Monday, August 31, 2009

You're Not Helping Your Case

atheism, atheist, suffering, makarios, christian, god,
The suffering question. It the sticking point for many people when considering the concept of a caring deity. You can answer the suffering question a number of ways, the easiest two being the pagan answer, deities are not all powerful and cannot prevent most suffering, or you can go all Christian about it and declare "ineffable!*", which is essentially cheating.

Any other explanation is just cruelty. Cruelty on a scale I can't imagine anyone really being comfortable with, though apparently some people are.

This, I believe is perhaps the single greatest reason for why God allows suffering and tragedy to take place. These things solidify our opinions about God. Suffering causes us to either reject God or humble ourselves before God.

Yesterday, I needed help to stand up. Every damn time I wanted to stand up. I'm 33 years old. It was painful, it was humiliating and it was terrifying. I spent the day restricting my fluid intake in order to cut down on urination, because, as a girl, I pee sitting down . . . and I couldn't get back up by myself. So my hips hurt and I felt like I'd run a marathon through the Sahara. Fortunately, I was babysitting my 10 year old niece, and she was cool about it.

According to Makarios, god did that to me to force a reaction out of me. First of all: psychotic. If I started torturing people to get a reaction out of them, you would rightly condemn me to prison for the rest of my life. Secondly: we've already gotten a reaction here, so why keep doing it? I've rejected god, we should be done now, right? The same can be said for believers that continue to suffer. They've gotten down on their knees, now leave them the fuck alone.

Basically, Makarios, and all the others like him, think of god as a little kid pulling the wings off of flies just to see what will happen. Newsflash: that's not a good thing.

Seriously. People just piss me off.

*In case you're not familiar with "ineffable!", it's that the mind of god is not something mortals can comprehend, so stop trying and just go with it. Sorry, but my mind will go to the off position the day I die and not one moment beforehand.

Say Hi to the Molecule

molecule, pentacene, atoms
That is the very first ever picture of a molecule- pentacene, to be exact. The hexagonal shapes are the carbon rings, and the blurry white bits above them are the hydrogen atoms. For perspective, the space between the carbon rings is 1,000,000 times smaller than the diameter of a grain of sand.

Very, very cool.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ima Gonna Getcha!

Go ahead- whistle at my house.

See what happens.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In Which PZ's Favorites Save My House

squid, pz meyers, woodpecker, treaty, house
My house is mostly made of wood. Which attracted me to it, so I suppose I understand why the woodpeckers are so attracted to it as well. Unfortunately, due to the treaty the United States entered into with them in 1918, I can't harm the house-destroying little bastards, so I'm going to have to attach the woodpeckers' natural enemy to my house:

The Scary Eyed Squid.

Friday, August 28, 2009

On Indoctrination

indoctrination, gay, homophobia, homosexual,
On Lawn at Opine Editorials has about the strangest definition of "indoctrination" I've ever heard: mentioning that other people are different.

Your answers to 10 tricky children's questions

BBC News recently ran a cute little diddy, answering some of the tougher questions children ask. Like, "Why is water wet" and "why is the moon out in the day".

And, all the way at the end for us hapless parents to indoctrinate our children to the new order of society, "WHY DOES MY BEST FRIEND HAVE TWO DADS?"

You know what the answer to that last question is? Because some families are different than ours. That's it. You don't really need to get more in depth than that. I suppose if you wanted to, you could say something like, You know how some families speak a different language/follow a different religion/live in different countries? Yeah, it's like that.

Simply acknowledging that the entire world isn't like you is not indoctrinating your children in anything. People all over the world are different. They speak different languages, eat different foods, wear different clothes, worship differently, etc. In the culture On Lawn and I share, burping in public is rude. If you do it, you have to excuse yourself. In other cultures, not burping at the end of meal would be rude, because burping indicates your enjoyment of the food served.

If we follow On Lawn's logic to it's natural conclusion, simply explaining this interesting little bit of information with his children would result in the breakdown of western civilization. There will be burping everywhere! In fact, I think we should make it illegal for cultures other than our own to even exist. And gays- get back in the closet, you're very existence is indoctrinating my children. They'll be burping and swishing all over town. And black people, I'm pretty sure we should get rid of them, too. We wouldn't want our children burping and swishing all over town in rythm, now would we?

Don't even get me started on those damned atheists . . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

If That Were Going to Work . . .

health care, crisis, charity,
If charity were a valid solution to the health care crisis in the US, we wouldn't have a health care crisis in the US right now.

Larry Elder of has moved on from "everybody who doesn't have health care is spending their money on cavier instead" to "let the charities handle this because they'd be so good at it."

Since Mr. Elder doesn't live in reality, I'll fill him in on a little secret: we've been trying that. For years. It isn't working.

Unless you live in a very small town, you have a free/low cost clinic where you live. There may be more than one. Here's how they work, or at least how the one in my town works:

  • They are staffed by interns the same way ERs are, only these interns want to be general practitioners. There is one experienced doctor watching over all the interns.
  • They have a very limited capacity. There are only so many exam rooms, so many interns, so many hours in a day, and only so much money. You may wait months for an appointment at a free clinic to see an inexperienced doctor.
  • They offer very little in the way of testing. The one I went to could only do very simple tests on site: finger prick tests for blood sugar, the urine test for protein, etc. Tests for strep and the like had to be sent out to an independent lab, and the patient pays whatever the lab charges, if they can.
  • X-rays, MRI's, echocardiograms, blood tests, etc. all have to be referred out, and if you have to go to a free clinic in the first place, you can't afford to pay for an x-ray, let along an MRI.
  • You see whatever intern you happen to get that time. This makes ongoing treatment for a chronic disorder, even one as relatively simple as arthritis, inconsistent at best.
  • There are no specialists at most free clinics. Medicine has become superspecialized in recent years. A general practice intern, no matter how talented or well trained, just doesn't have the knowledge or experience to effectively deal with heart issues, neurological disorders, etc. I know this because I had to tell several interns how to treat my seizure disorder. I'm lucky I learned this from the neurologist I had previously been seeing. Otherwise, I would have been totally screwed.
  • You pay for medications. Medications are expensive.
  • You pay for surgeries. Surgeries are expensive.
  • You pay for therapy, mental or physical. Therapy is expensive.

A free clinic is an acceptable option for a person that has an ear infection. If all 50,000,000 uninsured persons in the US were young and healthy, free clinics run by charities would be the solution. Unfortunately, that's just not the way things are. If charities were the solution to the problem, there wouldn't be a problem. We already have charities, and we still have a problem. Ergo . . .

He Brought a Pedophile to Church

pedophilia, pedophile, porn, pornography, church, modesty, religion, christian, stupid,
and then complained that the women weren't dressed modestly enough.

Oh, wait, I just threw you to the end of my rant, so that may not make any sense.

From the beginning:

Sunday's Breast by Mike Adams

Last Sunday, I took a couple of guests to church. I just met Lisa back in March. But I’ve known her husband David for fifteen years – ever since he took my “intro” class at UNC-Wilmington. David just pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography. In all likelihood, he’ll soon be sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

catch that? Mr. Adams took a guy who's into kiddie porn to church with him. KIDDIE PORN. Is there anything lower than that? Anything at all? As it turns out, yes.

But last Sunday at church I was slightly embarrassed in front of my guests. "in front of", not "because of" The source of my embarrassment was all of the women who came to the service dressed like they had been out at a bar. A lot of these women know that they can meet higher quality men at church than at a bar. But some don’t have enough sense to change clothes after making the transition from a bar to a church sanctuary.

