Friday, February 26, 2010

Obama aides to meet with atheists

Thanks, Guy Harrison, for bringing this Miami Herald article to our attention:

...several administration officials will sit down quietly for a morning meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus with about 60 workhorses from the coalition's 10 member groups, including the American Atheists and the Council for Secular Humanism. Tina Tchen, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and representatives from the Justice and Health and Human Services departments will participate.

Coalition leaders are billing their visit as an important meeting between a presidential administration and the "nontheist" community. On the agenda are three policy areas: child medical neglect, military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives.

"We're raising important issues that affect real people's lives," said Sean Faircloth, 49, a former Maine state legislator who's the coalition's executive director.

Not a HUGE step, but it's a start.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tonight on AETV

Technical problems, especially with the UStream feed, plagued our late edition of AETV tonight. This is a shame, because our guest, Dr. Darrel Ray, who joined us to discuss his book The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture, engaged us in a tremendously enjoyable talk that made this one of our best episodes in a long time, if I do say so myself. Since most of our viewers trying to watch live online didn't get to see the whole thing, we'll be sure to get the full version of the show up on the web as soon as we can. I'll be reading Dr. Ray's book during the coming week and will offer my thoughts on it when I'm done. But with his background in psychology, it seems he's really taken Dawkins' concept of memes and developed the idea to much greater depth. In all, a fine night, with a terrific guest and a good studio audience too. The sort of episode that reminds us just how much we enjoy doing the show.

Here's Dr. Ray's adjunct site, Recovering from Religion.

Addendum, Monday night: Okay, here's the video.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Hey gang. Here's a positive thing you can do, in the midst of a world overrun with teabagger hate and domestic terrorism and general irrationality. One of my best friends is doing this week-long, 545-mile bike marathon this coming June, from LA to San Fran, and it's all to benefit AIDS research. And she's looking for sponsors. So, you know, do eet for SCIENCE! And to piss off the homophobes at the American "Family" Association, the "Family" Research Council, and all those other fundamentalist hate groups who try to hide behind the word "family." I could only spare 10 bucks, so if $5 or $10 or $15 is all you can manage, that'd be beyond awesome. And I know all you folks are beyond awesome.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Update on Andrew Wakefield

In an earlier post, I drew attention to the anti-vax hero Andrew Wakefield. Today's Austin American Statesman reported that Wakefield has left his executive director position at the Austin-based Thoughtful House Center for Children that he helped found. It's possible that they can rehabilitate their reputation without him. Late last month, Wakefield was found "irresponsible" by the British General Medical Council for performing unnecessary invasive tests on children. He also "flouted the rules in pursuit of his theory – and profit". A hearing in April will determine whether he is guilty of misconduct. If he is found guilty, he could be stripped of his medical license.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Suicide Note I Empathize With

Today, a man flew a small plane into a building in Austin. It's captured our attention for most of the day. It turns out that the pilot was very frustrated and did what is effectively a suicide attack on an IRS office. He also torched his own house with his wife and child in it. It appears that one of his intents was to get the world to read his suicide note. His drastic measures have proven successful.

Although I can't understand or endorse what he did, I found a lot in his note that I agreed with. The main theme was about how so much of American life is gamed by the big guys and how little power the little guy has to stop it. He railed against tax codes that exploited his profession, health care, the legal code, the political system that fails to represent the people, and the Catholic church. He called the church "vulgar" and "corrupt" and bemoaned the fact that they have received tax exemptions that helped make them wealthy. I agree completely with the spirit of his complaints, even though I don't understand the details of his situation.

I'm a reasonably intelligent guy and I cannot for the life of me figure out why the United States gives a tax exemption to the Catholic Church. The Church seems to exemplify the rigged system that we labor under. They have run a pedophile ring for decades in multiple countries and done everything in their power to evade responsibility. I've written about this before. Yes, some priests have received the justice they deserved, but to date none of the scheming hierarchy has seen the inside of a court, let alone a jail. The Catholic Church is a criminal organization that should have its assets seized under the RICO (racketeering) law until a full investigation can be performed. The assets of the church should be used to benefit its victims. I simply cannot fathom why they are still receiving a tax exemption.

