Friday, February 26, 2010

18" of Snow Later . . .

atheism, atheist, christianity, evangelical, fundamentalism,
It's still snowing and here I am at work. Just me and Meanboss. Good times.

I thought I'd discuss the phenomenon of "passing"* as it relates to being an atheist/agnostic in the US today. A woman wrote to the Freakonomics blog with the following observation:

We are agnostics living deep in the heart of Texas and our family fakes
Christianity for social reasons. It’s not so much for the sake of my husband or
myself but for our young children. We found by experience that if we were
truthful about not being regular church attenders, the play dates suddenly
ended. Thus started the faking of the religious funk.

It seemed silly but it’s all very serious business down here. We don’t
go to church or teach or children one belief is “right” over another. We expose
them to every kind of belief and trust that they will one day settle in to their
very own spirituality. However, for the sake of friends and neighbors, we
pretend we are Christians. We try not to lie but rather not to disclose
unnecessary information. As the children are getting older, this isn’t so easy
for them and an outing is probably eminent.

I wouldn't call this "pretending to be Christians", I would call this "passing as Christians", which is something that, in my experience, the majority of atheists/agnostics do. I do it. I don't tell people I'm Christian, I don't claim to go to church, I just don't discuss beliefs I don't hold. I just don't say how I really feel. I allow religious conversations to flow over me. If forced to make some sort of observation, I go with "interpretable any way you want" vague.

Is passing necessary? Absolutely. The writer above isn't the only atheist I know who had playdates for the children cancelled after they were outed. I'm not the only atheist I know who has been fired after being outed.

The comments to this article are quite telling:

I am so tired of the anti-Christian bigotry in the mainstream media,
especially the liberal media like the NYT.
How do I know it’s bigotry?
Because I know for a fact that the NYT would NEVER do a story entitled “We
Pretend We Are Jews/Muslims/InsertAnotherReligionHere”.
btw, I faked reading
“Freakanomics” for a polsci class one year. Passed with flying colours.

Hey, Jackass, you know why nobody in the US passes as Jewish or Muslim? Because 75% of Americans are Christian. If this article were about Israel or Pakistan, then yes, we would discuss passing as a Jew or a Muslim. I know for a fact that a certain number of Iranians are passing, but that's not the discussion here.

I completely understand where G.D. is coming from. I too am deep in the
heart of Texas, where the mere mention of atheism causes folks to break out in
hives. Evangelical Christianity is pervasive in every aspect of life here,
including the workplace. Where else would you get a talk about finding the Lord
Jesus Christ in an employee review? (I’m not kidding, I was told this right
before I was asked to resign)

Been there.

If you don’t “…teach [your] children one belief is ‘right’ over another,” how
far does that go? Is stealing OK? Lying, cheating, murdering? How about just not
being altruistic? If your kids decide that some of those things are “right” for
them, will you teach them otherwise? Relativism doesn’t work, folks. You’re
setting your kids up for disaster, and robbing them of years of their lives that
could be spent getting to know the God of the universe and understanding His
love and power.

And that's why we pass.

I had to fake it for 12 years of private Catholic school. We had mass every week
at school and my parents made me go every Sunday. At mass, I had to go get
communion, even though I didn’t believe the bread was actually God. In
Catholicism, receiving communion without believing it is God is very seriously
frowned upon, but no one knew I didn’t believe and going up and eating bread at
every mass was easier than the torment that would await me had I chosen to stay
seated during the ceremony. One time a girl in my class didn’t want to go
because she wasn’t sure she believed and wanted to be safe and not make God
angry. She was ridiculed for 2 years for it (devil worshiper, witch, etc.) and
had to switch schools. I kept my mouth shut and head down until I moved away for

Been there, too. I faked Catholicism for years, including taking the eucharist every Sunday, even though it was blasphemous to do so. What I love about this one is the "devil worshiper" was being honest and respectful of the Catholic faith- and was crucified for it.

So I was raised totally muslim, yet now probably count as an agnostic. Although
truthfully I just don’t think about religion at all. But being in the army for
the last 6 years. I would lie lie lie about it to avoid all kinds of problems
and lectures. These included, with held promotion, deferment of favors and
awards even when documented, and a general feeling of being watched at all

I don't blame him. I do find it shameful that a man willing to die for our country has to lie in order to avoid discrimination.

I faked being a Buddhist for years because of the social stigma that’s
associated with being an Atheist. I had a few run ins with die hards, but it
seems that having a religion is enough to stave off of the majority of rabid
theists. I’d been hiding under my cover for so long that when I finally dropped
it and joined a local Atheist group that friends of mine corrected me and
explained that I was a Buddhist.

That's not uncommon, either. While evangelicals view Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists as being devil worshippers, they do seem to prefer devil worship to no worship at all.

I don't know what I'd do without the internet, without this blog. Here, I am allowed to be honest, while in real life, I hide. Some days I just want to have I DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD tattooed on my forehead, I'm so sick of it. Then I remember that I need to do things like eat and pay for heat and go online to be real.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Notes from the Day

Mother Nature is a mean bitch. She combined epic snowfall with getting my period early with the day before payday. So there I was, trudging through 4" of snow, in my winter boots that I quickly learned are no longer weatherproof, carrying a coffee can half full of pennies to the Coinstar. I recommend against carrying a coffee can around while wearing a pashmina wrapped around your head hijab-like to protect your hair from the snow. Apparently, I looked like a terrorist. A really stylish terrorist.

This is the conversation we had with Meanboss at 11 am.

Us: There's 3" of snow on the ground, and it's falling at a rate of 2"/hour for the next 12 hours.

Meanboss: So?

Us: We'd like to go home before we get snowed in.

Meanboss: There's 3" of snow on the ground- you're being ridiculous!

Us: 6 hours x 2"/hour + 3" on the ground = 15" of snow.

Meanboss: Fine. We can leave at 2:30.

Us: *collective seething hatred*

So, I'll see you when I see you.

Yesterday, I Died. Almost.

I keep Breitbart's Big Government in my reader, probably because I have masochistic tendencies, and those tendencies have paid off for you! I posted a screen capture of the post that came up in my reader from Bob McCarty because it seems like it may have been scrubbed right off the site. I don't blame Breitbart for it, but I wanted to save the hilarity for future generations- and your amusment.

Imagine tons of explosives being stolen in Mexico and then transported by truck
across the border into the United States. Could it happen? Over the weekend, it
did. Almost.

On Friday, according to an article in the Latin American
Herald Tribune, 18 tons of industrial explosives were stolen from a cargo
container during a robbery along the Monterrey-Saltillo Highway in the northern
Mexico state of Nuevo Leon. According to subsequent reports, Mexican officials
located and recovered the stolen explosives within hours. The thieves, however,
remain at large.

Yesterday, I died. Almost. By "almost", I mean that 2 miles away from my office, someone died in a car accident. It could have been me, had I been 2 miles away from my actual location, in a car I don't own, accompanied by people I've never met. I was so close to death.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Problem with Patriarchy

quiverfull, patriarchy, christianity, feminism,
This admission from a Saudi woman about her doubts as to her own competency is heart wrenching, and exactly my problem with patriarchy and TLC's portrayal of the Duggars. (18 Bajillion Children and Counting.)

I would simply introduce myself as: A Saudi female, who aims for a better tomorrow.
In few weeks, I will be on my way to the United States of
America to pursue my post-graduate studies.Yes, I have traveled before to many
countries, including USA. And yes, I have traveled alone. Yet, I am scared!
Although I try to act excited and strong, but deep inside me, I am afraid.
“Living Alone” for five years, away from my family and friends is a new
experience, I knew it will happen one day, but I kept denying it.

Living in Saudi Arabia is nothing like anywhere else! Being surrounded
by all kind of walls that keeps you from being yourself and having your own
believes, principles, and thus, identity. In Saudi Arabia, your identity is
derived from your belonging to a certain family, social class, or “tribe”! Being
different is usually not accepted. However, there are always exceptions.

