'Taken' means a precis of salient points; 'Quoted' means just that.
As usual, comments (usually sarcastic ones) are in green.

Local News
Racism & Food 2 | Stevens' Report | Asian Religionists Condone Murder | Allah's Fish | Rabbit, Rabbit | PC Insanity 3 | Yankee Cowards | Murders In The Name Of 'Witchcraft' | Abuse Victim Needed Prayer | God Against Euro | How To Fight Foot-&-Mouth | Taxes Fund Religious Ignorance & Intolerance | Evangelicals Tell Transsexuals To Revert & Pray | Oh Pooh, What About Piglet? | Forget The Quality, Look At The Colour | Are You This Stupid? | More Feng Shui Stupidity | Satan Made Me Do It | Tomato Growers Use Feng Shui | Police Prayer Solves Crimes | Xian TV Fined By ITC | Feng Shui In Supermarkets | Allah's Tomato | Feng Shui in London | Racism & Food 1
World News
Plane Crazy | Ignorant Peasants Butcher Farmers | Born In The USSA 3 | Born In The USSA 2 | 3 Wives… er, Steps To Heaven | Buy… Or We Sue | Carrying A Map? Arrest That Terrorist! | PC Insanity 2 | Dowsing For Terrorists | More Muslim Tolerance | House Resolution 153 | Fishy Story | You Can't Judge US | How To Tell If An African Boy Is A Virgin | **** Cultural Relatavism : This Is Murder | Sin Causes Sickness | Women Awarded For Stupidity | Raping Babies Cures HIV | Born In The USSA 1 | Fatwa Against Pokémon | Indian Earthquake Caused By Television | Eclipse Caused By Sin Not Sun | American Student Suspended Over Claims Of Witchcraft | God Blesses America | Poverty Is A Virtue | The Anti-Christ Is Vegetarian | Montserrat Cites God | Hong Kong Skyscraper | PC Insanity 1
What People Believe

Local News

How To Recognise Racism (pt 2)

Taken from the Telegraph), 07 July 2008 :

The National Children's Bureau has decreed that any child who dislikes food it is not accustomed to, or who responds to new food by going "yuk", is to be deemed racist. Nurseries are encouraged to report such incidents to their local council, and such reports will be seen as reflecting well on the nursery or play-school.

Thereby encouraging false positives and creating a self-fulfilling system of repression, for anyone who doesn't agree with this is by default a racist.

Stevens' Report

Taken from all newspapers (except the fuggin' Daily Express), 14 December 2006 :

After 871 pages, it has been confirmed that yes, contrary to popular delusions, Diana, Princess of Wales, is in fact still dead. Half the population may now carry on weeping and demanding other people's local parks are ruined to accommodate a memorial that the NIMBY criers will never visit.

Asian Religionists Condone Murder

Taken from BBC News, 4 September 2006 :

The BBC's Asian Network polled 500 Asians of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, & Sikh faiths aged between 16 & 34, 10% of whom agreed that it was perfectly all right to murder someone (invariably female, of course) who had affronted their family's 'honour'.

Whilst it's true that only 500 people could hardly be said to be a representative sample, and no details were given of who was polled, or where they were, it's still a horrifying statistic. As one interviewee said, "So if someone hurts their family the law might do nothing about it, you might have to deal with it," which pretty much sums it all up. A girl 'hurt' their family by going out at the wrong time (or going out at all!) or dating the wrong person or wearing the wrong clothes (or not wearing the 'right' ones) etc., etc., etc. Ah, diddums, your feelings were hurt, you were offended. Poor dears.

Allah's Fish

Taken from The Guardian, 02 February 2006 :

Allah's FishA pet shop in Waterfoot, near Bury, Water Aquatic, has attracted attention due to the arrangedment of spots on a fish's body. According to believers, they sign out the names of 'Allah' and 'Muhammad'. "There's no doubt about it," said Mohammed Riaz-Shahid, owner of a nearby restaurant, "The markings are clear to see." Tony Walker, the pet shop's manager, agreed, "Someone up there sent the fish because of the way I choose to run my business."

Not content with a sign in fruit'n'veg, he now sends a 'message' via aquatic species. I mean, that's such emphatic proof, instead of, say, inscribing the DNA helix on the moon, or maybe a cure for cancer, or how about what will happen to certain people on a specific date? Nah, not vague enough. And they still demand to be taken seriously. Look, there's Jesus in a puddle!

Rabbit, Rabbit

Taken from The Guardian, 07 October 2005 :

Whilst dealing with the residents of an island in Dorset, film distributors of the new Wallace & Gromit film Curse Of The Were-Rabbit have had to remove a word that some locals (especially older ones) are so fearful of they will not even utter it aloud, as the animals have caused much subsidence. The offending word is 'rabbit'. Said Tim Woodcock, the mayor, "It is a local superstition but people take it seriously." The 'R' word will be replaced by the 'B'(unny) word, so the residents of Portland will not be afraid. Rabbit, rabbit.

PC Insanity 3 : Allah's Ice-cream

Taken from The Scotsman, 17 September 2005 :

Allah's ice-creamHaving launched a logo based on a swirling cone of ice-cream, Burger-King are now having to withdraw them because someone looked at the picture the wrong way and saw something that he thought resembled the Arabic script for Allah. He complained and said, "This is my jihad. How can you say it is a spinning swirl? If you spin it one way to the right you are offending Muslims." And if you look at it the way it was intended, it's an ice-cream swirl! Or dog poo. Have you looked in any tomatoes recently? Said a Muslim Council spokesman, "We commend the sensitive and prompt action that Burger King has taken." Have you ever heard of a Japanese or Chinese person looking at every stylised symbol or logo in another language that's been rotated and/or flipped and screaming, "Wah, wah, I'm offended!" No, of course not. Will there ever be an end to this self-censorship and appeasement? And your writing looks like the Roman characters uWi, which when rotated 90° CCW looks like bar 3 cedilla. Wow, bet the French are really pissed off by that. What are you going to do next, ban those? Still, Allah Afkar, eh?

Yankee Cowards

Taken from The Guardian, 12 July 2005 :

Following the terrorist attacks on central London last Thursday, the commanders of Mildenhall & Lakenheath airforce bases in Suffolk, issued a Battle Staff Directive ordering its 10,000 personnel not to travel inside the M25 "until further notice" to "ensure their safety and security", thus preventing some from attending the weekend's activities marking the end of WW II.

So, just for them, as a special present from someone who lives and works and travels very day in London and says "Fuck You" to the bombers, here is a special yellow box containing a symbolic white feather :


Murders In The Name Of 'Witchcraft'

Taken from The Guardian, 17 June 2005 :

A leaked police report due to be published at the end of the month claims that young boys are sacrificed during religious ceremonies to help banish evil, and purge demons. To banish evil spirits, it was alleged that "Members of the workshop said for spells to be powerful, it required a sacrifice of a male child unblemished by circumcision.", and children were being smuggled into the country for use as slaves, also to be used by those infected with HIV so they would be cured [cfRaping babies]. Calling for a balanced investigation that separated fact from hearsay, leaders of various churches and evangelical alliances admitted the report raised issues that needed to be addressed, but were concerned about everyone being thought of as accepting such child sacrifices. The report comes four years after the headless body of a young boy was found in the Thames, and three weeks after two women were found guilty of torturing a girl they accused of being a witch.