So, you attended a church service with a man who enjoys CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, is going to prison for CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, but what really embarrassed you was women in sexy clothing? Really? Did the children in the pornography ask for it, too?

One of the worst offenders was seated one row in front of us. She wasn’t like all of the other women who were content merely to show their breasts. I know, right, women having breasts and not wearing hijab to cover them up. It's terrible. Worse, in fact, than kiddi porn. She had to wear a dress that was thin enough to let the whole congregation know she wears thong underwear. (a) you don't have to look (b) let me share a little secret with you, Mr. Adams. I've worn dresses that thin in public, too, and not on purpose. They looked fine at the store, fine in my bathroom when I put them on, then BAM naked in public. sunlight is a bitch. trust me, boyshorts instead of thongs don't make that situation any better. and it's still not worse than your kiddie porn loving friend. It was even more disturbing than the 13-year olds who wear torn Daisy Dukes instead of wearing a bra. does Mr. Adams know what daisy dukes are? i mean, you can't wear daisy dukes instead of a bra. they don't go on the same body part. oh, and blame the parents, there, bud. my mother wouldn't have let me wear short shorts to church.

When women come to church dressed like this they seldom stop to think that a recovering sex addict might be in the congregation. And they seldom stop to think that there are married men in the congregation who are struggling with lust issues. The church should be a place where men can come to seek help as they battle these temptations. It’s a shame that some of the temptations are following them into the church and pulling up a chair right beside them.

Mr. Adams, you know who likes child pornography? Pedophiles. You brought a pedophile into a church- a place guaranteed to be filled with children. Children should be safe in a church. The attendees of said church shouldn't have to worry that fellow congregants are bringing pedophiles to church, that a pedophile might pull a chair right beside their children. What you did, in bringing a pedophile, a known pedophile, to a church, is obscene. If I attended that church, I would demand that you not be allowed back, with or without your pet pedophile.

Honestly, what the fuck is wrong with some people?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Can, So I Do

gun, second amendment, townhall, tea bag, conservative, health care,
Let me start by saying this: I like guns. I'm a 100lb, 5'1.5" female, so it's easy to see why: with a gun, I'm bigger and stronger than anyone else. I could make make a 6'8", 400lb man grovel at my feet with a gun.

This isn't anything to be proud of on my part. It's the part of me that hates being afraid, even a little bit, of every man that walks past me on a deserted street. I don't indulge this violent little bit of my psyche. While I have practiced with the smaller calibers of handguns and rifles (note to the weak: a 22 rifle is the easiest thing to shoot. you'd think a handgun would be easier, but with a rifle, you rest the stock on your shoulder instead of absorbing all the kick with your wrists.), I only own a shotgun. I don't keep it loaded. I certainly don't carry it around with me.

Specifically, it is important to understand why people bear firearms at town hall meetings. I’m not sure that everyone is getting the same message. Oh, I think we are: threatening and scary. Is there any other message to be taken from AK-47s?

There is probably not a single message being conveyed by carrying guns to these forums oh, i'd agree there, but i don't think you meant what you wrote. next time, try "there's not one singular message", but one of the prominent ones is that we live in a Constitutional republic in which we have delineated rights and freedoms. free speech wasn't another way to say that? what about your guaranteed right to congregate? not quartering soldiers in your homes? voting- voting sends that message, too. none of the above could result in death would be my point here. What many of the gun-toting protestors are saying, and I know because I have listened to their explanations comma is this: I am asserting my Second Amendment right in order to remind my representatives that they are bound to uphold the Constitution and to defend my rights and my freedom. In short, I am carrying a weapon because it is my right to do so.

so, the only way you feel you can remind your elected representatives of their duties is to threaten them with a gun? don't try to dance around this issue: a person with a gun is threatening. it's the nature of the beast. if you want to remind people of something, you write a letter or call them on the phone, you don't parade around in front of them armed to the teeth unless what you want to remind them of is this: i am dangerous and you should be afraid.

As for "it's my right to do so", it's also your right to stick potato chips up your nose, i bet you don't do that. you can pee on your living room rug, eat your goldfish and sleep in your trashcan. do you do any of that? i didn't think so.

Nobody that I know have has pointed their guns at anyone. Nobody has issued threats. Nobody has fired a weapon. Had anyone done so, we would have been reading about arrests already.

so, if your child was carrying around a knife, and you told them to put that down immediately, and they said, "but i haven't gotten hurt yet", would you say "oh, okay then"? I didn't think so.

carrying a gun to a political event may be your right, that does not make it a good idea. politics is an emotionally charged subject. the debate over health care reform has been heated from the start. adding guns to that mix is introducing the very real possibility of bloody tragedy.

have you ever been angry enough to yell at someone? i have. have you ever been angry enough to punch someone? i have. have you ever been angry enough to throw something at someone? i have. now imagine being in the moment of that absolute rage- with a gun in your hands. that is how people end up dead. fights that would have ended in a black eye or a broken nose at worst become homicides the instant a gun enters the picture.

so, it may be your right to carry an AK-47 into an emotionally charged situation, but that doesn't make it a good idea. and the fact that no one has gotten hurt- yet- doesn't make me any less fearful for the future.

Homicides: 12,791

Unintentional: 642

61 of those were aged 0-4 years.

In total, in 2006, 30,896 people in the United States died from firearm-related deaths. To put this in perspective, 58,193 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War. The entire war, not one year of it.

But Teddy- We Needed You!

Teddy* Kennedy is dead. He led the fight for universal healthcare and was the strongest supporter of Obama's plan for reform. Teddy will be missed in ways most people won't even realize.

And who will make "Dora the Explorer" rhyme now?

*My mother, the original 60s liberal, always referred to Ted Kennedy as "Teddy". I don't know why. It was as if they had a personal relationship.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We're In Good Company

atheism, atheist,

I disagree with some of the points made in this video*, and I'm not entirely certain where all of the assertions** came from, but I really enjoyed the video tour of famous atheists. We're in good company! (You can go ahead and turn the sound all the way off for work viewing, it's totally unnecessary.)

*For example, 10% of the US is not the real number of atheists. That includes agnostics and don'tcares.

**I do know that atheists tend to represent less of the prison population and have a lower divorce rate, but I'd be interested to see where the lower abortion rate figure came from. Maybe we're better at birth control?

On Being Out

hemant mehta, friendly, atheism, atheist, ifi, higgins, christian, homophobia, homosexual, free speech

As open as I am in the online world, I am not "out" as an atheist in real life. Very few people in my life know I am an atheist. I don't attend church or pretend religiosity, but I've never outed myself either. While a few like-minded friends know I am an atheist, very few of my family members know, and none of my coworkers/employers know. There is a reason for this, ably demonstrated by the current situation Hemant Mehta finds himself in.

Essentially, Mehta, a math teacher, mocked the head of the Illinois Family Institute, Laurie Higgins. Higgins threw a hissy fit over the Kiss In, and Mehta suggested that perhaps the Kiss In should be held outside her house. I thought it was hilarious, and not at all serious, but apparently the concept of people kissing outside her house sent Higgins into the sort of panic I would reserve for a tactical nuclear strike, prompting her to attempt to have Mehta fired.

