Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Saturday, April 30, 2016


It's time for the monthly End of Month Meme Dump (EOMMD), where I purge many of the images I collected throughout the last month but didn't post yet on the blog or elsewhere.

Friday, April 29, 2016


Swedish pop death-metal band Ghost is stirring up the rubes in America. 

Psst! Hey! Don't worry, because they are not the "Devil." The Devil doesn't exist! It's art, ok?

from Wikipedia


Ghost's music has been categorized in many genres, though critics usually classify them as heavy metaldoom metal,[41][42] hard rock, and to a lesser extent progressive rock[43] and psychedelic rock.[44] Adrien Begrand of PopMatters stated that Ghost recalls "the early sounds of Black SabbathPentagram, and Judas Priest, as well as the progressive and psychedelic rock of the late '60s."[45] Speaking to, a Nameless Ghoul described Ghost as a black metal band in the traditional sense, but said that they probably do not fit into the norms of the current black metal scene. This Nameless Ghoul described Ghost's music as a mix between pop music and death metal.[46]
In an interview, a Nameless Ghoul said they are influenced by "everything ranging from classic rock to the extreme underground metal bands of the ’80s to film scores to the grandeur of emotional harmonic music."[3] A member of the band said the Swedish and Scandinavian black metal movement of the early '90s plays a major role in their act,[41]and said that each member has come from a metal background.[4] However, the band has stated several times that they do not aim to be a metal band.[4][13] For their second album, Ghost chose a more diverse songwriting style; a member said, "we tried to deliberately have every song have its own signature."[47] Only two members actually write songs; vocalist Papa Emeritus is not one of them.[48][49] The writers compose an acoustic outline of songs before other instrumentation is added so it sounds like a group, rather than being dominated by guitar.[48]

[edit]Their lyrics are blatantly Satanic; one Ghoul said, "the first album is about the forthcoming arrival of the Devil, spoken very much in biblical terms, much like the church will say that doomsday is near. [Infestissumam] is about the presence of the Devil and the presence of the Antichrist."[37]However, the band has said several times their image is all tongue-in-cheek, citing that "We have no militant agenda. We are an entertainment group."[2] Infestissumam also deals with "how people relate to a deity or God, themes like submission and superstition, the horrors of being religious."[4]Additionally, a Nameless Ghoul said the second album is about "how mankind—predominantly men—what they have deemed to be the presence of the Devil, throughout history and even nowadays. And that’s why the record is so fueled with sexual themes and females ... the Inquisition was basically men accusing women of being the Devil just because they had a hard-on for them."[34] The group's theatrics are influenced by KissDavid Bowie and Alice Cooper, but a member said they are more influenced by Pink Floyd.[4] A Ghoul later cited Death SS as an influence on their "gimmick" but not their music.[50]
Ghost's Satanic theme has proven problematic for the group, especially in the United States. While recording Infestissumam in Nashville, Tennessee, they were unable to find choral singers who would sing their lyrics, forcing them to record the parts in Hollywood.[51] The group was unable to find a record manufacturer in the US to press the album because it featured artwork showing nudity, which resulted in a delay to the album's release.[20] When one interviewer suggested that the band's music had become more "radio-friendly" and that they were being accepted into the US mainstream, a Nameless Ghoul replied that in the US their music was banned from major chain stores, most late-night television shows, and most commercial radio stations. He said, "So, yes, mainstream America is absolutely welcoming us with open legs."[52] During an interview with Loudwire in October 2015, a band member stated that as of 2015, the US had become more accepting of their music and imagery, further evidenced by their appearance as the main musical guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 30, 2015, during a Halloween themed episode. This was Ghost's first live television appearance in the United States.
Chicago heavy metal-themed restaurant Kuma's Corner added a hamburger called "The Ghost" to its menu in tribute to Ghost. Its recipe includes goat shoulder, red wine reduction, and a communion wafer. Local Catholic institutions have called the burger "tasteless" and demanded Kuma's Corner to remove it from the menu. The restaurant's owner has refused and stated the burger is quite popular and tasty.[53][54]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jamie Raskin

Jamie Raskin won the Democratic primary for Maryland's US House District 8. This is the seat that Chris van Hollen gave up to run for (and win) the Democratic primary to replace retiring Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski.

