Archbishop caught with child porn videos

September 29, 2014

Over 100,000 of them.

A former Vatican archbishop accused of paedophilia stored tens of thousands of child porn videos and photos on a computer in his office at the Holy See diplomatic compound in the Dominican Republic, it has emerged.

Details of Jozef Wesolowski’s massive child porn stash have been revealed after the 66-year-old was arrested at the Vatican earlier this week.

He is the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be investigated for sex abuse, and the first top papal representative to receive a defrocking sentence. He has been charged with sexually abusing minors and child porn possession and might face up to seven years in the Vatican’s tiny jail.

I wonder how many years it took him to get that many videos onto his work computer.

Some 160 videos showing teenage boys forced to perform sexual acts on themselves and on adults and more than 86,000 pornographic photos were meticulously archived in several category-based folders, the paper said.

Investigators said that at least another 45,000 pictures were deleted, while a second stash of material was found on a laptop Wesolowski used during his trips abroad.


Atheist Scruples: how old should a kid be before killing something?

September 17, 2014

When I was in junior high school or thereabouts, my eldest cousin was down visiting and his kids and I were playing upstairs at my Grandpa’s. The boy was 4 or so at the time and poking around in the closet. He found one of my uncle’s rifles that had been stashed up there and started swinging it around. His sister and I scrambled into a spare room and held the door shut while hollering at the top of our lungs for my cousin to get up there and rescue us from doom. The boy was adamant: “But there’s no bombs in it!” but there was no way to know for sure until my cousin and uncle could get the .22 away from him and check. I don’t know if he tried to pull the trigger. I don’t think my uncle was the type to leave loaded weapons around the house but being a farm, it may have seemed sensible to keep something close to hand. Only my uncle and grandfather lived on the land by that point and might have also forgotten the gun was up there.

Today’s question is somewhat timely — but only because rarely a day goes by between stories of a kid killing someone with a gun he or she didn’t know how to use and maybe shouldn’t have been touching in the first place.

Your father-in-law wishes to take your 12-year-old son hunting. Do you permit it?

Yes, because my father-in-law is a rational man who uses a bow and would make damned sure his grandson wasn’t stupid with it. He may not even be allowed to use it, but instead be forced to stay behind everyone that does until he’s taken a proper class in how to use one.

And the Man and I would also go – not so we can kill things, but because I haven’t used a bow and arrow since high school and I’ve been wanting to try it again in a target practice scenario. I recall it was pretty fun to aim carefully and let loose. Memory may fail me, I think I was pretty good at the time. All of the three times I tried it…

More recent story in mind here: the nine year old girl who shot her gun instructor with an Uzi. The children of the dead man released a video recently urging her to move on with her life and not let it cripple her future.

“You are only 9 years old,” Tyler, one of Vacca’s sons, says in the video. “We think about you. We are worried about you. We pray for you. And we wish you peace. Our dad would want the same thing.”

The 9-year-old girl dropped the gun after the fatal shot was fired, telling her mother that “the gun was too much for her,” according to a report released by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department.

Time Magazine weighed in on this, taking the “kids should use guns” side.

Shooting a rifle accurately requires children to quiet their minds. Lining up the sights on a distant target takes deep concentration. Children must slow their breathing and tune into the beat of their hearts to be able to squeeze the trigger at precisely the right moment. Holding a rifle steady takes large-motor skills, and touching the trigger correctly takes small motor skills; doing both at once engages the whole brain. Marksmanship is an exercise in a high order of body-hand-eye-mind coordination. It is as far from mindless electronic diversion as can be imagined.

Points for improving concentration but you know what? They could also take up darts or bowling or golf and also improve concentration and marksmanship. It ain’t that easy to get a triple twenty, a perfect game or a hole in one.

Invite a child to learn how to shoot and the message is: I trust your ability to listen and learn. I trust your ability to concentrate. I welcome you into a dangerous adult activity because you are sensible and trustworthy. For young people accustomed to being constrained, belittled, ignored and told “no,” hearing an adult call them to their higher selves can be enormously empowering.

Let kids shoot tiny missiles traveling 2,500 feet per second but take away the lawn darts before anyone else gets killed. There seems to be something of a safety disconnect going on.

What’s the push for gun use at a young age really about? That’s the question I’d want to ask.

