Saturday, March 28, 2009

Decline of the Civilization Sans God?

Corpus Christi University Parish, Toledo, began the Spring Lecture Series on the topic of “New Frontiers in the Search for the Living God." Pastor of the parish, Father Jim Bacik, said that his mentor, the late German theologian Karl Rahner, asserted that "atheists perform a great service" because "they keep the word 'God' alive."

He went on to say, "If not for the word "God," [citing Karl Rahner], "we would have regressed to the state of sophisticated animals; we would have lost what it means to be human."

We would have regressed to sophisticated animals? I wonder what the data says about that? What do paleontologists find as they sift through the sands of Ethiopia, explore the caves of southern France, and read the hieroglyphs in the lost temples? Did civilization progress because these early humans were aware of a god, a god who 'made them' and deigned them to honor him/her/it for doing so?

Perhaps the lecturer meant 'any' supernatural being with powers and abilities far beyond mortal men: Zeus, Isis, Vishnu, Opheles, Attis, Quetzalcoatl, Mithra. Humans have invented more gods and goddesses than one can shake a stick at [not that one would dare to be so foolish to do so].

Fr. Bacik said said that atheists often make the mistake of discussing God as if God were a being that is "a little stronger than we are, another being in the world like we've got kangaroos and we've got people and then we've got God."The word "God," Father Bacik said, "points to the mystery of life. It points to the infinite that is present in our world … God isn't a being, God is the source of all being."

If God is not a being, I wonder, why, for example do we refer to the masculine, 'He' as the pronoun?

If God is not a being, why to we personify 'Him' in art, books, and cinema?

If God is not a person, why do we ask 'Him' for favors, for wishes, for magic, for healing, for safety in a storm?

Fr. Bacik referred to Thomas Aquinas- 'we know what he meant when he said the most important thing you can know about God is that we don't know God.'

Well, that's clear, neat and tidy. That reminds me of the church in Ethiopia that has the Ark of the Covenant behind the massive red curtain. No one is permitted to lift the curtain, but the abbot assures us that, in fact, it is there. The donation box is visible, however.

At least this part of the lecture seems honest: "You can't get into a God of intervention," Father Bacik said, "because there are no answers to some questions. No one can understand why God did not prevent the Holocaust, for example, or keep a bullet from striking the Pope, eradicate disease, or spare the lives of good people who die young," he said.

That red curtain. Don't look at the man behind the curtain.

"Being confronted by opposing views and having one's beliefs challenged should be a positive experience for people of faith," Father Bacik said, "sending them into a 'search mode' for God."

Whoa! My head is spinning on that one. Quick, where's my Dramamine®?

It's the Local Bank, Stupid!

I felt a bit of redemption last evening as I watched Bill Moyer's Journal. At last there was an 'expert' who said much the same thing as I had been thinking for the past 6 months- get the money to the local banks. What a simplistic answer to what has grown into a monstrous beast. William Greider and I agree- it's the local banks, stupid!

A correspondent for The Nation, William Greider has been a political journalist for more than 35 years and author of several books including, COME HOME AMERICA. On Wednesday, Greider wrote the article, Obama's New Monopoly Set for The Nation. In his opening paragraph he says, "The best thing about Obama's game is nobody loses. Usually, the winner in Monopoly is the one who winds up with the most money. In the Obama version, the losers get any losses back from the government at the end of the game."

I can't recall those sweet rules when the neighborhood gang and I played that board game on rainy summer days. He quips, "For this Monopoly set has no 'Go to Jail' card in the deck."

He writes:

"It starts just like the real Monopoly game. The president hands out tall stacks of cash to all the players--hedge funds, insurance companies, big-time investors, any well-heeled capitalist with a serious taste for acquiring greater wealth."

The line that raise the hairs on my neck last evening as i watched Greider on PBS was this:

" And then think of all those thousands of smaller banks. How are they going to perform against these behemoths that have an inside track to the government spigot? And for just ordinary enterprise in general? Before you even get to the citizens. How are citizens supposed to feel about that? And I-- my point is, in this situation, with if the leading banks and corporations are sort of at the trough, ahead of everybody else in Washington, they will have the means to monopolize democracy."

