Monday, March 31, 2008

Nieces

I shot this Sunday. My niece (right), and grand niece (left) were playing on a chair at my son's birthday party.

Nieces

I can shoot pictures of my family all day. But I hate the straight up "say cheese" and smile shots. I'll take them, but I hate them. I captured a little bit of these young girls' souls in this shot. I want the soul, I crave it. Everything else is just a snapshot.

I prefer to shoot shots like this... shadows

If left to myself I will hunt these types of shot all day. I am rarely left to my own. I need to do more of this. It's good for my soul.

I really need to paint that wall...

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Pagan Pizza

I read many more articles than I can find to post about. I'm fascinated by fringe religions, so I tend to read more articles on this subject than anything else. I've noticed a trend with Wicca. Newspapers are doing "it's ok to be a Wiccan" stories in increasing numbers. The basic story goes something like this. Wiccans are a member of a legitimate religion just like you and me. Only... they worship nature, or the moon, or moon goddess, or some such nature oriented deity. Wiccans don't worship the devil. He's not even invited to their ceremonies. Wiccans perform odd candle and incense oriented rituals called "spells" that have about the same affect as prayer, which is to say, you might as well do the setups because thinking about loosing weight just don't work.

If you would like to see a typical Wiccan feel good article, please read this snipit.

However the group may feel about appearing in a column dedicated to the weird, they are very comfortable with their own choices of path. Many of the group chose Paganism at an early age. Marlene discovered her path when she was twelve, and ran outside to dance under the full moon. Another attendee spent her childhood attending Catholic school, and found that something was lacking. She’s never understood the purpose of building a church or building for worship. After all, she told me, “Nature is the house of God.” And that really is the common thread amongst the pagans: a true appreciation for the wonder of nature. Many are ecologically minded, and judging by the choices of pizza toppings, many are also vegetarians. The moon, the earth, the stars, and animals seem to function as very important symbols for almost all pagans. 

Source: The Santa Barbara Independent Pagan Pizza

I don't feel good about Wiccans after reading this puff piece.  Wiccans scare me. They make it up as they go along. It's like they are attending a Renaissance festival all year long, except the can't leave it at the festival like the rest of us.

And please don't tell me I'm a hater. Wiccans are a new manifestation of religious self delusion that I find boggling. Everything they believe, everything they have, it is all been made up over the last 50 years or so. It's like an extended D&D session where the people actually believe all the crap they are making up. I don't get it. But Wiccan girls are still hot.

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War on Atheism?

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for the Monotheistic religions of the world to unit to confront and vanquish atheism.  Polytheist religions are not part of King Abdullah's evil cabal.

"I ask representatives of all the monotheistic religions to meet with their brothers in faith," Abdullah told delegates to a seminar on "Dialogue Among Civilizations between Japan and the Islamic World," according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “If God wills it, we will then meet with our brothers from other religions, including those of the Torah and the Gospel... to come up with ways to safeguard humanity," he added. 

Source: National Secular Society - Saudi King wants monotheisms to unite to defeat atheism

What's next? The final solution?

it's a good thing nobody listens to this old fucktard. Otherwise the Muslims of the world might unite in a holy jihad aimed at eliminating "the Atheist problem".

Homeschooling Muslims

The NY Times has an interesting article on the trend among American Muslims to homeschool their children. As a libertarian, I support homeschooling.  We should have the ability to raise our children as we see fit. Of course, when homeschooled children run afoul of University standards, I often find the ensuing arguments over standards entertaining. If your child can't pass the entrance examination he or she only has their parents to blame.

Across the United States, Muslims who find that a public school education clashes with their religious or cultural traditions have turned to home schooling. That choice is intended partly as a way to build a solid Muslim identity away from the prejudices that their children, boys and girls alike, can face in schoolyards. But in some cases, as in Ms. Bibi’s, the intent is also to isolate their adolescent and teenage daughters from the corrupting influences that they see in much of American life.

Seeing homeschooling spread to other religions changes the paradigm a little. From my perspective, I don't really care. But I wonder what the fundies think.  Do Muslims have the same rights as Christians when it comes to homeschooling? Do Christians treat the needs of the Muslim community the same as they treat the needs of their own? It is an interesting question. I looked around for the Christian response and found an uplifting response on Brad Boydston's blog. At least he is asking the right question.

