left biblioblography: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Final Goodbye

So today was my mother's memorial service.

I was not pleased.

Tuesday night, I received a message stating that the memorial service was scheduled for Friday, that it would be in a chapel, and that my sister was bringing in someone to preside over it. I was also told to clean the condo up, as she was bringing that person over to the place.

I'm not irate there was a service: most folks require some sort of closure, a good-bye to those we lose. No, I'm upset because it was done without any sort of discussion. Not to mention that I don't respect what this person does at all: inviting an unwelcome, unwanted guest into my living space while I wasn't around.

So I left a terse message telling little sis to call me back.

She did, and the gist of it, was that she felt obliged to make it a religious service to honor mom's wishes and her friends. I chirped up with "But she never even went to church." I was told she did. (This being newsflash to moi: I lived with her for 2 years, and she spent her Sundays playing solitaire endlessly and drinking wine. She only went to weddings and funerals, not much of a qualifier.) I was also informed that she'd done all this legwork (scorecards are a particular pet peeve for me, family or no), and that I had to do a 'lot of thinking', and that I didn't have to come, due to my 'belief's'.

She knows me not at all, this woman.

(I didn't bother cleaning anything up, I might add. Rat's fart in a whirlwind, all that.)

So Wednesday and Thursday, I was infuriated. She was my mother too, after all. We would've had the service - but I would've insisted on a more secular one, as I've stated elsewhere, these rites of passage should be human, not religious.

But I resolved to go, and shored up the words I wished to speak.

It was at a VA chapel in San Bruno. I dressed up in a very nice looking beige Asian-cut outfit I'd gotten a few years back (on the Internet, for fifty bucks, no less!), and a white turtle-neck. I timed it just right: I got there just as the services were beginning. As I walked up, I saw a very large older man wearing a kilt and a tam, packing bagpipes. ("Bagpipes?" I thought. "But we're Irish.") Strangely, my skin didn't begin to sizzle like steak on a grill, as I'd expected.

I sat down in the pew, as some preacher woman was doing one of those life-in-a-nutshell eulogies (my little sister had written, as I understand it - it was all right.)

When she finished, she opened the floor to any commentary.

Now, I'd wanted to point out my mother's lack of religiosity (how she spent her Sundays, for one thing). Also, that she'd been excommunicated for marrying a divorced man (and if she'd listened? Well, I wouldn't exist right now, would I? Somehow, I find that...objectionable.) But the self-editing kicked in, and as this wasn't the time or place for airing dirty laundry, I tossed out some items.

Here is what I said:

"I was her son. I don't believe in an afterlife. What I do believe in, is that she touched us all, everyone in this room, deeply, and that the only way she'll live on forever, is if we keep her memory in our hearts and our minds.

"She taught me many lessons. She taught me to be honest (though that's proven detrimental at times). She taught me objectivity: she was endlessly refereeing the chaos of sibling rivalry. And most of all, she taught me that principles are to be stood by, not to be put aside when they're inconvenient.

"These are the lessons she taught me. I will honor these, to the end of my days. Thank you."

The preacher lady chirped in an "Amen!", which I duly ignored. I left.

(That last line about principles, I lifted straight off of the film, The Contender. Both my parents did teach me to stand behind them, however.)

As I walked out to my car, I looked back. The Scottish fellow (was he a 'true Scotsman', one wonders? Ah, well.) was watching me leave.

At this juncture, I'm ready to turn my back on the rest of my family. My sister's actions and words demonstrated just how little I truly matter to them. My unpopular 'beliefs' and opinions are a matter of great inconvenience to them, and it's evident (at least to me), that I'm the comic relief. My older sister's much too self-involved and a big lover of convenience, lacking in empathy (remind me to tell you the story of how she kicked me out of the apartment I was renting, over her inability to deal with the vermin/raccoons that were making my life horrible), and my younger sister's control issues have kind of come to a peak for me. It's like being involved with a drug addict: there's only so much caring one person's capable of, before you scrap the whole kit and kaboodle. Between the two of them, I've become a bundle of neuroses, that it'll take years for the scars to heal, maybe decades.

The only reason I've put up with them so long, is that I didn't want to burden my mother's golden years with this nonsense. I'm ready to toss this particular baggage in the lake now.

