Saturday, 29 December 2007

A Homeric Epiphany

I've figured it out. It's the greatest epiphany since "Bananas are an excellent source of potassium" as postulated by the great storyteller Homer (left). Here it is:

In the Rush Hour movies Chris Tucker is basically playing a cop version of his character from The Fifth Element.

Have a nice day.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Benazir Bhutto Dead

Pakistani Politician Benazir Bhutto has died.

CNN said that she has bullet wounds, the BBC doesn't, however it seems that the suicide bomber shot at her first.

It is a sad day for the state of Pakistani politics, especially since it looked like things were starting to clear up, the problem involving the presidency was sorted, and an election was scheduled for next year.

Already I have heard people say it was the work of Musharraf, but I am not so sure. She survived an attack earlier this year when she returned and that was due to extremists who didn't like a woman in a position of power.

Because of that I suspect that it was more likely to be an extremist then anyone else. From a political standpoint Musharraf would have had a far easier way of removing her, the government could have removed the amnesty on charging her for corruption.

She may have done a few bad things in her political life, but then again she was a politician. She also showed the world that a Muslim woman could be elected and run a Muslim country shattering people's opinions of the religion and the supposed cultural mindset that has been placed upon Muslim countries.

Because of that I think that we should all say:

Rest in Peace Benazir Bhutto


Since I have been to sleep, more information has come to light. The BBC article now has a map showing the location.

The attacks have been condemned around the world and people are worried that this is a sign of slow 'Talebanisation' of the country. Although President Musharraf has called for calm protests have erupted around the country with one man killed in a shoot out and a protest in Peshwar was forcefully broken up.

The family of Bhutto are preparing to bury her and there has been even more violence reported.

Amidst all this chaos Nawaz Sharif, the rival of Bhutto was calling for Musharraf to step down and said that his party (which would be PML-N the Sharif section of the Pakistan Muslim League) would boycott the elections.

I fail to see what that would prove. Most likely Sharif is still harbouring anger towards Musharraf because it was Sharif who appointed him, and it was the actions of Sharif that caused him to lose power. Technically Sharif is in the country illegally after he was convicted by the anti-terrorism courts for hijacking and was permitted to stay out of jail as long as he was in exile in Saudi Arabia. He also cannot hold an office for 21 years.

Now we just have to wait and see what will happen.

On a more annoying note, the JREF forum already has a thread in the "Conspiracy Theories" section on her death, and on Freedom Crows Nest various posters there are pushing CTs as well.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Reality TV

Channel 10 recently showed a commercial for their latest reality TV show, Meerkat Manor.

Of course, it isn't a reality TV show, but that is how Channel 10 makes it out to be.

Or at least they did when Big Brother was on. Now it's something like Neighbours. Either way it makes a show that seems interesting end up in the "crap TV show" section of my brain.

To watch that show I would need to be in a seat like the one in A Clockwork Orange

Tuesday, 25 December 2007


I recently downloaded the movie The Bridge. On the end credits they are playing a song called "Reach Out" by Enturbulator 009.

Now I want that song. Annoyingly, I can't find it anywhere.

This is a plea.

If anyone knows where I can find that song, please tell me. I actually like the sound.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Seasons Greetings

Since it is the season (and for Christians between 0-2 days until Christmas depending on the traditions of your family) I would like to wish all the people who read this a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and if you don't happen to be a Christian and because society is so PC all of a sudden, a hearty Seasons Greetings to you as well.

Congratulations Are In Order

I think we should all stand and toast Israel.

They are building settlements even though they promised not to.

So, on behalf of the entire world that doesn't want this whole problem. Congratuations.

You have now given the militants another reason to continue trying to wipe your country of the map. But please, don't continue to listen to what the world would like you to do, continue to piss off the Palestinians and radicals, just don't start playing the victim when the world condemns you for the excessive use of force that you will use to collectively punish the Palestinian people.

One thing does seem quite obvious. If Israel stopped acting like stupid gits in regard to this whole thing we might find that peace works out so much easier because it would help break this vicious cycle that seems to occur in the region.

Alternatively if this is all about religion, then maybe we should hand Israel over to say China and then there would be no Holy Land for anyone.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Torture and Terrorism

Two days ago the BBC reported that they had found a torture chamber in Iraq.

It was used by insurgents to ensure that the civilian population would remain under their control. By the sounds of it all that has happened is that finally gaining control of Anbar province has done nothing but move the terrorists elsewhere.

In this case they moved to Diyala province and set up shop there.

The article clearly states that the people knew about it but were afraid to tell anyone.

If the Americans were wise they should do as much as possible to prevent any attacks going on here because it would send a good sign out to the rest of the people. Knowing that they will actually work to protect you is a good thing to encourage.

And moving from terrorism abroad to alleged terrorism at home. A magistrate has allowed a control order for David Hicks. So now he is like Jack Thomas, except that he sort of admitted it so he could get out of GITMO.

There is a funny thing regarding David Hicks. I don't know how many people actually consider him guilty. He basically pled out in the US military commissions, but considering that he was there for 5-6 years in a situation that seems to have violated the Geneva Conventions, I think that some people think that his motives were to get him out of there.

I remember that on the Chaser, Reucassel said that he pled "anything to get him out of there".

When it comes to a torture chamber you get a situation that is far clearer then you do with someone who is convicted of terrorism in this day and age.

Friday, 21 December 2007

A new fad is sweeping the net


Or at least allowing us to practise our sarcasm for use in the real world.

Since it seems that the World's media, by which I mean at the moment the US and Australia consider it to be rather important to mention in sections earmarked for "news" that Britney Spears' sister Jamie Lynn is pregnant that this new fad has started.

Clearly we know that this must be the first time in the history of the world that a teenager has become pregnant. I mean why else would it make such a fuss? It's not like there is some sort of teen pregnancy thing going on in the world right? Right??

I mean we all know that teenagers are the best at being abstinent...

Saturday, 15 December 2007


That's all I can say.

Yesterday a man was convicted of murdering another man. Ok, it was manslaughter and he got 5 years with a three year non-parole period.

The Scottish man killed another Scot over an argument on evolution and creationism.

Now I know that people have been killed for less but that is really, really stupid.

I wonder what the creationists are saying about this?

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

ET Corn Gods Suit, Another PZ Situation?

Just to note beforehand Mondoskepto mentioned this a few days after the suit was filed.

It's been about a month since it was filed but I only really looked at the complaint today. Currently I have no idea how the suit is progressing but if it hasn't been already I suspect that it might be dismissed as a frivolous case like PZ Myers.

The complaint can be found here.

Basically it's the same rubbish similar to Pivar's suit.

From what I understand the plaintiff came up with something like the "Bible Code" with a whole lot of rules that allow you to "interpret" texts. He subsequently posted this on the JREF Forum and was ridiculed.

As a side note he should have been happy that he faced what he did on the JREF forum, if he posted this stuff on the Myspace forum then he would have faced far worse (there are practically no rules and no mods there).

So let's look at the complaint.

Paragraphs 16 and 17 (the first two under "Facts") are hard to even call facts, because they refer to the basis for the "language". Paragraph 24 actually calls JREF members "geeks".

I liked paragraphs 31 and 32. They basically say that a mod damaged the reputation of the plaintiff by telling people not to insult him and used the words that the posters were calling the guy. A few of the chosen comments seem to be of the position that they are playing with his threat of a lawsuit.

Now we see his charges.

1. Fraud.

Claims that they violated their membership agreement by allowing people to call this man a fraud and a liar.

2. Misrepresentation and Breach of Contract.

Basically he is claiming that the moderators didn't moderate the thread enough and allowed people to call him names.

3. Misfeasance

Claims that the forum hurt his reputation and hurt him financially.

4. Malfeasance

He is claiming that the forum knew they were breaking the law and didn't do anything to stop it.

5. Defamation

Claims that their accusations of "liar", "fraud" and that he required "mental help" without providing any proof of the accusation. Once again his claim is about damaging his reputation and financial damages.

6. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Apparently he has been hurt so badly by people on the Internet, who for all intents and purposes know nothing about him, that he loses sleep over it. He is arguing that the statements are still on the site and continue to damage his reputation.

7. Violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

He claims that they have violated his freedom of speech and the right to practise his religion.

8. Violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

The forum has prevented him from practising his "religion" and he claims that they are a "religion" as well.

9. Conspiracy

Claims that they conspired to prevent him from exercising his rights to free speech and religion.

Now I think that for the claims that he has been hurt financially (counts 3,4,5) he will have trouble proving because you would have to determine how many people there were who didn't contribute to the thread (because the number of views doesn't differentiate between those contributing to the thread and those that don't), and then he would be assuming that those that looked at the thread would go to his website. I looked at the thread and went to his website to see what he was on about (I heard it was a tutorial to a game and thought it might be fun and then found out that it was quite serious without reading through the thread).

