Saturday, 28 November 2009

Disaster alert

Can I just give notice that the deluded herd’s attempts to hijack Christmas are under way.
While I’m at it, also take note that St. John’s, a public health hazard at the best of times, will be an absolute disaster area on Christmas Eve. But then, they should have put ropes and red flags around the place years ago.
You can find the first warning at
Frankly, these godbothering throwbacks have a bit of a cheek.
For instance, what’s this about “our re-enactment of the Christmas story, which we have started with the support of local businesses and churches to bring the community together at Christmas.”
Since when was the church a force for good in the Manx community – especially at St. John’s?
But perhaps if a postcode with little more than a handful of houses and a shopping/conference centre run by fundamentalists (and heavily underwritten with government grants) has more known BNP members in those houses than the rest of the West of the island combined, and seems to be pocketing more business development dosh than Peel, the West’s only urban conurbation, then it’s reasonable to assume it’s Christian business as usual. That is to say racist, sexist, homophobic and parasitic.
St John’s gets away with a lot because it’s where the annual Tynwald Day Ceremony is held. For the benefit of off-island readers, I should explain that this is little more than a freak show for American tourists, and until the day the Chief Minister bangs nails up his nose and ritually disembowels the Governor as part of the Tynwald Ceremony even that’s not going to be a crowd-puller. The rest of the year the national place of historical and cultural interest it most closely resembles is Culloden, i.e cold, wet and utterly desolate.
To be honest, if the Christians are so keen to claim this damp, miserable field as their own, they’re welcome to go there and get pneumonia. If the Manx had any real national pride they could have marked the Christian millennium by concreting it over and building something more inspiring there.
Like a crematorium.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Manx myths - buy one, get one free

Barry over at the Freethinker blog has a hilarious story today (see
A Dr Gordon Strachan, who lectures on the history of architecture at Edinburgh University, is reviving the old ‘Jesus came to Britain’ legends. In fact he’s not only recently written a book about it (which explains the publicity), but the book’s inspired a recently released film entitled And Did Those Feet? (which explains the other publicity). Oh, and when Dr Strachan isn’t lecturing he’s ministering for the Church of Scotland (which explains a lot of things).
I dread to think what’s going to happen if Manx Heritage or the Tourist Department get inspired by this twaddle.
You see, in the late 1980’s there was brief talk of jumping on the ‘research’ of another barmy academic with an even loopier theory. In that case the academic was American, and the ‘theory’ centred on the idea that the Isle of Man was the Avalon of Arthurian myth, and that King Arthur might be buried here.
Thankfully I’ve long forgotten the small detail, but what I do know is that the Tourist Board (as it then was) bought it lock, stock and barrel and even ran an exercise on how the legend could be flogged, with the help of the academic, to the more gullible of her countrymen.
Two things put a stop to that nonsense. One was agitated pleading to politicians behind closed doors by an honourable local historian to the effect that, rather than bring tourists rushing here, it would send a signal to the world that the Manx were either totally dishonest or certifiably mad. The other was the Lockerbie bombing, following which Americans and their money stayed home for a while.
The thing that worries me is that honourable Manx academics may now be extinct and neither honour nor common sense have been seen in the Tourist Department within living memory. In fact, judging from the spread of Freedom to Fester fever, telling fairy tales while going about with our eyes closed and singing ‘La La La’ to drown out the last voices of dissent is the new traditional (and government underwritten) Manx way of life.
We should not be surprised at this. As the Anglo-Indian academics Bhikhu Parekh and Homi K. Bhabha pointed out at the time of the Satanic Verses saga, the liberal mistake is to take fundamentalists at their word and believe fundamentalism is steeped in tradition, when in fact it is a current and pragmatic reaction to the modern world by folk no longer fit to run it. To be blunt, bullshit merchants who know there is a sucker born every minute, and that all such BS merchants need do for a regular income is embroider some myth, however ludicrous, the suckers would like to believe.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Compulsory reading

