Thursday, March 27, 2008

ABC Looks at Creationists...

Notice the overt brainwashing of the children...

And people wonder why our kids lag so far behind in math and science around the world...

Perhaps it's because we let too many people lie to their children under the guise of "religious freedom"?

PS: Thanks to God V. Darwin via God is for Suckers for the link.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Promise of Life...

I like to keep a record and photo journal of plant progress, and this (as you may have guessed) is the Popeye tray ("What do you want me to name him: Baby Oyl?"). It's simply amazing how just a little light, some dirt, and a sprinkle every now and then brings forth such bountiful food!

Of course, as I was sorting through the photos I just took and filing them away (Oops! I've said too much! You now know I'm a nerd!), I came across this beauty from last year:

Ah, my pride and joy last year! I've never really had the "green thumb" (Ho! Ho! Ho! Green Giant!) when it came to roses... Anything high-maintenance, really (Hello, 90% of my ex-friends!), and when this beauty popped up with very little coaxing from myself-- Well, this is why I garden. Breath taking!

But, being as this is my first year doing vegetables in a serious way (it's usually just flirting on my end...), this will also lead to learning how to can, make homemade sauce and homemade pickles. Grandmom Hughes would be proud!

Speaking of grandmothers and flowers, the evil one (brief history here) has decided to take all her kids out of the will because none of them sent her Easter flowers... As if the receiving of flowers were the end-all, be-all of her existence... Hmm, I'm thinking some deadly nightshade may be in order ("That's twice this month you've slipped deadly nightshade into my tea and run off--")... It's just plain rotten how some people can ruin the holidays rightfully stolen by the Catholic church, you know?

Anyway, that's all for the next few days. I have to prepare the house for family game night (minus the evil one), so I'll be too busy bringing some semblance or order to the chaos that is my home ("You gotta room for renk?!!").

Hope you all have a great weekend! (Have I mentioned lately how much I love Netflix?)

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Childhood Dream...

It was a song my grandparents played for me quite often, a little ditty called "Jason's Farm" by Cal Smith. Never quite knowing what a depressing song it was (not only was I suppose to marry a woman, but then she dies!!), I just knew I was either going to be a veterinarian or a farmer, and this song seemed meant to be for me (minus woman and death, in that order...).

I was going to be a farmer. I imagined fields of spotted cows and Arabian horses; Rhode Island red chickens clucking around my feet; Mallard ducks in the pond; golden fields of corn and wheat (soy wasn't really all that big in my formative years...), and a big, bright-red barn where all the hay and animals were kept.

And now, BEHOLD! The beginnings of Jason's farm:

Hey, hey, hey: Don't knock it--everyone has to start somewhere, right?

And what I'm starting with is:
  • 36 cucumber plants
  • 29 spinach plants
  • 12 lettuce plants
  • 17 morning glories
  • 20 various herbs and spices
  • And a severe lack of impatiens and geraniums...
I have realized that the peat cups are pretty much worthless. I don't know why the trays seem to work much better, if the cups hold too much moisture and drown the seeds or what.

But here is the beginning of Jason's farm. Of course, now that I cannot actually use my kitchen sink, it has become all the more clear to me how imperative it is I clear away all the old lilac bushes around the garage and start plowing up the soil there. Otherwise my kitchen sacrifice will have been for naught! (Okay, honestly? The only reason we touch the kitchen sink is to hook up the dishwasher... Seriously...)

Of course, yet to break ground as well are the peppers (yellow), the giant sun flowers (at a certain someone's behest), the beets (for mom), and the tomatoes (both red and yellow); but in their defense, they were just planted this past Sunday. Time will tell!

Truth be told, the garage isn't exactly a big red barn. The horses that live in the field behind my house aren't mine, and the mule that lives down the lane? You think you have noisy neighbors?! Sounds like a sickly elephant more than a horse-type creature...

But vegetables? I'm a frickin' farmer! Metrosexually speaking, of course...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

An Evening in the Life of...