I don’t really think it’s about concentration and letting kids feel grown up. That’s what Solitaire and Han Solo are for. What games and imagination are for.

I don’t think kids that young should be allowed to use real guns. 12, like the age in the question, may be old enough but it’s going to also depend on the maturity level of the kid at that age. Some kids at 18 shouldn’t be handed a loaded weapon either.

The Daily Beast points to other news reports lately that illustrate how common it is for people to get shot on gun ranges – especially adults who are supposedly sensible and trustworthy and fully able to concentrate. And I quote…

Since the incident with the 9-year-old that attracted so much media attention, there have been at least five shootings at gun ranges—three accidental and two intentional—that resulted in three deaths and three injuries. In the last two weeks alone, a 65-year-old man accidentally shot and killed himself at a Massachusetts range; a 67-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the hand at a Maine range; Timothy Ramsuer Jr., 29, committed suicide with a gunshot to the head in front of witnesses at a Virginia range; two men were shot and injured at a Florida range during a failed attempt to unjam a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun; and a Georgia man fled to a gun range where he shot and killed himself after fatally stabbing his ex-wife.

There’s more in the article, and many links to these and other news stories along these lines.

Thoughts? Where do you sit on this issue?

(edited to add: People posting pictures of their kids with guns – what’s up with that?)

The reason I failed Elementary Education…

September 13, 2014

Well, not failed, exactly, but I did wind up in a meeting with an adviser near the end of my second year in university who suggested I apply for a different program or be put on probation my third year.

So I went back and looked at my Arts and Science courses from year one and literally said to myself, which class had the best grade? Sociology it is…

I enjoyed university quite a bit after that. I complained about the essays but I’m still glad I didn’t have to fight against my total lack of aptitude and passion. Kids deserve teachers that love the work and know how to make it exciting.

The Man and I were working with the Little Man a bit this morning. He’s already had some “homework” from his grade 1 teacher related to shoe-tying — he knows how, he’s just really slow and deliberate with it due to lack of practice. Parent/guardian fail there, to not have him better prepared. “I can’t!” He’d say and start crying. “No, you know how. You can and you will get better at this. That’s what the practice is for.” We kept telling him the same thing in various ways. He’ll be doing more of that before we sit down for lunch, and before we make cookies and before he plays any more games or watches a movie. And before his mother picks him up later today.

It was a similar but slightly more frustrating experience when he decided to write a to-do list with one thing on it: “PLAY NINTENDO DS”. He figured out “play” easily enough but he does way too much guessing rather than thinking things through. His guesses get really wild like he doesn’t see the difference between what’s likely to be the next letter based on the sound of the word and what’s absolutely ridiculously wrong.

Also, his personality seems to lean toward quitting when things get hard and gets stubborn when we try to show him how to figure things out. It was a minor war just getting him to write the colour RED. He was guessing every vowel except the one he needed, even after I told him it’s the same one in the word TEN that he’d just written down moments earlier. I don’t know if this is lack of confidence or lack of care or if he’s running on mad hope that if he stalls long enough someone will do the work for him. A mix of all three, probably.

Bringing me back to the education side of things. I don’t know the tricks that make kids eager to learn. How much of that can be taught though and how much of if is inherent in the kid himself?

All he really seems to care about knowing right now is all the ins and outs of Skylanders so what I probably should do is get a book of Skylanders crap and he can practice writing all their names and start writing everything he knows about them – which is already far more than I could possibly give a damn about. But, play to his interests, that’s probably a big key to future success here.

All of a sudden I’m reminded of a girl I knew through 4-H back in the days when it was more about horses and cows than computer programming. We had a series of public speaking assignments for this particular English class one year at school and every one of her talks was about horses. She was mad for horses. The teacher got tired of hearing about horses for some reason, however, and asked her to plan her next talk – the major 10-15 minute show and tell – on another topic. So, she came dressed head to toe in jockey gear and talked about jockey gear.

Well played.

Georgia teen recorded his family’s “pray the gay away” attempts

September 1, 2014

This is a hard video to listen to and the comments below it are awful and kind of sad. I quote one:

The kid is so disrespectful almost to the point where it is more vile than the parents’ actions. In addition, the people posting rude comments saying “fuck god” or “he’s not real” disgusts me. Stop blaming religion for every single thing that goes viral; it is clearly the family not religion. The family is living their lives based on what they perceive religion to be. Until there is realistic proof that god is not real; I will argue against you. 

