I AM My Sister’s Keeper

womengloriousAs with so much with me, a number of widely disparate notions traverse my synaptic receptors before it dawns on me–the greater issue–that is.

Thus it starts with the insanely stupid Hobby Lobby decision, brought to us by five Catholic men who have probably long-since stopped depositing seed in the fertile womb of any woman married to or otherwise.

A perusal of but a few of the rags that pass for “right-wing” blather turns up gems such as “you want to have your fun and make me pay for it”, “keep your legs together or pay for it yourself”, or this upside-down logic, “if you can’t afford contraception, you can’t afford to have a baby anyway!”

Hey there brain-dead XY’er, umm, it seems that you fundamentally misunderstand some rather basic stuff. One,  if women are using contraception to “have fun” well guess who they are having fun with? Second, contraception coverage under an insurance plan is not a “gift”, it is a benefit owed to the employee in lieu of a bigger paycheck. Taxpayers have nothing to do with it bozo. Third, umm, under this theory why are you still getting your I-can’t-get-it-up-without-ya Viagra in your insurance plan? If you want to have fun, pay for it? And fourth, uh, contraception is the way you avoid a pregnancy you cannot afford stupid.

I am post-menopausal, yet this fight is my fight. For I am a woman. For I am a human being.

Some many years ago, when I still worked for a living, I had a work colleague. “B” as we shall call him was an African-American male and law schooled at U of M. “B” was inordinately proud of his U of M alumni status and wore a lapel pin announcing his alumni status virtually every day.

One day, “B” wandered into the law library (which contained a lunch room at one end) where a number of us (mostly women, Black and white) were discussing affirmative action and how we all were grateful for the opportunities it had given us as both women and women of color to advance in various professions. Added to that were the men and women before us who had labored on our behalf to ensure that we as young women had more opportunities than their generation.

“B” was asked if he too were grateful for the boost given him in his pursuit of a better life. He exploded in a vehement denial of being such a recipient. He got where he was, “by his own talents and abilities” and was beholden to no one for his success. We all were shocked, attempted to argue with him, but B left the room quickly in disgust at our suggestion.

I am retired and no longer work. Yet this fight to level the playing field is my fight.  For I am a woman. For I am a human being.

A friend just a day ago, talked about how she and her family had needed food stamps and other forms of public assistance to get by for a time in the past. All who know her, know she is a hard-working mom, a dedicated wife, a thoroughly responsible person. She puts a face on all “those” people that the Right so snidely likes to look down upon as “takers” and as developing a culture of expectation that the government will take care of them. She belies that picture assuredly.

I can echo that story by one of about my housekeeper who is struggling, working from sun-up to sun-down to raise six children all the while in the midst of a divorce from their father who continues to refuse to pay one penny toward their care as a way to punish her for putting him out for his drinking, drugging, and abusive ways. She receives what aid she can from where she can, and we struggle to find better ways to help her.

I am not receiving assistance, and if all goes as it seems to be, I never shall. But this fight is my fight. For I am a woman. For I am a human being.

How does this all tie together?

Only in one respect. Read Matthew 25.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41* j Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42k For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44* Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

There are many who say that we are genetically wired to care about each other. Certainly humans are not meant to be alone like the cheetah or polar bear. We have found camaraderie and safety in numbers. We have sacrificed some independence, some freedom for the protection of those numbers. Somewhere in that movement from tribe to village to town and city, we have learned to care about the needs of others, not just ourselves. Beyond our concerns for the progeny we bear, we care for the old, and for the disabled.

Recently remains of a Down’s Syndrome child was found among early human burial remains. The skeleton suggests that rather than kill or expose these disabled babies, they were cared for until their natural death. Similarly we find the remains of elderly who certainly could not have survived without help from others.

From this we learn that the desire to care for each other is ancient. We seek to serve each other,  either by genetics or at the very least by the call of the most perfect prophet the world has known–Jesus Christ.

Unlike our Right-wing evangelicals who twist scripture to reflect a Jesus who counsels against government assistance, eschews the minimum wage, and Paul who taken out of context tells us that those who will not work will not eat, we respond to what is in our hearts and/or in our DNA, called to reflect that what we do to others we inevitably do to ourselves.

When I hear the voices of hate-bearing sanctimonious condemnation, when I listen to their explanation that we are “coddling” and “creating a dependence culture”, I am not sure what comes first to me, the tears of grief that people can drape themselves in the flag while waving the bible in order to hide from the world their true self-centered motives, distorting Christ and his sermon of empathy and love, or the flashes of red-hot anger that wish to explode in slapping such people across the face as hard as I can, watching the self-satisfied holier-than-thou smugness fade as the cheek brightens into a red imprint.

We do what is right because it is right, quite simply. Women as poor as they may be deserve as good health care as the CEO of GM. Everybody gets to where they are in life due to the helping hands of untold dozens if not tens of dozens, and lack of means is no definition of worthiness or lack of it. Dr. Ben Carson has become the darling of the Right with his claims that government assistance to the poor, is akin in some measure to a return to slavery. Well Dr. Carson was the recipient of plenty of that assistance as a child and young adult, and that assistance gave him the opportunity to study hard and do all the things he had to do to achieve great success. He did not do it alone and he would be the first to be offended had his mother or he been treated as something less than the kids who grew up in better circumstances.  How soon we forget from whence we have come.

