Monthly Archives: April 2015

It shouldn’t happen, but it does, again and again.

MV Corina file photo courtesy

One person has died and three others are being treated after losing consciousness aboard a cargo ship that had just docked at Denmark’s port of Hanstholm.

The four people, reported to be crewmembers of the ship, were found unconscious Tuesday evening in a confined area of the Polish-flagged MV Corina, which had just arrived in Hanstholm from Gdansk, Poland with a cargo of wood pellets. A fifth person is believed to have escaped the area.

Authorities suspect that the victims inhaled poisonous gasses, possibly carbon monoxide, from the wood pellet cargo.

The three injured are being treated at local hospitals.

It is unclear from reports if the crewmembers were in the cargo hold itself or in a confined space of the ship adjacent to the cargo hold.

Wood pellet cargoes are known to produce carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, which can lead to a reduction in oxygen levels and the development of a dangerous concentration of carbon monoxide in closed spaces.

Wood pellets are listed in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code) as a hazardous “Group B” cargo.

The incident follows a similar accident earlier this month at the Port of Atwerp, where three longshoremen died after entering the cargo hold of a ship that was previously carrying a cargo of coal.

I wish I wasn’t an atheist because……………………………….

Atheists actually miss out on a lot of activities that religious believers can participate in. Let’s go through the list, and see what you think.

1. Child Molestation

If you read the news at all, you will have seen country after country finally recognize that many Catholic priests abused, molested and in some cases raped children. This was often done over a protracted period of time. Very few of the individuals involved have been jailed (oftentimes because of an applicable statute of limitations), although many Catholic dioceses have had to pay some significant settlements, usually on an out-of-court basis. All too often, the offenders were not turned over to the police nor were the crimes admitted, even though these crimes were known to the higher authorities within the church. In some cases, repeat offenders were just transferred from one position into another. The senior authorities who were responsible for the cover-ups have, up until now, escaped justice altogether.

Fundamentalist groups often follow strict observance of physical punishment for children. These are the “spare the rod, spoil the child” types. Many Christians consider it their duty to apply corporal discipline to children. Some consider this practice to be imbued by the taint of “original sin.” Every year, we see reports of children brutalized under this doctrine (although some parents are being prosecuted now, if the harm is too egregious).

Jews and Muslims also ritually mutilate their sons’ bodies through the practice of circumcision. If an atheist sliced off the ear tips of their children, on the basis that kids never properly wash their ears, what would be the response? Just because someone claims that their god told them more than 1,000 years ago to mutilate their son’s penis, that makes it ok? We even allow Orthodox Jews to perform a ritual that involves the mohel, a “professional” practitioner of the circumcision ritual, to draw blood from the newly circumcised child by using his mouth. I can’t see an atheist putting his mouth on a 8 day old boy’s penis and not going to jail.

2. Animal Cruelty

It goes by the ritual name of being kosher or halal. Under this practice, an animal is slaughtered by slitting its throat so as to allow its heart to continue to pump the blood out of its body before it dies. Both Islam and Judaism prohibit their followers from consuming blood, so this is probably the underlying “reason” for the practice. Most developed countries require that the animal be stunned before being slaughtered, but give an exception to slaughter houses established for these “religious” practices.

I have read many apologist arguments that this is somehow not a cruel practice and that the animal dies very quickly. But this has never been supported by any independent study. I have seen animals slaughtered this way. It’s not fast. It doesn’t matter how sharp the knife is (which some authors contest is a critical factor in their support of this practice), the animal either dies from blood loss or asphyxiation if the windpipe has been fully severed. It is prima facie more cruel that stunning the animal first before killing it. If atheists killed animals this way, in most countries it would be illegal and we’d go to jail.

3. Practicing Medicine Without a Licence

Don’t you just love all the faith healers out there? Claiming to heal the sick, claiming to throw out the demons whose presence caused you to miss that last promotion opportunity? The amazing thing is that if you are not healed, it’s not the preacher’s fault. God didn’t find you worthy of a cure. But then they don’t get “paid” to heal, they just accept donations…

If an atheist had a new “cure” for a medical condition and tried to sell it without going through the normal procedures for approving pharmaceutical products or medical practices—procedures designed to prove that they are safe and effective before they can be administered to the public—they would go to jail, or be sued, or fined for false advertising.

