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Therapeutic ranting Ken Perrott Aug 09

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Book review: The Atheist Camel Rants Again!: more arguments and observations from the atheist front by Bart Centre.

Price: US$10.71; NZ$20.60
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1460933915
ISBN-13: 978-1460933916

Personal passion does wonders for one’s writing. Mind you, passion is also polarising. Not everyone is going to love what you say, even though you say it forcefully and colourfully.

I am sure this is the case with Dromedary Hump’s latest book The Atheist Camel Rants Again! But that is part of what makes the book so good – for some of us at least.

The book is well named – it is a rant. But a colourful, humorous and soul-enhancing rant which will appeal to atheists and other free-thinkers. It was not meant to appeal to those who Centre satirically calls the “theologically deluded.” Nevertheless, I am sure there are some more open-minded religious people who will appreciate the humour and colour. In fact these people will probably find a lot they can identify with as they must sometimes despair at the stupidity reached by their more militant and strident co-religionists.

Like his earlier book, this one is a collection of 105 lively blog posts. They are each only about 2 pages long – which makes the book easy to dip into. You can read what you want, when you want, depending simply on what strikes your mood at the time.

In my review of his previous book (see The Atheist Camel Chronicles) I said that when Centre “calls a spade a spade” he “cleverly implies it might actually be a bloody big shovel.” Well he has lost none of that eloquence. Or humour. The satire and cynicism is just as biting.

Theist stupidity

Just as well, because there is still a lot of stupidity out there.  In “Pity the Persecuted Christians,” for example, he describes how some religious leaders:

“make it sound as though Christianity is undergoing a veritable Inquisition. . . .They cannot differentiate between their right to practice their religion (which is never implied) and the rights of non-Christians NOT to have Christian religion forced upon them . .  which is precisely what they are protesting. By impeding their holy charge to proselytize, convert, harass, badger, and impose their beliefs on others, it is they who are being persecuted. That’s about as bizarre a reversal of logic as one could conceive.”

Right on! Someone has to say it. People are fed up with the arrogant attitude demonstrated by non-consensual imposition of religious “values”, traditions and ceremonies. Centre colourfully describes this in “The Invocation:”

“the sky pilot couldn’t care less if it irks some because he sees it as his divinely directed duty to shove his God down people’s throats, welcome or not.”

In “Religion is a ‘Beautiful Thing,’” he asks:

“is it because religious charity is a way to proselytise to those desperately in need of material aid in an effort to gain converts? Is that the ‘beauty of religion’?”

Again, who else has wondered that?

And on a topical issue of marriage equality (“Those Damn Homos are Changing Word Definitions! Stop Them NOW!”) he tells opponents that “you’ll get used to gay marriage:”

“in five to ten years, gay marriage will be legal in a majority of states. And in three hundred to five hundred years, the Christian churches will apologise for their homophobic hysteria. It just takes them that long to catch up to humanity.”

And what about this depiction of a “Beffudled God” who requires a professional army of interpreters and apologists (in “Beffudled God: Good Thing he has so Many Interpreters”):

“Their God, it seems, is an articulate and confused old fool who has to rely on his creations to figure out and explain exactly what his words mean and policies should be. Liken it to a ninety-eight-year-old senile company founder who is kept locked in his office by the board of directors, and who translate his babble into whatever the board wants it to mean to the shareholders.”

Some atheists disappoint

But Centre doesn’t waste all his satire on the religiously inclined – some atheists also get a tongue lashing. He laments:

“a few atheists who, through their own stupidity, feed theist misconceptions of atheism. Some of them call for an ‘atheist church’ or at least see no conflict with the oxymoronic term. These atheists are the Uncle Toms, the embarrassing mentally impaired relatives of the activist atheist movement who are best confined to an attic or their parents’ basement.”

And later adds:

“On the other hand, if by calling every atheist organisation a church, mosque, synagogue, or coven we all get a major tax break . . .  count me in and call me ‘Reverend.’”

But, seriously, he is concerned about the knee jerk reactions of some atheists to current events:

“Perhaps my disappointment is my own fault, as I tend to credit freethinkers with using the same reasoned approach to all issues and events as when they rejected supernaturalism. More credit than we apparently deserve.”

Well, I often think we are not a rational species – even if we sometimes get some things right.

No one will be surprised to learn that Bart Centre is the creator and co-owner of the Eternal Earth-Bound Pets post-Rapture Pet rescue website (http://www.eternal-earthbound-pets.com/).

I started reading this book when I was feeling down. Before long I was laughing my head off. I had forgotten my own problems – except I was wishing I had such satirical skills.

If you are that way inclined, or even just open-minded and unafraid of satire, you will find this a book which you read through quickly. And then will start looking for his last one The Atheist Camel Chronicles.

But if you are sensitive about your beliefs (theist or non-theist) and can’t take a joke, then I recommend you avoid the book.

