Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's that time of year again

Christmas is just two days away. When the Sun rises on that morning, it will begin it's annual sojourn northward, rising higher and higher everyday. On that morning, the Sun will repeat the cycle of defeating winter, cold, and death. On that day, you can honestly say, the Sun is risen.

Throughout antiquity in the ancient Near East, astronomy, astrology and myth were inseparable. Due to lack of scientific knowledge, these ancients tried to account for the natural world by creating gods and goddess. One of these gods was Mithra, a Persian solar messiah.

Those who worshiped Mithra celebrated his birthday and annual resurrection from the netherworld on December 25th. Around the time that Christ was said to have been born, the state religion of Rome was Mithraism. Early Christians in an attempt to attract converts to their religion adopted many mithraic customs, among these blood sacrifice, communion, baptism, and a dying/resurrected savior that bore the burdens of all mankind. In order for the sins of a follower of Mithra to be washed away, they had to be bathed in the blood of a sacrificed bull. It is also interesting to note, that Mithra had twelve followers or helpers, those being the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

It is for these reasons that Pope Julius I, in an attempt to eradicate the "pagan" worship of Mithra and Sol Invictus, decreed that Christ's birthday would be observed on December 25th.

Here are some terms for you to research:

Happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The floor is yours, Amy2.


Welcome to my blog.

Here, you will find a much different environment than the one that you are used to at Ray's blog. In this environment, the First Amendment is honored, not tread upon like a doormat. Here, you can state whatever you wish, no matter how much it may offend your audience. In this place, no posts are screened nor will they ever require my approval. Anything you say will be automatically uploaded. No post will ever been censored, nor will they ever be deleted, even those that I disagree with or defeat my argument.

There are no rules here. There are no moderators. There is only the pursuit of truth, logic, and reason.

While I respect the faith of others, I have nothing but contempt for the type of dogmatic faith that tries to involve itself in science and politics. That should not suggest that I don't believe faith can be used to advance science and humanity. And I absolutely detest the kind of faith that is used to injure or kill others who don't subscribe to their point of view.

While I do not accept Christianity, I am not an atheist. I believe that the goodness that you have is in spite of your faith, not because of it. I believe that anyone who claims to know the will of God and make extraordinary claims, like raising the dead, is at the absolute height of arrogance and should not be trusted. I also believe that God, whoever He/She/They/It may be, is far too dreadful and powerful for any and all of the world's religions to claim as their own.

Without hesitation, I accept science over faith. And while I believe that faith can be used for both good and evil, I believe that same can be said of science. For all the triumphs that science has given us, it has also given us many dark chapters in human history. I also believe that if a divine Creator does exist, and created all of the rules that drive the physical Universe, then that Being also gave us the curiosity, creativity, and intellect to discover the mysteries of that Universe. In other words, I don't believe that God would give us a brain and not challenge us to use it.

With all that said, you are welcome to choose any topic you like for discussion. As I stated in Ray's blog, you are welcome to post as many links and quotes as you like.

I yield the floor.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Number of creationists are falling

The results of a Gallup poll regarding creationist numbers were released on December 17.

First the bad news. Forty percent. That's the number of Americans who believe in a literal 6-day creation, a global flood, Noah's Ark, that snakes can talk, and that goats get their stripes because their parents had their way with each other in front of a row of poplar rods. Some still believe that the earth is flat.

Now for the good news -- acceptance of evolutionary biology is rising while the number of creationists slowly falls.

The evolution/creation "controversy" is a misnomer because it's been a beatdown in every sense of the word. When a creationist asks for evidence of evolutionary biology, they have that evidence handed to them by the boatload. But they summarily reject it because they're too afraid to honestly look at the evidence and admit that they're wrong. Conversely, when you prove to them why biblical creationism is wrong, they simply regurgitate the mantra "You're misinterpreting things," or "You're taking things out of context," or spout some other non-sense about things they don't understand.

It's not that creationists are too stupid to understand evolutionary biology; it's that they're blinded by a dogmatic worldview that doesn't require evidence -- only faith. As Youtuber AronRa stated in his video series, Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism, in order to be a creationist you don't need to know anything about astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, genetics, plate tectonics, meteorology, paleontology, taxonomy, zoology, optics, or even geography. Creationists choose to remain willfully ignorant, and that, to me, is worse than stupidity. What makes things even more irritating is that they claim to know science better than scientists do.

Ask a creationist on the spot what a theory is, and they typically can't answer you. Ask them what genetic drift is and they'll give you the deer-in-the-headlights look. Ask them if an alligator and a crocodile can mate and they'll shut right up. Ask them to tell an astronomical unit from a light-year, an allele from a zygote, an atom from a photon, a monotreme from a marsupial, or a quasar from a red dwarf, and they'll usually panic. Most creationists believe that evolution is not science, but when you ask them how it's not science, they'll squirm as if they're in a dentists chair having a root canal.

The evidence continues to grow in support of evolutionary biology by leaps and bounds. It is the foundation of modern medicine, food production, and forensic science. More people are waking up everyday from their dogma-induced stupor, observing evidence and realizing that they have been lied to for years. If creationists wonder why that is, and why atheism and agnosticism are on the rise, they only have themselves to blame.

So, if you're a creationist, keep it up. In the long run, you're only doing science a favor.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Answering Ray's distortion of Einstein

Over at Ray's blog, in the header you fill find a picture of Einstein and one of his quotes that Ray cherry-picked to try to steer you toward Ray's perverted way of thinking.

