Archive for the ‘censorship’ Category

List Of Ex-Scientologists Who Have Spoken Out

8 July 2009

This is what happens when the Real World prevents me from devoting enough time to maintaining this blog on a regular basis.

The latest number of ex-Scientologists who have come out and spoken-out against the church of Scientology has grown to 801 names. Given the sheer size of the list, I will not keep updating the list.

Instead, I will direct you to Why We Protest’s wiki page.

http://wiki.whyweprotest.net/List_of_ex-Scientologists_who_have_spoken_out

They will update the list as information becomes available to them.

Thanks to Anonymous for all their hard work.

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Creationist Dirty Tricks: Censorship on YouTube

20 June 2009

For the past year or so, various YouTube channels have been the target of a campaign of censorship by Creationists. THis campaign has consisted of the following:

  • filing false DMCA claims. Filing a false DMCA -wherein an person oo organization claims ownership of a video that they do not really own – is considered perjury and is illegal and the filer can face civil and criminal charges in a court of law;
  • False flagging. YouTube has a flagging feature which allows users to mark a video as potentially unsuitable for minors to watch or could be a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service. In theory, a YT moderator is supposed to actually look at the video to confirm this, but due to the large number of videos on the site, it appears that YT simply takes the flaggers’ word for it and marks the video without confirming its content. This has become common knowledge and is an often-used tactic;
  • Down-rating comments. ThHis involves marking a videos comments with a “thumbs-down”. This used to involve marking only the comments that supported the video, but it is far easier to simply mark them all, so the person doing this doesn’t have to read the hundreds or thousands of comments that are posted;
  • Marking comments as Spam. If comment rating is disabled, in order to protect them from the previous tactic, then a user can mark a comment as Spam. With enough marks, the comment is hidden from view, unless some one clicks on Reply. Due to the amount of time it takes to do this, many people might not take that step;
  • Votebotting. This involves using a computer program to rate a video with One Star ratings, in order to prevent the video from appearing in search engines on YouTube. You simply run the program and it goes to each video several times, each time giving it a One Star rating. Supposedly, only registered users can rate a video, but there seems to be a glitch in YT’s system that does allow such programs to function without hinderance. As a result, even though a video may have only a few hundred views, it could still have thousands of One Star ratings. This has become the favored tactic of creationists in their fight against the pro-science (i.e. the side that explains the Theory of Evolution and debunks creationists’ claims) due to the total lack of legal consequences and YouTube’s lack of self-policing, as well as YouTube’s apparent lack of concern that this is even happening.

When YT users, such as Thunderf00t, posted videos calling for viewers to directyl contact YT to complain about the above tactics being used against their channels, YouTube would either ignore the complaints or would retaliate against the channel by suspending them or even closing their account permanently.

As such, the pro-science and atheist channels on YouTube have been censored and harassed with little or nothing they could do in response.

Few Christians have publicly condemned the above tactics being used, as it seeems to make their propagandizing on YT easier by eliminating the opposing side.

As pointed-out by YouTube user cdk007, this camapign of censorship only proves that creationists have no argument against evolution that can stand-up to scientific scrutiny and they must resort to dirty tricks in order to try to win the argument.

However, instead of “winning”, the usage of the above tactics and the failure of the general Christian community on YouTube to condemn them only shows that they have lost the debate and have nothing to bring to the table.

Here is a list of some of the hardest-hit channels on YouTube. feel free to watch their videos and subscribe, if you like:

Thunderf00t
AronRa
Potholer54

DonExodus2
ExtantDodo
AndromedasWake

dprjones
FFreeThinker
djarm67
ThetaOmega
JaguarJ0nes
ZOMGitsCriss
C0ct0pusPrime

These are just a few of the many channels hit by the censorship campaign. You will find links to other channels through them. You can also find a more complete list at the League of Reason webforum.

It seems that creationists have realized that they have no argument against science. So, they have decided to try to silence the opposing side through a cowardly censorship campaign.

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“9/11 Truth” Conspiracies Debunked, Part Three

8 June 2009

One claim to supposedly prove the views of 9/11 Truthers is that remains of nanothermite were found in the soil around Ground Zero. They support this claim by stating that a scientific paper on the subject, “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe”, was published in the Open Chemical Physics Journal, which is an Open Access online journal published by Bentham Science Publishers. It claims to be a “peer-reviewed journal” whose aim is to “provide the most complete and reliable source of information on current developments in chemical physics”.

It is interesting to note that the chief editor of this publication, Professor Marie-Paule Pileni,  resigned following the publication of the article by Danish chemist Niels Harrit.

Among her reasons was that the paper was published without notifying her and that it deals on a topic unrelated to chemical physics or physical chemistry. Stating,

“I was in fact in doubt about them before, because I had on several occasions asked about information about the journal without having heard from them. It does not appear on the list of international journals, and that is a bad sign. Now I can see that it is because it is a bad journal”, says Marie-Paule Pileni and continues:

“There are no references to the Open Chemical Physics Journal in other articles. I have two colleagues who contributed to publishing an article which was not cited anyplace either. If no one reads it, it is a bad journal, and there is not use for it”, is the harsh verdict.

