Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Jim Downey's blog
Buddy of mine sent me a link to an excellent article that I'd missed. It's an opinion piece from the UK paper The Independent, and is trying to explain to the average Brit the hows and whys of the health care debate happening in this country. It's usually insightful to see how others see you, and this piece in particular is quite good. An excerpt:
Johann Hari: Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason
How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality?
* * *
Following up to this post, a news item:
MINNEAPOLIS – Continental Express Flight 2816 smelled like diapers. It had no food and a full toilet. Its 47 passengers had been stranded on a tarmac in southern Minnesota since after midnight.
"They are getting really upset — you know, with the plane," the captain told her dispatcher just before 3 a.m. on Aug. 8.
Recordings released Friday of conversations among the captain, dispatcher and staff for another airline at the Rochester, Minn., airport expose a breakdown that kept the plane sitting on the tarmac for almost six hours — for no clear reason — and triggered a Department of Transportation investigation.
I hadn't heard that the DoT was involved. Good for them. Anyway, here's some more from the news article:
the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s."
Seems like some Christians could stand to re-read their bible:
Two Florida school administrators face contempt charges and possible prison time for saying a prayer at a school luncheon.
Frank Lay, principal of Pace High School, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman are accused of violating a consent decree banning employees of Santa Rosa County schools from endorsing religion.
They face a non-jury trial September 17 before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. The statute under which they are charged carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison, subject to sentencing guidelines.
Of course, the folks at Liberty U, who are backing the accused, say that this is an infringement of their 1st Amendment rights:
Yeah, OK, I know I'm more cynical nowadays, but I think that even in my most charitable moods I would tend to see this as nothing more than a case of the Christian nuts being mercenary:
Citing a “serious budget shortfall” the conservative Christian group, Focus on the Family has been prompted to issue a special fundraising plea, and has also decided to hand over control of its contentious “Love Won Out” Ex-Gay program to another religious organization, a FotF spokesman said Tuesday.
Focus on the Family is looking at a $6 million short fall in its $138 million budget for this fiscal year- a budget larger than all national and regional gay-equality organizations combined.
From the Love Won Out website:
Republican mayoral candidate Anna Falling said Tuesday that putting a Christian creationism display in the Tulsa Zoo is No. 1 in importance among city issues that also include violent crime, budget woes and bumpy streets.
"It's first," she said to calls of "hallelujah" at a rally outside the zoo. "If we can't come to the foundation of faith in this community, those other answers will never come. We need to first of all recognize the fact that God needs to be honored in this city."
Falling, who has founded several Christian nonprofit groups and is a former city councilor, also said the next mayor needs to appoint people to boards, authorities and commissions who will "honor God."
"We will also look for people who want to characterize the origins of both man and animals in a way that honors Judeo-Christian science that proves God as the creator," she said.
Man, it must be nice that everything is so rosy in Tulsa that getting a creationism display in the local zoo is public priority #1.
OK, bad news first (though I'm sure some out there will see it otherwise): I'm not going to be posting as much here or on my own blog for the next couple of months.
The good news? Well, a publisher is interested in my novel, and I need to do some revisions. Not a lot, actually - they really like it - but it is work that needs a fair amount of attention.
And things were going to be a bit tight anyway, because I am pushing to get another book done in the same time frame.
And I have a ton of conservation work that needs doing (this is a very good thing, actually).
So, I need to back off on how much time I spend here and elsewhere online. I won't be disappearing altogether, but I will be around a lot less.
Keep fighting the good fight.
. . . why when I travel to Pittsburgh in a month, I'm willing to drive the 12 hours rather than fly:
Security and rules kept passengers confined all night in a small plane at Rochester due to thunderstorms.
When Link Christin boarded a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to the Twin Cities on Friday night, he expected to be on the ground in about three hours and ready for a comfy bed.
Instead, he was among 47 passengers who spent the night trapped inside a small airplane, parked at the Rochester airport, complete with crying babies and the aroma of over-used toilets.
* * *
The airline crew on the plane reached their maximum work hours in the air, so another crew had to be flown in. The alternative of chartering a bus didn't work out. And letting the passengers into the Rochester airport was not possible because they would have to go through security screening again, and the screeners had gone home for the day.
So, I'm curious - who here saw the movie Religulous, and what did you think?
I watched it last night (I had added it to my NetFlix queue some time back, it finally surfaced) for the first time. It was better than I feared it might be, since I'm not that big a fan of Bill Maher (he's OK in small doses). I liked that it wasn't all just him pointing and laughing at the absurdity of the different religious beliefs he looked at - rather, he'd let the advocates for those beliefs hang themselves, just prodding and poking enough to elicit a response.
Some of the editing decisions were uneven, and the choice to go with a Fahrenheit 9/11 - style "counterpoint" text during some of the segments seemed just too easy. But then, it was probably better to do that in an effort to communicate to a wider audience.
Gee, this is *so* surprising:
Atheist advertising signs on Des Moines Area Regional Transit buses that created a storm of controversy when they first went up on Aug. 1 have been taken down.
