DAY OF THE DEAD
Today is the Day of the Dead, and for this momentous superstitious occasion, do I have a treat and a half for you.
These photos are of the Sedlec Ossuary, a Czechloslovakian Christian chapel, and the entry reads thusly:
"Henry, the abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Sedlec was sent to the Holy Land by King Otakar II of Bohemia in 1278. When he returned, he brought with him a small amount of earth he had removed from Golgotha and sprinkled it over the abbey cemetery. The word of this pious act soon spread and the cemetery in Sedlec became a desirable burial site throughout Central Europe. During the Black Death in the mid 14th century, and after the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century many thousands of people were buried there and the cemetery had to be greatly enlarged."
"In 1870, František Rint, a woodcarver, was employed by the Schwarzenberg family to put the bone heaps into order. The macabre results of his effort speaks for itself. Four enormous bell-shaped mounds occupy the corners of the chapel. An enormous chandelier of bones, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body, hangs from the center of the nave with garlands of skulls draping the vaults. Other works include piers and monstrances flanking the altar, a large Schwarzenberg coat-of-arms, and the signature of Master Rint, also executed in bone, on the wall near the entrance."
The morbidity, the utter dark fascination with the face of death runs deeply throughout the literature of religion: Christian history is rife with cracked bones, spilt blood, and the egotistic masturbatory fantasy of an afterlife gone horribly awry.
There is no afterlife: it is guesswork based on zero facts, vastly incomplete data sets, and no evidence at all.
Once we put away the nostalgic grisly toys of yesteryear, and bid farewell to our collective adolescence (long since gone), we as a species can finally mature, and move upwards as one, to reach for the stars, and ascend our feral nature.
Till the next post, then.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
DAY OF THE DEAD
Monday, October 30, 2006
It proves that no one is above anyone else.
Let’s examine this:
The prohibitions of sorcery in the New Testament leave the same impression - (Galatians 5:20, compared with Revelation 21:8; 22:15; and Acts 8:9; 13:6). Supposing that the belief in witchcraft were an idle superstition, it would be strange that the suggestion should nowhere be made that the evil of these practices only lay in the pretending to the possession of powers, which did not really exist. There is some debate, however, whether the word used in Galatians and Revelation, pharmakeia, is properly translated as "sorcery", as the word was commonly used to describe malicious use of drugs such as poisons, contraceptives, and abortifacients. This ambiguity in Galatians has occasionally been incorrectly applied to the wording of Leviticus 20:27, and Exodus 22:18. (Suffer not a witch to live.”
Here are all the variations thereof:
American Standard Version "Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live."
The Answer: Put to death any woman who does evil magic.
Amplified Bible: You shall not allow a woman to live who practices sorcery.
Good News Version: Put to death any woman who practices magic.
James Moffatt Translation: You shall not allow any sorceress to live.
Jerusalem Bible: You shall not allow a sorceress to live.
King James Version: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Living Bible: A sorceress shall be put to death.
Modern Language Bible: Allow no sorceress to live.
New American Bible: You shall not let a sorceress live.
New American Standard Bible: You shall not let a sorceress live.
New Century Version: Put to death any woman who does evil magic.
New International Version: Do not allow a sorceress to live.
New Living Translation: A sorceress must not be allowed to live.
New Revised Standard Version: You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.
New World Translation: You must not preserve a sorceress alive.
The Promise: Contemporary English Version: Death is the punishment for witchcraft.
Revised Standard Version: You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
Revised English Bible: You must not allow a witch to live.
I refer of course, to the savagery of both the Spanish Inquisition and the Medieval Inquisition, both of which were horrors that beggar the imagination, and make a strong man’s stomach rebel.
No Monty Python references, please: it’s been done to death (pun intended).
First, let’s take a look at the Spanish Inquisition:
“The Spanish Inquisition was motivated in part by the multi-religious nature of Spanish society following the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors. Moors following their invasion of the peninsula in 711 until they were expelled by means of a long campaign of reconquest dominated much of the Iberian Peninsula. However, the reconquest did not result in the expulsion of Muslims from Spain, but instead yielded a multi-religious society made up of Catholics, Jews and Muslims. Granada remained under Moorish control until 1492, and large cities, especially Seville, Valladolid, the capital of Castile, and Barcelona, the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon, had large Jewish populations centered in juderias.”
“Nevertheless, in some parts of Spain towards the end of the fourteenth century there was a wave of anti-Semitism, encouraged by the preaching of Ferrant Martinez, archdeacon of Ecija. The pogroms of June 1391 were especially bloody: in Seville, hundreds of Jews were killed, and the synagogue was completely destroyed. The number of victims was equally high in other cities, such as Cordoba, Valencia and Barcelona.
“One of the consequences of these disturbances was the massive conversion of Jews. Before this date, conversions were rare, more motivated by social than religious reasons. But from the fifteenth century a new social group appeared: conversos, also called new Christians, who were distrusted by Jews and Christians alike. By converting, Jews could not only escape eventual persecution, but also obtain entry into many offices and posts that were being prohibited to Jews through new, more severe regulations.”
So it began with the persecution of the Jews. Then it extended to Muslims, and later, targeted Protestants.
(Snip)”The historian Hernando del Pulgar, contemporary of Ferdinand and Isabella, estimated that the Inquisition had burned at the stake 2,000 people and reconciled another 15,000 by 1490 (just one decade after the inquisition began).
The first quantitative estimates of the number processed and executed by the Spanish Inquisition were offered by Juan Antonio Llorente, who was the general secretary of the Inquisition from 1789 to 1801 and published, in 1822 in Paris his Historia critica de la Inquisición. According to Llorente, over the course of its history, the Inquisition processed a total of 341,021 people, of whom at least 10% (31,912) were executed. He wrote, "To calculate the number of victims of the Inquisition is the same as demonstrating, in practice, one of the most powerful and effective causes of the depopulation of Spain." The principal modern historian of the Inquisition, Henry Charles Lea, author of History of the Inquisition of Spain, considered that these totals, not based on rigorous statistics, were very exaggerated.”
What other ‘offenses’ fell under the broad umbrella under the auto-da-fe gone apeshit?
”Included under the rubric of heretical propositions were verbal offenses, from outright blasphemy to questionable statements regarding religious beliefs, from issues of sexual morality, to behavior of the clergy. Many were brought to trial for affirming that simple fornication (sex without the explicit aim of procreation) was not a sin or for putting in doubt different aspects of Christian faith such as Transubstantiation or the virginity of Mary. Also, members of the clergy itself were on occasion accused of heretical propositions. These offenses were infrequently paired with severe penalties.
The Inquisition also pursued offenses against morals, at times in open conflict with the jurisdictions of civil tribunals. In particular, there were numerous trials for bigamy, a relatively frequent offense in a society that only permitted divorce under the most extreme circumstances. In the case of men, the penalty was five years in the galley (tantamount to a death sentence). Women too were accused of bigamy. Also, many cases of solicitation during confession were adjudicated, indicating a strict vigilance over the clergy.