Actually, it's really the same old challenge -- how do we as American evangelicals deal with pluralism? We're so used to thinking that we should be the controlling majority that we assume all social structures should reinforce our perceived status. For example, many vocal evangelicals want prayer in the schools. But we start backpedaling as soon as we realize that in 21st century America there will be Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Wiccans, and Secularists in the position of leading the prayers. Yet we can't let go of the idea that this is a pivotal issue for the nation. So we struggle with dissonance

Homeschooling is a great concept when done well. We need to protect our rights as American to educate our children as we see fit. It does not matter if we are Atheists (0r secularist), Christians, or Muslims.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Angry Christian Blog

Stand Up To Athiest [sic] Bullying - a rant focused on the alleged damage caused by... well, anybody who does not follow Jesus in the exact way the author does. I smell a nutball.  Worse, I smell a fundie nutball.

Here is a sample post from March 25:

They aren’t the only ones but they push society against us. You have to see this video:

http://www.silencingchristians.com/video4.aspx

It’s amazing. Students are literally being forced into classes that make them read verses from the Koran! This is outrageous. Somehow turning people away from faith is supposed to be tolerance. The more we turn away from God the worse society gets. More godlessness is the liberal’s answer like they drink to cure a hang over.

And what do they learn at the university? Unprotected sex. Coddling to protect their self esteem. Indoctrination to the gay agenda. Kids at college these days are actually taught to have gay friends because it makes them look “cool” and “diverse” and “tolerant.”

( This is a backdoor tactic, I promise you. Just like medical marijuana is code for liberals being able to smoke drugs legally, but in slow motion because moral people are offended at the idea, so they have to try and sneak it by us like that. )

So how can we do something about this? If you have kids, please send them to a Christian school!

Source: Univrsities [sic] taking away Christian rights

I can't help but like this blogger - he spells worse than I do.

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SINS, SECRETS AND DENIAL

Staff writers at the Mercury News have compiled an impressive mass of data on clergy sexual abuse in the Oakland Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Among the findings in Sin, Secrets and Denial are some compelling reasons to make sure our children are never entrusted to these people.

Clergy members were accused of molesting children in at least 26 parishes and six high schools in the East Bay.

At least two accused diocesan priests and 19 members of religious orders still serve at church facilities, most of them in the Bay Area, although they no longer work with children.

Some of the most powerful priests in the diocese -- including a former chancellor and vicar general, a former schools superintendent, and two former deans responsible for supervising southern Alameda County -- were accused of abuse. One of the deans investigated child molestation allegations against the other.

Source: SINS, SECRETS AND DENIAL - San Jose Mercury News

Writers Rob Dennis, Jeremy Herb, Matthew Artz and Chris De Benedetti dug into court records dating back to the 50s. The present their finding in four parts:

  • TODAY: The scope of clergy abuse is far greater than previously known.
  • MONDAY: The system allowed accused priests to remain in the diocese.
  • TUESDAY: Members of religious orders are among the most prolific offenders.
  • WEDNESDAY: Church officials take steps to prevent future abuse.

Sins, Secrets and Denial paints a ghoulish portrait of clergy sexual abuse spanning decades in one small corner of our country. On of their key findings is that members of religious orders are among the most prolific sexual offenders. It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog, Organized religion is a protected hunting ground for pedophiles of every stripe. I've seen their work played out in countless stories of abuse over the years.

Please read this important series. It promises to enlighten.

Judge orders sick priest to report to prison

I'm torn on this story. Michael Jude Fay is a low down thief. We all know that. He must pay for his crime. Only, he is dying. My question is, what happens to all the other hapless Joe's dying of cancer in prison? Do they get a doctor from Sloan-Kettering?

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A federal judge has ordered a Darien priest convicted of embezzling $1 million from his parish to report to prison in May.

The Rev. Michael Jude Fay was sentenced in December to 37 months in a federal prison. He was due to report to prison next week, but sought a delay while he undergoes an experimental cancer treatment that his attorney says is not available in prison.