The new thing in the experience of living abroad is facing yourself with your
reality, there are no parents to guide you. There is no family, or a society
that you’d be thinking: “What would they say”. There is only You and

“Having to follow what is common in your community for your whole life
is easy, as you don’t have to think about what is Right or Wrong. You just need
to follow others. ” a friend of mine says. “Am afraid I won’t trust myself” she
adds. “I don’t know myself, I don’t know what do I really believe in, what do I
accept or refuse, what are my abilities, I don’t know the real (ME), all I know
is a life I am (used to living), and a person I became because I had to!, I had
no choice in being (this)” – Pointing to herself.

I am not afraid of this because I was never forced to do, believe in or
become someone, I chose to be “Me”. However, I am afraid to face the whole
world alone and have no one to rely on. I am spoiled – “Dad’s little girl!”. My
father, like many other Saudi men, likes to do everything for us, as he wants us
only to study and care for our future without worrying about anything else. I am
not sure if it was because he wants to, or because it would be hard for me to do
anything being a female. Even the procedures for earning my scholarship, I tried
to visit the female section at the Ministry of Higher Education, but because
they can’t do anything and they know nothing, I had to have my father go to the
men’s section. And to finish my papers at my work, I have to wait for the reply
of the men’s section, so it’s faster to let my father check with them directly,
and likewise goes everything else!

She is so brave and honest, and I wish her the best. She is a victim of patriarchy- a system that ensures that women never learn who they are, never learn to be competent, never learn to be self reliant. Now she is ill-prepared for a life in which her only measure will be herself, her failures and successes will be her own, and she will be expected to be her own person, separate and apart from her father. I admire her courage in even trying, because it's hard to succeed at life even if you were raised to do so.

So how do the Duggars relate to Saudi Woman's journey? The only difference between the lives of the Duggar's girls and the average Saudi woman is a burqa. The Quiverfull movement, which the Duggars are a part of no matter how TLC tries to whitewash the connection, treats its women and girls exactly the same way. They are controlled by men, in every way, from what they wear to when they wake up, from what they read to when they fuck. There is no moment of their lives not "surrendered" to their men. There is no moment of their lives to be themselves.

TLC paints them as a shiny, happy family. Apologizers bleat about "tolerance" for their "lifestyle". No one seems to consider the daughters, like Saudi Woman, raised to never know themselves, to doubt their competance, their very being. They had no choice at all.

If you want to know why I find the Duggars, and TLC's portrayal of them, so very dangerous, reread Saudi Woman's plea for her own independence. Follow Ruth, raised Quiverfull, as she painfully peels back the layers of her childhood indoctrination in order to find herself. Then look at every little girl you see and ask yourself do they not all deserve to be free?

11 Years Old (An Experiment)

I've never tried to upload a video to blogger, so I can't swear to this working (it seems to be on my end), but if it does work, that is my 11-year-old dog not acting his age.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stay in the Damn Bubble

religion, censorship, christan, opine, intolerance,
My first experience with religion as a powerful force for bad was when I found out in middle school that a friend of mine couldn't even consider going to college because she was a Jehovah's Witness. Jehovah's Witnesses aren't allowed to read anything not approved by their leadership. It totally blew my mind that for her, a library was a big building filled with everything she couldn't read. All those books, and she couldn't open a one.

My mother let me read anything. I used to read the Wall Street Journal when I was 5. (No, I didn't get the context, but I could read the words.) I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at the age of 11. I suppose my mother would have drawn the line at pornography, but she had no interest in censoring anything else.*

So you can see why the concept of not being allowed to choose for yourself what to read or view or experience really blew my mind. It bothered me, the thought of having to ask permission on reading materials and being denied would sneak up on me at odd moments, and every time I felt sad.

My mother never censored my musical tastes, either, not even when I was spending 4 hours a day practicing clarinet (all classical) and then listening to Cannibal Corpse. She stopped censoring movies for me after the age of 13 (all she ever censored was extreme violence anyway). She never told me what to wear, or how to do my hair, and I really wish she would have scrubbed my face off during that horrible blue eyeshadow phase I went through. (Pictures remain, I suspect purely for her own enjoyment.)

My mother never tried to force me to her point of view by restricting my access to other points of view, something I have regarded religion with distate for since middle school.

Take, for example, The Opine Editorial's list of things one should not view:

1. Princess/goddess/diva characters in pop culture
2. Romance novels
(See this
recent entry on The Elusive Wapiti
- but it is NSFW)
3. Romantic comedies
4. "Reality" television shows
5. Sitcoms
6. Soap operas
7. Just about any television show or movie not included in the above
8. Wedding magazines
9. Celebrity "news" magazines, and Cosmo and similar
10. Advice columns
11. Gossip (Explicitly condemned in the Bible - including in the Torah)
12. Materialism/compulsive shopping/overspending/debt accumulation
13. Astrology/horoscopes

So, basically anything not seen or heard in church. How defensible is your point of view if simply seeing a romcom will destroy it? (The wedding magazine mention struck me as odd until I remembered that the Opiners are Mormon. You really wouldn't want anyone dreaming of a typical American wedding and then experiencing a Mormon Temple wedding. Go ahead, click the link.)

This list of the Opiners is hardly unique. I have seen many an argument amongst fundys as to whether or not one can be friends with a person outside of your religion. The answer is, btw, "no". There is too much risk, you see. We might infect** you with our liberalism and tolerance. You might wake up one morning feeling sorry for single moms on welfare or worried about all those orphaned Iraqi children. There where would you be?

In hell with me, I suppose.

*My mother was always aware of what I was reading, in case you think she just didn't know I was reading about the Holocaust at a very young age. When I was reading something troubling, she would take the time to talk to me about it, to help me put it in perspective, although I don't think anyone can really put killing 10 million people for fun in perspective.

**Actual word used.

It's Not the Good News We Hate

proselytizing, evangelism, tony, miano,
Imagine working with someone who only has one interest: gardening. Now imagine if that person talked solely about gardening, no matter what the conversation- and they just have to join every conversation. You're discussing the latest episode of Lost, they start talking about fertilizing their garden. You're talking about the football game, they join in with an in depth look at how they're organizing the vegetables this year. You're enjoying a little birthday celebration for a coworker, they can't shut up about their pumpkins.

You're going to avoid that person at all costs, for a very good reason: they have no interest in you, other than as a means of indulging their monomania. Thus is Tony Miano, evangelist extraordinaire.

This morning I went to the Bellflower DMV, not far from Living Waters
headquarters, to renew my driver's license. Michelle, who spent the day with me,
and I got to the DMV about 45 minutes before the facility opened. The line
quickly grew to well-over 100 people.

There was only one thing to do. :-)

I recently had to go to PennDOT to renew my ID. About the only thing that would have made that experience worse is having to listen to someone proselytize for an hour. (You should see my picture- the look on my face could only be explained by aliens landing to my left just as the picture was taken.)

There were more things than preaching to do, Mr. Miano. You could have respected your fellow ID seekers and left them alone. You could have worked on a crossword puzzle. You could have balanced your checkbook. Or, you could have spent an hour getting to know someone. You could have enjoyed another human being as a unique individual, instead of as an object to satisfy your monomania.

I had a delightful conversation with an immigrant from Ukraine who recently became a US citizen. I learned all sorts of things I never knew about Ukraine. (For one thing, it's not "the Ukraine", it's "Ukraine" and the secret to great borscht is lemon juice right at the end.) She was a lot of fun, but that's something Mr. Miano will never know, because all he ever does is talk at people, not to them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Wonder How God Feels About His Spokesman

abortion, disability, disabled, children, wtf
God needs a better PR team:

State Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas says disabled children are God's
punishment to women who have aborted their first pregnancy.

He made that statement Thursday at a press conference to oppose state
funding for Planned Parenthood.

"The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion
with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first
born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children," said
Marshall, a Republican.

"In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man,
was dedicated to the Lord. There's a special punishment Christians would

I don't even know what to say about that. Do I attack the science first? I doubt that his statement about children born subsequent to an abortion are any more likely to be disabled. Do I attack the disturbing theology? "I'll punish you, completely uninvolved infant, for the sins of your parents- because god is love." Do I attack the appalling idea that the disabled are punishments rather than people?

