25 June, 2010

Football World Cup Poetry Corner

An Ode to the Departed...

O sayonara Cannavaro
Oui, oui... fly flee Thierry

Domenech, a domineering wreck
Poor Lippi, 'e none too happy

Buffon too, can only rue on two
Quagli's opportunities

A sulker, sent back is Anelka
Paris free? "Non, non, Ribéry!"

Home Le Bleus! A comic tragic blur
So it be, la wee Azzurri

05 February, 2010

Stats of the Day: Only Two Types

Stat of the Day:

There are only two types of people in the world:

  1. There is you;
  2. And there is the 5,999,999,999 plebs that is stealing all your oxygen.

03 February, 2010

Ray Comfort is a Hack (Guest RE-Posted AGAIN)

Good day and welcome to today's special edition of Ray-a-Day, written by me, Gordon, master and commander of this defunct blog. Much thanks and hugs should go to the wonderful Ziztur and Flimsy for hosting this book review party. Please grab a comfy seat, a stiff drink and try not to spill anything on their upholstery.

Today's "angry skeptic" is somewhat peeved at Ray Comfort over something:

I just wanted to let you know that you're an @$#!! You start out talking to people by questioning them on their bad behaviors, then you tell them they're gonna burn in hell. After scaring them with this method you turn around and start running your mouth about Jesus and how he died for them and how you don't want to see them go to hell, which then makes them sad. You think you're getting results when you do this? You think you're changing lives? Maybe for those couple of seconds when you twist people's emotions around and warp their mind into believing they are terrible people and they will die and go to hell. You talk to them like you're the @!#$& higher power! And you have the nerve to talk about self righteousness? You're a joke, take a good look in the mirror before you go out judging others. Who knows, that may be you burning in hell's eternal flames, and your little %$@!# buddy too...

Allow me to begin by confessing, I have no idea what this person is referring to when he/she is slagging off Comfort. My only exposure to Comfort prior to reading Ziztur's review of his book, is a clip of Comfort performing this comedy routine:

Seriously, to this day I still believe this was a silly attempt at Poe-rady, and I harbour half a hope that Ray and Kirk would pop up one day and say, Python-esque: "Sorry, ladies and gents, that was all for a lark. Wasn't it tip top stuff, eh?". That's the thing about Poe's Law, there's always a non-zero percentage chance that this would happen in the future.

But thanks to this book review assignment, I am forced to dig up Comfort's other works, better known as "The Way of the Master" ministry. A sample of what they... em... "do", is in videos like the ones below:

After witnessing these few videos I am even more convinced Comfort is a parody and, as the "angry skeptic" have pointed out, a joke. How anyone can attempt such a blatantly transparent three card trick in this age is certainly laughable. (Thunderf00t offers a simple refutation of this clumsy ploy, from 02:30-07:20, or what I like to call "The Heathen's Gambit")

Yet Comfort and his crew of evangelists seem to win many fans amongst their quarter, so for the moment I shall grant him the benefit of doubt and treat him as a serious preacher and not as some sly street-corner snake-oil salesman.

Comfort's reply to the "angry skeptic" is as thus:

It's true that I do ask people about their bad behavior, and I do tell them what the Bible says about hell. But how could I not? If I am fully persuaded that someone is in terrible danger, I have to at least warn them.


There is one thought that skeptics don't seem to take into account. What if hell does exist? What if the Bible is right? What if God is holy and just and will punish murderers and rapists in a terrible place called hell? What if every single person will get what's coming to them? If what we say is the gospel truth, then what we are saying is justified and most necessary.

Ahhh, the familiar yet severely vulture-pecked carcass that is Pascal.

Ever since I was a little kid, I often wondered what is the deal with the theological preoccupation with this Hellfire thing, and why is it at all frightening? Sure, eternity is a long time ;-) , but being roasted continuously... hmmm... on a pain scale of one to ten register no more than a mere six. And it doesn't score much on the imagination scale neither.

