Thursday, January 17, 2008

And now, in this corner...

Congratulations, Art Maurer of Crete (the hideously ugly suburb, not the beautiful Greek island). You are this week's winner!

This dimwit gives us
when I wrote this letter, it had been 2,313 days since the last terrorist attack in the United States--on Sept. 11, 2001. How many other countries can claim the same record for protecting its citizens? More than 1 million people jammed Times Square for the New Year's Eve celebration. None of them seemed concerned that a suicide bomber might be taking advantage of so many human targets in so little space. There must be a reason they were safe, and I, for one, don't want it changed.
Oh my God. Please tell me one thing Der Chimpenfuhrer has done to "make us safe" and

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This one's for Schmidlap

From GOP caucus winner/freak Mike Huckabee
I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.
That's rich.

Monday, January 14, 2008

From our favorite Bush apologist

Bush apologist Mark Silva is following Der Chimpenfuhrer to the UAE and gives us this:
where my room was running somebody 1595 USD a night, and the amenities include a PDA to control all of the entertainment The NEC flat screen, I am estimating 60 inches. And a balcony with a view of the arches at the gate to the grounds, sort of L'Arc de Triomphe Vegas-style, lighted last evening in purple. Fine Australian wine yet only Moet et Chandon, no Dom, sits in the minibar.
That's right, Mark. SOMEONE was paying what most Americans would LOVE to see as a paycheck every two weeks for your room. And who was that "someone?" Taxpayers, do we fund your junkets? Your employer, which just raised its price to 75 cents a day? Or perhaps the UAE, that may want favorable coverage for perhaps, another ports deal?

This is good news...right?

(WASHINGTON)—The Democratic-led Congress is unlikely to block U.S. plans to sell $123 million worth of sophisticated precision-guided bomb technology to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns from some members that the systems could be used against Israel. The Bush administration on Monday notified Congress of its intent to sell the bomb-delivery systems as part of a multibillion-dollar arms package to bolster the defense of U.S. allies in the Gulf.

Nothing like giving one of the world's largest sponsors of terrorism a whole bunch of bombs.

That's just perfect

The Chimp continues his tour of the Middle East with a stop in Dubai, which is apparently throwing him a holiday for his visit. Of course they are - Dubai is a country run by people exactly like Bush and his ilk. They're way too rich and are ruled by their adolescent passions to play and be wasteful rather than in any way contribute anything. It's a giant mega-rich frat party. Surrounded by hardcore Islamic regimes, Dubai is a playpen. Not enough beachfront property? Hell, let's dig up the ocean floor and build our own, palm tree-shaped islands! We live in a desert? Let's become an international golf destination, where people with way too much money can hit golf balls off the tops of hotels (I wonder where they land). My only hope is that the giggling murderer will realize that he's found his kind and will stay there and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A HUGE shout-out and God bless...

Forgive me for getting personal, but basically since Christmas my lovely wife

has been in Indiana taking care of her mother. It's a beautiful thing you're doing (despite the fact that I am living like a Cro-Magnon man)

Love you dear.

You don't

Pete, the simple answer is that you can't talk to people like that, at least not about any issues dealing with science. Science is inherently a rational process (assuming the scientists act, as a whole, rationally, which eventually the community of scientists does), and people who make "arguments" from the perfect literality of the Bible are not being rational. They're ruled by their faith, which is their choice, but it provides no avenue for discussion. Entirely too many people in that community believe that if any aspect of the Bible is demonstrably untrue, the entire text is faulty and irrelevant, and once one builds that rigid a foundation to base one's entire life on, one cannot be willing to explore any variations. These are people who diffuse cogent, well-thought out, complex arguments about inconsistencies in the Bible with a simple "If you truly believed, you wouldn't see that as a problem." What do you do with that? Obviously, you don't truly believe, so nothing you say can be relevant.

To believe as many of these people do, you have to accept God as a being which, given infinite power and knowledge, would choose to (a) create humanity as a curious, thoughtful, questioning species capable of understanding complex issues through the human creation of science and (b) produce a staggering amount of data which such a species would be inclined to accept, but which would really be a trick, designed to make us prove our faith. I'm not sure why so many are so devoted to a God which, in that model, is a complete jackass. "Hey guys, I'm going to give you the skills to use science to, say, cure diseases and travel to other planets, but if you try to use those same skills to explore anything about any of these fossils or quasars or black holes or anything like that, you'll burn in Hell, you blasphemous bastards." I mean, does that make any sense?

Of course, religion as a whole confuses me, so I may not be the best source for answers here.

How can you talk to these people?

In another group, I have encountered the first of their kind for me, personally. Oh, I knew they existed, and I've seen and read their absurdities in the press. But even after 40+ years of involvement in organized religion, I have never personally encountered a young earth creationist.

