peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
It's generally bad. For example, take this painting, one shared by The Archdruid Himself:

Jesus, I want more!

That's Jesus presenting the Constitution to the American people, with various, more recognized Founders backing him. The lack of historicity this dreck presents is palpable. Quotes JMG:

I hope I don’t need to point out to any of my readers that the US constitution, that cautious tissue of half-resolved disputes and last-minute compromises, was not handed down by Jesus to the founding fathers, and that it’s even a bit insulting to suggest that a document needing so much revision and amendment down through the years could have come from an omniscient source. I also hope I don’t need to point out that most of the founding fathers shown clustered around Jesus in the painting were Deists who were deeply suspicious of organized religion—and of course then there’s Ben Franklin, skeptic, libertine, lapsed Quaker, and sometime member of the Hell-Fire Club, standing there with a beatific smile on his face, one hand over his heart, and the other doubtless hiding crossed fingers behind his back.

Still, it presents a starting point for parody. . . . )
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It's old, so I apologize if this is old news to you, but seriously, check out Chris Martenson's podcast interview with Frances Koster. Dr. Koster runs something called The Optimistic Futurist, where he documents efforts to improve food, energy and fuel security in ways that make local investments in one's community both profitable and of benefit to the community Seriously, this guy is everything [ profile] home_effinomic hopes to be!

For the poddy-device impaired, Chris provides a transcript! As an example of Teh Awesome, what would you, someone with money to invest and concerned about the old air conditioning unit in the local high school that keeps the power bills sky-high? The school district has no money to replace it, so why bother? Frances says,

An investor might for example go to the local school system and say I will fix the following nine buildings and I will loan you the money and you will pay it back to me out of a percentage of what you no longer pay the utility. And I also by the way get to keep the tax credits which you cannot use and get quite handsome rates of return while doing good for their local community – looking good at the Rotary Club and so on. These are enormously secure investments. You are not banking on a gold bubble or other volatile things; you are banking on the fact that energy prices are not going to go down.

He also notes of the tax credits that many municipalities are legal forbidden to take advantage of these credits, so it's not like they are going to waste.

When I have time, I'm going to mine his web site for nuggets such as these. Enjoy!

X-Posted to [ profile] home_effinomic.
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PZ Myers railed today against the anti-choice league, and made me laugh:

The argument is about whether that living thing is a person requiring extensive legal and moral protection, and it’s entirely clear that “life” is not a sufficient criterion, or people would be lobbying for the protection of turds and tonsils.

Huh, huh. He said "turds."

Yup. I'm forever 14.
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From [ profile] tacit:

"Past a certain point, any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."
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Really, Gov. Huckabee?

David Barton introduced Mike Huckabee at the Rediscover God In America conference, praising him as the epitome of the "Black Robe Regiment" mentality of seeking to apply the Bible to every aspect of the culture.

Huckabee, in turn, repaid the compliments to Barton, calling him one of the most effective communicators in America and wishing that every American would be forced, at gunpoint, to listen to every Barton broadcast.

Mike Huckabee has a good sense of humor, one I appreciate; but really, Mike, some jokes just shouldn't be made, ever.


Such statements put us right back into "Second Amendment remedies" territory, once again raising fears that someone will indeed find a gun and a video of Mr. Barton and take care of business. Is there any wonder -- any at all -- the non-religious are feeling targeted lately?

Finder credit to [ profile] pure_agnostic.

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Just came across this disturbing but hardly surprising article about a religious effort to politicize evangelical pastors:

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of conservative pastors in Iowa received the enticing invitation. Signed by Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential contender, it invited the pastors and their spouses to an expenses-paid, two-day Pastors’ Policy Briefing at a Sheraton hotel.

Nearly 400 Iowa ministers and many of their spouses accepted, filling a ballroom here on March 24 and 25. Through an evening banquet and long sessions, they heard speakers deplore a secular assault on evangelical Christian verities like the sanctity of male-female marriage, the humanity of the unborn and the divine right to limited government.

That last sentence, of course, is rife with irony, perhaps even an irony intended by the reporter. How can the "limited government" to which we seem to have a right enforce both sanctity on marriage standards and unborn humanity? Wouldn't such a limited government avoid such personal life meddling?

What got me, though, was not the standard tropes trotted out by the un-Christian right (as judged by comparing their message to the actual teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament). No, I found a little detail buried near the end far more disturbing:

The audience heard how to push their flocks to register and vote along “biblical principles” without running afoul of tax laws against endorsing candidates from the pulpit.

(I testified boldly.)

This, folks, is how Dubya got to be president for two terms. (The probable election shenanigans and the Supreme Court didn't help, I know.) I remember flipping through the channels and seeing mega-church pastors imploring their flock to avoid the sins of the homos and the baby killers by electing the "right" candidates. Not a word about giving your money to the poor. No mention of the Good Samaritan or how to treat the least amongst you.

And since these seminars are all-expense paid, this single example points out the danger of letting money coagulate in high places where it can be used as it is here, to perpetuate the further future coagulation of wealth far from where Jesus himself would recommended it should go.
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God helps those
who help themselves.