I have a funny feeling that the claims of defamation (namely count 5) probably won't stand up in court.

Count 6 is a bit odd. I don't know if he suffered what he suffered according to the count, however when the suit claims "[t]hose defamatory statements are still on the JREF site..." it paints a different impression as to what the facts state. The facts state that it went to the "abandon all hope" section. Regardless of what it says as a descriptor I would say that practically nobody goes there without a reason.

Count 7 is just a joke. I honestly hope that if there is a trial that people laugh when he claims that his right to free speech was violated. By the looks of it this suit is trying to censor free speech. I fail to see where the JREF prevented him from practising his faith. I don't know of any big conspiracy to remove his site from the Internet.

Count 8. Well all I can say there is that calling the JREF forum a "religion" is like Kent Hovind calling the Theory of Evolution a "religion". It makes even less sense when it claims that the JREF forum is "anti-religion". Now I know that the law doesn't use too much logic but
does that mean that the JREF forum hates itself?

Count 9 is probably the hardest to prove at all. I honestly doubt that there is any ongoing conspiracy to prevent him from posting there. If anything he has done that well enough himself by engaging in that suit.

Now we get to the punch line. The part where he makes the claim for money.

Compensatory and general damages, US$10 million
Punitive Damages, US$ 10 million

Not doing a Mastercard-like joke?

Yeah, I'm not answering that last one. He wants $20 million. If he wins he might as well go around claiming that he won the JREF Million Dollar Prize 20 times. It's idiotic to hear about claims like this. To a non-American like me it makes you wonder if this is common to the US. All I can say is that it is a stupid amount and I hope that the US Justice system sees the same thing.

As a side note, if the need arises I am more then willing to remove this post on request on the condition that I can repost it again at a later time.

Now playing: C.W. Stoneking - Don't Go Dancin Down The Darktown Strutter's Ball
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Urban Dead - Story

I am one of the many people who play Urban Dead. I know that there is a site that has stories like the one I'm about to write, but I forgot my password for that place, it's in the name of a different character and I might as well write on this blog some more. So here we go:

"It's been a year since the outbreak in Malton and we need more men on the ground. Those of you who have been assigned to the quarantine zone just have to remember, shoot anything that passes the minefield, you don't know if they are infected or not. The rest of you will be dropped into the city itself. At this time we have no clue about the situation since we have no reliable intelligence, all I can say is good luck, try not to sleep outdoors, and may God protect you..."


I woke groggily and lay there. It would have to be about 0700, that's usually when this show starts. With people finding and repairing generators and a somewhat reliable fuel source meant some electricity. The electricity gave increased the demand for radio transmitters and 80.01 MHz was the station that every man and his dog, if there were any, could talk their mind.

It's a be-yoo-ti-ful day for killing zeds...

I stood up, and gathered my things. There were some things that I had to make sure I had, most importantly was the crucifix that I found after I was dropped into the city. But I did leave a radio. I already have two, and a trip to the armoury might get me some ammo that I need.

Who am I kidding, everyone needs ammo. It's basically money in this godforsaken place.

Leaving the barracks I got some idea of the weather. It was calm, but then again, ever since the army dropped some engineers to fix this place it has become a rather calm place. I've been here the last four days now and not a single zed. One of the few engineers that are left now told me that it was only recently that the fort was in zombie hands, then a group called the 'Creedy Guerrilla Raiders' who killed anyone before something happened.

The fort is now something of a thriving community, survivors having been drawn to the place. Heading down into the armoury I found a clip. Not really what I need, but it would be stupid to complain.

Today I would be travelling.

And for your listening pleasure I've got "Mad World" from Gary Jules, well known for the promo for "Gears of War"...

Great. Just what I needed. It'll be played too many times...

Leaving the gatehouse and heading to the city was like a gloom descending upon you. Desolate streets, ruined buildings, graffiti telling you to join such and such and where to go. There is not a single sign of life on the streets, probably because only hunters go out onto the streets. Passing buildings that were once majestic are now barricaded to the point that you can't see anything.

All around me are familiar faces...

Clambering over the remnants of a house I spot a zed. When you see them you don't know whether they are asleep or awake because they just stand there. I wasn't going to be a fool, my axe is there for when I run out of ammo.

... going nowhere, going nowhere...

My pistol is drawn and I shoot. Right into the chest. There's no blood of course, it's dead, and for quite a while. I missed the next shot, but hit it enough that I was sure that it wasn't awake and I check it. I might be able to help this guy, I have one syringe left, but his brain is gone. My shotgun finishes it off. tomorrow, no tomorrow...

I skirt Giddings Mall. I don't have the strength to fight there at the moment. And it would be suicide.

...look right through me, look right through me...

I reach a church a few blocks to the north of the mall, and find another zombie. I grab a flare gun, and try and shoot the zombie with it. It's such a stupid thing, inaccurate and if you shoot it in the air all you do is bring zombies to you.

...the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had...

A couple of flares are used, and then I waste my shotgun shells on it. An armoured zombie, great...

...I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take...

I forget it and head inside the church. There is a zombie there feeding on a few people who haven't woken up in time. The blood oozes down the aisles to some more survivors who seem unconscious. There's nothing I can do. I have to leave these people to their fate...

...It's a very, very mad world, mad world...

The Necrotech building is far safer. I feel guilty about leaving those people to die, but I'm exhausted and I would have become another victim if I stayed. I still feel sorry when I have to leave helpless people to die, but death is now reversible and in Malton you fend for yourself.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Censorship and Conspiracy Theorists

It's rather funny when you think about it. You hear about censorship in countries like China or in crazy closed cults or in the past when Fascism and Communism were more prevalent.

You don't have to travel to these places or back in time to see this in action however all you have to do is go onto a conspiracy board, or even just a website.

They rely on censorship and the hope that you are too lazy to bother double checking their quotes, facts, claims, random crazy stuff.

Now if you go to a forum with debunkers on it and watch the endless battle that we fight with these people you will see that there are many, many insults thrown at the debunkers. We are treated like Goldstein's agents.

The require censorship to thrive, because the less of the facts their audience knows the more likely they are to believe what is in front of them.

This is one thing that makes groups like the 9/11 CTs far more hypocritical then normal. They claim "the government controls and censors the media" while censoring their own work. I fail to see how they can claim to be "patriots" while they so willingly do what they claim the government is doing.

It makes them look like two sides of the same coin.

Except that they aren't really.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


Well today I just avoided a fine.

I went and voted.

I know that the people who I voted for probably won't win, but who knows. All I will say is that I voted for 'S' (Nick Xenophon) in the Senate, and in the House of Representatives I put the racists (One Nation) before Footballers Wife (Labor, Nicole Cornes).

I won't really know the result because I will be at a party, but I have the feeling that our new leader will be called Kevin.

Friday, 23 November 2007

The Cost Of War

The BABlog wrote two days ago that Americans seem to think that NASA gets 25% of the US Budget, when in fact it is only 0.58%.

More importantly (for this post) he mentioned that the US spends US$11 million per hour (And here is a source) on the Iraq war.

Hastily I calculated that ever 13.64 hours the US spends the same amount of money on Iraq that could be spent on a $150 million probe to explore space.

In 2005 it was said that about $22 billion would be needed to fight AIDS. This is the same as spending 2.7 months in Iraq.

In one hour the US spends enough money to buy and ship 18003.27 tonnes of food aid for developing nations (based on statistics here).

As I write this the US has spent over US$471 billion on Iraq. This could buy 3140 probes, help to fight AIDS for 21.4 years assuming that the price remains constant, or 770867430.44 tonnes of food aid.

Or if you know anything about the US state of health, some of the money that could be saved could have been placed in the SCHIP program and help those that cannot get health insurance.

I wonder what the Australians spend?

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Technorati Made Me Do This

Apparently I have to post this thingy for Technorati, so I will hide a link somewhere.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Why I Argue

I spend some of my time on the net arguing with CT's and Creationists. I do like a good argument though, but I think that I have come across the same revelation that pretty much all skeptics come across (actually I figured this out a while ago, but I want to write about it now).

We argue and debunk not to convert the person making the claim, but to prevent other people from falling into stupid beliefs.

We are the ones who present the counter arguments to stupid claims.

We are the ones who are labelled by those that we oppose.
  • We are government shills to CTs that involve any government
  • We are soulless Atheists to the creationists
  • We have "closed minds" for alternative theories and medicine.
  • We are generally attacked when we present the "other" view, or disprove theirs.
And yet we persevere and continue to argue. We wade through the never-ending layer of shit that people consider to be rational and we don't know how well our efforts are doing. All we know is that we are helping to keep these people in check, and to lessen the damage that they cause.

I think that deep down we all know that for many of these people we can never defeat them in an argument, but we certainly can show others that they are the thieves, liars and charlatans that they truly are.

