Thursday, 4 November 2010

Writer's Blog(k)

Well, bugger.

I haven't put pixel to ePaper for months. I just haven't been able to muster the requisite modicum of passion to do this.

This little stamp of the foot will have to do for now - and I will try to get back in the groove and mix up a fresh batch of metaphors and sally forth (or Beethoven's Fifth) and write some new entries.


Real soon now.


Friday, 19 February 2010

Websites of Woo #2: How to get stoned with Ener-chi...


Clue #1: There is no such thing as CHI.

Corollary to Clue #1: There are no such things as a CHAKRAS either.

Clue #2: The credulous love to believe in the impossible.

Another Corollary: There will always be assholes out there willing to supply the impossible to the credulous. For a price.

The purity of my logic is a tad suspect, but the above is all pretty well true. Which leads me to todays Website of Woo: The Ener-Chi Wellness Center!

Clue #3: 'Center' is spelt the American way.

Lets look at one of the life giving products the E-CWC sells shall we?


These rocks have been put through a rock tumbler to smooth them down. But they are not just any old rocks. Nosiree! These are Ener-Chi Ionized Stones! They have been 'energized, activated, and imbued with life force through a special process' that gives them amazing powers!

'By placing an Ionized Stone next to a glass of water or plate of food, the water or food becomes energized, increasing digestibility and nutrient absorption. Ionized stones can also be used effectively in conjunction with Ener-Chi Art - simply place an Ionized Stone on the corresponding area of the body while viewing an Ener-Chi Art picture.'

Ener-Chi Art is a bunch of new-age paintings straight out of the 1970's painted by the genius behind Ener-Chi - Andreas Moritz. If you can stand it, watch this clown tell you all about his Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush. Here is a man who loves giving himself and his credulous followers diarrhea. Don't forget to store the results in your freezer...

Back to the rocks - err - sorry, the Ener-Chi Ionized Stones. How much for these miracle workers you ask? Just USD$13.95 each! But you can't stop at just one, can you. Buy a bunch of them and lay them on your key body energy points. Your chakras will just hum with pleasure!

Lay the stones next to your food for more of that Ionizing goodness. If your food is ozone depleted, these fantastic stones will make it all better!

Hold a stone against your spine and you can balance your chakras! I always wanted to know how I could do that.

Tape a stone onto your main water pipe and it will ionize your water supply and 'make it more absorbable and energized.'

And if you thought that these stones were good, wait till you here about the MONGOLIAN HOLY STONES!

'Mongolian Holy Stones are proactive healing stones that are mined in Inner Mongolia where most of the world's Rare Earth compounds are mined. The locals call it "holy" because it heals on contact. Infrared energy at .98(+/-) microns is "holy." It is invisible and it heals. It is the energy of Life on Earth. Anions are holy. These negative ions cleanse the environment and promote the production of nitric oxide. These are natural, invisible forces that provide healing.'

These little stunners will set you back USD$20 - $40 depending on size. The bigger ones heal even better I suppose.

There are times I wish I wasn't honest.

Bullshit pedlers like Moritz thrive at the expense of the credulous idiots who believe their every utterance. But I couldn't do that to people. People who are in many cases suffering from real, life threatening conditions. Moritz is selling hope? Placebos? Possibly. It is most likely he is just cynically screwing desperate or stupid people because he can, and business is business.

For fun, have a poke around Moritz's site. It really is quite amazing.

For you poop fans out there (you know who you are), you really can't go past the Colema Board for that EZ home enema you have always dreamed about!

All you need is a toilet with plenty of space around it, a large bucket and a stand for it, a love-heart chair and a Deluxe Colema Board Kit (Includes Colema Board, tubing assembly, two disposable tips, a comfort pad, and an instructional Video DVD) for the low price of USD$279 (plus $32 shipping).

Watch the video. 8-)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Waste of Space

After spending over $9 billion towards returning humanity to the Moon for a permanent presence there, NASA has been told that the Constellation Program is scrapped.

No moon for you, NASA! No stepping stone space habitat to help get to Mars and beyond.

*big sigh*

'The U.S. can't afford it!', scream the bean counters.

Oh really. There is a significant elephant in the room, and it, as usual, is getting to eat nearly all the peanuts.

