Monday, February 25, 2008

Furthering the Sciences...

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...' "
--Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)
For years all we've been hearing is that "Life just doesn't happen." In fact, it is one of the main tenants of "creationist theory" (Ha!) that, since one has yet to create "life" in the lab, it must therefor be impossible, and hence, we must need a god...

Insert new knowledge:

One morning in late 1997, Stanley Miller lifted a glass vial from a cold, bubbling vat. For 25 years he had tended the vial as though it were an exotic orchid, checking it daily, adding a few pellets of dry ice as needed to keep it at –108 degrees Fahrenheit. He had told hardly a soul about it. Now he set the frozen time capsule out to thaw, ending the experiment that had lasted more than one-third of his 68 years.

Miller had filled the vial in 1972 with a mixture of ammonia and cyanide, chemicals that scientists believe existed on early Earth and may have contributed to the rise of life. He had then cooled the mix to the temperature of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa—too cold, most scientists had assumed, for much of anything to happen. Miller disagreed. Examining the vial in his laboratory at the University of California at San Diego, he was about to see who was right.

As Miller and his former student Jeffrey Bada brushed the frost from the vial that morning, they could see that something had happened. The mixture of ammonia and cyanide, normally colorless, had deepened to amber, highlighting a web of cracks in the ice. Miller nodded calmly, but Bada exclaimed in shock. It was a color that both men knew well—the color of complex polymers made up of organic molecules. Tests later confirmed Miller's and Bada’s hunch. Over a quarter-century, the frozen ammonia-cyanide blend had coalesced into the molecules of life: nucleobases, the building blocks of RNA and DNA, and amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The vial’s contents would support a new account of how life began on Earth and would arouse both surprise and skepticism around the world.
Did anyone else note the lack of a cosmic sneeze or the presence of clay?

Ice may prove the crucial ingredient here, too. Deamer and his former student Pierre-Alain Monnard (now at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico) have run experiments frozen at 0°F for a month, without the aid of templates. In those relatively brief experiments they already see RNA molecules up to 30 bases long, at least as long as other researchers have seen in similar experiments without ice.

That is a good start, but it leaves unanswered the question: How do you get from tiny snippets of RNA to longer, well-crafted chains that could have acted as the first enzymes, doing fancy things like copying themselves The shortest RNA enzyme chains known today are about 50 bases long; most have more than 100. To work effectively, moreover, an RNA enzyme must fold correctly, which requires exactly the right sequence of bases.

A young scientist named Alexander Vlassov stumbled upon a possible answer. He was working at SomaGenics, a biotech company in Santa Cruz, California, to develop RNA enzymes that latch on to the hepatitis C virus. His RNA enzymes were behaving strangely: They normally consisted of a single segment of RNA, but every time he cooled them below freezing to purify them, the chain of RNA spontaneously joined its ends into a circle, like a snake biting its tail. As Vlassov worked to fix the technical glitch, he noticed that another RNA enzyme, called hairpin, also acted strangely. At room temperature, hairpin acts like scissors, snipping other RNA molecules into pieces. But when Vlassov froze it, it ran in reverse: It glued other RNA chains together end to end.

Vlassov and his coworkers, Sergei Kazakov and Brian Johnston, realized that the ice was driving both enzymes to work in reverse. Normally when an enzyme cuts an RNA chain in two, a water molecule is consumed in the process, and when two RNA chains are joined, a water molecule is expelled. By removing most of the liquid water, the ice creates conditions that allow the RNA enzyme to work in just one direction, joining RNA chains.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen: Abiogenesis has happened. No, a large chimp didn't appear in the ice. No, it did not dwell on it's existence, question it's place in the world, or seek absolution from its inherent sin nature. It was RNA and DNA created in ice from ammonia and cyanide. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, it was considerably more than the seven days, lacked a certain flair for the dramatic perhaps. After all, it's ice cubes forming the basic building blocks of life! How droll!

Indeed, it is a little bit funny (this feeling inside). And, apparently, this is not a "eureka" moment. Eureka moments are far and few between in science, that pain staking art which continually tries and tests everything to find out the truth. After all, isn't it the truth that will set you free? Or is it the facts which set you free?

"I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true."
--Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)
I hope you all will take the time to read the entire article--this is fascinating stuff.
Thanks to Whore Church for bringing this article to my attention.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why Life is Unsacred...,
Or Meanings In Life...

Having (for once) gotten a reasonable question from an unknown individual (waves to Anon #632...), I've realized that a succinct comment space in this post wouldn't do the answer justice, and thus, will receive its own post. The question, in case you don't feel like looking it up, was: "Just curious you said you don't believe all life is sacred. Hmm. so how do you decide what life is or isn't 'sacred.' "

Short Answer:
No life is sacred except in the eye of the beholder.

