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Comments by Katy Cordeth

Go to: Loss within the truth

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 8 by Roedy :

I once asked myself how long a life would be enough, how much too long? The usual 80 is really not that bad.

I wonder if you'll still feel the same when you're in your mid-to-late 70s.

To the OP, I was listening to a recent episode of Infinite Monkey Cage on Radio 4 (all episodes available gratis on the iTunes) in which guest John Lloyd, when speaking about the concept of something called Block Time, said the following:

"...Tiime's a bit like a landscape, you know? Just because you're not in New York, it doesn't go away; it's always there. The same is true of last Wednesday: it's just sitting there with all the people in it going on. And people who don't have any religious faith, for example, find this rather comforting: that somebody who's gone is still there in last Thursday or, you know, three years ago or whatever, so it's all existent...."

Food for thought?

Sun, 29 Jul 2012 22:42:00 UTC | #950295

Go to: The Dawkins Challenge

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 83 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 31 by Tyler Durden :

Comment 25 by katy Cordeth :

Jesus is made of bread (and wine).

White bread, presumably. None of that nasty unleavened brown-people bread.

It is curious that the RCC would approve the use of ‘low gluten’ hosts for those individuals suffering with coeliac disease.

Communion wafers - Coeliac UK

Wheat, a cereal that contains gluten, is the only substance authorised by the Roman Catholic Church to make Eucharistic bread so there are special ‘low gluten’ hosts that have been approved for use by individuals with coeliac disease when taking Communion. These products contain Codex wheat starch. This is a specially processed wheat starch which has a level of gluten within the Codex standard. It was first introduced as a basis for staple gluten-free substitute products like flour and bread to improve the quality and texture of these products.

I attended a wedding here in Ireland last summer and this was my first time to notice this change (no pun intended) in communion wafers.

I have an idea as to how this whole transubstantiation business could be put to bed once and for all. A quick Wikipedia search informs me that:

The sacramental bread, known as prosphorá or a πρόσφορον (prósphoron, offering) may be made out of only four ingredients: fine (white) wheat flour, pure water, yeast, and salt.

The recipe doesn't stipulate what kind of salt must be used, so I suggest that in place of the traditional sodium chloride, some host wafers (Jesencrackers?) should be made using using crystals of one of the cyanide salts. The resultant product would satisfy the requirements of what is acceptable at the Eucharist and could then be offered (with his full knowledge, of course) to Pope Ratzinger* at his own next Holy Communion.

One of three things would happen. Either he'd refuse to eat the thing, in which case we'd know that the Bishop of Rome himself doesn't really believe in transubstantiation. Or he'd eat it and drop down dead, proving the whole business to be a sham. Or he'd eat the oblation, suffer no ill effects at all, and in one fell swoop prove to the entire world that not only is God real, but that Catholicism is the only path to Him. This could be repeated as often as necessary, even under laboratory conditions, until everyone on Earth, RD included, has no choice but to accept it as truth.

Come on your Holiness, there are about seven billion souls in imminent danger. Accept the challenge or all these people will have to spend eternity immersed up to their necks in a fiery lake of poop. What have you got to lose?

*Or indeed to any Catholic priest or high-ranking apologist for Catholicism (but not the rank and file as many of these would no doubt be dim enough to actually eat the thing).

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 07:41:45 UTC | #947734

Go to: The Dawkins Challenge

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 24 by YHWH :

I think you've all missed a very obvious explanation.

Jesus is made of bread.

(and wine).

White bread, presumably. None of that nasty unleavened brown-people bread. And the big J is considered a prophet in Islam so it must be non-alcoholic wine that makes up the rest of him. Ah, 'tis a theological minefield to be sure.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 07:11:06 UTC | #947339

Go to: The Dawkins Challenge

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Katy Cordeth

In Australia, Dawkins observed that to take seriously the views of contemporary science, especially the cosmology that argues about getting something from “absolutely nothing,” we need to be willing to move well beyond our “common sense” understandings of the world. In this particular case, we will otherwise misunderstand what physicists like Krauss mean by “nothing.” According to Dawkins, the “whole point of modern physics is that you cannot do it by ‘common sense.’”