Hey, Manassass- may I suggest taking a little more care with whom you elect?

Are We There Yet?

February is the hardest time of the year for me. I hate winter. I hate the cold, the late sunrises and early sunsets, the cold, laying on sweaters and socks to step outside for 5 seconds, shoveling snow and the cold. I hate it all.

So by February I'm all ready for spring. As in, wearing short sleeves under my coat because I'm sick of sweaters. As in, going outside with my coat unzipped, sans gloves, because I'm sick of coats and gloves and scarves. I do this every February, which is ridiculous, because February is a bad month in Pennsylvania. I know this. I know the temperatures aren't getting above freezing, I know the snow is coming, but I. Am. So. Sick. Of. Winter.

That is all.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

I's Now a Moran

feminism, asshat, stupid,
I am stupider for having read Equal Opportunity Better than Ardent Feminism, and I thought I'd share the dead grey matter with you. You'll be attending tea parties in no time!

The past half-century of the feminist revolution is perhaps best viewed as a massive human experiment in ideologically driven social engineering I guess getting the vote was okay, but birth control and equal pay were not. ("The sexual devolution: Reflections on an apres-postmodern valentine," Opinion, Thursday). The pluses for women generally have been the attainment of higher educational, occupational and financial status. well, yeah. pretty awesome, right? The minuses, and most dramatically for "attained" women, are all personal really? freeing women from patriarchy has been entirely negative, how-- oh. - basically the absence of men for dates, husbands or fathers of their children. TEHRE AR NO MOAR MENZ!!1!! WOMMINZ WIT PEEAITCHDEES HAZ SCAYRED TEHM OFF!!!elenvty!!! "Spinster" has been redefined to include many "attained" women who would prefer to curl up with a cuddly sperm bank than the men available to them. maybe it's just me, but i'll cuddle up with a sperm bank (a large building) before i engage in a patriarchal marriage. fortunately, those aren't the only two options available to me. While the gains for women have been substantial in the cold i always assumed they heated schools and workplaces. what did i know? worlds of academics, jobs and money, the costs appear to have been high in the warm and emotionally satisfying, intimate worlds of social, sexual and family relationships with men. really? do you have proof of this? any of this?
(anecdotes =/= proof)

For most men, there are no pluses, as the social attitudes accompanying this social revolution have depreciated, demeaned and denigrated them. Now commonplace and socially acceptable are slogans and terms such as "boys are stupid" and "deadbeat dads." The consequences of this denigration for boys and men, who were fully capable before the feminist revolution in education and work, are obvious: lower educational, occupational and financial attainment. The personal consequences for boys and men appear to be lower self-esteem and life satisfaction and, I suspect, a major withdrawal from the pursuit of educational, occupational and fatherhood opportunities, which they rightly perceive as being stacked against them. In my view, both men and women would be far better off if America were to return to the land of equal opportunity rather than feminist social engineering. Such a land of equal opportunity would enable women as well as men not only to survive but to thrive as they strive for success and happiness in education, occupation and their own social and family lives.

multiple contradictory statement alert. "we need to return to the land of equal opportunity", but in the first paragraph, women gained opportunity through the feminist movement. seriously, pick one. also, you just outright stated that men can only succeed if women aren't on the playing field. apparently, women should be in charge, because men are just too delicate to compete. (if i actually believed that, i'd be all for some EO changes, but i don't.) This is, btw, the same sort of argument you see about minorities and affirmative action. white men are just screwed all around, I guess.

Professor of psychology
Florida International University

$50 to the first person who leaves a live donkey in Mr. Finley's office!

Men are marrying up. the horror! Increasing numbers of men are marrying women with more education and a bigger paycheck than they have. sauce for the goose and all that. i can't see what's wrong here. in fact, this summer you will have to do without me for a few days as i attend the wedding of my MBA brother- to a neurosurgeon who makes 10x what he does. Women had best forget looking for a knight on a white horse. we don't want or need to. They may not like it - and many don't show. your. work. - but the knight errant probably is trying to run away on a gray mule. is that a reference to Don Quixote or are female neurosurgeons grey mules? you might want to reconsider that considering that the neurosurgeon excels at kickboxing. (she is my hero.)That might be a wee overstatement ya think?, but the Pew Research Center reports that the number of wives with greater incomes than their husbands rose from 4 percent in 1970 to 22 percent in 2007. in other news, 65% of days are sunny in Philadelphia. so what? In almost a third of marriages in 2007, the wife had more education than her husband, up from 20 percent in 1970 to 28 percent. The number of years of formal education doesn't mean smarter or wiser obviously, but it does indicate the likelihood of a better job for the wives, who then tend to be the primary breadwinners. prove to me why this is bad. oh, right, you can't patriarchy all over the woman who pays the mortgage. that is bad. or not.

The stories beyond the statistics are dramatic and sad. For a long time, feminists complained about fairy tales peopled with Prince Charming; they imagined that such stories prevented little girls from asserting themselves. The new Walt Disney movie "The Princess and the Frog" turns on its head the ancient tale of the little girl who kisses a frog and turns it into a prince; she kisses the frog and turns into a frog herself, at least temporarily. The next version probably will keep the little boy a frog forever. That's hardly something to croak about, satisfying only the girl frogs who long ago resigned themselves to taking an ugly green guy, warts and all. clues for the clueless: there is a life outside of men , and, isn't it the women of the past, without hope of education, income or personal determination, who had to settle for frogs?

Not all women are buying the new scenario, and sad corollaries abound. I've met women who wanted good fathers for their children but spurned less "qualified" prospects for a date with a laboratory sperm just out of the deep freeze. Over the past three decades, more women with college educations have been choosing to have children without husbands. According to the Pew survey, their less-educated sisters are only half as likely to make this choice. Anecdotal evidence is sadder still. I once gave a party for an eligible college-educated bachelor and invited several attractive, successful single women in their late 30s to meet him. All the women said they had expected to have children with a husband by then. My attempt at playing Cupid failed, too. The bachelor saw his possibilities as endless, and the women, all self-sufficient, were by this time unwilling to "settle." Picky, picky. that's right. refusing to settle for some random guy, any guy, (who, if he's a friend of this writer, you should run away from him as fast as you can) is just unwarranted pickiness. fuck happiness, you need a man!

the rest of this devolves into similar half told stories about all the women having babies via sperm banks and TEH SADNESS this causes, but quite frankly, i may now be too stupid to continue with this . . . Flowers for Algernon, bichez!

The Idea Does Appeal

I occasionally get asked (frequently in an accusatory tone) why I, as an atheist, am so terribly interested in religious stories. I loved the mythology (however warped) in Darksiders. Some of my favorite movies and books center around Christian mythology and ideas, especially Revelation. (End of Days? Loved it! The Exorcist? Can't be beat!)

First of all, good mythology is good mythology, and angels and demons and horsemen of the apocalypse are just fantastic. (I am also terribly fond of African aboriginal creation myths.) The death, the destruction, the redemption, the salvation, the eternal struggle between good and evil- I'm a sucker for a good story.

Beyond that, I do like the idea of god. I like the idea of an all powerful being who cares for me, who is in charge of it all. I like the idea of a purpose for everyone and everything. Unfortunately, just because I find the idea appealing, doesn't make it true. The idea that I am the most fabulously beautiful woman since Helen of Troy appeals, too, but that's not reality either.

I cannot indulge an idea simply because it is appealing. I cannot let illogic and irrationality slide because I wish to. Some people clearly can, but I cannot. I can, however, indulge in a love of old stories and fanciful myths. So I do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tragic, Really

[trigger warning: abortion, stillbirth]

abortion, religion, christianity, baby gianna
The Baby Gianna story (Part I, Part II) leaves me sad and angry and . . . puzzled most of all.