Abuse Victim Needed Prayer Not Medical Attention

Quoted from The Guardian, 09 October 2001 :

Abused Victoria 'needed prayer', by John Carvel

An evangelical preacher told yesterday how he became convinced that the child abuse victim Victoria Climbié was possessed by evil spirits and needed prayer, not medical attention. Pastor Pascal Orome said the girl's abnormal behaviour suggested she was the victim of witchcraft. He also dismissed allegations that she was being sexually abused, saying she was not attractive enough to evoke lust. Mr Orome was giving evidence to a public inquiry into the death of Victoria, an eight-year-old from the Ivory Coast who suffered one of the worst cases of child abuse in British legal history. Marie-Therese Kouao, her great aunt, and Carl Manning, her lover, were jailed for life in January for murdering her after months of torture and confinement in an unheated bathroom, trussed in a plastic sack. Mr Orome said he sensed the girl's distress when Kouao first brought her to a service at the Mission Ensemble Pour Christ, in Borough, south east London, in August 1999. Kouao and Victoria arrived during a prayer meeting and Mr Orome said he prayed for her deliverance from "witchcraft or a wicked spirit". Mr Orome said he noticed scars on Victoria's face and hands, but assumed they were from old injuries while playing. He did not recommend a visit to the doctor because "as a spiritual man, my concern is the spiritual part." His church had no guidelines for dealing with child abuse. Kouao complained that the girl was putting faeces on food and clothing. Prayers were said for Victoria and she recovered from her incontinence, but the problem returned. The pastor told Kouao it was her fault for not taking care of the girl and "encouraging her to bring back the evil spirit." The church welcomed Kouao's lover, Manning, in October 1999. Later Kouao telephoned alleging that Manning sexually abused Victoria. Mr Orome said: "I did not think Carl was capable of such abuse. Carl is shy. Victoria [was] not a very attractive girl or likely to instil lust." He said Kouao told him after Victoria's death: "Look what the girl has done to me. I have suffered with this girl. I did not benefit from her and she just died." The inquiry continues.

God Is Against Euro

Taken from The Telegraph, 14 May 2001 :

Graeme Leach, chief economist of the Institute of Directors and a member of an evangelical church in Reading, Berks., said that signing up to the single European currency would be an un-Christian act running contrary to Biblical teaching. Biblical government was "minimalist, decentralised and supportive of a Christian world view," while EU governance is "expansive, decentralised and supportive of a humanist world view", which means it runs counter to a Godly view of the world and instead worships a humanist view. It would also mean weakening links with America, where Christians still have a great impact on public policy. He added that "Christians have genuine disagreements on political issues but this does not mean that God has two views," and "After much prayer over many years I am convinced God is opposed to the UK's participation in the euro."

Use Holy Water To Fight Foot-and-Mouth Desease

Taken from Irish Independant, 09 March 2001 :

Dr Brendan Comiskey, Bishop of Ferns, said in a pastoral letter that whilst "The Catholic imagination has never had difficulty finding signs of God's presence in the mountains and valleys, the fields and the forests of Ireland," to place fields, homes, buildings, and vehicles under the protection of the Holy Trinity, "Sprinkle them and yourselves with holy water, begging the God of heaven and earth to cause disease and pestilence to pass over and leave untouched each one of you and all that you hold dear."

Taxes Fund Religious Ignorance & Intolerance

Quoted from The Guardian, 24 February 2001 :


Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave a paradise for a sect — Keats

This week the government announced £1bn investment in scientific research — mainly into biotechnologies, with their potential for advances in medicine and general human welfare. Reflective taxpayers could think of few better uses for their money than investment in the future of us all, so the initiative is welcome.
Last week the government announced increased funding for religion-based schools. The contradiction with the foregoing is dramatic. Adherence to ancient traditions of religious belief is divided among many differing and often competing minorities in our society. Giving them taxpayers' money to run schools in which new generations are indoctrinated in these varying and exclusive ancient belief systems is fundamentally wrong on many counts, chief among them the following three.
First, by using our tax money to subsidise religion-based schools, the government forces those many of us who are opposed to superstitious beliefs and practices to contribute against our wills to their perpetuation. Religion is a matter of private conscience and choice, and as such is not a proper target for public support. If minorities wish to have their children taught in schools which premise belief in gods, astrology, space aliens or elves, they should pay for it themselves.
Second, religion is harmful both to individuals and society when it becomes publicly institutionalised. It harms individuals by distorting human nature through repressive moralities and the inculcation of false beliefs, fears and hopes. It harms society by causing conflicts, wars and persecutions, as everywhere evidenced by religious history including the present. It ought therefore to remain in the private sphere along with other personal matters, like sexual preference (perhaps it needs its own Section 28).
It is unacceptable to people who, for these reasons, are opposed to religion, to see young children being indoctrinated into it. Children should emphatically not be taught as "facts" the myths and legends of ancient religious traditions: to do this to anyone unable to evaluate their credibility is a form of brainwashing or even indeed abuse. Public funds should never be used to that end.
Third, by giving money to a variety of religious organisations — Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu — historically and theologically at odds (which indeed mutually blaspheme one another's faiths), the government is helping to entrench divisions. Children of all backgrounds ought to be educated together for greater mutual understanding, not educated apart in religious ghettos, thereby perpetuating the exclusivity and mistrust which must arise if people believe their religion is the only true one and everyone else is wrong — perhaps even that they are dangerous fanatics.
The variety of religious traditions should of course be taught in schools — but as historical phenomena alongside astrology, magic, and other fads of mankind's earlier ignorance. This would not please the religions, who are avid to indoctrinate young people since that is one of their chief means of survival. Few who first meet religion in adulthood are able to take it seriously; priests know that to keep the old faiths alive, they have to get their hands on children. Some religion-based schools are good because they are highly selective — not just (despite disclaimers) in obvious but in covert ways.
Keen, supportive, educated middle-class parents are a strongly self-selecting group. Small class sizes play a crucial part. The government ought to put real resources into making all state schools as good as the best church schools, and not supporting the latter as a cheap alternative to private education for middle-class parents who cannot or will not afford it.
No doubt the government believes it is encouraging good education while showing a kindly face to the different traditions in our society. But the reality is otherwise. It is troubling to find the government funding past superstitions and future science simultaneously, as if unaware of the dramatic inconsistency, and unconcerned about the fact that it is using public money — including the taxes of the many who are emphatically unwilling — to do the former. There is a human rights implication here, which someone would do well to explore in our courts.

Evangelicals Tell Transsexuals To Revert & Pray (God Doesn't Make Mistakes)

Taken from The Independent On Sunday, 14 January 2001 :

In response to a report produced by the Government's Working Group on Transsexual People, which was published last April, The Evangelical Alliance (who claim to represent 1,000,000 worshippers) condemned transsexuality and said they wanted further operations banned. [What someone does with their own body is entirely their own affair, but then that means they make their own decisions instead of you telling them what to do. Jeez, where will this freedom end?] Don Horrocks, policy co-ordinator for the Alliance and producer of the report, said "Living an overtly transsexual life is not compatible with Christian life. [Does that mean it's all right to lead a covert one?] It is a fantasy and an illusion. We suggest that radical surgery, to manipulate their bodies into line with what they feel themselves to be, isn't right. We feel there is another solution. We would include prayer and psychological counselling in that. We don't accept that God makes mistakes." [Make mistakes? He can't even fight chariots of iron! (Judges 1:19) But here's the crux of the matter, their God is the only one and he cannot be infallible.] They also want the estimated 5000 transsexuals in Britain to "reorient their lifestyle in accordance with biblical principles and orthodox teaching" [Operations cannot be undone, and the psychological damage would lead most to suicide, but then what do you care? More hypothetical supernatural apendages (souls) saved, all in the name of a loving & perfect creator who always makes flawless people and co-ordinates their mental and physical gender.] because "authentic change from a person's given sex is not possible and an ongoing transsexual lifestyle is incompatible with God's will." [Given that the vast majority of post-operative transsexuals have a perfectly stable and comfortable lifestyle, God's will doesn't seem to amount to much (and how do you know what it is anyway?), but then what a surprise. The only damage is the conflict some have because of existing beliefs (why did God make me this way / does he want me to suffer), but then they sensibly accept the fact that being miserable / suicidal isn't in their best interests, and decide to be as happy as they can.] This opinion contradicts modern medical treatments, and whilst the origins of transsexualism still remain unclear, changes of lifestyle and gender reassignment operations do, in the vast majority of cases, result in a happy and content person. [So… 1,000,000 evangelicals telling 5,000 trannsexuals what to do. With a ratio of 200:1 these fanatics must be terrified of people thinking for themselves and taking courses of action to make themselves happy. Did I say happy? Only God can do that! Pray for his divine salvation! Prayer is the answer to everything!]

