BEEPS AND BLIPS FROM OUTERSPACE
NYR: AGE OF IGNORANCE
quotation"In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to him. No more. Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as "Real Americans"defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites. The press interviews them and reports their opinions seriously without pointing out the imbecility of what they believe. The hucksters, who manipulate them for the powerful financial interests, know that they can be made to believe anything, because, to the ignorant and the bigoted, lies always sound better than truth:
Christians are persecuted in this country.
The government is coming to get your guns.
Obama is a Muslim.
Global Warming is a hoax.
The president is forcing open homosexuality on the military.
Schools push a left-wing agenda.
Social Security is an entitlement, no different from welfare.
Obama hates white people.
The life on earth is 10,000 years old and so is the universe.
The safety net contributes to poverty.
The government is taking money from you and giving it to sex-crazed college women to pay for their birth control.
One could easily list many more such commonplace delusions believed by Americans. They are kept in circulation by hundreds of right-wing political and religious media outlets whose function is to fabricate an alternate reality for their viewers and their listeners. “Stupidity is sometimes the greatest of historical forces,” Sidney Hook said once. No doubt. What we have in this country is the rebellion of dull minds against the intellect. That’s why they love politicians who rail against teachers indoctrinating children against their parents’ values and resent the ones who show ability to think seriously and independently. Despite their bravado, these fools can always be counted on to vote against their self-interest. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is why millions are being spent to keep my fellow citizens ignorant."--Charles Simic (NYR Blog)
POSTED 2012-04-02 11:30:41 CATEGORY LITERATURE POLITICS RELIGION SCIENCE TAGS GOP IDIOCRACY ROME IS ON FIRE STUPID THERE IS NO HOPE
PRESIDENTIAL OIL PAINTING: THE FORGOTTEN MAN
This is an interesting oil painting by McNaughton of all the United States Presidents in distress over the treatment of US citizens and the Bill of Rights by the current president, Obama.  Click the painting to see zoomable highlights for individual presidents.

The Forgotten Man

Although, the author lightly criticizes President George W Bush, he is obviously biased when he puts Reagan next to the great US presidents, Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Madison...What has Reagan done to warrant this worship?  Nothing.Reagan was the beginning of the start of a massive rift between the wealthy and the dwindling middle class.  See this evidence in picture form.Also, it makes me wonder if the painter stresses Madison because of his role in drafting the constitution or if the painter has an obvious religious agenda and bias.  The more I look into his works it is painfully obvious the painter is a Republican Bible Thumper.  These types of people are frightening and harmful to society.  Soldiers fighting for God???  What is this, Afghanistan?Too bad the painter doesn't realize, Madison was one of the biggest proponents of Separation of Church and State.  Religious people in the US are mindless and should pick up a book.  Most of them barely even read the bible and when they do they don't even pay attention to it or realize everything in it is a rehash of previous mythology.  Ignorance be damned!
"Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together...We are teaching the world the great truth that Govts. do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Govt."- letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822 by James Madison (source)
Regardless, the painting is interesting in that it shows the burden the memory of previous presidents makes on the current president.  However, I feel dirty linking to a painter that is extremely misguided.proceed to the gallery.
POSTED 2012-01-30 11:25:55 CATEGORY ART POLITICS RELIGION TAGS BIBLE THUMPER IGNORANCE MADISON OBAMA
BOOK: THE ATHEIST'S GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS
The Atheist's Guide to ChristmasThe Atheist's Guide to Christmas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm very happy to have read this book. It has helped me formulate my own opinion on the holiday and it was entertaining enough to have me laughing out loud.

It is a very easygoing book that both someone labeled an atheist and someone considered religious (but innocently curious about non-believers) would enjoy.

Thank God Borders closed down and only had this book on the shelves when they had a going-out-of-business-sale.you can get a copy for $6 at Amazon.
POSTED 2012-01-08 09:24:17 CATEGORY PHILOSOPHY RELIGION TAGS ATHEIST BOOK CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY
LUCRETIUS: MODERN THOUGHT FROM ANCIENT ROME
The following comes from a Roman man named Lucretius who lived over 2000 years ago.
... moving randomly through space, like dust motes in a sunbeam, colliding, hooking together, forming complex structures, breaking apart again, in a ceaseless process of creation and destruction. There is no escape from this process. ... There is no master plan, no divine architect, no intelligent design.

All things, including the species to which you belong, have evolved over vast stretches of time. The evolution is random, though in the case of living organisms, it involves a principle of natural selection. That is, species that are suited to survive and to reproduce successfully, endure, at least for a time; those that are not so well suited, die off quickly. But nothing — from our own species, to the planet on which we live, to the sun that lights our day — lasts forever. Only the atoms are immortal ...

