20 November, 2010

A Chiangmai Loy Kratong 2010 update. It sounds like Baghdad outside tonight

While in Bali, I invented the Nucleatte Coffee. 
Goes off with a bang when you add  cinnamon.

A brief diary update: We've been back in Chiangmai for a whole 3 weeks now after the Bali trip. Just settling in again... but we're off to India next week. Hell, two months of dosa masala & lentils - methane alert!
Marie after a Nucleatte Coffee

The above pic, and the one below, were taken in the surrealistic shopping centre where we often do our daily geriatric walkercise tours:

Until recently there was a 25-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex head just near here.
We always expecting the White Rabbit to dart past. Or maybe a happy fish.

Now it's the festival of Loy Kratong (I suggest doing a Google Image Search using the search terms Loy Kratong Chiang Mai 2010). This year there are lots of new molded plastic statues, all internally-lit, dotted around the old walled city and its 700 year-old moat. No doubt the statues will do their part to encourage all the bad luck and evil spirits to float off down the river with the hundreds of traditional floating candle 'kratongs', or to flee into the sky with the hot-air yee-peng paper lanterns:

... and oh yes, of course, some internally-lit giant t-shirts for the God of Commerce...

  ...and a shop-counter shrine to encourage the spirits to make customers spend lots of money. Apparently, the spirits apparently enjoy consuming red things (like Cherry Cheer or strawberry jelly), red being the colour that Chinese-Thai tradition equates with Power and Strength:

One fruit-juice stall sported a sign:  WE LOVE JUICE BEAUTY 
Hmm... what is mean?

Meanwhile, down south, Bangkok is the ungrateful recipient of the north's secondhand floodwater. People in some parts of the city are having to get around on raised wooden footpaths - as in this Bangkok Post photo of the stairs at Saphan Thaksin SkyTrain Station:

  (I'm sure we can trust that the red shirt was an unfortunate coincidence)

Bangkok, built inadvisedly on a river delta floodplain, will surely have a short life and a merry one. At the same time as Climate Change is creeping water levels ever higher, the sheer physical weight of the city is causing it to sink by about a centimetre per year. It might also help to mention that a lot of Bangkok's groundwater is being pumped out - not too smart. Have a squint at our prophetic post on this very blog from some years ago. And psst, don't be tempted to buy real estate in Bangkok. 

We shall try to keep y'all updated on our progress around India. First, it's off to Kolkata, a flashy Indian military wedding in Delhi, then to the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland. Where's Nagaland, I hear you ask. OK, stay tuned to FunkyPix2 for news of the latest trends in head-hunting fashions.

21 October, 2010

The 2010 Ubud Writers Festival ...and into the wild blue Bali of Beyond

Marie relaxes after enjoying a special Balinese Mushroom Milkshake.
No, not at Kuta Beach, but at the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali.

 Sometimes I need to remind myself sternly that we do actually live here in Thailand. But only 3 weeks after our return from a month in Burma, we flapped off to Bali for the Ubud Writers Festival and some undeserved R&R. 

More of that shortly, but first a brief report on events back home here in Chiangmai:

Our pet vine (Srilankan Strangling Spinach) is aggressively colonising the balcony view, obviously enjoying the onset of the monsoon season.
In fact, Chiangmai's floods were unusually deep this year... damned lucky the camera was waterproof:

Marie models some of the latest fashions from the local Warrarot Flea Market:

And so to Bali. Here's the usual eye-massaging landscape of rice paddy terraces:

...and Marie demonstrates how to anticipate the arrival of a dish of Beef Rendang, a particularly apposite choice as this happened to be the district of Rendang. While waiting, she reached out with her marker pen and sketched in the outline of the volcano in the distance (Gunung Agung) as you might see it on a clear day. It killed 2,000 people in its last eruption in 1963, including the entire family of one of our taxi-drivers:

The Pura Besakih (Hindu) temple is to Bali what St Pauls is to London. It was a wet day but hey, what's a few drops of water?

Bali insisted on presenting an array exotic old cars. There's a bit of expatriate money floating around, methinks:

And so to Ubud, that den of Literary Iniquity nestling among the mountainous landscape of central Bali. Here's a local man taking a bath in one of the many streams, just as we were walking to the opening session:

Many more photos, together with comments about the festival, are available by clicking here.

