Nov 12 2008

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The Return of the Meme

Filed under Blogroll, atheism

I’m coming out of Blog dormancy to give a shout out to Scepticon and Ben. Scepticon tagged me in a meme to which I will respond below. Ben gave a shout out a while back with a visual compliment to my home, Transylvania. I haven’t forgotten about you my blogging buddies I just haven’t found writing inspiration of late.

Here goes the Meme:


1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

The SIX:

I still love Charles David shoes

I’m about to have my second shoulder surgery in two years, this Friday

I drive the most beaten up Toyota Corrola and I plan on driving it until it won’t run anymor. However, that Japanese engine won’t give in, so I figure I will drive this car until the frame falls off, at which point I’ll have to choose between driving a go-cart or getting another car

I’m finally reading Devil in the White City

I only started reading Devil in the White City because I fell in love with history while reading Sin in the Second City

After re-reading above statement I realized it’s not love of history, it’s love of Chicago

I’ll do a bit of random tagging at this point–these are good blogs, new on my reading list:
Ayrshire Blog

Ionian Enchantment

Unreasonable Faith

The Conscious Earth

God is Pretend

The Liquid Thinker

28 responses so far

Sep 08 2008

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The Atheists, The Untouchables

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society, atheism

I have my political favorites but regardless of where I find my votes may go I will stay true to my belief that only through separation of religion and politics can we create an environment conducive to economic and intellectual progress as well as freedom and justice for all.  I also believe societies should be inclusive, not exclusive if we are to achieve the most societal and economic health.

While I will not have the time to make a case here on how most except a few religions predominantly promote exclusionary and segregationist ideas (us vs them, black and white thinking, etc) I would like to point to how in the current political discourse Republicans (not surprisingly) and Democrats (somewhat surprisingly) are getting dangerously close to a church-like religion and politics blend, to the potential exclusion of 10-12% of the population who openly claim agnosticism and/or atheism (and those who don’t claim it because it’s not acceptable in the circle in which they live in).

Sally Quinn of the Washington Post illustrates this:

On Sunday, Tiernan attended the first event at the Democratic National Convention, an Interfaith Gathering attended by some 2,000 people at the Colorado Convention Center. Speaking were distinguished priests, rabbis, imams and religion scholars. “I sat through, I guess I’d have to call it, a service,” says Tiernan. “People were responding in unison. In the middle, Leah Daughtry (a pastor and CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee) spoke and said that despite what the media says, Democrats are people of faith.”

Tiernan says he couldn’t stand it any more. “I stood up and said, ‘I’m a democrat but I’m not a person of faith.’ I said, ‘This looks like a church service to me and I never thought I would see the Democrats doing something like this.” (…)

The Interfaith Gathering was the first of several interfaith events scheduled during the convention. The Secular Coalition of America had written to Daughtry to ask that atheists, agnostics and secular humanists be included in these events. The Associated Press reported that she received the request but never responded.

The Democrats are in a real bind this year. In recent elections, the Republicans have owned religion. The evangelical base has helped Republican presidential candidates win elections while the Democrats have stood by helplessly. This year, the Democrats are bound to show they are just as religious as Republicans, but at what cost? (…)

At various times in years past, women, blacks, Jews and gays were the political outcasts in one or both parties. Now it seems the only group of untouchables are the atheists.

15 responses so far

Sep 07 2008

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The Trib on How Religion Guides Palin

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society, atheism

Palin has called on people to pray for the cooperation necessary to build a natural gas pipeline across Alaska, labeled the U.S. mission in Iraq a “task that is from God” and argued that students should be taught the creation account from Genesis in public schools.

“I can do my job there in developing our natural resources and doing things like getting the roads paved and making sure our troopers have their cop cars and their uniforms and their guns, and making sure our public schools are funded,” she said in June to ministry students at her former church. “But really, all of that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.”

How Religion Guides Palin, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 6, 2008

We’re looking at another who puts fantasy before reason, fables before reality and … tries to appeal to the uneducated not by educating them but by using bad grammar (”that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God”?) .

The claim that Palin is exactly what the McCain ticket needed to secure the conservatives’ votes is just a testament to how determined the republican party is to continue keeping religion at the forefront of public discourse, to the detriment of more relevant topics such as health care, education and the economy. And even a potentially moderate candidate such as McCain can be beaten into submission by the Republican manipulation machine.

20 responses so far

May 27 2008

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Religion Gets Help From Non-Believers

According to a New Scientist article, “religion only takes hold if non-believers help believers out – perhaps because they are impressed by their devotion.”