This from a man who ridiculed the use of the word “body” in Catholic teaching about the Eucharist because it went against common sense. The vocabulary of faith, like that of physics, needs to be understood in technical terms. But Dawkins does not allow for the kind of specialized vocabulary in theology and philosophy that he is so willing to grant to physics.

I take this (the part I've highlighted) to mean that in order to understand modern physics one has to stop thinking along linear, intuitive lines and embrace thinking processes which may at first seem illogical.

What William Carroll (interesting surname by the way; a spiritual descendant of the Rev. Dodgson?) seems to be saying is that because Richard and others are forced to dispense with the common sense approach in order to get to grips with one particularly esoteric discipline, they should be expected to reject rationality when dealing with everything, including religion. But it's a false equivalence; and some things can be approached from a purely logical, common sense position. Religion is patently silly, and just doesn't require any deeper, logic-subverting change in the thinking process in order to understand its inherent silliness.

Only those who are viewing religion from the inside out are blind to this, because most of them have been brought up to take this stuff seriously. And I don't think they can necessarily be blamed for getting umpty when others see what they believe - no, not believe, know - to be true as unscientific, nonsensical balls. To them it is scientific and logical, because their minds have been conditioned to accept it as such.

Edit: I should try and schedule the posting of my comments on a thread to a time when both Steve Zara and Cartomancer are not commenting. I might as well be confessing to a murder. Or is it may as well? Ah, I feel stupid again.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 03:47:09 UTC | #947324

Go to: Turf wars expose the rot within Holy See

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by Katy Cordeth

@Comment 33

My apologies. I should have provided a link to the Wikipedia page about those awful people rather than to their own website (or better still, not brought them up at all). Apologies also to the person whose comment @34 was removed.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 09:59:47 UTC | #947024

Go to: Church pastors become atheists

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Katy Cordeth

"When a pastor comes forward and says, 'I don't believe anymore,' it rocks their world," said Dr. Keith Jenkins, a Methodist pastor and former president of the Houston Graduate School of Theology. "Members see pastors as spiritual super heroes."

Jenkins said many church leaders question and then lose their faith, but never before has it been a public phenomenon.

"It's almost gone viral," said Jenkins.

The website www.clergyproject.com has become a confidential gathering group for pastors, ministers and other church leaders who no longer believe in God. The group said it has more than 240 members. Some like Aus have gone public. Most other church leaders in that group have kept their new lack of belief hidden from others, including their congregations. They are secret atheists still serving churches and ministering to members even though they don't believe in what they preach anymore.

"I'm sure there are many pastors actively serving in churches who are going through a faith crisis and have lost their faith, but they haven't left because it's their livelihood," said Jenkins. "But they need to move on. They don't need to stay with a church and use their position as a pastor with sacred trust to try and take others with them."

The spiritual superhero Pastor Jenkins has hit on a problem that I have with the Clergy Project, that it seems to be targeting the wrong people. To employ a Godwinny analogy, suppose you're a member of a Polish resistance unit during WWII. You're approached by a mid-ranking German guard who has been assigned to one of the satellite camps of Auschwitz for some time. He's seen what goes on there and is appalled by it and has become disillusioned both with Der Führer and with Nazism. He wants to quit but is naturally afraid what the consequences will be to his own life. No more snazzy uniform with which to impress the fräuleins at the local tavern; no pension; scheissenfärten, no job even!

Do you, as a resistance member, say to him "It's all right Hans, we'll get you away from that terrible place and on a plane to merry old England before nightfall, where it'll be tea and crumpets with Churchill and Noël Coward at the Savoy"? Or do you say "Get your Nazi ass back to that camp and between us we'll try and come up with a plan to liberate its inhabitants"?