Rich: What's that?
Me: What's what?
Rich: This flyer... Why is there a Jesus flyer on the coffee table?
He had just come home from work, you see. He'd missed all the fun...
Me: Oh, the JW's stopped by. They send their love.
Rich: The who?
Me: Jehovah's Witnesses. They've found us. I've called our contact at the Gayness Protection Program. We'll get new identities in three weeks.
Rich: Ha-ha. Seriously, don't they live in Utah?
Me: Seriously, those are the moronic Mormons. These are the jerky Jehovah's Witnesses.
Rich: Oh... Well, what's the difference?
Me: Moronic Mormons believe in Egyptian scrolls being sent by god as a new gospel. Jerky Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe Jesus was god. Just more religiously than atheists don't believe it.
Rich: Oh, so... Are you going?
Me: To what?
Rich: The Jehovah's Witness church.
Me: Why would I want to hang out with those idiots?
Rich: I dunno... Something to do...
Me: Trust me--I can think of 600 other ways to spend my Sunday evenings.
Rich: Well, the only thing on tonight is Oprah's Big Give--
Me: --and watching the richest woman in America try to get everyone else to give away their money isn't one of them.
Rich: Oh. Wanna go get dinner?
After agreeing on what to eat--me: Pizza Hut, Rich: McDonalds--we hop in the car and drive to Lehighton. When we pull up to the drive-through, a very digitized voice speaks:
Speaker: Can I take your order?
Me: Uh... In a sec.
For the sake of space, let's just say 1 second = 10 minutes...
Speaker: Please pull up to the first window to pay.
Me: Thank-- (I stop, thinking it's a computer, I needn't waste manners.)
(Window opens, pimply teenager leans out...)
Teen: $8.39, please.
Rich: Was that a computer? (leaning across me to peer at said teenager)
Teen: No, that was a person in North Dakota.
Rich: Really?
(This is where my brain should really filter my speech...)
Me: A person in North Dakota just took my drive-through order in Lehighton, Pennsylvania.
Teen: Yeah, cool, right?
Me: You can't be trusted to type the order in for me?
Teen: Uhh... What?
Me: You are telling me that McDonalds doesn't trust you to speak into a microphone enough to take my order personally, but they trust you to take my money and give me correct change? Even though you apparently can't type buttons like "Big Mac" and "Medium Fry" on a computer?
Teen: Dude...
Rich: Jay, shut up!
Me: Well, I'm sorry, but that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of! Some woman in North Dakota taking my order...
Rich: I thought the JW's were the stupidest thing you've ever heard of...
Me: They are the stupidest People. This is the stupidest Thing. (Evil glare to my passenger.)
Teen: Dude, here's your change.
As I was giving the evil glare to Rich, this teen was giving me an evil glare. I realize in his eyes, I'm probably one of those over-the-hill thirty-year-olds who don't handle "technological innovation" very well. But seriously--how can it possibly be a "money saving" move for McD's to put in this high-tech communication equipment to link directly to some slob behind a lap-top in North Dakota to take my order? What, pray tell, could be the purpose? I could understand if some teen wasn't there to take my money, and instead one of those cash-taking machines in self-checkouts aisles in grocery stores. I could even see it if there were also a Japanese robot at window two to hand me the big mac and fries. But if you are still going to pay two teenagers to take my money, give me my change, and bring me my food?
Rich: I think next time I'd rather go to a new church...
Me: And I'd rather live in a rational society. What's your point.
Rich: I love Big Macs...

The Bible: World's Apart...

Since I like whipping myself with wet noodles, I occasionally stop by the links under "Rightwing Nutjobs" usually just to give myself a giggle and a bit of perspective: After all, it's hard to think your life difficult when you see others making their lives purposefully so, whether under the guise of victimization or zealotry.

In a recent conversation on this post, an individual named Steve asserted that he had "statistical data" that had not been refuted. I asked him to state his statistical data concerning a "proof" of the bible, to which he replied:
My argument is easy:
The Bible has yet to be disproved in any way. Disprove it.
Statistics says it’s impossible that life spontaneously came into existence. Prove that it did.
Evolution has not been proven by the fossil record. Refute me and show me the proven intermediate forms.
Good Luck.
Being as here we have three distinct and separate arguments (not to mention a lack of any type of statistical data), I let Steve know that I would take his first argument ("The Bible has yet to be disproved in any way. Disprove it."), and then we could move on the origins of life, and then evolution--the order in which he gave them.

So we begin with "A Proof of the Bible."
Sixty-six separate books and letters compose the Protestant Bible (Thirty-nine OT; 27 NT; does not include the Apocrypha books, which number eighteen, and only used by Catholics and a few other smaller sects of Christianity), written over a period of about 1600 years by at least forty-two different authors...

What does this mean? Well, in simple terms, of course you can't "disprove" the Bible as a whole! It isn't a whole at all! It is an amalgamation, a "collected works" if you will; and on the flip side, there is no way to "prove" the complete 100% accuracy and "inerrancy" either. It's much like a jackalope, seen here: There is some evidence that points toward mammals of four legs having bone-like structures growing from their skull. There is some evidence of four-legged "hoppy" creatures that sit low to the ground and eat your vegetables before they even get a start in life. This does not, however, prove a jackalope's existence, as the complete skeletal remains of one have never been found, let alone observed in the wild or written about in folklore or tale. It is man, taking the antlers of one creature, and placing them on the skull of another creature, and declaring it completely disprovable as it's mounted right there on my great-grandfather's wall. "Check and mate!" a biblical fundie would declare (if the jackalope were a bible).

By virtue of simply throwing together works written in different cultures, by different authors, in different times and under different circumstances (not to mention different agendas) does not a "completely inerrant" scripture make...