Naturally, Moyers jumped on that phrase, 'monopolize democracy.' Greider went on:

"The corporate state is here. And I'd say, let's not argue over that. The fact is, if the Congress goes down the road I see them going down, they will institutionalize the corporate state in a way that will be severely damaging to any possibility of restoring democracy. And I want people to grab their pitch forks, yes, and be unruly. Get in the streets. Be as noisy and as nonviolently provocative as you can be. And stop the politicians from going down that road. And let me add a lot of politicians need that to be able to stand up. Our President needs that to be able to stand up."

Grab your pitchfork, barricade the streets, paint the banners, and take back your local banks! La liberté guidant le peuple!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Righteous Christian Woman Derides Mother Nature

It's always a hoot when one of them opens their mouth or pens a letter to the editor for all to witness. It happened yesterday in The Blade.  Just when we thought they couldn't get much funnier, it happens.  BLAM!  

Plainly, there is no 'Mother Earth'

I am disappointed with some meteorologists. When reporting the weather, they sometimes use the phrase "Mother Earth." Today, Americans increasingly accept radical environmentalism, pantheism, and the celebration of Earth Day.

There is no such person as Mother Earth, but there is a Father God. The title Mother Earth is used by new age humanists who do not believe in a Heavenly Father or in the God who is the creator of all things, including the weather.

Shirley Konoff

Temperance, Mich.

Therefore, we all asssume that the impending massive flood that threatens to destroy Fargo, North Dakota was sent by God.  No doubt, that might confuse some of the residents filling sand bags- folks who lead a good and wholesome life.  What did they do to deserve this?  Must be that the city harbors  sodomites.  God's vengeance knows no boundaries!

Another President, Another Military Folly

President Obama plans to send 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan. USA TODAY says the president's objective "is to suppress the spreading insurgency by placing more emphasis on building local governments, wooing the civilian population with aid and providing more help to the Afghan army instead of deploying a large number of combat troops."

Why is it that every president feels the need to 'play Army' when he comes into office?  As kids we 'played' army and blasted other kids with our stick 'guns' often deriding the victims with words like, 'dirty Jap!' or "Nazi!' 

It must be some latent and unfulfilled male adolescent urge that raises its ugly head when a man ascends to that position.  They 'do it' because they can.  From the rather minor display of this adolescent machismo in Ronald Reagan's Grenada adventure to the grand display of Johnson in Vietnam, it continues.  Of course, most recently, there was the Oedipally entangled and thoroughly botched 'mission accomplished' fiasco of the ne'er-do-well junior son.

And so, it is Obama's turn to 'play Army.'  I thought that he was much too bright to fall into that presidential trap; apparently not. There is naught to gain there as there was naught to gain in Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Lebanon or most other geographical locations that American presidents seems to regard as high-value targets.

Grow up, Mr. President, and put your stick-gun down.

A Republican Budget Essay

Nicely man-tanned as usual, House minority leader John Boehner stuck it to President Obama yesterday.  He said, "Two nights ago the president said, 'We haven't seen a budget yet out of Republicans.' Well, it's just not true because -- Here it is, Mr. President." 

No doubt Mr. Obama was taken aback at the bold GOP move. Touch√©!  The sly nincompoop from Butler Conty, Ohio thought that he staged a decicive coup, hoping to pull the proverbial rug from beneath the president.  Perhaps that sort of stuff works down in Butler county, where folks are somewhat simplistic.

Boehner's boner-stunt failed with the first question from a reporter who asked, 'Where are the numbers?' Good question unless, of course, this was an English writing essay or a Philosophy of Business class.

The only 'numbers' in this 19-page 'budget' were the page numbers. Yes, the page numbers.

"Here it is, Mr. President. We'll get to the actual facts and figures later, but meanwhile, I hope that you enjoy reading this comic book."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's the Tax Increase, Stupid!

An elephant still sits grandly in the House Rotunda and another in the Senate Chamber. They have been there for the past 8 years yet nobody seems to notice them.  It's like they don't see them- the elephants.On the side of each is tattooed the 2-word message, 'Raise Taxes!'

