Monday, June 28, 2010

McChrystal's Balls

For those of you living in a cabin in the Montana woods for the last few weeks, Rolling Stone magazine did an interview with General Stanley McChrystal, where he (and many of his aides) were making unflattering statements about the president, the vice president, and pretty much every politician involved with Afghanistan from the top down.

So, Obama called him back to Washington, perhaps to sit down with him, along with General Clown, Envoy Animal, and Vice President Bite-me, to discuss McChrystal's future career plans.

And now General Petraeus is in charge, and like so many politicians and military men before him, McChrystal is being given a chance "to spend more time with his family."

Now, the unhinged Right has gone off the rails so fast that at this point, if Obama were to single-handedly parachute into the Pakistani mountains, capture bin Laden, and use his bleeding corpse to plug the pipe that's pumping oil into the Gulf, they'd complain that he's a socialist for interfering with British Petroleum's efforts to fix their equipment.

Hell, even if Afghanistan suddenly becomes heaven on earth, with free democratic elections that put James Dobson in charge, with the Pope as his Vice Prophet, Liz Cheney would still talk about how "Obama castrated an entire country! He's trying to feminize the planet!"

But that's OK. If Obama had left McC in charge, those same people would complain about how weak Obama was appearing, and how he was making America a laughingstock on the international stage.

It doesn't matter what Obama does on any subject — the far right will spin it so hard that it will drill down into the ground. But really, on the fire/don't fire spectrum, there was a third option that nobody seems willing to talk about.

The Right likes to complain the Obama is "arrogant" (i.e., he isn't Steppin' Fetchit), and he's "thin-skinned." (What? He didn't smile and nod when you called him "Hitler" for the sixtieth time?)

But if Obama was really "thin-skinned," he would have taken that third option. And General McChrystal wouldn't have been allowed to retire. He would have been courtmartialed.
Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces...
It isn't hard to figure out. The military goes everywhere, and laws change. And sometimes, the military goes outside of any American jurisdiction.

So, instead of having to pay attention to the weird local laws, like the fact that it's still illegal in Kansas to ride a Grévy's Zebra, Tibetan ox, or any similar animal down a main thoroughfare (unless there's a parade in progress), or in Thailand, where you can be arrested for not wearing underwear, we have federal laws, which take precedence... most of the time. Unless they don't...

OK, mostly, the local government will give up their right to prosecute, since the military member is going to face military justice. It costs them less that way.

(There's actually a lengthy and somewhat boring discussion of jurisdiction that can be inserted here, but why bother?)

So the UCMJ tends to trump local law. Which means that General McChrystal was guilty of the military equivalent of jaywalking. Really, these were all minor offenses - no jail time would have been involved.

At worst, McChrystal would have lost a star. But because of the "high 3" rule (your retirement pay is based on the highest rank you held for three years), he would have still retired at the 3-star pay rate that he's getting now. (Of course, things might have gone worse for the various lower-ranking officers who were with him, and just as guilty.)

Nothing would have changed. The whole mess would have just lasted longer.

But that's OK. Our friends on the Right will figure some ignorant way to spin this.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

So alone

So, I was working on a post (and then, realizing that I was kicking a paraplegic, I moved on to a second one), and then things got all caught up in my son, home in one piece from Afghanistan, who proposed to his girlfriend (who's also in one piece, if it matters), and relatives from North Carolina. So instead, here's an essay on the nature of existence from P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula.
Scientists and atheists do something that many believers find repellent: we shatter their perception of their relationship to the universe. And understandably, they don't like that.

Most religious people in the West have a very specific model of the way the world works that is based on our cultural history as the progeny of nomadic herdsman, and that still resonates strongly with all of us — the father-child relationship, the patriarchy. We have a wise leader who guides us all, punishes us when we stray, offers largesse to those in his favor, and unites the whole tribe in common cause. Those bronze age sheepherders lived this way, and it made sense. It was a strategy for survival that worked well, and that shaped the way we see the world even now. Ask any Christian on any Sunday morning about flocks and sheep and shepherds, and they will understand the metaphor even if it is highly unlikely that any of them have been in contact with any animal other than a household pet.

