February 2007 Archives

February 28, 2007

Bargain of the Day: religious mobile phones

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about special religious models of phones, and I have to say that I sympathise with the rabbi who requested a phone suitable for Ultra-Orthodox Jews:

Cellphone companies, at the time, had started to load their products with entertainment features, and the rabbi wanted none of it. He was in search of a phone without Internet capabilities or text messaging. He didn't want cameras, music downloading, or anything else that could distract the pious. He was looking for a device that could make and receive calls. Period.

The article goes on to discuss Christian ringtones, and other tacky services aimed at Christians, then onto phones which include features useful to Muslims:

Dubai-based Ilkone Mobile Telecommunication in 2005 launched a phone in the Middle East with an internal compass that tells users the direction of Mecca, where Muslims face when they pray. Ilkone, which comes from the Arabic word for "universe," also equips its phones with a Hijri, the Gregorian calendar, and alerts users to prayer times with an alarm that features an actual muezzin's voice. It also has a complete version of the Quran, with an English translation.

Me, I want a phone which can be used anywhere in the world, is good at phoning and texting, with the ability to store lots of numbers, has no camera, no Microsoft and no other extraneous crap. Is this too much to ask? Oh yes, and a loop from which to hang Hello Kitty dangly things.

New Cellphone Services Put God on the LineWall Street Journal, March 26th 2006. (Thanks, Fluff the Plush Cthulhu)

February 27, 2007

I should not look

I really shouldn't check my referrers, and I should especially not check the search terms by which people have found the Prattle. Recent searches have included religious meaning of eating own semen, rattlesnake venom in wine health benefits and nuns and priests having children together . Usually I can work out how these strange terms attracted people here, but these three have me baffled.

February 22, 2007

Balls

Belgium: An airline has redesigned its logo because superstitious people were worried about it.

The new and old Brussels Airlines logos compared
The new and old Brussels Airlines logos compared

Thirteen dots looked just right to the designer Ronane Hoet. Together they had the perfect balance to form a stylised b for the new Belgian carrier Brussels Airlines and the number also matched the destinations it flew to in Africa, a key market. It was harmony, she said, wistfully.

This week, however, Brussels Airlines workers were adding a 14th ball to the logo on the tail and sides of an Airbus 319 in response to complaints from superstitious customers in the US and Italy.

Immediately after the November announcement that the successor to the merged SN Brussels and Virgin Express would come into operation on March 25 with the 13-ball logo, the firm was flooded with disapproving emails and calls.

They said they were not pleased with an aircraft with a logo with 13 balls because they think it brings them bad luck, said airline spokesman Geert Sciot.

Not quite sure how a loaded A319 makes it to the US. Still, one of the airlines forming the new one rose out of the ashes of Sabena, which is a much better reason to avoid it. The new design has 14 balls, which is fine as long as the airline does not serve east Asia.

Brussels Airlines could have gone to 12 dots or 14. It chose 14 to avoid connection with the 12 disciples. Luckily, it is not flying to China, where 14 would be a definite no-no; in Mandarin, 14 sounds like the phrase to want to die.

In both Chinese and Japanese speaking areas, the numbers 4 and 7 are unlucky because the words for them sound like the word for death. The Japanese even use alternative words for the offending numbers where possible, which is why shichimi togarashi (seven spice) is more usually labelled nanami togarashi.

Airline redraws logo as superstitious customers curse 13-ball designThe Guardian, 22nd February 2007. Related story: Superstition in strange places.The Pagan Prattle, 29th January 2004.

February 20, 2007

They're NOT going ot just maintain this thing, on and on forever!!!

Arthur D. Hlavaty has received a differently-sane anonymous comment to a LiveJournal entry wishing someone a happy birthday. Here's the first paragraph as a taster:

Mohammed's taking of multiple wives marked the entrance of his clone who was used to segment the Arab world into favored and disfavored factions. Similarly, assuming the accuracy of the dogma, the gods employed a clone for Jesus Christ who was used to claim he was the son of god, opening the door for the worship of a false god. Both clones were used to mislead disfavored followers.

Killer priest sentenced

Romania: A priest has received a 14 year prison sentence for his part in an exorcism which killed a young nun. Daniel Petru Corogeanu led the ritual to cast the Devil out from the woman.

Irina Cornici, 23, died after being starved and chained to a cross at a secluded convent in the north-east.

Four nuns were also convicted of manslaughter and received sentences of between 5 and 8 years. They plan to appeal their sentences, although the Orthodox Church is unlikely to be on their side:

The Orthodox Church, which described the Tanacu incident as abominable, has promised reforms, including psychological tests for those seeking to enter monasteries.