She emailed school administrators and school board members and posted an open letter on her website:

District 204 parents really should spend some time perusing Neuqua Valley math teacher, Hemant Mehta’s website to determine whether he is the kind of man with whom they want their children to spend a school year. He absolutely has a First Amendment right to promote any feckless, destructive, offensive, and immoral ideas he wants via his blog, but, as I mentioned in my earlier article, parents have the right not to have him as a teacher and a role model for their children. I want to be very clear about what I’m suggesting: I am suggesting that parents who have serious concerns about Mr. Mehta’s potential influence on their children’s beliefs politely insist that their children be placed in another teacher’s class………..

. . .

Some parents fail to understand the adolescent mind: they fail to understand that teens are often predisposed to affirm the ideas of adults whom they find cool or personable or funny or iconoclastic. Those parents, no matter what their personal beliefs, will likely be comfortable with their children in Mr. Mehta’s class.

Some parents may be ideological kindred spirits with Mr. Mehta. Those parents may relish the idea of their children being impressed by Mr. Mehta and influenced by his subversive ideas.

But those parents who are troubled by the ideas Mr. Mehta expresses, posts on his blog, and endorses, and who recognize that their teens may be predisposed to look favorably on his ideas merely because they like him, may want to ensure their teens have another math teacher…

Catch that? Mehta, a math teacher, is feckless, destructive, offensive, and immoral and, as a math teacher, will rob his students of all belief. Mehta mocked Higgins' hatred of homosexuals, online, she tried to have him fired- in real life.

When called on her behavior, Higgins tried to dodge responsibility for her actions:

She first stressed that she never suggested to school administrators that he be fired or that he should resign.

Then defending her previous statements, Higgins said she has made it clear that she was simply trying to inform leaders in District 204 about Mehta's "vindictive, irresponsible, and unprofessional public statement" that the kiss-in should take place outside her house.
Her goal, she explained, was to provide information to parents in the school district "about the nature of the ideas you express and endorse on your public blog so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they want their children to spend a school year under your tutelage."

Really? She called Mehta feckless, destructive, offensive, and immoral, suggested that parents should remove their children from his class, but she didn't want him fired or anything, she just wanted people to know their child's math teacher is feckless, destructive, offensive, and immoral .

Higgins then goes for broke with this irony meter busting statement:

Teachers have a First Amendment right to blog or speak publicly about anything they want, the family group director acknowledged. But she added that having the right to speak does not guarantee public approval.

Funny, I think the same thing can be said for directors of "institutes", too. Except that when Mehta expressed his disapproval, Higgins didn't say, oh, well, you have a right to disapprove if you want.

Fortunately for Mehta, his employers haven't been swayed by Higgins' thuggery.

School board member Mark Metzger replied to Higgins' e-mail, rebuking her action.

"Have you considered the possibility that if your actions caused Mr. Mehta to suffer consequences in his employment, you'd be subjecting yourself and/or your organization to liability? That's potentially unwise to your organization's self-sufficiency, surviival (sic) and mission," Metzger stated, according to IFI.

This is the scary side of the American Christian Hegemony. They practice a kind of morality and discourse I can only describe as "do as I say, not as I do." Ms. Higgins talks a big game, just like all of them do, about responsibility and freedom of speech, but exercise it against them, ask them to take responsibility, and you find yourself at the receiving end of some very nasty behavior. Lucky for Hemant Mehta that his employers aren't inclined to test the teacher's union or free speech rules. I remain hidden because secretaries are far easier to fire.

Monday, August 24, 2009

But I Want a Family!

god, bible, jesus, sin, good, evil,
Trigger warning: child molestation.

The question of why any loving, concerned god would allow the vast amounts of human suffering that occurs every day (that is occurring right this minute) is something that has distressed believers, and created nonbelievers, for millenia.

In the time it took you to read that sentence, at least 2 women in the US were raped, depending on how fast you read. I wish I could do something about that. I wish I could make sure nobody was ever raped again. I wish I could end genocide, starvation, disease, war and just plain meanness.

I can't. An omnipotent god could. An omniscient god would know how. So why doesn't he?

Presumably not for this reason:

Wouldn’t you just like God to tell you what he thinks about your suffering? I mean, who wouldn’t? Maybe in a personal letter. Where he spells out what he sees in all your pain. I guess god writes a letter because if you were in front of him while he explains it all, he'd have to start answering questions or something.

For many years, I wrestled with him about where he was when my father took me, his four-year-old daughter, out to the cornfield behind our house to take his pleasure at the expense of my pain. How could God let that happen? i cannot reconcile a loving god with such things. i could reconcile an omnipotent being that just doesn't care about us with such a thing, but a god that answers prayers for lost car keys? no.

And where is he in the bitterness of broken romances, the anguish of jobs lost, the struggles of all the refugees in the world, the hunger of the 800 million people who don’t even have enough food? i love that broken hearts and job loss come before homelessness and starvation. After thirty years of prayer, thought, and study, I sat down one day and these words flowed. thirty years of prayer? she must be right! In the form of a letter to a semi-autobiographical “Annie,” this is how I see God’s perspective on our distress.

The Father of Jesus
1 Golden Way
New Jerusalem I'm fairly certain god had a name before jesus, mostly because i'm guessing jews don't refer to him that way.

My Dearest Annie:

I know you are unsure of me these days, particularly wondering whether you really are dear to me. Your twenties have been such painful years, haven’t they? I know you’ve wondered whether you would ever stop crying. And those breakdowns that landed you in the hospital—such terror—thinking you were going to be rolled up in a little ball and thrown out into the empty universe. i'm beginning to think you should have to pass a test before you're allowed to use metaphors. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. My heart has bled for you. god has a . . . never mind, but if he's so sad about it, why not do something about it?

. . .

You’ve particularly been wrestling with me about free will. I wanted to write to you today because you’ve begun to see it differently. Up until now you’ve always said, “Free will isn’t worth what it costs! It was a human choice in the garden that led to all this pain, and it was my father’s choices that have provoked so much terror in my life.” good points, actually. why should everyone throughout history suffer because two people made a mistake? a mistake god knew they would make, no less.

You’ve blamed me for creating such a system. well, yeah. why put the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life right where Adam and Eve could get at them? why create those trees at all?

You admitted to me two weeks ago Saturday that you actually hated me. (I was so glad to hear you confess that!) And now, in these last two weeks, it has begun to dawn on you that there’s no real goodness on earth without real evil. no, one couldn't really perceive good as being special without evil, but "good" in the sense of being kind and generous could surely exist without child molesters. The same ability to choose that creates evil also yields goodness. i'll agree to that. some people choose to free the slaves, some people choose to commit genocide. Do you get it, really? get what? I want people who will love me freely, without coercion or manipulation. what? god's fucking lonely or something? if love something set it free, and if it comes back to you, that was true love? god rules the universe via easily mocked mantras? That means you all need to have a choice to walk with me or to walk away from me. okay, but why does "walking away" have to involve torture and rape and genocide? couldn't walking away just mean not attending church? I know it’s confusing, too, because it’s hard for you to evaluate who’s with me and who’s not. wait, what? Like your father, who looked like he was walking with me oh, i got it, false convert. but sure walked away from me that day in the cornfield when he molested you. because that's the important part, not that he ruined his daughter's life, but that he wasn't a true christian. Have you ever thought about what I felt that day? seriously? can you imagine how enraged the semi-autobiographical annie would be if her mother said, "yes, i knew your father was molesting you, but have you thought about how i felt about it, how much it hurt me?"

