CNN reports a miracle: concrete doesn’t burn!

It’s amazing. The fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee have killed people and destroyed wooden homes, but our delightfully insightful and evidence based media found a concrete statue of Jesus that survived while the house around it turned to ash. Praise the lord!

fire-statute-jesus

Hang on a moment — it looks like the foundation of the house also survived the blaze. Praise cinderblock, the one true god!

Can we test whether CNN’s broadcasting studios will survive an inferno next?

Scientology sucks

The actress Shelley Duvall was recently interviewed by the odious Dr Phil, who worked her current mental illness for ratings. One unfortunate consequence of that interview, though, is that Vivian Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick’s daughter, has started fundraising to supposedly benefit Duvall. Unfortunate because Kubrick is a Scientologist, which calls her motives and actual intent into question.

Vivian Kubrick became a Scientologist in 1999 at which point she became estranged from the rest of her family. She did not attend the funeral of her own sister, Anya Kubrick, in 2009, nor did she visit her sister when she was battling cancer.

Scientology has a long history of hostility towards psychiatry. For details please read the article Scientology’s war on psychiatry at Salon.com, HERE. Another good one is Scientologists Really, Really Hate Psychiatrists on Vice.com, HERE.

The location listed on Vivian Kubrick’s Go Fund Me page for Duvall is Clearwater, FL. Neither Kubrick nor Duvall lives in Clearwater; it is, however, the location of The Church of Scientology’s business operations.

Kubrick has not had any contact with Duvall since filming wrapped on The Shining in 1979; they have not kept in touch over the years and were never close. Kubrick is not doing this at Duvall’s request, nor is she working with Duvall’s family.

Kubrick is requesting $100K without knowing the details of Duvall’s condition, or how much treatment will cost.

Methods used within the Scientology community to treat mental illness are questionable and potentially dangerous. Again, read the articles above.

Should Kubrick’s affiliation with Scientology, an organization that “maintains the very notion of mental illness is a fraud”, disqualify her from intervening in the life of a woman who clearly needs intensive, professional, psychiatric help?

So she has no real connection with Duvall, Duvall has not asked for this, and the request is maddeningly vague — just “Give me money, and somehow I might use it to help someone with psychiatric issues, despite not believing in psychiatry at all”.

Kubrick has so far raised over $22,000 just by appealing to people’s sympathy for a celebrity. Stop. You don’t know where the money you’re giving is going to go at all.

How is Donald Trump like the Catholic Church?

John Oliver explains why Trump bombed at the Al Smith dinner, when he should have been in his element.


It was three thousand dollar a plate fundraising gala at a moth-eaten Manhattan hotel organized by the Catholic Church, a real-estate-owning, male-dominated, sex-scandal-plagued organization with whom Trump clearly shares a uniquely unqualified interior decorator.

Never trust John Hagee with a secret

He’ll just babble the secret out everywhere and ruin it. He has revealed that the Anti-Christ will make himself known to the world on 30 August 2016. Way to ruin the surprise, guy.

(Warning: what follows is a half hour of stark raving madness. I only lasted 4 minutes.)

Welp, I was going to keep everyone on edge until 11:59 tonight, but I guess I might as well ‘fess up.


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A low standard for miracles

Lyle Jeffs, of the infamous polygamous Jeffs clan, has disappeared from house arrest. His lawyer has an explanation.

As this Court is well aware, Mr. Jeffs is currently not available to inform his counsel whether or not he agrees to the Continuance, she wrote. Whether his absence is based on absconding, as oft alleged by the Government in their filings, or whether he was taken and secreted against his will, or whether he experienced the miracle of rapture is unknown to counsel.

I’ve got to remember this excuse.

“Hello, officer. Oh, a bank was robbed in town? How sad.”

“That big pile of money I was rolling around in? No, that’s not from the bank. That was immanentized into existence by the divine will of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He loves me very much.”

“Yes, my face might be on the security cameras, but that’s because the FSM is such a jolly prankster — He probably put it there for a laugh.”

“Bye! Hope you catch the robber!”

At least now I’ve got the name of a lawyer, Kathryn Nester, who will be happy to back up my defense.

What Zika does to fetal brains

It’s not pretty. The NY Times has published images of babies born with Zika-induced microcephaly, and whoa, but that virus really does a number on the developing cortex. Scientists are beginning to figure out how it’s disrupting development, and now there’s concern that even superficially unaffected children might have late-occurring deficits.

Dr. Levine said the images suggest that Zika is like a formidable enemy able to do damage in three ways: keeping parts of the brain from forming normally, obstructing areas of the brain, and destroying parts of the brain after they form.

