Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
A thing of beauty, eh what? Yes, yes it is. This concept roller coaster is the ultimate roller coaster. The top is 510m high, nearly 1/3rd of a mile, and it takes two minutes to haul the 24 passengers up there. Downwards the cars reach 360 kilometres per hour (220 mph), very close to terminal velocity, the fastest they can fall. Then into the loops, each designed to maintain 10g on the passengers as the cars slow down. This would be as if they weighed ten times their normal weight. At the end of this exhilarating ride the passengers are unloaded, and new ones board. Wait, what? Yes, unloaded. The passengers have to be unloaded at the end of the ride because they won’t be exiting under their own power. This is because they will be dead. Yes dear readers, this is the Euthanasia Coaster.
Dear God, why would anyone build such a thing? Fortunately they haven’t, but if people have devised plans to build doomsday devices, this shouldn’t be a surprise. The Euthanasia Coaster was actually designed in 20120 as an art project by one Julijonas Urbonas, the idea being to take lives “with elegance and euphoria.” I’m not sure it really hits either on the nose, but it would take lives. As for its practical use, euthanasia or execution pretty much covers it. It has been suggested that people with no legs or people wearing special high altitude legging might actually survive the ride, so I suppose there might be some who would risk it for the ultimate thrill. I’ll pass thank you.
Seriously though, the chances this would ever get built seem remote. That didn’t stop the anti-euthanasia group “Care not Killing” from being concerned. I’d never heard of “Care Not Killing” before, but as soon as I read the name I knew it was a religious group. Sigh. And it is. I’m getting good at spotting groups with hidden agendas. Hell, probably harder to spot the ones without, there don’t seem to be too many of those. As for executions, there’s probably cheaper ways to execute people.
Meanwhile, in Syria, someone has actually built a euthanasia device:
OK, more of a suicide device I suppose. People are clever. That’s the Sham II, a homemade “tank” built by Syrian rebels. I has a remote control machine gun mounted on top, and is controlled inside by using video cameras and video game components. It’s built around a car chassis of some type. What ever possessed them to do this? Beats me, things are a might confused in Syria right now. I can’t imagine it would last long in battle, it might be impervious to small arms fire, but anything from an RPG up would do the trick, and the Syrian military has plenty of weapons. Hell, even homemade munitions like Molotov cocktails would work. I suspect it’s more for western attention and publicity than anything else. Still, last it was in the news it was on its way to battle in Aleppo. Improvised armoured fighting vehicles have a long history. If I hear how it fares I’ll post it.
I kept waiting for some news on who was behind the Boston Marathon Bombing, but alas nothing yet. Likely a nut or right wing terrorism would be my guess. Media coverage has been ridiculous, but that’s always the case. And as always some in all walks said stupid, hateful, inappropriate, or self-serving things. Modern America, fun place, like Disneyland with guns.
(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. They are not being used for profit, in fact I lose money writing this blog. That means they should pay me for using them. Coming soon, a fund raising drive. You have been warned.)
Diffuse Interstellar Bands. (DIBS) What are they? No one knows. Where are they? In deep space. Were they the inspiration for Pink Floyd? I seriously doubt it. What am I talking about? Diffuse Interstellar Bands. Sheesh, pay attention.
OK, let’s start at the beginning, the early 20th century to be exact. Scientists by then were studying the light of stars. A spectrum is the light emitted by a star or bright object passed through a prism. Molecules in and near a star will block some of the spectrum, making dark stripes as seen above, these are called absorption or spectral lines. Thus scientists can tell what a star is made of. It even works with reflected light, this is how they tell what planets and asteroids are made of. This is all of course terribly simplified, because I have a very dim grasp of it all myself. All well and good until 1922, scientists happily studied what stars were made of. However, in 1922 astronomer Mary Lea Heger discovered some absorption lines that were much more diffuse than the typical lines in a star’s spectrum. She also found that the lines were associated with the galactic interstellar medium, not stars.
This was a head scratcher. People commonly think that space is a perfect vacuum. It isn’t, it varies widely, but one atom per cubic centimetre is the “average” density of interstellar space. It was thought this matter was so diffuse that while it might dim an entire spectrum slightly, it wouldn’t make lines. Well, sciencists were wrong, some molecules in interstellar space were apparently common enough to cause absorption lines. Mary discovered a few such lines, and by 1975 about 25 had been discovered. By 1994 when the first conference on DIBs was held, about 50 were known. Today about 300 have been discovered, illustrated above. The reason it’s a head scratcher is because no one knows exactly what molecules are creating these lines. Despite scientist’s best efforts, they have not been able to replicate the lines experimentally, or even come up with a theoretical calculation that explains the lines.
This is a major scientific mystery and has been for decades. For reasons I don’t understand, let alone can explain, it does seem pretty certain that the lines are caused by molecules, not single atoms. And it also is clear that numerous different molecules are involved, a single type of molecule couldn’t produce over 300 DIBs. The best guess is that they are being caused by long chain molecules. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, long carbon-chain molecules, and fullerenes are all strong suspects. And that’s that. Somehow our galaxy contains dust or gas of unknown origin or composition, what it is and how it is created is still a complete mystery.