I know you’ve been angry with me about how I’ve set up the system, but think about it from my point of view: I want a family to love. so god made two people who immediately disobeyed him because god's incompetent? So I made Adam and Eve with the ability to be my children. But they walked away from me and unleashed such evil and suffering. i could have stopped the evil and suffering, or prevented it in the first place, but . . . i dunno. How I grieved! I was sorry I’d made them. i could have done something about that, too. Every violent thought broke my heart. not quite enough to do something about it. And that’s how I felt that day in the cornfield. I wept over you both, knowing what your father’s sin would cost in your life, and in his. And, do you see that I could not intervene? not really, no.

If I stopped your father, it would only be fair to stop all the evil choices and then where would human choice be and then how would I get my family? I want a family! I want an enormous, extended family. I want people who want to come to family reunions. Well, it’s not that I couldn’t intervene in the most literal sense—I could, of course. What I mean is, if I did routinely stop bad choices, that would be the end of choice. Real choices require real consequences. Maybe you think I could just make you love me, but I want a family who really loves me.

this is both ridiculous and psychopathic. for one thing, parents allow their children to make choices, choices about what clothes to wear, what toys to play with, etc. parents allow those choices to prepare their children for a time when they will have to make much more important choices. However, no parent (i hope) ever allows their child to choose to stick their fingers in an electrical outlet or set themselves on fire or drink lye. the writer's theory seems to be that we really ought to let them choose such things, because what happens to free will otherwise?

the psychopathic side of this: I want a family! i need you to suffer so that I can have what I want! wait, isn't that the logic of the child molester . . . holy shit, i just . . . wow.

i think we're done here.

This Is So Stupid

atheism, atheist, christian, ontological, anselm, god,
I'm pissed off somebody got paid to write it. Honestly, I would have written something for the New York Times equally as stupid for half the price. I don't even have to know what the price was.

The Self-Thinking Thought by Nathan Schneider

Seriously, the entire article can be summed up by Mr. Schneider's drawing above. Think of something. Imagine it doesn't exist. Nonexistent things aren't really all that great. So if this thing really is great, it must exist. This is Anselm's Ontological Argument.

That is the stupidest proof of god I have ever heard. Pascal's Wager at least has the element of fear to it. This is just . . . silly. Oh, hey, you think spaghetti is great? Well, now imagine there is no spaghetti- haha, you spaghetti's not so great now, is it!

The thing is, I can totally imagine anything not existing, including spaghetti, god and myself, for that matter. The fact that Anselm apparently can't imagine god not existing is a failure of his imagination, not a proof of god. That, or Anselm presupposed that god is great, and worked backward from there. Either way, stupid. Really, really stupid. Stoooooopid.

Anyway, Anselm's exercise in something that vaguely resembles logic made Mr. Schneider feel better about things. Or something. Then he dumps on atheists.

I let the rapture in his proof take hold of me. For passing moments, lying on my back with the book in my hands, I came to sense the whole enormity of a God wrapped around my little mind, like a lonesome asteroid must feel touching the gentle infinity of space. Then, always, my mind wandered elsewhere and I forgot some movement of the logic. The whole thing dissolved away, along with the sense of certainty. I started to remember the echo of Kant’s devastating complaint against Anselm: existence is not a predicate. God seemed to disappear.

But I read on. I was reminded it wasn’t God’s existence that plagued Anselm — of that, he had no doubt — it was the phrasing. Modern arguments and evangelists and New Atheists have duped us into thinking that the interesting question is whether God exists; no, what mattered for Anselm was how we think about God and about one another.

Sure, for Anselm, you know a freakin' monk living in the eleventh century, the question was not whether or not god exists. It is a question, though. And Anselm's "proof" doesn't answer that question. And dealing with any other question before answering the existence question is like trying to decide the proper way to care for an animal you aren't even sure exists. "Do you think lillies are poisonous to unicorns?"

Seriously. Schneider gets paid for this.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Does the Bible Say About Birth Control?

children, birth control, bible, god, christian,
Atheist answer: nothing. Birth control wasn't an option during the Bronze Age, nor was it an option 2,000 year ago. The Bible no more addresses birth control than it does computers and airplanes.

The fundy answer is a little longer.

Man was commissioned by God “to be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Marriage was instituted by God as a stable environment in which to produce and raise children. Sadly, children today are sometimes considered a nuisance and a burden. They stand in the way of people’s career paths and financial goals, and they “crimp your style” socially. Often, this type of selfishness is at the root of contraceptive use.

Does anyone, anywhere, not have children for these reasons? I know some people that don't have children and don't want to, myself included. None of us think of children as "nuisances" or "burdens". "I can't afford a child" is not the same thing as regarding a child as a burden, it's a realistic understanding of personal finances. (What is up with religious conservatives who condemn people on welfare one second, then condemn people for not having more children the next? Do they not see the connection?)

As for "crimping your style" socially: where? Not having children crimps my social style because everyone I know has children. They can't engage in adults only social activities, and I don't have any interest in Chuck E. Cheese, so you can see the problem. But I'm selfish, you see.

Contrary to the self-centeredness behind some birth control usage, the Bible presents children as a gift from God (Genesis 4:1; Genesis 33:5). Children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5). Children are a blessing from God (Luke 1:42). Children are a crown to the aged (Proverbs 17:6). God blesses barren women with children (Psalm 113:9; Genesis 21:1-3; 25:21-22; 30:1-2; 1 Samuel 1:6-8; Luke 1:7, 24-25). God forms children in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16). God knows children before their birth (Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15). Yes, yes, yes, god likes the bebbes. Well, not all the children. And where else would god "form" children?

The next paragraph is actually the most reasoned interpretation of the Onan story I've seen. I've got to give them props in this case.

The closest that Scripture comes to specifically condemning birth control is Genesis chapter 38, the account of Judah's sons Er and Onan. Er married a woman named Tamar, but he was wicked and the Lord put him to death, leaving Tamar with no husband or children. Tamar was given in marriage to Er's brother, Onan, in accordance with the law of levirate marriage in Deuteronomy 25:5-6. Onan did not want to split his inheritance with any child that he might produce on his brother's behalf, so he practiced the oldest form of birth control, withdrawal. Genesis 38:10 says, “What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so He put him to death also.” Onan's motivation was selfish: he used Tamar for his own pleasure, but refused to perform his legal duty of creating an heir for his deceased brother. This passage is often used as evidence that God does not approve of birth control. However, it was not explicitly the act of contraception that caused the Lord to put Onan to death; it was Onan’s selfish motives behind the action.

It is important to view children as God sees them, not as the world tells us we should. the world tells us to view children as burdens that crimp our style? srsly? Having said that, the Bible does not forbid contraception. Contraception, by definition, is merely the opposite of conception. uh, yeah. It is not the act of contraception itself that determines whether it is wrong or right. As we learned from Onan, it is the motivation behind the contraception that determines if it is right or wrong. If a married couple is practicing contraception in order to have more for themselves, then it is wrong. if you're actually not having children because they would keep you from buying the latest fashions, then you should not have children. why would anyone want to subject a child to that? If a couple is practicing contraception in order to temporarily delay children until they are more mature and more financially and spiritually prepared, then it is perhaps acceptable to use contraception for a time. maybe. but get with the baby making soon, you selfish bastards. that church isn't going to tithe itself. Again, it all comes back to motivation.