It's also a powerful idea because it posits a set of very personal relationships. The father is remote because of his great responsibilities, but at the same time, we all want that pat on the shoulder, the encouraging word, the opportunity to serve and win distinction in Father's eyes by virtue of our dutifulness. It's a familial relationship, tightly-knit and long-established, where we are respectful dependents and the leader of the tribe relies on our service.

Beyond just the family and tribe, though, this vision has been extended to the entire universe. There is a great Patriarch in the Sky, who is our leader and guide, responsible for making the grand strategic decisions about where our tribe will go, and is also watchfully making sure the unity of the tribe is not disrupted by wayward ideas from nonconformists. He has a central concern that we all share, that our people should thrive, and even if he is stern at times, it is because he cares so much that we succeed. And of course, he knows each one of us personally, just as the leader of tribe or clan in our pastoral days would have, and he can give us an approving stroke or a damning angry smiting, depending on whether we help or hinder the work of getting the flocks to the summer pasturage.

Read your bible. It's saturated with this primitive herdsman mentality: God the Father, sheep and goats, lost lambs and the Lamb of God, flocks and herds. It's anthropologically fascinating, and it's also not necessarily an evil metaphor (unless, of course, you're a woman — the patriarchy is also deeply misogynistic). One of it's most appealing aspects is that it makes the relationship with the universe a close and personal one, of a very simple kind of relatedness, that of father and child. It's one metaphorical generation, direct and immediate, and it colors everything about how we view our place in the world: dominant and submissive, leader and follower, wisdom and naiveté, master and servant, command and obedience. It also tangles up our relationship with the world in those paternal virtues of love and concern and discipline, and often with those less savory issues of the complicated relationships many people have with their fathers, because, face it, sometimes men are jerks. Which also fits with the portrait of the omnipotent god painted by the Bible.

I can sympathize. I loved and respected my father, and any attempt by an outsider to defame or complicate or diminish that relationship would trigger a resentful response from me. Christians and Muslims and Jews have been told from their earliest years that God is their father, with all the attendant associations of that argument, and what are we atheists doing? Telling them that no, he is not, and not only that, you don't even have a heavenly father at all, the imaginary guy you are worshipping is actually a hateful monster and an example of a bad and tyrannical father, and you aren't even a very special child — you're a mediocre product of a wasteful and entirely impersonal process.

It makes that whole business of breaking the news about Santa Claus look like small potatoes. Reality is harsh, man.

But it is reality. We've done the paternity tests, we've traced back the genealogy, we're doing all kinds of in-depth testing of the human species. We are apes and the descendants of apes, who were the descendants of rat-like primates, who were children of reptiles, who were the spawn of amphibians, who were the terrestrial progeny of fish, who came from worms, who were assembled from single-celled microorganisms, who were the products of chemistry. Your daddy was a film of chemical slime on a Hadean rock, and he didn't care about you — he was only obeying the laws of thermodynamics.

You aren't you because of some grand design, but because of chance, contingency, and selection. Your genome is a mess of detritus with a tiny fraction of well-honed functionality, and your body is cobbled together from the framework of a tetrapod — you bear the scars of chance throughout, and you are mostly unaware of them because selection, that is the death of millions, has patched them over…but they're there to the eye that will look. You aren't even the best at much of anything: you're weaker, slower, more fragile, clumsier than the other species we compete with, and although you've got a bigger brain, the majority of Americans, at least, consider it a virtue to keep it ignorant and unused — and universally, we have difficulty thinking in the long term while we are very good at exploiting our environment in the short term, which is leading to some interesting and possibly fatal consequences.

The legacy of good husbandry, we are not. Our cosmic father did not and does not exist, which is a good thing, because if he did, he's the kind of lazy, destructive deadbeat we'd be ashamed of.

This is our new heresy. We have killed our heavenly father, demolished that cozy personal (but imaginary!) relationship with a great and caring being. We are alone, orphans in an indifferent universe. We atheists must be a cold and broken people, without hope, without love.