Attorney Lawrence Hopkins says Fay will die behind bars if he cannot complete his treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York

Source: Judge orders sick priest to report to prison in May -- Judges, New York -- Newsday.com

Something tells me Fay will die in prison. It's a stiff price to pay for his foolishness. Is is just? I don't know. We only have one life... and there is no such thing as heaven or hell. He wasted his life. Send him to prison to fend for his care like the rest of the criminals.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The fall of David Trotter

The pastor of the righteously annoying Revolution Church in Long Beach has resigned his post as head pastor in a scandal. You might remember David as the pastor who gave away a car to lure people into church back on Easter of 06. We exchanged a few emails over the subject. I had this feeling about him, something was off with his ego. Two Christian friends defended him vigorously to me. They talked about his character and vision. I had reservations. It turns out I was right. According to A little bit of us, David Trotter resigned over an affair with another women from his church. He also left his wife and children, and turned his back on his calling - apparently because it was all about him in the first place. Which, for those of you who read my blog, is the main problem I have with the hypocrites who run so many of America's churches.

I know, DT, that you are reading these blogs and that you don't care. I know you said that when you two read our blogs that it just pushes you farther away. And that is sad. When did your heart turn to stone? Are you proud? I hope that every time you look at your tattoo on your wrist you are reminded that you are no longer a Revolutionary or a Christ follower. You have now become a DT follower.

You say that you are with the Lord and you are following His way? Where in the Bible does it say to leave your wife, leave your kids, and start an adulterous affair? That is not God you are following, that is the devil!!

Source: A little bit of us....: This is not what I wanted my post to be about....

I am really not surprised - He was all about branding his name. It was all over the web. There was even a DavidTrotter.com for a while, but its gone now, he's left to follow his heart... Apparently after ripping the hearts from the chests of his followers.

A Presidential Pardon for a Christian

Anthony Foglio, Jr., does not deserve a presidential pardon simply because he is a Christian. He already got a pass with his probation only conviction.  I'm sure we will see more of these in the months ahead. What else is Bush going to do with his time?

A Santee pastor convicted years ago for selling marijuana has received a presidential pardon, it was reported Wednesday.

Anthony Foglio, Jr., associate pastor at Sonrise Community Church, was one of 15 people to receive a pardon this week, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"It sure feels good to have that mercy expressed to me," the 41-year- old Foglio told the newspaper. "It's God's mercy. It's an underserved gift."

Foglio, who was not a pastor when he sold hundreds of pounds of the drug, would buy it in Imperial Beach and sell it in West Virginia while he lived in both places, the newspaper reported.

Foglio turned himself in to authorities at the urging of his father, founder of the Sonrise church, and was given three years probation with no prison time in 1996.

He has been a licensed pastor for three years.

Source: Pastor Convicted of Selling Marijuana Receives Presidential Pardon - FOX6 San Diego

Of course - selling pot should be legal. But that's another issue.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Blogroll Update: Letras Nocturnas

It's been a busy day for the Atheist blogroll, we grew from 600 to 625 blogs. It would have been 626, but somebody went nuts.

The new blog Letras Nocturas looks interesting. I read a few posts while looking the blog over this afternoon. The author has been kind enough to provide an introduction:

In his own words:

At Letras Nocturnas I like to post on science and technology news, space news, general news, religion and its effect on humanity, history, aviation, the occasional Star Trek post, and every once in a while reviews on events (usually goth concerts and the like, such is my inclination). I am very a  very passionate person when it comes to matters of atheism and equality. I hope to make a good addition to the blogroll.

RĂªves doux!

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Ex-youth pastor gets 4 years

Another youth pastor is on his way to prison.

A former Downers Grove church youth minister was sentenced to 4 years in prison Thursday for sexually assaulting an underage female student.

Edward E. Greene, 38, of Asheboro, N.C., pleaded guilty Thursday in DuPage County Circuit Court to criminal sexual assault while in a position of trust with the girl, who was 13 to 17 years old when she attended Marquette Manor Baptist Church and its school in Downers Grove.

