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Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

ROUTES OF REASON

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Richard Dorkins: The Voice of Reason

I am proud to be publicly associated with the Almost Definitely Atheist Bus Campaign, a brave new initiative by a North London-based group of concerned young media professionals hoping to bring the stern light of reason to bear on the murky shadows of superstition.

I was visited last week by Ms Sherry Concorde, a leading light of the Campaign. She came up with the idea of normal, reasonable bus slogans in response to the relentless tsunami of voodoo gobbledegook adorning the flanks of the nation’s public transport infrastructure. Here are some of the shocking examples she showed me:

BRING AND BUY SALE, SUNDAY 12:30, ST ASAPH’S CHURCH HALL
A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR PARISHIONERS
PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY TO OUR EASTER FAMINE APPEAL
CHRISTIAN AID FORTNIGHT, 12 – 24 AUGUST
MAKE POVERTY HISTORY
YOUR 50P A MONTH COULD SAVE A STARVING CHILD
COME ON, YOU TIGHTWADS, PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS FOR A CHANGE

Now, some misguided people claim to find it offensive that rational, educated people should speak out publicly against medieval trash of this sort. But is it really so offensive? What utter, arrant nonsense. What is really offensive is that the faith-heads ram this nonsense down our throats endlessly. And the state lets them.

This is why I am delighted to endorse Sherry’s fun, catchy, and lighthearted slogan:

THERE IS PROBABLY ALMOST CERTAINLY NO PARTICULAR REASON TO BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING. SO GO ON. HAVE THAT SHAG YOU’VE BEEN PROMISING YOURSELF.

The Almost Definitely Atheist Bus Campaign has taken off with a swing which suggests it meets a crying public need to give a voice to normal, reasonable people who are fed up of being told that there are goblins under the bed, and fairies at the bottom of the garden, and all that sort of thing. I have never told such wicked fables to my daughter, Thalia, and, as a result, her night terrors have almost completely ceased, and her incisive mind and well-balanced emotional development does credit to her tender years. For example, when I explained to her about the Almost Definitely Atheist Bus Campaign, her immediate comment was:

‘Daddy, what’s a shag?’

I did my best to explain.

‘It is,’ I told her, ‘simply the normal, wonderful and innocent way in which our DNA blindly replicates itself in the endless struggle to prolong its own nauseously meaningless existence. Some misguided people – ‘

‘Oh, you mean sex,’ she replied, before adding, ‘Daddy, can I have a new bike? I mean, just, can I have a new bike? Not for my birthday or Christmas or anything. I just want a new bike. I think it will give me an evolutionary advantage over Lauren.’

It is for Thalia’ sake, and the sake of millions of other young minds like hers, that I am delighted to report that the Almost Definitely Atheist Bus Campaign has already raised £1.1m after a £1m donation from me, and London mayor Boris Johnson has promised to introduce a new fleet of bendy buses long enough to fit the slogan on the side. I hope this is the first of many such initiatives which will soon consign religion and superstition to the dustbin of history where they belong.

Richard Dorkins is Emeritus Professor of Positive Logicalism at Bill and Melinda Gates College, Oxbridge.

richdork@large.com

CAMERON: IF YOU DON’T BE GOOD THE NASTY DEBT IS GOING TO EAT YOU UP. AND THEN YOU’LL BE SORRY. LOOK, I’M PICKING UP THE PHONE. HELLO? MISTER DEBT? YES, THEY’RE ALL BEING VERY, VERY NAUGHTY

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday warned the country to brace itself for eye-wateringly excruciating cuts to public spending and services, as part of the Coalition government’s campaign to cut public spending and services.

‘Sorry, chaps,’ he told a packed press conference. ‘It’s going to feel a bit like epilating yourself intimately with tweezers. That’s just how it is. There’s nothing I can do.

‘Apart, that is, from running the government at the same level of nominal debt that it’s kept up since the Dark Ages without anyone even noticing. But we need to see the big picture here. The point is, the last thing we need, at this ticklish moment in the economic cycle, is to keep money flowing through the hands of the evil-smelling, hideously misshapen peasants who constitute 87% of the population of western industrial economies. If we did that, they’d only spend it, after all, and that might even stimulate the recovery, like it did in the 1930s.

‘And then I’d lose the only pretext I’ll ever have to force you shiftless proles back down the mines where you belong. Sorry, not the mines. You know what I mean. The call centres. Or something.

‘What I’m saying is that I’m not about to pass up a once-in-a-lifetime, gilt-edged excuse for diverting a huge wad of public finance from the Bradford-based lesbian knitting co-operatives who have been squandering it since 1997, to – well, since you ask, to Rupert and Charles – you know, people like that.