Ray would like you (and himself) to believe that Einstein not only believed in God, but a very personal God at that. As always, Ray distorts the truth, if not outright lies through his teeth. While Einstein certainly did believe in God, he did not believe in the kind of God who played an active role in our daily lives. And though Einstein had a certain disdain for using his quotes regarding faith and God, here's one that Ray is wishing that Einstein never put to paper:

"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

Chew on that for a while, Ray. Watch the clip by Penn Gillette below, in which he reads the above quote from a letter that Einstein wrote to philosopher Eric Gutkind on January 3, 1954.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Just a thought

Last night I was enjoying a beer at Otto's with my friend, Dave, when we started having a discussion about Christianity. And it got me to thinking about something. According to Christians, Jesus is perfect by default since he is God. Christians also believe that stoning is wrong, as is slavery, along with a torrent of other nasty crimes against humanity. This is where the wheels start to fall of the wagon for Christian fundamentalists regarding the myth that the Old Testament doesn't matter because Jesus gave us a new covenant.

Jesus said that he came to fulfill the law (although he never mentions which law or group of laws), not to condemn. But if Jesus fulfilled all of the laws in order to clear the way for mankind to gain access to Heaven, including this law, then he's guilty of murder. He killed witches so you won't have to.

If you are a Christian, how then can you say that Jesus is God?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's coming, Kentucky!

Sometimes the stupidity and willful ignorance in this country becomes so painful that I imagine for a moment what life would be like in Germany. I don't even know where to begin on this one.

Developers in Kentucky are asking the state government for tax exemption on a Noah's Ark-based theme park. AiG and Ark Encounters, LLC (whoever the hell that is), are joining forces to get this creatard funfest up and running by the end of 2014. Developers are hoping that it will bring in 1.6 million visitors a year and create 900 jobs. They're also hoping that it will have a ripple effect over a large geographic area. But the only effect it's going to have is the continued intellectual, downward spiral throughout Kentucky and the rest of the south.

If you're one of those that work for AiG, Ark Encounters, or the Kentucky state government that is seeing this travesty through, or if you are considering donating your hard-earned money to this cause, please spend some time examining the parallels between other flood myths to that of Noah's. Watch the videos below by Youtuber ItsTheSuperFly, in which he absolutely eviscerates the myth of Noah's flood/ark. After kicking yourself in the head for about an hour after realizing that you've been duped into believing this crap, consider putting that money toward something useful, like an education. Then go buy yourself a nice, hot, fresh cup of coffee and remind yourself that Noah's Ark was only a myth.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go buy a nice, hot, fresh cup of coffee of my own.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meet John Shimkus

I have to admit, despite the fact that I try to stay informed of political goings-on, I have never heard of Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL). And now that I have, I'd like to introduce you to him if you haven't made his acquaintance already.

Last March, Shimkus inferred that climate change is a myth by stating that sea levels will not rise and that God would never destroy the earth through a flood again, as stated in Genesis 8:21-22 and 9:11. Clearly, Shimkus is anti-science, but perhaps the most frightening aspect of Shimkus is that he aspires to chair the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Furthermore, he recently sent a letter to his colleagues in which he states that he is "uniquely qualified among a group of talented contenders to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee."

One could only assume that such a person is well-studied in climate change, energy production, and commerce. Of course, he has none of these credentials, but he does have a teaching certificate from Christ College in Irvine, CA. However, to be fair, he also has an MBA from Southern Illinois University.

So we have now reached a point in our political system where a Bible-thumping, climate-change denier who gets kick-backs from the oil industry with no scientific background in energy production or climate change seeks to take the wheel of our nation's energy policies.

I don't know about you, but this man makes me a wee bit nervous.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

John embraces sex ed! (Sort of.)

If there really is a hell, it just dropped about ten full degrees.

You may recall in March 2009 when John Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, made the ridiculous, unsubstantiated claim that the use of condoms would only serve as a catalyst for the increased spread of AIDS throughout Africa. He even followed up said jackassery in September by urging Africans to pray for AIDS patients and forgo condoms to prevent the spread of the disease, as opposed to embracing education like the rest of the civilized world has.

Fast forward to today, as John has done a complete 120°. I can only assume that John has given in to the public outrage over the stupidity of the aforementioned use of condoms in Africa. But don't give him full credit for his sudden turn around. He says that condoms should not be used to prevent conception, but for preventing the spread of AIDS amongst male prostitutes.

Male prostitutes? Please. One would hope that he gives all sexually active Africans the green light on condoms in order to stem the spread of AIDS.

Eh, what the hell -- it's a start.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Abraham and Jephthah: Yahweh's great contradiction

Ask any Christian if the Bible is an accurate description of God's character, more than likely they will answer yes. If you ask them if genocide, slavery, rape, abortion and theft are morally reprehensible, they'll also likely answer yes. But when you offer them evidence that not only are these acts are approved by Yahweh but commanded, they'll do one of several things -- deny the evidence, give God carte blanche (he's God and he can do what he wants, might makes right, i.e.), respond "But that's the Old Testament. Jesus changed things," or if they're truly honest, begin questioning the veracity of the Bible.

Like many religions that were developed throughout Mesopotamia, Judeo-Christianity and Judaism embrace the concept of human and animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. One would think that there is a better way for God to forgive sin than to spill innocent blood since he's omniscient. In reality, early Christians likely lifted the concept of blood sacrifice from Mithraism, which is said to have been born from Zoroastrianism. As astronomer E.C. Krupp states in his book, Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars and Planets:

"We don't know at what point in the year Mithras slaughtered the bull, and we don't know when this mythical act was reenacted in the Mithraic grottoes to baptize initiates in the blood of the bull. But the depictions of sacrifice displayed in the chapels are entirely consistent with the astronomical circumstances of a specific night, just after sunset, in spring."

Krupp confirms that Mithraic rituals of blood sacrifice and baptism were alive and well before the advent of Christianity. He also confirms another very subtle but strong relation between Christianity and worship of celestial bodies. It is interesting to note that Mithras' birthday was celebrated on December 25th as, by default, he was one of the embodiments of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun. It is also interesting to note that a key tenet of Mithraic tradition was ritual meals, not unlike that of Christian communion.