Source: Ex-youth minister in Downers Grove gets 4 years for sexual abuse -- Sexual Assault -- chicagotribune.com

Greene was a Baptist. He used his position to choose his victims. He had no oversight, nobody checked up on him. He was free to molest at will. When will these churches learn?

A story from my day - long hours

My head is still a little fuzzy and confused at the moment. I have worked four 16 hour days in a row while on the road north of Los Angeles this week. When I returned last night it was already 10:30 PM. My work day had started at 7:00 in the morning with conference calls to India. My head finally hit the pillow at 11:30 PM after talking to my oldest son for an hour. At midnight my cell phone stated ringing with an urgency that can only be linked to a system crash. I was on the road within 15 minutes, driving 80 mph toward work. I returned home just before 3:00 AM and spent an hour unwinding before falling asleep a little after 4:00 AM - a 19 hour day was behind me at last. Yet I was oddly happy and upbeat.

For those of you in my family who read this, lets just say there is some big new pending. Big enough that a killer day at work did not even phase me - except that it made my 47 year old body feels like it was wrapped in cotton.

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Cyn posts an anti Mojoey RANT!

I normally attract about three or four pieces of hate mail a week. Once a month I get a nasty death threat, and occasionally somebody will go after me on a blog. They normally share two key characteristics, they are religions and crazy. This time CYN, who is an atheist blogger, was offended by my rejection of her application to the Atheist Blogroll. She posted this RANT on her blog

...just because i'm an atheist does not mean i can not be snarky or a bitch.

so in the atheosphere or whatever the 'cool atheists clique' call it. this 'atheist blogroll' is something. so i'd applied. obviously he only looked at the first page.
i like a certain look to my front page.

i gotta enough stuff in the sidebar. i prefer to post only one day's worth of entries.

because i have AN ARCHIVE.

easily accessible in the sidebar to pull down whatever day you wish. course if i'm on your feed reader......wouldn't matter. you'd know already. i guess i've become too dependent on my feed reader. and i'm OCD just enough that when i go to a new blog. i scour the page looking for details.

UGH!

anyway...pisses me off...

Cyn: RANT!

Now, it should be obvious that I missed that fact that she only keeps one day's work of entrees on her front page. Shame on me. She did not provide me any information besides her url in her application. How am I to know she runs her blog in a way that looks like it is new when it is not. I don't know her or her blog at all.

Today was a busy day, we had 30 entries. It took me over two hours to process them. Two hours that I would have loved to spend on other activities I might add. I rejected a few blogs today, but I changed my mind after communicating with the blog's owner. Not this blog mind you - Fuck it, it's been blackballed.

I recognize the pattern of self absorbed arrogance at CYN. It causes my mind to flash the red "WARNING WARNING WARNING" sign. In IT we call them high maintenance users and avoid them like the plague. I don't do it on the blogroll because I am trying to help - but not this time.

I don't ask for much. Give me enough information to make this service easy for me to manage. That's it really. Oh, and don't fuck with me over trivial shit.

**update**-

Poor CYN will not let me comment on her blog. She appears to be a high maintenance blogger and a coward too. Whoo hoo - I hit the double whammy with this one. A blogger who RANTs about imaginary injustices and then censors the conversation to save face. I may run the Atheist blogroll as a service, but I keep Mojoey's shit list for my own pleasure. And CYN just made the list.

**update**

The offend screed has been deleted. Perhaps her blog will be next?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cheesus found in Houston

I know what I'm eating for Easter


A couple of years ago, the youth director at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston was snacking in the church youth offices when he noticed an odd-shaped Cheeto. Upon further inspection, Steve Cragg determined he could see a familiar image of Jesus in the shape of the cheese curl

Source: abc13.com: Church youth director spots image of Jesus in a Cheeto 3/20/08

The thing looks more like cheese fetus anyway - still delicious!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Blogroll Update: Our 600th member!

It seems like just yesterday we a community of 500 bloggers. Our 600th Atheist blogroll member is the NYC-Atheists Blog. Please visit our newest member and drop a comment to let them know they are a welcome part of our little Atheist blogroll community.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Youth pastor pleads no contest to gay sex charge

I still don't understand why this is against the law. Michael Royce was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover cop in a public bathroom. He wanted to leave and go to a private residence to enjoy his sexual encounter. Why is this wrong? The actual charge was "Solicitation Crimes Against Nature", which sounds like Royce was busted because he was hooking up for gay sex.