‘So suck it up, guys. The hard, unpalatable truth is that from now on, it’s Big Society for you, and High Society for me.

‘This is a historic opportunity and we must have the courage to seize it.’

The deputy prime minister, Mr Nick Clegg, said: ‘What Dave said.

‘Dave and I are in full agreement that we really need to deal very carefully with this historic level of debt in order to milk it properly before it sorts itself out. Which it has every chance of doing if we keep public spending levels on the generous side. Like every sane economist since the Age of the Englightenment would advise us to do. But what do economists know? Economists? How many of them have ever run a hedge fund? Come on.’

Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, J. K. Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, and even Martin Wolf were all turning in their graves, apart from those aforementioned who are still alive but have been rendered speechless and therefore remain unavailable for comment.

ER … TROOPING THE COLOUR. IS THAT A PHRASE?

In Uncategorized on June 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00sr3gl/Trooping_the_Colour_2010/

Britain’s world-class reputation for pomp and circumstance was fully justified on Saturday as some blokes in red coats walked up and down in front of a little old lady in honour of her birthday, before going home.

In accordance with time-honoured traditions of resplendent British panoply, the little old lady sat there for two hours in a twinset and pearls, with a face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

It wasn’t really her birthday.

Field-Marshal General Sir Richard Jeremy Clarkson-Hammond, Comptroller-General of Her Majesty the Queen’s Household Extravagances, said: ‘What a magnificent, pulse-quickening occasion. All those chunky lads stepping firmly around the parade ground, sometimes standing still and ramrod-straight in long lines for up to thirty minutes. It was, as we say in the service, a regular tent-pitcher. Yes, the army’s my life. I’m not joking. I joined up in 1954, and, frankly, the day doesn’t go by that I don’t pinch myself to check I’m not dreaming.

‘Moreover – though not an emotional sort of man – no true English blood can fail to be stirred by the proud array of regimental banners, each painstakingly tapestried with the regimental roll of honour: Hastings; Wexford; Drogheda; Culloden; Peterloo; Isandlwana; the Orange Free State; the Sudan; the Somme; that Irish football stadium; Amritsar; Malaysia; Kenya; the Bogside; Iraq – the proud chronicle of our forefathers’ gallantry truly beggars belief.

‘Excuse me, I’ll have to stop there. I’m so sorry. I’ve been working very hard on this, and it’s all getting a bit much. It’s the sheer relief as much as anything, really.’

With flawless discipline and ardent esprit de corps, service personnel, some only recently returned from Helmand, maintained deadpan poker faces in the teeth of a relentless onslaught of funny hats and strange symbolic gestures. At one point a small piebald pony was laden with huge kettle-drums, while a man in a dress banged them using two big sticks with furry lumps on the end.

Not one of those magnificent men and women allowed so much as a flicker of a smirk to cross their faces.

Meanwhile, in a soaring display of popular patriotism, ordinary English people tuned in at home, or turned out in their thousands at huge public screens, to watch England draw against the Americans on Sky Sport.

Brian Gorman, of the English Patriotic Front, said:

‘I’ve never seen such an astonishing, truly English spectacle.

‘One-all to the Yanks. It’s a joke, innit?’

Oliver Cromwell was unavailable for comment.

ATLANTIC OCEAN ‘AWASH’ WITH POISONOUS CRAP

In Uncategorized on June 12, 2010 at 1:21 am

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7148612.ece

An enormous torrent of bullshit is swilling back and forth in the mid-Atlantic tide tonight after attempts to seal the flapping cake-holes of government officials and oil executives met with failure yesterday.

Enviromental experts say they are ‘deeply concerned’ by their inability to stem continuous outpourings of crude hogwash from leaks in the faces of London mayor Boris Johnson, BP chief executive Tony Hayward, and President Barack Obama.

‘The situation is critical,’ sweating ecologists told reporters. ‘Boris Johnson alone has been emitting gallons of crud continuously since February 1986 and shows no sign of tailing off. We tried capping him with a gigantic bucket-shaped concrete plug attached to the main gantry of an oil platform. It was fun, but thus far, it’s had no practical effect. As a result, a huge slick of highly toxic bigotry is now heading westwards for the Atlantic coast, where it’s running into currents of vaguely slimy insinuation emanating from Washington, forming a lethal cocktail of putrid baloney. BP have been cleaning up very efficiently for some time, and efforts to wash their hands of the issue entirely have intensified in recent weeks. But nothing’s stopping the bullshit.’

