Jack on the Moan
Z is for Zach Braff
Some people just have a face that you want to punch every time you see it. Zach Braff is one of those people.
I don’t know what it is about him, but him an incredibly annoying screen presence. In Scrubs, as JD, he’s meant to be the dork we all root for, but instead I find the most enjoyable scenes the ones in which Doctor Cox tears him a new one. And in Garden State—a movie I know a lot of people love—I found it impossible to feel sympathy for his character. It’s like he can only do one of two things: act all zany and wild-eyed, as he does in Scrubs, or mumble into the mic and look all depressed, which is what he does for the most part in Garden State.
In Scrubs Zach Braff gets to canoodle with a bunch of seriously hot girls, from Tara Reid to Elizabeth Banks. Don’t they think he’s completely charmless? Maybe not. Maybe I’m  just jealous…

Z is for Zach Braff

Some people just have a face that you want to punch every time you see it. Zach Braff is one of those people.

I don’t know what it is about him, but him an incredibly annoying screen presence. In Scrubs, as JD, he’s meant to be the dork we all root for, but instead I find the most enjoyable scenes the ones in which Doctor Cox tears him a new one. And in Garden State—a movie I know a lot of people love—I found it impossible to feel sympathy for his character. It’s like he can only do one of two things: act all zany and wild-eyed, as he does in Scrubs, or mumble into the mic and look all depressed, which is what he does for the most part in Garden State.

In Scrubs Zach Braff gets to canoodle with a bunch of seriously hot girls, from Tara Reid to Elizabeth Banks. Don’t they think he’s completely charmless? Maybe not. Maybe I’m  just jealous…

Y is for Yakult
Apparently the word yakult is derived from the word for yoghurt in some language nobody’s ever heard of (care for a chat in ‘Esperanto’ anyone?). That’s funny—I always thought it was the name given to the sound you make when you vomit after drinking a bottle of the stuff.
I suppose I could still see the point in drinking the stuff if it had positive health benefits, but apparently, contrary to the adverts, it doesn’t really. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Yakult contains more sugar per 100g than Coca-Cola! Good thing, then, that it comes in tiny 65ml servings. But wait: To enjoy any health benefits from drinking Yakult you have to consume much, much more than just one bottle a day—like at least 6 or 7 times more! So you have three choices: drink one bottle a day and feel no better for your troubles; drink 7 bottles of the stuff, perhaps enjoy some medicinal benefits, but rot your teeth in the process, or, alternatively, avoid putting yourself through any misery and stay away from the stuff altogether.

Y is for Yakult

Apparently the word yakult is derived from the word for yoghurt in some language nobody’s ever heard of (care for a chat in ‘Esperanto’ anyone?). That’s funny—I always thought it was the name given to the sound you make when you vomit after drinking a bottle of the stuff.

I suppose I could still see the point in drinking the stuff if it had positive health benefits, but apparently, contrary to the adverts, it doesn’t really. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Yakult contains more sugar per 100g than Coca-Cola! Good thing, then, that it comes in tiny 65ml servings. But wait: To enjoy any health benefits from drinking Yakult you have to consume much, much more than just one bottle a day—like at least 6 or 7 times more! So you have three choices: drink one bottle a day and feel no better for your troubles; drink 7 bottles of the stuff, perhaps enjoy some medicinal benefits, but rot your teeth in the process, or, alternatively, avoid putting yourself through any misery and stay away from the stuff altogether.

 X is for X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The idea of a prequel has never much interested me. Any good movie should have a beginning, middle and end. Of course, that’s not to say a movie can’t leave the door open to a sequel and still be good, but it must offer some kind of satisfying conclusion. A prequel, though, by its very nature, is a movie without an ending. Instead, a prequel is a movie with only a beginning, a novel with only an opening a chapter, a story with only a backstory. ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ is all of these things, but it’s also another thing: really stupid.
The first two X-Men films (directed by Bryan Singer, who made his name with ‘The Usual Suspects’) were movies that explored the trouble of being different via the metaphor of its mutant characters, as well as treating the audience to plenty of inventive action sequences. When Brett Ratner replaced Singer to direct ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, the themes of the original two movies were largely drowned out by more noisy action and blustering men in tights. ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’, however, jettisons the last vestiges of the mutants-as-outcasts theme for a half-baked story of revenge and betrayal involving Hugh Jackman tensing his muscles a lot and generally looking pissed off.
'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' borrows almost every tired action movie trope there is (there's even the slo-mo shot of our hero, in the foreground, walking away from a helicopter just before it explodes!). On top of that, the execution is poor; Hugh Jackman and Liev Scheiber, as Logan's cutthroat brother Victor, cut suitably brooding and intense figures, but some of the acting is dreadful, as are the special effects, which sometimes almost make you feel like you're watching a video game.
Apparently they’re now working on another X-Men prequel, in which we’ll all get to see just exactly how Magneto and Professor X fell out. Do we really need all these prequels? Did J.K. Rowling feel it necessary to write a prequel detailing how Harry got that scar on his forehead? Did Ridley Scott shoot a sequel to Alien showing life on the alien planet before Ripley and her crew arrived? You want to know why I’m not going to see the next X-Men movie? Because I already know how it ends.