The Bible always presents having children as a good thing. The Bible “expects” that a husband and wife will have children. well, duh. when the bible was written there was no reliable method of birth control. so, if you were having sex, babies would result. The inability to have children is always presented in Scripture as a bad thing. There is no one in the Bible who expressed a desire not to have any children. i don't see anyone in the bible expressing a desire to use the internet, is using the internet a bad thing? At the same time, it cannot be argued from the Bible that it is explicitly wrong to use birth control for a limited time. All married couples should seek the Lord’s will in regards to when they should try to have children and how many children they seek to have. that's basically a nonanswer. "well, the bible doesn't really say . . . go pray!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Natural Law

natural law, christian, ten commandments, liberal, obama,
It took me a minute, but I think "natural law" as discussed by Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica "analyst" is the Ten Commandments, the idea being that every person everywhere automatically knows the Ten Commandments whether they know itor not. The article is a criticism of liberalism (we're blown about by the winds of popular fads) and Obama (he's the weathervane), but I thought I'd deal with one particular bit of silliness: the idea that everywhere and everywhen in the universe "thou shalt not steal" is held to be true.

In the early 20th century, the jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes was the most famous proponent of positive law. G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis were very popular proponents of natural law.

Chesterton's fictional detective, Father Brown, was a like a Christian Sherlock Homes. He was on the trail of Flambeau, a criminal mastermind. Before Father Brown solved a case against Flambeau, he debated Flambeau about natural law versus positive law. Flambeau speculated that there are many worlds in the starry heavens and that each one has a different moral law. Father Brown replied that every one of those worlds has a mortar board, "Thou shalt not steal." In this way, Father Brown emphasized the universality of natural law and rejected cultural relativism. His terse comments rebuked Flambeau for being a thief. His comments also rebuked him for temporizing the immorality of his thefts by using the relativistic philosophy of positive law.

How would Father Brown know that? Has he been to every world in "the starry heavens" and asked? Or is he, like Chesterton, simply unable to imagine people who are not just like him?

It was hardly uncommon, several hundred years ago, to run into peoples in both the Americas and in Africa that did not have any notion of land being owned by any particular individual. Land was just land, if you wanted to use it, fine, but you couldn't own it. This led to trouble for the natives when the (Christian) Europeans moved in with their concepts of land ownership. Native leaders thought they were granting the Europeans limited use of the land, when in fact they were effectively destroying themselves.

It's not too hard to imagine a culture in which there is no notion of ownership at all, land or otherwise. I am wearing this sweater because I'm cold and it fits me and it looks nice with my outfit, but when I am done with it, someone else can wear it. I live in this house because it suits me, but I could live in another house, or someone else could live in this one. Father Brown knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this culture has never existed on earth or anywhere else in the entire universe? Really? How?

The idea of natural law is that the creator hardwires some things directly into our brains, we all know them whether we are ever taught them or not. If you've spent any time with small children, you know this isn't true. If a baby wants something, they grab it. They don't consider ownership, they have no concept of theft. It is the reaction of adults to their grabbing that teaches them that particular commandment.

Think about the implications of natural law. Why bother to raise your children? If natural law exists, you could lock your kids in a closet or drop them off in the woods for wolves to raise and they'd still grow up to be adults who don't steal, lie, have sex outside of marriage, worship false idols or take the name of the lord in vain.

Nobody actually thinks that, do they?

Persecuted by a Simple Statement

christian, atheism, atheist, god, bus ads, iowa
If somebody said to you, an atheist, an agnostic, a pagan, or otherwise, that many people in the United States are Christians and accept Jesus as their messiah, would you be offended?

Of course not, this is a simple statement of fact. This would no more offend a reasonable person than stating that water is wet and the sky is blue. I find it hard to imagine even unreasonable people being offended by this.

So why would a Christian be offended by the statement that there are people that don't believe in any gods at all? So offended, in fact, that they may choose to lose their job in this time of high unemployment rather than accept that simple statement as the fact that it is.

The Des Moines Regional Transit Authority in Iowa has suspended an employee who refused to drive a bus that carried an ad for an atheist group.
Angela Shiel, 41, was suspended on Monday after she refused to drive a bus that featured on its side an ad paid for by the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers.

The ad reads "Don't believe in God? You are not alone."

According to the Des Moines Register, Shiel said driving with such an ad "goes against everything I believe in."

"For me to drive a bus that is totally against my beliefs personally - that's why I didn't take it," she added.

The fact that atheists exist goes against everything you believe in? Really? You believe there are no atheists? I didn't realize that was part of the Christian belief system.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've Given Up Hope

medicare, health care, obama, stupid,

That's it. I used to think the US could be saved from itself, but a new Public Policy Polling poll has put an end to that:

One poll question indicative of how difficult it is to gain public understanding on a complicated issue asked if respondents thought the government should ‘stay out of Medicare,’ something inherently impossible. 39% said yes. that would be fucking impossible, because Medicare is a government run program. we may as well ask baseball players to stay out of MLB.

The poll also shows that an additional 15% of respondents were “not sure” if the government should be involved in Medicare. Only 46% of respondents disagreed with the proposition that the government should stay out of the government-run program. so, less than half of the population has the basic knowledge required for democracy to survive.

we're doomed.

The poll also finds that only 62 percent of respondents believe that President Obama was born in America. Of the 38 percent who either don't believe or are unsure, some think he was born in Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, or France. Six percent of the total poll respondents also don't think Hawaii is a U.S. state.

doomed, doomed, doomed. that sound you hear? the doom, come for us.

Elite and Resentful

christian, christianity, morality, islam, atheism, elite,
elite: the choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons.

I love being called "elite", mostly because there's nothing particularly elite about me. I'm not the most intelligent or educated, I'm hardly the best writer, I'm not the funniest, most informed or even the best looking. I'm not the kindest, the gentlest or the most generous.

I'm not even elite in a negative sense. I'm not the rudest, the most violent, the ugliest, the cruelest or the most boring. That's right, I can't even win at losing.

But that doesn't stop people from claiming that it's my resentful elitism that has turned me against god. People like Jaime Jeffords.

For the elites, it is all about permissiveness. One can hold whatever religion one wants, as long as it passes no judgment and certainly does not seek to shape society. look, i don't care if you worship a pair of socks, just leave the rest of us out of it. You do not like the idea of abortion or gay marriage? Shut up, you bigoted jerk! you are more than welcome to tell the whole freakin' world that you don't like abortion, gay marriage or my new haircut, but stop trying to pass laws about it. Want to legalize pot or take ’under God’ out of the Pledge of Allegiance/ well, speak up, pal. well, those people shouldn't be allowed to speak. it's ridiculous that those people might go door to door and hand out pamphlets and . . . oh. You are just the kind of enlightened soul we need around here. Someone will with? no general principles other than self-centered hedonism.

just a note: according to Mr. Jefford's self description, he has a law degree. given the appalling spelling and grammatical errors throughout this post, i think we should find out which school gave him a JD and petition to have them shut down.

I expect that sort of attitude from people who reject religion on a moral rather than intellectual basis. what? i'm not sure . . . so it's okay to reject religion on an intellectual basis? What what bemuses i assume "me" meaning Mr. Jeffords about the intellectuals is how they trade Christianity directly for science as though the two are as mutually exclusive as hedonism and Christianity are. do they? have you proven that anywhere . . . nope. okay then. It is not so. The intellectual elite we're choice! like Grade A Prime Rib! (i really miss steak.) embrace science as a religion stop that! in order to fill the gap left by abandoning Christianity. (a) not all atheists "abandoned" christianity. I know a few atheists who never had any religion, as well as exmuslims, exjews, etc. (b) who says "abandoning" christianity leaves a gap? i haven't noticed one.