09 August, 2010

Dear Diary: Dangers & Annoyances... Notes from our Burma/Myanmar Travel Chronicles, 2010

A typical banknote from Burma: limp, filthy, many patches, and needing more.
That basically sums up the Burma of today.

 Let's put it this way: traveling in Burma ain't for the faint-hearted. On our 5th trip (yes, we are crazy) we still made some wrong turns, dodgy decisions and hard yards. Tourist infrastructure just isn't set up for your imagined armchair ride. But now (after the event!) we consider it was all worthwhile, all weaving threads in the (violins, please) Great Tapestry of Life...

Let's get the picture postcard thing out of the way first...

 Buffalo taxi at Mingun, north of Mandalay.

 ...and head straight to one of the upper middle-class streets in a classy area of Rangoon (Yangon, in Junta-speak). This lovely old building, like most, is being allowed to decay under years of grime and grunge:

 And on the opposite end of the social scale is a shanty leaning against a tree on a public riverbank at Myitkyina, way up north in Kachin State:

But there were contrasts, too, of a different nature. In the ex-colonial British "hill station" town of Pyin U Lin, east of Mandalay, one could be forgiven for thinking that you'd suddenly been transported to rural Suffolk. This was pure John Constable, but twenty degrees warmer...

An ex-British mansion in the cool of Pyin U Lin. The Burmese Military has appropriated all of these for itself.

For a photo-diary of the trip, click here. It will open in a new window for your convenience, and take you through a nightmare river trip, a long limestone cave emerging into a fairytale valley, expose you to the delights of epicurean Nylon ice-cream, and lead you through the dark alleys of Rangoon's drug market (yes we have no electricity again)...

28 April, 2010

The "Hua Hin Solution" to Chiangmai's pollution... regardless of Takki Shinegra's Redshirts

Queen Neptune Strikes Back - we join Snorkaholics Anonymous. 
Honest, it's the best way to avoid getting soaked over Songkran.

Back home at Chiangmai it was dramatically evident what we had to do. ESCAPE. THE. SMOKE. POLLUTION.  Promptly signed a 2-month contract (March/April) on an apartment on the beach at Hua Hin (south of Bangkok), and began to breathe normally.

*There were the snorkelling/canoeing trips to the islands of Koh Talu and Koh Tao, jostling for elbow room with 3 trillion fish and wall-to-wall tourists.
*There was the ill-fated but not too-embarrassing attempt to learn Kite-Boarding (think: "flop").
*There were mysterious (but undoubtedly tasty) menu items like "Spicy Soured Cattle's Cleaning Cloth with Parch Rice" and other gems to tempt your jaded palate.
*There were pointy-hatted gnomes on the white sand beaches attempting to catch up to speeding tanned Vikings brandishing ski-poles.
*There was a Successful Pre-Emptive Retail Strike deep into the heartland of enemy Redshirt Territory in Bunker-kok [FX threatening music]...
...and the Glorious Adventures kept coming.

All this - and more - can be yours merely by clicking here
Go on, you know you want to:  it'll come up in a new window for your convenience ...and it's guaranteed 100% carb-free.

Jane Bond Does Huahin

10 March, 2010

BANK BAILOUT BINGO: "Socialize the losses, but quietly Privatize any gains".

When wealthy people and CEOs stuff up, they can expect cushy government (tax-funded) handouts. When poor people stuff up, it spells stress and poverty, plus offers lucrative new opportunities for lawyers, Real Estate tycoons, trauma and marriage counsellors. It appears that taxation revenue flows mainly uphill, towards the big end of town.

Now that the Big Bailout Bucks have topped up the coffers of the financial giants again, I note with cynical sideways glance that corporate fat-cats are (once again) slyly receiving their millions in bonuses and perks, just like before. This is symptomatic of the underlying purpose of Capitalism (a.k.a. Compassionate Conservatism's Poignant Concern for the Extremely Wealthy). Hey city hall, bail me out too! All I want is less to do, more time to do it, and higher pay for not getting it done. My point here is this - I'm not personally ready yet to dive back into the stockmarket big-time. It's not over till the fat CEO sinks. The other elephant in the room is the Yuan/Dollar stand-off... something's gotta give, and when it does, whoa, stand back!