Bullshit is a naturally-occurring substance which is essential to the smooth running of modern society. Most forms of technology and commerce would be impossible without it. The crisis, however, threatens complex and irreplaceable ecosystems. All along the southern US coast, parasitic federal safety regulators spend their entire life cycle in the pockets of large, free-ranging oil barons, assisting the seasonal migration of petrodollars in ways which scientists still only partly understand. Seen through a microscope, which they never are, large organisms like oil corporations are, in fact, colonies of millions of tiny front companies with long tentacle-like filaments reaching into several governments. Their origins and nature, however, remain mysterious. When the corporation as a whole is threatened, the buck is instinctively passed from company to company. This is believed to have evolved as a form of camouflage, but, when cornered, corporations squirt out jets of noisome, inky-black codswallop to deter attackers. Politicians adopt a similar tactic to attract a vote. Both are ferocious predators but extremely sensitive to daylight.

Efforts to contain the leaks were continuing last night.

BIRTHDAYS: SAVE OUR CHILDREN FROM THIS EVIL NONSENSE

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Richard Dorkins: The Voice of Reason

Yesterday my little daughter Thalia came up to me and said: ‘Daddy, can I have a new bike for my birthday?’

Biting back tears of burning love, tempered with terrible anguish, I took her on my knee, and tenderly asked her:

‘Thalia, why do you think that so many parents buy presents for their children once a year?’

‘Because that’s when their birthdays are, daddy,’ she replied.

‘But,’ I rejoined gently, ‘what about those parents who do not buy presents for their children once a year? Do you think that those parents do not love their children?’

This quite reasonable question gave Thalia some pause for thought. I waited patiently, marvelling silently at the everyday miracle of rational reflection in the young mind.

‘Lauren got a new bike for her birthday,’ she eventually rejoined. ‘Her daddy got her one.’

As any loving parent would, I at once called Thalia’s attention to the false syllogism in her logic.

‘But,’ I explained patiently, ‘perhaps Lauren’s daddy is wrong. Thalia, what do you think a birthday is?’

She gazed at me wonderingly.

‘A birthday is the day on which we are born,’ I told her. ‘Now, many people – many well-meaning, misguided people, who love their children just as much as I love you – wickedly teach them that this day, the day of our birth, comes back again, not just once, but many times. But, of course, a day cannot come back twice. Not even a birthday. We are only born once, after all! And some babies are even born at night.

‘But many people have been taught to believe in a thing called a calendar, which is a way of measuring time by the rotation of the earth around the sun. The calendar tells them that the day of their birth happens once every year, and they believe it, because they are told to, and they are afraid to question their belief, in case they miss dentists’ appointments and wedding anniversaries, and things like that.

‘But it is all a lie, too stupid and wicked for words. Really, the calendar is only a figment of the imagination. Time does not run backwards simply because our tiny speck of a planet is whirling inexorably round the great celestial furnace of the sun – which is really only a very ordinary little star. Indeed, one day, millions of years from now, the earth’s orbit will slow down, disrupting the calendar completely, and gravity will suck the entire planet into the heart of the sun, where it will be instantly vaporised.

‘Isn’t it wonderful?

‘And when you stop to think about it, even days and nights are only figments of our imagination too! We say it is “daytime” when our little segment of the earth is facing towards the sun, and we say it is “night-time” when our little segment is facing away. But daytime and night-time are really just the same thing. When it seems to be daytime in England, it seems to be night in Australia – at the very same moment. So, really, there are no real days or nights at all. And if there are no days, how can there be any birthdays?’

I was still reflecting on my own words long after Thalia, clearly deeply concerned, had run off to discuss the matter with her mother – not least since her final words to me had, as I distinctly heard, been: For Christ’s sake, daddy.

I really must have a word with her teachers about what they’re telling her at that school.

Those who choose not to buy birthday presents for children are frequently accused of cruelty. What utter, absurd nonsense. The real cruelty is surely rather the pernicious custom of teaching our children that the space-time continuum – that vast, impersonal matrix of the universe – knows or cares anything at all about the progress towards maturity which we as humans quite unavoidably undergo. The real cruelty lies in telling our children that – through no fault of their own – they remain unworthy of presents for 364 days of every year (except a leap year, when the total is, of course, approximately 365 days). The real cruelty lies in enslaving children born in leap years to the sadistic delusion that they can only have 25% of the birthdays allotted to other children, and the patently absurd belief that they will be eight years old on their so-called ‘second birthday.’

It is time to dispense with this brutal and primitive twaddle. The universe cares nothing about us. There are no birthdays. There are no days. There are only births: vital, bloody, agonising births, sublime testaments to nature’s remorseless fecundity, throbbing with the ecstatic torment of generation, through which we enter the world to confront the pitiless destiny of our genetic inheritance. Through reason and science we have the ability to face this cold fact, hoping to rise above the fetid surface of the blind, bubbling sewer of existence and scale the dizzying heights of the full potential of the human spirit. That – as I hope to tell Thalia when she comes back downstairs from her room – is the only real cause for celebration.