So there's a good chance Raskin will in fact become the ONLY openly humanist member of the US House (or Senate).

One down. If up to 25% of the US population now reports as having "no religion" I think we should have quite a few more atheist/agnostic/humanist members in Congress. 

from Patheos

Jamie Raskin, An Openly Humanist U.S. House Candidate from Maryland, Just Won His Primary

While the focus of U.S. politics tonight is on Donald Trump‘s sweep over his Republican rivals, and Hillary Clinton‘s continued dominance over Bernie Sanders, there’s one race that may have slipped under the radar of atheists.
In Maryland, State Senator Jamie Raskin just won his primary for the U.S. House:
Why is that relevant?
Raskin, below, could become the next (and only) openly non-theistic member of Congress. And tonight, he overcame his biggest hurdle. In 2014, Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen won the same seat with 60% of the votes.

Raskin came to my attention years ago for a memorable retort he made (before he was in elected office) at a hearing concerning same-sex marriage:
“People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don’t put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible,” he said.
He’s not the first person to have said a variation of that line, but he was clearly someone who supported church/state separation.
In 2008, Raskin accepted an award from the American Humanist Association and joked in his acceptance speech about how he had the choice of declining the honor:
I’d never even heard of a politician turning down an award before, much less asking the offering party to keep the whole thing hush-hush. Has it gotten so edgy out there that those of us in public life are afraid to be associated with the great tradition of philosophical and ethical humanism? Do we actually have to whisper about the fact that many Americans still identify with the Enlightenment values of our Founders and refuse to organize their political thoughts according to sectarian religious dogma? I vowed to show up in person so people could see at least one other elected official besides the great U.S. Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) who isn’t afraid to utter the “h” word in public.
Raskin was also quoted in a New York Times piece in 2014 about constitutional provisions in several states that cannot be enforced but still ban atheists from holding public office:
Paging through a copy of the State Constitution, [Raskin] said the atheist ban was only part of the “flotsam and jetsam” that needed to be wiped from the document. “It’s an obsolete but lingering insult to people,” he said.
“In the breathtaking pluralism of American religious and social life, politicians have to pay attention to secularists just the same as everybody else,” Mr. Raskin said. “If a Mormon can run for president and Muslims can demand official school holidays, surely the secularists can ask the states for some basic constitutional manners.”
And last August, he received the support of the Freethought Equality Fund PAC:
“We are dedicated to ensuring Jamie Raskin’s election to Congress as the first candidate who openly identifies as a humanist with a commitment to champion the First Amendment principles of our Constitution,” said PAC Manager Bishop McNeill.
While some candidates would shy away from that endorsement, Raskin welcomed it:
“I am fighting for a politics that has all of humanity in mind and does not divide people based on race, gender, sexual orientation or religion,” said Senator Raskin. “I’m delighted to accept the endorsement of the Freethought Equality Fund and everyone else who wants to make sure that we base public policy on science, reason and humanist values that take into account the interests of all people.”
Raskin has been in the Maryland State Senate since 2006 and was selected as majority whip in 2012. He has the experience that recent atheist candidates for public office have lacked and a very real shot at winning the seat. More importantly, while he doesn’t hide the fact that he’s not religious, he also doesn’t flaunt it in a way that might alienate religious voters. It’s a non-issue for him — which is exactly how it should be. (The more interesting question will be whether his opponent will try to use his Humanism against him.)
If Raskin wins his race, he would become the first openly non-religious candidate to win a new seat in Congress. (Pete Stark’s admission came long after he first entered political office; he won two re-elections after coming out as a non-theist.)
If you’d like to donate to his campaign, you can do that right here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Drone Film Fest(s)

Well, of course people are already making film festivals based around the use of drones. They're multiplying faster than mushrooms!