A young, single mother of 3 children, Rebecca, calls a pregnancy center to get an abortion. For those not in the know, "pregnancy centers" advertise like they might be Planned Parenthood, but their sole purpose is to push women away from abortions. She talks to Jessica, who spends weeks trying to convince Rebecca to keep her baby. The situation is not good. Rebecca is poor, already has 3 children, and also has an abusive boyfriend. Jessica just can't leave well enough alone.

Come to find out that Rebecca's baby has a kidney disease and will either be stillborn or will die shortly after birth. That is the crux of my puzzlement: Baby Gianna is already dead. Whether Rebecca has an inducement to end the pregnancy or not, the baby is dead. The only question is now or later.

That doesn't stop Jessica from fighting for a few more weeks in Rebecca's uterus.

“'Utter frustration', 'Disappointing', 'Infuriating'” are still some of the
only words Jessica can use to describe her feelings regarding the doctor's
suggestion in a Catholic hospital.

After months of working with the baby's mother to help her choose life, the
doctor at the Catholic hospital "kicked back all the work we’d done.""

We were backtracked to where we’d been in June. I was devastated,” she
said. “It just seemed that there was no safe harbor for this child. This poor
little sheep had no shepherd.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, Jessica, but dead baby. That baby was doomed either way. The only question was when. I certainly wouldn't begrudge Rebecca continuing her pregnancy as long as she wished to, but why fight so hard to make sure Gianna died 4 months later instead of on that day?

The tragedy to me, really, is that Jessica spends her entire time ignoring the advice of not one, but four, doctors. She seems to assume that each and every doctor just hates little babies and that's why they recommended an abortion. The idea that the doctors may have had actual medical reasons for their recommendation is never mentioned.

What's even more tragic is this:

And shortly after, Rebecca even asked doctors for a “super-hydration”
injection she’d read about in Fr. Z’s article to help the baby’s lungs. This
woman who’d been too afraid to open her mouth in doctor’s offices weeks before
was now demanding that everything be done to save her baby. Medical staff were
surprised and wondered aloud how she even knew about the injection. They
attempted to dissuade her but she insisted.

Rebecca was fighting for her baby.

Jessica convinced this woman that her baby could be saved. You don't ask for experimental procedures* because you think they won't work. That's just cruel. Super hydration, btw, is something I can only find mentioned on a Catholic priest's blog that seems to be an attempt to treat amniotic fluid loss. The only problem is, while Rebecca did have amniotic fluid loss, it was kidney disease that killed her baby. Amniotic fluid loss was secondary. Rebecca was fighting for her baby, and clearly didn't understand what was killing her. It's just so cruel.

I know a cat isn't the same thing as a baby, but this recalls to me when my mother's cat developed kidney failure. The first veterinarian had my mom doing all this stuff for the cat and buying all sorts of medicines and paying for all sorts of treatment. Finally, I convinced my mom to take the cat to my vet, who looked my mom in the eyes and said, "Your cat is dying. Let him go."

I seems cold to say it so baldly, but if my mom had seen my vet first, she wouldn't have spent three weeks moving heaven and earth to save a cat that had no chance at all. My mother tormented the cat and herself for no reason at all, with the very best of intentions.

I suppose you could respond that Jessica had the best of intentions here, but she did not. Her intentions were not to help Rebecca or Baby Gianna, her intentions were to make sure no abortions happen ever, even medically necessary ones. And if that meant tormenting a young mother with false hope, so what? At least there wasn't an abortion.

And they say moral relativism is evil.

* I called this procedure "experimental" because I couldn't find any information on it, and the doctor in the story seemed surprised to hear about it. If this is a standard procedure, the point still stands. You don't ask for intervention unless you think it might have an effect.


Some mornings, if I happen to wake up early enough, which isn't that often, I stop by Dunkin Donuts (if there is a Heaven, it involves a number of DD franchises) before waiting at the bus stop. I gotta tell you, I have seen some weird, rude and just plain stupid behavior at the DD these past few weeks. Apparently, we need to clear some things up about DD etiquette.

1. I don't know about DDs where you live, but where I live the employees make waitress wages- around $2.13 an hour. A lot less than minimum wage. That makes putting something in the tip jar necessary, not optional. (Seriously, how badly can you screw up service at a DD? Even the DD Anarchist deserves a quarter.) Let me put it to you this way. A medium regular coffee is $1.67, however, I just assume it costs $2.50. I don't go into a DD to buy a medium coffee unless I have at least $2.50 on me. There is a reason they're nicer to me than to you. I tip.

2. There is a menu on the wall behind the counter. It comes complete with pictures and a list of everything you can buy at a DD. So, if you're standing in line for 5 minutes, you have no fucking excuse for not knowing what you want when it's your turn. Seriously, people act like they just now realized they are in a DD, as if they thought they might have been at an auto parts store or something.

3. Again, there is the menu. If it's not on the menu, they don't sell it. Stop asking for random things not on the menu. Seriously, some guy the other day asked for oatmeal. Not on the menu. One woman held up the line for 5 minutes arguing about something DD used to have at some point in the past (maybe). They don't have it now, move on! (I sympathize if they are out of what you wanted, but if you wanted Starbucks [they do sell oatmeal], go to Starbucks.)

4. The doughnut order. There is a wall of doughnuts on display for all the world to see right in front of you. Decide what you want while you're waiting. Please do not waste everyone's time trying to find the magical combination of 12 doughnuts that will release the apocalypse. Ummmm . . . glazed . . . . ummmmm, jelly . . . . ummmm, do you have any with agave syrup? no, then, ummm . . . how many do I have left? I had to leave without my coffee yesterday because some woman was doing that with three. dozen. doughnuts.

5. Please have your method of payment ready. Is anyone surprised that at some point you will be asked to pay for your food? Do they live in some sort of world where everything is free and they've never heard of money? That's certainly how some people act.

Seriously, people. Dunkiquette. Keep it in mind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where Is Ghandi, Exactly?

also entirely unlike justice, but hilarious
good, justice, christian, jesus, god, bible, ghandi,

The fun thing about having an account at Rapture Ready is being able to see their apologetics section. I literally cackled with glee upon seeing this topic raised: Where do good people go? It's a good question. Fundagelicals happily defend a belief system in which one's past deeds, no matter how heinous or admirable, are meaningless, and indeed, one's future deeds are equally meaningless. It's all about the sincerety of one's salvation. This creates a situation wherein Hitler, if he repented and accepted Jesus as his savior one second before he died, is enjoying the pleasures of Heaven, but the 6,000,000 Jews he had tortured and killed are roasting forever in hell.

This is entirely unlike justice.

If I were to create a list of things that are entirely unlike justice, this notion of justice would be no. 1 on the list. (Peanut butter would be no. 2.)

Which is why the idea of a defense for this extremely offensive bit of theology ("you molested 37 little kids? find by me! you worked your entire life to abolish oppression and inequality? fuck you and your many-handed gods!") is so terribly amusing.

How does one respond when someone says: "Well where do good people who aren't
Christian go? Like Gandhi or Mother Theresa or my atheist friend John who will
literally give you the shirt off his back and is the most kind person you'll
ever met. Do you expect me to believe that good people like them are all in
Hell?" (This is an excerpt from an email a co-worker sent me)

This comes off to me like the original poster is experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance. A true fundy knows exactly what to say to this, thusly:

I would good as people think others may be, or themselves, there is
none good but God. Every man must do the will of God, there are no exceptions.I
would then wait to see what they'd say. If they would agree with God, or not.

So in other words, you wouldn't really answer the question at all.

If they had a chance to know G-d and Jesus... Hell. Period. End of story.If they
were somehow remotely held away from society and any and all information about
their savior, then He will be the judge.It doesnt matter what Ghandi did, he was
hindu. It doesnt matter what any person does on this planet for the greater
good. If they are not saved by the blood of the lamb, then Hell is their
destination.We are not saved through acts or deeds, but through faith in Jesus
Christ. His blood covering and attoning for our sins.

You would answer the question with "Fuck yeah, Ghandi and holocaust victims are burning! Isn't that great?" Um, no, not so much.