Oh Pooh, What About Piglet?

Taken from Metro, 15 November 2000 :

Free PigletMuslim shoppers in Leeds who have bought toys for their children are returning half of a double-act, Pooh and his porcine friend Piglet, because according to Nissar Ahmed, Mulsim leader in Leeds, "To our religion, the pig is dirty. No Muslim would want pictures of one, whether or not it was the harmless character Piglet, in his home."

So go and buy something else and leave other people's childhood fictional characters alone. Having said that, I thought you were only prohibited from eating the animal, not looking at representations of it*, so is this just another extremist interpreting things that normal people wouldn't bother being so stupid about?
*Oops, my bad. According to Hadiths 54:448-450 & 72:843, angels don't visit homes containing pictures, so by reverse logic those homes without pictures will have angels visit them, which is presumably a good thing.

Forget The Quality, Look At The Colour

Taken from Metro, 08 November 2000 :

Of 400 people interviewed by tinned fish company John West, 67% of the men and almost 50% of the women made purchases based on how attractive the packaging was rather than the (known) quality of the product.

Are You This Stupid?

Taken from, 31 October 2000 :

Only 30% of the respondents think of themselves as superstitious, but 64% of people touch wood for luck, 30% consider a horseshoe is lucky, 29% think the same of crossing their fingers, 18% of heather, and 13% of a rabbit's foot. 43% interviewed would never walk under ladders, 37% think bad luck results from the breaking of a mirror, 34% threw salt over their shoulder for good luck after having spilled some, and 40% of women were superstitious compared with 20% of men. 19% also refuse to cross one another on stairs [Huh? Even if you stand still the other person will cross you if travelling in the opposite direction. What do these idiots do, run back the way they came?] compared to the 9% who will not cross a black cat, and if they see a house on fire, 4% of them touch their collar to prevent the fire from going to their house [!!]. The NOP survey did not specify the sample size, though a newspaper article mentioning this site quoted 1001 people.

More Feng Shui Stupidity

Quoted extracts from Metro, 10 October 2000 :

Hotels With The Feng Shui Touch
A hotel group based on the principles of feng shui is aiming to open a 19-strong chain.
So far, following the rules has proved to be financially worthwhile. A perfect case of post hoc 'reasoning'.
The Myhotel company bought its first hotel in Bloomsbury, London, for £11.5million. It re-opened in March last year after receiving the feng shui treatment.
In its first operating year it made £1.6million operating profit and has recently been valued at £20million.
When Mr Thrasyvoulou took on the London building, he had to make major changes to the 76-room hotel because the opriginal design did not conform to the rules of feng shui.
The staircase had to be moved because it was facing the entrance 'which would have allowed positive energy to escape' while the bar's hard edges had to be replaced with round corners.

Harmony In The Hotel Room
Bed: Situated in the middle of room away from doors. Furniture should not point directly at the bed. Mirrors are located away from the bed because 'our spirit' may be frightened by an image of itself. Bwahahahaha! <cough> <choke> And people actually pay for this?
Ornaments: Round-edged ornaments are used because books and other sharp-edged items act like 'cutting' knives or blades and interrupt energy flow. So you have round doors and windows with chamfered edges? Didn't think so.

Satan Made Me Do It

Taken from BBC News, 02 June 2000 :

"In a moment of stupidity and weakness I allowed Satan and the world to dictate terms to me," said Hansie Cronje, captain of the South African cricket team who, along with other players, has been accused of fixing matches; all deny the charges. "The moment I took my eyes off Jesus my whole world turned dark," he confessed to Ray McCauley, an evangelist.
A couple of days later he admitted the charges, so Satan makes you lie as well. Powerful dude!

Tomato Growers Use Feng Shui

Quoted from Metro, 12 April 2000 :

Tomato growers have turned to the oriental art of feng shui to ensure a bumper harvest. Feng shui experts, who believe the design of buildings can bring about growth and prosperity, have already visited glasshouses across the country to advise on the siting of hives for the bees which will pollinate their crop. Peter Lansdale, chairman of the British Tomato Growers' Association, said: "I know a lot of people are sceptical about feng shui, but we have serious a problem facing our industry, with the livelihood of many growers threatened by the strength of sterling and the resultant flood of cheap, long-life, imported tomatoes."

Police Prayer Solves Crimes

Quoted from Metro, 04 April 2000 :

God Joins Police In Fight Against Evil
Police have added another weapon in their crime-fighting arsenal — the power of prayer. In what is seen by some as a bizarre attempt to stop crime levels rising to biblical proportions, police in Nottingham have asked the city's congregations to direct their prayers at crime hot-spots. The results have been remarkable, according to Insp Alan Stuart. The inspector, a lay preacher, said after parishioners were asked to direct their prayers at youth crime in the suburb of Arnold, the number of people aged 17 and under arrested fell from 130 in 1997 to 80 in 1999. I'll bet it's actually linked to the number of birds flying outside my window. Hint: correlation without causation. "The only thing we are doing differently in Arnold is praying," he said. While admitting prayers may be an unusual approach to preventing crime, Insp Stuart said the results speak for themselves. "We already have anecdotal evidence "Anecdotal evidence" is an oxymoron — and you are just a moron. that problems in the shopping area have calmed and a shed burglar was apprehended right after a prayer session about shed break-ins," he said. Well, that settles it for me. How much more proof would I ever want? "The lord is certainly on the move and this is only the start." Local vicar the Rev Lesley de Pomerai described the project as unique Not for long, I'll bet., adding: "God wants to act but he needs us to be specific so his power can be targeted." So he doesn't know what we want any more? Not much of a god, then. But Darwinist Richard Dawkins was sceptical about the approach. Typical! Any normal person would just take the whole thing on faith. "If the police of Nottingham are as gullible as this, it's a wonder they ever solves any crimes," he said.

Christian TV Channel Fined By ITC

Quoted from Diva, March 2000 :

£20,000 Fine For Christian TV Channel
A Christian cable TV channel has been fined £20,000 by a television watch-dog after it broadcast an advertisement that referred to gay people as an 'abomination'. The Christian Channel advert, for a religious rally in London featuring US evangelist Maurice Cerullo, also suggested that lesbians and gay men should not be allowed to hold positions of high office. The Independent Television Commission (ITC) said the comments about homosexuals breached its code on 'offending against human dignity'. The ITC also found that the advert breached public and political controversy guidelines by describing UK abortion and divorce laws as the work of 'Satanic hordes'. The £20,000 fine was imposed due to the channel's repeated violations of the ITC's code of practice.

Feng Shui In Supermarkets

Quoted from Metro, 25 October 1999 :

Feng Shui Keeps The Fruit Sweet
It will probably never wash with the traditional greengrocer, but supermarket giants are hiring advisors to make their fruit and vegetables 'happy'. Experts are applying the Chinese art of feng shui to the layout of shelves in plans likely to cost millions of pounds. Somerfield is instituting changes in its 600 shops in which tomatoes will be moved from red peppers, and the 'negative waves' of lettuce will be cancelled out by 'happy' oranges. Tesco is consulting feng shui advisors, while Marks & Spencer has already confirmed that feng shui experts will be involved in the design of its new branch in the King's Road, West London. Meanwhile fruit importer Jaffa is to bring 2,000 tons of the Sweetie, a new low-calorie grapefruit, to the UK. The fruit looks like a lime yet grows to twice its normal size.

Allah's Tomato [Holy Tomato, Batman!]

Quoted from The Independent, 10 September 1999 :

Muslims Queue To See Holy Tomato
Hundreds of Muslims are visiting a small terraced house in Bradford, West Yorkshire, to view a tomato which they believe has a divine message from Allah inside. Shabana Hussain, 27, chopped into the tomato to read: "There is no God but Allah," written in Arabic in the veins.