His work barely survived Christian oppression, but it soon had a revival in the Renaissance and became a favorite of Machiavelli, Montaigne, Sir Thomas More and Thomas Jefferson.  Thomas Jefferson had 5 copies!Even the quote from above makes one wonder if Charles Darwin borrowed the bulk of his theory of Evolution and Natural Selection from Lucretius.What is even more spectacular is how Lucretius dismissed fantasy, mythology, and Gods (also known as the Nietzsche-ian "God is dead" proclamation) but went on to state it is not terrible or painful living without deceiving oneself.  He simply says, "look around, what is here is more than good. It's amazing and it's beautiful."The lack of meaning does not mean what you sense is any less amazing or awe inspiring.  If anything it is quite the contrary.Read the story on NPR.orgMake sure you read the transcript or listen to the program.I'm going to look into buying Lucretius' The Nature of Things.
POSTED 2011-09-25 11:28:24 CATEGORY RELIGION SCIENCE TAGS none
HOW THE MEDIA CONTROLS POLITICAL CANDIDATES
Here's Jon Stewart from the Daily Show showing how the media (liberal, conservative, or otherwise) is ignoring Ron Paul whom received a respectable amount of votes during the Iowa Straw Poll.  He was only short 1% of winning, yet no one on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC give any air time to Mr. Paul.No wonder he has such a difficult time getting large national support when he is treated unfairly by the media.It is obvious Mr. Paul is a threat to the Democrats and the Republicans.  Unlike other candidates Ron Paul has been known to not follow party lines and vote with his conscious especially when it comes to reform.  This is an absolute threat to the gravy train both parties have built for themselves over the past half century.I do welcome Ron Paul's new ideas and how he rocks the boat bringing attention to how government should be changed, but I don't back him fully.  He is far better than the majority of Republicans, but his solutions to governmental problems are not fully thought through.For example, he wants to audit the Federal Reserve then subsequently dismantle it.  The Fed does need scrutiny, but simply shutting it down is no solution.  We would lose the benefits the Fed provides even if we rid ourselves of the risks created by the powerful agency.Another of my beefs with Paul is his take on religion in America.  I am vehemently against religion in government (or religion anywhere for that matter) but I want to stress that the topic of religion isn't my one issue.  Yet, the topic separates the chafe from the wheat in regards to the comprehension of the US Constitution, US History, and whether a candidate supports the basic American principle of Freedom of Religion.Ron Paul claims to be a libertarian and a constitutional champion, yet he fails utterly when he claims:
"The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders' political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government's hostility to religion."--Ron Paul, 2003 - The War on Religion
It shows his lack of historical education and his lack of understanding of the founding fathers.  For my explanation of why this is so, see the Treaty of Tripoli or read an email I wrote to a relative on what I will teach my children.That being said, I would vote for Ron Paul over Rick Perry any day.  This comes from someone whom hasn't voted Republican for President ever and someone who was born and raised in Texas.Update (8/27/2011): One more reason why Ron Paul isn't a good candidate: Ron Paul doesn't believe in evolution.
POSTED 2011-08-27 11:13:38 CATEGORY POLITICS RELIGION TAGS none
WHAT I WILL TEACH MY CHILDREN
This is my response to a relative after receiving one of those "This is a Christian Nation" bulk emails.
I'm not going to convince you of anything. You're going to hold to whatever beliefs you want. You're unshakable; solid, like a stone.I'm just going to teach my children the following:The country, when founded, was primarily Christian. The founding fathers that drafted and wrote the foundation of our country were philosophers and deists (popular back then). They understood that to have a free country there will be no establishment of religion by the government. Sure; you can say that it is because the people that came to the continent 100 years before to escape religious prosecution (by the government and majority of people). This is probably the best argument for a separation of church and state. Just because the people back in the day were mostly Christian, it doesn't mean the government was.I will also provide my kids with this quote from Jefferson from the Treaty of Tripoli (Muslim nation): "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp)I will also teach my kids how to get along in a society of intolerance and how to deal with situations where money and the pledge of allegiance have references to religion. They won't think it's fair, but I'll explain that with prosperity and education the nation will eventually remove these old and unnecessary references to mythology.I'll also explain how other nations are mostly non-religious and are very prosperous. Japan is something like 12% religous and Europe is also very secular. Religion is not needed in government. It is quite the contrary. Religion in government is actually bad for nations. I'll explain how fundamentalist countries never prosper and are never successful.I'm not sure where I'll explain this to my children. I may be in a different country. I'm getting tired of people shitting on my country and throwing slop in the law books just to get a bonus point with some bullshit god. This country is getting stupid very quickly and it's not because of communism.
POSTED 2011-08-18 08:58:10 CATEGORY POLITICS RELIGION TAGS none
HYPOCRISY: AN AMERICAN THEOCRACY
Just as many condemn Muslim Sharia law in the United States, there is a pocket of fundamentalist Jews in Kiryas Joel located in upstate New York where the villagers erected a sign telling visitors to cover up and separate men and women.

Why isn't this in the world news?  The American double standard is alive and well.  Unlike others being too afraid to criticize the Jewish religion, I am not one to hold back.The taxi driver interviewed in the video parrots the cowardly appeasement stance by saying they have a right to do this and offended people should not be argued with.  He is simply wrong.  They have no right to do this and everyone is subject to argument.No religion can get away from criticism simply because it is a religion.  If a group is offended over personal freedom, they do not believe in the principles of democracy and human rights.  They are simply a threat to American principles, which have taken so long to be available to the majority (think Salem Witch Trials and that slavery issue).This doesn't mean they should be stripped of their freedom, which they are so apt to do.  They instead should be ready for the judicial repercussions of their narrow minded opinion and actions.  Not only that, groups like this should be targeted aggressively by state officials and incur a heavy penalty.If you haven't noticed, the Jewish and Muslim religions are not in my favor.  It is indeed vital to recognize the harm any and all religion has brought about the world.  So, do not give the benefit of the doubt or a free pass to anyone childish enough to continue to believe in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Zeus, Ra, etc...  They should be considered irrational, mentally unstable, and a threat to society.via Andrew Sullivan: The Dish
POSTED 2011-07-18 13:59:09 CATEGORY POLITICS RELIGION TAGS none
NO YOU ARE NOT DREAMING
Westboro Baptist Church and the KKKOver at Arlington Cemetery, the KKK has taken to counter-protesting the Westboro Baptist Church.  Full story at CNN.com.The Klan is opposed to WBC's position towards the military and WBC says the KKK has no moral grounds to oppose WBC.Whatever.  Both groups continue to use the civil rights they want to keep others from having.
POSTED 2011-06-01 10:11:01 CATEGORY RELIGION WTF TAGS none
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