James Dow, an evolutionary anthropologist at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, US, wrote a software program called Evogod that predicts religion will flourish. The program is centered on the evolutionary benefits people receive from their interactions with one another.

“If a person is willing to sacrifice for an abstract god then people feel like they are willing to sacrifice for the community,” says Dow. Thus he concludes non-believers will help believers out because of admiration for the believers’ devotion.

Along the same lines, Richard Sosis, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs (whose main area of research is “the relationship between religion, trust, and intra-group cooperation”) previously wrote on the support believers received in ancient societies, when humans were more reliant in general on the support of the community. He found that in some populations such as the kibbutzim in Israel, more religious people receive more assistance from others in the community than the less religious.

“[Today] you can be a Lutheran one week and decide the following week you are going to become a Buddhist,”  Sosis says.

441 responses so far

May 13 2008

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How Would You Like This Picture in Your Wedding Album?

Filed under Politics, Society

Gas Sign with Congratulations for Jenna Bush’s Wedding

I was surprised by 3 things today while reading the news about Jenna Bush’s wedding:

1. The W. Bush protesters outside the wedding

2. The wedding memorabilia

3. The gas station signs congratulating the newlyweds. I’m also surprised there’s no Jesus line in that picture, next to the “Dine-in and Take-out,” “Pay and Pump” and “President George W. Bush”…

29 responses so far

May 12 2008

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The Sacrality of the Toilet Seat

Filed under Religion, Society

I’ve been gone for a while, and I thought I may not write again, until I read about the Wisconsin woman who let a 90 year-old woman die and rot atop the toilet in her home.

 Although she was reportedly still breathing, instead of calling an ambulance Lewis called her spiritual superior in a religious sect called Queen of the Holy Rosary Shrine. Alan Bushey, a self-proclaimed bishop who is also now behind bars, told her to leave the woman on the lavatory, where Lewis had propped the body, and pray for her to wake up. The mother and her children prayed for four days, but when nothing changed, they left her there. (The Telegraph, May 12, 2008)

I have no comment for this except to say it never ceseas to amaze me how much energy such deluded folk can place in acts of madness.

7 responses so far

Jan 08 2008

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“let’s take secular nonsense and pious silliness out of politics”

Filed under Politics, Religion

Push Pin…says Isaac C. Rottenberg in a Rocky Mountain News Speakout commentary.

Rottenberg starts by quoting Washington University professor Jonathan Turley,

“This election, the candidates are talking so much about faith that one would think they wanted to be in the College of Cardinals rather than the Hall of Presidents.”

He doesn’t explain his secular nonsense comment , so I fear while he’s trying to bring a new commentary to the extensive debate of religion and elections Rottenberg is just rehashing (in new words) what many political commentators have said, that Constitution prohibits any religious test for office.

Rottenber is right about one thing, that this campaign has been overridden by pious silliness.

Charles Krauthammer in his Washington Post column called the phenomenon an “overdose of public piety.”

Mitt Romney declares, “Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.” Barack Obama opens his speech at his South Carolina Oprah rally with “Giving all praise and honor to God. Look at the day that the Lord has made.” Mike Huckabee explains his surge in the polls thus: “There’s only one explanation for it, and it’s not a human one. It’s the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people.”

This campaign is knee-deep in religion, and it’s only going to get worse. I’d thought that the limits of professed public piety had already been achieved during the Republican CNN-YouTube debate when some squirrelly looking guy held up a Bible and asked, “Do you believe every word of this book?” — and not one candidate dared reply: None of your damn business.

It would be interesting to try to find the source of this piety (some of which I believe to be just purely rhetorical, and some with consider a lie). Is it fear of the evangelical right’s ability to rally the troops and make their voices (irrational as they many be) heard louder than those who try for a balanced approach?

There is a communication theory that says it is easier to persuade from the middle to one extreme, than from one extreme to the other. So maybe all of our candidates are trying to balance themselves on a pin in the religious middle, thus all the piousness.

5 responses so far

Jan 08 2008

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“How to be the First Black Man to Win Iowa”

Filed under Politics

Prince Akbar, aka Jus Rhymz delivered a wicked poem at the Green Mill poetry slam, Sun. Jan. 6, 2007. While the writing is a little rough, the delivery was superb and it represents a unique commentary to why Obama beat Clinton in Iowa. Here are some excerpts:

Psst. Hillary

You came in 3rd in IOWA

Probably wondering why.

Saying to yourself right now

‘How did I lose to a funny named black guy?’

Since I have lost a couple poetry slams in my day,

Sometimes even to a rookie poet

I know how pissed off and disappointed you are,

So let me be heroic.