I suppose what I'm suggesting is that some of these new converts to atheism could be persuaded to remain at their posts and act as fifth columnists, and as the modest Dr. Keith suggests "try to take others with them". That way they could still enjoy the privilege they've no doubt become accustomed to: primo parking spots, grace-and-favour accommodation, first dibs on newly arrived divorcées etc. They wouldn't have to worry about where their next meal was coming from or where they'd be laying their head the following night.

In the case of Mike Aus, his 80-strong congregation broke up a few weeks after his story broke (why does that make me feel sad?), but I imagine in most cases the pastor in question is quickly replaced and everything returns to the status quo ante. The Clergy Project just seems to be squandering some valuable assets.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 09:20:48 UTC | #947020

Go to: Louisiana lunacy: tens of millions to be spent on faith-based education

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by Katy Cordeth

I think I've figured out what's going on with this story, and it's all based on a simple misunderstanding. Governor Jindal has obviously conflated the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 with the Left Behind series of best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins; who, by the way, say the following on their website:

Not only do we not think the Mayan calendar is correct, we reject any "prophecy" from any source that has not proven 100% correct in the past....

Jindal is just trying to make sure the children of his state get raptured when the time comes.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 05:11:23 UTC | #946983

Go to: Louisiana lunacy: tens of millions to be spent on faith-based education

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Katy Cordeth

At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen.

Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginner’s science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation.

Is it called Eternity Christian Academy because that's how long each schoolday feels like to its students?

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 02:38:01 UTC | #946683

Go to: Sins of Memory

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Katy Cordeth

I decide for myself that the art of learning this stuff is not worth the time...

Close but no 074. One (I think; the first one) out of three. Try again. :—)

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 23:12:37 UTC | #946667

Go to: Sins of Memory

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Katy Cordeth

@ Comments 11 and 22 by jameshogg

I read a book a few years ago all about memory improvement, and the technique James has mastered was included, along with others. I wasn't really interested in learning how to memorise the order of a deck of cards, but what did get attention was a similar technique which taught one how to commit long numbers to memory by transforming them into words, or rather phrases.

The method is a simple one and goes as follows:

Each number from 1 - 0 is assigned a phonetic sound based on letters of the alphabet. This is the important part: it's the sound of the letter rather than the letter itself that's used.

1 = t or th; or d (or more accurately "tuh" or "thu"; or "duh")

2 = n (or "nuh")

3 = m (or "muh")

4 = r (or "ruh")

5 = l (or "luh")

6 = sh or ch or j ("shuh" or "chuh" or "juh")

7 = c or k; or g ("cuh" or "guh")

8 = f or v ("fuh" or "vuh")

9 = b or p ("buh" or "puh")

0 = s or z ("suh" or "zuh")

(You'll notice that there are no vowel sounds. That's because you supply those.)

So a random number like, say, 99 becomes b,b or p,p or b,p or p,b

From this, and by supplying our own vowels and any other consonant which hasn't itself been assigned to a number, we can come up with a myriad of words: bop, pipe, puppy, pappy, pope, boob etc; but not bops or boobs because these would include the s number 0 and would make the number 990.

A few other small-number examples could be: 65 - sh, ch or j for the first digit and l for the second, giving us perhaps the words chill, shill, shale, jail, Gill (as in Gillian, because it's the phonetic sound we use, and Gill is enunciated by making the juh sound rather than the guh of the letter g; gill as in a fish's limb would be the number 75 - g, l; similarly the word 'phone' would represent the number 82 rather than 92 as it's the "fuh" sound of the word which concerns us and not the fact that phone starts with a p or 9).

96 could give us pish or bash or even bitch; 22 nun, none, nanny. 75 coal or collie.

Moving on to larger numbers is easy enough and depends only on our own inventiveness and familiarity with the English language:

147 track, Tarka, trick, dark...747 creek, crack, cork...959 pileup, plop, bleep...121 tonight, taint, dainty.

7476 carcrash... 3321 moment...7289 confab. And so on.