4. People Respect Your Opinions Without Evidence

Isn’t it wonderful how believers can justify a position they have on the basis that they are being guided by their faith? It would be rude to challenge them on this; after all, they have a “personal relationship” with their favorite god. Does this mean God leaves you voice mails on your phone? Maybe you’re his “friend” on Facebook? Why are they not worried about climate change? Because we are in the “end times.” How do they know this? Because of the “signs” that they interpret to be in accord with something someone wrote ages ago. Never mind that they have been wrong about this numerous times in the past.

How about evolution? No, they have creationism and intelligent design. Any evidence for this, like a new species just popping into existence recently? How about the great global flood? Any evidence at all? Archeology, astronomy, geology, biogenetics, and paleontology have conclusively demonstrated that:

  1. The universe, earth and animal life were not created in 7 days;
  2. Water did not predate the creation of the universe and the earth;
  3. There was no global flood;
  4. There was no exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt (or wandering in the desert for 40 years);
  5. The Hebrews didn’t conquer Canaan, they were Canaanites already themselves, they spoke a Canaanite language, and originally worshipped El, a Canaanite god;
  6. The moon never split in two;
  7. There was no iron-using civilization in America with millions of people fighting huge battles before the advent of the Europeans;
  8. and so on and so forth.

Yet when faced with a complete lack of evidence, religious believers expect others to “respect” their beliefs about these things and not laugh at them. Apparently, if you’re a believer, having faith is all about being able to believe the most patently ridiculous things, and not be criticized or ridiculed for it. There is no such thing as a peer-reviewed paper in religion. Anyone can interpret the holy books anyway they want, and there is no way to prove them wrong. If an atheist wants people to believe in something, they need evidence to back it up and any test results must be capable of duplication.

5. You Get to Take Things That Aren’t Yours, Because God Gave It to You

The whole state of Israel falls into this category, and not just the illegal occupation of the lands outside the 1967 borders. In every other context, invading another country, taking their land, and then putting your own people on it, is considered to be ethnic cleansing. It was ethnic cleansing when the Serbs and Croats did it to each other and to the Bosnians. It was ethnic cleansing when the Germans settled people in occupied Poland, Ukraine and Russia in WWII. The action is always the same—you kill the original owners, or drive them away, or make them afraid to stay. Any who remain lose their land rights to the new preferred settlers and usually get stuck in a sort of ghetto (like the Palestinian refugee camps now, or the limits on Palestinian building in occupied territories).

But when the Jews did it to the local Muslims (and some Christians too) at the time of the formation of Israel and subsequently, it wasn’t (and still isn’t) considered ethnic cleansing by much of the world–especially in the US. They are just going back to their “promised land” (even though the land promised by YHWH in the Hebrew Torah is different than the land occupied by Israel today). Never mind that the Egyptians controlled it on and off before the two small kingdoms of Israel and Judea ever existed. Never mind that it has been the property of many other nation-states over the course of recorded history. God gave it to them, so they are entitled to it.

IMG_1269Manifest Destiny

The American concept of “manifest destiny” falls somewhat into this category too. Although no one at the time said overtly that the Christian God had given the land to them, much of the writing during that time had heavy religious overtones. The Christian European settlers were more “entitled” to the land than were the Native American peoples, who were also heathens. There was also no small amount of racism in this as well. The same is true for the period of the Spanish and Portuguese conquests of South America, and the English occupation of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Many of the horrors that were visited upon the local peoples were justified in the name of religion—a religion which was deemed superior to the beliefs of the native peoples, whose conversion (often forcibly) into Christianity was considered part of the divine plan.

I do not see atheists having any chance of being able to take over territory as their new “homeland” to save themselves from possible persecution by others, nor to be allowed to forcibly convert religious believers. One thing the Jews, Christians and Muslims can all agree on is that they don’t like atheists, or sailors.

Oh lord above send down a dove with wings as sharp as razors, to cut the throats, of them there blokes, who sell bad beer to sailors.