Of course, one of Steve's main "tenants" of the "proven" bible, if you will so indulge, is that
I’ve made the point over and over to you that the Bible meets and exceeds all criteria for a historical document. Archaeological finds, from the Bible period, have surged since the last time we had this discussion. Every single one of these continues to prove the accounts in the Bible.
Of course, although I've pointed out to Steve and others numerous times that a clay tablet does not an inerrant bible make (as here), neither does finding a silver coin in an ancient Roman gutter (or an ostuary for that matter) a completely inerrant bible make.

If I were to take several fables--such as The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood--and merge them with an authoritative study from National Geographic, a piece from the World Wildlife Fund, and a small sample study of the condition of wolves in Yellow Stone National Park, would I end up with an authoritative and complete look at what wolves are like, both in the wild and in captivity? No, actually. I'd have two fables (Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood), a magazine which specializes getting people to "care about the planet" (no ulterior motives there...), a foundation which wants your money to "save" the wolves (again, ulterior motive? Perish the thought!!), and the view of wolves from one tiny corner of the world in which conditions wolves find themselves in vastly differ. Even if I threw in ten more studies about wolves, five more about wolf conditions, five more about needing money to help wolves, and four more fables in which wolves play a central role, I still wouldn't have a "completely historical" or "scientifically accurate" view of wolves. Why? You could claim "the fables!" but still only be partially correct: The stories about the wolves speak to our past needs to understand a creature we feared, and how that fear played a role in our psyche and culture; the foundations asking for money obviously present skewed data to make us feel sympathy and open wallets to save the wolves; the articles try to present "objective" data and findings with actual real-world example, but again, the author as such already has preconceived notions that color the written words in sometimes subtle yet obvious ways.

I'd have to take all those stories, articles, and findings, look at them in the time they were written, see what the authors world was like at the time, what the wolves's world was like at the time (after all, all these studies could have been written over a 100 year period--the conditions of wolves in the wild changed drastically in some parts of the globe in that short time), and a host of other factors and scenarios. I'd like to add that, this amalgamation of collected works in no way proves 100% accurate simply because I find some wolf bones in a barn, or on a roof, or wrapped in a red cloak. I daresay, such findings would make me even more critical of the collected works I had heretofore taken as "gospel"! I'd also have to recognize and come to terms with any preconceived notions I held, and how what I was reading and observing both challenged and affirmed (or dis-affirmed) my own beliefs

I think you get the point: to "disprove" a work that spans several authors, generations, world events, cultures, and ulterior motives will have some truths locked within its covers, just as it will have tons of other writings that are merely anecdotal, mythological, historical, or otherwise cutesy. It is just a matter of recognizing which parts are which through careful study and reason, not blind faith and a group hug...

Steve? Your rebuttal? Anyone else, thoughts or suggestions?

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On Giving...

You hear the argument all the time: "I may not have proof, but I feel it in my heart," or "I may not know the fancy science talk, but I know in my heart what is right and true, praise Jesus!"

It's hard to argue against "feelings" and "personal experience" once you have pinned a fundie in the corner of logic and reason, isn't it? As soon as you have crucified (quite ironically) their faulty synapse connections, they whip out the good old stand-by: Personal feelings and experiences that no ruler can measure, no test tube can bottle, no scientist can scrutinize...

It all hinges not only on that intangible "faith" thing that so many seem to think is evidence of some kind, this faith is based on something likewise quite intangible and destructive--a death based on "love"--a love held by a god for his creation, so much so that he killed (or "sacrificed" if you abhor the term "killed" so much...) his kid just so everyone who gives god enough props will spend eternity praising him over and over and over (multiplied by eternity...)

And I feel this begs the question, was it truly a "sacrifice" if god knew his kid would "rise from the dead"?

The very first thing you learn in Sunday school, when the indoctrination begins, is that god knows everything! Absolutely nothing exists (or doesn't exist) that isn't neatly folded, stacked, labeled, and filed in that great white desk in the sky. Time, money, weather patterns, and the mating habits of the fruit fly in winter are all part-and-parcel of the Jeopardy! mind of god--so therefore, god knew (if non-urban Hebrew legends of old are to be believed) that Jesus would survive just fine from his ordeal on Earth (nothing a little god-counseling couldn't handle after ascension, anyway...) and therefore, since god wasn't really losing anything, how can this be considered a sacrifice? What has god truly "lost" in order to "pay" for the "wages" of our "sin"? What's the god-to-human blood ratio/cost?

If I were to hand my brother a $50 and say, "I was going to pay my electric bill with this, but I know you need it for groceries, so..." But if I knew I was also going to get a $50 from my husband, and that my brother had to pay my husband for the groceries he needed... You see? I haven't given up $50, my electricity, or my own comfort--in fact, not only have I not sacrificed anything, I've also "martyred" myself in front of my brother by making it seem as if I were sacrificing in order to manipulate him into thinking I am greater than I really am! Is there really any worse type of "sacrifice"? This indeed is the crux of the salvation message peddled on street corners in New York and preached from pulpits the world over--that somehow god has sacrificed something of such great value in order to pay for us, when really we weren't for sale, didn't need purchased, weren't in danger except from the hell the purchaser created, and the purchaser really didn't pay for anything anyway--he knew the boomerang effect of Jesus' life...

