Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pedophile Priest busted in Albany

Father Raymond Ethier was busted with child pronography on his personal computer. it is an odd story, it seems the Department of Homeland Security napped this freak.

Federal papers show this was a quick investigation run by the feds. It started after a man told another over the Internet he was abusing his step-children. Investigators say they tracked down a person using the screen name "nudistdude23" to Ethier. But it was what they allegedly found on his computer that is at the core of the charges.

Ethier was busted by Homeland Security. Why does that sound odd?

Zero Tolerance

The Presbyterian Church has a zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. To prove it, they fired the Reverend Dennis Cobb for exposing himself to an undercover detective in a public park. 

Cobb has pled not guilty to the charge. I can see his defense now. "I was sitting in my car with my pants off...".

Zero tolerance is a good idea. I wonder if the loose collection of individual churches operating under the banner of "Baptists" are listening?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Insane in the membrane

Naveed Haq, the alleged perpetrator of the shooting rampage at the Seattle Jewish Center in the summer of 2006,  plead insanity to all charges today. I am not surprised, Haq is whacked. He has a well established history of mental illness and suffered from bi-polar disorder. Is this why he went on a shooting rampage with Jewish women as his target? I don't think so. My guess is that hatred was the motive, religion was the catalyst, and metal illness is his excuse.

I feel like the son of sam
Don't make me wreck shit hectic
Next to the chair got me goin' like General Electric

Haq was raised a Muslim but converted to Christianity in December 2005. While shooting his helpless victims, Haq was recorded saying ""These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East." Haq was all about religion, which makes his actions hate crimes.

Bipolar disorder itself is not enough to allow Haq to escape punishment. There are plenty of highly functional people who do not go around shooting people. The defense will have to show Haq was not responsible for his actions, which will be difficult. Haq is a religious (or cultural) terrorist. Religion drove him to kill. Hopefully, the jury will see this and put him away for the rest of his life.

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Death for pedophiles

There is no doubt that pedophiles are the lowest of the low. I cringe when I write about them here at Deep Thoughts. I'm all for punishment, hard time, registration, and lifestyle restrictions. I draw the line at putting pedophiles to death.

The idea of executing child rapists, even when there in no loss of life, is making headway in the United States.

The Louisiana Supreme Court last week upheld the death sentence for a pedophile, and the governor of Texas is soon to sign into law legislation to that effect.

In 1995, Louisiana was the first state to adopt legislation authorizing the death penalty for child rapists.

Ten years later, the movement to make pedophilia punishable by death really picked up steam after nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was raped and buried alive in Florida by a man with a prior conviction for sex crimes.


 It is no surprise that this is a popular idea with some. Heck, I even find it appealing in some ways. However, the State is notoriously bad at putting people to death. Innocent people die, while the guilty escape punishment. Giving the state a wider range of death sentence options does not seem wise. In fact, it seems foolish.

Is there any justification for this? Are there any other options?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

arrr, what say ye?

Dan Marvin has requested membership in the Atheist blogroll. After I picked myself up off the floor, I decided to ask the blogroll. What do you think about our favorite troll joining our ranks? 

Hurry... I plan on getting back to him right after hell freezes over.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Feed the Muse: Carl de Keyzer

Carl de Keyzer  is an interesting photographer. His flash intro contains some sardonic images of the faithful captured in the practice their religion. I don't like his individual portraits, they seem contrived. The causal collections offer the most visually stimulating images. I enjoyed Disneyland Paris, San Francisco and London Tourism.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Diary of a Christian Terrorist

Via Nona of Fish Wars on Carson, I found a link to the  Diary of a Christian Terrorist - a looking inside the mind of dobsonian terrorist Mark David Uhl.

"Christians, we have been given life after death and we should help others receive it and not sit here in our big buildings and sing to ourselves so we can go home and feel good about ourselves," Uhl writes. "Christians, fear of death, fear of death. The fear of death shows you don't believe." [emphasis added].

I fear Uhl is the product of Dobson's (and other evangelical's) hate mongering. So do others. I've been watching for a response - so far, it has been radio silence. An eery silence...

Carnival of the Godless #67!!!

Letters From A Broad is hosting the issue 67 of the Carnival of the Godless. It is amazingly good. Enjoy.

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Blogroll Update: It's time for a purge

As the atheist blogroll approaches 300 members, it's time to thin the ranks - yes, it's time for another purge. The task is large. I need help. Consider this a request to randomly hit 15 or more blogs. Send me an email (or post here) if the blogs are no longer active, have dead URLs, or are not displaying at least a link back to the back to the atheist blogroll. I'll start pruning tonight.

One other thing - I will track the blogs I remove here. Just in case I make a mistake.

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Feed the muse: 337 Project

I am a big fan of street art and graffiti. Finding a good work is always uplifting. It is a shame I don't live in Utah, because the 337 Project looks to be full of good works. What is Project 337 (and why Utah?)

Across the street from the old Oquirrh School, at 337 South 400 East, stands a bland, derelict, grey stucco two-story building. An example of the worst late 70's remodel and reuse of a residential dwelling as an office building, this narrow, labyrinthine collection of rooms, hallways, stairs and closets will be demolished soon to make space for Utah's first all-green, mixed-use loft-style condominiums. Before this exemplary development begins, the building has been turned over for use as a 20,000 square foot canvas, hosting the largest single collaboration of Salt Lake area contemporary artists ever to be gathered and directed toward a community installation, performance and happening: a high-profile art project entitled 337.

I did not have my ear to the ground on this one. I would have flown up to Utah for sure.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Playing with light

Robertson2I attended a birthday tonight. My wife's uncle turned 75. As is the expectation at these things, I shot a few pictures for the family, then ate way more food than any human has a right to eat. After the obligatory line dancing, I grew bored and turned my camera on my relatives. This time it was Robertson. This is the third photo in the series.  Photos 1 and 2 can be found at flickr or In My Blind Eye.