from Skytango


Check the most complete list of drone film festivals available around the world to aerial filmmakers, cinematographers using drones and drone enthusiasts!
In recent years, drones have opened up a whole new world of photography & filming, for professional cinematographers and consumers alike.
2015 has seen a huge growth in drone-related film festivals, a direct consequence of the massively growing popularity drones are getting around the world.
Drone Films, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Films, Aerial Films, or Flying Camera Robot Films – call them what you will – are becoming a widely recognized niche in the cinema industry, and dedicated festivals are spreading.
We have listed here the biggest Drone Film Festivals – but we also included all the new drone festivals on the market that we have heard about.
We want to contribute to this rising trend in cinematography, and to encourage the adoption of drones as innovative tools for telling a story through images, promoting these film festivals as platforms for aerial filmmakers to showcase their work.
If you are a cinematographer using drones or a drone enthusiast flyer skilled in aerial cinematography, the list of drone film festivals below will help you on your road to success.
Or you can simply use this list to get access to beautiful films and shorts! Watch the best drone films  – the winners of each festival – in the videos below!
Let us know if we are missing a drone film festival from the list. If you have attended any and have something to say about it, let us know that too!


(updated in March 2016)
  • No drone film festivals

Sunday, April 24, 2016

atheist songs

Have you ever looked for a compilation of atheist/agnostic songs? I'll bet you haven't. Found one anyway, compiled by Michael Nugent, not to be confused with Ted.

Here are just the ABC's

Addicted to God – Meads of Asphodel
Agnostic Gospel Song – Andy Corwin
Alleged Legends – The Streets
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python
Apocalyptic Love Song – Shelley Segal
Armor and Sword – Rush
Atheist Christmas Carol – Vienna Teng
Atheist Funeral – Dan Sartain
Atheist Hymn – Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Atheist Peace – Bad Religion
Atheists Don’t Have No Songs – Steve Martin
Ballad of Peter Pumpkinseed – XTC
Ballad of the Non-Believer – Tombstone Da Deadman
Banana Republic – Boomtown Rats
Banging in the Nails – Tiger Lilies
Belief System – God Hates Disco
Believe in Nothing – Nevermore
Believe in Yourself – Monster on Sunday
Best God in Show – NOFX
The Bible is Bullshit – Corporate Avenger
Big Butter Jesus – Heywood Banks
Blasphemous Rumours – Depeche Mode
Blasphemy – NOFX
Born Secular – Jenny Lewis
Bukowski – Modest Mouse
The Buzzword Song – Eddie Scott
Catholic Sex Confession – Citizen Fish
Charlie (Darwin) – Chumbawamba
Chocolate Jesus – Tom Waits
A Christmas Carol – Tom Lehrer
Christmas in Heaven – Monty Python
Come Down Jehovah – Chris Wood
Creation Science 101 – Roy Zimmerman
Cult – Slayer
Find all the rest, and a lot of other interesting stuff, here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

DEA is moving

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) appears to be finally "moving."  Over the last couple of weeks the DEA has announced two big initiatives:

1) Study the effect of cannabis on PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and 
2) a decision as to whether cannabis should be removed from Schedule I of the nations Controlled Substances Act.

It's a horrible injustice to keep cannabis (and hemp!!) on Schedule I. Even the FDA has recommended that the DEA remove cannabis from Schedule I

It is now widely acknowledged that the War on Drugs has failed, miserably. About the only thing it has succeeded in doing is incarcerating hundreds of thousands of non-violent "offenders" and ruining hundreds of thousands of families. Oh, and funding small police departments via the asset forfeiture laws when someone gets busted for weed.

DEA Okays PTSD Medical Cannabis Trials

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has, at long last, approved a scientific study in which military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will be treated with medical marijuana, potentially expanding the market for MMJ businesses.

More states could add PTSD to their list of approved conditions for medical cannabis if the study shows that MMJ can be an effective treatment for the ailment.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit research organization in California, has been trying to win the DEA’s permission to begin the scientific studies for years. The trials could now begin by late May, Dr. Sue Sisley, a researcher with the organization, said in an email.