Rather than looking at these monstrous beasts, legislators pass by, as if they didn't see them, and head to the chambers to wring their hands and begin their rants on slicing the budget and eliminating porcine programs. The thought of the message emblazoned on those pachyderms never enters their minds. After all, the next election is coming up.
Sacrifice is taboo. Americans never enjoy 'sacrifice.' It is not something that we have been accustomed to. Narcissism gets in the way. Me, my, mine! I want. I deserve.

Raise my taxes? Are you crazy? Socialist! Not me, NIMBY!

I recall the 'war days' that my parents discussed shortly after WWII ended. Those victory gardens, the tin can collection. Bald tires, rationing, War Bonds, gasoline stamps. Rosie the Riveter.

Sacrifice. Civilian cooperation. Working together. The Common Welfare.

Concepts evaporated, no longer a part of our common consciousness. Values for the trash.

Gimme! I want. Just like the 2-year-old child or the adolescent teen.

Where are the mature adults these days? Where is the wisdom? Who asks for sacrifice these days?

George Bush waged two wars and cut taxes four times. The lunacy is astounding. Now, as we reap the results of that ignorance, we want everything to just like it was. LaLaLand mentality.

When are the wise adults going to lead this nation in the right direction?

To Promote the General Welfare

Welfare is a key hot-button word commonly bantied around by those who dwell in the murky caves of the far-right. Often is accompanied by 'queens' to denote urban black women with too many children. They know what's best for America, you know. They fly the flag. Very patriotic.

There was a time, not so long ago, when these welfare queens were 'ruining' America. Didn't you hear it on the radio? If one issue were to collapse America altogether, it was these people, those people. That one! Moral decadence coupled with tax-payer dollars flushed down the toilet by 'these' women. Each kid has a different father, don't you know.

Yes, that $825 monthly check and that book of Food Stamps brought us to the brink of both moral and economic decay here in America. Send them all back to Africa!

Hey! And what about those wetbacks? Damned illegal immigrants sneaking across the border taking good American jobs. Can't even speak English, but sure love our money! And we're paying for their hospital visits and all of those brown kids in our schools! Where the hell is the Border Patrol? Damned illegal immigrants!

Is it no wonder that our nation finds itself in the economic and moral mess these days? What's happened to this nation? Remember how great America was back in the 50's? Those damned hippies started the downfall in the 60's and those stupid civil rights laws and that communist agitator King! Civil rights? What about MY rights? Nobody cares about MY rights!

Yep, this mess that we find ourselves in today goes right back to the damned hippies, communist agitators, welfare queens and illegal immigrants from Mexico. That's were we went wrong. Damned LIBruls, socialist, God-less people ruining my life.

Is Rush on yet?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All The Presidents Zombies

A few days ago, Mudrake posted a piece about student "riots" at the Sorbonne in Paris and the dull silent echo they created in America. I pointed out that the riots were in fact the results of typical right wing provocation by "casseurs" which always results in head lines and photos that are used to discredit populist demonstrations.
The student demonstrators, who were in the streets all over France are being listened to.

The immediate demand that the role of researchers be kept as a government funded sector of the Universities, instead of being privatized was for the most part, settled in favor of the student and teachers demands.

Later, last Thursday, 3 million French workers participated in a General Strike.
The discussion that followed the post for the most part debated the cause, and the effectiveness of popular action in the streets and more so, why can this not occur in America? There were also missgivings about the apropriateness of these actions. Are they merely ritual street theater or do they really accomplish anything?

In the 3M plant at Pthiviers, France, an executive, Luc Rousselet has been kept hostage in his office by the workers overnight. The workers are demanding that 3M provide better treatment for 125 workers who were to be layed off and that pay and other issues are to be discussed before he is allowed to leave.
In this as well as other situations of direct worker action against executives and CEOs here in recent weeks, the police have been reluctant to intervene. In fact Mr. Rousselet has stated that he knows the workers have a lot to complain about and he is sympathetic to their demands.
His statement would have been unthinkable only a few weeks ago.
The Prefect of the Departement, sort of like the governor of an American State, but with more direct military authority has stated that he will not send in the police and 3M must negotiate directly with the workers.