Quoted from The Sun, 10 September 1999 :

Miracle Of Islam Text In Tomato
Hundreds of pilgrims are flocking to housewife Shabana Hussain's home to see her holy TOMATO. Amazed Shabana, 27, found an Islamic text inside the tomato after slicing it for a curry. The pattern of the seeds in one half spelled out in Arabic: "In the name of Allah the most beneficent and merciful." On the other half were the words: "There is no god but Allah." Shabana, of Girlington, Bradford, said: "I couldn't believe it." Hubby Imdad, 39, added: "It's a miracle." Muslim religious leader Khadim Hussain said: "This is another example of how Islam is all around us."

This, from another religon that demands people take it seriously. They also don't seem to have anything else to do except go around looking at random or abstract shapes (sometimes in a back-to-front and/or upside-down manner) to see if any can be found that resemble something in their language. After all, nothing occurs by chance: it's all done by Allah because he has nothing else to do inbetween watching people throw stars around.

Feng Shui & London

Quoted from Metro, 26 May 1999 :

Sarah Surety, 33, is an international authority according to who? on feng shui — the Chinese art of placement. Jilly Cooper, Chris Patten and Charlie Dimmock have sought her advice on the feng shui of their homes, but where does she live and does she think that London has good feng shui?

Where do you live?
I walk my talk so I have left my dear house in Greenwich and am renting in Little Venice not exactly slumming it, are you? until August to find out what results I have. Moving north-west, according to feng shui, should bring me support from someone in a position of power, improve my career and put me more in control of my life. This has already begun to happen. When I move back to Greenwich that will be a south-east move which means I'll make friends who will stay in my life forever and enjoy more money, more laughter and better communication.
How does this work?
Feng shui is a complex Chinese art based on many variables. One of them is that the earth is swathed in magnetic belts, called the Van Allen belts which go from the North to the South Pole. Every cell in the body has a heart of haemoglobin, which contains iron. In the same way that iron filings react to a magnet, these affect our energy. And the way the belts influence us as we move across them changes over time so it's crucial to make these moves at the right moment. When you move house it takes three months for the energy to settle and the influence lasts for three to 20 years.
Does Little Venice have good feng shui?
Water is actually the translation of shui and it's an analogy for wealth. Wherever there's water there's money. Having water in front of a building is good for finances, health and career. Oh, so that's why castles had moats — it was nothing to do with defences.
Which restaurant has good feng shui?
Christopher's in Exeter Road, Covent Garden. The sweeping staircase will bring in more business. The colour scheme is peach and green, both colours of tranquility sic. Peach is also the colour of romance; there's an expression in China for the look that lovers exchange — 'looking at each other with peach blossom eyes'. And green is a good colour for wealth which also makes it a good place for business lunches. The predominantly square tables in small rooms encourages people to linger and talk. At round tables people tend to eat and run Now we know why Camelot never really worked., and a rectangular shape encourages conflict.
Is the Dome well sited for Millennium celebrations?
It's going to be fantastic. One of the feng shui mistakes they made in the development of Docklands was to have one very large building — Canary Wharf tower — that is out of proportion to all the others. It tends to draw all the energy away from the other buildings, affecting the whole area. In order to make Docklands really prosperous all the buildings need to be of a similar height. The Dome will restore a sense of balance. Other plus points are that it's near water and the dome-shape belongs to the metal element which also signifies money. What's your favourite subject? But it's not going to be until 2003 that the whole site will be well established and desirable. Hang on a mo : Little Venice to Greenwich is south-east, which means you'll make even more money. Oh, and everlasting friends.
How do London and New York's feng shui compare?
New York is built on a grid system of long straight streets which can create an unstable energy. You go round a corner and almost get blown off your feet because there's a dramatic change in wind and movement. This is unsettling and causes sudden changes in energy which makes people tense and therefore more aggressive. Also there are lots of huge skyscrapers made of concrete. And steel. Ever tried making them of brick or wood? Doesn't work. London is different. It has lots of little hearts, like villages. What are you now, an estate agent? It's not Napier Road, it's Napier village because it has a shop or two. Look at a small part of London — Elystan Street in Chelsea, for example. That's a little heart. There's a little village green, narrow streets so the traffic has to move more slowly. There are shops. The energy is softer and crime can't survive so well. 'Soft' energy defeats crime? Wow!
Where is London's true centre?
There are obviously various centres — Harley Street for medicine, the City for finance, Tottenham Court Road for electrical goods, because the energy of that area will only support that kind of activity. But I would say the truest centre of the city is probably around the Palace. The area gives a kind of warmth and elegance — it's a big heart, extending right up to Trafalgar Square.
Is it a good year for Sophie and Edward to marry?
Getting married in the year of the rabbit is very beneficial for most people. Sophie and Edward are both tree dragons so they have excellent communication together and should have a fertile marriage with children. The 19th is a particularly favourable day for signing contracts and June is the month of the horse which is another auspicious omen for having children. The royal family will soon be multiplying before our eyes. Well, you did say it was the year of the rabbit.

How To Recognise Racism (pt 1)

Quoted from Diva, Dec1997 / Jan1998 :

"She [Valerie Mason John (a.k.a. Queenie)] expects any white girlfriend of hers to own up to the racism that all British upbringings provide. "I've had girlfriends who say 'Oh, I'm not racist.' Then they'll come out with a line like 'I never eat Indian food' or 'I always buy British.' I've been out with people like that.""
The "all" is as bad as an xian demanding that everyone else admit to sin, and if they don't, then they are a sinner (racist) anyway, and a bigot for not admitting it.
At least she seems to have found the best means of determining whether someone is racist or not: simply ask them what food they like. If they reply 'I don't like it' or 'I'm a vegetarian' or 'I'm allergic to it', then you know it's only a pathetic excuse to hide their underlying xenophobia: the real reason is that they're a racist. As for me, I fully admit to being anti-semitic, because I don't like bagels, and I must be a Francophile as I love croissant — loathe brioche, though, so guess that means I'm really just another Francophobe. No, I've got it now, I'm a schizophrenic! (No you're not.) Yes, I am.

World News

Plane Crazy

Taken from BBC News, 05 September 2007 :

A Nepalise Airlines Boeing 757 was on Sunday the object of sacrifices as two goats were butchered in front of it to appease the Hindu god of sky protection, Akash Bhairab, as the craft had been experiencing a series of faults. The airplane was unavailable for comment, but did later fly to Hong Kong.

Ignorant Peasants Butcher Tea Farmers

Taken from various sources, 18 March 2006 :

Amir Munda, a 60-year-old traditional healer living in Assam, was killed along with his two sons and two daughters by a mob who found them guilty of witchcraft; his wife and three younger children managed to escape. The Sadharu tea estate had seen a couple of unexplained deaths that were probably due to the unhygienic conditions under which the majority of workers live, but after some deliberation they focused on Amir; he initially denied being a witch, but confessed under torture. He and what could be found of his family were beheaded by machete in what was called a "sacrifice to the gods", then the villagers carried the severed heads to the police station where they were left. Six people have been arrested in relation to the incident, whilst police say that during the past five years in Assam alone, over 200 people had been murdered for being witches.

Calling these pathetic animals "superstitious" is far too kind.

Born In The USSA 3

Taken from The Financial Reporter, 03 October 2005 :

As part of the Patriot Act, which permit searches of people and property without a warrant show me your papers, comrade, where are you going?, the internet company AOL has joined with the Department of Homeland Security to permit the government body "free and unfettered" access to the millions of AOL members for the purposes of "watching over and keeping surveillance". Any information gained is supposed to be confidential the government wouldn't lie about this, would they?, but businesses at home and abroad are concerned their secrets will be given away to competitors who are aiding the current administration. You don't trust US? Traitor!

Born In The USSA 2

Taken from The Progressive, 04 October 2005 :

As part of an economics class exercise to illustrate their rights in The Bill Of Rights, one student in Currituck County High School, North Carolina, made a poster from a photograph of himself standing with a thumb's-down sign in front of an image of the president, pinned to the wall through his forehead. The photograph was subsequently reported to Kitty Hawk police by a Wal-Mart employee where the film was taken to be developed; the police then called in the Secret Service, who visited the school on 20 September 2005 and removed the poster from the school. His teacher, Selina Jarvis, was questioned about the boy's integrity, and asked if she thought the poster to be 'suspicious' (which she did not, as it was the whole point of the class), then informed that the incident "would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted." The SS did not take the case any further, and the student was not indicted; the local police filed no investigative report, and Wal-Mart had no comment.