“Scientific proof trumps the word of God,” the teen says in the video early on, “in my opinion.” His mother (stepmother?) disagrees with him but he’s still right. Scientifically speaking, it may be mostly his mother’s faut that he’s gay, but not because of his upbringing.

Researchers from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis have said the genetics that makes a person more likely to be gay are passed from fathers to daughters and mothers to sons.

They suggest the answer lies in epigenetics, or how the expression of genes is controlled by ‘temporary switches’, such as how a gene behaves, known as epi-marks.

Gender-specific epi-marks are usually ‘erased’ from generation to generation, but when they do not and they pass from a parent to a child, it can result in homosexuality.

William Rice, the lead author of that piece, thought at the time that it might have something to do with testosterone levels and the release schedule within an embryo.

…these epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone, when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, ‘it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males.’

With the theory, Rice believes it could also be used to explain the occurrence of identical twins.

The researchers have not tested yet on parents, and as the epi-marks are ‘highly variable’ it can be difficult to assess. However Rice said it is the most ‘plausible explanation so far’.

‘We’ve found a story that looks really good,’ Rice said. ‘This can be tested and proven within six months. It’s easy to test. If it’s a bad idea, we can throw it away in short order.

That line there is what makes everything awesome about science. If it turns out they’re wrong, they can try something else. The point is to find the more likely answer. An answer others could arrive at with similar experiments and study.

That article was published at the end of 2012 but at the end of May 2014, reported on the Royal College of Psychologists who were ready to put down on record their willingness to claim that People Are Not Born Gay. At which point, I say, what the fuck? I don’t normally write in swears here, so you know this is serious.

Core Issues Trust (CIT), which is campaigning against a ban on therapy being offered to people who want to move away from a homosexual lifestyle, says the latest statement by the Royal College admits what it previously denied.

“They now say that the causes of homosexuality are a combination of ‘biological and postnatal environment factors.’ So, if a child does not encounter such postnatal life experiences, he or she will grow up heterosexual,” says the director of CIT, Mike Davidson.

This just makes me want to say fuck psychologists, what the fuck do they know!? Maybe I should quiz my psychologist Freethinker friend and see if he concurs with their stance.

That said, “biological” winds up being another way to mean nature as opposed to nurture. It sounds more like these psychologists are actually hedging their bets and admitting they have no repudiable facts to back up their position on whether or not a person can be born gay.

My dad has a couple cousins from the same parents who both got married to people of the opposite sex but later decided to end those marriages because they were gay. The guy cousin has been with his partner since at least 1992. I can’t speak for the girl cousin because I’ve only met her once or twice in my life that I can recall and never with a partner. I don’t know about my great-uncle, but I think my great aunt was fairly religious during their upbringing, as in, regular protestant church goer. (Her health fails her now in terms of attendance.) I have my doubts that either child has set foot in a church beyond weddings and funerals for a very long time but I’d be overstepping to assume that to be the case. (The one cousin did train to be a Justice of the Peace, though. I briefly considered asking him to officiate our very atheist/agnostic wedding ceremony.)

The Telegraph notes that a gay gene may have some influence in gender identification, but those scientists claim only 40% worth of assurance there.

Dr Bailey said: “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice. Our findings suggest there may be genes at play – we found evidence for two sets that affect whether a man is gay or straight.

“But it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved. “The study shows that there are genes involved in male sexual orientation.

“Although this could one day lead to a pre-natal test for male sexual orientation, it would not be very accurate, as there are other factors that can influence the outcome.”

Dr Alan Sanders, associate Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University, who led the study said that it was it was an ‘oversimplification’ to suggest there was a ‘gay gene.’

“We don’t think genetics is the whole story. It’s not. We have a gene that contributes to homosexuality but you could say it is linked to heterosexuality. It is the variation.”

Again, this is what makes scientific inquiry so damned awesome. Nobody really says they’re right. They’ll say, “this is what the data seems to suggest” and then other researchers are free to try to duplicate or disprove those findings. People like Ken Ham see this as a flaw in the scientific method whereas the rest of us see this as proof that it works like it’s supposed to work.