How soon we fall victim to our own greed for the “good life” and turn our backs on all those who are left behind. How soon we forget that but for the “grace of God, go I”. How soon we twist self-righteous religiosity into some sort of club with which to bludgeon all those who don’t do as we say, while we do as we wish, crying out to God when caught, that we too are sinners, but somehow still not sinners like those awful others. 

So we will gladly pay a little more if it means that everyone has a decent minimum. Everyone should have a home, clothing, medical care, quality education, and a job at a fair and living wage. We will do it because we don’t see the world as them and us, but as we.  It is the human thing to do quite simply. And you will never dissuade us otherwise, though you may win a battle here and there. You will not win in the end, because

WE ARE BETTER THAN YOU ENVISION US AND YOU TO BE.

 

 

Convincing Those Who are Oblivious

Malcom-X-Quote-oppressed-peopleI spend a lot of time thinking.

I write a lot about the things I’m thinking about.

People who think like me, read what I write, and they think it’s pretty okay.

People who don’t think like me, don’t read me, but if they did, they wouldn’t agree with me.

Which is curious, since much of what I think about and write about is pretty well substantiated by actual things called facts.

It would seem evident that my facts should trump your fact-less opinion. But it doesn’t. Because you dismiss my facts. You don’t even waste the time to think about them, you simple use your magic eraser and voilà they are gone.

My husband, the great thinker, The Contrarian, reminds me that people are on a continuum. People are not neatly packed into the left or right or middle. It’s all bleeding all over the place. But we are dealing with averages after all.

“Recent converging studies are showing that liberals tend to have a larger and/or more active anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC—useful in detecting and judging conflict and error—and conservatives are more likely to have an enlarged amygdala, where the development and storage of emotional memories takes place.  More than one study has shown these same results, . . . .”

This has been known for some time. It ends up suggesting that these truisms are mostly true for liberals:

Liberals, according to this model, would be likely to engage in more flexible thinking, working through alternate possibilities before committing to a choice. Even after committing, if alternate contradicting data comes along, they would be more likely to consider it.

On the other hand, conservatives respond rather differently:

“. . .[W]hen faced with an ambiguous situation, conservatives would tend to process the information initially with a strong emotional response. This would make them less likely to lean towards change, and more likely to prefer stability. Stability means more predictability, which means more expected outcomes, and less of a trigger for anxiety.”

You see the dilemma?

Liberals continue to pepper conservatives with facts, and conservatives respond with concerns about values and things that affect them personally. They give you anecdotal information that they see as equally valuable in how they should respond.

Case in point. I know a person who is conservative and a fundamentalist. She is opposed to the ACA because it stems from President Obama, and pretty much is in agreement with all the known Tea Party positions regarding, abortion, gay marriage, guns, and so forth. I’ve never seen her seriously out of alignment with them on any issue.

At one point in her life, her health situation became serious enough that she applied for Medicaid. She was denied as “not eligible”. She self-reported that a “neighbor” couple got Medicaid however. She then went on to explain that God saw fit to have her denied because obviously He had other plans for her.

Let’s try to reconcile this. First, this woman has quoted her pastor as approving statements that call the American poor “akin to the rabble of Rome”. Her remark about her neighbors getting their Medicaid seemed offered as an example of  people who got what they didn’t deserve at least as much as she did. Yet, her application for Medicaid doesn’t define her as a “taker,” because of course she felt that in her situation, she “deserved” it.

However, when Medicaid denied her, that would mean she was not deserving, and thus one of those who was trying to get what she didn’t deserve, thus a taker. Since she cannot see herself as a taker, she is a qualified applicant denied what she deserved by a loving God who had other plans for her.

That’s the way you twist the world to fit your beliefs. People who get government assistance are still takers because they are not deserving, while good people like herself are denied. God has a plan and someday she will understand.

The example is instructive. It will do no good for me to  give her facts about how well Obamacare is actually doing now. She will not be impressed with knowing that in several states, competition between carriers has actually doubled, making it likely that premiums will come down even more in ensuing years. Eight million plus new insured will not do the trick either, since they are like her neighbor, people who shouldn’t get it, and could get their own if they would only get a job.

She might, on the other hand, be persuaded that it’s the Christian thing to do, that a healthier country means that everyone will benefit in myriad ways. Playing to her sense of Christian charity should work. But alas it does not to the fundamentalist. Jesus did in fact make it most clear that we were “our brother’s keeper” and he again and again emphasized to his disciples that here brother meant the truly marginalized. His examples of the marginalized he considered “brothers” were people of other nationalities,  victims of disease, women, those in employment to the oppressors, and sexually active persons.

