Saturday, May 23, 2009

Liberty University bans College Dems

(CNN) – Liberty University, the evangelical school in Virginia founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, is drawing heat Friday for its decision to revoke recognition of the College Democrats' chapter on campus.

According to the Lynchburg News & Advance, the school decided a week ago the organization "stood against the moral principles" held by the school and therefore could no longer be sanctioned.

Ah, the Republican university. The university which cheered the preemptive invasion of Iraq. The university that sat on its hands as the Bush/Cheney Administration began its shredding of the Constitution and usurping of Executive Branch authority.

What can one expect, though, at an institution that bases its philosophy on a 4000 year old diary of a wandering, misogynic Middle Eastern tribe? I'll bet their 'science' classes are a hoot!

Liberty. Interesting name, 'liberty.' Too bad the students attending that university are denied the liberty to explore areas which have been banned from their perusal.

Republican University- at last!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mr. Cheney and the Gullible

Gullible Americans are the last bastion for bastards like Dick Cheney.  One out of five Americans still dine on the tainted goulash called the GOP.  Many of them hold fast to every word uttered by the man who gave us the Iraq War.  The man who had 'no doubt' that Saddam was reconstituting his nuclear weapons.  The man who assured us that we'd locate those specious WMD's.  The man who ignored the warnings from the Clinton Administration  of the dangers of al Qaeda, but brags about keeping us safe after the worst attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor.

That Dick Cheney.

Who is still listening to the man?

He has quite the audience to be sure, but 'they' are not openly gay and giddy about admitting that; they are mostly in the closet these days.

These are the same ones that are continually bamboozled by the likes of all authority figures, especially preachers.  A deep avuncular voice rattling off statements sprinkled generously with fear- especially fear of the unknown- can bring these folks literally to their knees.  To their knees obviously with the smooth-talking preacher who offers 'eternal salvation' to the good and 'eternal damnation' to the others.  Of course, one never knows when that magic moment will happen and thus, eternal vigilance, endless obsession with righteousness becomes the dogged duty of the believer.

It takes no clever wit to tweak the speech of the preacher ever-so slightly into a powerful political speech.  Dick Cheney has learned that trick well.  The slick shyster delivered a sermon yesterday albeit sans god.  Yet he had the sacred and the heinous well peppered throughout the speech.  He referenced the 9/11 tragedy several dozen times and warned that we must be eternally vigilant, always on-guard against the evil ones.  The Devil, of course.  Our sacred freedoms versus the Devil.  And, the best way to fend off the Devil is to limit personal freedoms, belie our beliefs 'for the greater good.'

And he takes great personal pride in that very fact.  He saved America from more evil.  He expects to be uplifted to hero status, hopefully a bronze statue of his likeness for future generations to worship.  It was  the Great and Powerful Dick Cheney who stood between the evil doers and the huddled masses  yearning to breathe free.

We ought not look at his failings, the fact that he did not keep us safe on September 11, 2001, but to the post-barn door period when there were no further attacks.  He alone through 'enhanced interrogation techniques' was able to extract the sacred essence of truth which saved us all from imminent danger all of those years.  He knows this.  This sacred knowledge, although hidden from us, does exist and will be revealed to us, the lowly, at the appropriate time and place.

The unknown evil, the unknown time.

Imagine if Dick Cheney had not been VP in those dangerous times!  What may have happened?  One can only shudder at the thought.  Thank God that Dick Cheney was 'appointed' to save us.  Thank God that He listened to the prayers of the 'faithful' and spared us another attack.  God smiled on America after 9/11.  God blessed America [with the Messianic-like wisdom of Dick Cheney].


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Foolish Fodder From Fundamentalists

Agnostic and atheist authors seemingly never run out of foolish fodder for their books each time another fundamentalist opens his or her mouth. I raised  the latest revelation of the  crusade-like images and Bible quotes that Donald Rumsfeld produced as he carried his daily briefing to the White House for George W. Bush to read.  I suggested that this was indeed a  'crusade' [George W. Bush's term] and that it seemed to be part of a christian movement to eliminate Islam from the Middle East. A christian apologist and self-identified fundamentalist commented, "When God sends men to fight, He reduces the size of their army. That's what He did with Gideon..."

I asked of him, "Did the good people of the city of Baghdad pray to God before the invasion? Did they pray that their sons would not be killed in battle? One wonders why the god who made all of us would abandon a certain sector yet help nourish and protect another of His people."

To this he wrote, "I'm told there are a lot of Christians in Iraq. More than in most middle eastern countries. Muslims don't pray to God, though, they pray to idols of their own making."

Muslims don't pray to God; they pray to idols of their own making.

Matthew, the author of these words, is 30-something and instructs his children and other youth in his church 'in the faith', he told me. Does he really tell those youngsters this lie? If fact, does HE even know that what he wrote is dead wrong?