Gary Otton, my favourite secularist muckraker, has just posted his latest piece at , and shaft me sideways he’s on form!
Scottish Media Monitor first appeared in January 1996 in Gay Scotland, sparked by sickeningly inadequate Scottish press coverage of the violent murder of 35-year-old Michael Doran in Queens Park, Glasgow in the summer of 1995. Since then Gary has held the ‘proper’ Scots media and politicians to account with passion and humour.
Sexual Fascism, his subsequent book on Scotland’s Section 28, is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to know how a combination of slack, bigoted reporting and Christian fundies held back the development of a small Celtic nation for way too long. If this island is ever to crawl out of the primeval Christian swamp it’s been in for as long as I can remember you’d better hope a few copies of it start circulating here.
This month Gary’s target is Christian business (or as churches laughingly term it, charity), which in Scotland is becoming depressingly usual. He points the finger, for example at a fundie church which has managed to avoid £10, 000 in business rates in the last three years, and the educational hijacking pulled off between Stagecoach (the bus company owned by Scotland’s best known Christian Neanderthal) and Oasis (still substantially controlled by a TV vicar so far up New Labour’s backside even Rentokil couldn’t shift him). It will surprise nobody to know this means a group of schools underwritten by public money where homophobia and other evils run rampant.
I always recommend Gary’s work to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. But in particular it’s a million watt flashing DANGER sign for the situation developing here, courtesy of the Sally Ann, Broadway Bumpkins and (let’s never forget) Port St Mary’s very own Living Hell Church. You can see them daily, crawling into government broom cupboards, picking the public pocket and setting up one bogus ‘charity’ after another.
Recession won’t stop them either. If anything, parasites who prey on misery will use the current situation as an excuse to further their sinister agenda. Read Gary’s work and similarities between the scams of their Scottish chums and those currently being fermented here will be alarmingly obvious.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Let them eat lard

You’ve got to admire some folks for their optimism.
According to Energy FM (see a plant with appetite-suppressing qualities was recently seized by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, with Customs and Excise and the Police.
Apparently the African Hoodia plant is an endangered species, but interest is rising in the diet racket because it suppresses hunger.
But once I’d got my breath back from laughing at the idea of three Manx government agencies having to gang up to arrest a weed, I was off again.
OK, this tat is just the kind of garbage that catches on amongst the rich dimwits who prop up the local ‘alternative therapy’ industry, but it’s still a limited market.
Because you can forget the rinkety-tory myths dreamt up by Manx Heritage, this is an island where lard, and lard-arses, rule supreme and the nearest thing the Manx have to a national dish is chips with cheese and gravy.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Atheist Blogroll

I'm proud to say this humble blog has been added to The Atheist Blogroll.
The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. Any fellow heathens with a blog who want to join in should visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.
Now, sad confession here.
Normally, when you join up, there's an all-singing, all-dancing list of over a thousand of us scrolling away on the sidebar. Me - I followed the instructions to install and it all went Pete Tong on me.
Never mind, follow the link on the sidebar and you'll get to some blurb about the Atheist Blogroll, and scrolling away there is the complete list.
And very heartwarming it is too, seeing all those thousand plus links and knowing that everyone of them leads to another dissident. Some big and professional sites, others tiny little drops in the blogosphere like this, but all of us pushing back the dead weight of religiosity.

