Monday, December 7, 2009

Unintentional Irony

Seen on a truck in front of me on the way to work: three Marine Corps decals, one Pro-Life sticker.


I can't think of any organization LESS "pro-life" than the Marine Corps. Can you?

My dad was a Marine. During the Vietnam war, no less. He told some stories that would turn your stomach. Valuing the lives of the Marines themselves seemed a low priority to the Corps; killing innocents was even less of an issue. I know many people* associate embryos and fetuses with "innocent" life**, but c'mon. I can't imagine there were many Marines in Vietnam who were instructed to spare pregnant Viet Cong operatives because of the "baybee". That's not how the Marines roll. Mom wasn't "innocent", so the embryo/fetus had to go in order to get the "guilty" operative. Collateral damage. Or maybe not. Apparently there were quite a few US servicemen who thought exterminating the whole lot was the way to go. And lest you think that is a vestage of a bygone era, the sad excesses of a time of exceptional barbarity, I bid you to remember Haditha. Never heard of it? Not surprising. Twenty-four civilians killed? Who cares. That's the price of war.

Apparently, though, when it comes to women exercising control over their own bodies, well, that's just murder. Plain and simple.

Semper Fi.

*Those who believe in preformationism. See my earlier post on the topic.
** "Innocent" life really has no meaning outside of a context. All life is inherently value-neutral. To the pregnant woman, the embryo/fetus wouldn't be "innocent" if it threatened to cause her bodily harm, social approbation, financial strain, or some other ill effect.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The President Wants To Brainwash YOUR Kids!

Isn't this the biggest non-issue ever?

Wow. The president wants to tell kids to study hard and make good grades. Or so he says. According to trusted sources*, Obama Bin-Laden really wants to recruit the kiddies into his Leftist Terror Cult-disarmingly called "The Rainbow Funtime Club". (The "rainbow" reference gave him away.) Anyone with a lick of sense** realizes that exposing their kids to this "speech" will allow Obama to implant deviant sexual urges and plans for Total World Communistic Domination directly into their cerebral cortexes via his insidious Brain-Blaster Ray.

You doubt the existence of such a device? How do you account for the acceptance of Obama's obviously forged birth certificate by the authorities? Answer me that one, huh?

Stop the madness! Pull your kids out of school so they won't be indoctrinated by Der Furher!

* People who fear a Freemason Conspiracy and have personally seen Sasquatch have been passing along a rumor to this effect.
** People who see Rush Limbaugh as a modern-day prophet.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nature Holds Court On Issues Of Assisted Reproduction

Wow- this was shocking to me, too! I stupidly believed that "nature" was not, in fact a sentient being capable of having opinions on the human practice of assisted reproduction, but Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society, has set me straight on this matter. In a recent article reporting the death of the world's oldest new mother, Maria del Carmen Bousada, Mr. Pacey suggested that women as old as Bousada (66 at the time of the birth of her twin sons)should not be allowed to purchase assisted reproduction services.

"The rationale for all that is that nature didn't design women to have assisted conception beyond the age of the natural menopause...once you get into the mid-50s, I think nature is trying to tell us something," Pacey told The AP.

He added: "I think many people would worry about providing fertility treatment to women in their 60s. I think as a general rule, to embark on pregnancy when you may not see your child go to university is potentially a very difficult situation."

Hmm. Now, I may not be the Secretary of the British Fertility Society, and I sure don't have Nature's number on my speed-dial like Mr. Pacey evidently does, but I've got to wonder at the well... logical consistency of such a statement. Did nature really design pre-menopausal women for assisted reproduction? Isn't the point of assisted reproduction helping people who can't naturally conceive to have children? Wouldn't post-menopausal women be the very definition of people who can't naturally conceive? Wouldn't Mr. Pacey and the whole gang at the British Fertility Society be out of a job if they really believed that one shouldn't tamper with "nature's order" when it comes to conception?

Now, let's not forget the second part of the statement, where Mr. Pacey laments the "difficulty" of having a child when you can't commit to living long enough to see them through university. Again, does Mr. Pacey or the Society really believe not being able to certify that you will live at least 18-20 years after your child is born should disqualify you from buying their services? I had my son when I was 23. I have made it 10 years, but I can't know for sure that I'll make it a full 20. Who can? The Brits, I guess. Things must be a bit different in Britain (probably due to their chummy relationship with Nature),as people there must be able to foresee their lifespans if the Society uses this benchmark when providing reproductive services. Otherwise, upholding that criteria would pretty much put them out of a job as well.

So, what exactly is Mr.Pacey trying to say, then? Why would he actually be against allowing post-menopausal women to use assisted reproduction? I think I can make a stab at it.

What Mr. Pacey really meant to say was that the thought of old, wrinkly ladies having babies is gross! Eww! That "hole" has a "Do Not Enter" sign on it for a reason!! A woman's attractiveness is bound up with her fertility, and allowing old women to reproduce is just like saying they are attractive and have Worth in society's eyes, which is totally not true! Controlling a woman's fertility has always been the best way to control a woman. Young women must be kept in terror of having unwanted pregnancies or the bondage of mother and wifehood, and old women must have the "right" to claim the "legitimate" power of sex object and mother stripped from them. That's how we keep 'em in line!

See? Doesn't that make more sense? A fertility society doesn't give a gnat's ass about "natural order", nor are they overly concerned with who will take care of the kid once it's born. Neither does the rest of society at large, for that matter. If we did, we would outlaw all assisted reproduction. We would also have all new mothers designate a legal guardian for their child in the event both parents die before the child is 18 (not a bad idea, by the way). No, Mr. Pacey's remarks were just a nice way to jump on the gleeful "I told you so!" bandwagon the article represents while distancing the fertility biz from any hint of impropriety in doing what they do.

