Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro is Scottsdale, AZ gained some small notoriety when it became the first restaurant that Gordon Ramsey gave up on in his show Kitchen Nightmares, in which the restaurateur helps failing businesses reform their ways. The Ramsey segments show the owners of the restaurant, Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, screaming obscenities at customers, taking servers' tips, and generally behaving very badly.
But that was just for warmup. After the episodes aired and showed up on YouTube, the Bouzaglos took to Facebook to condemn their critics on Reddit and Yelp with a mix of profanity, Bible-thumping, spurious legal threats, and, finally, a claim that it wasn't them at all, all the crazypants stuff had been the work of hackers who took over their Facebook account.
In a world with innumerable social media hissyfits and bun-fights, the Bouzaglos' meltdown stands out as a world-beater. Truly, this is an exceptional episode of bad behavior.
As Scientology's numbers and influence decline, the company religion is desperate to maintain appearances. Mark 'Wise Beard Man' Bunker managed to get shots and videos of this weekend's gala opening in Portland (despite a keystone kops runaround from the Portland cops, whom Scientology suborned to chase independent press away from the event), along with other, less public Scientology skeptics. They estimated the crowd at 450-750; the Church put it closer to 2,500, and to prove it, they photoshopped a bunch of stock-art people overtop of a line of rented trees.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Dennis Nobbe's Dynamic Medical Services, Inc, where employees were made to engage in bizarre Scientology rituals as a condition of employment. The EEOC says that this violated employees' freedom of religion, and they're suing Dr Nobbe to prove it. This is the downside of the Church of Scientology's dodge of getting itself certified as a "religion," a practice that otherwise grants it enormous privileges, including preferential tax-treatment. But once your woo-woo exercises are officially "religious rituals," then forcing someone to engage in them violates freedom of religion rules:
According to the EEOC's suit, the company required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving. The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology. Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an "audit" by connecting herself to an "E-meter," which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to undergo "purification" treatment at the Church of Scientology. According to the EEOC's suit, employees repeatedly asked not to attend the courses but were told it was a requirement of the job. In the cases of Rodriguez and Sanchez, when they refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and/or did not conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.
Requiring employees to conform to religious practices and beliefs espoused by the employer, creating a hostile work environment, and failing to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of an employee all violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny if he held a scheduled vote on Ireland's new abortion law. He responded:
Everybody’s entitled to their opinion here but as explained to the Cardinal and members of the church my book is the constitution and the constitution is determined by the people. That’s the people’s book. We live in a Republic and I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to legislate in respect of what the people’s wishes are.
Redditor bleacliath created a great graphic for this quote and posted it to /r/atheism.
Redditor Ventachinkway caught a photo of a homeless man conducting a clever exercise in behavioral economics disguised as an inquiry into the levels of spontaneous generosity as determined by religious creed or lack thereof.
Above is Anna Pierre, singing her 1990s Creole-language tune Suk Su Bon Bon. Pierre is currently running for mayor of North Miami, Florida, but she claims that sinister forces are trying to knock her out of the race. She's found evidence of Haitian Vodou spells left on her doorstep. “I found little dolls with needles in it. They put a lot of pennies at front of my office door,” Pierre told the Miami Herald. “I’m from Haiti I know what it is… (But) I have people in Haiti, Canada, and the U.S. praying for me. I have Jesus with me.” I briefly lived in Miami and had several friends whose relatives, usually grandparents, took Santería magic and ritual very seriously. I'm sure Haitian Vodou is also more common in that region than one might think. (via The Anomalist)
Sean Murphy's Punk Rock Jesus is a rockin' comic about the Second Coming. It opens with a psychotically ruthless show-runner arranging to clone Jesus from DNA salvaged from the Shroud of Turin, implanting a foetus in the womb of a teenaged virgin, all for a reality TV show that starts with auditions for the part of Christ's mother. Gwen, the desperate teen who gets the part, is only one of the many memorable characters who make up the resulting set piece: there's Dr Sarah Epstein, a brilliant geneticist who's been promised funding for a carbon-fixing superalgae if she helps create the clonal Christ; there's Thomas McKael, an IRA soldier turned supergrass turned super-security director, and several others who come to prominence as the story unfolds (including Cola, a genetically engineered tame polar bear).
The story perks along for the first third, as the dismal life of Chris -- as the clone is called -- is run out on the screens of America, and in the high-security compound on an offshore island under constant siege from militant Christian fundamentalists who are torn on the question of whether Chris is the second coming or a mocker. Then there's a turning point where Chris becomes and adolescent and discovers some of the seedier truths about his life and the miserable existence his mother has been forced into all through it.
That's when Punk Rock Jesus is born. To a thudding soundtrack of vintage punk smuggled in on vinyl (CDs would set off the metal detector) Chris gives himself a mohawk, tears his clothes to rags, and surprises his minders by stepping out on stage and declaring himself to be an atheist. In the ensuing chaos, Chris escapes from the network and its evil representatives and makes his way to the drowned TAZ of lower Manhattan where he becomes the front-man for a "the last punk band in the world," the Flak Jackets.
And that's when the story really roars to life, becoming at once sillier and more serious, but avoiding some of the ponderousness of the setup. Serious questions of religion's role in society are raised; rock is bepunkéd; dressing rooms are trashed; the media is expertly dissected. It's a near-perfect rocket-ship ride through some of the best material from comics like DMZ and Transmetropolitan, with a healthy dose of radical atheism and geopolitics thrown in.
It's got pathos, laughs, rage and comeuppances, and awesome punk rock not-giving-a-fuck. What more could you ask for?
TorrentFreak's been looking at the BitTorrent video-downloading from the small pool of downloaders in Vatican City, and they've reported in with the Vatican's favorite pornography:
In the interests of science we researched each of the titles (including the curiously named RS77_Episode 01) and discovered that downloaders in the Vatican have one or two unusual ‘niche’ interests. We won’t link to our discoveries here, but feel free to do your own ‘research’ using the titles shown above. There isn’t a commandment that covers these films directly, but some might argue there should be.
TorrentFreak couldn’t find a priest prepared to make a comment and apparently the Pope is “busy” today. On a Sunday?
Pat Robertson scores a "Christ, what an asshole" prize here, in which he explains that the reason that "simple, humble" Africans and other foreigners experience miracles is that they are free from the sin of over-education. As Charles Johnson has it, this is "the wingnut trifecta... anti-intellectual, anti-science and patronizingly racist."
The Fuck Yeah Atheism blog responded to a campus fire-and-brimstone preacher by creating a Zealous Preacher Bingo card, turning Preacher Tom into fun for the whole school: "I created Zealous Preacher Bingo cards, with a few friends’ suggestions for spaces. We gave out candy to anyone who won."
Atheist Shoes ("a cadre of shoemakers and artists in Berlin who hand-make ridiculously comfortable, Bauhaus-inspired shoes for people who don't believe in god(s)") noticed that a disproportionate number of their shipments to the USA were delayed or lost. A customer suggested this may be because USPS workers were taking offense at the ATHEIST packing tape they used to seal the boxes. So the company tried an A/B split, and found that boxes emblazoned with ATHEIST tape were 10 times more likely to go missing in the USPS and took an average of three days longer than their generic equivalents. They've stopped using the ATHEIST packing tape.