Long Answer:
The first thing that comes to mind is the word itself: Sacred. It's a loaded word complete with a matching set of baggage, mostly of a religious-print pattern reminiscent of Easter themes in an old folks home run by Methodists. And depending on which part of the country you hail from (waves at the bible belt), the religious connotation of this word is probably the only thing that comes to mind. After all, the incredulously documented fact that many Americans believe in a literal bible reading would mean that 1/3 of us think we were created "in the image of god" (and the subsequent myriad usages of the word "image" that entails), and thus by default are "sacred" in the Merriam-Webster sense of the word. And I know any self-respecting humanist (let alone agnostic or atheist) would openly scoff at the idea of life in any form being "sacred" in a religious context (as the notion is as ridiculous as koala emperors declaring martial law on marigolds...). To conflate ourselves as a species to the level of "image of god" is one of the most pompous, self-righteous views one can hold and brings with itself a myriad of "if/then" scenarios, none of which can be answered sufficiently, let alone gather a consensus, for which every human being could be happy. The plethora alone of Christian denominations is only one example of the way in which one book cannot sufficiently answer how/what/when/who to a large group of individuals in what way, as "images of god," they should act/worship/live/feel. Thus, while the idea of being "created in the image of god" may be a nice story to tell, until one can say in what way the "image" was reproduced, or what living that "image" means, and provide an answer to satisfy why that justifies a "sacred" connotation, to think that life itself is "sacred" simply because a book decided we were a Xerox of a deity isn't sufficient to make it so. In fact, in many ways, it cheapens calling life "sacred" in that we are all now little "godlets," including Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the Unibomber. Would any rational person consider these people "sacred"? Regardless, the religious expression of "sacred" is a blind philosophy ignoring individual realities under a lump idea which serves no purpose other than a fuzzy warm comfort...

On the flip side, a secular understanding of the word "sacred" brings to mind "specialness" or "uniqueness" which can only be implied by the so-far lack of other verifiable signs of intelligent, sentient beings in our perceivable universe. And while a rousing pep rally could be held around the notion that we are "special" and "unique" insofar as what we have discovered and learned through our paltry few decades of technological innovation, any discerning mind will realize that an absence of evidence is in no way conclusive evidence. For example, simply because we have yet to see a little green man flying through the clouds, tentacles flying in the wind, philosophizing about Nebulous 7's grand revolutionary light-warp sofa-bed air mattress doesn't mean they don't exist! (Aliens and light-warp sofa-bed both!) We've barely scratched the surface of our solar system, let alone our galaxy or universe, and claiming we are the pinnacle of life, or are even remotely special in our micro-pixel view of reality at large, is downright stupid. Evolution doesn't even teach such things and only encourages false senses of pride which don't reflect the very real possibilities and probabilities of sentient, intelligent life on other worlds and dimensions, and our place in that larger view (if a "place" is to be had at all...)

That said, a separate argument could be made for life being "sacred" simply for life's sake--in other words, by virtue of our shared humanity (irregardless of the larger family tree from which we came) we are, or should at least assume, that we all are "special" and should hold our collective "human identity" as special and unique (ergo, sacred). Of course, by default, that assumes that every human must view every other human as not only an equal in every respect of the word (intellectual, physical, emotional, what-have-you...), but as an equal worthy of worship in some form. Notwithstanding such things as genetic mutations, there are the individual choices made by separate persons in which others find those actions or deeds not only quite unsacred, but downright despicable. And while the very idea that "all men are created equal" is a very integral part of our nations founding, it again is a blind philosophy which sounds good but is irrespective of individual cases. While the idea of everyone being equal can try to ensure that every person gets the same chances and creates a sense of "fairness" about the way our society works, it is only a "better" scenario than anything we've come up with to date, as even a very rudimentary study of our society will show all the inequalities inherent in people themselves, let alone their opportunities...

Life itself isn't so special in any of its ways and means--in fact, it could be said the sheer variety of life on this rock alone should be proof enough of how unspecial it is. Any meaning or sacredness brought to the table is as varied as the people themselves. People make their own meanings for life, their own reasons and thoughts for what is and can be. What one person holds as sacred is bupkiss to someone else, and that, my friend, is how it should be. Once anyone tries to force someone else into holding a similar belief of any type of stripe through force or coercion, you aren't left with any sanctity or sacredness at all--you are left, however, with a hollow, empty feeling of "Really? That's all there is?"

In true reality, humans thus far are barely a blip on the radar of history and biology, and I dare say all of our "medical breakthroughs" only ensure that we will most likely remain so--nothing more than a blip. Not only have we eradicated from most of the human race the strong from the weak, we have raised the weak up to equal survival status of the strong and have declared that any sort of death or cleansing of the human race is "bad," despite the very natural selective process of who lives and dies through disease, genetics, evolutionary mutations, what-have-you. Unless the human race survives to the point of being able to naturally survive such things as polio, chicken pox, staff infections, the longer we treat and find "cures" for everything from yellow toenails to cancer, we only further ensure our inability to cope with natural life, let alone a "sacred" life. At some point, either through our own stupidity or other natural phenomena, we will be almost entirely wiped out by the very nature which spawned us, and Earth will have nothing to show for it but some ruins which she herself will quickly take care of...

Now before I get lumped in with the Scrooges of the world and declared a fan of "decreasing the surplus population," I ask you to ask yourself: Why do you yourself believe life is sacred? What is it about being a Homo sapiens sapiens that makes you think you are "above" and "better than" a box turtle? That what we've accomplished makes us "better" than a star-gazer lily?

I could be wrong--perhaps we all are "carbon copies" of a god. Who's to say? Perhaps we should all be quite content to be "special" for as long as we are around, be happy with our "uniqueness" in what we have observed thus far.... But what would be the point?

