left biblioblography: November 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I just received this via my email, and it’s cold shudders time again.

I just received this today. I went onto this website, and wrote a letter saying Madonna SHOULD be allowed to air on Thanksgiving (sure, it was a little after the fact…shhhh! Don’t tell anyone).

First, it begins with the usual twaddle:

Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.
A first for America...The Koran replaces the Bible at swearing-in oath
What book will America base it's values on, the Bible or the Koran?

Bad news: America bases it’s values on English common law, which was in effect by the 7th century, two centuries prior to Christianity arriving.

America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on By Dennis Prager - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

That pesky ole First Amendment in action.He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

No, it loosens the stranglehold of your religion.First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture.

Fucktard. America IS a mulitcutural oasis.

What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

First Amendment again. Man, how annoying.Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is.

Any more than we should give a hoot about your book.
Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.

Apparently, these idiots haven’t read the Constitution. ‘No religious oaths will be required to hold office’. Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress.

Ummm…Strom Thurmond? Trent Lott? David Duke? Howzabout Woodrow Wilson?

Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison's right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?

Easy. Mein Kampf isn’t a religious book. Playing the race card, and badly too.Of course, Ellison's defenders argue that Ellison is merely being honest; since he believes in the Koran and not in the Bible, he should be allowed, even encouraged, to put his hand on the book he believes in. But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either.

Jews believe in the Talmud. Which parts are contained in the bible. Short version: nobody had a choice. In a free country, that’s a BAD thing.

Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon. And it is hard to imagine a scientologist being allowed to take his oath of office on a copy of "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard.

I say we dump the whole religious swearing in thing altogether. It violates the Separation of Church and State.So why are we allowing Keith Ellison to do what no other member of Congress has ever done -- choose his own most revered book for his oath?
Maybe because it’s the 21st century? We need to scotch this stupid tradition anywhoways.
The answer is obvious -- Ellison is a Muslim. And whoever decides these matters, not to mention virtually every editorial page in America, is not going to offend a Muslim. In fact, many of these people argue it will be a good thing because Muslims around the world will see what an open society America is and how much Americans honor Muslims and the Koran.

It is a good thing in some ways. This argument appeals to all those who believe that one of the greatest goals of America is to be loved by the world, and especially by Muslims because then fewer Muslims will hate us (and therefore fewer will bomb us).

Really, playing the racism card again. Wait: you’re against people LOVING us? But these naive people do not appreciate that America will not change the attitude of a single American-hating Muslim by allowing Ellison to substitute the Koran for the Bible. In fact, the opposite is more likely: Ellison's doing so will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal -- the Islamicization of America.

Oh, sure, they’ll be lining up with bombs in hand, sniffing weakness. Islamicization? Are we even living in the same country?When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11. It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim Americans want to bequeath to America. But if it is, it is not only Europe that is in trouble. (End Commentary)

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” – Samuel Johnson

“I have often expressed my sentiments that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience. “George Washington, letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, May, 1789

Let’s get this straight: I’m against the concept of theocracy. The bible played a role in the days of our Founders, but by NO MEANS are we beholden to that ancient book of fables. Ninety percent of the morals we live by have been in good standing in other countries that have never drunk deeply of the draught of Christianity. Secular countries have LESSER rates of crime, and higher instances of morality.
This is the weary old canard again: hate the difference. I’m not a big fan of Islam, by any stretch: I am also against Christianity. Invoking the looming sceptre of ‘Islamofascism’ is a fascist manuever, in and of itself. Fearmongering like this is a piss-poor effort to put the heel on the neck of the populace.

Using this as my barometer, I came up with six out of fourteen signs that this is blackshirt propaganda.

Count ‘em yourself, and see what you come up with.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Stumbled across this link at the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew’s blog (this was a month or so ago), and felt compelled to share it:

“Getting closer to the cosmic connection to climate
An essential role for remote stars in everyday weather on Earth has been revealed by an experiment at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen.
It is already well-established that when cosmic rays, which are high-speed atomic particles originating in exploded stars far away in the Milky Way, penetrate Earth’s atmosphere they produce substantial amounts of ions and release free electrons. Now, results from the Danish experiment show that the released electrons significantly promote the formation of building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei on which water vapour condenses to make clouds.

Hence, a causal mechanism by which cosmic rays can facilitate the production of clouds in Earth’s atmosphere has been experimentally identified for the first time.The Danish team officially announce their discovery on Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, published by the Royal Society, the British national academy of science.The experimentThe experiment called SKY (Danish for ‘cloud’) took place in a large reaction chamber which contained a mixture of gases at realistic concentrations to imitate the chemistry of the lower atmosphere. Ultraviolet lamps mimicked the action of the Sun’s rays. During experimental runs, instruments traced the chemical action of the penetrating cosmic rays in the reaction chamber.The data revealed that electrons released by cosmic rays act as catalysts, which significantly accelerate the formation of stable, ultra-small clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules which are building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei. A vast numbers of such microscopic droplets appeared, floating in the air in the reaction chamber. “

What’s my point? It’s great ammo for the next argument you have with an ID advocate (because they usually posit from the angle that planet earth is an isolated system, when obviously it is not). I have spoken of this elsewhere, and bring it up, time and again: we are not a pocket of isolation, at least from the perspective of interaction between planets. Is the universe isolated? We won’t know until we get up and out there, to walk the stars, pinch the dust of a million worlds between our thumbs and forefingers, and perhaps breathe deeply of another atmosphere (or several others).