Some how Jesus’ teachings about carrying for the prisoner, the sick, the hungry, the unclothed, got mixed up. I would take another post to untease the tangle of Pauline and pseudo-Pauline doctrine that is both misunderstood and mis-applied to these teachings to get where we are today with the evangelical right, namely that government should not proffer  programs for the needy, instead, they, the evangelicals should, so they can weed out all those who are not deserving, i.e., the lazy, the takers, the rabble, reserving charity for the “truly needy” which is essentially someone who has suddenly through no fault of their own, “fallen on hard times”, from which, if given just a little help for a short while, they will recover and once again be productive citizens.

That leaves us with appealing to self-interest and values, but here too we run into trouble. Let’s take the issues of food stamps and a living wage as examples. Regularly we are told that food stamps are misused by uncounted numbers of people who are “too lazy” to work. (Facts are to the contrary of course, but facts don’t matter.)  These people are taking advantage of “us” through taxes when they could just as well get a job.  But on the other hand, conservatives are essentially against any minimum wage, arguing that it impinges on an employers right to pay what he/she deems appropriate, and that such a law interferes with free markets. These are values conservatives hold dear: working and free markets.

However, if you wish people to work, but allow business owners to play unfair low wages, doesn’t that put us into the food stamp business? Logic says that if you want people to work you need to pay them enough to care for themselves and their families. So you should support a requirement of a fair living wage.

But again, logic is not the point. Conservatives can and do hold opinions on things that are in considerable conflict. Remember, it is liberals who have to reconcile conflicting beliefs, not conservatives.

While it is easy to say that the way to change the mind of a conservative is to forget facts and give them arguments that appeal to their self-interest and values, such is not always possible as we can see, or at least it requires a great deal more finesse than one would think.

It would seem then, that the answer lies in education. Only by teaching our youngsters that the mind has a way of creating reality to suit its own comfort zone, can we set about the business of giving them the tools that will allow them to avoid the pitfalls of their own predilections.

In this no doubt liberals also have something to learn. The focus  in this essay has been on explaining why liberals can’t change the minds of conservatives with facts. But they too have positive points to contribute. In a stable compromising world,  we could do what we have mostly always done, bring out the best in each other.

What is most important to remember, is that no individual can be utterly pigeon-holed by this analysis. We change over time as well. We do have free will, and the ability to overcome our own negative tendencies. These are generalities across a spectrum. Genetic predispositions are just that, predispositions, over come again and again by serious study, and life experiences. We would do well to remember that.

(Do read the link–it gives a lot more detail and links to further study)

Eric, My Dude, Wha’ Happened to Ya?

Cantor-0bcf9-4269 Frank Luntz really got one thing right. “The GOP is lousy when it comes to doing polling.”

By all accounts, Eric was blindsided by his rather convincing loss to a third-rate “economist” called Brat. He dinna see it cummin’ as they say.

As all politicians do, they manage to put on a thin smile as they stumble to the podium to admit their loss and congratulate the nobody who was somehow good enough.

The punditry is all awash in ‘splainin’ how this happened.

Some say it was his flirt with immigration reform. Other’s his watering down of a bill that would have but a stop to insider trading by congress people, who are as you know, so danged overworked and unpaid that it’s only fair that they should be able to do what nobody else can do without going to jail.

Some say Eric was just a total shit, arrogant and dismissive, failing to act, ya know, like one of his constituents, on those “hanging out  in the district” times. He was in a word, (words actually) full to the brim with the sweet smell of his own poo.

He will likely be replaced by an even more odious (ideologically speaking) commodity, the Brat guy. Who is some sort of economist, but apparently not much of one, who when asked what his position was on minimum wage increases, said he hadn’t had time to work out a “fully crafted statement” on that yet, or some such bullshit. What freakin’ economist doesn’t have a thought on a subject that, ya know, DEALS WITH ECONOMICS?

But I guess one shouldn’t wonder since his economic philosophy seems to be “Brat believes in free-markets as run by some curious amalgam of Presbyterian theology and Ayn Rand’s economic sociopathy.” If that don’t make your head spin I don’t know what will. The atheist Rand married to a dude who claims that his win was a “miracle from God”. I can’t wait to see how it pulls that off.

It is however, most comforting to know that there are plenty of GOP tenderfeet waiting in the wings for their chance on the national stage.

As well as some old has beens who are still trying to be relevant to something that passes for significance in this political world.

johnmccainshocked

Enter one John S. McCain. A meme last week on Facebook asked commentors to sum up Johnny in three words. My favorites were “still not relevant”, “still not President”, and “Sarah Palin, seriously?”. Fresh off his flopping like a dead flounder all over the Bergdahl mess, he ‘s moved on to utter more stale bullshit to an increasingly deaf audience.

You may not have heard, but Iraq is being overrun at the moment with Al Qaida–you know–the crazies who came into Iraq when George W, following orders from Cheney and Rummy, decided to invade it, because they wanted to? That war. The war that we sorta fought to a tie, which gave us our escape window? And we escaped. And like everyone on the planet knew that chaos (or more chaos I should say) would ensue until the damn country became a bloodbath? And a few hundred people have died in that country every month, but Syria was worse, so we didn’t notice? Until the deaths started being several hundred a week? Now ya remember?

