April 2009

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As my last post was a bit on the heavy side (and I’ve been dying to post this since it was sent to me—thanks Doug!), I thought I would share this great video. It’s taken from Australian comedian John Safran’s TV series John Safran vs. God, and turns the tables on Mormons in hilarious style! I think he actually does a pretty good job of selling atheism—I particularly like the part where he talks about cognitive dissonance. Perhaps this is another reason atheists are very often happier than theists?

As most of you probably know by now, I am happy to be living in Australia. Although it does restrict my career opportunities, it is a great environment, and the people are very friendly and genuine for the most part. It is also the most multicultural place I’ve ever been, in as much as different races and cultures mix here very freely, and there’s lots of wonderful multicultural events. Like everywhere though, there’s still an undercurrent of racism here, and that was probably never more apparent than during the “Tampa election” of 2001. John Howard, faced with electoral annihilation in the wake of his immensely unpopular GST (goods and services tax), decided to tap into the one issue that he thought might be explosive enough to make people forget about the GST: he played the “race card”. He ordered the navy to stop a Norwegian cargo vessel carrying Afghani asylum seekers (MV Tampa) from entering Australian waters, so they couldn’t land on Australian shores and have their claims for asylum processed here. Shortly after that, September 11 happened, and the anti-Muslim sentiment precipitated the biggest turn around in the polls in Australia’s history. Just like fellow conservative George W. Bush in the US, fear of terrorism turned a deeply unpopular leader into a hero overnight.

Never mind the fact that these actions were completely illegal under international law, and showed an astonishing lack of humanity toward everyone onboard MV Tampa (including its Norwegian crew). But John Howard, being the utterly ruthless and totally immoral and unprincipled politician that he was, didn’t care about international law or compassion. He only cared about winning elections, so he milked the incident for all it was worth. He hastily cobbled together the so-called “Pacific solution” for processing asylum seekers offshore, in this case on the tiny island nation of Nauru. It turned out to be a hugely expensive farce, as almost all these asylum seekers turned out to have a legitimate claim, and many were resettled in Australia (as well as New Zealand). But that didn’t come out until well after the election, and Howard didn’t care how much money he had to spend to win either. He ran TV and radio ads and had posters and billboards with his photo, proclaiming “we decide who comes into this country and the circumstances in which they come”. And he used all other asylum seekers who tried to land here as political pawns as well. This lead to the infamous “children overboard” affair immediately before the election, when John Howard claimed that asylum seekers threw their children overboard, so he could say “these aren’t the kind of people I want entering Australia”. But not only was this claim totally untrue, an Australian Senate Select Committee found that he knew it was false before the election. He clearly just wanted to demonise asylum seekers so he could win the election. Read the rest of this entry »

God vs. Satan

I don’t have time for a full post this week, so I thought I’d post this interesting little graph I was told about (thanks OldiesLover!). With Gods like this, who needs Satan? Is Satan actually the good guy? ;-)

Joe Biden on guns—horrifying for many Americans, but common sense for the rest of the civilised world

I see we had yet another gun massacre in the US on Friday, with 14 people killed in an immigration office in New York. This comes after the shooting rampage in Alabama last month, leaving 10 dead. And of course, there have been many, many more before that. Vice President Joe Biden says “we’ve got to figure a way to deal with this senseless, senseless violence”. Well I’m afraid there’s only one way, and I think Joe already knows what that is: gun control. What will it take for the US to have real gun control laws like the rest of the civilised world?

Americans don’t seem to realise that not having gun control is actually extremely unusual (perhaps even unique) for a modern civilised country. The people who support the right to bear arms in the US constitution always say that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. On the face of it, that seems to make a lot of sense, except for the fact that in countries with stronger gun laws, there is actually far less gun related violence of all kinds. It seems that, in practice, outlawing guns makes them harder to obtain for everyone, including outlaws. Read the rest of this entry »