It doesnt matter if the man is an athiest, agnostic, asatryu, bahai, buddhist,
zoroaster, hedonist, hellenist, follower of any number of pagan religions,
hindu, shiek, Jain, or any number of eastern religions... He will go to hell at
death, and the final judgement be cast into the lake of fire. No exceptions.He
could donate all his worldy goods to the poor. He could help anybody anywhere at
anytime. He could become a police officer and fight for victims rights. He could
become a politicians and strive to end poverty. He could litterally feed the
worlds homeless.... Acts don't mean he will be saved at the end.

Entirely unlike justice.

Look, if you happen to be the "atheist" in question (and fundys will qualify anyone outside their group as an atheist, so who knows), I would tell her that her belief is heinous, and her god, if he is real, does not deserve worship, but only condemnation. I would tell her that she has no idea what good is or what justice is, and that you don't want lose sight of those things yourself. Because I sure don't want to be that kind of evil.

Please Make It Stop

patriarchy, fundamentalism, fundy, freejinger
freejinger, fundamentalism, fundy, patriarchy, abuse
I found Free Jinger (why did no one tell me about this?!) this weekend. For the most part, I am thrilled, but they have provided me with endlessly disturbing glimpses at fundyness I didn't even know existed. I, Personal Failure, found mind blowing fundynsanity. Proceed with caution, people. is a horror show run by people well respected in certain fundy circles, including Gabriel Anast and his wife, Rebekah.

This is the kind of advice fundy women are receiving.

I am a regular member but I am choosing to post anonymously because I fear
I will be ridiculed and shamed for my behavior. My husband, who I love dearly,
has been very aggressive with the kids and I lately. It has gotten worse over
the past several weeks. He has been accusing me of seeing other men. He
belittles me in front of the children. He has spit in my face at the dinner
table when my cooking was not up to standards. I have been so terribly stressed
that my mind was not on my cooking!

I fear he is sending the wrong message to the children. I know he is knows
what is best for my family but my son needs to learn that a firm hand comes with
a gentle message. But there is no message! He is full of rage and jealousy. I
don't know if I can take much more. Do I stand up to my husband? I feel like I
should but I am filled with shame because of it. There is much I feel I can't
reveal here because I do not want to bring humiliation to my family, even though
we are only speaking over the internet it feels like I will be bringing more
shame... I am so lost

This. Is. Abuse. You need to leave. He is absolutely giving your children ideas- that abusing women is okay. That being abused is okay. You need to leave. Now. This will only get worse.

Unfortunately, nobody asked the atheist.

You mention your husband believes you have been seeing another man, or
men. Has there been a specific situation or situations that he might have

It is your fault. Can't be the man's fault, must be yours.

Certainly, a man can get the wrong idea, all on his own... but often there can
be one or two "coincidental" situations that give him pause. As he mulls
the situations over and over, these can build in his mind - to a level that
leaves him desperately hoping his wife has not "stepped out."

He got the wrong idea, and that's your fault.

Of course, as wives, we are to guard our husbands hearts diligently -
from real, or perceived, indiscretions.

It doesn't matter whether or not you've done anything, it's your fault.

They are to know their wives will not do them "evil" all the days of her
life. Proverbs 31:11-1211The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so
that he shall have no need of spoil. 12She will do him good and not evil all the
days of her life. For a husband who truly believes there may have been an
indiscretion, this is a HUGE blow, on so many levels. It likely leaves him
with a variety of feelings... Men don't like to be hurt (neither do we),
they don't like to be out of "control" (neither do we), they don't like to give
someone the opportunity to betray their trust (neither do we!) The
feelings of betrayal, jealousy, hurt, wounded pride... often melt down into the
"safety" of only feeling anger and resentment.This would then come to the
question of how to establish trust again... ??

Regardless of circumstances, I agree with Siege - The Lord can fix even the
toughest marriages!!!

I wonder how RunAmokFarm will feel when this woman ends up in the hospital or dead because of her advice.

Gabriel Anast steps up to the plate with:

FYI... not that a situation like the one that the OP posted couldn't happen...
but it doesn't seem likely that this specific story is true due to the fact that
the opening statement (I am a long time member, etc) appears to be false.

Actually, Gabriel, she says that she used a different screen name to prevent anyone from knowing who she is, but even if this is a troll, look at the advice she got. Shameful. (Of course, we are talking about the same man who quit his job while his wife was pregnant to study the Bible. And then asked for donations.)

The advice (from Rebeka) just gets worse:

So, if you are A) guilty of infidelity or B) just a flirt... your husband feels
the fact that he doesn't have your heart... that he isn't THE MAN for you. When
Israel left God to follow after other gods... God called this "whoring" and was
so angry that He describes His own wrath as "cannot be quenched."In this case I
recommend that you come to your husband in absolute repentance and humility and
confess before him something along these lines (whatever your sin may be:) "I
confess I am a flirt, and that this is terribly wrong, and I ready to work on
"being yours only." I want to be YOUR wife, and I want to please you. I pray
that you can forgive me for being a flirt, and restore me as your wife... and
gently help with this if I seem to be doing something that jeopardizes
this." If your husband is willing to let you stay, then praise God and
commit yourself to becoming a "keeper at home" in both heart and actions. Ask
God for grace... He is faithful to give it.

Yes, your husband has a right to spit in your face if you so much as look at another man. You should beg your abuser for forgiveness. See you in the morgue!

Suppose you really never, ever looked at another man ever? Well, you can leave, but you'll be screwing up your children.

There is (IMO) place for a woman to leave a man that abuses her and the
children simply because he is a mean godless man. However, leaving a mean and
harsh man is not always the best move either in these times. It's tough out
there for a woman. If your husband has any qualities of providing for you, and
making place for you at all... then I'd recommend first asking God to stand on
your behalf and make a way for you to stay married to this hard man. Your
children are safer with a hard father (I don't mean an abusive one) than they
are with no father.

. . .

There is no point (that I can find in the Bible) in "standing up to your
husband." Either stay, and figure out how to make it work, or leave and find a
believing man.

That's right, there's nothing in the Bible about women having rights or deserving respect. No, that's actually true. Which is probably why fundamentalism is so very, very dangerous.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Must Control Feminist Fist of Death

Now that I have your attention . . .

Meet Benjamin Simon, internationally recognized as an expert in the area of how guys see girls. That's a new record, folks. No one's ever inspired the FFoD in the first sentence of their profile before. Nothing to be proud of Ben, and WOMEN. We're WOMEN. If you're lusting after girls, I suggest a can of gasoline and a match, but I have no sympathy for pedophiles.

This is still the profile:

I’m also dedicated to absolute purity in every area of my life. Because of this,
I am intent on analyzing how I look, think, and feel about the girls around me.
What I learn from this analysis can be vital to how I recognize and avoid the
purity stumbling blocks in my life. But even more important is how this
information can help you as a young woman better understand men and temper your relationships with them to be “In All Purity.” Moreover, if young women like you
can understand what purity means to guys like me, then maybe you can make life
easier for us. That’s what this blog is about: Me helping you help me help you.

Shorter Ben: I cannot control myself and it is your fault, with you soft, soft skin and your bobbling boobies and firm asses. Stop being all soft and bobbly and firm right now!

Yeah, Ben, I'll get right on that. The FFoD may hurt a little, but it will remove all those pesky desires. Permanently.

Let's get to an actual blog post: How Modesty Helps You (Help Me Help Myself Helping You)

The majority of reasons to practice modesty deal with the future and the past:
your future marriage, your future husband, what the Bible says, what society has
instituted in the past, etc. And while any one of these is a convincing reason
to practice modest dress, I know it can leave you wondering “does it do me any
good right now?” The answer is a definite yes.

Actually, Ben, it leaves me wondering where you, or anyone else, gets off telling me what to do with my body. It's mine, not yours, and even if we were to be married, it still wouldn't be up to you to tell me what to do with my body. Please do not force me to deliver a lecture on the difference between mine and yours.