Yeah, well, now Johnny, setting aside his blatant memory loss, has declared that we won that war, (more specifically George did after following John’s instructions), and now Obama has gone and lost it, and his entire group of foreign security advisors should be fired, and replaced by the old crew from George’s tenure, and hell, while you’re at it, let George take over, cuz God we all felt so much better and more secure when he was at the button. Such is the way John sees things, or forgets things.

MillerMeet Jeff Miller, (R-FL).

Look carefully since Jeff, is a zombie. Not walking dead, but walking brain-dead. He is shown holding on to his head, for it would float off to the ceiling if he didn’t. It’s full of nothing but helium.

Florida, as you may know, if one of those areas of the country that will soon lose half its sovereign soil when the oceans rise due to climate change. It is of some minor concern to its residents not all of whom are ready to trade their land based homes for boats.

So in their brilliance, they, in part at least, elect this fool.

Jeff, make no bones about it, is a fool, in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Frank has that wonderful ability to hold lots of facts in his empty brain that are in utter conflict.

First, Frank says that scientists are not agreed about who is causing this particular climate change. That’s not true, of course, for they are, to a degree of more than 97%; the rest being dismissed as owned and paid for by Koch brother enterprises and others in the fossil fuel industry.

Frank chooses to side with the paid-for deniers, and of course reminds us that “the climate is always changing”, as indeed it is. The planet we call home has, over billions of years, undergone plenty of change, most of it taking millions of years to build up. No doubt Frank doesn’t believe this because he must stay on the good side of the funny-gelicals who don’t believe the earth is more than 6,000 +/= a few hundred years old. But, for purposes of this argument I guess he believes that climates change over time.

His proof? Oh the dinosaurs. How in the heck could the dinosaurs have been axed if climate change wasn’t a “natural thing”. After all, he says, man wasn’t there (oh no screams Ken Ham–he’s an atheist!), and they weren’t driving around cars and such.

So the fact that the dinosaurs disappeared means that climate change isn’t man made. (Get the ropes and pinions, that jump across that chasm of logic is mighty wide!)

What Jeff doesn’t have a clue about is that the climate was rolling merrily along in old dinosaur land, when a comet or asteroid hit the planet and threw up so much dust and dirt, that the climate changed massively in a very short time (hint, hint like today’s human activities), and produced an unlivable situation for the dinos quickly. (purists note that this is the Alvarez theory to which I generally adhere or the catastrophic extraterrestrial theory. There are other serious theories which we aren’t going to get into here, suffice it that it has no effect on the argument.)

In other words, there is climate change which is normal and then there is that which is abnormal. What is happening to the earth today is abnormal, proceeding much too rapidly, and is demonstrably man-made.

The point is, there is no connection between the dinosaurs and the reality of man-made climate change. Never was, never will be.

And so we end, “Your week in GOP shenanigans and really stupid stuff.”

 

Gravitational Waves are Us

Verifying-Gravity-Waves-with-Neutron-Star-Emissions-2Big news in science this week. Something or other about gravitational waves–the original ones–like in the big bang theory. Yeah, another theory, like evolution (meaning all stupid/ignorant idiots can stop reading and go back to fantasy island). Not that I judge of course. *smirky face inserted ——>Cheeky-Tongue-bbm-smiley-This stuff goes back a few decades to some guy or other who predicted this wave would be there, as a way of explaining what seemed to be the rapid inflation of the universe from a singularity into the vast expanse we find today, mostly of empty space and dark matter. Also it explained the general uniformity of matter concentration, throughout. Got all that? Doesn’t matter.

Just know it’s big. About as big as the Higgs Boson find a while back. Maybe bigger. Like in Einsteinian big. As in a whole lotta folks near peed themselves.

You and I? Ah, not so much. Didn’t affect the price of gas nor reduce my angst about non-duality achievement any. What else matters?

Speaking of which, non-duality that is. I’m not any closer. Nor any farther. Since it’s not a place to go to, it’s just opening your eyes and seeing R E A L I T Y. Dontcha wish Aretha had sung about that instead of a very dualistic concept like respect?

Anyway, I been hanging around with such concepts for a while now. Some of it is making some sense. But I don’t feel enlightened in any way. I mean, one of the things that some and I mean S O M E people say is that to the enlightened or awakened mind, “everything is exactly the way it should be.”

Which is way way uncool and kinda sick given the cesspool of poo the world is in. But ya see, there is a logic to it. Saying that the world is a shit hole is a value judgment quite clearly. Various despots, political and economic, probably would disagree because they have island homes and barely raised a buffed finger before someone is at hand to step and fetch for them. They are powerful and they like it. The world is their oyster.