3 Wives… er, Steps To Heaven

Taken from The Guardian, 14 June 2005 :

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which broke away from the Mormon church in 1890 over disagreements regarding polygamy, believe a man must marry at least three wives or forfeit his chance at reaching heaven. To facilitate this, they have decided to get rid of potential competitors by removing between 400-1000 teenage boys from their group and abandoning them on the side of the road. With 10,000 members, this is the largest polygamy group in the U.S., but they deny any wrong-doing and claim the children were expelled for being delinquents.

Buy… Or We Sue

Taken from The Guardian, 27 April 2004 :

In a case filed at the WTO, the US has demanded £1bn from Europe in compensation for lost exports since 1998, claiming that the ban on GM products is illegal because it is against WTO free-trade rules, and not based on scientific research; the EU will probably respond by saying that the five-year moratorium was to test the effects of GM on the environment, but ultimately the WTO has to decide whether to follow the wishes of the European people or the demands of GM producers, in a decision that will have world-wide implications for all countries and their attitudes towards the US push of GM.
So a private company makes something people don't want, then gets their pet government to sue us when we don't buy it. Isn't Capitalism wonderful?

Carrying A Map? Arrest That Terrorist!

Taken from CNN, 29 December 2003 :

Although people carrying maps may be using them for innocent purposes, the FBI has issued warnings to police to be on the look-out for people who appear to be surveying public or strategic buildings; anyone having an almanac or other collection of public data (typically listing dams & reservoirs, and landmarks) is also to be suspected, especially if the book has been annotated in a suspicious manner.

PC Insanity 2

Taken from various sources, November 2003 :

A phrase that is used in many fields to identify primary & secondary or source-destination, including video-reproduction and computer electronics, has come under fire, as someone working Los Angeles saw the term master / slave and felt 'discriminated' against. As a result of this complaint, the County of Los Angeles issued a request for all suppliers of materials to remove such markings, as they might be construed as offensive or defamatory. Then again, the complainant, who though possibly descended from slaves had certainly never been one (unless as part of the S/M community), could always get a life.

Duh… Duh… Dowsing For Terrorists

Taken from Tri-Valley Herald, 25 March 2003 [mentioned in Private Eye 1086, 08-15 August 2003] :

Speaking to reporters in Pleasanton, California, James Frank of the American Legion said that they needed "to act fast to support Homeland Security." As a means to this end, he suggested that "In the world of Homeland Security, you have to be more open-minded, and that's why we're sponsoring classes that teach us how to dowse for terrorists." As well as the American Legion, the Air Force Association is also the running courses. Frank explained, "In essence, you just point a hazel twig at anyone you think looks suspicious, or Middle eastern, and see if it twitches. And if it does, you can restrain them using necessary force, until the police arrive to arrest them. We're still refining the techniques at the moment, but if it works, maybe you could identify a potential terrorist while he's still at the airport. Maybe the same technique could even be used to find a dangerous bag among thousands in an airport." The scheme was given support by an American League Commander, Rene LaVigne, who said, "I think it's got merits. In fact, our government has been using it for years. They just don't make a big deal out of it, because it's not scientifically provable."

More Muslim Tolerance

Taken from The Guardian, 25 April 2003 :

An alliance of five Muslim countries (including Egypt & Saudi Arabia ) yesterday delayed a UN resolution by proposing so many amendments that the declaration would never succeed. Tabled by Brazil, the resolution called upon all states to protect the rights "of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation" and was the first time such a subject would have been voted upon, but such equality was too much for many members as half of them outlaw sexual relationships and over seventy ban homosexuality entirely, whilst in some it still carries the death-penalty, though it was because of such behaviour that the motion was proposed.

Anyone who disagrees with this is of course a rabid Islamophobe, and as for the 70+ countries who have 'banned' homosexuality, have they banned brown eyes too?, never mind trying to prevent people from having a choice of who they love. (The Resolution was withdrawn in March 2003 after the Conference of Islamic States and the Vatican ensured it would be destroyed, though it had been supported by the European Parliament.)

House Resolution 153

Quoted from, 20 March 2003 :

Recognizing the public need for fasting and prayer in order to secure the blessings and protection of Providence for the people of the United States and our Armed Forces during the conflict in Iraq and under the threat of terrorism at home. Whereas the United States is currently engaged in a war on terrorism in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001; Whereas the Armed Forces of the United States are currently engaged in a campaign to disarm the regime of Saddam Hussein and liberate the people of Iraq; Whereas, on June 1, 1774, the Virginia House of Burgesses called for a day of fasting and prayer as an expression of solidarity with the people of Boston who were under siege by the enemy; Whereas, on March 16, 1776, the Continental Congress, recognizing that the 'Liberties of America are imminently endangered' and the need 'to acknowledge the overruling Providence of God', called for a day of 'Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer'; Whereas, on June 28, 1787, during the debate of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin, convinced of God's intimate involvement in human affairs, implored the Congress to seek the assistance of Heaven in all its dealings; Whereas, on March 30, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, at the bequest of the Senate, and himself recognizing the need of the Nation to humble itself before God in repentance for its national sins, proclaimed a day of fasting, prayer and humiliation; Whereas all of the various faiths of the people of the United States have recognized, in our religious traditions, the need for fasting and humble supplication before Providence; Whereas humility, fasting, and prayer in times of danger have long been rooted in our essential national convictions and have been a means of producing unity and solidarity among all the diverse people of this Nation as well as procuring the enduring grace and benevolence of God; Whereas, through prayer, fasting, and self-reflection, we may better recognize our own faults and shortcomings and submit to the wisdom and love of God in order that we may have guidance and strength in those daily actions and decisions we must take; and Whereas dangers and threats to our Nation persist and, in this time of peril, it is appropriate that the people of the United States, leaders and citizens alike, seek guidance, strength, and resolve through prayer and fasting: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the President should issue a proclamation -

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye! You shall fast! (Alleluia!) You shall pray! (Amen to that, brother!) You shall bow down! (Praise the Lord!) You shall be part of a Nation whose God-given mission is to lead the rest of the heathen commie faggot world into the glorious light of God's glory. [Needless to say it passed, by 346 to 49.]

Fishy Story

Taken from The New York Times, 14 March 2003 :

Early one morning on January 28'th, New Square Fish Market was at the centre of an alleged 'miracle' when a large carp, about to be cut up, began speaking in Hebrew, warning of the apocalypse and claiming to be the soul of a recently-deceased community leader; the area is home to about 7000 Hasidic Jews of the Skver sect. Luis Nivelo, one of the fish-cutters and a Christian immigrant from Ecuador, was about to kill the fish when it started talking, and although not knowing Hebrew the shock sent him running into the steet shouting, "The fish is talking! It's the devil! The devil is here!". His work-companion and only other witness, Zalmen Rosen, told him to calm down, but was then ordered by the fish to study the Torah; the fish then identified itself as the dead leader and flopped around so much that Rosen cut his own finger in his attempt to kill the fish, which was finally dispatched by Nivelo before being cut up and sold.

You Can't Judge US

Taken from New York Times, 06 May 2002 :

Yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed that the US would 'unsign' from the International Criminal Court treaty (though no mechanism exists for such international agreements), when he said "Within the next day or so, the United States will notify the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, that we will not ratify it, that we have no intention of ratifying the international criminal court treaty." Concerns about US troops and operations being the victim of prosecutions were cited as reasons for pulling out after having signed, and so the US would ignore any future rulings and orders of the Court. Powell explained, "Since we have no intention of ratifying it, it is appropriate for us, because we have such serious problems with the ICC, to notify the depository, Secretary General, that we do not intend to ratify it, and therefore we are no longer bound in any way to its purpose and objective."

