Reject Religion – Don’t Pray. Think.

While some pray for the victims of the Bastille Day massacre in Nice, others celebrate the destruction as an answer to their prayers.Prayers are the consequence of irrational beliefs, and it is irrational beliefs that allow people to do irrational things, like kill and maim hundreds of innocents in the name of a God that does not exist.
Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not survive an elementary school education.

As a man believes, so he will act. Believe that you will be rewarded with an eternity of unimaginable delights by dealing death to infidels, and you will act. God is the most potent source of human conflict, past and present. We must finally recognize the price we are paying to maintain the iconography of our ignorance.

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The Importance Of A Fighter

More than anyone else of his generation, Muhammad Ali belongs to the world. He encouraged millions of people to believe in themselves, raise their aspirations and accomplish things that might not have been done without him. He wasn’t just a standard messenger for black Americans. He stood up for everyone.

I studied all the great heavyweights, but Muhammad Ali was always my hero. Watching his fights on TV, he showed me the beautiful science of the sport, he showed me how important it was to be fast and nimble on your feet, but he also showed me that you had to walk the walk if you talked the talk, and how brilliantly he did it.

A few days after his passing, I overheard a conversation between two woman in a local coffeehouse. They were comparing Ali to a “gorilla” and calling boxing an insane, barbaric sport. They clearly didn’t understand that gorillas don’t know how to box. A gorilla would easily smack up a human and kill them, but they wouldn’t do so through boxing. If you don’t think what Ali accomplished was impressive, I’d like to see YOU try to take up boxing and see how easy it is.

Boxing is pretty sane. There’s nothing barbaric about a competitive combat sport that is regulated by safety rules, is performed by athletes who fight in the ring willingly and the aim isn’t to kill anyone. Is it so wrong for people to want to take up boxing, knowing the risks it can have on their body? I think it’s pretty admirable that these people are willing to put their bodies on the line for the sake of competition. There are far worse things they could be doing.

But that is not all…

ali

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Do you even science bro?!

Here’s a great example of another science illiterate whose religious convictions makes him fearful of scientific inquiry.
Anyone in this year who still thinks evolution is a lie is either 1. Not looked at evidence. 2. Is brainwashed.
This sort of logic can be debunked by a grade-schooler. Limbaugh would know about basic science terminology if he ever did any research, but that’s beneath him.

Why read a book when your ass has all the answers you’ll ever need?

“This woman obviously has not read Genesis”! Seriously, do you even science bro?!

Acclaimed Iranian Musician Denied Tehran Concert

As many of you may know, in Iran you have to get permits for all music—first for the lyrics, and then a separate permit for the actual melody.
The Islamic Republic’s government censors use of permits to keep a tight rein on what art is allowed to be heard by the public.
You take your tracks to the government office where they decide if your music is allowed or not. After listening to everything, a government employee who knows nothing about music will give you a thumbs up (or not), and after that the music can actually be produced and distributed legally. This process is the same when trying to get permits for a concert.
Of course, Iranian musicians who fail to get official permits create a growing underground music scene. (Some of the best Punk Rock & Jazz bands in Iran are recording and performing illegally)
 
Now back to the main story, Kayhan Kalhor, an icon in Persian classical music and a Master Kamancheh player was set to perform in his hometown of Tehran early this month. He has been on tour in North America and all over Europe for the past few months, and performing in his home country was a huge deal.
 
The government failed to issue a permit.
 
The news broke two days before the planned concert, in which Kalhor was to be joined by the New York-based string quartet Brooklyn Rider.
It was said that the police decided not to sanction the event due to “security considerations.”
The head of the music department at Iran’s Culture Ministry criticized the decision not to issue a permit for Kalhor’s concert and said:
“Not giving a license to an Iranian musician who has worked hard to promote Iranian music in the world is not right in our view,” He added that the police should explain the decision, and that the move runs counter to the policies of President Rohani’s government, aimed at encouraging cultural diplomacy.
 
The incident is the latest in a series of concert cancelations in Tehran and other Iranian cities that appear to be related to pressure from hard-liners who criticize the government’s cultural policies as “too liberal”.
Iranian media have reported that more than a dozen concerts have been called off in recent months.
All of the cancelled concerts had received licenses from Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
 
In an interview, Kayhan Kalhor said that he would not hold any more concerts in Iran, in protest of the cancellation. He said that “these concerts will not be rescheduled. So long as Iran’s culture and arts are hostages in the ransom-taking and power struggles of political factions and no clear guidelines are defined and enforced for such activities, I will refrain from doing anything in Iran,”
 
Reacting to the cancellation of Mr. Kalhor’s concert, the spokesperson for the Culture Ministry, said on June 10 that “The Police does not have the right to revoke any concert licenses.” The Ministry of Culture provides opinions about the contents of concerts. Other organizations evaluate the general conditions of the artist. But the Police Force’s role is security-related and it states opinions about the security of the venue for the concerts…We don’t know whether the Police has a problem with Mr. Kalhor personally, or with his concert venue! If their problem is Mr. Kalhor and his qualifications, this is not the Police’s responsibility. But if it has to do with the concert venue, they have to provide evidence to convince the Ministry of Culture that the venue is not suitable.”
 