Anyways, thanks for listening.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

How The Echo Chamber Impacts How Stuff Works


Cross posted at God's For Suckers!

"If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing" - Anatole France

Normally, one of my favorite websites is 'How Stuff Works' - chock full of all sorts of neat little ditties and factoids.

So I was reading up on evolution there, and I gotta say...how on earth does this invidious crap seem to seep into it?

Everything's fine up to about this article - the example's pretty bad, as Chihuahuas and St. Bernard's are the same species. Then, the next article starts the rapid deterioration of the author's 'objectivity'.

It defines the word 'theory' pretty well:

A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

It says this:

Many theories are works in progress, and evolution is one of them.

Ahem. All theories are works in progress. I'm going to skip to the more egregious errors in this. Onwards to the evolution of the human brain:

Modern human brain size averages about 1,500 CCs or so. In other words, in about 2 million years, evolution roughly doubled the size of the Homo erectus brain to create the human brain that we have today. Our brains contain approximately 100 billion neurons today, so in 2 million years, evolution added 50 billion neurons to the Homo erectus brain (while at the same time redesigning the skull to accommodate all of those neurons and redesigning the female pelvis to let the larger skull through during birth, etc.).

50 billion neurons sounds like a great deal, doesn't it? Actually, no it isn't.

None of these scenarios is particularly comfortable. We see no evidence that evolution is randomly adding 250,000 neurons to each child born today, so that explanation is hard to swallow. The thought of adding a large package of something like 2.5 billion neurons in one step is difficult to imagine, because there is no way to explain how the neurons would wire themselves in. What sort of point mutation would occur in a DNA molecule that would suddenly create billions of new neurons and wire them correctly?* The current theory of evolution does not predict how this could happen.

Randomly? Is this cat for real? 'Wire them correctly'? And yes, evolution does predict how this could happen - punctuated equilibrium.

Get ready - here come some of the eye-crossers.

Question 3: Where Did the First Living Cell Come From?

Oh, you've gotta be kidding me. Evolution doesn't concern itself with the origins of the living cell - it deals with the process of how diverse life came to where it is today.

This is where I get a little heated:

These examples do simplify the requirements for the "original cell," but it is still a long way to spontaneous generation of life. Perhaps the first living cells were completely different from what we see today, and no one has yet imagined what they might have been like. Speaking in general terms, life can only have come from one of two possible places:

  • Spontaneous creation - Random chemical processes created the first living cell.
  • Supernatural creation - God or some other supernatural power created the first living cell.

The spontaneous 'creation' scenario is the only possible explanation. Where the fuck do these dimbulbs come up with this 'supernatural' nonsense? Is there some secret lab somewhere that specializes in 'supernatural' experiments? Has there ever been just one time in the history of science where it can be proved that the supernatural played a pivotal role in any experiment whatsoever? The answer to this, is of course, a big fat zero, zilch, nada, nil, or any other placeholder word for nothing.

The following section tends to skin my lip back on my teeth:

  • Scientists will develop a new theory that answers the questions posed above to almost everyone's satisfaction, and it will replace the theory of evolution that we have today.

First off, it's highly unlikely that some 'new theory' will come along and 'replace' the 'theory' of evolution that is in place today: what we have now spans multiple scientific disciplines. That there will be modifications and changes in paradigms is a strong likelihood: but it's highly improbable that the whole shebang will be chucked overnight.

  • Scientists will observe a completely new phenomenon that accounts for the diversity of life that we see today. For example, many people believe in creationism. In this theory, God or some other supernatural power intervenes to create all of the life that we see around us. The fossil record indicates that hundreds of millions of new species have been created over hundreds of millions of years -- Species creation is an intense and constant process with an extremely long history. If scientists were to observe the creation process occurring the next time a major new species comes into existence, they could document it and understand how it works.

Who cares what 'many people' believe in, anyways? Are any of these folks scientists? We both know the answer to that one - NO.

For the most part, this group of articles sacrifices objectivity with this 'fair-mindedness' garbage. It echoes a number of creationist talking points (the media echo chamber metaphor is particularly cogent here), it drags in a discussion of the supernatural where it doesn't belong, and while the articles admit that evolution is a working mechanism, it plays the old 'macroevolution vs. microevolution' sleight-of-hand nonsense.