One thing that lends credibility to any scientific paper is when either it or the journal in which it appears is cited in other scientific journals and Open Chemical Physics Journal is never cited in other scientific journals. A journal’s reputation partly hinges on how often it is cited in other journals of the same venue.

Even on their webpage, listing their Endorsements, only one of the quotes provided even mentions Bentham by name. The rest only give their individual endorsements to Open Access Journals.

Now, what people seem to be misunderstanding about scientific journals is that they appear to believe that is something appears in a scientific journal, then it is an official endorsement by the scientific community that the conclusions of the published article. Actually, it is not.

What an article actually does is it puts the conclusions of the researcher out there for other members of the scientific community to read and attempt to either verify or disprove the conclusions presented in the article. If other researchers can replicate the experiments and come to the same conclusions, then the viewpoint of the original author can be considered accepted by the scientific community. If other researcher cannot replicate the results, then the paper and its conclusions are marginalized and eventually ignored.

That’s it. Just because something appears in a scientific journal does not mean that it it accepted as completely factual by scientists. It simply means that the article got through that particular journals peer-review panel. The fact that Open Chemical Physics Journal is never cited by other publications in the same field, does not appear on any list of scientific journals for chemistry and its own editor resigned after the article was published does not bode well for this journal.

If you want a better explanation of the Scientific Method and the role of peer review journals, watch this video by potholer54.

Okay, a few questions I have about the article, a complete copy of which I cannot find beyond the synopsis and I quote from it, specifically the portion detailing how the tested samples were collected

One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later.

I’m no scientist, but this paper was published eight years after the 9/11 Attacks and its sample were collected over a period of a week by three different people. The samples were not collected by the authors of the paper, so there is not accountability for how the samples were collected and how they were stored between the time they were collected and when they were tested, which are topics that would come up in peer review.

There is no archive from the website itself for me to study and I’m not a chemist.

But, I think all the hoopla over this paper in the 9/11 Truth movement shows one reason why some real scientific journals oppose Open Source. People also oppose Wikipedia because it is Open Source where anyone can access it, so they doubt Wikipedia’s credibility.

So, let another group of chemists collect samples and test them. This is the replication phase of peer review. If another group of researchers can collect samples and achieve the same results, then we could have something to talk about.

This is one problem I have with the 9/11 Truth movement: it doesn’t matter if a real scientific journal details how the towers fell, showing documentation as how their conclusions were reached and it doesn’t matter if

    thousands

of engineers disagree with what the 9/11 Truth movement thinks. If just one group, consisting on a total of nine people tells them what they want to hear and those nine people write an article that appears in a self-proclaimed “scientific journal”, then they will go with the minority and discount what thousands of other experts say on the subject.

This shows the basic dishonesty of the 9/11 Truth movement. They only believe what they want to believe and will discount any opposing viewpoints. You could show them all the proof there is and they still won’t be convinced. You could build a time machine and take them back to the event itself and it wouldn’t change their minds.

I understand that there will always be people out there who won’t trust official explanations and sometimes that a healthy thing for a democracy. But, in the case of the 9/11 Truthers, it’s just sad and pathetic.

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ArmofAllah: the Fake Muslim on YouTube

2 June 2009

YouTube user coughlan666 was recently accused of filing a DMCA against YT user fakesagan, resulting in his channel closure. Coughlan666 denies this and I believe him, since that is not the practise of coughlan666 to attempt to silence his critics through the DMCA. He will simply respond with a video of his own.

He was also accused by YT user ArmofAllah of DMCAing a video of his, which coughlan666 also denies and ArmofAllah appears to have accepted his denial.

This is just the latest bit of drama on YouTube, along with the votebotting, false-flagging and DMCAs flying-around the place as people lash-out against each other and try to get videos deleted or just make their lives difficult.

However, I became interested in YT user ArmofAllah for several reasons. On the surface, he claims to be a Muslim. His video that was DMCAd included his attacking coughlan666 from an apparently Muslim point of view and calling for coughlan666 to become a Muslim. While YouTube does have Muslim users, I don’t think that ArmofAllah is one of them. In fact, I think that ArmofAllah is a troll, more likely a sockpuppet account, of some one with a cursory knowledge of Islam and this account is being used to stir-up drama on YouTube and make Muslims look bad.

This is not an unusual occurance. Former YT user VenomFangX blamed Muslims for shutting-down his account by sending death threats to him and his family at their home. There is no proof, of any kind, that such threats were ever made.

Back to ArmofAllah.

I am going to lay-out my case as to why I think that this YT user is not really a Muslim and the account was only created for the purposes of stirring-up drama and making Muslims look bad on YouTube. Since the original video is gone, you can see clips of it on this video

  • Normally, when a Muslim mentions the Name of Allah, they include the acronym “swt”, which stands for “subhana wa ta’ala”, which means “his Name be praised” or “glory be to Him”;
  • the traditional Arabic rendering of the Prophet’s name is not “Mohammed”. this is an English rendering. the Arabic fashion is closer to the Arabic pronounciation and is “Muhummad”;
  • when the name of the Prophet is written or spoken, the words “peace be upon him” are supposed to immediately follow, or the acronym “pbuh” or the Arabic “salalahu alayhi wa salaam” or the acronym “saws” or (saws);
  • a rather minor point is that nowhere in the video does ArmofAllah quote the Qur’an (aka Quran) or any of the Hadith (oral sayings of Muhummad). I would think a Muslim would, at least, quote either of them once to bolster his point.