Cancellations of concerts featuring female vocalists and musicians have been particularly frequent since Rouhani’s 2013 election.
 
Iran’s beloved Master of traditional Persian music, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, said at an international gathering in Tehran on May 5, 2015 that he was banned from performing in Iran. “I live in a country where I have not been allowed to sing for my own people for the past several years,” he said.
 
On June 10, a concert by well-known Iranian musician Parvaz Homay was canceled AFTER the permit was already issued by the Culture Ministry. It would have been Homay’s first performance in Tehran, in eight years. Those who purchased tickets for Homay’s concert received a text message a few hours before it was to begin informing them that the event was called off until further notice following an order by Iran’s judiciary.
The pressure is seen as an attempt by hard-liners to hurt Rohani, who has promised greater cultural and social openness and less censorship.
 
Here’s is a cool little animation titled “In Light Of Recent Concert Cancellations”
 
(The language sounds strange because they’re trying to make fun and distort it on purpose!)
 
“Hey stranger. What do you do for a living?”
“I play music. And you?”
“I also play. Who did you learn from?”
“I learned from the master musicians. And you?”
“I’m self-taught. What style do you play?”
“Classical and fusion. And you?”
“I play everything. What do you play with?”
(Takes instrument out)
“With this! And you?!”
(Takes weapon out)
“With this! Now you wanna play some?!”
“Sure!”
 
“Wow…how on time he hits the musician over the head! What a beautiful music!”
 
The text in the box reads: “Gentlemen in charge! Now that you are unable to stand behind live performances, don’t issue the permits to begin with!”

Free Hate Speech Anyone?

This guy is an obnoxious asshole. It’s fairly obvious that religion only produces cancers of society like him. But he still has a Constitutional right to free speech. He’s free to say all the bullshit he wants and everyone is free to ignore and walk away. Our argument against religion is undermined when we use violence. It strengthens the other side’s cause. Beat them with an intelligent argument, don’t physically assault someone because you disagree with what they’re saying; no matter how hateful their statements are.
We’re better than this.

 

Searching For The “Perfect” Ideal

This reminds me of how many times I had to tell a drummer his nose is perfect from every angle, and make sure a guitarist knows his hands are not too big.
It reminds me of how many times I had to comfort a musician who was going to change in front of me that his chest looks perfect and his muscle definition is beautiful.
The nervous laughter always follows by “how do I hold the guitar?”, and my response always is: “how do you normally hold it? Don’t think too much…”

A dear friend of mine who happens to be a very attractive, very fit and highly talented drummer never misses a chance to squeeze in an extra hour of exercise everyday. In fact, weightlifting has become a fundamental part of his life to a point that he doesn’t do anything else but work and go to the gym. He’s not a tall guy and that has always been a big insecurity, and something he cannot change. What he does have control over however, is maintaining his 8-pack abs.

When we talk about body image, we usually think of it as women’s issue. But from my personal experience photographing people for years, women are not the only ones with body insecurities.
In fact, I strongly believe that men are actually under a lot more pressure to look a certain way because of what is expected from them.
Men are supposed to be these mythological, physically strong creatures that can lift us up with their big muscular arms and leap over buildings. Physical strength is an important component of “manhood”, yet a strong character is usually a secondary pursuit.
If you do a little research in the core of masculinity, it’ll give you a theoretical understanding of the role of strength in the ancient, universal code of “manhood”. But what makes a man, is much more than height and muscle definition.

The cliché romantic idea of the knight in shining armor always involves a very tall, very masculine man, never a short, skinny guy with glasses. But can you imagine living in a world where everyone looks like the definition of “perfect”?

As someone who deals with people’s face & bodies for a living, I can say that the things you consider imperfect are the ones that make you great, and dare I say; perfect.
After every photoshoot I am often asked “do I really look like that?”! And yes, you really do look like that.
You’re strong. You’re handsome. You kick fucking ass. You’re the only you that exists in this world.
Have sex with the lights on.