The study will involve 76 veterans, and aim to test the “safety and efficacy” of several different MMJ strains on PTSD, according to a press release from MAPS. The trials will take place in Phoenix and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Blood analysis will be performed at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Sisley, as the Phoenix New Times has reported over the years, was fired from the University of Arizona in 2014 after advocating for the study. But she persisted in her pursuit of clinical MMJ trials.
She and MAPS eventually were able to convince the state of Colorado to pony up $2.1 million to help pay for the study. And the DEA’s permission was the last piece of the puzzle, because the trials need the go-ahead to obtain legal MMJ from the University of Mississippi, where the National Institute on Drug Abuse grows it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Religious Freedom

Roy Zimmerman hits another home run, this time with "Religious Freedom (to Burn Our Own Witches)".  I think he put the video together too.

Well done, Roy!

Lyrics below.

words and music
copyright © 2015 by
Roy Zimmerman and Melanie Harby

Back when the Pilgrims landed on these rocks
They thanked the Lord and they rang out their socks
They were escaping those religious tyrannies
So they said, "Jeez! Let us worship as we please."

They knew the strictures of their scriptures would never fail 'em
And so they started lighting fires on the pyres in Salem

Freedom to oppress
In the name of righteousness
Religious Freedom to scratch where it itches Religious Freedom to Burn Our Own Witches

Y'all know the story of the first Thanksgiving
Historical origin of Martha Stewart Living
They feasted with the Wampanoag on that shore
And then wiped out the Pequot in the Pequot War

They knew God had sent them to this Eden among the Heathen
To say, "Convert to our Dear Lord, or you won't be breathin'."

Freedom to oppress
In the name of righteousness
Religious Freedom to scratch where it itches Religious Freedom to Burn Our Own Witches

Then all the colonies said, "What the Hell?
We don't need a king, let's ring the Liberty Bell."
All men are equal, no one's lesser or greater
And we're endowed with certain rights by our creator

And that was sweet, but what made liberty even sweeter
Was they still could own slaves, according to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy...Second Kings and First Peter

So We the People formed a nation and the Bill of Rights ensures
I’m free to practice my religion, and you’re free to practice mine
Ain’t that divine?

Slavery opened up a national wound
Much blood was spilled before the Union re-uned
They saved a nation in that Civil War
Our fathers brought four score and seven years before

But some were certain they could hear the Almighty saying
Don’t mix the races, segregate and start K-K-K-ing

Freedom to oppress
In the name of righteousness
Freedom to persecute
In a Biblical pursuit Religious Freedom to Burn Our Own Witches

But Separate is not Equal, the Supreme Court found
And they struck all the segregation laws down
They found that marriage is a basic civil right
The law can’t break into your bedroom late at night

Still some say, “We will not heed unelected judges
We know we’re righteous and our bigotry never budges”

Freedom to oppress
In the name of righteousness
Religious Freedom to scratch where it itches 
Religious Freedom to Burn Our Own Witches
Religious Freedom to Burn Burn Burn Burn Burn…
Our Own Witches

Thursday, April 21, 2016

dirty old men

Let us be grateful once again that we live in America, where people (and women) have the right to do practically anything they want without interference from any church. That people choose to live like they do under Islam is somewhat of a mystery to me. What about personal freedom? What about individual responsibility? What about women's rights?

But just because we live in America is no reason to get lazy about personal rights. The dark forces of regression and repression (like the GOP) are forever trying to chip away at our rights. We have to continually fight to defend them.

The Dirty Old Men of Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan — IN the world we live in, there is no dearth of pious men who believe that most of the world’s problems can be fixed by giving their women a little thrashing. And this business of a man’s God-given right to give a woman a little thrashing has brought together all of Pakistan’s pious men.

