Ah, 'twas nice to be back in my own kitchen cooking up dinner once again... tonight we had Grilled Chili-Rubbed Flank Steak (served on corn tortillas with Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, and lime juice) with Mexican rice for a side. The wine of the evening was a 2001 Penfold's Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz.
I've mentioned the Mexican rice before, and you can find the recipe here. The flank steak was from the Food & Wine 2004 recipe collection, available from Amazon.com for $30, but I got mine here for $8 in the Fall.
Now off to finish watching Enemy at the Gates with the wife until it's time for
my pants the ball to drop.
Yeah, class act, me - I know.
This is a pretty nifty idea for finding new reading in the blogosphere. Not that you really need anything more than the World Wide Rant, of course.
But, if you felt like experimenting a bit, perhaps. Just don't tell your momma; she'd die of shame!
I've not written anything significant about the Tsunami, partially because I was away from the blog for most of Christmas week and also because, by now, it's pretty much all been said. Besides, if I had to sum up my feelings on the matter, it would have been a rather short post, something like this:
Holy shit.On the bright side, tragedy has once again shown just how humane we can be to one another despite our differences; on the not-so-bright-side, partisanship and international bullshit politics are already creeping into the equation, while millions suffer.
If you want to help, you can visit here for links and pointers.
From my own experience, the key to finding gainful employment quickly is to tailor yourself to the market rather than waiting for the market to tailor itself to you (which is what many people seem to do). I've found myself unemployed twice: once by choice and once through a lay-off.
In the first case, it took four months to find a new job; in the second, two months. In each, I made finding a job my full-time job, and in each case I've ended up somewhere better, in a position that is more fulfilling, for more money. I could have taken longer; I know my parents wouldn't let me, the wife, and the wee Fiona starve to death, but there's a certain shame in mooching off your folks that isn't really present when you get a check in the mail from a faceless shmoe at some state agency.
Could it be that extensive public social support networks reduce a person's sense of obligation to self and family to earn a living? The effects of more central planning on foreign economies? A little of both - a bit of neither?
Beats me; I just needed to get one post up before we're off shopping, then cleaning, then cooking, then drinking, then... other stuff. Might be back later in the day, but - if not - have a happy new year!
God still does not exist*.
Update: Wow, mock their all-powerful god and they start dingin' you in the website rankings. Too funny.
But, c'mon, you know God's not real, right?
Nevermind all that, there's plenty of good reading to be found all across this blog - click away, 'cause Jesus would.
Update 2: To save you some time, I'm an atheist small-L libertarian with some neocon tendencies when it comes to Pax Americana. Yes, this means I will say something to offend most everyone.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
* C'mon, surely that's gotta provoke some of you good BlogExplosion folks to comment.
Well, fine. Poo on the lot of ya then.
Just kidding, you know I love you somethin' serious, sweetums.
In which the author details his flights to England.
At this point I should add something: the TSA agent doing the security search was perfectly personable and friendly. It was almost as if he thought having to search me was a stupid thing too - of course, he gets the benefit of a paycheck for it where all I get is source material for a rant and the comforting knowledge that I'm not going to bring down a plane - whew!
Fully recovered from the nonsense of my previous ordeal, I boarded the plane without further scrutiny. 'Twas then that I found myself planted one row in front of an infant.
Being father to a wee one of my own, I realized that - if the 757 were a city - my seat would have sold for slum prices, perhaps even been condemned as uninhabitable. I attempted to console myself with the fact that it was just a jump to Chicago, a mere two hours, surely I'd survive; suddenly, my savior did appear from on high (or down the aisle, but I was seated, and he was standing, so "on high" works too).
A flight attendant - most likely named Bruce and in possession of a catty streak and a penchant for fashion - asked if I would mind moving seats so that another family could all sit together. I kid you not, there was the singing of angels, a holy tabernacle choir of de-balled little boys, rejoicing at this fortuitous bit of news.
I settled into my new window seat, sitting next to a mostly normal-looking couple, and stowed my backpack safely under the seat in front of me. I again beamed inwardly at my good fortune.
Unfortunately, as would be apparent in mere moments, all that previous harmonizing had drowned out a lone trumpet from the Book of Relevation.
As we leveled off at cruising altitude, the mostly normal-looking couple revealed themselves to be (best guess) true-blue Boulderites. Or hippies. Or vegans. Or all of the above. While Mrs. Normal-Looking Couple assumed some sort of Indian-style sitting position (not easy to do in an airplane seat), Mr. NLC pulled out a plastic container that at one time held the substance known as "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter."
I've no clue what it held on that day, but I think "I Can't Believe It's Not Stale Cat Urine" might be close to the truth. They seemed to enjoy it, but they were from Boulder* so that's not a shocker. Damn "progressives" and their cat-piss-eating ways.
Then it started. "It" being the all-too-identifiable thump that comes from a child kicking the back of one's seat. The thump that continues when said child's parents do nothing to stop said child from continuing said thumping as an exclamation to every sentence uttered.
I focused my attention on the seats behind me, listening for any further clue as to with whom I might be dealing. They were an Australian family - possibly New Zealanders, but as they didn't seem to have sheep strapped to their genitals, I felt comfortable going with the Aussie categorization. Their son, he of the kicking leg, seemed to be more reminiscent of the beginning and end of Flowers for Algernon than the middle**.
This was further exemplified when, on approach to Chicago, his parents pointed out the "stadium of the Chicago whatevers, one of their sports teams." I didn't have the heart to tell them that the object of their attention was, at most, a high-school football stadium; coming from Alabama, where football is king, we know what it means to build a stadium***. The whole exchange made me wonder what the Aussie mom and dad had named their own pet mice since Algernon was already taken.
Soon after, we landed at O'Hare International Airport, whereupon our "direct" flight continued after a "plane change." Thankfully it was to a 777, with plenty of room, video at each seat, and I was in the very back of the plane, so no Aussie rugrats to annoy my security-riddled behind. Passing the time with the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (would have been better if twenty pages shorter), the movie Wicker Park (worth a rent, if you ask me), and more than one glass of red wine, I soon found myself at London's Heathrow airport.
still more to come
Note: You can find Part I here.
* Hey, hey, speaking of Boulder...
** Please note that the child was not really retarded. Making fun of retarded people is wrong. Midgets however are fair game because their giant heads and short limbs make them look like carnival mirror creatures. Seriously though, don't make fun of retarded people or midgets, just stupid people. Stupid people are always fair game.
*** However, some colleges in Colorado still aren't sure.
In which the author recounts his adventure from the night before departure until the boarding of his flight.
It all started uneventfully, as these things tend to do.
The night prior to my departure, I drove to my friend's townhouse for the night. As it was the holidays, I expected parking at the airport to be an automotive version of Munch's The Scream; thus my friend agreed to drop me off at the airport early in the morning, allowing me to beat the rush of my fellow holiday travelers.
After a night of beer, pizza, wine, and Boggle with my friend and his lovely wife, he and I awoke at 4am for our trek across town to the airport.
I checked in for my 11am flight at 5:30am. It sounds insane, I realize, but - after all - it was the Christmas travel season and every message from the airlines, the airports, and your mother says "Get there early!"
So, there I was, at the airport.
As I checked in for my flight, even the desk agent commented on my arrival time, agreed with me that it was a "very good thing," but then said that because of it my bag would have to go through an extra security screening. I found it curious, but knowing full well that my luggage contained nothing of an explosive or publicly shameful nature, I let it go.
She failed to mention that it also meant I would get to go through an extra security screening as well, something I found out shortly thereafter. Beaming inside because my plan of early arrival had brought me to a security line with no more than a five minute queue, I was soon dismayed as I was shunted off to a side line. The slow moving one. The pat-you-down, search-your-bag, smell-your-feet line.