- Benjamin Franklin

I just finished Thomas Geoghegan's Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? and found, tucked away as an almost parenthetical observation, something absolutely not a part of his narrative thesis yet so crucial, something so obvious that I should have seen it years ago, something that helps explain so much about life here in the United States. It's a big deal! Really! )
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"Religion: Treat it like your penis. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats."

-- from some guy's email sig line.
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Ever wonder what would happen if the biblical Jesus was the Jesus of the Tea Partiers? Wallow in his red-lettered insight.

What's better, those quotes in JC's mouth come not from the artistic blasphemer behind the site, but from "actual" Christians. Just click on the image at the site to go directly to the judgmental ignoramous voice behind Christ's words!
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Of the books I've read lately, Clay Shirkey's Here Comes Everybody had some interesting notes on how the internet and easy connectivity has changed how society reacts to, well, everything.

He notes that the Catholic Church has had priest abuse scandals in the past, but this is the first time in history the church has been unable to squelch them. Why? Internet, of course. If you have a cause, you can mobilize people for your cause with the greatest of ease, circumventing the usual channels that were previously if not necessary for organization then certainly helpful.

So [ profile] interactiveleaf posts recently about a pickup truck with more than the usual ornamentation.

I forward this to a non-LJ friend. Days later, we were discussing the picture. He suggests the license plate is probably racist (in that it contains racist code numbers, not because of the "CV", which probably stands for Confederate Veterans). So, on a wild try, I Google the license number.

Whether he was right or wrong, holy crap. Thanks to that photo, that number has gone viral, and this viral activity has bitten the truck owner right on his ass:

Douglas Story, a Chantilly dump truck driver for the Virginia Department of Transportation, says he wanted to grab people's attention when he paid $224.90 to have a mural of the burning World Trade Center detailed onto the tailgate of his Ford F-150 along with a sticker that reads: "Everything I ever needed to know about Islam I learned on 9/11."

But he got more than he bargained for when a photo of his pickup went viral on the Web last week. Motorists and Muslim groups complained that his Virginia vanity license plate -- 14CV88 -- was really code for neo-Nazi, white supremacist sentiments. The state Department of Motor Vehicles voted last week to recall Story's plates and force him to buy new ones. . . .

And his boss told him that he could no longer park on VDOT property with the anti-Islam mural. So Story spent an afternoon getting new randomized plates and peeling the mural off by hand.

"I feel naked," he said.

Don't feel too badly, Mr. Story. In one respect, the internet has failed, for you can apparently keep your fucking racist Confederate Battle Flag in your back window. Consider it your fig leaf of racist dignity.
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I hereby announce that Mr. Deity is one of the funniest web shows currently gracing our bandwidth, and that all and sundry should immediately partake thereof.

Start with Episode 1, of course. Enjoy.
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He nails the whole discussion right at the end: "I would much rather be a rising ape than a falling angel."
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From this rant:

It's not that I'm cavalier about safety. I'm just a sucker -- so to speak -- for the facts. And the fact is: No child has been poisoned by a stranger's goodies on Halloween, ever, as far as we can determine. Joel Best, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware, studied November newspapers from 1958 to the present, scouring them for any accounts of kids felled by felonious candy. And...he didn't find any. He did find one account of a boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix his father gave him. Dad did it for the insurance money and, Best says, he probably figured that so many kids are poisoned on Halloween, no one would notice one more.

Well, they did and dad was executed. That's Texas for you. Another boy died after he got into his uncle's heroin stash and relatives tried to make it look like he'd been killed by candy. And that's it.

Now look at how the fear that our nice, normal-seeming neighbors might actually be moppet-murdering psychopaths has turned the one kiddie independence day of the year into yet another excuse to micromanage childhood. (Emphasis mine.)

The Wife and I theorize the fear of tainted home-made treats was started by Big Chocolate. Hershey's, M&M Mars, those guys gained millions in the sealed candy market, probably by simply starting whisper campaigns in the 1970s that snowballed into mass paranoia.

So, hey, let the kids off the leash. Let them wander and grow. Sure, they might skin their knees on occasion. Everyone does. That's how we learn about hard surfaces and the importance of traction.

That parental micromanagement leash: it's embarrassing to all involved.

Oh, and in other news, this year I got into the spirit! )
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To the rabid optimists: Put down the pom-poms. Step away from the pink megaphone. You aren't helping.

Please read this. Without knowing it, without being able to articulated it as well, this has been my philosophy for decades.


Jul. 5th, 2009 09:48 pm
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Skeptic magazine editor Michael Shermer (The guy from the Baloney Detection Kit video) lays down the skeptical, scientific approach in this Scientific American article:

The principle of positive evidence applies to all claims. Skeptics are from Missouri, the Show-Me state. Show me a Sasquatch body. Show me the archaeological artifacts from Atlantis. Show me a Ouija board that spells words with securely blindfolded participants. Show me a Nostradamus quatrain that predicted World War II or 9/11 before (not after) the fact (postdictions don’t count in science). Show me the evidence that alternative medicines work better than placebos. Show me an ET or take me to the Mothership. Show me the Intelligent Designer. Show me God. Show me, and I’ll believe.
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Michael Shermer gives the 12-point rundown on questions everyone should be asking all the time. BTW, his books Why People Believe Weird Things and Why Darwin Matters should be required high school reading.


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