MonthJanuary 2008

Anton LaVey’s Black House now condos

anton leveyAnton LaVey

Originally built in the 1880’s, it survived the devastating 1906 fire and earthquake. It’s been a speakeasy, a “spook parlour” and, when Dr. LaVey bought it in 1956, it was owned by one of Mammie Pleasant’s girls, one of the most notorious madams in San Francisco. Dr. LaVey made it world-famous when he performed history’s first Satanic wedding and baptism here; his 500-pound lion, Togare, was raised here. Dr. LaVey was forced to sell the house several years ago because of a relentless civil suit. That fight almost killed him, but this house meant a great deal to him. He said it was part of his own personality – that its roots went all the way to Hell.

Full Story: Boing Boing

In memory of Jon Corey

It’s been 5 years since anyone saw him alive.

links for 2008-01-30

The big secret about secret societies – a review of The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth

Booth is forever intimating that he’s about to explain something important to the reader and then abruptly dropping the subject. He has all the smoke and cymbals of the Great and Terrible Oz, but can rarely muster even the fake disembodied head as a crescendo. He makes a promise, for example, in the caption to a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” — “It has been suggested that this painting alludes to suppressed secret doctrines regarding the feminine role in Christianity. We shall see shortly that this is true, but not in the way proposed by ‘The Da Vinci Code'” — that is never fulfilled; he never mentions the painting again.

Furthermore, much of the “information” Booth chooses to supply is either incorrect or, frankly, untrue. Some of these errors seem to be the result of simple ignorance. He has, for example, the idea that the “laws of probability” dictate that “a coin flipped in strict laboratory conditions will … land heads up in 50 percent of cases and tails up in 50 percent of cases.” (Probability only indicates that a coin is equally likely to land on either side on any single toss.) He entirely misconstrues the thought experiment known as Schr?dinger’s Cat — not an uncommon confusion, it’s true, but since Booth chooses to make “modern science” the villain of his secret history, complaining incessantly that it fails to understand the “deeper” philosophical issues of existence, he should at least make some effort to grasp what it does understand.

Full Story: Salon.

(Thanks Danny!)

Medical Marijuana Vending Machines Take Root in LA

Patients suffering from chronic pain, loss of appetite and other ailments that marijuana is said to alleviate can get their pot with a dose of convenience at the Herbal Nutrition Center, where a large machine will dole out the drug around the clock.

“Convenient access, lower prices, safety, anonymity,” inventor and owner Vincent Mehdizadeh said, extolling the benefits of the machine.

But federal drug agents say the invention may need unplugging.

“Somebody owns (it), it’s on a property and somebody fills it,” said DEA Special Agent Jose Martinez. “Once we find out where it’s at, we’ll look into it and see if they’re violating laws.”

At least three dispensaries in the city, including two belonging to Mehdizadeh, have installed vending machines to distribute the drug to people who carry cards authorizing marijuana use.

Full Story: Fox News).

(thanks Nick!)

Fly naked on nudist holiday flight

German nudists will be able to start their holidays early by stripping off on the plane if they take up a new offer from an eastern German travel firm.

Travel agency said it would start taking bookings from Friday for a trial nudist day trip from the eastern German town of Erfurt to the popular Baltic Sea resort of Usedom, planned for July 5 and costing 499 euros ($735).


The 55 passengers will have to remain clothed until they board, and dress before disembarking, said Hess. The crew will remain clothed throughout the flight for safety reasons.

Full Story: Reuters on MSNBC.

(Via Hit and Run).

Honor killings and “crimes of passion”

Cinnamon Stillwell on Islamic “honor killings” in North America:

Feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, which put out an occasional press release decrying honor killings, need to make combating this practice as high a priority as defending choice and railing against “glass ceilings.” Instead, it is a precious few who are telling it like it is when it comes to the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Ironically, many of them are on the right side of the political spectrum or, like author, blogger and activist Phyllis Chesler, have been cast out of the leftist-dominated feminist movement for speaking the uncomfortable truth.

As I have noted previously, the challenges posed by the Muslim world are the next frontier for women’s rights and all those interested in advancing such goals will have to rise to the occasion. It is up to every one of us to speak out where, not only women’s, but human rights are in question. Young women’s lives are at stake.

Full Story: SF Gate.

(via Trevor Blake).

I agree, but I’m curious just how common a problem “honor killing” really is. There have been a few high profile cases recently, but how common is this in the west compared to other similar killings committed by men of other religions (or who are not religious at all)? Also, do Islamic men really get off easier because of “multiculturalism” than other men or women convicted of similar crimes?

Although it’s not true that it’s legal under Texas law to kill your wife if you catch her with another man (though it was legal until 1974), it’s allegedly true that these men often get off light, often with only an involuntary manslaughter charge. Not just in Texas, but in many states. I’ve had trouble finding more up to date information on the subject than this 1994 story in the New York Times.

Very late update: According to this weakly sourced article:

The Department of Justice statistics suggest that approximately one-third of intrafamilial killings are done by women, and that more than 50 percent of murders of children by a parent are done by the mother. Nevertheless, when it comes to wiping out an entire family, fathers lead the pack, with adolescent sons next on the list.


Despite the differences among these scenarios, there is a common profile of men who have killed their wives and children. Most are white males in their 30s or 40s who react badly to stress and who view their families as extensions of themselves. They typically use a firearm or knife that they have owned for some time. Often they’re depressed or intoxicated. Invariably they’re described as controlling and quite dependent on their families being what they envision, and believing that they are the only ones who can fulfill the family’s needs.

Grant Morrison interview from Disinfo Nation

I think this is the original Channel 4 Disinfo show segment. There doesn’t appear to be any Morrison here that doesn’t appear on The Disinformation: Complete Series DVD, but it is a different edit.