But of course, we're not, and I think this change in our vision of our relationship to the universe is humankind's great good hope. Primitive monotheistic religions have shackled us to a limited metaphor and model, the father and child, and erected an entire invisible heavenly mouthpiece to help us maintain that comfortable delusion — but it's like relying on the Great and Powerful Oz to help us out of our problems, when Oz is only a sham and a show. We have to escape out of this narrow perspective.

Reality doesn't just destroy the patriarchal model, it gives us new and better ways to visualize our relationship with the universe. Father and child is inadequate; we have to think in terms of populations and species interacting (not dominating), of being part of an environment. There is more to life than the father and child bond. I am the outcome of a trillion coalescing possibilities, with a vast population of brothers and sisters acting out our brief lives on a background of gas and stone, water and light, grasses and fishes, and my responsibilities are far greater than obedience to a father figure. Breaking that illusion of a personal tie to one grand elder lord can briefly leave us feeling abandoned and alone and lost, and I can understand how some people find severing that imaginary relationship a horrible prospect.

But here's the wonderful revelation. If you're a well-adjusted person, once you've discarded the unhealthy fictitious relationship with a phantasm, you can look around and notice all those other people who are likewise alone, and you'll realize that we're all alone together. And that means you aren't alone at all — you're among friends. That's the next step in human progress, is getting away from the notion of minions living under a trail boss, and onwards to working as a cooperative community, with no gods and no masters, only autonomous agents free to think and act.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Father's Day, hypocrites are all in the family

by Colbert I. King (Washington Post)
Family, marriage and the contribution of fathers come together as topics for reflection on Father's Day. So I'd like to know why Barack Obama, a husband and a father in a family structure that encompasses bonds deemed essential to our society, is constantly and savagely attacked by conservative leaders whose personal circumstances undermine the family values they espouse?

Consider Obama: Raised by a single mother in a middle-class family where hard work and education were watchwords, Obama graduated from two of the top schools in the country, Columbia University and Harvard Law School. His legal scholarship was recognized when he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He married and, equally important, has stayed married to Michelle Robinson, a Princeton graduate and Harvard Law alumna. He lives with his wife, two children and his mother-in-law. Obama: constitutional law professor, civil rights lawyer, state legislator, U.S. senator, 44th U.S. president, family man.

Now let's turn to Obama's foremost critics: Rush Hudson Limbaugh III, Newton Leroy Gingrich and Sarah Palin.

Limbaugh and Gingrich have said too many negative things about Obama to count. "I want him to fail" (Limbaugh) and "secular socialist" (Gingrich) are just two of their attacks. Yet two of the nation's loudest proponents of family-values issues are serial husbands. Between them, the two men have had seven wives.

Limbaugh, who dropped out of college after one year, married his first wife, a sales secretary, in September 1977. She filed for divorce three years later; it was granted in July 1980. Limbaugh next married an usherette in 1983; they divorced in 1990. In May 1994, he married an aerobics instructor he met online. They separated in June 2004 and divorced that December.

Two weeks ago, Limbaugh married a Florida party planner. He's still wedded to her as far as I can tell.

Gingrich is one nuptial behind Limbaugh. But he started earlier. In 1962, at age 19, Gingrich married his 26-year-old former high school geometry teacher. Gingrich left her in the spring of 1980. He did return to see her at the hospital where she was getting treatment for cancer. He was there to discuss divorce terms. Formally divorced in 1981, Gingrich remarried six months later.

That marriage lasted until 2000. By his own admission, Gingrich started an affair with a woman 23 years his junior during his second marriage. It was around the time he was taking Bill Clinton to task over Monica Lewinsky.

Gingrich's second marriage ended in 2000, and he married his girlfriend the same year. The current Mrs. Gingrich is still with him, as far as I can tell.

Gingrich and Limbaugh, national icons in the conservative movement -- and mockers of this country's most traditional and honored symbol of commitment: holy matrimony.

But what would a Father's Day discussion of the nuclear family and a moral society be without bringing into the picture Mrs. Family Values herself, Sarah Palin?