Monday, 19 November 2007


The Blog Readability Test says that this blog has a reading level of junior high school, whatever the hell that is.

I wonder if I was to add more technical words if it would change the rating? Maybe I should just learn to write better...

Saturday, 17 November 2007

More on Stupid Stupid Hypocrsy

If you read the last post you should have noticed that I am a bit divided over this whole thing, namely because I have no idea when exactly the crime that she is being punished for occurred.

And now I have found many, many different articles all of which give different details.

The BBC articles that I posted yesterday just say that she was found in the car of a "strange man"

Other news sources say:

Fox News

This article is from March, and says that she was basically blackmailed twice, once by her former boyfriend and then by one of the rapists. She was abducted while in the car when it was stopped by two other cars. Basically she had broken the law before she was raped by the men, at least according to this article.

Knowing the well known criticism that Fox News has it may have been made up and attributed to The Scotsman (have to look).

The Telegraph

Doesn't mention blackmail. Says that she asked him to return photos because she was getting married.

Also says that she was in the car before the rape.

CBC News

Once again mentions her in the car before the abduction.

There is one common aspect to these other articles. They say that they were both raped. Now this may sound a bit wrong, but would it not have been better for the courts to say that the rapes were some form of divine punishment for the two of them breaking the law?

There is one thing that annoys me just a little, and that is that she broke the law beforehand. It doesn't really nullify the fact that she was raped, but it does somewhat damage the idea that her being in the car had something to do with her being raped.

Still, 200 lashes for telling her tale is still too harsh a punishment. And up to between 2 and 10 years for rape is too lenient. If Fox is right at least. then I would have to say good on the prosecution asking for death, I still think that the rapists deserve to meet the sword in a very intimate way.

Stupidly Stupid Hypocrisy

An article from Thursday it is about a punishment for a crime.

The location is Saudi Arabia.

The punishment is 200 lashes and 6 months in prison.

The crime, breach of sexual segregation laws.

The offender, a 19 year old gang rape victim.

She was found in the car of a man who wasn't related to her. Now not knowing the full story it is a bit hard to determine why she was in this car.

Was it the car of someone who stopped to help her? Or was it the car of one of the people who raped her 14 times?

Either way she was sentenced to 90 lashes, and then when she tried to appeal it was increased to the punishment I mentioned above.

So you know, the seven men who raped her initially received a punishment of between 1-5 years, which was doubled, so I guess that would be a range of 2-10 years.

Her lawyer claims that the sentence is unjust and violates Islamic law.

He is facing a disciplinary hearing now for being a lawyer.

The view that the BBC presents is that the courts stepped outside their boundaries in sentencing her, and should not have treated her as the culprit.

There are a few things that have pissed me off about all this.

Firstly, why is it that the rapists seem to get off so lightly for such a terrible crime? Rape is probably far worse then murder, because a rape victim is still able to relive the horrible event while a murder victim cannot for obvious reasons. Why is it that the courts don't sentence them to death (although personally I would think up far more cruel punishments for them).

Secondly why is it that the courts seem to be treating her far worse then her rapists? The courts seem to be saying that even if you are raped you can still be punished for breaking the segregation law. I'm certain that works wonders right? A real boost for women standing up and confronting their rapist.

Finally why is it that for some reason the various discussion boards seem to be portraying this whole thing as a rape victim being punished for being raped? It wasn't, she broke a different law.

And in what could be seen as hypocrisy on my part I have to say that I can see where the courts were going with this. *Technically* she did break the law, and most likely has to face the consequences (again, please note that this is based on what I have gleaned here, not knowing all the facts means that I can't form a firm opinion on the matter), however it is as clear as day that the courts have failed in this case.

They have failed to take into consideration her circumstances. If this was almost immediately after the rape then they should have taken that into consideration, of course she would have been in an unrelated person's car, because she wasn't raped by her family.

Then to increase the punishment because they believe that she was using the media to influence the courts? I honestly think that says more about the court system then the girl. Perhaps it did work a bit better now, because they did double the sentences of the rapists. Although maybe the executioner should have sharpened up his sword/axe/beheading instrument for these men...

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Ape Fossil Found

Physorg had a report on an ape fossil that might change the idea of how we evolved forever.

It's about 10 million years old, which is near the time where our last common ancestor with the great apes (although this fossil is about 2 million years older then the current point in time when we diverged though).

Annoyingly the article was titled: "Rare great ape fossil challenges evolutionary theory: study" which means that it will probably be quote mined (ugh, right now I'm getting myself dirty by looking on uncommon descent to see... unclean, unclean, it's not coming off...), and used as an example of the supposed "imminent demise of evolutionism".

I can't think of any ways that they might quote mine the article, but I guess when I can find the paper and read it myself I might find something in there for them to quote mine.

It isn't though.

It seems that what they have found might contradict an idea that involves apes migrating from Africa to Europe and Asia, the African population dying out or something like that, and then evolved forms of the European and Asian populations returning to Africa.

All that we see here is science being scientific. An existing idea that was supported by the evidence may now become obsolete and a new idea will take it's place. It is this method of finding ways to explain the world based on the evidence is what separates scientists from creationists (and also a certain 9/11 CT that I have been arguing with).

We may also see in the future more fossils of as yet unknown ancestors to the great apes being found.

Now playing: Beck - Nausea
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 5 November 2007


I don't know about many people but I will usually associate songs that I listen to to a particular event/game/TV show/etc.

Which has given me many odd combinations.

Take "The Enchanted Lake" (aka "Swan Lake") by Tchaikovsky, from Swan Lake. When I hear this song I don't think of swans or lakes or whatever it is that I am supposed to think of when I hear that song.

I think of Jeremy Clarkson in a Range Rover Sport being chased by some guys in a Challenger 2 tank.

Same goes for the theme from A Fistful of Dollars, not Clint Eastwood being a cowboy but Top Gear once again. This time when Richard Hammond stopped that factory when they were building the road ("Men of the D5481, this is our darkest hour, we will not let Adolf Hammond ruin our plans for this great, this wonderful...")

"Invocation" by Killing Joke makes me think of James May racing those Parkour guys in a Peugeot 207 not whatever the song is about.

"House of the Rising Sun", specifically the cover by The Animals reminds me of GTA:VC because it was on a custom radio station that someone gave me.

For some reason out of all the songs on the game Battlefield: Vietnam only the song "Psychotic Reaction" (Count Five) reminds me most of the game.

A few songs will remind me of events in my own life but people don't want to hear about things that actually happened to me.

Now playing: UNKLE - When Things Explode (feat. Ian Astbury)
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Some Deception from Scientology

Before I start, I must stress that in Australia the organisation known as the Church of Scientology is considered under the law as a legal religion. So I think that it might be best that I say a little about it's legal history in Australia.

In South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria have at one point or another banned the CoS from operating.

Victoria passed the Psychological Practices Act, 1965 after the findings of the Anderson Report (or in it's formal name Report of the Board of Enquiry into Scientology).

The recommendations started with:

"The Inquiry has revealed the real nature of scientology and its serious threat to the mental health of the community, and it is evident that its continued practice should not be permitted."

In 1968 the government of Western Australia passed the Scientology Act (1968),
and South Australia followed suit with the Scientology (Prohibition) Act, 1968.

These were overturned in 1983 after the High Court decision in Church of the New Faith v. Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax (Victoria) which found that Scientology was a religion.

For those that don't know the Church of the New Faith was an organisation created by Scientology to counter the acts brought against them, but by that time Western Australia and South Australia had repealed their acts in 1972 and 1973 respectively.

And now with that very brief history of Scientology and the Law we move on to the present day.

This was reported yesterday in The Advertiser: Parent anger at religious 'advice' (In case something happens to the online version the printed versions details are: Kleinig X. 2007. "Parent anger at religious 'advice'" The Advertiser 29 October 29 p.23).

The briefest description would be that uniformed police officers have been found distributing Scientology related material at a Government school.

The version that I will give you is as follows.

Uniformed police officers went to Whyalla High School and distributed a pamphlet entitled "Whyalla High School presents the way to happiness, a common-sense guide for better living" after showing them a DVD on living a moral life.

There were two things that showed that it was a Scientologist production. The first was that the website it linked to was a Scientologist one. The second was that if you looked very carefully at the copyright information you would find out that it was written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

The book apparently did not contain any religious material. All well and good you think? Well no actually, this is what the police had to say:

"Police Assistant Commissioner Graeme Barton confirmed that two officers had visited the school to give lectures on bullying and that the claims of religious instruction would be investigated."

They were supposed to be giving a lecture on bullying. I fail to see where a pamphlet called "Whyalla High School presents the way to happiness, a common-sense guide for better living" has anything to do with bullying.