While human/animal sacrifice is nothing new, there are two prime examples that can be found in the Old Testament -- the stories of Abraham and Jephthah. Of these two, the story of Abraham's desire to slay his own son as an act of obedience to Jehovah, is the most prominent. But the story of Jephthah is not so well-known. Not surprisingly, many Christians have never heard of Jephthah.

Jephthah, as the Book of Judges illustrates, was a warrior that served as a judge in Israel for six years. Jephthah led the Israelites in a battle against the Ammonites. But before the battle began, Jephthah prayed to Jehovah, asking for an assured victory in exchange for the first thing that walked out of his house to greet him after the battle. Jephthah's only daughter was the first to exit his house upon his return, exuberant and dancing with tambourines. Horrified, Jephthah told her that he had made an oath to God that couldn't be broken, and that she needed to be sacrificed.

She asked for two months of isolation with her friends because had never known marriage. At the end of those two months, Jephthah slew his only daughter, a virgin, of course.

At the opposite end of the sacrificial spectrum stands Abraham and his then only son, Isaac. The story takes places in Genesis 22:1-19 when Jehovah calls out to Abraham and instructs him to take Isaac to a mountain where he will be sacrificed. Abraham immediately obeys and sets out for the wilderness along with his son. At no point does the text say anything about Abraham questioning Jehovah's request, which I find rather interesting. Even the New Testament tells us that Jesus begged God to reconsider letting his blood spill. But no request can be found from Abraham.

After walking through the wilderness for three days, they finally arrive at the place where Isaac is to be slain. Isaac begins inquiring where the sacrificial lamb is, but Abraham insists that God will provide a lamb very soon. Finally, Abraham binds Isaac and lays him onto a makeshift alter.

Try to imagine binding your only son as he struggles, clawing, fighting and screaming, wondering why you're trying to plunge a knife into his neck. I can't help but wonder at what point a man would tell Jehovah that he's not worthy of worship, that he is an utterly horrible deity, and that the only way he could have his son is by going through himself first.

Just as Abraham raises his knife above Isaac's body, the angel the lord suddenly prevents Abraham from following through. Genesis 22:12 states "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

Many, if not most, evangelicals believe that this particular angel is Jesus himself. The inevitable question then should leap out to the astute reader, isn't God omniscient? If so, then he should know that Abraham truly fears him. As a matter of fact, he should have known that Abraham feared him millions of years before he was born. Why then does this particular angel say, "Now I know that you fear God"?

Many Christians will say that their god would never accept any human sacrifice, particularly virgin sacrifice, other than that of Jesus, which when you think about it, really wasn't a sacrifice at all. As Matt Dillahunty once said, "At least when Elvis died for my sins he stayed dead." But as we read the text in Judges, we do know that Yahweh is willing to accept human sacrifice.

So there are two great contradictions here that few Christians will ever accept. The first of these is that they will say their god is omniscient, but the text in Genesis 22 proves otherwise. The second contradiction is that, assuming Yahweh really is omniscient, he could see millions of years in advance before Abraham ever raised a knife above his son's body, he would send his angel to stop it. If this is true, then he certainly had the ability to stop Jephthah from slaying his only daughter. He had three days to stop Abraham and prevented him from going through with Isaac's sacrifice, but had two months to stop Jephthah from sacrificing his daughter, yet chose not to.

Most Christians, no doubt, will either ignore this or rationalize in some way that Jephthah's daughter really wasn't sacrificed at all. Or, if they do accept the evidence at face value, will claim that there is a greater plan in God's vision than we can see. Yet, for all the biblical doctrine they know (which is actually very little), they will never state what that reason is. They would rather proclaim that it's a mystery to us and only God knows why, adding yet one more piece of evidence why their god is immoral.

One further addition to this problem for Yahweh is that not only does he condone lying, he actually rewards it. Starting in Genesis 22:7-8 we read:

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together."

The only reason these two journeyed into the mountains is so that Abraham could sacrifice Isaac. At no point did he expect God to intervene, nor did he expect a lamb as a substitute for Isaac. The reward for Abraham, as Genesis states, was that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, which we know is false.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Follow-up: God rescues 33 miners in Chile. Wait. What?

Last week I left this post about 33 miners in Chile and the widely held belief that each person rescued was a miracle, which has thoroughly been trashed. But let's suppose for a moment that a miracle did happen in Chile last week.

Today, Chinese rescuers recovered the final 5 of 37 bodies that were trapped inside a mine near Yuzhou. It should be noted that China has a pretty bad track record for safety when it comes to mining. Now back to that miracle in Chile.

Why didn't a miracle happen in China today? Why didn't Jesus reach into the ground and save these 37 people as he did the 33 in Chile? No doubt, many if not most Christians will claim that China is an atheist country, and that these 37 men either had it coming or because they didn't accept Jesus before the explosion, God didn't hear their prayers. Such a God who choses not to answer the desperate prayer of a dying man is not worthy of admiration. If this is the god you serve, you can keep him.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why no one at FNC should be permitted to talk about science - Glenn Beck, 10/15/2010

The level of stupidity and ignorance that is displayed by Fox News and their guests never cease to amaze me. Then again, I'm not so sure that it's stupidity on the part of Beck, Hannity, and O'Reilly, as much as it is the naivety of their viewers. These three make their livings on the fact that most of their viewers are too stupid to lift a finger to do any kind of research to their claims.