Is this important? In a practical sense, no, figuring this out isn’t going to change our lives. Not figuring it out will have the same effect. It’s important though to understand that there are plenty of complete mysteries in our scientific understanding of the Universe. A lot of people, especially certain religious types, don’t seem to understand that. Science can’t currently explain everything, and there doesn’t appear to be any chance that it will ever explain everything. This isn’t a failure of science, th0ough it is oft presented as such by science-deniers, it is one of science’s greatest strengths. So whenever I stumble across an unsolved scientific mystery, I am impressed by the mystery itself, and I’m impressed by the fact that science even uncovered the mystery. Is there any chance that the solution to DIBs will force a re-examination of other aspects of science? Possibly, but I don’t know how possible. When it comes right down to it, our understanding of the cosmos is still in its infancy.
One last little observation is that I am always curious that science deniers miss things like this. If one was going to construct logical sounding attacks on science, mysteries like this would be a great place to start. Instead, the science deniers seem to make very little effort to find new arguments, and simply recycle old arguments. Some of the “objections” raised about evolution date from the nineteenth century for God’s sake. And while some of them were valid concerns then, a hundred years later they have long been laid to rest. I suppose it’s further evidence that science deniers are in actual denial about science, since few of them seem to take the time to even understand it well enough to construct modern arguments against it. Or it could mean that when people study science hard enough they realize its true, they are converted to science and reason?
Pause for laughter. Beats me. The older I get the more I find people and their motivations both painfully predictable … and painfully puzzling. It’s a conundrum it is.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I got it off of Wikipedia so it’s safe to say that non-commercial use of the image is OK. And I left the copyright information on the image itself. Next a furniture history post, or a post about the recent discovery that the Universe is flat.)
I’m sure everyone in America, except for those in comas, have heard about the Newtown shooting last Friday. Hell, even many people in comas have heard about it, no doubt TVs are turned on in many coma wards. As with any tragedy, it brought out both the best and worst in people. The above is an example of the worst. Yes, within hours of the murder of 20 children, people were exploiting this tragedy to promote their religion. Jesus wept. This above was one of the least offensive responses. There were worse. Up to and including the Westboro Baptist Church which is planning to picket the event. They will get lots of publicity, which of course is their goal. People who worship a child killing God have no shame. Neither does the media. As of Thursday, much of the TV news is still devoted to the shooting. I find it disgusting really. Basically pandering to people’s emotions to get ratings. The classy thing to do would be to let the friends and families deal with their grief in peace, instead of turning it into a media circus. Fat chance. In any event, I waited a week to let the dust settle, let the facts get straight, and think about the shooting and the various points people have made. In no particular order, here are my observations on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and its aftermath:
Everything one hears about an incident like this should be taken with large doses of salt. This is especially true when the news first breaks. Sadly the human tendency is to put a lot of emphasis on the first things people hear, and often people will incorporate all sorts of garbage about an event into their minds simply because they heard it early on. Worse, plenty of people are well aware of this, and will rush to use it to their advantage. This is why I waited a week to blog about it. Even then, I am sure I have some of the facts wrong.
Sigh. Of course the issue of gun control was immediately in the news. On the one hand, yeah, after something like this, it’s reasonable to wonder if there is any way future events could be prevented. It’s even reasonable to ask if there’s ways to keep high ammo capacity semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of unstable people. That was about as far as reason got. The gun lobby almost immediately went on the offensive, at least by proxy. The NRA itself has been laying low I understand. They had some reasonable points, but it was mostly old nonsense. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the 2nd Amendment is indeed an individual right, a responsible citizen can indeed have a handgun in their home. They also clearly stated that the state could indeed regulate weapons and who owns them. So both sides lose. Yes, the government can indeed outlaw high ammo capacity semi-automatic weapons. And yes, no matter what, law abiding Americans have a right to have basic revolvers and rifles in their homes. Issue is settled. One wouldn’t know it from much of the stuff I’ve seen on Facebook. I’m betting nothing but symbolic gun control will be enacted, if that.
The gun lobby has suggested arming teachers as a solution to the problem. While I do not have a problem with the idea that responsible citizens should be allowed to carry some types of guns, this idea has a number of problems. Basically one is suggesting that tens of thousands of school teachers, a demographic about as far away from gun enthusiasts as it gets, are going to turn into Dirty Harries if a gun is strapped to their hip. I can think of all sorts of ways this might not work out as expected. I don’t really think that the police want to respond to a shooting where a bunch of teachers are running around shooting. If school personnel with military or police training want to carry a gun, I don’t have a problem with that. The idea that giving all sorts of teacher guns doesn’t make sense though. It would cause more problems than it solved. It’s a downstream solution.
Many are claiming that mental illness is the issue, and that by treating mental illness properly, many incidents like this won’t happen. Well, yes and no. The USA gave up on its mentally ill in the sixties and seventies by closing all the asylums and putting the patients in halfway homes. The states just never got around to funding/building the halfway homes though, so the mentally ill live with their families or live on the street. What treatment there is consists of finding drugs to control the mentally ill. Basically the costs of the mentally ill have been dumped on their families and society at large, except for profits for the pharmaceutical industry. Since Americans aren’t already up in arms about this perversion, it’s safe to say that a few school shootings won’t make a difference.