Back to Daniel Pierce and his video that prompted this post.

Pierce’s boyfriend started a GoFundMe account to raise money for living expenses after he was told to leave the house.

“When you watch the video and then you hear what my blood relatives said, and then you look at the comments (online)… it was just crazy,” he said.

Pierce feels overwhelmed by the entire situation. He says he is still trying to process everything and has some counseling sessions set up. He is not alone, and is staying in the care with a friend he considers “chosen family.”

That GoFundMe account has raised more than $88,000 in just two days. He hoped for $2,000. Pierce says he plans to donate some of the money to LGBT support groups, including “Lost and Found Youth.”

I’m glad for him, and I’m glad for the support. Locally, in terms of gay youth, there’s something called fYrefly which runs a summer camp and other activities for LGBTQ kids.

Camp fYrefly-Saskatchewan is an educational, social, and personal learning retreat for sexual minority and gender variant youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, intersexed, queer, questioning, and allied). It focuses on building and nurturing their leadership potential and personal resiliency in an effort to help them learn how to make significant contributions to their own lives and to their schools, home/group-home environments, and communities. The camp is designed for sexual minority and gender variant youth between the ages of 14 and 24.

The worst thing a person can do to these kids is tell them something is horribly wrong with them. It’s great to know that a support system exists in this country to help these kids and help them find other kids with a similar life history.

If it turns out that the Little Man is gay, I won’t give a damn, his dad won’t give a damn, and I know his mother won’t give a damn either. Gay or Bi or Straight– he’ll know that he is loved and cared for by all of us and he’ll know his life choices are respected. We’ll teach him to treat his loved ones properly, no matter what gender they wish to identify by (if any). It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is how people treat the people they like and love. That’s it. Nothing else worth saying in terms of that.

But, like every time, I welcome comments. Anything to add or argue about here?

Atheist Scruples 2014: women and boobs

August 31, 2014

A couple different issues trigger this one. First, should women be allowed to go topless like men can? I think the answer should be yes but that doesn’t mean I’ll want to be one of them. I’m pro-choice in many ways.

In Saskatoon last August a woman got charged for going topless on the sandbars by the river.

Danielle Forget was tanning at the sand bar near Spadina Crescent Thursday when she decided to go topless. The move offended at least one other beach comber, and the police showed up at the beach.

“It’s a public place, a kid and a family friendly place. We don’t need that here,” said Jenelyn Ong, who called the police about Forget’s topless tanning.

“My nephew is 13, going into high school. He’s never been exposed to anything like that,” she said.

Oh, you sweet, ignorant woman. Of course he has. And if he hasn’t, he may as well see it now so he’s not surprised later. Women look like that with their tops off, kid.. Use it as a learning experience and be the cool aunt, not the crochety old bag he’ll complain about spending a summer with later on in life.

John Gormley is a local talk radio host I don’t listen to, but I found a facebook page where this news story was getting discussed. Most of the comments leaned toward, “They’re boobs; get over it.” It’s natural. It’s not unseemly. It’s not wrong. It’s natural.

The strange UFO cult called the Raelians recently picketed in Montreal for the right of women to go topless.

There were about two dozen women at the protest, along with several shirtless men showing support by wearing bras.

Onlookers taking cellphone pictures of the topless women outnumbered protesters.

Go Topless Day was founded in 2007 by Rael, the spiritual leader of the Raelians, and Sunday’s event was the second Go Topless rally in Montreal.

Clearly I don’t keep up with topless news on a regular basis. Never heard of this.

Also recently, also Montreal: Read the rest of this entry »

Recipe for a Saturday

August 30, 2014


1 day drizzle (or double this for Sunday leftovers)
1 energetic kid
1 inventive mother figure

First, divide the day into randomly shaped segments and take turns filling them with ideas. Warning: do not let child think he can get away with filling his segments with nothing but boredom or episodes of Green Lantern the Animated Series

The Man’s working Friday – Monday, sadly, leaving the Little Man and me to fend for ourselves.

