December 2005 Archives

December 27, 2005

Making sectarianism a thing of the past

Scotland: Vladimir Romanov, owner of Edinburgh football club Heart of Midlothian, had an unusual festive message for his critics—the Devil is making them do it. The message appeared in the programme for the game against Falkirk, and was accompanied by a photograph of Romanov on a beach with his trousers rolled up.

In his rant, Romanov told fans: Even the most sacred of places on Earth, the places that house the remains of Christ are blighted by profiteers and money-grabbers.

“Likewise in the football world, which is sacred to those who love football,there are those who seek to ruin all that is good about the game.

“But it is the Devil that is driving them forward and they are not going to stop. All that will remain for me is to step aside and bid them farewell on their road to Hell.

Fans were reportedly bewildered by the message, one wondering if it had somehow been mistranslated from Russian. For the record, Hearts won 5-0.

VLAD GETS MADThe Daily Record, 27th December 2005.

December 26, 2005

Boxing Day movie

Jesus Christ: the Musical [QuickTime] is probably more suited to Easter than Christmas, but it's still a good bit of camp humour and Christian Voice are bound to hate it. Thank you Sister Pollyanal Buttercup.

December 21, 2005

Axial tilt is the reason for the season

In case all the nonsense from evangelical Christians had left you confused about the festive season, the kind folk at Astronomy Picture of the Day have posted a graphic reminder of what it is we celebrate at this time of year.

As the seasons change, the direction toward the rising Sun will change, too. The Sun will always rise and set furthest to the south during the day of Winter Solstice, and furthest to the north during Summer Solstice. Today is Winter Solstice, the day of least sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere and of most sunlight in the Southern Hemisphere. In many countries, the Winter Solstice brings a change in season, as it is the first day of winter in the North. The solar heating and stored energy in the Earth's surface and atmosphere is near its lowest during winter, making it usually the coldest months of the year. On the brighter side in the north, daylight hours will increase every day from now until June.

A dramatic composite picture by Anthony Ayiomamitis has been chosen to illustrate the real meaning of Christmas.

Sunrise by SeasonAstronomy Picture of the Day, 21st December 1005.

Bargain of the Day: Ho Ho Aaaarrghhhh!

[Santa Cthulhu]Not so much a Bargain, as a hint as to what I'd like to see in my stocking in four days from now: a Mini Santa Cthulhu Plush (scroll down). In fact, practically everything on this page will do, except the first six items, the hand puppet, and Cthulhu the King, all of which I have. Perhaps not the hat either, because I think my own design is better (and I know it is definitely warmer and looks less like something worn by neds from Bathgate). The Miskatonic University Graduate Cthulhu Plush is particularly appealing. I wish that had been available way back in the mesolithic, when I finished university.

Okay, maybe four days is a bit soon. I can wait till Hogmanay.

Everyone say 'Aww.....'

Wales: Among the many same-sex couples entering into legally-binding civil partnerships in England and Wales today are Philip Main and David Girvan. The Wrexham pair chose to wear their white Druid robes for the ceremony.

The 20-minute partnership ceremony at Wrexham's register office was an emotional event and as the pair walked down the aisle to classical music, their guests moved in their seats nervously.

Mr Main, 49, and Mr Girvan, 53, held hands as they exchanged their vows and swapped wedding rings.

There was a round of applause as an emotional registrar named them civil partners.

In case anyone has any doubts about whether it will last, they have been handfasted for the last 16 years. Coincidently, the first day on which the ceremony could take place is also the Winter Solstice. Alas, they will not be able to get drunk tonight, as both of them are performing in a pantomime.

Meanwhile, a Church of England vicar who has entered into a civil partnership with his boyfriend of 21 years has been threatened with disciplinary action by his bishop, as has the vicar who performed the blessing service after the event.

Druids become gay civil partnersBBC News, 21st December 2005; Gay vicar flouts partnership ruleBBC News, 21st December 2005.

December 20, 2005

Pennsylvania Judge Boots ID Out

In a delightful example of common sense, Judge John Jones of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that intelligent design — which bills itself as a scientific theory and states that life shows signs of being the work of an intelligent designer — is in fact reworked creationism.

The decision comes after 11 parents sued the Dover High School Board of Education for requiring that biology students be read a statement that cast doubt on evolution and endorsed intelligent design. Eight of the nine school board members were voted out of office in November, but the case continued in the court.

In his decision, Jones systematically dismantled the arguments of the proponents of intelligent design. Jones said that the history of intelligent design shows that it is essentially creationism with explicit references to God and the Bible removed. As such, it is primarily a religious theory, not a scientific one, and cannot be taught in US public schools, which are prevented from promoting religion.

Jones also said that language in the school board statement that evolution is only a theory is misleading. It confuses the scientific and colloquial meanings of theory. And by singling out evolution from all other scientific theories it suggests that there is some special doubt about the truth of evolution.