Even then, in some ways the mental illness line misses the point. This particular type of shooting, where someone goes out in public and kills a bunch of people to get revenge on the world, is almost exclusively the province of white males. That bears some thinking about. It won’t get much thinking though. If school shooters were predominantly Muslims or blacks or anything but white males, it would be a huge deal and everyone would be talking about it. And since white males easily have the best access to mental health care, clearly the idea that school shootings are caused by lack on mental health care doesn’t hold water. If school shootings were the result of lack of mental health care, their demographics would reflect society’s access to mental health care. They are the opposite of society’s mental health care demographics. In other words, shootings like this on some level are a symptom of a cultural problem.
That however is fodder for another post. America and its gun crazed, frontier mentality, cowboys and Indians, Dirty harry, white male privilege society. Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image is viral on Facebook, so I think I can safely claim Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s an offensive image on so many levels, the utter disregard for facts being at the top of the list. Prayer and God are most definitely allowed in schools, the Supreme Court was very specific on the former. So basically people mewling about “no God in schools” are upset because public schools aren’t allowed to promote or endorse their particular religion. Anyone who thinks that a God would murder little children because their particular religion isn’t allowed to preach to and indoctrinate students in public schools … is sick in the head.)
Many people of faith make the claim that atheism is a religion. Ask any atheist if this is true and the answer will be a resounding no. For the longest time I thought the comparison was absurd, as evidenced by my repeated quote: “Atheism is a religion the same way not collecting stamps is a hobby.” Alas, I am cursed with a tendency to think about things, especially a tendency to think about things from different perspectives, and as a result, I have concluded that the “atheism is a religion” argument is not entirely without merit. Here then, in no particular order, are some reasons why. (Note that I am not claiming that atheism and religion are identical, just that the theistic argument has some merit.)
The fact that atheists generally get annoyed to angry at the comparison is the first indication. Even worse, most of them don’t even want to discuss the issue, and dismiss it out of hand with truisms like my quote in the preceding paragraph. Um, getting angry at an accusation and responding to it irrationally and emotionally is a hallmark of religion, not a neutral secular belief. Just in general I’ve noticed that people get angriest when an accusation contains an element of truth, atheists are just as capable of denial as anyone else. And I think that this is an area where many atheist exhibit strong indications of denial.
Moving right along, atheists have formed organizations to both defend and promote their beliefs. Granted lots of different organizations do such, but the beliefs of atheists tend to revolve around religion to a large degree. They have meetings, they form groups, they often tend to associate with other atheists. And a lot of them have issues with people who aren’t atheists. Frankly I’ve had atheist trolls berate me for not being atheist enough. Again, I certainly see common ground here between atheism and religion.
Then there’s the definition. If there were no religious people, there would be no atheists. Granted some will say that everyone would be an atheist then. Still, the word atheist wouldn’t exist, and there would be no people that called themselves atheists. It’s certainly safe to say that atheism as we know it wouldn’t exist without religion. That to me indicates, again, that atheism has some things in common with religion.
It should also be pointed out that atheists are not above using false, malicious, or misleading arguments in their attacks on religion. Granted this is human nature, hell, I sometimes I think there must be a straw man argument gene, right next to the slippery slope argument gene, they seems so hard wired into some people. It’s hard for me not to notice when both sides of a debate are stooping to irrational lows. And boy, want to make an atheist mad, point this out when they post such on Facebook.
Speaking of anger and emotional responses, there is one final point in this argument that isn’t debatable. If one asks atheists, American atheists at least, which is the “worst” religion, the vast overwhelming majority of them will answer that it is Islam. Let’s think about that. Atheists in a Christian country, a religion that demonizes Islam and has been waging war on it more or less continuously since the seventh century … mostly agree that Islam is the worst religion. Since Islam and Christianity are essentially the same religion, and both have a history drenched in blood, it’s impossible for me to not notice the similarity between Islam hating Christians and Islam hating atheists.
I am saying is that American atheists have internalized some core Christian values and thought forms, and not the pretty ones. It makes it hard for me to understand how they can claim they are in no way religious. If one share’s a religion’s prejudices, there is common ground. Granted, I’m not an atheist, so I can’t speak for them. The only point I am trying to make in all this is that the religious contention that “atheism is a religion” is at least debatable. From some perspectives, there are a lot of similarities between atheism and religion. Whether atheists like it or not.
PS. After I published this I discovered I had written a previous post on “Is atheism a religion?” I knew this would happen sooner or later. :)
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, etc. It’s all over Facebook so I have no clue who the author is. Granted it’s not exactly germane to the topic, but close enough. It’s also funny, since it’s true. The American Christians agitating for prayer in school aren’t doing so out of some concern for freedom of religion, they are doing so because they want to promote Christianity among America’s youth. They are also off the mark since the Supreme Court not only didn’t prohibit prayer in school, they specifically said they weren’t prohibiting prayer in school. They prohibited organized religious services in school, big difference.)