I took the day off work yesterday, partially on account of that but also because of a new sofa delivery (yay!). Yesterday afternoon we walked to a couple close garage sales. I managed to pick up two of the three Indiana Jones movies worth watching (the seller couldn’t find his copy of Temple of Doom to include with the set, unfortunately) and he borrowed a couple dollars out of my pocket so he could afford a collection of well-used Beyblades and an “arena”. Do you know to build a Beyblade? I do now…

Today’s a bit up in the air on account of rain and more is expected tomorrow. We may miss out on hitting more garage sales but he has rain gear so he can’t use the intermittent drizzle as an excuse to stay inside watching movies all day.

We also have a lot of games around like Uno, Battleship, Skip-Bo and now a game called Harvest Time.

First, gardens are planted. Then everyone rolls the special die. to do the harvesting. The job is to harvest the gardens before Winter comes. Will we get them all? Maybe, if we remember to help each other out.

Don’t think it’s a ripoff of Farmville or something; it’s a cooperative game that’s been around since 1980 and “draws the most fan mail.” The Man played it quite a bit as a boy and was glad to find it still at his folks’ place the last time we were there. I’ve never heard of this company but since Christmas is only a few months away, their website might offer you some options that big box stores can’t match. I’d say, “Tell them 1minion sent you,” but they’d just reply with “Who’s 1minion?”

Another option of enjoyment for the weekend will be baking. We can throw some cookies together. He enjoys helping with that kind of thing. For one thing, it’s kind of fun. For another, he can eat them later. I have a hankering for shortbread, myself, but we have the fixings for several types around. I like having a well-stocked pantry.

Well anyway, this is the only post out of me today. Have a video. I should bring this movie home again sometime. Haven’t seen it in ages.

Saturday snicker: “Pardon me, demon. I have to take this phone call..”

August 16, 2014

Ah, haha.. An exorcist has just begun his attempt to cure this man of whatever demon ails him when the phone rings…

The accent is hard to for me to understand and also the sound quality is cell phone poor so all I can hear is, “I’m fine… I’ll call you… bye bye…” before he hangs up and we see he’s willing to start flailing around again and continue the “exorcism”. Clearly the exorcist is kind of pissed at the interruption, though, and I can’t make out what he says to the man once the call finishes. Certainly nothing went as expected there.


This happened to be a funny exorcism attempt and makes me wonder if either of the people involved actually believe in possession. Is the guy in the suit a charlatan? Maybe deliberately, maybe ignorantly – at least in terms of thinking these kinds of methods release anyone from anything besides their money. The flailing victim seems totally ordinary once his phone rings, like he was willing to be in on the act and pretend something was happening just so the suit guy wouldn’t feel silly acting alone up there. Again, who knows.

Unfortunately, they aren’t always a show on a stage.

On Christmas Day 2010, a fifteen year old boy named Kristy Bamu died in a bathtub after three days of being attacked and tortured by his older sister, Magalie, and her boyfriend, Eric Bikubi, during some kind of exorcism attempt.

During the trial, jurors heard Kristy was in such pain after three days of attacks by Bikubi and Bamu, who used knives, sticks, metal bars and a hammer and chisel, that he “begged to die”, before slipping under the water.

Kristy had been killed while he and his siblings were visiting Bikubi and Bamu for Christmas, the court was told.

During the stay, Bikubi turned on them, accusing them of bringing “kindoki” – or witchcraft – into his home.

He then beat all three of them and forced other children to join in with the attacks, the jury heard.

Kristy got the worst of it, though, tortured and ultimately forced to confess to sorcery and witchcraft.

Magalie later tried to claim she was also a victim in this but nobody bought it. Others testified with enough detail to poke holes in her story. Bikubi’s defense tried to lower his sentence by stating he was mentally ill due to lesions on his brain (scans seemed to suggest that) but that plea failed.

Met Det Supt Terry Sharpe said: “Child abuse in any form, including that based on a belief in witchcraft or spirit possession, is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faith, and is never acceptable in any circumstances.”

Kristy’s family said they hoped comfort could be drawn from his death through raising awareness “of the plight of children accused of witchcraft or spirit possession and promote the need to safeguard children’s rights”.

The couple was original from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A documentary put out by BBC3 in 2013 covered the prevalence of child witchcraft accusations there. At the time of filming, 50,000 children had been accused of witchcraft in the country. If you can find Branded a Witch anywhere, it might be worth a watch. If not, look around Youtube.

I’m not snickering anymore…