If I was to be scared of hell, it would a hell where 10,000 volts are jolted through every one of my appendages, whilst I am languishing in a sea of Sulphuric Acid, at the same time crushed on all sides by a tonne of radioactive fissionable Plutonium-239, where they easily achieve critical mass to cause a nuclear chain reaction around my material body... as well as within my immaterial soul... for all of eternity. Now that is a ten out of ten kinda hell!!

Now for argument sake, I am "fully persuaded" that:

  1. The almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster exists, and he presides over this Electric, Acidic, Nuclear HellTM.

  2. The noodly FSM considers anyone sporting any facial hair to be a abominable sinner.

  3. The merciful FSM will send all such sinners straight into this special HellTM.

I am duty bound to warn Ray Comfort that his afterlife is in peril and he must repent to FSM, to shave off his moustache and do the chicken dance after downing 14 shots of vodka. If he doesn't, a grim radioactive annihilation awaits him.

So should Comfort follow the bidding of the lord FSM? I certainly hope not.

For fear not, young Ray Comfort, this HellTM have as much evidence for its existence as your standard garden-variety fiery hell. And if any fundamentalist FSM worshippers try to convert you with such a shallow sales pitch as "What if HellTM does exist? What if the FSM is holy and just and will punish the beardy and the moustachy in a terrible place called HellTM?", you are well within your rights to laugh vigourly at their faces, like any rationally thinking folks will do for you.

Ray continues by insisting he is able to critically examine himself when it comes to his own sins:

... I am as bad, if not worse than most of the people to whom I speak. I have broken all of the Ten Commandments, in spirit if not in letter. I have committed a multitude of sins, and that's why I need a Savior. Being a Christian means that all that sin is forgiven.

Sorry, come again?

Being a Christian means that all that sin is forgiven.

I just want this statement to sink in a little bit here.

Which brings us back to this point, there is something truly appalling about this whole enterprise which can arbitrarily set the definition of a sickness, a sin, and then arbitrarily prescribe a cure only they can administer. But for Comfort to parade around his contemptuous banner of "I am saved, but you will burn (if you don't do as I say)", is compounding the bile that rises in my throat.

Only now can I truly appreciate what this "angry skeptic" is railing against, the comedy act that is Ray Comfort is beyond a joke. A hypocrisy dressed up as a self-righteous pretension. You sure can lead an atheist to evidence, but so far all I can witness from Comfort is an argument of "neener-neener-neener, God likes me better than you".

And this makes his "Banana ergo Deus" argument positively cerebral.

19 November, 2009

Semi-interesting Trivia About the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Another set of the Football World Cup qualifying matches are over. To celebrate, here is a list of semi-interesting things I found out about the history of the qualification (from Wikipedia of course). Be prepared to be inundated by mundanity:

  • A total of 204 countries attempted to battle their way to the World Cup, only 31 teams succeeded. South Africa, being the host, qualified directly.
  • There are no debutants in this edition of the Football World Cup Finals, meaning all qualified countries have reached the pinnacle of football at least once. As far as I know this is a first, every World Cup Finals in the past have hosted at least one debutant.
  • The six teams with the least experience in Cup Finals (i.e. two appearances only) are: North Korea (last appeared in 1966), Honduras & New Zealand (1982), Greece (1994), Slovenia (2002) and Ivory Coast (2006) .
  • Technically, this should be Serbia (of former Yugoslavia) and Slovakia (of former Czechoslovakia) first Finals appearance. But they were represented in the past by various former names.
  • The African continent have four debutants (out of five tickets) in 2006, the previous Finals. This time around, all of the their qualifiers should be seasoned campaigners. In my humble opinion, South Africa and Algeria would struggle, though Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria are good chance of going through to the knockout rounds.
  • North Korea and South Korea will appear in next year Finals together, the first time this has happened. Hopefully they won't meet in a quarter finals, and one side being beaten contentiously, thus sparking a nuclear war in the Korean peninsula.
  • Since 1958, USSR have qualified for every Finals, except for 1974 and 1978. After the dissolution of the USSR, former soviet states Russia have qualified in 1994 and 2002, with Ukraine achieving it in 2006.
  • In 2010 however, neither Russia, Ukraine nor any other former soviet states will join the big football party, a first since 1998.
  • The former state of Yugoslavia will be represented in 2010 by two independent states : Serbia and Slovenia.
  • Their cousin Bosnia-Herzegovina came close to qualifying but could not overcome Portugal at the last hurdle. With Croatia coming a narrow third in their group, imagine what they could have achieved together if they didn't split up their former country in the first place. Wishful thinking I know.
  • Interestingly, all of the former champions: Brazil (5 times champ), Italy (4), Germany (3), Uruguay & Argentina (twice each) and England & France (once each) have all qualified for 2010 edition of the World Cup. All of them easily top their respective qualifying groups, except for France, Uruguay and Argentina.
  • Argentina struggled late with their qualifying matches, only to qualify in the last gasp by beating Uruguay in the South America's final home-and-away league game. The Argentine ended on fourth of their group, the last automatic qualifying spots.
  • Uruguay ended up fifth and need to playoff against the Central America's Costa Rica to get through. Similar to what they have to do in their 2002 and 2006 campaigns.
  • France struggled early and managed to sneak in by beating Rep. of Ireland in the last dying minutes of their playoff game.
  • Brazil have never failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals... Joga Bonito Brasil!

