Sunday, April 29, 2007

Doonesbury@Slate - the Dobson interview

 The April 15th issue of Doonesbury took on James Dobson. The concept is simple. Which party best represents American family values? The Democrats whose top presidential candidates have no divorces (and one cigar incident) among them. Or the Republican candidates, who have a string of messy divorces between them. As usual, Doonesbury hit the mark.

Cocaine is evil

Just ask Rev. Hugh King. $25 dollars worth is threatening to bring down his promising career.

King, 53, is pastor of the Greater Union Baptist Church, one of the largest black churches in Pensacola, and also serves on the board of trustees for Community Maritime Park Associates Inc.

The former Pensacola City Council member was arrested late Friday evening at A and Blount streets by Pensacola police, who reported finding a plastic bag with cocaine in King's back pocket.

King is leader with a long history of success in support of the Pensacola black community. He is a second generation Baptist pastor, of the Greater Union Baptist Church, one of the largest black churches in Pensacola. King is also president of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, King helped push to rename a portion of Alcaniz Street in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. In short, King is the last man one would expect to find in possession of cocaine.

Police arrested King shortly before midnight Friday when responding to a burglary call in the 100 block of North D Street. Police were notified that two black males were seen leaving the scene of the burglary in a gray Chevrolet Blazer. Several blocks away, they spotted a light-green Ford Explorer driven by Mark Anthony Cotton, 51, a police report states. King was a passenger in the car.

After stopping King and Cotton, an officer noticed a knife in the center drink holder of the car and observed a white-powder residue on it.

King and Cotton later were searched, and a plastic bag with white powder was found in King's back pocket, arresting officer Charles Joseph Decker reported.

As expected, his church is standing behind him. The charge is out of character, I am sure his friends are suspicious that the whole thing might be made up. The comment thread on this article sure seems to indicate this is likely.

Comment by Hunter Hunter:

...your right, he's probably going to say someone planted that on him. Good thing this is a local story and not on CNN or Fox news, because im sure both Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would love to stick there nose's all up in this story.

King seems like a righteous dude. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Besides, my libertarian sensibilities tell me that personal drug use is nobody's business. Of course, doing cocaine is not something one would expect from a leading community pastor. His actions still fall under the "acts of hypocrisy" heading on my blog, and his name goes into my new filter.

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Searching for God on Google Earth

via » Auto Parts for Brains. Have you ever wondered what happens when you type God in Goodle Earth?

Just the other day I saw this picture of how Google can’t satisfy every search.  The picture was funny enough but the discussion that followed was more intriguing.  It totally became a Google versus God battle. 

Read more...

Göd, Pest (Hungary)My search returned God, Hungary. Which is apparently populated by jousting druids. Man, I learn something new everyday.

 

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Ordering prostitutes is like ordering pizza

Or so former Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias suggests. You remember Tobias - he is the man who is leading the charge to stamp out prostitution world wide. Tobias was busted by ABC and promptly resigned.

Tobias' private cell number was among thousands of numbers listed in the telephone records provided to ABC News by Jeane Palfrey, the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," who is facing the federal charges.

Tobias is a evangelical fundie who was famous for promoting abstanace as the primary means for controlling the spread of AIDS.

As the Bush administration's so-called "AIDS czar," Tobias was criticized by some for emphasizing faithfulness and abstinence over condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

His approach to controlling prostitution appears to lack the whole faithfulness and abstinence mind set. He liked order two or three pizzas (hookers) at a time. Apparently powerful men have powerful appetites. AIDS be damned.

Tobias has no clue - he actually likens ordering prostitutes to ordering pizza. How is a man who thinks like that supposed to be in charge of eliminating prostitution? It makes no sense - like most things associated with the Bush Administration.

What kind of pizza did you order Tobias? Are you a cheese pizza kind of guy, or do you go in for the Hawaiian style?  Do you like the French cheese-less variety or are you into deep dish? I cannot wait to see the girls you ordered

The thing I detest about hypocrites is the complete disregard for the damage they have caused. Tobias's approach to AIDS promoted the spread of the desires. Tobias's approach to prostitution increased demand for prostitutes. What an asshat. The first of many to fall. This scandal will be fun to watch.