Some facts:
* in the West, about 1% of the population of wealthy countries control 95% of the wealth; and
* in those wealthy countries recovering fastest from the 2009 economic meltdown, there is now a significantly increasing proportion of people falling below the poverty line...

Capitalism is not only achieving its goal of making the Very Rich even richer, but now it's even causing increased poverty within wealthy countries themselves! Wealth and power are concentrating in the hands of fewer and fewer people, to no-one's advantage but their own:

According to the present Rules Of Capitalism, disadvantaged people are expected to lose in order to make those profits possible. Observe, for instance, how rich folks are quickly moving in to buy up thousands of cheap "bank-owned" homes which have sadly flooded the real-estate market (do I sufficiently conjure up the image of tears?)

...and how the corporate sector expressed such unbounded glee (behind closed boardroom doors) that Copenhagen was such a successful failure... Their anti-Climate lobbying cost them millions, but hey short-term corporate profits should be maintained at all costs...
...um... shouldn't they?

...and now, HOURS of fun for all the family ...even better than The Simpsons!!

Presenting Fat-cat FunkyPix2's
Dictionary of Right-wing/Conservative Terminology
is sure to assist you to win your next game of Bailout Bingo:
* alternative energy sources /n./ New locations to drill for gas and oil.

* bankruptcy /n./ A means of escaping debt available to corporations but not to poor people.

* class warfare /n./ Any attempt to raise the minimum wage.

* God  /n./ Senior Pentagon adviser (war is Her way of teaching geography to Americans)

* growth /n./ 1. The justification for tax cuts for the rich. 2. What happens to the national debt when policy is made according to Definition 1.

* healthy forest /n./ No tree left behind.

* honesty /n./ Lies told in simple declarative sentences (e.g., "Freedom is on the march.").

* House of Representatives /n./ Exclusive club; entry fee: $1 million to $5 million (See: Senate.)

* insanity /n./ See: staying the course. May also apply to otherwise sane liberal presidents.

* laziness /n./ When the poor are not working.

* leisure time /n./ When the wealthy are not working.

* liberal(s) /n./ Followers of the Antichrist. (Note that in Australia, the major conservative right-wing party named itself the "Liberal Party". For starters, how's that for a Big Fatcat Lie? The party's now led from behind by that God-bothering Catholic fanatic, Mr Rabbit (See: 1. pro-life, and 2. woman.)

* No Child Left Behind /riff./  There are always jobs in the military.

* pro-life /adj./ Valuing human life up until birth.

* Senate /n./ Exclusive club; entry fee: $10 million to $30 million.

* staying the course /interj./slang./ Continuing to perform the same actions and expecting different results (See: insanity.)

* shit happens /interj./slang./ I don't have to live in Baghdad.

* voter fraud /n./ A significant minority turnout.

* woman /n./ 1. Person who can be trusted to raise a child but can't be trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have a child. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding her reproductive functions made by men she wouldn't want to have sex with in the first place.

FunkyPix2's Thought of the Day
And those who were seen dancing were thought
to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Here's Michael Moore's entertaining trailer to his film Capitalism: A Love Story. Often, I find Moore's jargonistic style annoyingly American, but gee the guy's heart is in the right place when it comes to supporting the underdog against exploitation by the Super Well-Heeled. He keenly laments that whatever hits the fan will probably not automatically be distributed evenly (eg health care) so he's taking active steps to improve things... I can only respect that.

PS: note the dramatically gloating manner in which George Dumbya Bush announces the words "global meltdown", as if he were somehow pleased about the crash... Um, was he? Could it all have been manipulated deliberately? The principal beneficiaries of a financial spring clean are always going to be the already-wealthy classes.

...and lastly, here's FunkyPix2's footnote to the foolishly fatal financial fuzziness of federal fiscal fantasy. Apart from stuff like "the cheque's in the mail", here's ALL you need to know about Stimulus payments, Bailouts, Tax rebates etc:

Q: What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
A: It's money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q: Where will the government get this money?
A: From taxpayers.