A few weeks ago, Pakistan’s largest province passed a new law called the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act. The law institutes radical measures that say a husband can’t beat his wife, and if he does he will face criminal charges and possibly even eviction from his home. It proposes setting up a hotline women can call to report abuse. In some cases, offenders will be required to wear a bracelet with a GPS monitor and will not be allowed to buy guns.

A coalition of more than 30 religious and political parties has declared the law un-Islamic, an attempt to secularize Pakistan and a clear and present threat to our most sacred institution: the family. They have threatened countrywide street protests if the government doesn’t back down.

Their logic goes like this: If you beat up a person on the street, it’s a criminal assault. If you bash someone in your bedroom, you’re protected by the sanctity of your home. If you kill a stranger, it’s murder. If you shoot your own sister, you’re defending your honor. I’m sure the nice folks campaigning against the bill don’t want to beat up their wives or murder their sisters, but they are fighting for their fellow men’s right to do just that.

It’s not only opposition parties that are against the bill: The government-appointed Council of Islamic Ideology has also declared it repugnant to our religion and culture. The council’s main task is to ensure that all the laws in the country comply with Shariah. But basically it’s a bunch of old men who go to sleep worrying that there are all these women out there trying to trick them into bed. Maybe that’s why there are no pious old women on the council, even though there’s no shortage of them in Pakistan.

The council’s past proclamations have defended a man’s right to marry a minor, dispensed him from asking for permission from his first wife before taking a second or a third, and made it impossible for women to prove rape. It’s probably the most privileged dirty old men’s club in the country.

Some of us routinely condemn these pious old men, but it seems they are not just a bunch of pampered religious nuts. In fact, they are giving voice to Pakistani men’s collective misery over the fact that their women are out of control. Look at university exam results; women are hogging all the top positions. Go to a bank; there is a woman counting your money with her fancy nails. Turn on your TV; there is a female journalist questioning powerful men about politics and sports.

One of these journalists recently was grilling a famous mufti opposed to the bill. Bewildered, the mufti said: Are you a woman, or are you a TV journalist? She was professional enough not to retort: Are you a mufti, or just another old fart?

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Three decades ago, most Pakistani women who had paid jobs worked at menial tasks, and the others were confined to traditional professions like medicine or teaching or, occasionally, law. There was a small and brave women’s movement. Women were writing novels and making movies, but they were few in number. Now they are flying planes, heading companies, policing the streets, climbing mountains and winning Oscars and Nobel Prizes. There are millions of women across the country running little beauty parlors from their homes, employing other women and gaining a measure of independence.

But for every bank teller, there are still millions of women who are farmhands or house help. For every TV journalist, there are many more women who live in half-slavery, scrubbing and cleaning, and shouldering the heavy burden of protecting and raising their kids.

Let’s not just blame the mullahs and muftis. Misogyny is way older than any religion. Even people who have never seen the inside of a mosque or the Sufis who want to become one with the universe wouldn’t think twice before treating a woman as something between a pest and a pet goat.

Some members of Parliament stayed away when this bill was being passed in the Punjab assembly. They probably represent a majority. Some of us even call ourselves feminist. “See, I have never stopped my sister from going to school, never given my girlfriend a black eye. That makes me a feminist, right? But we must protect our families. You don’t want a family-loving feminist man going around with a GPS tracker, do you?

What really scares the so-called feminist men is that a lot of women are actually quite bored with talking about being a woman. They talk about their work. A film director talks about bad actors. A development worker talks about idiotic funding patterns. A maid talks about her cellphone and the quality of detergents.

There’s a woman in my neighborhood who walks fast. She is always carrying two kids in her arms. Not infants but 3-, 4-year-old sturdy kids, heavy weights. She walks fast. Probably you have to walk fast when you are carrying two kids. She doesn’t expect a lift from the many cars passing by. She can’t afford a cab. She is walking toward her bus. Always with the two kids in her arms and a bag around her shoulder. She gives Quran lessons at people’s homes.

I don’t think all those pious men, or anyone else, can tell that woman with the two kids how to walk her daily walk. If someone asks her how it feels to be a woman in this society, she’d probably answer, “Can’t you see I’m working?”