To add insult to injury, the Pope has evaded a law suit in the pedophile scandal by claiming diplomatic immunity. Some people think he's the head of some state. Ok. If they want to play that card, then let's make all of the Catholic hierarchy Vatican citizens and revoke their US passports. They clearly have little respect for US law and they're only following orders, like good little immoral soldiers they are. If they are convicted of a crime, they can be convicted or deported like any other badly-behaving alien. They want to have their cake and eat it too. When they can evade laws or screw with other countries, they're a foreign country. When they want to make money, they're a charity. So far, they've been very successful at the game.

I will continue to remind people of the corruption of the Catholic Church, but I don't see them being treated any differently in the foreseeable future. Catholic laity are still deeply loyal to the Church. They appear to be happy to support the pedophilia and corruption because the value their magic crackers and ticket to perpetual orgasm over any sort of human moral virtue. Either that, or they're hopelessly mindlessly ignorant. If a Catholic reader has a more generous interpretation, I'd like to hear it. Perhaps that reader can also explain why anyone should trust them on their woo-woo unverifiable supernatural claims when they spend so much time lying about real-world claims. They're really good at lying, as near as I can tell.

The Catholic Church doesn't run the US legal system. (At least I hope not.) They clearly seem to have help from outside their church. It appears that the majority of Christians value "religious tolerance". What this has come to mean is a situational moral blind spot when the perpetrators of some atrocity happen to be fellow Christians. You also hear it as "Thou Shalt Not Judge". In practice, it's an agreement among thugs: "You don't draw attention to my sociopathic Rapture snuff porn business and I won't draw attention to your pedophile ring." "You let me pray my sick child to death and I won't call you on your faith-healing con game." The list goes on. In the end, practical Christianity is about screwing someone and inhibiting anyone from doing something about it. It's worked well for Christian leaders so far, why would they want to change it? Why would believers risk their ticket to nirvana actually doing something when they can take comfort in prayer (which has the same practical effect as masturbation)?

Lest you think I'm making this up, I have gotten a number of e-mails from Christians who seem to be shocked that I'm rattling the skeleton's in Christianity's closet. (I'm not party to the agreement between thugs.) Their biggest desire seems to be to shut me up. They seem to know what I'm saying is true, but they don't want to hear it. One correspondent actually wanted me to enter a deal where if I lost, I would never say anything bad about a Christian again (even if it was true). That alone speaks volumes about Christianity to me. The moral failings of Christianity are a big part of my motivation to be an outspoken advocate for atheism. They should be a reason why we deny tax exemptions to such blatantly corrupt religious organizations.

Sadly, Christianity's corruption is only part of the overall screwed up situation we're in. I'm doing what I can with the tools I have. I would encourage all of you to do what you can to get us out of the myriad messes we're all in.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Racial composition does not imply a group's ideology

Listening to Keith Olbermann in the car this morning made me deeply annoyed. He ran one of those signature "special comments," this time on racism in the Tea Party. That's fine with me. I mean, when you have images like this

and this

Then yeah, I think it's not unreasonable to speculate that there is some latent racism going on in the Tea Party movement.

But he didn't stop there; he went on to say that the tea party protests are mostly composed exclusively of white guys. Then he said something to the effect that if they aren't racist, how come there aren't more black people?

And I say: MEH. It's not as easy as Keith imagines to get a diverse group to support an activist cause, and it's a terrible fallacy to conclude that the movement is racist because it doesn't attract more black people.

I've been through seven years of college with a computer science/engineering background, okay? There were not many women in the programs. Why? Beats me. I wish more women would be computer nerds. I have worked in many companies where there was a good mix of genders, but I've noticed that the women in the companies far more commonly fill non-techie roles: testers, administrators, office assistants, HR, some managers. Stuff like that.

This is not a sexist claim. It's basic statistical observation. It is not a statement of "ought," it is a statement of "is." It's also obviously not universal, as I knew several women who made up, I'm guessing, 5% of my Master's program; and I know plenty of female engineers, including Jen and Elze in the ACA. But still, as I look around my cubicle area at my job, almost everyone within view is male.