So while our planet may not be the crux of the universe, there are small inroads here and there, so tiny or sporadic that we miss them when we blink or are too busy chatting or engaged in that act of simply being human:
The universe is wild, wooly, and deep. Or, as Hamlet put it: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Till the next post then.


Saturday, November 25, 2006


One Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, to be precise. He’s new to me: but he lived circa 1804–1872.

“German philosopher and anthropologist whose major work, The Essence of Christianity (1841), maintains that religion and divinity are projections of human nature.

“(Born July 28, 1804, Landshut, Bavaria-died Sept. 13, 1872, Rechenberg, Ger.) German philosopher. The son of an eminent jurist, he studied under G.W.F. Hegel in Berlin but later abandoned Hegelian idealism for a naturalistic materialism. In Thoughts on Death and Immortality (1830), he attacked the concept of personal immortality. His Abelard and Heloise (1834) and Pierre Bayle (1838) were followed by On Philosophy and Christianity (1839), in which he claimed, “Christianity has in fact long vanished not only from the reason but from the life of mankind.” In The Essence of Christianity (1841), he proposed that God is merely the outward projection of mankind's inward nature. Some of his views were later endorsed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.”

Let me qualify some items further, before we venture on:

  1. Feuerbach stipulates in his preface that “But in considering this subject in the first instance, I was under the necessity of treating it as a matter of science, of philosophy; and in rectifying the aberrations of Religion, Theology, and Speculation, I was naturally obliged to use their expressions, and even to appear to speculate, or – which is the same thing – to turn theologian myself, while I nevertheless only analyse speculation, i.e., reduce theology to anthropology . My work, as I said before, contains, and applies in the concrete, the principle of a new philosophy suited – not to the schools, but – to man. Yes, it contains that principle, but only by evolving it out of the very core of religion; hence, be it said in passing the new philosophy can no longer, like the old Catholic and modern Protestant scholasticism, fall into the temptation to prove its agreement with religion by its agreement with Christian dogmas; on the contrary, being evolved from the nature of religion, it has in itself the true essence of religion, – is, in its very quality as a philosophy, a religion also. But a work which considers ideas in their genesis and explains and demonstrates them in strict sequence, is, by the very form which this purpose imposes upon it, unsuited to popular reading.”
That is for the kibitzers in the audience, who will undoubtedly take issue with the usages of ‘God’, or the capitilization of religion, or any other references to which the book refers. Sadly, we get shackled by those who take umbrage at our efforts: ‘Why do you quote scripture, if you don’t believe?’ or ‘Using such-and-such language indicates a nod to the divine’ or other such folderol.
  1. Most astute readers will tag him as a Marxian philosopher, and thus, allegorically (or sophistically) infer that both he and I are neo-Marxists (as one such twit at One Cosmos tried to insist). Note that last sentence: ‘Some of his views were later endorsed’ (see above). Also, his work here is on a Marxist site. I most emphatically am not a communist/socialist/marxist, regardless of the popular misconception. As I told a fellow at work (a fellow named Alex, who is a secular Jew, who began explaining he was more of ‘Socialist Democrat’), “Communism’s a great idea, if people knew how to share.”

Now that that particular bugaboo’s been laid to rest, shall we continue?

A few choice quotes, to wet the palate:

Religion is the dream of the human mind. But even in dreams we do not find ourselves in emptiness or in heaven, but on earth, in the realm of reality; we only see real things in the entrancing splendor of imagination and caprice, instead of in the simple daylight of reality and necessity.

If therefore my work is negative, irreligious, atheistic, let it be remembered that atheism -- at least in the sense of this work -- is the secret of religion itself; that religion itself, not indeed on the surface, but fundamentally, not in intention or according to its own supposition, but in its heart, in its essence, believes in nothing else than the truth and divinity of human nature.

A note from Chapter One caught my eye:
”The uninspired materialist says: “Man is distinguished from the animal only by consciousness; he is an animal, but one possessing consciousness in addition.” He does not take into account that a being that awakes to consciousness is thereby qualitatively changed. Moreover, what we have just said is by no means intended to belittle the animal. This is not the place to go deeper into this question.”

From Chapter Two:

”RELIGION is the disuniting of man from himself; he sets God before him as the antithesis of himself God is not what man is – man is not what God is. God is the infinite, man the finite being; God is perfect, man imperfect; God eternal, man temporal; God almighty, man weak; God holy, man sinful. God and man are extremes: God is the absolutely positive, the sum of all realities; man the absolutely negative, comprehending all negations.

But in religion man contemplates his own latent nature. Hence it must be shown that this antithesis, this differencing of God and man, with which religion begins, is a differencing of man with his own nature.

“The inherent necessity of this proof is at once apparent from this, – that if the divine nature, which is the object of religion, were really different from the nature of man, a division, a disunion could not take place. If God is really a different being from myself, why should his perfection trouble me? Disunion exists only between beings that are at variance, but who ought to be one, who can be one, and who consequently in nature, in truth, are one. On this general ground, then, the nature with which man feels himself in disunion must be inborn, immanent in himself, but at the same time it must be of a different character from that nature or power which gives him the feeling, the consciousness of reconciliation, of union with God, or, what is the same thing with himself.”

