Quote of the Day – Leo Tolstoy

17 01 2010

Patriotism … for rulers is nothing else than a tool for achieving their power-hungry and money-hungry goals, and for the ruled it means renouncing their human dignity, reason, conscience, and slavish submission to those in power. … Patriotism is slavery.

- Leo Tolstoy





Darwin Bio Pic too Controversial for U.S.

14 09 2009

creation_1479638c

The new film “Creation” has yet to find a distributor in the United States.

The Telegraph says:

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.

Wowzers.  Only 39% of Americans believe in evolution?  What is it about education that scares so many Americans?  Maybe it is just easier to believe whatever the book says – typical lazy American idiots.

I hope the movie gets released here because I want to see it.  I also hope it gets released here because that would show that at least one company isn’t too scared of the nut jobs to release a simple bio pic.





Dysfunction’s Role in Religion

28 08 2009

From Newsweek (believe it or not):

In brief, the number of American non-believers has doubled since 1990, a 2008 Pew survey found, and increased even more in some other advanced democracies. What’s curious is not so much the overall decline of belief (which has caused the Vatican to lament the de-Christianization of Europe) as the pattern. In a paper last month in the online journal Evolutionary Psychology, Gregory Paul finds that countries with the lowest rates of social dysfunction—based on 25 measures, including rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, unemployment, and poverty—have become the most secular. Those with the most dysfunction, such as Portugal and the U.S., are the most religious, as measured by self-professed belief, church attendance, habits of prayer, and the like.

What is also disturbing about this is that the US is considered a country with more dysfunction.





The Necessity of Cable News Quacks

18 08 2009

When one thinks of people like Glenn Beck, Keith Olberman, Bill O’Reily, and Rush Limbaugh, one often finds oneself wanting to stab ice picks in one’s ears. These people are commentators, not newsmen, but this distinction is not understood by a lot of people.

But let’s imagine a world in which these vitriolic opinionated ass-hats didn’t exist.  It would be a world of reporting only the facts.  “People gathered outside the capitol today and protested the legality of President Obama’s birth certificate.”  “Some republicans are upset about the death panels that would be created under the congress’ health care reform bill.”

The point is that there are some truly crazy people out there and perhaps it takes some crazy people to cover them.  I’ve seen the so called serious news cover these events and with only a few exceptions they are far more interested in not offending anyone that they don’t say anything at all.  They’re afraid that if they point out that there is no way that Obama isn’t a citizen they’ll be accused of being left wing and biased.  The right has embraced so many lies that it is impossible to report the truth without appearing to be leftist.

When we have actual US Congressmen (I’m looking at you, Michele Bachmann) who think that the census leads to internment camps, who receives huge amount of campaign donations from the insurance companies and proceeds to act as their puppet, who has consistently worked to incite violence against those who oppose her, who thinks CO2 is natural and therefore harmless to the environment, and who thinks  that we need to go through and purge the congress of all of those with what she has determined to be “anti-american” philosophies – why shouldn’t we have crazy people on tv talking about them?

Until we start electing serious people there will be no possibility of serious news.  This is not to say that there are not good news sources out there, and it is not to say that all cable news commentators were created equal.  But it is to say that the serious news should spend less time complaining about the so-called “fake” newsmen on cable news and start complaining more about the “fake” people who are deciding our fate.

57558631-oreilly





Orly Taitz – Lawyer, Dentist, Real-estate Agent, and Crazy Person

3 08 2009

Orly Taitz – Lawyer, Dentist, Real-estate Agent, and crazy person.

I’ll give MSNBC that it is entertaining – but it is hardly news or news – worthy.  Let’s just drop it.





Chief Justice Roberts – Model Conservative

18 05 2009

From the New Yorker:

In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.  Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.

This is a very interesting and frightening article by Jeffrey Toobin, exploring John Roberts’ career so far as Chief Justice.  It’s a thoughtful article about Roberts and well worth the read.





Camping with Jesus

7 05 2009

So I’ll admit it – in 1990 I was a cub scout.  I recently stumbled upon my old ‘Wolf’ book and found something that I have no recolection of – the section about a cub scout’s duty to god:

Here is the Boy Scout of America website that details how and why they don’t let atheists be boyscouts.