Inquisitorial repression of the sexual offenses of homosexuality and bestiality, considered, according to Canon Law, crimes against nature, merits separate attention. Homosexuality, known at the time as sodomy, was punished by death by civil authorities. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition only in the territories of Aragon, when, in 1524, Clement VII, in a papal brief, granted jurisdiction over sodomy to the Inquisition of Aragon, whether or not it was related to heresy. In Castile, cases of sodomy were not adjudicated, unless related to heresy. The tribunal of Zaragoza distinguished itself for its severity in judging these offenses: between 1571 and 1579 more than 100 men accused of sodomy were processed and at least 36 were executed; in total, between 1570 and 1630 there were 534 trials and 102 executed.”
In fairness, most of what we’ve been led to believe about this arm of the Inquisition apparently stems from the Black Legend, as follows:
“The Black Legend (in Spanish, La leyenda negra) is the disparaging depiction of Spain and Spaniards as bloodthirsty and cruel, intolerant, greedy and fanatical. The Black Legend is evident in works by early Protestant historians describing the period of dominant Spanish imperialism, many also see influences of the black legend, the Inquisition myth, in the villains, and storylines of modern fiction and film. The term was coined by Julián Juderías in his 1914 book La leyenda negra y la verdad histórica (The Black Legend and Historical Truth).
The nature of Spain and its international efforts has also been a cause of contention amongst Spaniards themselves, from Gongora's Soledades until the Generation of '98. Traditionally, the Black Legend has been used by the left and the nationalists of non-Castilian regions as a political weapon against the central government or Spanish nationalism, which the conservative parties have countered with the White Legend. To avoid causing offense the Seville Expo '92 (during a PSOE Government) celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, as the beginning of the Age of Discovery, and not of colonization or conquest.”
This is not intended to trivialize the atrocities, but to point out the fact that embellishment is indeed part and parcel of history, past and present.
There were, in fact, four arms of this vast cabal: the Medieval or Episcopal Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, the Portuguese Inquisition and the Roman Inquisition. Each of these had their ‘pecadilloes’, but for the most part, it was the Christian iron fist in the velvet glove, designed to squash mercilessly any viewpoint that varied (sometimes even in the slightest) from the commonly held papal view.
And there are dissenting views on the actual events:
“Because the inquisitorial process was not based on tolerant principles and doctrines such as freedom of thought and freedom of religion that became prominent in Western thinking during the eighteenth century, modern society has an inherent difficulty in understanding the inquisitorial institutions. From the Middle Ages well into the seventeenth century in Christian Europe, it was accepted that the worst offence one could commit was that which threatened the unity and security of the Catholic Church. “The Inquisition can only be understood within the framework of the centuries of its existence, when religious uniformity and orthodoxy and obedience to authority were enforced by almost all political and religious institutions, and were considered essential for the very survival of society" (Hitchcock 1996).
‘Regardless of the century, inquisitions were ecclesial investigations conducted either directly by the Catholic Church or by secular authorities with the support of the Church. These investigations were undertaken at varying times in varying regions under the authority of the local bishop and his designates or under the sponsorship of papal-appointed legates. The purpose of each inquisition was specific to the outstanding circumstances of the region in which it was held. Investigations usually involved a legal process, the goal of which was to obtain a confession and reconciliation with the Church from those who were accused of heresy or of participating in activities contrary to Church Canon law. The objectives of the inquisitions were to secure the repentance of the accused and to maintain the authority of the Church. Inquisitions were conducted with the collaboration of secular authorities. If an investigation resulted in a person being convicted of heresy and unwillingness to repent punishment was administered by the secular authorities.”
A special note here: by ‘secular’ the reference is tied to priests who had no ties to large religious groups.
Despite the fact that the history was leavened with histrionics, there are some inescapable facts that cannot be ignored. One, is that implements of torture were used with devilish cruelty, some of which were psychological as well as physical, such as the Heretic’s fork, or “Common instruments of torture were the strappado (for repeatedly hoisting the body by the wrists behind the back and dropping it), the rack (for stretching the limbs and body), and the thumbscrew (for crushing the thumbs).” Despite the fact that a confession had to be validated without torture the next day by authorities (who weren’t quite the avid sadists we see depicted in movies and literature), it is still staggering to the imagination, seeing as we do today that the reasons behind them were so much folderol.
3,000 deaths for the Spanish Inquisition alone. Contemporary numbers for the Albigensian Crusades are estimated from seven to twenty thousand. Lest we forget, the Goan Inquisition, whose cruelty ran from 1540 to 1812, targeting primarily Hindus, which decimated lives and took properties from anyone who even whispered a prayer or held a tiny idol, which may have run upwards of hundreds of thousands of lives ruined or lost unless forcibly converted?
The numbers, even with investigation, run into the millions.
Rivers of blood and avalanches of charred or cracked flesh – lives destroyed needlessly or ruined, all for a phantom fantasy that has no basis in any reality we know.
This horrid book, so easily misconstrued, so easily re-interpreted, that lends itself with wild ease to man’s more feral nature, that real-life Necronomicon, that has created monstrous menageries and museum pieces to make even the sturdy heart quail, must stop being a rai·son d'être: it deserves the ridicule we heap upon it. It is at the heart and core of all that is wrong with Occidental civilization. It teaches the believers that they are above all moral constraints except those written with a quill dipped in the blood of innocents.
Religion is death writ large across the ages.
“And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.” – Macbeth, Act I, Scene V
Till the next post, then.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I have spoken at length here about this phenomenon, having experienced it sporadically throughout my life (at my personal cost: I’m sure a few of my readers have perhaps arched an eyebrow, shook their heads, and simply kept silent out of politeness for l’il ole wildman me), but Jaynes in his book mentions this happening in a number of cases, including himself.
I’ve copped to it: I’m sure it doesn’t happen to everyone, or there’d be that much less Thorazine in the world. Rest assured, I’m a very stable person. Really. What? Don’t look at me like that. My (nearly) non-existent rap sheet in the real world vouches for it. So does my medicine cabinet (I take nothing stronger than a couple of aspirin a day and vitamins). I got character references, I tells ya! Been voice-free since 2003. But it happens to a lot more people than most will cop to. Because we fear being ostracized.
Enough about me. Onwards.
One item not covered in my prior post, was a key ingredient that is covered in the book. Jaynes stipulates that there had to be a hierarchy among bicameral minds. Think about it: we’re pack animals. Kinda tough to function as such, when everybody has a different ‘voice’ going on. So, structures were formed, alpha wolves duly elected (if that could be called such) as high priests. If you’ve ever been to a concert, a revival (brrhhh!), or any other group activity, you catch the gist of it. Herd mentality.
It’s a great theory, but has some drawbacks. For one, nobody really began dissecting brains (for scientific use, anyways) until the last few centuries. So it’s hard to substantiate it with any physical evidence. Jaynes also bypassed peer review in publication. It’s not widely accepted in academia, and there are varying degrees of skepticism applied in some circles.
Anyways, a big snip from the above link:(snip)”Jaynes asserts that until roughly the times written about in Homer's Iliad, humans did not generally have the self-awareness characteristic of consciousness as most people experience it today. Rather, Jaynes argued that the bicameral individual was guided by mental commands believed to be issued by external "gods"—the commands which were so often recorded in ancient myths, legends and historical accounts; these commands were however emanating from individuals' own minds. This is exemplified not only in the commands given to characters in ancient epics but also the very muses of Greek mythology which "sang" the poems: Jaynes argues that while later interpretations see the muses as a simple personification of creative inspiration, the ancients literally heard muses as the direct source of their music and poetry.
