left biblioblography: October 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Away I Fly, To The East

So tomorrow I leave for China, to compete in the 3rd World Traditional Wushu Championships at WuDang. I shall be gone for 2 weeks.
I will be woefully out of my depth, and not expecting to win diddly-squat: contestant numbers are said to be in the upwards of 10,000 or more. So I'll rubber-neck, play La Tourista, network and get pointers on how to refine my art. Pick up maybe 20 more words in Mandarin (enhancing my limited vocabulary to the tune of 40 or more...encroaching senility has not been kind recently).
Other bits of sundry personal news: I've quit smoking (I have mild emphysema, manageable, but still sucks), and I had a picture of my heart taken (2, actually!) when I was in the hospital a few weeks ago.
I'll probably post on all that sturm und drang when I return in 2 weeks.
In the meanwhile, if you drop on by, do play nice in my sandbox.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Written In The Stars - Or So It Is Said

Cross posted @ God Is for Suckers!aries-sham 

When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way -
Stevie Wonder

Yet another daft chapter of our species from the history books - there was a time that astrology was considered a relevant 'science'. And no, I'm not talking about the Oracle of Delphi. Much closer to our own time period, in fact.

The 1640s and 1650s marked a heyday in the history of astrology in Britain. Astrologers were openly consulted by prince and pauper, and such was their influence on daily life that on the 29th March 1652 it was reported "hardly any would work, none would stir out of their houses" because of an impending solar eclipse.[1] The excitement generated by the astrologers' predictions of doom led to reports of the rich fleeing from London, farmers driving their cattle under cover, and markets being postponed.[2] Astrology at this time was part of everyone's life, inherent in the language and prevalent in the customs of the period. The massive sale of astrological almanacs, which during this period outsold all publications except for the Bible, indicates the widespread accessibility and acceptance of astrological philosophy.

Sound familiar?

By the 1670s however, astrology began to fall into a serious decline. Astrologers were stripped of their right to make political statements affecting the Church or State and the public seemed to be losing interest. The educated and influential classes started to look upon astrology as, at worst, superstitious nonsense and dangerous propaganda, and at best, a study in dire need of research and refinement. Almanac sales slumped, and many previously successful and busy astrologers were noting a fall in the number of their clients.

I think much of that can be tracked down to the 'science' not working at all. But evidently it rang a few bells:

Astrology and the Ecclesiastical Authorities often had a somewhat uncomfortable relationship. In general terms the Church was prepared to go along with a 'natural', or philosophical astrology, accepting Heaven's influence in a broad, cultural sense, but 'judicial' astrology, which dealt with individual predictions, met with staunch opposition; this was felt to undermine the supreme power of the Creator and the freewill of the individual to make the best of his circumstances. The Body of the Church held considerable power and wealth, so any tenet of faith that conflicted with their dogma exposed itself as a theological opponent and threat to the political scheme. Matters were hardly facilitated when, in 1631, an ambitious astrologer predicted the death of Pope Urban VIII, the effect being that many cardinals met to discuss who should succeed him whilst he was still alive and well. A Papal Bull condemning astrology was issued by the exasperated Pope, and the Church's tolerance with astrology fell to an all-time low. The monopoly of almanac publication had been renewed to the Company of Stationers by James I in 1603, and under the auspices of the government, they ensured that all published predictions were kept relatively tame and harmless.

The prediction, of course, failed. The consequences were predictable.

The article linked is an apologetic written by and for other believers. It tries to paint the picture of persecution - 'awww, those poor little dears! Why, there must be something to it, if people are against it!"

No, there isn't. It's all superstitious dreck. How on earth would someone prove that it was the invisible tentacles of electro-magnetism stemming from Mars that results in the need for anger management? Can't be done. Or that somehow, the feeblest of gravimetric motes from Venus makes one a superior lover? Can't be done.

In short, how can it be proven that just one planet (not the planet earth, I might note) has any impact whatsoever on an individual? How does one measure this sans the century-old tomes that claim it? How do you winnow out this ephemeral influence, put a yardstick to it, lick the thumb and take aim with one eye at it?

I will, upon my return from a well-deserved vacation, take an ample swing at the folks who claim there is such evidence.

So stay tuned, true un-believers.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Latest From Jesusland...Redneck Republicans Growing Their Corn Pone

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!jesusland

The black philosopher's idea was that a man is not independent, and cannot afford views which might interfere with his bread and butter. If he would prosper, he must train with the majority; in matters of large moment, like politics and religion, he must think and feel with the bulk of his neighbors, or suffer damage in his social standing and in his business prosperities. He must restrict himself to corn-pone opinions -- at least on the surface. He must get his opinions from other people; he must reason out none for himself; he must have no first-hand views. - Mark Twain: Corn Pone Opinions

If there's a political party that is likely to receive a Darwin Award, it most definitely (in my mind) has to be the GOP. These retards keep bankrupting the country (From Regan to Bush and Clone Bush), they've done nothing but lead America into financial ruin. And in pursuit of what? Keeping the status quo static at all costs, turning back the clock to a fantasy time that never was, yearning and burning for a utopic society that marches in white picket fence synchronicity.

The latest and 'greatest' is more of the blithering idiocy from the 'Governor next door' (didn't she do a fold-out pictorial in the Nome issue of Guns 'N Ammo?' No? Would be no shock if she had or did: the GOP is notorious for hypocrisy):

Palin heightens rhetoric on abortion

JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin charged into the culture wars Saturday in Pennsylvania, painting Sen. Barack Obama as a radical on abortion rights.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Saturday.

The stop comes amid news that Palin violated Alaska ethics law by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from the state police, a state investigator's report for the bipartisan Legislative Council concluded Friday.

Ethics woes aside, Palin focused her attention on abortion -- an issue that rallies the conservative base but some say alienates independent and women voters.

I've come to notice, that when a woman tends to be 'pro-life' (AKAP anti-abortion), they also tend to be pretty darn well-fed. The inference being, is that as a rule, they can actually afford to raise children. Personally, I'm both pro-choice and pro-life (no, no, no, I'm not wishy-washy, you can take both those terms out of their political connotative context: I'm mean them literally). Basically, the liberal refrain 'rare, safe, and legal'.

But, as always, the Right is wrong.

You don't want abortion? You don't want prostitution? You don't want illegal immigrants?

Hey, really folks, the answer is actually way easier than you think.

Combat poverty.

That's right. All those multiple millions you've pissed away on miniscule band-aids for those huge gaping wounds? Put that into education. All those dollars spent combating the symptom instead of addressing the pathology? Should've put them into feeding the poor. All those billions poured into battling bugaboos like gay marriage, vice squads, all those lost bucks on faith-based abstinence-only failures and creationist crap fests - it's squandered money.

Feed the poor. Raise their standard of living to something closer to the US middle class. Educate them.

Because you can't eat prayers. You can't feed starving children on hosannas.

Because the old texts are wrong. Man does live on bread alone.

Till the next post, then.