By Olbermann's logic, computer software development must be a fundamentally sexist undertaking. The entire practice must espouse some core values that hates and derides women.

It doesn't stop there. The Atheist Experience has a relatively good mix of men and women... by which I mean that among the hosts and cohosts are only twice as many men as women. There are also only twice as many heterosexuals as homosexuals, which is actually overrepresentative of gay people. We have no African-Americans (or "black people," if you're not keen on politically correct language, which I'm not). From my ten year memory of the ACA, I can think of two black women and no black men who were members. (Deepest apologies if you are somebody I left out.)

Edit: There are seven total hosts and cohosts, not six as I first thought, making the ratio of male to female 5:2, not 4:2. Same with sexual orientation.

From what I've heard, black atheists are really quite rare, and activist black atheists are rarer still. They're out there, of course, and Reginald Finley (who is the most famous one I know) has helpfully compiled a list of famous black atheists -- and I recognize almost none of them. (Sorry!) In the last few months I've heard the topic of come up at least twice on the show, prompting a string of black callers from around the country to offer their two cents on the nature of the problem. This puts us white hosts in the uncomfortable situation of having to speculate about what it is about either race or culture that makes it more difficult for black people to come out as nonbelievers.

Lest you think it's just our tiny minority group that shares this "racism," I'll point out that Yearly Kos, the convention for liberal activists sponsored by the liberal blog Daily Kos, has received similar pointless criticism that they are "diversity challenged." That because they can't attract more black members, there is some unspoken whites-only principle in the ideology of the group.

Which is stupid, and should be transparently stupid to someone like Keith Olbermann, who loves Daily Kos and has founder Markos Moulitsas as a regular guest on his show. And yet here he is committing this rotten fallacy on the tea party movement, which only serves to undermine the (IMHO) accurate message that many people in the movement are bigoted asshats.

If there's a lesson to draw here, it's that you can reach the right conclusion for very wrong reasons. Like a person who becomes an atheist because Zeitgeist convinced them of the truth of some very dubious claims about Christianity; once a person finds out that the underlying arguments are terrible, they're likely to dismiss the conclusion.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Atheist Experience on February 21st

Our regular time slot for The Atheist Experience for February 21st was taken by a class in the same studio. The crew has worked their magic and got us the slot from 8-9:30 pm that day (3.5 hours later). It looks like the show will go on. Please watch the stream and participate as you normally would.

Matt and Martin will be on and they will have a special guest, Darrell Ray, author of The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and Culture.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just says it all, don't it...

(...sigh) Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.

It should be noted that this level of illiterate paste-eating chowderheadedness is not always indicated in home schooling situations. In fact, you'll hear from a number of progressive, atheist parents on the TFN blog who have chosen, wisely, to homeschool because Texas is doing is damnedest to turn public schools here into little Christian houses of indoctrination. If I were a parent, I'd homeschool, absolutely. How else could I be sure my kid was getting a sound grounding in history and science, free from right-wing ideological revisionism? But it's true that a significant amount of homeschooling is done by fundamentalist Christian parents seeking to destroy their kids' minds and future opportunities by entrenching that very ideology. And I think that's what we're seeing the hilarious after-effects of here.

HT: TFN Insider

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The show tomorrow and next weekend

Just a heads-up for all of you: tomorrow we've got the "No Boys Allowed" episode featuring the Jen & Tracie Power Team, fresh off their total ownage of Blag Hag's poll of atheism's most influential women. What can we say? Hit the UStream early for this one, gang.

The following weekend, sadly, we're going to be pre-empted, a thing that looks like it's going to happen one Sunday per month for the next couple of months, at least. This is due to ChannelAustin using the studio for training purposes, most likely, so there's not a whole lot we can do about it. Well, I suppose we could fill in that weekend by shooting at Matt's place again, but I suspect with his work schedule and getting over a cold, he's probably not up for the hassle of it.