Last night, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy spoke at a meeting of his party, The UMP at the L'Elysee in the heart of Paris. Outside were over 3,000 demonstrators burning tires as the police stood by. This time, there were no Casseurs...or provacative actions because, it's becoming clear...time is up. It doesn't work.
Even in the main stream press, Le Point, Figaro...the present government is being referred to as Zombies.
So tell me more about your take on the effectiveness of organized populist actions with a purpose.....

Ah, the Good Old School Days

There is much criticism these days about the state of education in America. Much is justified, others is nothing but political blather by those people who would like to dismantle the entire public school system. Many of these advocate for returning to the 'good old days' when 'teachers taught and kids learned.' Back to the basics! they shout. As if the Studebaker still sits in new car showrooms.

'It was good enough for me!' is another moronic phrase that drips from the lips of those who still question the spherical shape of this planet. Was it so good? What did students have to learn back then? Why do many believe that the old way was better? Revisionist history or nostalgia cataract-ing their brain?

My son sent me a link to a site that posts the '1954 8th grade Civics Test' so that people can compare the 'good old school days' to their conception of the modern school days.

Here's the first question from the 55-year-old test:

[1- 20] List the 10 Cabinet positions and give the name of each person holding that position.

Well, go ahead.  Kenny Hignite got all 20 correct.  What a smart boy!  Or, rather, what a great memory, Kenny!

Yes, it was a memorization question, known as 'knowledge level' at the bottom of the pyramid of Bloom's Taxonomy.  Back in the old days, students were often asked memorization questions and the better one's memory, the better the
 grade on those tests. Note that 'knowledge' rests at the bottom.

What if Kenny had been asked this question instead:

Select two of the cabinet postions in the Eisenhower Administration and compare the duties of each.

We now have ascended the pyramid and deepened both the learning and the brain function of the child.  

What if we ask this question:  In your opinion, which of the cabinet positions is most important at this time in our nation's history?  Defend your choice.  Which is least important?  Why do you say that?

Here the student is required not only to have the knowledge of who is who, but he/she must evaluate two offices and then defend his/her opinion.  The hum of brainwaves throughout the classroom is audible.

Ah, the good old daze....

Mohs Surgery

UPDATED: 3/26 below

I didn't know anything about Dr. Fredrick E. Mohs, but my surgeon did. I went 'under the knife' yesterday in a procedure known as Mohs surgery. Wikipedia says this:

Mohs surgery, also known as chemosurgery, created by a general surgeon, Dr. Fredrick E. Mohs, is microscopically controlled surgery that is highly effective for common types of skin cancer, with a cure rate cited by most studies between 97% and 99.8% for primary basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.
Well, great statistical hope in those numbers! It was relatively painless after the 10 novocaine injections around the circular site of the basal cell. Because these cells were on my face, it provided precise removal of the cancerous tissue, while healthy tissue around it is spared. The Mohs procedure is micrographically controlled, meaning that the excised tissue is sent to the lab for analysis. The histologist examines the tissue for cancer cells, then reports the findings back to the surgeon for further tissue removal in necessary. I had two tissue removals before I was finished.

Then the surgeon has the tricky task of sewing the wound; it is tricky because it is circular in shape. Circles do not mend themselves evenly. He did a double stitch- inner and outer so that there would be less of a scar when it was completely healed. The most unpleasant aspect of it all was the cauterization- I dislike the smell of burned flesh, especially my own.
My carefree summer days in the 40's and 50's have resulted in this and other basal cell removals and I suspect that I am not yet finished with all of that. If sunscreen has only been invented back then...

<----UPDATE:  Here's my new zipperface photo.  I amazed at the length of the incision as well as the fact that it is straight, relatively speaking.  Apparently, the round incision has been 'covered' by the straight one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Comment Envy: 730

Yes, seven hundred thirty comments on a single thread.  I wonder if that may be the all-time record?  I've gone to 50 somewhere in the past, but 730 seems monolithic!  But here they are. Pharyngula, a science/evolution blog run by PZ Myers, a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris racked up that score.

He has an avid following from all over America and the world who post short and often witty comments on the numerous and surprising topics he raises. His blog is linked on my blog list section.  