Without these terms following the Name of Allah or the Prophet, it seems more lilely that the ArmofAllah is really some one pretending to be a Muslim. Granted this job seems convincing to some one who has little real exposure to Muslims, but to some one who knows a lot of Muslims (like I do), it seems like either ArmofAllah is either a rather careless Muslim or is some one doing their best to pretend to be Muslim.

I will grant that none of this is definitive. But, in my mind casts serious doubt as to the identity of the ArmofAllah and his real religion

After looking at ArmofAllah’s channel, I became absolutely certain that he is not a Muslim. My points:

  • in a reply to a comment on his video “All back of the bus”, he makes quotes from the Qur’an.
  • [19:68] By your Lord, we will certainly summon them, together with the devils, and will gather them around Hell, humiliated.

    [19:69] Then we will pick out from each group the most ardent opponent of the Most Gracious.

    [19:70] We know full well those who are most deserving of burning therein. “

    I thought something was wrong when it appeared that the verses appeared to be copypasta’d from an online version and I found it here
    http://www.submission.org/suras/sura19.htm

    This translation was done by a Dr Rashad Khalifa, who claims to have found a numerical miracle in the Qur’an with the number 19. Rashad Khalifa also claimed to be a Messenger of Allah, a title normally exclusively reserved to those people that Islam says were actually Allah’s chosen Prophets. Furthermore, the translation is called “Authorized English translation of the Quran”. There is no “authorized version” and most Muslims are aware of this. there are good translations -such as Yusuf Ali or Pickthall – and bad ones, but no “authorized version” since there is no body that can “authorize” one. A non-Muslim might be impressed with the title claiming to be authorized, but not a Muslim. A Muslim knows better, or they should know better.

  • in the video title “You almost made a Muslim swear, but Allah forgives you.” points-out a serious breach of Islamic practise. While a Christian might tell some one that God forgives them or God has forgiven them, a Muslim would never say such a thing. Muslims believe that Allah forgives who He will and no person, besides the Prophets, can claim to speak for Him. To tell some one that Allah forgives them is blasphemy, when no person really knows if Allah forgives some one or not,
  • in his channel comments section, ArmofAllah makes this statement in reply to another comment where it removes all doubt from my mind

“Because Allah spoke to me and told me my path is true.

Peace “

    Christians claim that God spoke to them all the time. A Muslim cannot make any such claim and still be a Muslim. To claim that Allah spoke to him, ArmofAllah is claiming to be a Prophet and Muslims believe that Muhummad was the last of all prophets sent to humanity. Therefore, ArmofAllah is claiming to be the equal of Muhummad, Jesus, Moses and all other Prophets that Islam says that Allah sent to humanity.In Islam, ArmofAllah would be considered a heretic, deserving of death for such claims.

So, there it is, my case against YT user ArmofAllah.

I left out the fact that the very name of the channel “Arm of Allah” might be considered presumptuous by Muslims. It might be acceptable for a Muslim to claim to be the “sword of Allah” (sayfullah) or something similar. It might be considered quite blasphemous to actually be considered an actual part or appendage of Allah, such as calling yourself the Eye of Allah. Muslims just don’t do that sort of thing.

As pointed-out by YT user Vogter2100, ArmofAllah also has video channels where he uses the name PalmsofAllah. Which shows how decidedly unIslamic the channel is and how little the channel owner really knows about Islam.

Muslims have a bad reputation, on YouTube and in the media. I think that sockpuppet accounts like ArmofAllah just make the situation worse than it already is and I would hope that real Muslims would stand-up to people like this.

People like VenomFangX and ArmofAllah (who I truely believe is YT user Brett Keane) seem to like using Muslims to take the heat for them when they screw-up or as a way to divert attention away from themselves. Using Muslims as a whipping-boy, rather than standing-up for yourself, is cowardly in the extreme.

Update for 3 June 2009: the YouTube channels of ArmofAllah and PalmsofAllah. have been closed. Since the channels were not suspended, it appears that ArmofAlllah/PalmsofAllah closed the channels himself.

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Scientology: Nearly 18 Months Into Project Chanology

26 May 2009

I remember when Project Chanology got started on YouTube in January 2008. An online group of hackers decided to have some fun at the expense of the Church of Scientology. In the beginning, it consisted of DDOS attacks against their assorted websites, prank phone calls, prank faxes and other things.

At first, I thought that these kids were in way over their heads. After all, the Church of Scientology had made a science out of destroying their enemies and had most of the media cowed. You couldn’t say a negative word about the Church in any form of media without receiving what the Church used to refer to as “Fair Game“, which included harassment, legal threats, lawsuits, picketing your home or place of business, etc. Peoples’ lives and careers have been ruined after they decided to take-on the Church of Scientology and the Church seemed very smug with itself.