Introduction. Above is today’s Facebook gleaned image. I could post an image every day from Facebook if I wanted to. A very very carefully selected image. Many people I know on Facebook post dozens of images a day. I’ve even unsubscribed to people because they posted so many images, cartoons, bon mots, quotes, etc. Even if I agree with the sentiment, unless it really grabs me or makes me laugh, I’m not inclined to forward it. This one though makes me laugh. As with most things that make me laugh, it’s because I see layers and subtlety in it. Or in more common parlance, it appeals to my particular sense of humour, warped though it may be. Anyhow, moving right along …
Random news. Terrible police shooting in England. Two policewomen were lured to an abandoned building and shot to death. The shooter turned himself in afterwards. It’s the worst police shooting in the UK since 1966, which kinda shows how Britain is still head and shoulders above the US in regards to gun violence. Just in the past few years I know there were several policemen killed in a bi shootout in Oakland. Most cops in the UK still don’t carry guns, neither of the women were armed. And apparently there isn’t much call for them to do so, which again shows that in the USA a frontier mentality still prevails. Maybe we’ll grow up as a nation, but we got a ways to go yet.
Random musing. People pairing up and becoming couples, sex or no sex or whatever, is the most natural thing in the world. People were doing it long before we were even people, if there was no culture or religion and we just lived in little bands of family and friends … couples would still form. It’s kind of at the core of what it is to be human. This is why the primitive religions try to define and control coupling, because if they can get people to surrender control of their core identity … it’s a easy slide to completely controlling them. Religions that completely control their followers are the ones that try and impose their beliefs on other people. It’s … a shame … that fundamentalism persists on a large scale into the 21st century, but the fact that huge numbers of Christians, Jews, and Muslims have managed to reconcile their faith with the 21st century gives me hope. I mean, any sort of just God would want us all to get along with each other, nu?
Random true story. This young to-be-famous-someday author was waiting for a boat one fine day. Standing on the dock next to him was a “slip of a girl” in his words. And in one of those impulses humans have, he pushed her off the dock. He was instantly mortified, he didn’t even know if she could swim. Moments later, she came to the surface, and flashed him a beautiful ear to ear smile. He immediately thought “My God, that’s the woman I’m going to marry someday.” And he did.
Random science. Or random nonsense science as the case may be. A book was just published that claims to re-examine Velikovsky’s theories. The interview at the link is fascinating. This man has carefully cherry picked a host of scientific mysteries and uses them to support Velikovsky’s whack-job idea that Venus was ejected from Jupiter in historic times. I wonder if he’s a con-artist, or does he actually believe his theory? I am going with “he believes it.” Lately it’s become very clear to me that there is an amazing similarity between the thought processes of those people who fiercely believe in “alternate” theories, from Creationism to Velikovsky to the Electric Universe. All of them appear to be absolutely convinced that theirs is the only possible explanation and there is a conspiracy among mainstream thought to suppress their version of reality. Then they carefully pick and choose whatever little bits of whatever that “support” their theory. Sometimes these things fade with time, like the Face on Mars nonsense, and sometimes they don’t, like Velikovsky apparently. To be fair, I tried to read one of Velikovsky’s books once. It was one of his later books where he tried to support his theories using only “modern” scientific data. I didn’t get far, because it quickly became clear that the man had obsessively read several centuries worth of geology books and papers, and carefully selected the paragraphs, sentences, and sentence fragments that, taken out of context, supported his “theory.” Um, any theory could be “proved” this way. It also should be noted that Velikovsky was motivated by religion, he was very much trying to prove that the events of the Old Testament were literally true. It was nonsense when he wrote it, and it’s nonsense now.
Closing. Well, no war yet. America’s foreign policy in the Middle East does seem to be unravelling though. Whether by accident or design, the recent anti-Islam movie has proved to be a lightning rod for anti-American sentiment. And the USA has created a lot of anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world since at least 1953 when the USA arranged a coup against the democratically elected government of Iran and installed the Shah in its place. There have been some positive points in US policy in the region, like in 1956 when Eisenhower told the British, French, and Israelis that the USA would not stand for their invasion of Egypt and acquisition of the Suez Canal. It’s pretty much been downhill since, and took a nose dive after 9/11. Compound that with an increasingly government/corporate compliant media, and we have created a situation where the USA is wildly and justly unpopular throughout a vast swath of the Muslim world, and the vast majority of Americans are not only clueless, a lot of what they do “know” abut the situation is simply wrong. On the plus side, if Romney gets elected, we’ll be able to dispense with further foreplay and proceed directly to World War Three. That will be some fun blogging.
(Once again the above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I don’t know where it comes from, it appears to be a picture of something stuck to a wall. That’s how images like this were disseminated in the old days. Say, the 1990s. If one wanted to post this image in say, the building next door, a copy of it had to be carried by hand to the next building! Hard to believe, eh?)
