Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mahatma Gandhi coerced into being a posthumous Mormon

The shameless Mormon Church has baptised Mahatma Gandhi as a Mormon after his death.
As per Huffington Post:

Mahatma Gandhi, who employed nonviolent civil disobedience to lead India to independence after more than a century of British rule, was posthumously baptized by proxy by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to information provided to The Huffington Post.

Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who has until now has focused on researching incidents of proxy baptisms being proposed for or performed on dead Jews, discovered the Gandhi records on February 16 in a genealogical database restricted to Mormons. She was prompted to search for his name after seeing a statement by a Nevada-based Hindu activist, Rajan Zed, who expressed concern the practice might be performed in the name of many Hindus.

A screen shot of the database page sent to HuffPost by Radkey shows a proxy baptism for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was completed in a Salt Lake City Temple on March 27, 1996. The record has since been removed and Radkey said a subsequent search came up with "Unknown Name."

Suhag Shukla of Washington-based Hindu America Foundation said, "The proxy baptism of Gandhi is deeply offensive, not only to Gandhi's legacy as a devout Hindu, but to Hindus world over.

What would Mahatma Gandhi have thought of it? It is evident from his writings that he was very much against proselytization. In 1927 he said in a speech at Sholapur he said "I cannot understand a man changing the religion of his forefathers at the instance of another". The same year in a long answer to the question of "what has Hinduism done for us?" he said that one of its beauties was the absence in it of modern proselytization.

One day, maybe, the Mormon Church will grow up and learn elementary respect for other people. But don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just how bad for us is sugar?

In his talk, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, goes on a jihad against sugar. What to make of it?

Lustig argues that fructose and ethanol are two carbohydrates in a class of their own. The metabolism of these two involves products that are not exactly good for the liver. Moreover, these are chronic toxins, the damage starts showing only after a thousand meals. The results are obesity, diabetes and heart disease. (Perhaps cancer, too.)

The only safe form of fructose is in fruits where it comes in relatively small quantities along with fiber, which slows down its absorption, and along with other nutrients whose benefits outweigh any harm from fructose. Fruit juice is a no-no. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are both equally bad.

Less convincing is Lustig's arguments about how fructose, which unlike glucose and other carbohydrates doesn't cause the body to send satiety signals, causes overeating. The simple reason is that in the cases where you overdose on fructose, you get an equal amount of glucose, which presumably will make you feel full.

Alan Aragon has a detailed criticism of Lustig's ideas, "The bitter truth about fructose alarmism".

Gary Taubes, in the NYT (April 13, 2011), agrees with Lustig.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Education doesn't cure closedmindness, it makes it worse

Chris Mooney finds that college-educated Republicans are more anti-science and less persuadable by evidence than less educated ones. Mooney also provides a good example that this is not true of liberals.

Carl on BRF pointed out:

upadesho hi murkhaanaam prakopaaya na shaantaye
payah-paanam bhujangaanaam kevalam visha-vardhanam

"Good instructions to deluded fools does not calm their rage. Feeding milk and fruit to the hooded serpent only increases its poison."

Mooney advises us:

Indeed, if we believe in evidence then we should also welcome the evidence showing its limited power to persuade--especially in politicized areas where deep emotions are involved. Before you start off your next argument with a fact, then, first think about what the facts say about that strategy. If you’re a liberal who is emotionally wedded to the idea that rationality wins the day—well, then, it’s high time to listen to reason.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mormon disrespect of other religions

Fed up. This is the Mormon practice of posthumous baptisms. We are told here:
For those unaware, the Church of Latter Day Saints believes that one can be posthumously saved from eternal damnation; all they need is for a living Mormon to conduct a proxy baptism of the dead, whose soul will then be given the opportunity of remaining in hell or entering the Kingdom of Heaven (we presume most choose the latter). They’ve been doing this for years, but got into a bit of trouble years back when it turned out that they were baptizing Jews who’d died in the Holocaust. The Church had promised to stop baptizing deceased Jews, but a furor arose last week when it turned out that some Mormons, on their own initiative, had baptized Simon Wiesenthal.

Now the commentator quoted above thinks its a good deal, and how does it matter to the dead person?

But my concern is with the living. The only reason one can live in peace with a sect that thinks everyone but them is going to hell is because there are significant barriers to them imposing their will on us. But it shows the most profound of disrespect and intolerance of our traditions, faith, religion, beliefs, that they think they need to save us.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Juthika Roy - Bol re Madhuban mein Muraliya

The blurb says: "Juthika roy belonged to th golden era of Indian music (1938-1947) & she had no peer when it came to singing geets & bhajans of Meera & Kabir".