Calling all evangelicals

Vjack has a few questions for you.  

  1. What are evangelical Christians taught about the value of proselytizing?
  2. Is it fair to say that converting others to one's religion is an important goal for evangelical Christians?
  3. If so, what is the motivation for converting others to your religion? Are certain rewards promised, does it simply relate to believing that others would be better off as Christians, or is there some other motive?
  4. Do/did you ever feel any external pressure to convert others, or was this purely an intrinsic desire?
  5. Were you ever provided with any instruction or guidance about how to convert others?

The comment thread is outstanding. I posted my answers because back in the day, I was a mixed fundie evangelical born again Christian hell bent on bringing people to Jesus. Ah, those were the days....

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It was some other pastor, I swear!

Pastor Frederick Deshawn Dew claims his alleged sexual assault of a child under 14 was perpetrated by another African American. He claims he did not brush against or touched a young boy in a public library. He claims he did not trap the same young boy in a bathroom in order to perform and act of oral copulation. Of course, he makes these claims dispute eye witness accounts and a security guard who identified him leaving the scene with his "Jesus" front licence plate. 

How would a prosecutor think? Dew was in the library by his own admission. The boy complained to security about the attempted molestation, security and the boys positively identified Dew as he fled the scene. The boys are innocent - they have no ax to grind. I've watched Law and Order, this is the part of the story where you take the plea bargain.

But still, it could have been some other African American driving a car with Jesus as the front licence plate....

Oddly, the alleged molestation occurred at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library. What was he thinking?

During Dew's arraignment,

two inmates who were in the barred holding area with him began a profanity-laced tirade as the judge began reading the charges against the pastor. One inmate yelled out, "Are you serious, man? That's what he's here for. He's a coward." The other inmate said, "I'm not standing in here with him. He's raping children." The judge ordered both of them to step out as court continued.

I think protective custody is in order.

Dew's story is simple:

The pastor said he was at the library Thursday preparing a Bible lesson for an upcoming church conference on relationships. He said he did not see a teenage boy at the library and alleges that detectives were pushing him to confess.

Members of the Praise Tabernacle church, stand behind their pastor. Of course they would. Of course they would.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Top Ten Songs- Number five

Sublime is my favorite band. Greatest Hits is my favorite Sublime song. It is the end of April 2007, Bradley Nowell died 11 years ago this May. There are very few days where I don't find myself listening to one of Nowell's tunes. From me, that is a lasting tribute to his genius. The YouTube link below is of a live performance of Greatest hits. I like the studio version better, but you will get a feel for why this song is so good from the video.

This man, makin money,
How I know.
It wont be no man of me.
In my bed I watch t.v.
Im drunk by noon,
But that's o.k.
Ill be president someday.
Light my cigarette and
I think that bert susanka made me drink.
Load the box and then pump that shit.
Got my greatest hits.
Got my greatest hits.

Why?

I did not pay attention to Sublime when they were doing the local club scene. I was too busy working and being a dad to spend much time on live music when they were coming up.

When the album Sublime was released, I remember seeing the now iconic Sublime tattoo on the cover of the CD. I thought to myself - I'm not going to buy into that gang crap. My wife bought the CD instead.

She used it as her rollerblading music. She started singing Santeria around the house, I tried to ignore it. But something was starting to catch my attention. The lyrics rocked.

I dont practice santeria
I aint got no crystal ball.
I had a million dollars but id,
Id spend it all.
If I could find that heina and that sancho that shes found,
Well Id pop a cap in sancho and Id slap her down.

Driving home from work on afternoon, KROQ played What I got. I pulled over to listen to the song play out. The attitude of the song spoke to me. I was hooked. I took my wife's CD - she never got it back.

I was surprised to find that 40 oz to Freedom was a better album than Sublime. I eventually took both CDs with me when I moved to France for year  without my family.  I lived alone in Paris for a year, worked my ass off, smoked a bunch of... Cuban cigars, and listened to Sublime. They were my band then, they are my band now.

