July 2005

Potter Crash

If you havent read Harry Potter 6 yet, do not watch this video. On the other hand, if you dont care about the ending, have fun.

(via The Observer Blog)

Faith schools and manipulative language

OB at Butterflies and Wheels picked up on this article in which Blair asserts the need to keep religious schools.

The prime minister said axing Muslim schools would mean ending Catholic, Jewish and Protestant schools too.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Realpolitik would prevent such a move, said Mr Blair.

Realpolitik. n. Euphamism for political cowardice in the face of virulent attacks from the Daily Mail.

He said it was perfectly consistent in a multi-racial, multi-religious society for people to want their children educated in their own faith.

Sure. I see no reason why people cant teach their children about their religions. At home. On their own time. And not at the taxpayers expense.

Schools are for education, not religious indoctrination.

The prime minister highlighted how his own children had attended Catholic schools.

The prime minister can afford to have his kids indoctrinated. Is that really something to be proud of?

He stressed that he backed faith schools, including Muslim schools, which were part of the proper school system.

The proper school system? Since when was religious indoctrination part of the proper school system.

Faith schools - including Muslim, Christian and any other religious acadamies - should have no place in a modern education system. I know Im repeating myself now, but the purpose of schools should be to provide an education, not to indoctrinate youngsters in medieval superstitions.

And he insisted the schools did not teach children to look at children of other faiths in a bad way and often contained some pupils from other religions.

So how does he know that religious schools dont teach children to look at children of other faiths in a bad way? Does he have some statistics - a comparison between the behaviours of students from religious and secular schools, for example - to support this assertion, or is it the case that he believes it because its convenient to do so.

The best bit, however, is in the second part of Blairs claim, that religious schools and often contained some pupils from other religions. Because, if he really does believe that its a good thing to have pupils from different religious backgrounds in the same school, surely the best way forward would be to scrap all religious schools and allow all pupils from all backgrounds to mix in a secular educational environment.

And finally, we get to the manipulative language

Mr Blair said parents were attracted to such schools because they provided a strong ethos and values.

Ah yes strong ethos and values. Something you only find in religious schools, hey Tony?

Values like lying.

Because surely Blair is aware that the reason most people send their kids to religious schools is because religious schools are selective. And selective schools can exclude problem children. And if the problem children have been excluded, there is more time for the rest of the student population. So children who can get into selective schools do better than those that cant.

This ethos and values claim is rubbish, and Blair knows it.

Hair High

Hair High Ive been a fan of Bill Plympton ever since I saw the General Chaos compilation of short films way back in 1998. His Sex and Violence series is nothing short of inspired.

So I was more than a little interested to see on the German Fantasy Filmfest site that he has completed another full length feature - Hair High - which is described as

“Sort of a goofy, gothic re-imagining of GREASE (without the music) meets CARRIE (with more zombies), HAIR HIGH is a spoof, a satire and a farce. It’s a love story, it’s a tragedy, it’s horror, it’s comedy and it’s modern art of the silliest order. I suspect that one day art museums all over the place will be showcasing their ‘Plympton’ exhibits, but for now get your butt out to a film festival and try to catch some of his work.”

And I will certainly be trying to catch this film.

Decadent and proud of it

According to this poll from YouGov for the Daily Telegraph, 32% of Muslims think that Western society is decadent and immoral, and Muslims should seek to bring it to an end.

But what are these people so offended at? Freedom of speech? Human rights? Tolerance? Democracy? Education? Letting women have jobs? Letting gay people live?

If so, then Im more than happy to be decadent and immoral and proud of it. Whats more, I think that not only should these values be defended, we should forcefully reject medieval notions of subserviance, ignorance and intolerance.

And is a society that tolerates the gang rape of a woman in revenge for something her brother did really less decadent than the West?

Writing in The Times about the same poll, Mary Ann Sieghart notes that

The proportion of Muslim men who say that they feel no loyalty to Britain (18 per cent) is more than three times higher than the proportion of women who say the same. In other words, nearly all Muslim women feel attached to this country and grateful for what it has given them, while a solid core of Muslim men do not. Muslim men are also far more likely than women to say that Western society is decadent and immoral.

This suggests that the problem with Britain — and the West as a whole — is not that it is un-Islamic. If that were the case, then Muslim women would surely feel as alienated as Muslim men. More plausible is that Muslim men resent the way in which their traditional feelings of superiority over women are challenged in the West. Here, they simply can’t get away with subjugating their womenfolk in the way that they can in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Somalia.

So there you have it. These suicide bombers are offended because they cant treat women in the abusive manner that they feel is their right. Theyre offended at all those women walking around with bare arms and uncovered hair - without, it should be noted, drivinge the men around them into frenzies of lust.

They are also offended - I suspect - that they cant go around hanging homosexuals whenever they feel like it.

What a sad and pointless set of grievances.

(Thanks to Butterflies and Wheels for the link.)

Its a Big Ad

Very big ad (via Bloggerheads)

The Naked Truth

Vienna museum opens to nudes beating the heat

Too hot in the city? How about a nice, cool museum exhibition of nudes, in the nude?

Viennas Leopold Museum offered free entry on Friday to anybody who came in swim suits or naked, in response to a summer heat wave with temperatures in the 30s (90s Fahrenheit).

The museum said about 300 women and men in bikinis or bathing trunks, and 10 in their birthday suits, showed up as of midday to tour the exhibit The Naked Truth of nudes and other paintings that scandalised Vienna at the turn of the 20th century.

The atmosphere is fun. The other visitors are amused and there have been no negative reactions, museum spokeswoman Verena Dahlitz said.

Malheur: The bad luck beer

Malheur Logo One of the restaurants near me has a monthly guest beer - which is something I can never resist. And, for the month of July, the beer in question has been Malheur, which is French for misfortune.

The beer itself is okay - dark blonde (if such a thing exists), with an aftertaste that Im still not entirely sure about - but their website is well worth a visit.

Starting with this page where you can see how to pour the perfect beer.

But the real fun begins here, with the malheuren - a collection of all those funny mpegs that people in offices send and receive when we should be working.


Goatfucker goes to jail

Van Gogh killer jailed for life

A Dutch court has sentenced a 27-year-old radical Islamist to life in prison for the November murder of controversial film-maker Theo van Gogh.


Quote of the Day: Where are Monty Python when you need them?

Militant Islam has been shielded from proper discussion by cowardice, political correctness and a racist assumption that we should privilege the beliefs of a minority, even when they appear to be mediaeval. It is time the discussion was opened up not just to reason, but to reasons greatest ally, humour. Instead of banning the discussion of the 72 virgins of paradise, the alleged meed of the suicide bomber, would it not be much more efficient to make fun of this ludicrous claim?

- Boris Johnson

Religion itself is the fount of most evil

Muriel Gray in yesterdays Sunday Herald

Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim “communities”. But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus. The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror and ignorance is of course religion itself, and if it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn’t so.

Bush’s fundamentalist Christian insanity seems temporarily forgotten, and there is much talk of moderate Islam as if this is a jolly good thing, when in fact, in tandem with all other world religions, very much including Bush’s, it is a Dark Ages nonsense that should, of course, be tolerated and its adherents protected and permitted to practice it peacefully, but falls a very long way from meriting respect. The age of enlightenment freed reasoning humans from the shackles of crudely hewn anthropomorphic gods, leaving these man-made deities to serve those who wished to keep them alive for the purposes of comforting self-delusion, social control – particularly the control of women – and the validation of power, violence and aggression.

For the government of a secular country such as ours to treat religion as if it had real merit instead of regarding it as a ridiculous anachronism, which education, wisdom and experience can hopefully overcome in time, is one of the most depressing developments of the 21st century. Religious people must be treated with the same respect as non-religious people, but their religions should quite properly be regarded with the weary contempt they deserve. Instead we have debates on TV news shows between hardline Muslim scholars and moderate Muslim politicians without any intervening voice of scepticism suggesting that the whole darned thing might be just as invented as virgin births and Mormon tablets.

We have bishops arguing with Christian women about ordination as if this is an important issue, again without the obvious interjection that it is unlikely in the extreme that there exists any god at all, never mind a peculiar one who cares what sex wears the cassock. And there goes old nutty Ruth Kelly using taxpayers’ money to introduce a whole new clutch of assorted religious schools that will abuse the innocence of trusting children by teaching them superstition alongside facts to ensure they cannot separate the two.

The defence of any attacked faith is always to say: “You don’t understand our religion.” It’s considerably more likely that those defenders of their rrational beliefs have failed to understand Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau and Diderot. The tattooed drunken morons attending an Orange walk are hardly theologians.

Since these are dark days, it’s time to stop all this polite tiptoeing around religion and harden up accordingly. Our elected leaders constantly bleating their respect for religion is not political correctness but a public declaration that intellect, tolerance, democracy, reason and enlightenment are of less value than dogma and delusion. Now’s the moment for a clear, definite, distinct line to be drawn between state and religion, one that defends the individual’s right to follow whatever ideology he or she wishes within the law, but also firmly declares and vigorously defends our collective ideals of gender equality, respect for differing sexual orientations and reinforces the message that there is no room whatsoever for the supernatural and the irrational. No bishops, mullahs, Presbyterian ministers, rabbis, or Scientologists should be gifted special hearings at Downing Street, but should confine themselves to wielding their power and freedom as the rest of us do, namely as ordinary voters, and the state-funded faith schools that shame us all with their manipulation of young minds must cease. We have all been mugged, but the shock must take us back to reason and as far away from religion as we can get.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

(via (SEB)