It banned Corogeanu from the priesthood and excommunicated the four nuns.

Priest jailed for exorcism deathBBC News, 19th February 2007.

British politician opposes veil

United Kingdom: Britain's first Muslim peer has come out against wearing the veil. Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said that they were a mark of separation and defiance against mainstream British culture, and that he felt the way they are used today is contrary to the original intention.

Lord Ahmed, who became the first Muslim peer in 1988, told the Yorkshire Post: The veil is now a mark of separation, segregation and defiance against mainstream British culture.

“But there's nothing in the Koran to say that the wearing of a niqab is desirable, let alone compulsory. It's purely cultural. It's an identity thing which has been misinterpreted.

“They were supposed to be worn so that women wouldn't be harassed.

Some of us would suggest that in these circumstances, it's the men who are at fault and should be kept indoors to stop them causing trouble, but this is a digression.

But my argument is that women, and communities as a whole, are now being harassed because they are wearing them.

He said that the veil was a physical barrier to integration.

He pointed out that Westerners in Muslim countries were expected to dress according to local norms, and felt British Muslims ought to return the courtesy:

The peer said that Muslims in Britain had to become more sensitive to their surroundings, in the same way as westerners walking around Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, would have to wear a head covering and long clothing before they could expect to engage with local people.

He said that he did not want to see a ban on veils, but added: Muslims need to have a debate among ourselves about whether we need them.

Veil should not be worn, says Muslim peerThe Guardian, 20th February 2007.

Bargain of the Day: knackered telly

I have this strange feeling that the vendor of today's bargain is not being entirely serious in their description of their wares, but the Miracle TV! Permanent TBN Phone Number Cures Ailments! does come with a video!

Up for sale here is 1 Miracle Television set guaranteed to cure any ailments and perform all miracles*. Operates without electricity, as seen above.

Miracles include but are not limited to:

Water to wine.

Parting of large bodies of water.

Produce manna from heaven.

Manifestation of fiery chariots.

Multiply loaves and fishes.

Kill Giants.

Walk on water.

Heal the sick and raise the dead.

Bring peace to all nations.

True story; We turned the TV off, but TBN's phone number remained! Is it a sign? YES. It is the 21st centuries' seraph! I had a vision. I must sell this TV set so that it may be released unto the World. For me to keep it would bring a curse upon my household.

Works great. Controller included.

*not responsible for any statements made nor the repercussions of said televisions actions

February 19, 2007

Religious spam: the motherlode

Crazy Christian Chain Emails is a blog which does exactly what it says on the can. An introductory post explains:

Welcome to Crazy Christian Chain Emails, a site dedicated to, well, see the name. I've devised a kind of scoring system, in which points are given for different common rhetorical and stylistic cliches in these emails.... Should I introduce myself? Okay, my name is Stella; I'm an atheist, and I live in Kansas. Since I'm in the Bible Belt, most of my friends and acquaintances are Christian. This usually doesn't affect my life too much, unless I'm on these people's email contact lists. Then I have to put up with True stories of angels emails. I'm tired of it, and rather than ask my friends not to send me any more of that garbage, I'll put the messages up on the internet for other people to laugh at. I'm passive-aggressive that way.

It all makes me so glad that I have Thunderbird set to not display HTML messages.

February 14, 2007

French censorship.

France: A correspondent tells me a French science fiction novel has been censored, and it seems to be because the Roman Catholic Church doesn't like to be reminded of their failings. Denis Guiot, editor of young adult science fiction imprint Autres Mondes explains:

The editorial board of Fleurus/Mango Jeunesse has censored Nathalie Le Gendre's novel, Les Orphelins de Naja (The Orphans of Naja), which I had scheduled for a May, 2007 publication in the Autres Mondes line.

The book shall not be published.

The reason why? Nathalie's novel denounces pedophilia in a future Church, on a newly-colonized planet.

The editorial board doesn't want any trouble with the shareholders.

Granted, the line is put out by a publishing group otherwise known for its religious output, the number one publisher of missals in Europe, and such a book would surely look unsightly.

Unless the editorial board changes its mind--which is highly unlikely--I am thinking of quitting.

The Autres Mondes imprint is highly regarded, enjoying both commercial success and critical acclaim.

Censorship in France14theditch, 14th February 2007.