But there’s a whole ‘nother level where everything is exactly as it should be. In fact, it’s exactly as it has to be. I can no other than it is. And that’s very non-dual when you think of it. See, reality is nothing but the sum total of all actions by everyone, and all actions by everything, as far as the eye can see as they say, like in to the edge of the universe. Given what you are doing, thinking, feeling, and multiplied by all the rest of it, including the blade of grass that is struggling to grow, and either is or isn’t, a one-time-only unique reality is formed. And it is what it is, and is exactly what it must be.

Let me know when your eyeballs quit spinnin’ and I’ll go on.

The reality of all this, is neither good nor bad, nor right or wrong, or any other dualism. It just is.

Human egos (that’s us) attach ourselves to certain desires of what that reality should/could be, and then the fun begins. We try to change it, all the while other people are doing the same, but maybe not at all in the way we want. And some people just say to hell with it, and create their own little fantasy reality. Those are the really interesting one’s when you think about it. Talk about your Sim city! It’s like a game box filled with deities, and laws, and morals, all designed just by YOU for YOU. It’s amazing how far some people will take this. Just ask Ken Ham how far you can parade a fantasy world and get people to pay you for it.

So the trick, as I see it, is the not give a damn, because it won’t change anything anyway, but somehow be a good person and do “good” in the world, all the while not being attached to any outcome that is most assuredly not going to go your way anyway–since who the hell are you to dictate the world?

Can you see where I am stuck?

It’s not all no God, if you think that I’m headed that way. I’m not. I think the same “truth” derives from either a god-model or a spontaneous out of now where for no reason explanation. One may take a bit longer to arrive at, but in the end, both lead to the same thing. Reality is still gonna be reality, unless you get off the train and decide to hitch your donkey to a literal star over Bethlehem. Then you just dig the ditch a little deeper, or sink deeper into Plato’s cave.

All roads lead to. . . .

What?

They lead to realizing that a mind is just conveniently for aesthetic? purposes, housed in a bony case called a head. And the rest of “us” is conveniently covered over with bones and tissue and skin and offered as an “entity”. The mind is not mine, or yours, it’s ours. It’s as big as the universe at least, and perhaps bigger. I haven’t walked around the block very far yet. Yet that’s where it has to lead. Unbounded mind, all mixed in a soup of unbounded minds all being one big mind. Trying to be “me” is fairly selfish and silly at the same time.

Yet I go on being me. Reading Jed McKenna doesn’t enlighten me, nor do I agree with a lot he says, and I find some of his explanations of why he acts so darn ego-driven when he’s not, unsatisfying and vaguely con-artist in the attempt. I surely don’t buy into the idea that everyone who has ever become enlightened has to pass through this “first step” which wrenches the guts and destroys everything. Is it essential to leave spouses and children and go off barefoot in a quest? He claims a fair percentage end up in loony bins at least for a while.

I don’t buy that. Course, he would say that anyone who doesn’t agree with him, hasn’t become enlightened and probably doesn’t want to suffer the slings and arrows as it were. But since Mr. McKenna remains an enigma of sorts and unreachable pretty much, I’m not sure he’s any more real than the Wizard of Oz. All show and glitter, but look behind the curtain.

I don’t know that any of it matters. But clearly it seems to matter to a whole lot of humans because we spend billions of bucks on thousands of teachers and gurus and books and CD’s and speeches, all to help us along the road to what was that again? Some place not here.

And it’s not that we are all so god-awful unhappy being here. I know I’m not. Life right here and now is damn good in my book. I got no serious complaints. I’m pretty sure that a whole lot of seekers would agree.

Yet something keeps being that itch we can’t quite scratch.

I’ll let you know if I ever get there.

When I’m not too busy doing whatever it is you do when you are enlightened.

I hope pizza is still on the menu.

The Pretzel God

Ham-Nye-debate-in-a-nutshell-via-exploring-our-matrixI found myself once again engaged in that never-to-be-solved conversation with a creationist, commonly referred to as a YEC’er (young-earth creationist). That such conversations are tedious is obvious. I never sought it, rather the usual folks just have to respond when you make fun of their favorite belief.

The other day I posted  a thing from Buzzfeed, which merely and perfectly objectively showed the “questions” that some YEC’ers would have asked Bill Nye after attending the “debate” at the Creation “Museum” run by Ken Ham. Ken Ham is either a silly lunatic who believes the nonsense that spews from his mouth, or he is a grifter. I’m not quite sure which.

Actually Buzzfeed, I now find, has answered these 22 questions, sometimes humorously, but always factually as far as my knowledge goes. My post was met by, not a reasoned response but the highly laughable video created by one Ray Comfort called Evolution vs God. In it Ray confronts a few professors but mostly students and demands that they produce a “change of kinds” that he can see, peppered with the now standard question, “were you there?” The upshot seems to be the rather bizarre notion that Ray has that if “you were not there, you can’t prove it happened.”

Now we already know Ray from his enormous boo-boo in the Banana Proof, calling it the “evolutionist’s nightmare. Here Ray tells us that the banana is clear evidence of something created by God just to fit the hand of the human being. We will skip his retraction when he learned about how the banana has been altered by humans and no longer resembles what it did originally and well, how monkeys of course seem to have hands that work pretty darn good too in eating bananas.