Take, for example, the October 15th edition of the Glenn Beck show as he, along with David Barton and Calvin Beisner, spent an hour ripping environmental protection to shreds. I didn't know whether to laugh myself or be scared that millions of people are believing what they were saying. Among the claims made by these three:

Environmentalists worship Ba'al.
Totalitarianism existed before it was actually conceived.
Ba'al was the god of the Babylonians.
Only 9.7% of scientists alive today believe in God.
Birds pre-date reptiles.
The Judeo-Christian God ended slavery.
The Ten Commandments are still relevant to today's society.
The daily activities of mankind play no role in climate change.
Progressives believe that social justice is evil; Glenn Beck is its champion.
Progressives think that mankind is horribly evil and wicked while earth is inherently good (this one will make you laugh).
Atheism is a religion.

In particular, the three were discussing a recent article released by the Tides Foundation titled "Let There Be...Stuff". Go to the Story of Stuff website here. Watch the Story of Stuff on Youtube here. The real problem that they have with the Story of Stuff is that George Soros is funding it, not the science behind it. They'd rather attack Soros than try to examine the information being presented.

Throughout the program Beisner, Beck and Barton spoke as if they have God's cell number on speed dial and just had dinner with him last night. Furthermore, they know God's will, which is the supreme height of arrogance. "But we're not just splitting hairs when what we see is pantheism being brought into the churches, saying that God is the Universe, that the Universe is God instead of saying God made the Universe," said Beisner. "That's not splitting hairs. That's a fundamental doctrine of historic Christianity called creation ex nihilo, creation out of nothing. Otherwise, you think that God created the Universe out of himself, and that's Buddhist and Hindu thought, not Christian."

Prove that your God created the Universe, Mr. Beisner, and prove that the Universe isn't a spiritual, sentient being that couldn't have created itself. This argument is already dead in the water. But, by the end of the first segment of the show, Beisner resorted to Genesis 1:28 as another example of how to use the Bible to justify stupidity. Not to be outdone, Barton offered the following as evidence of his argument:

Wow. Mind-bending.

Coincidentally, Glenn, the writers of the Hebrew Bible turned Ba'al from a god of rain, fertility, and agriculture to a demonic deity. None of these things sound demonic to me. Furthermore, the chief deity of the Babylonians was Marduk. Marduk later became Ba'al by default as the term means "lord". Ba'al was more of a title, much like Christ, than a deity. Glenn later corrected himself by stating that environmentalists are more likely to worship Gaia.

All of this aside, I do consider myself an environmentalist, at least to the extent that I'm conscientious of decisions that may impact my world. I make an honest effort to recycle every plastic bag and bottle, every glass jar, every newspaper, and every sheet of office paper I come across. I don't drive one of these; I drive one of these. I don't throw trash out of my car, nor do I let it idle for hours. And while I love kids, I think that irresponsible pricks like this misogynistic, brainwashing, control freak really need to have their tubes severed and seared and their tax-exempt status revoked.

That said, just like there are dangerous ideologues in the far right-wing, so are there in the far-left environmentalist movement. And yes, there are many mentally unstable environmentalists who would rather see humanity go the way of the dodo and that man is horrible and evil. But long before any environmentalist held this belief, Paul had already scribed Romans 3:10.

But this entire hit piece by Beck, Barton and Beisner has absolutely nothing to do with trying to suppress environmental extremism or even understanding climate change and environmental protection. It has the smell of New Age earth-worship, and these three hate it. Even Beisner is the founder of the Cornwall Alliance, which is dedicated to environmental protection, or as the website states, "stewardship". If this organization truly has the best interest of humanity and the environment at heart, then that's something I can get behind, even if it is a Christian organization. But they shouldn't expect any donations from me anytime soon.

Is there common ground that can be reached here? Yes, but very little. For the first time in years, Glenn actually said something that I agree with -- that we're too wrapped up in materialism to even notice what it means to be alive. Also, there are very unstable people within environmentalism. Other than that, the three offered no scientific evidence to support their claims, only ad hominem attacks and propaganda.

I need to remind Christians, including Barton and Beisner, that the Constitution protects every citizen and religion, not just them and their idealized version of Christianity. If they don't like it then I suggest they pack their bags and move to any of these countries.

David Barton has a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University. He has no background in science, climatology, geography, environmental studies, ecology, or meteorology. Even though he and his idea that separation of Church and State is a myth have been thoroughly debunked, he still proclaims that the Founders were Christian and meant the United States to be a Christian nation. How then can we believe anything that comes out of his mouth? And if you're reading this Mr. Barton, I have a question for you; if the Founders meant this to be a Christian nation, why does the Constitution prohibit any kind of religious test in order to hold public office?

Calvin Beisner earned his B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Religion and Philosophy at USC, an M.A. in Society from International College (he doesn't mention which International College), and a Ph.D. in Scottish History from The University of St. Andrews. He graduated magna cum laude in his chosen majors at USC and International College, so he's clearly an intelligent individual. Personally, I think Beisner genuinely believes what he teaches and is a decent, kind human being. I don't think he's out to hurt anyone, but I do believe he has a certain disdain for science and definitely has a Christian agenda to push and books to sell.

Glenn Beck graduated from high school. That's it. He has no post-secondary education of any kind in any discipline. No background in biology, history, ecology, astronomy, cosmology, meteorology, physics, economics, demography, geography, theology, or even basket weaving. The most admirable accomplishment in Glenn's life is overcoming alcoholism and drug addiction. Other than that, all he has going for him is the ability to spin arguments and confuse people. Nearly every other word that comes out of this man's mouth is either a distortion or a bold-faced lie in an attempt to promote his agenda and get rich off people's stupidity.

So what do the backgrounds of these men have to do with climate change and the environment? Absolutely nothing. They combined their knowledge about ecology, physics, meteorology and climate change and the best evidence they can provide is an idealized chalkboard representation of God vs. Man? Please.

Overall, these three offer no credible evidence for their arguments, while ignoring the overwhelming evidence against theirs - 1, 2, 3, 4. The only one who even came close to making a reasonable argument was Beisner. This link has the video in three parts, plus some pretty interesting commentary by readers about why these three are wrong, and others who agree with them. Also, it is interesting to note that Beisner gave a speech in 2008 at the International Conference on Climate Change, sponsored by the Heartland Institution, which gets funding from Exxon Mobil.