The political experts say to win New Hampshire and more,

You got to go negative so I know you looking for dirt.

Well look no further than this stage,

Because I got some evidence

that proves how Barack Obama’s campaign really works.


So here are the top 5 reasons Barack’s a success:


Reason number 5!

How did Barack blow out John Edwards and Clinton in the first place?

Barack made a deal to fuck Oprah Winfrey,

and I have the secret sex tape.

He wrote a book about the sex trade with Oprah

named ‘Dreams of my father’ and it’s true.

If Oprah’s rich ass was attending that college in Hawaii

instead of Barack’s mom, he would dream of fucking her too?

Reason number 4!

Explains how Barack got young voters to back him hands down.

He admitted in his book he’s drank alcohol plus did coke

and they like how that sounds.

You keep bragging about your experience.

and how you ready to lead.

People under 30 don’t give a shit and they more impressed,

if the next president is a guy that also loves some good weed.

Reason number 3!

Will help you understand despite you being a woman and white.

The majority of female voters in Iowa voted for Barack,

and not for you Hilary, to lead the fight.

The truth is Barack won that demographic

by being upfront and posing with Michelle.

And you’re guaranteed to win over white women,

if you’re successful and black and not trying act like a white male.

They probably don’t trust your judgment,

Because you voted for the war

and stood by your man through all that mess.

Mistakes that left

American blood on the battlefield,

and an American president’s cum ob a bimbo’s dress.

Reason number 2!

is sure to help you and explain why the Obama name

did not kill his chance in a white Midwest state

White folks used to care about white English names.

but that was in the past when foreigners with funny names

knew their place.

The only time you meet someone with an English name

is when you stand in line at Star Bucks

or get greeted at Walmart or Best Buy

Try calling customer service for anything in America

and if someone named Bob answers the phone call

this poem is a god damned lie!

We can vote for a Barack

because we buy slurpies and take cabs from him everyday fool.

And don’t give me that shit,

about Obama rhyming with Osama.

Because Bush and Dick rhymes some evil shit too.

Like Bush and Dick…

Rhymes with…

tax cuts for the rich!

and fuck the constitution and air pollution,

we republicans bitch!

Final reason number 1!

is the top explanation

Barack won and shocked all cynics

Because when it comes to kicking over priviledged white politician asses

Barack should hold a clinic.

He was the first black man to be president of the Harvard review.

First black man to be the senator of Illinois.

Fuck you talking about experience Hillary,

Barack’s got experience beating all the white boys.

9 responses so far

Jan 05 2008

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Huckabee Scores a 10 on the God-o-Meter

Filed under Politics, Religion, atheism

Huckabee Scores a 10 on God-o-Meter

13 responses so far

Jan 02 2008

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OMG, Oh My God, or WOW?

Filed under Religion, atheism

Chicago Tribune published recently a piece on the widespread usage of the im-speak OMG:

there are two kinds of people in the world: those who say “Oh my God!” and those who say something else. Even atheists have been known to cry “Oh my God!” on occasion.

I’m guessing that those who say something else say, “oh my gosh” or another way of saying “oh my god,” without saying “oh my god.”

While the Vatican denounced the taking of god’s name in vane yet again this year, Yahoo launched the celebrity gossip website omg! The Vatican should not worry much as the site is in beta at this time. However, the launch caused quite a bit of debate, according to Chicago Tribune:

A user writes: “This is taking the Lord’s name in vain, and while I’m fairly certain you could care less about that, I can no longer support Yahoo if they insist on keeping this OMG product. It shows the height of insensitivity to people of faith.”

To which another user replies: “Lighten up, it’s just an instant messaging phrase. If you find that kind of thing offensive, you should unplug your ethernet cable right now and stay off the internet.”

And then someone makes the point: “There is no doubt what the OMG stands for. Every Christian should be outraged that the name of the Lord is used with such disrespect. The point is that people use his name as an insignificant figure of speech.”

Officially, Yahoo avoids the conflict altogether. “The name ‘OMG’ is derived from IM speak and means ‘wow!’” says company spokesman Carrie Davis.


18 responses so far

Dec 28 2007

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A Very Brawly Christmas Week

Filed under Religion, atheism

The post-Christmas days have been filled with news of conflict, from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to a less noticeable story, but a very entertaining one nonetheless:

Seven people were injured on Thursday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. ( … For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.

The Church of the Nativity is physically divided into sections administered by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities respectively. Any encroachment into another’s space can result into conflict.

During the pre-Christmas cleaning yesterday, a Greek Orthodox priest placed a ladder into Armenian territory and the brawl ensued.