Christmas matters

Ah well, new school, new annual ritual.
Christmas is coming, so the light of my life came home with a note asking us if we want to attend the afternoon or evening performance of the carol concert, as space is limited. Fair enough, though as our daughter can’t negotiate major roads full of Chelsea tractors driven by slobs who never walk more than 100 metres, we have to deliver her to and pick her up from both anyway.
And as the last school’s head teacher always ‘forgot’ to tell parents when a vicar was involved, we thought we’d get ahead of the game this time and ask, which we did yesterday.
So, is it a Christmas concert or a religious ceremony?
Not a hard question, we thought, even for an employee of the Manx Education Department. If it’s a selection of seasonal songs, some of which happen to be traditional carols in obscure language nobody understands any more than references to incest in folk songs, it’s a Christmas concert. If some herbert with his collar on backwards mutters incantations at the audience it’s a religious ceremony.
But apparently no-one at the school knows the difference, as a one minute silence to my wife’s phoned question, followed by some vague comment about it being a shame for her to miss the fun, doesn’t constitute an answer in our book.
So we have one of our own. The wife will turn up to the afternoon session and walk the nipper home afterwards. If there’s a clergyman there, we won’t bother rushing or delaying tea when I get home, as our daughter won’t be going to the evening session.
Because the inclusion of a godbothering parasite in the show makes it an act of worship, not a school concert. And I no more want my child present at those than I do at a BNP rally, the local Rotary Club or a crack-dealers convention.
No doubt some religious rentagob will see this as a PC ‘anti-Christmas’ thing, especially as their sad whinges about such issues are now the only Christmas comment they can even persuade tabloids to print.
But it won't wash, because my family’s Christmas is the nearest thing you’ll see to the Hollywood original on this island. And as far as I’m concerned the deluded herds can dance backwards round a standing stone, naked, burn their lowest tithe-payer at the stake…whatever, and I care not a fig. Just as long as they do it in their own time, and at their own expense.
What they CANNOT do is abuse my child, on the rates, on public property, and at a time of night when she could be doing something useful, educational or just fun instead.
And as if to prove my point, Bill Henderson, who lacks political responsibility for North Douglas and can be guaranteed to jump on any bandwagon going - especially when race is involved - wants to know if 'PC' values are ruining traditional Christmases. He's so worried he's going to ask a question in the Keys next Tuesday. Hear him rant pointlessly on Radio Cowshed at .
Ho-hum, another grandstanding bigot living off public money who needs to get a life.
School nativity up chimneys....what's to miss?
It's all child abuse.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Forget Save the Children, just Lose the Priest

Today is one of the worst days of the year for office workers, so I’ve taken the day off.
I may well do the same again every year from now until retirement. No pain, all gain.
Yes, it’s Children in Need time, when fat bankers sit in a bath full of baked beans or something equally fatuous, and underemployed wealthy inbreeds troll the streets with a bucket trying to make working people feel guilty, then think they’ve done their duty to the dispossessed.
If you really want to help the world’s dispossessed here’s a simpler idea. Organise your life in such a way you don’t dispossess them. Job done.
Funnily enough, Barry Duke over at The Freethinker (see is also doing his bit for Children in Need by drawing attention to something kids really need far less of – sanctimonious pathological liars who prey over them (if you’ll excuse the pun).
It seems Benny the Boy Nazi used the excuse of the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to pretend the Catholic Church cares about kids and wants to protect their innocence.
Is that a joke? To which the obvious answer is a counter-question: is the Pope a Catholic?
But really folks, maybe it’s time for a new children’s charity.
Something that’s not so much Save the Children, more Lose the Priest.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Out of the mouths of babes....

A short but hilarious conversation between my wife and small daughter this morning.

Daughter: “Lauren threw up three times in RE yesterday.”

Wife: “Was anyone else awake?”

Monday, 16 November 2009

Dignity in laughter

I see Dignity in Dying now have a blog (see sidebar).
It’s written by James Harris, their Head of Communications, and I’m glad to see he seems to have about as much respect for so called ‘pro lifers’ as I do.
He has already incurred the wrath of the Reverend George Pitcher, who writes religious drivel for something that passes itself off as a newspaper, though the only practical use seems to be as incontinence pads for senile former Mosleyites.
Pisspot tried to call Dignity in Dying out on his blog, then pretend they were too in awe of his arguments to answer them. The truth is far simpler.
The Daily Telegraph has a shit website which can’t handle comments, and a particular habit of losing them if they go against the retarded logic of the few Torygraph readers who can switch a computer on. I know from experience, and I've heard the same story from others who wasted time battling the antediluvian system to record a view.
As Pisspot lacked the courage to print Harris’s replies to his ‘questions’, Harris repeats them and invites the dullard cleric to respond in term.
Elsewhere he also has fun reporting an overwhelming defeat for the most vacuous UK pro-life pseudo-charity at a recent UCL debate. Then he has even more fun reporting SPUC's pathetic attempt to diss DiD in their own report of the debate - which completely neglects to mention that they were not so much defeated as left for dead.
Considering their vegetable mentality, maybe it’s time SPUC changed that acronym to SPUD, or how about…..
Well, I quite like James’s own comment actually:
“SPUC are a pro-life organisation who have a lot to say about assisted dying, abortion and sex education (they are in need of a name change, perhaps the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Hormonal Teenagers, and Terminally Ill People who are Unaware that Suffering brings you closer to your Maker: SPUCHTTIPUSM).”