Friday, October 15, 2010

God rescues 33 miners in Chile. Wait. What?

Here are some of the headlines from around the world regarding the recent rescue of 33 miners in Chile:

"Chilean Mine Rescue; At Long Last a 'Miracle' Comes to Pass"
"In Our View: A Miracle an Hour"
"Chilean Miners: Rival churches claim credit for the miracle"
"Chile's miner 'miracle'"
"Chile's 33 trapped miners all rescued in 'miracle'"
"Chilean miners' health is a miracle, say doctors"
"Miner miracle: Rescue in Chile warms the world"

Of all the headlines I read about the rescue of these 33 Chilean miners, only one by Roger Ebert got it right:

"What do you mean by a miracle?"

As Ebert so rightly states, "there is a common compulsion to describe unlikely outcomes as miraculous -- if they are happy, of course. If sad, they are simply reported on, or among the believing described as 'the will of God.'"

The truth is that mine explosions have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. My great grandfather was killed in a mine explosion when my grandfather was only 10. Where was the miracle to save his life? Oh wait! It was God's will that my great grandfather died.

There was no miracle in Chile this week. What happened is that tens of thousands of hours of education, engineering and training were used to save lives. Bad things happen and good things happen. This was one of the days where good things happened.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Glenn Beck mocks humanity

Just when I think Glenn Beck couldn't sink any lower depth of depravity and inhumanity, he proves me wrong. Again.

On September 29th, firefighters in South Fulton, TN refused to respond to a call to put out a fire that burned Gene Cranick's house to the ground. The local fire chief, David Wilds, stated that the reason no firefighters were dispatched is that he refused to pay an annual $75.00 fee for fire services. Cranick stated that he forgot to pay the fee. In reality, it doesn't matter whether he Cranick forgot to pay the fee or not. Also, the town's mayor, David Crocker (Republican, of course), is reported to have said "You're out of luck" to Cranick. Later that day, Cranick's son sustained an injury to his hand after knocking the living daylights out of Wilds.

Wilds' response to the whole situation? It was a "stressful" and "emotional" day. Cry for me. At least you and Crocker still have a house to live in.

Enter Glenn, who, along with trusty sidekick Pat Gray, mocked Cranick.

I seem to remember Beck talking about the finer points of "faith, hope and charity, the essential teachings of Christ." Where is your heart for charity now, Glenn? More importantly, where are the hearts of firefighters who took an oath to protect life and property, only to watch a fire burn down with three dogs and one cat inside? I can understand a filthy-rich, right-wing coward like Beck having no heart, but to be a firefighter and watch a house burn down?

I took the liberty to browse the Obion County website for directives of this stupid, inhuman policy that county executives have implemented. I came across this pdf and read this:

"The only rural property owners guaranteed to receive fire protection services are those who choose to pay for it. It they choose not to purchase an annual subscription and require fire protection services, they fall on the mercy of a municipal department who provide services on an as needed basis. When such occurs, the responding fire department normally provides those services without compensation."

In other words, David Wilds is a cold-hearted prick who simply chose not to do the right thing. Case closed. Also, although I can't find a reliable source, apparently Obion County firefighters must respond to calls, regardless of whether the $75.00 fee was paid or not. This story should never have made local news, other than firefighters were dispatched to put out a fire at the Cranick residence.

Anyway, I'm proud to live in a country where citizens in financially distressed areas are forced to pay a subscription fee in order to enjoy safety and security when it should be assumed as a common service to all, regardless of income.

Read more about Beck's so-called "charity" here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Take the religious knowledge survey!

The results of a recent survey by the Pew Research Center reveal something that we've known all along: atheists know more about Christianity and world religions than most Christians. Not surprising. What really busts me up is that nearly half of the evangelicals who took the survey apparently have no clue who Job is.

You can take the survey here. You can read the phone interview version of the survey here.

My results reveal that I know more than 87% of those who took the survey, scoring 12 out of 15 or 80%. I missed 4, 14 and 15. I'm a little disappointed. Also, it seems that Muslims were not involved in the survey.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nice try, John.

First things first - I love you, honey, but I have to do this.

Now that that's out of the way, how stupid does John Ratzinger, a.k.a, Pope Benedict XVI, think atheists, agnostics, deists, and other freethinkers are?

If you've missed the latest papal news, Ratzinger tried in vain to equate atheism with Nazism, even going so far to say that atheism lead to the Holocaust in an attempt rid the world of God. Apparently, Ratzinger never heard of a book that Adolf Hitler wrote, entitled "Mein Kampf". In it, Hitler stated "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By Warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord's work."

Here are some more quotes that Ratzinger might want to pay attention to:

"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." - 1941

"I would like here to appeal to a greater than I, Count Lerchenfeld. He said in the last session of the Landtag that his feeling 'as a man and a Christian' prevented him from being an anti-Semite. I say: My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison." - 1922

"The greatness of Christianity did not lie in attempted negotiations for compromise with any similar philosophical opinions in the ancient world, but in its inexorable fanaticism in preaching and fighting for its own doctrine." - Mein Kampf

"I have followed the Church in giving our party program the character of unalterable finality, like the Creed. The Church has never allowed the Creed to be interfered with. It is fifteen hundred years since it was formulated, but every suggestion for its amendment, every logical criticism, or attack on it, has been rejected. The Church has realized that anything and everything can be built up on a document of that sort, no matter how contradictory or irreconcilable with it. The faithful will swallow it whole, so long as logical reasoning is never allowed to be brought to bear on it." - Mein Kampf

Sorry, John. It doesn't sound like Hitler was an atheist to me.