He is a decent fellow, college-educated and a retired commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, and yet--the earth is 6,000 years old and Noah's flood carved the Grand Canyon. Now this issue becomes more important with a GOP caucus-winner who thinks Jesus rode dinosaurs, but on a personal level, how do you deal with these people?

I am just amazed that some people could walk into a natural history museum in 2008 and look up at the dinosaurs and say, "Timmy, ignore what the exhibit signs said about all those millions of years. We know that the Lord God made them on the third day of creation, about 2:00 on the afternoon. Praise the Lord."

I grew up in the Methodist church, and my Sunday School teacher was also my 1st grade teacher. She recognized early on that I was an odd child, as I would ask in Sunday School (6 years old) how big a boat Noah would have needed for two of everything, and what if one of the two died on the boat? I still hear dear Mrs. Morse telling me, "it wasn't a real boat. It is an ancient story about a time when floods in the river valleys were very common and dangerous in that part of the world, and how God loves us."

Pretty damn good explanation.

I still see no conflict whatsoever between science, history and faith. Jesus told us to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Today, I think he would expand his list to include geologists, physicists and archeologists as well as Caesar. Even Paul (who had his own issues) recognized that the Old Testament stories were allegorical. Science and history cannot challenge faith (if I happen to believe that "John's" words in 3:16, usually seen behind goalposts are true, that cannot be rationally challenged. Middle eastern mythology CAN however, be challenged by science and history, and it gets CREAMED.)

I won't even bother discussing how ridiculous the "science" of a young earth is. But even from a theological standpoint, there are just way too many conflicts to confound even the most since literalist.

There is a difference between Pauline theology (Paul knew none of the "Gospel stories," was unfamiliar with any claims of virgin birth, and in many ways portrayed Jesus as an object acted upon by God) and Gospel Christianity. From there you can even drill down and find differences between the Synoptic Gospels (M, M and L) and the Johanine version.

Another problem for Biblical literalists is that they treat as revealed texts things which either 1) weren't texts or 2) weren't viewed by the authors as revelations. The Old Testament was reduced to writing centuries after the origin of these tales, particularly the historical narratives of the Pentateuch, and the anonymous writers did not claim to be expressing revealed truth (as compared to the Quaran, for example.).

The creation story in Genesis is profoundly important because it allegorically disposes of polytheistic faiths. It is significant that the one god creates earth, sky, water, flora and fauna, rather than a multitude of deities identified with the various aspects of life in other faiths. By clinging to literacy, they miss the point.

In NT terms, Jesus of course wrote nothing, and nothing was written about him contemporaneously (the "gospels" were recorded between 30 and 70 years after his death.) [note there is also the problem of the non-canonical gospels, most notably Peter and Thomas, and the Gospel of James, which was a fictional effort to discredit non-Roman claims to primacy). The epistles were generally correspondence filled with theological interpretations, social mores and practical problems (most of what Paul wrote about the strictures of Mosaic law came from one basic question--was Christianity a sub-sect of Judaism? Jesus preached only to the Jews, but Paul carried the message beyond. There were several aspects of Judaism which were unpalatable to Hellenistic Gentiles. While quite willing to absorb other faiths, they, for some reason were not fond of ritual sacrifices, stoning, and for the men, one unpleasant practice on adults w/o anesthesia.) Not even Paul claimed that he was writing revealed truth.

In other words, they don't need to claim literal truth to proclaim their faith. Doing so, in my view, shows irrational thought, a lack of intellectual honesty and intellectual laziness. I repeat the question at the beginning?

How can one deal with these people?

Wait, I think this is where I came in...

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - President Bush said Sunday that Iran is threatening the security of the world, and that the United States and Arab allies must join together to confront the danger "before it's too late."

The report stated that "Bush said Iran funds terrorist extremists, undermines peace in Lebanon, sends arms to the Taliban, seeks to intimidate its neighbors with alarming rhetoric, defies the United Nations and destabilizes the entire region by refusing to be open about its nuclear program."

Haven't we heard this before? The not-so-veiled threat of "before it's too llate," the association with feared terrorists (Hussein-Osama, Iran-Taliban) no matter how ill-supported or illogical the connection is (I know, I've seen the news reprts about Iranian weapons being found in Afghanistan, according to "U.S. officials" and I know that there were some talks, but these two DESPISE each other, just like bin Laden and Hussein.)

And in terms of "defying the United Nations? George, need I remind you of the U.N. ambassador you forced down that organization's throat against the will of Congress and remarks such as
There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States
The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.
Yeah, there's a deep and abiding respect for the United Nations.

The only comforting thing is that he can't INVADE Iran. He's broken the military too badly to open up another front. The flip side of that is that it leaves open even a more dangerous option.

There are a lot of jokes in the picture below, but I am too sickened and frightened to make them.