“Jaynes inferred that these "voices" came from the right brain counterparts of the left brain language centres—specifically, the counterparts to Wernicke's area and Broca's area. These regions are somewhat dormant in the right brains of most modern humans, but Jaynes noted that some studies show that auditory hallucinations cause increased activity in these areas of the brain.
“For example, he asserts that, in The Iliad and sections of the Old Testament in The Bible, no mention is made of any kind of cognitive processes such as introspection, and he argues that there is no apparent indication that the writers were self-aware. According to Jaynes, the older portions of the Old Testament (such as the Book of Amos) have little or none of the features of some later books of the Old Testament (such as Ecclesiastes) as well as later works such as The Odyssey, which show indications of a profoundly different kind of mentality—an early form of consciousness.
Jaynes noted that in ancient societies, the corpses of the dead were often treated as though they were still alive (being seated on chairs, dressed in clothing, and even fed food) and he argued that the dead bodies were presumed to be still living and the source of auditory hallucinations (see ancestor worship). This adaptation to the village communities of 100 individuals or more formed the core of religion. Unlike today's hallucinations, the voices of ancient times were structured by cultural norms to produce a seamlessly functioning society.
“In ancient times, Jaynes noted, gods were generally much more numerous and much more anthropomorphic than in modern times, and speculates that this was because each bicameral person had their own "god" who reflected their own desires and experiences.” (End snip)
“Jaynes further argues that divination, prayer and oracles arose during this breakdown period, in an attempt to summon instructions from the "gods" whose voices could no longer be heard. The consultation of special bicamerally-operative individuals, or of casting lots and so forth, was a response to this loss, a transitional era depicted for example in the book of 1 Samuel.
Leftovers of the bicameral mind today, according to Jaynes, include religion, possession, schizophrenia and the general sense of need for external authority in decision-making.”
(Snip)” Friedrich Nietzsche's explanations of human ethics and moral consciousness in Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals posit a similar developmental path. The first humans followed a "noble" ethic ("master morality"), but their consciousness was shallow and limited at best. When the Judeo-Christian tradition turned the will in on itself ("slave morality"), as Nietzsche claims, the human soul became complex and intelligent, although it lost the "noble" ethic, which was replaced by an ethic of "ressentiment." Genuine individuality ("immoralism", the Overman) has yet to fully emerge from its socialized heritage; however, the emphasis remains that humans as a social animal preceded humans as individuals, consciously speaking.”
So, in short, humanity longs for those lost days, much like an old man clutches at his spent youth with tremulous hands, watching the wisps of smoke drift away, and fond nostalgia is by no means a proper balm for the maladies of today.
We should live today as today, not as if it were yesteryear: the phantoms of our fathers are but tenous tentacles, easily dispelled by the light of logic. Let us not be second-guessed by legends and mythologies, or old books that lose veracity with each new archeological find. Rather, let us learn from these mistakes, and place them on old shelves, to be dusted off, murmured over, and put back. Today and tomorrow is all we have: that, and the random kindesses we confer upon one another. Love your fellowman, not because of threats, or implied evil, or some egregious tome: rather, love him/her because, as the Bard once said, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”
And don’t let the voices get you. Because words only have the power you give them, and because that whisper in your ear is a coin-flip of the id.
And with that, you have my nickel’s worth. Spend it well, and wisely.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
What I discovered was more than the usual vitriol spewed forth by the large percentile of theists (not all, I might add: unlike the good doctor, I try mightily to avoid painting all believers with a broad brush, as I dislike the hasty generalization, which this fellow apparently wallows in).
I simply tested the water so: at the post entitled “Men Without Chests and Women Without Breasts” and commented so:
“As a leftie, liberal atheist, I gotta say:A more obvious poisoning of the well, I have not seen. 'The other side is a bunch of sissies.'I've had a nose-to-nose yelling match w/a Neocon (who backed off), & faced off on a few street punks, who've promptly backed up or ran.& for a leftie, I got a mean right hook.Oh, & I don't cave easy.”
It was a simple effort to illustrate that it was a hasty generalization.
I’d read some of this fellow’s content before. He does have a way with words, to be sure, a strong voice, no doubt. I had skimmed his posts prior to my visit – buried deeply within his rhetoric was an obvious distaste for any materialistic points of view whatsoever. He waxes on about how there is ever so much proof for the existence of his non-existent deity, without providing much substance.
And, predictably enough, I was immediately besieged with catcalls of ‘barbarian’ and ‘girly man’: one such wit felt the need to announce “TROLL!” several times (either doubting his or his compatriots’ reading comprehension, no doubt). Apparently, he has a steadfast following of K12 children. I called no names: I simply presented anecdotal evidence (myself)
In less than twenty-four hours, this gentleman, secure in his masculinity and mouthings of truth, launched a minor offensive. I call it minor, because it was more annoying and amusing than earth shattering. He titled it “Going Nous-to-Nous with Atheism”, and he comes out swinging:
“A self-acknowledged “leftie atheist” paid us a visit yesterday, leaving a comment that speaks for itself. If there is any pseudo-philosophy worthy of a priori dismissal, it is atheism, for it is naively self-contradictory at every turn.”
He managed to take a few swings at my character (typical for these self-proclaimed arbiters of light). A few brief tastes, only:” Many in the west have been so poisoned by secularism that it is difficult for them to any longer perceive God. For that is a key point. The existence of God may be easily proved, but only to a generous intellect that is inclined to accept the evidence.”
“It is just so with atheism. One might well ask an obligatory atheist, “how can you tolerate a world view that is so painfully narrow and stupid?” Not only would they have no idea what I was talking about, but they would probably be offended at the blasphemy, for one of the curiosities about the atheist is that he is quite passionate about something that his philosophy denies at the outset, which is totalistic and certain metaphysical truth.”
And this little bit of arrogant fucktardery:
” The intellect corrupted by secularism will nevertheless come up with its own substitute wisdom, such as this little neo-Marxist bon mot by our post-civilized visitor: “Reinvention is key to the progress of the individual.” Er, wrong. The key to the progress of the individual is not “reinvention,” if for no other reason than we are not invented to begin with--at least not by ourselves. Rather, the key to progress--both psychologically and spiritually--is self-discovery.”
If this fellow had the least bit of scientific acumen, he would’ve done a little more research: I am not, repeat, AM NOT a neo-Marxist. Capitalist, born and bred.
Wait, there’s more!” Suffice it to say that this perfectly accurate statement makes no sense to the atheist, because he lacks (or is alienated from) the perceptual apparatus to understand it--that is, the intellect properly so-called.”
The short, undressed version is: all atheists are stupid.
So then, I left this bit of skullduggery:
”Intriguing.If there is any pseudo-philosophy worthy of a priori dismissal, it is atheism, for it is naively self-contradictory at every turn.
& you have some sort of proof for that, outside of pretty rhetoric?Poisoning the well.