Since we're quoting Nazis, let's throw another in for good measure:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the policital, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

Actually, what I really think Ratzinger is afraid of is people learning about the true history of the Church and its complicity with the Nazis as they murdered over 6 million Jews. Either that or he's still hoping that people will forget that he was a Nazi himself.

Anyway, nice try, John. Continue living your lavish life clothed in the finest linens and silk while sitting in a throne made of gold. Personally, you disgust me like few people can.

In related news, Christine O'Donnell, the new darling of the Teabaggers, stated that she wouldn't lie to protect Jews from Nazis. Apparently, telling the truth means more to her than saving the lives of innocent people. During a recent appearance on Bill Maher's show, she stated the following:

"I believe if I were in that situation, God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously. I believe that! ... You never have to practice deception. God always provides a way out."

Which, of course, begs the obvious question; did your god provide a way out for the millions of Jews who were being gassed and incinerated, Christine? Could you stand there listening to Jews screaming to God to save their lives as the skin melted from their flesh with a clean conscience because you couldn't tell even a little white lie to save them?

Learn more about Christine's extremely fragile mental health here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Amendment under attack - Christian style!

The First Amendment is under attack again, and as usual, it is the usual suspects who are doing the attacking; the Texas Board of Education. When are the troglodytes in this braindead organization going to go away?

It's not enough that they hate science for the sake of dogma and want to change history. Now they want to alter the way religion is covered in social studies text books throughout Texas. Apparently, textbooks talk way too much about Islam, and not enough about Christianity. They've even gone so far as to threaten textbook publishers with the following warning:
"State Board of Education will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world's major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."
In other words, write only page after page of rosy material about Christianity, but damn you to hell if you write even one word Islam that is anything but negative. The most telling aspect of this whole thing is that no one on the board has been able to offer any kind of evidence that Islam receives preferential treatment over Christianity in any textbook.

Perhaps what goons like Don McLeroy are truly frightened of are the Founders who identified themselves as anything but Christian. Perhaps the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, states it best that: "The Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Also, I think McLeroy and his clones should be reminded that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." That includes members of the public school boards, Mr. McLeroy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

BFSP - 2010

I haven't posted anything on the Black Forest Star Party this year, so I thought I'd jump on that before I forget.

First off, for those of you who are concerned that if you don't get to Cherry Springs by no later than noon on Friday you won't get a decent spot, you can forget that myth. Mario Andretti had nothing on me as I tried to get there ahead of the crowd, but when I got there I found that there was barely a spot open; people had been there since Monday, September 6th. Don't speed on your way to Cherry Springs for the BFSP because it won't matter and it's not worth it. But it is a fun drive!

Now that that's out of the way, I have a message for you smokers out there. Yes, smoking is permitted at Cherry Springs, but you inconsiderate smokers out there really piss me off. Is it too much to ask for you to not smoke in high traffic areas like the vendors tents, dining area, and door prize room? I had to leave several times because of the smoke. I know that doesn't bother you in the least, but for next year's BFSP please be considerate of the vast majority who do not smoke, and find some secluded area to partake your nasty habit.

Other than this, there was still a few of you who just don't give a flying rat's rear end about park rules. Since Cherry Springs is a state park, that means that no alcoholic beverages are permitted. Nor are you allowed to bring your dog. Yet, some of you still insist on open containers in your vehicles, which is a crime in Pennsylvania. I love dogs a good beer like anyone else, but leave them at home when you go to Cherry Springs.

Aside from these things, BFSP was acceptable this year. Friday night's viewing was very good, but Saturday went down hill as clouds rolled in.

Here are some pics from some of the more outstanding scopes this year. This one, a Takahashi TOA-130 refractor, is my favorite.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Farewell, Jack.

The world of amateur astronomy took a pretty hard hit on Friday at the passing of Jack Horkheimer. Jack was perhaps most popular for his PBS series, the Star Gazer, formerly Star Hustler. He helped popularize, or better yet, returned amateur astronomy to "naked-eye" astronomy.

Personally, I'll miss Jack. I found him shortly after David introduced me to astronomy, and I made it a point to watch him as often as I could.

Thanks, Jack, for all you've done, and bringing astronomy to the masses.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

For your consideration

For once, no politics, beating down the doors of religion, or the incessant barking of a lunatic in some town, smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania. No swearing or long-winded diatribes. Nothing more than something for you to consider.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What more should we expect?

You may have heard recently that right-wing cretin, Newt Gingrich, released a book in which he claims he has moral high ground over the rest of us because he has God on his side. Keep in mind, this is the same man (using the term very loosely) who cheated on his first wife and summarily left her when she was bed-ridden with cancer. He went on to marry that woman, only to cheat on her as well with his current wife, Calista Bisek.

Fast forward to August 10 - Esquire magazine published a scorching tell-all about Newt from his second wife.

In an interview with Christianity Today in April of last year, Newt said "The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage..." Two failed marriages filled with infidelity. Moral high ground? Oh, I don't think so.

If you're a Christian or even a Republican, can you vote for this man next November with a clean conscience? Luckily for Newt, most conservative Christians are quick to sweep dirty little secrets under the rug.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Save the date!

Meet Harold Camping. Harold is the founder of Family Radio and host of Open Forum, which you can listen to weeknights at 88.3 FM here in State College if you want a good laugh.

Harold is an elderly fellow with a soft voice and gentle demeanor. That is, until you give him grief about his belief that the Rapture is to take place on May 21, 2011, and that the world will end on October 21 the same year. Give him any sass or question his sanity, and the gloves come off.

Even most Christians think this guy is a clown. Albeit, a clown who thinks he's genuinely doing the right thing, but a clown, nevertheless.