Q: So the government is giving me back my own money?
A: Only a little of it. Just the part you overpaid to start with.

Q: What's the purpose of this payment?
A: The plan is that you'll use that money to buy a high-definition flat screen TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q: But isn't that stimulating the economy of China?
A: Shut up.

26 February, 2010

Morality VS Democracy: The crime scene, the morning after Thaksin gets a long-overdue lesson

Compassion Central: Funkypix2’s offer to poor Mr Thaksin should adequately compensate him for the Supreme Court's confiscation of "his" U$1.4 billion.

U$1,400,000,000, now returned to its rightful owner, the Thai people. That's enough to create 1,400 millionaires, and it won't fit on my calculator. Gosh, now he has to personally scrape by on a mere ONE billion $1,000,000,000 or so... how will he manage to pay the rent? ...hence FunkyPix2's heartfelt rescue package (first made way back in 2007).

Ironic. Now Mr Thaksin is grudgingly advising politicians to stay out of politics. Is he at last perhaps beginning to cotton on to the idea that being involved in politics DOES necessarily require a disengagement from personal gain? I don't think so. It underlines his persisting attitude that he was entitled to be the bonus-grabbing CEO of Thailand, not a fair-dealing even-handed prime minister. A statesman is supposed to help the State, not steal from it.

Unaccountably, these Redshirts are upset that their own stolen  money (1.4 billion baht) has now been legally returned to themselves. Perversely, they wanted the thief to keep the loot. Er, am I missing something here? Maybe they're worried about no longer getting their regular bribe to attend demonstrations? Truth is that Thai people are accustomed to admiring anyone who is street-savvy enough to get rich - by fair means OR foul. One Redshirt recently said in a newspaper that it didn't matter to her that Thaksin was corrupt ...because he is a charismatic leader. That's hardly what I'd call a principled position to assist a struggling democracy to find its feet. The relevant question Thai people need to ask each other right now is...
"What would Buddha do?"

Kuhn Thaksin swiftly pocketed 76 billion baht from the illegal sale of Shincorp to Singapore, then immediately snuk it out of Thailand and into tax-free havens in the British Virgin Islands. Pure piracy. Let’s get out the calculator and have some fun finding out precisely what that vast amount of cash might look like. For starters, laid in a flat stack of 1000-baht notes (Thailand's largest denomination note), it would create a tower 700 metres higher than Mt Everest.

The redshirts' underlying gripe isn't really about Thaksin's money, however. Like myself, most of them can't begin to imagine that amount of money. The real problem, the oft unspoken subtext, is about social inequity. There's a yawning chasm of wealth separating Thailand's wealthy middle-class urban elites from its rural poor, and I too feel compassion and sympathy about that. The situation in Thailand parallels the wealth gap in Srilanka between Singhalese and Tamils and other ethnically bilateral countries.

The current protests will probably not immediately prompt change, but in the long term may cause the urban middle-classes and Bangkok elites to become more consciously aware of their position of social advantage. Poorer people may begin to put upward pressure on wages so that countries like Japan are less inclined to exploit the present low wages of Thai workers. Workers may eventually unionize. And if education moved from rote-learning to a more "analytical-questioning" model, all Thais would be empowered to think critically and constructively in their evaluation of propaganda. In many such respects, Thailand is still back where the West was in the 1950s.

In the meantime, Thailand's Redshirts continue to simplistically believe that Thaksin Shinawatra is their Shining Robin Hood on a white horse, come to rescue them from poverty... even though his glib promises to relieve farmers' debts never even looked like materializing during his watch. The simple solution for Abhisit, the current PM, is to visibly direct much of Thaksin's confiscated money towards the Poor, especially in the Northern Isaan areas. And to do it ASAP, before riots ensue in Bangkok - again. The Redshirt leaders will hopefully realize that it is in the interests of the rural poor that Thaksin does not delay any such disbursement by appealing the the Supreme Court decision. If their "black-magic-curse" decision to splash blood around Bangkok is anything to go by, however, they aren't much in the business of Deep Thought. History proves that most Revolutionaries are merely Reactionaries in disguise.