I guess it would be wrong if you are a youth pastor.  You know the code "gay is bad" if you are a Christian and especially if you are a youth pastor.

Following Penland's plea, which doesn't admit guilt while also not contesting the charges, the ex-St. Gregory's Episcopal Church youth ministry director only has to pay court costs and stay away from recreational property in Haywood County, N.C., where he was arrested in June.

Source: Former Boca Raton church youth director pleads no contest to solicitation of sex charge

I should say Royce is a former pastor. He lost his job over this.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Foodgasm: Pho at Benley

Benlay
A friend has been pushing me towards pho for months. I imagined pho as dressed up Top Ramen, so I avoided it. I have never been so wrong about food. Pho is a a traditional Vietnamese rice-noodle soup dish. It is pronounced like my favorite four letter word, fuck - but without the ck. Pho is amazing. What the hell was I thinking?

My wife and I have been using Yelp to find new restaurants, we found Benley: A Vietnamese Kitchen on Saturday. What followed was one of those rare movements when eating transcended the ordinary and became divine.

Heather, our enthusiastic waitress, explained our options while guiding our food choices. We started with Lemongrass-Charred Pork Spring Rolls before moving on to the main course. I would have been happy simply eating the spring rolls. The sticky texture mixed with the spicy peanut sauce was irresistible.
Spring rolls
When it was time to order our pho, I explained that I had never really experience it before. Heather explained what I was in for and guided me to the bowl of pho with braised brisket. My wife ordered the chicken.
As we waited for our food, I admired the photography. A doze vintage 1970 eara photos decorated one wall, while several large contemporary photos decorated the opposing wall. When our food arrived, I sample my soup without any additional spices and found it wonderful, with the additional spices, I started to sweat (and smile).

The true measure of meal for my wife and I is how much conversation we manage during the meal. We spoke in whispers, only commenting on the flavor. I can honestly say, this was another benchmark experience. The soup was so good that we did not want it to end.

We were fortunate in our choice. Benley is a Zagat rated jewel. By all accounts I've read, our choice for a first bowl of pho may well be the best in Los Angeles. I would never have stopped in without Yelp, Benlay is hidden in a strip mall. I've driven by at least 100 times without noticing.
cassava Cake
Heather gave us a free dessert in honor of our first visit. A slice of delicious cassava cake. For this alone I will return again.

I love foodgasms - with today's tendency towards corporate food, foodgasms are rare. Thanks Benley. I'll be back. And, I will bring people who like to eat.

Benley, a Vietnamese Kitchen
8191 East Wardlow Road
Long Beach, Ca 90808
562.596.8130

Blogroll Update: Bloggin' Off

There's an interesting new addition to the Atheist Blogroll.  Bloggin' Off, Views From the Edge of the Continent is written by paulmct, who has clearly had enough unpleasant encounters with religion to have an opinion.

He describes it himself:

Although I don't write exclusively about atheism or agnosticism, they and religious hypocrisy are some of the most common categories or themes.  The rational and secular point of view also permeates just about everything I write, being integral to who I am.  My ultimate goal is to write screenplays informed by this point of view.

My blog is about whatever I feel like writing about.  It may be current events one day, personal experiences or observations the next, my take on a movie another day, or a recount of where a song or piece of music takes my thoughts.  Sometimes I'm witty, sometimes matter of fact.  The following link will take you to a good starting point to get to know my blog.  The post has several links embedded to other posts, all relevant to members of this blogroll.  I hope you enjoy it: Beijing-Style Censorship In Canada.

Please drop in and welcome our newest Atheist blogroll member.

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Blogroll update: ...forms most beautiful...

Please join me in welcoming a new Atheist blogroll member, ...forms most beautiful...