From Chapter Three:

”A God, therefore, who expresses only the nature of the understanding does not satisfy religion, is not the God of religion. The understanding is interested not only in man, but in the things out of man, in universal nature. The intellectual man forgets even himself in the contemplation of nature. The Christians scorned the pagan philosophers because, instead of thinking, of themselves, of their own salvation, they had thought only of things out of themselves. The Christian thinks only of himself. By the understanding an insect is contemplated with as much enthusiasm as the image of God – man. The understanding is the absolute indifference and identity of all things and beings. It is not Christianity, not religious enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm of the understanding that we have to thank for botany, mineralogy, zoology, physics, and astronomy. The understanding is universal, pantheistic, the love of the universe; but the grand characteristic of religion, and of the Christian religion especially, is that it is thoroughly anthropo-theistic, the exclusive love of man for himself, the exclusive self-affirmation of the human nature, that is, of subjective human nature; for it is true that the understanding also affirms the nature of man, but it is his objective nature, which has reference to the object for the sake of the object, and the manifestation of which is science. Hence it must be something entirely different from the nature of the understanding which is an object to man in religion, if he is to find contentment therein, and this something will necessarily be the very kernel of religion.”

From Chapter Four:

“For religion – the religious man in the act of devotion believes in a real sympathy of the divine being in his sufferings and wants, believes that the will of God can be determined by the fervour of prayer, i.e., by the force of feeling, believes in a real, present fulfilment of his desire, wrought by prayer. The truly religious man unhesitatingly assigns his own feelings to God; God is to him a heart susceptible to all that is human. The heart can betake itself only to the heart; feeling can appeal only to feeling; it finds consolation in itself, in its own nature alone.

“The notion that the fulfilment of prayer has been determined from eternity, that it was originally included in the plan of creation, is the empty, absurd fiction of a mechanical mode of thought, which is in absolute contradiction with the nature of religion. “We need,” says Lavater somewhere, and quite correctly according to the religious sentiment, “an arbitrary God.” Besides, even according to this fiction, God is just as much a being determined by man, as in the real, present fulfilment consequent on the power of prayer; the only difference is, that the contradiction with the unchangeableness and unconditionedness of God – that which constitutes the difficulty – is thrown back into the deceptive distance of the past or of eternity. Whether God decides on the fulfilment of my prayer now, on the immediate occasion of my offering it, or whether he did decide on it long ago, is fundamentally the same thing.

“It is the greatest inconsequence to reject the idea of a God who can be determined by prayer, that is, by the force of feeling, as an unworthy anthropomorphic idea. If we once believe in a being who is an object of veneration, an object of prayer, an object of affection, who is providential, who takes care of man, – in a Providence, which is not conceivable without love, – in a being, therefore, who is loving, whose motive of action is love; we also believe in a being who has, if not an anatomical, yet a psychical human heart. The religious mind, as has been said, places everything in God, excepting that alone which it despises. The Christians certainly gave their God no attributes, which contradicted their own moral ideas, but they gave him without hesitation, and of necessity, the emotions of love, of compassion. And the love, which the religious mind places in God, is not an illusory, imaginary love, but a real, true love. God is loved and loves again; the divine love is only human love made objective, affirming itself. In God love is absorbed in itself as its own ultimate truth.”

So, let’s nutshell this (hey, see how flexible language is? I just used a noun as a verb!):

Man is God. Man simply took his own best attributes, and used them to cast his own shadow upon the universe, an effort to tailor reality to suit his own needs.

Discuss among yourselves.


Friday, November 24, 2006


Turkey day has come and gone (thankfully), and as the song goes, “Still I wonder…?”

Sometimes I wonder if I was adopted. Am I related to these people? It almost makes me want to be a prayin’ man, on occasion. “PLEASE, gawd, tell me I’m no kin o’ these!”

We used to brag that we were dysfunctional prior to when it was trendy, but the current crops of dysfunctionality make us seem tame by comparison (albeit we are a tad louder than most).

My brother-in-law, after a few beers, begins to pick my brain on subjects religious (of course, the loosening of inhibition flows onwards, and before you know it, via the quaffing of far too many ales, somehow my rejection of the existence of a soul translates into nuking the entire Middle East: he’s a Republican in a drunken state of bully pulpit – whoever shouts loudest is right).

Honestly, he’s a terrible debater. And it’s by far much more difficult to have a reasonable debate with people when they don’t allow you to finish your sentences, and decibel level is synonymous with reason.

We managed to argue (shout, really) about numerous topics that swung wildly across the spectrum: I managed to discuss my support of gay marriage, upon which he said (shouted) about how it would ‘undermine his marriage to my sister’, and my little sis, to her credit, stood up and said ‘let them get married. Who cares?’

(I managed to toss a nice bon mot in: He began to rant about it at the dinner table, at which I replied: “If you were married to a man, you might drink less.” General hilarity ensued).

Meanwhile, my elder sister (whose life has apparently taken a turn for the worse: I’d thought she was doing well – we’re not a tight family) decided to drown her depression in alcohol (treating depression with a depressant – that’s smart, yes it is) alternated between sleeping and screaming at my equally drunken brother-in-law about the Shrub (but of course, he dragged Clinton into the criticism – did I say he was a terrible debater? Yes, I did) to the point where we all just stopped trying to mitigate the imbroglio, and went out for a smoke.