How To Tell If An African Boy Is A Virgin

Taken from The Star (South Africa), 31 January 2002 [mentioned in Private Eye 1050, 22 March - 04 April 2002] :

Reggie Khumalo, speaking on behalf of Isivivane Sama Siko (which promotes traditional African culture) to reporters in Durban, said "Boys have a hymen, just like girls, and that is how we conduct our virginity tests on young men. There is a white lacy skin on the foreskin, and if the foreskin slips away easily during inspection, that means the hymen has gone. But if it is sore and hard to move, then it means the boy is still a virgin." Older teams of men will be trained to perform the tests. "We must try to prevent young boys from abusing themselves, and from catching sexually transmitted diseases. Our testers have various ways to tell if a boy is pure or impure. Apart from looking for the hymen, we check for a certain vein. If it can be seen, it means he is a virgin. We also look at how the boy urinates. If the stream goes straight up in the air, he is a virgin, but if the urine sprays, he has had sex. We also check the colour of his knees, because purple knees means he is not a virgin. Finally, we ask the boy if he is a virgin. But we rarely take notice of the answer." When challenged on his knowledge of anatomy, he replied "… forget about doctors. They don't know what they are talking about. If they say the boys don't have a hymen, then what do they call the white part around the foreskin?"

Fuck Cultural Relatavism : This Is Murder

Taken from BBC, 15 March 2002 :

Fifteen girls died on the 11'th when a fire swept through their overcrowded school, which was locked to keep them inside, and the school watchman refused to let them out. Mutaween police of the Commission For The Promotion Of Virtue And Prevention Of Vice also beat girls back because they were not wearing the mandatory clothing of headscarf and black robe, and warned passing men who wanted to help that it was sinful to approach the girls.

Sin Causes Sickness

Taken from The Guardian, 07 February 2002 :

Monsignor Paul Cordes, a Vatican bishop responsible for humanitarian aid and chairman of the theological institute Cor Unam, said, "Jesus heals illness and banishes sin. He therefore tells us that there is a link between sin and sickness. Jesus highlights this fundamental law." He added that "Man's desire to be healthy, good-looking and strong in justified because it is anticipating future salvation. Besides, one cannot deny that death, of which sickness is an anticipation, has always been seen as a consequence of sin," and insisted the connection was not his own but rather embedded in Roman Catholic teachings, "The law of salvation cannot of course be applied to every case. I cannot say that someone is sick because he has sinned, but in the history of salvation, sickness is the consequence of sin."

Women Awarded For Stupidity

Taken from Associated Press, 30 January 2002 :

$290,000 has been awarded by a jury to two women in Salt Lake City who claimed they were deceived after being told by The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints of the Last Days that they would have membership of heaven's elite and a chance to meet Jesus on earth. Kaziah Hancock gave 67 acres of land and a share of water rights to the church as part of her membership, and so received $270,000, whereas Cindy Stewart was awarded $20,000. Elaine Harmston, the wife of church founder Jim Harmston, responded to the verdict by saying "God's people have always been persecuted and right now is no different."

So did Jesus turn up? Guess not, then. But look on the bright side — he's still coming 'real soon now'.

Raping Babies Cures HIV

Taken from The Guardian, 03 November 2001 :

21,000 cases of child rape have been reported in the past year in South Africa, in the belief that having sex with a virgin will cleanse the rapist who carries the disease. Children as young as nine months have been raped, and subsequently been infected, as well as suffering horrendous injuries; they are also assaulted because they are thought not to carry the virus.

This is sick beyond words, but merely a logical extension of the same belief system that allows abstracts such as 'sin' (a non-existent 'disease' for which religion offers a 'cure') to be passed on to animals (a scapegoat) or a celebration of evil being driven away by throwing stones (ramyu 'r rijAm).

Born In The USSA 1

Taken from various sources, October 2001 :

On 26 October, A.J. Brown, 19, studying at Durham Tech, North Carolina, who had a poster on her wall campaigning against George Bush's use of the death penalty, was visited by 3 security agents who had been informed she was in possession of "anti-American material, or something like that"; they then asked if she also had pro-Taliban propaganda. The poster was of Bush holding a rope, with the caption, "We hang on your every word. George Bush: Wanted, 152 Dead." [The number of people murdered in Texas whilst he was governor.]

Fatwa Issued Against Pokémon

Taken from The Scotsman & The Guardian, April 2001 :

Pokémon (Pocket Monsters) imagery has been accused of promoting Zionism, Freemasonry, Christianity, Shintoism, Gambling and, because the creatures change, evolution, which is rejected by orthodox Islam. Saudi Arabia's Higher Committee For Scientific Research And Islamic Law said that the trading cards have symbols including "the Star of David, which everyone knows is connected to international Zionism and is Israel's national emblem, as well as being the first symbol of the Freemasons."

Indian Earthquake Caused By Television

Taken from Fox News, 13 February 2001 :

Conservative Muslims in Ahmadabad are destroying their televisions sets after Mufti Imtiaz, a Muslim cleric, blamed them for the 7.7 earthquake which devastated the region at the end of January. Hundreds of sets have been smashed and burned so far. A shop-keeper said, "The mufti has told us about the poisoning of minds through television, which has made the Almighty angry, and this is what caused the earthquake.'' He added, "We have annoyed Allah. Can't you see the devastation caused by the earthquake?"

Eclipse Caused By Sin Not Sun

Quoted from Metro, 11 January 2001 :

Rioters Blame Lunar Eclipse On Sinners. Militant Muslim youths set at least 40 hotels and bars ablaze in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri after blaming Tuesday's lunar eclipse on "the activity of sinners". A youth leader in the nearby town of Barma said: "The immoral acts committed in these places are responsible for this eclipse."

American Student Suspended Over Claims Of Witchcraft

Quoted from The Independent, 05 January 2001 :

Brandi: The Teenage Witch, A true story (not that you'll believe it), by Andrew Gumbel