28 October, 2009

Obey the Laws!!!!!

Obey the Internet Laws!!!!! Or face the consequences from the Irony police.

08 September, 2009

Sometimes the World is an Alright Place

An Afghan journalist/student, Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, jailed and sentence to death for the crime of "Blasphemy", after he downloaded documents about women rights and Islam, have been pardoned.

He should not have been charged from the beginning, but this is a story to demonstrate that sometimes, just sometimes, a wrong can be righted (through international lobby group and foreign government pressures).

07 May, 2009

Jesus vs. Tai Chi... Let the battle begin!!

I just love these religion vs. religion stories:

A group of senior Tai Chi practitioners are kicked out of a church property because their eastern "philosophies were incompatible with the Bible's teachings."

No seriously.

And this quote by the church leader Rev. Morse show the level of miscomprehension on his part about meditation and Christian's beliefs:

"It's about a type of meditation, and what they call search for enlightenment, where you go into things like yoga do (yoga do) or, like in the martial arts, meditations where you just emptied your mind and let it go wherever it wanted to.

"Well that stands in opposition to Christianity, which says we are to be in control of our faculties."

In control of our faculties? Where in the Bible does it say that?? (Commandment XI: Thou shall possess control of all thou faculties??)

And what ever else he may object to, meditations is the practice of controlling your mental faculties. But I digress.

04 May, 2009

Quote of the Day: Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?

The John Templeton Foundation ask a number of prominent thinkers: Does science make belief in God obsolete?

The best answer is undoubtedly provided by this man: Prof. Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy of Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. Witty and dry in style, his answer is quoted in full below:

Does science make belief in God obsolete? Not necessarily.

But you must find a science-friendly, science-compatible God. First, try the pantheon of available Creators. Inspect thoroughly. If none fits the bill, invent one.

The God of your choice must be a stickler for divine principles. Science does not take kindly to a deity who, if piqued or euphoric, sets aside seismological or cosmological principles and causes the moon to shiver, the earth to split asunder, or the universe to suddenly reverse its expansion. This God must, among other things, be stoically indifferent to supplications for changing local meteorological conditions, the task having already been assigned to the discipline of fluid dynamics. Therefore, indigenous peoples, even if they dance with great energy around totem poles, shall not cause even a drop of rain to fall on parched soil. Your rule-abiding and science-respecting God equally well dispenses with tearful Christians singing the Book of Job, pious Hindus feverishly reciting the havan yajna, or earnest Muslims performing the salat-i-istisqa as they face the Holy Ka'aba. The equations of fluid flow, not the number of earnest supplicants or quality of their prayers, determine weather outcomes. This is slightly unfortunate because one could imagine joining the faithful of all religions in a huge simultaneous global prayer that wipes away the pernicious effects of anthropogenic global climate change.