And thus I leave you, dear readers, with a small irrelevant item that I have no doubt will top off your WTF tanks for the rest of the weekend: some imaginative entreprenuer has decided that the one thing women really need when hosting baby showers for their expecting friends is a fetus-shaped cookie cutter. You are encouraged to decorate the cookies made therefrom with the baby's name, thus committing all shower attendees to a bizarre and rather queasy-making form of communion as the baby is symbolically passed around and eaten. Well, necessity is the mother of invention, they say.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Darwin Day 2010

Aaaand I hope you're having a nice one.

Apropos of Don's post below, I can only reiterate the threat to science education (as well as to civics/history education, and anything else the wingnuts don't feel meshes with their ideological "white Christians did everything!" talking points) by the current SBOE. So in that spirit I direct your attention to Teach Them Science, a website dedicated to fighting the wingnut agenda.

This isn't a perfect meeting of the minds. For one thing, it's a joint project between Center for Inquiry and The Clergy Letter Project. The latter is a group of religious leaders promoting positive science education and resisting creationist ignorance. Now, that's a good thing. But I can sympathize with PZ's wariness of the group and the way they try to pretend science and religion can somehow be simpatico. Still, I can see that perhaps such a stance is a PR necessity at present. With the vast majority of the public still clinging to religion's skirts, good science education would be a hard sell if it came with the message that "Now you can dump all that stupid God bullshit!" There's a whole page on the Teach Them Science site that addresses the question of whether you can accept evolution and still believe in Sky Daddy, and I admit it kind of makes me cringe. But I have to remember that's because I've evolved beyond superstition, and most people aren't so lucky. So, you know, baby steps. Sure, a person can be scientifically literate and theistic all at once, though I still don't understand why they'd want to (lookin' at you, Ken Miller). But the point of proper scientific education first and foremost is to fill people's heads with facts — something the currently SBOE is fighting tooth and nail — and let them draw conclusions about worthwhile philosophies on their own after they have all the facts. It's the SBOE that wants to deny students that freedom of choice, and impose upon them not merely a Christian philosophy, but a specifically conservative American fundamentalist Protestant one.

So, mindful of the fact that sometimes war makes for strange bedfellows, I think movements like Teach Them Science stand to do more good than harm, and that the anti-science agenda of the far right needs to be fought by any means necessary.

Science Works, Albeit Slowly

This month, the British medical journal Lancet retracted a peer-reviewed study done by Andrew Wakefield. The paper was retracted because Wakefield apparently provided false information in the study and perhaps tried to cook the numbers to promote his cause and his career. He's also under investigation for serious professional misconduct.

Who is Andrew Wakefield and why was this paper important? He claimed that there was a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. This paper served as the cornerstone of an anti-vaccination movement here and in Briton that has caused many parents to not vaccinate their children, leaving them vulnerable to a host of serious, but easily preventable diseases. The harm he has done is immeasurable.

On the plus side, science is working. His study drew skepticism and further scrutiny. His co-authors asked to have their names removed from the paper as a means of protecting their reputations. His results could not be replicated and they were refuted. The editors of the journal made a difficult decision to retract the paper, thus keeping their integrity from being taken down with the junk science paper. Retractions like this are rare, fortunately, but they serve as a housecleaning mechanism to purge the literature of truly bad publications. The machinery of science got the right answer. It's a shame that the machinations took 12 years.

The popular press is still full of anti-vaccination material and the harm won't be fully addressed for years, but the process has finally got moving. Meanwhile, true scientists can get back to the serious business of understanding and someday preventing or curing autism.

BTW, Andrew Wakefield now lives in Austin Texas where he runs a clinic called the "Thoughtful House Center for Children." I wouldn't recommend taking your children there.

NY Times Magazine covers the Texas SBOE

The New York Times Magazine published a very good piece this weekend on the Texas State Board of Education, it's Christian exceptionalist members and their motivations. The piece is called "How Christian were the Founders?". It's long, but thourough and fair. I recommend it.