In a post from what seems eons ago (and still a pretty popular read if my site stats are anything to go by...), we discussed for quite some time how people "know" god and Jesus from experiences and personal feelings that aren't actually "knowing" (and how "knowing" is the antithesis of FAITH... and still is...), but one of the points brought up by Ergo (who continues to be a brilliant voice in the blogosphere in my opinion) was the following:
[W]hen two (or more) people love each other, they make absolutely NO sacrifices for each other. A morality that preaches sacrifice as a virtue and as a package-deal with love is an evil and harmful morality--it implicitly says that all that you love, all that you value, all that you desire, you must attain through suffering and pain and sacrifice.
Ah--the crux of the matter: Is "sacrifice" really a good measurement of the amount of love that went into an act? (Suppose, like, the death of a god?) Was it actually "love" from which this story is born? Or merely a poignant tale of the lengths intelligent beings will go to in order that they be held in high regard?

A "fact" that we also learned in indoctrination class (Err... Sunday School...) was that god is all-powerful. That is, he can do whatever the hell he wants whenever the hell he wants irregardless of scientific law, reasonable limits, or elephant migratory patterns. So not only did he know his kid would rise from the dead, he also could have produced a myriad of scenarios in which this "sacrifice" wouldn't have been called for! So now we are left wondering: if it wasn't truly sacrificial in the light of his foreknowledge of not losing his son, and if he could have produced any number of ways in which our "sin" could be redeemed without said "sacrifice," how is it again that this imaginary creature is supposed to be the creator of all and worthy of us denying ourselves for the "greater good"?

If there were such a creature about, one who created us in love and only wished for our continued happiness and a bountiful life, one would hope he/she/it would have the sense to actually use this foreknowledge with a dash of common sense (not to mention a pinch of decency) and create a world in which not only wouldn't he have had to "sacrifice" his kid, but avoided the whole Tree of Knowledge altogether...

It's hard to place any amount of faith, let alone love, in a being so lacking in basic common sense.

Knowing may be half the battle, but the other half is using that knowledge wisely and for bettering yourself as a person. It certainly isn't chalking up the rest to a whim and a prayer in the hope of a being that didn't even have the decency to apologize.

Believing in such a being requires more than faith--it takes a blind faith of tremendously naive proportions, and for what? To praise god for eternity...

Souls may have been paid for with his kid's blood, but the true cost is much, much higher. Can you guess what you've really paid for, buying into this "eternal life" scam?

Here's a clue: It isn't love...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chicken Potpourri for the Religious Soul...
(that's a little bit disenchanting...)

Apparently Mississippi has nothing better to do when they run out of crayfish to cook. A bill introduced in the state senate would make it illegal for gays to adopt.

"Well," you might be thinking, "they are just upholding the bible-belt values they believe in, right?" Disregarding the fact that "bible-belt values" aren't actually valuable, the backwoods spokesperson for the bill, state representative Phillip Gunn, states in the article, "Obviously there are a lot of single people out there with a lot of love to give an adoptive child, and we certainly don't want to prohibit that, and that is not a bad way to raise a child."

So, in an attempt to prevent gay couples from adopting, they have introduced a bill that would "bar cohabiting unmarried couples, including gay and lesbian couples, from adopting children."

You know, unless they are single gay and lesbian adoptive parents...

So much for the "two-parent" theory a lot of fundies put forth... Even single 21-year-olds are better than two financially well-off committed homo's...

As the article states very nicely at the end of the article, Apparently, gays make poor adoptive parents only when they're partnered.
In other news, the Pope has decided that there isn't enough rules and regulations to be found in the good book, and he must present the world with some new sins. The Vatican
  • opposes stem cell research that involves destruction of embryos and has warned against the prospect of human cloning;
  • has made several strong appeals for the protection of the environment, saying issues such as climate change had become gravely important for the entire human race;
  • also listed drug trafficking and social and economic injustices as modern sins.
Of course, calling drugs a "modern evil" not only leaves us feeling like the Pope still missed the frickin' boat (apparently he hasn't yet heard about Moses' little problem...), if he thinks economic injustices are such an issue, he should start handing out all that money he's got back to all the poor saps he took it from to begin with! Why is it that monks and nuns have to take a vow of poverty, but the Mother Church gets decked out like money isn't an issue? Don't you think, dear Pontius Pope, that the money you collect every Sunday might do more good if it stayed in the hands of your mostly poverty-stricken followers? Man does not live on communion bread alone, after all...
Speaking of Moses' "little problem", what many confused as a gold-calf worshiping orgy when Moses came down the mountain (and his high) was actually... an intervention (completely missed in translation was also the fact that it wasn't a golden calf they were worshiping, it was a golden-fried veal patty that the Israelites thought would go a long way toward easing the munchies they knew their fearless leader would have after so much imbibing...). Like most addicts, Moses was pissed as hell, broke the commandments, thus had to climb all the way back up the mountain to re-carve the damn rules... Hey, give them a break! It's not like interventions were all that common back then... They were bound to fail!