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Anglican space-waster fails humanity, again

Ekklesia (see sidebar and, reports that the Archbishop of York, who grew up in rural Uganda, has copped out again on a human rights issue, namely proposed legislation in Uganda to introduce the death penalty for certain consensual homosexual acts.
So, business as usual from the clown who taught our own faith-based parasite his trade.
Given even half a chance to prat about for TV cameras in empty ‘protest’ about a pointless issue and the bastard’s in like a rat up a drainpipe. But ask him to condemn his home country’s faith-based fascism – an increasingly sick spectacle in which his church is involved up to the neck – and this useless parasite is so on the fence his backside must be full of splinters.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) was hoping both Sentamu and the other British Archtwit, Rowan Williams, would speak out “unequivocally” against the proposed laws. Apparently, an official apologist for Sentamu told them that Archbishop Sentamu “will not be making a statement on this issue”. Williams hasn’t replied either, so that’s two abject failures for human beings acting true to form.
Thanks to a frankly disgusting coalition of US evangelicals, holocaust deniers and other lowlife, same–sex passionate behaviour is already punishable by life imprisonment in Uganda. The proposed bill – backed by certain Anglican figures in the country – takes things further, and would mean a death penalty for anyone whose same-sex partner is aged under 18 or disabled, or imprisonment for three years for anyone in a position of authority who knew of a homosexual act but failed to report it.
LGCM said in a statement:
“A deafening silence comes from the Anglican Church in Britain towards the proposed draconian private members Bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament regarding homosexuality”
“If ever there was a time for the Archbishops to speak out to protect human rights, is this not it?”
“The bill proposes the most condemning punishments towards anyone believed to be involved in homosexual acts, ‘promoting’ them, or agencies who know of anyone who is homosexual.”
“It is with great sadness that we note the Anglican Church in Britain is saying nothing.”
Some days even Anglicans must wonder if their ‘spiritual leaders’ are any more use to humanity than a fart in a colander.

Think global, screw up local

Apparently it’s Global Entrepreneurship Week next week, so the imposingly titled Isle of Man Business & Innovation Centre is marking it with events next Wednesday and Saturday.
And we should be impressed, because as Kate Lord, who is apparently ‘Incubator Manager, Isle of Man Business and Innovation Centre (IoM BIC)’, is telling us:
"Entrepreneurs carry a vision. They have the energy to develop themselves, the capacity to innovate and to create employment. We need them, their dynamism and their success. IoM BIC is keen to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to progress their ideas with our support on the Isle of Man. Even if all you have is an idea, or just a willingness to get involved in something different, you can get involved."
Now I know this because the DTI put up a press release about it yesterday at
Incidentally, it went up at 5 PM, just as most islanders were heading home for the weekend. That tells you how plugged in they are to reality.
Something else to note is that:
“IoM BIC’s free support helps pre-start ups with potentially high growth business ideas; often these are technology, e-commerce or innovation based.”
So try clicking on the IomBIC website at the bottom of the press release and see what happens.
Fills you with great confidence, doesn’t it?
Now that was a joke unintentionally cracked by the Manx Government.
For a much funnier joke intentionally cracked about the Manx Government, try