Pastor gets 26 to 33

Thomas Lindell Robinson was convicted of two counts each of first-degree sexual offense on a child less than 13 and indecent liberties with a child. Robinson was sentenced to 26 to 33 in state prison. Robinson is 56, 26 years is a death sentence. Does he desire it? Here is his story.

Pastor Robinson was the leader of the New Life Christian Center in North Carolina. His small church operated a day care center. Robinson repeatedly molested and rapped 12 year old girl who attended his day car center, ultimately impregnating her. The girl has subsequently delivered a child, unfortunately the child died after six sort months of life.

Nobody in the tight knit church informed the police. The girls parents did not even bring the matter to light. A neighbor altered authorities to the third trimester pregnancy of the 12 year old girl. Where were the members of Robinson church when this issue came to light? They stood behind him.

DNA evidence proved Robinson fathered the baby. Love letters from Robinson to the child proved his intent. Robinson did not take the stand in his defense, nor did he offer any character witnesses. The jury had an easy job.

Does Robinson desire to die in prison? Yes.

I have other questions. How is it possible for a 12 year old girl to reach her third trimester without her parents answering for why she is pregnant. What about the other members of his church? There is more to the story,  more misdeeds hidden behind the doors of the New Life Christian Center. Why are there no other arrests? Why is it that other churches or religious leaders are not calling for an investigation? What does it take to get noticed? Does Robinson have to impregnate all the girls at his day care center to reach the national press or the attention of christian bloggers? The lack of coverage is amazing. This story is brutal - yet it will pass into obscurity without the slightest notice. Only a few people in the local community will remember - and a 12 year old girl who mourns the loss of her baby and her innocence.

Review: I Sold My Soul on eBay

Before I get into my review of Hemant Mehta outstanding new book, I would like to pass along my experiences with people who saw me reading Mehta's book in two airports and on one Airplane.

Los Angeles international Airport - the bag check lady.

I was singled out to go through the sniffer, which was followed by a manual check of my bags. The lady who checked by bags pulled the book out and looked at it for a moment.

"Are you an atheist?". I answered "Yes".

She pointed to the tables at the end of the line. "Step over there".

15 minutes later I was cleared to ender the airport. Note to self - next time say "huh - what?"

In the waiting lounge in Southwest's "A" line. - The news paper collector.

A funny little man was collecting newspapers to read prior to boarding a flight. My computer bag was resting where my ass had been a few minutes before. Hemant's book was on top. The news paper man reached down and picked it up (which pissed me off).

"Why would an atheist care about faith - that's stupid, why are you reading such a stupid book?"

I am defiantly not the Friendly Atheist, I'm more like the really big scary man you never want to piss off.  - my response to the newspaper collector is not printable.  The newspaper man dropped my book, tripped over a chair in his haste to depart, while loudly proclaiming "I'm sorry man, I'm sorry".

Security came over to talk to me, they asked what happened. I said '"huh - what?"

Southwest flight from San Antonio to Los Angeles - The flight attendant.

One of the flight attendants was passing out the little indigestible snack boxes filled with dried fruit can cookies. She paused and looked at the back the book. Her face screwed up like a prune as she read the words "Unique insights from and atheist's Sunday-morning odyssey". I turned the cover toward her, she recoiled like a vampire from a cross. I never got a snack box.

The Book Review:

I enjoyed I Sold My Soul on eBay. I read it looking for more than it delivered, but I must say, the book left me satisfied in the end. Hemant Mehta - please tell my you will right a sequel?

The book starts off with background on Hemant Mehta and his journey to atheism. His religion was unfamiliar to me. I know nothing of Jainism. Learning how Mehta was socialized into his religion and his subsequent coming of age in atheism was the best part of the book.

As Mehta takes us to church through the eyes of a newcomer, I find his characterization fascinating. He asks many of the questions I ask when exposed to the various rituals of belief. He listens to the sermons of various pastors and discerns genuine compassion and love, while at the same time hearing words of intolerance and bigotry.

He compares small, medium, and mega-churches for feel, friendliness, message, focus, and inclusiveness. In general, he nails it. His perception is remarkable, I feel like I am part of the service.  His description moves toward that of a good story teller. I am fascinated by the journey and feel a need to race ahead to find out if he escapes with his soul.