The Orthodox church of Jerusalem celebrates Christmas based on the old Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar used worldwide today. In the Julian calendar Christmas falls on Jan. 7, thus the pre-Christmas cleaning.

Seeing that the spirit of Christmas had not seeped yet into the hearts of the Church of Nativity Keepers, Palestinian policemen stepped in to keep the peace.

Let me repeat that, Palestinians had to separate fighting Christians.

18 responses so far

Dec 21 2007

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Is Jesus the Reason for the Season?

Filed under Religion, Society, atheism

Sound Off’s Roland S. Martin wrote a commentary on today in which he claims,

Because of all the politically correct idiots, we are being encouraged to stop saying “Merry Christmas” for the more palatable “Happy Holidays.” What the heck are “Seasons Greetings”? (…)

But this seeming backlash against Christianity is bordering on the absurd, and we should continue to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

What is disturbing about paranoid rants such as Martin’s is that he’s making arguments that are unfriendly (when people say Happy Holidays they’re backlashing against Christianity) and unsupported (Jesus is the reason for the season).

When people say Happy Holidays they actually try to be nice and not make assumptions about one’s religion. If I know someone is Christian I have no issues saying Merry Christmas, but when I don’t know, or when I know someone is not Christian I’d rather wish them Happy Holidays than nothing at all. Of course I could come up with something more creative, such as “Happy Winter Time Off!”

To use Martin’s own linguistic choices I must say you have to be an idiot to claim that Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus is the reason for the celebration of Christmas as in “the mass of Christ,” the birth of jesus, but he is certainly not the reason why people throughout centuries have celebrated this time of year.It is common knowledge that the Christmas traditions are borrowed from a number of pagan celebrations such as the Northern European Yule and the Roman Saturnalia.

Decorated fir-trees, gift giving, mistletoe, holly, carol singing etc. are all traditions predating Christianity.

So if how we celebrate is a collection of pre-Christian traditions, and what we celebrate is highly varied based on religion why would saying Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays be an attack on Christianity?

25 responses so far

Dec 20 2007

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Giving Cash as Christmas Gift

Filed under Randomality

I was following a Yahoo Answers! discussion on whether or not it is bad to give cash as a gift for Christmas. The two main reasons against giving cash were:

1. Cash is impersonal, it’s more thoughtful to pick out a gift for someone

2. If you give a certain amount to someone it creates the expectation that they should give the same to you.

Today I got a card with cash in it, and I thought it was the coolest thing. My teeth are about to fall off from all the candy canes people have been dropping off for me so the cash was actually more personal than impersonal. And the fact that my friend did not worry about me feeling pressured to give a gift of same value to her makes it even cooler.

Here’s to the best gift I got this season:

Christmas Cash Gift

34 responses so far

Dec 17 2007

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Public Health vs Private Health

Filed under Politics, Randomality

Americans don’t often get to hear the realities of public health care in other parts of the world, even with the recent debate on universal health care.

Pajamas media reported today that according to UNICEF Romania holds the leading position in child mortality rates, and mothers’ birth-related deaths in the developing world. The costs of universal health care in Romania range from lives lost to underground cash economies where bribing doctors and nurses is the rule without guarantee of good care:

In some hospitals, patients are required to bring their own cotton pads or needles, food is mostly provided by caring relatives, rooms are overcrowded, hygiene is poor. The daily bribe for a nurse is around $40, a surgeon might ask you for $500 or more to perform an intervention. Although employees pay 6.5% of their income and employers another 6% to the public health insurance, the Romanian health care system is grossly underfinanced. While other European countries spend 7-8% of their GDP for health care, Romania only dedicates 3.5% of a much lower GDP ($257 billion).

Not surprisingly, Romanians see the only solution in the private sector:

In this grim picture, the only hope comes from the growing privatization of the medical sector. Although still chaotic and fragmented, the private market is growing faster than in neighboring Bulgaria or Hungary, where public services are better and thus the need for private alternatives less stringent.

Interesting how in one part of the world we see the solution in universal health care, and in Romania some see the solution in private health care. I guess when it comes to death or life situations humans prefer to pay and have some assurance of good care, than not pay at all and play Russian roulette with their lives.

It certainly reminds us that when talking about health care cost is not the only issue, and quality of care, and industry regulation also play a critical roles.

36 responses so far

Dec 13 2007

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Christmas Story, Real Story

Filed under Randomality, Religion

Walking home this evening I had one of the best laughs of the week when I noticed the Christmas Story leg lamp in a window. I was looking from window to window noticing the colorfully lit Christmas trees. After a few windows I expected yet another tree, but found instead this:

Christmas Story Leg Lamp

11 responses so far

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