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Pastor convicted of abusing teenage boy

Gerald Fitroy Griffith was found guilty of two counts of sexually abusing a teenage boy in Maryland.  Griffith was the founding pastor of Redemption Christian Fellowship Church.

Charging documents said Griffith counseled the boy for two years starting in October 2003. The sexual assaults began in November 2003, when the boy was 14, at the church in Woodlawn, and continued in 2004 and 2005 at several hotels in Columbia, according to statements the youth gave to authorities.

Griffith has been tried before for similar offenses against the same boy, and two others. The trial ended in a mistrial.

Griffith is no ordinary pastor - he claims the title Apostle, which seems a bit lofty and perhaps a tad arrogant. But what the hell, when you are king... There is also concern that Griffith may be an international pedophile. Great, we export freaks now too.

Griffith is looking at up to 18 years in prison where he will come to understand the phrase - "squeal like a pig, boy".

Jewish Philosopher: The Argument from Ego


Jim Jones, Christian, Pastor, mass murder.

The Jewish Philosopher makes another attack on Atheists. First he posts a link to picture and link to Joseph Stalin. The not to subtle message - all Atheists are evil. He then moves on to the meat of his argument, that Atheists are actually "not nice", lack empathy, are arrogant, and essentially mentally ill. He claims Atheists have narcissistic personality disorder.

The Jewish Philosopher claims a lofty title - "Philosopher". He he lacks the prerequisite qualifications. He is neither working as a philosopher, trained as a philosopher, or educated as a philosopher. His is a philosopher in the same sense that I am while lifting a Guinness. Yet, he seems to understand narcissism well - he is infatuated by the sound of his own words.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious charge. To stereotype all Atheists as possessing this disorder is hardly something a rational person would do. In fact, the simple act of applying a stereotype to a class of people is in itself a sign of deeper thinking problems. How do people take the man seriously? Oh wait - nobody does, he ranks an unimpressive 18 on Technorati.

Twenty-Eight Days of Peace...

...followed by many years in prison for another Pastor Gone Wild.

The Reverend Mark Olds was convicted of stealing more than one million dollars from a charter school he founded.  The crime itself is pedestrian, but his story is amazing for its level of hypocrisy.

Olds converted to Christianity in prison. Olds knew prison well. He spent 16 years behind bars for various violent crimes (desertion, bank robbery,  assault &  murder) before his release to become a Reverend at Eagle Rock Covenant Assembly in Cleveland.

Upon release, Olds began a noble fight called Twenty-Eight Days of Peace which was aimed at  reducing violent crime while at the same time helping non-violent ex-convicts expunge their criminal records. He called it "a jobs bill'. He seemed to have the communities best interest at heart.

Reverend Olds moved on to writing his conversion story in a ghost written self-important tome called "Not Without Scars: The inspiring Life Journey of Mark C. Olds as Told to Christopher Broussard". These books are obligatory, typically self-published, and uniformly "uplifting". What more can you expect from a murder who became a Christian Reverend?

Unfortunately for Reverend Olds, the temptations of the flesh eventually won out. He started a Charter School and eventually figured out how to embezzle over a million dollars from its operation while at the same time  providing a substandard education to students in a building with crumbling walls and no heat.

As usual, the federal indictment makes for excellent reading.

It is at this point in the story I would like to yell "hypocrite".  People like Olds instantly see the power of legitimacy that comes with attaching the words "reverend" or "pastor" to their names. They use and abuse without fear because the compelling story of their conversion holds more power with the faithful than it deserves. When they are caught - we often hear "the devil..." blah, blah, blah.

A few questions for the faithful:

How is it that a man like Olds can move from prison for the pulpit? Are there no standards?

How is it that a man like Olds can start a private charter school? And what fool would put their kids in his care? What are his qualifications? He did not even write his own autobiography - this should be a clue that he might not know anything about teaching.

And... Where is the outcry from within the Christian community? This man did immense damage to your community, yet I find nothing about it in blogs or on the web. Is it better to ignore this hypocrite and hope the story goes away? How do you police yourself?

It make me sick.

Friday, May 25, 2007

this picture cost me 5 bucks


I needed a picture of a handicap parking sign for this post, so I drove up to the local Target parking lot to look for material. While shooting a few signs, I noticed this large man (or woman) working on his ride. I framed the shot and recorded the moment. I did not think I would use it at the time (and this was all of an hour ago).

I shot a dozen picture with a telephoto lens. I like the look of the graffiti truck, and the bike is nice too. I was sitting in my truck with the engine running, almost like a PI on a case. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a homeless man walk by with a little girl. She was maybe four years old. I smiled at the girl when she made eye contact. The look she returned hurt me - it was hunger. I gave her dad five bucks, it was all I had.

Ten minutes later I drove by the same little girl sitting on a curb with her dad. She was eating a very big hamburger. Her dad was rubbing her back. He looked hungry too.

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sad things

Handicap parking sign

I visited the Veterans Administration Hospital in Long Beach today. I have visited a few times over the last two years. VA hospitals are not happy places. I do not like visiting them. But some obligations cannot be avoided, like today's trip -  a post op visit with my stepfather. We are not close. The visits are always awkward.

While trying to find a parking place, I was struck by how far visitor parking was from the hospital. My guess is that it is at least 600 to 800 feet from where I parked to the hospital's front door. As I walked past the old vets limping along toward the entrance, I realized that the parking would not seem as far away if the front half of it were not reserved for handicapped drivers. I am not exaggerating - the front half of the parking lot is off limits to able drivers. Each spot was taken.