The same Palin who last week said of President Obama, "It sounds like the inner circle that he has are some Chicago thugs." Well, Palin knows lawbreaking, too.

Her sister-in-law, Diana Palin, half sister of the former governor's husband, got a 15-month sentence this year. Burglarizing the same Alaska house three times for money to satisfy a drug habit is the kind of thing that can get you arrested. Thuggery? How about Sherry Johnston, the mother of Levi Johnston, the high school dropout who fathered Palin's grandson? She was arrested and charged with selling drugs; after pleading guilty to one count with intent to deliver the drug OxyContin she was sentenced to three years.

Because of her medical condition, the woman who was once Bristol Palin's future mother-in-law was released from prison to home confinement, where she wears an ankle-monitoring device.

And the whereabouts of 19-year-old Levi on this Father's Day weekend? His bonds with the Palins were so tight, he said on TV, that Sarah and her husband, Todd, allowed Levi to live in their house with Bristol while they dated. Conservative family values?

Levi can be found on the cover of Playgirl magazine, his nude body blocked from full exposure by his strategically placed arm.

And to think, as we prepare to celebrate this day of men and family, Limbaugh, Gingrich and Palin have the unmitigated gall to look down their noses at our president.

For Father's Day, President Obama was asked by Parade Magazine to write an article on parenting, summarized here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Webber thou goest...

I just saw "Cats" for the first time the other night, and I have to admit, it's not as horrendous as I've always feared. The fact that I was drinking helped, admittedly, but the show doesn't actually make you want to slash your wrists. And in context, the old cat singing "Memory" actually redeems that song from the Muzak Hell where people like Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow and Celine Dion have sent it.

On the other hand, you know what gets really irritating? People repeating nonsense words over and over (and over and over and over). For example, jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle jellicle.

Oh, and by the way. Jellicle.

"Cats" opened up on the West End in 1981, and was Lloyd Webber's fourth successful staged musical (preceeded by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita - there was also Jeeves, based on the Jeeves and Wooster novels by P.G. Wodehouse, but it closed after only three weeks).

Say what you want about Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber (Baron Lloyd-Webber of Sydmonton, in Hampshire), but he's composed 13 musicals, two film scores, a song cycle, a set of variations, and a Latin Requiem Mass. He has also earned six Tony Awards, seven Olivier Awards, three Grammies, an Academy Award, one Golden Globe and the Kennedy Center Honors (and has been nominated for each more times than I can count).

He's also a known plagiarist, accused by people from Roger Waters of Pink Floyd to Christian singer-songwriter Ray Repp. In fact, Lloyd Webber settled out of court with the estate of Giacomo Puccini (Tosca, La Boheme, Madame Butterfly) for an undisclosed amount.

Know why? Remember "Music of the Night," the big number from Phantom of the Opera? This is a brief excerpt from a little-known Puccini opera called Girl of the Golden West. Pay close attention about 44 seconds into it.

Anyway, Lloyd Webber has been married three times; he met his second wife, Sarah Brightman, while still married to his first wife, Sarah Hugill (so he's got a thing for Sarah's - there are worse kinks...), and married her within 4 months of his divorce being finalized. He, in fact, wrote the part of Christine Daaé in Phantom specifically for Brightman, and she has since gone on to relative success in the "I want to be taken far more seriously than I deserve" category of pop music.

Not blessed with a particularly strong voice or a talent for finding the right note consistently, Ms Brightman also has a dark and ugly past she'd probably like to forget. See, before she met Lloyd Webber, she was a dancer, first on the British TV show Top of the Pops with their house dancers, Pan's People, and later as the lead in the leather-and-grinding group Hot Gossip.

(I remember Hot Gossip as a staple on The Kenny Everett All-Electric Video Show, the perfect British series for an adolescent boy - edgier, and funnier, I thought, than Benny Hill, the two shows actually used to make fun of each other; you might even have seen some of these sketches on Benny Hill and had no idea what they were doing. For some reason, the show never caught on in the States, although you can occasionally find it on more progressive PBS stations late at night.)