And what did these offensive, despicable, inflammatory advertisements say? Did they mock the absurdity of Zombie Jesus, or point out that the Mormon magical underwear was just silly? Did they cite conflicting verses of the Bible, or run a tally of how many people God killed in the Old Testament? Maybe show chanting kooks at soldier's funerals or members of the Taliban beheading some infidel?
Of course not.
What they did was say this: "Don't believe in God? You are not alone."
And then give the name of the group sponsoring the ads: Iowa Atheist and Free Thinkers. Here's their comment on the whole absurd thing:
Time now for another great episode of the Christian Crusader in "Huntin' Ragheads!":
To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.
Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."
OK, what the hell am I talking about? That the founder of The-mercenary-army-formerly-known-as-Blackwater (now called "Xe") was more 'dirty' than you may have suspected. From The Nation:
OK, I'm having a hard time believing this, good skeptic that I am:
Government wants more CCTV cameras in homes
Latest Home Office initiative wants to watch 20,000 problem families 24/7
The UK Government's Children's Secretary Ed Balls has announced a controversial new CCTV monitoring scheme, in which thousands of problem families are to be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Balls claims that the £400 million "sin bin" scheme will put up to 20,000 problem families under 24-hour surveillance in their own homes, to ensure children go to bed and school on time and eat proper meals.
"Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction," reads a report in the Sunday Express.
The other sources I find also link to the Express article, which can be seen here. Here's a bit from Wired:
I'm sure you all remember this case:
WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) -- A central Wisconsin man charged with killing his daughter by praying instead of taking her to a doctor read from the Bible while testifying Thursday that he couldn't seek medical help without disobeying God.
"I can't do that because Biblically, I cannot find that is the way people are healed," Dale Neumann told the jury. "If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God. I am not believing what he said he would do."
So, either the bible is wrong, God lied, or He doesn't exist.
But your daughter is still dead.
From the same article:
OK, everyone on the planet should know by now that the president is having a sit-down summit tomorrow, to have a beer with Cambridge police Sgt. Jim Crowley and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
But what you may not have heard was what kinds of beer each of the three men has already ordered.
In a stunning development revealed on NPR this afternoon, it was disclosed that President Obama will be having a Bud Light. (Lite? Gods, I don't drink that crap - why should I know how to spell it??)
I must admit, I thought the man had more taste than that. Oh well. Though I'm sure the GOP would get behind it, I can't really say it is grounds for impeachment.
But it made me wonder - if you were going to have a beer with the prez, what would *you* choose? C'mon, fess up!
I'd go with a local DC microbrew, if I could get a good rec from someone who lived there. Nice creamy dark ale. But if I had to pick a 'national' beer, I'd go with the New Belgium 1554.
Following up to the March revelation that the Bush Administration had concluded that it had the legal authority to effectively suspend civil liberties, comes a piece in the New York Times about how they almost used that authority in 2002:
Bush Weighed Using Military in Arrests
WASHINGTON — Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.
Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants.
Ah, nothing like a good ol' "ban & burn them EVIL books" news item to get the blood flowing in the morning. From CNN:
(CNN) -- A fight over books depicting sex and homosexuality has riled up a small Wisconsin city, cost some library board members their positions and prompted a call for a public book burning.
The battle has stirred much of West Bend, a city of roughly 30,000 people about 35 miles north of Milwaukee. Residents have sparred for months on blogs, airwaves and at meetings, including one where a man told the city's library director he should be tarred and feathered.
This is what happens when you let religion determine health policy:
Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush's evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US's major public health body.
OK, I must admit that I was a bit surprised to see a headline yesterday that the majority of Americans weren't even born at the time of the first Moon landing.
Damned kids are ruining everything!
Anyway, so, confession time for all you old farts: where were you when Neil took that 'one small step'?
I was at a Boy Scout camp in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. But fortunately, the camp operators made plans for this event, and the whole lot of us were sitting in a big arc watching a tiny little B&W television. Reception was miserable, the television screen was smaller than the monitor for my computer, and it seemed like I was about 150 feet away from the thing - but I got to see it happen, in real time.
How about you? Get to see it?
In a discussion with a friend today, I got this comment:
At least I'm not one of those youth pastors running around hitting on kids. No kidding - google "Youth Pastor Watch" sometime.
Just a bit ago, out of curiosity, I did.
I don't know whether this was something that Dan Savage started, or just a term/tag that he picked up and has popularized, but most of the hits lead to stuff he's written. Not that it matters, because either way it is a real problem. Sadly, it comes as no real surprise that this is so much a problem that it supports such ongoing attention.
Now, I don't have kids. And in spite of what it may seem from my posting here, I don't really give that much attention to religion (I've found it is better for my blood pressure that way). So it's not like I follow this particular pathology. Maybe you don't either. But can you honestly say that you are in the slightest bit surprised that the situation is what it is?
That's the problem with religion: good in theory, problematic at best in practice. Except even the theory isn't good.
Hat tip to the Doc Dude.