More scans after the jump . . .

Read the rest of this entry »





Expelled – Ben Stein’s Pro Creationist “Documentary”

22 03 2009

So I got Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed from Netflix.  I’m watching it as I write this.  The beginning is what you would expect, a long and tedious trek to find professors who have been shunned for expressing support of intelligent design.  A lot of ignorance about what evolution actually is, and a lot of pointing out that ID has good points (without ever actually making them so we can judge for ourselves how good they are).  But the best part so far is the long bit about Nazi Germany and eugenics.  What place do the Nazis have in this “documentary”?  Evidently the Nazis became Nazis because they were Darwinists.  Stein also manages to imply that Planned Parenthood is an organization guided by the principles of eugenics!

Stein spends a lot of time talking about how it isn’t the American way to suppress a viewpoint – we are the land of freedom and inclusiveness.  What he never does is make an argument of why we should listen to ID.  What is the evidence?  He says it is just as valid but never bothers to show us why.

And that is because its a bunch of bullshit.





New Mexico Bans Death Penalty

19 03 2009

Humane

From the Huffinton Post:

SANTA FE, N.M. — Gov. Bill Richardson signed legislation Wednesday repealing New Mexico’s death penalty, making it the second state to ban executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

There was a time when I was a supporter of the death penalty.  But now we must realize that the death penalty is only viable when it is used by an infallible system.  No system will ever be infallible.

I’m also not convinced anymore that the death penalty is moral even within our theoretical perfect justice system.  I believe in rehabilitation instead of punishment.  Surely a society is judged by how it treats the worst of itself – and mayhaps we should keep that in mind.





Beyond the Gates – Rwanda Genocide at its Finest

2 03 2009

Last weekend I received the film Beyond the Gates from Netflix.  I watched, I laughed, I cried.  Except for the laughed part.  Based on a true story this film was an amazing eye opener.  No matter how much you know about Rwanda in 1995, what happened there is something you can never really get your mind around.  I highly recomend this film as both a history lesson and a study of what people are capable of.  I don’t know how I missed it when it came out to theatres, but I’m glad that I didn’t miss it on DVD.





Israel Bombs Gaza, Bush Blames Hamas

30 12 2008

Sure, Hamas has fired some rockets into Israel – but it is hard to claim Hamas is the one not upholding the ceasefire as you’re bombing them.  So far over 300 dead and an Israeli minister claims they’re not going to stop until they’ve proved to Hamas it isn’t worth it to fight.  Eesh.

And surprise surprise, the US is taking Israel’s side.  It doesn’t really matter which side is on the right (neither is) but since we gave Israel their weapons, it looks better if we support them.





Hans Rosling on Making Data Accessible

4 08 2008

Here’s another fascinating talk from Ted Talks:





Religious Statistics in the United States

26 02 2008

  The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has a new report out which reveals some interesting trends in the American religious landscape.

Here are some interesting survey highlights:

  • - Men are significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation. Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13% of women.
  • - Among people who are married, nearly four-in-ten (37%) are married to a spouse with a different religious affiliation. (This figure includes Protestants who are married to another Protestant from a different denominational family, such as a Baptist who is married to a Methodist.) Hindus and Mormons are the most likely to be married (78% and 71%, respectively) and to be married to someone of the same religion (90% and 83%, respectively).
  • - Mormons and Muslims are the groups with the largest families; more than one-in-five Mormon adults and 15% of Muslim adults in the U.S. have three or more children living at home.
  • - The Midwest most closely resembles the religious makeup of the overall population. The South, by a wide margin, has the heaviest concentration of members of evangelical Protestant churches. The Northeast has the greatest concentration of Catholics, and the West has the largest proportion of unaffiliated people, including the largest proportion of atheists and agnostics.
  • - Of all the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black Americans are the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Even among those blacks who are unaffiliated, three-in-four belong to the “religious unaffiliated” category (that is, they say that religion is either somewhat or very important in their lives), compared with slightly more than one-third of the unaffiliated population overall.
  • - Nearly half of Hindus in the U.S., one-third of Jews and a quarter of Buddhists have obtained post-graduate education, compared with only about one-in-ten of the adult population overall. Hindus and Jews are also much more likely than other groups to report high income levels.
  • - People not affiliated with any particular religion stand out for their relative youth compared with other religious traditions. Among the unaffiliated, 31% are under age 30 and 71% are under age 50. Comparable numbers for the overall adult population are 20% and 59%, respectively.
  • By contrast, members of mainline Protestant churches and Jews are older, on average, than members of other groups. Roughly half of Jews and members of mainline churches are age 50 and older, compared with approximately four-in-ten American adults overall.
  • In sharp contrast to Islam and Hinduism, Buddhism in the U.S. is primarily made up of native-born adherents, whites and converts. Only one-in-three American Buddhists describe their race as Asian, while nearly three-in-four Buddhists say they are converts to Buddhism.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious tradition. Only 37% of all those who say they were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses still identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Members of Baptist churches account for one-third of all Protestants and close to one-fifth of the total U.S. adult population. Baptists also account for nearly two-thirds of members of historically black Protestant churches.

This is a huge report and has a lot of information in it, so I highly suggest taking a look at it.  I’ll break down some of the info, with my analysis, in the coming days.





Quote of the Day – Fidel Castro

20 02 2008

They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?

-Fidel Castro





Ron Paul’s Bigotry

8 01 2008

Ever heard of Ron Paul?  No, not the politician, the guy who claimed that MLK was a pedophile.  Yeah, that Ron Paul.  What?  They’re the same guy?  You don’t say . . .

 According to The New Republic Ron Paul has written a lot of newsletters, and a lot of bullshit:

Martin Luther King Jr. earned special ire from Paul’s newsletters, which attacked the civil rights leader frequently, often to justify opposition to the federal holiday named after him. (“What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!” one newsletter complained in 1990. “We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.”) In the early 1990s, a newsletter attacked the “X-Rated Martin Luther King” as a “world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours,” “seduced underage girls and boys,” and “made a pass at” fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy. One newsletter ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New York City after King, suggesting that “Welfaria,” “Zooville,” “Rapetown,” “Dirtburg,” and “Lazyopolis” were better alternatives. The same year, King was described as “a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration.”

While bashing King, the newsletters had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. In a passage titled “The Duke’s Victory,” a newsletter celebrated Duke’s 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Republican Senate primary. “Duke lost the election,” it said, “but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment.” In 1991, a newsletter asked, “Is David Duke’s new prominence, despite his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?” The conclusion was that “our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom.” Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.

Like blacks,gays earn plenty of animus in Paul’s newsletters. They frequently quoted Paul’s “old colleague,” Representative William Dannemeyer–who advocated quarantining people with AIDS–praising him for “speak[ing] out fearlessly despite the organized power of the gay lobby.” In 1990, one newsletter mentioned a reporter from a gay magazine “who certainly had an axe to grind, and that’s not easy with a limp wrist.” In an item titled, “The Pink House?” the author of a newsletter–again, presumably Paul–complained about President George H.W. Bush’s decision to sign a hate crimes bill and invite “the heads of homosexual lobbying groups to the White House for the ceremony,” adding, “I miss the closet.” “Homosexuals,” it said, “not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.” When Marvin Liebman, a founder of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom and a longtime political activist, announced that he was gay in the pages of National Review, a Paul newsletter implored, “Bring Back the Closet!” Surprisingly, one item expressed ambivalence about the contentious issue of gays in the military, but ultimately concluded, “Homosexuals, if admitted, should be put in a special category and not allowed in close physical contact with heterosexuals.”

Wow.  That’s what I call your words coming back and biting you in the ass.  Not in a gay way, obviously, but in a more straight, white, embarrassment to the human race kind of way.

I’d be interested to hear Ron Paul respond to these accusations.

Update -

Ron Paul’s response can be read here.  Thanks Thomas!

The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed.  I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.








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