Now I did not watch the famous debate between Nye and Ham. Both sides undoubtedly have not changed their mind one whit nor anyone elses. Both sides will claim victory. That Ham, as I’ve been told, made lots of assertions without any proof such as “it is not proven that the earth is old”, when it clearly is, is par for the course.

The reality of all this is that the only real loser here was Intelligent Design. Actually I was a bit surprised to learn that the ID folks hate the YEC folk. See, the ID people actually in some cases are scientists, and they are trying mightily, though usually falling short, in bringing some actual science to the discussion. They, for instance, don’t believe at all in a young earth. They simply believe in a grand master God who created such things that they say are “irreducibly complex”–God is the designer of such things as the eye , and the blood clotting cascade. So Ham really screwed them  in their longed for resurrection from the damned which occurred in the case of Tammy Kitzmiller, et al vs. Dover Area School District, et al. (400 F. Supp. 2d 707, Docket no. 4cv2688).

The meme above gives voice to the real problem with these fringe fundamentalists. And fringe is what I do mean. While Ham and his cohorts often tout the “fact” that nearly 50% of all Americans believe in creationism, that is not at all accurate. As with all polling, how the question is framed matters greatly. When you get to the extreme of a Ham–the earth is only a few thousand years old, ditto the universe, and Adam and Eve were the original humans, and the bible (usually only the KJV translation) is the literal word of God–we are talking about something less than 10% of the population.

The problem is this: faith is a matter of belief. People who assert (and it’s always these ultra uber “Christians” or extreme fundamentalists who do) that they are “positive” “sure” “absolutely certain” that what they belief is true, are deluded by their own arrogance. Faith is belief. More clearly it is belief in the face of doubt. Some of the most famous of saints struggled the most with their faith–languishing for years in doubts and questioning. Ironically, if God were as the uber fundies contend–a god of judgment, they would fail. It is no great thing to believe what is proven. Faith is believing in spite of doubt. I suspect a god of judgment would favor the one who believes in spite of doubt rather more than the one who believed because he was convinced the proof was complete. Don’t the atheists do as much?

Worse, the YEC’er likes to claim that they “follow the word of God”, in other words, they do the bidding of God which is clearly set out in their translation. But this is false. For the bible is not something that is capable of one and only one meaning, not in its sum or in its parts. It is an interpretive document, informed by many other disciplines. For instance the word na ‘ar in Hebrew literally means “youth”. The word zaqen literally means “old”. However it would be a mistake to conclude that a youth is younger than an old person. For from learning about the sociology of ancient Israel, we learn that the term youth is attached to any male not yet head of a household, while old is attached to any male who is head of a household. Thus a na ‘ar can be older than a zaquen. (From Method Matters: Essays on the Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, “Sociological Approaches: Toward a Sociology of Childhood in the Hebrew Bible” pg. 262,[Society of Biblical Literature: Atlanta, 2009]

Fundamentalists will deny all this simply because they truck in being able to discern the meaning of scripture by reading it. In that way it is they who believe in the “their own vain thoughts”, not the scholar who knows that the texts are not literal in nature, and that translation and context mean everything to meaning. God is twisted in the fundamentalist mind to fit what the mind needs Her to be.

My fundamentalist opponent dropped her side of the conversation after I produced any number of critiques of Ray Comfort’s silly video. That is the way of all such people, for in the end, they have no facts that they can articulate beyond scraps of talking points that they essentially don’t understand in the first place. She left with this parting shot, from Matthew 7:6:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Ironically, it is one of the more controversial passages from the Sermon on the Mount, and there is much disagreement of what it means. But I’m betting she is sure what it means. And that says it all.

Well, Where Have You Been, Huh?

UglyDog_width_640x-1-1Got your attention didn’t I?

Well where have you been? I been waiting here it seems like forever, and NOBODY showed up. So I thought I might jar you from your lethargy with Buttons here, my friendly pup.

Actually I have just been busy in a fairly good way. Holidays and all. Finally have days utterly to myself. Made enough food yesterday to last until at least Monday. By then, I think we will start to be tired of it all.

Frankly the political scene both disgusts me and bores me. I still keep INFORMED, but I’m just so tired of Republicans being, you know, so Republicanish, which is a nice way to say douchey. Do they ever stop being douche bags? My representative sure doesn’t. Steve Pearce is his unholy name, and he is a douche of the very first order.

A millionaire they tell me, and owned lock, stock and barrel by the TeaDrunkards. I find it amusing to read the GOP playbook (sent around to all the lil man and woman/childs pretencing at actually serving the public). Said playbook is regularly filched/gifted/snuck to various liberal organizations and published for all to see. It consists of phrases (typically called “talking points”) and suggestions of things to do to make the GOP look intelligent and the Democrats to look stupid.