 X is for X-Men Origins: Wolverine

The idea of a prequel has never much interested me. Any good movie should have a beginning, middle and end. Of course, that’s not to say a movie can’t leave the door open to a sequel and still be good, but it must offer some kind of satisfying conclusion. A prequel, though, by its very nature, is a movie without an ending. Instead, a prequel is a movie with only a beginning, a novel with only an opening a chapter, a story with only a backstory. ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ is all of these things, but it’s also another thing: really stupid.

The first two X-Men films (directed by Bryan Singer, who made his name with ‘The Usual Suspects’) were movies that explored the trouble of being different via the metaphor of its mutant characters, as well as treating the audience to plenty of inventive action sequences. When Brett Ratner replaced Singer to direct ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, the themes of the original two movies were largely drowned out by more noisy action and blustering men in tights. ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’, however, jettisons the last vestiges of the mutants-as-outcasts theme for a half-baked story of revenge and betrayal involving Hugh Jackman tensing his muscles a lot and generally looking pissed off.

'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' borrows almost every tired action movie trope there is (there's even the slo-mo shot of our hero, in the foreground, walking away from a helicopter just before it explodes!). On top of that, the execution is poor; Hugh Jackman and Liev Scheiber, as Logan's cutthroat brother Victor, cut suitably brooding and intense figures, but some of the acting is dreadful, as are the special effects, which sometimes almost make you feel like you're watching a video game.

Apparently they’re now working on another X-Men prequel, in which we’ll all get to see just exactly how Magneto and Professor X fell out. Do we really need all these prequels? Did J.K. Rowling feel it necessary to write a prequel detailing how Harry got that scar on his forehead? Did Ridley Scott shoot a sequel to Alien showing life on the alien planet before Ripley and her crew arrived? You want to know why I’m not going to see the next X-Men movie? Because I already know how it ends.

W is for Winter
Honestly, sometimes I think the only reason Christmas exists is to lift the general population out of their depression, if only for a day or two. Then, after the leftovers from Christmas dinner have finally been exhausted, and the turkey carcass has been left to rot in the rain-sodden streets, it’s time to face the realities of life again… and the Irish weather.
Seriously, fuck this weather! Apparently SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a mood disorder which causes people of generally healthy mind to get depressive symptoms around winter, is not an altogether uncommon affliction; according to an albeit not-so-reliable source, Mr. Wikipedia, upper estimates of the number of people with SAD in the US put the number at 9% of the population. That’s taking an average over a country that includes places like California and Florida, though, where it’s pretty much sunny year round. Even New York, bitterly cold in the winter, at least has guaranteed snow every year! In Ireland, instead of a White Christmas we get a Shite Christmas, full of rain, hail, sleet and wind. Lots and lots of wind.
I know I’m being stereotypically Irish here ranting about the weather (next time I’ll be extolling the virtues of tea) but I just can’t stand the weather here. You’ve probably heard the joke: Why do economists exist? To make weather forecasters look good. It’s true, Irish weather forecasters do have a tough job most of the year. However, their job is made a whole lot easier during winter. Anyone can predict the weather in winter: “Today’s going to be shit, tomorrow’s going to be shit, the day after that is going to be shit…”
Occasionally the weatherman will try and throw in a few rays of light by suggesting that the weather will be picking up soon, but it always seems to be just over the horizon. It’s always “tomorrow” or “in the coming few days” or “next week”. It appears the only way to get good weather now  is to get on a plane out of Ireland.
Anyway, rant over. I’m going to go hibernate now. Wake me up when this whole wretched thing is over.

W is for Winter

Honestly, sometimes I think the only reason Christmas exists is to lift the general population out of their depression, if only for a day or two. Then, after the leftovers from Christmas dinner have finally been exhausted, and the turkey carcass has been left to rot in the rain-sodden streets, it’s time to face the realities of life again… and the Irish weather.