For some reason, Mehta is the consummate outsider, able to fit in without attracting too much attention, feel the experience, and then escape to write about it. I find myself thinking about sitting there with him, what question would I have, how would I relate to the music or the message?

I've done something similar while in school as an undergrad taking a comparative religion course. I enjoyed the experience at the time. I re-read the paper I wrote as part of the process of reading this book, I detected a note of prejudice in my writing, prejudice and superiority - Mehta's work did not have any of these biases - I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. I hate to say it, but I Sold my Soul on eBay made me want to go to church.

No book review would be complete without a critique. True to Hemant Mehta's nickname, he is the Friendly Atheist - his book is positive and upbeat, yet lacks bite. He speaks well of others and plays nice. His criticisms are meek by comparison to the significance of some of the events he witness. His focus  is to provide a tool which will help Christians appeal to the unchurched - that's nice, but some of the churches have ugly social agenda's. A few more harsh words might have been in order.

I liked I Sold My Sole on eBay. I plan to introduce the book to a few friends, and maybe even buy a few more copies as gifts. The book is that good.

Soon & Very Soon

On Thursday, I flew home from San Antonio on a business trip. My flight was a Southwest nonstop which was nearly full. A half hour or so into the flight I was into my travel zone. My iPod  played a random mix. My Sure E3's blocked out most of the flight noise. My mind was occupied by the last few chapters of I Sold my Soul on eBay. Life was good. It was then that an odd thing happened. AndraĆ© Crouch's Soon & Very Soon started to play on my iPod. I like the song, it is uplifting. so I let it play on. The aircraft hit some turbulence. The man across the isle had a heart attack.

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King.

I watched the support process from a few feet away. A flight attendant did her best to help him. Another flight attendant asked for a doctor. Things got real busy as they tried to stabilized him. As his condition worsened, the elderly man next to him held his hand. A few people prayed. Most people just watched.

No more crying there, we are going to see the King
No more crying there, we are going to see the King
No more crying there, we are going to see the King
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King.

The plane flew on into Los Angeles. The drama had moved to the back of the plane. I finished my book. I listened to more music. I even talked with my annoying neighbor. I did not pray, but I did something like it. I hoped. I hoped the man would walk off the aircraft. He eventually did. It was not pretty, but he walked off.

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King.

I walked off the aircraft a few minutes later. Is this love played in my headphones. A flight attended was sitting in a lounge chair crying. It had been a tough hour for her. I stopped to say thank you. She gave me hug and smile. It was a good day.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pentecostal berserker

It really is like shooting fish in a barrel. I started this little project in an effort to show my Christian detractors that large numbers of Christian pastors exhibit the same amoral proclivities which atheists are often accused of. Every day I find another example, often i find three or four. My email box overflows with suggested stories. It really is too easy. Take today's fallen pastor - Thomas Holloway. The pastor for the Christ Temple Pentecostal Church - or at least he was the pastor. After attempting to kill his wife  by stabbing her with a pocket knife, he is more likely to be referred to as inmate 43256. What will his excuse  be - "the devil was in me?"

Here are some other headlines from the morally challenged:

I recieve about 15 a week... I could write a big post for each one, but I'm tired. It has been a long week.

Nutball Alert: Anne Lemen

Anne Lemen, an Evangelical Christian, has been barred from making defaming remarks against the Balboa Island Village Inn in a questionable first amendment ruling by the California Supreme Court. Lemen has a few odd habits for an Evangelical Christian

Lemen... filmed bar patrons and followed customers to their cars. She called employees and customers “drunks” and “whores,” accused the bar of selling drugs and making sex videos, and said a bartender was “going to have Satan's children,” according to court documents.

Just in case the rest of the world is curious, the wicked hive on satanic iniquity known as the Balboa Island Village Inn is located on some of the most exclusive real estate in the county. Balboa Island is in Newport Beach California - it's swanky. The Bar in question is a great place for a steak and beer after you've been puttering around in one of your million dollar yachts. I'm not kidding - this place is nice.