As numbers get bigger, we move on from words to phrases:

654703 jailer goes home — jailer goes home'

3510560 mel hates all jews — mel hates all jews

427032100 herring swim into houses — herring* swim into houses**

The first twenty one digits of pi, ignoring the decimal point, could be represented as: mother tulip inch lemuel fob cap me name fresh.

Other RDnet users will have to decide for 130580 if the 841 of learning this stuff is worth the 7215.

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 22:44:17 UTC | #946661

Go to: Birds Ended Reign of Giant Insects

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Katy Cordeth

I wonder what it would be like to be alive with 2 meter span insects flying around. They are predatory, would they think I was food?

It's entirely possible.

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 19:27:49 UTC | #946611

Go to: Dawkins calls for 'Catholic' honesty

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 76 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 51 by susanlatimer

What is a Catholic?

catholic  [kath-uh-lik, kath-lik] adj 1 universal; relating to all men; all-inclusive. 2 comprehensive in interests, tastes etc.; broad-minded; liberal. [from Latin catholicus, from Greek katholicus universal, from kathalou in general, from kata- according to + holos whole]

Broad-minded; liberal - this definition could've been written with Pope Ratzinger himself in mind.

Comment 71 by Roedy

....I once took communion to see if anything would happen, even just an emotion. It is just a cracker, not even meat flavoured.

You're complaining because you weren't fed a dog biscuit?

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 01:30:49 UTC | #946481

Go to: Update - Podcast June 5 Interview with Peter Boghossian - "Faith: Pretending to know things you don't know"

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 96 by Katy Cordeth

My dad (he's getting on a bit) made me laugh the other day. He actually said that he was annoyed with homosexuals because, and I quote:

"They have taken the word 'homo' for themselves. 'Homo' means 'man', not 'gay'."

I think I'm right in saying that the word homosexual is derived from Greek rather than Latin, and describes physical attraction to someone of the same sex; homos being Greek for 'same'. Calling someone a homo betrays not only the name-caller's own homosphobia (yeah, that's right: birth of a new meme) but also their unfamiliarity with the classical languages.

Unless you're Catherine the Great or the actor Richard [surname removed by Katy's internal moderator] you're almost certainly homo-sexual, i.e. you're sexually attracted only to members of your own species.

So to sum up, the first syllable of the word homosexual should be pronounced to rhyme with bomb rather than dome. And homosphobes (see, it's already catching on) should be calling the people they despise yet are secretly attracted to 'hommos' or 'hommoes'.

And, apropos of nothing whatsoever, An Officer and a Gentleman was a fine motion picture.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 05:48:44 UTC | #946273

Go to: Leo Igwe—The Constant Fight Against Irrationality

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Katy Cordeth

The crazier thing is that the crazies don't think they are crazy. Insanity in the individual is rare but in the group it is the rule. People are probably wired to conform by social pressures...

"The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad." Salvador Dali

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 05:27:24 UTC | #946268

Go to: How religion promotes confidence about paternity

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Katy Cordeth

I believe the film you have in mind is Tod Browning's Freaks (1932), a fantastic, haunting movie, panned on its release and banned for many years in the UK. It's well worth seeking out, as it's as compelling today as it must have been back then.

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 01:11:43 UTC | #946246

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 45 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Wait, I thought Richard was referring to the story about the 8th grader. I really couldn't care less if anybody makes the same comments about college students, but I have a problem with adults calling KIDS names. That's the beginning and the end of it. Nothing to do with sex or even the fact that she was crying.

That was what I got from your what you said @31. And RD's comment did seem rather cold.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 21:46:44 UTC | #946217

Go to: How religion promotes confidence about paternity

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by Katy Cordeth

Religious practices that strongly control female sexuality are more successful at promoting certainty about paternity

In related news, it was announced today that Benedict XVI is a member of the Roman Catholic Church; and that caniform mammals of the family Ursidae can frequently be observed expelling undigestable food matter in locales which are characterised by their having an abundance of tall perennial plants.