What makes it even more annoying is the blatant deception that the CoS has used to spread their "message". They used two uniformed officers to distribute a pamphlet that directed children to a site about Scientology, the pamphlet itself managed to convince parents that it was something from the Education Department, something that the department denies. What makes it worse is that this occurred in a Government school. They are places were proselytising is a big no no.

There is one other thing that makes it somewhat hypocritical.

They showed a DVD on morality, but they were acting in an immoral way, just like Scientology itself claims to be the most ethical group in the world, this was an unethical way of doing things.

If they don't seem to be able to gain more followers in a regular way, then maybe they should be looking at themselves and fixing what they need to fix?

I think that the name of the song that I am listening to fits well with this post...

Now playing: Sneaky Sound System - UFO
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Family First

For those that don't know, the Family First party is one of the many minor parties here in Australia that have something to do with Australian politics.

This is a party that has taken advantage of the vacuum created by the virtual collapse of the Democrats to take a rather important role in Federal Politics, and also in State Politics.

In comparison to the US major parties they would be the Australian equivalent of the Republicans (just like the Liberal party). They are conservatives who are also religious.

Clearly I won't be throwing my vote away on them in either election.

I wrote earlier on how they wanted to have a sex-education system that supported their religious viewpoint, but today I read this (I can't find an online edition of the printed article so this one will do).

Again, for those that don't know Maslin Beach here in South Australia is the first official nude beach in Australia. And Family First wants it banned.

This is a beach that was specifically chosen for nudists to be nude without bothering anyone.

The argument basically boils down to a man following his religiously driven ideology to impose on the lives of people who aren't causing any problems on a beach that is far enough from people so as to not cause offence.

Now I don't know the exact law but I am pretty sure that there is something in there that prevents housing from being built in a certain radius of said beach to protect the beach goers of the southern half from perverts who would take advantage of housing there.

We live in a state with so many bloody beaches that we can go to that people wouldn't could go to other beaches and not have to worry about nudists.

Aldinga beach is a wonderful beach to go to, it is called the 'Silver Sands' because of the composition, which is to the north of the beach, while Sellicks is not too far from the proposed stuff at Pt. Willunga and would be just as good.

Or, shockingly enough you could just go to the beach at Pt. Willunga. No nudists there.

But no.

In our society if we don't like something we complain about it. "Ooh, The Chaser had a song making fun of dead people" (which to be honest is for most quite true, the dead are nearly always remembered better then they actually were) "they can't do that it's just wrong". Or "My God they are showing sex ads at 1am and my young child saw them while I was breastfeeding him" (link to come there).

Since when was there a right in democratic countries to not be offended by things?

Now playing: E.S. Posthumus - Pompeii
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 15 October 2007

Skeptical Magicians?

After being shown some comics that were about a certain psychic fraud lady I was looking through the archives and found this.

Since they allow hotlinking (apparently) I will post it here:

Maybe this explains Penn & Teller and James Randi's work as skeptics. They are trying to make themselves more powerful...

Now playing: Groove Armada - Hands of Time
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Casualty(ies) of War, and Hypocrisy

About four days ago a soldier died in Afghanistan. Normally this would not be much of a problem for a person in Australia until you hear that it was an Australian soldier.

Since Australia followed the US into places like Afghanistan and Iraq they have been doing quite well in making sure that their troops return home in one piece.

This isn't the first soldier to have died for Australia in Afghanistan. SAS Sergeant Andrew Russel died from an anti-vehicle mine in 2002. For the sake of the family of this victim his name has not been released to the public. Which is fair.

I hope that the family of this currently unknown soldier can have enough time to heal before we learn his identity, and that they are supported by their friends and also those around them that may not be their friends.

I also hope that other Australians serving in Afghanistan will be ok, especially since it seems that attacks are on the rise there.

There is one thing that I thought of when I wrote this. I feel more for this family then I would for an American family or an Afghani family.

I guess it is easier for me to relate to an Australian then it would for the others that I mentioned. This is rather hypocritical though. I do feel sorry for the families affected from the other countries but all to varying degrees.

Is this really what being human is? Caring more for certain people because they live in the same country as you?

Why is it that the news makes a bigger deal about a casualty from the country they are from then about the civilians who live in the country in question?

Why is it that the enemy and the civilians are faceless compared to the coalition troops?

Some people already recognise this but I think the rest of the people should too, think about the other people, and not just your own people, and think (and feel) more for the civilians, those who don't have the training a soldier would to fight, people who are trying to keep living in the homes that they lived in for years.

Don't forget about them, but don't do it at the cost of the soldiers as well.

They are all people too.

Now playing: The Herd - I was only 19 (live)
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 1 October 2007

I Hate Telestra

As we all know a few days ago the protests in Burma took a drastic turn when the Burmese army opened fire on the protesters.

When that happened I was trying to get on here so I could write about it.

But no, Telstra in their infinite wisdom decided to make it so I couldn't go on.

Their internet sucks.

If you are on one of their plans, you might as well go to someone else because for the same price that you pay at Telstra you can get a higher download limit from pretty much anyone else.

I have trouble getting onto secure pages with this ISP and all the computers that we support do not download that much stuff.

When they claim to slow us down to dial up speeds you find that when you use dial up it is a hell of a lot faster.

Maybe they should pay Sol Trujilo less money. He doesn't deserve it because he is doing a really shit job running Telstra.

I honestly don't know how I managed to get on here today.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Mr. B.

I wrote about the Beaumont Children a while ago it was my second post.

Then I read this today.

So they call Bevam Spencer von Einem a suspect in the Beaumont case. Brilliant.

There is only one thing that I can think of that might be positive. It might change the status of Mr. B (a witness in Von Einems trial for the murder of Richard Kelvin, son of the newsreader). Mr. B has been portrayed currently as something of a crackpot.

It might make him less crazy in the eyes of history.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Hovind the Censor

I saw this on the JREF forum.

This wasn't new news to me but it does put a digital face on the actions of Kent Hovind.

It seems that his organisation has claimed that people who are critical of him are using copyrighted material.

Now if you have never heard an argument from Hovind then I direct you to this site (it's mentioned in the JREF forum thread already linked to). And then to this page that refers to copyright. It also, if you are like me, gives you the impression that he seems very punchable, at least his voice does anyway.

Now all this would normally conjure up the old DMCA is screwing people over.

But it seems to get worse from here.

This Wired blog points out that a group has been banned over this. Now personally I doubt that the reason was that it complained about it's videos being pulled down, but I suspect that it might have been because of all the spurious complaints by Hovind's group.

Good news is that they have not been banned but it is an annoying thing to know that people like him and his organisation can use spurious claims to remove opposition.

If I remember correctly the Internet is now the place where people can say whatever the hell they want. If people want to claim that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time then they can, but they have to remember that their claims are still open for people to disprove, debunk or counter.

Was this what people perceived the Internet to be? A place where people's views are silenced because they differ from someone else's?

If that is the case then I guess all the scientists could come up with a way to get rid of all the bad science sites...

Now playing: Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

This is a blog post

Today is my first 'blindingly obvious' post.

Men want hot women, study confirms

Just like I am writing this post.

Now playing: Ishii Yasushi - Hatred Guy Of Sinfulness
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

If you are ever in a argument...

And you find yourself being attacked instead of the argument then you have managed to do one of the following:

  1. Been really stupid and started a flamewar.
  2. Decimated the opponents argument so badly that this is all they can do.
  3. Decimated the methodology the opponent used so badly that attacking you is all they can do.

I only write this because that is what has happened to me regarding a 9/11 thread. I started to point out methodological flaws in the persons argument because he stopped listening to counterarguments. To be honest he didn't listen to them to begin with.

I mentioned that I was Australian and have pretty much been told to bugger off. He asked me to say why I was here, and now my reasons have been labelled excuses.

So until he answers the questions I gave him I have decided to not listen to his crap. If he wasn't before he has now morphed into a troll.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Thoughts on Creationism

Recently I have gone back to arguing with creationists instead of 9/11 CTists. However one question has provoked me to write this.

The question may be found here.

It asks why so many Christians feel the need to disprove evolution.

Firstly we have to remember that in the USA primarily there are people that question evolution. This is not so much the case here in Australia.

However many of these people believe in some form of biblical literalism.

Many of the denominations grouped as Protestant believe in some form of literalism. The Lutherans for example have the idea of Sola Scriptura. Although the idea has changed slightly over time the basic idea is that the Bible is an authority in itself and that scripture interprets scripture.

Many people follow most of the ideas in the bible, but to be honest people do pick and choose what they follow. There are rules laid down in the Bible that people would not follow today involving various slavery rules like selling your daughter into slavery (Ex 21:7), stoning blasphemers (Lev 24:14), getting tattoos (Lev 19:28) and pretty much all of Leviticus 15.

People do follow many of the rules because they have become integrated in our society eg. murder, incest, rape.