The real point of this article was to thumb a collective nose at Bousada for having the audacity to try to escape her societaly-imposed "crone" identity by having a child at 66 years old. By herself, no less. The narrative points out that Bousada's "crime" was justly punished- she died just two years after having the babies. Much clucking of tongues about the "poor children" being "orphaned" by their selfish mother will serve to reinforce society's narrative- women don't have the right to escape their proper fates. Those heavily invested in the patriarchy will try to use this episode to deny older women access to reproduction technologies allegedly to protect the "children", but that excuse is paper-tissue thin.

Of course, the article hints at the fact that Bousada was "reportedly" diagnosed with a tumor some time after the procedure took place. If she did, in fact, die of cancer, that will put a little crimp in the plotline, because as we all know, cancer can strike at any age. Its interesting to note that younger women who continue with pregnancies after being diagnosed with cancer or other illness are often considered martyrs, though they orphan their infants just as surely as Bousada did.

I wonder what Mr. Pacey and Nature have to say about that?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The "Crazy Axe Murderer" is in the backseat of Byard Duncan's car...

Really, he is. And when Byard gets out of the car, he is going to find a hook on the side mirror from the Crazy Hook Murderer who was trying to get in while Byard and his date were necking. Urban legends are so much fun! I really love Byard's twist on that theme with his laf-a-minute article, My First Abortion Party. Take a minute, and check it out. Really absorb it. When you have wiped the laugh-tears from your eyes, we'll talk.

OK? Have you composed yourself? It took me a minute, too. The whole thing was so incredibly maudlin, so reality show unreal, I had to read it twice. I was looking for the "psych! Had you going!" line where the author reveals this was all a joke. I never found it. So, what does this article want us to believe?

1. Byard's girlfriend has a friend who needed an abortion.
2. This abortion-needing friend hosted a a house party to solicit donations to help her pay for the abortion.
3. The party was a joy riot, and everyone was diggin' it, 'cept Byard and the baby daddy, who for some unknown reason, was dressed as a clown.
4. All of the abortion-needing momma's friends were eevul harpies who just wanted to bag on the baby daddy.
5. This "party" reveals some larger, dark truth about abortion.

I'm OK with 1. #2 might sound a little sketch, but it really doesn't stretch credibility if you take away the shock title "abortion party". The fact of the matter is that people host benefits to take up collections for health-care related issues all the time. Kid needs an operation? Husband has $20,000 in doctor bills after an accident? Host a benefit. So, this was less a party, and more a benefit for the woman who needed an abortion. Put in that light, it makes sense.

#3, however, is a little less believable. Yes, the people at the benefit were dancing and mingling. Does that mean everyone was just having a hootin' hollerin' good time, wishing in their heart-of-hearts they could have an abortion too? Not hardly.

Walking in, we were bludgeoned with a blast of hot air, followed by the tangy stink of dance floor revelry. Someone had taken a red bed sheet and hung it below a light fixture to resemble a giant womb. Every so often, a dancer’s head or arm or dreadlock would brush against one of its smooth folds, creating a rippling effect. "Let’s Go Crazy" by Prince was playing.

This is the tone the author sets. A regular bacchanal in progress. The "Womb-sheet" is a nice touch. It would be better, of course, if a naked man in a goat-head mask was dancing lewdly under it, and readying to thrust a dagger into a crying virgin, but the Womb-sheet alone is plenty declasse and chilling. Only, I bet it wasn't really a "Womb-sheet" at all. I bet it was someone's attempt at mood lighting. How many parties have you been to with a sheet or scarf draped around a lamp?

Even if it was meant to look like a uterus (how I HATE that dogwhistle word 'womb'), wouldn't you kind of expect that to be a little tounge-in-cheek humor, like a cake that looks like a leg cast for the above-mentioned accident bennefit? Byard acts like he is a friend, like he is here in good will, but the tone of the article suggests otherwise. The problem isn't that people are dancing, or that someone may have a ribald sense of humor. The problem is Byard disapproves of this whole affair, because he is squeamish about abortion. He is trying hard to paint a scene of debauchery and fuzzy-headed liberal excess. Who is at this party? A bunch of crazies (Prince's "Let's go Crazy" is even playing) and other "bad elements" (notice the dreadlock reference? I did. That's dogwhistle number two).

But wait! There's more! In order to prove, once and for all, that these are very bad people, and abortion kills baybees, Byard introduces us to "Andrew".

As Ali went off to find Maggie, I sat down and struck up a conversation with Andrew (name changed), the three-year-old son of one of the partygoers...

Even though I thought the presence of a young child at an abortion party was a little bizarre, nobody else seemed to acknowledge (or care about) this contradiction...

"Do you feel welcome here?" I eventually asked him, fully expecting a ‘grown-up’-type answer. He glanced around, chewed on his sleeve and went to look for some babes to hang out with. "Too cool for me," I thought, shaking my head and cramming a pastry into my mouth. I was bewildered.

To Byard, a child at a benefit to fund an abortion is like a lot like Dave Chapelle's "Black White Supremacist" skits, or the old SNL "Cluckin' Chicken" commercial parodies. Obviously, the poor boy doesn't realize that this "party" is funding the killing of an innocent child just like him!! And what kind of parents would let a child go to such a sin-a-rama, anyway?

The piece de resistance, however, is the caracture of the baby daddy. He is literally made into a tragic clown, replete with rainbow suspenders and a sad 1,000 yard stare.

I saw Maggie’s boyfriend, sitting near the kitchen, wearing rainbow suspenders and looking uncomfortably alone... When we talked, his sentences spilled out in quick little jumbles, like scattered puzzle pieces. His eyes stayed focused on a point behind me. He looked as if he’d like to be somewhere else.

Ooh! The real victim of the evening! The Good Boy who got lured into this whole satanic nightmare. Byard obviously sees him as an object of pity.

