Thursday, June 29, 2006

Because I Have To Say It

This is one of those posts that has been stuck in my head, and it’s preventing me from moving on.

A day or two after the US Military dropped two 500-pound bombs to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Prezmadent George W. “Bowsprit” Bush made a statement regarding a US withdrawal, or turning over responsibility for policing Iraq to the Iraqi Government. This is not a direct quote, but it went something like, “We’re not going to leave a handful of murderers in charge.” Murderers like you George? Or like Rumsfeld? Or like Dick Cheney? When you are responsible for decisions that cause the death of thousands, many of them non-combatants, is the blood not on your hands?

I realize that by saying this I invite the comments of armchair warriors and Jingoists, who will no doubt point out that “they” started it by flying planes into the World Trade Center. “They?” The doctors? Merchants? Children? Or maybe the bigots will accuse me of not supporting the troops, or not being patriotic, - from the relative safety of their living rooms. I have sent packages to troops in Iraq, and not just baby wipes either. I don’t show my support by putting a stupid yellow magnet on my car and fooling myself into thinking I’ve done something. A wise Journalist recently commented that we did not need to put “Proud to be an American” bumper stickers on our cars in the 1960’s and 70’s and 80’s and 90’s because the whole damn world knew we were proud of our country, and politically active, and proud of our form of government. This was true no matter what side of an issue you were on. We didn’t have to go around convincing each other that being an American was still something to be proud of.

I am disturbed by the demolition of Zarqawi. How is sucker-punching a house full of people with 1000 pounds of explosive any different from the IEDs the insurgents are using on our troops? I mean, just because we have more expensive and impressive toys, does that make the method any different? I understand the logic behind the decision. He was most likely not going to let himself be taken alive. He was a self-proclaimed murderer. He had been tried in absentia and sentenced to death. Doubtless any attempt to arrest him would have resulted in bloodshed. What about the other occupants of the building, or the neighborhood for that matter? These missiles do malfunction occasionally; there was a risk. Pretend your next-door neighbor keeps to himself, and you don’t know him very well. He turns out to be John Dillinger, and somebody blows the crap out of his house while he is in it, and you are having lunch. How do you feel about it as you dive under the table and your windows shatter? When is a gangland-style execution ethical?

I know that honor on the battlefield died in a hail of machine-gun bullets sometime around 1914, but I wonder what a typical WWI soldier would think about the way we conduct field operations these days. Would such a man see the remote-control killing as an act of cowardice, or would he look at it the same way as say, killing an ant hill? At least one soldier-author of that war saw fit to comment that he was moved by the fact that retreating German soldiers killed en-masse by an artillery barrage did not stand a chance.

Oddly enough, I am less affected by the death of Zarqawi’s “Spiritual Advisor”. I guess there’s a piece of me that believes he deserved what he got for giving such bad advice.

And what has transpired since this disgusting man met the consequences of his actions? Here are the top three hits from Yahoo:

Bin Laden to issue tribute to al-Zarqawi

Jordan Islamists stay in jail over Zarqawi sympathy

It seems that US gunship diplomacy has created another martyr to the cause. The press is unwittingly (or perhaps knowingly) feeding this fire by holding Zarqawi up as a role model.

Taliban chief outdoes Zarqawi in cruelty

That last link has some very annoying pop-ups. Fair warning.

On a marginally lighter note, law and justice have not been completely supplanted by this colossal and deadly pissing contest.

The Impact of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Frankly, I could care less that Zarqawi is dead. He will be replaced; there is no shortage of self-righteous fanatics. What concerns me is the message sent by the method of his execution. Are we to be respected because we are the biggest bully on the block, or hated?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Finding Equilibrium

I am in a distinctly different state of mind tonight. I've just started my first total goof-off stress-free vacation in a dog's age, and I started it with a totally unexpected feeling of total joy. Timing is everything, and I guess this was exactly the right time, or at least not a moment too soon. I'd like to thank the Academy, and I'd like to thank everyone who made this moment possible.