Friday, 13 November 2009

Another year, more temperance nazi trash

The temperance nazis unleashed their latest assault on the Manx government website today, when the DHA announced a 'voluntary’ scheme for off-licences which further infantalises Manx everyday life.
According to the official lie: “All off licences on the Island have signed up to a Code of Practice to ensure responsible retailing of alcoholic products.
Implementation of the first elements of the Code by January 2010 by all off licence holders is being co-ordinated by Offwatch (members of the off licence trade) in partnership with the Department of Home Affairs and the Police Central Alcohol Unit following consultation with the Licensing Court.”
You can
Pathetic, isn’t it? At this rate, all Manx adults will be wearing nappies by the New Year.
Reading between the lines, what happened is that the usual suspects pulled a few strings to ensure that no shopkeeper wanting a licence to sell booze can get one unless he joins this sad little conspiracy against free choice.
Nothing new there, as I’ve been saying for a while (see, for example, Stop the temperance war on choice). In fact, as these sanctimonious pondlife have annoyed me so much, I’ll give you an update on that very story.
After the third fruitless day at the courthouse waiting for the DFT not to turn up, the garage chain struck a deal with them. The unfortunate employee at the centre of the entrapment was sacked for a ‘coincidental’ minor matter and his manager had an official warning from a superior, who, I’m told, was ‘coincidentally’ angling at the time for a place on another secretive government committee.
Now remember, neither knowingly did anything wrong, while the DFT illegally used an underage child to buy cigarettes in order to spark a token prosecution. I can also tell you the innocent kid has had one hell of a time landing any job since – employment prospects destroyed by bent government officials and a lying toad of a politician attempting to kiss evangelical botty and help a few unqualified godbotherers land an excuse for public money.
And it’s gettting worse.
Because of a ridiculous, and again illegal, scheme nobody can buy a drink in a Manx supermarket unless they can prove they’re over 25. My younger workmates were telling me only today of picking up cans in Shoprite, having their ID handy in the queue to prove age, only to be singled out by a supermarket manager and ORDERED like common criminals to put down the cans and leave the shop.
How ridiculous is that?
Which leads me to people outside of Toyland’s take on such things.
In We must stop being tolerant of repression at US advocate and libertarian Wendy Kaminer argues:
“Today, with people being summarily detained and tortured, political rights seem paramount. It’s easy to scoff at people who complain about social restrictions on their daily life, from the right to smoke or overeat to the right to indulge in allegedly abusive speech. And their complaints can seem relatively trivial when viewed individually. But collectively, these restrictions upon people’s daily lives are really quite consequential. Collectively, they erode the basis for a free society, because the more officials exert control over everyday behaviours, the more people develop habits of submission, the more they become tolerant of repression.”
Elsewhere on the same site at , Brendan O’Neill argues in a piece called Nutts to these anti-alcohol ‘experts’ that:
“Nutt’s science-moralising is worse than the government’s. At least the government employs an equal-opportunities ban on drugs, legally denying everybody access to them, whereas Nutt’s scientific/moralistic opposition to alcohol would disproportionately impact on poor people (who would be priced out of booze consumption) and the young (who would be banned from drinking). He wants to use ‘science’ not only to moralise but to discriminate.”
O’Neill describes a scene eerily like the one I witnessed up at Nobles last year at an alcohol awareness conference when he says that:
“When I stood up and said I felt like I had wandered into a meeting of the temperance movement, and that Nutt and his supporters were explicitly also bastardising ‘science’ for perniciously moralistic purposes, he didn’t really know what to say… except, after a lot of hot air about ‘evidence’: ‘Well, you have a point.’”
Except that Nutt, at least when talking about drugs, is an honest and fully informed scientist, while the ‘science’ the Manx government used (underwritten, incidentally, by a drinks industry desperate to stop supermarkets using their bulk buying power to get prices down to affordable levels) was, at best, patchy, and as the two chief researchers admitted to me personally, did not say what the Manx government, the temperance lobby and individuals interested in a cosy job paid for by our taxes wanted it to say.
I still conclude with the same words as I did this time last year.
This government no longer cares if anyone unemployable outside the finance sector lives or dies. It just pumps out media bilge full of buzz words like ‘empathy’, ‘caring’, ‘family’ and ‘concern’ which fool enough Daily Mail readers too lazy to read further. The kids know that, and if there were enough local people who care enough about real civil liberties we would grasp it too and oppose the temperance nazi intent to interfere with informed choice where it still remains.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Health Care, Not Paid Prayer