Look at the language they use. “God in the gaps,’ pick some quotes and stick with them! which supposedly means God has fewer and fewer places to hide as science reveals how unnecessary he is in finding answers. well, yeah. why would you look to god for scientific knowledge? you're talking about the book that asserts that bats are birds and insects have four legs. you don't need a PhD in anything to know the truth there. The guys in the white lab coats have replaced ministers in their hearts and minds rather than coexisting with God like they should. no, scientists, with or without lab coats, white or otherwise, have not replaced ministers in my heart. totally different job, buddy. There is this notion that god has limited science, which translates to morality has limited science. galileo. christianity has limited science. and christianity =/= morality. i am a moral person. without christianity or god. i know, it's amazing. Christian opposition to destroying embryonic stem cell research wait a minute, he just said that christians are against stopping embryonic stem cell research, abortion and against stopping abortion, and euthanasia and against stopping euthanasia. words, they mean something. is doing what, really/ anything other than injecting limits on the morality of scientific research/ Explaining that you cannot kill the weak and helpless in the name of alleged progress? Preventing the rise of scientists as those with the power over who livesand who dies/ it is all of the above. did this suddenly become a poem? what's up with the forward slashes everywhere? what is going on?

When was the last time you heard anyone proclaim Islam was the culprit preventing social and scientific progress even though it inarguably has a far worse track record than Christianity?look, "the Mooslins are worse!" is not a defense of christianity. and that statement isn't even true. right now, Islam isn't all hip to the social and scientific progress, but while christendom was plodding through the Dark Ages, the Islamic world was expanding mathematics and calculating the circumference of the earth to within a few thousand feet (a really impressive achievement for people who had no idea the Americas existed.). Some may pay it lip service from a safe, Muslims cannot behead me for it distance, violent headcases in other faiths do not make christianity any truer. but it is Christianity that bears the bulk of criticism--probably because Christians will not behead critics. Talk about permissiveness. i'm assuming, Mr. Jeffords, that you only read atheist criticisms in English. Oddly enough, the people who know enough about Islam to criticize it, and the people who would care enough to do so, aren't speaking English. because they live in the Middle East. the whole world isn't the United States. asshat.

It is Christian morality that is at the heart of the animosity so self centered., whether it is casting judgment on evil actions or placing value on life over science without conscience. because only christians can see evil. the rest of us are sacrificing babies to Darwin Keeo or keep in mind that when anyone critiques religion as immoral, bigoted, and stupid, what they are really saying that Christianity is standing in the way of whatever evil I want to do. Take it as a compliment. here's a clue: remember how your mom told you that all the kids tease you because they're jealous? yeah, that's not true. sorry.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Preaching to the Choir

tom estes, hard truth, atheism, atheist, atheophobia, hate, bigotry, christian, christianity,

Tom Estes at Hard Truth has a dream. No, not that dream. Not that one either. Probably not the one involving me, Naveen Andrews and a shocking lack of clothing. That would be weird.

He has a dream of an atheist free zone. Yes, I know, we call those "churches", but the internet tends to be a little more egalitarian than that. And somebody needs to do something about that.

Well, I was hoping that when I changed the rules for comments basically, you couldn't disagree with Mr. Estes. If he said the world is flat and made entirely of the broken dreams of orphans, you couldn't point out obvious facts such as "the world is round". and set my blog up to where only those with membership accounts could comment, that a lot of the militant atheists would go elsewhere. we wanted you to see our jackboots! I was wrong. They continue to come here and try to hijack our discussions with logic and reason. it's so rude. something atheist blogs frown on with much disdain the blogs frown on it? really?, and basically just try to be a thorn in the side of anyone who comes here and is a Christian. I've decided that needs to stop. It's time to make this an almost "atheist free zone." other atheist free zones: churches, US politics and most of the noninternet public sphere.

Please allow me to explain why: please

When I started this blog, I wanted to show non-Christians that truly rational thought is one that understands that we have an all-powerful, loving God who created us in His image, and sustains the world we live in.
like atlas? wasn't that his job? And while this obviously is the truth, if it were obvious, wouldn't we all see it? a large segment of atheists that spend time on line one word are either unwilling or unable to see the rationale and logic behind such thinking. actually, by definition, all atheists, online or not, would not believe that. or they wouldn't be atheists. ergo, wherefore, and other such phrases

The more I worked on this blog, the more I learned about logic. Logic can be used as a tool if you're dealing with people who think the same as you, or share your world view, but it's completely useless with those who don't. i think you need to learn a little bit more about logic. There have been many times when I felt that I was able to construct a concrete logical argument that couldn't be argued, only to have the very first atheist commenter attempt to rip it to shreds. frustrating, but don't blame us all for your inability to construct a logical argument. And conversely, many atheists have responded to my posts with what they felt were solid, logical arguments that I was able to rip to shreds. logical argumentation: not for the faint of heart. Many times this resulted in them calling me a liar because they felt so strongly about the argument they had presented, that they felt it would impossible for anyone to actually disagree with it. you mean, like you?

Mr. Estes reveals his complete misunderstanding of logic for a few more paragraphs, then ends with a perversion of logic that makes me happy we don't have immortal souls, because if we do, then Aristotle's is weeping in shame.

But when our reasoning begins with God's Word, our thinking and our logic move vertically ???. The more we know about the Bible, the more we understand about God, and by extension the more we will understand about the world we live in. yes, if only physicists would consult the bible, we would have had Unified Field Theory ages ago. And as any Bible student knows, we will eventually get to the point where we cease to be able to understand good thing scientists don't take this tack. Einstein: fuck it, we can't understand anymore, i'm gonna go play golf. relativity? who cares? , but we know that God possesses all knowledge and will increase our abilities to think and reason Biblically as He sees fit. see Einstein, above. or, I'm ignorant because god wants me to be!

But atheists don't see the Bible as a foundation. They see it a great piece of old literature and that's about it. With that in mind, what do atheists and people like myself really have to talk about? Honestly, not much. i dunno, do you like Lost? what about video games? Settlers of Catan? Bohnanza? there's more to me than atheism, and I would hope there's more to you than christianity.

Mr. Estes then digresses into his hatred of PZ Myers, funny story that.

Which is why most of the atheists are here. Because they either hate God do you hate tiny pink unicorns, Mr. Estes? you can't hate what doesn't exist., and what His followers stand for. rank hypocrisy and desire to see me and mine gone, yeah, i don't like that. This is something they have every right to do, but not here. fair enough, but wait for what comes next. That is why there will be no more atheists allowed to comment on here with two exceptions. Curious as a Chimp, and Nigel the Bold. do i know these two?

Here's the HardTruth. that makes me laugh. for obvious reasons.

I want this to be a place where Christians can read about and discuss the adverse affects of atheism on our culture, without having to get attacked immediately by several hateful atheists. i want to be able to discuss what to do about atheists without actually having to hear from any atheists.

let's try something: I want this to be a place where Christians can read about and discuss the adverse affects of Judaism on our culture, without having to get attacked immediately by several hateful Jews.


I want this to be a place where Christians can read about and discuss the adverse affects of blacks on our culture, without having to get attacked immediately by several hateful blacks.

yeah. hate on atheists, and that's fine, because like fat people and trannies, we're still acceptable targets. it doesn't make you a good person, Mr. Estes, and it's still bigotry.