Well, it’s certainly getting interesting over in the Middle East. The response to it around these parts is pretty interesting too. Neither are the good kind of interesting, they are the cursed form of interesting. As the putative Chinese curse goes: “May you live in interesting times.” In really local news, I, for the first time ever, banned a commenter. His comments just got angrier and angrier, and I’m not even sure why. I certainly didn’t get into it with him, he mostly just seemed to be really upset about stuff I was posting. My blog, my opinions. And I try to be respectful of others, I can’t read hard core conservative or liberal (or whatever) blogs because they are so, well, personally insulting of the other side’s beliefs. In any event, I’m not angry at Steve. I used to fly off the handle like that myself, I hope he finds peace someday. Clearly reading my blog wasn’t helping him any in that sense.
People can and do get outraged by stuff they read. Or, say, see in a movie trailer. And in the right context, can get violent over it. People get irrationally violent over all sorts of things. All depends on how propagandized and and programmed they are. Typically people believe violence on their side’s part is rational, and violence on the other side’s part is irrational. And they believe this so strongly that for the most part there’s no point even trying to debate with them. They have such a negative perception of the other side that they can’t even begin to see it from their perspective, and judge it by their own standards. Standards which are often culturally or otherwise enforced in spades. This is how some Americans were able to rationalize civilian deaths in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were Buddhists, they believed in reincarnation, so dying wasn’t a big deal for them. I hope most of my readers can see that this is a profoundly racist and culturally imperialist view, which basically reduces the other side to the status of little more than animals to be butchered without remorse. Leaders of all sides, with few exceptions, espouse this sort of toxic nonsense.
Which brings us the the current sorry state of affairs in the Middle East and beyond. Anti-American and anti-western riots. People dead. Those crazy Muslims is the typical refrain in the west, rioting over a movie trailer. Proof that Islam is a violent (read: irrational and primitive) religion? I mean, these people are rioting and making death threats because their religion was insulted, how irrational does it get? Well, when one has been taught since birth that Muslims and Arabs are inherently violent primitive people who don’t want peace, despite all the west has done for them, it sound irrational as hell. This is the beauty of propaganda, once people have internalized it, they will believe the most egregious nonsense. Not only will they believe it, many of them will actively seek news that reinforces their belief. It’s called confirmation bias. This is how Hitler was able to convince many Germans that they lost World War One because of the Jews. Were the Germans being prejudiced believing this? You betcha.
By now my more astute readers may have discerned where I am going with this. At the risk of losing friends, not that I have a whole lot of friends, a person that thinks Islam is a violent religion compared to say, Christianity and Judaism … is a bigot. While this movie trailer is the catalyst for the riots, it’s not the cause. The cause is decades of western crimes against Muslim nations in the Middle East and central Asia. We’re talking war, occupation, ethnic cleansing, and arming brutal undemocratic governments that were in the west’s pocket. The sorts of things that Americans would be seething with rage about had they been on the receiving end. Look how apeshit many Americans went after 9/11, yet many Muslim countries have suffered and continue to suffer at western hands crimes that kill far more people than 9/11. It’s OK though according to many in the west, the Muslims brought it on themselves with their violence.
And so the violence continues, with all sides believing egregious nonsense about the other side. And far too many leaders on both sides doing their best to reinforce the prejudices their followers hold. Clinton and Obama gave lovely speeches basically calling Muslims violent primitive savages, of course all couched in oh-so-reasonable language, and the media was all-too-happy to reinforce this prejudice with endless stories about Muslims rioting over the movie trailer, completely without any context as to why there might be seething discontent in many Muslim countries directed towards the west. Whoever translated movie this trailer into English has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in reinforcing western prejudice against Muslims, frankly I suspect Israeli counter-intelligence is behind that. The timing was just too perfect.
What will happen now? Damned if I know. Christians, Jews, and Muslims have lots in common. All are easily propagandized and all will support and execute amazing levels of violence. And in the modern world where propaganda is so easily and widely disseminated, it’s a problem. Add to it a situation where many or most leaders on many fronts have made the sociopathic calculation that a war now will advance their interests in the long run, and we have a recipe for a wider or even a global war. Stay tuned.
“It takes two fools to have a fight.”
(The above image is all over Facebook, so again, no clue on copyright. Not being used for profit yadda yadda yadda. Yes, it would be nice if Jesus, Moses, and Mohamed came back and told their followers to cool their jets. Not going to happen of course, since dead people don’t come back, ever. Maybe if the aliens tied everyone to a chair for a few days and showed them images of what violence actually accomplishes. That’s my plan for peace. And if they don’t do that, maybe they could take those of us who still want to live in peace with their neighbours away? A man can dream.)
Burning consulates, dead Americans, it’s a real war scare dear readers, and it could get a lot worse
I’m proud of how Americans responded to 9/11, especially New Yorkers and their first responders. They are true heroes. For the most I’m disgusted and ashamed of how our government and media and pundits responded to 9/11, they dishonoured the memory of those who died that day. It’s a distinction lost on some people I fear, but just clearing it up for those who can appreciate it. God bless! —Doug Stych
One of the people being Steve, who blew a gasket over my 9/11 post. No offence was meant, I have friends in New York City, but apparently plenty was taken. I’m flattered in a way. His comment does reveal one thing global though, tensions are very high right now both in the USA abroad, especially the Middle East. And events of the past few days culminating in the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the deaths of four Americans, has brought things to a very serious level.