In all, it seems like Byard is trying just a little too hard to prove #3. Every sentance, every word is designed to make this party resemble the orgy scene from Eyes Wide Shut. Why? See #4 and #5 above.

Byard really wants us to believe that this whole nightmare is courtesey of the coven group of female friends who strongarmed convinced the baby momma and daddy in question that abortion was the right choice.

Let's go back to the encounter with the baby daddy. Why was he so glum?

As it turns out, he had been the object of a lot of vitriol from Maggie’s friends -- women who thought that he should not have had anything to do with the abortion. Both he and Maggie had been saddened about this reaction because they had made the decision together.

Byard continues to set up the problem when he turns his attention to the baby momma:

Maggie, too, looked less than excited. A few days beforehand, one of her friends had asked her to have the abortion in Ohio. When Maggie insisted on bringing her boyfriend along, the friend told her not to bother coming. Maggie was being shown a great deal of respect, certainly. But she told me she couldn’t help but feel as though her pregnancy had been "hijacked" by women who felt like her inclusion of a man in the decision was weak or wrong. This was a surprise to me, but I didn’t exactly know how to weigh in.

Ahh. Now we are really exposing the raw nerves behind Byard's disapproval of this whole scene. Women Are Uppity Bitches! Even To Other Women! Byard is SOOO liberal and in-touch, but the Uppity Women just won't fall to their knees in fawning acceptance of his Obviously Superior Intellect, and listen to what he thinks about the Subject of Abortion.

Byard goes on to do a fair amount of navel-gazing about the "proper" place of men in abortion, and pays lip service to the "justifiable anger" women feel when men try to strip away their agency, but his position is clear: Abortion is "icky" and wrong, something those "bad" people do, and women use it as an excuse to wield illegitimate power over men. He couches it in the urban-myth narrative that Slutty Sluts Like Abortion, and even throw "parties" because their abortion-having is so much fun. No, Byard doesn't want to take the choice of abortion away from women, he just wants them to suffer their shame privately, and feel eternally guilty for their choices. Oh, and he wants them to think about The Men &trade first and foremost when making such a decision.

So, #5 is just Byard's way of whinging about how being confronted with abortion squicked him out and how if his girlfriend questioned the authority of his penis got an abortion, he wouldn't be no man-clown and take it up the ass while the whole world watched.

Really. That was the whole point of the exercise. Just like all other urban legends, it was designed as a cautionary tale for those who might defy society's norms and dare to engage in a taboo act. Apparently Byard felt the need to remind all of his gentle readers that he's a man in the know, and no one better try to slice his kidney out in a hotel room... or make him the guest of honor at an "abortion party".

The Economy Has Come Home To Roost

My husband lost his job last week. It sucks. Such is life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Consistent Ethic of Life

I've been engaged in some interesting discussions on a site for atheists- Why Wont God Heal Amputees. There was a discussion about abortion, and amazingly enough, I was seeing many of the same woo-based arguments against abortion there that I hear from people heavily invested in religion. It set me to thinking- why haven't I set down my exact beliefs on the value and hierarchy of life? So here it is- my (hopefully) logical and consistent ethic of life.

Life is important to me, because it is the only state of being I know. Non-being is frightening to me because it will deprive me of relationships with other living beings and I will cease to be an agent of action. I assume other people feel the same as I do, as they seem to fear the finality of death, too. I imagine other beings share some of these feelings to some extent as well. Therefore:

I reject killing anything that I do not have to kill. For beings that I am reasonably sure are non-sentient (insects, etc),my threshold for killing is convenience. I will not kill a thing that I am reasonably sure is non-sentient unless it inconveniences me. Example: Spider crawls down the wall. If possible, I catch it and put it outside. If it won't go, or I can't catch it, I kill it. I will preemptively kill non-sentient things if I suspect they may cause me or someone/something I care about harm or major discomfort. Example: I put flea treatment on my dog and cats.

For things that have very limited sentience, my threshold for killing is extreme inconvenience or suspicion of harm or discomfort. Example: a mouse gets in my house. I would try non-lethal traps first, but if I found they were hard to operate or weren't effective, I would call in an exterminator. If I felt there was an infestation, or that the presence of a mouse might compromise my family's health, I would skip to the exterminator.

For things that have some level of sentience, my threshold for killing would be immediate danger. Example: A strange dog comes into the yard, growls, corners my son- I grab first available weapon, and use whatever force is necessary to secure my son's safety. If the dog dies in the process, I have no regrets. I would not kill an "unrurly" or misbehaving house pet unless it became an immediate threat.

Probably fully sentient non-human beings such as great apes or some cetations- I would not kill unless I feared that they were going to imminently attack me with the intent to kill. I would first aim to incapacitate the animal, reserving lethal force as a last resort.

I would not attack a sentient human being with the intent to kill unless it attacked me first, or I feared such an attack was imminent. I would only use lethal force if I felt I had no other resort.

Special circumstances: With regard to abortion, I classify embryos/fetuses as non-sentient beings, and would use that standard. People in a perpetually comatose state or vegetative state, or otherwise totally impaired, would fall under the some level of sentience guidelines. As they would be unlikely to present imminent danger to me or mine, I wouldn't personally kill them, but I would support termination if it was shown the chances for them regaining sentience were minimal, and their continued maintainance was a possible detriment to other people. I would not actively kill or have an animal killed for food above fish, possibly fowl level unless I felt it was necessary, though I will eat food products from higher animals(beef, pork, etc.) that were all ready killed for consumption.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Aw, C'mon! Slut Jokes Are Just SO Funny!

Well, David Letterman apologized for his joke about Sarah Palin's daughter getting "knocked up" at a baseball game by Yankee Alex Rodriguez. Cut the poor guy some slack, though- he didn't know at the time it was a rape joke about a minor- he just thought it was a slutty-slut joke aimed at an 18 year old! See! Doesn't that make all the difference...

I, by no means am a Palin supporter/ apologist. I think the woman's politics are wack, and everything I've heard from the people I know in Alaska would suggest she isn't much of a Governor, either. To an extent, her very own actions made Bristol a media target when she acted like a good politician and a lousy mother, and made Bristol's pregnancy a political issue. That's what wackaloon right wing intolerance will get you- spend long enough harping on the eeevuls of sex and contraception and abortion,and when your minor child turns up pregnant, you can't just "dissapear" the problem like most moneyed and influential people. Oh, no. You've got to sacrifice your daughter and the child she'll eventually have, not to mention your own holier-than-thou facade, on the Altar of Family Values Hypocrisy for the whole world to see. That's how True Believerism works, don't you know? Never mind that it proves all the abstinence stuff to be shit, is narrowing the horizons of a young woman, and consigning a child to the "horrors" of the single parent household railed against so frequently in fundie circles. Those are really small prices to pay for sticking to your guns, right?

No, I don't like Sarah Palin, and I think she has a lot to answer for when it comes to her own actions. But none of that justifies making rape/slut jokes about her kids. Or her, for that matter.

I am so sick of women being nothing more than their place on the Fuckability&trade scale. Everything revolves around how attractive you are to men, or the implication that you aren't attractive to men, and are then only fit for the "lesbos". If you are conventionally pretty and you know it, you are a slutty-slut. If you are conventionally pretty and you don't flaunt it, you are some librarian-prude, or perhaps a cryptolesbian. If you aren't conventionally pretty, you are some "bull dyke", or humorless feminazi, or pathetic Cat Lady, or worse yet- invisible. And whatever you are, you just need to "lighten up" if you find being called any of these things offensive.

Bitchez just can't take a joke.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Can You Really Be A Rational Pro-Lifer?

The short answer to this is "no". Not any more than you can be a rational believer in Christ, or Kali, or Rael. Faith is, by its very nature, irrational. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you. We all have irrational beliefs. However, on issues of public policy which affect the bodily integrity of half the human population of this country, irrational beliefs should not be relied upon.

First, let's look at some definitions (All from Merriam Webster Online).

Reason: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense ; especially : something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact d: the thing that makes some fact intelligible : cause

Rational: having reason or understanding b: relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason

Irrational: not governed by or according to reason .

So, when I say something is irrational, I'm not necessarily saying it is stupid. (Though in this situation, I think there is a case to be made that "pro-life" beliefs, are in fact, based on a rather stupid premise). Rather, I am saying it is not backed up by reason.

There is no proof of an embryo or fetus being equivalent to a sentient, born person. As a matter of fact,all scientific proof points to the opposite, with the necessary structures/ brain patterns needed for sentience not being formed until the 24th week. Which, ironically enough, is the standard for viability recognized by Roe v. Wade. Even since the early 70's, that threshold has not advanced appreciably, due to the fact that the structures necessary for independent life just haven't been formed until then. And of course, let's not forget that even at the 24th week, most fetuses will not survive without extensive medical intervention, and even with medical intervention, survival rates are fairly grim.

It is also important to point out that one being involved with the pregnancy is a fully sentient, human person from start to finish- the mother. Of that, there can be no doubt. If the real pro life argument is that all animal life should be valued equally, sentient or otherwise, the killing apes, dogs, flies, or amoebas would carry the same weight and penalty as killing a human. However, I have never seen a "pro-life" support of this particular viewpoint. The only consistent application of this principle I have noted is within Jainism, which does not enjoy a wide following here in the US. As a matter of fact, many "pro-lifers" believe the death penalty is just. Most believe participation in this country's armed forces is honorable and appropriate. Almost all believe killing in self defense is justifiable. And mind you, all of these acts could kill a sentient person, not just a "life" in the generic sense.

So where, exactly, does the "pro-life" movement come from? A recent net phenomenon can be used to explain the "genesis" of the movement. A woman in Chicago blogged about her supposedly doomed pregnancy, gaining support from the pro-life community as they urged her to see the pregnancy on through to the bitter end. The blog and the pregnancy were a hoax, as it turns out, but the emotional outpouring from the faithful was real.

I believe the pro-life movement stems from a clinging to an outmoded model of human development-
Preformationism, or the belief in a homonuclus, or fully formed miniature human, residing in the uterus from the moment of conception. That preformationism coincides nicely with the Christian concept of creation is no accident. Quite simply, the pro-life movement seeks to keep alive the fairytale of faith that modern science has threatened to disrupt.

Let's go back to "April's Mom", the hoax blog. When the people reading that blog were urging the supposed mother to continue on with her pregnancy, it is highly doubtful that they were envisioning a developing embryo or fetus at whatever stage of development the pregnancy would indicate. Nor, I am sure, were they envisioning an anencephalic infant, (anencephaly is what the hoax-fetus supposedly suffered from). Instead, they were envisioning the perfect homunculus, a thinking, feeling being trapped in it's mother's womb, wanting only a "chance" at life, a chance to fulfill the God- given purpose it had been patiently waiting to live out since the beginning of time.

Since preformationism posits that conception is merely the setting in motion of a pre-ordaned, pre-made human life, the mother is nothing more than a carrier of this life, tasked to be the intermediary between this world and the next- nothing more. Also, since preformationism is explicitly non scientific, it would look at a diagnosis of anencephaly by the medical establishment with a jaundiced eye. Undoubtedly, there were readers of the "April's Mom" blog who believed the force of their prayers might "cure" the anencephaly, or that the doctors might have been wrong from the start. After all, it is difficult to reconcile the belief that a thinking, feeling entity is just waiting to be born into this world with the reality of a severely deformed fetus missing most of its brain. As a matter of fact, the old preformationist line often held that congenital defect was the fault of some "wickedness" on the part of the mother, or some intervention by the Devil or one of his minions. In the preformationist worldview, perfection is the default mode of all homonuculi- defect is caused by external forces, and is reversible, by acts of the faithful, or God himself.

So, as we can see, there is no rational support for the pro-life position. Scientific evidence conclusively shows that first and second trimester embryos and even some early third trimester fetuses do not possess the structures necessary for independent life, let alone sentience. Christian theology does not call for the absolute respect for and preservation of all life, and US Christians do not practice such across-the-board reverence. While other religions do embrace a wider respect for life, they are not at the center of the US pro-life movement. Absent certain religious convictions that center on the embro/fetus being a pre-formed, pre- ordained human person from the moment of the creation of this world,there is no possible reason for the virulent anti-abortion rhetoric prevalent in this country. I would go further, and say that while a portion of the pro-life movement sees the preformationist belief as reason in itself to reject abortion, there exists a sizable portion of the movement that uses preformationist dogma to enforce a cynical and misogynist worldview that seeks to reestablish firm patriarchal control over women and their bodies as either an end unto itself, or as a way of re-establishing an order of domination thought to be preferable to the Christian God.

Is that really what you want public policy to be informed by?

Who Goes to a Creationist Museum?

You always find the funniest things over at PZ's Place! Yesterday, he was critical of this BBC article about the infamous "Creationist Museum" in Kentucky. While I normally agree with PZ on matters of creationist wackaloonery, I've got to admit that I found this article very funny. It didn't need to be explicitly critical of the museum to thoroughly skewer it, and the kind of people who would go to such a place.

So, who does go to a creation museum?

Dan Schoonmaker, 26, drove 11 hours from Alabama with his family after his wife Kristy heard about the museum in a Bible class. The Army helicopter pilot (who as a member of the military gets in free) described himself as a "creationist in training", admitting it needed "a lot of faith". "I personally don't know, but natural selection seems to be the only thing people go on. It should be more open," he says. "There are sometimes better explanations for things, I mean people thought the earth was flat." Theories other than evolutionary science should be given more prominence and there should be an option to study creationism in schools, with parents given the choice, he believes. "I'm a creationist in training, I don't really go to church but I'm curious about Genesis."

Robert Mailloux
Robert Mailloux, 68, flew 1,200 miles from his home in Colorado Springs just to visit the museum. The retired businessman dismisses Darwin's theory as "not even a low grade hypothesis" and said it had "no substantial science" in it. "The Bible says God created the Earth in six days and we flat believe that. There are over 100 ways science is able to look at the Earth and 90 say it is thousands of years old - only 10 say it's real old." He adds: "The way liberals and evolutionists win an argument is to outlaw freedom of speech... they won't let us in. Why is Darwin buried with kings at Westminster Abbey? He's not a king. He's the king of the atheists' movement, of people who don't want to deal with the guilt that's put on them by sin... it's a weight and a bondage, they become their own God."

Laurie Geesey
Laurie Geesey, 57, made the 560-mile trip from Wisconsin the night before with her husband Richard. The former high school teacher, who says she believes God created "everything visible and invisible", feels people look down on her views "especially under the current [White House] administration". "It interferes with their lifestyle, you know 'If it feels good go ahead and do it' - the Bible doesn't teach that," she says. In fact, she's not sure Darwin believed his own theory. Husband Richard Geesey, 67, a retired university professor, says he was "very impressed" by the museum and liked the fact that scriptures backed up the exhibits. "I believe in a lot of this and wanted to see how accurate it was," he says. "I believe the Earth is around 5,500 years old. If you don't believe in Genesis, you don't believe in anything else."

Scott Rubin
Scott Rubin, 42, says he turned to God late in life. The father-of-three, from Chicago, was a business consultant when he "had an encounter with Jesus" and became a youth pastor. "Evolution is a good theory, I don't believe in it, but parts of it are sensible and parts of creationism are sensible," he says. "When it comes down to it, how can you know for sure? What I do know is God's changed my life. I believe God created the world in six days, I do believe that." Mr Rubin, who is visiting the museum ahead of a baseball game in his home town of Cincinnati, says he grew up in the church but did not pay much attention to it. "I never intended to be the church guy. It makes sense why people believe in evolution, especially if they've not had the encounter with Jesus I've had."

This stuff is priceless. Really. As I said in comments at Pharyngula, this could be an Onion article, only these people, sadly enough, are real. I actually feel bad for these folks. They are obviously searching for meaning, and instead, they are having to settle for a $27 million dollar pseudoscientific fantasyland complete with "tail wagging dinosaurs".

Ironically, Mush and Peanut squared off over this very Creation Museum.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top Ten Movies

If anyone is out there, I would love to hear what your top 10 movies are in your Netflix queue. A lot of people do this with music on their blogs, and I find it a great way to discover new and exciting songs, so I'm trying it with movies.

The movies at the top of my queue currently ( I count series disks as one place on the list):

1. Ranma 1/2 Outta Control
2. Ju-Rei: The Uncanny
3. Shutter
4. Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden
5. Rocket Science
6. Please Teacher!
7. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring
8. Kamichu!
9. Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman
10. City of God

A lot of the stuff on there is anime (Ranma, Mahoromatic, Please Teacher!, Kamichu!). I'm also a big J-horror fan, so that accounts for Ju-Rei, Shutter, and Carved. Rocket Science and City of God were recommended to me by friends who though the movies were "me". Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring is a Korean movie that has been praised for its lush cinematography and profound message.

Stuff that I've watched lately that I liked: The Wrestler, The Amazing Screw-on Head, The Spirit, The Quiet American, Moon Child, Death Note II: The Last Name, L: Save The World.

Like I said, please share your list if you read this! I'm always looking for interesting new movies to watch.

My Obama Report Card

Well, President Obama has been in office for almost six months now, and I think it is fair to really weigh in on his performance. (I vehemently disagree with the "100 days" crap- that's just not long enough to make real policy decisions). This is my personal opinion, of course, and is heavily weighted towards the issues I see as pressing.

Foreign Affairs- A I think Obama has done a really good job of mending the fences internationally. After Eight years of Bush doing everything he could to inflame hatred of America and Americans globally, Obama has made a real effort to back away from the former administration's incendiary rhetoric. He's had a couple of missteps- the gift gaffe and a generally weak response to North Korea- but overall, he's been saying and doing what needs to be said and done. I especially commend his Egypt speech- a conciliatory statement to the Muslim community was long overdue.

Economy- B Obama, by and large, is as much along for the ride on the whole economic runaway train just like the rest of us. He inherited the tanking econ, he inherited the bailout, he inherited the underlying causes of the problem. All he can do now is stay the course, which is pretty much what he has done. I, for one, have no problem with things like the "nationalization" of GM, but I would like to see more emphasis on corporate responsibility and accountability so that we don't keep ending up in these messes.

Iraq/Afghanistan/War on Terror Abroad- C After a really strong start on Guantanamo, Obama has really been floundering with his policies and statements on these issues. Six months after taking office, I have seen very little actual change in the war, and the Guantanamo and torture backpedaling are most disheartening. Obama needs to fulfill his campaign promises by getting us out of Iraq, articulating a timeframe and goals for Afghanistan, and unequivically renouncing the use of terror or the holding of "detainees" without due process.

Civil Rights- D This is where Obama is really falling down. He needs to end DADT now. It would be so easy, and would cost him so little. While he was at it, I wish he would start pushing hard on the restrictions on women in combat. He also needs to use the bully pulpit to move towards federal recognition of same-sex marriage. There is simply no good argument against same sex marriage, and unless Obama wants to be on the wrong side of history, he better act now. It would also behoove him to take a firm stand for womens' reproductive freedom. Repealing the global Gag Rule was an excellent first step, but all of this "abortion is a necessary evil" talk he puts out needs to end. He is giving the high ground away to the forced birthers, and we can clearly see what they do with the "high ground"- see Dr. Tiller's assassination.

Health care- B- OK. Obama has put health care on the national agenda, but he needs to articulate a vision, and stand firm. The system is irretrievably broken, and wishy-washy stop gap measures are not going to fix it.

Energy/Environment- C Obama needs to get on the ball, and really articulate a vision here. The time is ripe- people want to see change in this area. With the grassroots behind him, Obama could take on big business, and force change.

Domestic Terrorism- C Obama needs to make strong, sweeping statements against things like Dr. Tiller's assassination, and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. He also needs to use these incidents to draw out the links between so-called mainstream "conservative" groups and the actions of this terrorists, because believe me, there IS a connection. The president MUST go on record strongly condemning such acts AND the organizations that spew the hatred that agitates the actors. In short, he must frame them as terrorism.

Overall- B- Obama is off to a good start, but he has plenty of room for improvement. He needs to worry less about political strategy and expending political capital, and more about being true to the vision he articulated during the campaign. It was that vision that got him elected, and it is only that vision being realized that will keep him there.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Now What?

In the wake of Dr. Tiller's assassination, I have submitted an application to be a Planned Parenthood volunteer. I can't sit back and do nothing. I hope a lot of other people decide they can't sit back, either. I hope that this tragic murder will be the thing that finally galvanizes sane, fair-minded individuals to act, to stand up to the hatred the "pro-life" camp is spewing. I'm tired of all of the vicious bullshit, actually. It turns my stomach every time I read some loon talking about the slutty sluts who get late term abortions, the evil of "abortionists" who kill innocent babies, etc. Feministe has compiled patient stories that show the true face of late term abortion, and Dr. Tiller's work. I'm also scared to death that only two doctors in the country are prepared to continue this vital work.

So, I'm doing what I can. It won't bring back Dr. Tiller, it won't give more options to those women facing the traumas that lead to late term abortion, and it won't change the hardened hearts of the anti-abortion movement, but its the best I can do.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. Tiller's Death, and Anti-Abortion Terrorism

Let's call this out for what it really is. The Anti-abortion movement, whether intentionally or not, has fanned the flames of domestic terrorism. Dr. George Tiller's assasination yesterday, as he stood in the door of his church, is the DIRECT RESULT of decades of the "Abortion is murder" campaign. I don't care how "mainstream" or "peaceful" a group alleges to be, if they go around spouting the abortion is murder line, they have helped create the climate of hatred that spawned this attack. In a reply to a post on Pandagon, I summed up my position on what needs to be done about this:

The so called condemnations of Dr. Tiller's assassination were anything but. They never once condemned the parties responsible inciting this kind of violence, never once called for all of the "pro-life" faithful to renounce such people or tactics. The National Review fanned the flames even more by continuously referring to Dr. tiller as an "abortionist" or even "late-term abortionist". Someone needs to call them on this at a national level. NARAL's response, while doing a good job of highlighting the pattern of ant-abortion violence, fails to make the critical connection between the mainstream rhetoric and the violence itself. Planned Parenthood never even approaches the connection. NOW is the only prominent national organization I've seen thus far to call this out-and-out terrorism. Dr. Warren Hern, another late-term abortion provider said exactly the right thing in his interview with the Wichita Eagle:

Warren Hern, a Colorado physician and close friend of Tiller's -- who described himself now as "the only doctor in the world" who performs very-late-term abortions -- said Tiller's death was predictable.

"I think it's the inevitable consequence of more than 35 years of constant anti-abortion terrorism, harassment and violence," he said.

When Obama was elected last fall, Hern predicted that anti-abortion violence would increase, he said. Because Obama supports legalized abortion, Hern said, its foes "have lost ground.... They want the doctors dead, and they invite people to assassinate us. No wonder that this happens.

"I am next on the list."

This is the message that needs to be repeated endlessly. I don't have much of a soapbox- I think I have about three regular readers at my blog ;-). However, Pandagon reaches a lot of folks, and I know there are readers here who have well-read sites, too. Let's spread the word that the time is past to be conciliatory, to pretend that the "abortion is murder" rhetoric has no bearing on actual terrorist acts. I'm going to contact NARAL and Planned Parenthood, urging them to issue stronger statements highlighting the link. If anyone else has media contacts, or ideas, let me know- you can comment on my blog, or react to my comment here. This is intensely personal for me, as it literally "hits me where I live"- the suspect in this case is from my metro area.

Please join with me in setting the record straight. We didn't start this "culture war" crap, but we've got to meet in face on.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Good Stuff!

Mmmm. I got some of my favorite soda today- Apple Sidra. It's sooo yummy. It's kind of hard to describe- apple flavored battery acid is what comes to mind. Seriously, this is some super-carbonated stuff! I can almost feel my tooth enamel being eaten off when I drink this. It's from Taiwan, and like most Asian soda, its not as cloyingly sweet as American soda. I really prefer Asian sweets in general, as they seem to strike a better balance between sweet and flavor. Go and try some Apple Sidra today!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yawn. Yep. Boring As Hell.

Well, if this doesn't beat all. From the woman who thinks... women are stupid. "This just in! Atheists are boring! Really, they are. So boring, in fact, I've got to write boring they are."

Really, Charlotte Allen? "Boohoo victimism"? Is that anything like voodoo economics? Wow. I'm hoping this article is meant to be ironic, as in, "Look! I'm going to make all of these arguments about other people being meanie mean meanies, and just to up the ante, I'll use every single tactic I excoriate them for in my own arguments."

I for one, have nothing against meanie mean meanies. But I do really rankle at hypocrites, which is what Ms. Allen is being in this take on atheists.

Unintentional Irony in italics.

My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity. What -- did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?

Charlotte Allen is taking this opportunity to berate atheists for their supposed victimization complex, and their odd "fixation" on religion, in an article saying meanie atheists should stop picking on believers, because C. Allen's exhaustive study of What Atheists Believe has found their beliefs wanting.

Pot? Kettle?

Read Dawkins, or Hitchens, or the works of fellow atheists Sam Harris ("The End of Faith") and Daniel Dennett ("Breaking the Spell"), or visit an atheist website or blog (there are zillions of them, bearing such titles as "God Is for Suckers," "God Is Imaginary" and "God Is Pretend"), and your eyes will glaze over as you peruse -- again and again -- the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain.

Charlotte Allen is surprised and disgusted to find atheists talking about atheism in books on atheism and websites on atheism, so she writes an article on point that out (and talks about atheism in the process). I mean, the audacity of those windbags! talking about atheism on an atheism blog or in an atheism book like its a valid topic, or something? Where is Dawkins' Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever! recipe in "The God Delusion"? Why doesn't the "God is Imaginary" website offer more celebrity gossip- that's what Charlotte Allen wants to know!

First off, there's atheist victimology: Boohoo, everybody hates us 'cuz we don't believe in God. Although a recent Pew Forum survey on religion found that 16% of Americans describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, only 1.6% call themselves atheists...Maybe atheists wouldn't be so unpopular if they stopped beating the drum until the hide splits on their second-favorite topic: How stupid people are who believe in God.

Now, Charolotte Allen will conclusively put the nail in the coffin of the atheists' whiny argument that they are unpopular, by pointing out how unpopular they are. In a mocking way. I think that really speaks for itself.

Then there's P.Z. Myers, biology professor at the University of Minnesota's Morris campus, whose blog, Pharyngula, is supposedly about Myers' field, evolutionary biology, but is actually about his fanatical propensity to label religious believers as "idiots," "morons," "loony" or "imbecilic" in nearly every post. The university deactivated its link to Myers' blog in July after he posted a photo of a consecrated host from a Mass that he had pierced with a rusty nail and thrown into the garbage ("I hope Jesus' tetanus shots are up to date") in an effort to prove that Catholicism is bunk -- or something.

Charolotte Allen wants to assure us that no one, in fact is trying to silence the wacky atheists, by pointing out that an atheists' blog which was found 'offensive' was de-linked from an institutional website. Again, with a heavy dose of snark. I actually read Pharyngula, was reading during the hubub, and Charlotte is leaving out one crucial point- while PZ was calling the belief that a cracker becomes the body of a dead mangod "loony", those sweet believers were leveling death threats at him. Who is being outlandish and incendiary, again?

Another topic that atheists beat like the hammer on the anvil in the old Anacin commercials is Darwinism versus creationism. Maybe Darwin-o-mania stems from the fact that this year marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth in 1809, but haven't atheists heard that many religious people (including the late Pope John Paul II) don't have a problem with evolution but, rather, regard it as God's way of letting his living creation unfold? Furthermore, even if human nature as we know it is a matter of lucky adaptations, how exactly does that disprove the existence of God?

Charlotte is in rare form now. How dare those brutish atheists get all worked up over evolution (does anyone really call it Darwinism any more? I thought that went out with the Scopes trial). She takes them to task for their incessant re-hashing of the same old throwing out the oldest, tropeist trope- "God isn't disproved by evolution, 'cause maybe evolution was really His idea! NaaaNaa!" Clearly, no atheist has ever heard that before. And obviously, Charlotte is missing the point entirely if she thinks "...many religious people (including the late Pope John Paul II) don't have a problem with evolution but, rather, regard it as God's way of letting his living creation unfold?" is anything but the very thing atheists would take issue with. Psst- here's a clue, Charlotte- atheists don't believe God exists! That would be like an atheist saying to a Christian, "Gee. I think "God" is just an evolutionary adaptation of the human brain. We really believe the same thing, buddy!"

The problem with atheists -- and what makes them such excruciating snoozes -- is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering. Atheists seem to assume that the whole idea of God is a ridiculous absurdity, the "flying spaghetti monster" of atheists' typically lame jokes. They think that lobbing a few Gaza-style rockets accusing God of failing to create a world more to their liking ("If there's a God, why aren't I rich?" "If there's a God, why didn't he give me two heads so I could sleep with one head while I get some work done with the other?") will suffice to knock down the entire edifice of belief.

Oh, ho! Now we get to the meat of it! Charlotte is going to enlighten us as to the real problem with atheists. They don't engage in intellectually honest or rigorous arguments with believers! To that end, she's going to let a brief listing of the titles of some recent, serious books on this very subject stand in for a real takedown of any of the arguments these works present, and instead, poke at some strawmen ("If there's a God, why aren't I rich?" is just the absolute basis of Dawkins, Hitchens, Denett, et al's works, doncha know?). Flying Spaghetti Monster! LOL! That's not intellectually dishonest in the slightest, now is it?

What atheists don't seem to realize is that even for believers, faith is never easy in this world of injustice, pain and delusion. Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses. So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?

Finally, for her coup de grace, Charlotte wishes to take those nasty atheists to task for their boring, hurtful screeds that harp on the fact that there is no proof that God exists, and its silly to believe in something that there is no proof for, by boldly asserting that even believers can muster no real proof for God. Way to go, Charlotte! Knockout punch! That'll teach those uppity atheists!

...or will it? Whaaaahahahah!!!!

Mush and Peanut On Creationism

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mush and Peanut Ride Again

This movie thing is just too much fun. I really love the odd inflections of the compu-voices. I know it wouldn't work for everything, but it's parody gold! Here's some more Mush and Peanut insanity. I particularly like the abstinence-only ed cartoon. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Mush and Peanut- the Abortion Debate

Woo hoo, am I on a roll! More of my self-styled conservative commentator "Mush" and his idiotic conversations with Peanut, his daughter. I'm making myself laugh, at any rate, and the little movie making website is a blast. Viva la technology! Let me know what you think of my creations.

Mush and Peanut- my newest project

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Omnipotence and Omniscience, Or a Response to The Prophecy I &II

Well, sure. This is pretty fluffy too. But what the hey- fluffy is good, right?

I just watched the movies The Prophecy and the Prophecy II, and aside from strengthening my conviction that Christopher Walken is the creepiest guy ever (in a good way, mind you), these movies got me asking some questions. Here is a brief synopsis of the movie(s) if you are unfamiliar with them.

1. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, how could a "war in heaven" ever happen, unless God wanted it to happen? Sure, yeah- the movies are 100% made up bunk, but there are people who believe that "Lucifer" was an angel who was cast out of heaven because he fomented an uprising against God. So the question stands.

2. Are angels corporeal beings? Beings of spirit?

3.Why would God "need" angels to do anything for God? Re: omnipotence and omniscience.

4. If angels have no "souls", but obviously have a measure of free will, what is a "soul" anyway?

5.When an angel "dies", where does it go?

6. Where did angels get the reputation of being "good"? If they do God's bidding, they are really just neutral actors. The one recorded instance of an angel acting on his own will gives us a version of the "creation of Hell" story.

The movies, of course, never really answer any of these questions. Nothing else answers them very clearly, either. All of these questions could be as easily applied to other religious ideas. Omnipotence and omniscience are particularly problematic- really, you could substitute about anything unsavory for "war in heaven" and really have the same outcome. Why is there war,famine, plague, teabaggers (sorry-had to put that in there), etc? If God knows/controls all, why the bad stuff? A lot of people answer with the old, "God's will is inscrutable" stuff, but that holds no water with me. I could almost buy it if it wasn't for this nagging conscience thing we have that makes us see things as "good" or "bad" instead of all just "God's will". Why make us like that? Why make us agonize over things, when we just as easily could have been programmed to respond with indifference? Unless, of course, God isn't benevolent, but is omnipotent and omniscient...

That's the answer I always arrive at. If I believe God exists, and is omniscient and omnipotent, I also have to believe God is malevolent, or best-case, neutral. Otherwise, I've got to conclude there is no God, or that God has limits, and can't make all of the bad stuff go away. Which isn't really what the movies were trying to get at, I suspect, but nevertheless, they make a good case for one of these answers.

The whole thing is such a house of cards. Of course, it doesn't help that I am skeptical by nature, but sheesh. How could anyone be all right with these internal contradictions? It was hard enough just suspending disbelief long enough to watch the movies. I can't imagine how hard it would be to suspend disbelief long enough to live by this stuff.

It's Been a While- Random Stuff Roundup

Yeah, I know. Seven months. That's a long time. I've been busy. Besides, I'm sure all three of you have found other amusements on the web. What has been inspiring me lately? Here's the list:

Retro Renovation

I love 20th century history- its one of my passions. I stumbled across the following website a while back, and I can honestly say I'm in love.

Save The Pink Bathrooms

A sister project from the folks at Retro Renovation, I love looking through the bathroom pics. I can't wait to upload the pic of my gram's sweet 1960's upstairs pink bathroom.

Marina Style Safeway Stores

Again, a tangent off of my 20th century love-a-thon. I've always liked those swoopy 60's rooflines. Now, I realize I'm not alone. We've got an old Marina Safeway building in our town that's standing vacant. I wonder if it is for sale? Perhaps being a grocer is in the cards for me...

Marina Safeway pic

Japan Cat Network

I love Japan. I love cats. What, then, was not to like in the CatFancy article I read about this awesome organization in Japan that is helping feral cats? I may have to take them up on their offer for the "volunteer vacationer" deal where they find you free accommodations in Japan if you volunteer part time while there.

Japan Cat Network

That's it for the "fluffy stuff". Spring has sprung, and hopefully I'll be lest tired/grouchy/beat down, and more prone to post.