One of the last points Russell Shorto makes at the end of the article is that a few of the SBOE members are vulnerable or not seeking reelection (Cynthia Dunbar). We Texans have a chance to correct some of these problems in the upcoming March primaries and in the general election in November. If you live in Texas, we urge you to pick candidates who will truly improve education in Texas.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Big fat wide open thread

[Pokes head in door] Oh, hi all. Sorry it's been quiet here the last few days. Weather's been sucky, Matt's sick with something, no clue where everyone else is but I imagine it involves having jobs and lives, and I am at present umbilically attached to Bioshock 2. So you folks can have this one all to yourselves to chat about whatever you'd like, and I'll be in and out to pass the moderation queue. Have fun and try not to get too much blood on the carpet. [Waves]

Addendum: Oh, here's a little something, and trust me to remember late in the day. Evidently, this is the ACA's lucky 13th anniversary! Yes, the group was founded on this day in 1997. So, go us!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The intellectual entirety of the Tea Party movement in one screencap

Cue the fail at the Teabagger Convention: Here's cover girl Sarah Palin, after banking 100 large to give a speech slamming overspending and greed, answering one of the pre-screened questions by looking at notes written on her hand.

As a number of folks have already remarked, most of us were a little more subtle about this kind of cheating in junior high school, for chrissakes. And 53% of Republicans think she's more qualified to sit in the White House than Obama!? Look, whatever you think of the man's policies, he's definitely not a complete paste-eating chowderhead. I knew this country was into breeding the stupid, but I'm always astounded at how polluted the gene pool has really gotten.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Counter-protesting Phelps in SanFran: doin it rite!

Via Dawkins' site, I come upon this post at Laughing Squid reporting on a recent protest by — oh great, them again — Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church at San Francisco's Twitter offices, and the counter-protest by locals. Note the tone is one of glorious, effusive mockery, as seen in the example below.

More where that came from, kidrocks. Take a moment to note that this is absolutely the right approach to take with idiots like Westboro: "point and laugh" should always be the default response to utter troglodyte stupidity. And yes, we have gotten emails from viewers saying, "ZOMG, I heard Fred Phelps coming to my town, and I want to counter-protest! What should I do?" Well, here you go.

I'd personally go with "GOD HATES HASHTAGS," but that's just me.

Letting people as hopelessly pathetic as Westboro make you angry simply validates their hate, which is what they want. True, there are times when it's perfectly fitting to respond angrily to such stupidity. But that would be times when, say, homophobia takes on the sort of political character that can lead to legislation that harms and discriminates, like Prop. 8. Phelps, on the other hand, is a mere clown. And we laugh at clowns. At least, the ones that aren't frackin' scary.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

This Sunday we’ll be examining some hymn lyrics. The background will be orthodox Christian doctrine: That man is faulty and requires salvation. The price chosen and dictated by Yahweh is execution/blood sacrifice of a perfect human. Jesus, sent from god, is that sinless human who represents the “spotless lamb” so often sacrificed by Hebrews in antiquity. His torture and death are intended as compensation to Yahweh, who otherwise would refuse to tolerate a flawed human being in his presence (in Heaven). So, Yahweh appeased himself by having humans offer up the bloody human sacrifice of Jesus to Him. And Yahweh is now willing to allow humans into His presence, so long as the humans believe this doctrine and agree they have failed to the point that only execution would be sufficient justice. The upshot is supposed to be that Jesus was brought back to life a few days later—as a sign that you, too, can come back from the dead and live forever with god, since Jesus did the dying for us all and paid the price for our “sin.”

The selected lyrics that follow represent the relevant parts of hymns that “celebrate” this doctrine and are commonly sung in pews across America. Next time you’re in a church, pick up a hymnal and give it a read if you want to see how Christians view their own beliefs.

“Amazing Grace”
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

“Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?”
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

An interesting point about this lyric is that I found a Web site online that changed the final line of that verse to “for sinners such as I?” They expressed the decision as so:
>Basically we think of ourselves as fairly nice people who became Christians and added meaning to our lives
>There are far more choir members singing songs of self-esteem than Reformers singing songs of total depravity. Since we’ve already rejected their “worm theology” we just ignore their warnings. We continue to preach a happy face doctrine of self esteem.