I believed that a couple of things would happen:

  1. the Church would find and Fair Game a bunch of these kids, which would result in their lives being ruined and the whole group getting scared-off; and/or
  2. the group, called “Anonymous” would get bored, declare victory and stop.

At first, the Church tried to Fair Game their way out of it by claiming persecution and making unfounded accusations of terrorism and threats. Most of the media is well-aware of Scientology’s history of bullying tactics and few tears were shed for them, if any. A few of Anonymous were located and some faced legal action for their actions or the actions they were accused of by the Church. Some, in fact, did get scared-off. But, the majority stayed with it and more joined their ranks as Anonymous dropped the DDOS and other illegal actions in favor of street protesting. Fair Game worked, but not as well as the Church had hoped. For the most part, they seem to have abandoned Fair Game, as it only made them look worse than they already did.

In fact, Anonymous won the Public Relations war early on, as few people felt sympathy for Scientology, especially when they learned of the history of Fair Game, as well as other abuses committed either by the Church or its members. While people were quick to condemn DDOSing, they developed a respect for the sheer gutsiness of Anonymous for taking-on such a powerful corporation. Every action taken by the Church against Anonymous was quickly publicized on the Internet and public sympathy for the Church seemed to be nonexistant.

In fact, the media seemed to find its testicles and media personalities in broadcast media and print began to badmouth the Church, either criticizing it or simply making fun of it. It was as if the media had awakened to find itself suddenly aware of the sheer nuttiness of Scientology and how abusive much of its behavior had been in the past. Even counter-move the Church took against Anonymous only seemed to make their situation worse, while people cheered Anonymous as they picketed outside of Scientology establishments.

Another series of events began to take place. People who had either left the Church in the past or had been victimized in some way began to organize themselves via the Internet. Prior to Anonymous, this did not occur with much frequency. However, after Project Chanology got started, it began slowly and picked-up speed. Famous people like Jason Beghe left the Church and made public statements, past critics of the Church – called “The Old Guard” by Anonymous – became more visible and there was nothing the Church could do to stop them, aside from attempting to silence them. However, the Church learned that any action they took would quickly be reported on the Internet, as was the case in the recent arrest of Mark Bunker, whose charges were dropped and the judge publicly stated that no arrest should have taken place to begin with.

As I predicted in February 2008, many of Anonymous who started in Project Chanology dropped-out due to sheer boredom. The first few pickets drew hundreds, even thousands, of people around the world. But, when pickets became regular monthly events, they got bored with it and left. However, there is a hardcore membership that has stayed with it until the present day, even though many of the original hackers deride them as having polluted Chanology and turned it into a shadow of its former self. I do have to admit that I really enjoyed the protests that took place in June 2008 Operation Sea Arrrgh, where Anonymous dressed-up in pirate costumes. For the first few protests, Anonymous developed themes for each protest and the Sea Arrrgh motife was pirates, as a dig against the Freewinds, which is the Church’s flagship.

So, who won?

Well, Anonymous stated in their original video on YouTube that their intent was to drive the Church off the Internet. That failed. They also stated that they would destroy the Church in its current form. That failed, too.

However, comparing media coverage of Scientology post-Chanology, as opposed to pre-Chanology, the fear of the Church of Scientology had evaporated, for the most part. When Steven Colbert can publicly mock Scientology and suffer no retaliation from the Church of any kind, you know that things are different now. Decades of building fear have been undone by a bunch of kids wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Now, that’s pretty sad, when you think about it.

According to what I have heard, people have left the Church post-Chanology, now being aware of a support structure awaiting them when they leave High-ranking members have defected and more people are now aware of the history of the Church and its abusive practises. While the Church still has its celebrity members, it has taken a severe blow from which it is unlikely to recover anytime soon.

People have asked me if there was anything the Church could have done to prevent the negative effects of Chanology and Anonymous. To that, I say: Yes, there was.

What the Church could have done to prevent Chanology’s damage was the one thing they never though about doing. They could have done nothing.

Yeah, they could have done nothing. Their whole history consists of striking back at their critics. Hit hard, hit fast and keep hitting them until you destroy them completely. That worked in the past, so they tried it with Chanology. However, it didn’t work this time and only made their situation worse.

Instead of having security guards follow protesters with cameras, they could have ignored them.

Instead of hiring private detectives to track these people to their homes, they could have done nothing.

Instead of releasing Anonymous members personal information onto the Internet, they could have done nothing.

Instead of having Church members harass and attempt to intimidate Anonymous in the streets, they could have done nothing.

Every action the Church took against Anonymous only resulted in negative publicity for themselves and created more public support for Anonymous. While the Church claimed “persecution”, the public openly expressed support for the supposed “persecutors” and little for the Church. Nothing the Church did resulted in anything positive for themselves, aside from scaring a few kids with Cease & Desist orders or threatening lawsuits. A few scared teenagers doesn’t make a victory.

If they had simply ignored Anonymous from the beginning, they would not have been seen as bullies themselves. Instead of shuttering their establishments, they should have kept them open. Pictures of Scientology security officers phoyographing or videotaping Anonymous simply made the Church look creepy. While this may have worked in the past against the “Old Guard”, it was a foolish move against Chanology.