As stated earlier, the only thing special about us that we know of thus far is that we want there to be "an answer" or "a meaning." It may be that the very fact that we can ask this is the meaning of life...

Regardless, any type of "sacred" value placed on life is a personal choice, an individual choice, and in no way confers special status on the rest of us. I dare say, most times people even remotely ponder the question is during those moments of fear and disaster, when they consider that the life they have is about to end. In which case, shouldn't we consider that death may be just as "sacred" as life? After all, the only thing thus far that life does ensure us--the only "goal post" as it were--is death, in which case I could argue we are not so much in the image of a deity in that we have yet to figure out how to end the end... And if life, our lives, can't be stopped from ending, how sacred, how important, could it possibly be in the big picture?


By Weird at Slacker Nation... (I highly recommend a visit... but not in a "4 out of 5 bloggers recommend" kind of way... Just in a "if you have any type of political interest" kind of way... Great stuff...)
The Rules:
  1. 1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
  2. 2. Open to p. 123.
  3. 3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
  4. 4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
  5. 5. Tag five people. (Or three, or whatever)

I stared closer. There was something off about the statue. Not off as in how strange it is for a major city of a family values-country to have a fountain with a giant statue of a naked pagan war god at its center, but something else.
This passage was brought to you by HERO, a novel by Perry Moore.

Therefore, I nominate the following persons for various reasons:
  1. Kelly, because it will be interesting to see if she has an adult book sitting around during the toddler years... :D;
  2. FC Super, as he does, I'm sure, have a varied interest in book topics;
  3. DaBich, for her uplifting and lovely personality;
  4. Ergo, at Leitmotif, who always makes me think;
  5. and Kevin, who always seems to be reading something...
And Anon, I'm not ignoring your question, just in the middle of composing a response...

Happy reading all!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm a Pro-Death Activist...

Oh, you didn't get the memo? I just received it from the Family Research Council... So check your in-box, I'm sure they'll let you know whether you're a "pro-death activist" or not...

The title of the e-mail, inappropriately named IMHO, is "Public Health Enemy Number One." And despite facts, truth, and a healthy dose of reality, it isn't cancer, AIDS, poverty, famine... No, apparently the biggest crisis facing the nation is the A word... From the article:

As a growing majority of Americans oppose abortion-on-demand, one has to wonder--where exactly is the "public" in this agenda for public health? The government has no business funding pro-death activists disguised as public health ambassadors, yet it persists in the face of rising outcry.
Of course, my main concern isn't that you make up these things in your head and live in a fairy tale world of demons, angels, monsters, sin and what-have-you... It's a free country, believe in pink unicorns with rabbit overlords for all I care... It's that you feel you can dictate other people's lives based on your fantastical reality... That you think women get pregnant for the sole purpose of having an abortion, that you think men have sex with other men for the sole purpose of not having sex with a woman...

What gets overlooked by the FRC--and most evangelical, fundamentalist fascists--is that the sole provider of abortions in the world is their very own god!

Don't believe me? I can tell by the way you just winced and considered telling me once more how I'm going to a hell I don't believe in (although I'm in good company...), think about these United States statistics:
  1. There are about 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the U.S. every year.
  2. 900,000 to 1 million of those end in pregnancy losses EVERY year.
  3. More than 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage (occurring during the first 20 weeks).
  4. Approximately 26,000 end in stillbirth (considered stillbirth after 20 weeks)
  5. Approximately 19,000 end in infant death during the first month.
  6. Approximately 39,000 end in infant death during the first year.
  7. Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.
  8. Approximately 75% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester.
  9. An estimated 80% of all miscarriages are single miscarriages.
  10. An estimated 19% of the adult population has experienced the death of a child (this includes miscarriages through adult-aged children).
And these are just for the United States! Imagine these statistics with a world population of 7 billion people!

If you ask me, the evangelicals and fundies have it all wrong--it isn't the women who decide to end their pregnancies they should be worried about. Perhaps god is too busy keeping his eye on the sparrow. Perhaps he has a shortage of man-clay and man-ribs from which to make new vessels for souls--who knows?

But if you are going to worship a being that claims to be in control of everything, has a plan of which all of our "free will" decisions play a part, it isn't the abortions of women's choice that are the number one killer in society--in fact, based on miscarriages and still-births alone (not factoring in tsunami's, earthquakes, tornadoes, famine, pestilence, volcanic eruptions, asteroid collisions, and killer koalas...), god by far is the number one fan of death and destruction of fetal tissue...

You should be picketing your own churches. You should be more concerned with the fact that you worship a being who lets wanton death happen while he is in control.

I wonder how many people who actually claim to worship a higher being actually have taken the time to wonder if:
  1. just because he's a higher being, it means his plans and purposes are actually a better choice
  2. just because he says he's good doesn't mean he is good
  3. just because he told you you are a wretched sinner doesn't mean you are...
Think this through. The only word you have to go on is your fellow man's, and a book he claims to have authored through man... It's almost as if you decided to take the candy from the proverbial stranger in the black van despite your mother's repeated warnings not to.

Don't you think if you are going to worship him, he should be held to a higher standard than just, "Oh, he said he has a plan"? Something better than such platitudes as "He told us he knows what's going on. He told us that this will all work out in the end okay for almost everyone"?