I have learned that fundamentalist christians are quite ill-informed about their own Christianity and terribly ignorant of other world religions. If Matthew demonstrates the typical knowledge level of fundamentalist christians, then they deserve the derision, ridicule and ribbing which they receive in the many books by atheist and agnostic authors that now line the library bookshelves.

The phrase, ignorance is bliss, seems most apropos in this situation.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Universe: Order without design

The Universe: Order without design
by Carlos I. Calle
Published by: Prometheus Books
Price: $27.98

[review by New Scientist]

IN THIS excellent book, NASA physicist Carlos Calle tackles the question of whether the universe requires a supernatural "designer" or whether our cosmological theories can explain the wondrous reality around us.

The standard model of cosmology, in which a tiny piece of inflating "false vacuum" decays into a fireball, and stars and galaxies congeal out of the cooling debris, has passed many tests, but problems remain. Where did the false vacuum come from in the first place? And how do the supposedly enormous quantum convulsions of our current vacuum manage to cancel out to almost - but not exactly - zero, leaving behind a piddling "dark energy" that lies in the tiny range of values that allow life to exist?

Physics and cosmology alone may have the answers, says Calle. Combine eternal inflation, in which the primordial false vacuum continuously grows and decays, with string theory and you end up with a multiverse - a vast collection of universes, each of which has a different amount of dark energy. We find ourselves in one where it has just the right value for stars, planets and life because... well, we couldn't find ourselves anywhere else.

Another cosmological model that has emerged from string theory has our universe living on the surface of a "brane" floating in a higher-dimensional space. Our brane collides with a nearby brane over and over again for eternity, triggering an endless sequence of big bangs. This cyclic model may home in on the exact value of the dark energy we measure.

The model doesn't require a beginning, and some theorists suspect that eternal inflation may not either. Certainly, neither requires a designer. Cosmology still has a lot to figure out, Calle contends, but it is in good shape.


Well, that ought to knot up the panties of our fundamentalist friends.  Eternal inflation rather than a god-source for the beginning of it all [or the continuation of it all].  Just a lot of brane and vacuums.  Sounds so dull, so ordinary.  Where's the pizazz!  Where's the POOF!  Where's the ALMIGHTY WORD!

I feel rather deflated, excuse the pun, and I'm feeling just a little sorry for those fundamentalists whose belief system just suffered a major torpedo blow to the bow,  How will this change their lives?  Reminds me of that old song, "No one to talk to, all by my self, No one to walk with...

Seems they will have to learn how to take care of their lives by themselves, figure out solutions by themselves, act as if they are fully mature adults for a change.

Do I think any of this will actually materialize? Of course not. They will just go on as if they learned nothing from science, and think as the Jews did some 4000 years ago when the 'heavens' were atop the glass dome, just above the clouds.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Term Limits Again

If the United States is to change course from
disaster, if that has not already happened,
term limits for U.S. Representatives and Senators
is a must. The events of the present recession
demonstrates the need for term limits.

Special interests like banks, insurance companies,
real estate groups, investment houses, business
associations, pharmaceuticals, and other powerful
interest groups fill the coffers of Democratic and
Republican politicians. Incumbancy is their right!

Recently, there was a post wich described the defeat
of amendment to prevent banks from hastily foreclosing
which was aided to defeat by many Democratic Senators.
Many of the Democratic and Republican senators and
representatives are in the hip pocket of banks and
financial institutions. Sen. Dodd demonstrated this
with his votes on aiding the banks and the insurance
companies and his aid to AIG with the bailouts and
his approval of the outlandish bonus payments. Today,
it is seen with Sen. Baucus of Montana who chairs the
Finance Committee's mark up of the health reform bill.
His pockets are full of pharmaceutical and insurance
companies money gifts to his re-elections coffers, so he
has prevented any representatives or discussion of the
single payer health insurance method to be before his
committee. He says single payer doesn't work, yet millions
of citizens are very happy with medicare and his own
golden benefit health insurance program is a single payer by
the Federal Government. Lets remember, medicare is in
future difficulty because the Trust Fund has been "robbed"
by Democrats and Republicans to pay for other programs.

Our Congress is now concerned with preserving their own
personal powerful interests, be that Marcy Kaptur or John
Boehner. They look upon their service as their "job."
This is a "job" that comes with single payer insurance and
retirement benefits for life. This is in addition to what
they earn for social security. This needs to end asap.

Therefore, career politicians need to be eliminated through
the term limit process. There should be one term for
Senators and three two year terms for Representatives. While
they serve a modest health insurance should be provided, but
no supplemental retirement benefits. Their income would count
for later social security payments. An increase in salary may
be warranted for living expenses in Washington, D.C. and
appropriate fact finding travel and constituent meets back in
their respective states.