Your chosen God cannot entertain private petitions for good health and longevity, prevent an air crash, or send woe upon demand to the enemy. Mindful of microbiology and physiology, She cannot cure leprosy by dipping the afflicted in rivers or have humans remain in unscathed condition after being devoured by a huge fish. Faster-than-light travel is also out of the question, even for prophets and special messengers. Instead, She must run the world lawfully and unto the letter, closely following the Book of Nature.

A scientific Creator should certainly know an awful lot of science. To differentiate between the countless universes offered by superstring theory is a headache. Fine-tuning chemistry to generate complex proteins, and then initiating a cascade of mutations that turn microbe to man, is also no trivial matter. But bear in mind that there are definite limits to divine knowledge: God can know only the knowable. Omniscience and science do not go well with each other.

The difficulty with omniscience - even with regard to a particle as humble as the electron-has been recognized as an issue since the 1920s. Subatomic particles show a vexing, subtle elusiveness that defeats even the most sophisticated effort to measure certain of their properties. Unpredictability is intrinsic to quantum mechanics, the branch of physics which all particles are empirically seen to obey. This discovery so disturbed Albert Einstein that he rejected quantum mechanics, pronouncing that God could not "play dice with the universe." But it turned out that Einstein's objections were flawed - uncertainty is deeply fundamental. Thus, any science-abiding deity we choose may be incompletely informed on at least some aspects of nature.

Is one being excessively audacious, perhaps impertinent, in setting down terms of reference for a Divine entity? Not really. Humans have always chosen their objects of worship. Smarter humans go for smarter Gods. Anthropomorphic representations - such as a God with octopus arms - are a bit out of fashion today but were enormously popular just a few centuries ago. As well, some people might object to binding God and human to the same rules of logic, or perhaps even sharing the same space-time manifold. But if we drop this essential demand then little shall remain. Reason and evidence would lose meaning and be replaced by tradition, authority, and revelation. It would then be wrong for us to have 2 + 2 = 5, but okay for God. Centuries of human progress would come to naught.

Let's face it: the day of the Sky God is long gone. In the Age of Science, religion has been downsized, and the medieval God of classical religions has lost repute and territory. Today people pay lip service to trusting that God but they still swallow antibiotics when sick. Muslim-run airlines start a plane journey with prayers but ask passengers to buckle-up anyway, and most suspect that people who appear to rise miraculously from the dead were probably not quite dead to begin with. These days if you hear a voice telling you to sacrifice your only son, you would probably report it to the authorities instead of taking the poor lad up a mountain. The old trust is disappearing.

Nevertheless, there remains the tantalizing prospect of a divine power somewhere "out there" who runs a mysterious, but scrupulously miracle-free, universe. In this universe, God may choose to act in ingenious ways that seem miraculous. Yet these "miracles" need not violate physical laws. Extraordinary, but legitimate, interventions in the physical world permit quantum tunneling through cosmic worm holes or certain symmetries to snap spontaneously. It would be perfectly fair for a science-savvy God to use nonlinear dynamics so that tiny fluctuations quickly build up to earthshaking results - the famous "butterfly effect" of deterministic chaos theory.

Nietzsche and the theothanatologists were plain wrong - God is neither dead nor about to die. Even as the divine habitat shrinks before the aggressive encroachment of science, the quantum foam of space-time creates spare universes aplenty, offering space both for a science-friendly God as well as for self-described "deeply religious non-believers" like Einstein. Many eminent practitioners of science have successfully persuaded themselves that there is no logical contradiction between faith and belief by finding a suitable God, or by clothing a traditional God appropriately. Unsure of why they happen to exist, humans are likely to scour the heavens forever in search of meaning.

- Prof. Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, Physicist
Essay for The John Templeton Foundation, 2008

02 April, 2009

Irony is made of these...

Catholism Faith Healing vs. Reiki Spiritual Healing...

Both seems impossible yet millions swear by it. So which one is more effective? The vatican believe they have the trump card, but somehow I would lean towards Reiki, because their claims are far less incredible.