So what the hell went down in Libya? The more or less “official” version in the mainstream western media is some variation of “those crazy Muslims rioting over an insult to their religion killed a bunch of Americans.” This does not really appear to be the case, even in the mainstream versions. Yes, there was anti-American demonstrations because a trailer of a mysterious anti-Muslim movie was translated into Arabic. In Egypt a handful of demonstrators climbed over the US embassy wall, tore down an American flag, and replaced it with an Islamic banner. Islamic slogans were painted on the walls of the embassy. It wasn’t really that big a deal, and we are only talking a few thousand demonstrators out of millions of Egyptians. In Libya, yes, there appear to have been demonstrators. However, at some point a group of professional fighters of unknown allegiance attacked the American consulate in Benghazi. It was a military style attack using RPGs and assault rifles, ten Libyan security troops died defending the consulate before they pulled back in the face of the superior attacking force. The attackers apparently attacked in two directed waves, one directed at the consulate, the second directed at the Americans trying to flee the consulate. Who were these attackers? We don’t know. The Libyan government’s response? They have vowed to bring the attackers to justice.
What the hell is going on here? Damned if I know. What I do know is that many people in the west are rushing to judgment and simply blaming Islam and or Libyans in general for the violence. All I can say is that clearly is what both the attackers, and the people who made the film intended. We can only wonder at the actual motivations of either, until further information comes out. Assuming us worms will ever know in the first place. It’s been suggested the attack was the work of Al Qaeda. Other armed factions in Libya could be responsible. Former Qaddafi loyalists could be responsible. What we do know is that leaders around the globe are now both telling their security people “Find out who is behind this attack NOW,” while simultaneously asking their most trusted advisers “Does this present a danger to us, can we take advantage of it, what can we do?” Some nations may skip the first step. Things like this in the past have led to much bigger wars, this one sure could.
It’s a war scare alright, maybe the biggest since the Russia/Georgia war. There’s things that have ratcheted up the tension, the US election campaign, the US’s current strained relations with Israel, Israel’s almost strident calling for war with Iran, the mysterious “movie” that seems clearly designed to inflame tensions in the Islamic world, the as yet unsolved bombing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, and the ongoing strife in Syria, and to a lesser extent in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Tensions were already running high when this Libya thing happened, and several of these factors seem to be deliberate attempts to stoke the flames by unknown agencies for unknown purpose. I am talking about the Bulgaria attack, the attack on the US Consulate, and the mysterious movie. It is safe to say that whoever is behind each is not trying to foster peace and understanding in the Middle East. This is why it’s a serious war scare, there’s some people trying to fan the flames of war.
I hope people don’t jump to conclusions, but they already are of course, seeing all sorts of Islamic hate speech on Facebook. The Drudge Report is outdoing itself. And demonstrations outside the American embassy in Egypt continue. I hope cooler heads prevail. I may update this post if the situation develops rapidly from here. Feedback welcome.
(The above image is floating around Facebook, so I hope I’m using it legally. Not for profit, etc. Photograph credit: Chris Kotsiopoulos. For a larger version: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/wallpaper/img/2012/04/07-greece-lightening-exposures_1600.jpg It’s multiple lightning strikes over twenty minutes combined into a single ex posure. If I saw something like that, yeah, I’d worry. I’m a little worried.)
Well, isn’t that an interesting image? An Egyptian friend of mine posted it on Facebook. She’s obviously some sort of radical Muslim who hates America for our freedoms. I’d say “snort,” but I’m willing to bet there are many Americans who wouldn’t see it any other way. No, she’s an engineer, and one of the many people who have been working hard to transform Egypt into a democracy. Yes, she is a Muslim. That a person is a Muslim is as revealing about them as saying someone is a Jew or a Christian. IE it means nothing, Muslims, Jews, and Christians are all over the map when it comes to their ideologies … from violent fundamentalists to tolerant moderates working to bring their religion into the 21st century. My friend doesn’t hate America, but she has nothing good to say about Clinton or Obama. And for good reason, they provided aid and comfort (not to mention weapons) to the Mubarak regime long after the writing was on the wall. Imagine if American Tea Party protesters were fired on by tear gas canisters made in Egypt, pretty safe bet many Americans wouldn’t be happy about it.
My friend also had the humanity to say that the text in the image aside, it was still a touching picture of a woman reunited with her child. This is something a lot of Americans seem to lack these days, humanity. At least when it comes to people in foreign countries. They profess “concern” for the state of women in Afghanistan for example, but don’t seem able to grasp that our war is most definitely killing women and children. Not to mention maiming and killing Americans, while leaving others deeply scared psychologically. War is ugly, not some comic book World War Two superhero fantasy where our heroes save the world from a global menace. The Taliban aren’t a global menace, they aren’t even a local menace. In fact they are human beings, with families and kids too. Afghans are actually an incredibly hospitable people, I have a couple of friends travelling around the country now. If you aren’t associated with the occupation forces, or trying to convert people to Christianity, people in Afghanistan are perfectly friendly to foreigners.