It only adds to the irony that this particular atheist congratulates himself on being a sophisticated “renaissance man,”
Ahem, you left out the 'sort of'.
It is just so with atheism. One might well ask an obligatory atheist, “how can you tolerate a world view that is so painfully narrow and stupid?”
Human beings, on the other hand, are much more difficult to account for--in fact, impossible for materialistic science to explain. Of this I am certain.
Then I respectfully advise you read more books on science, & a few less on iambic pentameter.
And where was that self before it was discovered? What is the ontological status of the “I” that exists in potential but awaits deployment in time?
Try out Julian Jaynses' 'Origins of Consciousness In the breakdown of the bicameral mind', for starters. “Short version: you talk real pretty, but not really overly impressed, sorry.”
In the meantime, the posters there indulged themselves with the usual stereotypical discussion of atheists. Efforts were made on a few occasions to correct these, but there’s no reasoning with the irrational.
I began to experience a creeping horror: if this fellow is so adamant against those like myself, being a clinical psychologist, would his belief system and prejudice impact his treatment of a patient who professed to be an atheist? His words speak volumes, ghastly volumes. He denounces a large group of people roundly, without equivocation. He states that he has no problem with ‘indifferent atheists’ (read: those that keep their mouths shut). Which would come first? His own messianic leanings (they are quite pronounced: read some of his work) or his Hippocratic oath? Would I WANT this guy probing into my brain with his ‘fingers of light’, correcting what he saw was wrong? Perhaps I do him an injustice.
Twenty-four hours later (or less), he pops up with this gentle little piece:”Mind of Goo, Mind of Ice, Mind of Light”. Here he drops his little homilies of hubris all over the place.
“Atheist writing can be a little prosaic at times . Now that’s putting it mildly, isn’t it? As our barbarian visitors have demonstrated, atheistic writing is necessarily coarse and ultimately infrahuman, for the simple reason that it is a perfectly imperfect adequation to the coarse and infrahuman--to the lowest level of existence only.”
Infrahuman is defined as such: “Of a lower order than humans; subhuman.”
Such people as Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov? Both self-proclaimed atheists? What would this magickal thinker think if he were to learn of Lance Armstrong’s atheism? What of Epicurus, or Anaximander? Would he quote Shelley, if he were to learn of that worthy’s acknowledged atheism? The list is long and varied, from Diderot to Camus, Woody Allen to Lovecraft.
And again:”Bacon Eating Atheist Jew has demanded that I prove the existence of God to him. This is something I, of all people, cannot do, if only because the injunction against casting pearls before swine loving swine is absolute.”
So, this lover of ‘ineffable’truth regards all atheists as subhuman, Marxist swine. Don’t deny it, Doc: you’re an arrogant metaphysical bigot, no more, no less.
I laid into him roundly, telling him he was remarkably ignorant for such a learned man, telling him all the logical fallacies he committed (he seems particularly fond of Loki’s Wager, among many), informing him that atheism predated ‘Grandma O’Hairbrain (O’Hare)’ some thousands of years prior.
And I quote:
“That was interesting. I hadn’t intended to generate such panic in the atheist community.
No, you flatter yourself unduly. Most don't know you exist. Last count, we were at #3 in the population, beating out hinduism.Let's synopsize briefly, shall we?On your post about 'men w/o chests', I simply offered myself up as anecdotal evidence that not every last 1 of us are 'whimps'. I called no names. I stated clearly that you were poisoning the well (go ahead & look that 1 up: I can wait). I offered evidence (an unrepresented example? Perhaps) that you were wrong. & the 'intellectual heavyweights' (including yourself) devolved rapidly into high school histrionics more worthy of middle-school martinets. Shrill cries of 'Troll!', 'Barbarian', & 'girly-man' were pronounced stridently.In less than 24 hours, you drafted up a post where, w/o indulging anyone concerned in a real dialogue, you came after me in a most dishonest manner, & declaring your 'victory' by slandering any & all dissent.Primitive men, BTW, worship that which is not. Civilized men do not. You also show a shocking lack of knowledge in re: atheism. Atheism predates Madalyn O'Hare by some 1000s of years, Epicurus & Anaximander to illustrate 2 such worthies.Let's dissect this:
On the other hand, a larger percentage of atheists have been traumatized or repulsed by a dysfunctional version of religion as a child.
Do you draw on anything other than assertions? This is a stereotype, & a poor 1 at that.
For the record, I have read thousands of books on the former and none on the latter, but somehow I must have missed the scientific breakthrough that has explained human consciousness. In fact, in the course of obtaining a Ph.D. in the field, it somehow eluded me that materialistic science has fully accounted for all of the miraculous properties of human consciousness. I’m sure I must have been absent that day.
I am truly shocked & chastened then: I had mistaken you for a scientist, when in fact you are remarkably ignorant for such a learned man.Science doesn't provide FULL ACCOUNTS. It provides ongoing data - the world is still a work in progress.Shall I enumerate the logical fallacies you have indulged your ego in, then?Being such a learned man, I would think you could spot them yourself, but everyone can deceive themselves. Even you.Poisoning the well.Ad hominem.Appeal to authority. Appeal to incredulity.Hasty generalization.Association fallacy.For a degreed scholar, you behave like any other theist.Poorly.Do get off your high horse, & wallow in the mud w/the rest of us, that is, unless you're convinced you're on a higher plateau than the rest of us.”
But he is not beholden to an ‘infrahuman Marxist barbarian swine’ such as I.
Now normally, I’d dismiss such a fellow, but for his self-proclaimed Ph.D in clinical psychology. His prejudice is exposed for the entire world to see, as is his ignorance. That such a bigot, so enthralled with himself, is allowed to tinker with the vast recesses of the human mind is more than boggling: it’s downright frightening.
Tantaene animis coelestibus irae? - Virgil.
In heavenly minds can such resentments dwell?
Apparently so. There is no amount of evidence that will dissuade these dispensers of the divine that we are human as well. No words that will cause the blind hatred to become seeing light: the empathy in them is shorn cleanly upon difference or diversity. Only by joining the ranks of the elite, might we be ‘saved’.
I have tasted of the waters, and found them laced with the poison of ignorance. Ad hominem is part and parcel of their ‘revelation’, no matter how nuanced.
Once upon a time, I would’ve been shocked and dismayed at the profound level of contempt evinced by those who claim to dispense manna from on high.
Sadly, he is no better, and no worse, than any of his fellow theists. He is a rhetorician in the third definition of the word: “A person given to verbal extravagance.” The owner of a baroque, grotesque meritocracy of the worst sort:
That, dear readers, is my nickel’s worth. Spend it or flip it: the choice is yours.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. “
The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost
Quite often, evolutionists are ‘treated’ to this bit of skullduggery, in various formats, in summation:
”12. Nobody has ever seen a new species evolve.
Speciation is probably fairly rare and in many cases might take centuries. Furthermore, recognizing a new species during a formative stage can be difficult, because biologists sometimes disagree about how best to define a species. The most widely used definition, Mayr's Biological Species Concept, recognizes a species as a distinct community of reproductively isolated populations--sets of organisms that normally do not or cannot breed outside their community. In practice, this standard can be difficult to apply to organisms isolated by distance or terrain or to plants (and, of course, fossils do not breed). Biologists therefore usually use organisms' physical and behavioral traits as clues to their species membership.
Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms. In most of these experiments, researchers subjected organisms to various types of selection--for anatomical differences, mating behaviors, habitat preferences and other traits--and found that they had created populations of organisms that did not breed with outsiders. For example, William R. Rice of the University of New Mexico and George W. Salt of the University of California at Davis demonstrated that if they sorted a group of fruit flies by their preference for certain environments and bred those flies separately over 35 generations, the resulting flies would refuse to breed with those from a very different environment.“
Or, more commonly, the witless comment: “If man evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkies?”
The above sentence proves that there still are. They’re just hairless, and they’re just parroting the alpha baboon. This is known as the Devolution fallacy, more specifically that we are the high point of evolution (Here’s a great article about ‘devolution’).
Let’s first define species and subspecies:
From the Britannica:
“Subdivision of biological classification composed of related organisms that share common characteristics and can interbreed. Organisms are grouped into species according to their outer similarities, but more important in classifying organisms that reproduce sexually is their ability to interbreed successfully. To be members of the same species, individuals must be able to mate and produce viable offspring. Because genetic variations originate in individuals, who then pass on their variations only within the species, it is at the species level that evolution takes place (see speciation). The international system of binomial nomenclature assigns new species a two-part name.”
”Subspecies: a taxonomic subdivision of a species. A group of organisms whose behavior and/or genetically encoded morphological and physiological characteristics differ from those of other members of their species. Members of different subspecies of the same species are potentially capable of breeding with each other and of producing fertile offspring. However, animals of different species may not interbreed even if there is no geographical impediment. Differences in appearance and behavior often prevent members of different species from recognizing each other as potential sex partners. This is especially true for animals with complicated sexual rituals. Members of different species are either incapable of reproducing, or will produce infertile offspring.”
Let’s define speciation, shall we?
The dictionary says this: “The evolutionary formation of new biological species, usually by the division of a single species into two or more genetically distinct ones.”
Before the creationist shouts “Ah-HAH!”, there’s more to it.
First, what makes a species distinct? The image that springs to mind is some wild variation, such as the Neanderthal. The automatic assumption is that there will be some visually distinct separation point. This is a common misperception. What sets a species apart from another?
The Wiki entry says this:
”Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. There are four modes of natural speciation, based on the extent to which speciating populations are geographically isolated from one another: allopatric, peripatric, parapatric, and sympatric. Speciation may also be induced artificially, through animal husbandry or laboratory experiments.”
So first we have allopatric speciation.
“Allopatric speciation, also known as geographic speciation, occurs when populations physically isolated by an extrinsic barrier evolve intrinsic (genetic) reproductive isolation such that if the barrier between the populations breaks down, individuals of the two populations can no longer interbreed. Although there is some debate about the frequency of other types of speciation (such as sympatric speciation and parapatric speciation), all evolutionary biologists agree that allopatry is a common way that new species arise.”
Example: Darwin’s finches
“Geographically isolated and without competition from similar species, these finches developed distinctive anatomy (particularly beak size and shape) and behaviors, with each species exploiting a unique feeding niche.”
Then we have peripatric speciation:
“Peripatric speciation is a form of speciation, the formation of new species through evolution. In this form, new species are formed in isolated peripheral populations; this is similar to allopatric speciation in that populations are isolated and prevented from exchanging genes. However, peripatric speciation, unlike allopatric speciation, proposes that one of the populations is much smaller than the other.
Peripatric speciation was originally proposed by Ernst Mayr, and is related to the concept of a Founder effect, since small populations often undergo bottlenecks. Genetic drift is often proposed to play a significant role in peripatric speciation.”
The Larus gulls form a ring species around the North Pole, The Ensatina salamanders, which form a ring round the Central Valley in California, The Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides), around the Himalayas, The grass Anthoxanthum has been known to undergo parapatric speciation in such cases as mine contamination of an area.
Then we have sympatric speciation:
“Speciation that occurs without geographic isolation of a population.”
Polyploidy is observed in many plant species: wheat, Salsify or goatsbeard, Cichlids of Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi
Then there’s Reinforcement:
“Reinforcement is the process by which natural selection increases reproductive isolation.
Reinforcement may occur after two populations of the same species are separated and then come back into contact. If their reproductive isolation was complete, then they will have already developed into two separate incompatible species. If their reproductive isolation is incomplete, then further mating between the populations will produce hybrids, which may or may not be fertile. If the hybrids are infertile, or fertile but less fit than their ancestors, then there will be no further reproductive isolation and speciation has essentially occurred (e.g., as in horses and donkeys.) If the hybrid ofspring are more fit than their ancestors, then the populations will merge back into the same species within the area they are in contact.”
Then, for the topper, we have Artificial speciation
“New species have been created by domesticated animal husbandry, but the initial dates and methods of the initiation of such species are not clear. For example, domestic sheep were created by hybridisation, and no longer produce viable offspring with Ovis orientalis, one species from which they are descended.(Cattle on the other hand, can be considered the same species as several varieties of wild ox, gaur, yak, etc., as they willingly and readily reproduce, producing fertile offspring, with several related "other" species.”
So the next time some daft ID-iot starts in with this specious nonsense, demand a definition of terms.
In short, speciation has INDEED been observed, on multiple levels, from the obvious to the sublime.
As for equal time for ‘creation science’, well, let’s end this with a laugh (Courtesy of The Atheist Alliance):
“Repealing the Law Of Gravity LINCOLN, NE. Today legislators in the Nebraska State Senate have begun debate on a controversial measure to forbid the teaching of gravity in all institutions accepting state funds. Wilburt F. Harsheill, co-chair of the Religious Freedom Union of America, testified before the Senate Education Sub-Committee that "gravity is just one of many possible explanations why water flows downhill. To eliminate the possibility of Divine Intervention is an affront to the millions of church-goers in our country." In a long and impassioned presentation Harsheill went on to assert that "the secular humanists in charge of education policy in our nation have no explanation for the Ascension of Christ or Old Faithful and that students should be exposed to all sides equally."
Till the next post, then.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
My friend Aaron Kinney respectfully disagrees. I did encounter a comment at his blog from a nice fellow named olly: “But the problem with letting that argument lead you down the path of saying 'pick your battles' is that the path to apathy is lined with good intentions.” I’m not pissed: he was respectful in his couching of the statement. Apathy? Uh-uh.
Vjack at the Atheist Revolution agrees with me somewhat:
”In other words, we need to offer something to people instead of focusing so much on taking things away from people. If you'll allow me to put on my psychologist's hat for a second, I'll offer the example of child discipline. In working with a child to eliminate an unwanted behavior, one must provide a positive replacement behavior. For example, taking away thumb sucking is going to be much harder if one fails to provide a more desirable method of self-soothing.”
Alonzo at the Atheist Ethicist has a somewhat…angrier response:
”Bigots view everything they see through the lens of bigotry. This is what prejudice is all about. The bigot "pre-judges" his victims, and then gives the victim's actions an interpretation that conforms to their prejudice. There is no way that the victim of prejudice can possibly act contrary to prejudice, because prejudice dictates the ‘correct’ way to interpret the victim’s action.”