When you look at a basic creationist you will find that they are religious, follow one of the Protestant denominations (to be fair Michael Behe, one of the biggest supporters of ID is a Roman Catholic), and is a literalist.

Literalism is really the biggest problem with the creationist.

Because they believe in a literal interpretation of the bible there is very little room to move around.

When they look at Evolution and also the current age of the Earth they get scared. In those two things they see a big threat to their beliefs and ideals. Some hear about former Christians who became Atheists because they learnt about evolution and it just heightens the fear.

Some would not want to actually learn about evolution because they fear that their world will come crashing down.

They want to believe in a God. Throughout history people have believed in deities. Today the top two religions are monotheistic, and the only polytheism that could compare is Hinduism.

Deities were created by men to help try and explain the world around them. Gods were created to explain the nature of the oceans (i.e. Poseidon is angry), thunder (Thor's hammer), volcanic eruptions (Vulcan is angry) and more.

Ideas were formed as to why various phenomena happened, diseases were caused by demons, or the wrath of the Gods. The Ancient Egyptians had the idea that the sun was pushed across the sky by a scarab beetle, in the same way that it pushes dung along the Earth.

In regards to Creationists it all lies in the first chapters of Genesis. The creation stories.

Being literalists they mainly follow the six day creation plus a day of rest idea.

Evolution, being a process over millions of years is a direct challenge to this. The Bible does however have lines that claim things like a day being a thousand years, but these are not really followed by the creationist.

The age of the Earth is also a problem, the current calculated age is 4.55 billion years.

The age of the Earth is not as much of a problem. The bible deals with that. Many creationists are 'Young Earthers'. Using the Bible, and following the 'names' and death 'ages' of various biblical people, they have managed to come up with an age of 6000 years minimum but you will see estimations of 10 000 years as a maximum.

Coupling this with some rather crappy arguments as to why radiometric dating doesn't work and arguments based on magnetic fields or the loss of helium they have convinced themselves that the Earth is a young one.

Evolution is a bigger problem. There is far more evidence that supports evolution, and the creationist knows it.

Instead of finding ways of reconciling the facts with their faith (Theistic Evolution is one such way), they instead have decided to attack Evolution making outrageous claims as to why it is false.

Many of them, woefully prepared, make arguments as to why their idea is the correct one in light of evidence to the contrary or that many claims are beyond the scope of scientific methodology (the Myspace forums seem to get many of these people).

Strangely enough members of other denominations, or even other religions, don't seem to have these problems. Hinduism works on a completely different creation model but it follows the idea that the universe runs in cycles of trillions of years. The Christian denominations that are not literalist also have fewer proponents of ID (which is really a predominantly Christian thing anyway), St. Augustine of Hippo wrote on the allegorical nature of Genesis (believing that everything was created in one instant) and this has been the predominant interpretation of the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox Churches, and the Anglican Church.

Also Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish scholar who also wrote on Genesis being an allegory.

All these groups have managed to reconcile the facts with their faith, and nothing bad has happened yet.

Perhaps the creationists should stop listening to their pastor on evolution, stop reading the creationist material and actually learn about the idea that they seem to have created a hatred of.

They may find that they too can reconcile their faith with the facts.

Now playing:
Mozart - Lacrymosa
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 16 September 2007

RAN + Bigger Breasts For Sailors = ?

I found this on BBC News.

Apparently the Royal Australian Navy or most likely the Defence Department paid for the breast enlargement of two female sailors setting the taxpayer back $20 000.

I don't really know what to think here.

What exactly would potentially sexier sailors help the RAN in it's fight against, umm... , last time I checked it was illegal immigration?

Unless the plan is for them to help the male sailors on their long lonely voyages away from women except those...

Ok enough of the silliness the article says that it was for psychological reasons. So I guess that it might make it a bit better then because people with psychological problems of some sort are not really the best people for the defence forces, but I still feel a little annoyed that my tax dollars went towards this.

The Defence Department is already pretty bloated, overly bureaucratic and inefficient, for all we know this money could have gone towards something better.

Why isn't this an election issue?

On a side note for us Firefox users Foxytunes has released a new toolbar that allows you to add what you are listening to to your blog posts. If you are a person, like me, who has moved from say Myspace, where you can add what you are listening to blog posts and do kinda miss it, then this is the place for you.

Now playing: Ishii Yasushi - Soul Police Chapter's Reverse Side Circumstance
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 13 September 2007

I love...

... the smell of Conspiracy Theorists in the morning.

Smells like stupidity

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

September 11

Well today is September 11, the 6th anniversary of the attacks on the towers.

I hope that this day does not affect the families of those affected. Especially those who happen to be at the site of the towers.

The so-called "Truthers" will be there spewing their filth.

And that is all it is filth no matter what they say.

For example I go onto the Myspace political forum and it is full of 9/11 related crap, like it was faked, while I write this I look and see 9 threads with the numbers 9 and 1 and 1 in that order.

It is just sick. I personally am getting sick of it.

However some of those threads titled '9/11' were made by debunkers poking fun at the idiots.

I did find one important little gem.

A proper scientist has decided to tackle the 'demolition' idea. Dr Keith Seffen is a Cambridge University scientist and has published this paper in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics. We all know it is complete shit but it is rather important because, unlike the conspiracy theorists, proper scientists put there ideas up to the all important peer review.

The conspiracy theorists seem to think that they don't have to stand up to the same scrutiny as real scientists and no conspiracy theorist has tried to publish a paper that would even disprove the Bazant-Zhou paper (see the link above entitled "peer review"), they can try on the internet, and a few sites seem to try but they are not doing it on the field of science.

They are pretend pretend scientists who should be ashamed of themselves for trying to pass off this shit as real science. That link can take you to many papers that disprove the conspiracy theorists however you will never see a conspiracy theorist publish their work in a scientific journal or try to disprove those peer-reviewed hypotheses in a scientific journal.

They may make up some stupid argument as a reason why they shouldn't but all it shows is that they have no argument that can stand up to science.

I will leave you with a 9/11 related psychology thing. Look at the following two pictures that I nicked from here:

(I don't know if the pictures are working though. Stupid Australian internet).

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Buddhist Monks

And I thought Buddhists were supposed to be peaceful...

APEC - A Very Funny Moment

I just heard this on the news.

It doesn't have to do with the White House misspelling many, many places in Australia, or people from the Socialist Party getting pulled over by the Police.

No, it has to do with The Chaser's War On Everything (or if you watched yesterday The Chaser's W On Everything) (I also don't know if this link works from other countries).

Yesterday they came back on television but they might now be down two members.

In on of the best things that could ever happen some members of the Chaser might face 6 Months jail.

Why is this good?

Well, you know how the Government went on and on about all this good security that they will have to protect all the dignitaries?

Well the Chaser managed to get 10 metres away from the hotel that President Bush was staying in.

Now according to the 10 news bulletin that I just saw, they managed to get in by pretending to be Canadians.

They got black vehicles like most of the motorcades, the drivers were dressed in black suits, they had flags on the cars, and they had official looking stickers on the windscreens.

And they were waved through by two sets of police.

And now Julian and Chas are now forbidden to go anywhere near a restricted APEC zone for APEC.

I hope this doesn't count to the areas that Chas sealed off in Melbourne for APEC...

Anyway, the irony about this is that later on they showed police checking manhole covers, stormwater drains and underneath cars for bombs.

They honestly should be glad that it was the Chaser and not some terrorists doing this. It is nearly perfect, if it was terrorists they could have filled the cars with explosives driven to their target and then detonated them.

So I guess the Sydney Police should be happy because they have been shown a gaping hole in their security even though they have serious egg on their faces.

Sadly though I wish the Chaser were successful, because Chas was dressed as Osama Bin Laden, (the police confiscated the beard), could you imagine President Bush's face when Osama appears and says "George" or something like that...

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

APEC - more information

I said yesterday that President Bush arrived in Australia.

I also said that I would post links in regards to the civil libertarians getting annoyed.

I will start with an article from a news source that people have something against, and someone (*cough* Bush *cough*) has tried to bomb.

This is from Al Jazeera

In this article they say that the actions of the police is 'heavy-handed' and that they are being 'treated like terrorists'.

In this article from the ABC various groups are again annoyed, while the Human Rights Monitors will be filming the police.

This is a Channel 9 News story

Another ABC article

Some opinions from The Australian

I don't know what most people will be complaining about, but some of the organisations that voiced their opinions in those articles are anti-war protesters (Stop Bush Coalition, Stop The War Coalition) and there is the already mentioned Human Rights Monitors.

Now they have compared Sydney to a police state like North Korea, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon described the precautions as 'an absolute insult (to) the process of democracy' (I nicked that from the ABC article) while the Human Rights Monitors are worried that the powers the police have been given will stay.