This was one of the stupidest things I had ever encountered with airport security; and, having traveled a good bit, I've encountered more than one stupid thing in my lifetime.
You see, apparently a chief terrorist tactic is to get there early so that the TSA has every chance possible to find a bomb in their luggage. There's no possible way that a terrorist would show up as late as possible to pass through without having someone check his waistband for a plastic knife. No, no, it is I - the responsible traveler - who is punished.
Eventually I made it to my gate, with no outward sign of my previous adventure other than a wobbly walk and a general aversion to sitting on hard surfaces. I took a nap until boarding time and then was off to Old Blighty (well, Chicago first, actually - then a plane change - and then Old Blighty).
More to come
I know I promised you my travelogue, and it's tentatively been written in my head - I just need to type it up. Unfortunately, this has been the day from hell (I seem to have a few each year).
Having arrived home after 18 hours of non-stop go-go-go to get from Gamlingay to Denver, I awoke at 5am to find myself either a victim of a stomach bug or the airline chicken. Regardless, those items in my belly were not content to continue calling it home.
This morning, anticipating going into work and suffering to avoid taking excessive vacation time (after all, I'd rather use it to sit on the beach in Costa Rica next year), we drove over to Lakewood where my car had been sitting in a friend's carport for the last week, as I had spent the night there so he could drop me off at the airport early with no worry of holiday parking.
My car was still there, but it had lost something very important: the ability to start. Jump-start was a no-go, so it was towed to my mechanic and there it sits at this hour.
So rather than enjoying being back at home and getting caught up at work, I sit in bed writing this update so that you don't send out the search parties. However, if they're comprised of hot women with beer, please send them out anyway.
Americans, as a whole, are not stingy:
A suggestion by a U.N. official that the world's richest nations were "stingy" irritated the Bush administration, especially when U.S. aid for Asia's earthquake is expected to eventually rise from the millions to more than $1 billion.....our government officials, however, seem to be pretty cheap (not to mention heartless):
At the airport in Bangkok, other governments had set up booths to greet nationals who had been affected and to help repatriate them, she said.If these charges have substance, then reprimand those officials. Dismiss them. The idiots deserve it.
That was not the case with the U.S. government, Wachs told her mother. It took the couple three hours, she said, to find the officials from the American consulate, who were in the VIP lounge.
Because they had lost all their possessions, including their documentation, they had to have new passports issued.
But the U.S. officials demanded payment to take the passport pictures, Helen Wachs said.
(and, yes, trip report coming up soon - bit of a stomach bug at the moment)
There it is again...
It's the sound of blogging returning.
But not just yet.
One more day left here in the UK; just wrapped up a fun- and ale-filled holiday weekend with family. Off to the pub for lunch with my father-in-law in a little bit. The concept of the English pub is almost enough to allow one to forgive their transgressions in the areas of handgun control and dental care. Almost.
Hi - am now in England, have been since yesterday morning. Had a great first day, hanging out with family, meeting up with Monica and her man, and then deciding that consciousness was overrated (due to being awake for 26 hours, being jetlagged, and having a few pints in me) somewhere around 5:30pm (local time).
I'll have much more to say in the near future, but only have a sec to say hello at the mo.
Greetings from Denver International Airport, where I still have 3 hours before my flight. Yay fun. Here's hoping the weather continues to somewhat cooperate (light snow and sub-freezing temps right now). Will have fun TSA stories and more when I get settled in at the in-laws' sometime tomorrow.
Hey World Wide Rantastics, just letting you know that tomorrow morning I'm off to beautiful Gamlingay, UK to spend the holidays with the in-laws. Mrs. World Wide Rant and the wee Fiona have been over there for nigh on a week now, and it's my turn to join them.
We'll be back in a week or so; we've got someone about the house to keep an eye on the dogs and cats for us.
Assuming the weather cooperates and I actually make my connection out of Chicago to London, we'll be having drinks and assorted edibles with Monica and her husband on Thursday. I plan to feel very short.
More than usual, that is.
Because she's a giant!
Anyway, enjoy your holidays - I'll blog as I'm able, although given that it's Christmas in England, you'll be lucky if I'm sober enough to even find the keyboard.
Wonkette is to the blogosphere as:
(a) Beer : "mmmmm"
(b) Jethro Tull : Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Grammy Awards
(c) Puppies : cute and cuddly
This will go on your permanent record.
Once again, it's probably best that some people give up blogging after just one entry.
Newsweek: What did you think of the bloggers' role in the Dan Rather affair?Whereas, of course, the appropriate response by Bush-backing bloggers to a national news powerhouse pushing forged documents as authentic in an effort to scandalize the Bush administration would have been to... what?
Wonkette:I think they did a disservice to the debate because they made the debate about the documents and not about the president of the United States. There was another half to that story that had to do with verifiable events of what Bush may have been up to.
Bend over and take it?
Sorry, Wonky, we'll leave that to you and Jessica.
Update: Bill wasn't as kind as I.
Update 2: Zombyboy was even less kind in my comments. Someone's having a case of the Mondays!
Update 3: Link all fixedy-fixed now, so you don't have to have your eyes glaze over reading about Six Sigma.
...and we're gettin' pretty good at it.
Researchers at Rockefeller University in the US have made the first tentative steps towards creating a form of artificial life.Note to creationists: mind the gaps.
Their creations, small synthetic vesicles that can process (express) genes, resemble a crude kind of biological cell.
Try entitlement society:
I am a 20-year-old college student and I am very disturbed by the talk of privatizing Social Security currently going on in Washington. Being so young, most people might conclude that I am for the privatization of Social Security; however, I feel like the government has an obligation to meet my security needs.Sigh.
Maybe we really should be encouraging some people to move to Canada.
OK, that was weird.
But good. In that "weird good" way.
If you know what I mean.
Just got a spam e-mail from The Davinci Institute (no link, why reward them?) offering a course on blogging. I shit you not. Of course, since their main page makes a point of offering their fabulous line of memberships rather than something of -oh- worth, I shouldn't be too surprised.
So, yeah, a course in blogging.
My first question is: why the hell didn't I think of this first?
And my second is: who the hell would pay for it?
Third: why didn't you people seek me out earlier? Can't you tell I'm a genius!
OK, fine, back to the beer.
It never hurts to ask.
Note: yes, there is a story there. No, I can't share it.
The Parents Television Council, an oddly named organization considering that they only seem to pander to right-wing Christian parents at best - but then again, The Right-Wing Christian Parents Television Coucil doesn't really tumble off the tongue the same way - uh, anyway, those twits are up in arms again about something else:
Television entertainment programs mention God more often than they did in the mid-1990s but tend to depict organized religion negatively, a study released Thursday said.Please note that the headline to this article gave the impression that television was painting a negative image of organized religion - yet the RWCPTC's own study says otherwise. Some 54 percent of the treatments were neutral - and fully 76 percent were non-negative. To imply that television is giving an overall negative image is - well - more lyin' for the Lord.
The Parents Television Council watched every hour of prime-time on the broadcast networks during the 2003-04 season and logged 2,344 treatments of religion. They judged 22 percent of the mentions positive, 24 percent negative and the rest neutral.
And Jeebus don't like him no liars, suh.
"Ninety percent of the American people believes in God," said Brent Bozell, the council's president. "It is an important issue to most people. Hollywood is attacking the very thing that they consider important in their own lives. Perhaps Hollywood ought to be changing its world view."Or perhaps these goodly God-fearing viewers ought to be changing the television shows they view. Once again, the RWCPTC shows itself incapable of understanding that people have responsibility for themselves and their families.
Well-publicized scandals about pedophile priests made Catholics particularly vulnerable, the council found.That's right it's all Hollywood's fault. The pee-pee-poking priests had nothing to do with it.