Update: Richard Metzger writes that this segment is “quite a bit” longer than the version release on DVD.

(via Phase II).

Global warming and apocaphilia

Alexander Cockburn has recently published an article called “I am an intellectual blasphemer,” about the treatment he has received as a global warming doubter. Full Article: Spiked.

I’m not a scientist, much less a climate scientist. So as a concerned citizen it’s up to me to look to scientists and science journalists to form an educated opinion about human-centric global warming. My conclusion: it appears that the scientific consensus is that global warming is occurring and that it is at least partially caused by human activities. It also appears that global warming doubters have been defecting at a greater rate than global warming believers.

Scientific consensus has been wrong before, and will be wrong again. The case of Galileo is often brought up by those who wish to challenge the authority of the scientific community. And indeed scientific opinion can at times be as ridged as any religion. But history provides us with far more discredited cranks than vindicated Galileos. So if the fate of the planet is at stake, I’ll bet with the scientific community even if I’m rooting for the dark horse (really, it would be nice if there were no such thing as global warming).

But that isn’t really the point of Cockburn’s article. He seems mostly to be miffed at the treatment he’s received for having taken such a politically incorrect view. But how would Cockburn expect people to react if he suddenly took up the creationism, phrenology, radionics, or some other discredited theory? Would he really expect people to take his arguments seriously then?

This experience has given me an understanding of what it must have been like in darker periods to be accused of being a blasphemer; of the summary and unpleasant consequences that can bring. There is a witch-hunting element in climate catastrophism.

Yeah, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Cockburn burned at the stake any day now, along with all the conservative politicians and business people whose careers have been ruined by powerful church of global warming.

Cockburn does make some valid points about modern environmentalists:

The left has bought into environmental catastrophism because it thinks that if it can persuade the world that there is indeed a catastrophe, then somehow the emergency response will lead to positive developments in terms of social and environmental justice.

This is a fantasy. In truth, environmental catastrophism will, in fact it already has, play into the hands of sinister-as-always corporate interests. The nuclear industry is benefiting immeasurably from the current catastrophism. Last year, for example, the American nuclear regulatory commission speeded up its process of licensing; there is an imminent wave of nuclear plant building. Many in the nuclear industry see in the story about CO2 causing climate change an opportunity to recover from the adverse publicity of Chernobyl.

Indeed. And even on the side of the environmentalists are a number of unsavory political agendas – there’s no shortage of sociopathic cryptofascists in the environmental movement (particularly in the “green anarchism” movement). People who believe that the very existence of humans is an unspeakable injustice, and that we must all suffer for it. Misanthropes who are convinced that mass human extinction would be a good thing. People who believe that it’s worth bombing innocent people to stop technological progress.

Cockburn goes on to equate global warming fears with religious apocalyptic views, which Trevor Blake expands upon:

I have a suggestion as to why large groups of people are supporting the athropogenic global warming theory, but it is one I read long ago by an author I sadly cannot remember and credit. Ask yourself where the largest environmental movements are, and where the most radical / violent environmentalists are. The answer is, roughly, the USA, Canada, England and Germany. All of these countries are, among other things, largely Protestant countries. Compare the environmental movement in these Protestant countries with the environmental movements in largely Catholic countries, such as Italy or Mexico. Compare it also with the environmental movements in Islamic countries. It seems that Christianity co-occurs with environmentalism more than with Islam, and more with Protestant Christianity than Catholicism. Protestant Christianity is heavy with stories of the original purity of humanity and our harmony with the Earth, but through our wickedness in taking on the powers of God we have brought about great suffering and destruction – including the any-day-now destruction of the entire Earth. Compare this to environmentalism, which is heavy with stories of the original purity of humanity and our harmony with the Earth, but through our wickedness in taking on the powers of God we have brought about great suffering and destruction – including the any-day-now destruction of the entire Earth. Environmentalism is in part an echo of Protestant Christianity, which was relegated to ceremonial reverence as the West adopted secular values.

It’s interesting to note the similarities between various apocaphiles. The narratives spun by economic collapse, peak oil, and global warming fear mongers, for example, sound a lot like stories of the rapture. A day of judgment will come, and those who took the righteous (those who bought vaults, stocked up on food, or prepared to live in Bronze Age conditions) will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished. It’s telling that the answer to our problems is always the same: buy the right stuff.

There will always be tyrants and hucksters trying to exploit fear and misfortune. This does not discredit the body of science that tells us what we must do in order to avert catastrophe. The most important thing we must do, ween ourselves from fossil fuels, is a generally positive thing in and of itself. Regardless of its global impact, air pollution caused by cars, power plants, factories, etc. is real. And the US’s addiction to oil has caused numerous geopolitical nightmares. We shouldn’t need global warming or peak oil to motivate us to make these changes. Nor should we allow fearmongors and hucksters to hoodwink us into adopting solutions that do not solve our problems, put an undue burden on the under privileged, or cause unnecessary loss of liberty.

7 Reasons The 21st Century is Making Us Miserable

“Scientists call it the naked photo test and it works like this:
Say a photo turns up, of you nakedly doing something that would shame you and your family for generations. Bestiality, whatever. Ask yourself how many people in your life you would trust with that photo. Studies
show that for almost everybody, the number of people we really trust is shrinking. About a quarter of the people they talked to said they had NO ONE to confide in. Walk down the street, one out of four people you pass have nobody. Among the people who did have somebody, the average number of people in their circle of trust was two. And that includes spouses and parents. Yes, this is new. The numbers are down a whole bunch since just 1985. The world is becoming a colder and lonelier place. Here’s why.”

(via Pointless Waste Of Time)

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