What Ms Brightman, in her continuing quest for dignity, would probably like to forget, is her disco career from that era. Her first hit, for instance, was the mind-meltingly horrendous "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper."

She followed that up with the non-hit "Adventures Of The Love Crusader," and a truly depressing cover of "My Boyfriend's Back."

She may be reinventing herself as a classic/pop diva, but it's hard to escape your past.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Let them eat dumpster scraps

from Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat cake"(*)
Rush Limbaugh: Let them eat dumpster scraps.

That's Rush Limbaugh's child nutrition program for poor kids. No, I'm not joking. Really. Not joking.

It's clear Rush hasn't studied history, because if he had, well, he would have remembered what happened to Marie Antoinette. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Neck-measurin' Penguin

* Marie Antoinette never said that. That's right, the cake is a lie. But it was certainly well within her mentality, she said plenty of other things over her short life that were similar in nature.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Howdy, Cowboy Bob!

Well, I had a nice chat with another crazed fundamentalist this week. Those are always fun.

See, I ran across this guy from New York named Bob, who runs a blog he calls Stormbringer's Thunder. (I think it's interesting that he'd use Norse allusions in his blog title when he claims to be a born-again Christian, but what do I know?)

He'd apparently gone on some message board (which he never identifies) and exchanged words with a group of atheists, and this made him cranky. So he made the usual mimeographed arguments, claiming that atheists "hate God and the Bible, but have no ultimate source for their morality."

Because, of course, anybody who isn't Christian is an immoral nutjob, likely to grab a Glock and start capping pedestrians at any minute. You know, like the Dalai Lama (I never trusted that guy...).

He almost made a decent argument at one point, saying:
Where does morality come from?

We have bunches of places for our personal morality input:

- Friends
- Family
- Man-made religious directives
- Society
- Our own experiences and opinions
- Race
- Social class
Of course, you read through that list a second time, and you realize he included "race." Really? Especially since the next line is:
Fine. They all combine to make us what we are to varying degrees. But they change.
It does? I thought that those back-alley race-change operations fell out of fashion back in the Sixties. (I mean, I know that it was a hit in Asia a while back, but I thought we were past that...)

Anyway, I figured I'd chime in and see how things went.
OK, I'll bite. Let's start with the most obvious issue here.

(Atheists) hate God and the Bible

Uh... OK. Do you understand what an "atheist" is? "Lack of belief in a god or gods" is not the same as "hating God." In fact, either state kind of rules out the other. At best, the person you describe would be called an "anti-theist."

What a lot of atheists do hate, though, is being lectured by smug, moralistic theists with no actual comprehension what the phrase "burden of proof" actually means. (You know, as in "You want me to fall down and worship your God? So prove He exists.")

As to the source of morality, you'll find that every society, not just the Christian ones, have some form of the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." As for other sources, you did a fairly good job listing them right there.

You really should consider those secular authorities a little harder, though - the fact that you can get arrested for killing somebody has probably stopped more people from committing murder than the Bible has (especially since the Bible speaks favorably of any number of immoral acts).
Yeah, I was relatively sure that last line would make him cranky, but it seemed appropriate.

And he answered.
Prove he exists? Sure, I'll do that at your command in the comments section of a Weblog. Here's an idea: Check the links on the side there for apologetics. The main problem I have with proving anything to atheists is that they refuse to believe any evidence that is offered, so I refuse to waste my time.

Atheists irritate me. Either it's simple, or there are so many different kinds of atheists, or... whatever. The point is to dodge and confuse the issue. You have your own definition of atheist, others go along with other definitions. But with your sneering remarks, you've shown that you do indeed hate God.

As for "burden of proof", smug atheists believe that everything came from nothing, and the Big Bang and Evolutionism are so full of scientific and rational holes, you can drive trucks through them. Yet you people insist that they are "facts", but "we don't know quite how they happened". Yeah, real science. Burden of proof, indeed.

And where do you think laws against murder came from, Cupcake? Natural selection? Darwinism? Human nature? Get real.