A challenge for Mr. Camping: if you're so sure that the Rapture is set to take place on May 21 next year, I want you to send all of your money to my Paypal account on May 20th. If not that, then on May 22, 2011, I want you to give all of the money back to everyone you ever duped into believing your crap.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Surprise! Well, not really.

More hypocrisy and double standards from Wiley Drake.

You may recall that Wiley Drake is the Bible-thumping sleezebag that loves to pray for the deaths of those who have a difference of opinion, whether it's politics, health care reform, religious affiliation, or more specifically, abortion. He tried to credit himself for the death of George Tiller, and indirectly credit himself for the death of John Murtha. However, he has been kind enough to call off his imprecatory prayer hit on President Obama recently. That is, until he supposedly reveals that the president is actually Kenyan.

You may also recall that Robert Byrd died last month. Since Byrd was a known racist, pro-choice, and even supported partial-birth abortion, you would think that Drake would have called down lightning, locusts, hail, fire, brimstone, and a kitchen sink for good measure to try to send him on an express elevator to hell. Instead, Drake attempted to take credit for getting him into heaven.

You can understand my confusion, Wiley. You take credit for the deaths of other senators and congressman, and even call for a divine hit on all the Democrats in Congress for trying to give aid to Americans who otherwise can't afford it due to corporate greed. But you try to score brownie points with God by praying for someone who's a known racist to get them into heaven?

Very telling, Wiley. Very telling.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Update: Yes, Mark, you are a moron.

Well, it wasn't even more than a span of an evening before the commentary I left at Mark William's blog was deleted.

Poor Mark. I can't imagine what it must be like to be so smug in his sense of superiority, thinking everyone else is a complete numbskull, when he couldn't find his own ass with both hands.

For you teabaggers who revere this man, please observe the screen captures below:

And just today, I delivered another response and got the same result:

The truth hurts, Mark, but you might want to embrace it every once in a while.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yes, Mark, you are a moron.

At one time, I considered myself a bit of a libertarian, and in someways I suppose I still am. Lately, I've becoming increasingly leery, even frightened, of the type of libertarian who advocates personal freedom at any cost. But I'm simply annoyed by the type of libertarian who lays the problems of all mankind at the feet of government, without even lifting a finger to do any research on any topic.

Enter Mark Williams - libertarian, teabagger, and organizer of Tea Party Express.

I was listening to the Thom Hartmann program today on the way home from work. His guest was none other than Mark Williams, who took exception to a tax on tanning beds to help pay for HR 3962. Mark took special exception because he suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and uses a tanning bed to treat his condition, and thinks that not only does it unfairly tax whites who to trying to get a tan, but those who suffer from SAD as well. But if that weren't enough, Mark goes on to say that this tax is an attack on white people by Barack Obama, who Mark calls the "Racist-in-Chief".

Mark says on his blog, "Never once have I ever seen a genetically brown or black person use an indoor tanning facility."

What?! Black people don't go to tanning facilities? Shocking!

I spent little more than five minutes researching the tax in question, and learned that people like Mark will not be subject to tanning bed tax, after all. The IRS website reveals the details of the tanning bed tax:
"A 10-percent excise tax on indoor UV tanning services goes into effect on July 1, 2010. The tax doesn't apply to phototherapy performed by a licensed medical professional on his or her premises."
Anyway, listen to Mark make an utter fool of himself as Thom hands his rear end to him. Hit play:

And yes, Mark - the Tea Party movement reeks of racism:

By the way, nice little picture you got there, Mark. A bit like the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think, Mark?

No pun intended.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Swastikas and Iron Crosses

I'm a bit of a symbology buff. I'm no Robert Langdon, but I enjoy studying the topic. Symbols can be found in everything from religion to the military, from academics to corporate identity - our lives are permeated with them.

Anyway, I spent part of Independence Day weekend in Erie with my family. We stopped by Sara's on Presque Isle, when I happened to notice the woman sitting at opposite end of our table. She was a biker, and there's nothing wrong with that. But what bothered me about her was the hat she was wearing. It was covered in iron crosses.

Here's a little history on the Iron Cross.

The man pictured below also wore iron crosses:

The man pictured above loved iron crosses so much that he gave them as decorations to select members of his military and civilians who supported it. The man pictured above also had a penchant for swastikas. Swastikas were around long before the man in the picture was born. It was a solar symbol and good luck charm, and remains so in some eastern cultures today. But the one on the man's arm above was viewed by those who wore them as the Black Sun, the opposite of light.

But enough about swastikas. Back to the iron cross.

Iron crosses have become very popular in modern culture as of late. Not only can they be found in biker clothing, but they can also be found in Christian apparel and churches, too:

So, the question I have to ask is, if you wear one of these...

Would you also wear one of these...

And wear it with a clean conscience?

Just something for you hardcore Christians and bikers to think about. Shame on Germany for still using the iron cross as part of the symbol of their military.

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's just soccer, Glenn. Get over it.

Glenn Beck hates soccer. So says, Glenn:

"It doesn't matter how you sell it to us. It doesn't matter how many celebrities you get. It doesn't matter how many bars open early. It doesn't matter how many beer commercials they run. We don't want the World Cup. We don't like the World Cup. We don't like soccer. We want nothing to do with it. You can package it any way -- you can spend all kinds of money. You can force it on our television sets. We will not enjoy the World Cup."

"I don't get the baseball thing, but the soccer thing, I hate it so much -- probably because the rest of the world likes it so much, and they riot over it, and they continually try to jam it down our throat."

No one's trying to force anything down your throat, Glenn. (Insert joke here____.)

Once again, Glenn failed to look at the facts before he opened up his fat yap. Of course, soccer isn't as popular in the US as football and baseball are, but that doesn't mean that soccer has no fans here. But this really has nothing to do with sports, and Glenn knows it. It has everything to do with what Glenn views as a multi-cultural, international threat on his idea of American culture. In reality, this has much more to do with the fact that Glenn couldn't hustle his fat ass up and down a field for 90 minutes, or even 2 for that matter. Therefore, Glenn simply views it as a threat to his self-perceived manhood, so he has to make up for his tender ego by lashing out at the rest of the world and soccer fans worldwide.