Last Sunday I blogged on some Manx woo woo therapists passing themselves off as health professionals and running a health fair.
Granted, this kind of thing will happen on an island over-run by gullible rich thickos. But maybe the Department of Fair Trading should put more effort into warning us about the real and present dangers of local ‘alternative therapists’ rather than the odd bogus roofer. The emphasis on the latter, I’m sure, has nothing to do with them being foreigners, while I’m told, confidentially, the worst snake-oil merchant married into the family of an (unelected) politician whose primitive superstitions are glaringly obvious, so will never go out of business.
But things could be worse, especially if you were living in the US.
For example, the L.A. Times reports:
“Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.
The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments - which substitute for or supplement medical treatments - on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against "religious and spiritual healthcare."
It would have a minor effect on the overall cost of the bill - Christian Science is a small church, and the prayer treatments can cost as little as $20 a day. But it has nevertheless stirred an intense controversy over the constitutional separation of church and state, and the possibility that other churches might seek reimbursements for so-called spiritual healing.”
(see,0,6879249,full.story for complete article)
The No God Blog at American Atheists (see moans:
“Here they go again. After losing the provision to force insurance companies to pay for Christians to kill their children by praying over them, Senators Orrin “Magic Underwear” Hatch and John “WTF” Kerry have re-started their efforts to have it included again.
Here is a prime example of policians who honestly don’t care. Children will die if this passes, and they don’t care. We will pay for the children who die, and they don’t care. This provision is clearly illegal, and they don’t care.
There is no mystery. There is no “other side” of this argument. Praying to deities is ridiculous, and forcing us to pay for witch-doctors is just another tax for the church.”


Saturday, 7 November 2009

Three cheers for Ekklesia

I think it only fair to highlight cases where religious writers run a worthwhile story, and Ekklesia (see sidebar) do that often.
Yesterday they ran a story (Texas man executed after court case Bible row) on the Texan case of a man whose fate was decided after jurors consulted the Bible for guidance.
In brief, they decided he should die, and now he has. This despite a 30 day reprieve being requested to allow officials to examine a rifle for DNA evidence that someone else handled the weapon during the attack that led to a brutal murder.
Texas’s governor showed a lack of humanity, legal knowledge or, indeed, any intelligence at all probably not seen since the days of his most famous predecessor, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. We can only hope he doesn’t follow further in Dubya’s footsteps or we’re all in deep doo-doos.
Ekklesia’s Lizzie Clifford has also produced a fascinating paper on the latest wrangles over Thought For The Day, i.e. if the Beeb should allow non-religious contributors. Interesting update here, as Ekklesia’s Jonathan Bartley, always an engaging and provocative Anglican voice, was barred from the TFTD line-up after suggesting just that on Radio 4’s Today programme, which hosts TFTD.
Time For Religious To Kick The Broadcasting Habit gives a potted history of the programme, which flatly contradicts the Beeb’s claims of a fair-minded, non-evangelical stance.
As outlined in their press release:
“The new paper traces how the origins of TFTD came in a context of BBC religious broadcasting which was originally viewed as 'evangelistic and missionary'.
TFTD began as Lift Up Your Hearts, an innovation of extending religious programmes beyond Sunday into the working week. The original contributors were overwhelmingly Christian and Anglican. The slot's rebranding in 1965 to the more nominally neutral Ten to Eight was designed to reflect the changing beliefs of the listenership. But it was opposed by some in the Anglican Church as part of a general withdrawal of the BBC from its position as a central broadcaster in a 'Christian country'.
The paper also highlights how a number of other BBC radio stations, in particular regional programmes, have output which is similar to TFTD. But these successfully include contributions from the non- religious, as well as 'minority' religions, raising further questions about why TFTD has not followed suit.”
The Ekklesia paper can be found at And on that comment about regional radio, I should of course point out that Manx Radio is amongst the regionals with an open door for the non-religious, and I've done Thought For The Day slots myself as both an Amnesty International speaker and an Isle of Man Freethinker.
In fact, Manx Radio's only obstacle is a lack of willing speakers, not religious objections, and I suspect this might be the case on many a regional station. If you have one in your area, give it a shot. They'll probably bite your hand off!

I was a teenage Freethinker

Can I point the less wrinkly readers of my efforts to the Young Freethought Blog which went up this week at There is also a Facebook page at
This is a chance to link up with other young atheists and also get your writing published.
The editors say:
“Young Freethought is here to try and give a voice to a small section of society that, we feel, is currently being ignored. Young atheists and freethinkers are abundant, but trying to find out just what they think is a difficult thing. This is why we will accept submissions from anyone aged 16-21, on issues relating to Freethought. This could be a book review, an opinion piece on current news or even a small essay.”
“…If you're an experienced writer, or have never tried your hand at it before, it doesn't matter. We consider all entries equally.”