Even if I could build a time machine and travel back to January 2008 to show the Church what the end result of their actions would be, it wouldn’t change their minds. That’s because the way they reacted to Anonymous is the only way they know how to react to criticism. They cannot be any other way because they don’t know how, as compared to Anonymous who showed great adaptability in the face of changing circumstances.

As with biological evolution, the life form that can adapt to a chaning environment is more likely to survive that the one which cannot adapt. Anonymous evolved while Scientology did not.

Now, the Church of Scientology faces a French court and the future of the Church in France hangs in the balance. Other nations regard them as a cult and the Church is not recognized as a religion in some countries.

Decades of creating a public face, reinforced by celebrity members and having a private force of detectives and lawyers to silence opposition could not defeat a group of kids and it will not halt the rising opposition to the Church in Europe and the growing opposition to the Church in the USA, where it is seen as a cult of loonies by many Americans. On top of all this, previously unpublicized Church of Scientology documents have been released on to the Internet, via Wikileaks. These documents include Church courses for which Church members who wish to take these course are allegedly charged thousands of dollars before they are allowed to have these materials. Now, anyone can read them, for free, in the privacy of their homes and there is nothing the Church can do about it, aside from threatening Wikileaks with lawsuits of which Wikileaks has little fear.

While Project Chanology is still on-going, I will venture my opinion on who has come out on top:

  • Anonymous: mostly win
  • Scientology: epic fail.

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Thoughts on the Movie “Greasy Rider”

24 May 2009

I watched a movie on Hulu, called “Greasy Rider”, which chronicles the story of some people who designed a process where an ordinary car can be converted to run on vegetable oil, instead of gasoline or deisel. Actually, there are several such people mentioned, but the car in the movie was driven by people from GreaseCar.com.

During the film, people who have designed similar cars are also shown, along with celebrity interviews – Morgan Freeman, Yoko Ono,  Noam Chomsky, etc – where people gave their thoughts on American dependence on foreign oil and how it affects our domestic life, foreign policy, health and the environment.

Unlike most alternative fuel researchers, there is no national body of people who collaborate on how to convert more cars to run on vegetable oil. When I mention vegetable oil, I don’t mean growing vegetables for the express purpose of turning them into fuel oil. I’m talking about using vegetable oil that had been previously used by restaurants and then discarded. So, they are using a fuel source that no one would miss if it were gone. In fact, they were able to drive their car across the USA without having to pay any money for the fuel they were using. Companies, like McDonalds, Wendy’s, the mom-and-pop eateries around the country, and all other burger chains and restaurants across the US pay other companies to come and take their used vegetable oil away and discard it. Sometimes the oil is used to make other products, but often it is dumped in landfills. The simple beauty of using the vegetable oil is that we discard millions of gallons of the stuff everyday in the United States, when it turns-out that we could be running our cars on it. In fact, the first deisel engine used peanut oil as a fuel source.

Of course, for the same reason the Big Oil companies bought-up the electric rail system in Los Angeles and have ignored the very idea of an electric car is that the big profits for now come from the petroleum industry and there is no profit for them at the moment in having the American driver burn used vegetable oil instead of gasoline. Let’s face it, if you had a car like that, you could fill-up your tank everyday without even having to pay for the fuel you were using. Most restaurant owners and managers would be glad to not have to pay a company to come and take the stuff away when they could give it away. All you’d have to bring with you in a pump to syphon the oil out of their storage tank and a filter to remove the particles that are in the oil after use. One guy in the movie used an ordinary sock, for G-d’s sake. Naturally, there is a small conversion kit that you’d have to install in some of these designs, which isn’t very expensivve and you’ll be saving loads of money by not having to pay for gas.

I saw the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” which spoke about how General Motors designed the fully-electric EV1, which gave good performance and the technology already exists to prolong battery life. It was only GM’s reluctance to introduce such a car onto the American market, due to low profitability for the petroleum industry, which doomed the EV1 to ultimate failure. It was a good car, as good as any on the market today, but right now the big money is in Oil and the industry doesn’t want to give-up just yet.

As was pointed-out in the film by one of the interviewees, as long as the veggie oil cars don’t pose too much of a threat to Big Oil, they”ll be tolerated, even laughed-at, by the Big Car and Big Oil industries. But, if they are perceived as posing a significant threat to their bank balances, they’ll get stomped-on like insects under the Big Boot of the Oil and Automotive industries.

This is what pisses me off to no end: we have the technology and resources to end our dependence, not only on foreign oil, but on oil entirely. Yet, because a small group of people and corporations depend upon our addiction to petroleum, such technology will be kept under wraps and also covertly suppressed.

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Christians to the World: “The Rules Apply to You, Not Us!”

7 January 2009

There’s some idiot out there who goes by the name of Shockawenow. He had a YouTube account awhile ago, until it got deleted by YT admins.

Here’s why:

Anyway, the general theory – actually, it’s not a theory, it’s YouTube’s Terms of Frakking Service – is that, if you have an account and YouTube cancels it, then you may not have a second one. It’s One Strike and you’re out.