You have not shown me anything other than lame, canned railing that atheists spew all the time. And I have not seen that you have a consistent, unchanging source for what you consider to be your morality other than your opinions and emotions. Yep, you're rock solid, Sally.

As far as your misstatements and slander of the Bible, do your homework. You have posted a typical but ludicrous atheist response.
I like this guy. He's got spunk.

Limited logic, he ignores the primary arguments I made to rail against atheists who confuse him by not being cookie-cutter clones of each other, and he gets to throw in random insults that make no sense. ("Sally"? That's the best you can do?) But he's got spunk.

So I figured it was my turn. (I ran a little long. Had to split this into two responses. But it went something like this.)
Check the links on the side there for apologetics.

Unfortunately, all the reasons boil down to "you must have faith that God exists." Which offers no proof.

Atheists irritate me. Either it's simple, or there are so many different kinds of atheists, or... whatever.

And there's part of your problem right there. Atheism isn’t a religion - it's a lack of religion. Atheists are a diverse group. There's no single guiding philosophy, just a lack of belief in one certain philosophy. It’s right there in the word: a- ("without") + theos ("a god")

But with your sneering remarks, you've shown that you do indeed hate God.

(Sneering? Yo, pot - check your voicemail. Kettle left you a message.) I don't feel hatred for a concept I don't particularly believe in. I do have a strong disgust for people who refuse to think for themselves, and do ignorant, savage things in the name of their "god."

smug atheists believe that everything came from nothing yadda yadda yadda

Speaking of "lame, canned railing" - people who understand science realize that there are things they can't explain. Yet. People who don't understand science dismiss it and say that a Bronze Age mythos explains everything. By saying “See? Magic!”

And where do you think laws against murder came from, Cupcake? Natural selection? Darwinism? Human nature?

Maybe they're a system of behaviors that societies have agreed must be prevented, in order for said society to continue to exist. For that reason, those behaviors were codified into a system we call "laws." (Here's another hint for you. Nonchristian societies have laws against murder, too. Why do you think that is?)

As far as your misstatements and slander of the Bible, do your homework.

Really? You don't think that the Bible supports immoral acts? Have you killed a child for mouthing off to their parents? You should. (Lev 20:9) Goes hand-in-hand with the story of the bears killing all those children for making fun of Elisha. (2 Kings 2:23-24)

For that matter, all of Leviticus 20 is a killer. Literally in some cases: adultery or marrying your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law are apparently capital offenses; weirdly, having sex with your sister just gets you shunned.

While you’re at Leviticus, though, skip back to 19: note that you are allowed to have sex with another man’s slave, but you have to sacrifice a ram to do it. (Lev 19:20-22).

In fact, the Bible supports slavery very strongly, from Genesis 9:25-27 onward. It tells you how to beat them (Exo 21:20-27), where to shop for them (Lev 25:44-46), when to have sex with them (fine examples can be found all through Genesis, but especially 16 and 30). Paul even told slaves to obey their owners the same way they obey Christ (Eph 6:5-9).

Is setting people on fire considered a good thing in your world? What about abortion? In Gen 38:24, there's a pregnant woman convicted of prostitution. Though the leaders of Israel knew the woman was carrying a fetus, they still decided to burn her. Why does the fetus have to die for the mother's crimes?

Of course, abortion is fine if you're at war with somebody. Especially if they aren't the same religion as you.
At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women." (2 Kings 15:16)

"The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open." (Hosea 13:16)
There is, in fact, all manner of murder and rape in the Bible. But it's the good kind of murder and rape, because it's done in the name of the Lord, right? (Jgs 21:10-24, Num 31:7-18, Deut 20:10-14, 2 Sam 12:11-14, and on and on.)