I for one, get more than a little tired of this political correctness garbage - the 'everyone's got an equal opinion' horse manure. No, not all opinions are equal. Or, as Harlan Ellison put it so eloquently: "Nobody's entitled to an opinion. Everybody's entitled to an informed opinion."

And science isn't a democracy, either. Sorry, anyone who thinks that is SOL.

Till the next post, then.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

And The Time, It Has Passed, And My Dear Old Mam Is No Longer With Us...

So as of Tuesday evening the 19th, my mother passed away.

My little sister had moved her into a retirement community (a real nice one, a few blocks away), and I'd been visiting her as often as I possible could. She'd gotten out of therapy seeming all right. But she couldn't get out of her bed much at all, and then not at all, and would moan piteously and clench my hand, that dreadful, palsied clench.

She was put in diapers. My sister brought in hospice workers.

Last weekend, my respiratory illness got pretty bad: I didn't want to risk getting her (or anyone else in the building) sick. Saturday and Sunday, I laid in bed, sleep for an hour or two, alternating cold and hot flashes, run to the bathroom to spit out whatever I'd coughed up recently. Monday the 18th, I went to the ER, complaining of breathing and chest pains (with my thyroid, I get them: one seemed to pop up conveniently ere I entered). Hours later, I found out I had bronchitis with a touch of pneumonia. Prescribed antibiotics, steroids, an inhaler. This had an uneven effect on me up until now - I've bipolar moments (moments only, luckily), food tastes funny, and I'm notably less garrulous.

Tuesday, my sister called in a priest to administer last rites. I had to go MIA for a few hours, seeing as I very much despise these witch doctors (my B-in-law made much of the fact that the shaman wouldn't take a tip - I tried to explain how this wasn't in fact an admirable thing, but he was sloshed, and his usually shaky logic turns into mush - nothing but grief there).

My older sister made some weepy commentary about how she was with Dad and her brothers now - I let that slide.

It was just awful, that age curled her up into this wrinkled, barely recognizable little gnome, completely helpless, battling for each breath, and that the only reason she passed without pain for the most part, was that she had to be dosed up on morphine.

This moment is why we fear death. Why we as a species demand of the skies, "Why? WHY?", and when no answer is given, we make up stories and tales and draft them into epistemologies that are built on sand, weak fables that some will spill blood to defend.

And through her pain, there were no trumpets, nor angels, or light shining from on high, no supernatural nonsense manifested not once. Who helped her? Real people, using real tools, using human touch and empathy and care. A few people mouthed the usual religious platitudes. I let those slide: I deemed it inappropriate to pound at the crap as is my want.

She is gone. I will always remember her: as a lost child, crying for her, as a wandering child, somehow knowing someone out there cared enough to come look for me. An endless referee in the sibling battles between my two sisters and I. A good cook, someone who turned me on not only to reading, but fantasy as well as non-fiction. Who tried to raise us as Catholics, but when our interests in that piqued and waned, allowed us to go our separate ways to figure our own stuff out.

She was a great deal more than anything I've listed so far: strong, stubborn Irish woman, who married a divorced man against both her church's teachings and her controlling mother's wishes, and excommunicated for her determination. She loved to tip a glass or two of wine, but rarely drank out of control, who would stand up to my stern Pa in a day and age where women didn't usually do that. Dad had a temper of his own, but he'd never strike a woman, and the two could battle at the top of their lungs sometimes. My dad was louder and bigger, but Ma usually was the victor.

I learned a great deal from her. How to be fair, be objective, listen to both sides of the argument (Dad was quite like that too, to be honest). Use logic - be rationale.

I'm going to miss her terribly for quite some time, I think. This brief summary of her does her little justice: she had, like most people, her flaws and foibles, as do we all. She absolutely hated the habit of some people to take the dead and somehow recast them as 'saints' posthumously.

It will take some time for the pain to heal. So if I seem a little more distracted, or a tad less on target, bear with me, troops.

Onwards. To life.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dystheism - Dissing The Deity's 'Design'


Cross posted at God is for Suckers!

Man, in his ignorance, supposed that all phenomena were produced by some intelligent powers, and with direct reference to him. - Gods, Ingersoll

Hot on the heels of a rather intriguing discussion (see here), I think it time we dust off some of the more obvious blatherings of the religious.