If just 10% of the annual budget for the U.S. Department of Defense Offense had gone to NASA over the last 50 years, we would be sending shuttles to the Jupiter system by now, not axing the Moon.

Over the last 50 years, the total investment in NASA (including Apollo) has been equal to the U.S. Department of Defense Offense budget for a single year. EVERY single year.

To make war toys and train toy soldiers to fight manufactured enemies.

And many people see this as money well spent.

So many people are just SO stupid...

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

No dungeon bashing for YOU!

A long quote and a short comment.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A man serving life in prison for first-degree intentional homicide lost his legal battle Monday to play Dungeons & Dragons behind bars.


Prison officials instigated the Dungeons & Dragons ban among concerns that playing the game promoted gang-related activity and was a threat to security. Singer challenged the ban but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld it as a reasonable policy.

Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures, often working together as a group, with the help of complicated rules.

Singer, 33, has been a devoted player of the fantasy role-playing game since he was a child, according to the court ruling. After the ban went into effect, prison officials confiscated dozens of Dungeons & Dragons books and magazines in his cell as well as a 96-page manuscript he had written detailing a potential scenario for the game that players could act out.

Prison officials enacted the ban in 2004 after an inmate sent an anonymous letter expressing concern about Singer and three other inmates forming a ''gang'' focused around playing the game.

Singer was told by prison officials that he could not keep the materials because Dungeons & Dragons ''promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling,'' according to the ruling. The prison later developed a more comprehensive policy against all types of fantasy games, the court said.

The appeals court said the prison's policy was reasonable and did not violate Singer's rights.


Department of Corrections spokesman John Dipko said the department was pleased with the decision and will continue to enforce rules that are designed to maintain a safe environment.

Oh for goodness bleedin' sake! D&D is just a GAME! It is not a game for everybody, but it can be a very rewarding way to pass the time, and prisoners certainly have plenty of that. It does not make people into killers and does not cause them to be possessed by demons (as the Christian fundies back in the 80's tried to push. Oh - wait Jack T. Chick still does). The rampant stupidity of denying prisoners access to a game that encourages teamwork, friendship, creativity and imagination just floors me.


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Bizarre Religious Practices #1 - The Tefillin

I really don't know how this ever slipped under my radar - a fascinating bit of batshit craziness from the world of Orthodox Judaism.

Tefillin are a couple of black boxes (made from from finest quintuple smooth kosher animal leather) which are tied to the forehead and upper arm with long winding strips of black leather. These boxes contain bible passages written on eentsy scrolls. What are they for? To wear during Morning Prayer. I guess prayers work better if you have a couple of expensive boxes containing unviewable bible verses strapped to your body. Jehovah sure must have one hell of a sense on humour.

A few oh-so-important rules apply:
  • The scroll must be written with ink.
  • The scrolls must be made of parchment.
  • The boxes and their stitches must be perfectly square.
  • On the right and left sides of the head-tefillin the letter shin must be embossed.
  • The scrolls must be wrapped in a strip of cloth.
  • The scrolls should be bound with kosher animal hair.
  • The stitching must be done with sinew of a kosher animal.
  • A “passageway” must be made for the strap to pass through.
  • The straps must be black.
  • The straps should be knotted in the form of the letter dalet.
And, as you can see from the diagram the accuracy of the placement is very important. Screw this up and presumably it's thunderbolt time from cheery old Jehovah.

A full list of the rules for making and wearing tefillin may of course be found in Wikipedia.

As well as me, at least one airline crew had never come across these silly things. A recent flight was diverted and quarantined after a 17 year old boy was seen strapping on a set of tefillin while seated in the cabin. Yep, it looked like some sort of bomb.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The mind numbing crap that is the Mayan 2012 end of the world prophecy

Met the Mayans. The guys doing the bit of not quite voluntary surgery to the left, otherwise known as human sacrifice. Gotta keep the Sun God happy you know.

Their civilisation was interesting and advanced in some ways. It was also somewhat brutal and stupid. It self-destructed a few hundred years ago with more than a little help from the Spanish.

They had a calendar. Calendars have cycles and calendars end. The Mayan calendar for the current cycle ends (in our time system) on December 21, 2012. A couple of decades ago, some New Age clowns with books to sell, figured out that this date therefore, had GREAT SIGNIFICANCE.