But, Shockawenow decided that the Rules just don’t apply to him, you see? So, the little bastard opened a second account, which also got deleted.

Needless to say, if you get #1 deleted by YouTube and you open #2 and that gets deleted, you shouldn’t be allowed to go for #3 or even #4. Right?

Wrong, my cuddly readermonkeys. Old Shockawenow opened a third and fourth account! Now, every account from #2 on was opened in full and knowing violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service. But, Shock doesn’t think that he has to obey the Laws of Men, since he is a Warrior for Christ and can do whatever he frakking wants.

See, he blames a secret cabal of wiccans, pagans and radical homosexuals for his accounts getting deleted. Now, this might make him feel better, but YouTube isn’t going to delete an account just because some girl who prays to the Mother Goddess is upset over a channel. No, while Wiccans can believe whateverthefrakk they want, they ain’t got a whole lotta pull on YouTube or anywhere else.

Oh, great. Now I’ve made the Great Horned God mad at me, but I think I’ll be okay. At least until my genitals shrivel-up and my face breaks-out in severe acne again. All those years going  through puberty and I’ll be right back where I started. Oh, boothefrakkhoo. I am so (not) scared.

But, you can believe anything you want and if a video looks like it violates YouTube’s TOS, then feel free to report it. Pagans, Wiccans and whoever else has that right, as would any YT user have the right to contest a pulldown of their video from their channel.

But, what makes me so pig-biting mad is that you have a number of YouTubers, mostly Christians, who think that Rules are for everyone else but them. If somebody with an opposing view steps out of line, they’d report them. But, when they step out of line, it’s supposed to be okay, because they’re doing it for Jesus.

Honestly, if Shock’s two new channels get shutdown, I doubt if he’d learn his lesson and move on. I think he’ll go for #5 and blame the four previous shutdown on Pagans, Wiccans, gays, atheists, the new world order or something like that.

In light of such occurances, as well as previous examples given in previous blogs here, of Christian and creationist misbehavior, I am left wondering how they expect the rest of us nonbeliever to take them or their message seriously.

Some (but, not all or even most) Christians need to grow the frakk up!

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The Church of Scientology vs Books

4 January 2009

“Well, in all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yeah! I’m for debating anything. Rhode Island says yea!”

Stephen Hopkins, as portrayed by Roy Poole, in the motion picture 1776

In my whole life, I’ve never read or even heard about a book so that was so dangerous that it shouldn’t be read, not only read by myself, but read by anyone.

Throughout history, there have been books published that the powers in-force at that time deemed that the book in-question should not be read by anyone, ever, and that all copies of the book should be destroyed. Occasionally, the authors themselves were often imprisoned or even put to death.

One of the most famous incidents of book banning was The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. His book was condemned by the Ayatollah Khomeinei of Iran and Rushdie himself was sentenced to death. The banning and death sentence did little harm to Rushdie’s career, as his book became a best seller in the West and Rushdie himself experienced a vitalized career in the Western nations and he became a cause celebre for years after the event. To this day, whenever he publishes a book or appears at an event, it makes the news.

When the book was banned, I actually went out, bought a copy,  took it home and read it. To be completely honest, I hated the book. I found its plot disjointed and the use of profanity and insults aimed at the main character to be so over the top, that I gave the book away to the first person I could find that wanted it. Hunter S. Thompson wouldn’t have written a book like that and he had little in the way of inhibitions about writing anything.

So, the banning of the book had the exact opposite effect that the Ayatollah had wanted. Instead of destroying his career and silencing him forever, one way or another, it turned Rushdie into a celebrity in the West.

Before we Westerners get too comfortable viewing ourselves as advocates for Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech, let’s remember that we have something of a history of banning books here too. The American Library Association maintains a list of books that have been frequently challenged and subjected to banning by local and state governments. Among the top challenged books, you’ll find the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; and Mark Twain’s Advetures of Huckleberry Finn. There are other books on the list, written by authors I do not recognize. But, they are on the list because they have been so frequently challenged as to make such occurances noticable at the national level. One book for which being challenged is not a surprise is Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman, as it is seen as advocating that homosexual couples can raise children just as well as heterosexuals and it has frequently been singled-out for condemnation by the Religious Right.

Some books are just plain awful, while others are written simply by authors who don’t know how to write without interjecting a lot of sex or profanity. But, whatever the nature of the book, banning it simply draws more attention to it and makes people want it more, regardless of whether the book is good or bad.

But, it is not only governments that can try to ban books. Churches and corporations can try the same thing, usually by filing lawsuits against the author, publisher or retailers who offer the book for sale. One example of this is the Church of Scientology.

The Scandal of Scientology by Paulette Cooper
was one of their most famous attempts to silence a book critical of their organization. The book earned Ms Cooper the attention and wrath of members of the church. The book earned Cooper negative attention from members of the Church, and she was subsequently the target not only of litigation but a harassment campaign known as Operation Freakout, the goal of which was to deter Cooper from criticism of Scientology by having her incarcerated in a mental institution, imprisoned or silence her completely. Members of the church sent itself forged bomb threats, purportedly from Cooper, using her typewriter and paper with her fingerprints on it; further plans included bomb threats to be sent to Henry Kissinger. The Church’s campaign was discovered when the FBI raided Scientology offices in 1977, as part of the investigation into the Church’s attempts to illegally infiltrate the United States government in what was called “Operation Snow White“, and recovered documents relating to the operation. Libraries in Canada were even sued for stocking the book on the shelves.

