Friday, October 25, 2013

Russel Brand

Russell Brand tells Jeremy Paxman how it really is!




Saturday, November 05, 2011

Sand storm 1983

Many people talk about the day the Mallee came to Melbourne. Everyone I know has a story about where they were when it hit. What they were doing. What the sand storm meant for them.

I am always able to stump everyone, when asked about where I was. And I see their quiet disbelieving look, cos sometimes I don't believe it myself. This was the week before the Ash Wednesday bush fires in 1983.

But I was 3,000 feet up in the air in the Channel Seven news chopper, a Bell something, (I'm not a pilot) when we ran into the big brown thumping wave of sand. It threw us around quite a bit. Over the years I have struggled with memories but I will never forget the look on the chopper pilot's face. I definitely know at at one stage, I was looking up at the ground.

As we lifted off the pad at Port Melbourne that morning, we'd heard reports of a cool change, and nothing more. I wasn't until we were over the Dandenong Ranges (about 40kms east), that the newsroom chimed in on the radio over everyone's headsets, alerting us to the approaching 'spectacle'.

The newsroom COS kept telling us to 'go to ground', and don't try to ride it. "land where ever you can!" We continued down east to get the story we started out to do. I don't think it had sunk in.

We had been filming at the bush fires down outside Moe earlier that day. That was a separate experience even of itself. We'd dropped out of the sky to a blackened farm land. A couple of stunned farmers surveyed the wreckage after the fires had been at their stock. Crowds of sheep piled up against a fence, mostly dead, some still burning. Farmers shooting those in pain. I was so glad to lift off again.

Back in flight, I think the pilot decided to heed the warning and land instead of getting above the sand cloud. In retrospect, I think it was a good decision. When we hit the edge of the dirty air, the chopper was turned over. We ended up pretty close to the ground and I think we hit the footy ground hard. We ened up ore a crash-landing than a crash. The extra little drama was the young female journo ran from the still-whizzing chopper, but towards the tail rotor, a definite wrong move. It took some very loud yells to get her back.

This was a year to the day we lost cameraman Blake Hobart, cadet journalist Nicole Best, Paul the assistant, the pilot (whose name escapes me) and another in the chopper crash in 1982. I'd been Blake's assistant for a few months in a freelance contract, but had gone to do a day on "Together Tonight" for the Ten Network for the day and another guy, also named Paul, was his assistant. No-one survived.

The inquest hadn't found the real reason for that crash, but I dont even think there was any follow up on the hard landing I was in.

My point in posting this is that I felt it was all fate. God had no hand in any of it. He couldn't have. He doesn't exist.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ricky Gervais being serious

This is an article Gervais wrote for the Wall Street Journal. I simply love it because when an intelligent comedian is serious, they makes total sense. I couldn't put it better myself. Read on.

"Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

Arrogance is another accusation. Which seems particularly unfair. Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence -­- evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray. Whatever you “believe,” this is not as effective as medicine. Again you can say, “It works for me,” but so do placebos. My point being, I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.

Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”

This, is of course a spirituality issue, religion is a different matter. As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a god. I don’t think there is a god, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, then that’s fine with me. It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights when it worries me. I would never deny your right to believe in a god. I would just rather you didn’t kill people who believe in a different god, say. Or stone someone to death because your rulebook says their sexuality is immoral. It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are. From what I can gather, pretty much the worst type of person you can be is an atheist. The first four commandments hammer this point home. There is a god, I’m him, no one else is, you’re not as good and don’t forget it. (Don’t murder anyone, doesn’t get a mention till number 6.)

When confronted with anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, “It’s the way God made me.”

But what are atheists really being accused of?

The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.

I used to believe in God. The Christian one that is.

I loved Jesus. He was my hero. More than pop stars. More than footballers. More than God. God was by definition omnipotent and perfect. Jesus was a man. He had to work at it. He had temptation but defeated sin. He had integrity and courage. But He was my hero because He was kind. And He was kind to everyone. He didn’t bow to peer pressure or tyranny or cruelty. He didn’t care who you were. He loved you. What a guy. I wanted to be just like Him.

One day when I was about 8 years old, I was drawing the crucifixion as part of my Bible studies homework. I loved art too. And nature. I loved how God made all the animals. They were also perfect. Unconditionally beautiful. It was an amazing world.

I lived in a very poor, working-class estate in an urban sprawl called Reading, about 40 miles west of London. My father was a laborer and my mother was a housewife. I was never ashamed of poverty. It was almost noble. Also, everyone I knew was in the same situation, and I had everything I needed. School was free. My clothes were cheap and always clean and ironed. And mum was always cooking. She was cooking the day I was drawing on the cross.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when my brother came home. He was 11 years older than me, so he would have been 19. He was as smart as anyone I knew, but he was too cheeky. He would answer back and get into trouble. I was a good boy. I went to church and believed in God -– what a relief for a working-class mother. You see, growing up where I did, mums didn’t hope as high as their kids growing up to be doctors; they just hoped their kids didn’t go to jail. So bring them up believing in God and they’ll be good and law abiding. It’s a perfect system. Well, nearly. 75 percent of Americans are God-­‐fearing Christians; 75 percent of prisoners are God-­‐fearing Christians. 10 percent of Americans are atheists; 0.2 percent of prisoners are atheists.