Religious patriarchy is directly analogous to the mate-guarding tactics used by animals to ensure paternity.

There you have it in a nutshell. This is the reason why I find it hard to get as angry over religion as so many others do. The whole sorry business: the subjugation of half the human population of this planet, be it by the butchering of our sexual organs, or forcing us to spend our entire lives viewing the world through a letterbox-shaped hole in our mobile tent, or convincing so many of us to become hitched to some guy whose bones turned to dust centuries before we were born; the entire thing is just a more sophisticated, bells-and-whistles version of the stuff 'lower' animals do in order to ensure the continuation of their genes.

The weird thing is that many of us who know that Homo sapiens is just another species of animal with no divine provenance will take issue with the idea that the appalling actions of religionists can be mitigated by the knowledge that all their inane practices and rituals are just modified animal behaviour. And any arguments we can offer as to why the horrors committed in the name of religion should not be excused will always boil down to the idea that humans should know better or do better or be better than animals.

Ah, the irony. Like the tears of a bambi or a lion king. So bitter. Yet so delicious.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 21:17:20 UTC | #946209

Go to: Spanish artist faces prison over 'how to cook Christ' film

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Katy Cordeth

Doesn't Spain have any anti-barratry legislation on its statute books? This Centro Juridico Tomas Moro should itself be given a legal spanking for bringing a frivolous prosecution.

Having said that, and I'm aware that this is easy for me to say as I'm not the one facing the prospect of a year in the slammer, I wish the 'popular and provocative' señor Krahe was being a little more defiant and on the offensive rather than saying things like: "I'm accused of a series of things that I haven't done. I don't appear on television cooking Christ, and I haven't ever used these images [in a performance]."

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 14:49:01 UTC | #946149

Go to: Should Depressed People Avoid Having Children?

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 11 by Linda Ward

If only more people were like Silverman, she is a clear headed thinker.

I can't figure out if this comment is meant to be ironic or not . Either way, it's a catch-22 sort of thing: if more people were like Sarah Silverman, choosing not to reproduce for fear of passing down their type of creative though troubled personality, then there would soon be fewer people like her.

I don't know if anyone here has seen the Mike Judge satire ldiocracy. It takes place in a dystopian future society in which America has become incredibly dumbed-down because over the course of the previous few hundred years clever people stopped breeding. All the smart has been bred out of humanity, and the Hasselhoff/Hilton paradigm has come to dominate.

This does seem to be the way that all society is going. Here in the UK, the same week that saw an unelected posh bird celebrate sixty years of privilege and unimaginable, unearned wealth, also witnessed the return of an inexplicably popular television show in which a group or heroically stupid people are sent into a house where their every lavatory visit, dull-witted conversation, alcohol-fuelled argument and attempt at sexual intimacy will be recorded for posterity.

Clever, creative types must be encouraged to reproduce. Sarah Silverman, start making babies now! Stephen Fry, stop being gay at once and find a nice, fertile Irish girl to settle down with. Oh, all right, I'll volunteer if you insist. Michael McIntire, as you were - probably best if your family line ends with you.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 05:15:27 UTC | #946046

Go to: Queen 'should remain Defender of the Faith' - BBC poll

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by Katy Cordeth

WTF are you on?

A little drug called Majesty Does Me Alright.

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 10:00:50 UTC | #945430

Go to: Queen 'should remain Defender of the Faith' - BBC poll

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by Katy Cordeth

I hardly think so. It's my experience that most of the British members of RD.net would consider themselves as republican...

I don't care who they're supporting in the upcoming American election. British people don't have a say in that event so their sympathies in that regard are irrelevant. If someone is British then they adore Her Majesty the Queen. It's encoded in our DNA. End of discussion!

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 09:34:50 UTC | #945425

Go to: Queen 'should remain Defender of the Faith' - BBC poll

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 66 by Katy Cordeth

I've noticed that traffic on this site has been rather slow for the past couple of days. I can only imagine that this is because of the events in London celebrating Her Majesty's 60th year ensconced on the throne.

