About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

The Fine Points of Solicitation, or What’s Wrong With This Snow Job?

Like most people, I love a little sweat-of-your-brow initiative, and it’s twice as cool if it’s displayed by budding entrepreneurs who aren’t even out of high school yet. So two teenagers going door to door after a heavy snowstorm, asking if they can help out by shoveling driveways and sidewalks for a little extra cash… that’s excellent. Who would possibly object to it?

The Jersey cops, that’s who.

[Read more...]

Snake Oil Alert: Why Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Her Vagina Steam-Cleaned, and Why You Probably Shouldn’t

If you have a vagina, and it could break into a monologue (thank you, Eve Ensler), it would probably ask you to keep it away from vagina steam baths.

And that’s despite what actress Gwyneth Paltrow tells you to do.

Ms. Paltrow loves to get a V-steam. In her lifestyle newsletter GOOP, she swoons:

“You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic releasenot just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels. If you’re in L.A., you have to do it.”

(Of course: L.A., the lala-land of butthole bleaching. Big surprise. I remember being there years ago and seeing ads for something called “laser vaginal rejuvenation.” But I digress.)

From Laura Hooper Beck at Fast Company, we learn that

Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica offers the V-steam in many forms to cure whatever ails your aching vag. Suffering from postpartum depression? TIKKUN POST PARTUM V STEAM™. Want to get pregnant? TIKKUN INFERTILITY V STEAM™. Or simply looking to shed a few pounds? TIKKUN SLIMMING V STEAM™. They even offer the V-steam for men, which is more of an A-steam, if you catch my drift. (It’s for your butt.)

[Read more...]

Ecologist Curt Stager on Getting Cremated: It’s Much More Beautiful Than You Imagined

Someone gave me an Amazon gift certificate last month, which I used to buy ecologist and science journalist Curt Stager‘s 2014 book Your Atomic Self: The Invisible Elements That Connect You to Everything Else in the Universe. I’m a few chapters into it, and it’s lovely. Stager has a way of wrapping dry biophysics in a kind of mellifluous poetry.

He also pulls that off while speaking off the cuff, as he did in a conversation with a writer from the World Science Festival. Here he’s talking about what happens when we die.

Say you’re cremated. You’ll start to heat up, and all your atoms will start jiggling, and the first thing to go off is going to be be your body water, and that’s about two-thirds of you. That’ll go into the air, and within a few days it’ll turn into clouds and raindrops and snow, and it’ll drop to the earth or into the oceans and become part of water bodies or be soaked up by plants. People will eventually drink you and make you part of their bodies.

[Read more...]

U.S. Government Sues, Wins On Behalf of Christian Employee Who Refused Hand Scans Because of the Devil

Let’s say you run a business that, like thousands of others, tracks employees’ attendance and work hours. In the old days, you’d use cards and a clock-based machine that stamps workers’ sheets with the date and time of their arrival and departure. To make matters more efficient and bring the whole shebang into the digital age, and to discourage fraud – like workers “buddy-punching” each other’s time cards to illegally inflate hours – you then upgrade to a biometric scanner. Maybe this one (I may or may not have altered the image).

After the changeover, there’s a small problem: One worker refuses to use the scanner. You sit him down and ask what gives. He explains that his non-negotiable objection is of a religious nature: the scanner, he believes, will secretly imprint him with the mark of the Beast.

[Read more...]

God-Besotted Parents in Utah Killed Three Children and Selves For Fear of the Impending Apocalypse

Five corpses in Utah, including those of three children, were the result of a belief in Biblical end times, police said, discussing fresh autopsy reports that shed light on how the five family members died in September 2014.

Apparently concerned with the “evil in the world” and a pending apocalypse, Benjamin and Kristi Strack took the lives of three of their children and then killed themselves with lethal doses of drugs, Springville police believe.

The children — Benson, 14, Emery, 12, and Zion, 11 — all died of a lethal cocktail of diphenhydramine and methadone. Kristi Strack died of a combination of those drugs plus dextrophan and doxylamine. Benjamin Strack died from toxic levels of heroin, according to a report from the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office.

[Read more...]