Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Newest Craze to Hit Pennsylvania:
Whisper Down the Deadly Alley...

It's Thursday night. All is quite on the Keystone Front. Hughes's and Zartman's alike are going about their evening business none the wiser that they are about to enter...


The Whisper Down the Deadly Alley Zone...
Ring-ring... Ring-ring...
Me: Hello?
Aunt Mary: Jason?
Me: Yes?
Aunt Mary: Where's your mother?
Me: Umm... At home, I guess...
Aunt Mary: She's not picking up.
Me: Er... okay...
Aunt Mary: I need to talk to her, now!
Me: Umm...
Aunt Mary: Leonard's dead!
Me: What?
Aunt Mary: Leonard's dead! Leonard! Dead!
Me: Holy crap! Really?
Aunt Mary: And I need to talk to your mother!
Me: Well, did you try their cell phone? When did he die? What happened?
Aunt Mary: I tried that.
Me: ...
Aunt Mary: I said, I tried that!
Me: Well... what happened?
Aunt Mary: I got no answer. I need to talk to her!
Me: No, I mean... what happened to Leonard?
Aunt Mary: He was mowing the lawn at the church and he died. Your grandmother said she isn't telling his kids what happened until she makes the funeral arrangements!
FYI: Leonard is my grandmother's husband; nice guy, too good for Grandmom (much like Grandpop was...) And Grandmom not wanting to tell his kids? Classic Grandmom...
Me: She's not telling Betsy or Bruce?
Aunt Mary: No! I don't want to be stuck in the middle. I tried calling Cindy, but I didn't get through there either.
Me: Why did Grandmom call you?
Aunt Mary: I don't know, but I need--
Me: I'll try to get a hold of her. As soon as I do, I'll have her call you, okay?
Aunt Mary: Okay...
Ring-ring... Ring-ring...
Me: Mom? Are you there? Pick up-pick up-pick up! It's me...
Mom: Hello? Sorry, we just got in the door...
Me: Are you sitting down?
Mom: Um... Okay, I am now, what's wrong?
Me: Leonard's dead.
Mom: What?
Me: Leonard's dead.
Mom: Oh no...
Me: And Grandmom isn't going to tell his kids until she has the funeral planned...
Mom: What?!
Me: I'm so mad right now...
Mom: She isn't telling them? What happened?
Me: Something about mowing grass at church, I dunno the details...
Mom: But she isn't... I mean....
Me: She's such a bitch!
Mom: Oh my word... Poor Leonard...
Me: You need to call Mary back. She's been trying to get a hold of you because she doesn't want to be the one to tell Betsy and get between Betsy and Grandmom...
Mom: I don't want to do it either!
Me: I can't blame you... But you at least should call Mary back, she's really upset...
Mom: When did it happen?
Me: Well, you know Mary's hard of hearing, so who knows how much she caught and how much she didn't... She needs a new hearing aid... I think you should call Mary back...
Mom: Here, tell your father what's going on... I need to think...

Repeat above conversation mostly, except Dad's much calmer...
10 minutes later.
Ring-ring... Ring-ring...
Mom: I don't know... I just don't know...
Me: Did you call Mary back?
Mom: Yes, and... Why is my mother like this?
Me: Cause she's a bitch.
Mom: Should I call Betsy?
Me: I think you should... I mean, if Grandmom won't tell her...
Mom: I know, but... Oh, this is so hard... Betsy loved her father...
Me: Is Grandmom going to tell her?
Mom: I'm not calling her to find out.
Me: Do you want me to call Grandmom? Put out some feelers?
Mom: No... You don't have to do that... I'll call Betsy tomorrow. Dad said if he was at the church, someone must have told Betsy and Bruce...
Me: Yeah, maybe...
Mom: But... Oh, I don't want to go through this again.
Me: I know. I remember what she was like when Grandpop died...
Mom: I can't believe...
Me: She's a bitch.
Mom: I just... I don't know... I'm not going to the funeral alone.
Me: I'll go. I liked Leonard. He was too good for Grandmom.
Mom: I need to call Cindy, I think.
Me: If Grandmom's called anyone else, it'll be her or Sylvia...
Mom: You're right. I'm so glad I live up here now...
Me: Me too.
Mom: I should call Betsy.
Me: Send me her address by e-mail so I can send flowers or something.
Mom: Oh, I will, I will, I just...
Ring-ring... Ring-ring...
Mom: You're never going to believe this.
Me: What happened now?
Mom: Leonard's not dead. (Mom tries to stifle insane giggle.)
Me: What?
Mom: Leonard's not dead!
Me: Oh thank goodness!
Mom: I know... (Trying to stifle more giggles...)
Me: What? What's so funny.
Mom: Well, it's not funny, really...
Me: What?
Mom: Your uncle Dick is dead...
Me: Who? Oh...
Mom: He died on the lawn mower at church...
Me: Grandmom's brother?
Mom: Yes... (stifling more giggles)
Me: Well, I'm not going to his funeral. I wouldn't know him if I ran over him. Grandmom didn't even like him...
Mom: I know, but... (Laughing out loud now...)
Me: What? (Laughter becoming contagious...)
Mom: I called Cindy... and she didn't know what I was talking about at first... And... and... then she was like, "Oh, Mom, no. Leonard's fine. Uncle Dick is dead."... And... and...
Me: But Leonard's fine?
Mom: Yes...
Me: Thank goodness...
Mom: But then I tried to call Mary back... and her daughter answered... And I'm like, "Marie, do you want me to tell your mom she got it wrong, or should I?" And she said... she said, "Oh no, you're telling her, not me!" (Huge bout of laughter...)
At this point I should probably mention we're just relieved Leonard isn't dead...
Mom: And then... And then...
Me: What did Mary say?
Mom: She was just upset Grandmom wasn't telling Leonard's kids!
Me: Oh geez...
Mom: So I need to try again...
Me: I suppose... Does Scott know yet?
Mom: He's driving around the country somewhere thinking Leonard's still dead! I'm so glad I didn't call Betsy right away!
Me: I'm glad too! Can you imagine?
Mom: I need a shower. I'll try calling Mary back then... And Scott...
Me: So Grandmom's not on the prowl again?
Mom: Not yet, anyway...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Feeling a Bit... Hammered?

Busy, busy, busy. That's the only phrase that can adequately describe my life the past few days... Okay, since last Wednesday, so to rephrase: the past week. Between the annual migration of the picnic tables, stripping the jungle of life, mulching flower beds, and the pope actually doing something useful with his time for a change, it seems that the shark world has been blessed with a savior...

Of course, all things being equal, this means undersea creatures need no longer look for Nemo, and we need no longer laugh at their antics...

From the article:

Female sharks can fertilize their own eggs and give birth without any sperm from a male shark, according to a new study into the asexual reproduction of a hammerhead in a Nebraska zoo.

The joint Northern Ireland-U.S. research, being published Wednesday in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, analyzed the DNA of a shark born in 2001 in the Henry Doorly Zoo — in a tank with three potential mothers, none of whom had contact with a male hammerhead for at least three years.

Analysis of the baby shark's DNA found no trace of any contribution from a male partner. Shark experts said this was the first confirmed case in a shark of parthenogenesis, which derived from the Greek means "virgin birth."
And there you have it. The fulfillment of the prophecy that the gospel should reach every creature...

I'm assuming the apostles, disciples, and other fellow sky-godian followers dropped the ball so badly on reaching these under-gospelized undersea creatures that sky god decided Jesus needed to come again--this time, as sharkbait. Needless to say, I'm surprised that the fundies aren't flocking to the Nebraska aquarium to greet their savior, but instead have decided to live a lie of comfort in Kentucky...

Will this bring about an embrace by fundies of the environmentalist movement now that their lord and savior is "swimming with the fishes"? Doubtful.... Although, if he is swimming with the fishes, one must assume he never rose to begin with...

"The findings were really surprising because as far as anyone knew, all sharks reproduced only sexually by a male and female mating, requiring the embryo to get DNA from both parents for full development, just like in mammals," said marine biologist Paulo Prodahl, of Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, co-author of the report.
I wonder if these lowly, single mothers realize how devastating this is to the nuclear shark family... This young hammerhead will learn it's okay to have sex with yourself, it's okay to reproduce without a dad around... The moral implications for Princess Ariel's undersea kingdom are staggering... At least the crab had the decency to stay in the shell (hello, underwater closet anyone?), but now this?