February 13, 2007

The end of the world is very nigh indeed

It seems I missed at least one important date out of my Annual End of the World Post 2007: St. Valentine's Day. According to a poster on various newsgroups, ancient Egyptian astrologers knew all about it, although I suspect the bigotry is a modern addition to the prediction:

Predators such as jews, shiate and Pope Ratzinger could be in for a nasty Second Coming shock this Valentine's Day as a huge comet originating in the costellation of Aquilla the Eagle heralds the Return of the King, according to astrologers decoding the British Museum's ancient star maps found in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.

Comet Nemesis hails from the giant bright star Altair and has been predicted to usher in the Day of Judgement according to the Cheops Codex.

Exactly what this will bring is a little vague. Okay, that's me being too polite. What follows makes no sense whatsoever.

We forsee the total collapse of the Family Evil Empire as the comet transits natal fault lines that have held together for centuries with glue made from boiled cloven hooves, Gog family semen and rattlesnake venom.

But the Poodle gods in Sally, Rabat is totally blase about any collapse of its power structure on the 14 February and has even hinted that the head of the Metropolitcan Police's cash-for-honors probe may have been offered a life peerage to clear up the whole messy business pretty damned quick.

Internet spread betting index AintgottaWarholprayer.net is offering odds of 5/4FAV on Alaoui being led kicking, screaming and manacled out slowly on Wedenesday morning after the King mohamed sesta alaclaoui, the Pretender to the Throne of god and all the other Bots and Clones implants are shot at dawn for treason against Salvation.

Right-o.

Prey for Valentine's Day Second Coming says astrologersWarhol, 12th February 2007.

Bargain of the Day: Jesus' LJ

Today's bargain is a rather unique diary, in so far as something of which there are multiple copies can be unique. MY HANDWRITTEN JOURNAL: JESUS APPEARED TO ME & TOLD ME THE FUTURE, CANCER'S CURE, HEAVEN'S LOCATION & MORE contains interesting views on astronomy, immunology and international politics. It's also decorated with a load of pentagrams.

Diary containing messages from JesusThe winner of this auction will receive my handwritten journal where I have described the four messages of Jesus Christ who has appeared to me. Feel free to ask questions via eBay.

JESUS HAS SPOKEN AND MY JOURNAL IS THE DOCUMENTATION OF THIS WORLD EVENT. The most important message is Jesus' foretelling of the future. The future is up to us. We are on the brink of destruction. We must act quickly. Politicians must take notice! IF WORLD PEACE DOES NOT COME BEFORE 2021 HUMANS WILL BECOME EXTINCT.

Jesus revealed four specific things to me:

#1: The precise location of Heaven

#2. The cure for cancer

#3. The solution for the achievement of world peace.

#4. He revealed the future to me.

I will briefly discuss each of the four revelations now.

#1. THE PRECISE LOCATION OF HEAVEN: When we die we will become stars... Literally stars! Jesus Christ is our Earth's sun. That is why we are His... Because we come on one of His planets. When we die and become stars we, too, will be blessed by wonderful special planets which orbit us and bring us great happiness. God the Creator is also a star... The first and the greatest. Two thousand years ago Jesus said I am the Light of the World. Jesus now wants us to understand that this means He is the Sun and that when we die, we will become stars too.

#2. THE CURE FOR CANCER: The cure for cancer is actually the knowledge of the precise CAUSE OF CANCER. We already know the cures for cancer, mainly prevention and early detection. Also chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and alternative medicine. We also are acutely aware of the roles of carcinogens, environment, heredity and diet. But what is the PRECISE AND SOLE CAUSE OF CANCER? CANCER OCCURS WHEN WE EAT OUR OWN FLESH. (Two very simple examples of eating our own flesh are biting our cuticles or biting our lips.) When a piece of our own flesh is digested, microscopic fragments of our own DNA enter the bloodstream. If a piece of this DNA enters a vulnerable cell, the nucleus of the cell identifies the 'food' as 'self' and this causes a 'circuit' to be blown in the nucleus. When (and if) that cell goes to divide, it does so in a haphazard fashion, dividing into four instead of into two and the mutation continues. There is an interesting correlation to Christianity here. Jesus told us to take His flesh and eat it. Now he wants us to know not to eat our own flesh in any way because it is deadly.

#3. THE SOLUTION FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF WORLD PEACE: This is so simple! According to Jesus, the way to achieve world peace is this: An AMERICAN president has to set a goal for WORLD PEACE BEFORE 2021. (President Kennedy did something similar when he set a goal for the USA to land a man on the moon in the 60's.)

#4. JESUS REVEALED TO FUTURE TO ME: The future will go one of two ways: If world peace is not achieved before 2021 the world will destroy itself. If world peace is achieved before 2021, there will be no more natural disasters. Notice that Jesus did not say that HE would destroy the world. Rather, we will destroy it ourselves with our greed and hatred.