It's a flawed 'creation'. Witness:

  1. The human eye: who on earth would construct something that actually sees everything upside down? Or for that matter, why are all our mechanisms up front, and vulnerable? If we're to measure 'design', why are squids eyes better designed than ours?
  2. Click here for an interesting take - Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Youtube describing Stupid Design.
  3. And here are my observations (from 2006) on the various pitfalls and razorwire of this world, allegedly 'created' for us.
  4. 'Irreducible complexity' - that hoary old chestnut, has reached its expiration date (long since overdue: there are some minds suffering from ingestion of this meme that never made the big time). Again, here's another take of mine on this...less than overwhelming effort. (Sorry for all the links back to my site, but rather than repeat myself at length, it's simpler to outline past efforts.)
  5. Or, as another exhibit, the bunny rabbit. Yes, you heard me right. The bunny eats its food, digests it, evacuates it, and...eats the pellets. It has to consume its own excrement in order to survive. How efficient is that? Not very.
  6. And it's not enough that we die. Oh, no. Creeping decrepitude seeps into us. Maintenance devolves, from a simple shrug in youth to battling for survival in old age.

One has not far to go, to find the flaws in this 'creation' - they're everywhere. For every single example of some wonderful innovation, there's at the very least a hundred examples of how inefficient organisms and/or mechanism manage to work around glitches.

So please, all you Young Earth/Old Earth creationists: don't blither on about how 'all creation is a testament to His Wonder', because that dog don't hunt. It's blaringly obvious to those of us who realize that we are most emphatically not the center of this universe, that it cares not one jot nor tittle whether we live or die. To claim otherwise, is self-absorption to the point of narcissism.

Better yet, to quote one of my favorite shows, Heroes, "Evolution is a blind, messy, violent process."

Yes it is. It is not only the dominant paradigm, it is simply fact. To claim otherwise is hubris, pure and simple.

Till the next post, then.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Contender: Recommended Viewing!

Thanks to the modern 'miracle' of Netflix, I chanced across a pertinent, powerful drama titled The Contender.

No, it's not a boxing drama. It's a well-paced, powerful political insight into the way Washington is run. Here's the answers.com entry:

The hard-ball gamesmanship and casual character assassination of American politics sets the stage for this thriller from writer and director Rod Lurie. When the Vice President of the United States unexpectedly dies, all eyes in Washington D.C. are on President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) as he chooses a new VP. Sen. Jack Hathaway (William Petersen), a respected career politician enjoying a new swell of popularity after a well-publicized attempt to save a drowning woman, is expected to be Evans' choice, but instead he picks Sen. Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), a decision that raises eyebrows on both sides of the political fence. Veteran power broker Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman) is vehemently opposed to Hanson's appointment, in part because the Democratic senator was once a Republican, and vows to do everything in his power to prevent her from being confirmed. Runyon and his staff start digging for dirt on Hanson, and soon make a surprising discovery -- her personal morality is called into question when it's alleged that she took part in a group sexual liaison while she was a college student. The Contender also stars Mike Binder as one of Hanson's advisors, Mariel Hemingway as an old friend with a surprising secret, Christian Slater as an ambitious congressmen assisting Runyon, and Philip Baker Hall as Hanson's father; it was the second feature from former film critic Rod Lurie. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

I think it's germane especially in lieu of the upcoming Presidential race. A woman is nominated as Vice President (brilliantly played by Joan Allen), and Gary Oldman is savagely good as the patriot-gone-bad, with a magnificent Jeff Bridges playing the President-elect Jackson Evans. Noteworthy mentions include Sam Eliot (who is rarely bad in a movie - he's great as the POTUS advisor), and Christian Eliot (whom I've never been overly fond of - he's too smarmy in most flicks, but pretty believable in this one).

Joan Allen's character [Laine Hanson] is the liberal's dream: she's a strong, confident woman, who's switched parties (now Democrat), pro-choice, real strong on separation of church and state, and get this...drum roll please...she's an atheist!

Noteworthy moments worth savoring: Laine and her son are visiting grandpa while he's playing tennis. He tries to instruct the 6-year-old on using a topspin, and is informed it's great because Jesus created it! Gramps gets a little huffy after scooting the kid off ("I spent all those years trying to get that nonsense outta the public schools - they're paid to teach, not to preach!").