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life as a Dhimmi - 10

As far as I can tell, this is a true story:

The Pennsylvania State Director of American Atheists, Inc., Mr. Ernest Perce V., was assaulted by a Muslim while participating in a Halloween parade. Along with a Zombie Pope, Ernest was costumed as Zombie Muhammad. The assault was caught on video, the Muslim man admitted to his crime and charges were filed in what should have been an open-and-shut case. That’s not what happened, though......The case went to trial, and as circumstances would dictate, Judge Mark Martin is also a Muslim. What transpired next was surreal. The Judge not only ruled in favor of the defendant, but called Mr. Perce a name and told him that if he were in a Muslim country, he’d be put to death.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

OPERA - faster than light neutrinos resolved?

Tommaso Dorigo

It appears that the source of the problem is a connection of a fiber optic cable to a hardware board, which introduces a time delay which gets subtracted in the neutrino timing measurement.

So, no new physics from Opera neutrinos after all. Einstein may rest in peace, Relativity holds, and new physics model builders can have a good night of sleep tonight.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Against a Billionaire, who has free speech?

Glenn Greenwald on the unsavory practices of Frank VanderSloot, billionaire, and national finance co-chair of the Romney campaign.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And yet, some women will vote Republican!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Life as a Dhimmi - 9


The Maldives' national museum reopened Tuesday without some of its most valuable exhibits a week after a mob of suspected religious extremists smashed images from the pre-Islamic era of this Indian Ocean archipelago.

About 35 exhibits — mostly images of Buddha and Hindu gods — were destroyed. Some of the artifacts dated to the sixth century, museum director Ali Waheed said.

Waheed says 99 percent of the Maldives' pre-Islamic artifacts from before the 12th century, when most inhabitants were Buddhists or Hindus, were destroyed.

"Some of the pieces can be put together but mostly they are made of sandstone, coral and limestone, and they are reduced to powder," he said.
Nothing new here.  Thor Heyerdahl noted this behavior years ago.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nutcracker Suite


Nutcracker Suite, a set on Flickr.

Some photographs from a Christmas performance of the Nutcracker.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Closer than you think

Religious extremism in politics is not something that happens just in Pakistan.

Molly Worthen in her NYT article has sentences that strike a chord.  A couple of them:

Evangelicals’ embrace of Santorum illuminates a crucial shift in American political culture: their honeymoon with the Tea Party seems to be over. They have turned away from the cries for small government and liberty — about which they have always been ambivalent — to rekindle their love affair with theocratic Catholicism. ....
The truth is that the Tea Party’s demand for “strict construction” of the Constitution and a return to the Founders’ “true intentions” is not really a cry for unfettered freedom. It is an attempt to uncover the immutable, divine will of the Founders — a homegrown version of natural law that would provide grounds for forbidding abortion, same-sex marriage and “Obamacare” in the name of American liberty.
          .......Natural law is a noble tradition that has shaped Western jurisprudence, but in the hands of conservative activists like Santorum it has become a dangerous cult of first principles. Santorum’s positions are perfectly logical if you accept his founding presuppositions — but, in his view, those presuppositions are not open to question. The genius of this emphasis on foundational assumptions is that if you can dismiss your opponent’s first principles, if you can accuse him of denying humanity’s “natural purpose,” you can claim to win the debate without ever considering the content of his argument.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


The just-deposed President of the Maldives has an op-ed in the NYT.

DICTATORSHIPS don’t always die when the dictator leaves office. The wave of revolutions that toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen last year was certainly cause for hope. But the people of those countries should be aware that, long after the revolutions, powerful networks of regime loyalists can remain behind and can attempt to strangle their nascent democracies.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

HP's lousy printers

At least, with the HP 5510, you cannot set up the printer without the set-up cartridges that come with the printer. If one of those is defective you are SOL. The regular HP cartridges for the printer WILL NOT WORK. You cannot get a replacement set-up cartridge from your nearby friendly retailer. The HP web-site states this.

I hope HP meets the fate of Kodak for this lousy piece of engineering. Obviously, you will henceforth have to pay me to own a HP product.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

More on Asperger Syndrome

Benjamin Nugent writes in the NYT: I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly.

On Asperger Syndrome

In the New York Times, Paul Steinberg writes what is bound to be a controversial op-ed.

Asperger syndrome and Aspies — the affectionate name that people diagnosed with Asperger syndrome call themselves — seem to be everywhere.

Considered to be at the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, Asperger syndrome has become more loosely defined in the past 20 years, by both the mental health profession and by lay people, and in many instances is now synonymous with social and interpersonal disabilities. But people with social disabilities are not necessarily autistic, and giving them diagnoses on the autism spectrum often does a real disservice. An expert task force appointed by the American Psychiatric Association is now looking into the possibility of changing the way we diagnose Asperger. True autism reflects major problems with receptive language (the ability to comprehend sounds and words) and with expressive language. Pitch and tone of voice in autism are off-kilter. Language delays are common, and syntactic development is compromised; in addition, there can be repetitive motor movements.