In his own words:

Peter Buckland of the blog ...forms most beautiful... keeps the torch burning for materialism, reason, skeptical logic, and irreverent atheism.  ...forms most beautiful... gets its name from the final sentence of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species and much of the blog's content is devoted to responding to creationist actions across the country, shredding the arguments of the always odious intelligent design movement, keeping up to date on evolution, and occasional wanderings into comics or classic 90s death metal.

Posts run from the short and pithy to the extended and intense. A fine example of Buckland's skeptical style comes across in this post, "Think with your brain. It's your only choice" where he responds to a fundamentalist Christian who kept telling him to "think with his heart" and cited chapter and verse from the Bible:

Just because we have intuitions about things isn't evidence of the veracity of those intuitions. It's evidence that we have those intuitions and should see how accurate and/or probable they are. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes not. The scientific method helps us do that and do it across the spectrum of experience.

So give it a visit and feel free to leave comments.

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A story from my day, Irish style

getting ready

I am a scotch drinker by choice. I picked up the habit while living in France. I need to drink something, French beer is piss water. I also acquired a taste for Irish Whiskey. I am a sipper, a bottle lasts a long time.

In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, I had picked up a bottle of Bushmills. I was out of Jameson too, so today while shopping at TJ's, I picked up a bottle. While waiting in a crowded line for checkout, my wife asked if I really need another bottle of whisky. I told her that I was out. She mentioned I had purchased a bottle just yesterday, and that I had several bottles of Scotch at home. I told her I was out of Jameson (thinking she would understand). She again tried to dissuade me. As I looked around, my fellow shoppers where looking away. One old lady shook her head and frowned.

Such is life. Tomorrow I will make a fitting toast in honor of my long dead Irish relatives. One cannot toast the Irish with scotch.

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Blogroll Update: Nearing 600

We hit 595 blogs today with three more pending. You would be surprised how many people ask to join but do not send me a URL! My guess is we hit 600 over the next weekend. I wonder who will have the honors?

Because of a demanding work schedule, I have only been able to work the Atheist Blogroll on the weekends. I hope you all understand. I simply do not have the time . If you need something worked, please allow for the delay - Heck, I only checked my personal email account once last week. I'm up to my neck in an IT project, with no time to sleep let alone work on my blog or the Atheist blogroll. It should only last another six months.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shariah in the New York Times

Noah Feldman wrote an interesting article on the origin of Shariah in Muslim cultures. I found the lengthy article interesting and full of information I was unaware of. I thought I would pass it along.

Last month, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a nuanced, scholarly lecture in London about whether the British legal system should allow non-Christian courts to decide certain matters of family law. Britain has no constitutional separation of church and state. The archbishop noted that “the law of the Church of England is the law of the land” there; indeed, ecclesiastical courts that once handled marriage and divorce are still integrated into the British legal system, deciding matters of church property and doctrine. His tentative suggestion was that, subject to the agreement of all parties and the strict requirement of protecting equal rights for women, it might be a good idea to consider allowing Islamic and Orthodox Jewish courts to handle marriage and divorce.

Read More...

A new benchmark for Fish & Chips

I like my food. While in Europe a few years ago, i fell in love with British style Fish & Chips. The freshness of the fish, the oily goodness of the chips. It was perfect street food. The problem is, I have never been able to find a reasonable offering here in Los Angeles. H. Salt Fish & Chips is disgusting. The Yard House in Long Beach makes a reasonable attempt at the fish, but the chips are nasty. For years I suffered without a decent fish & chips option. But that's all over now - I have found my fish & chips benchmark. The olde ship British Pub and Restaurant in Fullerton is a fish & chips paradise offering food that tastes as if it were shipped in fresh from the U.K.

I visited the old ship last weekend with my wife. We had a hard time finding it do to a self-inflicted google maps error. Parking was difficult, we found a place off the alley. It would have been difficult to park during the lunch or dinner rush. We were fortunate enough to have the place to ourselves. The staff was attentive, we were greeted well and served promptly. The beer was good. I felt at home.
Fullers London Pride
- Deep golden amber colour, hints of treacle toffee with a digestive biscuit flavour coming through. The hops contribute grapefruit flavours to the beer giving it zesty character. London Pride is a smooth and astonishingly complex beer with a distinctive malty base complemented by a rich balance of well-developed hop flavors from the Target, Challenger and Northdown varieties. ABV 4.7%
I ordered my fish & chips and the waited. My foodgasm started about 8 minutes after I placed my order. I was taken back to my first taste of this wonderful food on the streets of Birmingham. The fish & chips were that good. My wife and I ate in silence. The sounds of eating were the only noises we made - except for "are you going to eat that?"