I was steamed at my little sis, because earlier I’d told my brother-in-law about the fight we’d had about my praying at the holidays last year (Surprise! She got the whole thing wrong!), and how I just wanted to be excused from it. So when the crucial moment came, she’s asking me to join in (I was trying to bow out), to his credit, brother-in-law chimed in with “Hey, he doesn’t have to participate if he doesn’t want to.” I did after all (she pleaded), but I was steamed. So as we left the screaming match, she asked: “Are we cool?”, I said no. She explained on the porch (with the shouting in the background audible through the walls) that she wanted to avoid the questions, and I got the go-ahead to discuss it with my nephew.

A few words on this:
My nephew is a sweet, odd little guy (actually, he’s almost as big as I am now, heightwise) who is autistic, varying from ‘slightly’ to ‘highly functional’. Somehow, somewhere, he picked up the prayer thing: nobody apparently knows how – they never go to church, aren’t traditionally religious in any sense, outside the lip service. So he’s adopted this in the last few years. I’m a little flattered that I got the go-ahead to speak to him about it – he’s family, but not my kid – but a little irked that she’s had a whole year to prep the kid, and hasn’t. He’s not a social critter, but he can communicate somewhat what he means. He usually comes out, says hi, and goes back to whatever it was that has had his focus prior.

The names have been omitted to protect the strident.

There you have it. The briefest of glimpses into the bedlam that I was born into. We have had some truly memorable holiday moments (remind me to tell you about the time I gave an inflatable love doll to one of my brothers-in-law for Xmas –that was a Kodak moment, I tell ya!) – our family functions are decided failures if not one person is hollering, weeping, or generally incensed.

I love my family, but oy gevalt! There are moments that hermitage sounds like a great idea.

Or, as some wit (I forget whom) once said: “Of course your family can push your buttons. They installed them!”

Hope your holidays were as equally…memorable.

Till the next post then.


Monday, November 20, 2006


There is some major disconnects that I’ve found via blogging: debating those of unlike mind seems to be a Sisyphean task in most cases.

There are, for instance, only so many times one can re-explain the definition of ‘theory’ prior to bursting a blood vessel, or re-iterating the factual evidence of evolution. Or demand proof of the insubstantial. Before the eyes cross, and the knees go wobbly.

There is also the issue of establishing a premise. Most of us (myself included) usually wing it. Presuppositions firmly in place, we go toe-to-toe with the opposite side, and as a rule, it becomes a stalemate, an impasse.

There are multiple constraints in the realtime world as well. We forget often enough, that the other side, as we do, have other obligations in reality. Work, relationships, duties demanding to be done. As such, these demands will take us away from any debate. The other side will on occasion substitute silence with assent, declare victory prematurely, or simply wonder why the opponent is silent. Conveniently forgetting that there are other matters to attend to. Easily done: the opponent could very well be two continents away, called away on family matters, dealing with the multitude of duties that adult life burdens us with.

Sometimes, for myself, I lose interest in the discussion: I’ll drop a discussion due to the fact that beating a dead horse is usually a waste of time. Or, if the other poster insists on being verbose to the nth degree, I just don’t feel obliged to respond in-depth via fisking the entire response, and so have to resort to pulling a few choice comments, and responding to those. Context dropping isn’t a favorite hobby of mine, nor is the strawman approach: I endeavor mightily to avoid them both like the plague, but alas, being human, I fumble. As do we all.

Like most Americans, my attention span is very much tattered, due to the prevalence of the ‘glass teat’, as Harlan Ellison likes to dub it. While I’d like to think that I’ve abbreviated much of that via my embracing the practice of Tai Chi (which requires a degree of focus that my fellow citizenry evidently don’t possess), again, only human, and I do get distracted (I watch NUMB3RS on Friday nights, PDT, so don’t expect a lot that weeknight), enough so that I shrug, and move on to the next glittery object that attracts my notice, like a crow to tinsel.

Then there is the matter of who ‘won’ the debate. It’s usually decided by the audience, lacking an objective judge, as to who defeated whom (the Barker-Manata debate is a substantial proof of this: the atheists side with Barker, the religionists siding with Manata).

Then there is the issue of projection, definition number 8 –

  1. “The attribution of one's own attitudes, feelings, or suppositions to others: “Even trained anthropologists have been guilty of unconscious projection—of clothing the subjects of their research in theories brought with them into the field” (Alex Shoumatoff).
  2. The attribution of one's own attitudes, feelings, or desires to someone or something as a naive or unconscious defense against anxiety or guilt.”

Or the old ‘You’re just like me, you just won’t admit it!’ defense. Being human, we all share commonalites: I am by far going to put running to the bathroom, getting my car fixed, eating my dinner, or going to work as a priority as opposed to dispensing a passionate logical argument to another poster’s commentary. Whether or not I ‘believe’ is an entirely subjective opinion I’ve reserved for myself, thanks much, so please don’t pigeonhole me by projecting your own mindset onto mine. History abounds with this mistake: don’t make it.

And of course, there are multiple moments where I feel I’ve adequately described my position for the umpteenth time, and yet no amount of explanation seems to reach the person in question. These tend to slip into acrimony, despite my best efforts.