These facts on miscarriages alone should make you go "Hmmm...." But, of course, those are the abortions provided for under the YHWH health-care program... What about mere human-provided abortions?

These are human beings, after all--people with stories, lives, families, problems, laughter, memories, sadness... And you think I should be concerned with a clump of cells being discarded from a uterus simply because it could become a human life, and you think your idea of god cares? (The odds are only slightly in its favor of these cells becoming a human being...) Where is the outrage for the hundreds of thousands of fetus's discarded every year by fertility clinics? Where is the constitutional amendment to ban divorce? Where are the "action alert" emails about providing food and shelter for the homeless? The medicine for those who can't afford it? The intervention against the genocides?

And I'm supposed to worry about unborn children when the people who are already here aren't being taken care of? NEWSFLASH:Women don't get abortions for shits and giggles... Believe it or not, there isn't a club where you get three free DVDs when you abort two or more kids in a year...

Some more interesting facts for you to chew on about HUMAN-provided abortions:
  1. The lowest abortion rate in the world in 2003 was for Western Europe (12 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), where contraceptive services and use are widespread and safe abortion is easily accessible and legal under broad grounds. The rate was 17 for Northern Europe and 21 for the Northern America region (Canada and the United States).
  2. Africa, Asia and Latin America had the highest regional abortion rates, even though abortion is generally legally restricted and often unsafe in those regions. Abortion rates in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean have declined since 1995, but the estimated number of abortions has increased in Africa because of the increasing number of women of reproductive age and a possible underestimate of abortions in 1995. Because the world’s population is concentrated in Asia, most abortions occurred there—about 26 million yearly; China alone accounted for nine million procedures.
  3. The study also found that an estimated 20 million unsafe abortions occurred in 2003, 97% of these in developing regions.
  4. The prevalence of unsafe abortion remains high, with up to 39 unsafe abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in Eastern Africa and 33 per 1,000 in South America. By contrast, developed regions, where almost all countries allow abortions with few restrictions, had an average unsafe abortion rate of two per 1,000. The consequences of unsafe abortion—death, serious injury, infertility and increased health care cost are largely born by poor women. The report concludes that reducing the incidence of unsafe abortion would result in an immediate and substantial reduction of maternal mortality and improve maternal health.
  5. "Nearly half of all induced abortions are unsafe, putting the lives and health of women at major risk. Each year, about 70,000 women die due to unsafe abortion and an additional five million suffer permanent or temporary disability," notes Dr. Paul F.A. Van Look, director of WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research. "The widespread unmet need for contraception must be addressed if we are to see further decline in abortion rates, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where contraceptive use is low and unsafe abortion-related mortality is the high, compared with other regions"
When abortion is legal, less women die, less women become infertile, and less abortions occur. However, when abortion is illegal, and women are forced to abort in secrecy, in dark alleys with unschooled "doctors," or "sent to stay with a family member," as abortion is once again forced to be a "dark secret" instead of a choice by a woman--if you will, a choice between her and her god, whomever that happens to be--abortion is more prevalent, more women die, less children are born, more unwanted pregnancies, hence, more ruined lives--needlessly, I might add.

Of course, deciding the course of others' lives through "deity rule" is nothing more than prettily painted fascism. Instead of taking into account individuals, their lives, their stories, their circumstances, and making a blanket rule about something so personal and private, you not only do the human race a grace disservice, not to mention your god...

In a true case of irony, a recent article had this to say about abortions when categorized by religious preference:

[...] In recent years the rhetoric has escalated, with the pro-life movement becoming a flagship for Christian morality and ethics. The prevailing Christian doctrine--that abortion is murder--has polarized the issue, firmly placing the vast majority of Christians on the pro-life side of the debate.

Incendiary comments by some of the more outspoken Christian figureheads have sought to portray abortion as an "evil" perpetrated by the non-Christian left. In response to this, The Center For Reason, a private research group, undertook a study to test the premise: "Christians have fewer abortions than non-Christians." The results disproved the premise.

The study, available as a downloadable report, reveals that Christians have just as many abortions as non-Christians. Data analyzed for all fifty states show that the rate of abortion is the same in the most-Christian segments of the population as it is in the least-Christian. The most-Catholic segments, on the other hand, showed significantly higher abortion rates.
Looks like the Pope has his work cut out for him. Not to mention the god they all worship...

I also have to wonder why, if all life is "sacred" (which I don't believe...), and "all men are created in the image of god" (which I think should go without saying I also don't subscribe to...), why are the same people who are so against abortion also the people who are so pro-death penalty, pro-gun, and pro-war?

  1. Family Research Council
  2. Hope Exchange
  3. March of Dimes
  4. PR Web
  5. Media Center
  6. Why Abortion is Biblical

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Easy As One, Two, Three...

Read the following two passages very carefully...

2 Samuel 24:1-41 Chron 21:1-4
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which [was] with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see [it]: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?

Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know [it].

And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they [be]: but, my lord the king, [are] they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.

Oh dear... Oh... My...

What's a inerrant scripture fundie to believe? Was it god? Or Satan? (In case you missed it, reread the first verse in both passages, paying special attention to the italicized portions...)