When questioned by the committee about SOCAS, Oldman's character quotes Laine as saying, "SOCAS isn't about the government trying to run religion, it's about keeping the government from being run by a fairy tale." [paraphrase].

And, in the speech she delivers to the committee (she's resisted the

"I stand for the woman's right to choose. I stand for the elimination of the death penalty. I stand for a strong and growing armed forces, for we must stomp out genocide on this planet, and I believe that is a cause worth dying for. I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home. Period. [...] And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of church and state. The reason I stand for that is, I believe, the same reason our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government, but to protect our government, from the grasp of religious fanaticism. I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves, that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom we hold dear. My church is this very chapel of democracy, that we sit together, and I do not need God to tell me my moral absolutes, I need my heart, and my brain, and this church."

I don't mind saying, I wept a bit through the last part of this movie. She stood on her principles: she played no game but her own. She refused to discuss the alleged incident at ALL - even when provided with a devastating whammy from a friendly advisor that would've dropped Oldman's character into the dirt, clutching his groin. Why?

"Principles only mean something when you stick to them when its inconvenient."

Damned good movie. Worth adding to the collection. If I had prehensile toes, I'd give it two Big Toes Up.

And that's my 2¢ worth.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Allegories Gone Wild - Waiting For NESARA


Cross posted at God is for Suckers!

That old whore Christianity has mated many times, sometimes dropping from its womb madmen and monsters, other times, squalid lonely little sports that briefly squall, and pass away quietly into sewers of history.

This then, is the story of one of those sports. A bastard grandchild, to stretch the simile.

I picked up the DVD, because for ten bucks, it was cheap laugh. Here's the clip on Youtube. Here's their actual website.

For a little back story, the Wiki entry reads thusly:

NESARA is an acronym for the National Economic Stabilization and Recovery Act, a set of economic reforms proposed during the 1990s by Dr. Harvey Barnard. Barnard claimed that the proposals, which included replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, abolishing compound interest on secured loans, and returning to a bimetallic currency, would result in 0% inflation and a more stable economy. The proposals were never introduced before congress, and the only congressman known to have commented on the bill is Ron Paul, dismissively, and through a spokesman.[1] NESARA has since become better known as the subject of a conspiracy theory promoted by Shaini Goodwin, who claims that the act was passed with additional provisions as the National Economic Security and Reformation Act, and then suppressed by George W. Bush administration and the Supreme Court. Other people have adopted and embellished Goodwin's ideas.

The following gives us ample reason to distrust someone based on their educational background:

Dr. Harvey Barnard, a Louisiana graduate in systems philosophy, and an engineering consultant and teacher, created the NESARA proposal during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He printed 1000 copies of his proposal in 1996 and sent copies to members of Congress, believing it would pass quickly on its merits. Based on a theory that debt is the number one economic factor inhibiting the growth of the economy, and compound interest the number one "moral evil" and reason for debt, Barnard made several other attempts during the 1990s to draw political attention to the problems that face our economy, and his resulting economic recovery proposal based on the root causes he determined. After these did not succeed, he decided in 2000 to release the proposal to the public domain and publish it on the internet. Barnard also established the NESARA Institute in 2001.

Wiping all debt out in a single act of Congress? Yeah, I'll bet that wouldn't mess up the economy, no sirree!

The idea of forgiving any and all debt got latched on to, and with a singular vengeance. Hand in hand it went, with some whackinoid with an axe to grind, and too many missing brain cells:

Soon after Barnard released NESARA on the internet, a user known as "Dove of Oneness" began posting about it in internet forums. "Dove of Oneness" has since been identified as Shaini Goodwin, a former student of The Ramtha School Of Enlightenment. According to Goodwin's web site, the NESARA bill languished in Congress before finally being passed by a secret session in March 2000 and signed by President Bill Clinton. It was to be announced in 2001, but the Supreme Court issued a gag order that prohibited any official or private source from discussing it, under penalty of death. Goodwin refers to "White Knights," most of them high-ranking military officials, who have since been struggling to have the law implemented despite opposition by President George W. Bush. Goodwin believes that Bush orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Iraq War as distractions from NESARA. Goodwin's description of NESARA goes beyond Barnard's proposal by canceling all personal debts, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, declaring world peace, and requiring new presidential and congressional elections. Goodwin often claims that Bush officials are attempting to hack into and bring down her web site to prevent her from publicizing the law.