"Catholicism is in the bulls-eye of the entertainment medium," Bozell said.
Among the positive examples, the PTC cites a "JAG" episode where a character prays to God to say hello to her dead mother,Not quite so positive really if her mother was burning in eternal hellfire because she once fantasized about sex.
...and an "American Dreams" episode where an actor playing a medical student says a surgery is partially in God's hands.Thankfully, all the important parts such as the scalpel, clamps, and anesthesia were in the hands of the surgeons.
Sorry, strayed a bit. My point was this:
The Parents Television Coucil is a big bunch of doodyheads.
There, I said it!
Hullo, me peeps.
Just an FYI that I'll be guest blogging, and on my best behavior, over at A Likely Story for the next few days, as time permits.
Don't worry, you'll still be able to catch me at my worst right here.
I know I might be ridiculed for saying this, but I feel it really needs to be said. And, you know, I've got no shame about saying it either, because I believe it to be true.
More people should make videos of remixes of Steve Winwood songs.
Uh, possibly not work safe, but it's not like that has stopped you before.
Note from my Mom: Don't worry. It's just a phase. He'll grow out of it.
Domestic air travelers could be surfing the Web by 2006 with government-approved technology that allows people access to high-speed Internet connections while they fly.Powell then made clear that by "it" he meant wireless technology and not anything remotely having to do with sex, because sex is evil and dirty and can warp the minds of people who don't understand how to change the channel on their television. In fact, he continued:
"We are pushing the frontiers in order to bring the information age to all corners of the world," Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell said Wednesday after a unanimous vote approving the new technology for U.S. airlines. "We want it on the land, in the air, and on the sea."
And when we do have it - the wireless thingamabob, not sex or anything gross like that - we had better not get complaints about boobies or other icky stuff, because we'll shut down this internet contraption with all its magical mind beams and whatever and such.No lie. As always, I don't make up this stuff.
Violence however is a-ok.
McCain threatened to hold up every piece of legislation in the Senate while House leaders refused to go along with McCain’s pet project of establishing a national boxing commission.Say, anyone remember when the Republicans were about less regulation of our lives, about less government, about not wasting taxpayer money on frivolous things? Granted, it hasn't been anytime in recent memory, but McCain is asking the same thing:
McCain responded that he fondly remembered a time when Republicans stood for fiscal responsibility. “Apparently those days are long gone for some in our party,” he said.Whereas plonking out my money to regulate a sport is a prime example of... what, Senator McCain?
So I'm going to write an e-mail to Michael Powell (you can, too, right here) and tell him these things:It's a good start, but I think perhaps I'll write in to complain about all the church services being aired. I mean, really, they're reading from a book full of violent smiting, drunken incest, and erotic poetry.
-- "I'm a relatively upstanding citizen. I have two small kids. They only watch what I let them.
-- "I know how to use my TV remote. I know how to turn my television off.
-- "On my television, I like violence. I like nudity. I like guns going off. I like people having sex. I like swearing. I like shows with gay people in them. I like shows where gay people have sex. I like shows where gay people shoot guns. And swear. I like stuff that blows up.
-- "I also like 'Little Bear.' And shows about architecture and design. And C-SPAN. If that helps.
-- "I hope this e-mail offsets another from the Parents Television Council. I hope you get a lot more just like this. Because I want the PTC out of my living room. I've got a sneaking suspicion they're going to end up in my bedroom.
They must be stopped!
(found via Ang)
Second verse, same as the first - just sung by a different idiot.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A judge refused to delay a trial Tuesday when an attorney objected to his wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front in gold.Sigh.
I'd say I'm glad to be out of there, but, hell, I live in the state that is home to Focus on Everyone Else's Family.
Not when facing a monkey attack!
See what happens when you mix a little bit of beer, a little bit of inspiration, sequencing software I've nary a clue how to use, and an hour of my time?
And to think - I get paid to do this!*
* OK, not really, but it would be nice.
I've nary an idea where the Garden of Eden might be (aside from sections 209-213 of the Dewey Decimal Classification System), but:
About 1,000 soldiers at this sprawling base in western Baghdad took a break Tuesday from the war's day-to-day grind to be entertained by comedian Robin Williams, former NFL quarterback John Elway, and sportscaster and model Leeann Tweeden.I only bring this up because (a) Leeann is hot*, (b) circa 1995-1996, I learned about HTML by running a site called The Garden of Tweeden (props to Tom for the clever name), and (c) I find it rather amusing that she is making her second visit to an uncertain and dangerous land while John Elway considered not going.
That girl's got some balls.
Uh, figuratively speaking.
Errr... I hope.
* Probably not very work safe, depending upon where you work. For example: a Mormon Church, not safe - any church affiliated with Jimmy Swaggart, encouraged and rewarded.
Three words: I love you.
So, Scott Peterson has received the death penalty. A poor decision, if you ask me (not that the courts did, but, honestly, they should, seein' as how I've got me some smarts and stuff).
I think convicting him for the murder of Laci and Conner was a poor decision as well. To read the reports, there was no physical evidence linking the man to the crime, just a motive that - if it alone were such a great motivator - would show in us having a lot more husbands and wives knocked off on an annual basis.
My intuition is that, yes, Scott Peterson murdered his wife and unborn child and dumped their bodies into San Francisco Bay. However, neither my intuition, nor that of a jury, should be good enough to send a man to his death.
I imagine that a skilled* prosecutor can dig deep enough into your life to find a motivation for just about any crime with which you might be charged. They can paint a negative image of you by only focusing on your lesser traits. And a jury, anxious to find someone to blame, especially in an emotional case like the murder of a wife and child, will want to believe the worst about you.
Despite the evidence - or complete lack thereof.
This week, justice might very well have been served, but at what cost to all of us?**
* Antonym: unskilled, see also "Reasons why O.J. Simpson is a free man."
** If nothing else, we had to endure this.
Album: Hopes & Fears
Commentary: Mix the small toe* of Radiohead's Thom Yorke with a bit of Paul McCartney; throw them into a blender with the lush instrumentation of some late 80s progressive rock bands; puree into a smooth, easy-to-drink musical smoothie.
Best Thing About It: If you like one Keane song, you'll like them all.
Worst Thing About It: If you like one Keane song, you'll like them all.
* Credit for this addendum goes to this guy.
A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God — more or less — based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.When asked to explain the origins of the super-complexity of the super-intelligence that created the universe, Flew replied:
At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.
"Uh, ok, so maybe I've not gotten that far. And maybe it's not a perfect argument.Looks like the "Sell By" date on Flew's brain has flown by.
Wait, I know - Perhaps it's turtles all the way down!"
P.S. Jed, check the date on the article about the apparent denial by Flew; it's dated 2001.
(if you choose to accept it - and, really now, you ought to)
OK, now, back to the weekend.
"Wherefore," as in:
Wherefore art thou Romeo?...does not mean "where."
It means "why."
Someone should tell CNN (text under the graphic).
Sorry, pet peeve. Get back to your weekend.
Apparently a foreign concept to some people in England:
When individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity.Consider this the home-defense version of the unavoidable intercourse advice given to young British women by one Lady Hillingdon:
Close your eyes and think of England.I prefer the American version in which the intruder gets a couple of slugs through the chest, but then I'm pretty big on that whole "property rights" thing too. It'd be even better if you could sue the intruder's family for the resultant carpet-cleaning expense.
Going to bed.
Update: Never let it be said that a pretty face can sway me from the truth.
If you absolutely must have something to worship, you could do a lot worse than these.
The Mandinka tribe of Gambia, Africa, adheres to a religious practice completely unique to its people -- they worship actress Salma Hayek's breasts!Sigh, that they do, my African brethren; that they do.