Seriously, fuck this weather! Apparently SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a mood disorder which causes people of generally healthy mind to get depressive symptoms around winter, is not an altogether uncommon affliction; according to an albeit not-so-reliable source, Mr. Wikipedia, upper estimates of the number of people with SAD in the US put the number at 9% of the population. That’s taking an average over a country that includes places like California and Florida, though, where it’s pretty much sunny year round. Even New York, bitterly cold in the winter, at least has guaranteed snow every year! In Ireland, instead of a White Christmas we get a Shite Christmas, full of rain, hail, sleet and wind. Lots and lots of wind.

I know I’m being stereotypically Irish here ranting about the weather (next time I’ll be extolling the virtues of tea) but I just can’t stand the weather here. You’ve probably heard the joke: Why do economists exist? To make weather forecasters look good. It’s true, Irish weather forecasters do have a tough job most of the year. However, their job is made a whole lot easier during winter. Anyone can predict the weather in winter: “Today’s going to be shit, tomorrow’s going to be shit, the day after that is going to be shit…”

Occasionally the weatherman will try and throw in a few rays of light by suggesting that the weather will be picking up soon, but it always seems to be just over the horizon. It’s always “tomorrow” or “in the coming few days” or “next week”. It appears the only way to get good weather now is to get on a plane out of Ireland.

Anyway, rant over. I’m going to go hibernate now. Wake me up when this whole wretched thing is over.

Here’s one I wish I’d made earlier:

wastedprotoplasm:

There are a lot of things you can miss when you’re not in Ireland. The craic, the banter, the Guinness, the stereotypes. And even things I despised before before I left don’t seem all that bad. I mean, maybe the racist taxi drivers are OK after all, maybe you can’t trust the wogs or the nips, who am I to say they’re not all a bit shifty.

But there are some things that just can’t be forgiven, and I’m still convinced that The Irish Times Saturday magazine is a blot on all society; a decadent obsequious wankrag that would make even Caligula vomit with rage (as opposed to vomiting to make more room for delicious elephant pie).

My current situation (unemployed,alone) has led my disdain for ‘The Magazine’ to be transformed from a tiny, furious fetus who would kick my belly as I let my friends touch, and my relatives would tell me what a cute little metaphor he’d be, into a 116 foot rage giant who would tear my urethra apart before ripping off my head and pissing down my neck just because he could.

It’s most abhorrent quality is the blatant hypocrisy; a magazine that 2 years ago couldn’t get a sentence out without a mention of the Celtic Tiger, and how fluffy and wonderful everything was, and once had ‘Rasberries and Mascarpone’ on their ‘What’s Hot’ list (because ‘Strawberries and Cream is so passé’) now harp on about how the Celtic cubs can’t survive in the Celtic wilderness, and are being picked off by Recessionary Game-hunters ploughing through the plains of disenfranchisement.

Firstly, a Celtic Tiger would be as shit an animal as it is a metaphor, and would almost definitely be destroyed by a Gallic Bear in an international economy metaphor duel. Secondly, the people who write for and read the Irish Times Magazine aren’t generally as badly hit by the recession as many others, though admittedly they may have to switch back to strawberries and cream.

In my mind there are no editorial meetings for the magazine, but rather a series of macabre dinner parties with the word ‘Recession’ projected on the wall while all the guests fart through their mouths and snort crumbled up meringue off of Superquinn Club cards, while Rosin Ingle sits in a bowl chair in the corner contemplating her error.

That said, knowing my luck, they probably did a special supplement today on how to make the world a better place by wiping orphan’s tears and giving stray dogs bellyrubs. ‘Cause that’s the kind of pricks they are.

TV listings are pretty handy though.