I Love You, Barney Frank

barney frank, health care, nazi, townhall, obama, hitler

Do I need to say more?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Real Americans

america, american, liberal, conservative, christian, atheist,

It seriously pisses me off when someone uses the phrase "real Americans". Seriously. Pisses. Me. Off.

You know why? Even though I am a citizen of the United States, even though I pay taxes, vote and have even done my civic duty as a juror, I am not a "real American". Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you aren't either, because atheists aren't "real Americans". Liberals aren't "real Americans". Educated elites aren't "real Americans". Basically, unless you thought Bush was the greatest thing ever and are convinced Obama's government death squads are out to kill grandma and rip your baby right from your body, you're not a "real American".

Newsflash to the Religious Right:

American citizens are real Americans. It doesn't matter where you live in the US, we're all real Americans. From New York City to San Francisco and all the way out to Honolulu, we're all real Americans. Gay, straight, just don't care- real Americans. Married, divorced, cohabiting - real Americans. Liberal, conservative, green party, Ron Paul- real Americans. Prolife, prochoice, vegetarian, avid hunter- real American. AK-47 owner, pacifist or just plain scared of guns- real American. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Heathen, agnostic, deist, theist or atheist- real American.

That's right, I am a real American. I, a liberal, vegetarian, prochoice, feminist atheist am a real American. And so are you*.

*Unless you're French or Canadian or Iranian or something, in which case I'd like to know if you're ever accused of not being a "real Frenchperson" or a "real Canadian" or a "real Iranian".

You Keep Using That Word . . .

health care, christian, jesus, fail, obama, reform,
Harry R. Jackson, Jr. of keeps using the word "moral" in a way that makes me think he doesn't have any idea what that word means. Which is a little strange, because Mr. Jackson is a Bishop. Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

This week I was shocked by the news that a long list of “progressive” the sarcastiquotes mean they're not! ministers came out in support of the administration’s healthcare plan. They claim that universal health care is a moral issue. yes, not allowing poor people to die solely because they are poor is indeed a moral issue. it must be embarrassing to need an atheist to tell you these things. Their belief is based on a very superficial social, moral, and economic analysis. they said that universal health care is a "moral issue". when did economic analysis come into play? Contrary to their assertion, the Church has never historically viewed healthcare as the government’s responsibility. yes, actually it has. (i just linked to a catholic website. to support my point of view. freakyweird.)

blahblahblah Encyclopedia Britannica blahblahblah Christians built all the hospitals blahblahblah

With the community in mind, I would advocate a healthcare system that responsibly reaches out to the poor and needy. got a thousand page plan to go with that? Unfortunately, the administration’s proposals (as it they now stands stand) would result in lessening the overall quality of care. i don't need proof: i've got bald assertions! While this sounds acceptable in theory, lessening overall quality of care sounds acceptable in theory? really? it is impractical. The delay or denial of surgery or treatment for some patients would become a death sentence. sure, but how do we know that's going to happen? and now, a link to rapture ready in which several British and Canadian rapturites defend their health care systems. (i just linked to rapture ready. to support my point of view. if you see four horses in the sky- run!)

blahblahblah scare tactic blahblahblah

How moral is it to create a healthcare system in which the sickest patients, no matter their income, are not tended to? if that were the health care system being proposed, that would be immoral. it's not. Everyone in the nation will agree that we should help as many people as we can and that there should be realistic limits on how much is spent on a single patient. sure, we can all agree on that. So why did “progressive” clergy side with the President? is there any real connection between the three preceding sentences, other than they were all written by the same person? anyone?

First of all, I believe they wrongly used a broad-brush assessment of a very complex situation.
pot, meet kettle. Nowhere does scripture imply that the rich who are sick should not be visited or that the lower middle class sick person should be counted less worthy of help than the abjectly poor. and that has fuck all to do with the proposed health care bill? i'm sorry, did i miss the Liberal Agenda(tm) meeting in which we agreed to use health care reform to kill off all but the most poor? I would argue that Jesus calls us to value all life – not simply the value of the lives of the poor versus the lives of the rich. The question we should be asking is this: “Is my life worth less because I am worth more?” The answer is obviously: no. what. the. fuck. does this have to do with proposed health care reform? oh, wait, nothing. this is a scare tactic. he's counting on the fact that no one who reads this article is truly, desperately poor, therefore everyone reading it will now think, "well, fuck, i ain't dyin' for them trailer park bastards!"

is it moral to mislead people and incite class warfare, Mr. Jackson?

The second faulty assumption these clergymen make is that if you live in the right zip code, you can afford whatever the additional price of health services. The president has publicly acknowledged that many people go bankrupt because of “healthcare bills gone wild,” but somehow “progressive” ministers seem to think that “rich” people can just come up with the money. because jesus never said to give your money to the poor. and a tax rate significantly lower than taxes under Reagan will ruin us all. (what bible is this guy reading from?)

Third, under the currently proposal, the administration wants to create a Robin-Hood-like healthcare system. The system will take from the rich and give to the poor. Although the concept works well in speeches, it is flawed. Imagine a 30-year old homeless man receiving a pacemaker that has been paid for by revenue that came from denying my friend Arnie his vital surgery. Our nation cannot place a higher value on one of these lives versus the other. yes, that's exactly what's going to happen. Liberals: greatly opposed to people named Arnie. then again, who isn't? and why should homeless guys get pacemakers? I mean, c'mon now, they're homeless. what are they going to do with that pacemaker? that's right- buy booze.

blahblahblah ABORTION!!!1!!!eleventy!!!! blahblahblah

Is it moral that every healthcare premium I pay for my 50 employees will finance abortions, when these monies are coming from the tithes and offerings of people that believe that killing a fetus is murder? here's a funny fact: your healthcare premiums already do finance abortions, because health insurance does pay for abortions when the life of the mother is at risk, so suck it! plus, weren't you just bitching about taxes? is it premiums or taxes? Is it moral that elderly people are afraid that the plug will be pulled on them? no, but since you're the one scaring the elderly people . . . Can we guarantee them that their lives are worth as much as anyone else’s? funny you should mention that, since at the moment 47,000,000 people's lives are not worth as much as yours.

The answers to the questions I just posed are obvious to everyone but you. The administration’s healthcare plan is flawed at best. your post: failtacular! I want to encourage all Americans to challenge their congressmen to vote against the bill as it stands. Let’s slow down the Obama express and create reform that we can really believe in! reform that preserves the lives, and money, of the rich. oh, wait, i'm not sure that's reform, exactly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Michael Vick, My Dog and Second Chances

puppy, happy, abuse, animal, michael vick, eagles, crime,
As you have no doubt heard, unless you've spent the last few days waiting for Lassie in a well, Michael Vick has been signed by the Eagles. And, unless you've spent the last few years in that well, you also know that Michael Vick tortured and killed innocent dogs for entertainment. Some people call it "sport", I call it torturing and killing innocent animals that just want to be your friend.

All of the pictures in this post are of my best friend, Muggsy. (I didn't name him.) When I brought Muggsy home, he was between 1.5 and 2 years old. His tail never wagged and he didn't grin like that. He did pee himself anytime someone raised their hand, or their voice. Muggsy bit me the first time I tried to put a leash on him. He cried when I tried to pet him. Because someone like Michael Vick thought it would be fun to put out cigarettes on Muggsy's skin. Because someone like Michael Vick thought it was perfectly fine to choke, kick, beat and pour boiling water on a dog. On my sweet, cuddly friend.