This would be more understandable if membership of RichardDawkins.net were restricted to the people of Great Britain & Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth countries. After all, everybody in the United Kingdom has spent the past few days travelling from their homes on a pilgrimage to London; not in response to any regal summons, for none would be necessary, but in answer to some deeper calling:

Like the salmon which make the long and torturous annual journey back to the cliffs of Capistrano; or the butterflies drawn irresistibly to the candle's seductively flickering flame; or the tortoises which hatch and then run the gauntlet of gulls and other predators as they blindly make their way down to the safety of the sea, where, having mistaken themselves for turtles, they will inevitably drown. Like all of these noble creatures, those of us with British blood coursing through our veins have felt a certain restlessness lo these past few weeks.

Our sleep has been fitful, our dreams filled with images of jellied eels, pearlied individuals, twins not Jedward but Kray and Mitchell; poorly tuned public-house pianofortes; pie-and-mash stalls. And all accompanied by the endlessly repeated refrain of "Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit". The dreamer awakens, drenched in perspiration and with one word on his or her lips: "Lon...don".

All of which explains why the rest of Great Britain is currently empty except for the capital, whose hotels and guesthouses are full to bursting, and whose park benches are sleeping up to fifteen people at a time. And why I personally have over this weekend made a cool fifteen grand renting out my North London flat. Gawd bless yer, Maam.

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 06:05:34 UTC | #945406

Go to: Does this candidate have a prayer?

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Katy Cordeth

I salute your tenacity, All About Meme. Most people would probably have admitted ages ago that they had got the wrong end of the stick, then cut their losses and walked away. But you're clinging on by your fingernails. Respect.

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 07:33:41 UTC | #945283

Go to: Does this candidate have a prayer?

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Katy Cordeth

Q: What do you think are your chances of winning the election?

A: I’m an atheist, not a fool. (Since I wasn’t going to win, I felt free to be honest.)

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 05:48:36 UTC | #945265

Go to: Why I watched a snake-handling pastor die for his faith

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by Katy Cordeth

I haven't even got the slightest admiration for this man. He devoted his life to a dangerous brand of ridiculous nonsense that eventually killed him. And, what's worse, he did so because he was inculcated with that nonsense by his own father - who died the same way. He has a grieving mother and wife and children. It's utterly stupid and pathetic.

Devotion is all well and good, if it's devotion to something worthwhile. But this kind of obsessive, reckless, unreflective faith is one of the most harmful aspects of human psychology there is. And this guy didn't just follow it, he actively PROMOTED it. He tried to instil and nurture and shore it up in others. As his father did before him. That's not admirable, it's monstrous.

Well, who are we to decide what is and isn't worthwhile? It's possible that this man found more meaning in his life through his devotion to this 'ridiculous nonsense' than you or I will ever know. And why do you assume that his faith in what he did wasn't reflective? He must have been acutely aware of the danger he was facing each time he handled a snake, and that his every church attendance was essentially a game of Russian roulette. How could routinely being confronted with the prospect of one's mortality fail to make that person examine his existence every day of his life.

And the photojournalist too - she isn't blameless here either. She's contributing to making this tragic madman and his nasty irrational cult into some kind of heroic feat that deserves respect. By choosing to document and publicise what goes on here, she's spinning it into something that is intended to provoke admiration and awe rather than horror at the senselessness and waste of it. The toxic mindset so graphically displayed here must be roundly condemned and shunned, not held up for freak-show gawping.

I won't pretend that I know Ms Pond's motives for publishing what she documented, other than that as a photojournalist, it's sort of her raison d'être. But we shouldn't automatically assume that it was her intent to provoke admiration and awe for this event anymore than we should expect her to condemn it as horrible and senseless. I'm not a science bod, but I believe there's some scientific principle which states that someone observing an experiment cannot help but influence it merely by the act of observation. It's the job of the documentarian to subvert this principle and remain dispassionate and disinterested. If we start insisting that someone making a documentary or filming a news report has to adopt a condemnatory stance if the subjects of the material or their actions are morally questionable, then the fourth estate will begin to become part of the story itself, with the journalist's camera becoming a caméra-stylo. Before long, all journalism would resemble Fox News.