Jesus appeared to me on March 17, 1984. He appeared to me in my dorm room at Holy Name Hospital School of Nursing in Teaneck, New Jersey. I was 28 years old at the time. He instructed me to try spread His solution for the achievement of world peace and to work towards it. He instructed me to try to tell people the precise location of Heaven. And he instructed me to try to share the cure for cancer. BUT He told me NOT TO TELL ANYONE He had appeared to me until after the dawn of the new millennium when I would receive a sign. The sign would be a huge natural disaster. For a brief while I thought the events of September 11, 2001 were the sign that I should come forth to tell people that Jesus had appeared to me. However, I knew that Jesus had said it would be a NATURAL DISASTER so I remained silent. Then the tsunamis of December 2004 hit. I have been trying to 'go public' since then.

I have decided to go with Ebay in an effort to spread the messages of Jesus.... The winner of this auction will be given my hand written journal which tells the story of Jesus' visit and the messages He revealed to me..

GOOD LUCK BIDDING AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

I am not claiming that this journal is the only one in existence. As of October 4, 2006, I have sold two journals. Each contains the same story, yet each one is unique.

Update: It seems the producer of these journals has a web site.

February 12, 2007

Bargain of the Day: God up your bum

Sometimes I will encounter something of interest while browsing a totally unrelated site. Today was one of those days. How could I possibly expect that innocently reading Pharynugla's commentary on Gillian McKeith, could possibly lead to a Christ-centered, health education ministry offering wholeness of body, mind and spirit?

It all started with a comment by Zeno: You may have years of "unexpressed" meals in your digestive tract, but never fear! Vierra will give you a Christian colonic.. My ears pricked up, naturally, and there was a link: Garbage in, garbage out!. And so, eventually, with the help of a well-known search engine, I found my man.

Welcome to Modern Manna online, the official website for Danny Vierra—founder of the Almighty Cleanse. We are a Christ-centered, health education ministry offering wholeness of body, mind and spirit. We offer a 10-day live-in program at BellaVita Lifestyle Center. We also offer the building blocks for excellent health, the latest information from articles, books, audios and DVDs for simple, alternative health remedies, which include lifestyle changes, vegetarian cooking, detoxifying and cleansing, juicing and more...

Optimal health starts with a seasonal cleanse. Almighty Cleanse™ is a powerful yet gentle 2-part system to help regulate and purify your digestive tract. This easy-to-use cleansing system helps expel impurities and fecal matter that build-up on your intestinal walls. One of the most concentrated natural purification systems available, Almighty Cleanse can work in only 7 days.

Yes, Almighty Cleanse. It's really called that. Once your digestive system has been dosed in this holy water, Modern Manna can help you keep it sparkly with herbal concoctions, including Anti-Plague Formula.

The recipes look pretty good, though. There again, you can say that about Gillian McKeith.

Robertson in yet another demonstration of Christian love

United States: A bodybuilder has told a court that televangelist Pat Robertson threatened to kill him and his family in an argument over a milk shake.

According to a complaint Phillip Busch filed with the Norfolk police, Robertson made the threat when he entered a room in the courthouse Wednesday to be questioned for a deposition....

Busch is suing Robertson for what he says is misappropriation of his image to promote Robertson's protein diet shake.

Man Claims Pat Robertson Threatened HimThe Guardian, 10th February 2007 (thanks, Red Wolf).

February 11, 2007

Bargain of the Day: job lot of religious job lots

Today's first bargain is particularly short on literacy, the description being written in a dialect of Christian English: Lot of 48 Angel worry prayer worship God faith stones. There's not much of a description beyond that. Once the auction is over, click the image below for a good look at the massive range of designs available.

An angel-god-faith thingimabob

But today is the day for religious job lots. You could stock up on 144 Christian Beads - Asst Styles [archived image], 48 wooden crosses, 24 Holy Bible keyrings [archived image], a Wholesale Lot Of (50) Cut Pennies - Angel Shape [archived image], 12 Beaded Cross Necklace Craft Kits [archived image], or even 144 God Rocks Coins [archived image].

February 6, 2007

Eating your own dogfood

United States: No, not Gillian McKeith again. This time it's the Washington Defense of Marriage Initiative, which proposes some innovative legislation, insisting that marriage really is for the sake of the children, and for no other purpose.

If passed by Washington voters, the Defense of Marriage Initiative would:
  • add the phrase, who are capable of having children with one another to the legal definition of marriage;
  • require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
  • require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as unrecognized
  • establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
  • make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.