Ms Cooper wrote about her experiences with the Church of Scientology’s attacks on her and you can read her account online. Even though the book itself is no longer being sold online, you can sometimes find a copy of it on eBay or you can read the book online at Operation Clambake.

Due to the ultimate failure of silencing Cooper, you might think that Scientologists wouldn’t repeat their mistake. After all, they made Cooper’s life a living hell, bu the book is still around and – with the on-going Project Chanology campaign launched by the group known only as “Anonymous” – it is being read now more than ever.

However, being bitten by the same dog twice doesn’t seem to phase them. A recently-released book “The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology” by John Duignan, with Nicola Tallant. Prior to the book’s publication Scientology spokesman Gerard Ryan told the newspaper Irish Mail on Sunday that the Church wouldn’t take any legal action against the book. However, claiming that the book libels a Scientology member, the Church sent a legal letter to Amazon’s offices in the United Kingdom, customers who had pre-ordered the book were informed that the book was unavailable “for legal reasons” and the book’s listing was removed from their website. Book retailers Waterstone’s and W H Smith were also sent the legal letters.

However, here in the USA, the only apparent delay in Amazon selling the book was simply waiting for the book shipment to arrive and it is currently available for sale.

The Church of Scientology has lots of money and they have used some of it to attempt to silence critics. Lawsuits, even when they have no legal merit, are a good way to shut some one up when you have more disposable income than they do. However, such acts do nothing to enhance the public image of any organization, the Church’s image gets hurt every time they do this and it gives fresh motivations to their critics to continue their campaigns.

The harder the Church of Scientology tries to suppress this book or any work critical of them, the harder their opponents will work to bring such materials into the public eye.

Remember during the Reformation, when the Catholic Church decided to attempt to silence Martin Luther, rather than to address the issues he had brought up in his 99 Theses, the harder Luther worked to expose the Catholic Church and Luther found willing allies to work to break the power of the Roman Church. Even longer before that, the Roman Empire put thousands of Christians to death, yet Christianity flourished and, eventually, took over the Empire.

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

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Creationist Censorship on YouTube

2 January 2009

Over the past year or so, the following creationist/intelligent design supporters have engaged in a campaign of censorship on YouTube through the filing of false DMCA claims against YouTube videos and accounts who published opinions with which they disagreed:

1) Creation Science Evangelism, the organization founded by Pastor Kent Hovind. Hovind is currently serving time in Federal prison for income tax evasion. By the way, when the Internal Revenue Servive raided the Hovind home, they found about $42,000 in cash stashed, in addition to  a half dozen guns. On the day the IRS searched the Hovind home, Kent withdrew $70,000 from the Creation Science Evangelism account. Half in a check, and half in cash.  

2) Illustra Media, which produces creationist videos. They are the producers of the video “Unlocking the Mystery of Life“, which aired on the Public Broadcasting System in 2003. The executive producer of that video is James W. Adams, president of Discovery Media, and it was produced and directed by Lad Allen and Timothy Eaton. The script was written by Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and W. Peter Allen.
Illustra Media is directly linked with Discovery Media – which in turn is the successor to the Moody Institute of Science – being that Discovery Media Productions is the registrant of Illustra Media’s website.

3) Answers In Genesis, founded by Ken Ham, which also produces videos on creationism, as well as books and serves as one of the leading creationist organizations in the USA. Pastor Ham had a bit of trouble some years ago, when he was excommunicated from his church after making false accusations of withcraft and necrophilia against a fellow member of the ministry. AiG is the owner of the Creation Science Museum, which features animatronic dinosaurs standing alongside humans, which any credible scientist will inform you is impossible, as dinosaurs died-out millions of years before the earliest humans walked on Earth. If you can show me a dinosaur bone which had been engraved with designs or shaped into a tool by human hands, as bones of mammals had been during the Stone Age, then we can discuss the issue further. Unless you can show me such an item, the debate is closed.

As mentioned in the newspaper, The Australian, in May 2007 Creation Ministries International (CMI) filed a lawsuit against Ham and AiG in the Supreme Court of Queensland seeking damages and accusing him of deceptive conduct in his dealings with the Australian organisation. Members of the ministry were “concern[ed] over Mr Ham’s domination of the ministries, the amount of money being spent on his fellow executives and a shift away from delivering the creationist message to raising donations.”.

Seems like fraud and deception isn’t very uncommon in creationist circles.

4) Another creationist fraudster is YouTube user VenomFangX, who filed over 150 DMCA claims. His abuses continued until his campaign of censorship was brought to an ignonimous end by YouTube user Thunderf00t, as mentioned in a previous blog on this site. VenomFangX was forced to make a public apology, make a full admission of his wrongdoing and promise to never abuse the DMCA complaint system again. In exchange, he escaped criminal and civil charges being brought against him by Thunderf00t and was allowed to keep his YouTube account after Thunderf00t agreed not to report him to YouTube for violating their terms of service.