A poem lifted without shame from allatsea’s copy of ‘Best Loved Poems’, written by that old favourite ‘Anon’.

Bad Women

Oh the gladness of a woman when she’s glad!

And oh the sadness of a woman when she’s sad!

But the gladness of her gladness

And the sadness of her sadness

Are nothing to her badness when she’s bad.

Not so ‘clean’ after all…..

MV Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller

A new study commissioned by the environmental groups Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment claims that new ships today are no more efficient than they were over twenty years ago, despite shipping industry claims to the contrary.

In fact, the study, titled Historical trends in ship design efficiency, actually found the the average fuel efficiency of ships built in 2013 has deteriorated 10% when compared to those built in 1990. In particular, the study found that that bulk carriers, tankers, and container ships built in 2013 were on average 12, 8 and 8% less fuel efficient, respectively, than those built a quarter of a century ago.

The study also shows that, in general, the design efficiency of new ships improved significantly in the 1980s, was at its best in the 1990s and has deteriorated in the 2000s.


The study bases its findings on the Energy Efficiency Design Index, or EEDI, a standard measurement of a ship’s design efficiency – expressed in grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per ship’s capacity-mile (the smaller the EEDI the more energy efficient ship design). As of January 1, 2013, all news ships are to meet a specific minimum efficiency level for each individual ship design under MARPOL Annex VI. The levels are then required to be tightened incrementally every five years so as to stimulate innovation and promote the use of energy efficient technology and equipment throughout the design phase.

Currently, reduction rates have been established through 2025 when a 30% reduction compared to the average efficiency for ships built between 2000 and 2010 is mandated.

The study was jointly commissioned by the non-governmental organisations Seas and Risk and Transport & Environment, and co-authored by Jasper Faber and Maarten ‘t Hoen from the independent research and consultancy organization CE Delft.

The IMO is set to review future stringency levels of the EEDI during a meeting  of its Marine Environmental
Protection Committee next month.

The environmental group’s are hoping that the study will influence more clear and ambitious internationally required targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

Bill Hemmings, clean shipping manager at Transport & Environment, said: “The truth is out! Aircraft and cars have become more fuel efficient, but despite a generation of technological improvements, ships have largely gone backwards for most of the past 25 years. The IMO’s design efficiency standard for new ships itself needs a redesign and strengthening if the standard is not supposed to merely bring us back to levels achieved 25 years ago.”

Cycle Route 15

Cycle route

National Cycle Route 15 with a Thanet twist

The picture above comes from the website. It shows the section of National Cycle Route 15, the bit that runs between the Turner Centre in Margate and West Bay. The green section indicates a traffic free dual use path (bikes and pedestrians) and the red boxes have been put in by old allatsea himself, with dodgy shaking mouse control. The red bits show the sections of the National Cycle Route that Thanet Council have decided cyclists aren’t allowed to cycle!!! Not between the end of May and the end of September, during the day anyway.


Thanet Council’s diversity team on a day out earlier in the month.

The reason?? Goodness knows but here at the Towers we suspect it’s because the great fat-arsed, sedentary Beach Hut brigade feel threatened by the proximity of passing lean and beautiful cyclists. It’s certainly puzzling, either have got it wrong and it’s not a NATIONAL CYCLE PATH in these bits, or Thanet Council, in their (ahem) wisdom,  have got it wrong and permitted beach hut renters and cafe owners to clog and block the cycle path. Hmmm, the truth should be told!!

On a passing note, the greens bits on the map above are designated as ‘traffic’ free areas. Can someone please tell the drivers of the 7 vans and lorries that were travelling along said route this morning between 0915 and 0930, and the numerous private cars that were parked on the cycle path too. Deepest of deep cycling joy.

Only in Fannit

Busy Busy Aberdeen Harbour

For those of you that are interested in boats and things, especially if you’ve never been to Aberdeen  and seen how busy it is or indeed how frigging big the offshore support  boats are these days, have a gander at the video at the end of the following link. Great stuff, thanks gCaptain.

Speaking from experience, I always thought the place was too small for the vessels we were being asked to drive around, and that was 10 years ago. Sigh!!