Hi there, long time no rant. Truth is I was struggling to think of what ‘V’ got on my nerves. Struggling, that is, until…
V is for the Vacuum
The problem with vacuum cleaners is that they are so damn noisy. It doesn’t matter if you have a new shiny Dyson with all the latest bells and whistles, it’s still going to stir up a racket (in fact, with all those bells and whistles it’ll probably be even louder). Listen, I appreciate the job it does but does it have to go about it in such an obnoxious manner? If you’re anything like me, whenever someone turns on the vacuum cleaner you have to stop what you’re doing and instead listen to some soothing classical music before you are overcome with the urge to unplug it and strangle the son of a bitch to death with the power chord!
Just me?
Anyway, so annoying do I find it that I make sure that often I’m the one using it (bear with me). See the thing is it’s not so annoying if you’re the one that’s making the noise. It’s the same with picking your nose or talking with your mouth open—it’s fine so long as you’re the only one doing it. In fact if I was a dictator who could have his every whim turn into reality in an instant I’d forbid everyone from perpetrating such crimes against good manners—everyone, that is, except me. And you thought Hitler had double standards because he happened not to be blonde?
Now I think about it it’s astonishing that some genius hasn’t invented the silent vacuum cleaner. I mean people are forever inventing pointless things—the segway, fingerless gloves, Twitter—and here’s an invention that could actually change people’s lives! Invent a silent vacuum cleaner and it’ll be “Dyson who?”.
By the way, you’re probably wondering what relation does a monkey dressed in a child’s clothes have with a vacuum. None—I just thought it was funny.

Hi there, long time no rant. Truth is I was struggling to think of what ‘V’ got on my nerves. Struggling, that is, until…

V is for the Vacuum

The problem with vacuum cleaners is that they are so damn noisy. It doesn’t matter if you have a new shiny Dyson with all the latest bells and whistles, it’s still going to stir up a racket (in fact, with all those bells and whistles it’ll probably be even louder). Listen, I appreciate the job it does but does it have to go about it in such an obnoxious manner? If you’re anything like me, whenever someone turns on the vacuum cleaner you have to stop what you’re doing and instead listen to some soothing classical music before you are overcome with the urge to unplug it and strangle the son of a bitch to death with the power chord!

Just me?

Anyway, so annoying do I find it that I make sure that often I’m the one using it (bear with me). See the thing is it’s not so annoying if you’re the one that’s making the noise. It’s the same with picking your nose or talking with your mouth open—it’s fine so long as you’re the only one doing it. In fact if I was a dictator who could have his every whim turn into reality in an instant I’d forbid everyone from perpetrating such crimes against good manners—everyone, that is, except me. And you thought Hitler had double standards because he happened not to be blonde?

Now I think about it it’s astonishing that some genius hasn’t invented the silent vacuum cleaner. I mean people are forever inventing pointless things—the segway, fingerless gloves, Twitter—and here’s an invention that could actually change people’s lives! Invent a silent vacuum cleaner and it’ll be “Dyson who?”.

By the way, you’re probably wondering what relation does a monkey dressed in a child’s clothes have with a vacuum. None—I just thought it was funny.

U is for UPC

I have no idea what UPC stands for. If I were to hazard a guess though I’d say it stands for ‘Ultimate Pack of C*nts’. In our household we have been subscribers of NTL since the good old days of analogue TV and until fairly recently there had been little to complain about—leaving me at a loose end. But ever since Chorus NTL became “a UPC company” our telly has fallen victim to a succession of little faults that threatens to turn my hair grey. Now here’s a good gripe I can really sink my teeth into!

Apparently I’m not the only one who’s got issue with UPC and their shoddy service. Newstalk presenter Claire Byrne recently gave the UPC Ireland chief executive a good grilling on behalf of the hundreds of disgruntled customers who had called in to The Breakfast Show to complain about the standard of product and support they had received. The man’s only response was (and I’m only paraphrasing slightly here) “Oh, well we’re doing our best to improve our service”.

Since that interview, however, the problems have kept on coming. Maybe it’s time Ireland’s couch potatoes got off their arse and made the switch to Sky. Maybe then your man from UPC would stop paying lip service and actually put his money where his mouth is. I would have made the switch already myself were we not bound by a 12-month contract. Maybe I should just swallow my pride and cut my losses, but I just can’t bear the idea of giving UPC a further €100 just to have them terminate the contract.

We Irish do love a good moan now and again I’ll give you that, but, believe me, I take no great pleasure in bemoaning UPC’s substandard service. I’m willing to concede there may be more important matters in the world right now, but there are none that hit closer to home.

U is for UCD

Having been rowing for Trinity now for roughly 7 months I am programmed to hate UCD and what little they stand for. It’s beaten into you from the first day you show up at training: "You must beat UCD. UCD are the enemy. If you don’t beat UCD they’ll beat you, your family and all those you hold dear." Never mind that both my parents went to UCD, or that some of my best friends go to UCD, or that, contrary to what I’ve been led to believe, the students aren’t actually the devil’s spawn. No, UCD is our sworn enemy and it is our god-given duty to defeat them. It’s like Voldemort vs Harry Potter, Magneto vs Xavier, or the Undertaker vs Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart. And we’re the good guys. Aren’t we?