My brain seems to want a short vacation too. I'd like to hear from anyone who bothers to read this blog. Say whatever is on your mind, or play my word association game. I'm picking an old-favorite basic for this one.

What does the word "broom" suggest to you?

For me, lacking any other context, it will always suggest The List of Adrian Messenger.

There's no accounting for what will stick in your brain.

The movie is good too. Check out the cast and some of the roles they played!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Summer Rerun

My actual post has been delayed. I have been trying to find a printed copy of a quote that I heard from the mealy mouth of George "Dubya". If I can't find the exact quote, I'll paraphrase, but I'm not quite ready to give up.

This is a repeat (I think). I originally posted it to Graveyard of the gods and I know that I have used it to respond to this pseudo chain letter/malformed meme whenever I have encountered it. I might have posted it here before, but I'm not sure. A poster with the classically ironic handle of "Truth be Told" was the first person spouting this crap that I encountered. I have since seen it repeated by others that refuse to think about what they have been told. Garbage in, garbage out.

For your entertainment:

There was a rather long post that no one seems to have addressed. I don't blame you one bit, but I thought I'd take a whack or two at it. Please excuse me for not taking any longer with it by sprucing it up pushing buttons and cutting and pasting.

"Truth be told" wrote:
"Speaking of Science and "the right instruments.... 1. Only in recent years has science discovered that everything we see is composed of invisible atoms. Here, Scripture tells us that the "things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

Confusion of ideas. Atoms are NOT invisible. If they were, light would pass through them. If I accept that everything I see is made of atoms, then I am seeing atoms. A single grain of sand is not visible to the naked eye from space, but a beach is, and therefore multiple grains of sand are visible. Get the picture? "Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." This does not say, "things which are seen were made of things which cannot be seen". It also reads about as clearly as a fortune cookie. Whom is God trying to impress by being cryptic? To what was this murky sentence given as an answer? The only plausible interpretation that I can make without reading something into the quote that is not there is, "things which are seen were made of things which no longer appear."

"2. Medical science has only recently discovered that blood-clotting in a newborn reaches its peak on the eighth day, then drops. The Bible consistently says that a baby must be circumcised on the eighth day."

Is this true, or some a-posteriori "fact" promulgated by the religion industry to support its claims? Names, places, dates please. Trust, but verify. Granting only for the sake of argument that this has some bearing in reality, the ancients were not stupid, just ignorant by today's standards. Could they not observe that babies bled less on the eighth day, and make use of that knowledge? The ancient Romans performed cataract surgery and caesarian sections. Why don't we all worship Zeus? Obviously, by your logic, they couldn't have come up with it on their own.

"3. At a time when it was believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant (1500 B.C.), the Bible spoke of the earth’s free float in space: "He...hangs the earth upon nothing" (Job 26:7)."

Again, confusion of ideas. The earth neither rides, nor does it hang, nor does it float free in space. The earth is a satellite of the sun and corkscrews around the star as it follows the star's trajectory through space. The gravity well of the sun is hardly "nothing".

4. The prophet Isaiah also tells us that the earth is round: "It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth" (Isaiah 40:22). This is not a reference to a flat disk, as some skeptic maintain, but to a sphere. Secular man discovered this 2,400 years later. At a time when science believed that the earth was flat, is was the Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world (see Proverbs 3:6 footnote)." The ancients knew that the earth was round (some of them), and Columbus rediscovered it. Columbus used the scriptures to prove that believing the world was round was not blasphemous. "The circle of the earth" is the horizon, as seen at sea, or IN THE DESERT, where these nomads spent their time. The ancient Hebrews had two different words for "circle" and "Orb". Why is your interpretation any more logical than mine? Please note I said 'logical', not 'convenient'. The passage does not say "sphere", or "orb" now, does it?