"Salma's chest globes are magnificent forces of nature," gushes Kianga. "They are large and firm and perfectly formed. Whenever they appear on screen, it is almost as though they are calling to us: 'We're here. We're here for you. Take power from us. Let us be your energy force. Close your eyes and let us engulf you.' "
(Found via Right Thoughts).
OK, so, here I am in
lovely cold, rainy, and windy Lansing, Michigan, and nary a person came out to meet me with celebratory dancing and merrymaking and beer-offerings.
I must say, I am a might bit disappointed.
Seriously though, the trip was uneventful, although delayed by an hour. Had a nice dinner out with my colleague and am now settling into the suite for the night (except for a brief sojourn to the whirlpool in the next hour to unwind a bit); and, yes, they have free, high-speed wireless internet. Deity bless'em.
Talk to y'all soon.
Update: Should mention that tonight's beer of choice is Bell's Amber Ale, from Kalamazoo, MI. So far, so good.
The Associated Press reports:
Thugs Still Capable of Attacks in Saudi ArabiaOther headlines we're likely to see today from the AP:
Jelly good on biscuits...and perhaps:
When you climb very high, you can see very far
Witness now the charming tale of a miracle in Indiana!
A woman survived being impaled by a 12-foot metal fence post that pierced through her mouth and came out the back of her neck in a car accident, authorities said....No explanation was given for the apparently inept driving capabilities of said angelic co-pilot.
"Talk about having an angel as a co-pilot," Fire Chief J.R. Rosencrans said. "On her rearview mirror she had a picture of the Madonna. You can tell she is a religious person."
Earlier Monday, Martinez drove through a stop sign at an intersection...no sign of that miracle.
...and hit another car......nothing yet.
She then lost control...This would be a fine, fine time for that angelic co-pilot to wake up.
...careened off the road...Hello, Angel? Care to do something about this?
...and went through a chain-link fence.The only people being helped by the powers of God at this point are the car repair shop and the fence company.
The car hit a concrete porch, shoving it three feet back...Correction: and the local concrete company.
The metal rod from the fence went through the driver's side of the windshield....And the hospital might make some money too.
A passenger in the back seat was not injured.It's a miracle!
I'm sure the woman with the fence post through the lower portion of her head would have been saying Hail Mary's over and over in gratitude had it not been for, well, the fence post through the lower portion of her head.
Oh, lighten up, would ya?
Not that anyone cares, but I'll be in beautiful Lansing, Michigan on business tomorrow through Thursday afternoon. You know, in case any of you live there and wanted to buy me a beer or just show up to fawn all over me or whatever.
What do you get when you cross a confused, rambling storyline; terrific special effects; an actor who keeps slipping into his native accent; and one of the cheesiest endings ever to grace the screen?
You get, of course, Van Helsing.
I swear, that final scene with the funeral pyre made me cringe. As I saw the smoke begin to float around and take shape, I sat there thinking "please, please, please don't let it take the form of her face floating in the sky - please?"
However, as the film had been in the can for months and months, my pleas to the screenwriters, directors, and editors were all for naught (remarkably like that whole prayer thing when it comes to an all-knowing God).
That scene rivals the Gary Sinise "Earth in the palm of my hand" monstrosity from Mission to Mars as one of the most cringe-worthy scenes in cinematic history.
Which is not to say that I didn't like watching Kate Beckinsale in her
pirate - um - bar wench - um - silly-looking, yet well-fitted, vampire hunter outfit.
Every once in a while, someone - usually a Christian of the "Help, help! I'm being repressed variety" - comes along and says something in my comments that I think is better replied to in a post than in the original comments. Such is the case with a comment by one Patrick Prescott, in response to this post.
Scroll down, click through, whatever. Read it. Come back.
Now that you've appreciated the irony of someone who goes around calling secularists "insecure" and their efforts to separate church and state "B.S." being offended by someone's criticism of his precious religion, let's move on.
Patty m'lad says:
Your condescending "good Christians" line is rude.Excellent. I had intended it to offend just the kind of person I wanted to offend. My Christian friends, and regular readers, probably would not have taken any notice of the line, but - in you - we have a winner. Ding ding ding! What does he win, Mr. Monkey?
You obviously assume all Christains meet your stereotype of them.Once again setting aside the smile that the irony of your typo brings to my face, allow me to reply: anyone who reads this site knows I really only have a true problem with Christians who want to use the power of the government to push their ideological opium on society;and who think that a secular government that represents us all equally is somehow oppression of the Baby Jesus.
In other words: I don't much like theocratic zealots. If this describes you, then - please please please please - be offended to the infinite degree. If not, then, come on, give us a hug.
If I were an atheist I wouldn't care wtf other people believed because if I were an atheist nothing would matter. It's called nihilism.Is it? Wow, thanks for the edification. That's a new word for me*.
Let's address this argument though, shall we?
I'd propose that when we talk of whether or not something matters, we're really saying that it either has or does not have "meaning." That is, things with meaning matter, and things without meaning do not matter. Nihilism argues that life has no meaning (and thus does anything really matter?).
Patrick would probably say that Christianity gives life meaning; that the existence of his God gives his life meaning; that the promise of eternal life gives his life meaning.
Makes ya feel all warm and gooey, don't it now?
Too bad it's a load of hooey.
First, meaning is a construct of the human mind. Nothing has meaning in and of itself; a human mind is required to comprehend the object or the act and then assign meaning to it.
A Christian can argue that his God gives meaning to things. Unfortunately, so can members of all other religions that posit a creator or something higher than this existence of ours. Clearly, they cannot all be right .
If Patrick is right, then all those other religious people are simply deluding themselves. After all, their non-existent deities can't be providing meaning, can they? And if some of those other people are right, then Patrick is wrong, as a non-existent Yahweh would find it hard to hand out meaning as well.
What it comes down to, really, is that Patrick's belief in God gives his life and his experiences meaning. But his belief is, you guessed it, merely a function of his very human mind. Take away the mind, and the concept of meaning becomes - well - meaningless.
Further, the existence of something is not dependent on it existing forever. If something has meaning at a point in time, it has meaning. Meaning existed for the length of time it was given to something by any human mind. Again, remove all the minds from the universe, and nothing has meaning; put those minds back in and, for the duration of the existence of the mind, meaning exists.
Who cares if what I do now won't be remembered a thousand years from now? Who cares if, when the universe dies a heat death, that my actions will be the equivalent of a microscopic pimple on the tail of a hooker being chased by Jimmy Swaggart?
I live the way I do because it matters to me; and it matters right now. It has meaning to me; and it is has meaning right now.
If Patrick is doing things only because he thinks they'll matter some other time than right now, then I'd say he's the one with the lackluster life, not I.
What a miserable existence, indeed.
And, no, I don't know why I keep bothering arguing with people like Patrick. Must be a masochistic streak or something.
Gimme gimme more more more »
Update: Patrick responds in the comments. I've addressed what I think are the imporant points (your mileage may vary):
I don’t believe I ever said I was being repressed. Your stereotype of anyone who thinks that public displays of religious belief are acceptable also desires to establish a state religion may be causing you to imagine I am some wing nut Fundamentalist.Actually, it was a play off of a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The effort to separate church and state? I’m referring in my comment primarily to the parade and not the “Merry Christmas” sign on city property. (However, I fail to see how a Merry Christmas sign on city property amounts to the government establishment of religion.) Where in the Constitution does it state that downtown BIDs should allow the presence of other spiritual or religious ideas, but exclude one religion, the one religion around which such “holiday” parades originated.Were they allowing other spiritual and religious ideas? If so, I didn't read that. As I've said, more than once and in more than one place, if they let every theist and atheist group participate at their own expense, so be it. I just don't want my tax dollars paying for your Christian display, an Islamic display, or a Hindu display.