Update 1 from the front-line: a video, taken as the Redshirts began converging on Bangkok, mid-March 2010. Each person gets identified and paid 2000 baht. Who was the very kind donor? This was about the time Mr Thaksin left Dubai and flew "secretly" into Siem Riep in Northern Cambodia, from whence he is now close enough to blow raspberries at Bangkok. Anything to stay in the public eye. 

Update 2: No, Update 1 was wrong. It was another planted rumour, no doubt another chess move on Thaksin's part, a deliberate strategy to continue his chronic attention-deficit "Jack-in-the-Box" media stunts of popping up randomly all over the world... rather like some weird global arcade game. No, he wasn't in Cambodia; he was spotted enjoying coffee and cake in Montenegro. Now I desperately need a candid photo and a speech-bubble that reads  Let Them Eat Rice. 

Update 3:  The Thai politics soap-opera gets funnier by the minute. Thaksin, in his shoot-from-the-lip knee-jerk manner, compared PM Abhisit to Hitler. In the very same breath, he accused the PM of being surrounded by homosexuals with emotional problems! (Hey, which decade are we in? I also trust that Thaksin's own son won't 't get too annoyed with his Dad over that minor slur). Next, Thaksin accused Abhisit of being mentally unstable - which instantly triggered a lawsuit from Abhisit, of course, who couldn't possibly have let that one go through to the keeper unchallenged. Soon afterwards, a report from Bangkok police confirming an assassination plot on the PM elicited conspicuous silence from the Thaksin camp. Meanwhile, the Redshirts have splashed 100 litres or so of their own blood around Abhisit's home in Bangkok. Besides being condemned by health authorities as unhealthy, even dangerous, (not to mention sheer waste) this prank is nothing more than a transparent attempt by superstitious farmers at histrionic headline-grabbing... faux "Black Magic".

Note that they stored their blood in ordinary plastic DRINKING bottles (eeew!!), then proceeded to tread in it themselves, thus contradicting their own admonition that the PM didn't respect the blood of Thai people (Thai culture dictates that putting your shoe on anything is disrespectful).  Redshirts, police and photographers alike were all spotted with blood. Small plastic bags of blood sailed gaily over the fence and spattered inside... like a grisly premonition of the forthcoming Songkran water-throwing festival (which is, ironically, supposed to be about respect for one's elders). In all, the Redshirt crusade has been a giant media flop, an embarrassing exercise in shooting themselves (and Thailand) in the foot. So glad we weren't there.

Just good friends. Dr Thaksin & Saddam Hun Sen.

Peaceful protests by Redshirts.

Most Redshirts are now dispersing from Bangkok.

23 February, 2010

Catholic sainthood, Genocidal Piety, and Saving Souls in Petrie Dishes

YOU TOO can enter in Saint Mary's
Wet Habit Competition - even if you're a guy

Saint Mary of Australia?? According to Christianity's multiple interpretations of the word "saint", I now feel justified in declaring my own dear wife a saint. She is henceforth to be addressed as Saint Marie of Thailand. You may send flowers, money, cards, cheques, Buddha relics, or hefty cash offerings for your soul.

You may detect my liberal-humanist antipathy to Christianity. Christians are as blindly inconsistent as any other unthinking religious cult. The fact is, the various Christianities are every bit as tribal as Muslim factions in Afghanistan and the Middle East. All are killing each other to prove who has the best Invisible Friend. Duh. They may have chosen to forget that Judao-Christianity and Islam all share the same god.

 Why should one feel obligated to label oneself as an "Atheist". I hardly
feel the need to defend myself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist"

Far be it from me to be casting nasturtiums at Saint Mary of Penola, South Australia. She seems to have been, by many accounts, a genuinely strong and trustworthy person. However, it's a mighty leap of doctrine/faith from there to pin a gold sainthood medal on her. All it took to convince Rome's eager-to-please authorities was that two sick people (both Catholics, of course) both swore they were divinely cured because they somehow succeeded in convincing this long-dead nun to pray to an Invisible Friend on their behalf.

