Rapture Rubbish

May 10, 2011

There have always been a few mentally fragile individuals going about wearing sandwich boards proclaiming the imminence of the end. But they are seldom as specific about it as the latest batch of ditzy doom mongers who say that the rapture will occur at 1800 local time on the 21st May.


Why are they so sure? Well, because it’s exactly 7000 years since the start of the great flood (you know, the one that happened when the only person with a boat was Noah), that’s why. How do they know the exact date of the flood? I don’t know and they aren’t telling, apart from a somewhat cryptic assertion that it is encoded in the Bible. The man who started all this is the well-known crackpot Harold Camping, the founder of a Christian media network called Family Radio. He predicted the day of judgement would come on September the 6th 1994, and when it didn’t his excuse was that he hadn’t actually read the whole thing: “For example, I at that time had not gone through the Book of Jeremiah which is a big book in the Bible that has a whole lot to say about the end of the world.”

Harold Camping

This is all very entertaining, but his nonsense has an adverse effect on the lives of those who are too weak or psychotic to think for themselves. For example: Adrienne Martinez and her husband Joel lived and worked in New York. Adrienne had plans to attend medical school, but when they fell under the spell of Camping, their plans changed. “Knowing the date of the end of the world changes all your future plans. My mentality was, why are we going to work for more money? It just seemed kind of greedy to me. And unnecessary.” So they quit their jobs and moved to Florida. “We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won’t have anything left.” The really sad part of this is that they have a two-year-old daughter and another child on the way, who will be going hungry come the the 22nd because of their parents’ idiocy.

Their story is not unique; there plenty of people who have given up careers to wait apathetically for “the rapture”. On the 22nd of May they are going to be both disappointed and broke.

It’s said that yelling “fire!” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire is not protected by any constitutional free speech provisions because the potentially disastrous consequences of panic trump the constitutional free speech clause. Is there not a case to made that Camping is doing the same thing? Even if he actually believes his own bullshit, the feeble-minded dupes who follow him risk destitution as a result of it. I’m not looking forward to the sob stories that will abound as the gullible realize that they have been gulled, but there is no going back to repair the damage.

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Traditional Tragedy

December 9, 2010

I am enraged, depressed and bewildered. Every year this same horror story appears in our newspapers and no one seems to give a damn. This is the 21st century and we still condone the mutilation and murder of children in the name of “culture” and “tradition”.

Cape Times 8 December 2010


Every year parents, who presumably love their sons, send those sons to these initiation rituals where they have the tips of their penises hacked off with a rusty spear. This is supposed to initiate them into manhood.

“My father had it done, my grandfather had it done, my great grandfather had it done, therefore my son must have it done.” Spot the fallacy. To give some credit to the powers that be, these initiation schools have been outlawed in the sense that they are nominally illegal, but there appears to be no enforcement of the law, and there is no attempt to educate rural communities about the dangers of infection or basic hygienic measures. Even if they did those things, it would not be enough to appease my rage.

Imagine the following conversation between a policeman and a parent:

“Good morning, sir. It has reached our ears that you have hacked the beating heart out of your daughter’s chest. Would you care to explain why?”

“I’m an Aztec, officer. It is part of our culture and tradition to remove the hearts from our first-born daughters in order to please the gods.”

“Ah, well, that explains it then, sir. Have a nice day.”

That would never happen, would it? Why not? As a society we are prepared to tolerate almost any outrage, provided only that it is perpetrated in the name of religion, culture or tradition. You deny your child medical treatment because you adhere to a religion which says that seeking medical treatment denies faith, and the child dies, and your actions are condoned because of course we can’t possibly criticise anyone’s religion, no matter how idiotic it is.

I say that if we wish to regard ourselves as in any degree civilised, we must hold ourselves to standards of behaviour and moral conduct that transcend religion and culture. If a traditional practice is shown to be harmful, then it must be stopped. The way to end this annual penis-pruning is to arrest the sangomas responsible and charge them with murder, and also arrest the parents and charge them with manslaughter. Word will soon get around, and perhaps the next generation of children will be spared this barbarism.

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A Perminisions of Ancestors

November 10, 2010

Imagine this situation: you are running a medium-sized business and one of your employees comes to you with an unusual request. She says she has been seeing visions and that she spoke to a priest who advised her to go on a Christian Outreach Revival camp which would last for a month. She has no annual leave left, so she wishes to take unpaid leave. You are in the middle of your busiest season and you can’t spare her for more than a week, which is duly offered. Your employee goes to the camp without permission, and during her absence a disciplinary hearing is held as a result of which the employee is dismissed for being absent from work without leave.