Thus the nutball status - anybody who video tapes people leaving this bar, evangelical Christian or not, might just be a nutball.

There are larger issues here. I do not agree with the California Supreme Courts ruling. Her speech should be protected - Lemen should have the right to say what she wants, but be held accountable for her false and derogatory comments. Screw a gag order, it will not work anyway, I would much rather have the deed to her 2.29 million dollar house.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Top Ten - Number 6

What can I say, sometime I need in your face raw power. Pearl Jam's "Go" fits the bill. This YouTube footage from 93 captures the energy and thumping drums of early Pearl Jam.

Why?

1993 was mess for me personally. I was working in what would become the worst job I ever held. 15 to 18 hour days of crushing pressure, 6 or even 7 days a week. I was managed 120 people in a capital equipment manufacturing company which was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Some weeks we were so close to missing payroll  that senior management would ask the employees to defer pay.

I would start my day with coffee and "Go". By the time I arrive at work, I could handle anything. To this day when I need a lift, I'll spin this tune.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Due diligence failure

A few weeks ago, I posted about accused pedophile Phillip Glenn Terrell in a post titled, Another week, another Baptist pedophile. I wanted to update the story of this freaky child predatory. It seems that he had a record for a similar offense – child molestation and sexual assault on a person in custody. He was acquitted by a judge. Yet the trail would have been an easy discovery for his church if they had simply done a routine criminal background check. Ken Martin, the interim pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church, has taken action. His church will now do background checks. My question is – does this new program extend to all current staff? It seem like a good idea to me. Of course, Emmanuel Baptist Church is one ten thousand Baptists churches in the region, what are the chances that the other churches will take action?

Phillip Terrell has now moved into a serial pedophile classification. My prediction is that the authorities will find more victims. It is an ugly truth. If you set the table for a serial pedophile, he will eat – without saying his prayers.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Things I do not understand

I’ve been following the murder trial of David Hill over the past few months. Hill murdered police officer Isaac Espinoza on April 10, 2004 without any justification by an AK-47 wielding Hill. The murder was brutal and senseless. I wanted to see what happen to Hill, so I followed the story in the press. I figured he would get the death penalty, but the prosecutor opted for second-degree murder. Hill was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences with the possibility of parole. I understand the courtroom cheered when the verdict was read. What I don’t understand is this, why would a pastor come to his defense?

In Hill’s defense, attorney Martin Sabelli and Pastor Michael McBride of the Way
Christian Center in Berkeley told the court that Hill had a deep sense of remorse for Espinoza’s family.

McBride said he has talked frequently with Hill about how he can use the rest of his life for good.

“I still think there is redeemable value in David’s life,” McBride said.

Hill is a cold blooded murderer; he now gets to spend the rest of his life in a little cell with like minded murderous psychopaths. What possible value could his life have? And would good does “expressing remorse” when you’ve pumped a few rounds into a piece officer. My sense of justice calls for the pastor to service the victims, not the criminals. It is just one more reason I can never be a Christian. Murders like Hill deserve nothing more from us than enough food to keep him alive so he can spend the next 80 years looking at his roommate’s big hairy ass. Remorse - does anybody believe that?

What does a tornado look like?

I actually asked this question a few hours ago in Del Rio, Texas. I was pulling out of my hotel when we were dazzled by an immense lightning display offsetting an ominous cloud formation that reached from a low sealing down to ground. I hit the brakes to avoid running a stop sign as the sky opened in an epic downpour. I asked my friend, “What does a tornado look like”. He pointed at the cloud formation – “like that”. It was then that the sirens for a tornado warning started. We were not sure what it meant, after all, Los Angeles is tornado free. We called a Texan for advice, only to get his voice mail. We decided to drive away from the storm. It was a scary moment. We ended up stopping for a steak outside of town while we watched a dazzling lighting show. When we returned, the streets were flooded, but everything looked ok.

The local news reported that a Super Cell produced numerous tornadoes to the north and south of the city of Del Rio. I’ve had fun for one night. I never want to see a tornado again.