The blog got off to a flying start with a heavyweight piece on John Polkinghorne, former Cambridge physics professor, now Anglican priest and 2002 recipient of the Templeton Prize – which is a bit like giving up astronomy for astrology, then having your new scribblings underwritten by the Moonies.
Seriously though – excellent stuff, and hope they find plenty of new talent to keep it up.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The 'tax dodgers' who produce 'anti-tax-haven' nonsense

I can’t stop giggling at a ridiculous story this week from Isle of Man Newspapers, (see because it proves something I’ve long suspected. A campaign group which touchy feely New Internationalist readers consider a major voice against the evils of international capitalism, the gnomes of Zurich, and all the other cartoon black hat stereotypes is… by right wing capitalist extremists!
It’s what us 1990’s culture jammers used to call ‘astroturf’. In brief, a bogus grassroots organisation set up by a PR agency, feeding fake research to gullible community activists who are encouraged to think they run the group, in order to serve the purposes of large corporations.
How do I know? Because a few months back I discovered the original research (partly, I admit, by accident), know who paid for it, who produced it, for who, and for what purpose. At the time I thought it so dumb that I just laughed and forgot about it, because I thought it had simply failed and that the perpetrators had no further plans for it.
Now according to the carefully created myth, a group which thinks offshore centres should all be shut and people everywhere should just pay way too much tax to governments who waste way too much money has done lots and lots of research to produce a state of the art ‘league table’ of offshore finance jurisdictions.
And according to IOM newspapers:
“the index produced by the Tax Justice Network — a vociferous critic of the Isle of Man — places the US state of Delaware at the top of its league table of tax havens, followed by Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and the City of London.”
At that point I fell off my chair laughing and rolled around the floor for about 10 minutes. Once I’d wiped the tears from my eyes and got my breath back enough to read some more I erupted again on being solemnly informed that:
“Delaware has an opacity score of 92 and coupled with a high global scale weight ranks it at number one.The City of London has a low opacity score of just 42 but its importance to world financial activity ranks it at number 5.The Isle of Man's opacity score of 83 is lower than 41 of the other jurisdictions listed including Jersey.”
Oh, it’s no good. I’d better explain the joke.
The reason Delaware comes top is that Chicago doesn’t have any tax havens, but Delaware is the home state of Joe Biden, now the US Vice President.
The thing is, a group of Bush’s closest allies had an easy ride from the US tax authorities and feared it would end if the Obama/Biden ticket won the last election. They also extensively used offshore entities to hide their assets and to avoid their substantial donations to political campaigns and policy makers being discovered.
When things got really bad they used a network of ‘educational foundations’ whose assets were ultimately controlled in jurisdictions which (unsuprisingly) come out rather well in the index in order to fund bogus research which, when funnelled back to the conservative US press, ‘proved’ that Biden and Obama, far from being tough on ‘tax havens’, were having their very well funded campaign underwritten by faceless tax dodgers.
It didn’t work, and the only interesting thing now will be to see if they continue to push the ‘research’ in order to undermine changes in US government policy, and if this unholy alliance between ultra right wing US businesses (some, by the way, also underwriting Christian ‘end timer’ enterprises), and supposedly lefty but quasi-religious greens and churchy ‘drop the debt’ types will continue.
I’d take a safe bet on something else though. Jokers like TJN and the Manx ‘Freedom to Fester’ PR spongers will continue to try and claim credit for research and campaigning they didn’t and couldn’t possibly do, and I’ll continue to point out what muppets they are.
That is, if I can stop laughing long enough to keep you updated.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Foreign aid or local ignorance?