So which bunch of fundies is behind this initiative? The answer is that it isn't—it's the work of some Americans with a sense of irony.

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance seeks to defend equal marriage in this state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court's ruling on Andersen v. King County. This decision, given in July 2006, declared that a legitimate state interest allows the Legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this legitimate state interest, it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage.

The way we are challenging Andersen is unusual: using the initiative, we are working to put the Court's ruling into law. We will do this through three initiatives. The first would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage. The second would prohibit divorce or legal separation when there are children. The third would make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony.

Absurd? Very. But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstit[u]ional and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric.

The chief executive of Allies for Marriage and Children, a fundie organisation which supports special rights for heterosexuals, spectacularly failed to get the joke. (Thanks Supergee).

February 4, 2007

The Almost Weekly Exclusive Brethren Round Up of Stupidity

Australia: It's getting so you can't open the paper without reading yet another story of Exclusive Brethren hate-mongering and stupidity. That being the case, let's see what the wingnuts have been up to since we last looked in on them.

Deya update

United Kingdom/Kenya: The Gilbert Deya 'miracle babies' case runs and runs. The Kenyan government has asked for him to be extradited to face charges of child kidnap. Deya was granted bail after he appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court a few days ago, which seems a little daft given that he previously fled to Scotland in an attempt to escape justice. Scotland is a different legal jurisdiction, and he doesn't need a passport to get here from England.

Extradition hearing for 'miracle' pastorThe Herald, 1st February 2007.

Sunday miscelleny

A handful of stories from the last few days which I was too lazy to write about at the time:

  • Teachers get advice on how to spot signs of ritual abuseThe Guardian, 2nd February 2007. Note the word being repurposed to mean the abuse of children by Christians who believe the child to be possessed or a witch. Many of the signs are a bit crap, and others would apply to more mundane forms of child abuse too.

  • Brought to book: the poo lady's PhDThe Guardian, 3rd February 2007. Ben Goldacre find Gillian McKeith's PhD thesis:
    There are lots of grand statements about research, with nice superscript numbers relating to references in the back. But when you chase to the back of the book to see what these academic documents are, they include such august periodicals as Delicious, Creative Living, Healthy Eating, and my favourite: Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet.

    Some of it is plainly absurd. As we get older, she explains, the levels of RNA/DNA decrease. Okay. If you do not have enough RNA/DNA, she goes on, you may ultimately age prematurely. Stress can deplete your DNA, but algae will increase it. And that's not all. Chlorophyll within the algae is a powerful oxygen generator for human beings. Back to GCSE Biology: it'll only make oxygen if there's light inside me, Gillian ...
    I found You are What you Eat frustrating and full of errors—it cited the safe drinking levels which were revised upwards in the early 1990s, for example. There are some good recipes in there, but often they are made needlessly complicated, and use exotic ingredients which would put it out of the price range of mere mortals.

  • New Conspiracy: Israeli Genocide Against Lebanese — With Poison BalloonsThe MEMRI Blog, 1st February 2007. This sort of panic is well recorded, and has a long history. There are examples of similar panics during the First World War, but this one seems to have the added legs of organisations willing to exploit it for political reasons.

  • An indictment that the liberal left is oblivious toThe Guardian, 3rd February 2007, isn't on the web site, presumably due to intense embarrassment about the ungrammatical title. Oliver Kamm alleges that a mysteriously monolithic liberal left puts the rights of religious organisations over that of the individuals they oppress:
    In the past century, material betterment and the steady diminuation of discrimination advanced progressive goals. Much of the left have [grr...—F.] yet to come to terms with this achievement. At the extreme, some who were once on the left have adopted the language and outlook of the right. They argue for what by any objective standards are reactionary positions. These include promotion of religious obscurantism in place of secularism; segregation of the sexes at public events; abridgement of free speech in deference to the sensibilities of those who claim themselves victims of Islamophobia; and, most pernicious, the resurrection in political debate of some highly traditional motifs of anti-semitic conspiracy theory.
    If you can get yourself to the library, it's on page 31.

  • Tolerating intolerance is still this country's besetting sinThe Guardian (Comment Is Free), 4th February 2007. More comment on a related matter to the above.

  • Muslims are now getting the same treatment Jews had a century agoThe Guardian (Comment Is Free), 2nd February 2007. One major difference, which is mentioned, but not dwelled upon, is that 19th century radicals-who-happened-to-be-Jewish were not fighting to impose Judaism on the populace as a whole, nor were they the ones wearing traditional Jewish dress as they had pretty much rejected religion. The tiny minority of violent Islamist fundamentalists claim to be fighting for their faith.

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