We (well... I really) finished with Sticky Toffee Pudding. You must try it.

I had a foodgasm today too, my first real bowl of pho. But more on that later...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Atheist objects to $1 million for burned-out church

I don't like to simply repeat a headline. However, in this case I can think of nothing else to do. Rob Sherman, an "atheist activist" from Chicago, has a valid point. Public funds should never flow to a Baptist church.  It is simply wrong.

Atheist activist Rob Sherman says it's unconstitutional for Governor Rod Blagojevich to give $1 million to a burned-out church.

Blagojevich has said Pilgrim Baptist Church would use the money for administrative offices and educational purposes so not to violate the separation of church and state.

Read more... Atheist objects to $1 million for burned-out church

I understand that the church is a landmark and is considered historically significant, yet it is also an active Baptist church. Let local secular and religious charities raise the funds needed to affect repairs. The state should keep its distance.

For background on the issue, please go to this link.

From the mailbag

Every so often I get a warning from some misguided fundie. The core message in the entry below is that pastors are above the law.

mojoey, I want to address your attack on God's sevants[sic] and issue you a warning. God's Word warns us not to touch God's annointed [sic] and to do His prophets no harm. He will deal with His own in His way and does not just wink at sin. So, what you are doing will do more harm to you and your life than what you think you are doing these men of God. Whether you believe what I'm saying isn;t [sic]the isuue [sic] here. May God have mercy on you before it's too late.

I doubt God will be condemning me to hell for calling his anointed to task. I going to hell for a long list of other offenses. Hypocrisy Watch is my get out of hell free card.

But seriously. How stupid is this? One must overlook the crimes of the clergy simply because they are clergy? There is no way this is a biblical concept. Or, maybe it is a biblical concept and yet another reason to proclaim religion a fraud.

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Pastor accused of rape

This time the victim was a 15-year-old girl. Brian Williams of the Sunbury Grace Brethren Church stands accused of a horrible crime.

The teen said the rape took place Thursday afternoon at the church, on Perfect Drive in Sunbury, court records show. The victim had an appointment with Williams that day, and a family member dropped her off at the church, Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost said yesterday.

Williams is accused of forcing her to perform oral sex before removing her clothes and assaulting her.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch : Delaware: Minister accused of raping girl at church

How does a man of God do this? What biblical morality lesson taught him that rape was a good thing? It looks like we have another hypocrite on our hands. I've already lost count of how many pedophile pastors we have this year. It must be approaching 20.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The wages on sin are a lawsuit

Alfredo Hinojosa Soto abused girls while pastor of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church Now they will pay.

The lawsuit asks for nearly $2.7 million for long-term care and $3 million in damages for each of the girls. It also asks for damages from Soto's church and the church's governing body which is the International Pentecostal Holiness Church based in Bethany.

Source: Former Oregon pastor sued in sex abuse case

No amount of money will help the girls heal from the abuse they suffered at the hands of Soto. Putting his church out of business would be sweet justice.

It's always the choir director

Troy Bell, another man of God, admits to blowing a fellow music fan. Impulse control seems to be a common affliction among the moral high and mighty. 

A Southern Indiana church choir director pleaded guilty to loitering charges Wednesday after a police officer said he found the man in a car having sex.

Source: Choir director admits loitering, pays $250 fine

Looking deeper at this one we find a gay choir director who will lose his job because his church has "standards".

“We have a zero tolerance for unethical behavior,” including sexual activity outside of marriage, Cosby said.

“We deplore the sin, but we still love the sinner,” Cosby said. “We have standards for leadership. We believe no sin can disqualify a person from the grace of God, but there are sins that can disqualify and jeopardize our ability for leadership.”