The judge stated that intelligent design cannot be considered science for a number of reasons. By depending on a supernatural cause it violates the basic ground rules of science that have been in place since the 16th century.

He also found that intelligent design relies on the false dualism that if evolution can be disproven, then intelligent design is proven. In any case, he found that intelligent design's criticisms of evolution have been largely refuted.

I'm deeply amused by the wingnuts who are pimping intelligent design as a valid scientific theory, when past attacks on the theory of evolution have been over their misunderstood use of the word theory in the first place. Perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided if somebody just handed the idiots a dictionary. Oh, that's right, they aren't permitted to think or learn for themselves.

Judge rules against 'intelligent design' in classNew Scientist, 20th December 2005.

December 14, 2005

Bargain of the Day: tentacle warmer

Today's bargain is a totally unique Cthulhu Dildo Cthozy (He'll make you shout IA! IA! CTHULHU FTHAGN!!):

[knitted Cthulhu dildo cozy]Yes, from the deranged mind (I prefer the term "Mad Genius") that brought you the Flying Spaghetti Monster Dildo Cozy, comes a new evil. A new evil who will keep your tentacle warm while he waits for the stars to align.

100% acrylic, the Great Old One is suitable for those with wool allergies, and is technically washable, if relatively fragile. Putting him in a pillowcase, although it's an insult to the Elder Gods, might be appropriate.

This is a one-of-a-kind art piece, so I will not be making more. Get it now, or you'll have to wait until he comes to eat and enslave us for a second chance.

IA! IA! CTHULHU FTHAGN!!

December 8, 2005

Yet another Jerry Springer pledge

United Kingdom: Steve Chaloner has set up a second PledgeBank pledge relating to Jerry Springer: the Opera—one that will appeal more to people who don't fancy confronting the managers of their local Sainsbury and Woolworth stores. This one reads:

I will boycott Sainsburys and Woolworths for 6 months due to their banning of DVDs due to religious pressure. but only if 10 other people will too.

I've signed this one, along with 52 others. As the original ban was based on between 10 and 20 complaints (probably nearer 10), that's rather a lot of business lost, and probably none gained.

I will boycott Sainsburys and Woolworths for 6 monthsPledgeBank, 8th December 2005.

Fame at last!

United Kingdom: The BBC has cottoned on to the stushie over Jerry Springer: the Opera, and an article on BBC News Magazine covers the response of bloggers to the withdrawal of the DVD from two major retailers. Scroll down, and see where the link reading 'pagans' leads to. (thank you , tjc).

In the meantime, if you have the confidence, a pledge set up by Dean Wilson might interest you:

I will tell the manager of both my local Sainsburys and Woolworths, in person, and in a civilised manner what I think of the decision to bow to complaints from Christian fundamentalists concerning the sale of the Jerry Springer DVD (re: http://tinyurl.co.uk/qjel) but only if 10 other people will too.

The pledge has already reached its target, but you may still sign it up until the 20th December.

Merry HellBBC News Magazine, 8th December 2005.

December 6, 2005

Bargain of the Day: A very scary solstice

So, you know that Christmas isn't even slightly Christian, but those twee fluffy bunny Pagans have no idea how to have a good time. May we at Prattle Towers recommend A Very Scary Solstice—the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society Solstice carol album and songbook.

We returned to the studio with a bigger-than-ever cast of actors and professional singers. Thrill to the magnificent sounds of the Dagon Tabernacle Choir. Marvel at the exsquisite harmonies of the Arkham Carolers. Tap your tentacles along with the Dunwich Children's Chorale. All twenty-five numbers are professionally produced and recorded with the same maniacal care that made A Shoggoth on the Roof such a disturbing achievement in musical theatre. From beatific choirs to maniacal mariachis, there's something for everyone in this first-ever CD of Lovecraftian Solstice Carols.

You too could wander the street of your town entertaining people with such delights as Great Old Ones Are Coming To Town, Have Yourself a Scary Little Solstice, Oh Come All Ye Olde Ones, Silent Night, Blasphemous Night and Away In A Madhouse. Free samples, including MP3s and sheet music available to whet your appetite, and that of the Great Cthulhu.

Treatment of LGBT people in Poland

Poland: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people have been suffering increasing official harassment and police violence, and religion is being used as an excuse. A May 2005 protest supporting equal treatment was banned by the Mayor of Warsaw, now Poland's president, on the grounds that it was sexually obscene and offensive to other people's religious feelings.

The improvised parade still took place on 10 June, gathering more than 2,500 participants. Less than a week after that, the mayor authorized the so-called normality parade, during which members of the All Polish Youth reportedly demonstrated on the streets of Warsaw and shouted slogans inciting intolerance and homophobia...