These are but snippets only: hopefully, in context.
These are all valid points, and good insights into the human condition. My biggest problem is that I’m a ‘the glass is half full’ kind of guy. Let me illustrate this anecdotally (is that allowed? It isn’t? Too bad: I’m gonna do it anyways): I have found, in my youth no less, that when you walk in anger or fear, you’re a target. In my teenage years, I effectively neutered many physical confrontations this simply: “What’s the point?” A lot of would-be bullies stood there, confused. I left quite a few bewildered people in my wake. There was this one cat that would drive by in his van with his cute little girl friend (I was on foot), and they would both yell horrible, derogatory comments driving by (aimed at yours truly). How’d I deal with it? Simple: I became friends with both of them. Big friendly hellos on sight. I saw a news show a few years back, where African American youths who lived in the projects were asked how they avoided confrontation. Same answer. A friendly hello usually diffused it.
Favorite line from a TV show, Homicide: Life on the Streets: “You don’t bully a bully: you make them think.”
So I say: let’s make ‘em think. (I know, we’re doing that already: but there is a difference between an online interaction and a face-to-face discussion.)
Whenever I encounter someone, say, a homeless person, give them some change, if they say “God bless you,” I respond with, “Nah, I’m an atheist.” I was in my favorite park one day, and some older lady was trying to give out literature. The maintenance man told her that was strictly verboten (ANY literature, not religious only, by the way). I very nicely and politely informed her of my ‘religious’ status. She dropped by a few more times (I’m a regular there), chatted me up a bit (there were times I started regretting even opening my mouth, but I kept cool) in matters theological. After getting to know some co-workers (lay the groundwork: don’t announce it up front), I let them know I was an unbeliever. It’s usually a surprise. Half glass full, like I said.
So, what I’m getting at, in my roundabout way, is that we’re representing. Hey, it works for the other side, doesn’t it? Manifest a presence, in a manner of speaking. Go out, press the flesh, chat someone up.
Let me qualify this further (I know, most of you don’t fall into the Jackass! imitator category, those dipsticks who decide to imitate some idiotic WWF maneuver, with horrendous results): get out there, be friendly, look ‘em in the eye, and let them know we’re here. Don’t endanger your livelihood, or provoke a fistfight. We’re rationalists, right? Just use a little judgment. Standing up in the middle of Sunday mass and announcing there ain’t no gawd might be unhealthy. You take my point, so I won’t belabor it. Use a little judgment.
Because it is a lot harder to talk smack about someone you know. Harder yet when they’re likable. Sure, this may not convince everyone, but let’s be realistic: word-of-mouth travels.
So, in short: make yourselves known. Find an appropriate moment for an apropos segue. Discuss it rationally, be polite, smile as much as is possible. Try to let stupidities slide, if you can. Because the days are forthcoming, when the subject’ll be brought up when you’re not there, and somebody will spout off, and hopefully, a heart you’ve touched, a mind you’ve changed, will perhaps pipe up, and say “Hey, I know an atheist. He/she seemed like a great person.” Or something to that effect.
Now go forth, be fruitful, and re-educate the earth, my children. (hehehehe)
Till the next post, then.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
And, surprise surprise – it’s junk.
The argument from irreducible complexity is a descendant of the teleological argument for God (the argument from design or from complexity). This states that because certain things in nature are very complicated, they must have been designed. William Paley famously argued, in his 1802 watchmaker analogy, that complexity in nature implies a God for the same reason that the existence of a watch implies the existence of a watchmaker. This argument has a long history, and can be traced back at least as far as Cicero's De natura deorum, ii. 34 (see Hallam, Literature of Europe, ii. 385, note).”
Wait: what? The watchmaker analogy? Hasn’t that been debunked already?
Why, yes it has.
Here is a good breakdown.
Hey, waitaminnit, didn’t I demolish it myself? Yes, I did, here.
“While he did not originate the term, Charles Darwin identified the argument as a possible way to falsify a prediction of the theory of evolution at the outset. In The Origin of Species, he wrote, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case." Darwin's theory of evolution challenges the teleological argument by postulating an alternative explanation to that of an intelligent designer—namely, evolution by natural selection. The argument from irreducible complexity attempts to demonstrate that certain biological features cannot be purely the product of Darwinian evolution.”
Hey, hold on a sec: wasn’t Charley a big fan of Paley? Oh my stars and garters, yes he was.
“Darwin became particularly enthused by the writings of William Paley, including the argument of divine design in nature. In his finals in January 1831, he performed well in theology and, having scraped through in classics, mathematics and physics, came tenth out of a pass list of 178.”
Hmmm: how…intriguing. Must’ve been some huge evidence, for him to change his mind, dontcha think?
“An early concept of irreducibly complex systems comes from Ludwig von Bertalanffy, a 20th-century Austrian biologist. He believed that complex systems must be examined as complete, irreducible systems in order to fully understand how they work. He extended his work on biological complexity into a general theory of systems in a book titled General Systems Theory. After James Watson and Francis Crick published the structure of DNA in the early 1950s, General Systems Theory lost many of its adherents in the physical and biological sciences. Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity provides a good discussion of the "triumph" of the mechanistic view in biochemistry. However, Systems theory remained popular in the social sciences long after its demise in the physical and biological sciences.”
Only in the social sciences? How..interesting.
More snippets:(Snip)” Irreducible complexity is not an argument that evolution does not occur, but rather an argument that it is "incomplete". In the last chapter of Darwin's Black Box, Behe goes on to explain his view that irreducible complexity is evidence for intelligent design. Mainstream critics, however, argue that irreducible complexity, as defined by Behe, can be generated by known evolutionary mechanisms. Behe's claim that there is no scientific literature on the evolution of biochemical systems is demonstrably false.”
Here’s a good illustration of how the mousetrap analogy fails miserably:
“It is illustrative to compare a mousetrap with a cat, in this context. Both normally function so as to control the mouse population. The cat has many parts that can be removed leaving it still functional; for example, its tail can be bobbed or it can be spayed. Evolution has endowed it with redundant eyes, so if one eye goes blind, the cat can still catch mice. Comparing the cat and the mousetrap, then, one sees that the mousetrap (which is not alive) offers better evidence, in terms of irreducible complexity, for intelligent design than the cat. Even looking at the mousetrap analogy, several critics have described ways in which the parts of the mousetrap could have independent uses or could develop in stages, demonstrating that it is not irreducibly complex.
Here’s another brilliant example:(Snip)
“According to critics, another overlooked source of "irreducibly complex" features in a sexually reproducing organism is the handicap principle. Sexual selection often favors those who can demonstrate to their mates a surplus of energy by maintaining a feature or behavior that is unnecessary for basic survival—sometimes even a hindrance. Examples include certain horns and antlers, display feathers, skin or hair colors and patterns, bony structure, scents, songs, symmetry, and elaborate ritualistic behavior. It is not unreasonable to imagine a handicapping feature eventually developing a useful purpose in a changing environment or for two or more handicapping features to become useful when combined. Conversely, a useful feature may evolve to become a handicapping feature, but through sexual selection the feature is passed through generations to again become useful in a completely different context. In this new context, it may seem impossible to us that it was naturally selected to its purpose.”