The audacity of sky god's creations... Next thing you know, none of the undersea creatures will worship sky god!! It's just plain unnatural!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wishing, and Hoping, and Planning, and Dreaming...

Remember when you were a child: you not only wrote to Santa Claus, but you actively defended the big guy on the playground, on the bus, and against any siblings who said otherwise. "He is real!" you would shout, and promptly plant your fist in the opposers' mouth. You would gather with your other believer friends, make wish lists, hope you were good enough to get that present you so desired, and knew Santa would understand you punching out your brother because, hey, he was saying Santa wasn't real! As if!?

You'd place cookies out with a tall glass of milk; you would listen so carefully for the sound of hoofs on your roof; that WHOMP! from the chimney that meant Santa's ass was on his way down to place a wealth of gifts to reward your good behavior, your sound judgment, your faith in his benevolence...

Some people never want to forget that magical childhood, even long after they've realized the futility of their faith; some people never realize their futility...

In just 5 days, May 28, 2007 (could someone double check that year for me?) the Creation Museum will open its doors and attempt to bring to life that special myth known as the bible. Yes, that bible. It vows to be the bastion of "literal Creation science" in a world of plagued by Satanic reasoning, which includes countless years of research, physical evidence, and methodical testing (damn that devil!!)

Ken Ham, a former science teacher (though not a scientist, which I assume is implied), is the ring-leader in this exercise of biblical DreamWorks. And DreamWorks isn't too far off the mark! One of the people they hired to make their fantastical exhibits is Patrick Marsh.

Patrick used to work at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Then he saw the "truth," opened his heart and soul to Jesus, and was born again into idiocy.

"The Bible is the only thing that gives you the full picture," he says. "Other religions don't have that, and, as for scientists, so much of what they believe is pretty fuzzy about life and its origins ... oh, this is a great place to work, I will tell you that."
And what does Patrick mean by "the full picture" in reference to "life and its origins"? In reference to fossilized remains of early man-like creatures:

"There are no such things. Humans are basically as you see them today. Those skeletons they've found, what's the word? ... they could have been deformed, diseased or something. I've seen people like that running round the streets of New York."(Source.)
Because that doesn't sound fuzzy at all, does it? Yes, my dear reader: all the hundreds of thousands of fossils that we've uncovered are simply diseased and deformed New Yorkers... Brings new meaning to the red state/blue state divide, doesn't it? (Remind me to be thankful this bright bulb isn't still running loose on the streets...)

Of course, that isn't where the plethora of "experts" ends here at the Disneyland of Religious Cuckoos. Mark Looy (the "guide" and a vice president at the museum) is quick to name drop, uncontent to just let his "science" speak for itself:

Looy rattles off the names of experts with doctorates, many of whom obtained degrees from mainstream universities. A creationist scientist, Kurt Wise, worked as a graduate student at Harvard with prominent biologist Stephen Jay Gould. (Something tells me he didn't take very good notes...) John Baumgardner of the Los Alamos National Laboratory became a well-regarded designer of computer models for planetary catastrophes (just as it was written, so shall it be: "And there shall be computer models in the end days...")
One of the most notorious supporters of the museums' "fire-and-brimstone" creation science was the late Jerry Falwell:

"When that museum is finished, it's going to be Cincinnati's No. 1 tourist attraction," says the Rev. Jerry Falwell, nationally known Baptist evangelist and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. "It's going to be a mini-Disney World."
Apparently even he knew how imaginary the place was going to be! Of course, this was most likely pure luck that Falwell happened to say something true for once... It had to happen eventually, right?

So what, you say, Who cares if a bunch of wing nuts want to pay homage to their imaginary god? No skin off normal people, right?

If only that were the case...

I think these next few blurbs say it better than I could:

"When they try to confuse (kids) about what is science and what isn't science, scientists have an obligation to speak out," said Lawrence Krauss, an author and physics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "There's no doubt these are documented lies."
"It's a giant step backward in science education," says Carolyn Chambers, chair of the biology department at Xavier University, which is operated by the Jesuit order of the Catholic church.
"There are people who are prepared to accept that the universe is a pretty untidy place," said Ian Tattersall, a curator at the American Museum of Natural History. "And there are people, like the creationists, whose minds rebel at this notion."
So, dear reader--would you like us to lead our kids down a road of ignorance? Prevent the United States from being a world leader in the fields of math, science, medicine, and technology? Support the "Creation" Museum! Let go of the faculties you think sky god gave you and embrace idiocy, ignorance, and imbecility. As one of the authors of their book rightly said, "It takes faith like a child." Perhaps Jesus was a little more sarcastic than we all grew up thinking? But that really is the crux, isn't it? A lot of us learned to think, and learn, and obtain knowledge... What did Ken Ham do?:

"The Lord gave me a fire in my bones," Ham says. "The Lord has put this burden in my heart: You've got to get this information out."
Someone should tell him they have antibiotics for that now... And about life in general? Ken says:

You are dealing with an origins issue. If you don't have the information, you cannot be sure. Nothing contradicts the Bible's account of the origins.
Uh-huh. Sure, yeah. It's just that all these fossils are diseased New Yorkers, right? And where does it say that in the bible again?

What is truly "inspirational," though, is the nude Adam and Eve. Instead of celebrating how sky god apparently intended us to be, some of the employees state:

"He is appropriately positioned, so he can be modest. There will be a lamb or something there next to him. We are very careful about that: some of our donors are scared to death about nudity."
Apparently not scared enough to stop procreating...

The same will go for the scene where Eve is created out of Adam's rib, apparently, and parents will be warned that little children may be scared by the authenticity of some of the scenes. "Absolutely, because we are in there, being faithful to scripture."
Yeah, it's the kids who are scared of the nudity. Must be why it's so hard to keep a two year old in his clothes, right? They're scared. Of course, this statement, and the logic it employs, goes a long, long way to the flawed logic they're employing elsewhere in the "museum."

And guess what? The stated "purpose" of the museum really isn't about learning (as if this, too, weren't obvious...). By the curator's own words:

"If the Bible is the word of God (That's a pretty big "if" there, Ken...), and its history really is true (Why do you sound as if you're second-guessing yourself? Guilty conscience?), that’s our presupposition or axiom, and we are starting there (ass-backwards, in the face of all that is real and makes sense)," museum founder Ken Ham said during recent tour of the sleek and modern facility, which is due to open next year.
"People will get saved here," Ham said of the museum. (It's really great when a "museum" is focused on religion, isn't it? Sky god bless America!! Who needs education when you have JESUS!! [Holy Casper, Sky Father, and Virgin Mother who was never naked sold separately; batteries not included; doll will not rise from the dead; dolls not anatomically correct for fear of scaring children...])
"We admit we have an axiom: We have a book and it's the Bible and it's revealed history," says Ham. "Where the Bible teaches on science (as it is written so it shall be: "And there will neutrons, and rumors of electrons and protons, and deformed men will be seen as "history"...), we can trust it as the word of God."
So much for "truth," right? Another "endorser" of the false science of creationism is John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego. Under-utilizing his brain in newly unfathomable ways, Mr. Morris has said:

"Americans just aren't gullible enough to believe that they came from a fish."
In addition to under-utilizing his faculties, he also vastly underestimates the stupidity of the people of this country... It's amazing how he manages to use the same number of brain cells as a guppy, but refuses to see how he may be related to one...

I just can't wait until society is evolved enough that one day, we'll build a museum about their museum, and be amazed at the ignorance of this dead, extinct people...

Of course, that's just me making a wish list for Santa...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Saturdays Are For Accomplishing...

I awake Saturday morning with a sense of freedom, empowerment, and a definitive goal. It's spring, and after many years of training, enforcement, and all-around indentured servitude to my parents yard, a Saturday isn't a Saturday if you aren't doing something outside. Whether it's chopping down a tree, mowing the grass, digging trenches, overturning grass for a flowerbed: my father always managed to come up with something on Saturday that was of the utmost urgency to accomplish. Hence, Saturdays are for work. I get up, make a pot of coffee, flip through the channels briefly until I catch a weather report, then get dressed in work clothes. It is time.