You automatically assume that I have some agenda to establish a theocracy, which I find hysterical. I think my biggest frustration is that the very reactionary attitude some people have when it comes to the presence of religion in the public realm only serves to heighten the sense of repression and exclusion that some Christians (not myself) feel.Actually, that theocrat line is what I would usually call "hyperbole." However, when one presumes to use my tax dollars to promote their religion, then - yes - I take issue.
Exactly what kind person? Me? Do you know me? You sound like a Fundamentalist at my front door.Um, except the difference is that YOU are at MY front door.
You assume that from a few comments and one blog post that you have me figured out. You have no idea who I am or the content of my faith.You're the one and only Paddy O'Prescott! I know ye well, lad!
Actually, I don't: I'm responding to what you write and interpolating and extrapolating and electric boogaloo-ing from there.
Exactly, who is pushing their ideological agenda on society? I’d say the people at both ends of the extreme: Fundamentalist “Restorationists” types and evangelical atheists like yourself. The average American can tell the difference between the acknowledgment of the reason for Christmas and the establishment of a theocracy. You don’t give your countrymen enough credit.When a new survey shows that most Americans think the virgin birth is fact, I have pretty good reason not to give them enough credit, don't you think? Wait, of course you don't. :)
You’re just being silly. I am referring to a uniquely CHRISTIAN holiday so not mentioning CHRISTIANITY and instead referring to some vague “Parade of Lights” is being dishonest and reflects stupidity, cowardice or ignorance at best and bigotry at worst. (On the part of the parade committee.)Or it could be they wanted to be inclusive and spread good cheer and try to bring the community together around a common festive event. More power to'em.
Moving right along, I'm not interested (for purposes of this discussion) in getting to know why someone came to their faith, how the other person sees my estimation of themselves, or anything else not related to the debate on "meaning." So, let's get to the essential bits:
The meaningfulness of things is not dependent on my ascent to them. Their meaningfulness exist independent of my ability or inability to acknowledge it. My acknowledgement of the meaning of things is my free response to God. If you were to take away my mind as you say, the meaningfulness of things would not cease to exist.So, things have meaning because God provides it to them, is that correct?
Then how is it that individual humans with their individual minds assign vastly different meanings to the same events? To an Islamic fundamentalist, September 11 held meaning as a great victory of Allah over the infidel. To most Americans, it held meaning as a vicious, murderous tragedy reflecting the corrupted culture of a segment of the Middle East.
Did God give it both meanings? Strange, don't you think? I can see fallible humans, with subjective minds, doing such a thing, but an all-knowing God?
You seem to be content to live a life that lacks meaning beyond that which you give it.Until you can demonstrate some other kind of meaning that outlives the mind assigning it (without the consent of other minds to assign the same meaning in following), I don't accept that there is any such other kind of meaning. Even your argument that (if I understand it correctly) God gives meaning to things invites contradiction, lack of clarity, and a particular sort of uselessness that one would not expect from a so-called deity.
If nothing has meaning beyond “right now” I do not understand why you seem to embrace such an evangelical form of atheism. Like I said in my comment, what’s the point. What does it matter? You say it gives you meaning “right now.” But in the end, why does “right now” even matter?Because I am alive right now, as a conscious being with an active mind. If you kick me in the nuts, do I not scream? If you can't appreciate the function of the human mind to appreciate the "now," then I fear this discussion is going nowhere.
The good things I do, I do because they are good. They matter now and they will also matter later. I know they are good because I believe in a God who has revealed the goodness of things.Yes, the goodness of things like killing homosexuals. Ah, Leviticus, sweet Leviticus. Just kidding, I know that it's no longer ok to kill homos, just back then when God said it was good. Now he says it's bad, so we don't do it.
Sorry, but the "God and goodness" argument isn't going to fly in these parts either. I'm not going to recount the whole debate, but do a search of the site and you'll see why.
You initiated a discussion in a post on a blog that is accessible to all of those who you have not banned.Yes, I know. My question was more one of "Why do I keep engaging the theists when they something silly?" Location isn't important in this case.
Anyway, feel free to reply. Have a nice day!
* Sarcasm. You know, in case it wasn't obvious. Next week I hope to learn the word "existentialism."
« That's plenty, thanks!
Millions of folded paper cranes fluttered down from warplanes in the skies over southern Thailand Sunday as the air force completed a mission of peace aimed at expressing the nation's hope for an end to separatist violence in the Muslim-dominated region.In response, the good people of Democratic Underground had this to say:
Now that's a bomb that I'd like to use in Iraq, Afghanistan, everywhereThey apparently overlooked one little tidbit:
Would that our government do something to promote peace instead of bombing the shit out of countries unable to defend themselves.
Other countries are putting us to shame. Of course, we brought it on ourselves.
The gesture, however, failed to damp the unrest, with police saying they defused a 22-pound bomb Sunday on a crowded road where many people were waiting to gather the paper birds.Yup, accomplished a lot that. I can just see one terrorist turning to the other and saying "You know, I was prepared to blow up dozens of innocent people in our ideological war, but this wee paper crane has shown me the error of my ways."Don't get me wrong, the "bombing" was a nice and pretty gesture, regardless of any potential environmental effects, but to anyone who thinks that positive vibes and group hugs are going to turn the hearts of a terrorist:
You. Are. An. Idiot.
Or Richard Gere. But I doubt he comes by here, and - anyway - that's pretty much the same thing.
When he's not choosing to be a bigoted ass, Jerry Falwell is choosing to be straight.
Update: I was going to comment over here, but comment registration is one of my pet peeves. So, go read that, then come back, and here's what I would have said:
Yes, you could choose to go out and engage in homosexual acts, but I doubt you would enjoy them. I could as well, but - you see - I'm not attracted to men.Yay fun.
I can't choose to look at a man and get a big raging hard-on from it; when I look at an attractive woman, I don't choose to have the fire in my pants, I just do.
Your argument fails in that you do not differentiate acts from drives; they are not the same thing.
I accept that one can choose to engage in homosexual acts; I do not accept that one chooses to have homsexual drives. I choose to engage in heterosexual acts, but I do not choose to have Monica Bellucci make me tingle in all my naughty places.
Further, you then go on to say that a gay or lesbian person who was celibate and seeking forgiveness could get to heaven; unfortunately, using your first paragraphs, if they are celibate, they are no longer homosexual (because they do not choose homosexual acts). Yet, you refer to them as gay/lesbian, implying that you think there is something beyond the act that makes them homosexual.
In short, your argument is a tangled mess of contradictions. I say that not to be mean, but to show that if you intend to argue a point successfully, a cogent analysis is required (perhaps not for the kind of person who hardly thinks beyond what is for dinner, but this is the blogosphere).
John McCain, fed up with the use of steroids in Major League Baseball, has warned owners and players' representatives to do something about it, or else the government will stick its nose one more place it doesn't belong.
"To restore the integrity of baseball, Commissioner Selig and Don Fehr must meet immediately — not merely by spring training as the commissioner has promised — and agree to implement a drug-testing policy that is at least as stringent as the one observed by the minor league program," McCain said in a Friday statement.You show'em, John!
For the sake of the God in which I do not believe, we are fighting a war in Iraq, rebuilding Afghanistan, trying to defend our own borders against the enemy, working to improve the state of our economy, and McCain is worried about the integrity of American baseball?
Hey, John, that whole thing about "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet" was just a car commercial, not something you need to be worrying about here in 2004.
Update: McCain speaks on Fox News Sunday:
I don't think they're going to do that. I hope and pray they will not do that. I hate for us to interfere with it.But they'll do it anyway. Because they know what is good for us.