Allow me to top this off with one more snip:”We therefore find that Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large. (17:45-46 (Padian); 3:99 (Miller)). Additionally, even if irreducible complexity had not been rejected, it still does not support ID as it is merely a test for evolution, not design. (2:15, 2:35-40 (Miller); 28:63-66 (Fuller)). We will now consider the purportedly “positive argument” for design encompassed in the phrase used numerous times by Professors Behe and Minnich throughout their expert testimony, which is the “purposeful arrangement of parts.” Professor Behe summarized the argument as follows: We infer design when we see parts that appear to be arranged for a purpose. The strength of the inference is quantitative; the more parts that are arranged, the more intricately they interact, the stronger is our confidence in design. The appearance of design in aspects of biology is overwhelming. Since nothing other than an intelligent cause has been demonstrated to be able to yield such a strong appearance of design, Darwinian claims notwithstanding, the conclusion that the design seen in life is real design is rationally justified. (18:90-91, 18:109-10 (Behe); 37:50 (Minnich)). As previously indicated, this argument is merely a restatement of the Reverend William Paley’s argument applied at the cell level. Minnich, Behe, and Paley reach the same conclusion, that complex organisms must have been designed using the same reasoning, except that Professors Behe and Minnich refuse to identify the designer, whereas Paley inferred from the presence of design that it was God. (1:6- 7 (Miller); 38:44, 57 (Minnich)). Expert testimony revealed that this inductive argument is not scientific and as admitted by Professor Behe, can never be ruled out. (2:40 (Miller); 22:101 (Behe); 3:99 (Miller))." (Pages 79-80)”
Let me toss my nickel’s worth in on this: this is a prime example of circular reasoning. Design infers a teleology, which is defined as: “in philosophy, term applied to any system attempting to explain a series of events in terms of ends, goals, or purposes. It is opposed to mechanism, the theory that all events may be explained by mechanical principles of causation. Aristotle argued that all nature reflects the purposes of an immanent final cause. Frequently, teleologists have identified purpose in the universe with God's will. The teleological argument for the existence of God holds that order in the world could not be accidental and that since there is design there must be a designer. A more recent evolutionary view finds purpose in the higher levels of organic life but holds that it is not necessarily based in any transcendent being.”
I’m going to have to agree with Lucretius, who said: "Nothing in the body is made in order that we may use it. What happens to exist is the cause of its use."
And so there you go. Any questions?
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I began to poke around a little on the Internet, and here’s a perfect example of how this god-fervor is ridiculous.
“Mormon Baptism Practices
"Baptism and salvation for the dead are based on the conviction that persons who died without a chance to hear or accept the gospel cannot possibly be condemned by a just and merciful God. The gospel must be preached to them after death; they find authority for this practice in 1 Peter 4:6: "For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." Baptism is considered as essential for the dead as it is for the living, even though the rites will not finally save them; there must be faith and repentance. The ceremony is performed with a living person standing proxy for the dead."
Handbook of Denominations, p.167”
“Paul mentioned this ordinance in passing as part of his argument for the reality of the resurrection: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?"1 Commentators have long recognized that the plain meaning of the passage is that living people were being baptized for dead friends or relatives, but they usually try to get out of it by placing some other, more dubious interpretation on this verse. Thus Henry Halley:
This seems to mean vicarious baptism, that is, baptism for a dead friend. But there is no other Bible reference to such a practice, and no evidence that it existed in the Apostolic Church. Perhaps a better translation would be "baptized in hope of the resurrection.2
But Paul's statement itself is evidence that baptism for the dead existed in the Apostolic Church! The NIV Study Bible admits that, "The present tense suggests that at Corinth people were currently being baptized for the dead."3 And if "baptized for the dead" really means "baptized in hope of the resurrection", it is an idiom translators have no knowledge of, or they would have used it to sidestep the obvious meaning of the passage.“
Obviously, some folks have a problem differentiating this ‘allegorical vs. literal’ folderol. My understanding is that Paul was blasting away at the Corinthians for their apparent freelance interpretations?
And one more, for good measure, from the ‘horse’s mouth’, no less:
“And again I give unto you a word in relation to the Baptism for your dead. Verily thus saith the Lord unto you concerning your dead when any of you are baptised for your dead let there be a recorder, and let him be eyewitness of your baptisms; let him hear with his ears that he may testify of a truth, saith the Lord; that in all your recordings it may be recorded in Heaven, that whatsoever you bind on earth may be bound in heaven; whatsoever you loose on earth may be loosed in heaven; for I am about to restore many things to the Earth, pertaining to the Priesthood saith the Lord of Hosts. And again let all the Records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my Holy Temple to be held in remembrance from generation to generation saith the Lord of Hosts.”
The pursuit of immortality, it seems, takes so many morbid, tangential paths, all of them fraught with falsehood and folly.
Then again, what do you expect from people who wear ‘holy underwear’? I wonder if they come in silk (wink-wink, know what I mean, nudge-nudge?).
And here’s another nice little ditty: ever seen a black Mormon? You haven’t? What a shock! Here’s why:
For those of you without DSL/Broadband, the portion I'm referring to, is that the Morons (whoops! The Mormons, sorry!) believe that we are all Elohim (pre-birth and post-mortem), and that there was a big argument between Jesus and Lucifer at the Round Table (yeah, different fable, you get the gist), and Lucifer rebelled (aka the Fall). Those of the Eloheim who remained neutral were then cursed with dark skin.
I kid you not, dear readers.
Now, I assure you all, that I don't usually use South Park as a research source, but they tell it so well, that I may as well post this video:
For those of you who will not suffer fools gladly, this next video is a possible approach for the next time these lingerie-wearing corpse-baptising holy-rollers come a-knockin' on your door:
You give 'em hell, Granny! YEAH! (that video never ceases to make me laugh and cheer.)
Questions, comments, any good jokes?
Till the next post, then.
SHAYS: ABU GHRAIB ABUSES WERE SEX RING
Yeah, I blinked, knuckled my eyes, and shook my head too.
“HARTFORD, Conn. - Republican Rep. Christopher Shays, who is in a tough re-election fight, said Friday the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were more about pornography than torture.
The veteran Connecticut congressman said a National Guard unit was primarily responsible for the abuses although it was actually the 372nd Military Police Company from Cresaptown, Md., an Army Reserve unit.
"It was a National Guard unit run amok," Shays said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It was torture because sex abuse is torture. It was gross and despicable ... This is more about pornography than torture."
Shays sought to defuse controversy over his previous comments suggesting the Abu Ghraib abuses weren't torture but instead involved a sex ring of troops.”
I noted throughout the article, no websites were listed. Not that I’d peruse them – but it would lend a bit more weight to the ridiculous charges.
“Now I've seen what happened in Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was not torture," Shays said at a debate Wednesday.
"It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from (Maryland) who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked," added Shays. "And they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn't torture."
And on the heels of that stupendous stupidity, all I can think is: “How would YOU know the difference?”