The film in question, an Indieflix production, has the crew following the NESARA folks around. Ordinary, 'down home folks', you'd think, passing them in the streets. That is, until you watch Goodwin hold these meetings (in a KFC restaurant at first, then moving it around a bit, complaining about the weird looks they received at certain places. Ya think?)

A bunch of strange ex-Mormons (apparently the majority have no access to modern dental facilities - most of them had black, rotted teeth) talking about 'White Nights', St. Germaine coming down from the heavens with an armada of UFOs to pre-empt the Iraqi war. Yeah, I kid you not in the least, dear reader: one clip in the film has Goodwin explaining how the armada would teleport all the US troops into their spaceships (sans equipment) to keep the US out of Iraq! Another clip, Goodwin blathers on about how people who have more reptilian DNA will be more easily influenced by the 'darkness', and cites the reptilian hindbrain as his proof. A claim is made that there was indeed a 'hybrid' that attended one of their meetings (alas, said chimera was not present for the filming. What a shock!).

These predictions were made sometime in 2002. Did they come true? Obviously not. Further clips from the film illustrate Goodwin trying to explain just exactly why the 'prophecies' didn't come true - there was a liberal mix-'n-matching from cultural referents (the bible, the Prime Directive from Star Trek, I kid you not!), some dithering about with 'free will', and more or less, a complete disconnect from reality.

To his credit, Barnard completely disassociated himself from the movement, continuing on with the original Wiki entry:

Barnard became aware of Goodwin's description of NESARA before his death in 2005. He denied that NESARA had been enacted into law or even assigned a tracking number, and condemned Goodwin's allegations as a disinformation campaign. Goodwin, for his part, dismisses the NESARA Institute as a disinformation front for the Bush family.

Goodwin apparently is still bilking his followers:

Some NESARA detractors claim that NESARA is a cult designed primarily to provide an income to Goodwin and others. They point to the fact that Goodwin, Lee, and Nidle frequently ask their readers to donate money. Goodwin, who also asks readers to donate their frequent flyer miles,claims that she needs and has used the funds to travel to various locations around the world to secretly meet with high-level government officials about getting NESARA announced.

Some NESARA supporters also make the claim that otherworldly beings are working to get NESARA announced. These include a "channeled spirit" called "Hatonn", and another called "Sananda" (claiming to be Jesus) along with Saint Germain, a deity borrowed from The I AM Movement and the Church Universal and Triumphant. Benevolent aliens are also frequently mentioned, most prominently by Nidle, as working towards the NESARA announcement. The designation of George W. Bush as a reptilian often co-occurs with this claim. Goodwin has claimed that Saint Germain has come down from heaven to physically meet with heads of banks and world leaders regarding the NESARA announcement.

The prominence of failed prophecy also lends support to the cult theory. NESARA supporters often tell their readers that the NESARA announcement is going to happen in a matter of days. These claims have been made too many times to enumerate, without ever coming to fruition. According to the documentary Waiting For NESARA, the claim was also made prior to March 2003 that George Bush was planning the war with Iraq only to further delay the NESARA announcement. It was prophesied that spiritual beings and UFOs would intervene with Bush's plans and prevent the war.

A June 2006 complaint to the Washington consumer protection division accused Goodwin of using the NESARA story to defraud a 64-year-old San Francisco woman of at least $10,000. The woman's daughter said the actual amount is much larger, in the hundreds of thousands.

In closing, it is a hard, hard thing, to be outcast, to be pariah. But to be tossed out of a weird cult (because let's face it, folks, they're all weird little cults, whether it be Christianity, LDS, Islam, etc) because you're too bugfuck crazy for the irrational majority you are a part of (or maybe it's just the lack of dental hygiene; who knows?) - well, it has to be somewhat unsettling, especially for the feeble-minded. So you modernize your craziness. Throw in some science-fiction fodder, a sprinkle of this baroque meritocracy, a smattering of that psychotropic belief-system, heavy doses of some stupid 'holy book', and voila! You gots yourself some damn fine messianic stew (that is, if all your tastebuds are solely in your mouth).

Shaking my head, I take your leave now. I love humanity, but aye, caramba! What a ridiculous species we is.

Till the next post, then.