There’s an item on Manxnet’s news page today that further undermines my faith in the intelligence or integrity of Manx businesses.
Not only did the Steam Packet help one of the worst charity scams running on the island. They boasted about it at
The item, about a building firm getting free ferry tickets to (in theory) take aid to Romanians, ends with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward saying: “We are delighted to be able to show our support for such a worthwhile charity. This expedition will make a difference to the poor, needy and homeless in Romania.”
Congratulations, muppet, you just helped a US evangelical outfit , not the imaginary victims they invented, and you may even be party to a major fraud or attempts to destabilise another country’s economy and democratic sytem.
You see,contrary to what they’d have you believe, Hands of Hope isn’t a Manx charity. It’s run by some very dodgy US evangelists operating from London who my wife and I once had contact with. That contact, amongst a lot of other very iffy business, caused us to advise anyone against ever helping these chancers.
It began when my wife offered some simple minded local biblebashers help getting documents translated for an apparently innocent trip to Romania. The more we spoke to folk, the more things didn’t add up, and the more worried we got that something far nastier was going on.
For example, their strange insistence on buying stuff locally, instead of over there at twice the quality and a tenth of the price at building merchants Romanian friends (including a Lutheran priest) offered to introduce them to. Or their refusal to use local labour to build some very shabby huts the average Romanian farmer wouldn’t keep a pig in (passed off as ‘houses for the needy’). Or the shady US evangelicals continually avoiding revealing who they really were or worked for, and an apparent interest in getting Romanians into the UK on tourist visas.
We worked out the overpriced goods scam when they admitted they’d cut a deal with a fellow Manx evangelical (a salesman for a building supplies firm) to split his commission with him. We guessed how big that deal was when he ‘retired’ to a country with no expedition treaty.
Some of the other curious stuff? Well, we just gave up trying to track down the truth. The sudden reluctance to answer questions told us all we needed to know to walk away fast, i.e. that the project wasn’t just another bunch of unemployable Manx semi-literates blundering around a foreign country getting sniggered at until they wised up.
How do they still get away with it, and why isn’t anybody in the Manx business community or government asking better questions before dispensing overseas aid and charitable donations?
Better ask them that, and, if you do, hope the answers only reveal us as a nation governed by village idiots.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Gay humanism's own goal

I have to post an item in support of my fellow freethinkers over at the Pink Triangle Trust blog. Seems they’ve been the victims of censorship – ironically by others in the gay and humanist community.
It seems GALHA (Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association) refused a post to their discussion forum alerting people to the latest edition of the PTT e-magazine ,Gay & Lesbian Humanist. It’s a publication I’ve endorsed, and even written for, just as I’ve endorsed GALHA for years and written a couple of pieces for GHQ (Gay Humanist Quarterly), their now discontinued magazine. I’ve supported both enthusiastically because I consider gay rights to be a good litmus test of contemporary secularism.
The censorship seems to be over a reference to Gaytheist, PTT’s own discussion forum, which itself partly came about because PTT thought setting up another forum, where free speech was a higher priority than GALHA’s, might be useful. Funnily enough, I’ve also blogged on the earlier little censorship battle which led to that!
You can see more on the latest row at, and as I didn’t previously mention the latest G&LH is out, I’ll also tell you that there’s a direct link to the issue and the Gaytheist forum (equally open to gay or straight contributors alike) from that item.

Danger - quack convention

According to Radio Cowshed (see ) there’s something called the Isle of Man Health Fair being organised by the Isle of Man Health Network at Centre 21 today.
Oh good, we could all probably do with a spot of sensible, responsible health advice.
But this isn’t. In fact, when you look further, it gets quite disturbing.
Because we’re told that: “Organised by the Isle of Man Health Network, it involves around 30 therapists coming together and demonstrating all manner of alternative and complementary therapies, from Reflexology to Raiki.”
In other words it’s a quack consortium looking for rich, intellectually challenged punters to fleece.
Let’s be clear about this. A gang of snake-oil merchants hold themselves out to be ‘health professionals’, even forming themselves into a pseudo-professional body whose very name suggests medical competence. Yet there is no attempt from the Manx Department of Fair Trading to suggest they, at least, market themselves under a more accurate name.
Admittedly, the Manx Department of Fair Trading is so pathetic it should itself be prosecuted for a misleading product description. Also, if I’m honest I couldn't care less if the cream of Manx society (i.e. the rich and thick) get robbed blind while suffering the side-effects of whatever dubious ‘therapy’ is flogged at such freak shows.
Still, if there is even an outside chance that someone poorer and more vulnerable could get really harmed by a rancid aromatherapy ‘cure’ shouldn’t the DFT, or even the police, be having a word?