So, here's a tip for Glenn Beck, his braindead clones, and everyone else who hates soccer - if you don't want to watch it, turn your television off.

If the US wins the World Cup, how much would you like to bet that Glenn won't display even the smallest ounce of more feigned patriotism?

Listen to Glenn rant below.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Okay, seriously, Gary...

By now you may have heard about Gary Faulkner, the Rambo wannabe who has his heart set on the capture and/or death of Osama bin Laden. He left the US to go to Afghanistan to find the OBL after being fed up by the failure of the US military to find and kill him. So Faulkner, being a Christian, boarded a plane with nothing more than a Bible and plastic handcuffs.

After arriving in Pakistan on June 3rd, he was escorted to a hotel where he was being detained, but he slipped out of the hotel unnoticed by authorities. Then he was summarily arrested by said authorities. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying a sword, a sidearm, and, of course, more Christian fundie writings.

Now, I can appreciate the eagerness to take on the poster boy for fundamentalist terrorism, but this is beyond laughable. Now millions of would-be patriotic Americans are hailing this clown as a hero.

Gary, if you're reading this, just what are you trying to prove? How do you think you're going to get OBL even when the most powerful military force on the planet has so far failed? How do you plan on getting through OBL's entourage with nothing more than a sidearm and a sword? Please come to your senses and go back home to your family and friends.

Personally, I think OBL is either dead or sipping a pina colada on some island right under our noses.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My new ride

I finally upgraded my bike from a 2001 Specialized Hard Rock to Redline's D440. This is a huge step up from my old ride. Lighter, easier to handle, and easier over rough terrain. That is once all the necessary adjustments were made.

Maiden voyage took place today at Rothrock State Forest. Blood was spilled and my legs have that familiar feeling - spaghetti.

Thanks to Jordyn and Justin at Freeze Thaw for taking care of me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yet more right-wing violence

You right-wingers with your religion and your guns. Silly rabbits!

Yep, even more violence from right-wing, religious nuts was being planned across Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. These guys were planning on killing law enforcement agents by the dozens. That is, until the FBI caught wind of what they were up to and put the kibosh on their plans.

Wait, let me guess. These would-be assassins weren't really Christians, right?

Let me ask you something. If a Muslim attempts to blow up a marketplace at the busiest time of day but was captured just before the event took place, and another Muslim says to you, "He/she was never really a Muslim,"would you believe them? Of course you wouldn't. Besides, their justification for their actions can be found in the Qur'an, right?

Why then, whenever a Christian murders a child for suspected witchcraft you simply shrug it off by saying the braindead mantra, "They were never Christians"? Chew on that for a while.

What I find amusing about these terrorist scumbags is that they were supposedly fighting against tyranny, only to tuck their tails between their legs and surrender at the first sign of an FBI badge. Courageous. Riiiiiiight.

Again, you clowns on the right have the audacity to be offended by the fact that the DHS revealed you for the terrorist thugs you are? Please. You know no shame or honor.

Are you listening, Mr. Beck? Are you paying attention to the news? How does it make you feel that your clones are taking up arms with the intention of killing law enforcement agents by the dozens? At least be honest with yourself, Glenn. You couldn't give a shit about the average American who's struggling to make ends meet. You're swimming in so much money that the term "health care" is absolutely meaningless to you. You couldn't care less about freedom, nor the safety of Americans, let alone health care. Eh, fuck them. Right, Glenn? Sink or swim. Right, Glenn? It's all about ratings, after all.

Keep beating that hornet's nest, Glenn. The more innocent people die at the hands of far right-wing lunatics, the more bloody your hands become.

As for you losers who think you're heroes by running around in the woods with an AR-15 in your hands, you're nothing but pondscum hiding behind the mask of religion. Have fun in jail, losers.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Update: Tea Party protestors show their true colors

Just as I predicted last Sunday, not only did the right-wing nutjobs at Fox News not condemn the racist attacks by some teabaggers toward some members of the Congressional Black Caucus on March 20th, they simply denied these events ever happened.

Before I go on I have to make a disclaimer. I don't have the time nor the ability to listen to the right-wing pundits like Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity on a daily basis, so there is a possibility that they could have condemned them but I missed it. And to be honest, the only reason I ever do give them a listen is to keep my anger for right-wing jackassery burning bright. Besides, unlike the aforementioned, I actually work for a living.

Anyway, I've searched for the better part of an hour today for any evidence that right-wing talking heads actually condemned the hate-fest that took part last week. I haven't been able to find anything. The best they can do is brush aside events from the 20th while reminding us that members of the far left often take part in violent activities. Meanwhile, during last night's "O'Reilly Factor" Laura Ingraham said that there was no evidence that anyone spit on Emanuel Cleaver on March 20th.

Fair and balanced, huh?

And what does Limbaugh have to say? "Let me ask you a question. When is the last time you can recall a bunch of conservatives having a riot?" They don't have to have a riot, Rush. They just blow off cops' heads off with an AK-47.

Republicans are crying foul against progressives and Democrats after a bullet went through a window in Eric Cantor's office in Richmond, VA. Cantor said that he was "directly threatened". As it turns out, the bullet was errant, and not intentionally fired into Cantor's office. Time will tell if he does the right thing and apologizes. Meanwhile, House Democrats continue to be the target of violence and hatred. Applause to John Boehner for condemning such violence.

In related news, hoards of the gun-toting fearful will arrive in D.C. on April 19th, of all days. Nice timing, guys. What possible outcome you clowns are hoping to achieve is way beyond me.

Stay tuned.