Was it really sex outside of marriage that caused his suspension? Or was it that he engaged in high risk gay sex while in public? Something smells fishy. At a minimum, this case is a classic example of hypocrisy on the part of Bell and his pastor Kevin Cosby.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Another pastor falls

No Surprise here. A different city, a different pastor, a different male prostitute.

CHARLOTTE -- A Charlotte pastor was arrested Tuesday after police say he attempted to solicit sex from an undercover male officer near Park Road Park in south Charlotte.

Robert Graff, 58, pastor at St. Luke's Lutheran Church for four years, was nabbed in an undercover sting at the park.

Graff was released from jail on a written promise to appear in court. His first court appearance is scheduled for April 4.

Source: News 14 Pastor charged in prostitution sting

Something tells me Robert Graff is no stranger to the park. What a great example of Christian morality. Hypocrisy I say!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

R.I.P Gary Gygax

I was a sad man yesterday. Gary Gygax, a man who had helped shape my childhood, had passed away. For a long time, D&D was my life. I still have my original Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide.  I started playing in 1975 from photocopied versions of manuals and rules that were constantly shifting. I wrote adventures, played my friends through them, and spent endless hours making characters. I was a D&D junkie. I eventually played with Gygax himself at one of the many conventions I attended. He was a nice guy - A little weird (considering the crowd, I do not know how I can really call him weird), but a gifted dreamer who made millions of young men and the odd girl or two, very happy. I found out about his death in Information Week.

Sadly, today marks the passing of Gary Gygax, co-creator of the popular role-playing system. He was 69. According to his wife, he had been suffering from health issues for some time now. By the sound of it, Gary was blessed to have made it as far as he did. Despite poor health, he was still entertaining fans at his home and hosting weekly dungeon crawls as recently as January

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Yes - I am an IT geek as well as a D&D geek. You can always tell a true believer by comparing the first programs they ever wrote. My first computer program was in Basic on the Apple II. It was a character generator of course.  It could generate a character in just a few seconds - but what fun was that?

Farewell Gary Gygax, and thanks for the wonderful memories. I have passed the love for gaming on to my children.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Movies that suck

I watched No Reservations this weekend. It stared Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and the wee child actor Abigail Beslin. No Reservations sucked. I know this for three reasons.

  1. My wife left well before the movie ended - she went grocery shopping.
  2. Up until the end of the movie, I could not tell what the movie what about. I am still confused.
  3. I had watched The Jane Austin Book Club with my wife a few weeks ago, so I know a movie that sucks when I see one.

I want the two hours of my life I wasted on No Reservations back. I not sure how to get my lost time back, but I want it back none the less.

The writers, Carol Fuchs and Sandra Nettelbeck, along with the director Scott Hicks, are officially on my newly created "never watch" list.

I told my wife to throw away the DVD. I am sure we will never watch it again. She insists she can sell it. I have my doubts.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Blogroll Update: Mississippi Atheists

My favorite atheist blogger vjack of Atheist Revolution has started a new blog - Mississippi Atheist. His first post is reprinted below:

Living as an atheist in Mississippi can be a lonely experience. Evangelical Christianity is pervasive here, and one can expect to encounter frequent proselytizing, anti-atheist bigotry, and even discrimination based on one's lack of belief in ancient superstition. Many atheist Mississippians conceal their feelings toward religion to prevent social ostracization or avoid punitive consequences.

The purpose of this new blog is to provide resources and support to Mississippi atheists. I am convinced that there are far more of us out there than we realize, and forming connections, even those over the web, can normalize one's experience and reduce feelings of isolation.If you are an atheist living in Mississippi, you are certainly not alone.

Shoot (spoken with a redneck inflection), I did not even know they had Atheists in Mississippi.

Please drop in and welcome vjack's newest effort.

William Procanick gets three years

There is a certain satisfaction  I feel when one of these sleazy pedophile pastors finally goes to jail. When I learned that William Procanick was sentenced to three years, I smiled.

A former Oneida County pastor found guilty of sexually abusing a child is sentenced Friday. William Procanick will spend three years in prison followed by five years post-release supervision for sexual abuse. He was also sentenced to one year in Oneida County Jail for endangering the welfare of a child.

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I've posted on Procanick here and here.