The moral decay of the American clothing industry stems purely from the
fact that men are attracted to scantily clad women. I've seen this often at high
school gatherings. The girls who reveal the most, get the most attention. While
this can seem like a good trade-off, let me talk to you about it from the men's

Because women have no choice what to put on their bodies- we just buy whatever is in front of us. We're lemmings, I tell you, lemmings, and we need some fundysplaining to make things right!

The conflict of choosing modesty versus immodesty is a conflict of choosing to
gain men’s respect versus giving men satisfaction. When you choose to be
immodest, you sacrifice the respect of men in order to receive their attention.
But the woman who exudes modesty in her life has an amazing way of commanding
respect. Women show more value when they hold their bodies as sacred. Men can
not help but be awed by a respectfully dressed woman.

Because it's all about the mens and how they feel. How I feel in clothing has nothing to do with it. (Above are my breasts. Worship them as you should. We'll wait.) Continue with the fundysplaining, Ben.

Here's an example. Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, The Mona Lisa, is one of the
most famous and expensive pieces of art in the world. But its value is preserved
by the security that is used to keep it safe. If its owner didn't heavily guard
it, he wouldn't have it for very long. So the most modern, high tech security
system is used so that no one can steal it. Of course, there are plenty of
thieves in the world who despise this security system. If it weren't for the
security, they could take it for themselves. So even though thieves hate the
fact that Mona Lisa is safe from their prying hands, the world holds the
painting in high esteem because of it.

The Mona Lisa is only valuable because of the Louvre's security system? I'm not . . . what do even say to that? Does "fail" even cover this?

With this in mind, let’s take a look at modesty. As a woman, you clearly have
something that is very valuable. However, you can easily dress in a provocative
way that is pleasing to men and lose your value. You are no longer carefully
guarded like the Mona Lisa. Instead, you are more like a poster that anyone can
get a hold of. A poster isn't valuable because it's readily available. Immodesty
shifts the value of your body from something of worth to something common. By
dressing modestly, you are valuable because you hold one of the greatest powers
of the world in your hands yet you choose not to use it. No man can help but be
intrigued by that.

See, I thought that what was valuable about me was, well, me. My personality, my essence, my person. Nope, it's my (very long gone) hymen. Now that that's gone, I'm entirely worthless. Let me repeat that: a woman is only as valuable as a little scrap of flesh leftover from the formation of her genitals in the womb. Everything else is just so much dross. Although I do enjoy a description of my vagina as one of the greatest powers of the world. My vagina is like a nuclear weapon.

Here is the blunt truth of the matter. There is nothing unique about immodesty.
Anybody can be immodest. You must decide what you want to be valued for. From a
man's point of view, the modest girl is the girl who has the most innate value,
because she's the one whose body is secured. Just like protecting the Mona Lisa,
men respect the woman who protects her body. She's the one we can't visually

That's so disturbing, I can't even parse it. I would like to point out that in Saudi Arabia, where you really can't see anything, not a fingertip, not a toe, not even relative weight, rape is viewed a bit differently than it is here. You know why that is, Ben? Because simply covering up does not beget respect. Viewing women as human beings with all the rights of men does.

Disabled Dating

disability, disability, chronic illness, dating, love, stupid, asshat,
I've thought of a few more rules for when I am Empress of the Entire Freakin' World (the business cards will be so cool!). No one will be allowed to write about disability or chronic illness unless they have a disability or chronic illness, or if they receive a special dispensation for me. Most people will not get those dispensations, including Brian Alexander at

An Internet entrepreneur named Ricky Durham believes he has the answer to
Valentine’s Day loneliness for people living with chronic diseases or health conditions: match them up with other
people who either have the same conditions or are, for some reason, looking for
a lover who has them.

I cannot imagine dating. I just can't imagine it. Exactly when does one bring up their disability/chronic illness? "So, I'm a Saggitarius, I really like video games, and I can't stand in place for more than 30 seconds, can't lift more than 5-10 lbs and will never be able to have children. Oh, you just realized your house is on fire? You'd be surprised how often that happens."

This is, btw, the reason I have very few IRL friends. Most healthy people don't get it. I never know how I'm going to feel day to day. Some days I'm perfectly capable of going out to dinner or watching the game. Some days I'm barely capable of getting to the bathroom. So, I make plans for Saturday, and Saturday comes and I can hardly move and the pain has made me mean and I cancel. A few people are willing to put up with that, but most aren't. I can't imagine trying to explain that to a date.

So, yeah, why not try to find someone who is likely to understand your particular difficulties? If you did the above to me, I would totally understand. Let's try again another day, in the meantime, would you like me to call you later or stop by with something to eat? Not everyone will have that reaction.

But, oh, no, those silly sick people don't know what they're getting into! Mr. Alexander needs to set them straight.

Her experience did not surprise Miller, the psychologist at Fox Chase.
Often people with long-term health conditions are so pleased to simply find
somebody they like who understands the inconveniences and challenges, she said,
that “there is a very strong risk of overlooking things you should not

Cancer survivors, diabetics, people with psychological disorders —
anybody dealing with a chronic condition — can come to see that condition as the
main thing in their lives. “Your sense of self is so wrapped up in your physical
condition that becomes the main barrier to connecting with others. It becomes
your new identity," said Miller. "But it is just one piece of your overall
personality and your needs.”

The other person may have the same issue you’re facing, but is he or
she an extrovert while you are an introvert? Messy while you are neat? A planner
while you are spontaneous? We are more than our diseases.

And how is that different from any two people, healthy or not? Of course one point of similarity does not a relationship make. Nobody is suggesting that simply sharing the same race, love of Depeche Mode, or vegetarianism is enough to base a lifetime on. However, it's not a bad place to start. If you're a vegetarian, and watching people eat meat ruins your night, why not only look amongst other vegetarians for love? Is anybody chiding vegetarians for sticking with other vegetarians? No.

Also, I know that chronic pain isn't the only thing about me, but it does affect every other part of me. There is no facet of my life or my self that has not been impacted. If you have not been impacted this way, you really cannot understand. I say this not to offend or hurt my healthy friends, you are great and I love you, but you truly do not know what my illness has done to me, for which you should be eternally grateful. I fail to see where starting a relationship with that level of understanding is a bad idea.

And then we have this:

Imagine the possible financial consequences of, say, two bi-polar people with a
penchant for big spending during manic phases falling in love. Genetics are also
a consideration. Many long-term conditions like depression, some cancers,
Crohn’s, some auto-immune diseases and others, can involve inherited genetic
risk. The children of two parents who both have Crohn’s, for example, have a
greatly elevated risk of having an inflammatory bowel disease themselves.

OMG, what if two stupid people got together? What would be the consequences then? What about racists- can you imagine? Seriously, wtf?

Has Mr. Alexander never heard of birth control, genetic counseling or adoption? Does he think that the disabled/chronically ill among us aren't quite aware of the risks of reproducing? Does he think that healthy people don't produce less than perfect offspring? Down's Syndrome anyone?

I think we should prevent Mr. Alexander from breeding on the chance that patronizing condescension is genetic.

Hai! Ar U Still Thair?

I see this every few minutes while I am sitting on the couch.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Drama School Drop Out Theatre

I don't like posting on weekends. I need a break, so most posts you see on weekends are set up earlier in the week, and tend to be random drivel. So (h/t to Geds), I thought I'd try something new.

Welcome to Drama School Drop Out Theatre! Writers like LaHaye and Jenkins of Left Behind fame and Stephanie Meyer of Sparkly Vampires!!!1!!eleventy!!! fame can make millions randomly thumping keyboards with their behinds, surely the denizens of Hell can do better! (Seriously, monkeys regularly do better, so don't be afraid to join in.) So, I challenge you to write, one sentence to paragraph at a time, a story for this picture:

Just to get you started, I will give you the best opening line in all of history:

It was a dark and stormy night . . .

Friday, February 12, 2010

Epiphany Successfully Avoided

cognitive dissonance, epiphany, god, christian,
Children aren't logical thinkers. They don't consider things rationally, or in any kind of order, nor do they proceed from cause to effect. This explains why the same child who can't figure out how to take a shower without drowning will occasionally declaim profound truth apropos of nothing.