Let’s put this in a nutshell: the people we agree with will applaud, the folks we disagree with will boo loudly. Short of the actual admission of an epiphany, the best anyone can hope for is a meeting of the minds, a dialogue, an exchange of views. I have had the occasional appearance of victory: long-term or short-term, it’s difficult to judge. Today’s victory can sour with tomorrow’s advent. The human mind is notoriously ambiguous.

“Of course, I like agreement, it warms the heart, but I don't expect it; and I like disagreement too, when it is intelligent and carries a thought further, rather than contradicts it a priori, from a different point of departure. These different points of departure make discussion futile and unpleasant.”
To Charles Augustus Strong, 15 September 1939, The Letters of George Santayana, Book Six, 1937-1940, MIT Press, 2004

Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer: there is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through a long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and discretion, it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness. “
Scepticism and Animal Faith, Scribner's, 1923, p. 69-70


Sunday, November 19, 2006


“I'll be coming again like an old dog in pain
Blown through the eye of the hurricane
Down to the stones where old ghosts play.” – Jethro Tull, Old Ghosts, Stormwatch

Here is a samskara made sacrament, filial piety made foolish, and the use of history as a method to instill fear rather than provide a cautionary tale to learn from.

We are told that we require old ghosts to whisper in our ears: left to our own devices, we shall inevitably fail: that unless we pay heed to the dead letters of our forbears, the flames shall crackle, and brimstone will sear our nostrils.

There is much to be learned from history. Santiago’s oft-repeated aphorism springs to mind. But Time, like knowledge, is like a river flowing – the eddies change, the banks narrow or widen, and nothing is ever the same as it was before.

But the course of the river has changed – it alters even as you read this. The topology has undergone that one immutable fact of our existence: change.

We build on the past, longing toward the future, our palates wettened by the present. We are in some respects, beholden to the past: it gives structure, it provides foundation, it gives us a small insight into what has gone before, and patterns of predictability to ease the journey.

But blind obeisance? Never. Forgone rules of ancestral worship writ large? They must go into the dustbins of history. Inequality? There should be none. Elitism? It is a level playing field for one and all, unless there is harm inferred and harm incurred. Water seeks its own level.

So close the ear to the whisper of old ghosts – they are but the illusions spun by men as they crouched ‘round the campfire, giving their own faces to the sounds outside the circle of light.

The campfires are gone, in most places, replaced by orbs of light. Those who fear the darkness build walls – let the masonry built by ancient tomes come crumbling downward.

It is, as I have illustrated before, only natural that humanity ascends. So up we go. Into the light.

And it is okay to watch the old gods play. I do it all the time. I simply just enjoy the dancing of wraiths insubstantial. But by no means shall I join the waltz – I seek that more novel of approaches: that of reality.

Till the next post then.

“In the wee hours I’ll meet you
Down by dun ringill ---
Oh, and we’ll watch the old gods play
By dun ringill.” - Jethro Tull, Dun Ringill, Stormwatch


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


This article caught my eye: title is GOD’S COUNTRY

It discusses much of the standard folderol put forth by the Talibangelists in this country, but it throws a mean curve ball, thus:

” One problem with this view is that a large number of evangelical Christians don't live in the Bible Belt. Another is that many of them aren't white. Some years ago, the Chilean-born photographer Camilo José Vergara began taking pictures of places like La Sinagoga, a Latino church located in a run-down neighborhood of junkyards and metal shops in Brooklyn, and Emmanuel Baptist Rescue Mission, which is situated on a corner of Skid Row, Los Angeles, where drug dealers ply their trade. The photographs in Vergara's richly documented, visually arresting book, How the Other Half Worships, illustrate how indelibly religious most poor minority communities in America are, not least because in many blighted urban neighborhoods churches are the only viable institutions around. Trekking through the back streets and barrios of twenty-one different cities, Vergara spots churches tucked away in former warehouses, nightclubs, five-and-dime stores, movie theaters, car dealerships, hotels and slaughterhouses. Some are sandwiched between crumbling buildings on desolate blocks. Others lack steeples, crosses, choir platforms, even bathrooms, yet nevertheless bring residents together in lively, often frenzied services where worshipers shake, dance, speak in tongues, sing, weep, wail, fall to their knees, and pray for deliverance and God's grace.
“Before rushing to assume such people are Bush supporters, it's worth noting that there is no evidence the more pious members of minority groups have been drifting into the ranks of the GOP. In fact, the opposite may be true. As sociologists Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout point out in their new book, The Truth About Conservative Christians, the most devout African-Americans--those who read the Bible daily and view it as the "word of God"--were also those most likely to support Democrats in the 1992-2000 presidential elections. The same religious zeal that pushes some whites to the right, in other words, leads blacks in the opposite direction, and not only at the polling booth. A generation ago, it was churchgoing black people who spearheaded the civil rights movement, a faith-based struggle that historians like David Chappell have likened to a religious revival.”
“How, Greeley and Hout ask, do pundits routinely equate biblical Christianity with right-wing politics when African-Americans, "who are in nearly every respect as religiously conservative as whites," nevertheless "vote overwhelmingly for Democrats?" By, it appears, mistakenly assuming all Bible-believing Christians are reactionary white Southerners who write monthly checks to the likes of Jerry Falwell. As a survey by Religion & Ethics Newsweekly found, a majority of evangelicals actually hold an unfavorable view of Falwell. A large number appear to care more about jobs and the economy than issues like gay marriage and abortion.”
“Then as now, Neuhaus wrote as if he were speaking for a silent majority against the unaccountable elites, a claim so pervasive these days that Americans who are prochoice, support stem-cell research and don't actually believe the judiciary should be abolished might well assume they're vastly outnumbered. But they're not. The Neuhauses of the world are right that the United States is a lot more religious than the media and many intellectuals think. But they're wrong that most Americans see eye to eye with them. In fact, on many issues, most churchgoing Americans don't, which is perhaps why, as Linker shows, Neuhaus and other theocons have been quite content to see the will of the majority thwarted by elites when it has served their minority agenda.”