Then Rich gets up. He hasn't endured the years of training, never viewed Saturdays as an "I must accomplish something" day, and is certainly not one to "find" something to do. He sits on the couch, turns on the television, and makes himself at home.

Me: I'm going out to mow the lawn.
Rich: Why?
Me: Whaddya mean, why? It's like 4 inches high!
Rich: I can do it on Thursday. I have off.
Me: Like you were supposed to do it last Thursday? No, I don't think so. By then we won't be able to see the dog in the grass, let alone the flowers in the flowerbeds...
Rich: But it's so nice out!
Me: Which is why I need to mow the grass. Grass requires mowing, you know.
Rich: Just sit with me for a little bit.
Me: (Sigh.) Why?
Rich: Because I haven't seen you in three or four days. We should talk.
Me: About anything in particular? Is something wrong?
Rich: No...
Me: Well, then, put on some clothes, we can talk outside. You can start the burn barrel, I'll mow the lawn.
Rich: I don't want to.
Me: You don't have to. I was just saying--
Rich: We can talk in here.
Me: I'm mowing the lawn.
So I put Hawthorne on his leash and make my way to the garage. Quick check of the gas and oil, and I'm good to go. I rev her up, back her out, and begin. Having lived next door to my mother's brother, Scott (next door isn't exactly correct, but it'd be to difficult to explain...), I know the proper way to mow a lawn. My father was happy as long as it was short. Scott's lawn needed to be cut in rotations:
  1. Week 1: Up and down.
  2. Week 2: Across.
  3. Week 3: Diagonal.
  4. Week 4: Opposite Diagonal.
This is Week 2. But to mow in such a way, one must first circle the entire perimeter at least three times so that the tractor has enough room to turn around at any given edge (as I do not have one of those fancy "turn-on-a-dime" lawn mowers...) Being as I have almost a full acre, once around the perimeter takes about, oh, three minutes on speed 3; so as you can imagine, after only two minutes riding ol' Betsy on Perimeter Base 1, I notice something is wrong as I stare across at the opposite end of the yard... The left side is noticeably shorter than the right side of the lawn deck. In fact, the left side of the lawn deck is plowing more than mowing. I stop the tractor and before I even get on bended knee to see what could be ailing Betsy, I notice it: The Flat. Left front side, actually. How I made it almost one full turn around the yard still boggles my mind.

Does Triple A do tractor tires? and quickly realize how silly this sounds. I have to call Home Depot. After all, despite their horrendous customer service, this is where I bought the tractor; ergo, they should have the parts for it, right?


After being on hold for twenty minutes and listening to Rich tell me how he can "mow the lawn on Thursday" (With a fuckin' flat? I retort), I get told they no longer carry that model of lawn mower, and therefore couldn't even order parts if I so desired...

I call my father. His calm, deep voice always knows who to call in these types of situations... He advises a patch kit, the neighbor who always has six different lawn mowers out front, and a trip to Wal-Mart for an air pump... I immediately have A Plan. Dad always knows what to do--he had three boys who, among other things, plowed over rocks, made bike-paths in the (rock-filled) woods around the house, and once, even drove his lawn mower off an eight-foot cliff. He's been there, done that, and probably smiles inwardly at the karma of it all (despite the fact that I wasn't the one who drove it over the eight-foot cliff...)

A trip to the neighbors proved fruitless. He'd gladly sell me one of his push-mowers, but he didn't fix ride mowers. Too complicated--push-mower fixing is a hobby. (Who knew? Must beat stamp-collecting...) So I make my way over the mountain to the Wal-Mart and fight the weekend crowds to find The Parts. After another dismal customer service fiasco ("You're looking for what? I'm sorry, I'll have to page someone"), I manage to find among the eight rows of car (and misc) parts the small shelf near the bottom which deals in flat tires and related issues (while still waiting for that "paged employee" to show up). I grab a patch kit, an air pump, and then I see "Fix-A-Flat." Intrigued, I quickly peruse the directions, and I see the magic phrase: "lawn tractors." I decide to buy it, along with the patch kit and pump. You can never place all your eggs in one basket, am I right?

I return home after an hour-and-a-half, completely pissed that I've yet to accomplish anything. Storm clouds are building on the horizon. I come in the front door to see Rich still on the couch, watching PBS. Something about "heavy water" and World War 2. He is such his father's son. Thank sky god for small favors that we don't have the History Channel.

Me: Good show?
Rich: I think I've seen it before.
Me: You aren't sure?
Rich: Nnnnnoooooo.... Shh!
Me: Can you come help me jack up the tractor?
Rich: Now?
Me: No, next week, if you could pencil it in, please.
Rich: (Puzzled look...)
Me: Yes, now!
Rich: I'm not dressed...
Me: I can see that. But I can't lift the tractor and place the rocks under it to hold the tire in the air now, can I?
Rich: Can't you?
Me: I'd. Rather. Not. (You'd think I was asking him to build a new deck on the house, wouldn't you?)
Rich: Fine.
I hear the implied "I'm going to resent you for the next five minutes" tone, but I ignore it. As stated, it will last for five minutes. He's a wonderful husband.

So I go out a read the directions for Fix-A-Flat in earnest. I've heard of the stuff, but never had a need
(opportunity?) to use it before. It seems pretty straight-forward:
  1. Place nozzle at 4 or 8 o'clock position.
  2. Attach hose to nozzle.
  3. Hold down button until liquid stops moving through the hose.
  4. Remove hose from nozzle.
  5. Drive vehicle around for 2 to 4 miles to ensure sealant covers entire inside surface of tire.
Easy enough, I think. Rich comes out of the house, remarks once more on how nice of a day it is (I can only assume he'd glanced out the window earlier?) and stands beside me at the tractor.

Rich: So...
Me: Can you lift the tractor up so I can put these blocks under it?
Rich: How about you lift, and I put the blocks under.
Me: Whatever, fine.
I lift the tractor.

Rich: Where do these blocks go?
Me: Under... under the... the metal bar thingy...
Rich: The what?
Me: Just stick them... under there! This... This is heavy...
I set the tractor down (assuming Rich figured out where to put the blocks) and grab the can. Following the directions, I begin squeezing the button. After about 10 seconds, white foam begins spewing out the other side of the tire.

Rich: Turn it off! Turn it off!
Me: The directions say--
Rich: You're spilling toxic stuff on the grass!
Me: The directions say--
Rich: Don't get it on your hands! Don't-- There's stuff everywhere!
It's like he's suddenly a member of the anti-Holocaust Crab Grass Association. Whatever. I stop pressing the button, detach the hose, and stare at the tire.

It didn't work. It's also starting to rain.

Me: Stupid motherfucking asshole...
Rich: I can mow--
Me: One more time, Rich. Say it one more time...
Rich: Well, I can...
Rich: Well...
I stomp inside the house, drenched with rain, toxic foam on my hands. Rich follows only to plop back on the couch at turn PBS back on.

I take a few moments to collect myself, eat some lunch, and decide the best way to remove the tire to repair the tube. I resign myself to the fact that maybe--just maybe--I may need to order a tire online. As Rich hops into the shower about a half hour later to prepare for work, I go outside in the rain to push the mower back into the garage and try to fix the flat. I place the mower in neutral, push it off the blocks, and--

The tire. It's not flat anymore!

I kick it. I press it with my hand. I blink a few times. I grab the Fix-A-Flat can and read it again. Nope: nothing that says "may take half an hour to repair tire." Nothing about time at all. It goes right from "remove nozzle" to "drive around."

I mow the lawn in the rain. My uncle would not approve. My father would. Saturdays are for accomplishing.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Wall: Both Brick and Political...

It's like... It's like trying to dig through a brick wall with a straw... One of the cheap plastic ones that break at McD's when all you did was peel off the stupid paper it came wrapped in...

Let's state it for the record: The United States was Never Founded to be a Christian Nation. Of course, being that they live according to a 2,000 year old book and love to rewrite and revise that, the "holiest" thing sky god ever decided to let them keep (cause let's face it--they hung his kid by nails from a wooden beam--I'm surprised he entrusted them with paper, let alone paper with words) it shouldn't be surprising that they'd love to rewrite and revise the 200+ year history of our country. It's a habit they just can't seem to get control on. And if they can't be expected to accurately reflect and learn some basic about the bible, why should our country be any different, right?