Moreover, it seems like strangely circular reasoning to fall back on Human-generated evidence as proof of a Divine event when the underlying premise of the Bible is a belief in the superiority of God’s own words over mere human ones. In this regard, what will the literal Christian (or Jew, for that matter) intuit when reading God’s alleged words in Deuteronomy 22:13-21 where He/She wrote that if a man discovers on his wedding night that his bride is not a virgin, he must stone her to death on her father’s doorstep? Either the Bible is right …or it isn't. We shouldn't be forced to pick and choose if we elect to subscribe to the doctrine of divine infallibility. Read about more Biblical inconsistencies here in (divinely-inspired) Wikipedia.

So, what about these two miraculous cures by Mary? Rates of self-induced natural remission from sickness are well within this range of statistical likelihood. And self-induced recovery from illness happens to just as many people who aren't Catholic: the auto-curative capability of the highly motivated mind is well-documented, even if it remains stubbornly inexplicable. The brain is still a mysterious black box. Research into the field is still fairly much at an embryonic stage of "poke-it-here-and-see-what-happens".

If the literal-addicted Christian insists that everything in the Bible is accurate, then s/he must accept that the Vatican's wholly-fabricated definition of a “saint” is wrong. Nowhere in any human edition of the Bible does it describe a saint as some sort of 'extra holy' person. Nor does it mention that a saint is able to act as an intermediary with God any more effectively than any other person. In fact, the Bible states clearly that anyone who believes in Jesus is a saint (Ps. 16:3; Rom. 1:7; 8:27; Phil. 1:1; Heb. 6:10). So by canonizing Mary McKillop, the Pope is literally declaring that she is Australia's first (and only) Christian. Listen to this Australian radio news item (all my links open for your convenience in new windows).

Of course, it’s obvious enough that the Marketing and PR Department at the Vatican deliberately uses canonizations as a targeted media strategy to dazzle potential new converts with holy smoke, magic and mirrors. Or, more to the point, to dissuade the flood of defecting rats from the leaky Roman ark. Hey, it's a competitive market for Souls out there in Religionland. And right now is certainly a convenient moment to have a big glitzy canonization party with lots of fresh photos of happy pilgrims en route to Penola - Benedict urgently needs to distract media attention away from paedophile priest cover-up scandals etc. (Convenient, too, that Mary had been named ‘Mary’… “Saint Krystal-Brianna” just wouldn’t have been convincing).

 Yep, media attention is the Big Clue. Instead of going to all the fuss of creating new saints, the Vatican mostly prefers to recycle old ones. In the next photo, relics of St Anthony of Padua (dressed in his Sunday best) get paraded through Colombo airport at the start of a recent 3-week Holiday in Srilanka. The media, you'll notice, had been invited:

Now to pick nits… what exactly does it mean to “believe in Jesus”? I personally believe in Jesus ...to the extent that I'm fairly confident from corroborated historical accounts that the physical man did actually exist… even though his real name was Jeshua bin Joseph, his skin was probably considerably darker than our western white-washed storybook pictures would suggest, and he was hunted down by Roman authorities because he was regarded as a dangerous fundamentalist Jewish terror extremist.  Do I therefore qualify as a Christian… or [eek!] worse still, a saint?
OMG I’m praying not…

The family-size greek-style "St Paul" pizza...
based on a fresco in St Paul's Cathedral.

Anyway, the pope's canonization of Straya’s own brand new Saint Meery [‘saint’ pronounced as in ‘pint’] is a suitable trigger for another of my anti-Christianity photo-offensives. Yew bloody liddle bewdy, mite!

Browse more of my "Religious Issues" posts in the
"Browse by Category" tab in the sidebar on your screen

Click to embiggen. Afterwards, click your BACK button.

Characteristic Christian compassion and caring

"But verily I say unto you, circles are sexier"

Uh-huh, it all makes good saints to me...