What I found particularly interesting about this was that they did not change any of the other lyrics in this hymn, which still holds that humans are so unacceptable, in god’s opinion, that only execution could possibly appease Yahweh as compensation for their present sinful state. So, I’m not a worm, I’m actually a basically good person that god will only accept if someone is executed in my stead. Here are more lyrics from the same hymn, that they don’t feel any need to alter, to demonstrate my point:

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

So, they agree that whatever they’re “guilty” of requires someone to be executed, and that’s justice. But they’re “good people”—and were “good people,” even before they “became Christians.” Everyone clear on that?

“Not All The Blood Of Beasts”
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.

Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,
And sing His bleeding love.

“Nothing but the Blood”
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

And just in case you don’t know how happy a human sacrifice and an execution can be, here’s a little reminder:

“Calvary’s Stream Is Flowing”
From that dear cross where Jesus died,
Calv’ry’s stream is flowing;
From bleeding hands and feet and side,
Calv’ry’s stream is flowing.

With life and peace upon its tide,
Calv’ry’s stream is flowing;
Sweet blessings down the ages glide,
Calv’ry’s stream is flowing.

What could be more of a cause for exuberance than the image of “sweet blessings” gliding down a streaming tide of blood flowing from a condemned man’s body as he dies in agony?

What could, indeed. Perhaps the image of diving into a pool of blood, fed by a stream of blood flowing from the mountain upon which a man was executed, to wash yourself clean as “snow”?

“It Cleanseth Me”
There is a stream that flows from Calvary,
A crimson tide so deep and wide.
It washes whiter than the purest snow;
It cleanseth me, I know.

No other fountain can for sin atone
But Jesus’ blood, O precious flood!
And whosoever will may plunge therein,
And be made free from sin.

But bear in mind that god only demanded this brutal compensation because of his great love and mercy—but you could never deserve it. After all, what you deserve, again, is death. That’s why you need to be willing to sacrifice anything and everything in your life and in this world, in order to show Yahweh how grateful you are for his loving mercifulness:

“When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

“How Can I Look On Calvary’s Cross?”
How can I think of all He bore—
The shame, the thorns, the pain,
And unrepentant go my way
To pierce His heart again?
Forsaken in His darkest hour
By all, except His God,
Shall I deny my blessed Lord,
Who died to lift the rod?

Let me interrupt this one for a moment to clarify that is “the rod” you should be beaten with, instead. And how could we go on without noting Jesus wasn't forsaken by his god--the same god that dreamed up this whole execution/human sacrifice as his best-ever Plan of Salvation.

No, no! I cannot traitor be
To Jesus, King of Love,
Tho’ sinner steeped in guilt I am,
His mercy I will prove;
His blood on Calv’ry’s cross was shed,
To save e’en such as me;
O Jesus, now accept my all,
And draw me close to Thee.

And who could forget this timeless classic?

“The Old Rugged Cross”
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

Yes, the beauty of an implement of torture and execution. So easy to appreciate.

Believe me, there’s more. Much, much, much more. This is only a small sampling. And on Sunday, even what I offer then will still only be a small sampling. But I will warn you, it’s going to be pretty well “more of the same” of what I’ve posted here. On Sunday, it won’t be so much any new horrors, as just hammering the same horrors over and over and over again. Because that's part of indoctrination: Repeat, repeat, repeat. And the point will be to make it abundantly clear that this is not about selecting a few objectionable hymns out of thousands, but that this is a common theme of hymns. This is orthodox Christian doctrine. And for those unfamiliar with fundamentalism, this is how they describe their beliefs within their church walls. This is how they view these concepts. And I can’t stress enough how “happy” many of these tunes are, as they go on about pain, human sacrifice, death and bathing in the blood of an executed, innocent man, to cleanse souls. And worst of all, they describe this to children as the most magnificent example of love and mercy in all of human history.

This is “the story” they defend.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Global Warming Denial and God Belief

I've often wondered why the religious nuts are most often the most vocal against global warming. On the surface, it seems incongruous. When the topic is God, they prop up the flimsiest evidence and put their fingers in their ears, yelling "la la la" when there is solid evidence against supernatural belief. When the topic is global warming, however, these same people ignore the evidence and claim to be highly educated skeptics.