If the economic, social, and foreign serious problems are to be
solved to prevent the demise of the U.S., career politicians have
proved that they are not capable to deal effectively with these
problems. There must be rotation in office. The Founding Fathers
believed in and used that term "rotation in office. They provided
an advanced 18th century remedy for a career political life, periodic
elections. For the House it was election every two years and for
the Senate it was an indirect election by State legislatures. However,
today rates of re-election are 99%; that is intolerable. Given
the political system as it is today, change cannot occur without
term limits.

One More Quixotic Believer

Ravi Zacharias, former Hindu turned Christian apologist, has written several books in his attempt promote the Christian religion as the one, true faith of this planet. Bang off it is disturbing to read that Zacharias converted to Christianity following a suicide attempt at the age of 17 while in college. Red flags flutter in the breeze. Yet, it is not at all surprising that religion attracts the mentally unstable as well as the social outcast. From his hospital bed, he claimed that the suicide attempt was not the result of a trauma or depression. 'It was just the fact that life lacked meaning.'

How many 17-year-old students attempt and/or successfully commit suicide just because 'life lacked meaning?' Not many mentally healthy ones, I'd bet. He also made this vow shortly afterwards, while lying in his hospital bed: "I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth."

Is that so? Why do I find this scenario odd? And why would all of this lead to one becoming an apologist for Christianity? Not only that, but Zacharias rose to battle atheists on his quixotic quest in pursuit of truth.

I find it all oddly familiar and sad. Were he merely a devout and caring Christian one might praise him for his efforts in stabilizing his mental condition [not curing it, but stabilizing it from personal harm] through faith and ritual. Yet, in his new-found zeal, he believed that he must take up the sword and slay the evil atheists which he finds at every turn in his zigzag path through life.

His story is so common, so unremarkable in its simplistic approach to theism because he is just one more religious zealot raising his sword of truth, riding the horse of belief onto the battle fields, lopping off heads for god's honor and glory.

In his 1997 book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism, Zacharias charges into battle, already slapping the atheist on the face with righteous indignation. Such a pompous title, such grand assumptions before the reader even opens the book. The author's assumptions and dripping righteousness at the outset alone would tend to cast this book atop others in the dustbin of foolishness.

I return to the vow of the 17-year old, post-suicidal student lying in his hospital bed: "I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth."

The truth. Ah- there's the rub. Or rubbish.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Humans Ate Neanderthals

I knew it!  Somewhere in my intuitive brain I knew that we Homo sapiens exterminated Neanderthals.  There was really no other sensible reason for their demise beyond our own clubs and spears.  It was the first genocide on record, some 30,000 years ago.  And their blood is on our hands.

How the Neanderthals met their grisly end 30,000 years ago...we ate them is the title of an article in The Daily Mail by Amy Oliver.  She writes:

The mysterious disappearance of Neanderthals about 30,000 years ago has baffled scientists for centuries.

But now, according to a leading fossil expert, it seems the race may have met a rather grisly end. They were eaten by our ancestors, the modern humans.

The basis for the claim is the markings on a Neanderthal jawbone found in Les Rois, south-west France during a study conducted by the Journal of Anthropological Sciences.

The cuts to the bone are similar to those left on those of deer and other animals butchered by humans in the Stone Age. It is believed that the flesh was eaten by humans and the teeth used to make a necklace.


Yuck! Just think of how far Adam has fallen from that paradise he and Eve lived in. Neanderthals looked too odd, no doubt, and that made all of the difference. We still hold that 'odd other' meme in our makeup as we prejudge people on their outward appearance. People of color understand that all-too well. Thirty thousand years and we still 'like out own kind.' What a strong and lasting meme we carry from generation to generation.

The Shack or Bingo?

The Shack, the book, not the slums of Mumbai.  I wonder which would be more interesting to explore?  Having not experienced either, I'd wager that ten hours in Mumbai would produce much more interesting discussion than the book.

Nonetheless, I am assigned to read The Shack.  Book club.  It was either The Shack or bingo.  We finished our last book on Saturday evening and, when the time came to choosing another, we were mute.  I suggested bingo because my wife bought a wheel last month to play the game with our grandchildren.  She bought $1 prizes too boot- we still have lots of them for future games.

The group thought I was nuts, but I stuck to my guns and said, "Why not, we've got the game, the wheel and a bag of prizes?"  At that, someone shouted out, "The Shack!" There were audible groans and some muted conversations.

"The Shack?" I questioned, "sounds like cheap pulp fiction."  "Oh no, it's a very popular book on the best-seller's list," someone piped in.  There were opposing positions on the merits of the book, and whether men would enjoy it.  

I was voted down in the end, but I'm taking my bingo wheel and prizes bag along next month just in case there is a dust-up during the discussion.  Meanwhile, I'll try to find a used copy of the book.


Lefty Blogs