Oh, for your information, the original Hebrew is very specific: In Samuel, it specifically states that יהוה (Yĕhovah) was behind "moving David" to do a census; in Chronicles, the word used is שטן (aka satan) who moved David to do the census...

Now granted, I'll give you some leeway you may not wish for: In Samuel, it is god's anger... Thus, we can assume that anytime god gets angry, he pulls a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde switch-up, and his anger is personified as a "satanic power"...

Or, Satan and god activated their Wonder Twin powers, and thus, somewhere between "form of a screaming eagle!" and "form of an ice bucket!", the Hebrews were counted and a census was performed...

So which supernatural being wanted David to do the census?

Any "literal reading," "inerrant bible-believing" Christians care to explain this little conundrum?

Granted, I could care less... I was researching something entirely different (READ: "historical fiction") when this little "god-stopper" grabbed my attention...

But I know that, fundies being so ever concerned for my eternal well-being, they would want to clear this up for me... Granted, I have full faith in the spin ability of the god-fearing to come up with something that sounds good...

Have fun! (and play nice!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

And Thine Kitten the Dust Did Bite...

Imagine it--you are the creator of all that is, all that was, and all that ever will be... From giant stars forming brilliant feats of light in the far reaches of just one universe among multitudes... Life sprang from your toe nail clippings and spread across the cosmos!

And your biggest concern? When one male primate touches another male primate's genitalia... Yes indeed, I would imagine that if I were the all-powerful deity of multi-verses, my top priority would be eradicating such a deviance from a small blue-green planet tucked to the left of the Milky Way... I would smite kittens by the dozens for allowing such an atrocity to happen!

Lacking such perspective, some of gods more literal followers deal with their self-hatred and self-loathing by bowing to peer pressure and attempting to "pray away the gay."

It seems Ted Haggard, the self-righteous bastion of self-loathing who, after admitting to inter-primate fellatio, and who, after three short weeks declared himself "completely heterosexual," has decided that the therapy isn't going so well. Indeed, it seems that as early as November of 2006 (just 15 days after being declared "completely heterosexual"), it seems that:

The former evangelical head had sought assistance to combat his struggles but found none "effective" in him.
So god killed a kitten. Five, actually, but in the grand scheme of things, an appropriate retaliation against such awful behavior, yes?

Then, in March of 2007, some of Ted's closest "advisers" released a statement saying:

"The true characterization is that Mr. Haggard had a weakness and he continues to work to strengthen himself," said the Rev. H.B. London, a member of the three-man team overseeing Haggard's spiritual recovery.

Even the most ardent proponents of therapy to change same-sex attraction say it is a lifelong struggle, demanding constant vigilance and sacrifice -- a price that they find reasonable to avoid relationships they consider sinful.

"Ted will need years of accountability to demonstrate his victory over both actions and tendencies," Stockstill said in the report, which he read aloud to the New Life congregation.
Stockstill? LOL! Talk about your ironies!... And, I'm sorry but--being "overseen by a three-man team"? Sounds like gay heaven to me! LOLOLOL!!!

Sorry, sorry--where was I? Oh yes--so now that we've regressed from "completely heterosexual" to "struggling with a weakness," god killed five kittens, two baby seals, and a gecko. After all, god is on his side, right? His greatest concern in all the cosmos in all the multiverse is that no male primate shall lay with another male primate like a female primate. If a few kittens, baby seals, and a gecko need to die to prove this point, well then, at least he didn't kill any primates yet... Or, wait... No, that's when Katrine hit, isn't it? Or was that the Indonesian tsunami? Well, whatever--everyone knew it was because Ted was gay, didn't they? If they didn't, god needs to send more specifically targeted messages... Say, something happening to Massachusetts, that bastion of immorality with the lowest divorce rate in the country...

But now here we are--11 months after admitting to struggling with his "sinful nature," and guess what? The headline reads Haggard prematurely leaves rehab, New Life Church says. But, wait--you mean the praying didn't work? The heartfelt tears, the long nights of fasting, begging for money, prayer chains thousands of people long... ? What happened? What in god's name (literally!) happened? Let's taker a gander:

New Life Church has agreed to his request to end their oversite of his recovery program.

New Life Church issued a statement Tuesday saying it believes the termination of the relationship is premature, but would not say why. Earlier in the process, church leaders had said they assumed that Haggard's recovery could take several years.

The Colorado Springs evangelical congregation that Haggard founded also said it remains convinced that he should not return to any church ministry.
You know when I ended my "ex-gay therapy"? When I was ready to embrace my true gay nature... But that was me and a few thousand kittens ago. No, when a "completely heterosexual" decides to end his ex-gay therapy, he must have more reason to do so, right?


Oh... I suppose not. Well, don't that make your brown eyes blue? Oh, I suppose it work for him either...

You hear that? God just killed another kitten...

You cretinous homosexuals--THINK OF THE KITTENS!!! Or at least think about what an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present god would think about such things! Get some goddamn perspective!
I do wonder, though, if he'll just realize that it doesn't matter if he's gay or not... After all, between nature and an imaginary god, which would you decide to ruin your life--and your families life--over?

Oops! There went another kitten...

Set in Stone...

Reservations have been verified. Airline tickets have been purchased. Car rental agencies have been contacted.