Sangoma


This seems to me to be fair. Why should special allowance be made for an employee in order for her to indulge her superstitions? I’m betting that if this actually happened, the labour court would, rightly, uphold the employee’s dismissal.

However, this did not happen, but something similar did. Johanna Mmoledi was employed as chef de partie by the Kievits Kroon Country Estate. She claimed to have visions and was advised to go on a traditional healer’s course for a month. She duly applied for a month’s unpaid leave, was told she could have a week, took the month and was dismissed. When she returned she gave her employers a letter from a member of the North West Dingaka (traditional healers’) Association which read:

This serves to certify that Mmoledi was seen by me and was diagnosed to have a perminisions of ancestors.

Mmoledi’s union declared a dispute and the case went to mediation. Mmoledi claimed that she was justified in being off work on the grounds that she was sick, or feared that she would become so if she failed to attend the course. Her employers insisted that there were no grounds for believing that Mmoledi was sick, and just what the hell did “perminisions” mean, anyway? The commissioner, bizarrely, found in favour of Mmoledi, saying that the employer lacked empathy and understanding of cultural diversity and that Mmoledi was justified in absenting herself from work “rather than risking the wrath of the ancestors.” Well, this is no great surprise—everyone knows the bizarre and fantastical shapes into which the CCMA will fold itself in order to find for an employee (sorry, wekka.)

The case was taken on review to the labour court where, unbelievably, Judge Ellem Francis upheld the ruling of the commissioner. Finding that Mmoledi was justified in absenting herself, he said, “This case sadly shows what happens when cultures clash in the workplace.” Perhaps the judge considered the culture of actually pitching up for work when you are expected to to be unimportant in the context of this case, or perhaps he thought a belief in the “wrath of ancestors” trumped all other considerations. Or perhaps he didn’t think at all. This was not so much a “clash of cultures”, it was a clash of stupidity and common sense, a clash which stupidity won.

We hear various government ministers and trades union officials whining that despite growth in the economy, employment continues to stagnate. This case is an excellent illustration of why this state of affairs exists. What employer in his right mind would hire someone of Johanna Mmoledi’s ilk when he can possibly avoid doing so? Businesses continue to replace labour with capital wherever it is possible to do so, resulting in high unemployment, poverty, crime, and all the misery that those things bring in their wake.

As usual, our politicians are too stupid to realise that this is a problem of their own making.

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Papal Bull

September 23, 2010

The pope arriving at Heathrow, a somewhat stoned looking Boris Johnson in attendance

I was going to write about Cardinal Walter Kaspar today. He’s the one, if you recall, who said,

“When you land at Heathrow you think at times that you have landed in a third world country.”

Well, perhaps he does think that. So what? I don’t care what he thinks, do you? This is a man who believes in virgin births, talking snakes, transubstantiation and flying zombies; as a general principle I don’t value the opinions of a broken brain as highly as those emanating from a sane one. He also stated that British Airways discriminated against him because he was wearing a cross. Who would notice a cross around the neck of an elderly man wearing a maroon satin dress and a silly hat? I don’t buy any of it, but the kookie cardinal pulled out of the pope’s visit to the UK on account of an attack of gout. In vaticanspeak gout is a disease contracted from going around with your foot in your mouth.

But his boss, the pope, puts him to shame when it comes to moronic utterances. Try this for size: he compares atheism to naziism. Huh? How does the cretinous cleric square that circle? As a former member of the Hitler Youth he should know better than most that Hitler was himself a Catholic and justified his genocidal slaughter of the Jews by blaming them for the death of Christ. (Hitler seemed not to know that Christ himself was a Jew.) The Catholic churches’ shameful record in that horrifying chapter of history is well documented, so I won’t go into it here.

When did you last hear of mobs of atheists torching homes, setting off suicide bombs in public places or flying aeroplanes into skyscrapers? Or marching in jackboots and starting world wars? What? Never? Me neither, so what the hell is this imbecilic priest talking about?

Here’s another little gem:

“Secularism is a dictatorship of relativism which threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good.”

These are words, and I recognize them as English words, and they are arranged in a fashion which seems to indicate that they are supposed to form a sentence, but an essential ingredient of an English sentence is lacking: meaning. These words mean absolutely nothing at all. It’s postmodernist drivel signifying nothing. Do none of the people who flock to hear this rubbish recognize it for what it is: rubbish? There is some light at the end of the tunnel, it seems. There were thousands of tickets to the papal mass in Glasgow unsold.