It took a long time to get Muggsy to trust me, to understand that I was never going to hurt him, ever. He lacked any kind of "manners": didn't know "sit" or "stay", had never walked on a leash, was barely house trained. I trained without punishment by highly praising behavior I wanted, and punishing bad behavior with lack of attention. It took a while, and some modification of my own behavior*, but it worked.

Now I have a best friend who follows me around like a big, furry shadow. Muggsy can't bear for me to be out of sight, even for as long as it takes me to pee. He'll lay on the floor, nose pressed to the gap between the bathroom door and the floor, and sigh while he waits. When I return, whether from the bathroom or from work, there is celebration. He jumps and dances, tail wagging so hard his whole body wiggles, mouth wide open in a big smile. Muggsy sleeps as near me as he can get (I don't let him on the bed or other furniture), and wakes up to check if I'm still there. Sometimes he'll wake me up in the middle of the night to see if I want to play. Muggsy knows when I'm upset or in pain and his cure is always the same: pet my soft fur, you'll feel better. I always do.

So you can imagine how I felt when my favorite team signed Michael Vick. How dare they! How could anyone give that monster a million dollars? What message does this send about the severity of Vick's crimes, and the children! What message does this send to them?

Then I heard about second chances and regret. Muggsy got a second chance with me- the shelter wanted to put him down. They didn't have the resources to deal with a dog as traumatized as he was. So why shouldn't Michael Vick get a second chance? Maybe Vick was as traumatized at some point in his past as Muggsy. I don't know. Muggsy bit me out of fear and pain, maybe Vick's motivation was much the same.

The honest truth is, I don't know. On the one hand, I want to believe that Vick is truly remorseful, that he really can change. I want to believe that people can learn a lesson and better themselves instead of just sinking further into the muck. On the other hand, I haven't seen too many people who really have changed. Am I influenced by wanting to believe the best about the Eagles? Sure. Am I influenced by my desire to poor boiling water on the person who hurt Muggsy, and really, Vick'll do in a pinch? Absolutely. My motivations are too muddled, my anger too deep to evaluate this situation rationally.

We'll have to see, I suppose.

*I can't leave food out, I have to empty the garbage immediately after placing meat or bones in it, and Muggsy will not bark or otherwise alert me if he needs to go out. He'll just stare at the basement door. If I'm in another room, I can't see that. So, if I haven't seen him in a while, I have to go find him. Sometimes, he's just sleeping. Oh, and he recently figured out how to make the icemaker in the fridge give him delightfully cold and crunchy icecubes, so I have walk across the kitchen floor carefully.

Throwaway Post - Catan

settlers of catan, catan,
I'm busy and headachey, so I thought instead of a snarky takedown of idiocy, I'd treat you to one of my favorite things: Settlers of Catan. It's a board game, also recently an xbox arcade game, and it's fun. Yup, that's it, fun. It's easy to learn, but because of the variables built into the game, difficult to master. The board game can be played by 2-4 people as young as 8, and the xbox arcade version can be played against computer opponents or real people.

Anyway, I highly recommend Catan, and if anyone has any board games they'd like to recommend, feel free.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Government Can't Do Anything Right

socialism, health care, obama, whole, foods, mackey, conservative, liberal, funny
MB Shopper, at the Whole Foods message boards, wins an internet for the following description of everything the government can't do right:


Once again, for the benefit of the goernment-can't-get-anything-right flock:


This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and tTechnology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issed by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it's valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right.


And apparently, the Global Positioning Satellite system is POS, right?

The only reason government doesn't work is because conservative Republican administrations defunded and/or patronage staffed them with people with ties to special business interests: to wit the last FDA, Dept of Interior and Agriculture under Bush. No one seems to have a problem with pumping over $500Bil to the Defense Department which last I hear is a socialized entity.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you don't like paying taxes, move to sunny Somalia. Your earnings will be entirely tax free.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Profiling the Nonbelievers

atheism, atheist, survey, christian, agnostic,

A survey of the nonreligious in the US was performed (they surveyed 5,000 people), and I have to say, the results are interesting.

In the category of "things I already knew", nonbelievers don't really agree on a label:

The survey found the population to be less homogeneous than previous studies have typically portrayed them to be. Forty-eight percent described themselves as atheist, 12 percent identified themselves as agnostic, 22 percent chose the label humanist, 7 percent called themselves spiritual, and 5 percent chose other.

When given the option to choose multiple terms to describe themselves, 77 percent checked "atheist," 63 percent marked "humanist," 29 percent reported "agnostic," and 3 percent checked "spiritual." But when forced to choose only one label among the four, far fewer individuals identified themselves as humanist (24 percent). Meanwhile, 57 percent preferred the label "atheist."

Which is interesting because 75% of nonbelievers are "somewhat, mostly or absolutely certain that God does not exist." I think we need to start mailing out dictionaries, people, because that is the definition of "atheist". Of the remaning 25%, 15% just weren't sure one way or the other, and 8% were sure that god exists, but not of anything else.

Most atheists, as atheists will tell you, had some type of religious upbringing, ranging from casual to fundamentalist:

Nearly a quarter of nonbelievers had childhoods with little parental emphasis placed on religion. A quarter of them experienced a moderately religious childhood and 35 percent reported being raised with a strong or very strong religious emphasis.

The survey really gets interesting when we start getting into how nonbelievers live and think:

When compared to churchgoers, surveyed nonbelievers were predominantly male, more highly educate, more likely to be never married or cohabiting, and had fewer children living at home.
Nonreligious individuals were also found to have greater "openness to experience," which involves a high need for cognition, intellectual engagement, and xenophilia (interest in new experiences), than religious individuals. Among the differences between believers and nonbelievers in regard to education, gender, marriage, and child-rearing, openness was the strongest predictor of lower religious belief.

Churchgoers, on the other hand, reported higher "agreeableness," or a quality of being amiable or nonconfrontational as opposed to skeptical of others. The low agreeableness among nonbelievers indicates that strong nonreligious individuals appear to be somewhat less likely to acquiesce to or to trust others, the report stated.

That last bit explains a lot. The primary complaint among Christians about atheists is that atheists are rude and arrogant, which is a complaint most atheists don't really understand. No, we're not rude and arrogant, we're just outspoken, we reply. Or, hey, I was plenty polite until you starting poking me with that stick.

Now I get it. Christians value amiability highly. Atheists value skepticism. Given these opposing values, it's easy to see why Christians are so easily offended by atheists' . . . well, atheism. Questioning another person's beliefs doesn't really qualify as amiable, even if you are gentle and polite about it, and atheists are just acting out a valued quality, skepticism.

The survey also puts to bed that ridiculous "depressed atheist" meme, though I doubt the fundys will notice.

The survey found few differences between the religious and nonreligious group in regards to mental well-being. Contrary to popular belief, the nonreligious population is not any less happy or satisfied with life than the religious, the survey suggested. Reported life-satisfaction was well within the average range for both groups. Self-described spirituals, however, were less likely to report being satisfied with life.

In other notable findings, the survey revealed that more confident nonbelievers were the most emotionally healthy, relative to the "fence sitters" or religious doubters.

"[H]aving uncertainty regarding one’s religious views appears to be associated with relatively greater emotional instability," the report stated.

Makes sense. Unresolved issues will do that to a person.
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