Seriously though--does anyone actually believe that he wasn't high? He
  • talked to a "burning bush that was not consumed" (while the bush claimed to be god),
  • made his people wander in a desert for forty years,
  • and thinks he parted a sea for two to three million people to cross before a horse-drawn army captured them?
Yeah, he was a druggy alright, and based on how grouchy he seemed to be all the time? Not a fun druggy...
Alas, potpourri...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Concerning Water Boarding...

The little twerp truly disgusts me. This man, this so-called "president" of the United States, today vetoed a bill that would make it illegal for our intelligence agencies to use water boarding...

I don't care whether you support the war, are against the war, or plain could care less about the war: This is torture. The torture of another human being.

The reasons why it is okay to treat another human being worse than a guppy?:
"The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror," Bush said in his weekly radio address taped for broadcast Saturday. "So today I vetoed it."
So "water boarding" is a valuable tool, is it? Then why, pray tell, when other countries used water boarding on American soldiers, did the US prosecute?
  • In 1947, the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer, Yukio Asano, for carrying out a form of water boarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II. Yukio Asano received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. (Source.)
  • In 1983 Texas sheriff James Parker and three of his deputies were convicted for conspiring to force confessions. The complaint said they "subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning." The sheriff was sentenced to ten years in prison, and the deputies to four years. (Source.)
For years we have stood up and said "No!" to water boarding both to our own law enforcement, and to those countries who have used it on others, from the German and Japanese officers in WWII to the Koreans and Vietnamese who used it on American POWs: America has stood up and said "This is torture!"... Now, for some "patriotic" reason, it's a tool, not "torture." Huh, go figure, right?

But instead of stopping there, leaving it as "just a tool," despite thousands of public historical records which have proven over and over what non-tool we've viewed water boarding as before, Bush goes further:
"This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe," the president said.
A "proven track record of keeping America safe." Not, of course, that we can verify. After all, all of this "info" we've gathered is so "top secret" that the very terrorists we're putting on "trial" (another farce of stupendous proportions) can't even see this evidence being used against them! I'm sorry, but a "proven track record" can't be claimed if it's only been verified by the people using the torture! In fact, claiming the lack of another massive attack on American soil isn't proof at all: at most, it's a coincidence; at the very least, it's just plain lucky. Between the porous border, the lack of adequate airport facilities and service personnel, and an overall lack of implementing some type of harbor and port security (not to mention the fact that all of this "information" gleaned is from people who have been imprisoned at Guantanamo for at least 7 years--do you really think seven year old information is relevant and up-to-date??), you can't prove" something that you won't let anyone examine or verify...

But then the frickin' WORST president this country has ever had continues in his obstinacy even further!:
"We created alternative procedures to question the most dangerous al Qaeda operatives, particularly those who might have knowledge of attacks planned on our homeland," Bush said. "If we were to shut down this program and restrict the CIA to methods in the field manual, we could lose vital information from senior al Qaeda terrorists, and that could cost American lives."
Excuse me? Are you telling me that we can't outlaw water boarding because the terrorists have already been trained on how to survive or deal with water boarding as a method of "interrogation"?

So first, water boarding is a "tool." Secondly, it is a "tool" that has "proven effective" in gleaning information from persons who have been out of the loop for seven years. Thirdly, people still in the loop of terrorism are no longer "susceptible" and the CIA now has "other techniques" (most likely as "non-torturous" as water boarding...) they need to use, and therefore the "tool" of water boarding is by default, ineffective as terrorists have "trained themselves" to "deal with" simulated drowning which, up until that fateful day when the Supreme Court wrongly inserted itself in a presidential election, was always regarded as torture both by the United States and every other country with an ounce of self-dignity and worth...

Now, I realize "this is war" (in so much as an idealistically-based belief can be construed as to being in a war...) and that, in war, people do things they normally wouldn't... But is that any reason to be "okay" with it? Our country, our laws, our lives here in the U.S. are based on some very simple principles, some of which are
  • that all men are created equal;
  • all men have a right to life, liberty, and property;
  • all men are innocent until proven guilty;
  • and all men have a right to a fair trial judged by their peers.
I realize that we can only enforce those rules to persons who are within our borders or under our jurisdiction, and that we cannot control what other countries do to their people to a large extent--but, if we truly believed and felt that ALL MEN were equal in deserving these rights and principles, why wouldn't we treat even the most "despicable" and "dangerous" persons within our jurisprudence with some type of human dignity? We didn't say "all white men," or "all Christian persons," or "all people who wear Levi's" were created equal... We said ALL MEN. Even Jeffrey Dahmer was offered a fair trial--are we saying that, due to their alleged involvement with extremist religious beliefs, they shouldn't be afforded the same thing? That somehow, their foreign and un-American blood, they are suddenly NOT entitled to being treated in a half-decent manner?