The Hebrew language, just like English, uses idioms which can't possibly be taken literally. How easily, for instance, might a non-speaker of English misinterpret our common  idiom "to catch a bus"? Likewise, if a Hebrew person didn't like you, s/he might call you a "son of a viper". If you were a kind person, you might get called a "son of kindness". Examples can be found dotted throughout the Old Testament. But when St Paul the Greek (who had a relatively feeble grasp of the Hebrew language) heard Rabbi Jeshua described as a "son of God", he chose in his pious ignorance to take them absolutely literally. In Hebrew, the idiom simply simply described someone as a good or god-fearing person. How many millions of innocent people have since died as a result of this linguistic error? Why, in the year 2010, do we all still have to submit to this fatally foggy mindset? I'm eternally astonished that Christians are satisfied to believe rather than to know, especially given the Bible's inconsistent evidence and gross mistranslations.

The above scene may have been the Holy Madonna's lot if the Catholic church had been invented back in Jeshua's day. Referring to Mother Theresa, Christopher Hitchens wrote that she: "was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."

Queen Benedick II.   Gotta love the cute tail !

Benedict catches a glimpse of the Fashion Channel.

Did you realize that it is highly probable that Rabbi Jesus was a member of the ultra-strict Jewish  Essene sect? The Bible frequently discusses the activities of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but is conspicuously silent about the other major Jewish sub-group, the Essenes. One has to suspect a deliberate 2000-year propaganda whitewash by people with vested interests in concealing the fact that Christianity was not totally original but (ironically) based largely on ancient teachings of conservative Judaism. For sure, everything is different since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1945. Indeed, it looks alarmingly likely that Christianity was based on a HUGE mistake, or a number of them. It is generally understood that the Vatican has one or two of the particularly sensitive Dead Sea Scrolls scrolls securely locked away from curious bloggers and other inconvenient weirdos who seek Honesty and Transparency.

Click to embiggen. Afterwards, click your BACK button.

Since the 13th century, souls of babies who died before they could be baptized were deemed to have gone to a holy 'place' which the Catholic Church mysteriously named LIMBO. There they awaited Judgement Day ...and (hopefully) for someone to change their nappies (=diapers). Limbo isn't mentioned in the Bible at all, but the Church simply fabricated it to appease bereaved parents who were illiterate and therefore unable to verify what their trusted priest told them. The problem with lies is that you have to make up more lies to cover your tracks - AND you need a reliable memory. The Church finally decided just a few years ago that it could no longer continue the embarrassing charade and confessed that Limbo never had existed. My question is this: Where will all those tiny souls go now? Here's the heart-warming family-friendly answer, right here on your trustworthy FunkyPix2.
Every sperm is sacred. I quote Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation: "Of course, the church's position on abortion takes no more notice of the details of biology than it does of the reality of human suffering. It has been estimated that 50% of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, usually without a woman even realizing that she was pregnant. In fact, a full 20% of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. The obvious truth here that cries out for acknowledgement: if God exists, He is the most prolific abortionist of all."
Hey Jude, Limbo must have been be awfully crowded in its day.

Something vital got lost in the translation.....
exactly as happened when the Gospels were translated first from Jesus's native language (Aramaic) into Hebrew, and then again (by St Paul) into Greek... then later into Latin, and again into English, Swahili, Thai..... Christianity ought to be re-named Paulanity - only a Greek could have so easily accepted the idea of gods coming down to earth to mate with humans, then returning. Greek gods did it routinely. A strictly conservative Jew like Rabbi Jeshua would never have even thought of it. It was Paul who put the words in his mouth - posthumously.

Click to embiggen. Afterwards, click the BACK button.
Language greatly determines Thought. The Hebrew text of Isaiah, for instance, uses the word 'alma' which simply means 'young woman' ...with no implication of virginity. St Paul couldn't have known that due to the vastly different semantic world of his native language Greek...
...so why didn't his Supervising Editor intercede?

Either the Bible is right, or it isn't. The sixth Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Murder, seems to be severely contradicted by this reading from DEUTERONOMY 13:6, beginning at verse 8:
 If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods"... you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God...
Nowhere in the New Testament did Rabbi J. ever contradict this barbarism. In fact, at several points he endorsed it:
For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven... For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. - MATTHEW 5:18-20
Interestingly, Rabbi Jesus was claiming that the Pharisees and scribes, the very highest ranks of the Jewish faith, were not qualified enough to get to heaven. That was precisely one of the frequent claims of the Essene sect.