Now, somebody watching right now is going to say, "How is it any of your business?" Anti-trust exemption was granted by Congress to organize baseball, and also it's got to do with interstate commerce. So we do have a role to play.Ah, so it's the same lame argument that the Feds are using to block medicinal marijuana: the federally ballyhooed and federally abused commerce clause. Something about power and corruption and the absolute springs to mind.
Hey, McCain, perhaps your momma never told you the line about "just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
How about get back to focusing on the real issues threatening all of us, ok?
While reading the headlines at CNN just now, I noticed at the bottom of the page that Sports Illustrated has a large gallery of images from their swimsuit editions available online for free. So, naturally, I clicked on through.
And there she was.
Yes, the photo that changed the life of a six-year old boy forever*.
* Hyperbole. It was merely one of my first introductions to the wonderful world of boobiedom, forever burned into my brain, a veritable photographic Bar Mitzvah for a wee Catholic lad.
So, here, have some. Let's use the magical, wondrous, superdoubleplusdoublyspectacular power of tunes to heal our wounds:
Had to shut down the blog radio for now as it was gobbling up my bandwidth quota (a few hundred MB today so far). I'll bring it back from time to time; thanks for listening!I've no idea in what order these songs will appear, but here's what you've got:
Now, let's get busy group hugging to the tunes. My monkey is always at the ready.
A statewide recount showed that Alabama narrowly voted to keep language in the state constitution supporting segregation and poll taxes, according to unofficial totals released Friday.The articles goes on to mention that removing the language would have also removed any public obligation finance education, but I don't think that has much to do with the poll numbers.
I'd wager it's more an inability to decipher just what the hell any given Amendment means* and a lack of concern for how one votes on anything that doesn't put the jabbering head of a politician in an office.
But, hey, that's just me.
* Written in bureaucratese, the layman has but a small chance of making sense of most amendments and such. Alabama is backwards, but - and I honestly believe this - it isn't as backwards as these poll numbers suggest. It's just that when you've got voters who can't or won't understand the issues, you might as well hand out tic-tac-toe sheets as ballots and wing it.
Ukraine's Supreme Court has ruled:
Ukraine's Supreme Court has nullified the results of the country's disputed presidential election and called for a repeat of the runoff in three weeks.Man, I sure hope the Ukraine does something about these goddamn activist judges legislating from the bench.
Without fail, nary a day goes by that someone doesn't ask me "Hey, Mr. Andy of the World Wide Rant, blog I'd have voted for given the opportunity, what are you reading these days? Or, heck, listening to, since we know you also like audiobooks?"
I do love to satisfy my customers, and stuff, so here's what I'm reading right now and have read recently, with commentary as warranted (by whether or not I have much to say):
Gosh Darn Done Been Read
Working on my own writing, and reading this book, has told me that - hell yeah - I have some interesting stories to tell. Not so much from the view of an extravagance of experience (no battling Russians for control of a nuclear submarine - yet!), but from a focus on what I have learned from my experiences, good and bad; from an understanding of what I have done before and what I might have done differently; and from an appreciation of those things that I wouldn't change, those things - good and bad, right and wrong, naughty and nice - that have made me the blogger you love like you do.
I think right about now we could all use a group hug, don't you?
The monkey will be my stand-in.
Preface, After the Fact: I've no plans to delete this post, although Kevin has amended his original post on how the nominees were narrowed down, because, hell, it's on the record and has been all day. That said, it was not just Kevin that narrowed down the choices, but two volunteers.
Regardless, my issue has never been specifically with the "how" of the process, but with the communication of the "how," or the lack of it, as it were. I was asked in the comments how I would have narrowed down, and that's a fair question, but not really on target with what I was saying. I might have run it just like Kevin - or perhaps not - but, regardless, I would have published the rules and the process beforehand so everyone knew what they were getting.
So, have fun with the awards - hope you find some good new blogs to read - and I hope you'll come back here to be entertained or annoyed or both. I like to think I'm six of one, half dozen of the other.
Now, on with the show....
As you probably know, it's time for the 2004 Weblog Awards. I'd go and vote, but - well - no, I won't, and here is why:
Gimme gimme more more more »
This year, it's a bit of a piece of poo.
Q: I nominated XXX, but don't see them as a finalist. Why is XXX not included?Happy to oblige, happy to oblige.
A: Several thousand blogs were nominated. Of the hundreds nominated in each category there's at most 15 up for voting. The finalists picked were a set of the best of those nominated, in my subjective opinion. You are, of course, free to disagree - but since I'm paying for this site I'd appreciate if you do it elsewhere.
This site was nominated last year. This site had a pretty good showing, from what I remember.
This site was nominated this year. This site is not listed in the poll because Kevin didn't think it was among the best of those nominated.
Granted, it's Kevin's site - and Kevin's money and Jeebus bless the free market, Hallelujah, and can I get an Amen - but if you're going to ask for nominations for something called "The 2004 Weblog Awards," whittling down the list based on your own opinions is, in my opinion, wrong-headed and something that should have been stated up-front before people started plugging their faves.
An idea: call it something like "The 2004 Come Vote on the Blogs You Told Me About That I Thought Were Special Awards" or "The 2004 Not Really What It Looks Like Awards." But don't call it just "Weblog Awards."
Last year, it seemed to be all about having fun (Kevin even attests to this in the very first post at the site), at least from the points of view of the nominees with whom I corresponded; this year, well, it was handled in a way that is bound to annoy and ruin the fun for many, many people who were nominated but who didn't meet Kevin's standards.
People don't like being handed a raw deal. They're silly like that.
I know, I know: Too bad, so sad, cry me a river (and, hey, is that the world's tiniest violin playing for us?)
Don't get me wrong, I fully recognize that the entire thing is essentially an electronic return to high school popularity contests, that the vote tally is largely a result of continually telling your readers to vote for you every day, and that the traffic gained isn't quite an Instalanche but is just as disinterested and fleeting.
I fully recognize that I am inherently biased toward some hot and heavy lovin' for this blog.
I also fully recognize that this is a really silly thing to be annoyed about.
So, now that it's off my chest, I'll move on to things that really matter, like women, sex, beer, and money money money.
P.S. Yes, I also think it is dumb to call the World Series the World Series. However, I've never been invited to play in them and then been told I couldn't, so that doesn't annoy me. Except when they pre-empt by favorite television shows. Bastards.
P.P.S. Welcome to any of you trekking over here from A Small Victory. Why not break with the tradition of the blogosphere, and rather than surfing away after reading this post, take a look around the site? Go on, be a rebel.
I'm bound to have at least one opinion, if not more, that offends the crap out of you.
Update: Apparently the post above counts as being my worst, according to another blog. Said blogger has apparently not read much of the site, because - trust me - I can do a lot worse than what you just read.
She closes with:
Lighten up... have some fun.Uh, yeah, we tried that, but someone ruined it. See above.
Update The Second: Look, folks, I'm really not that terribly bothered by any of this. It's not going to keep me awake tonight, fuming and cursing the name of Wizbang with clenched fists and a lone tear slowly tumbling down my cheek.
I (and, I believe, Michele) were merely annoyed that the (a) purpose and (b) approach of the whole shebang were not properly communicated right away.
I think it's great that people are getting traffic; there are a lot of fantastic blogs out there, and writers who deserve to be read. I hardly think I'm the best of the lot (but I do like me, and sometimes I pat myself on the back and say "Good boy, good!"). However, there are other vehicles out there to generate traffic for new blogs, ones that say "we're all about generating traffic for new blogs."
The same should have been done in this case, from the start. It would have avoided a whole lot of "what the fucks" from a whole lot of people.
« That's plenty, thanks!
...is still avoiding Alabama like the plague.