Professor Richard Dorkins is a very clever man.

richdork@large.com

YEAH, BUT IT GOES BANG. COOOOOL!

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 at 11:41 am

The Coalition government yesterday embarked on a savage round of public service cuts by blowing twenty billion desperately needed quid on a gigantic, completely useless bomb.

The Trident missile programme is a state-of-the-art military technology package, fully equipped with every feature of modern weapons systems except for someone to point it at.

‘We’re still at the procurement stage and finalising the details,’ Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox told salivating defence correspondents. ‘Implementation-wise, we’re completely on top of the Hoiking These Things Around the Ocean All Day Every Day In Giant Submarines stage, and we’re confident that we can meet our targets regarding Being Able To Shoot Them Up In The Air, which means that the Plonking These Bad Boys Down At Any Point on the Earth’s Surface We Choose Programme is also pretty much on schedule. This means that we will shortly be able to give our full attention to the final stage of the programme, which is Finding Someone To Drop Them On. This, admittedly, is a real challenge. After all, as you can perhaps appreciate, whole civilisations which genuinely deserve to be reduced to heaps of charred, corpse-strewn rubble aren’t the sort of thing which comes along every day. The development of whole societies from foraging Stone Age bands to urban industrial civilisations must be measured in centuries, if not millennia. Moreover, now Russia’s gone all nice, the statistical majority of extant civilisations don’t altogether merit total and apocalyptic annihiliation at the flick of a switch. So, realistically, we have to be patient.

‘We’re looking at the possibility of pointing the nukes at small, scattered cells of low-budget Islamist fanatics deeply embedded in large populations of innocent civilians. Or people on ASBOs. Or immigrants. Anyone, really, to be honest. But, thus far, none of these groups have successfully gone on to constitute huge, totally evil civilisations. So it’s still early days.

‘I’ll tell you one thing, though. When it happens, we’ll be ready.’

Sir Geoff Armchair-Hoon, shadow defence spokesman, said: ‘What many civilians sometimes fail to appreciate is that these things go WHOOOOOOOOSSSSSHHH! WHOOOOOOOSH!! BOOOOOOOM!! in a really, totally cool way. They’re sick, man. Like, totally ill. I mean, like, you’ve got these huge black submarines just schmoooooooozing around the oceans, like really deep, deeper than whales and everything. Then you go LOAD! AIM! TARGET! FIRE ONE! FIRE TWO! Like that, and one minute you’re walking down the street, and then the next minute this thing lands on you and, like, you’re totally, totally vaporised. Like not even smoke. Just VAPOUR. COLOURLESS GAS.

‘I mean, how ****** cool is that?

‘Regarding the targeting issue, the services position is this: na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, I’m not listening, I can’t hear you, I’ve got my fingers in my ears and I’m singing very loudly, so there, so nurr, no returns.’

Britain’s brave heroes gave the news a cautious welcome yesterday.

‘Er … could we have proper helmets and guns instead?’ said one general, who asked not be named. ‘Or something useful like that, maybe?

‘Jesus.’

Sir Dick Norman, CEO of Qataqlizmiq Industries, Inc., said: ‘Cheque? That will do nicely, sir. Oh, one moment, sir. I think sir will find sir has forgotten to add a couple of noughts on the end. Yes, perfectly satisfactory. Thank you, sir.

‘See you for golf.’

Dr Fox was briefly detained yesterday by police on suspicion of biting small children in the cradle with his feral instincts and sharp, pointy teeth. He was released without charge and is expected to fend off calls for a mass cull.

CAMERON: ECONOMIC MEASURES WILL CHANGE YOUR WAY OF LIFE

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/david-cameron/7808062/David-Cameron-Economic-measures-will-change-our-way-of-life.html

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, today warned that huge public spending cuts will change the British way of life for generations.

‘I face a massive reduction in the number of times I can mention my private fortune of thirty million quid – a figure which has already been ruthlessly pared to the bone,’ he told reporters.

‘For instance, before the election, I scarcely talked about it at all. But now, I can’t even refer to it in passing.’

The chancellor, George Osborne, said: ‘The British way of life is about to change permanently. People who used to get filthy rich fouling up the banking system are now having to get filthy rich from enormous private sector contracts issued because the government’s had to cut public spending to zilch thanks to the foul-ups in the banking system.

‘So, basically, we’re all toast. You’re toast as in charred lumps of bread, whereas I’m toast as in clinking a brimming champagne glass in celebratory mood.

‘Our message is simple: we’re all toast together. David and I are taking this terribly, terribly seriously.’