With such a vicious and unpredictable virus, “it’s key to realize that Zika is more than microcephaly, that there’s a number of other abnormalities as they’ve shown in this paper, and its effects are going to be even more broad,” said Dr. Spong, whose agency has begun a study of what will ultimately be 10,000 babies born in Zika epidemic areas including Brazil and Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, here in the US, our useless congress is frozen in stupidity, unable to act. Why? Because this problem requires management and screening by family planning groups, and all the Republicans can see is that funding rational responses to Zika will require the assistance of organizations like Planned Parenthood, and that one of the necessary options for affected women should be termination of the pregnancy. The research in Brazil is, in part, trying to find unambiguous criteria for diagnosing affected fetuses in utero, to eliminate false positives and to allow families to respond appropriately to the afflictions.

But we’ve got nitwits like Marco Rubio here.

Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with. And when they are, it’s a lifetime of difficulties. So I get it.

I’m not pretending to you that that’s an easy question you asked me. But I’m pro-life. And I’m strongly pro-life. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life.

No, it is an easy question. When you’ve got a fetus with a brain that’s been destroyed by a virus, you give the woman you plan to burden with the responsibility of caring it for the rest of its broken, diminished “life” the choice of what to do.

Some women will find that choice difficult, and I can respect that; others will find it easy. What’s wrong is that Rubio has to struggle with the question of whether women should have autonomy.

It’s actually a movie prophesying our future under Trump

We’re getting yet another dumb-as-dirt Christian movie: Torchbearer. It’s made by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s brand new campaign advisor, and it ‘stars’ Phil Robertson, the Talibanesque asshole who is best known for selling duck calls and appearing in a reality TV show. How bad is it? You may not want to watch the trailer.

Firstly, it visually and emotionally assaults the viewer by lingering on gruesome images of violence and death, using reenactments and animation as well as the most graphic historical footage from Auschwitz and more recent images of victims of ISIS and Boko Haram being beaten, shot and burned to death. I would call the movie’s infliction of trauma gratuitous, but it seems a very purposeful act meant to provoke and inflame and generate a rage to war.

This is what this country has come to. And it’s so stupid: Robertson is an ignorant nobody, they’ve just concatenated a collection of horrible, unrelated images, and claimed that only being as fanatical about your fanatical Christianity as this fanatic will save you from those other fanatics. Meanwhile, they obliviously show prolonged scenes of Catholic and Lutheran Nazis committing atrocities under the rule of the Catholic Hitler, while blaming their actions on atheists.

“Apparitions”

Catholicism is weird. Every once in a while, stuff slips out that makes me think we’re dealing with aliens from another planet…like this discussion of how ‘apparitions’ are ‘approved’.

Many know about approved apparitions of our Blessed Mother. But only a handful realize that there were apparitions in Itapiranga, Brazil from 1994-1998 in which St. Joseph appeared along with Mary and Jesus.

In January 2010, after much study, prayer, reflection, observation and seeing the growth in the faith life of thousands, the local ordinary, Bishop Carillo Gritti declared a Decree of Worship favoring the Itapiranga appearances and in an earlier document called it of “supernatural origin.”

In another document he stated that considering the manifestations of the Virgin from 2005-10, who has called upon devotion to the three Sacred Hearts: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a first step has been taken to build a new sanctuary with the certainty that it will be a place for pilgrimages, and the conversions that only God by the intercession of Mary can operate has been thus far for him and enlightened souls, reason enough to see in these visions and messages the finger of God (translated form the Portuguese).

It’s simply taken for granted that we know what these apparitions are, but apparently, all it is is that some guy had a vision of Mary and Joseph, and later his mom claimed to have seen them too. So now a bishop has declared that it is OK for you all to see particular ghosts, presumably without risk of being declared a heretic.

I do like the Catholic version of the scientific method: much study, prayer, reflection, observation and seeing the growth in the faith life of thousands. I don’t think observation means going to Itapiranga to have a conversation with old Joe’s shade, though; most likely it involved noting that church attendance is up, and counting up potential revenues from a new shrine.

I wanted to know more about this mysterious method for divining the truth from the claims of Catholic zealots, but instead the rest of the article goes on at tedious length about the wonderful imaginary virtues of the imaginary saint. Catholics do live in a rich fantasy world, that’s clear.

But I will commend the Catholics for one thing: they can write voluminously about St Joseph, yet they didn’t use the word cuck even once, which was a relief.

I agree with this guy

I don’t agree with the two guys on the other side of this debate, but Nasser Dashti, arguing that the Islamic world must become more secular, is spot on.

I believe that the time has come for us to adopt the secular, rational, scientific approach, and to remove religion from public life and confine it to the private sphere. Every person is free to understand his religion as he sees fit, and he is free to change his religion, to adopt any school of thought or religion, and to spread his ideas in keeping with the modern rules of human rights.

—Nasser Dashti

Maybe once the Middle East becomes secular, we can start working on fixing the USA in the same way.