And finally, to top off the tank:

”To acknowledge this hardly requires us to sympathize with the Christian right's social agenda, any more than attempting to understand why people join groups like Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood demands that one accepts their views on the status of women or gays. Nor does a less dismissive attitude toward religion mean secular progressives should cede ground to right-wing ministers who insist an absence of faith renders people incapable of distinguishing right from wrong or acting compassionately. It does mean the secular left should think twice before seeing religious people as their foes, not least since such an attitude risks alienating many potential allies and confining ourselves to a small sect of like-minded believers. This, after all, is what fundamentalism is about.”
(End Snip)

I plead just as guilty to the last paragraph as any of us.

I think the point is well illustrated, but allow me to extrapolate: we need allies. A political rapport, if you will. There are moderate xtians who support the separation of church and state, who do support a woman’s right to choose, who are foursquare against the theocracizing of our country, our world.

I have said this before, and to remind myself, as well as others:

Not every Christian is my enemy, and not every atheist is my friend.

A lunatic is a lunatic, no matter the garb they wear. Beware those who wear the cloak of many colors. Sometimes the mantle beneath is black.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, November 12, 2006


Yes, I blinked too. Yes, I knuckled my eyes and said “What the hell…?”

Thanks to AngloAmerican via the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew, it turns out our dear Gagdad Bob’s latest pseudo-theory is being adopted:

“For that is the key: atheism is a post-civilized primitivism, pure and simple. The comparatively narrow realm of evolution explained by natural selection is embedded in the much grander vision of an evolutionary cosmos that deepens and reveals its own truth to itself through the mysterious vehicle of human consciousness. Even if materialistic scientists imgaine that they have “explained” consciousness, they will never, ever explain how this consciousness may know absolute truth. For as J.B.S. Haldane observed, "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."

More childish protestations from the theists: “I wanna be special, waah, waah, waah.”

Let’s look at the definition of ‘primitivism’:

  1. The condition or quality of being primitive.
  2. The style characteristic of a primitive artist.

    1. A belief that it is best to live simply and in a natural environment.
    2. A belief that the acquisitions of civilization are evil or that the earliest period of human history was the best.

The ‘good’ doctor’s re-spin is just so askew; it begs to be skewered.

If he meant definition one, then we are simply civilized Flintstones, living in the town of Bedrock (yeah, that irritating jingle’s now in my head too: sorry).

We can skip number two, as the shrink has dismissed us in toto as a bunch of grumbling, cold, unimaginative ‘infrahumans’, probably incapable of the lofty aspirations of the ‘true’ artist inspired by a muse of any sort (won’t HE be surprised how wrong he is).

So we come to ‘sacred’ number three.

Definition three A isn’t so off the mark. Civilization takes it’s toll – it is no revelation that too much civilization (the combination of smog, lack of breathable air, constant bombardment by varying rays electronic and microwave, ingestion of food additives, and the dizzying array of choices) tends to have multiple adverse effects on the individual as well as the collective. In short, when Man’s dreams are composed of smoke, metal and asphalt, madness is not far behind.

Definition three B is…well, ridiculous. It’s the acquisitions of civilization that I am indeed loath to surrender. The warm bed, the Internet, the freedom provided by that odious transport the automobile (if I could do without that one, I would, you betcha). It was the accoutrements of civilization that have helped me in ways too numerous to enumerate here. The ‘noble savage’ syndrome is just nostalgic melodrama, and most atheists will agree: it’s a myth. So compromise is (grudgingly) given – I cannot tailor the world to my own conveniences, much as I’d like to.

The major problem is that religion has taught us to be ‘stewards’ of this planet, rather than inhabitants. And we have adopted, via a twist in evolution, the habit and attitude that nature (reification here) is the opponent we need to battle rather than the ecosphere we need to adjust to.

I rather enjoyed this foolishness:

“I heard one of these proponents of sophisticated Atheism on NPR this week. He suggested morality is merely based on a consensus summation of human thought (essentially, a variation on the "recourse to authority".) He failed to see what was so obvious to any listener. If there is no "appeal to transcendence" then morality is merely opinion. ("The Ten Suggestions" as some wit once remarked.) And isn't that the position of the Moral Relativists who suggest that the only morality is the one you feel enhances your self-esteem? Narcissism, ultimately, is incompatible with civilization; pure individualism in such a universe becomes indistinguishable from the universe of the grandiose infant whose own gratification is primary.”