The powers the police have are actually quite powerful. Anyone who assaults an officer can be remanded without bail, and there is a list of people who can't enter the high security area.
The Human Rights Monitors are worried that the powers will stay in effect.

I don't think that such powers will remain after the event. Once the meeting is over there won't be any large protests and there won't be any need for lists that prevent certain people from entering parts of the CBD. Nor will there be any need for the police to have tougher powers in regards to assaulting an officer.

The reasons for the tough security have to do with terrorism, the people that are there (all high ranking dignitaries and leaders) and that if there will be any protests that turn violent it really won't be from anti-war people, because that does kinda defeat the purpose, but it will most likely be from the 'anti-globalisation' people because they seem to be the ones that turn violent.

That and the idiots who want to turn things into a riot.

Most protests are peaceful and nothing happens, however there are times when they aren't peaceful due to idiots or the ideology that those that start riots follow.

The problem is that those few idiots make it harder for the people who won't cause millions of dollars in damage.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

APEC - the arrival

Well the next APEC meeting is starting soon and the news had the arrival of President Bush on live (he was late though).

I know that it the security of Sydney was increased a lot (links to come) and that it annoyed the Civil Libertarians, but what will be interesting is to see if these measures to stop protesters will work.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Something I oveheard

A few days ago before a Chemistry lecture I overheard a girl say 'Do you know how to balance equations?'

It's a bit strange when you consider that this is not the easy Chemistry lecture.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

An Update

I don't really want to update my previous post because it would be better if it this is above the other one.

I see no problem with Theistic Evolution, it is actually a pretty good idea, since it is a good synthesis of science and religion, saying that God created the laws that govern the universe and left it at that.

What I have a problem with is trying to interpret a book, like the Bible, using outdated ideas really, really weird interpretations and modifying pictures to fit the interpretation is not on.

I don't want to see and idea like this one become twisted and this twisted form be used as an argument against evolution.

Nor do I want to see a version of an idea that is usable in a religious society end up becoming defined by a person who has written a page about it using flawed ideas.

"Theistic Evolution" Part 1

On Myspace there is a guy who has a site on what he calls "theistic evolution". His works are here.

That is all well and good except when you look at what he does.

He interprets the bible using modern ideas and terms, which is not what the Bible is going on about and uses scientific diagrams to support his interpretation and the bible.

For example the image on the left.

Now I am sorry to say that the original image, without the coloured writing and the scripture quotes was found by me as evidence against his argument.

Now what he was trying to argue goes along these lines (the source is here):

Gen. 5:4 And the days of Adam, (Ramapithecus Man), after he had begotten Seth, (Australopithecus anamensis), were eight hundred (thousand) years: and he begat (Ramapithecian) sons and daughters:

Gen. 5:5 And all the days that Adam, (Ramapithecus Man), lived were nine hundred and thirty (thousand) years: and he died.

Which is clearly wrong. He claims that Ramapithecus is the start of the human race. The problem lies with the current theory, that Ramapithecus is in fact a female example of Sivapithecus, and is an ancestor to the Orang-utan.

The second problem with his argument is that if you grab, or look online for, a copy of the bible you will see that it was a direct line sort of thing. Where the names have been placed is wrong even if there was some realism in this argument.

Lines that just end do not create the other line.

The final problem with the whole thing is that it hits a lot closer to home scientifically then Creationism or ID could ever do, but we aren't trying to stop it now, before it catches on.

Friday, 31 August 2007

I read...

...on the blogger help thing that you should keep your posts short.

I don't seem to be able to do that.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

News on the Frivolous Front

If you remember the lawsuit that PZ Myers was going to go through then you should also know that nothing will happen. Through common sense and the pressure of Peter Irons in pointing out pretty much all the deficiencies in the suit.

So Pivar has dropped the suit and apparently Mr. Little, Pivar's laywer, is threatening to sue Irons for some silly reason.

All I can say is congratulations PZ Myers.

I guess that since this battle is over we should probably look at the damages for both parties:

PZ Myers
  • Probably down a few dollars in legal fees
  • Gained more readers (I know I have started reading his blog more)
  • Held and holds the morale high ground
  • Is still an excellent blogger
  • Has increased the usage of the word "crackpot"

  • Most likely lost more money on a lawyer that doesn't seem to be very good
  • Has now managed to get himself laughed at by the entire internet
  • Would not have sold any copies of his book
  • Quit the suit in a really wimpy way
  • Will most likely now be known as "crackpot" for ever and ever

So as we can see PZ Myers clearly won this battle nearly all his points that are there are good ones, so we can give him +4. Pivar on the other hand has many negative points (you can see the bias...) so he gets -5. So the difference is 9, which would be say, an 'Epic Victory', in a complete and arbitrary point of view.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Peppered Moths

One of the finest examples of evolution is the Peppered Moth or Biston betularia. In fact it is so great that I am learning about it again in first year Biology. This is also the first post that I have written discussing Creationism so I hope I don't stuff this up.

Now I don't know if I can really say that I love Biology, I must admit that I prefer Chemistry but for me to live up my dream I need to understand something about Biology anyway.

Now for those that don't know the Peppered Moth (I prefer the common name, less italics to write in) can be found in the UK and can be found in two varieties a melanic variety (which is dark) and a lighter form.

Although the experiment undertaken by Bernard Kettlewell in the 1950's the effect started from the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.

Before the huge increase in factories the forests were clean and had light coloured lichen growing on the trees.

The lichen allowed the lighter moths to survive easier compared to the melanic ones because they could easily camouflage themselves on the trees and not get eaten by the birds that preyed on the insects.

Naturally the darker moths were easier targets and were eaten.

However the Industrial Revolution changed the rules.

The drastic increase of factories spewing out smoke created plenty of soot that killed off the lichen and covered the trees in black soot.

The colours of the moths changed. The melanic moths started to become more common, not being the rare variety anymore but the common one.

Kettlewell managed to show in his experiment that the darker moths were prevalent because the birds found it harder to find them in the soot covered forests.

After the 50's with a program that cut down pollution they found that the moths returned to their original colour diversity.

Now creationists seem to have a problem with this trying to find ways of disproving the hypothesis. The Panda's Thumb mentions them claiming that the results were "faked" and Talk Design has an article that quite thoroughly shows how first the creationists are wrong and how the book Of Moths and Men is also wrong.

This site which is probably getting more exposure then it should, says the following:

IMHO...a couple of issues with the most recent peppered moth study. It's still a moth, and the evolution is an oscillation of populations, just like the finches of Galapagos. Of course, the Darwinists will appeal to the "great creators", random chance, natural selection, and the jackpot, hundreds of millions of years. Given enough time, anything can happen, right?

What we see here is what we can call 'a quite stupid comment'.

It isn't the worst that I have heard from a creationist. The number one thing is a tie between someone claiming that macroevolution was "a rock turning into a banana" or "the Peppered Moth isn't an example of evolution because the pollution was man made but evolution is natural"

Trying to claim that the Peppered Moths has nothing on evolution because it is "still a moth" is a moot point. What was shown here was that the moths adapted to survive, those that were born melanic in a dark environment meant that they were more likely to survive.

The evolution was not just an "oscillation of populations" it was an increase/decrease clearly in the allele frequency of the population. Which, anyway, has nothing in common with the Galapagos finches. The Galapagos finches arrived on the island, most likely from a storm on the mainland and over time they reproduced but they also filled unfilled niches in the ecosystem. The one that I can think of at the moment is the Warbler Finch which is a finch that has adapted itself into a type of warbler, but it is still a finch.

The next line of that comment is just standard creationist drivel, make it sound like a religion and somehow it becomes an idea that is characterised by a belief system but clearly shows a lack of understanding of evolution.

Random chance only affects life if it is something that does not target specific species, for example an asteroid hitting the Earth. It doesn't discriminate between a fit animal and an unfit animal it just kills and whatever manages to survive is bloody lucky.

What he calls the "jackpot" (millions of years") is not always the case. It does not take millions of years for bacteria to become resistant to types of medicine, nor does it take millions of years for various species to become immune to the effects of bacteria like Wolbachia.

To finish, what makes creationists funny (or even IDers) is that they try so hard to disprove something but they don't understand the thing they are trying to disprove, so they fall back to fallacies...

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Citizenship test?

I heard this on the news at work.

Australia will be introducing a citizenship test

Now we are more like the Americans and Canadians.

People will have to know something about Australia like our Capital city (Canberra) or what is on our coat of arms (Kangaroo and Emu, but I know that because we also eat them (but I haven't had Emu yet, I guess it might taste like big chicken...))

One of the funnier ones involves our national anthem.

As a semi sidetrack I will point out that our national anthem is called Advance Australia Fair.

The two verses that are sung are:

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"
Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"
That is the entire anthem.

Now there are some small things that you have to note. The first is that in official events you sit and listen to them play the tune once through and then you sing the first verse.

The second is that most Australians don't know the anthem.

I know both verses because I used to sing in a Choir (when I still had that young boys voice) and at big events we would sing the anthem, both verses.

The Age has 20 of the possible 200 questions that may be asked. The test has 20 out of a possible 200 that can be asked so if you are a person trying to become a citizen maybe you should learn these ones and hope you are lucky...

Anyway number four is:

4. What is the first line of Australia's national anthem?

What makes this funny is that, unlike in the US where my understanding is that an immigrant will know more about their constitution then an American, an immigrant who wants to become an Australian will learn the part of the national anthem that most Australians know.

So we will pretty much all be equal.

When you listen to a country sing it's national anthem you can usually make out what they are saying (unless you don't understand the language that well). Lets choose a national anthem almost at random. The German one.

Germans know their national anthem, many also know the first verse, the one they aren't allowed to sing.

What the Germans use as their national anthem is the third verse which is this:

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach laßt uns alle streben
brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
sind des Glückes Unterpfand;
Blüh im Glanze dieses Glückes,
blühe, deutsches Vaterland.

Now you will pretty much understand what they are going on about here.

Compare that to what you would hear from the Australians. I once heard this as a joke but it is perfectly true:

Australians all let us rejoice
For we ar yun an re
Wi gowden soi an welf for toil
Our ome e girt i c

I would continue but I don't know how to exactly write it down. It is more of an unintelligible drawl in tune to the music. So really an immigrant needs to know the first verse, how to sound like they are singing and know where to put the word 'girt' which most don't know what it means (surrounded/encircled/etc.) but seem to be able to sing clearly.

Probably because girt doesn't make a good drawl sound.

I think there should be an even easier citizenship test. They learn the national anthem and then have to sing it to people. If they sing it clearly and well then they aren't allowed in and if they can't sing it we welcome them into the fold.

It is like Tripod's "New Aussie Anthem"

So we all need to raise our voice and say:
(mumble mumble mumble mumble)... ay!
The rest of the questions are:

In what year did Federation take place?

A: 1901, January 1st to be exact.

2. Which day of the year is Australia Day?

A: January 26th

3. Who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?

A: Edmund Barton. Not many people know that in fact more people know the first president of the US, so the government ran some commercials in 2000-1 so inform people about our first PM.

5. What is the floral emblem of Australia?

A: The Wattle if I remember correctly, that is where we get the sporting colours of green and gold.

6. What is the population of Australia?

A: Last time I checked it was about 21 million.

7. In what city is the Parliament House of the Commonwealth Parliament located?

A: Canberra, the city of too many roundabouts and not enough traffic lights.

8. Who is the Queen's representative in Australia?

A: The Governor General, but I don't know his name.

9. How are Members of Parliament chosen?

A: Election

10. Who do Members of Parliament represent?

A: I guess the correct answer is the people, but I think for many the party they are from is more apt.

11. After a federal election, who forms the new government?

A: For the last 10 years a 'coalition'. And I suspect that it will be the same again after this years election. It is whoever has the majority of seats in Parliament.

12. What are the colours on the Australian flag?

A: Blue, white, red

13. Who is the head of the Australian Government?

A: The Prime Minister, who is currently called John but if Labor is lucky the PM will be called Kevin. Could you imagine the insults? Ruddy Kevin Rudd...

14. What are the three levels of government in Australia?

A: Local, state, federal

15. In what year did the European settlement of Australia start?

A: Officially 1788, when the First Fleet arrived.

16. Serving on a jury if required is a responsibility of Australian citizenship: true or false?

A: Apparently

17. In Australia, everyone is free to practise the religion of their choice, or practise no religion: true of false?

A: True, unless you are a Muslim then you can practice your religion but will also face insults for being a Muslim by the racist yobs.

18. To be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament you must be an Australian citizen: true or false?

A: True. Which is why I am divided on the Shane Warne becoming a German thing. I mean I don't want him to become a German because he is jerk, and it will reflect badly on me here due to cricket loving bogans (Oh you're German, just like Shane Warne...) but I don't really want him to go into Australian politics which is apparently something that he wants to do.

19. As an Australian citizen, I have the right to register my baby born overseas as an Australian citizen: true or false?

A: I wouldn't know. I think that is true.

20. Australian citizens aged 18 years or over are required to enrol on the electoral register: true or false?

A: True, however in South Australia you are on;y required by law to enrol on the federal register not the state one, but we aren't given the option of not registering on the state register.

Who knows, maybe I got the 12 out of 20 to pass the test...

I think this is my first post where I have used both 'Musings' and 'Silliness' as a tag...

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Hot Chocolate Rapist

When I first read about this today I wondered why I hadn't heard anything about it.

From what I can tell the crimes that I am about to write about happened around 10 years ago now.

I first heard about these crimes in passing on Triple J news on Friday heading to Uni, but I missed some of it and I didn't try to look up more about it.

However from what I have found it seems that this man raped 22 women and has been charged with 61 offences that involve 24 women.

He looked respectable, and would buy the women hot chocolate which he would lace with drugs.

In 1998 the case went cold until possibly July this year when two of the victims appealed for other victims to come forward.

Yesterday a man was charged with 61 charges against 24 women.

The man goes by the name of Harry William Barkas who is in remand until December 12.

The article gives the charges:

Mr Barkas has been charged with four counts of rape, one of indecent assault, five counts of administering drugs to render a person unable to resist sexual penetration and one count each of using and trafficking cannabis.

Now the problem that I have with punishing rapists is that do they really understand what they have done? How they have hurt the people that they raped?

I want to link to a thread in the Myspace forums where someone posted that they should legalise rape, but it might have been deleted.

The reason why I wanted to link to it was because this person didn't seem to understand the difference between rape and rough sex.

I wonder if rapists have the same problem, that they equate rape with having rough sex?

How could you punish someone like that? Let them be raped to see the difference?

Finally if all goes well the women who were raped will finally get to see some justice for what has happened to them. And justice after a crime is really all that matters.

Iraq Blogs

The BBC has an updated Iraqi Blogs page.

Two blogs hit me after reading their profiles.

The first is called Days of My Life and is from a young girl who goes by the name of Sunshine, who lives in Mosul.

I have started reading through the archives, and I cannot think of anything to say at the moment. The post that I am up to at this time I think may be one referring to the Battle of Mosul which really seems to reflect the Coalition's ability to achieve an indecisive result.

The thing that I see in reading these entries is that she does not seem to give up hope. At least that is what I am reading now.

The second one that I will start reading more of is called Last of Iraqis. I have only read the little excerpt from the BBC but it sounds like another interesting thing to read.

If you will excuse me I have some reading to do...

A Review

Just to ruin my lovely long post I will post a review of a novella that I have just finished reading. So just skip down to the next post.

The story is called Stuart Pivar v. Seed Media Group LLC and Paul Z Myers and can be found in PDF format here. It is the first in the "Crackpot" series of books by the current author, the United States District Court Southern District of New York, with help from the lawyers of Stuart Pivar.

Although only 10 pages long the reader will be taken on an emotional ride of apathy, confusion, happiness, sadness and fear.

There are some funny points where the book makes reference to real facts that are distorted to represent a fantasy life of a man who feels that he has been screwed over by another and decides to sue the other and his organisation for US$15 million.

At this stage we have the opening, where the man has submitted his complaint to the court system to get the other man to shut up.

He puts forth pretend anxiety to the court so that he may get some sort of pity but then demands that if he wins that the other man will have his mouth sewn so that he may never criticise anyone ever again.

As you move through the tale you will need to look up some supplementary material which is available free off the web. Just google for it, or look on other posts here.

From a plot perspective the tale is rather bland, and contains a bias towards the character called 'Plaintiff' but I suspect that any further books in the series will be more balanced.

Overall I would give this book two stars, it just doesn't stand up on it's own.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Yes it is. Here is the complaint to prove it.

This is the more informative part of the PZ Myer "lawsuit", the one where I have read the things that I should have read last time but needed sleep.

Now reading some comments I heard that some real media sources said something about this. Too bad us bloggers have decided to talk about it.

The closest that I seem to have found is that the blog for Scientific American has said something.

Now nicking this link from PT takes us to the complaint in question.

I might as well point out now that the plaintiff is Stuart Pivar. The guy who wrote the book Lifecode. It is the review that has caused all the problems.

Reading the complaint I see many facts that seem to be completely pointless to me, I would say that paragraph 10 in the complaint (3rd fact point) could really be some sort of appeal to authority.

Paragraph 10 states:

In 1982, with the late, celebrated artist, Andy Warhol, Plaintiff co-founded and provided the initial funding for the New York Academy of Art, a classical graduate school for painting and sculpture, whose current patron is H.R.H. Charles, Prince of Wales

As I said, what is the relevance for this?

But back to the point.

Here is the review by PZ Myers (Which is a repost). Here is another comment posted on the same day.

The biggest problem is that they don't mention in the complaint which post they are complaining about, the review, or the reasoning behind reposting the review. I suspect that it is the latter because the facts seem to fit it.

Paragraph 15 is the really the start of the matter at hand.

Paragraph 15 states:

On July 12, 2007, Defendant Myers launched a vicious attack on the integrity of Plaintiff's work on Myers' "Pharyngula" webiste, found on the internet at

(The hyperlink has been added in by me and is to the correct address).

Now then, from what I can see the post in question has no attack whatsoever, and can hardly be called vicious. The closest thing that I can even see as an attack is the use of the tag 'kooks' but bloggers everywhere should know that tags are completely opinionated. I could write a post about someone and use the tag 'wanker' if I wanted to (not that I ever will or may the almighty Google delete my blog), but it has no bearing on the actual person. But that is probably a false analogy.

What PZ Myers seems to have said is that the whole premise of the book is flawed.

The second post is just his annoyance about the media giving a book that has an idea that he thinks is completely pointless any time whatsoever. I see no attack just some criticism.

Paragraph 16 states:

On July 12, 2007, Defendant Myers maliciously, and without cause, defamed Plaintiff by referring him to as "a classic crackpot"

Last I checked in countries with freedom of speech that is not a crime. There are far worse words that you can use to insult someone. Does that mean that a psychic will sue James Randi for calling their stuff "woo-woo"? Or homoeopaths suing because he claims that their 'medicine' is a hoax?

Paragraph 17 states:

Upon information and belief, Defendant Myers' references to Plaintiff as "a classic crackpot" were necessarily intended to disparage Plaintiff's abilities as a scientific enquirer and were intended to hold Plaintiff up to ridicule and embarrassment in this specific area of Plaintiff's professional endeavors.

PZ disagreed with the argument, he is allowed to do that.

Paragraph 18 continues with the supposed defamatory remarks somehow coming up with the conclusion that Myers somehow holds complete sway over the entire scientific community and that by calling Pivar a "crackpot" means that his endorsements will somehow go away.

Paragraph 20 made me laugh:

Because Defendant Myers' defamation of Plaintiff has been disseminated widely throughout the world, his remarks were also likely and possibly intended to hold the Plaintiff up to ridicule in his business relationships as an industrialist, Plaintiff's social relationships and in his activities as a philanthropist

Now Pivar is the founder of Chem-tainer Industries (paragraph 9) , a business that has absolutely nothing to do with matters of biological research. I honestly doubt that people would stop business with his company because he has ideas that have been called 'crackpot'. It doesn't stop the other crackpots now doesn't it?

The same goes for Philanthropy. I am sure that nobody there would care that he has published a book that has been labelled as 'crackpot', it isn't as if he had committed mass murder or something like that.

The biggest irony is that he is really shot himself in the foot here. People would have read the entry by Myers, thought little of it, perhaps even bought the book so they could read for themselves what this guy was going on about and that would have been it. Now pretty much the entire blogosphere is talking about it, he is now being ridiculed because he decided to embark on a frivolous lawsuit.

Paragraph 21 cites the case McFaddn v United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company as possible precedent claiming that "crackpot" can be a slanderous term. Looking around (and managing to find something from Richard Dawkins) it looks like the case never went further then the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which means that they are citing non-binding precedent because I assume, as it is done here, only federal courts can produce binding precedent.

Paragraph 22 says that Myers has just decided to keep on attacking the book.

Paragraph 23 says:

Upon information and belief, [Neil de Grasse Tyson] has withdrawn any previous review of Plaintiff's work in relation to Lifecode due to the unwarranted and vitriolic attacks Defendant Myers has made on Lifecode and Plaintiff personally.

However they do not say what information Tyson received or why he wanted his comments removed. I managed to find them on Butterflies and Wheels, which found that the quotes were either taken out of context and made up.

Pivar had a few people to support the book, Richard Milner, Robert Hazen, Brian Goodwin, Dimitar Sasselov and Neil de Grasse Taylor. Taylor decided to have his comments taken off the website because they were false and it seems that Pivar has somehow attributed lying on his part into "PZ Myers convinced him through ad hominems". PZ Myers himself stated that he received a copy of the book to review ("Instead, Pivar sent me a copy of his book to review, so I'll focus on that.").

Also notice that if you look at the reviews section the one from Hazen is the longest on that page but he admits that he is not an expert in "this area of topology and mechanics" he says many things that make little sense to me but all the reviews no matter how long are supportive of the claims so what is wrong with a dissenting view.

Because of his standing in the blog community (He is considered the best of the science blogs) I suspect that Pivar would have thought that it would have been good to get a positive review from him, but it backfired when the brutally honest review (paragraph 19 says that Myers has described himself as a cruel and insensitive person), was a negative one.

So Pivar writes another version of Lifecode called Lifecode:From egg to embryo by self-organization which received an "even worse" comment. This would have annoyed him so he ends up with the decision to sue PZ Myers, which really is shooting himself in the foot.

He didn't get the result that he wanted and is now trying to get his revenge.

Paragraphs 24 - 27 are there to try and argue why the parent company is at fault.

Paragraph 28 says that Pivar mentions (on July 17 2007) that Myers had reviewed the earlier book.

All I can say is the Myers seems to have been getting messages from Pivar well before the second review came out.

This is the link to the second review, which is another negative one.

Paragraph 30 states:

Defendant Myers' defamatory remarks have caused the Plaintiff considerable mental and emotional distress

From a guy who has been bullied in the past let me tell you something. A bad review is nothing. If I could choose between getting a bad review or having a mob of people yelling names at me I would choose the review.

Paragraph 31 is trying to say that Myers has ruined the work of Pivar as a scientist, who I guess is most likely more at home in a Chemistry lab then a Biological one.

Paragraph 32 states:

By reason of the defamatory comments written by Defendant Myers and published by SMG, Plaintiff has been damaged by loss of book sales and diminished return of ten years of funded scientific research in special damages, a sum in excess of [US]$5 million.

(I added the [US])

Now from what I understand the suit is for US$15 million. So I guess the breakdown is US$5 million for supposed people not buying the book, and him not getting money for research. Even according to's "About the Author section, Pivar has no credentials in Biology. It says Physics, Mathematics, Chemical and Mechanical engineering.

In all honesty I doubt that he would get research grants for Biological work.

The final paragraph of fact, 33, claims that he has:

[Suffered], inter alia, the special damages referenced in Paragraph 30 supra, and gross impairment of his good name, public embarrassment, humiliation, impairment to his professional reputation, public impairment of his abilities and integrity, anxiety, emotional upset and public ridicule.

Well the public ridicule of him would really have increased since he decided to slap a lawsuit on PZ Myers and SMG and the other things are just complete rubbish from a guy who is trying to garner sympathy or is someone who can't handle criticism.

The declaratory relief says that he wants Myers to remove anything negative written about Pivar from his blog. What an interesting way to silence critics. If that happens then I will willingly give space on my blog for PZ Myers to post whatever the hell he wants and I am sure that others would be willing to do so as well.

The second claim is about business interference and the US$5 million.

The third claim is where the rest of the money appears, the US$10 million. That is damages for libel per se.

The next section is where it gets scary. Under 'Prayer for Relief' comes the reasons what Pivar wants to get out of this. I will copy this herein:

WHEREFORE Plaintiff respectfully demands this court enter judgement in its favor and against Defendants Myers and SMG as follows:

1. Enjoining permanently the Defendants from making any future defamatory statements about the Plaintiff and immediately removing any remaining defamatory statements from their websites

2. Awarding on the Second Claim for such compensatory and punitive damages for the Defendants tortious interference with Plaintiff's business relationships as a jury may impost, but at least the sum of [US]$5 million, that constitutes Plaintiff's special damages.

3. Awarding on the Third Claim, such compensatory and punitive damages, inter alia for emotional distress and loss of reputation of at least [US]$10 million, or any sum as the jury may impost.

4. Granting such other and further relief as the Court seems just and proper, including the costs of this action.
What makes the whole thing scary is that would silence Myers from posting anything on his blog that criticises Pivar. Which may leave Pivar open to write a whole bunch of crap and pass it off as science.

It also would open the door up to other lawsuits against other people who criticise someone, even in book reviews where the book was sent to the reviewer by the author personally. It would also turn the US blogosphere upside down because they cannot say things that criticise.

Blogs are primarily an opinonative thing, we are not the proper media, we write about things we want to write about, we are not the news where we must be completely neutral on all issues, what makes a blog great, like Pharyngula or PT, Baghdad Burning or the BABlog. We know that they have a bias, but that is what makes them good to read, they have viewpoints that they support or don't support because they are written by real people, from real places in the world, about issues and situations that are important to them.

Do you really want to see that disappear in a blink of an eye?