A lawmaker [Rep. Gerald Allen] seeking to ban gay marriages also wants to prohibit state money from being spent on any materials or programs that "recognize" or "promote" homosexuality.Sometimes I really regret moving away from Alabama.
If the bill became law, public school textbooks could not present homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle, college theater groups would not be able to perform plays like the Tennessee Williams classic "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" where homosexuality is a theme, and public school libraries could not display books that include lesbianism like Alice Walker's "The Color Purple."
This would not be one of those times.
Apparently it isn't quite the same thing in Iran:
An Iranian man prepares his daughter by covering her face in the same style of Palestinian and Lebanese militants, during a ceremony for the first suicide commandos unit at a cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran.How you could raise a child for years upon years; see them grow into their own personalities and opinions; share in so much laughter and so many tears as they have their turn at experiencing life; and then want to send them off to commit suicide shows a religious culture that is sick beyond belief.
Fundamentalist Islam must be destroyed or it will destroy all of us.
As in: up the wrong Christmas tree.
Michelle Malkin, with whom I agree as often as I disagree, is rather ticked about some holiday decisions being made in my fair city.
The persecution never ends. Denver has launched war against a church group that wanted to march in the city'sNeglecting, for the moment, the inaccurate use of the words "persecution" and "war," Michelle's invective is being directed in the wrong direction.
Christmas parade"Parade of Lights." (I hate, hate, hate that p.c. euphemism.)
I am hereby launching the Lump of Coal campaign. Later today, I will box up a lump of charcoal, mark the package "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" and send it to the Denver Mayor in protest of his idiotic policy.The decision to make the parade non-religious was made by the Downtown Denver Partnership:
Downtown Denver Partnership, Inc. (DDP) is a non-profit business organization that creatively plans, manages and develops Downtown Denver as the unique, diverse, vibrant and economically healthy urban core of the Rocky Mountain region...Sorry, folks, but this isn't government oppressing anyone. It isn't persecution. It isn't a precursor to the poor, poor Christians being hauled off to death camps by the trainload.
The Partnership is the collective voice of Downtown businesses and property owners, and we enhance Downtown’s environment to inspire the success of Downtown business.
It is, however, a private organization making a private decision. So, write Mayor Hickenlooper all you like, but I don't think it will do much good.
Update: To cover one more point, yes, Hickenlooper did decide that the "Merry Christmas" sign on the city building will be replaced by "Happy Holidays." My question is - so what?
Is it not the holidays? Are there not multiple holidays around the same period? Why is it that Christians, at least from the right-wing, think that the government being inclusive (or not being actively exclusive) amounts to oppression of Christians?
This view of equality being "give us everything we want and screw the non-Christians" reminds me far too much of someone with whom I once was involved. Her idea of compromise was "do what I say." It's an immature position grounded in an infantile lack of understanding that the world is full of many people with many views.
Personally, I'd rather see the city spend its money on important things rather than taxing its populace to put on pretty light displays on the facades of public buildings. However, short of that, "Happy Holidays" is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying signs to ensure equal representation of all faiths during the season.
Update: The Merry Christmas sign will stay.
A mention that the Merry Christmas sign at the City and County building might be replaced with a Happy Holidays sign prompted enough angry reaction that the mayor says the Merry Christmas sign will stay.Yes, Mayor Hickenlooper, but the right-leaning half of the Christians in this great country of ours aren't exactly known for being inclusive. There might be an "Open Door Baptist Church," but that just means "Come On In and Convert, Sinner," not "Won't You Sit Down and Let's Have an Inter-Faith Dialogue?"
The mayor said that he had been under the impression that the Merry Christmas sign was becoming worn and would need to be replaced next year, and he felt a message that was more inclusive might be preferable.
Hopefully Michelle will pick up this update and correct her post; and (as I e-mailed her on the topic) perhaps she'll inform her readers that sending Mayor Hickenlooper a lump of coal because of what the Downtown Denver Partnership has decided makes, well, absolutely no sense. As of right now, her post is still racking up Trackbacks of righteous (and ignorantly misdirected) anger.
Update: Per the comments, I've looked into the Downtown Denver Partnership and they do receive 60% or so of their funding from a BID local assessment. This, in my opinion, does not alter the statement that writing Mayor Hickenlooper about the actions of the Partnership is not a logical course of action. The BID is renewed every 10 years based on a vote of commercial property owners and leasees in the area, not so much dictated from City Hall.
Speaking for myself, now that I know they are a quasi-public enterprise, I have no problem saying that either every religion that wants to participate should be allowed to (at their own or a private sponsor's expense) or that all religions should be excluded (which is what most of us, except right-wing Christians, would consider equal treatment).
In which the author continues his discussion with another blogger on the nature of God and the implications of logical thought.
Gimme gimme more more more »
Adding to his original post, IB Bill - in response to my first update below - says:
You're missing the point, Andy. I'm not saying I know and you don't. I'm saying if there is such a thing as an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God, his actions might appear to be a mystery to all of us, especially over a limited observation period.As I've indicated elsewhere, to say that something is good in a way that we cannot yet see does not absolve God of the fact that he allowed suffering to exist in the first place. A hurricane may destroy lives and homes, but be a boon to the construction industry, employing hundreds, putting food on tables, and helping pad my stock portfolio as the companies make money by the truckload. This, of course, doesn't mean we should be saying "thank God for hurricanes!" The hurricane was still a non-good (evil) event in that it brought death and destruction to people who were simply "in the way."
The horrible biological experiments of the Nazis on their Jewish, handicapped, and POW victims yielded some measure of useful medical knowledge regarding the human body; knowledge that can be used to help people today. Even with our hindsight - our long-term view some 60 years out - I don't think I'll find anyone other than a neo-Nazi who would claim that the deaths of those innocents were a good thing.
The act stands alone. The act was evil.
Further, to claim that it's a mystery and we should just accept it as beyond our understanding is rather like imagining Sherlock Holmes saying:
"It's a mystery, dear Watson. Let's go have some tea and scones. Say, do you hear the wailing of a hound? Oh, nevermind."It also, as I've said before, implies that humans are incapable of divining good from evil in the world, that - since any event is simply part of the long-term plan of Jesus' papa - it makes no sense to be happy or sad about any of it, to say that anything or anyone is good or evil, to make any sort of value judgment at all, ever.
Yet, we do it. All the time. Because, despite the protestations of the irrational faithful to the contrary, we know better.
For comedic relief, one of IB Bill's readers, Chris, says the following in the comments:
Oh, and do you really think that he doesn't get the idea that whether or not God is hard to fathom, if he walks among us and tells us stuff about himself, then we can know that much?If we can't understand God, how do you know it was he that was walking among us? Answer: you don't.
You can believe it all you want, but you have no rational claim to knowing it.
Granted, Andy thinks that it's a bunch of nonsense. However, you can only judge the internal consistency of a belief system by assuming that belief system to be true.I can only tell if a belief system is logically false by assuming it is true (and thus logically true)? Errr...ok. Whatever.
In any event, I really wouldn't bother spending your time with someone who can concieve of nothing worse than pain and death. The only thing for a person like that is european atheist nany-statism.Today's winner for Best Non-Sequitiur for December 2, 2004 is Chris! Congratulations!
Please, no one ruin Chris' delusional fantasy by letting him know I'm a pro-American libertarian sort.
Moving on to IB Bill's next post, he begins discussing first principles. Go read it. Come back. I'll be commenting on what I think is relevant to the discussion of logic and theism:
Andy's gone to that place in his mind where many of us have been -- he's tripping all over the contradictions, criticizing problems with extending the logic of religious principles, especially Jewish and Christian ones, and seeing religion as an self-contradictory, confusing mess. And he doesn't really understand why others don't see that.Of course I understand why they don't see it; most people have not been taught how to think through an argument logically, how to move beyond surface impressions to examine the assumptions behind beliefs and how they, if logic is to be valuable to human thought, must play out.