T is for Taxi Drivers
This might sound a bit rich coming from me, but taxi drivers are a bunch of moaners. I mean, at least they have their jobs. Their argument is that there are too many taxis on the streets these days and that this is endangering their livelihood. They’re right, Dublin is absolutely teeming with taxis, but the solution is not regulation. Before deregulation in 2001 I’m told it was a total nightmare trying to hail a taxi in Dublin. Now the tables have turned and it’s the taxi drivers who sit and wait restlessly for a fare. I say let them sit there and if they don’t like it they can pack in the roof sign and exit the market.
Alternatively they can join a taxi company that, for a small fee, will direct them to the nearest fare and save them the trouble of scouring the streets for customers. Their margins might be smaller but it’s a small price to pay for a service that should ensure that the jobs keep coming and the fare counter keeps ticking over. 
I was in a taxi the other day and the driver was complaining that business was slow on account of the fact that people just aren’t going out as much as they were in the boom times. I told him that was unfortunate, but I wasn’t really thinking about him or his peers — I was thinking about all the men and women who had lost their jobs and could no longer afford the simple pleasure of a night out.

T is for Taxi Drivers

This might sound a bit rich coming from me, but taxi drivers are a bunch of moaners. I mean, at least they have their jobs. Their argument is that there are too many taxis on the streets these days and that this is endangering their livelihood. They’re right, Dublin is absolutely teeming with taxis, but the solution is not regulation. Before deregulation in 2001 I’m told it was a total nightmare trying to hail a taxi in Dublin. Now the tables have turned and it’s the taxi drivers who sit and wait restlessly for a fare. I say let them sit there and if they don’t like it they can pack in the roof sign and exit the market.

Alternatively they can join a taxi company that, for a small fee, will direct them to the nearest fare and save them the trouble of scouring the streets for customers. Their margins might be smaller but it’s a small price to pay for a service that should ensure that the jobs keep coming and the fare counter keeps ticking over. 

I was in a taxi the other day and the driver was complaining that business was slow on account of the fact that people just aren’t going out as much as they were in the boom times. I told him that was unfortunate, but I wasn’t really thinking about him or his peers — I was thinking about all the men and women who had lost their jobs and could no longer afford the simple pleasure of a night out.

S is for Scientology
You might say that slagging off Scientology is like shooting fish in a barrel but it’s just too hard to resist having a pop at a “religion” that’s as full of shit as Scientology. If Scientology was a harmless enough creed full of honest and good intentions I might be able to let slide all the bullshit it preaches. As it is, though, the Church of Scientology is more a sinister corporate empire than a honest-to-God religion.
Scientology is the stuff of science-fiction. That might be partly explained by the fact that its architect, L. Ron Hubbard, was a science-fiction writer, responsible for such pulp “classics” as The Automagic Horse, The Indigestible Triton and, lest we forget, Mission Earth 9: Villainy Victorious (although I personally preferred Mission Earth 7: Voyage of Vengeance). To give you just a quick idea of how full of shit Scientology is, here’s a synopsis of Scientology’s take on life after death:
According to Scientology, when a person dies — or, in Scientology terms, when a thetan abandons its physical body — they go to a “landing station” on the planet Venus, where the thetan is re-implanted and told lies about its past life and its next life. The Venusians take the thetan, “capsule” it, and send it back to Earth to be dumped into the ocean off the coast of California
You really couldn’t write this shit  — but Mr. Hubbard did.
Mr Hubbard is worshipped as a god by Scientologists but he was certainly no saint. When I look at that portrait of him (above) I think: “That’s what I imagined Darth Vader to look like under that mask of his!” If he hadn’t dreamt up Scientology he still could have made a fortune playing megalomaniacal villains in Hollywood.
Rumours abound that he was an abusive father, egotistical and a devilish hypnotist, but the most damaging rumour of all tells of how, in his eyes, Scientology was only ever a money-making scheme. Many of his associates in those early days have mentioned that they were privy to his ulterior motive and he is said to have written a letter to George Orwell saying “…the easiest way to make a lot of money, is to start a new religion.” I can’t imagine Mother Teresa saying that.
Hubbard was probably right though; as long as there are stupid people ready to believe stupid things organised religion will always be a viable business model. Most relgions, thank God, aren’t in the business of making money but Scientology is a notable exception. One of the fundamental tenets of most religions is that everyone should be treated equal but Scientology takes a different view: “If your pockets aren’t fat we don’t want to hear from you”. Scientology requires its members to attend courses that, at the more advanced stages, can cost several thousand dollars. In other words, if you’re hard on your luck and on the dole Scientology has no place for you.
The whole thing sounds like a sinister corporate enterprise. For instance, in a move that calls to mind a dodgy pyramid scheme, existing members are paid a commission for recruiting new members. In addition, so-called Scientology “franchises” must pay 10% of their gross income to the Church of Scientology. The Church even has its own brand logo!
Then, of course, there are the celebrity endorsements. As well as forsaking the poor, Scientology also likes to treat the rich and famous better than just the rich. So-called “Celebrity Centers” (no, I’m not making this up) across the US are designed to serve the Tom Cruises and John Travoltas of this world and attract other high-profile celebrities/nut-jobs. I don’t know how they differ from the normal Scientology centers, but presumably being a member of a Celebrity Center entitles you to telekinetic powers and a top-of-the-line spaceship in the afterlife.
Scientology may be a growing religion but they’re not going to brainwash me with their mumbo-jumbo about an afterlife and immortal spirits — I’m Catholic, thank you very much.

