MonthMarch 2008

Internet host suspends website for unreleased anti-Koran film, Fitna

A website that a Dutch right-wing politician was planning to use to release a film expected to be fiercely critical of Islam has been suspended.

The US hosting service, Network Solutions, said it was investigating complaints that it may have breached guidelines on hate language.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders says the 15-minute film describes Islam as “the enemy of freedom”.

Full Story: Religion News Blog.

TiamatsVision’s Random Link Dump

It’s spring cleaning time. Time to clean out the inbox:

Spoof of the Tom Cruise Scientology interview made as a promotion for the “Superhero” movie, via Coming Soon.

“Under animal law, more pets get their day in court”, via The Chicago Tribune.

“Mantra Meditation Reveals Hidden Agenda: Are the Gods Alive and Well and Working Towards the ‘New World Order’ ” via The Canadian National Newspaper.

“South Park” free online for 30 days via Boston.com.

A warning about Ayurvedic remedies from India; “Poisonings Prompt Remedy Alert” via The Vancouver Sun.

“History of Religion”. “Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?” “Machine that reads your mind!” via Question Authority.

“The Mysteries of the Egyptian Sun” via Softpedia.

“Steven King’s Greatest Lesson For Writers” via Write to Done.

“Elfquest” free online; via Elfquest.com.

“On The Use of Mythology in Astrology”, via Apotelesmatics Astrology Blog.

“Sources at British Spy Agency Confirm Tibetan Claims of Staged Violence” via Epoch Times.

“Clueless Guys Can’t Read Women” via Live Science.

Whew…

Death of child may put Oregon faith healing law to test

The case of a 15-month-old Oregon City girl who died for lack of medical treatment could become the first test of a state law that disallows faith healing at the expense of a child’s life.

Ava Worthington died March 2 at home from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and infection, according to Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner. He said both conditions could have been prevented or treated with antibiotics.

The child’s breathing was further compromised by a benign cyst that had never been medically addressed and could have been removed from her neck, Young said.

Child-abuse detectives recently referred investigative findings to prosecutors, who are evaluating the case in light of a law passed in 1999 after several faith-healing deaths of children.

“This is the first time that they could be taking a shot at interpreting the law,” said state Senate President Peter Courtney, who carried the contentious bill on the Senate floor nearly a decade ago. He said the Worthington case is giving him “flashbacks.”

Full Story: Religion News Blog.

See also: Child sacrifice in Oregon.

War on drugs contributing to nursing shortage?

Some students nearly have their diploma in hand before they learn of their newest, sometimes insurmountable hurdle.

Michele Convie can tell you how that feels. She did time for two smallish pot busts, but nearly two decades later–and after earning a degree from Pima Community College–she faced a bureaucratic jungle in getting security clearance as a social worker. When ex-felons apply for such clearance, processed through the Arizona Department of Public Safety, “they deny you immediately,” she says, “without telling you how to appeal.”

According to Convie, the student’s history is scrutinized for every infraction, right down to the last traffic ticket. Even then, they can be denied–laying waste to all their college tuition and hard work.

[…]

There’s now an estimated 10 percent shortage of nurses, and by the year 2020, that number is expected to jump to 30 percent.

But according to state licensing protocols, “the Board of Nursing shall not grant a license, or shall revoke a license if previously granted, or decline to renew the license of an applicant who has one or more felony convictions and who has not received an absolute discharge from the sentences for all felony convictions five or more years before the date of filing an application.”

Full Story: Tucson Weekly.

(via Hit and Run).

Kirlian photos of Fell’s progress through Reiki

I’ve been studying Reiki under two local Reiki masters here, and it’s been good so far. I’ll write more about it once I’ve progressed farther. I’ve completed my Level I and some friends and I begin Level II in a couple weeks. I’ll be studying straight through the year until the Master class.

The teachers aren’t your traditional New Age fruits. They’re more like existential yogis, but the Reiki they practise is phenomenal. As an added bonus, they begin sessions with a Kirlian camera. Now, don’t read too much into these. But interesting to see the results as I progress through sessions with them and my own studies.

The image (click image for larger size) is mirrored, so the pinky finger is associated with your connection to one’s intuition, the ring finger with one’s emotional state, middle finger with one’s physical state, and index finger with one’s mental state.

The first row of finger tips is captured as they have you in your normal state, then they ask you to embody happiness, then frustration, and then to feel as if you’re the most comfortable state with yourself as possible. They capture these four sets onto one film and voilà!

The broken lines represent a lack of connection or awareness of that aspect of your being. Beyond language and labels, just being. And as the rings grow in brightness, I believe they come to represent one’s comfort with just being a part of existence — letting the whole of the life experience wash over oneself.

I went today, and as you can see from the bottom-right image, my way of living is beginning to more wholly encompass all facets of being. It was a good session and the past year’s been good.

Might be worth looking into for those unaware of Reiki. As Saul Williams says in his song "Raised to Be Lowered":

To find the balance between all you sense and all you see
To find the patience and the strength it takes to let it be
To stand amongst the crowd and have the strength to hold your own
To throw away the pen and pad and simply be the poem
To rise above hatred to love through seeming contradiction
To seldom take a side and learn to compliment the friction.

Doomsday Fears Spark Lawsuit

“The builders of the world’s biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet.

Representatives at Fermilab in Illinois and at Europe’s CERN laboratory, two of the defendants in the case, say there’s no chance that the Large Hadron Collider would cause such cosmic catastrophes. Nevertheless, they’re bracing to defend themselves in the courtroom as well as the court of public opinion.