5. God told Job in 1500 B.C.: "Can you send lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, Here we are?" (Job 38:35). The Bible here is making what appears to be a scientifically ludicrous statement—that light can be sent, and then manifest itself in speech. But did you know that radio waves travel at the speed of light? This is why you can have instantaneous wireless communication with someone on the other side of the earth. Science didn’t discover this until 1864 when "British scientist James Clerk Maxwell suggested that electricity and light waves were two forms of the same thing" (Modern Century Illustrated Encyclopedia)."

And what was Job supposed to make of that, with his vast knowledge of electricity and electromagnetic theory? Why would God ask such a stupid question if he, in his all-knowing way, knew that Job would not understand his meaning? (BTW, capitalizing 'He', and His is a bloody stupid affectation. why not HE and HIS?) More fortune cookie grammar. And why, pray tell, should this not be interpreted to mean, "Can you send lightnings anywhere you want to?" Implying, "I can. Neener. Neener. Neener." This is a question that Job would understand, supposing that there really was a god to pose it.

6. Job 38:19 asks, "Where is the way where light dwells?" Modern man has only recently discovered that light (electromagnetic radiation) has a "way," traveling at 186,000 miles per second."

The question was "where", not "what". Again, if that is a valid interpretation, what was Job supposed to make of it? I think the answer here is, "Uh...the sun? Up in the sky? Uh, can I buy another noun?"

7. Science has discovered that stars emit radio waves, which are received on earth as a high pitch. God mentioned this in Job 38:7: "When the morning stars sang together..."

"When" implies that they did so and then stopped. This passage does not read "the morning stars are singing".

8. "Most cosmologists (scientists who study the structures and evolution of the universe) agree that the Genesis account of creation, in imagining an initial void, may be uncannily close to the truth" (Time, Dec. 1976)."

Bah. This proves nothing. In order to postulate a created universe, one must concede that there was nothing in existence prior to the moment of creation. Genesis does not even do this, saying "In the beginning there was the heaven and the earth...." Unless you are willing to concede that the earth is a hypermass of nearly infinite gravitic force, this comparison does not hold water.

9. Solomon described a "cycle" of air currents two thousand years before scientists "discovered" them. "The wind goes toward the south, and turns about unto the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits" (Ecclesiastes 1:6).

Huh? Every sailor knows about the trade winds. Scientists did not "discover" them, they described them more accurately. Again, ancient man: somewhat ignorant, highly superstitious, not stupid. Pretty good observers even if they got the attribution wrong.

10. Science expresses the universe in five terms: time, space, matter, power, and motion. Genesis 1:1,2 revealed such truths to the Hebrews in 1450 B.C.: "In the beginning [time] God created [power] the heaven [space] and the earth [matter] . . . And the Spirit of God moved [motion] upon the face of the waters." The first thing God tells man is that He controls of all aspects of the universe."

Well, of course! If you make up a god, he ought to be a doozy! Your parallels aren't parallel.
1. Science expresses the universe in a myriad of terms. You mix engineering theory and dimensional theory but you still have not described the taste of maple syrup.
2. "beginning" implies a time without time. This is a logical contradiction.
3. "God created" is in dispute and cannot be used to prove itself. The attribution of power is not the same thing as power itself.
4. "God moved upon the face of the waters" So water has a face? The bible says so...

"11. The great biological truth concerning the importance of blood in our body’s mechanism has been fully comprehended only in recent years."

Who told you that???

"Up until 120 years ago, sick people were "bled," and many died because of the practice."

People do stupid things and believe in stupid things. There are still people that believe in the power of leaches. Dangerous quackery is not new. Surprise.

"If you lose your blood, you lose your life. Yet Leviticus 17:11, written 3,000 years ago, declared that blood is the source of life: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood."

Yup, and there's no way to figure that out when someone bleeds to death without some all-powerful deity with a cosmic PowerPoint presentation to explain it.