And unlike those pesky "10 commandments," mine are chiseled into 1's and 0's on hard drives up and down the Eastern seaboard. So if, while vacationing in Aruba, I happen to come across my people worshipping a golden calf made from jewelry, I need not smash those plans of stone and end up doubling my workload by starting from scratch... Thank goodness for the Internet! Oh, and, of course, confirmation numbers consisting of at least 7 letters and 12 numbers randomly thrown together in what companies hope is a professional-looking pattern...

I wonder if Moses would have even bothered, knowing what the future held?

God: Moses, I need you to take some notes.
Moses: "Notes"? Do I look like a secretary?
God: Listen you bearded doof, I have some very important things to say, and since no one else would climb the mountain, and I dare not come down for fear of a nasty sunburn in the desert, it's you or nothing! Now grab a stone. Something flat we can carve a nice border outline onto... I'm thinking roses!
Moses: You know, if you just hold off for another two thousand years or so...
God: Hey! I'm in charge here!
Moses: I'm just saying... If one thousand years here is as a day to you... See where I'm going with this?
God: No, not really...
Moses: Just take a nap, take in a movie, get Holy Casper out of the house for a nice long weekend, and before you know it--BAM! No need to carve a stone, you can just--Zing! Everyone gets a copy!
God: I could do that now, you know...
Moses: Will you, please?
God: No... I don't wanna...
Moses: I'm going to regret this... (Grabs some limestone and a an iron dagger...)
God: "Dear Israelites; Being an awesome dude, I feel you don't give me enough props... To that end, I decree that you shall have no other gods before me." How's that for a start?
Moses: I'm still trying to carve a "D" for crying out loud! Slow down!
God: So... You're saying we could be here a while, yeah?
Moses: It will feel like a thousand years...
Ah, who cares, right? I'M GOING TO ARUBA!!!!! In 12 short weeks, I will be on white sands, swimming in clear water, and utilizing my brand new passport for the first time EVER!

Begin the countdown...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So Where Did the Primaries on "Super Tuesday" Leave Us?
Rominator is OUT!

Only a few things are clear to me:
  1. 1. Evangelicals have no idea what "separation of church and state" mean...
  2. 2. It will either be a Clinton/Obama ticket, or an Obama/Clinton ticket for the Democrats...
  3. 3. McCain will probably need to pick Hucka-bum to have a shot at winning, which means...
  4. 4. No matter who is President or VP, the Democrats will win if Hucka-bum is VP.
I personally am a tad bit scared of Obama. Sometimes the things that come out of his mouth in such a way as to... I don't know, make me feel uneasy? I think he's a good guy, don't get me wrong. I just feel that someone who hasn't even finished their first U.S. Senate term really isn't ready to lead fifty whole states! I know what one moron on limited experience can do (Hello, Shrubya!!), and I'm not saying he would be as bad a commander in chief as that dipstick still is... But you cannot completely discount a lack of experience as negligible...

On the other hand we have Clinton II, or Hillary if you will. I've always liked Hillary, and as I watched "super Tuesday" late (LATE) into the evening, it became clear to me that I was indeed rooting for her to pull strongly ahead of Obama. Not out of a dislike for Obama, but a like for Hillary. While I personally still do not understand the evangelical anger against her (She stuck by her man despite his cheating showing a strong family values moral; she consistently has tried to serve the poor and uninsured through a national health plan showing a strong desire to help the needy; this list could go on...), and even though I realize the danger in voting for her due to the weird fact that all Republicans band together to vote against her, I do personally believe she would put the country back on the correct path (if such an intangible "path" can be defined...).

Now I am under no delusion--while they both speak to change, and while they both do their fair share of pandering, simply saying you'll bring "Change" and "Hope" back to the White House doesn't make it so. I have no doubt that, as similar in stance as both Democratic candidates are, it doesn't mean a lot if they can't get the House and Senate to work with them! Granted, this is a lot easier for the Democratic agenda (being that both Houses are Democratically controlled at the time being), but even Bill had this for the first part of his term and struggled to make things happen as President...

I'm also not so sure that "bridging the aisle" is the "best thing" for America. While it is nice to think that a President can work with both the dominant parties in Washington, when the religious right has mostly hijacked one of those two parties (how many states in the South voted for Hucka-bum again?!), is "bridging the gap" more important than ceding our secular government to the whims of a religious fanatical view? If the Republicans had been "hijacked" by Islamic fundamentalists, I'm sure you could agree with me that this is not so...

Granted, I'm considered an uber-liberal, a "hijacker" of the Democratic party--I believe in a woman's right to choose (although "choose" I believe to be the wrong word as it makes it almost sound frivolous...), I believe individual rights trump collective (or "majority") opinion, and I believe that while "faith-based initiatives" can be publicly funded, it cannot happen at the expense of the wall of separation... I also believe in gun control to a limited extent (there is no reason why "right to arms" should be read to mean "right to machine guns and Uzi's"... What's next, the NRA pushing for the "right to arms" meaning the "right to nuclear weapons"?), but I also have to wonder why the Bible belt, that religious community of the South is also the "gun belt"? Since when did guns and god go so well together? How biblical is the whole "God and guns" philosophy? That will have to wait for another post, I think...