And should be added, just for the sake of clarification as some people just don't seem to get the difference, this is about fundamentalist, so-called conservative Christians, not your average run-of-the-mill live-and-let-live Christians. (HINT: In case you don't get the distinction, the difference being those that live their faith and don't try to make laws for everyone else to live by [normal Christians] and those that think we are actually a nation "Of the Sky God, for the Sky God [conservative fundamentalists])

As if the preamble of the Constitution didn't make it clear enough ("We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union....") by NOT appealing to sky god, his kid, or holy Casper (let alone their collective mother), the document by which we run our entire "land of the free" goes on to state in no uncertain terms "Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In case some of you have no idea what that means, translated into layman's terms it states "You will not make any laws for, against, or in promotion of, or in deference to, any religion." The premise of a "wall" between religion and politics is reiterated later in the Constitution when speaking of political office: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." If this were a "Christian" nation, they would have written something along the lines of "to support this Constitution; and a profession in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior shall be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." But they didn't, did they?

And just in case that isn't clear enough here is a list of some of the more prominent founding fathers and their thoughts on "The Wall":
  1. Thomas Jefferson (the author of whom some were shocked to learn owned a Quran) expanded upon what the phrase meant in a letter to the Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in 1801, in which he stated it was a "wall of separation between church and State." And while yes, you will never find that exact phrase in the constitution, neither will you find the phrase "freedom of religion."
  2. Madison had also written that "Strongly guarded... is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States."
  3. Washington? He stated "Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience," also in a letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia in May of 1789. In fact, a few years earlier (1784), when George Washington needed some masons to build on his estate, he stated "If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa, or Europe. They may be Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists." And he told a Mennonite minister who sought refuge in the United States after the Revolution: "I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong...." He was, as John Bell pointed out in 1779, "a total stranger to religious prejudices, which have so often excited Christians of one denomination to cut the throats of those of another." It's a wonder none of them wrote "We, the worshippers of God, in order to form a more perfect union..."
  4. Thomas Paine wrote "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. John Adams (the second U.S. President) rejected the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and became a Unitarian. It was during Adams' presidency that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, which states in Article XI that: "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion - as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, - and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arrising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. My own mind is my own church."
  5. And then there's old Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the most-oft mis-quoted "Christian" of the founding fathers. About March 1, 1790, he wrote the following in a letter to Ezra Stiles (the president of Yale), who had asked Benjamin his views on religion. Franklin's answer indicated quite strongly that he remained a Deist, not a Christian, to the end: "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble...."
Need I go on? Supposedly these are the "Christians" that founded our nation... And while anyone could find a quote that mentions "God," it in no way speaks to their belief in the views of fundie conservatives trying to usurp the nation for their imagined deity... It actually speaks more to the desperate need to believe in something that doesn't exist! (much like their sky god!)

But be all this as it may, what started all this? you ask. Well, in a discussion here, where I (perhaps not-so) kindly pointed out that just because Westboro doesn't act "Christ-like" in someones sense of the word doesn't make them not Christian! Well, all this to say it quickly delved into a bunch of generalizations and such, which I try to stay away from but sometimes can't be helped, I suppose, being human and all...

What a lot of the discussion boils down to is the failure of true-blooded conservatives failing to see how, while the actions of Westboro they may deplore, the ideology of Westboro and many of the radical conservatives of the United States are very much in sync! And while they may not like that tidy little fact (as Westboro is very fanatical in both action AND ideology), actions alone to do not a non-Christian make. It is the basic tenants of the faith that tie Christians together, across denomination and continent (i.e., Jesus came from God, we supposedly killed him, he rose again on the third day, he sent the Holy Spirit, we all must repent and be baptized, and one day he's coming back... supposedly) And most (if not all) Christians would agree that believing these things is what makes you a Christian! (Of course, most of the founding fathers DIDN'T believe these things, but that's been covered.) What some Christians believe (the more moderate ones) is that they have no business telling anyone how to live or what their particular imaginary god may or may not think about someone else's lifestyle. What the other, more conservative and fundamental Christians, believe is that they have the divine obligation to not only tell others how to live and what their imaginary deity thinks about lifestyles, but to usurp the government to their deity's agenda in an effort to force everyone to live according to their beliefs! And in this instance (concerning wishing everyone lived like a fundie), traditional conservatives and Westboro inhabit the same bed, they just use the bed differently... (Oy! That sounded a bit dirty, didn't it? :D) Conservatives refuse to admit that while they deplore the actions of Westboro, Westboro's ideology (anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-[insert vice here]) is the same stance they take on such social issues... Westboro just is willing to say it without all the politically correct phraseology (i.e., "love the sin, hate the sinner"; "God still loves you" crap). The more liberal Christians certainly don't feel "attacked" when Westboro is used against fundamentalists because they know they DO have nothing in common with their ideology; most normal to liberal Christians have no issue with letting people live their lives as they choose as they are afforded the same freedoms to do so. But traditional fundamentalists feel that they are "victimized" when one points out that Westboro IS the embodiment of their ideals and beliefs in the most extreme form; and one knows one must follow an idea to the most extremes to find out if it is a tenable idea or belief, mustn't one? That is the only true test of the feasibility of an belief--that, even in the most extreme form of said idea, if the idea is truly a good idea or belief. And when one looks at the most extreme conservatives and fundies of Christianity, of Islam, of any type of religious dogma--it is in the "literal" believers, the "not a doubt in my mind" believers which pose the greatest threat to the freedoms that we as United States citizens hold so dear! The very freedoms that the conservatives claim to hold so dear are the ones they wish to strip from everyone else!

Perhaps it is me, and I'm the one missing something here... Thoughts?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Saint Falwell: He Certainly Didn't Fall Well, Did He?

Yeah, Falwell's dead. It's been confirmed not only by a coroner, but by 10,000 saints and angels ushering him through the gates of heaven (or hell, depending on your take) and a prophet or two declaring that the tribulation may begin...

What's so utterly, tragically hilarious about everything isn't necessarily his death--we all knew Falwell would die, didn't we?--but now the Christian sites are full of sympathy, outpourings of "love," and an all-around pat-on-the-back for a life lived in stupidity.

One site said:

The truth is that he was a great man of God who stood for what is right and was not afraid to take on the liberal media. Even Larry Flynt, who once hated Falwell, has said that they became great friends.
It takes a pretty small person to ridicule someone after they are no longer on earth to defend themselves. The great thing about it is that Jerry Falwell did not care what atheists thought of his message while he was here and he is certainly not concerned with what they are saying about him now.
Another had this to say:

The irony watch begins: Will his critics spew the worst kind of venom while talking about what a hater Falwell was? Surely not. They will display their love and tolerance for someone with whom they just had philosophical differences.
And, the end-all be-all of "Christian" reactions to Falwell's death:

I was sorry to hear that Jerry Falwell passed away today. I sometimes criticized him harshly, but he seemed like a decent man and he has certainly done a lot of good in the world. My condolences go out to his friends and family.

PS: I'm keeping the comments closed to keep the liberal posters from trashing Falwell there. If they want to trash him -- and they will -- let them do it somewhere else besides Right Wing News.
Anyone see a trend? The people that wouldn't get near to the controversial man when he was alive, for fear he made them all look as crazy and delusional as he was, have made him a saint. Saint Falwell: The saint whom you pray to when you want to fall from grace gracefully.

Now there's a catchy slogan. Catholics, get a pen and paper.

But seriously, we all made fun of him, trashed him, Christian and non-Christian, but suddenly because the man is dead, it's as if the Christians are afraid sky god did love him best and will judge them all on what they said about him now that he's gone... Talk about your Fairy Tales Gone Awry! So a man is dead--it's kind of sad, but when you look at his track-record? Good riddance to bad rubbish. There's something you won't hear in his eulogy.

Of course, to the most conservative of the nutballs, this makes me evil, inhumane (as if somehow compassion and kind words were the mainstay of this religion.... HA!), certainly "non-Christian" (and since when did I claim I was?), and let's see... there were a few other choice words for those who didn't worship the selective memory of Saint Falwell...

But we're the hypocrites? We trashed him in life, we'll trash him in death. It's not like he's going to care. This was the same man who said things like this:

"If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being." (hmm, yeah, that sounds like something rooted in scripture...)