A few days ago my little girl Kailey (whose 5 years old) asked me a
startling question from the back of the car as I was driving. She asked speak
like this?” and then she went silent.

“Speak like what?” I

“Speak like this…” silent again.

“What do you mean Kailey? Daddy doesn’t understand.” (I was expecting
her to use some deeper voice impression of God instead of, well, nothing.)

Frustrated she said, “Daddy God doesn’t talk to me. He is quiet. Why
doesn’t he talk to me with words?”

Because he's not there, Kailey. People who aren't there don't talk at all.

Oh, and WHO'S. "Whose" is possessive.

See, now that's the obvious, reality-based answer to the question, which is not the sort of epiphany a man who makes a living off of Christ wants to have.

As I have marinated on this question over the last few days I think that one of
the reasons why God doesn’t often use words is that it would remove the faith
factor. Because I don’t have a “Greg, now do this….” voice in my head or in my
ear I have to rely, search, pray, seek, watch and wait until He confirms in my
inner spirit that this or that is the direction I should go.

Cognitive dissonance resolved, epiphany successfully avoided. God doesn't talk out loud because then nobody would have faith. And billions are condemned to hell, but what's a little eternal suffering among friends.

Oh, and marinated? LOL!

Not Going to End Well

Your ideas say "idiot", your picture says "douchebag".

I'll admit it. I don't have an answer for unemployment. (Dude, we need more jobs!) I don't have the slightest idea what to do about all the jobs flowing out of the US to countries where people are paid a lot less. Morgan Warstler does not have any idea what to do about it, either.

Here’s an immediate employment policy for Republicans to take to
Obama: Keep the cheap jobs here.

Instead of some convoluted tax credit for new job creation…. let’s see
what kind of new low-economy businesses blossom when:

After 3 months of receiving unemployment insurance, a worker must be
willing to work 30 hours a week at a wage-subsidized job.

Unemployment insurance will make up for difference between what the
employees earn and $300 per week. ($7.25 x 40 hours). This means the
unemployed are earning $10 per hour ($300 for 30 hours work), and have 10
business hours left for job hunting.

Employers will be be able to search through anonymous lists of local
unemployed and hire these workers at a discount. Highest bids per hour
win. Employers will have to hire the workers for at least two weeks time.

To continue to receive federal aid, states must adopt this type of
policy and platform.

We have a large supply of untrained & unemployed
young workers & minority workers suffering disproportionately. The
government is spending billions in unemployment insurance. Why not
re-jigger the unemployment system to require work even if the real pay is low,
and make up the difference?

Perhaps daycare will get cheaper. Perhaps housecleaning will get
less expensive. Perhaps we’ll be able to compete with call centers in
India. These are all services that would help single mom’s and poor people
go back to work…. even to work from home. I suspect, like many credible
economists, when subsidized labor is $3, $4, $5 per hour, shovel ready jobs will
pop up.

What we do know is that if the unemployed have to work 30 hours per
week to receive their benefits… they will have more reason to go looking for
work and less reason to collect unemployment insurance.

$1200 a month, and Mr. Warstler doesn't mention taxes. Average rent in Boise, Idaho* is $600 per month for a 2 bedroom apartment. That's 2 paychecks per month under Mr. Warstler's plan. And that's just housing. That's not including transportation, food, health care, child care, heat, electric, water, etc.

But Mr. Warstler's idiocy doesn't end with assuming that $300 per week is sufficient.

Basically, you would create a permanent underclass of temp workers- Employers will have to hire the workers for at least two weeks time- without health care (total win for employers), who are significantly cheaper to hire than even full time minimum wage workers. Why would employers ever go back to paying even minimum wage when they could pay $2/hr for the same work for people they don't have to pay any kind of benefits for? They wouldn't. It would be stupid.

Perhaps daycare will get cheaper. Perhaps housecleaning will get less expensive. Perhaps we’ll be able to compete with call centers in India. These are all services that would help single mom’s and poor people go back to work. Go back to work for what? Permanent day laborer status with no possibility of benefits? Fantastic! Also, maybe we shouldn't create a permanent underclass of temp workers because "perhaps" anything. Maybe we should have proof first. Maybe that's just me.

*I had trouble finding overall housing costs for the US, so if you have that link, please let me know, and I'll update it. I chose Boise because it seems like a place that wouldn't have sky high rents like NYC or LA.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Incineration and Incarceration of Innocents

totally different from what the Nazis did. shut up, that's why.

Why is it that any time I read something by a wingnut, the first thing I have to do is consult a dictionary? It's not like they're using words I'm unfamiliar with, it's that they're using them in exceedingly peculiar ways.

tragedy: a disastrous event

just so we're clear,

disastrous: attended by or causing suffering

I didn't need that reminder of what "tragedy" and "disastrous" mean, but apparently, Alan Fraser at American Thinker does.

Here is a newspaper headline: "The
Economic Cost of the Mumbai Tragedy."
The article was referring to the
November 2008 massacre in Bombay by jihadists. Remember that one? To those who
write headlines and give speeches for a living, Mumbai was just another in a
growing list of sad "tragedies." In this particular "tragedy," Islamists
slaughtered 173 and wounded 300.

Here is a short and incomplete list of national figures who view September
11, 2001 as a "tragedy":

So, what part of either the Mumbai attack or September 11 wasn't tragic? What part of either of those events did not involve suffering? Can anyone think of anything? Bueller?

Mr. Fraser can: neither the Mumbai attack nor September 11 led to internment camps or nuclear reprisals. I. Am. Not. Making. This. Up.

Let's think back for a moment. Nearly seventy years ago, a distant Pacific
island, a U.S. territory, was attacked, and over 2,000 U.S. military personnel
were killed. Was that event ever called a "tragedy"? By anyone? In the words of
our president, the Japanese had orchestrated an "unprovoked and dastardly
attack." The choice of those precise words helped mobilize a nation and launch a
war to thoroughly defeat the enemy that had attacked us.

In fact, so angry, energized and, dedicated were we to defeating that
enemy that one of our nation's first acts was to round-up 200,000 loyal Japanese
Americans and throw them into internment camps for the duration of the war. And
what was our final response to that unprovoked and dastardly attack? It was to
drop atomic bombs on two of our enemy's cities, thereby incinerating over
200,000 civilians in order to make that enemy surrender. It worked. We were
committed to that cause because we never surrendered to the "tragedy" and
"trauma" of December 7th.

For those not versed in American history, Mr. Fraser is referring to the attack on Pearl Harbor, which ushered in American involvement in WWII. That event also ushered in one of the most shameful events in American history- placing Japanese Americans that had done absolutely nothing wrong in internment camps simply for being of Japanese descent.

This is not something to be proud of.

You know what else we shouldn't be terribly proud of? Incinerating hundreds of thousands of noncombatants by dropping nuclear bombs on civilian centers. Yes, I know, it ended the war and saved us all from . . . something, but I still don't think slaughtering civilians wholesale is something to be proud of.

The rest of Mr. Fraser's post is a complaint that using the word "tragedy" just doesn't inspire action in people. Yes, he spends paragraphs complaining that after September 11 we did not open internment camps or drop nuclear weapons. Apparently, starting two wars, spending billions and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis just isn't enough for some people, not when we could have children dying in internment camps and nuclear winter.

Ah, the good old days.

Update on Iran

Because of the internet, I have a friend in Iran. I never expected to have a friend in Iran. My whole life, I just assumed, as so many in the West do, that Iranians are people entirely unlike us, who hate us and there's nothing we can do about that.

And then the internet intervened and I met Sara, who is not entirely unlike us at all. She is like any intelligent, warm, kind person you might be lucky enough to meet. I found, in talking to her, that Iranians are like anyone else. I found a friend, and I hope she did, too.