5) Another creationist group linked to DMCA abuse is a company known as Eternal Publications. Aside from creationism, this company offers resources for people who wish to convert Roman Catholics to Protestantism and links the Catholic Church to the Whore of Babylon mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelations.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was created to protect copyrighted material from being illegally copied and distributed without the consent of the original video’s owner. However, creationists have begun using the DMCA complaint reporting system on YouTube in order to silence those people who post videos criticizing and debunking the views of creationists  (a.k.a. intelligent design advocates) and this reign of censorship had been successful, due to the lack of legal knowledge in the general population.

However, as individual account-holders on YouTube began to fight back by filing counter-notices, the tide of videos being taken-down was halted in many cases.

As of January 1st 2009, the creationist individuals and organizations that have abused the DMCA now face an international coalition of YouTube users who have banded together to fight against false DMCA takedowns and, hopefully, reverse the tide.

As stated in my previous blog on this topic, it is the creationist side of this argument that has a history of abusing the DMCA by filing false claims. The pro-evolution/pro-science side has not engaged in any such behavior that I have seen or even heard of as of today. Creationists have accused their detractors of filing false claims, but have yet to show any proof whatsoever that said events actually occured. In other words: creationists lie by filing false DMCA claims and then lie again when they say that they have been victimized by false DMCA claims themselves.

This is just the latest in creationist antics on YouTube in their efforts to silence the opposition. In the past, bots were used to put “thumbs down” ratings on anti-creationist comments on creationist-debunking videos, in addition to attempts to alter the ratings of each video by giving each of them a One Star rating. Such efforts in the past were relatively harmless and seem not to have met with great success, as those efforts appear to have been discontinued and YouTube responded to complaints by users who had been the targets of these attacks. Furthermore, creationists have blocked comments to their own videos from their detractors, thereby having only supportive comments shown for their videos. They also disable the ratings system to prevent opponents from doing unto them as they have done unto others.

However, the filing of false DMCA claims had a much better rate of success, due to the fact that most people don’t know enough about the law to fight a false claim and may not have the financial resources to hire or consult an attorney. Corporations like Creation Science Evangelism, Eternal Publications, Answers in Genesis and Illustra Media doubtlessly all have attorneys on retainer and can utilize their expertise. VenomFangX, I feel, was simply following their lead, as I doubt he has a lawyer on-staff or the money to hire one. He probably saw the success of the companies misusing the DMCA and simply piled-on.

As of today, that has changed and the collective knowledge and activism of YouTube users, joined as one to fight for Free Speech, will turn the tide of censorship and work to restore Freedom of Speech on YouTube. The YouTube users who have joined together to fight the creationist censorship onslaught are:

  1. AndromedasWake
  2. AronRa
  3. cdk007
  4. djarm67
  5. DonExodus2
  6. dprjones
  7. ExtantDodo whose YouTube account has repeatedly been suspended by individuals and groups filing false DMCA claims.
  8. potholer54
  9. ThetaOmega
  10. Thunderf00t whose success in fighting a false claim was the most publicized of all, resulting in the exposure of the individual who filed the false claim.

Unlike their creationist opponents, each of these ten people have education in advanced sciences at accredited universities. Many creationist lecturers have little or no scientific background, with the exception of Ken Ham, who He has a bachelor’s degree in applied science, with an emphasis on environmental biology. from the Queensland Institute of Technology. The vast majority of creationist lecturers either have no scientific background of any kind or have degrees from non-accredited universities, which is basically the same things as having no science education anyway.

What makes this whole thing so frakking intolerable is that creationists, most of whom are Christian but there are some who are Jewish or Muslim, presume to lecture the rest of us about how we need to convert to their religion in order to live a moral and upright life. However, they will use fraud and deceit to accomplish their goals. Rather than live in a world where opposing viewpoints can coexist and each opinion can be freely heard and judged on its own merits by an informed audience, creationists want only  their opinions in the public eye and will work feverishly to silence those who disagree with them. What makes their abuse of the DMCA so appealing is that if they have an entire account removed, there is no one to expose exactly who filed the DMCA claim in the first place, as few YouTube users possess the email address of their favorite channel-holders. Until this morning, there was no united front to oppose the creationist censorshop machine. Now, that the tide is beginning to turn, creationists could find themselves fighting perjury charges in civil and/or criminal courts around the USA and in other countries.

While preaching the values of morality, decency and virtue, creationist organizations and individuals have conducted a campaign of harassment, intimidation, perjury and libel against those with whom they disagree. They have attempted to create a climate of fear where people would be afraid to speak-out against them, for fear of having the YouTube account closed – wasting all the time and energy they put into creating their videos – as well as the real possibility of becoming a target of harassment in the event that their personal information could be discovered and disseminate among creationism supporters.

Given that such behavior patterns were followed by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes both past and present, it doesn’t put the Creationist movement in very good company. But, it seems to be the most appropriate company they could be in.

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