Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scientology legal strategy: MOXON MOXON MOXON

Good luck, (SP)arrow!

AnonSparrow aka Brian Mandigo has been protesting the Washington DC Church of Scientology since 2008. YouTube has countless hours of him yelling provocative one or two-liners toward the org and adjacent traffic intersection, punctuated by occasional conversations with passers by or OSA handlers. Sparrow once was on staff at the DC org and sometimes says, "Hi so-and-so," to people he knows as he stands on the sidewalk with his sign, camera, and Guy Fawkes mask.

In August of this year the DC org's Executive Director, Kim Belotte, requested and was granted a temporary restraining order against Sparrow. Later, the DC district attorney charged him with "attempted stalking," whatever that is. Scientology's infamous in-house attorney and Operation Snow White unindicted co-conspirator, Kendrick Moxon, is representing Ms. Belotte.

Listen to Sparrow's innocence (as in "n00b") as he asks the officers in the video below, "She's gonna go try to get this order that you're talking about, but do I have a say in this? She can't just go, 'Get me this order,' and it gets issued. They have to hear my side, right? They can't just take her word for it."

The officers try to explain how restraining orders work. I'm not sure Sparrow understands. Fighting a restraining order isn't the same as fighting a criminal charge. The presumption of innocence isn't as important, and the subjective sense of fear articulated by the alleged stalking victim counts for a lot.

If Sparrow understood what the officers were saying, I don't think he would have responded with a comment like, "I'm not gonna stop (protesting)."

Notice how the police refer to "she" and "her complaint," while Sparrow refers to "they," saying things like, "they can bring it," when the officers mention "the possibility of an arrest warrant" about five minutes into the video. Sparrow is clearly stuck in the protester's mind set, imagining himself struggling against impersonal, corporate Scientology when in fact his immediate opponent is a particular woman who has reported to police that she is frightened.

My heart goes out to Sparrow as he faces a legal mess for months and perhaps years to come.

Hubbard's advice to use the legal system as a means of bullying perceived enemies has become something of a sacred ritual within Scientology. The practice highlights a particular weakness of our system of justice: the mere process of going to court is injurious to the parties involved in terms of time, money, anxiety, and lost opportunities to do other things. Ergo, a corporation with a deep legal war chest can win, even when it can't win, simply by outlasting the financial and emotional reserves of the opposing party.

Imma cross my fingers for the poor endearing, idealistic, and somewhat nerdy Sparrow, and for great justice.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Science p0rn: the garage project

The low-budget ($7,000) flick Primer is an example of the garage project story-line: some inquisitive, fairly ordinary guys cobble together an amazing or revolutionary device in their spare time. If you love science, if you've always loved science, that's a story-line that has likely resonated with you since childhood.

Catch-phrases of note:
"You're talking about making a bigger one."
"Why can't we write like normal people?"

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I want this toy. But the price is too high, $2,500. Maybe like most electronics, in a year or two it will become affordable.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Center for Inquiry Goofs the Floof

A recent press release, "The Center for Inquiry Urges That Ground Zero Be Kept Religion-Free," has been removed from the CFI site.

It was a PR fiasco, a real goofing of the floof.

Now, skeptics are a proud tribe willing to weather PR flaps, so I hope that's not the reason for CFI's change of heart. I really hope the CFI leadership simply reflected upon the distinction between being right and being right for the wrong reasons.

I live in a spam trap at Orac's site so I'll copy my comment there here:

CFI seems to define "religion" as "lies." Who wouldn't oppose lies?

However, "religion" can be a placeholder for "first person data that are uncorroborated or impossible to corroborate."

Third person data rules. But life is lived within the first person. And he is often a poor, confused, suffering shmuck about to be hit by a bus.

If Mr. First Person isn't trying to fark up our third person data set, I say we let him have his unverifiable personal experience of "transcendence" or whatever. Why not?

I can bully you into saying, "2+2=4." Or I can teach you arithmetic and allow you to figure out the answer for yourself.

Getting the right answer is important. But the method used to derive that answer is even more important, because all future answers depend upon it.