Perhaps I'm too idealistic, but I would like to think that a country which claims to stand for fairness and equality, a country which claims to be 96% Christian, a country which wants to be the beacon of hope and light for the world, would have the decency to treat human beings like human beings, whether or not they were born here, whether or not they look like us, whether or not they have actually done something so terrible...

After all, did not our Founding Fathers say "ALL MEN"? Did not Jesus say "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me?" Do not we as American citizens constantly hold ourselves up as better, more free, more dignified than the rest of the world?

Or are we the hypocrites a majority of the world thinks we are?

Apparently Bush would like to make sure we are the hypocrites...

And I am ashamed--ASHAMED--to have him representing us around the world.

I hope you do as well. Life may not be sacred, but as Cori rightly pointed out, it is deserving of a modicum of respect, if only because it is something we cherish so much just by its very existence in ourselves...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Good Going California!

I'm sure you've all heard about it by now:


Regardless of the fact that almost all of these morons have failed to correctly interpret the court's ruling (HINT: You can still home school in California: for a taste of reality, see here or here), what is really beyond credulity is they're somehow trying to twist absolutely nothing into a "right" to home school (as if a child's education was somehow a "religious" freedom...).
DIGRESSION: I wish they would outlaw homeschooling as it is nothing more than a cheap and dirty trick for most parent's to keep their children thoroughly ignorant of reality at large in the hopes that someday their fantasy pseudo-religious world view will pay off... [END DIGRESSION]
The facts of the case are summarized as such:
  • The Long's (the family which was involved in this lawsuit) attempted to claim that their children were enrolled in a "valid charter school" and that the school was supervising the mothers' instruction in the home. It is unclear from the court's opinion, but it looks like the parents tried to argue that the children were enrolled in a public school (since all charter schools in California are public schools). But since they obviously couldn't meet any of the attendance requirements for public schools, the court also examined the question of whether the parents were credentialed. Since they obviously aren't, the court kicked it back to the lower court to order them to "enroll their children in a public full-time day school, or a legally qualified private full-time day school." It looks like the parents never bothered to argue that they were running their own private school in compliance with California law §48222.
  • Some homeschoolers attempt to twist the "independent study" provision for public school education in §51745 into a form of generalized homeschooling and that may be what the lawyers were trying to do in this case. Unfortunately, that statute is quite explicit that independent study not take the form of an "alternative curriculum" to that provided by the public school and that it not replace any courses required for a high school diploma. [Source]
The parents didn't follow the laws of California when it comes to homeschooling (which can be found here: I'm not even a California home schooler and I found the law within .35 seconds with a Yahoo! search... But, being as how most fundies view the Internet as evil, I'm not surprised, I suppose...)
DIGRESSION: Seriously, if you can't even follow a few simple laws, what makes you think you're even half-way competent at teaching your kids jack shit?) [END DIGRESSION]
The issue, to nutshell, is that the parents not only didn't enroll themselves as a private school (a very key step in California to home school), they weren't even state certified educators! Now please, tell me: What kind of educational curriculum would it be if the state didn't require all persons teaching children to be certified, to have some sort of authenticated competence!

The danger of most home schooling parents (which I fear isn't as obvious as common sense would dictate it be) is that you have these people who have embraced on-purpose ignorance, disregarding science, reality, common sense (not to mention a rationale for it all) wanting to teach it to their kids and think it's all A-Okay...

Thank our lucky stars California has the good sense to stop some forms of ignorance right in its tracks and DEMAND that the future up-and-coming leaders of this country get an actual, truthful, realistic education from certified teachers to ground said education of the children on solid, scientific principals and factual ideals and rationals...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"Prince of Peace" Followers Guilty of Disrupting the Peace...

I know: you're thinking "This is news? When aren't they?" Well, most of the time, honestly, they are wonderfully peaceful, fun-loving human beings like you or I... But there are those annoyingly "victimized" (Ha!!) few who seems to think freedom of speech means freedom to be a pain in the ass....
If you read World Nut Daily or Jesus is Lord, you quickly realize that "peaceably" is a very relative term, "free speech" and "freedom of religion" means freedom to disobey law enforcement, and that it's okay to disrupt a public event as long as you think Jesus is on your side...

It seems that, during the 2007 Gay Pride Festival in Elmira, somewhere between four and seven Christians decided they wanted to save the souls of us poor homosexuals living in sin. Now, depending on which news story you read, you either get:
  • The Christians just wanted to pray near the park where the celebration was taking place, or
  • they laid down on the stage of the event, yelled at the crowd, and generally created a disturbance.
They were found guilty today of disorderly conduct and have to pay a fine of $100, plus $95 in court costs... Jesus is almost was worth $200 there, Alex.