The people who aided and abetted this should be charged with negligent homicide, since the man was clearly a risk to himself and in need of protecting from his stupid faith.

This guy was a grown-up with, presumably, no obvious signs of mental retardation. If people want to dice with death then it's nobody's business but their own. We can't bubble-wrap the world, nor can we hold accountable those who fail to prevent their neighbours doing dumb things. To continue the extreme-sports analogy, should we go around arresting those who sell mountaineering equipment or water-skis? How about those found flogging cigarettes or cheeseburgers?

If we hear that someone's parachute failed to open or they fell off a mountain, we don't call them stupid for having perished in an unnecessary way, and yet skydiving and mountaineering are easily as pointless as snake handling. We may even salute someone who dies in such a manner and say "ah well, he died as he lived" or "it's how he would have wanted to go".

There's a huge difference. People engaged in dangerous sports take all manner of extra precautions ( such as a reserve parachute ) so as not to die. They technically weight up the risks, and dont just place their fate in the hands of blind faith. Steve Irwin was mentioned above........I recall an episode of his where he went out of his way to get a snake to squirt venom at him, but..he had anti-venom right there with him and a medic on hand.

There's quite a difference between people doing daredevil things because that is what humans do, and dying as a consequence, and people doing such things and dying because their 'faith' was the only safety precaution they took. The Darwin Awards are for the latter.

I'm sorry but I really don't see a lot of difference between the two; nor do I accept that daredevilling (hey, new gerund) is something that humans just 'do'. And these people's faith is their reserve parachute. The fact that it's actually an anvil is beside the point.

I don't know why some people choose to handle snakes and others go base-jumping or rock-climbing, although I would imagine it has something to do with endorphins and adrenalin and the sheer thrill of taunting the anorexic fellow holding the scythe. It seems disingenuous, though, to say that the guy whose chute failed to deploy isn't as deserving of the Darwin Award as the one whose heart was destroyed by snake venom.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 08:19:10 UTC | #945162

Go to: Why I watched a snake-handling pastor die for his faith

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Katy Cordeth

Am I the only one who has a sneaking admiration for Pastor Mack? He seems to have been someone who lived life on its own terms. If we hear that someone's parachute failed to open or they fell off a mountain, we don't call them stupid for having perished in an unnecessary way, and yet skydiving and mountaineering are easily as pointless as snake handling. We may even salute someone who dies in such a manner and say "ah well, he died as he lived" or "it's how he would have wanted to go".

This man presumably spent most of his life handling snakes (and panthers apparently) and made it to the age of 44. Respect.

Give me rockstar preachers and gospel choirs over village fêtes and Jerusalem any day.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 21:21:12 UTC | #945082

Go to: Jury gives "faith healing" mother prison time in son's death

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by Katy Cordeth

However, wouldn't the comments here be better placed on their site (some with a little editing :) ) ... there's no subs required and maybe the peeps reading the NewOK might see that not all people are sympathetic to dogs mysterious ways.

I think this woman has probably suffered enough without her being exposed to any of the warm-hearted opinions that have been expressed here. She'll have to spend the rest of her life coming to terms with the knowledge that because of her misplaced faith and her own foolishness, she'll never get to see her son grow up; never get to hold the grandchildren he would have given her. I think that not exposing her to this website would constitute an act of kindness; even if it means that she'll be oblivious to all the humour her son's death has engendered. Missing limbs and starfish. Comedy gold.

Wed, 30 May 2012 11:12:23 UTC | #944444

Go to: Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 82 by Katy Cordeth

You know what I like about your responses, All About Meme? It's that you never have to wait too long for them. Anyone else might think it's because you're quick-witted, but those of us who know you better.....