Brandi Blackbear never stood out at school as anything other than a perfectly average teenage kid. She had acceptable, if not scintillating, grades. She wasn't exactly Miss Popularity, but she had a decent number of friends. She never got into serious trouble, had no problems with lateness or truancy, and had no bad habits or delinquent pastimes.
That, though, was before the authorities at her school began to accuse her of practising witchcraft.
Just over a year ago, Brandi was summarily suspended from Union Intermediate High School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and told to stay at home for two weeks. The reason had to do with her ceramics teacher, a certain Mr Kemp, who had fallen suddenly ill and had been rushed in to hospital.
According to the assistant principal of the school, Brandi had caused this sudden illness by casting a spell on Mr Kemp.
No proof was offered for this startling assertion other than the evidence of Brandi's right hand, which was scrawled with a five-pointed star in a circle. Charlie Bushyhead, the assistant principal, insisted it was a witch's pentagram and badgered her into admitting that she was an adherent of the Wicca, the popular New Age religion that harks back to pagan models of spirituality.
The confrontation that led to her suspension appears to have no precedent in modern US history; witch-hunts, at least the literal kind, went seriously out of fashion following the notorious Salem burnings of 1692.
Having called her into his office, Mr Bushyhead bombarded Brandi with accusations, quickly reducing her to tears. A school counsellor, Sandy Franklin, joined in the interrogation and also accused her of casting spells. By the time her father arrived 45 minutes later, Brandi's eyes were blood-red from all the crying. Tim Blackbear demanded to know what was going on, and the teachers told him their story about Mr Kemp. He could hardly believe his ears.
"I asked Mr Bushyhead if I had heard what he was saying right," Mr Blackbear recounted. "He told me: 'You're making light of this situation. We have a very serious problem here.'" Brandi, he was told, was an "immediate threat" to the school and a disruptive influence on the education process. She had to go home immediately. Mr Blackbear protested vigorously, but was told, "Your attitude is not going to help us here". There was nothing more to be done.
That was last December. In the intervening period, several troubling new facts have come to light. First, Mr Kemp was not stricken by some mystery ailment but, rather, underwent a routine emergency operation for appendicitis and has since fully recovered. The ceramics teacher was not himself a party to the accusations against Brandi and appears to have been one of her favourite instructors at the school.
Secondly, Brandi's association with the Wicca, while not in itself incriminating in any way, appears to have been a matter of rumour rather than fact. She had been reading up on the Goddess movement as research for a short story she was working on, and did not, at least according to the account she gives now, fall under its influence. If she admitted being a member of a Wicca "coven", her family says, it was only because of the duress of her interrogation.
Even if she was a Wiccan, that should not have been a cause of alarm. With an estimated 200,000 adherents, Wicca is now one of the fastest growing religious movements among young people in the United States, and has inspired its own books, films and even TV series such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Modern-day Wicca certainly taps into the tradition of earth-mothers and shamans that prompted official witch-hunts in the Middle Ages, but has nothing to do with Satan worship or malicious magical practices. Rather, it reveres unity with nature, the seasons and the stars, and emphasises peace and egalitarianism, hardly civilisation-threatening concepts. The religion has found wide acceptance and Wiccan services have even been performed at military bases and on US Navy ships.
So what, then, was behind it all? The school authorities have said almost nothing, other than to insist that they behaved appropriately. They have refused to be drawn on the particulars of the case, saying they cannot discuss confidential details of Brandi's school record without her parents' permission, a line that both her parents and her lawyers dismiss as nonsense.
The Blackbears, meanwhile, have sought the help of the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and filed suit in federal court alleging multiple violations of Brandi's civil rights. (The school board is obliged to respond within the next few days, but has yet to do so.)
The picture that emerges, both from the court filing and from conversations with the family, is a lot more troubling than a simple dispute between an impressionable student and an over-zealous school administrator. It touches on the intolerance of the fundamentalist Christian organisations that hold considerable sway in suburban Oklahoma, and on a sort of hysteria capable of erupting across much of the American heartland, a hysteria that can seize on anybody who appears to be in any way different from the conservative, church-going, liberal-hating, virulently anti-intellectual norm.
Brandi's problems began eight months before the witchcraft episode, in the wake of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two deranged students opened fire and killed 15 people. Panic about the possibility of copycat attacks gripped schools across the US; the Union School in Broken Arrow was no exception.
Brandi was singled out as a suspect for many reasons, none of them good. She was quiet. She spent a lot of time writing fiction, especially horror stories modelled on her hero, Stephen King. She was not part of mainstream Broken Arrow society; she was not white, middle-class or a member of one of the big evangelical churches in the Tulsa area. Her father is a Native American who drives a bread van; her mother is of Sicilian origin and brought her up Catholic.
A week after the Columbine shootings, one of her teachers heard a rumour that she had written a story about gun violence and organised a search of her backpack and school locker. No weapons showed up, but that did not stop the school authorities from confiscating her notebooks and school work, including stories she had been working on. One of these stories concerned a shooting on a school bus; within 24 hours, Brandi was suspended for the rest of the academic year.
The effect on Brandi was devastating. Her friends ridiculed her, asking her repeatedly whether they were on her "hit list". She lost all her writing materials – they have not been returned – and became so disheartened she gave up on fiction all together. By the time she returned to classes in September, she was behind on maths and other subjects and was struggling to keep up.
"I don't think if she had been one of the wealthy upper-class school board members' children it would have gone to this level. They had a situation where they thought they could push her around," Tim Blackbear remarks bitterly. "Look, she's not the Prom Queen, not the valedictorian, just an average kid who goes to school, does her work, and loves to learn. It's been extremely hard for her."
The social and cultural tone in Broken Arrow, including its school district, is set by three hugely powerful fundamentalist Christian organisations: the Rhema Bible Training Center, whose founder Kenneth "Dad" Hagin believes the Bible is a more effective healer than modern medicine and that wealth is a sign of God's blessing upon the faithful; the Victory Christian Church; and, in nearby Tulsa, Oral Roberts University, best known for a notorious fund-raising appeal by its eponymous founder, who said God would kill him if he did not receive $4m from his supporters. (Miraculously, he survived.) According to the ACLU, the fundamentalists have consistently sought to erode the separation of church and state in Oklahoman schools, piping prayers through the intercom system and having scho ol marching bands play evangelical hymns at sports events. At the same time, non-evangelical Christians and members of other religions are looked down upon and sanctioned whenever they display symbols of their own religious beliefs.
Catholics are regularly belittled by fundamentalists as idolators and told they will rot in Hell; occasionally, such views are expressed by teachers. Anyone sporting a pentacle – the proper term for the Wicca symbol – can expect to be accused of Satan-worship and membership of a criminal gang, as occasional ACLU lawsuits attest.
"We see a lot of problems with violations of individual religious liberty within public school systems in Oklahoma as the result of actions by over-zealous Christian fundamentalists who are often in charge," said Michael Canfield, who works at the ACLU office in Oklahoma City.
Occasionally, the intolerance can spill over into violence. When Joann Bell, now the executive director of the Oklahoma ACLU, filed a lawsuit in 1981 to try to stop school-sponsored prayer meetings, which are banned under the US Constitution's First Amendment, she was beaten up by a school employee and had her house burned down. Her children, who were in school at the time, had upside-down crosses scrawled on their lockers and were openly denounced as Satan-worshippers.
The bottom line is that absolutist thinking, whether at church or in schools, can become highly dangerous when individuals who do not fit the standard cultural profile get caught in the crossfire. Brandi Blackbear appears to be a victim of an endemic culture of bigotry and intolerance that is likely only to grow now that George W Bush, the incoming president, is talking about giving federal grants to religious organisations like the ones in Broken Arrow to manage welfare programmes and expand their private educational institutions.
Tim Blackbear says: "It's hard for me to believe that in the year 2001 I am walking into court to defend my daughter against charges of witchcraft." It may be the first case of its kind in modern America, but it may also be far from the last.

God Blesses America

Taken from Times Record News, Wichita Falls, Texas, 14 November 2000 :

Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University took a random telephone poll of 1005 "adult Americans" living in the District of Columbia during mid October. 62% said that God had given his special blessing to the United States of America; even more (65%) thought he had helped them become free the secure, and almost half (45%) wealthy. The margin of error is ±4%. The whole world created just for Americans to use, just the way Xians consider the entire universe was made just for them

Poverty Is A Virtue (Unless You're Catholic)

Taken from The Guardian, 13 May 2000 :

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, has insisted poverty is a virtue for everyone except the Catholic church. Catholics should follow the example of Christ and be poor, by donating their wealth to the church, which should in turn be exceedingly rich; if anyone felt uneasy about that, then they were suffering from a bourgeois guilt complex, and just because Christ was a poor carpenter who attacked the money-changers there was no reason for the church to follow his example and renounce wealth. However, true Catholics were entitled to consider the church's riches as their own to share.

The Anti-Christ Is Here… And They'll Be Vegetarian

(click here for corroborating evidence)

Taken from The Times, 06 March 2000 :

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, 71, the Archbishop of Bologna and the leading conservative contender to succeed the Pope, said yesterday that the "Antichrist" was already on Earth in the guise of a prominent philanthropist whose concern for human rights and the environment and advocacy of ecumenicism masked his real aim: the destruction of Christianity and "the death of God". So does he die if people stop believing in him? Not much of a god!
He added that the Antichrist was not the beast as described in the Bible but a "fascinating personality" whose charm and plausibility had deceived his enemies by advocating vegetarianism, pacifism, environmentalism, and animal rights.
The Antichrist was also an expert on the Bible who proposed dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations, but far from being a worthy aim it was actually being used in an attempt to undermine Catholicism to the point where it collapsed. Feeling a bit insecure, are we?
The cardinal did not say whether he had any particular world figure in mind, and his real target seemed to be the substitution of "feel-good" causes, such as ecology and humanitarian aid, for "true religion". So doing something beneficial for this (real, actual) world is a bad thing — what we must do is pray for our future in a metaphysical realm. Typical.