"12. All things were made by Him (see John 1:3), including dinosaurs. Why then did the dinosaur disappear? The answer may be in Job 40:15–24. In this passage, God speaks about a great creature called "behemoth." Some commentators think this was a hippopotamus. However, the hippo’s tail isn’t like a large tree, but a small twig. Following are the characteristics of this huge animal: It was the largest of all the creatures God made; was plant-eating (herbivorous); had its strength in its hips and a tail like a large tree. It had very strong bones, lived among the trees, drank massive amounts of water, and was not disturbed by a raging river. He appears impervious to attack because his nose could pierce through snares, but Scripture says, "He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him." In other words, God caused this, the largest of all the creatures He had made, to become extinct. "

By poking him with a sword, presumably.

"13. Encyclopedia Britannica documents that in 1845, a young doctor in Vienna named Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was horrified at the terrible death rate of women who gave birth in hospitals. As many as 30 percent died after giving birth. Semmelweis noted that doctors would examine the bodies of patients who died, then, without washing their hands, go straight to the next ward and examine expectant mothers. This was their normal practice, because the presence of microscopic diseases was unknown. Semmelweis insisted that doctors wash their hands before examinations, and the death rate immediately dropped to 2 percent. Look at the specific instructions God gave His people for when they encounter disease: "And when he that has an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself even days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean" (Leviticus 15:13). Until recent years, doctors washed their hands in a bowl of water, leaving invisible germs on their hands. However, the Bible says specifically to wash hands under "running water."

The Romans also understood this. What is your definition of "recent years"?

"14. Luke 17:34–36 says the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur while some are asleep at night and others are working at daytime activities in the field. This is a clear indication of a revolving earth, with day and night at the same time. "

Okay, sure. This happens every day. Is that what Luke meant? That the Second Coming will happen every day?

"15. "During the devastating Black Death of the fourteenth century, patients who were sick or dead were kept in the same rooms as the rest of the family. People often wondered why the disease was affecting so many people at one time. They attributed these epidemics to ‘bad air’ or ‘evil spirits.’ However, careful attention to the medical commands of God as revealed in Leviticus would have saved untold millions of lives. Arturo Castiglione wrote about the overwhelming importance of this biblical medical law: ‘The laws against leprosyin Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of sanitary legislation’ (A History of Medicine)." Grant R. Jeffery, The Signature of God With all these truths revealed in Scripture,how could a thinking person deny that the Bible is supernatural in origin? There is no other book in any of the world’s religions (Vedas, Bhagavad-Gita, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc.) that contains scientific truth. In fact, they contain statements that are clearly unscientific. Hank Hanegraaff said, "Faith in Christ is not some blind leap into a dark chasm, but a faith based on established evidence." (11:3 continued)"

Leviticus is from the Torah. The Hebrews were not stupid, and there is no evidence that God told them anything that they could not merely observe for themselves in all of their daily lives. If you get sick after eating shellfish, God obviously doesn't want you to eat shellfish. If sanitary laws work, it must be the will of God, or at least saying so insures that the practice will be followed. None of your "proofs" prove anything, and most are based on a presupposition that is in question because a simpler explanation exists: God was invented to control the masses.

Please excuse punctuation problems or inconsistencies. I originally wrote that between 1:00 and 3:00 AM.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

My Letter to

Recently Ann appeared on "Today" to hawk her new book: "Godless, The Church of Liberaliam". Since she is not shy about airing her opinions, I thought I would be equally frank.

Subject : Ann Coulter

Dear Sirs and Madams,

Ann Coulter is a hate-monger. She has proved time and again that she is nothing more than a shameless huckster who has prostituted herself to an ideology that flirts dangerously with Neo-Nazi propaganda and methods. Her ceaseless attempts to apply the tar brush to those of differing opinions only serve to point out her own lack of credibility and ethics.

As an atheist, I find her opinions to be prejudiced, immature, disgusting and offensive.

As a US citizen, I find her to be an embarrassment.