The reason many people still believe in God is the same reason so many people still think communism is a workable economic and political model. They haven't thought about it enough to see that it clearly contradicts the reality on the ground
And, if they have thought about it to that point, well, then they're just being boneheaded.
I'm sorry that I won't accept a belief that is full of "contradictions" and "problems with extending the logic of religious principles" that create a "self-contradictory, confusing mess." You, of course, are welcome to do so, but you must give up any right to declare your beliefs based on logic and reason.
What Andy doesn't see is that many of us who have developed a faith in God have been through many of the same discussions, said the same things, and argued from the same premises as he has. We do see.Apparently many of you have also argued rather poorly. I once had faith in God, attended Church regularly, even sometimes got the warm, gooey feelings that made me think I was in touch with something larger than myself. Once I learned to think, though, I realized how little sense it made, that the materialist explanation was more satisfying than irrational appeals to mysteries and magic.
There are seeming contradictions, or paradoxes, whenever you start talking about the nature of God. Language limits our inquiry, as does our ability to perceive. But at the end of the day, it's not easy to try to get around those words in Leviticus. So why try?Because for human language to make sense, for the same words that lead people to believe in this god or that to make sense, those words in Leviticus matter.
Sidestepping the issue is not a resolution; it's an admission of defeat at the hands of enlightened thought.
If God doesn't exist, then the Christian scriptures shouldn't resonate deep within my heart. They should be just like reading anything else. Yet nothing I've read has ever touched my heart like the scriptures. That told me something.If Allah doesn't exist, and Muhammed is not his One True Prophet, then the Islamic scriptures shouldn't resonate deep within the heart of a suicide bomber on his way to his 72 virgins.
Sorry, that's a non-starter. Next!
If God doesn't exist, then prayer should just be wishful thinking. I should pray and maybe feel good about myself if I'm just talking to my imaginary friend. But I prayed and things happened.I bet you've also prayed and things didn't happen. What's your point?
Once upon a time, some scientists declared they had found the secret to cold fusion. They were unable to repeat the experiment. So was everyone else. Guess what happened to the idea that cold fusion had become a reality?
That doesn't mean, at the end of the day, that I have an answer for Andy for every objection. But as I've gotten older, one thing I've found is I'm more okay with the answer, "It's a mystery."Fantastic for you, but it does make me wonder why someone who is "ok with the mystery" would bother engaging in a debate on the logical problems with theistic belief (not just Christian belief at that). It's rather like many other debates I've had, where the Christian is left without an answer, and thus declares "uhhh... it's faith!"
If it's faith, why the hell did they just spend half-an-hour and two beers debating with me on the rational merits of their belief? That's irrational behavior (which, based on everything I've said so far, is probably to be expected).
In scripture, there are logical traps that our minds fall into, because our minds seek after worldly wisdom. And then we never get out of them. Because faith in God is something that must be sought after first.First, what is there other than "worldly wisdom?" How do these other kinds of wisdom differ from worldly wisdom and how do we recognize them? How can I substantiate your claim to a special, non-worldly wisdom regarding prayer from that of a pagan who thinks their special, non-worldly wisdom says to hug a tree, light a candle, and dance naked in the moonlight to effect change in the world?
Claims to some nebulous non-worldly wisdom, without the ability to define such wisdom, to explain how to recognize it, to defend its existence against equally vague non-worldly wisdom of others is, as are so many other things regarding "God-talk," meaningless.
Second, what you've closed with is essentially "you'll understand when you believe." This is the absolute reverse of how knowledge works. We, if we are rational, believe when we think we understand something. We observe, assimilate the data, and see how our current beliefs stand or fall in light of it. IB Bill has declared that his faith is a result of investigation, of empiricism - of the pursuit of understanding which lead to his belief.
Yet now he demands I do otherwise? I don't think so.
I once was a Christian. Based on what I had seen and learned, I thought my theism to be perfectly rational. When I took a more in-depth look, examined the assumptions I had made, compared what I saw in the world to what I had held in my mind, and sought to understand all of it, my belief in God crumbled.
Please, keep your faith if it makes you feel all a-tingle inside, but don't claim it's the result of a reasoned pursuit of the truth. Don't claim it stands on its own and then wave away the logical problems that knock out its supports.
Embrace your irrationality. It's the honest thing to do.
« That's plenty, thanks!
What the hell does any of this [mocking Westboro Baptist Church] have to do with a debate about God.First point: Given that Westboro Baptist Church claims that "God hates fags" - that AIDS is punishment to homosexuals - and that their belief is just a logical extension of the charming book of Leviticus from which other Christians love to pick and choose their morality*, I'd say it has everything to do with a debate about God.
God could heal through science, you know.
Some of you are just as bad as the folks you complaint about.
Second point: Yes, God could heal through science**. He could also heal just by thinking about doing so for a nano-nano-nano-second, all while juggling an infinite number of bowling pins and standing on the heads of angels on the head of a pin.
Imagine, just like that (snap fingers), he could prevent suffering on a massive scale from both biological and environmental threats.
Instead, IB Bill asks us to accept that this all-loving, all-powerful God would rather sit on the sidelines while human knowledge of science trudges along, finding the odd cure here and there.
God would rather make pouty sad faces at centuries of senseless pain and misery than to actually do something about it.
God would rather watch my cousin waste away and die from this horrible disease rather than heal him and say "Hey, wasn't that neat? I'm probably worth following now, aren't I? Seeing as how I am loving and all-powerful and all."
God is love? Sure, in much the same way Susan Smith loved her little chirrens right to the bottom of a lake.***
Third and final point: Yes, some atheists are just as bad as religious zealots. This, of course, has absolutely no bearing on the irrationality of god-belief or the fact that the Problem of Evil continues to be a crown of thorns on theism's pretty little head.
Update: IB Bill responds. Go read it, then come back.
Now, my reply:
Claiming that I cannot know how an all-powerful, all-loving God could or should act unfortunately implies that IB Bill also cannot know. Thus, for him to even suggest that his god is all-powerful, all-loving, or all-anything-else, and to assign any sort of value judgment to any actions of said God, while admitting that to understand such a thing is impossible, reduces his assertions on the qualities of his god to, well, absolute gibberish.
Claiming that my experience as a human being on planet Earth bars me from evaluating the actions or nature of an infinite God unfortunately means that Bill, with the same experience, also is limited in exactly the same way. Thus, for him to even suggest that anything I say about an all-powerful, all-loving god is somehow incorrect is, well, essentially meaningless.
Such is the problem any theist encounters when they suddenly claim to know a lone attribute of their god, that attribute being that their god is, definitionally-speaking, unknowable.
As for whether the laws on incest contained within Leviticus are also void, claim all you wish that certain kinds of laws no longer apply, while some still do. This leaves the (thinking) Christian in the position that he must say that at one time killing homosexuals, adulterers, and back-talking children was a moral thing to do because God said so.
Personally, I find anyone who would say that to be rather... disturbed.
Update 2: Allow me to clarify that I don't think all Christians are disturbed, or that all Christians are generally unthinking. I do, however, think that when it comes to the logical implications of their claims, they don't travel very far down the path.
Of course, they could always argue that logic doesn't apply to their God, but (a) they're using the self-same "faulty" tools to argue the case and (b) it makes any meaningful discussion about God impossible.
* Homosexuality? Bad, bad, bad because God says so! It's right there in the Bible! Eating unclean animals and wearing mixed fibers? Surely he was just kidding around about that part.
** If he existed, which he does not. Get over it.
*** The obvious difference being that Susan Smith exists and can actually have an impact on the lives of others.