This weekend coffee has plenty of animals

Are you like me, in that your browser is set to avoid tracking cookies and the like from following you around the Internet?
Then you — like me — will dismayed to learn that you can still be tracked despite your best effort.
Here at the Big Bad Blog, we have read several articles like this one, in which the author has given up soap and shampoo.
We might imagine trying such a thing, but are fairly certain that it does not mix well with fencing.
Here’s something amusing — ten commandments from the New Testament. They are amusing, because the crazed right-wing zealots who ask themselves “What Would Jesus Do?” never come up with these answers. They should.
Atheists are, apparently, considered unfit to serve in the US Military.
This wins the Big Bad Blog contest for best blog post of the week.
I’m always amused by news regarding the failure of TSA screenings. This is no exception.
Apparently a new measure of beer is about to invade British pubs: the schooner.
Reuters suggests that the schooner may end up bringing an end to the pint. While we here at the Big Bad Blog may find the word “schooner” too appetizing to not order one, we think this prediction may be a bit bold.
The New Yorker has termed investment bankers to be socially worthless.

The morning coffee and the doppelganger

Imagine there is somebody who lives near your home who looks like you. Imagine they have the same name. The same job. A wife who closely resembles your own.

This actually happened to a pair of Graham Comries in Scotland.

(Yoda, by Daniel Polevoy)

Today’s discovery of the day is Atheists Never. Every time you refresh the site, it gives you something horrifying and/or stupid done in the name of religion, along with a link to the evidence that religious people performed such an act.

You might have already seen this — we appear to be about a month behind the times, here at the Morning Coffee — but here, Neil Armstrong explains why the first walk on the moon was so boring.

Papal protestations

So I had this great post ready to go tonight. All ready to go. On how all this Protest the Pope nonsense is … well … nonsense.

And then, earlier today, the Pope pre-empted me, saying that “aggressive neo-atheism” and secularism must be resisted:

We can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews.

“I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives.

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society.

And I am offended. And flabbergasted.

I have thrown out those thousand words, saying that this man and his visit should not really be protested, that either the real reasons for the protest are disingenuous or the entire thing is pointless. That I cannot see why anybody would care about what this man does or says. That it is best to ignore lunatics, not engage them.

While those last two sentences still ring true, I cannot help but hope now that the protesters outnumber his supporters. Still … I had some good material, and it should not all go to waste.

Why this was a bad protest

The fact remains that the whole idea of protesting the Pope is a bit silly. The reasons for it are outlined in this letter to The Guardian, signed by a mix of infamous atheists (Dawkins et al) and minor celebrities. In short, it reads like a list of policies and positions the Catholic church has long taken that they do not like.

Resisting the signing of treaties on human rights. Opposing equal rights for gays. Discouraging the use of birth control.

The usual list of things that people dislike about the Catholic church.

On that basis, they argue, the UK should not allow this man into the country on a state visit.

But … take a good look at that list. Is that any worse than the positions that might be taken by a potential Republican nominee for US President in 2012? Any worse than the current President, or the previous one?

Is Pope Benedict [insert a combination of Xs, Vs and Is here] really worse than Putin? The last couple of South African Prime Ministers? The man who was nearly elected as Prime Minister in Australia recently?

I would tend towards “no” on each count. Which means that the level and source of opposition boils down to two things:

1. He is the head of a religion, as well as the head of state for the Holy See.
2. Followers of his religion are numerous, and excited about his visit.

Neither of these warrant protestation. Protesting will not make him recant his religion. As his politics are inspired from his religion (and not vice versa), protesting will not make him change his politics.

Instead, protests focus the cameras more firmly on the man. Protests make what he says seem more important, rather than less so. Protests help to give him a stage.

Why I might be wrong

The Pope is, apparently, not very politically astute. And very sensitive.

His comments today — to compare atheists and secularists to Nazis, and term the actions of Nazi Germany “the atheist extremism of the twentieth century” are blatantly false.

The Pope who, it should be noted, is a former Hitler Youth member.

The Pope who, it should be noted, has supported a holocaust denier.

The Pope who, it should be noted, is the head of an organisation which launched the Crusades, is responsible for the Inquisition, held Galileo under house arrest for correctly describing the movement of celestial bodies, covered up child molestation by its priests, and which feels that ordaining women is a sin akin to molesting a child.

The Pope who, it should be noted, is speaking in Britain. The British are relatively sensitive about being called Nazis. And have some pretty crazy libel laws.

It is hard to see what the Pope gains by making this comparison — it merely makes him sound ridiculous. And that he was pushed to it by the fact that protests were being organised speaks to a huge lack of composure.

Maybe the protest have a chance for success after all, which I did not see before.

In any case, as an atheist who — when he left for work this morning — really could not have cared less what the Pope was doing this weekend and thought the protests were a bit dumb, I am now (due to the man’s actions) tempted to go join the throngs in protest on Saturday.

Because being called names without merit or evidence angers me. Having a head of state stand up and denounce my kind on a public broadcast and tell the country that they need to be on guard against me is not merely inflammatory — it is threatening.

And I stand up when people are threatened.

Rather unlike the Catholic church during World War II.

The morning coffee vs the killer robots

Far and away the best headline of the day: Call for debate on killer robots. I hope they hold said debate, and invite the governor of California as a subject matter expert.

(by Frank Chimero)

And now it’s debunking time!

We begin with the Economist taking on the myth of the fundamentalist atheist.

There are still those out there who insist that Obama was born in Kenya, and his presidency is illegal. They are now clinging to a purported Kenyan birth certificate that has surfaced. The birth certificate, as it turns out, appears to be a really, really bad forgery.