I figured the enormous handicapped parking lot was for the older vets, many of whom were ambling around outside. I was wrong. Once inside, I passed dozens of amputees, most were in their early 20s. I was witnessing the aftermath of war. Specifically, the aftermath of our folly in Iraq. I spoke with an amputee in the elevator. I asked how he had lost his leg. He replied "In a fucking war".

I was braced for sad news today. I found myself melancholy before I even visited my stepfather. My sadness grew as I left - what a waste.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Aardvarchaeology : Carnivalesque 27

When people ask me which blogs I read, I invariably point them to Aardvarchaeology. It is a great blog, written by a fellow atheist. He focuses on archaeology, and science - it's all good.

This week Martin is hosting Carnivalesque 27.

Carnivalesque deals in Ancient, Medieval and (in even-numbered instalments) Early Modern history...

My favorite is a forgotten account of the Council of Niceae in AD325.  From the words of an unknown eye witness, we can see the creation of the Catholic Church.

The General Council having thus received authority from the king, the fathers directed that there should be gradations in the assembly and that each Bishop should sit in his place according to his rank. Chairs were there made for all and the king entered and sat with them.

And so it began.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I take a day off...

...and a dobsonian terrorist tries to bomb members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Mark David Uhl, 19, was arrested Monday night on charges of manufacturing an explosive device, Major Steve Hutcherson said. He said Uhl told a family member he had made bombs and planned to attend the funeral. The family member notified authorities.

Uhl was undoubtedly influenced by his religions upbringing and fundamentalist education - He was a student at Liberty University after all. Perhaps a secular education would have prevented this?

Note to Mark Uhl: I once read the life story of a famous Los Angeles detective called Jigsaw John. He said that most criminals are caught because they like to talk. Read books while you are in prison. It helps.

The weird thing is, when I was a kid, my friends and I would make these same homemade napalm explosive devices. We would use gasoline and detergent to fill old Christmas ornaments. Toilet paper served as the fuse. BB guns were used as the triggering device. The parking lot of the neighborhood school was our bombing range. The bulbs exploded and would burn for minutes (big flames, low boom). We stopped after the cops caught us. It was two cops versus five ten-year-old mini-bombers - I escaped punishment, my friends could not sit down for weeks.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Top Ten - Number two

Of all people, my little sister Lisa introduced me to Pink Floyd. I've largely left the band behind now, for a time, Pink Floyd occupied an important position in my life. The Wall came out during my senior year in high school, Comfortably Numb became my surfer druggie anthem.

There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb


I honestly do not know how I survived the 70's. I credit my girlfriend/wife - she thinks I'm whacked and takes no credit. I cannot remember. An accidental brain injury caused about six months of my life to become fuzzy. My transition from carefree surfer dude to hard working wage earner will never quite make sense to me. It just happened.

Three of my friends died within a year of my graduation. Landy rode his motorcycle into a brick wall at 90 miles per hour the night of our graduation. I had been on the back of his bike only an hour before his death. Jimmy rode his motorcycle into the back of a camper at about 120 mph. He died in the street a few feet from my front door. Lester simply took a hot shot of heroin and died. I spoke to him a few hours before his death. He offered me taste - I declined. Drugs, heroin in particular, were blamed for each death.

I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
And I have become
Comfortably numb.

I gradually broke away from the drug culture which permeated the late 70's. The church was no sanctuary, everybody got high. I took to hanging with a few friends at night and playing a lot disc golf. We would drink a few beers. Listen to Pink Floyd on a boom box, and throw our discs around a big dark park. Comfortably Numb played as the background music for many of these adventures. By the time I met my wife... well, that's the next song.

I still play disc golf. I love the sport. Every time I play, Comfortably Numb pops into my head. I identify the song with my movement away from a drug culture which would have consumed me like it did so many of my friends. I plan on playing Wednesday (if my back can take it), I'll take my iPod along for old times sake.

It is interesting how music can define events. For me disc golf is Pink Floyd, Surfing is Boston. Basketball is Earth Wind & Fire - (it was a favorite of the only person on my team with a good boom box, so it tended to play much of the time) and cruising - a thing we did in LA in our cars - was Led Zeppelin. Music defines blogging too - I like to blog with Wilco in the background. E-mail is Rage Against the Machine, programming is Jazz, research is the Blues...

Our love
Our love
Our love is all we have
Our love
Our love is all of God's money
Everyone is a burning sun
-Wilco, Jesus, etc.

small lies

I will never serve on a capital murder case. I've been in a jury pool for several capital murder trials over the years. Each time, I am excused. I know the reason. When asked if I can vote for the use of the Death Penalty, I answer "no". I was once asked by a judge why I hold this position. I could tell he expected a religious response because three other people had used the bible as an out before me. I said "I do not believe the state should have the right to execute people". The judge knew my position was political, that I would not change my mind, and that there was no way I could be a fair participant on the jury. I was dismissed.

I could have told a lie. I could have used my opportunity to push my political agenda. I would have been picked for the jury if I had lied. I am always picked (14 times now). However, I have this honest streak in me that I cannot ignore. I try to tell the truth. Others do not.

When I say "others do not" I mean fundamentalist Christians. Of course, Some Christians tell the truth, some do not. Take the lone juror who voted against the death penalty in the trial of Juan Luna, recently convicted for the Brown's Chicken Massacre. The Juror was a fundie who told a small lie when asked if she could vote for the death penalty.

She was "sincere" in saying, during jury selection, that she would be willing to vote in favor of a death sentence for Luna, convicted of killing seven people at the Palatine restaurant in 1993, he said.