When Ann Coulter says something like, "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles, reveling in their status as celebrities, and talked about by grief-arazzis. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much.", does she ever stop to think that she is trading on this same misfortune for the purpose of her own enrichment? Is she capable of rational thought at all, or is she just another shameless fanatic, programmed like a band-wagon fembot, parroting self-serving Neo-Con drivel?

Shame on you for giving this disgraceful whore a world-wide soap box.

And I wrote that before I discovered .

Sunday, June 04, 2006

One of Those "Lightbulb/Duh!" Moments

Every once in a while, something that has been right in front of me all of my life comes into a new focus. I recently had one of those moments with the phrase, "Everyone's entitled to an opinion." I first notice that this phrase implies that said entitlement is bestowed by someone else. Entitled? Entitled by whom? God? Not necessary. Could I really stop you from having an opinon aside from killing you? Why would you think that you need someone else's permission to have an opinion, except for the unethical suppression of free speech? Depending on your present form of government, you might not be "entitled" to express your opinion, but no one can stop you from having one but you yourself.

The second thing I realized, is that most people who spout this wisdom are actually saying the exact opposite. They are attempting to shut down a difference of opinion, and attempting to make one party of an argument feel guilty for pressing that argument. In other words, they are defending what they perceive to be a weak argument against an adamant adversary. Next time someone throws out this phrase, I am likely to tell them "Those that do not have anything material to contribute to a discussion should keep their mouths shut. That's one of my opinions too."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Speaks for Itself.

At long last, a Hawthorne family reunion

CONCORD, Mass. (AP) - Nathaniel Hawthorne will soon be reunited with his wife - more than 130 years after they were buried an ocean apart. The remains of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne and their daughter Una will be brought from England and reinterred June 26 in the Hawthorne family plot at Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord, where "The Scarlet Letter" author was buried in 1864, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.
Though Hawthorne was known for his Puritan-influenced moralism and melancholy tales, his relationship with Sophia was tender and passionate. They were rarely apart.
"I once thought that no power on earth should ever induce me to live without thee, and especially thought an ocean should never roll between us," Sophia once wrote to her husband.
But that's what happened after Hawthorne's death in Plymouth, N.H., in 1864. Sophia and their three children, Rose, Una and Julian, moved to England, where the family had lived when Hawthorne was in diplomatic service. Sophia died there in 1871 and Una died in 1877. Both were buried at Kensal Green cemetery in London.
Hawthorne's daughter, Rose, returned to the U.S. and started a Catholic order dedicated to caring for cancer patients that became the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, based in Hawthorne, N.Y.
For decades, the order has paid to maintain the Hawthorne graves in England. When cemetery keepers told the nuns the grave site needed major repair, the order proposed bringing them to the United States to the Hawthorne's descendants.
"We gave our consent gladly and thought it was an excellent idea," said Joan Deming Ensor, 93, of Redding, Conn., one of Hawthorne's four surviving great-grandchildren.
The order is paying for the transfer with the help of private donations. Grave markers for Sophia and Una have already been placed in the ground in the family plot, which is near the graves of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
A public ceremony will be held June 26 at The Old Manse in Concord, where the Hawthornes lived for a time.
Robert Derry, a park ranger who tends the house the family owned in Concord and is a member of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, said reunification of the couple's remains is appropriate.
"At least on a romantic and philosophical level, it is nice that they are coming home," he said. "Hawthorne and Sophia were very much in love, and they stayed in love right to the end."

And how many meals, or how many blankets could have been purchased for the cost of transporting this debris?

Are There Others Out There?

This guy seems to get it. Confusion of ideas, I mean. Still a little ... "external" for my taste, but on the right track. Maybe a good candidate for deprogramming?

Real post coming soon.

Request: Could some Photoshop guru out there provide me with a picture of an Ayatollah with a turnip on his head instead of a turban?

"I got a right to sing the blues...."