke to yesterday and let him know we went with a different car on a different lot and I hope to hell it was a good choice — a 2012 Kia Forte we knew the price of versus a recently arrived 2010 (blue!) Ford Focus the lot hadn’t done its inspection on yet. We went with the Kia.

I’ve been really stupid with money in the past. Maybe nearly everyone who’s lived without a lot of it can say the same. That’s what a study from August 2013 was measuring and they might have been onto something.

“Previous accounts of poverty have blamed the poor for their personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success,” said Jiaying Zhao of the University of British Columbia, who led the study, conducted while she was a graduate student at Princeton University.

“We’re arguing that being poor can impair cognitive functioning, which hinders individuals’ ability to make good decisions and can cause further poverty,” she said.

The study had two parts. In the first, about 400 people at a New Jersey mall were randomly selected to take part in a number of standard cognitive and logic tests. The participants’ annual family income ranged from $20,000 to $160,000, with a median of $70,000.

Part of this was car related: repair work required between the prices of $150 or $1,500. The cheap work was an easy decision for everyone in this hypothetical scenario but apparently the more expensive it got, the worse the impoverished test takers did in choosing a good financial solution, effectively creating a drop of 13 IQ of points or the equivalent of losing one night’s sleep. One could probably suggest that someone strapped for cash has already had more than a few sleepless nights worrying and isn’t working with a full set of intelligence points most days, unlike someone with fewer cash flow woes.

I was awake at 3:10 this morning with this new car on my mind. I’m not broke, though. In fact, taking into account my bank accounts, my RRSPs and Tax Free Savings Account, I have nearly the value of the new used car right now, not counting the “cost for borrowing on the term of the loan.” If we need it, I can dip into it. I wouldn’t want to, but it’s there if we need it. That’s part of the point of investments, I’m sure. I’ll have to inquire on what kind of income tax payments I’d be looking at next year if I use any RRSPs, though. See what the pros suggest we do here.

Bringing this back to the question, we didn’t agree verbally to buy the Focus but the guy we were dealing with was nice and he will have some details for us about the car by Monday, he said. Looking through the paperwork from this other place, we have a 15 day window to return the Kia… But then we’d be considering an older car with more mileage and frankly, that seems like stupid squared.

Then we’ll just have to figure out what to do with other car. It has a computer glitch and a crack in the windshield and I’m tempted to just sell its set of snow tires to somebody and he can have the car for free…

I’m not a slave to my stats

July 26, 2014

That said, 17 views today is pretty sad. Memo to self: post something every day…

So, who’s going to watch Atheist TV on July 29th, 2014?

July 25, 2014

What is it they’re offering?

the channel will broadcast 24 hours, mostly with licenses and pre-recorded content, such as documentaries by the Richard Dawkins Foundation as well as a talk show titled “Atheist Viewpoint” and a call-in show, “Atheist Experience”.

It’ll be available to anyone using Roku (which I’ve never heard of) but will also be viewable at its website.

Hopefully it’ll be accessible in Canada. I wouldn’t mind checking it out once in a while. I’ll have to watch what they advertise as upcoming content.

It must be tough when business and religion clash

July 25, 2014

It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, so I can understand why Ashers Baking Company of Northern Ireland felt it was important to say no to a group wanting a pro-gay marriage cake made.

the family-owned business is facing legal action for the the decision they made based on their religious principles.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, McArthur said that the decision was not intended to cause distress, but to follow what their faith says is says. “We are not discriminating against gay people. Our church’s definition of marriage is clear: It’s a covenant between a man and a woman, a 6,000-year-old tradition, which is ordained by God. Sexual activity outside marriage is a sin.”

I guess Daniel McArthur, the owner of the business, just has a different definition of “discrimination” than the rest of us. And he’s also ignoring 7 other types of marriage as listed in the bible. Click the link for more details but here’s the gist.

Man + Woman (arranged by family generally and rarely interfaith)
Man + Brother’s Widow (this is still technically Man + Woman, but another man’s woman)
Man + Woman + Concubines (the more the merrier?)
Rapist + Victim (Man + Woman but certainly not by her choice)
Man + Woman + Woman’s property (slaves in this case)
Soldier + Prisoner (a variation on the rape theme maybe?)
Man + Woman + Woman +… (like concubines but get less sex or more?)
Male slave + Female slave (get their own category because slaves aren’t quite human or what?)

Back to the bakery. Polls can gauge a mood but it’s easy to skew a poll to get the results you want. 2007 people answered an online survey about this case. THe Christian group funding the poll asked the following:

A family-run bakery in Northern Ireland has been threatened with legal action because it cancelled and refunded an order from a gay activist to decorate a gay-themed cake aimed at promoting gay marriage. It was not a wedding cake. The owners of the bakery made it clear that they were happy to serve gay or straight customers but that they objected to promoting gay marriage which is not legal in Northern Ireland. Do you agree or disagree with these statements about the case?

The Christian Institute is on the bakery’s side and summed up the results.

Only 21 per cent of those surveyed think a business that declines to supply goods or services which promote gay marriage should face legal action, while over half (56 per cent) disagree.

The poll also showed that most people (55 per cent) agree there should be protection in law so that people are not forced to provide goods or services that violate their sincerely-held beliefs.

Over half of voters (54 per cent) think that David Cameron was wrong when he reassured the public that same-sex marriage would not cause discrimination against supporters of traditional marriage.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “These poll findings demonstrate huge public support for the Ashers bakery and they also demonstrate that David Cameron and the Equality Commission are completely out of touch with public opinion.

The BBC reports from the other side.

Alliance councillor Andrew Muir – who hosted the civic event for which the cake was ordered – said he fully supported the action taken against the bakery.

“Businesses should not be able to pick and choose who they serve,” Mr Muir said.

“There would not be any debate if the cake had depicted an anti-racism or anti-ageism slogan, nor should it require intervention from the Equality Commission for this cake for Anti-Homophobia Day.

“It is ridiculous for this bakery to suggest that they would have to endorse the campaign.”

The councillor, who hosted the event during his term as mayor of North Down, said another bakery in Bangor stepped in and accepted the cake order.

I can see the bakery’s side on this in terms of not wanting to advertise their name in connection with a group they disagree with but I agree with the councillor. I’m sure Northern Ireland doesn’t intend to become the western sister of Uganda in terms of the treatment of homosexuals. The tide is turning in much of the rest of the world toward granting more gay rights to civil unions and the like. The issue isn’t new to Northern Ireland. This is just the latest rights issue making headlines.

Hopefully I’ll remember to update as more news about this story becomes available.


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