How can we tell this is a lie? If you cannot vote to kill a man who senselessly murdered seven people, then you can never reasonably be expected to vote for the death penalty. It really is this simple, a reasonable person would have voted for the death penalty. Her standard was of the off "reasonable" scale.

Seven people were butchered in a suburban Chicago restaurant in the 90's. The case is known as the Brown's Chicken Massacre. The perpetrators have only recently come to trial. The lone fundie juror held out for life without parole. Her reason - she did not want to be part of a lynch mob.

The lone Juror is the daughter-in-law of Nahum Rosario, pastor of the Maranatha World Revival Church. Her religious beliefs played a central role in her decision to vote against the death penalty. Who was hurt by her small lie? The families of the victims.

Diane Clayton waited 14 years to see the man who murdered her son Marcus sentenced to death. But convicted killer Juan Luna was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole.

"My son deserved better than this," Clayton said after the sentencing.

Personally, I am pleased with the outcome. The state should not have the right to execute people. Yet this victory against the state was purchase with a lie. On my simple cosmic justice scale - this decision does not balance. I do not know why people tell this kind of lie - it is dishonest and wrong. Yet it happens all the time.

Here is another example from my personal experience:

I sat on a jury in multiple count child rape case a few years ago. A stepfather had repeatedly rapped his step-daughter while she was between the ages of 11 and 14. The evidence was overwhelming. The case made the jury sick in its detail. When the case went to the jury, I was selected foreman. Our first vote was 11-1 in favor of conviction on all counts. The one holdout was a fundamentalist Christian who's first words to the jury were - "Jesus said he who is without guilt should cast the first stone" - after the collective groan, the next 20 minutes was spent listening to her witness to the other jurors. She had lied to the judge, and was now using her time in power to push her incomprehensible agenda. At one point she actually said "we should find not guilty because his daughter had forgiven him."

I did my job as foreman. My note to the judge was direct. He cited her for contempt, $250 dollars and a night in jail was her punishment. The alternate juror quickly voted in favor of conviction - the perp was eventually sentenced to over 100 years in jail, just like Juan Luna.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What is a 'real' Christian?

An interesting opinion piece from Dan Gilgoff.

But the fact that neither Thompson nor any of the top-tier Republican presidential candidates claims to be a born-again Christian raises broader questions in the race for the GOP nomination. One is, simply: Who do evangelicals consider to be Christian? Another is whether a candidate being considered Christian is a prerequisite to winning evangelical support.

And so it begins - or has begun. Rational people are responding to James Dobson and his "if you are not an evangelical, you are not a Christian" comments with the kinds of revulsion normally reserved for... well Atheists.

Must you really toe the Dobson party line to be a Christian. Heck, I thought all you had to do was say this little prayer.

The perils of fundamentalism

Joshua Royce Mauldin, a deeply religious man, went to Galveston to find a job as a minister. Joshua is 19, married, and the father of a two-month-old daughter named Ana Marie. Ana's mother, Eva Marie Mauldin, is also deeply religious. After just a few days in Galveston, young Mr. Mauldin has not managed to find a job. His immature expectations were set a little too high. After all, how many churches hire 19-year-old uneducated men to be ministers? Not many is my guess. But, you never you, in some churches simply believing in the lord may be enough to earn an earnest young man a paid position ministering to others - standards are low in this area.

The stress of the situation was high for Joshua. How would he support his wife and daughter? Time was running out. Joshua had a baby to feed, and no prospects. (It is at this point that Satan enters the story.) "Cook young Ava in the microwave" is the command Satan whispers in Joshua's ear. "All your problems will be solved". Joshua smiled as he placed his daughter in the microwave while selecting "Nuke a Burrito" from the available settings. At some point, Joshua must of have had second thoughts. He stopped cooking his daughter before she was done. I guess the smell of charred baby flesh overwhelmed him.

When the inevitable 911 call was made, Joshua told local authorities his baby had a bad sunburn, then later changed his story to claim he had accidentally poured boiling water on her. The police, who know a liar when they see one, figured out that he had used the microwave.

After Joshua is indictment, his dumbass wife is lucid enough to use a typical fundamentalist excuse with the local press, "Satan saw my husband as a threat". Thereby ensuring that she will never touch her disfigured baby again.

Young baby Ana remains hospitalized.

(Some license was taken in the retelling of this true story. Because without licence - my retelling would have contained nothing but four letter words.)

Eva and Joshua are surely the product of fundamentalist religion. There aspirations and actions are pathetic. Joshua will spend a long time in jail (99 yeas is my bet). Eva will fade into obscurity, less a child, and none the wiser.

Note to Eva Marie Mauldin: Satan is not afraid of your husband. There is no Satan. But if there were, he would be laughing at you and your sorry excuse for a husband, just like every other rational person on the planet.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My first Youtube video

I am a late adopter. I think it comes from working in IT. I have been burned too many times to count by some new application or patch. YouTube is another example of my wait and see approach. I like YouTube fine, but I have never even tried to make a video for upload. Most of my effort goes into Flickr.

I've been stuck in my house for a few days because of a back injury. In my considerable boredom, I poked around with some new tools to see what all the video excitement is about. I took some footage of an night time drive around the Arc de Triomphe, set it to music, added a few titles and transitions, and voila. - It was easy. Now I can make videos too.

Prepare to be underwhelmed:

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Evangelical, Republican and Pedophile

Yuck - Ted Klaudt is one sick puppy. Klaudt is a former South Dakota State Representative, a Republican, and a evangelical. Yet somehow he found time to rape and molest five young girls, three of whom were his foster children. He is also alleged to have molested two legislative pages.

Klaudt is a self proclaimed evangelical yahoo who used his political position to further the republican social agenda. I do not normally cover politicians. The similarities between morally superior pedophile pastors and people like Klaudt, who actually try to enact laws to enshrine their Christianity, is close enough to warrant attention here.