Which is why I was yelling DAMNIT!!! when I saw this:

Iranians have reported widespread service disruptions to Internet and text
messaging services, though mobile phones appeared to be operating normally

Iran's telecommunications agency announced what it described as a
permanent suspension of Google Inc.'s email services, saying instead that a
national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out. It wasn't
clear late Wednesday what effect the order had on Google's email services in

This latest move by the Iranian government is simple: make sure people like Sara never talk to people like me. That way, Sara and all her fellow Iranians will never learn how much they have in common with everyone else, will never desire to join us in peace, will never gain allies in making their world a better place. And we in the West will lose just as much. We will lose our opportunity to learn, to understand, to work for the better of us all.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Weather as a Metaphor for Privilege

It's snowing in NEPA. I think we've gotten about 5-6" so far and it's not slowing down. The roads are horrible. I saw plows out before work this morning, but they've either fallen behind or we've hit the limit of our snow removal budget. (It happens.)

I live and work in a valley surrounded by mountains, so if we've got 6" here, the surrounding areas have at least 10", and I know they've broken the snow removal budget. I mention this because while I live within walking distance of work (the walk takes me between 35 and 45 minutes), several people here do not. In fact, they live 45 minutes out in the mountains. They have been told to go home, while those of us who live in town have been told to stay. Controversy has insued.


Well, I think it is. Those of us left here will get home, one way or another. It might be a longer and more difficult drive, or a walk at least part of the way, but we'll get home. Those who live in the mountains could well end up stranded on back highways. Those of us still at work are the lucky ones, the privileged ones, who have no worry about spending the night in a car stuck in a ditch.

I feel this same way about people who complain about universal health care, welfare and food stamps. "IT'S NOT FAIR!!! I WORK!!"

Well, lucky you. You are privileged to have a job, and not just a job, but a job that pays enough to meet your needs. You are privileged in that you have a place to live, food to eat and can afford to have a doctor treat your injuries and illnesses. I'm sure those paying for dinner with food stamps would be more than happy to trade places with you. Just like I'm sure the secretary who was contemplating her drive home with tears in her eyes would happily stay until 9:00 tonight if it meant a quick, safe trip home.

Hypocrisy: A Play in Two Acts

stimulus, politics, democrat, republican, liar,
Remember all those Republicans who opposed the stimulus, refused to take the funds and claimed that the stimulus wouldn't create jobs? Apparently, not even they believed that one.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond regularly railed against President Obama's
economic stimulus plan as irresponsible spending that would drive up the
national debt. But behind the scenes, the Missouri Republican quietly sought
more than $50 million from a federal agency for two projects in his state.

. . .

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Mr. Bond noted that one
project applying to the USDA for stimulus money would "create jobs and
ultimately spur economic opportunities."

So, Senator Bond, was that "irresponsible spending" or the creation of jobs and economic opportunities?

Senator Bond wasn't alone in his hypocrisy.

Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican who became famous after yelling,
"You lie," during Mr. Obama's addresses to Congress in September, voted against
the stimulus. Nonetheless, Mr. Wilson elbowed his way into the rush for federal
stimulus cash in a letter he sent to Mr. Vilsack on behalf of a foundation
seeking funding.

"We know their endeavor will provide jobs and investment in one of the
poorer sections of the Congressional District," he wrote to Mr. Vilsack in the
Aug. 26, 2009, letter.

Wait, which one of you is a liar again, Mr. Wilson?

On Feb. 13, 2009, Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, issued a
statement criticizing the stimulus — but two days earlier, he privately
forwarded to Mr. Vilsack a list of projects seeking stimulus money.

"I believe the addition of federal funds to these projects would
maximize the stimulative effect of these projects on the local economy," he

You know what the worst part about this is? These idiots are going to keep hurling accusations of evil socialism at Obama and the Democrats while simultaneously secretly acknowledging that socialism is the way to go.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This Post Is a Miracle

As are the 959 that precede it, apparently.

Matthew Archbold, who looks so much nicer than anyone I associate with Creative Minority Report, is a miracle man. By that he means, well, I'll let him explain it to you:

I’m not a science guy. I’m a man very comfortable with miracles.

Some say the word “miracle” is overused. Not me. I don’t think it’s
used enough. Not nearly.

To me, sunrises and gravity are hardly surprising but miraculous nonetheless. By naming things, we too often believe we own it. It is ours now. Not God’s anymore. We’ve labeled gravity a law. We’ve named radio waves. We too casually classify God’s handiwork as science. But there are miracles all around us.

I know how children are made but that doesn’t make them less
miraculous. Acceptance of miracles is a willingness to look past the thing-ness
of everything and see God.

Just so we're all speaking the same language, miracle: An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.

Look, I enjoy a good sunset, too, but sunsets are not inexplicable by the laws of nature. Sunsets are easily explained by the rotation of the earth. Gravity is not miraculous, nor are radio waves.

Mr. Archbold's argument is one that religion has been advancing at least since Galileo's time: it is bad to understand things. Science is evil because it takes the mystery, and the god, out of everyday life. By investigating and thereby understanding the world around us, you are removing god from lightning and earthquakes, reducing them to understandable physical forces.

Implicit in this argument is a sad little admission about God: once you explain god out of sunsets and gravity and radio waves, there isn't much place left for him, so I want to stick my head in sand and remain ignorant so as to preserve my faith in my invisible friend. The fact that science has improved my life is irrelevent to me as long as I get to keep pretending someone listens when I pray.

To those like Mr. Archbold, the loss of miracles is sad. To me, the sadness lies in those who reject the knowledge we replaced those miracles with. Ignorance is never something I will celebrate.

The Christian News Feed Goes Atheist

morality, religion, christianity, atheist,
I subscribe to a Christian news feed,, and I think that every now and then it gets hijacked by rogue atheists, like today, when I learned that:

Psychologists in a new study suggest that moral judgments operate
independently of religious background.

. . .

In their study, which was published by Cell Press in the journal Trends in
Cognitive Sciences, the psychologists cite several studies in moral psychology,
including one that involved thousands of students from the elementary school
level to those with graduate degrees and another that involved the rural, Mayan
population. Subjects read and judged the moral permissibility of an

Drs. Pyysiainen and Hauser note that the moral judgments provided by
religious subjects did not differ from that of atheists.

The authors highlight that religion appears to have "no influence at
all on the intuitive system that operates more generally, and for unfamiliar

"In fact, a considerable amount of work in this area shows that moral
judgments are relatively immune to the explicit moral dictates of both religious
and legal institutions," they state.

Presumably, they interviewed the traditionalist Mayans as opposed to the Catholic Mayans, but really, it's all quite fascinating. This entire article was offered free of any commentary, which is what makes me suspect rogue atheists.

Monday, February 8, 2010


The Bible makes precious little mention of Hell, so I decided to see what, exactly, the Bible says about Heaven.

In the Old Testament, Heaven is referenced often: as a place above Earth where rain comes from and Yhwh lives. There is not, however, any real description of Heaven, nor any intimation of people other than Yhwh living there. Well, stars and clouds clearly live there, but not people.

By the New Testament, we have a "kingdom of Heaven" and dead people going there, but nothing to tell me what it might be like there, which is a rather important thing to leave out, considering what I am expected to do to get to Heaven.

There's a bit of this:

Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed
good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and
sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed
heads, then the weeds also appeared.

So, Heaven's got bad stuff in it?

31He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,
which a man took and planted in his field. 32Though it is the smallest of all
your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a
tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."

It started small, but got bigger?

33He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that
a woman took and mixed into a large amount[b]
of flour until it worked all through the dough."


45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.

Oh, c'mon!

47"Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the
lake and caught all kinds of fish.

So, back to there's stuff in Heaven you may not like?

18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be[a]bound
in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[b]
loosed in heaven.

So, fantastic, there's war and suffering in Heaven? I hope you're not expecting a great deal of effort on my part to get there. I can experience all that has been loosed on Earth with no effort at all.

1"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the
morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.

I'm starting to get the impression that whoever wrote this had no idea how to describe Heaven and went for the Emperor's New Clothes style of description: You must be stupid if you don't know what landowners and yeast have to do with Heaven.

I will leave you with this:

35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

So, not so much on the "eternal" part of eternal life? Fuck it, I ain't hating gays for this.

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