From the World Nut Daily article:
One of the new cases comes from Elmira, N.Y., where police arrested seven Christians who went into a public park where a "gay" fest was beginning and started to pray, faces down, while holding their Bibles.

They were cited for "disturbing the peace," and Assistant Police Chief Mike Robertson told WND that the seven are accused of a "combination" of allegations under that statute, which includes the "intent" to cause a public inconvenience, any "disturbance" of a meeting of persons, obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic, or taking part in "any act that serves no legitimate purpose."

[...] Julian Raven, a street preacher, told WND his group of seven assembled to pray for three hours the night before Elmira's recent "pride" festival in promotion of the homosexual lifestyle.

"We have a legal right to be at an event held in a public square. We're not a hate group," he said. "We're Christians and we're going to be there to pray."

He said he contacted police, who told him he had no free speech rights in the public park.

"The female officer, she said, 'You're not going to cross the street. You're not going to enter the park and you're not going to share your religion with anybody in this park,'" he told WND.

"When she said that, for the first time in my life as a Christian, I felt now my freedom of speech is threatened or challenged," he said. "I was being told I could not share my religion with anybody in that park."

Raven said he told the officer "she was violating the Constitution that she had sworn to uphold, and she was very agitated and adamant, and couldn't look me straight in the eye."

Raven asked for the justification for such a threat and was not given a response.

He said his team of Christians then went into the park, holding Bibles over their heads to signify their subservience to God's Word, and lay on their faces to pray.

Within three minutes, police officers had put handcuffs on the seven, to the cheers of the homosexual crowd, he said.

He said a court date is pending for the seven July 23.

"I have the highest respect for the police officers. They have a very difficult job to do. But we were treated unfairly in a public setting. This was a hasty show of force. It was not called for," he said.

He said if the situation is left unchallenged, the city of Elmira will be in the position of being able to control the content of people's messages in a lawful assembly ? or even thoughts if they are nearby.

"We didn't say boo to a goose, still we were arrested," he said.

The local newspaper reported the arrests came just "moments" after Elmira Mayor John Tonello delivered a speech "celebrating diversity."

[...] But Raven confirmed to WND the seven Christians did not approach a single person, did not speak to anyone and did not even make any audible statements until after they were arrested.
Aww... the poor Christians... You actually feel for them, don't you? Come on, come on, small round of applause for the spin job... After all ,ladies and gentlemen, World Nut Daily is the master of right-wing spin...

Now, from a slightly less biased source: an actual newspaper in Elmira, the Star-Gazette:
The four protesters claimed their right to free speech was violated when they were arrested June 23 after laying prostrate on the lawn in front of a temporary stage in the park.

They were among seven people at the festival wearing red T-shirts with the slogans "Liberated from Sin" and "By the Blood of Jesus."

[...] One of the four witnesses he called was Elmira Sgt. Sharon Moyer, head of the traffic bureau, who was on duty at the event.

She described her encounter with Julian Raven who had introduced himself to her and told her of his plans.

"He said he was there to preach the word of God," Moyer said.

"I explained he was welcome to be there (at the festival), but he would not be allowed to confront the participants."

Moyer said Raven was antagonistic.

Later, when Raven took the stand, he described Moyer as "aggressive from the get-go."

When she told him he wouldn't be allowed to confront the participants with his religious beliefs, he said his "heart began to beat."

"I felt violated," he said. "I felt my rights were being crushed."

While Moyer said he planned to confront festival participants, he described his intent as "sharing the message."

He said members of his group laid down in front of the stage to be as passive as possible.

"We were vulnerable," he said.

Moyer testified that although she had asked Raven to keep his group across North Main Street in the eastern portion of Wisner Park, she didn't move to arrest him when he and the others came across the street and walked single file on the diagonal sidewalk toward the stage.

But when they started to lay down with their heads toward the stage, she said she immediately slapped handcuffs on Raven and called for backup.

Under cross-examination, Moyer repeated that she warned Raven he would be arrested if he engaged in confrontational behavior, that she witnessed his behavior and its effect on the gathering and that she then acted on her warning.

"We were there to protect the safety of everyone," she said.

Oster said in his closing arguments that Raven and the others shouldn't have been arrested because their behavior might make other people angry.

He said the Supreme Court has ruled that it is unlawful to arrest black people at sit-ins just because they were making white people angry.

"The police have a duty to protect the speaker," he said.

Siglin countered in his closing argument that the case wasn't about religious freedom.

"The case is about public order," he said. "It is not about what was said."

After the verdict, Siglin said an important principle was upheld.

"I'm happy the efforts of the Elmira Police Department officers were recognized," Siglin said.

"Police need to feel confident about stepping in to protect the public before a situation escalates."