I don’t want to harp on the Catholic clergy’s hobby of buggering choirboys at every opportunity, but the pope said something rather revealing when he alluded to the subject. He said he was “shocked and saddened by the sex abuse scandal.” He was shocked and saddened by the scandal, not by the abuse itself. To him, raping children is OK as long no one finds out about it.

It’s time to define a term I’m going to use. When I say evil I don’t mean it in the sense meant by religionists: something bad emanating from a malign supernatural being, but in a secular sense of something that greatly increases the amount of suffering and unhappiness in the world. The Catholic clergy’s systematic rape of children is evil, and the pope’s milksop condemnation of it is evil. There isn’t another word that fits the enormity of their actions.

The pope’s dogmatic insistence that wearing condoms is contrary to the wishes of his god has been the direct cause of millions of deaths from AIDS in Africa and elsewhere. I find it very hard to believe that the pope cannot foresee the consequences of his actions, and that therefore he should be held responsible for them. So why is he walking about in freedom instead of looking upon the world through the bars of his prison (or lunatic asylum) cell?

You Muslims, Protestants, Jews and members of other cults should not sit there looking smug because you aren’t Catholics. Your brand of nonsense is just as conducive to evil as is the nonsense of the Catholics. The only way we are able to live lives untainted by evil is to live rationally, making moral decisions based on objective criteria. If we abdicate our reason in favour of some imaginary supernatural lawgiver we can rationalise any act, no matter how heinous. That’s why aeroplanes are flown into buildings, children raped and dance halls blown up.

Isn’t that a dictatorship of relativism?

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Book Burning

September 13, 2010


Why do we feel such an instinctive abhorrence for the act of burning a book? Last week the Reverend Jones, a fundamentalist preacher in Florida, USA, declared that he was going to burn copies of the Koran, allegedly in protest against “fundamentalist Islam.” (As though that is in some ways worse than fundamentalist Christianity.)

He joins the ranks of other noted book-burners down the ages: fine, upstanding folk like Adolf Hitler, Uncle Joe Stalin, and of course we can’t forget Mao Tse Tung and his “cultural revolution” which attempted to destroy Chinese culture in its entirety. Burning books goes back to the third century BC when books were burned by the Qin dynasty in China, and scholars buried alive for dissent. The practice is a long standing Christian tradition—the Spanish Inquisition burned the Koran wherever it was found.

Many people have commented on the Rev. Jones’s planned idiocy, but I haven’t read or heard anyone who actually gets the point. It is generally agreed that whilst burning the Koran is legal, it isn’t desirable for a host of reasons, such as: it will inflame Muslims and increase radicalism; it will be a recruitment wet dream for Islamic terrorist organisations; it will trigger retaliatory action by even moderate Muslims, and so on.

What they miss is the fundamental stupidity of the notion that you can destroy an idea by burning a book that contains it.

I think that what Messrs Hitler, Stalin et al had in common was a shared delusion that by burning a book they could make the ideas contained therein somehow vanish. This, of course, is not what happens. The physical book may be destroyed, but the burning (or banning) draws attention to the ideas rather than destroying them, and those ideas often go on to destroy the book-burners (which is what they were afraid of in the first place.)

The way to destroy an idea is to show that it is not true in matters of fact and its arguments are not logically valid. This is extremely difficult in the case of religious works because they are supposed to be the word of an infallible supernatural being. Pointing out that some of the “facts” revealed by the deity are provably wrong doesn’t phase the faithful in the slightest. They merely move the goalposts and assert that the questioned passages are allegorical and not to be taken literally, and logical inconsistency is an artifact of our poor human brains that are not able to understand the grandeur of God’s plan.

The only way to combat this sort of psychosis is to repeat the obvious to the faithful calmly and often. Perhaps, once in a thousand times, the seed of doubt will sprout and you can convert someone to sanity. I know this works because I was once a devout Christian (at about the age of 13) and now am not. Faith was defeated by critical thinking.

Perhaps we should inundate the moron Jones with emails explaining that snakes can’t talk, the dead can’t walk, and water cannot be turned into wine without the added ingredients of sunshine and a grapevine.

“Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” – Heinrich Heine

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License


Football Folly

March 2, 2010


I don’t like soccer. There, I said it. There are 100 days to go before the start of the World Cup, and already the hysteria is mounting to stratospheric heights. Why is this game so popular? I just don’t get it. “The beautiful game” consists of twenty grown men running after a ball (the other two just stand around and loaf in the goalmouths); if anyone dressed in a uniform of a different hue comes within five yards they lie down and squeal for their Mummies. People actually pay to witness this? Sometimes the entire game goes by without anyone scoring a goal, then they decide the outcome by a “penalty shootout” which is really a sort of lottery. Why don’t they just save everyone the trouble of having to put up with ninety minutes of tosh and just flip a coin in the beginning?