God Again Cited As Reason For Bigotry

Quoted from Diva, May 1999 :

"The Government has issued a White Paper concerning Britain's dependent territories and their laws regarding homosexuality. Britain has told its last remaining colonial outposrs that they should adopt legislation similar to the UK Sexual Offenses Act (1967) which allows homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. Currently, homosexuality remains a crime in Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Montserrat. Speaking from the Montserrat UK Government Office, Information Office Janie Panton said of the White Paper, "for cultural and religious reasons, the Government of Montserrat feel that this is something that they will not be putting through, but obviously this is a British territory and it can be imposed." She continued, "The chief minister of Montserrat believes that homosexuality is against the laws of God. It is against the law here, but there have not been any prosecutions for years. The people of Montserrat will not agree for the current laws to be abolished." If, however, these and other recommendations on human rights and financial regulations are adopted, the dependent territoties will be given back their automatic rights to British citizenship, which was taken away in 1962."

PC Insanity 1

Taken from various sources, January 1999 :

The use of a common word has landed someone in hot water (apologies to hydrophobes) to such an extent that the culprit (apologies to those unjustly accused of crimes of which they were not guilty, and those justly accused of things they were guilty of, because it wasn't their fault anyway but society's) had to tender his resignation (apologies to those who have been given the boot / sacked / downsized / shown the door / shafted / thrown out / dismissed). During a staff meeting in New York, a white employee used niggardly to corrrectly describe his office's budget (or at least his opinion of it), but another person at the meeting interpreted it as nigger(in other words, he was either ignorant of a common word and made a fuss about it, or wasn't paying attention and mis-heard). Later, the Major, who had readily accepted the resignation, said he would re-hire the employee, as he had "acted too hastily", though being black he was already under pressure from New Yorkers for hiring too many whites.

Hong Kong Skyscraper Gives Neighbours Bad Vibes

Regarding the Bank Of China Building :

Quoted from Skyscraper, by Judith Dupré; Black Dog & Leventhal, 1996 :

"Bank officers, in defiance of local tradition, opposed an analysis of the building by practitioners of fêng shui, an ancient system of divination by which a building's future prospects of success or failure can allegedly be gauged. According to Carter Wiseman on his excellent monograph on Pei, local geomancers interpreted the masts atop the building as chopsticks held over an empty bowl despite the fact the masts are at the highest point of the sloping roof! — a symbol of poverty. In their eyes, the Xs made by the facade's cross-bracing recalled the X-slash on a condemned man's name tag, signifying he was 'finished.'"


Quoted from 100 Of The World's Tallest Buildings, by the Council On Tall Buildings And Urban Habitat; Hazar, 1998 :

"Unofficial preliminary reports suggested that the design did not take into account the Feng Shui tradition in Hong Kong. … The sharp geometry of the building would slice the delicate yin yang of the world and direct the cosmic anger yes, really of its sharp points towards the building's neighbours. However, the art the "art"?! of Feng Shui is not recognised by the Chinese government so the building was built as designed."

What People believe

Which Way Was It Again? (pt 5)

Taken from The Register, 14 February 2011 :

A recent survey of 1600 Russians returned the fact that 32% of them believe the Earth is the centre of the Solar System, with almost the same percentage that Humans fought dinosaurs for control.

Which Way Was It Again? (pt 4)

Taken from The Week, 07 January 2005 :

20% of Americans think the sun orbits the earth, whilst 17% think the earth orbits the sun once a day.

So Much For Education (pt 2)

Taken from PRNewswire, 26 February 2003 :

A Harris poll of 2201 American adults surveyed on-line during the end of January (which carries a 90% certainty that the results are ±2% of the entire population) came to the following not too surprising results : 90% believe in God, 84% in post-death survival of the soul (obviously predicated on the soul even existing to begin with, which was assumed rather than questioned) and miracles, 82% in heaven, 69% in hell & the devil, 51% in ghosts, 31% in reincarnation and astrology. Belief was highest amongst the uneducated, but the differences aren't very great, with 'only' 71-72% of people with degrees believing in heaven & miracles, and 85% in God.

So Much For Education (pt 1)

Quoted from The Guardian, 29 January 2003 :

The truth today is that 27% of respondents to a recent poll did not realise that joining the euro means scrapping the pound. Only half of a random survey of 18-year-olds knew that the Battle of Britain took place in 1940. Seven per cent thought that it took place in 1066 and that the troops involved were cavalry.

The End Is Nigh (Again?!)

Quoted from Time, 24 June 2002 :

A TIME/CNN poll finds that more than one-third of Americans say they are paying more attention now to how the news might relate to the end of the world, and have talked about what the Bible has to say on the subject. Fully 59% say they believe the events in Revelation are going to come true, and nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the Sept. 11 attack.

Americans Believe In Angels

Taken from Star Tribune, 20 December 2001 :

A Scripps Howard News Service telephone survey of 1,127 people living in the District of Columbia at the end of October recorded a 77% 'Yes' response to the question, "Do you believe angels, that is, some kind of heavenly beings who visit Earth, in fact exist?"; 73% believe angels still "come into the world even in these modern days." Robert W. Graves, author of "The Gospel According to Angels", said, "I believe interest in angels is healthy in the sense that it offers us an opportunity to discuss spiritual matters." However, Paul Kurtz, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Buffalo and founder of the Council for Secular Humanism, responded, "This is all very disturbing, even tragic in a way. Angels have come back, as have other superstitions like a belief in vampires or satanic forces." People who are least likely to believe in angels are those with postgraduate degrees, earners with an income of $80,000 or more, Jews, and those with no religious preference. There was a ± 4% margin of error in the survey.

Jesus Is Coming 'Real Soon Now' (pt 2)

Quoted from The Washington Post, 24 October 2001 :

Forty percent of Americans believe supernatural intervention will bring an end to human history, according to a recent poll. … Of the 40 percent who believed in a supernatural end to the Earth, two-thirds of them said it was "very likely" Jesus Christ would return. … Of those who believed in the world's end, half said it was "very" or "somewhat" likely it would happen in their lifetime. When asked what would happen to them should there be a Second Coming, 61 percent of those who believed in a world's end said they would go to heaven. Twenty-eight percent said they did not know.

Not Necessarily So…

Quoted from The Telegraph, 12 April 2001 :

… A sample of 1,000 people from all backgrounds were telephoned in March and asked if they thought "Jesus literally rose from the dead exactly as explained in the Bible" or if "there could have been another explanation". A fifth said they did not believe in Christ's resurrection at all and 48 per cent said they thought there could have been another explanation. Among the younger age group (16-24) 56 per cent thought there was another explanation for Christ rising from the dead while 23 per cent believed in the Biblical account. Among those aged 65 and over 44 per cent believed in the Easter story and 37 per cent thought there might be an alternative theory. …

Jesus Is Coming 'Real Soon Now' (pt 1)

Quoted from ABC News, 05 October 1999 :

… Back in the United States, according to a 1997 Associated Press poll, nearly 25 percent of adult Christians — more than 26 million people — believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth in their lifetimes and set in motion the horrific events laid out in the biblical books of Revelation and Daniel. These include a vivid description of men being scorched with fire, complete darkness and a turning of the seas to blood. …

Creationism Reigns

Quoted from ABC News, 16 August 1999 :

… about 45 percent of American adults take the Bible's story of creation literally. … In a November 1997 poll by the Gallup Organization that quizzed people about their views on the origin of humans, 44 percent agreed with the statement, 'God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.' … In a Gallup poll last June, one-third of American adults surveyed agreed that 'The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.' … Americans are almost five times as likely to take the Bible literally than people in England. … Germany, Norway, Russia and the Netherlands were also among the nations where a smaller percentage of adults believed in taking the Bible literally.

Which Way Was It Again? (pt 3)

Quoted from Unweaving The Rainbow, 1998 :

The paper [The Telegraph] was reporting the dumbfounding fact that a third of the British population still believes the sun goes round the earth.

Which Way Was It Again? (pt 2)

Quoted from The Focault Pendulum At The Panthéon, 1995 :

Not long ago, a survey revealed that of 55 million French people who had received a normal education, 5 million diehards firmly believed that it is the Sun which continues to pass its time by revolving around us.

Which Way Was It Again? (pt 1)

Quoted from Public Opinion Laboratory at Northern Illinois University, July 1988 :

21 percent of Americans polled by telephone were of the opinion that the sun revolved about the earth, and an additional 7 percent didn't know which went around which.