The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, is due for startup later this year at CERN’s headquarters on the French-Swiss border. It’s expected to tackle some of the deepest questions in science: Is the foundation of modern physics right or wrong? What existed during the very first moment of the universe’s existence? Why do some particles have mass while others don’t? What is the nature of dark matter? Are there extra dimensions of space out there that we haven’t yet detected?

Some folks outside the scientific mainstream have asked darker questions as well: Could the collider create mini-black holes that last long enough and get big enough to turn into a matter-sucking maelstrom? Could exotic particles known as magnetic monopoles throw atomic nuclei out of whack? Could quarks recombine into “strangelets” that would turn the whole Earth into one big lump of exotic matter?”

(via Cosmic Log- MSNBC)

(Related: Virtual tour of LHC via Popular Science Blog)

Scientologists intimidate protester’s family, get him to give up protesting

Recently, Radar reported on Scientology’s short-lived attempt to beat its Guy Fawkes mask-clad antagonists “Anonymous” at their own game: scary YouTube videos. A clip posted by a Sciento associate under the name “AnonymousFacts” displayed the names and personal information of several supposed Anonymous members and accused the group of violent threats and terrorism. YouTube quickly took the video down and suspended AnonymousFacts. But the hassle for at least one of the three men shown didn’t end there.

[…]

Later a friend of the family came over and said Mr. Mustachio was hanging out in front of the house and had asked her if she was Jonathan’s mom. When she said no, he waited until Jonathan’s parents did arrive, then handed them the file and said, “This is a courtesy letter. No charges are being filed yet. But your son may be involved in terrorist activity.” And then he left. Inside the package was a letter accusing Jonathan of terrorism and a DVD copy of the YouTube video, he says.

[…]

Jonathan said the DVD of Scientologists’ video and the accusation that their son was a terrorist concerned his parents. “[They] told me that while they understood what I was doing, it’s not worth it to have psychos threatening our family. And I agreed.” He’s publicly declared he’s done with Anonymous. “I can’t. I live at home, and these creepy guys started knocking on our door and handing my parents letters … Anyway, I’m not protesting anymore.”

Full Story: Radar.

Update: Another protester’s been intimidated out.

Radar’s coverage of the protests.

Scientology Sets Sights on African Expansion.

His Dark Materials prequel, Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman, except

I’ve never read any of the His Dark Materials books, or seen the recent movie, but I thought some people would be interested in this:

Except from Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman in the Guardian.

(via Robot Wisdom).

Tragic story of the malign effects of religious ignorance

Believe it or not, I’m not much of one for atheist evangelism (for lack of a better word). I’m just not that concerned with changing other people’s personal beliefs (but of course I’m always willing to offer my opinions, and always trying to promote accurate information). I think there’s a case to be made for religion as mental illness idea (and have pushed that idea myself), but when it really comes down to it most religious people (at least in the US) are mostly harmless. My friend and colleague Trevor Blake often points to a correlation between religious belief and committing violent acts. To paraphrase him, you never hear about atheists burning down Christian stores for sex, but you frequently hear about Christians burning down sex stores for Jesus. However, correlation and causation are not the same thing. We can learn from this that religion is not a necessary or sufficient source for morality, but little else.

So my main concern, with regards to religion, is theocracy: when one group’s superstitions become law. So I’ve stopped taking much note when an individual Buddhist priest is found guilty of molesting a woman, or someone commits a murder in the name of their religion. There are laws against these sorts of things, and I’m not sure someone commits these sorts of acts because they’re religious, or if their attraction to religion stems from the same source as their attraction to rape and violence. In other words, I’m not sure religion is a symptom or a disease. I’m more concerned with sovereign nations that organize child-rape syndicates and the institutional oppression and murder of women and homosexuals in countries like Saudi Arabia.

Sometimes it’s not so cut and dry, though. One kicker is parents and their children. I was raised Christian, and I think I turned out ok. I could have done without the paranoia inspired by the notion of an invisible monster watching everything I did, but I don’t hold it against my parents. So I’m generally inclined to believe that parents should be free to teach their kids whatever sort of nonsense they want, and that if the kids are smart they’ll grow out of it eventually.

But what happens when parents take it too far? Recently, an 11 year old girl died of a treatable form of diabetes because her parents choose to pray instead of seek medical help (via Pharyngula). This obviously crosses the line between believing something crazy and behaving in a malicious way. What is the response of the local police?

The girl has three siblings, ranging in age from 13 to 16, the police chief said.

“They are still in the home,” he said. “There is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.”

The girl’s death remains under investigation and the findings will be forwarded to the district attorney to review for possible charges, the chief said.

At least the case is being investigated, but how can the police chief say there is no abuse? I know people who have had their kids taken away from them temporarily for far less. Sadly, this is not without precedent. Trevor wrote last year about parents who withhold medical treatment for religious reasons. None of the parents of children who died preventable deaths were charged with a crime.

This is not a case of religious freedom, or of individual belief. It’s theocracy. If the parents had let their children die for any reason other than religion, they would be charged with crimes and their other children would be taken into state care.

Man arrested for talking to children

I can understand the police talking with the guy, or even asking him to stay away from the woman’s kids. But arresting him? Since when is it a crime to talk to children? When the judge set his bail at $10,000, the police asked it be upped to $100,000. That request was granted. The guy isn’t a sex offender, has no criminal record, and was under no order not to speak to children. Perhaps there’s something else going on here, but it isn’t apparent in the article.

Full Story: Hit and Run.

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