“Shays defended House Speaker Dennis Hastert's handling of a congressional page scandal, saying no one died like at Chappaquiddick in 1969 when Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy was involved.
"I know the speaker didn't go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day," the embattled Connecticut congressman told The Hartford Courant in remarks published Wednesday.
"Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody," he added.”
Sniff, sniff, what’s the name of that fish? Crimson something-or-other? This guy won’t give David Blaine any competition: his misdirection is not only dishonest, but also sloppy.
And of course, political waffling ensues:”Shays said Friday he wished he had more fully explained his views at the debate.
"I was maybe not as expansive as I needed to be," he said. "Of course, the degrading of anyone is torture. We need to deal with it."
Shays said his debate comments reflected the disturbing photos he has seen of Abu Ghraib abuses: "Naked Iraqis, naked Americans, Americans having sex ... gross and despicable pictures."
Yeah, yeah, fella, go tell it on the mountain.
But a Democrat stepped up, and showed far more backbone: Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd -
‘"It's not because it was some pornography ring. I'm surprised anyone would make that suggestion," Dodd said. "The suggestion that somehow this was something less than that is, again, almost bordering on the bizarre."
During the campaign stop, Dodd criticized a direct-mail flier from the National Republican Congressional Committee titled, "Diane Farrell: Coffee Talk with the Taliban," that had been sent to voters in the southwestern Connecticut district.
"This is absolutely the worst kind of politics in America," Dodd said. "The people who associate themselves with that party and these things must be held accountable."
Man oh man; we seriously need to abolish this party. They can’t play by their own damn rules, they’re a pile of hypocrites (yeah, family values my homesick ass), and they behave as if they can do any damn thing they please, and weasel out of it.
This elitest bullshit has got to go.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Today is Friday the 13th.
Yeah, big whoop-dee-doo. It’s just another day. Sadly, far too many people invest a great deal of ‘belief’ in this superstition.
Here’s the answers.com entry:
“A Friday occurring on the 13th day of any month is considered to be a day of bad luck in English-speaking cultures around the globe. Similar superstitions exist in some other traditions. In Greece and Spain, for example, Tuesday the 13th takes the same role. The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia, a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a phobia (fear) of the number thirteen.
The origin of the Friday the 13th superstition has been linked to the belief that there were 13 people at The Last Supper of Jesus, who was crucified on Good Friday, but no evidence has been found that Friday 13th was considered especially unlucky until the 19th century. The number 13, however, has a long history of association with ill-luck. It has been linked to the fact that a lunisolar calendar must have 13 months in some years, while the solar Gregorian calendar and lunar Islamic calendar always have 12 months in a year.
Another suggestion is that the belief originated in a Norse myth about twelve gods having a feast in the hall of the sea-god Aegir. The mischievous Loki gate-crashed the party as an uninvited 13th guest and arranged for Hod, the blind god of darkness, to throw a branch of mistletoe at Balder, the god of joy and gladness. Balder was killed instantly and the Earth was plunged into darkness and mourning as a result. This, however, is untenable. The original Old Norse text, the poem Lokasenna in the Edda, mentions 17 gods by name at the feast. Loki is indeed a gatecrasher, but he is not the thirteenth person present. Nor is there any link between this episode and the killing of Balder.
The first explanation, however, seems more relevant to the superstition linked to having 13 people at the same table during a meal. This, recorded at the end of the eighteenth century, is the earliest known instance of the ill-luck of 13 in Britain. The belief was that the first person to rise from the table would be the first to die.
There is also another theory that Friday the 13th of October 1307 was the day that Philip IV of France arrested and subsequenty tortured and killed hundreds of the French Knights Templar to get their money for the French treasury. This theory is used in the factcomic Uncle Scrooge and The Crown Of The Crusader Kings by Don Rosa. Mr. Rosa does here even proof that it wasn't friday the 13th they were arrested. One other note which predates all of the aforementioned is that the first Passover seems to have occurred on Friday the 13th. The death of the firstborns of Egypt occurred on a Shabbat on the 14th of Nisan in the evening. But the Jewish calendar counts days from sunset to sunset so this would have been Friday the 13th in terms of the gentile reckoning of the days. (Exodus 12:6) Feminists have argued that because of the lunar year and Friday being named after a goddess in most European pagan calendars, the fear of Friday the 13th is a patriarchal invention, associating femininity with bad luck.”
Back when I studied Witchcraft, the explanation was that there were usually thirteen people in a coven, with one portraying Cernunnos, who would dance at the back (or front) of the ‘Conga’ line. (‘Devil take the hindmost’, I believe the term was, or was that the kissing of the ‘infernal’ ass? I forget; as I never participated in any such thing, thank Ramen). This info was extracted via torture (the Inquisition), and thus is somewhat suspect.
So, anybody got any Friday the 13th stories? ‘Cause I’ve got diddly. Nothing’s ever gone awry on this ‘momentous’ date anytime in my life.
Got anecdote? C’mon, share. I’m fairly sure no one I know has one, but I’ve been wrong before (not very often, hehehehe). Kinda doubt I am on this one either. Did anyone take precautions? Twig on a black cat crossing their paths?
Till the next post, then.ADDENDUM: The answers.com entry has been amended to exclude the following sentence: "Mr. Rosa does here even proof that it wasn't friday the 13th they were arrested."
I also note that not only does the entry's author's grammar is fairly poor, the author also misspelled 'Baldur'.
I just got a phone call, same place; they want me back.
Turns out that for a godless heathen, I’ve not only got a good work ethic, I was among the more honest members of the work group I was sent in with (not bad for an immoral atheist, hmmmm?). I begin Monday morning, again, oodles of overtime, so I will be spending most of this weekend deep in the throes of the creative process of critique and atheology (when do I get my next day off? It’s unsure at best) to better serve you, my beloved readers.
I already have about five posts queued up (unreleased yet: yes, I’m a tease, nothing like a little foreplay to get the juices stirring, ey?), not to mention the holidays fast approaching, and several Sunday sermons to put together. My buddy the Vile Blasphemer says that I’m inexhaustive, but that’s to be chalked up to a number of items.
I suck down way too much coffee (four cups, and it’s OFF I GO), I love sharing what little I know (everything I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten – that’s about interaction, by the way), I spent WAY too much time keeping my mouth shut (and when the dam bursts, she’s a gusher all-rightie!), and yes, I am a bit of a media whore (chalk it up to a fairly insular childhood – I was always odd man out, waah, waah, waah, pity me, let’s move on, shall we?).
But most of it is this: I’ve a peculiar pecadillo for people. It’s what makes me a humanist. I try to put the ‘human’ in humanist, and I can only hope that, in some small way, I’ve done that.
So stay tuned, stay in touch, come by more regularly (you CAN subscribe via RSS feed: it’s in the right hand column), and I will make a herculean effort to respond to my regulars as time permits.
Just keep it cool, keep it calm (sometimes it’s difficult, I know: but we ARE rationalists, after all, ain’t we?), don’t trounce the trolls too quickly (I like PZ Meyer’s rule – 3 strikes, you’re up for a trouncing), and have a touch of fun in my little sandbox away from home.
Just remember: it ain’t kitty litter.
Posted by Krystalline Apostate at 3:49 PM