Regardless, I am happy with the choice between Obama and Hillary. While I struggled four years ago with the idea of voting for Kerry only to vote against Shrubya, I now get to vote for two candidates with whom I find almost little to negligible issue with. Granted, I don't agree with either one and everything. But enough that I am not scared of either Clinton or Obama in the way I fear McCain, Romney, or Hucka-bum...

I look forward to the conventions in late summer and the upcoming election in November... It's a great time to be a part of this democratic republic...!
In a CNN breaking news email, we've just learned that the Rominator (aka Romney, the Flip-Flopping Wanna-Be...) has "suspended his bid for the White House"...

Suspended? As if you have a shot? You think you just need to reassess your positions and change them again? Perhaps you'll take this time to declare yourself a Baptist, that "Mormonism" was just a phase (much like being pro-choice?), that you toured a Jesus Center and "have seen the light"?

LOL! The Snake-Oil Salesman bites the dust...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ginny is Threatening Me...

Apparently I'm not the big spender Ginny was expecting me to be. Honestly, I've never heard of her before, but if I don't "Choose and Charge," I'll never receive her fabulous catalog again, which, among other things, boasts items "For Your Home," "For You," or "For Family and Friends": Makes me wonder how I ever got along before...

I have to assume, though, that no one in my familial or social circle is hoping for a teal toaster oven...

I could be wrong... After all, my mother owns a light-up rooster. What could compliment that more than a teal toaster oven? Perhaps floral pots and pans that can only be washed by hand? A pink flamingo which shoots water from it's mouth into a bird bath? Mom, you'll have to get back to me--Mother's Day is coming, and I'd hate to let another "great gift" opportunity go by without tackying up the ol' house a bit more... :D

Of course, Ginny puts it nice enough... Right below the sticker that screams in bold, red letters "You Are Pre-Approved!" is a sticker that reads "LAST CHANCE!: This could be your FINAL CATALOG! Please order TODAY to receive future editions!" (Will they become collectible, Ginny? Will I see future editions of your catalog on eBay for hundreds of dollars?) Alas, not only am I not worth the $1.50 it takes to mail the catalog to my address if I don't order from the first ever copy of said catalog I've ever received, they don't even have the decency to spell check my name: "Jason Hughs" was the actual intended recipient for "Choose and Charge" fun and games...

Of course, that isn't as bad as the gay and lesbian newsletter "Rosalind Diehl" still receives today, courtesy of our mail box...

On the bright side, if I do place my order in the next 60 days, my "Pre-Approved" status gets increased an "Additional $200!"

Almost makes me wish I needed a teal toaster oven...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Do You Hate My Monkey,
Or Do You Hate Me?

Okay, so my public relations manager is on my back at the moment--"I don't know why I even have a computer if, when I turn it on, there's nothing new to read here!"

My apologies, Mom. Here, here's a post that's been brewing, been rewritten at least three times, and I finally feel merits a publishing... :D
We've all heard the phrase, "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin."

As a gay man, I hear this statement more often than I care to even think about, but it must be thought about if one is to understand the mindset that not only brings forth these snippets of "deep thought," but the need to even have it said (sometimes quite vehemently!).

When I typically follow up with the quizzical eyebrow raise and the "And...?" question, I'm met nine times out of ten with the response, "How else am I to let you know I love you but don't approve of your lifestyle?"

So you see, dear reader, it stems from the need of the individual in question to make it quite clear they are aware of what they perceive as my sin, and wouldn't want me to dare think that just because we are eating a meal together (or riding in a car together, or waiting in the same dentists office for an appointment together) that the sharing of this experience should in any way be considered an "OK" of my homosexuality (as I often tend to confuse shared moments of laughter or food as an expression of total 100% backing of every decision I've ever made in my entire life...)

In other words, somehow the need to remind me of my "sinner" status is more important than just appreciating each others company, conversation, or other shared experience. Of course, this causes me to ask, "Does this mean you are constantly pointing out to fat people their obvious sin of gluttony? Or wealthy people their obvious sin of greed? Or the winners of contest their obvious sin of pride?"

No, dear friends, of course not! We gays are a special breed of sinner (if one is to take the constant barrage of sermons and pulpits of any given Sunday morning as any type of endorsement...). Perhaps we appear stupider than your average sinner (for, after all, all have "sinned"), but we're the ones who hear this phrase in an attempt by the religious right to save our souls--after all, you can continue to be glutinous, or proud, or wealthy and be a Christian--just not gay.

I, of course, have yet to meet a homosexual and have them tell me their story of concern and care for what others think about them in religious circles. I know I personally don't ponder how people who are triathlon winners live with themselves when the Christians aren't pointing out their "sin" every day. I'm pretty sure it's common knowledge in our day and age of the popular "interpretation" of bible believers and what they think of homosexuality. You'd have to be living in a time-lapsed bunker on the Lost island to have no clue as to how they "feel" about our lifestyle (if it could really even be called such). Do fundies really all wander around worrying that the gays think that they, the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian, might "approve" of our daily lives? I mean, I certainly am under no presumptions!

If truth be known, I could give two shits. How does their belief really and truly affect my life? None whatsoever (except when said beliefs are attempted to be enshrined in law). Just as I have to wonder, "Does my 'lifestyle' in any way truly impact upon their daily lives?" Of course the answer is no, unless one takes into account strange obsessions and irrational faith in the intangible fears of slippery slopes.

So what is this statement really about? This declaration of "disapproval," I believe anyway, is stemming from the need to make it clear that they have no clue with how to deal with "willful," or rather "on purpose," sinners, people who know what fundamentalists think but reject the message they are trying to force on everyone. It is an attempt to coalesce their god-given duty of warring against "wickedness" to their also god-given command of "live at peace with everyone."

Trying to have the best of both worlds in the midst of a perceived battle for eternal souls.

I'm also wondering if it is an attempt to absolve some form of guilt they feel: being unable to convince us that what we are, what we do, is sin, perhaps they feel repeating this mantra will go from their lips to god's ears, and thus it may be known by all the heavenly hosts that they tried, and they shouldn't be held responsible for this "willful" sin.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the sentiment, I must now make it abundantly clear my huge issue with the phrase to begin with, this whole "Love Sinner, Hate Sin" thing:

First off, the "Love the sinner" line: How can you love me if you don't know me?

Love comes from a knowledge of person: What do they do, what do they like. As any couple celebrating their fiftieth anniversary would most likely say, "I love ____ more now than I did fifty years ago!" Why? Knowledge of who that person is has deepened over the years, and they like what they have learned. Love comes from experiences, moments, small actions and large emotions. It doesn't stem from a chance meeting outside of a gay bar in Allentown in which you are handing out pamphlets titled "The Truth about Homosexuality" and "God's Plan for Man."

This "love the sinner" stems more from a small dose of good intention, and a large dose of loving the IDEA of loving the sinner (and hence, loving everyone, who are all "sinners"). And indeed: loving everyone in the world is a noble idea in its own right, if a bit far-fetched and unattainable. It is nice to think we could "love" everyone in spite of "what they do," but ultimately, if you are to "love" me, you have to get to know me, and beyond that, getting to know me and love me will entail getting to like most of the things that make me me. My love of gardening, of reading, of quiet moments in the night listening to the rain, of my love for a certain man, and the idea that I say blue is my favorite color only out of habit, as in practice it turns out to be red. Being me is to be out in the dirt planting bulbs, or watering the annuals, moving and reshaping the mulch; sharing titles with friends of books I enjoyed and seeing what they have been reading and why; sitting with me in the dark, watching the lightening and hearing the rain patter against the windows; of acknowledging my partner in life, and getting to know him, his concerns, cares, likes and dislikes; and of complimenting that shade of red I chose for the bedroom curtains. This is knowing me, and to love me means you have to like (though certainly not "agree with") how I live my life and how I spend my time. For to know those things is to know me, and without knowing me, you cannot love me, although you can certainly like the idea of loving me; Hell, you can even delude yourself into thinking you love me without loving me if it makes you feel any better. But to "love" me would certainly entail a knowledge of what you believe, like and dislike, and a general knowledge that of course you disagree with such-and-such, and a love for me, and a likewise love of you, wouldn't need to entail the phrase, "You know I love you, but..." If indeed, we share a love, be it brotherly, erotically, mutually or what-have-you, it would entail those words not needing be said.

Indeed, this leads into the second half of the phrase, "Hate the Sin." A knowledge of me, a love of me, would be an acceptance of who I am. No, the act of having sex with a man doesn't make me gay, it is my choice of sexual partner which makes me so. Much like the act of sex with a woman doesn't make men straight, it is their choice of woman which makes them so. It's what they find attractive, what makes them lust for it--the so-called "basic building block of society, the nuclear family" is based on sex, based on the intrinsic personalities and characteristics of most people in society (straight persons). If the basic building block of society (if it can accurately be interpreted as such, which I believe to be false in and of itself...) were based on women giving birth only to girls, about half our population, through nothing they could really and truly control, would be ostracized and called "sinners" (much like the basic building block for Chinese society, among others, for centuries was based on giving birth to boys...) due to what some people thought was important and "right" for society.

You cannot "love me" yet hate who I am, what I do, as my actions are direct representations of who I am: it is a mutually incompatible statement! Saying "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" already obligates me to reside in the category of "one who commits sin," and unless you feel you need to tell me only because of my homosexuality, I have also now been elevated in status to "sinner that needs told so as opposed to everyone else on the sidewalk," which also gets you nowhere fast.

Why the need to make it clear you don't "approve" of my lifestyle, when honestly, it isn't even my concern that you do so? Especially in light of the fact that your OT god himself, who is no respecter of persons, and Jesus, who just wants you to love god and love your neighbor (the good Samaritan comes to mind), what is the need to let me know that my life doesn't "mesh" with your beliefs (as if we didn't know already?), and how does this in any way correlate or impact how we interact already? What is the purpose of yelling "We love you, but hate your sin"? Is your fear of your god's wrath so great, you feel that if you don't tell me, you will be punished for my actions? (Which, in all honesty, should have you questioning your belief in his omnipotence...) Is it that you fear if other people see us eating together at a diner, you might be mistaken for "gay"? Or is it simply something you parrot out with no thought or regard to what you are saying?

Tell me, in practical terms, how do you justify saying you love me, but hate who I am?