Rush Limbaugh has explained the connection. After identifying himself as a creationist he said, "I simply cannot accept the fact that we would be created to do things that would destroy our environment..." Sadly, such a person would never ponder the possibility that they might be wrong. Or that their own denial is part of the problem.

On both topics of God and global warming, their minds are made up.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The View From the Rear View Mirror

To Senator McCain - want some cheese to go with that whine? You could have gone down in history as the guy who stood up to a bad law that's cost us 13,000 service members in its 17 year history. Instead, you'll just be the cranky old guy we left in the 20th century. That small speck receding in the rear view mirror is you.

Meanwhile, some media outlets have had Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council on to denounce the impending repeal of DADT and call for criminalization of homosexual behavior. On Hardball, Sprigg invoked the horrors of service members being forced to shower with gays. With his detailed predictions of what gays will do to the military, surely he must be drawing on his own vast military experience. Sadly, no. He has none. Zero. But he has written a couple of poorly sourced books on how awful gays are. Oh, and he's a Baptist minister, which I'm sure has not biased him in any way.

Wait a minute... Sprigg's bio on the FRC website says he spent 10 years as a professional actor. Surely you don't think there were any gay people in the theater...

Monday, February 01, 2010

Odds and ends

Other Work has kept me from posting over the weekend, but I thought I'd just toss a few kernels of corn to all you lovely pigeons!

  • The latest entry in the "Dumbass Utterances from Texas SBOE Members" Sweepstakes: An article at the Texas Tribune informs us that not only is the SBOE incompetent at determining curricula and separating their personal political and religious agendas from the educational needs of children, but they're also ineptly managing the Permanent School Fund, a $23 billion endowment that basically pays for the state's schools. Hardly anyone on the SBOE has experience with this level of financial management, and among their idiotic decisions was to hire consultants, against the advice of the Texas Education Agency, who were not only poorly ranked but actually being sued by the town of Fairfield, CT, for losing the town's entire pension fund to Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme! Responding to criticisms that the SBOE didn't know their asses from their elbows, the board's dimwit du jour David Bradley actually tried to argue...well, I'm not sure what the fuck he's arguing. Either he's arguing that it's perfectly okay for unqualified people to do jobs better suited to qualified people, or the exact opposite. Either way, it's Argument Fail By Bad Analogy for $1000, Alex: “If you sit on the mental health commission, do you have to be retarded? If you sit on the [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission], do you have to be a drunk?” No no, David, the SBOE has a lock on the "drunk retard" quota, don't worry.
  • Oh dearie dearie me! Some unscrupulous soul has either planted malware on the computers over at the Christian Worldview Network, or just spoofed their email. You remember them, Brannon Howse's House of Lunacy, where they never met a persecution complex or conspiracy theory they didn't like — especially both in combination. Well, I haven't been getting their newsletters for a while, and I figured they'd learned I was a godless baby-eating hellbound librul socialist communist Marxist whatever who simply subscribed so he'd have all manner of material for blog snarkage, and deleted me. It's a fair cop. But imagine my glee to see an email from them today, only to discover, when I opened it, this:
    Aww, boo! Boring! When I checked the link (out of curiosity, mind you), it was really nothing but the most mundane spam. I mean, it really should have been gay hentai! That would have been the most delicious cosmic justice for old Brannon!
  • In the wake of Scott Roeder's murder conviction, news is making the rounds that some people aren't too happy about it. I imagine you can guess who. Thing is, I'm puzzled by the who-cares obviousness of the headline "Roeder conviction angers anti-abortion militants." So basically, a bunch of domestic terrorists are angry that a domestic terrorist is going to prison for an act of domestic terrorism. Yeah, so? I'm quite sure al Qaeda gets a little peeved whenever we blow up one of their top guys too. Does that warrant its own news coverage? How about "Crackheads angry over crack dealer conviction"? Not anyone's problem but their own, you know? I'm just sayin'.