And another end of the world scare story was born.

So, with nearly three years to go before our inevitable doom, or rebirth, or something, the message is starting to sink in to the unwashed and ill-informed masses. I have a voluntary weekend job as a science explainer. Most of the time I explain astronomy and space exploration to tourists. Increasingly I am getting furtive questions about this '2012 business'. While not actually scared (yet) there is a touch of concern in the enquiries.

I thus explain a bit about the nature of calendars, the nature of new age authors, and the simple fact that the Earth was here for 4.7 billion years before the Mayans briefly had a civilisation, and how it will probably still be here 4.7 billion years after the Mayans briefly had a civilisation.

A little less politely than the way I explain it to tourists would be:


Oh yeah: Aliens told them. The ones that won't talk to us. The ones that DIDN'T bother to explain that human sacrifice was brutal and stupid. They probably did tell them about the mysterious planet Nibiru that is lurking out there somewhere. Nibiru which is completely undetectable by astronomers world wide is going to swing by in 2012 and rip us a new one. Really? Who cares as long as it sells books...

I just know that this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Why humans seem to need to believe in the imminent end of the world, or how the sky is falling makes no sense to me at all.

Without our 'help', the world won't end for billions of years. But some of you just know that I must be lying...

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Copyright fun

This gag is so true I just HAD to (probably illegally) copy it and put it here for you.

Having lived through several generations of recording media, it would be nice to think that things might change but they never do.

The record industry (a pack of low-life scum called the RIAA in the US, and similar bodies everywhere else - I will call them all RI to save some typing) has always howled and called for blood every time a new technology has popped up to allow for the more flexible use and protection of the music purchased by the general population.

Reel to reel tape, Compact Cassette, DAT (the first digital format - successful killed as a consumer product by the RI), mp3, CD and DVD copiers - every one was treated as the 'End of Civilization' by the RI.

The usual solution? Screw the customers caught with illegal copies. Yes there are real pirates out there, and no amount of copy protection makes the slightest difference to them. They break the protection and move on, while paying customers just get annoyed that DRM prevents them from backing up or sharing stuff they have already paid for.

Personal copy prohibition is stupid. It is almost always low level when done by customers. Reselling copies IS theft and should rightly be discouraged, but leave the paying consumer out of this.

I found an interesting example of Copyright paranoia recently. On the bottom of a piece of sheet music published way back in 1920 it declared that copying the music onto a blackboard was a breach of copyright and was prohibited. Like most consumer copying, to break this prohibition would make no difference at all the the bottom line of the publisher. Its only real effect is the annoy the purchaser.

Careful! Don't ever fall between a business suit and the perceived maximisation of his profits...

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The price of a fair legal system

So, the Nigerian fellow who tried to destroy an American plane with an explosive device in his undies, has declared himself "NOT GUILTY".


There he is, igniting an explosive device stitched INTO HIS OWN FREAKIN' KNICKERS, and he's trying to say he didn't do it. Whichever way this plays out he is going to be enjoying the pleasures of permanent accommodation by the United States for the rest of his miserable life. A long wait for his quota of willing heavenly virgins, although one suspects he has forfeited those, since he screwed up the mission. Allah ain't rewarding no doofus.

But, could there be a WIN here for our pathetic little UndieBomber? Of course there is. By pleading "Not Guilty" he now commits the US legal system to a long and hideously expensive trial. The end result will be the same - but Uncle Sam will be that much poorer, and a bunch of legal firms that much richer.

Super ditto for the oxygen thieves shortly to go on trial in New York for their part in 9/11. Here's one of them:

I can't remember its name, and don't care enough about it to look it up. Let's just call it 'Fluffy.'

It has been estimated that the trial of Fluffy and Friends will cost around $200,000,000 per year. Yes, it's likely to take more than one.

Again, sheesh.

Fluffy and Co are as guilty as all Hell. But in the name of giving them a fair trial, a bunch of lawyers are going to become obscenely rich(er) for an outcome that is guaranteed, no matter which way the trial goes.

Fluffy will be in jail for the rest of his dreary existence. He can enjoy that time with the warm and fuzzy knowledge that it cost the US shitloads of money getting him there.