How daft that truly is. First off, we are not ALL moral relativists. Second off, I’ve never quite heard about ‘enhancing the self-esteem’ mantra before. Third off, our entire government is structured on a form of narcissism, as it is geared primarily towards the individual first and the majority second. Fourth off, Christianity is the ultimate in narcissism. It tells the believer he/she is special, as that amorphous, unprovable deity gives a rat’s fart in a whirlwind what the individual does on a micro-manageable scale. It’s a religion that is specifically geared towards the ego. It is most certainly not targeting the collective, once Hellenism shifted gears from the community to the individual.

Religion is Transcendental Narcissism.

It is no secret that I adopt the refrain, “Everything just is.” Eminently Taoist, to be sure. But our world is jam-packed with wonders myriad, so many that invention of a mythology should be a minor hobby, not a raison detre. From the labyrinthine maze of evolution to the cosmology of the stars, from the beauties of nature to the counter-intuitive capacities of quantum physics, we have more than enough on our collective plates to supplant the phantasmigorical fantasies of our savage forebears long past.

So let us bid a fond adieu to the foolish extremes of our species’ adolescence. Let us then become adults, collectively as well as individually, as we transcend the boogiemen of our ancestors. Angels, devils, demons, gods: infantile distractions, unworthy of our becoming now, worthy only in the past, and that barely so.

It is time to grow. And growth is upwards, not backwards (perhaps not absolute: there are few enough of these in this existence).

“We are all of us in the gutter: but some of us are looking to the stars.”

- Oscar Wilde.

Till the next post, then.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006


We’ve all heard (or most of us at least) this mishmash mix ‘n match: Pedophile = Homosexual. Upon which, said provocateur (without much further ado) begins idiotically quoting pro-pedophile groups in a guilt-by-association that only a half-wit could find causal connection.

From where does this stem? Pederasty was practiced by the ancient Greeks (and to this day by other cultures, few and far between), and even by Islam up to the 19th CE, but why is this stigma attached to the Gay movement of today? Two words: Allen Ginsberg.

“One contribution that is often considered his most significant and most controversial was his openness about homosexuality, including his love of youths. In talking more frankly than other writers before him about homosexuality, he opened the way for other writers to speak honestly about something often before only hinted at or spoken of in metaphor. Also, in writing about sexuality in graphic detail and in his frequent use of language seen as indecent he challenged — and ultimately changed — obscenity laws. Ginsberg also spoke out in defense of the freedom of expression of NAMBLA. He saw that organization's right to exist as a civil liberties issue and joined to make a statement. According to Ginsberg in "Thoughts on NAMBLA" published in Deliberate Prose: "NAMBLA's a forum for reform of those laws on youthful sexuality which members deem oppressive, a discussion society not a sex club. I joined NAMBLA in defense of free speech." This was a controversial decision: many who supported his gay rights advocacy could not support this decision.”

Small wonder there.

More on NAMBLA:

“Disagreement was evident following the conference that organized the first gay march on Washington in 1979. In addition to forming several working committees, the conference was responsible for drafting the basic organizing principles of the march ("the five demands" PDF [see p. 23]). Originally, the Gay Youth Caucus had won approval for its proposal demanding "Full Rights for Gay Youth, including revision of the age of consent laws." However at the first meeting of the National Coordinating Committee, a contingent of lesbians threatened not to participate in the march unless a substitute was adopted. The substitute, authored by an adult lesbian and approved in a mail poll by a majority of delegates, stated: "Protect Lesbian and Gay Youth from any laws which are used to discriminate against, oppress, and/or harass them in their homes, schools, job and social environments."[18]
In 1980 a group called the "Lesbian Caucus – Lesbian & Gay Pride March Committee" distributed a hand-out urging women to split from the annual New York City Gay Pride March because the organizing committee had supposedly been dominated by NAMBLA and its supporters.[13] The next year, after some lesbians threatened to picket, the Cornell University gay group Gay PAC (Gay People at Cornell) rescinded its invitation to NAMBLA founder David Thorstad to be the keynote speaker at the annual May Gay Festival.[13] In the following years, gay rights groups attempted to block NAMBLA’s participation in gay pride parades, prompting leading gay rights figure Harry Hay to wear a sign proclaiming "NAMBLA walks with me" as he participated in a 1986 gay pride march in Los Angeles.
Thus by the mid-1980s, NAMBLA was virtually alone in its positions and found itself politically isolated. Gay rights organizations, burdened by accusations of child recruitment and child abuse, had abandoned the radicalism of their early years and had "retreat[ed] from the idea of a more inclusive politics,"[19] opting instead to appeal more to the mainstream. Support for "groups perceived as being on the fringe of the gay community," such as NAMBLA, vanished in the process.[14] Today almost all gay rights groups disavow any ties to NAMBLA, voice disapproval of its objectives, and attempt to prevent NAMBLA from having a role in gay and lesbian rights events.”