Klaudt's alleged crimes are beyond description. He's sick. Read the Affidavit for the full story. Here is the abbreviated version:

Court documents mention five possible victims. Three were foster children between the ages of 15 and 19 who lived with Klaudt's family. One is a cousin of one of those girls, and the fifth is a friend of Klaudt's daughter. 

In the most disturbing accusation, the girls say Klaudt had them convinced they could earn up to $20,000 by donating their eggs to a fertility clinic. And even though he has no medical training, the girls say Klaudt did all the supposed "exams" and "procedures" himself. 

By a sorcerer's word

Africa seems to be a few hundred years behind us when it comes to superstition and witchcraft. Is it fair to make fun of them? Yes!

AFTER SOME Ugandans appealed to a female traditional healer to cast a spell on the developers eyeing Mabira forest, the belief in witchcraft seems to have gone even farther. 

Nurses in Nabiswera health centre in Nakasongola district have now abandoned their duties, claiming that spirits were raping them and torturing male staff. 

The rather “mysterious beings” were said to be in the form of giant naked males who attack at night. But when the local administration decided to trace the source of the spirit, they hired a female sorcerer. 

Clementia Amono, who cleansed the area, implicated 13 suspects — all of whom were promptly arrested by the police. They will be charged with causing the closure of the health centre, lack of hard evidence notwithstanding.

Uganda must be a fun place to live. Can you imagine working in the field one day only to have the local police collect you because some sorcerer claims you sent evil spirits to a neighbor? It sounds too much like the Salem Witch Trials. I wonder who gets their property?

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Blogroll Update: Blurp

A new voice has joined the Atheist Blogroll, a blog called  Blurp - Photography, Atheism, Geology. I found Blurp on Planet Atheism. I visited on a lark after seeing a interesting short post. I ended up reading every post and then inviting her to join our blogroll. 

Blurp is well written with an engaging style, but it was not the essays that captured my attention. It was the photography.  It's so good. Zeolite, Blurb's author, has a good eye. Take this picture for example. An armored hand with the hint of a likewise armored person in the background (I assume SCA). Amazing, illustrative, visually interesting - this picture alone tells a compelling story.

Blurp is full of good content. My favorite so far is the Daily Dose project.

My goal of documenting the background level of religion in my life continues...

I, of course, come across many religious vehicular adornments - most of which I'm too slow to catch on film, so I'll let this photo represent for the rest.

Stop in for a visit.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Another Jesus story

Well this is new to me. Jesus in Kashmir. He learns Buddhism, and then teaches it to his followers back in Israel.

I found this on digg today. Jesus did not die on the cross. He was crucified, but survived to spend his remaining time Kashmir. Cool, I always wondered what happened to him.

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Calling a spade a spade

Darlene Thyen of Paynesville, Minnesota wrote a letter to her local StarTribune.

Why do we keep hearing about "Muslim" extremists and not just extremists ("U.N. beefs up security after attack on U.N.-run school by Muslim extremists," May 8)?

We never say the "Catholic drunken driver," or "Baptist pedophile," or "Presbyterian rapist," or "Lutheran murderer" or "Jewish bank robber." Let's stop this practice of identifying only one segment of society -- unless we're willing to name everyone in this way.

We do a disservice to law-abiding Muslims when we lump them all together with the law-breakers.

One small note - I say Baptist Pedophile all the time.

I've been thinking about this subject ever since listening to PRI's The World Somali cab drivers report on May 7th. The report was about taxicab drivers who refuse to give rides to customers if they are carrying alcohol. 4,800 people have been deigned rides so far based on Muslim beliefs that alcohol is sinful. Muslims refuse to  even carry it.

75% of the taxicab drivers are from Somali, 90% of these Somali's are Muslim. PRI choose to label its segment "Somali cab drivers". The editorial content of the story focused on Islam. It would have been editorially honest to say "Muslim cab drivers". Yet PRI choose to dumb it down so as not to offend the same Muslims they are critiquing in their report. PRI's actions were political correct and dishonest.

Darlene Thyen - as long as Muslims refuse to give cab rides based on their religious beliefs, then the description "Muslim" applies. As long as extremists act in the name of their religion, then the description "Muslim" applies. Your logic breaks down when you look at your examples, Catholics do not drive drunk as part of their theology, Baptists do not molest children, Presbyterian do not rape... you get the idea. Try this one instead - Fundamentalist Christians bomb abortion clinic. Now the playing fields are level.

Note to Darlene Thyen: Write to the Muslim Extremists instead. Tell them to quit killing people in the name of their religion. I'm already working on the Baptist Pedophiles.

Hat tip Zen Curmudgeon.

Another Baptist Pedophile in Illinois

James Love, holding a bible no less, plead not guilty to charges that he sedated and  sexually abused young boys. Yuck. Holding the  bible is not going to help this freak.

Prosecutors claim Love, who also was a substitute teacher before his arrest, sedated his alleged victims then molested them during sleepovers at his Bloomington home over the last five weeks.

Authorities have declined to elaborate, but the grandfather of one alleged victim says the 12-year-old was given allergy medication to make him drowsy.

Love is a pastor at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, where he was involved in youth ministry. Why is it that pedophiles always end up with their pick of our children? You would think that churches would realize this and put rigorous screening procedures and operational controls in place. (at least they screened Love)Instead they award Pastor Love.

Love's work with youth was cited when he received Bloomington's 2006 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award, given annually to people who exemplify the ideals of the late civil rights leader.

And of course, his church stands behind him.

“Rev. Love and his family are long-time members of our church. He and his family have been faithful members in good standing for a number of years. They have worked tirelessly in our church and the community at large, and we love them,” according to statement released by Mount Pisgah Baptist Church.