During the year other political figures were also reported to have made openly homophobic statements, including that that if a homosexual tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom, calling for no tolerance for homosexuals and deviants and: Let's not mistake the brutal propaganda of homosexual attitudes for calls for tolerance. For them our rule will indeed mean a dark night.

Prime Minister Kasimierz Marcinkiewicz, an extremist Roman Catholic, is responsible for some of these statements.

More recently, a march for Equality in Posnań was disrupted by police who assaulted and arrested over 60 peaceful demonstrators. A counter-demonstration was ignored.

They were reportedly harassed and intimidated by members of a right-wing grouping known as All Polish Youth (Młodzież Wszechpolska), who allegedly shouted Let's gas the fags and We'll do to you what Hitler did with Jews.

All of this is illegal under international law. Poland is a signatory to two treaties which guarantee that all individuals enjoy human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The European Commission has already written a strongly-worded letter criticising the Polish government, and noting that under the Treaty of Nice, the country could lose its voting rights in the European Union. Nothing has been done since October though, and the violations have continued. So, Lisette, a voluntary LGBT activist, has set up a pledge at Pledgebank.

I will send a protest statement to the European Commission to protest against discrimination of LGBT people in Poland and demand that the Commission pays more attention to these issues. but only if 100 other people will do the same and sign their name here after sending the protest mail to: cab-archive-barrot@cec.eu.int.

I have done so, and the news links below provide a lot more information about sepcific examples upon which you might wish to comment. Citizens of the United States might like to note that the US State Department has had preceisely nothing to say about Poland's violations of international law, and has taken no action whatsoever.

I will send a protest statement to the European Commission...Pledgebank pledge, expires 31st December 2005; Polish Gays Fighting BackGay City News, 1st-7th December 2005; Poland: LGBT rights under attackAmnesty International, 25th November 2005; EU Warns Poland On Gays365Gay.com, 26th October 2005.

Woolworth and Sainsbury update

United Kingdom: It seems that I am not the only person who has decided not to spend money with businesses that cave in to pressure from barking mad fundies and is willing to write about it.

Manic at Bloggerheads has some updates, including a quote from Steve Green that indicates that he was, indeed, the loony fundie in question, though there is still nothing on the Christian Voice website. The article also provides links to buy Jerry Springer: the Opera online from Tesco or Asda, and a suggested compromise for the supermarkets.

Justin at Chicken Yoghurt also has a long article detailing his decision to boycott the stores, and encourage his friends and family to do so. He also makes an uncomfortable comparison:

So who's going to bring Stephen Green and his grotty little fundamentalist band to heel? Should it be down to the Christian community just as the Muslim community have been urged to rein in their own fundamentalists? Regardless of whether they're involved or even care? If you're in the club don't you bear some reponsibility for the conduct of the other members?

Shouldn't we get Prince Charles to announce that every true Christian should root out the extremists and declare that some may think this cause is Christianity. It is anything but. It is a perversion of traditional Christianity? Or are such exhortations addressed beyond the pale?

I don't mean to equate Stephen Green and his fundamentalists with Muslim terrorists. Oh, hang on, I do. Green and his ilk have taken the message of Christianity, twisted it, and are now attempting to force their own morality and values on the rest of us by use of threats and blackmail. And with every little victory they'll swell a little more and look for another challenge. Once this battle's won, there'll be another, and their cry go up, Remember Jerry Springer!

The comments thread attached to the original article at MediaWatchWatch is also well worth reading.

For reference, here are a couple of links to where you can buy the DVD in the UK. Note that I'm not an Amazon affiliate:

The Jerry Springer DVD saga continuesBloggerheads UK, 6th December 2005; Putting the fundament in fundamentalismChicken Yoghurt, 5th December 2005; Woolworths, Sainsbury remove Springer DVDMediaWatchWatch, 4th December 2005.

December 4, 2005

Support your local retailers

United Kingdom: Two major retail chains have bowed to pressure from a tiny "Christian" group and stopped selling DVDs of Jerry Springer: the Opera

Woolworths and Sainsbury have both taken the unprecedented step of removing the film from shelves because of customer concerns about the content of the musical, released three weeks ago. Sainsbury has admitted it received just 10 complaints.

Presuming this is the miniscule Christian Voice, it seems that Steve Green now wants to control what you can watch in the comfort of your own home as well as what you can see on the telly.

This is not the first time the Sainsbury supermarket has found itself in league with barking mad fundies. Back in the 1980s, the wealthy Sainsbury family, which owns the chain, gave money to Derry Knight, a con man convicted in April 1986, who claimed to have escaped an elite Satanic group led by Willie Whitelaw, a senior government minister at the time.