"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." (Sounds like someone took some note cards from Phelps!!)

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers." (Yes, we must ask ourselves, WWJS: Who Would Jesus Save? It certainly wouldn't be an Egyptian, let alone a homosexual!! Heaven just wouldn't be heaven if the gays were there, I suppose... Which is why you won't be able to blame us for the tacky gold roads...)

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country." (It certainly couldn't have been put in place by smart men who knew the viles of religion, right?)
Listen, we could do this all day and never stop laughing our asses off at this tragic moron of a human being. The hypocrisy comes not in trashing him after his death for his moronic ramblings, but in suddenly making a saint out of a man you tried to hide from whenever he was in town. Now that a man is dead does NOT make him a better human being than he previously was... And lying about it, and suddenly saying he "was grounded in scripture" when you know all along he didn't agree with you on half the things you each thought scripture said... Well, that speaks to how silly it is to hold a book in such high esteem that no two people can read the same way...

Inerrant word of god my ass...

So we bid you ado, Saint Falwell. Christians who hated you in life for making them all seem delusional now love you in death, just like Jesus would...

One less radical, militant religious person is no loss... It's the loss of what a great man he could have been that is mourned...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Winning Isn't Everything...

I remember one lesson I learned in sports as a young child. Whether it was basketball, soccer, or baseball, all my coaches always had one thing to say: "Winning isn't everything." Whether we had a great team or not, whether we played a great game or not, whether we won or lost. It was repeated often, and always against a backdrop of pride, arrogance, and all-around bad sportsmanship.

Winning isn't everything.

Remember when Iraq was supposed to be easy? "We will be greeted as liberators." We wanted to avoid "the mushroom cloud." We said we didn't need that many troops, that much time, that much money... (Source.)

You'd never know it by this administrations actions. His way at all costs, his way at any price, to secure Iraq, to secure "freedom," but largely, in the hopes of securing "his legacy." Bush says it often enough, as do his 30% of followers. "History will show he's right," or "His legacy will show this was the right course of action." (Source.) More than anything else, though, is this "We must succeed," or "We must win" mentality, the line of thinking that is not just the goal, but the strategy and the tactics as well. The way he threatens to veto any type of oversight or limitations on the war, which Congress has every right to do, is just more bravado in the face of stubborn refusal to entertain the notion that maybe winning in Iraq isn't the way to win the war on terror, even though Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism against the United States originally...

We learned that "winning wasn't everything" in Vietnam and Korea. The world didn't come to a tragic end, Communism didn't spread like poison ivy across Asia, Europe, and Africa, and thousands of lives were saved through this simple acknowledgement of fact that we weren't going to "win" in the traditional sense. We said "Enough is enough" and came up with different ways to contain what we perceived to be a threat to our way of life, whether or not that perception was accurate... We learned new ways to make our voices heard above the din, to get the world behind us through diplomats, meetings, agreements... And while we learned that talking also doesn't solve everything, it at least saves on the body count, and opens up many more doors and windows for trying something different, something new, something that just may work...

Winning isn't everything.

When did we forget this? That sometimes compromise, sometimes thinking outside "the box" (as much as I despise that cliche), of getting a new map instead of trying to work with the old one... We continue to "surge" troops into Iraq while "insurgents" and al Qaeda surge themselves, feeding a frenzy of ideology, much like trying to put out a fire with kerosene and gas. We cry, "Liquid puts out fire, this will work!" as the flames leap ever higher, closer and closer to that explosion which will take us all out, no matter which side we stand on and shout "You are wrong!" While the "anti-war" movement grows in fits and starts, it also only serves to make this administration even more stubborn and resolute.

Winning isn't a strategy. Victory is not a goal. Of course, we also wouldn't know this from the propaganda shoved down our throats by this administration. "We need victory." "We will succeed, need to succeed." "We must win this war." Someone should have told the president that terror isn't a battle of guns and war plans and tanks--it's a battle of ideology, a battle of thoughts, a battle of beliefs. Remember that phrase "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? The Bush administrations strategy is more along the lines of "You can lead a horse to water, and you can make him drink," except no one ever told Bush that, even if you get the horse to drink, you still can't change the horse's mind... And the more you make the horse drink, the more pissed off the horse is going to get. And no amount of bridles, saddles, and rodeo clowns will save your ass...

Winning isn't everything.

And it's no longer about whether Iraq was a good idea or not; that ship has sailed so far beyond the present problems, it's almost as big a fairy tale as Noah's ark. No one cares anymore whether it was right or wrong, they just want a conclusion. Now whether that conclusion is military victory or cold war stand-off, no one much cares. Thousands have died, both soldiers and civilian. Many more are wounded emotionally, physically, mentally... It's not a game. It's war. It's dirty, messy, bloody, and deadly. If there is a square marked "Pass go, collect $200," it won't be found at one end of a tank or at the other end of a car bomb. And while I can't say I had a better idea for taking out Saddam than Bush or his administration, I'm also wondering if we really needed to take him out to begin with...

Winning would be nice. Not great, or spectacular, or even grand. Just... nice. As we read through the names of those lost on both sides, civilian and soldier, we ask ourselves why? Was it worth it? What did we hope to accomplish? What was the point? Winning doesn't seem as important on an individual level...

These questions will need asked, and may not ever be answered. Rhetoric and propaganda from all sides of the political spectrum will attempt to appeal to our nationalism, our patriotism, our sense of pride in our country and what we stand for...

Yes, pulling out won't be "winning," at least not in the traditional sense, the Bush sense of the word. Time tables aren't victory. Leaving Iraq to it's tribal feuds and religious factions isn't success. There are no easy answers, no quick fixes, and no instructions on how to continue... Perhaps leaving is just what Iraq needs to pull itself together, to find its identity and move beyond its present state. Or maybe a pull out will lead to all-out civil war which would be our fault for starting. Or maybe, just maybe--as was the case with Russia, Korea, Vietnam, and many other wars between many other countries--war fatigue will set in and everyone will just be...

All this to say what? It sucks. The war in Iraq sucks. And "winning" isn't going to get us out, I think we all know that. Because it isn't winning we should be worried about...

Winning isn't everything. It never was, never is, and never will be.

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Yes, my dear reader, I know you feel neglected. I had four days off of work and made the best of them by improving the hardscape and softscape around my home, so now I am more exhausted than I was before I had off of work--but it's a much better exhausted...

Some topics of interest:

1. I hate Luther. Next door neighbor, busy-body, lonely, and I know why he's been divorced three times. He never shuts up, and always interrupts you when you are obviously engaged in something else.

2. Falwell bit the dust. All he did was promote division and hate, and never had anything nice to say, at least on camera... So much for "eternal life." Is it a shame he died? I guess on some level, but hey, we all gotta die someday, right? For some of his greatest all-time stupid statements, see here.

3. Work sucks. So as previously stated, I was off for two work days (four days total) and no one did a goddamn thing around here except pile shit on my desk. Whatever happened to "team work" and all that other drivel? And it's not so much the leaving things on my desk that I mind--it's the whole mindset behind it that drives me insane. These are the same people that will wonder why I didn't get any of my scheduled work done on Wednesday without OT, despite the fact that they left two days worth of work go until I got back. Dumbasses...

4. Beautiful weather. I love spring. It is the only time of year I truly enjoy. Yeah, summer's nice, fall is pretty, and winter just bites the big one, but spring? Love, love, love...

I'll try to get some of my drafts finished up and posted in the next few days, but no guarantees, okay?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ahh! The Plan...

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sole reason for fundamentalist existence on this planet. The Plan. Yes, it's a bit simplistic. A bit silly. A lot stupid. And very small-minded. For one example of many, you can read circus-like circular argument, or even this hilarious example. (Trust me, like Visa, they're everywhere you want to be... and wish they weren't...)

The fundamentalists reasoning follows something along these lines (in simplistic form):

Fundie: But, how can you not believe in God? Look all around you!
Joe Atheist: I see trees. A dog taking a shit. Some grass. Birds... And?
Fundie: The great book says that evidence of GAWD is all around you! This is proof of GAWD!!
Joe: Uh... No, it's proof that there's a dog, there's a bird, there's a tree...
Fundie: That GAWD made! You think these things just popped out of mud and algae?
Joe: Mud and algae? Seriously, that's what you think the evolutionary theory states? But even so, why is that more unbelievable than an invisible god? At least there's the common threads of DNA, molecules, chemical reactions, shared traits, a long line of ancestral fossils and remnants...
Fundie: Poppycock! You made all that up! That's all science exists for! To disprove GAWD!
Joe: Er... No, science exists to tell us how things work, why they work... You know, pursuit of knowledge and truth.
Fundie: GAWD is truth! All you need is the Great Book! It has everything you need to know!
Joe: Can it pay my bills?
Fundie: Er... what was that?
Joe: Can it pay my bills? Can it explain how to cure cancer, or have a remedy as such?
Fundie: GAWD can cure your sickness of sin and cancer! Just believe and pray...
Joe: I know believers who have died from cancer...
Fundie: Er... It wasn't in GAWD's plan.
Joe: So it lays out what god's plan is?
Fundie: Yes!
Joe: Okay, what's his plan?
Fundie: To save the world!
Joe: Even though I just told you I know people who have died from cancer...
Fundie: Oh, no, no, no... Not save you from cancer, but to save you from sin and HELL!
Joe: Didn't god both create hell, and introduce sin into the world?
Fundie: No! You blaspheme! GAWD created hell for Satan and his evil cohorts! Eve and the Serpent introduced sin!
Joe: Did not god create Eve? And the Serpent?
Fundie: Er... yes...
Joe: And do you not claim your god has all knowledge and all power?
Fundie: Er... yes...
Joe: And wouldn't you agree that god--the all-powerful, all-knowing--could have changed the course of history by... Let's say, not creating Satan? Or the serpent? Or Eve?
Fundie: Well, I... uh...
Joe: And could not your god, if he does exist and is as powerful as you claim, come up with a better plan than death, sickness, disease, starvation--let alone serpents--and skip this whole thing all together?
Fundie: It's not part of The Plan.
Joe: So, let's see if I got you straight here. God has "a plan." Right?
Fundie: Yes.
Joe: And God, in his "plan," makes a place called hell, but not for people, for his first round of creation, the fallen angels, right?
Fundie: Right.
Joe: And so, during round two, he creates humans and serpents even though he hasn't even perfected the art of creating as evident through the fact that "a third" of these angels revolted...
Fundie: Um, not... I mean... The Plan is...
Joe: And instead of saying, "Yep, I fucked up," God decides to kill his kid, send people who don't give him props to hell, the place for Batch 1 of the failed experiment of "creation," and we're supposed to get all this because of a tree? A dog? Some grass?
Fundie: It's evidence of GAWD!! It is!!
Joe: Uh-huh. I suppose writing it in the clouds was a bit too much to ask, eh?
Fundie: The Plan...
Joe: Ah, yes... "the plan"...
So there you are, people. Believe in god because there's a tree in your yard.

It's that simple. Ignore the Evidence because there's "a plan," and it involves believing in GAWD because you saw a tree. I know the first thing I think when I look out my windows (should windows also be a sign of GAWD?) and look at the apple tree is: "Damn! There's that damn christian god again! Oh, and look--a squirrel eating of his fruits."

Just classic.

Speaking of squirrels, I suppose the little varmints are also proof of "a plan" and sky god in general, right? Of course, you'd also have to ignore more Evidence that I suppose Batch 1 of creation went sprinkling all over the earth like Devil Dust (because it wouldn't be fairy dust if it was from the devil, right?) just so we could join the block party in hell for ignoring how much the squirrel resembles an invisible, all-powerful, all-knowing sky god...

Yeah. Sure.

Better than that, of course, is the following logic: That, since science does not know what came before life, before the universe, since we have yet to know exactly when this universe started (i.e., a "creation point") and therefore cannot yet answer the question of where and what for and how come, there must have been--DA DA DA DUMMMMMMMMM!!!!!--a Creator.

Recently, one person said to me, and I quote: "Everything/everyone has a maker. Cars? Made by machines in Detroit. Houses? Made by construction workers. Milk? Made by cows. The earth? Made by an Intelligent Designer. It doesn't take much faith to believe that everything we see was made by someone. It does however take a lot of faith to believe everything we see was formed from tiny bubbles." In defense of this individual, she was not referencing the song Tiny Bubbles, but a recent article about the eminent Stephen Hawking, in which the article stated: "According to Hawking, the origin of the universe can be depicted as bubbles in a steam in boiling water. Small bubbles that appear and then collapse represent mini universes that expand only to disintegrate. A few 'bubbles,' Hawking said, will grow to a certain size until they are safe from collapse, and will begin to develop galaxies, stars and eventually human life." (You can read the article here. Thanks to A Worshipping Christian for the link, even if I disagree with their position... :D)

Notice the examples given: Cars are man-made. No one has ever found a car spontaneously growing in the wild; they are not harvested; they are not created in the sense that we made them "out of nothing." Houses? Same thing: obvious man-made creations that nature couldn't make on her own. Milk? A lot of creatures make milk (not create)--and this isn't because sky god couldn't think of 132 flavors either (and it couldn't possibly be because of a common ancestor, right?). Milk is a by-product of many mammals bodies for the nourishment of their young. But "Everything/everyone has a maker" is a huge claim to make considering we didn't come with a receipt, return policy, or warranty, let alone directions in the four major languages of sky godian! Cows don't make things. They have natural bodily functions. If I make bread, does that mean the bread in turn will "create" something? Perhaps a Empire Rye Building? A Super-Wheatgerm Dome? No? I wonder why... Man makes things due to the evolutionary track we're on--and just because we make things (not "create," but perhaps I'm being to much of a stickler for words and their meanings, eh?) doesn't mean god made us! How ludicrous! And if "Everything/everyone has a maker," I'm wondering who, then, is god's maker? Or is he the exception to the rule?

Ah, there's always an exception, isn't there? Or, wait--is that the exception? That there's always an exception--isn't that statement in and of itself an exception to the rule? And therefore proof of a god? I mean, if a tree and some dog shit are proof, than I'm not so sure sky god is necessarily the one that should be in charge of The Plan.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bush Might Come Down With Carpal Tunnel...

This falls within the realm of "Things That Make You Go What the Fuck?"

The White House threatened on Wednesday to veto a proposed House bill that would pay for the Iraq war only through July — a limit Defense Secretary Robert Gates said would be disastrous.
Why would that be disastrous? It only means that Bush would have to ask again in two months--and god forbid that he have to ask for money, right? As if accountability and responsibility were foreign concepts and setting up his "legacy" and "victory" were the only things that truly counted in the big picture...

This would be a record THIRD veto for the residential dunce of the White House--one imagines his hand getting cramps from holding the pen from lack of exercise! (I wonder if he's checked his health plan for possible carpal tunnel therapy from all this vetoing his doing of late...) It's funny how, though, that "pork" suddenly became an issue for the poor president when 6 years of Republican pork was a-okay... But that could just be coincidence, right? Right...

The stern White House response reflected the high stakes involved for Bush, who is struggling to beat back congressional skepticism about his Iraq strategy. In recent days, Bush has tried to shore up support by personally reaching out to moderate Republicans and Democrats.
This is personally reaching out? This is how he expects to get things done? I think someone should inform the chimp-in-chief that threatening a veto is not the equivalent of a Friendly's sundae, or even a piece of Bubble-Yum. Not only is he apparently still learning how to run our country, his 6 years of Republican "don't ask, don't tell" spending on the war has made him forget how our country's government works! (Of course, this implies he had a clue to begin with, but I digress...)

Gates, the newest puppet Bush has placed in charge of this fiasco, was reported to have reacted thus:

"In essence, the bill asks me to run the Department of Defense like a skiff, and I'm trying to drive the biggest supertanker in the world," Gates told senators Wednesday. "And we just don't have the agility to be able to manage a two-month appropriation very well."
Let's look at that again: "... we just don't have the agility to be able to manage a two-month appropriation very well..." Well, beat me like a red-headed stepchild! If we can't even have the "agility" to handle money (I'm now picturing a few dollar bills going through boot camp to make them more "agile")--two months worth of money--what makes us think he has the "agility" to govern on a day-to-day basis where our troops should be fighting and positioned? And you're supposed to be in charge of "turning Iraq around"? What is it going to take?

House Democratic leaders are pushing legislation that would provide the military $42.8 billion to keep operations going through July, buy new equipment and train Iraqi and Afghan security forces. Congress would decide shortly before its August recess whether to release an additional $52.8 billion to fund the war through September.
That's $42.8 BILLION DOLLARS. I can't even fathom that kind of money! I have a hard time imagining more than a few hundred at a time, let alone $42.8 BILLION. And we're not sure if that's enough for two months?! This speaks of so many issues, bureaucracy and red-tape just being the tippity-tip-top of this iceberg. And it's already slated that they would reconvene to give an additional $52.8 BILLION DOLLARS depending on how things are progressing (and progression should be viewed tongue-in-cheek... I mean, after three years, you'd think they'd have a clue, wouldn't you?) If I took three years to figure out how to run my household, I would have lost my household long before "agility" became an issue...

So, in I suppose what Bush feels is a spirit of cooperation (when exactly did cooperation come to be defined as "My way or the highway"?), he says he will now veto this spending bill...

"There are restrictions on funding and there are also some of the spending items that were mentioned in the first veto message that are still in the bill," Snow said.
Can someone please get on the White House phone and explain to this dumb asses what COMPROMISE means? Of course there will be SOME of the previous language in this new bill--COMPROMISE means you give and take! And they took SOME things out!!

Mind you, this is the same president that thinks evolution is just a shot in the dark... And, of course, 30 percent of our country thinks Bush is doing a "heck of a job." This is the 30 percent that also believe everything their hate group leaders preach at them on Sundays, and also think evolution is a hot in the dark... Idiocy begets idiocy...

But being idiots, they simply don't get it...

More about "victory in Iraq" this weekend... When Rich is home in the evenings, it's hard to get quality time on the computer... :D

Friday, May 4, 2007

They Are Right, They Are Special, and Dammit, Jesus Loves Them!

You've heard it before, haven't you? "If I hadn't forgotten ____ and turned around..."; or "If I hadn't let little Jimmy back out of the car to go potty after I had him all strapped in and ready to go..."; or the best one: "If I had been going just a little faster, breaking the law by speeding, I could have..."

Yes, we're talking about The Accident. When you hear about that five car pile-up on the freeway, or the deadly crash that killed four people on a road you normally take. I heard it all the time when I flew in fundamentalist circles: How God had saved their lives by suddenly making little Jimmy have to pee, delaying them and consequently saving them from being in that accident. Or making them remember that they forgot that paper, or that briefcase, or that purse, making them turn around just before they would have been in that accident...

It's yet another manifestation of the egotism that infests religion: That somehow they were worth saving that day as opposed to the other poor saps who ended up injured/dying/dead on the freeway. Not only does one wonder what the given criteria is for any given day and why some are saved by the all-powerful sky god and why some are deemed "expendable" is, of course, easily explained by the everyday fundie: "It's all part of God's plan." As if we were all part of some beautiful afghan God decided to make when he learned how to knit in Sky God U (knitting, of course, being an elective at Sky God U, not a requirement for graduating...), which, while a wonderfully sappy thought that's been overdone in more songs and poems than one cares to recount, but is ultimately just one more little lie people tell themselves to get through the day, to try to make sense of something seemingly random, to try to assert control in some form over the uncontrollable universe which belched us up on the beaches of earth (or, if you prefer, sneezed up out of the nostrils of sky god when he used "the dust of the earth" as a Kleenex...).

We all justify events in our own ways, from the shrug of the shoulders and a "Murphy's Law" quote to the "sky god has a plan" drivel that seems to flow like honey from the fundie's mouth. It's how we cope, how we deal, how we take in and process things that are beyond our control...

With a key difference: When I drive past an accident I was seconds away from being in (while yelling at the freakin' rubber-neckers who do more to clog traffic flow than the accident itself), I think, Wow! Close call! I would never be so presumptuous to think that some cosmic knitting freak thought he needed my True Colors for yet another square but those one, two, or three others were no longer necessary to the great afghan pattern of mankind. It belittles the lives lost while ego boosting the supposedly meek and humble followers of the dastardly fellow letting people die willy-nilly on the highways and byways of the world.

The ego is a central component of the human mind. Whether it came about as an evolutionary quality as we pulled ourselves up from the oceans and down from the trees, or if it is something present in the minds of every creature in the universe we may not know for decades, perhaps never. But it is a central component, especially so, in group-think; and group-think has never been more accepted and rejoiced by society than in a religious context. Whether it be Judaism, Christianity, or Islam--the human capacity for a feeling of specialness, uniqueness, and divine worth has never been more celebrated and more detrimental to the human race.

Christianity itself is based upon human collective ego: the world was created for sky god's glory for us. We as humans are made in sky god's image. Sky god sent his son to die for us. We are that important that not only do we need to have been created by a cosmic superpower in the sky, we need to have been died for by this sky god (the whole "trinity" thing makes this either/or, doesn't it?; did sky god commit suicide, or murder his kid? Only you can decide...) Only we can make the decision to be "saved," only we hold the key to our eternal destiny, only we... We, we, we, we, we...

I think you get the picture. The whole thing is based upon us, what we need, want, don't understand, and want to control. But to keep ourselves humble, we blame sky god in his myriad forms through culture and time so that we as individuals can feel irresponsible but as a collective feel special and wonderful and loved, even in what we perceive to be our darkest moments...

Of course, one of the first major metaphorical earthquakes to rock religions boat came when we realized that the sun--nay, the whole of the cosmos--did not revolve around our little rock in space. The church had a cow about that one for decades!! We were god's creation--in his image, no less! To claim that the whole of the universe wasn't centered around us? Perish the thought--and some did perish for that thought. But then we found out that the planet wasn't a perfect circle--again raining on the whole "perfection" of sky god's creation parade--but was slightly elliptical due to the revolution and rotation of the earth itself and it's path around a insignificant little star on the fringes of a galaxy that was only one of many in the universe... It was almost--almost--too much for the church to bear. But being the evolutionary species that we are, adapted for survival in any type of scenario or situation, we changed our perspective, allowed sky god the ability to make seemingly arbitrary laws for the universe to function around, and we again found ourselves in our own good graces for figuring out once again what of course was sky god's plan all along--or so we thought...

Then Darwin employed his gray matter one day and hit upon a theory that still pokes holes all over the biblical ark of thought--Evolution. Look, no divine intervention. No godly snot. Some cosmic radiation, a few amino acids which are all over the place in the universe and--Wallah! There "life" was in all it's seeming glory. Of course, we see the religions of the world adapting and changing how they interpret whatever holy book or source they subscribe to to reflect what science has told us is the case--while still withholding the right to be special in the eyes of a divine.

One wonders what it will take to open the blind eyes of the "faithful," doesn't one?

I'm sure that when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, they thought they were the end-all, be-all of the cosmos. They were everywhere, shaping the earth, killing whatever they wished, eating whatever they wished, going wherever they wished--one imagines a giant T-rex in heaven sending down his only Velociraptor to be sacrificed for the many. Sure, the stegosaurus didn't believe, and the duck-billed dinosaurs thought the rest were just all wet, but all the major meat-eaters were vindicated when the Great T-rex in the sky sent that asteroid to rapture them up to Dino heaven, weren't they?

Or perhaps it was global-warming brought about by all their flatulence? Either way, the majority of them agreed whole-heartedly that the asteroid was their rapture, and the ones left behind could still have repented... By the way, this is the alligators and crocodiles eternal hell for not accepting the Velociraptor of the T-rex God--to be made into fashionable handbags and boots for the "demons" of earth...

Given the ego centrism that seems to characterize the human race, convincing people that the universe was designed with them in mind is as easy as convincing a child that candy is good for him.
--Intelligent Design by Victor J. Stenger
A gentleman over at Bane of Monotheism made up a wonderful list of questions I think everyone should ask themselves when it comes to theism. Here are a few of my favorites:
  1. Which indicates more pride: to believe that the vast and ancient universe has no purpose, or to believe that a universe of 100 billion galaxies was created 14 billion years ago just so that one could grace it with one's presence?
  2. Which indicates more pride: to believe that no higher power cares about humanity, or to believe that the Creator of 100 billion galaxies came to Earth and suffered just for the benefit of its human inhabitants?
I suggest you all go over and check it out. Who knows? It may lead some of you to even greater heights of egotism...

I was accused recently of turning a blind eye to the "truth" of Christianity, and how there was no way that Islam and Christianity could even be remotely compared as similar, because Islam is such a greater "danger" to humanity than Christianity could ever be. Of course, realizing that this individual takes great pride (yet humility) in their faith, and is staring at the world through a Jesus View Master filled with cartoon images of demons, angels and the like floating around all the time in a fight for their eternal destiny (because, you know, they have nothing better to do, having dropped out of Sky God U and must now be the worker bees for those that have graduated...), it's amazing how one can't see that both are equally dangerous, egotistical mindsets that would sooner turn the world upside down for their gods and beliefs than even entertain the notion that maybe they aren't nearly as important as they think they are in this universe.

I suppose I could see how people are scared at the fact that they are small and insignificant when it comes to reality as a whole. That there isn't someone always watching their backs, ready to save them and care for them when danger and uncertainty rear their heads and invade our egos and perceptions...

Let's look at this comparison over at The People's Media Company of some of the major world religions:

The Islamic religion was founded by the Prophet Muhammad. Being the husband of a rich widow, Muhammad had a lot of free time on his hands, which he decided to spend meditating in a cave for days on end. During these periods of meditation Muhammad would often fast and avoid sleep. Eventually, Muhammad was visited by the angel Gabriel who informed Muhammad that he was the prophet of God, revealing the Qur'an to him. With that said, I want you to take a week off from work or school and find yourself a nice secluded cave, free of any dangerous animals. Feel free to bring a small mat and hunker down in an area of the cave where light is minimal. Do not sleep or eat for 5 days. By the end of 5 days you will emerge from the cave with a new religion as well as some form of mental instability.

In regards to Christianity, the story begins with Judaism, which contends that God (Yahweh) established a covenant (contract/oath) with the Jewish people. The covenant is essentially a set of agreements between God and his chosen people (the Israelites) who must honor the covenant by worshipping God and obeying his laws. In fact, most Abrahamic based religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam share this covenant. Christianity developed from the teachings of Jesus Christ who was believed to be the son of God and the messiah sent to cleanse the world of evil, thus creating a kingdom of peace.
Not that ego could have played a part in either of their lives, right? Mental instability perhaps? Ever hear of a god complex? Martyr complex?

Of course, ask any American fundie, and they'll squeal and scream about how the Quran justifies killing people and the Bible doesn't (never mind that both sides take each other's holy books out of context to justify their ideological struggle for souls), but ask any true fundie if they'd fight, kill, and/or die for their religion, and nine times out of ten they'll say that yes, they would. Why? Because they are right, they are special, and dammit, Jesus loves them!

But they are nothing like those dastardly Muslims, right? Right...

But as has been observed through all of time in the human culture, god(s) have evolved along with ourselves and our perceptions of our surroundings. And as we continue to find knowledge, facts, and answers to some of the more basic questions (Where did we come from? Why are we here? What is our purpose, or what should be our purpose, if we need one at all?), perhaps there may come a time when god, or the idea of invisible care takers, will vanish. I doubt it will be in my lifetime, or my great grandchild's lifetime, but perhaps one day... And then, only then, do I think we have a chance of being deserving of a collective ego. Until then, we will continue in our false sense of importance, significance, and worth...

And keep making sky god so proud... as he "saves" little ol' important us from an accident on the highway...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Original Sin According to the God & Grimm Fairy Tale Collection...

Between the Mormons and the Catholics, I don't know which one is truly nuttier. Both sects have about a billion dogmas and doctrines that have no basis in the God & Grimm Bible they claim to hold so dear, but purgatory and limbo have to be all-time classics.

Recently, however, limbo has become "problematic." One wonders how a dogma becomes "problematic." Not enough vegetables? So after much study, they (... a Vatican-appointed panel of theologians... HA!) decided that "limbo is a "problematic" concept that Catholics are free to reject." How about them apples?

This movement mostly came about because, as it turns out, humans are hate the thought of innocent babies and potential human life being forever in "limbo," which is where (supposedly) unborn, stillborn, and aborted children end up, never reaching heaven or hell. It seems the Catholic "leadership" has found it in their hearts to say, "Well, if you don't like what we've been teaching, you can ignore us." Because they weren't anyway? Okay, okay, so there are a few people who take this shit seriously and have been agonizing over the thought of their unborn children being in limbo for sky god knows how long.

But I'm wondering what in the hell these so-called theologians were studying? Can you imagine that conversation?

Theo #1: So, we're here to discuss whether limbo daycare has become cost-ineffective.
Theo #2: I don't see how. The more they come to church to pray for the souls in limbo, the more they drop in the collection box!
Theo #3: Yes, but some are starting to find other Jesus franchises that teach more fuzzy-warm things... like "babies go straight to heaven," and all that...
Theo #2: Really?
Theo #1: True enough. So, shall we turn to our bibles?
Theo #3: Where is that passage on limbo again?
Theo #2: Ha! Gotcha!
Theo #1: Listen, order! Limbo daycare--keep it or not?
Theo #3: What would Dr. Spock say, do you think? Keeping an unborn child in limbo might harm its psyche...
Theo #1: This is a bible issue, not a psychological one!
Theo #2: Tell that to the children you molested--
Theo #1: Shut up! God forgave me! I said four hundred Hail Mary's for that!
Theo #3: I heard Father Paul said six hundred...
Theo #2: He's a pervert--he had to.
Theo #1: Limbo daycare? Up or down vote.
Theo #3: I say keep it--it keeps us in business if we keep interceding for them, you know.
Theo #2: How about we do what most Americans do with our teachings anyway?
Theo #1: What do you mean?
Theo #2: You know--let them pick and choose? It'll give them a sense of freedom...
Theo #3: Like perhaps they're in control of their destiny? Perish the thought!
Theo #2: Let's see what the big cheese thinks...
Theo #1: [Sigh.] Fine...
Theo #2: Hello, Pizza Hut? You deliver? I'll take four cheese pizza's...
But the best part--the BEST part, I say, is this whole "original sin" issue. You know the one I mean: When Eve's dumb ass believed a talking snake and ate a "fruit" (Perhaps she would have known that talking snakes were a perversion of nature if she had known right and wrong to begin with? Silly sky god, silly silly sky god!! Can't do anything right!). We're all "born" with original sin (or so I was taught [lied to?]), but then again, aborted fetus and still born babies aren't "born" in the traditional sense, so...

Where does that leave us? Is that why Catholics can now have a buffet style belief? Because no one knows when sin actually enters the equation? This will eventually lead to a whole host of other issues with fundies worldwide, I believe... But if you are conceived with a sin nature, but you die before you are "born," and you go straight to heaven, then you have allowed sin to enter the precious kingdom of heaven...

And if you don't have a "sin nature" until you are born, but are not "accountable" until a certain age, then you still allow for sin to stain the presence of sky god, and then brought up yet another thorny issue for religious persons (age of accountability). But then, if you don't have your sin nature until you can be held accountable, you haven't been born sinful at all, have you? Which changes a whole host of other dogmas and doctrines of the God & Grimm Fairy Tales collection...

The "commission for limbo" tried to clarify their reasoning:

...there are good reasons to believe instead that unbaptized babies go to heaven, because God is merciful and "wants all human beings to be saved."

"We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge," said the commission's report, published last week with the pope's approval.
Yeah, because everything else about sky god and his policies are so clearly grounded in fact, right? And I still stand by this statement: If sky god truly wanted "no man to perish," he would have changed the rules this world operates under, and no one would perish and still retain their free will... But sky god's ego (and drive to murder his kid) were apparently much stronger than his desire for "none perishing," so there goes that brilliant idea by one of his supposed creation that he'll ignore... But they didn't have Standardized Testing back when sky god's god created him, so we'll just have to assume that our particular brand of sky god slipped under the radar before the "No Sky God Left Behind" Act came into being...

The commission continued:

The Vatican commission stressed that there is no mention of limbo in the Bible and that it was never a part of church dogma.
Then what the hell were they "studying" when they decided to let limbo be pick and choose? And why have they been teaching this since the thirteenth century? Could it be...

Could it be...?

Nah... Too many of you would lose your purpose in life if you realized all of it was made up to begin with...