Maybe you should be doing your homework. What d’ya think, Cupcake?
I thought I did OK there. Matched his tone, made some decent arguments. But it seemed to make him unhappy or something. I guess he was practically sputtering. Because a little over ten minutes later, he responded. (I'm not sure you can trust these times, though. Maybe they reflect when he clicked "approve" on my comment or something.)
No, gutless cynic. You're boring and predictable, you know that? You don't have any interest in finding the truth, you just want to cry about things that you don't like, taken out of context. Instead of investigating serious apologetics sites, you want to throw stones at me. But I have no patience for intellectually dishonest cowards projecting their inadequacies on me.
And then, about ten minutes later, he was back.
By the way, I know you don't have the courage to do this, but call Rev. Matt Slick at his CARM radio show. He loves to debate atheists live, on the air. You missed today's show, try Monday Or you can listen to how he humiliated an arrogant atheist just like you, with the same canned "I don't like the Bible" crap here: about ten minutes into the show.
And then it wasn't even five minutes before he was back again.
One more PS and I'm done with you. You quoted me with, "Check the links on the side there for apologetics."

Your response was, "Unfortunately, all the reasons boil down to "you must have faith that God exists." Which offers no proof."

Intellectual dishonesty. You won't even bother to check the links and already know what they say. You're a troll at heart, wanting to destroy the faith of others. Search this site for "Why I Don't Trust Atheists", and you'll see that I've experienced quite a bit from your kind.
"My kind"? Doubtful.

But I've been down this road before. So I thought I'd see if I'd run out the clock here.
Wow. Look at that. It took you three responses to fail to address anything I said. Does your entire argument consist of insults and ad hominem attacks? I'm just curious. I mean, if it does, I can see why the posters at that "other" site might have attacked you.

I mean, really? "gutless cynic"? "I know you don't have the courage..."? I mean, I'm hunting through your "responses," and I can't help but notice how you have this combative style, but you don't have any substance to it.

Oh, and the best one: "I have no patience for intellectually dishonest cowards projecting their inadequacies on me." Care to explain any of that sentence? Because it doesn't seem to apply here.

You're a troll at heart, wanting to destroy the faith of others.

Really? All I've done is pointed out statements you've made in the course of this one thread, which were either mistaken or openly dishonest. When did I try to "destroy your faith"? You're the one trying to ridicule atheists, but refusing to answer any questions.

Here's something you should consider, though. Reread everything you've written. Then consider the following:

For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:37)

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way. (James 3:9-10)

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (Matthew 12:34-36)

Do you want to actually discuss issues, or do you just want to throw insults? Because I'm only seeing you "bringing forth evil things."
And he jumped all over that, too.
Oh, drop the innocent victim act, I've seen that time and time again, too. While projecting your failures and atheist script onto me, you do the things you are accusing me of by dodging my points. You are done here, Bubbles. This is not an atheist troll playground.
So, yeah. Not too happy with me.

(* sigh *)

And I do so try to talk with people. Why must they be unreasonable? Is it my cologne?

So, to recap: he's got no arguments that don't boil down to "You suck and I hate you!" He can't accept that anyone doesn't believe in his myth-system, but he's unable to articulate it, and he believes that random insults constitute proof that he's correct. Like I said. Spunk.

I liked the way he kept talking about me "projecting" onto him. It's like he almost understood what he was doing in his responses.

Besides. I'm an agnostic troll.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Few Million Bodies Between Friends

from Fafblog
Well now. Israel, the Palestinians, and Gaza. It's a sad story, and we're terribly sorry about it all, of course, feeling pronounced Official Regret in our pronounced Official Regretbones, and we feel compelled at this juncture to demand a request for an investigation into the possibility of an inquiry into the formation of a select bipartisan panel looking into whether or not to request an investigation. Which would be conducted by Israel, of course. No need to get too pushy here.

Now, you might say this week's events represent an atrocity, a massacre, a savage and criminal slaughter of humanitarian aid workers by a paranoid, murder-happy police state to further prolong the suffering of a million and a half refugees penned up in an open-air concentration camp. And you'd be right. But what you'd be overlooking is the fact that Israel has a right to defend itself. In particular, Israel has the right to defend itself from the millions of non-Israelis stubbornly living on land seized from them by Israel. Indeed, every day the Middle East's Only Democracy finds itself surrounded by a deadly horde of beggars, children and amputees who would stop at nothing to live next to it, with nothing to defend itself but two hundred nuclear warheads and one of the best-financed militaries in the world. Who in that position wouldn't attack a flotilla of aid ships attempting to smuggle contraband food and terrorist medicine to the stockpile of potentially rogue humans in Palestine?

