May 232017

I woke up this morning to the news of the Manchester bombing this morning; learning about what was going on from a forum that had attracted some of the more rancid members of the far right. Who were busy blaming this atrocity on all muslims, but also on Syrian refugees; all this of course before anyone knew any facts because facts are irrelevant to the bigoted far right.

And a particularly nasty piece of work has labelled the victims “sluts” and “whores” (I’ve linked to a site that discusses his comments in order not to give him any extra ad revenue).

Now I am not in the habit of being sympathetic to any religious group – they all believe in imaginary friends. But they’re people and in many cases my fellow countrymen, so when a gang of pathetic little chickenshit cowards labels all muslims as terrorists, it is time to call them out on their bigoted bullshit.

Yes the evil scum who set off the bomb was a muslim; one born in Britain and not a Syrian refugee.

But :-

  1. It is almost certain that some of the 60 ambulances that attended were crewed by a muslim or two.
  2. It is almost certain that some of the police who were there helping people out were muslims.
  3. It is almost certain that some of those who opened their homes to accommodate stranded
  4. Some of the taxi drivers who turned off their meters and offered free lifts to those stranded were muslims.

Of course Mancunians of all faiths and none rallied around and helped out, but as muslims were being painted with the terrorism brush, it seems reasonable to highlight that many of those helping out were muslims.

Feb 132017

As an atheist, I find it difficult to be polite and not fall about laughing at things like “Intelligent Design”, but for the duration of this blog posting, I’ll try.

On one side are the scientists who spend their working lives investigating biological processes who have their theory of evolution. Now that word “theory” needs a bit of explanation; it does not mean that evolution hasn’t been accepted as fact by scientists. Evolution is one of those rare scientific theories that has never been disproved; merely refined. Essentially the word “theory” here is a challenge to disprove evolution and come up with a better theory – if you think you’re hard enough!

On the other side are a collection of religious leaders (admittedly Charles Thaxton trained as a chemist) who have spent their working lives telling people about god; and coming up with the theory of “Intelligent Design” in their spare time. The suspicion is that these people are letting their religious beliefs influence their “scientific” thinking.

When I want to know about plumbing, I ask a plumber. When I want to know about welding, I ask a boiler-maker. And when I want to know about biology, I ask a biologist.

Apr 242016

The interwebs are vibrating with apoplexy at the issue of transgender people in public toilets – those who insist they should tie a knot in it and not use a toilet (or use some other toilet), and those who oppose them. North Carolina has recently passed a law requiring transgender people to use the toilet suited to the gender of their birth, and other states are set to follow. To USians who are puzzled by my use of the word “toilet” – in the UK it refers to both the room itself and the appliance.

In some ways I would more naturally fit into the first camp – I don’t understand transgender issues, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to go down the route of gender re-assignment. To me the gender of the meatspace body my mind wears is immutable.

But here’s the thing: if someone decides to go down the route of gender re-assignment, it’s none of my business. And this law is just plain stupid not to mention malicious.

And so to toilets. In IT there is a principle called the Principle of Least Astonishment which in a sense is quite relevant here. If I go to a public toilet, I normally expect to find myself alongside (figuratively and literally in the case of the urinal) people who look like men; if there’s someone in there who looks like a woman (and it has happened – women sometimes use the men’s facilities) then for a moment I wonder if I’ve wandered through the wrong door.

So it stands to reason that people who look like men should use the men’s toilets and people who look like women should use the women’s toilets. Nothing to do with right and wrong, it’s just simple logic and that principle I mentioned in the last paragraph. Of course it is also the right thing to do.

Now we all know there are perverts out there – there are male perverts, and female perverts, and it stands to reason that there are a few transgender perverts too, and yes some of them are interested in children too (but not all; most perverts are probably as horrified by paedophilia as normal people are). So? What does this have to do with toilets?

Unless what goes on in public women’s toilets is a good deal more exciting than what goes on in the men’s facilities, there’s really nothing for someone to get excited about (and men do share a urinal!).

And frankly even if perverts are weird enough to get excited in public toilets, there’s better strategies than picking on a minority group. Such as concentrating on making those doors and walls for toilet stalls floor to ceiling.

Now I’m going to go for a pee in peace.

(Obviously stolen from Sarah)

Mar 152016

This post was inspired by a video of someone’s testament of why they are leaving islam, but yet it has nothing to do with islam.

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There is a perfectly understandable misunderstanding within that video – the extremism commonly found in islam today has nothing to do with islam itself. The same extremism can be found in other religions too – christianity, hinduism, budhism, judaisn, etc. Yes the perception is that islam today is far more extreme than those other religions, but there are still extremism in other religions :-

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It seems that irrespective of what religion someone believes in, they will take the message from their religious texts that they want to. A good person is going to take the good stuff from the good book; a bad person is going to take the bad stuff from the very same book. I would not go as far as Steven Weinburg :-

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

But it is certainly along the right sort of lines. Extremists use religion as an excuse to do evil things – killing homosexuals, abortionists, atheists, “immoral” women, etc. If we could somehow cause all the extremists of the world to drink the magical cool-aid that would turn off their extremism and turn them into the kind of religious believers who “love thy neighbour”, then there wouldn’t be a problem with religion.

But the sad fact is that extremists do so much harm with their religion that it outweighs any possible benefit we get from religion. We would be better off getting rid of religion just to stop the extremists from pretending to be good.

Dec 102015

So Donald Trump wants to ban muslims from entering the US does he?

Perhaps he really is not only a vicious racist but also as gormless as he looks in the photo (apologies for those of a sensitive disposition). There are others who have covered why banning muslims from entering the US is morally wrong, and if you do not understand why that is so, then explaining here is not going to make things any clearer.

But in addition to being morally wrong, it is also dumb in the extreme. There are two important question to ask when looking at a policy …

Is It A Practicable Policy?


Islam is a religion and is not apparent from someone’s appearance. There is no label on their forehead!

So a policy of restricting muslims would be limited to either asking them. Which would lead to a situation where you were excluding muslims who do not lie about their religion, or in other words you are letting in the kind of muslims that you should perhaps be excluding, and excluding the muslims there is no reason for excluding.

Or you could do some sort of racial profiling, which amounts to not excluding muslims, but excluding light-brown skinned people. Again this will exclude the kind of muslims you do not want to exclude, whilst allowing through ones up to no good.

Will It Accomplish The Mission?

It really depends on what is intended by excluding muslims. If it is intended to portray the US as an intolerant country blundering around with incompetent measures that do more to annoy than to protect, them yes it can be said to accomplish the mission.

If however it is intended to make the US safer from terrorists, then no. Terrorists are more interested in accomplishing their own mission than telling the truth, and will go out of their way to avoid being identified is muslims if they think that this will help in their mission.

There is one small category of terrorists that this may protect against – those who are initially ordinary muslims but who later become radicalised whilst in the US. However having said that, the likelihood that this measure will protect against those vulnerable to becoming radicalised is pretty low.



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