Anyway, a bunch of men in dresses, a.k.a. the Catholic Bishops of South Africa, are so excited they have taken time off from buggering choirboys to come up with this gem:

Almighty God,

creator of all, as people from every nation gather with excitement and enthusiasm for the 2010 World Soccer Cup may South Africans be good hosts, our visitors welcomed guests and the players from every team be blessed with good sportsmanship and health.

May your Spirit of fairness, justice and peace prevail amongst players and all involved. May each contribute in his own positive ways to prevent, control and fight crime and corruption, hooliganism of any kind and exploitation and abuse, especially of those most vulnerable. May those far away from home and those in their families find much joy in this occasion to celebrate the beautiful game of soccer and the beautiful game of life according to Your plan for the common good of all.

Amen

I have to state that my gast is well and truly flabbered. This nonsense is almost as bad as the game itself although, mercifully, it doesn’t take an hour and a half to read. Its sentiment is so banal, its language so saccharine that it is almost impossible to suspend disbelief long enough to parse its meaning.

What is the point of it? Do they believe that if they don’t burble this rubbish God will cause an outbreak of hooliganism? God has a “Spirit of fairness, justice and peace”, does he? Where do you get that from? Kindly quote chapter and verse. The players are supposed to “prevent, control and fight crime and corruption, hooliganism of any kind and exploitation and abuse”? I thought that’s what the fuzz are for.

“The beautiful game of life.” Just wait while I wipe the vomit off my chin. There, that’s better. They can’t possibly be dim enough to really believe that God has “a plan for the common good of all”? Sorry, all you dead Haitians and Chilians, earthquakes are just part of God’s plan for the common good of all.

Bah! And humbug! Perhaps I can go somewhere between June 11 and July 11 where they have never heard of bloody soccer. Or bishops.

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.


Witch Professor

February 17, 2010

witchcraft spells
cast a great spell that is gonna workout for you within seven days dont be fooled am here to help the power and the rich, black or white
Equality is the thing not colours and money.
call for your lover to back with you and wealthy problems.

Google, for some reason known only to their algorithm writers, displayed an ad for this page on my gmail account, so I thought I’d mosey on over and take a look.

The first thing that struck me was the old-fashioned, amateurish and annoying red-on-black text that makes your eyes bleed if you look at it for too long. But you wouldn’t spend much time looking at this site, and you don’t have to because I’ve done it for you.

According to this Proff character, his mumbled incantations can help you achieve wealth, health, love and a longer, heftier penis (all the better to piss through, my dear). Well, this sounds almost too good to be true, so I decided to drop him a line:

From: Mark Widdicombe 17 February 2010 11:02
To: proff@ssanga.co.za
Hello Proff,

I came across your website whilst researching alternative medical modalities. On your page you state:

Spell casting is becoming more and more accepted by mainstream society. And for one simple reason: it works!

Could you point me to any objective studies that indicate that spell casting works, or is that based only on your own experience?

Regards,
Mark

Quick as a flash his auto reply landed in my inbox:

i will help within seven days
From: proff ssanga 17 February 2010 11:02
To: Mark Widdicombe

thanks for your request but,remember to send me your photos and both names i will checck and see how to help you within seven days. Contact me on +27713032860. NB:send your detail andress. YOUR LOST LOVER WILL GET BACK TO YOU WITHIN SEVEN DAYS IF YOU PROVIDE ME WITH ALL YOUR DETAILS AND HER DETAILS TOO SO,FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME’I WILL GET BACK TO YOU WITHIN 10MINUTES.THANKS

Clearly the majority of his clients require their flat love relationships reinflated. Why would he need photos for that, anyway? Perhaps to see whether or not you would be pleased if your lost lover got back to you.

After a while I received an answer to my question:

Spells?
From: proff@ssanga.co.za 17 February 2010 11:56
To: Mark Widdicombe
[Quoted text hidden]

yes it does due to my experience as a professional native healer for the past 25years and i have helped many people like you and all of the have been asking the same question as you’re asking so,feel free to contact me i will explain.thanks 0713032860

Unfortunately my ‘wealthy problems’ preclude my being able to spend airtime on getting the good Proff’s explanation, but I must assume that the answer to my question regarding research is negative, otherwise surely he would have linked to it in his email. Which is a great pity, I could do with the intervention of metaphysical forces in my “Love, financial situations, Misfortunes, Court cases, Marriage and witches”, even though I’m perfectly content with the dimensions of my penis.

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.