The playbook lately has focused a lot on Obamacare, of which I am thoroughly tired by the by. So, to make a long story not quite as long, old Steve has been busy reading his, and he regales us regularly on Facebook with lists of all those tens of millions who have lost their coverage in New Mexico, followed by a plea to “please send us your stories of misery”. He then reports one or two of these, and dusts his filthy lucre hands off and thinks he’s done his “job.”

Of course he offers these people no help of any sort, and fails to bother suggesting that they go to the exchanges and see what they might be offering. We have no individual exchanges here since our other douche Guv Martinez, didn’t sign the legislation until it was too late to have the time to set them up for October. So we are very douchey here. (Guv Martinez may have some serious problems of her own since her main man on her staff is a Rovish like creature that a number of people have suggested might be leading her into some illegal behaviors )

Anyway, his latest addition to stupid dialogue is to suggest that Domino’s Pizza is paying $15-20 per hour to drivers, but only in “energy selling” states, meaning those states that are pumping oil and frackin’ their way to heaven with gas. Now any student in the first fifteen minutes of undergrad school (pick your subject) knows that one has zero to do with the other on so many grounds that we reach infinity. But what was funny was that a whole bunch of Domino’s drivers chimed in with “hey Steve, you idiot!” Turns out that the $15-20 is an estimate of what drivers CAN make with tips off their base crummy salary, and DOESN’T include the cost of maintenance of their vehicle and GAS. But poor old Steve fairly misses that, since he’s simply following the PLAYBOOK.

I figured after going a few rounds with Steve, that well, I was right in the ball park with this next story. It seems like dinosaurs liked to poop in groups.  In this they are similar to camels and elephants, which means the apple don’t fall far from the tree, I guess. Or not. Evolution is a strange thing.  I’m really pretty sure that Republicans poop in groups too.

Which leads to this: did ya know that some soft tissue from a T. Rex survived 68 million years? It was found in Montana, and I have no idea whether that mattered at all, but factoids are important in Jeopardy, so consider me a coach. I mean under the best conditions it’s only supposed to last a million years. Anyway, the collagen from the beastie resembles that of birds, which must make the people at the Creation Museum go scrambling for an explanation. It all has to do with a lot of biological mumbo jumbo and IRON-rich blood that for some reason known only to a BIOLOGIST, helps preserve the tissue.

Which reminds me of Coach, Craig T. Nelson, who is among the dumber of the Republicans I know of. He hates paying taxes, hates the “welfare” society we now live in, hates Obama for bringing all that to Merika, and so on and so forth. And he’s not going to take it any more, refusing to pay taxes for things he doesn’t believe in. After all, he says, “What happened to society? I go into business, I don’t make it, I go bankrupt. I’ve been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out?. . .” YES YOU IGNORANT FOOL, THE GOVERNMENT HELPED YOU OUT WITH THE FOOD STAMPS AND WELFARE!!!  I mean this is Louis Gohmert stupid.

Louis by the way has been ear-deep in Obama conspiracy theories, claiming that the President is busy via the AHCA in amassing a private army. He’s been at this for some time, and the stories of the government buying up ammunition only goes to support that idea according to the Galloping Gohmert. A portion of the law which allows the training of a group for public health and national emergency response, is to Louis a smoking gun. But he’s a bit unsure of what the weapons of choice will be for this group:

“I’ve continued to ask questions, what is this for?” It says it is for international health crises, but then it doesn’t include the word ‘health’ when it talks about national emergencies. And I’ve asked, what kind of training are they getting? It provides in Obamacare that this commission and non-commissioned officer corps will be trained. But I want to know, are they using weapons to train or are they being taught to use syringes and health care items? But we’ve got no clear answers on that.”

Seems like dear Louis should bring up this subject at the next group poop he has with Cruz and King, and well, all the bare butted GOP’ers at the gathering. Hey, whose poo don’t stink?

Happy leftovers!

Facepalm

Items to Make You Queen of the Watercooler Next Week

large_overworkedSee that’s me. I mean, imagine a woman instead of a man, and that’s me. I’m spend hours reading just so that you don’t have to. I mean you can if you want to of course. God forbid that fine education goes to waste, but I have burned up the Intertubes in an effort to find all the news that you missed.

And I read it all. And some of it was crap upon further inspection, and so I ditched it. And the rest, well you gotta know this stuff. Especially if you want all your friends and aunt Tilde to think you are just a real smart ass. (meant in the kindest way of course)

So, let’s get to it, in no particular order.

Paul Krugman has a fine op-ed in the NYTimes detailing the crazy party, AKA, the GOP. What he says is very true. The GOP argument for deliberately toying with the very health of our economy goes something like this: I have put a gun to your head and demanded your money or your life. If you refuse to give me your money, it’s your fault that you’re dead. I gave you the option to live after all!

On the other hand, this may all go to prove that one can actually get admitted to Harvard and get through it with flying colors and still be utterly and profoundly stupid. Ted Cruz may be set to be one of the most spectacular blazing super nova that sputtered out in record time in the history of horses asses, err, super novae.