I've looked for evidence that Pastor Love has been removed from his duties at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, but could not find any positive indication that this has happened. In fact, his is still listed as a Reverend under the staff section of the website. I guess compassion for the victims only goes so far. They must not have been members.

I hate to say it, but the whole Baptist pedophile things sure seems to be much larger than I ever suspected. A new story hits by inbox every five or six days. This issue is out of control. I dare a Christian to use the old "atheists have no morality" argument on me now. They will get an earful.

Hugh King pleads not guilty

I wrote about pastor Hugh King's drug bust a few weeks ago. His case is moving towards trial. He plead not guilty yesterday.

The Rev. Hugh King has entered a written waiver of not guilty and requested a jury trial on a charge of cocaine possession, his attorney Barry Beroset said Thursday.

A date for the trial could be set today during arraignment hearings before Circuit Judge Terry Terrell.
Neither King nor Beroset is expected in court.

King, a former Pensacola City Council member and current board trustee for Community Maritime Park Associates Inc., was arrested shortly before midnight April 27 when police stopped a Ford Explorer in which he was a passenger.

The arresting officer reported finding $25 worth of cocaine in King's back pocket. He temporarily was suspended as pastor of Greater Union Baptist Church.

I'm skeptical on this case, so I will watch it closely.

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Chinese writing '8,000 years old'

Via Gospel of Reason: It seems that the young earth creationist's 6,000 year old age of the earth may have hit another snag. It seems people were writing in China 2,000 years before the supposed creation of everything in the universe. I'm told the writing is a recipe for pork dumplings...

The Damaidi carvings, first discovered in the 1980s, cover 15 sq km (5.8 square miles) and feature more than 8,000 individual figures including the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing. [ed. and pork dumplings]

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Blogroll Update: The value of Planet Atheism

Few things do more for my blog statistics than Planet Atheism. Since joining, I have noticed a steady 50 hits per day from this outstanding free resource. What is Planet Atheism? For me, it is a collection of some of the finest atheist bloggers from around the world. Since joining, I have read it everyday. In fact, I've come to use it more than my trusty newsreader. Every time I hit Planet Atheism, I find 10 new posts. I light a cigar, sit back, and enjoy reading for a bit.

Planet Atheism is one of those easy to access resources (like the Atheist Blogroll) which helps to build our community. People ask why I provide the Atheist Blogroll. I can tell you, it's not because of the money (what money?) I find that community building is often my answer. We are a group of individuals in a larger sea of believers. Any chance we have at building a unified community is step in the right direction. I urge you to visit Planet Atheism, join it, read it, visit it's many contributing blogs. Doing so is a worthy effort.


Is this hate speech?

Comic Pat Condell in US 'hate speech' row - I don't get it. This sounds like the exercise of free speech to me. But then again, I don't live in appeasement minded Berkeley.

Jonathan Wornick, who is on the ‘peace and justice commission’ adivising Berkeley city council emailed his colleagues with the link, saying it was ‘an honest attempt to bring dialogue’.

But his actions have caused a political storm. Commissioner Michael Sherman said Condell’s views were ‘stunning’ because of his ‘stereotyping and bigotry of the tone and the language’.

And commissioner Elliot Cohen called the tape ‘insulting, degenerating and racist’.

‘People should not be allowed to spew racist propaganda without others being able to respond,’ Cohen said. ‘It’s not about free speech - it’s hate speech.’

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dobson Says He Won't Vote for Giuliani

 The erstwhile kingmaker speaks, no one listens.

 "I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran or if worse comes to worst not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life."

Only - it does not matter. Dobson has lost his influence, his seed is spent. His flock listens to other shepherds. With each passing day he grows less significant.

Dobson is living in a fantasy world if he think a republican candidate has any chance at all of winning the presidency in 2008. He's always lived in a fantasy world. A world which is now vapid and rank, appealing only to yesterdays holy warriors who do not realize the war has been lost. The curtain has been pulled aside to reveal a puppet master devoid of compassion, incapable of love, filled with hate and fury. We see this and laugh.

Rudi Giuliani deserves better.

Note to Dobson: Do not vote for Giuliani, in fact, don't even talk about politics any more. We are tired of hearing your hateful rhetoric.

I would doubt he could read any long book

Christopher Hitchens on the death of Jerry Falwell. He is so right.

hat tip to Olly.

Depth of field and memory


I've been working on depth of field control using a macro lens, low light, while holding the camera by hand. I focused on The Craft or Research, everything else is at a slightly different depth and therefor a slightly different focus. I like the result.

Ordinary objects hold a special appeal. This is a shot of my bookshelf. I love to read. I know this represents my interest now. A year from now it will be different. How am I to remember now?  A simple picture of the shelf would be boring, so I tried for something I could hang on my wall.

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Feed the muse: Jesh de Rox

I get tired of writing about screwed up people. Sometimes I like to celibate life and art. Jesh de Rox is a good example. I am a stargazing leaf  - you?

I've worked as a wedding photographer in the past. I could make a living at it. If I worked hard all my life focusing on creating memorable images, I might shoot one that is worthy of the photo's on this site. The photographer is amazing, his post processing textures are stunning. Enjoy.

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Another sexual predator posing as a pastor in Lubbock?

I've been following the trials of tribulations of alleged pedophile Blaine Miller for about a month now. His church is going through hell sorting out how to deal with Miller and the pastor who is protecting him. I wish them well. The comment thread indicates Miller is allowed access to a church run day care center - even after two one outstanding sexual abuse indictment. Something is seriously wrong at Lakeridge Baptist Church. I've taken the extraordinary step of contacting the local media in an effort to draw attention to Millers alleged continued access to children.

Lubbock is a smallish town in Texas, how many sexual predictor/pastors can there be in one town? I was shocked to learn the number is at least two. James Clark, is the former pastor of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church on Cedar Avenue in Lubbock. Clark is alleged to have imported an Kenyan exchange student for use as his own prostitute. He turned an innocent girl into a prostitute under the guise of benevolent Christian missionary work- do they teach that in the bible?

Count 43, importation of an alien for immoral purposes, alleges that between August 14, 2005 and January 15, 2006, Clark brought an alien, “Jane Doe,” into the U.S. from Kenya for the purpose of prostitution. In April 2006, Clark was arrested by the Hockley County District Attorney’s Office in Levelland, Texas, for the offense of compelling prostitution by force/threat. Federal search warrants were executed at Clark’s home and office with the primary purpose to find evidence relating to human trafficking. However, a cursory review of the seized evidence revealed evidence of violations having been committed by Clark regarding the participation in the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church in the Summer Food Service Program

James Clark sounds like a peach. If convicted of his crimes, Clark will die in jail. You spin the wheel, you take your chances.

What is it about Texas? I drink bottled water now when I visit, "just in case".

Another week, another Baptist pedophile

Yes, it's time for our weekly installment of guess which Baptist pastor is secretly a pedophile. This week's winner is Kevin Ogle, the former senior pastor of Northgate Colonial Baptist Church in Camden. Pastor Ogle had a thing for young girls. He sent explicit pictures of himself masturbating to a girl he believed to be 14. Now he's going to jail for 5 years, with 15 years special probation. As a convicted pedophile, he faces some hard time in prison and an even harder time finding employment once he is released.

Ogle plead guilty to 15 counts of computer pornography and child exploitation. It may not be his first offense:

“We got really lucky on this one,” Westbrooks said. “And we believe he has probably been doing this for some time. In one of the conversations he had with us over the Internet, he disclosed that he had been a youth pastor at a church some time back and had been in love with a 12-year-old girl. He never would say why, but he did confess that he had to leave that church.”

Ogle faced 210 years in prison before accepting a plea agreement. When sentenced, he was alone. It is a feeling he should get used to.

Pastor Willie to get counseling

...for exposing his Willey.

Pastor Willie Jefferson was busted in a Knoxville park for indecent exposure a few months ago. He was participating in the age old gay ritual of cruising.  Police said he flashed an officer and masturbated. Which is the height of hypocrisy since Pastor Jefferson preaches a party line anti-gay message from his pulpit at Trinity Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. The court has dropped the charges as long as he gets counseling. I wonder if Pastor Willie's counseling will come from the nutballs at Exodus International?

Are you struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions? Maybe you have lived as a homosexual for a long time, but now are looking for a way out. You have come to the right place!

Some members object to his continued leadership...

"Right now, the church is still in disarray," said Joe Downs, a deacon at the church. "We want him out of here.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Even more on Jerry Falwell

Via The Carpetbagger Report.

I have to admit, writing about Falwell’s death poses an awkward challenge for me. When I worked at Americans United for Separation of Church and State for several years, I read Falwell’s materials, I listened to his speeches, I watched his interviews, and got a real sense for who this man was and what he devoted his life to.

In literally every instance, I was repelled and appalled. But is it not callous to bash a man just hours after his death?

I have another idea — I’ll document Jerry Falwell’s professional life and let his record speak for itself.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More on Falwell

Jerry Falwell's hit parade. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine

God, they say, is love, but the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died May 15, hit the jackpot trafficking in small-minded condemnation. The controversies Falwell generated followed a predictable loop. 1.) Falwell would say something hateful or clownish about some person or group associated with liberalism. 2.) A public outcry would ensue. 3.) Falwell would apologize and retract the offending comment. 4.) Falwell would repeat the comment, slightly rephrased.

Nice obituary - Naoh nails Falwell. And his article has it's own Falwell Sampler. Make sure to bookmark it, least we forget.

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Blogroll Update: A newbie

I do on normally allow first post bloggers on the blogroll. I've made an exception in this case. Louis seems earnest.  Louis' Blog is a probationary add. I'll check in on him in a few weeks. I encourage other members of the Atheist Blogroll to visit our newest member and encourage him to participate in our 281 member blogroll.

First of all, I would like to let everyone know that I was a Christian for the the first 15 years of my life, so I know quite a lot about the Bible. I also have been studying religion in general for a long tome so i know a lot about world religion too. If i could write a letter to Christians the first thing I would do is ask them why, when modern geology, biology and archeology fails to prove that their God exist, a book with more problems, mistakes and contradictions than I can count is all the "proof" they need. Think about it. That one book (the Bible) is the only "proof" they can point to, and it is full of errors and mistakes.


Oh, and Louis. it is a gutsy move going  after Christians in your first post. don't be surprised if Dan Marvin pays a visit.

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architect of hate dies

Jerry Falwell died today of a heart attack . I am ambivalent. I would rather a man come to wisdom than die.  Falwell missed out on wisdom. Instead he led an attack on our liberties. Along the way saying some of the most hateful things I have ever heard.

Falwell blamed the 911 attacks on gays and lesbians, saying "you helped this happen."

He claimed one of the cartoon Teletubbies was role modeling the gay lifestyle, damaging to the moral lives of children.

Source: Falwell's Comments To Be Remembered

I put all the blame legally and morally on the actions of the terrorist, [but America's] secular and anti-Christian environment left us open to our Lord's [decision] not to protect. When a nation deserts God and expels God from the culture ... the result is not good.

AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.

We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism ... we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today ... our battle is with Satan himself.

Source: positive Atheism

Textbooks are Soviet propaganda

Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions


I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One's misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status.

I do question the sincerity and non-violent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations.

Source: Jerry Falwell (The Devil's Best Friend)

As a nation we suffer no loss at the passing of the intolerant voice of Jerry Falwell. We owe him no honors, no specials awards,  no recognition or moments of silence. The man's life can be summed up as inflecting more evil than good. Now he is dead. End of story.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pope Palpatine Denounces Capitalism

I just love the Pope. Every chance he gets, he attacks that hand that feeds him.  This time its Capitalism.

“Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and they declared that these, once established, would function by themselves,” he said. “And this ideological promise has proven false.”

The Pope, the Vatican, they are becoming political again. This does not bode well.

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who you calling a cult?

I just finished watching the BBC Panorama episode on Scientology. After watching John Sweeney loose it on YouTube, I was primed for some good old fashion "fair game" tactics. Scientology did not disappoint.

Scientology objects to being called a cult. The nice thing about living is America is I can scream Scientology is a CULT CULT CULT, and they can do nothing besides harass the hell out of me, there is nothing they can do about it.  Besides - its true.

The fact the Scientology attracts actors is not a sign of its significance. I do not give actors any special credence simply because the act for a living. I don't give anybody a special pass because of what they do for a living, they need to earn my respect. Tom Cruise calling psychiatry bogus does not make him smart, or right, or even worth listening too. I don't care if his cult has him listed as a level 7 Thetan from beta epsilon or some other made up title, level or position. He is just an actor with money. That makes him dangerous in my book. His actions prove this out.

As for the other Scientologists - all I can say is the only pseudo-religions movement I hold in lower esteem are the are Wiccans. They made it up, they know they made it up, and they play act at it anyway. Just like the Tom Cruise.

Note to Tom Cruise: The only reason you have a roof over your head is because my mother like to look at your ass. Feel proud?

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What the Hell is "Friendly Atheism?"

Tangled Up In Blue Guy has a great post on this subject.

So, really, why is there a need to differentiate myself as a "friendly atheist?"  I am not even sure who I would be contrasting myself with.  I really don't know any unfriendly atheists.  I bring up the issue because of an article I read this morning, actually purported to be satire but completely unfunny, in which a fictional ape confronts Richard Dawkins and tells him that he must tone down his rhetoric.  Apparently the ape is of the common opinion that since in regards to religion, Dawkins is talking outside of his field and is beyond his depth when discussing the Delusion.  I have been debating whether or not to link, but since I don't get enough traffic that a link from my site would add to this guy's wealth. [ed. I choose not to link to the reference directly]

The site Tangled Up in Blue Guy is writing about pissed me off. I'm not a friendly atheist when I'm pissed. I try to be, but I tend to get snarky. So... follow the link to Tangled Up in Blue Guy and read it for yourself.

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What about me?

A Canadian woman is asking this very question after a man convicted of sexually assaulting her received glowing support from community leaders during the sentencing phase of his trial.

I almost let this one pass. It seemed trivial when I read it this morning. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this seemingly small thing, leniency for a convicted sex offender, may actually articulate the problem I have with sex crimes and religious hypocrisy.

Jonas Bouvier appears to have the support of community. He once ran for public office, Is a member of the Tlicho Christian Fellowship, and appears to be "one of the guys". Pastor David Shed's primary concern is for Bouvier's family. The victim is never mentioned.

OK, so Bouvier's wife is sick, Bouvier is the sole provider for his family, and they live in the middle no where.  Bouvier's a nice guy with an aling family. It's just that he likes to push the girls around. It's all good fun. I understand the thinking here, and it wrong.

The message Pastor David Shed sends is one which allows predators like Bouvier to escape the consequences of their actions. It would been a more effective  message had Shed condemned Bouvier's crime, cast him from the church, and encouraged Bouvier to do his time, seek counseling, and then seek to rejoin the community once the wounds have healed.

Bouvier's wife... perhaps his church community can pitch in to care for her while he is paying the price for assaulting an innocent woman. Is it too much to ask ?

Pastor David Shed cares only for his sheep. The victim is not his concern. He claims to have contacted other members of the church and community leaders before making his recommendation. Only... he did not contacted the victim. He wrote a nice glowing letter of support for the perpetrator instead.

What message do Pastor Shed's actions send?  They marginalizes a serious crime, they enable bad behavior, and they heap pain and suffering on the real victim.  Great work Pastor Shen, great work.

Source: Sexual assault victim shocked by community leaders' support for attacker

Sunday, May 13, 2007

20/20 - Atheists in a Town of Believers

John Stossel, Sylvia Johnson, and Lynn Redmond produced a 20/20 segment called Atheists in a Town of Believers. The segment was republished on YouTube under the title The Price of Atheism.

The story is compelling. An Atheist family, the Smalkowskis, moved to ranch outside of a small town in Oklahoma. Their 13 year old daughter Nicole went through hell at the public high school as soon as the locals found out she was an atheist.

The story touched me. It was too close to home. Christians, especially when they dominate a small town, can be unmitigated asses. I fully expected Kevin Bacon to start dancing in the gym - it is that kind of scary fundamentalist intolerant "if you ain't one of us, you must be of the devil" kind of town.

Then, according to Nicole, the teachers also began harassing her, one going as far as to say, "This is a Christian country, and if you don't like it, get out."

The story sickens me - Nicole deserves a metal.


Blogroll Request: Vote for BEAJ

A hard working member for the Atheist Blogroll is up for Best Skepticism Blog at the Jewish & Israeli Blog awards. Please click on the link and vote for the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew (BEAJ). I can tell you that BEAJ has single handedly found about 20% off our blogroll members. For that alone he has my support - but he also has a well written blog which deserves a little respect, so get out and vote.

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