[...] Raven gave a quote from A.W. Towzier, a Christian writer, as his reaction: "Our only reward is being right in a wrong world," he said.
Of course, the bold is my addition to the article.

Please note the key differences in the two articles: World Nut Daily (and, of course, it's silly subscriber base) would have us believe that they couldn't "enter the park" (not true: "I explained he was welcome to be there (at the festival), but he would not be allowed to confront the participants."); WND would have us believe that "We didn't say boo to a goose, still we were arrested" (not true: "he planned to confront festival participants, he described his intent as "sharing the message."); WND would also have us believe that "[t]his was a hasty show of force" (not true: "she witnessed his behavior and its effect on the gathering and that she then acted on her warning [to arrest him after several warnings]...).

I'm sorry, but it almost--almost--sounds as if the Christians were (GASP!!!) looking for a fight!! These followers of the Prince of Peace, these adherents of the "turn the other cheek" Christ, these "servants" of the "treat others how you would want to be treated" god... Looking for a fight? Perish the thought!!

Of course, I'm wondering if I laid prostrate in front of the preacher at an Easter sermon in a public graveyard wearing a shirt that says something to the effect of "Jesus is Myth," or "Dead Men Don't Save Souls," would they be applauding my right to free speech? Treat me as they want to be treated in this above scenario? Somehow I doubt it...

Because disrupting a public event isn't a case of free speech--it's a case of being a nuisance, a disturber of the peace. You can preach till hell freezes over and cows sing the blues. You can stand outside of bars (like you already do), you can preach to the choir every Sunday from your pulpit (like you do), you can wear your T-shirts and shout your "message" (as if everyone hasn't heard it already...), but laying yourself down in front of a crowd that you know isn't there to celebrate your Jesus... And you want to claim victimization? Seriously? You really want to state for the record "We were vulnerable"? Are you freaking kidding me?

In my opinion, $195 isn't a high enough fine, but that's just me...

In this related article from an actual resident of Elmira, he observed the following:
Our Field Director Nora Yates attended the first one in 2004 along with several hundred members and friends of the Elmira LGBT community. She told us later that there were also a large number of police present to guarantee everyone’s safety as no one was quite sure what the reaction might be to such an open demonstration of LGBT Pride in Elmira.

This year the Mayor took part in the celebration for the very first time as a continuation of the city’s show of support for LGBT people. On the flip side, the religious right also showed up. Seven protesters wearing T-shirts that said "Liberated from Sin" tried to disrupt the celebration by blocking the stage and putting on a show of praying and scripture reading.
Didn't "say boo to a goose" my ass...

I wonder how much they'll take Jesus for now? $200 still seems way to small a fine...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Silent War...

I flick the switch back on. It is the life blood of the first round of seeds I am starting for our spring vegetable garden, the "herb" section. Rosemary, cilantro, oregano, chives, a few others. They are in the kitchen window, the south side of our home, so they only get about half a days worth of actual sun light... On a not-so-cloudy day, mind you. So the light over the kitchen sink makes up for those days and nights when nature isn't actually helping anything...

A few hours later, someone will have turned the light back to the "off" position. (Is he not a fan of chives?) I casually lean back over and flick the light back on. I inspect the seeds: of the sixteen cups, eight have now produced a few shoots. I sprinkle the cups with some more water (moisture is key, I might add...) and walk away.

It could be any day--I leave for work, on. I come home from work, off. I go to the bathroom, on. I come back out, off. (Is our electric bill that high this month?)

Neither of us say a word. No eye contact is made as we pass back and forth in front of each other in the hall, as we sit side-by-side on the couch, as a casual call from the kitchen queries, "Do you need anything?"

Of course, what I need is for the light to stay on: after all, like moisture, light is essential. Vegetables don't grow in dark places (unlike mold, mice, and three-eyed monsters).

I've already won the war over the spare bedroom door--it stays open. That is where the cacti and bamboo reside until spring graces us with warm days and nights and they can take their rightful place on the deck. I've also won the laundry war: we do separate whites from colors. On the other hand, I've never won the Christmas card war: we don't send those, even though he's the Jesus-believer and I am not...

Of course, the herb seeds will soon be joined by corn, radish, lettuce, spinach, beets, pumpkin, watermelon, cucumber, and squash--oh, and tomatoes. And the established herb seeds will be nestled between the cacti and bamboo while the vegetables take advantage of all day/all night light (whether sun or artificial), but only if I win this one.

Only if I win.

I know as soon as I hit "Publish This Post," I will have to go out to the kitchen and flick the light back on. After all, I've been in front of the computer for what... Fifteen minutes? In that time, Rich has come and gone from the kitchen in his nightly scavenge for chips and dip...

Yes, that's one more war I haven't won... Snacky stuff in the house...

That must be it, actually... I can't grow potato chips in a vegetable garden...

Well, at least not in "chip" form...