S is for Scientology

You might say that slagging off Scientology is like shooting fish in a barrel but it’s just too hard to resist having a pop at a “religion” that’s as full of shit as Scientology. If Scientology was a harmless enough creed full of honest and good intentions I might be able to let slide all the bullshit it preaches. As it is, though, the Church of Scientology is more a sinister corporate empire than a honest-to-God religion.

Scientology is the stuff of science-fiction. That might be partly explained by the fact that its architect, L. Ron Hubbard, was a science-fiction writer, responsible for such pulp “classics” as The Automagic Horse, The Indigestible Triton and, lest we forget, Mission Earth 9: Villainy Victorious (although I personally preferred Mission Earth 7: Voyage of Vengeance). To give you just a quick idea of how full of shit Scientology is, here’s a synopsis of Scientology’s take on life after death:

According to Scientology, when a person dies — or, in Scientology terms, when a thetan abandons its physical body — they go to a “landing station” on the planet Venus, where the thetan is re-implanted and told lies about its past life and its next life. The Venusians take the thetan, “capsule” it, and send it back to Earth to be dumped into the ocean off the coast of California

You really couldn’t write this shit — but Mr. Hubbard did.

Mr Hubbard is worshipped as a god by Scientologists but he was certainly no saint. When I look at that portrait of him (above) I think: “That’s what I imagined Darth Vader to look like under that mask of his!” If he hadn’t dreamt up Scientology he still could have made a fortune playing megalomaniacal villains in Hollywood.

Rumours abound that he was an abusive father, egotistical and a devilish hypnotist, but the most damaging rumour of all tells of how, in his eyes, Scientology was only ever a money-making scheme. Many of his associates in those early days have mentioned that they were privy to his ulterior motive and he is said to have written a letter to George Orwell saying “…the easiest way to make a lot of money, is to start a new religion.” I can’t imagine Mother Teresa saying that.

Hubbard was probably right though; as long as there are stupid people ready to believe stupid things organised religion will always be a viable business model. Most relgions, thank God, aren’t in the business of making money but Scientology is a notable exception. One of the fundamental tenets of most religions is that everyone should be treated equal but Scientology takes a different view: “If your pockets aren’t fat we don’t want to hear from you”. Scientology requires its members to attend courses that, at the more advanced stages, can cost several thousand dollars. In other words, if you’re hard on your luck and on the dole Scientology has no place for you.

The whole thing sounds like a sinister corporate enterprise. For instance, in a move that calls to mind a dodgy pyramid scheme, existing members are paid a commission for recruiting new members. In addition, so-called Scientology “franchises” must pay 10% of their gross income to the Church of Scientology. The Church even has its own brand logo!

Then, of course, there are the celebrity endorsements. As well as forsaking the poor, Scientology also likes to treat the rich and famous better than just the rich. So-called “Celebrity Centers” (no, I’m not making this up) across the US are designed to serve the Tom Cruises and John Travoltas of this world and attract other high-profile celebrities/nut-jobs. I don’t know how they differ from the normal Scientology centers, but presumably being a member of a Celebrity Center entitles you to telekinetic powers and a top-of-the-line spaceship in the afterlife.

Scientology may be a growing religion but they’re not going to brainwash me with their mumbo-jumbo about an afterlife and immortal spirits — I’m Catholic, thank you very much.