But anyway, there I was happily drawing my hero when my big brother Bob asked, “Why do you believe in God?” Just a simple question. But my mum panicked. “Bob,” she said in a tone that I knew meant, “Shut up.” Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God and my faith was strong it didn’t matter what people said.

Oh…hang on. There is no God. He knows it, and she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that. I started thinking about it and asking more questions, and within an hour, I was an atheist.

Wow. No God. If mum had lied to me about God, had she also lied to me about Santa? Yes, of course, but who cares? The gifts kept coming. And so did the gifts of my new found atheism. The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world. I learned of evolution -– a theory so simple that only England’s greatest genius could have come up with it. Evolution of plants, animals and us –- with imagination, free will, love, humor. I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living.

But living an honest life -– for that you need the truth. That’s the other thing I learned that day, that the truth, however shocking or uncomfortable, in the end leads to liberation and dignity.

So what does the question “Why don’t you believe in God?” really mean. I think when someone asks that they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking “what makes you so special? “How come you weren’t brainwashed with the rest of us?” “How dare you say I’m a fool and I’m not going to heaven, f— you!” Let’s be honest, if one person believed in God he would be considered pretty strange. But because it’s a very popular view it’s accepted. And why is it such a popular view? That’s obvious. It’s an attractive proposition. Believe in me and live forever. Again if it was just a case of spirituality this would be fine.

“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway." - Ricky Gervais.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sam Harris,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Atheist convention

Yes I would have love to have gone to the Convention. But I had to work and bring in the wage and keep at least my half of the money coming in. So no Atheist Convention for me. By all accounts, it was a lot of very interesting people banging on about all the interesting stuff I love to bang on about. But there's one thing missing. There's no-one to disagree with.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Take your pick, but be careful

The religious learn about one god and believe it all. A fair percentage admonish those who believe in any other deity. Let's find another way.

Take your pick:
Agdistis or Angdistis
Ah Puch
Ahura Mazda
Alberich
Allah
Amaterasu
An
Anansi
Anat
Andvari
Anshar
Anu
Aphrodite
Apollo
Apsu
Ares
Artemis
Asclepius
Athena
Athirat
Athtart
Atlas
Baal
Ba Xian
Bacchus
Balder
Bast
Bellona
Bergelmir
Bes
Bixia Yuanjin
Bragi
Brahma
Brigit
Camaxtli
Ceres
Ceridwen
Cernunnos
Chac
Chalchiuhtlicue
Charun
Chemosh
Cheng-huang
Cybele
Dagon
Damkina (Dumkina)
Davlin
Dawn
Demeter
Diana
Di Cang
Dionysus
Ea
El
Enki
Enlil
Eos
Epona
Ereskigal
Farbauti
Fenrir
Forseti
Freya
Freyr
Frigg
Gaia
Ganesha
Ganga
Garuda
Gauri
Geb
Geong Si
Hades
Hanuman
Hathor
Hecate (Hekate)
Helios
Heng-o (Chang-o)
Hephaestus
Hera
Hermes
Hestia
Hod
Hoderi
Hoori
Horus
Hotei
Huitzilopochtli
Hsi-Wang-Mu
Hygeia
Inanna
Inti
Iris
Ishtar
Isis
Ixtab
Izanaki
Izanami
Jesus
Juno
Jupiter
Juturna
Kagutsuchi
Kartikeya
Khepri
Ki
Kingu
Kinich Ahau
Kishar
Krishna
Kukulcan
Lakshmi
Liza
Loki
Lugh
Luna
Magna Mater
Maia
Marduk
Mars
Medb
Mercury
Mimir
Minerva
Mithras
Morrigan
Mot
Mummu
Muses
Nammu
Nanna
Nanna (Norse)
Nanse
Neith
Nemesis
Nephthys
Neptune
Nergal
Ninazu
Ninhurzag
Nintu
Ninurta
Njord
Nut
Odin
Ohkuninushi
Ohyamatsumi
Orgelmir
Osiris
Ostara
Pan
Parvati
Phaethon
Phoebe
Phoebus Apollo
Pilumnus
Poseidon
Quetzalcoatl
Rama
Re
Rhea
Sabazius
Sarasvati
Selene
Shiva
Seshat
Seti (Set)
Shamash
Shapsu
Shen Yi
Shiva
Shu
Si-Wang-Mu
Sin
Sirona
Sol
Surya
Susanoh
Tawaret
Tefnut
Tezcatlipoca
Thanatos
Thor
Tiamat
Tlaloc
Tonatiuh
Toyo-Uke-Bime
Tyche
Tyr
Utu
Uzume
Venus
Vesta
Vishnu
Volturnus
Vulcan
Xipe
Xi Wang-mu
Xochipilli
Xochiquetzal
Yam
Yarikh
Yhwh
Ymir
Yu-huang
Yum Kimil
Zeus

You don't have to believe in any particular one. It is also possible to see all of these gods as renditions of the same thing. But you try going into a group of one religion and saying that. Try telling them all these gods are a product of a gene found in the brain, not actually something they can talk to, or look up to.
I've done that. The bruises have almost healed.