Indeed, it's only at times like this that we can fully appreciate the Special Relationship between Israel and the United States. For is there any other country in the world that can so fully appreciate Israel's dilemma? To be hobbled by money, power, and privilege, menaced on all sides in a world in which there are too many Palestinians in Palestine, an overflow of Afghans in Afghanistan, a dangerous surplus of Iranians in Iran, a grave and growing stockpile of Pakistanis in Pakistan, and only we - we! - have to courage and conviction to do something about it.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


I considered writing this for Memorial Day, but I guess even I have standards.

I come from a long line of military men. Hell, I was one of them. (That's not a sexist term, by the way; it's a descriptor. If there were any WACs or other military women in my family tree, I've never heard of them.) My dad did two tours in Vietnam. His brother was an enlisted man, also in Vietnam, and in various parts of the Middle East in some lesser-known mopping-up actions. Both of my grandfathers were Army - on my father's side, he was doing clean-up after Japan surrendered in WWII. Keep going farther back, and you can keep digging up my relatives in both major and minor conflicts around the world (brobably on both sides of the battlefield every once in a while - we're an obstinate bunch like that). My son the Marine has just come back from a tour in Afghanistan.

Screw all of them. My hero is my wife.

She has a condition called polycystic kidney disease. It's the single most common life-threatening genetic disorder in the world. 12.5 million people worldwide (six hundred thousand Americans) are afflicted with PKD - that's more people than Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and sickle cell anemia combined.

But it's not one of the sexy diseases. It doesn't get the pink ribbons of breast cancer, the celebrity support of AIDS, or yet another "concert to raise awareness of..." like so many lesser problems.

Meanwhile, the cysts, not content to remain in the kidneys, can grow pretty much anywhere in the body. My wife has them throughout her torso, meaning she can't stand up easily, she can't walk without pain, and if she's in the car and I take a corner just a little too fast, she gets hurt.

Plus, her exercise options are limited. Aside from the fact that she can't move easily, if she were to lift weights or torque her body around, or do anything, really, that put enough pressure on a cyst to pop it, then the liquid in the cyst gets to leap out and flood the surrounding tissue. Does the phrase "searing agony" mean anything to you?

So she lives in constant pain, she can hardly move, she can't sit comfortably, and... oh, by the way, did you know that the kidneys handle a number of metabolic processes? Like that whole "dealing with sugar" thingy? Yeah, she's been diagnosed as "pre-diabetic." (Which is less of a deal than you'd think - with PKD, you know that you're going to end up on dialysis at some point, anyway.)

Normally, this disease is diagnosed in older people. So, at the age of 30, when she was diagnosed with both PKD and osteoarthritis, it was like she won the retirement home lottery.

Oh, remember how I said that this was one of the most common life-threatening genetic disorders? Yeah, a parent with this little problem has a fifty percent chance of passing it along to their kids.

Kids. Of which we have three. Do the math.

Not that she feels any guilt about any of this. Not at all.

So, faced with all of these problems, a normal person might become a trifle bitter, right? See, that's where things get a little unusual.

Annette is one of the only truly good people I've ever met. She's generally cheerful. She doesn't judge people. She doesn't like to complain. Where most of us have a little dark part of our soul where all the evil feelings fester, she's got a brightly-lit room filled with kittens and puppies.

She has a giggle that I've always loved that dances across the room, and she uses it all the time. Life dumps crap down on her, and she just wonders if she should make a bigger garden with all this new fertilizer.

So if, once in a while, faced with debilitating pain, she might get a little cranky, she doesn't let it show much. And, faced with all these other problems, she's also beset with entirely too much of me. And she really doesn't complain about that, despite what a big pain in the ass I am.

I don't know what I did in a previous life to end up married to her, but I'd do it again. Twice. She's worth it.

Sadly for her, she's stuck with me.