Also:”The case of International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) illustrates this opposition. In 1993, ILGA, of which NAMBLA had been a member for a decade, achieved United Nations consultative status. NAMBLA's association with ILGA drew heavy criticism, and many gay organizations called for the ILGA to dissolve ties with NAMBLA. Republican Senator Jesse Helms proposed a bill to withhold $119 million in U.N. contributions until U.S. President Bill Clinton could certify that "no UN agency grants any official status, accreditation, or recognition to any organization which promotes, condones, or seeks the legalization of pedophilia, that is, the sexual abuse of children". The bill was unanimously approved by Congress and signed into law by Clinton in April 1994.
ILGA had passed a resolution in 1985, which stated, "young people have the right to sexual and social self-determination and that age of consent laws often operate to oppress and not to protect." In spite of this apparent agreement with NAMBLA on the age of consent issue just nine years before, ILGA, by a vote of 214-30 expelled NAMBLA and two other groups (MARTIJN and Project Truth) in early 1994 because they were judged to be "groups whose predominant aim is to support or promote pedophilia." Although ILGA removed NAMBLA, the U.N. reversed its decision to grant ILGA special consultative status. Repeated attempts by ILGA to reacquire special status with the U.N. have not been successful as of 2006, but the group does exercise consultative status with the European Commission.
Gregory King of the Human Rights Campaign later said that "NAMBLA is not a gay organization ... They are not part of our community and we thoroughly reject their efforts to insinuate that pedophilia is an issue related to gay and lesbian civil rights."[20] NAMBLA responded by claiming that "man/boy love is by definition homosexual," that "man/boy lovers are part of the gay movement and central to gay history and culture," and that "homosexuals denying that it is 'not gay' to be attracted to adolescent boys are just as ludicrous as heterosexuals saying it's 'not heterosexual' to be attracted to adolescent girls.”

And:”Immediately following the Stonewall riots, some U.S. and Canadian gay rights organizations advocated the abolition of age-of-consent laws, believing that gay liberation for minors implied the permission to engage in sexual relationships.[14] The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), a group which splintered from the Gay Liberation Front in December of 1969, opposed age-of-consent laws and hosted a forum on the topic in 1976. In 1972 Chicago's Gay Activists Alliance and New York's Gay Activists Alliance jointly sponsored a conference that brought together gay rights activists from eighty-five different gay rights organizations and eighteen states.[15] At the conference these approximately 200 activists coalesced to form the National Coalition of Gay Organizations, and drafted and passed a "Gay Rights Platform"[16] which called for the "repeal of all laws governing the age of sexual consent." The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition, also known as the National Gay Rights Coalition (NGRC), supported eliminating age-of-consent laws, as did Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE).[17]
The relative acceptance or indifference to opposition of the age-of-consent began to change at the same time as accusations that gays were child pornographers and child molesters became common. Only weeks apart in 1977 both Judianne Densen-Gerber, founder of the New York drug rehabilitation center Odyssey House, and former beauty queen Anita Bryant launched separate campaigns targeting gays. Densen-Gerber alleged that gays produced and sold child pornography on a massive scale, while Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign sought to portray all gays as child molesters. "The recruitment of our children," Bryant argued, "is absolutely necessary for the survival and growth of homosexuality." Bryant's campaign focusing on the alleged "recruitment" of boys by gay men succeeded in overturning a law that had protected civil rights for gays in Dade County, Florida. As a result, the age-of-consent issue became a hotly debated topic within the gay community, and disputes over the age of consent issue within and between gay rights groups — many of which directly or indirectly involved NAMBLA — began to occur on an increasingly frequent basis.”

So there you have it. In the beginning, the gay rights groups were far too radical, and sought to bring other point of views under their growing umbrella. They rejected the pedophiliac allies upon the gradual acceptance from the mainstream. It was a huge error in judgement, and the resonance continues, after two decades’ worth of work.

Pedophilia is categorized as a deviant sexual disorder (as well it should be) by the DSM-IV. Obviously, this is an extension of that religious worship of ‘youth and innocence’, combined with the inability of said deviant to initiate and/or maintain an adult relationship. In short, it’s about POWER and the ability to corrupt: it’s not about homosexuality or heterosexuality – if it were, there are easier ways to go about getting release from another adult. It’s about paternal/maternal instincts gone horribly awry.


Saturday, November 04, 2006


Many, many years ago, a woman I worked with and I were discussing a lady co-worker’s inability to part ways with an abusive boyfriend. She phrased it succinctly, thus: “When you’re with someone, the good should outweigh the bad. But when the bad outweighs the good, it’s time to choose between pluses and minuses.”

And of course, the battered half of the couple is loath to leave. Be it fear of loneliness, the resultant offspring, nostalgia, or other varied reasons, it is always hard to say good-bye, especially living in the shadow of fear.

So now we take the microcosmic example, and apply it to the macrocosmic scheme.

We have lived too long in the shadow of fear. The serpentine tongues of religion have lashed our species’ collective hearts, and reduced many of our people into quivering lumps of frightened flesh: they walk amongst us with benign smiles and promises of an afterlife unproven, but when mocked or challenged, their benign visages contort and revert to the true feral ferocity of fear. Denunciation flows from their foam-speckled lips as they break every rule that suits their purpose; twist words to prove their point, and flail about blindly when logic cruelly dashes their sophistry to the rocks below.

I trust my point here is clear: religion is the abusive spouse, humanity the abused. The club is the threat that non-acceptance will result in flames – submission is rewarded with phantom promises of benificience. Stray from the path, and the whip is applied.

So the question here remains: how much longer must we, as a species, live with this argument from force?

Read me properly: it was once upon a time, that we needed this tool, to keep the masses in sync, to dampen that feral spirit that Man has manifested time and again, far too many to list here.

But civilization has softened Man: we form communities automatically now, without the benefit of some hallowed hall. We have evolved past the need for the supernatural – let us now put the toys that protected us against harmless shadows into the closet, and walk out, into the bright light of day, as adults.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.” – William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell