Leveraging religion into money and death

The Korean ferry Sewol that abruptly capsized and sank last spring sank because of an act of god … that is, the depredations of a scummy Christian cult. A story in the NY Times today summarizes the causes. The company that ran the ferry was a front for a religious cult run by Yoo Byung-eun, called the Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea. He had a whole network of enterprises, all funneling millions of dollars into the pockets of Yoo and his family. One of the ways they profited was by cutting corners on everything, including safety.

Scores of cabins and even an art gallery laden with marble were added to the ferry’s upper decks, making the ship top-heavy. So much extra cargo was crammed on board that there was sometimes no space to secure it properly with chains and lashings. And, prosecutors say, the ferry’s crucial ballast water, needed to balance all the additional weight, was deliberately drained so that the vessel would not sit too low — a telltale sign to inspectors that the ferry was dangerously overloaded to bring in more money.

“It was a miracle that the ship actually sailed as far as it did; it could have tipped over any time,” said Kim Woo-sook, dean of the graduate school at Mokpo National Maritime University. “For them, cargo was cash.”

The art gallery was there to feed Yoo’s monstrous ego — he fancied himself an artist, and with so much cash flowing through his hands, he spent millions to get his photographs displayed at the Louvre. He claimed to be just about everything.

Mr. Yoo, who in his guise as Ahae cultivated an air of mystery by only allowing himself to be photographed from behind or the side, is described by the website of Ahae Press as a sort of renaissance man: “an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, environmental activist, martial artist, painter, sculptor, poet, and photographer.”

Con artist. Murderer. Ruthless exploiter. Christian. Or at least, someone who saw Christianity as another easy gimmick to prey on the rubes.

But hey, they spent some money on safety.

In one of their more damning findings, prosecutors say that so much money was being siphoned away from the ferry company to Mr. Yoo and his relatives that it was starved of funds and spent just $2 last year on safety training for the Sewol’s crew members. The money went to buy a paper copy of a certificate.

There is no justice, though. The elder Yoo’s rotting corpse was found in his garden, cause of death unknown. Most of his family (apparently one son is still on the run), who all profited from his schemes, have been arrested so at least there’s that.

Oh, no! Zombie Hitler is speechifying to death squads!

Mike Adams of Natural News has gone a little too far. In addition to his usual pseudoscience, useless “medicine”, and bizarre diet advice, he’s really pissed off at promoters of GMO foods. Now I’m no fan of Monsanto — corporate agriculture is a self-serving institution where profit is king and locking farmers into second-rate solutions is a business strategy — but GMOs are really not that scary. Yet the Adams paranoia has him ranting away and comparing scientists to Nazi war criminals. Really.

Just as history needed to record the names and deeds of Nazi war criminals, so too must all those collaborators who are promoting the death and destruction caused by GMOs be named for the historical record. The true extent of their collaboration with an anti-human regime will all become readily apparent once the GMO delusion collapses and mass global starvation becomes an inescapable reality.

That’s offensive hyperbole and also cartoonishly stupid — the Nazi accusation is so tired we even have a rule to summarize it — and it’s unjustified. There’s no sign that GMOs will suddenly collapse; they’re just plants with a few genes added, you know, and that it’s done artificially and with intent doesn’t make them any worse than getting the same result by chance recombination and mutation.

But Adams takes the next step.

Interestingly, just yesterday German President Joachim Gauck celebrated the lives of those brave Nazi officers who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. (1) Their attempted Wolf’s Lair bombing failed, but it was an honorable attempt to rid the world of tremendous evil by killing one of the people responsible for it.

This official ceremony sends a message to the world, and that official message from the nation of Germany to the rest of the world is that “it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.”

Obviously, if molecular biologists and geneticists are just like Hitler, then the ‘health’ wackos justified in assassinating them. And the German President has just told everyone that it’s OK! They’ve got both the moral high ground, and the excuse that they were just following the orders of the German leadership!

She shouldn’t have gotten her face in the way of his fist

Some football player named Ray Rice got in a fight with his fiancée, and knocked her out cold in an elevator — there is surveillance of him dragging her unconscious body out. You would think, maybe, that a professional athlete would have at some time learned that he’s very strong, and that a little caution in dealing physically with other was warranted, and maybe that the appropriate way to deal with someone you purportedly love does not involve beating her unconscious.

Rice has sort-of-apologized in a press conference — to which he brought his new wife to also apologize for her actions (makes you wonder what kind of beating she’d get if she didn’t). And now he’s been sort-of-punished, so the NFL is back to stroking his ego.

It’s also precious as heck that Ray Rice feels an obligation to The Children, what with being a role model and all, but maybe he should not be a role model because, kids, lady-beating is wrong, even if the NFL doesn’t really think so. Sure, it suspended Rice for TWO WHOLE GAMES and fined him $529,411.24, which sounds like a lot of money until you realize that it is merely two games’ worth of pay for Rice the Role Model. But everyone in the sportsball world is tripping over themselves to assure us that Ray Rice really is a nice guy, no really, and he will never ever knock his wife out cold again, he promises, even though the recidivism rate for lady-beaters is about 110 percent. (Okay, not exactly, but pretty close.) Here’s the team’s general manager, Ozzie Newsome, giving Rice some quality reach-around, but not in a gay way of course, because that would be a REAL problem for the NFL:

“We also respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be.” Newsome said. “That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Hmm. I’ve been married for 34 years, and she’s never hit me, and I’ve never hit her. In our case, if I started using her as a punching bag, you could say it’s “not typical”…but even that many years of respectful behavior would not be sufficient to justify doing harm now. But if he’s a pro football player, it’s all water under the bridge.

What I’d like to know is whether, if there is any other issue of domestic violence with this guy, the NFL will come back and say, “We were wrong — turns out thumping women is typical of Ray Rice, he’s an asshole, and he’s fired.” Any takers on that one? I suspect instead the NFL is right now deploying a team of PR specialists prepared to hush up any future incidents.

But here’s a professional apologist for athletes from ESPN commenting on the issue:

But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong done upon them?

But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong done upon them?

Yeah, ladies, it’s your responsibility to avoid pissing off muscular 200 pound football players. Ultimately, it’s all your fault.

No more US support for Israel

They no longer hold the moral high ground, if ever they did. The massacre in Shejaiya is an obscenity.

Two small bodies lie on the metal table inside the morgue at Gaza’s Shifa hospital. Omama is nine years old. Her right forearm is mangled and charred and the top half of her skull has been smashed in. Beside her lies her seven year-old brother. His name is not certain. It might be Hamza or it might be Khalil. Relatives are having trouble identifying him because his head has been shorn off. Their parents will not mourn them—because they are dead too.

All of them were killed in Shejaiya, one of Gaza’s poorest and most crowded neighborhoods, which came under a brutal and sustained assault by the Israeli military today.

90 dead. The Israeli military was firing artillery shells into a residential neighborhood. It’s unconscionable, indiscriminate murder.

"Those of us who worked in Shifa can say that last night was the worst night of our lives," says Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor at Shifa. He has come to Gaza many times to provide medical assistance, including during the previous two Israeli assaults in 2008/2009 and 2012.

"Israeli impunity is a huge medical problem," Gilbert says. "Every single dead child and adult, and all the injuries, all the amputations, are one hundred percent preventable. This is a man-made disaster. Cynically planned and brutally executed by the government of Israel."

I’ve had people try to tell me that it is justifiable — that Hamas is firing rockets into Israeli neighborhoods. I freely grant that trying to kill random citizens with rockets is also unconscionable, whether it’s done by Palestinians, Israelis, or Americans. But how can anyone condemn one and not the other?

We should not be propping up the vile and bloody government of Israel anymore. Maybe if they’re deprived of the teat of unquestioning US aid, they’ll realize that they can’t afford to solve their problems with attempted genocide.

Although why a Jewish state would need any kind of compulsion to recognize that is surprising.

The priorities at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

The NY Times features a long and horrific story on a gang rape at a college campus. Hang on, I shouldn’t call it a gang rape: a campus committee acquitted the football players who participated, despite all the evidence of what had been going on. Remember, there is no such thing as rape culture.

This is a terrible story — details below the fold, and you might not want to click on the link if it’s too raw for you.

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I feel so dirty now

Kent Hovind is counting the days now, and unfortunately he has followers who are going to afflict us with badly made videos. If you feel the need to be deathly bored, here’s an interview with Hovind’s “lawyer” (not really a lawyer, but a “consultant” on Hovind’s financial planning — which is why he’s in jail right now.) Yes, you want to listen to this man’s crazy tax advice.

I only mention it because it includes a note from Kent Hovind that mentions me. The ignominy.

Dr. Hovind says:

Hey folks! New way to mass communicate! Check clubcreation.org and ask about Zello! They let us out 1st today so it’s 4am in Vancouver.. I’ll not call. Maybe tomorrow?

For Tommy Comer- The 1040 days of wrath is from Dan 8 and the 2300 days of the temple being desolate minus the 1260 days of great trib we go through. more in WOE about that! WOE=What on Earth is About to Happen for Heaven’s Sake by Dr. Hovind

For Ian- He does good math but bad logic- he needs to see seminar part 4 about Jump frog! Ps 104:6-9 says the mountains rose up near the end of the flood and the water rushed off. There is enough water in the oceans today to cover the earth 8000ft deep. Plenty to drown in. As for "comparing his doctorate with mine" if his education left him believing he came from a rock I’m already un-impressed! he also makes the silly assumption that the water for the flood came from rain where the Bible says it came from inside the earth via the fountains of the deep. He also says the flood lasted 40 days where the Bible says the earth was covered for 5 months and Noah was in the ark over a year. read the Bible Ian!

For PZ- glad you exposed Michael Shermer’s behavior and his rape of the other atheist at the atheist conference. I don’t understand how any atheist can decide ANYTHING is right or wrong. Where is the standard to judge by? If that woman’s husband or brothers or dad or uncles get Shermer drunk and make him a eunuch (which I suspect they have thought of and may yet still do!) would that be "wrong" in PZ thinking? Christians have God’s Word to show us right and wrong. What do atheists have?

Until next time.. see you at the finish line!

Kent Hovind

Jebus. I decide that something may be wrong by empathizing with the victim, and recognizing that an injustice was done. I don’t need a magic book to see that a harm was done to someone else. Further, when a wrong is committed, it makes me a worse person to consider committing a greater wrong in revenge. That Hovind considers castration to be a reasonable response simply tells me that God’s Word is simply a compendium of barbarisms used to excuse savagery.

Here’s what atheists have: respect for our fellow human beings.

Criminal, arrogant, and stupid

Ah, Mormons. Utah is a lovely state, but one thing I don’t miss at all are inhabitants who make a mess of it — I recall a camping trip in the Stansburys in which we found a campsite totally trashed by the previous visitors. That just took a little clean up, but here’s a story of a group of enthusiastic Mormon missionaries visiting a designated wilderness area, climbing up a mountain, and using concrete to mount a flagpole so they could leave their ugly mission flag flapping over the area. Not cool, dudes, not cool at all.

But just to further tarnish the reputation of Mormon missionaries everywhere, they did one thing further: they signed the flag.

They signed the evidence of their crime.

I know. It sounds so…Mormon.