Monday, 25 May 2015

Canadian Editor of Bangladeshi Freethought Blog Concerned After Murder of Bloggers

Farid Ahmed is justifiably concerned for the safety of fellow bloggers and his family.
On February 26th, Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy was hacked to death. On May 12th, blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was butchered. Both were freethinkers, atheists. Both blogged at the Bangladeshi English language freethought blog Mukto-Mona

The Globe and Mail has an stark story on Toronto editor of the blog, Fahrid Ahmed, who is justifiably concerned for friends, himself and family.
From his home, Mr. Ahmed is steering the Bengali- and English-language blog Mukto Mona – which translates as “free thinking” – through a difficult chapter as its writers are struck down.

The blog’s founder and a friend of Mr. Ahmed’s, Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy, was hacked to death while leaving a book fair in the capital Dhaka in February. Dr. Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed, sustained serious head injuries and the loss of her thumb in the machete attack carried out by suspected religious militants.
The blog Ahmed runs from the relative safety of Canada is the largest of its kind in Bangladesh and acts as an umbrella -- a major meeting place of people in that country's freethought, secular and atheist community. This blog seems to be target number one for murderous militant Islamic groups who seem hellbent to continue slaughtering bloggers until it is silenced.
For Mr. Ahmed, the blog that he helped build has become a matter of life and death – as its writers inside Bangladesh fear for their lives and look to him for answers. From the safety of Canada, he realizes there are no easy solutions.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said.
I wish I knew what to do. I've seen positive outcomes, like Bangladeshi blogger Sharif Ahmed (no relation to Farid) who successfully got refuge in Canada after suffering torture for his atheism in his own country.

However, I also see Raif Badawi rotting still in his jail cell in Saudi Arabia for doing essentially the same thing. Our federal government doing precious little to help his cause. So what can we do?
Speaking at his Toronto home, Mr. Ahmed is pensive. He is getting messages from Mukto Mona writers in hiding. “Somebody will get killed within a short time,” he said with certainty.
The site itself has some 300 contributors and 35 core writers. The threats pour in.

Ahmed himself recognizes he can never set foot in his home country again. Although he has concentrated on subjects not directly related with religion or atheism, Like Avijit Roy, in Bangladesh, he would be a marked man.

I believe every effort should be made to get as many of these bloggers out of the country. I wish I knew exactly what that is though. If anyone reading these words knows what that is -- please let me know.

Planetary Alignment! Huge May 28th California Earthquake! No Wait... It's Crap.

Oh no! Someone made a video showing that some planets are going to line up, or something, on May 28th -- and that some guy from hundreds of years ago said something about earthquakes -- and that means California is going to have a 9.8 magnitude earthquake in California!

If we draw a line from Mercury towards Saturn, you see that it goes to the right side of the Earth, but on the left side of the Moon. So again, this alignment here is going to disturb or disrupt the Earth-Moon equilibrium. This is the most critical one. ... So these two planets are really really being energized. ... They actually work as a catalyst. ... Both planets at the time 23:00 UTC time are on the west coast pacific side of North America. ... And I think that that will be the critical area.

So what time would it be for California? That would be 23:00 UTC minus seven would be 16:00 local time... So, I believe that if something big is going to happen on that day, it will be around 4 o'clock in the afternoon and it's going to be huge.

If prophecy's correct, California will go into the sea. And if that's going to happen, Japan will also be battered by tsunamis you cannot possibly imagine. Now I'm not a Doomsday thinker, but I'm looking at these planetary alignments and doesn't look good...
Luckily for us, we've got Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait to set the record straight.
First, there is simply no way an alignment of planets can cause an earthquake on Earth. It’s literally impossible. I’ve done the math on this before; the maximum combined gravity of all the planets under ideal conditions is still far less than the gravitational influence of the Moon on the Earth, and the Moon at very best has an extremely weak influence on earthquakes.
He also brought up something that struck me -- energizing of the two planets. What does that mean? Does it have anything to do with chakra alignment?

Another thing I noticed which Phil brings up too is the whacky My First Book of the Solar System type scale the planets are portrayed with. If that scale were truly the case, our sky would be absolutely full of planets! I mean, I'd look out my window and see nothing but Jupiter or Saturn filling up the horizon.

Instead, the solar system is mostly empty space ... like, well, most of space.
At 8:40 he shows another “alignment” that apparently goes between the Earth and Moon … but note that the Moon’s distance to Earth isn’t shown to scale! The sizes of the planets and Moon aren’t to scale either. Look at the width of the Earth’s orbit in the display; that’s 300 million kilometers in real distance. The Moon’s distance from Earth is about 380,000 km, or a bit more than 0.1 percent of the size of Earth’s orbit
Oh well, I guess the worst thing to hit LA on the 28th will likely by four o'clock traffic jams.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Look What I Did. I'm In a Blog Debate About God Now

Alice in Wonderland, 1915 (source).
A little while ago, a Christian blogger, Anthony Freeland, sent me a message over at the My Secret Atheist Blog Facebook page. He invited me to a blog debate, which is pretty much what it sounds like. He'll do a post, I'll do a post, he'll do a post and then I'll do a post. At the end, everyone will understand that there is no decent evidence for a God at all. Then we can all move on with our lives as atheists. Isn't that the way this usually goes down?

Woops, I gave away the topic already: Does God Exist?

Since Anthony is the one making the truth claim, I suggested he go ahead and offer up his arguments first -- a real I won't show you mine until you show me yours situation. You can find his initial post over at his blog, Truth Interrupted. Why not go read it and then nicely leave a comment for me about what he's talking about, how I'm supposed to understand him, whether or not he's right, and how I should process that information?

I'll admit that I chose the Alice in Wonderland picture for good reason. The longer I've been away from Catholicism, the harder it is for me to even comprehend Christianity in any sort of coherent manner. So a huge part of this debate will involve me desperately trying to understand what's being said on the other side. That's half the battle.

The other half of the battle will be trying to scale back the snark long enough to actually address the arguments. I must read the arguments, understand the arguments, think about the arguments and then respond to the arguments without the usual knee jerk urge to ridicule or satirize. It will be hard, comrades.

And this is my first ever debate thingy... ever... really. Luckily for me, it's also Anthony's first as well. Unless he's fibbing. I'm absolutely certain I've lost at least a couple of pool games to so-called first timers!

Anyway, the deal is I'm supposed to come up with some sort of response by next Saturday-ish. Let's see what happens, okay? Maybe it will be really fun -- or maybe it will suck monkey balls. Who knows? Nobody knows.

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