Personally, I have to chuckle about the thread to which I linked- Survivor: Pharyngula! Day Three. Many of the 'regulars' to my blog will easily identify the winner of this 'survivor' contest as the same person who often infects this blog.

Funny stuff.  Always a hoot on the fundy side of life.

Plan B- The Nightmare

Many GOP senators and pundits are ranting to their base these days about the 'trillions of dollars' that the Obama team is 'throwing' at Wall Street banks in an attempt to get them lending.  Goofy red-state senators Shelby and Imhof give daily rants of how all of this stimulus money is 'ruining America.'  Funny how stoic they were for the past 8 years when the ruining of America was in full swing.

Thomas Friedman, author of Hot Flat and Crowded and NYT columnist, mentioned PLAN B on MSNBC this morning.  Host Joe Scarborough, ex-GOP congressman, had been doing his usual shtick about too much Federal intervention, when Friedman asked, "So, what is PLAN B?"   "Plan B?"  "Yes, if the present infusion of Federal dollars into the banking system doesn't work, then we'll have to go to Plan B and I don't think that too many people want to go there."

Senators Shelby, Imhof, and other deep red-state senators crow quite a lot these days but they, apparently, are ignorant of Plan B.  Did I say, 'apparently?'  Actually, turning the tables on the right-wingers, I'd say that these guys are 'un-American' and 'working against this nation, hoping that it fails!'  Classic right-wing rhetoric.  'The hate-America crowd!'

Plan B, as Friedman noted, is the nationalization of the major banks of America.  Scary stuff. 

So, SHUT UP! you ignorant right-wingnut senators.  Try loving America for a change!!

Congressman ID's Head of American Religious Police

In a bold move yesterday, a U.S. Congressman has fingered the head of the secretive American Religious Police.  The ARP has long been implicated in many un-Constitutional movements here in America, but the ARP head was 'outted' yesterday.

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a "homophobe" in a recent interview with the gay news Web site The Democratic lawmaker, who is gay, was discussing gay marriage and his expectation that the high court would some day be called upon to decide whether the Constitution allows the federal government to deny recognition to same-sex marriages.

"I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court," said Frank.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Autism- the Musical

NetFlix delivered it and we watched Autism the Musical last evening. The title itself makes one curious to view the film to see how it all turns out. it is a beautifully instructive movie that follows the lives of 5 children with autism and a courageous and creative musical director who has faith in her cast of autistic children that, in fact, they can perform a musical about their affliction.
If one has never seen nor experienced an autistic child, this film is a great way to pass the course, Autism 101. Each of the five 'stars' exhibits a unique phase in the autism spectrum. Some children are extremely verbal while some are totally mute. Some are brilliant while others are on the fringes of mental competence.

What is most redeeming is the determination of the parents to fight for the dignity of their child and not allow either society or the school system label or pigeonhole their son or daughter.

Autism Speaks is an organization with the goal "...dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals."

Unwelcome Letter from Serious OCD Sufferer

In my mailbox yesterday was a letter that I deposited directly into the wastebasket without opening. In fact, I thought of burning it on my front porch rather than bringing it inside. The bad karma associated with it is clearly damaging to my spirit. It isn't the first time I've received one from the same author. He's terribly ill and an unprosecuted pedophile who escaped jail due to the statue of limitations. He benefited by the success of the Catholic Church's defeat of the proposed Ohio 'look-back' law that would have rolled back that limitation.

I know one of his victims; there were many others. He is a defrocked priest who has an odd attraction to death- he likes to attend funerals, especially ones associated with his victims.

The national survivor group, SNAP [survivors Network of those Abused by Priests], was begun by one of his victims. Justice has been meted out in many cases, but sadly, not for Toledo-born Barbara Blain.

The former priest, Chet Warren, has sent me other letters which end up in the trash. He is consumed with death and redemption of his soul. As I recall, his letter was peppered with references to Jesus and Mary and all of those nauseous ans trite religious phrases one hears from the uber-religious. Obviously, he is terribly mentally ill who is obsessed and disturbed by his past. He believes, I suspect, that if he sends enough letters and attends enough funerals, that he will be magically redeemed and will be cleansed enough to be beamed upward at his death.

Lefty Blogs