Knight gained entrée into a circle of determined anti-Satanists who gave him several hundred thousand pounds to fund his campaign to bring others into the light. Contributors included the enormously rich family which owns Britain's Sainsbury's supermarket chain, and other wealthy supporters of the Charismatic movement. One of the most prominent was the wife of Timothy Sainsbury, the Conservative MP and anti-pornography campaigner. She claimed to have experienced the gifts of prophecy and glossolalia at a Bible meeting for parliamentary wives at the House of Commons.

Stores bow to Christians and ban Jerry Springer DVDThe Independent on Sunday, 4th December 2005. (via MediaWatchWatch); Prof. Dr. Philip Jenkins, "The New Witch-Hunt: Evangelical Christians and the Invention of the Satanic Threat"Millenium: Fear and Religion (IV Conference of the Sociedad Española de Ciencias de las Religiones), 3rd-6th February 2000. See also Jenkins' Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britain, 1992.

December 3, 2005

Bargain of the Day: Cthulhu Awareness band

Recently, at a convention, I was handed an intriguing item. It was a small plastic baggie containing one of those affinity bands, in black. It was an Original Cthulhu Fhtagn Wristband.

It all started when I was on the Tube, and found myself thinking There are all these wristbands available to raise awareness of various worthy and important causes. So why has nobody produced wristbands to raise awareness of the inevitable return of the Great Old Ones? After all, the inevitable demise of humanity amid the brain-melting horror of an awoken Cthulhu is something it's probably worth being aware of.

But people need go unaware no longer! You too can show your awareness of the inevitable doom that awaits us all with your very own rubbery Cthulhu Fhtagn wristband, available at very reasonable prices (plus a portion of your immortal soul, naturally. Call it a subscription model.)

And it even comes with a money back guarantee!

In the event of your wristband aligning the stars, bringing about the return of the Great Old Ones and thus causing the destruction of all humanity by screaming horrors from beyond the stars and/or the depths of the seas, you will receive a full refund.

December 2, 2005

God asked to overturn election

Norway: Jan Hanvold doesn't like democracy, especially if the pesky electorate doesn't vote the way he wants them to. So, what is a fundie preacher to do? Ask his imaginary friend to bring down the government, of course.

The Labor Party and the Center Party we can swallow, but the Socialist Left stands for a de-Christianizing stance that we just cannot support, Hanvold said on his live program on Thursday evening, the Christian newspaper Magazinet reports.

Several Christians have asked to pray for the government, but I pray for a Cabinet crisis, Hanvold said. The recent Socialist Left party call to boycott Israel was the final straw.

Praying for Cabinet crisisAftenposten, 2nd December 2005.

December 1, 2005

World AIDS Day: Religious lunatics abound

Although there are many excellent initiatives from religious groups, there are still some who see HIV/AIDS as an excuse to engage in hate speech and victim blaming. And it's not all 'Christians' pointedly ignoring the reported words and actions of Jesus - here's some extracts from a Kashmiri Muslim loon, who thinks that AIDS spreads because the West is all atheist:

We can call it a sexual Glasnost. A world where buggery, bestiality, adultery, incest and all such diabolic deeds of a human being have made even devil blush with himself. The story begins with a fanciful wish of making this world the be-all and end-all of fun and merriment. They had a desire to make it a paradise, it turned hellish even for hedonists hit not by a disease, but by a tragedy, by a punishment, by a fatal, mortal dread we call AIDS. God save them.

FREEDOM UNLIMITTED, DISASTER INDESCRIBABLE, Greater Kashmir, 1st December 2005.

World AIDS Day: Passing the blame

In many societies, AIDS preventions efforts are hampered by sheer supersition. In Zambia, fears of Satanism are effecting a testing and counselling project:

And Kanyama residents yesterday shunned the HIV/AIDS voluntary, counselling and testing (VCT) preliminary HIV/AIDS function, for fear that their blood samples would be used for Satanism purposes.

Kanyama Member of Parliament Henry Mtonga said HIV/AIDS counsellors had faced resistance from the people in the area following last Saturday's riots in which a church was accused of practising Satanism.

The Member of Parliament then went on to give credence to the rumour, contributing to the problem:

Mr Mtonga said it was important for people to distinguish between blood samples meant for VCT and those that were meant for alleged Satanism activities.

And in news media everywhere, there are stories of stigma and denial, placing the blame on witchcraft. Here's just one example, from a long article explaining how cultural traditions in one area have helped spread the virus:

There is a big number of number of people who do not want to go through VCT [voluntary counselling and testing centres], who do not utilise the antiretroviral programmes that are already in place in Nyanza. In fact, they do not want even to know what killed people, he said.

People continue interacting sexually with these women even after their husbands have died of HIV/AIDS, Olayo observed. Alternative explanations are given for every death. It is either a neighbour's witchcraft, or chira [a curse], or something else.

High HIV/AIDS death toll worries British envoy - Times of Zambia, 30th November 2005; KENYA: Cultural traditions fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS - IRIN Africa, 30th November 2005.

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