Moving right along, even though I haven’t even written a post about chemtrails, the commenters are already into it. Even 9/11 got brought up. Ah well. I was struck by one comment though. Someone pointed out that the collapse of the WTC buildings isn’t “rocket science.” Um, understanding the effects of flying a jet liner at 400 miles an hour into a building certainly sounds like rocket science to me. Sadly it’s already clear to me, even without research, that the proponents of the chemtrails conspiracy theory are approaching the problem the same way 9/11 Truthers approach their problem. In fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is substantial overlap between the two groups. Oh well, I will get around to a chemtrails post. Some day.
Speaking of conspiracy theories, check out this story on the BBC no less: Organic food ‘not any healthier’ This is a wonderful example of how the mainstream media outlets are just propaganda organs for giant corporations. This “study” was carefully set up to give the result they wanted. The participants were only studied for two years, no one claims that organic food confers measurable health benefits in two years. It’s like having two runners race for a meter, then claiming it’s a tie so they must run at the same speed. Worse, it completely ignores the fact that many people buy organic not just for the health benefits, but for many other reasons as well. Organic farms are better for the environment, a desire to avoid giving money to the giant processed food conglomerates, a desire to buy locally, a desire to avoid pesticide exposure, and even the fact that organic food comes in more varieties and is often tastier than the corporate produced all-the-same junk like tomatoes. All of this will be missed by the average reader of the BBC article, who will just see it as more reinforcement of the “those stupid hippies” meme. F**k you BBC and Stanford University.(And anyone who reads my posts at all knows I am not a health food activist, far from it.)
I’ll probably have to hide in the Ecuadoran embassy myself after this post. Well, hopefully it’s not that bad. I didn’t write a post Monday because it was Labour Day, and I was resting from my labours. Thank you labour movement from getting us such things as weekends and vacations.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over Facebook so it may be public domain. No clue who to credit it too. There was one other reason I posted the image, and astute regular commenters might be able to discern it. Might. I should also point out that no offence is meant to American service members, it’s America’s leaders and war apologists I am criticizing by publishing the image.)
Well, not making much progress on the chemtrails post. OK, no progress. I want to be objective, but I keep running into a reef. For the chemtrails theory to be true, one of two things must be happening. The nation’s air traffic control system must be compromised as part of the plot, or somehow airliners or other scheduled flights must be secretly equipped with spraying apparatus. Either possibility would seem to involve so many co-conspirators as to defy credulity. Someone did post a video in a comment though, and I’ll watch it soon enough. I just tried to watch the video of Clint Eastwood’s speech at the RNC. I only watched a minute or so. It was painful. Incredibly painful. I guess the RNC thought they were getting a rousing speech by Harry Callahan, of Dirty Harry fame. Instead they got a rambling mumbling old man. Gran Torino could have been his legacy, if he’s lucky it will be and this sad swan song will be forgotten. It’s the end of an era.
I’ve given some thought to the comment left on the last post claiming that maybe rapists should be given some parental rights, because children raised with two parents do better than children raised by one. And after careful thought, the commenter is wrong. I don’t believe that forcibly impregnating a women gives a rapist any parental rights. That’s literally no different than the biblical: “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives” (Deuteronomy 22:28–29). This is barbaric. Though if one wants to read a lovely modern Christian apologist writing about this, go here. It’s a good way to give one’s gag reflex a work out. I’m really tired of people twisting the Bible’s sickeningly patriarchal view that women are property of men into some sort of faux concern for women. The fact that 31 states give rapists some parental rights shows how far we have to go. If a woman who was impregnated by a rapist wants to have the rapist in her life, that’s her decision. If she wants to give him some parental rights, he can adopt the child.
This election is starting to get to me like the invasion of Iraq did. IE I feel like being drunk all the time to make the pain go away. While I am no fan of the Democrats, the Republicans are clearly in a race to the bottom. They spent the past four years doing everything they could to obstruct and delegitimize Obama (Yes, I looked it up, record number of filibusters in Congress.) And now their campaign is that Obama didn’t accomplish anything! Well, actually, he accomplished quite a lot. And even Mitt waded into the
mud shit with his “no one has asked me about my birth certificate.” There’s a reason for that Mitt, it’s because you are white. Mr Romney might as well have said “Vote for me and get that nigger out of the White House.” Classy, real classy. Then there’s the Republican platform, which among other things calls for changing the Constitution to make fertilized eggs into human beings. There’s so many things sick and wrong with that idea it’s scary. And no, it’s not about “saving babies.” It’s about making sure woman are breeding cows, as the Bible intended. (Don’t worry, I’ve got some uncharitable things to say about our war-mongering so-called progressives in an upcoming post.)
I put up the bird comic for a variety of reasons. For one I thought it was funny. Secondly it challenges people to look at things from different perspectives. Lastly a reminder that we aren’t that far away from Turkey Vultures evolutionary speaking. And we both started from the same place, segmented worms of some sort. Humans are basically a highly evolved segmented worm. Our ribs being the last vestige of the segments, but we’re still basically a worm, a big fleshy tube where food goes in one end and waste goes out the other. Evolution is awesome. I’m also getting tired of the endless efforts to teach the Christian Creation myth as some sort of theory on par with the Theory of Evolution. No, creationism has zero scientific creds, and since it isn’t testable, it’s not even a scientific theory. Creationism is no different than any other creation myth, and there are thousands of them. Which is not an attack on religion, it’s an attack on religions that are still stuck in the Bronze Age.
Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over Facebook, so it’s likely in the public domain. Credit and copyright: Bird and Moon Comics. Yes, my posts are getting more random. It’s more fun to write a random post, what can I say.)
Well, I thought I was leaving for the desert today, so I didn’t get a chance to write a post this weekend. So, gentle readers, a second “Through Thick and Thin” post in a row. Plus it’s an excuse to post another funny picture from Facebook. Sometimes this one comes with the caption: ” School textbooks have changed a lot since fundamentalists took over the school board.” I like it better without the caption though, it has multiple layers of implied humour. I particularly like the expression on the mammal’s face. I would also like to give notice of a change in the comment policy. In the future I will simply delete comments that contain personal attacks. If a person can’t make a point without making personal attacks, they generally don’t have much to say. Since I get polite comments from all over the political and religious spectrum, and don’t get the sorts of idiotic troll comments that plague so many other venues, I am pretty sure I’m doing something right. Sadly the anonymity of the Internet has certainly encouraged the worst in some people. I’m appalled for example how many people in the news get death threats for expressing themselves. Dear God, getting along with each other is hard enough as it is, how do death threats help?
Well, the Olympics are over. All said and done, I like the institution less every year. I applaud the athletes though. The same way I am anti-war, but still support the troops. Granted my idea of supporting the troops means bringing them home and giving them decent lifetime medical care. I also think cops and firemen should get the same. If that makes me some sort of radical socialist, so be it. I also support the idea of national service, though not for the usual reasons. How did I get from the Olympics to the draft? Anyhu, the commercialization of the Olympics bothers me. And the fact that many of the nations involved aren’t “real” nations, they are colonial era constructs maintained in power by the west. The Olympics, like the UN, has become an organ for reinforcing the colonial status quo. And it gets grander every year, which historians have pointed out is a bad sign. Bread and Circus, keep the masses diverted as the Empire rots from the top.
Speaking of the Olympics, I remember watching them as a kid. Coverage was much better then, they just covered events, it wasn’t the personality cult, soap opera, game contest coverage it is today. I in particular remember the infamous 1974 US vs Russia hockey game. The clock ran out, the horn sounded, the US team started to celebrate their victory. Then the officials added three seconds to the clock, gave the ball to the Russians, who then won the game. Shock and horror in the USA, crooked Russian officials had blatantly rigged the game to hand the US its first Olympic hockey defeat ever. The USA team was so slighted they refused to go to the podium and collect their silver medals. It was a truly shocking thing to see. And that’s how I thought it stood these past four decades. Then I recently looked it up. Another childhood misconception. Yes, I had seen what I saw. The truth of what happened however is much muddier. There really had been a problem with the clock. In fact there had been all sorts of problems in the last minute of the game. The final result was a comedy of errors as officials frantically tried to fix the mess they had made of it. Yes, there’s certainly reason to believe that some of the participants in the fiasco weren’t exactly pure of heart in their motives, but the end result was far more a result of a badly officialled game than any Russian connivance. IE the people running the game didn’t just blatantly cheat and add time to the game after it was over. Sadly, more and more as I look back to my younger years, I find out things that I knew were much more nuanced than I remember.
I see a man in Bahrain has been sentenced to two years in jail for defaming one of Muhammad’s wives. Sad on so many levels. I don’t think civil courts should be involved in religious matters period. Are there passages in the Koran where Muhammad claims people who diss his wife should be punished? If so, I take exception to them, no disrespect intended. If not, how the hell does this sort of stuff happen? Oh, wait, it involves humans. The new Testament I am more familiar with. Jesus said all sorts of cool stuff. He also said narcissistic sociopathic cult nonsense about worshipping him or else he will kill your children and torture you with fire. And there’s plenty of people in the USA trying to bring back the good old days where the Bible was the law of the land. Well, the law of the land in certain parts of the country. Mostly red states I understand.
Jeez, did it again, from nonsense in Bahrain to red state nonsense. I brought up Bahrain to point out again the evidence of blatant hypocrisy in US foreign policy. In Bahrain we are propping up with weapons and foreign troops a despotic theocracy that is suppressing a popular movement for freedom and democracy. Hardly a word of it in the mainstream media. In Syria we are arming people who want to install a theocracy. Lot’s of that in the news, though they neglect to mention the theocracy part and the atrocities the insurgents are committing in what has now become an ugly civil war. The point of course is that apparently though, millions of Americans still think that our foreign policy is about freedom … and is opposed to religious extremism. Oh well, millions of Americans think Obama is a secret Muslim or that the Moon landings didn’t happen, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over the Internet, so I’m hoping it’s in the public domain. If anyone knows who to credit it to, I will. Gold Kudos to this guy though, the original “Save Yourself Mammal” guy. It’s one of those cartoons that I think will make me laugh forever. Another mental defect I suppose.)