Yes, it is good we have courts that uphold the individual's right to be treated fairly.


I know I'm wrong to say this, but part of me would have little difficulty accepting Fluffy and the likes of the UndieBomber being flayed, hung, drawn and quartered by enraged mobs.

Some of our fellow humans just manage to bring out one's Inner Barbarian, I guess...

Friday, 1 January 2010

Plastic Jesus Disks

"You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god..." PZ Myers, Pharyngula

PZ is talking about Roman Catholic Communion Wafers. Catholics, for those of you not in the know, believe that the consecrated bread and wine of the Mass turn into the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ when the priest utters the appropriate magic spell over them.


Now, my own Christian upbringing was in the Anglican Church. Most Anglican churches use the same flattened disks of bread that the Catholics use, but don't go quite as far in what they believe happens during the consecration. The wafers and the wine are sort of special and have to be treated with unmost reverence, but are not actually considered to be body parts. Fortunately.

As a child I avoided the church. My family was nominally Anglican but didn't go to church. Dad wasn't a believer and didn't make any fuss about it. He admired Anglican traditions in a cultural way though. Mum was and still is a sort of a believer in a vague sort of way. Yes, she believes. No, she doesn't have any interest in going to church.

My church avoidance centred around the simple fact that I had not been baptised and mum figured I eventually should be. My older brother was baptised as a baby but somehow I missed out, and was in no hurry to catch up. The idea that I would have to stand before a bunch of people and recite lines in a scary ritual and have water poured over me filled me with kiddie terror!

I was however, baptised when I was 19.

Attending Teacher's College (Wagga Wagga 1972) I fell in with a bunch of Anglicans who also resided in my on-campus dorm. Kevin and John and a couple of others talked me around to it. They were progressive in their beliefs and didn't think lack of official Confirmation in the faith should stand in the way of heathens taking part in the Lord's Supper.

So it was that one Sunday they carted me off to St John's Wagga, a quite beautiful country church overlooking the Murrumbidgee River. The priest was Archdeacon Arnold Osborne a truly lovely, gentle man who joined the church in response to the horrors he had experienced as an airman in Europe during World War II.

Cutting now to the Holy Communion. My First. Ever.

Kevin and John had instructed me on how to hold my hands to receive the Host. I was ready. This was it. I knelt and held out my hands in the Proper Way. Archdeacon Arnold came along and pressed a perfect, circular, pure white disk of plastic into my palm. "The Body of Christ" he intoned, and moved on.

I stared at the disk of plastic. It stared back patiently. The cup of wine was approaching. What do I do with this? Is it symbolic? Yes! It must be symbolic of bread! They like symbolism here.

I stealthily tucked the plastic disk into my pants pocket. No one noticed and with relief I was in time to take the wine. That was real! Aaah. Port - not bad. Mission accomplished, I returned to my pew and forgot about the plastic disk.

That afternoon I was talking about the experience with Kevin and John and raised with them the issue of the plastic disk. "So what was I supposed to do with it?"

"You were supposed to swallow it - (pause) - you DIDN'T? What did you do with it?"

Kevin and John exchanged a a slightly worried glance.

I went to get the pants I had been wearing. Kevin grabbed them and started searching the pocket.

Alas, our symbolic Lord had crumbled away to a couple of tiny fragments. Kevin and John laughed nervously, shrugged and then carefully explained to me about how communion wafers are made. I think they were a lot more careful with later newbies...

Kevin graduated as a school teacher, and later became an Anglican priest, working in the NSW Prison System.

Archdeacon Arnold went on to baptise me in the Murrumbidgee River (another story), and was never told about my little error. I do think he would have coped. Arnold retired, and in the "It's a small world" department, 15 years later, here in Canberra, I had the pleasure of being wildly seduced by his daughter-in-law every night for three weeks, to the deliberate and painful point of "Erectus Interruptus" in a production of the naughty ancient Greek comedy 'Lysistrata.' Oh, I really loved the Theatre. :-)

I don't take plastic Jesus disks any more. The practising Anglican bits of my life were mostly good times. The ritual and the people were good. But the Message behind the ritual? I guess I really am my father's son, after all...