I'm kidding, of course, and I've enjoyed this little back-and-forth, as I think you might have in your own monobrowed, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal.....all right, I'll stop it now. You're obviously reasonably smart, and many of your posts are entertaining enough (when you keep a lid on the sarcasm), and I'll admit that my comment about Jesus and Mohammed and Moses may have been intended as a fillip to keep the argument going. I just wish I'd chosen something which was more difficult to defend*.

Now you can relax and maim some kestrels.

Here's to the day when all of us, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, atheists, in fact people everywhere, can come together in the spirit of peace and harmony to murder those little feathery fuckers.

*I will make the argument if you insist, but it's just so obvious if you think about it that I honestly cannot be bothered to justify it.

Wed, 30 May 2012 08:04:26 UTC | #944408

Go to: Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 80 by Katy Cordeth

This is complete, utter rubbish. I’m sorry, but I’ve just realized I have some ironing to do. Thanks for your time!

I would imagine it's a cold iron, as I'm guessing you're not allowed anywhere near any sources of heat or electricity. Just kidding

But don't just say something is complete and utter rubbish and then pretend you have something else to do. Justify your assertion, sir, or retract it.

Alright. I'm not saying that any child is born religious.

Very few people get to choose their religion; they're born into it. It's no more a choice to them than the colour of their eyes or skin.

How can you possibly reconcile these two contradictory statements? They are both in your post. On the contrary, no child is “born religious” or “born into religion”. This is the debate we’re having, remember?

They're both in my post because they're both true; and neither of them contradicts the other! If you think they do, then tell me if you disagree with either one. I'll repeat them for the sake of clarity:

No child is born religious. true/false?

Religion isn't a choice, but depends on what family one happens to have been born into. true/false?

And you still haven't answered my original question:

We accept that someone can be Jewish by birth. Well, aren't Jews and Muslims genetically the same people? How come a child can be born Jewish but can't be born Muslim?

If you don't know the answer, then that's fine. Really. I'm smarter than you and I don't know it. But at least acknowledge the question's bloody existence.

I have to go now as I have some....kestrels...to.....maim.

Wed, 30 May 2012 06:51:46 UTC | #944398

Go to: Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by Katy Cordeth

If you persist in cattle-branding children with religious labels, even though you've now been informed that it isn't helpful to their development as evidence-based thinkers -- then yes, I'd say you qualify in this one respect. (But you won't persist, right?)

Yep, I'll persist. As long as there are people who use sophisms to try and make their arguments; and will ignore what's in plain sight if it conflicts with their worldview; or who continually and relentlessly skirt around what someone else is trying - with sisyphean determination - to get across; then yeah, I'll persist.

Alternatively, let's hear your justification for persisting in labeling children with superstitious nonsense.

Alright. I'm not saying that any child is born religious. But there are religious adults, correct? I believe I'm right in saying that there's several billion of them. I'm also fairly certain that each and every one of these adults was at one time a child. We're in agreement so far, I trust.

Well, at what point did each of these individuals go from being a nonreligious child into a religious adult? Where was the moment when they went from being a vulnerable doe-eyed victim into someone it's ok to hate? Very few people get to choose their religion; they're born into it. It's no more a choice to them than the colour of their eyes or skin.

I'll repeat my question one more time, even though I'm getting sick of it myself, in the hope that you or anybody else can give me a sarcasm-free answer:

We accept that someone can be Jewish by birth. Well, aren't Jews and Muslims genetically the same people? How come a child can be born Jewish but can't be born Muslim?

PS:

You DO believe religion is total bullcrap, don't you?

I have to confess that I'm somewhat ambivalent when it comes to this. While I don't subscribe to any religion myself, at the same time I'm aware that I owe my existence to all of them. So although I'm of the view that religion's precepts are, in your words, total bullcrap, I'm also aware that nobody alive today would exist were it not for Jesus, Mohammed, Moses et al.

Wed, 30 May 2012 05:24:19 UTC | #944393