If it is true that humans have an individualized predisposition to violence, is it equally true that humans in community have a predisposition to violence in the form of war? It seems many assume this to be true. But evolutionary biologist, David P. Barash argues that this may in fact not be true. The latter may be only a capacity rather than an adaptation. Want to learn more? If you don’t think it matters, think again. We base our defense systems on assumptions of what other groups are likely to do. If we assume all people are driven to war to achieve ends, we build a different defense system than if we do not. And we’ve sure got the tax bills to reflect that.

I know that most of you are just thrilled every time you get a chance to read about quantum mechanics, I mean what self-respecting grease monkey or grocery check out lady  isn’t obsessed with the working of the universe at the extra-tiny scale? Ever heard of an aplituhedron? I bet not. It all means that all the complicated mathematical twists and turns are eliminated as well as the super computer to do the computations. Now little Bobby can explain the most complicated sub-particle interaction with nothing more than a pencil and paper again!

If you are going, uhh, okay so what? Well, you all know that physicists have been since the beginning of time, trying to join the big universe with the small universe (macro and micro forces?) and it has just never fit well, and well, the don’t call it the elegant universe for nothing. Everybody who knows this stuff figured the answer would eventually be simple. This might be it. I’m not a physicist as you might have guessed by now.

I mean this is simply delicious early fall reading. Get to it.  :)

Now I know you will love this one. There is a new book out there that you probably will want to get. I can imagine about half a dozen of you will be on Amazon in moments. It’s called Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing, by Melissa Mohr. Colin Burrows review of the book is worth the reading. Now read it your grouthead gnat snapper!

Steven Pinker from Harvard has written a book that details how we are becoming less violent as societies over time. He also argues that the world would be better led by science than by the humanities. Some beg to differ. A great essay from The Berlin Review of Books, and Gloria Origgi, A Reply to Steven Picker’s Scientific Manifesto.

overworked4111Love words? Lots of words? Okay.

The American Scholar has a fun essay called Is There a Word for That? Words are being made up all the time, but you knew that. Want to know who created some words we now take for granted? Who is responsible for katydid? Or neologize ? Or Anglophobia? Blurb? Gerrymander? Bromide? Oh I bet I got your attention now.

Similarly, if you have ever remembered the quote but not the quoter, and the more you looked the harder it got? Who Really Sad That? You would be surprised at how often we get the attribution wrong. Amaze your friends by correcting their quotes!

“Whoever is not a socialist when he is 20 has no heart; whoever is not a conservative when he is 30 has no brain.” Usually attributed to Churchill. Actually? Nobody knows.

Enter the fine world of WAS–Wrongly Attributed Statements.

I betcha thought that the human mind created the gear, that round thingie that has “teeth” and meshes with other objects similarly constructed? That together makes things turn and other things go up and down and maybe side to side? You would be wrong. Scientists have found a gear in nature for the very first time. And YOU are some of the first non-specialists to know that, so don’t you feel so very proud?

A cute little guy called a planthopper (he has a very important scientific name you need not memorize) has a couple of gears in his back legs that mesh together and then when he calls on them to, spin backward sending him off on a leap across the earth that looks pretty fun. I’m sure it made sense to him too in terms of escaping predators or getting up as high as he wanted to feed. It’s called evolution folks. There is a little embedded video so you can watch him go!

Must a life be meaningful in order to be happy? Do we prefer meaningfulness over happiness if we can’t have both? They are not the same by the way. Happiness in part is getting what you want or need in life. Meaningfulness can have zero to do with this. Similarly happy people report that health is essential, yet health has nothing to do with meaningful lives. Happiness is apparent in the now, while meaningfulness tends to be a future assessment. This is a long article but one that raises lots of questions to think about. Well worth your time.

Nautilus brings us the ever-beloved essay on dinosaurs. The discovery and explanation of our bird predecessors have had a varied history as scientists working from small numbers of bones, continually revised their thinking of these creatures over time. As is usual, it is the unsung tiny dinosaurs that have done the most to correct our understanding over time of what these cuties looked like and how they lived. For the kid in all of us, this article will satisfy. I still wish there had been Brontosaurus, they were so neat!

With the advent of all the cute devices we have now from phones to tablets to readers to computers, all with calendars and reminders of one sort or another, there is less and less reason to have to memorize things. Nobody has to write down a phone number or address. The call is registered, switch it to contacts and it’s saved forever. Enter an address in your Google maps app, and you don’t need to record that address again. And maybe, just maybe that’s a good thing. Memorization may be a much over-rated thing. Curious? Read on.

How many late night gab fests have lingered long into the night over the ever-present question– Why was Spinoza excommunicated anyway? I mean this guy was ostracized with a big O, like in members of the congregation being order to be no closer that four cubits to the man. That’s some serious excommunication! Worse, payment of a fine served to dissolve most bans. Spinoza’s was life long. Spinoza himself never spoke of the harem, most of his works and fame came long after it. What is as interesting as why is by whom: Jews who had escaped forced Catholicism in Spain and Portugal and once free in Amsterdam, practiced a form of Judaism that was anything but normative. All in all, quite fascinating.

Happy reading everyone, and to all a good day!

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