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’Climategate’ — the smoking gun? Ken Perrott Nov 26

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Some of the more extreme climate change deniers, and others who have an anti-science agenda, continue to dredge through the domestic debris of the emails stolen by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia. Their conclusions are, of course, predictable.  Meanwhile, the balanced media summary oif this fiasco is probably well represented by George Monbiot in the Guardian: “The leaked exchanges are disturbing, but it would take a conspiracy of a very different order to justify sceptics’ claims.” (see Global warming rigged? Here’s the email I’d need to see ).

I particularly liked his depiction of the email that the climate change deniers and their allies would dearly love to find. It’s a great satire and portrays some of the silliest conspiracy theories promulgated by deniers.

From:

Sent: 29 October 2009

To: The Knights Carbonic

Gentlemen, the culmination of our great plan approaches fast. What the Master called “the ordering of men’s affairs by a transcendent world state, ordained by God and answerable to no man”, which we now know as Communist World Government, advances towards its climax at Copenhagen. For 185 years since the Master, known to the laity as Joseph Fourier, launched his scheme for world domination, the entire physical science community has been working towards this moment.

The early phases of the plan worked magnificently. First the Master’s initial thesis — that the release of infrared radiation is delayed by the atmosphere — had to be accepted by the scientific establishment. I will not bother you with details of the gold paid, the threats made and the blood spilt to achieve this end. But the result was the elimination of the naysayers and the disgrace or incarceration of the Master’s rivals. Within 35 years the 3rd Warden of the Grand Temple of the Knights Carbonic (our revered prophet John Tyndall) was able to “demonstrate” the Master’s thesis. Our control of physical science was by then so tight that no major objections were sustained.

More resistance was encountered (and swiftly dispatched) when we sought to install the 6th Warden (Svante Arrhenius) first as professor of physics at Stockholm University, then as rector. From this position he was able to project the Master’s second grand law — that the infrared radiation trapped in a planet’s atmosphere increases in line with the quantity of carbon dioxide the atmosphere contains. He and his followers (led by the Junior Warden Max Planck) were then able to adapt the entire canon of physical and chemical science to sustain the second law.

Then began the most hazardous task of all: our attempt to control the instrumental record. Securing the consent of the scientific establishment was a simple matter. But thermometers had by then become widely available, and amateur meteorologists were making their own readings. We needed to show a steady rise as industrialisation proceeded, but some of these unfortunates had other ideas. The global co-option of police and coroners required unprecedented resources, but so far we have been able to cover our tracks.

The over-enthusiasm of certain of the Knights Carbonic in 1998 was most regrettable. The high reading in that year has proved impossibly costly to sustain. Those of our enemies who have yet to be silenced maintain that the lower temperatures after that date provide evidence of global cooling, even though we have ensured that eight of the 10 warmest years since 1850 have occurred since 2001. From now on we will engineer a smoother progression.

Our co-option of the physical world has been just as successful. The thinning of the Arctic ice cap was a masterstroke. The ring of secret nuclear power stations around the Arctic circle, attached to giant immersion heaters, remains undetected, as do the space-based lasers dissolving the world’s glaciers.

Altering the migratory and reproductive patterns of the world’s wildlife has proved more challenging. Though we have now asserted control over the world’s biologists, there is no accounting for the unauthorised observations of farmers, gardeners, birdwatchers and other troublemakers. We have therefore been forced to drive migrating birds, fish and insects into higher latitudes, and to release several million tonnes of plant pheromones every year to accelerate flowering and fruiting. None of this is cheap, and ever more public money, secretly diverted from national accounts by compliant governments, is required to sustain it.

The co-operation of these governments requires unflagging effort. The capture of George W Bush, a late convert to the cause of Communist World Government, was made possible only by the threatened release of footage filmed by a knight at Yale, showing the future president engaged in coitus with a Ford Mustang. Most ostensibly capitalist governments remain apprised of where their real interests lie, though I note with disappointment that we have so far failed to eliminate Vaclav Klaus. Through the offices of compliant states, the Master’s third grand law has been established: world government will be established under the guise of controlling man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

Keeping the scientific community in line remains a challenge. The national academies are becoming ever more querulous and greedy, and require higher pay-offs each year. The inexplicable events of the past month, in which the windows of all the leading scientific institutions were broken and a horse’s head turned up in James Hansen’s bed, appear to have staved off the immediate crisis, but for how much longer can we maintain the consensus? Knights Carbonic, now that the hour of our triumph is at hand, I urge you all to redouble your efforts. In the name of the Master, go forth and terrify.

Professor Ernst Kattweizel, University of Redcar. 21st Grand Warden of the Temple of the Knights Carbonic.

Monbiot concludes: “This is the kind of conspiracy the deniers need to reveal to show that man-made climate change is a con. The hacked emails are a hard knock, but the science of global warming withstands much more than that.”

What do you think? Is he being a bit harsh?

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