One the road again

I wanted to make a quick post to let everyone know what is going on with the blogroll. It appears that blogrolling.com my be dead for good. Since they don't update their news page, nor do they return emails, I can only conclude that this latest outage is a sure sign that they have gone belly up.  I'm testing two possible replacement currently, however neither offers the versatility of the original blogrolling service. Blogrolling  is not rocket science, there should be many competitors, so far I've only found two. If anyone knows of a better service, please pass it on.

I'm on travel to the great state of Texas this week. I'm not going to the "great" part. My destination is Del Rio, with a few days spent across the border in Acuna. All I can say about the "twin" cities is that  if it were not work related, I would never ever go there. Because of the travel, posting may be light over the next few days.

Checkout the great open threaded conversation on an alleged pedophile in Lubbock Texas. The church is using the post as a healthy sounding board to discuss and resolve their problems. Plus, I'm getting a lot of positive email from people asking me to keep posting on this subject, so I think I will.

I'll try to post a picture or two of a few cows, or maybe a real live Texas state police officer - since they pull me over so often.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Top Ten Songs - Number 7

Ska punk hit Orange County hard in the mid 90s. Nobody does Ska better than Reel Big Fish. Number 7 on my top ten is S.R. by Reel Big Fish. The song is actually short, it comes in at 1:26 on Turn the Radio Off. This YouTube live version is longer and great fun.

Why?

In the mid 90s, my then 15 or 16 year old son starting wearing odd clothing and listening to bands like Save Ferris, Less than Jake, Sublime, Jeffries Fan Club, Buck-O-Nine, No Doubt, and let us not forget the Aquabats. Each weekend I would take my son to a cheap show so he could skank the night away. I would sit outside with the old folks and talk about the good old days - until my son started asking me to wait in the car. It seems I embarrassed him.

Ska Punk was upbeat, energetic, and sarcastic all at the same time. My son moved on to hip hop, I kept all of his old CDs. I still listen to them. I can close my eyes and remember my son dressed as a rude boy. I would drive him to some little hole in the wall music venue while we sang along to Real Big Fish. S.R. is a song which anchors an important moment in my life. In just a few short years my son would leave for Berkeley and never really come home again. I miss him. With luck I'll see him tomorrow - I'm looking forward to hitting a few music stores. He always turns me on to the good stuff.

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Pastor arrested for "touching teen"

53-year-old pastor Bruce Alvin Curtis was arrested on charges related to "inappropriately touching" a 17-year-old member of his Hamilton congregation. Curtis is (was) the Pastor at Community Friendship Church in Hamilton Ohio.

Inappropriately touching is a euphemism for sexual imposition and attempted sexual battery. Curtis did not close the deal. If he had, well rape carries such a nasty connotation, would they have said "inappropriately penetrating" a child?

Do I need to say it? Another week, another Pastor (not a Baptist this time) Pedophile. This is getting out of hand.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Top Ten Songs - Number 8

I have few regrets in my life. One of my biggest is that I did not see Bob Marley live in the 70s when I had the chance. I had a ticket in my hand. I traded it for a case of beer. I did not know anything about Reggie or the significance of Bob Marley.  What a fool I was. I can only blame it on youth and inexperience.

Number 8 on my list of top ten songs - Get up, Stand up by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. I'm playing the youtube version from the Legend DVD here, but I prefer the original version from Burnin.

Why?

I was young, dumb and stuck in the USAF in Chanute Illinois. I had limited access to music. I think I heard Freebird a thousand times that hot summer. I can still remember the feeling of the humidity, boredom and isolation as if it were yesterday. It still haunts my dreams.

On one dull Saturday, a guamainian friend named Jerome and I took a long walk to a park off base to pursue a little full contact basketball with the locals. After playing for the better part of a day, Jerome slipped a tape into a boom box he carried every place he went. Instead of Freebird, Bob Marley's Get up, Stand Up, slipped from the speakers and into my soul. I actually shed a tear as the song played. I had never heard anything like it before. Of course, my island friend thought I was totally gay... I knew better, it was all about the music.

There are better Bob Marley songs, but you never forget your first.

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Where Is Atheism When Bad Things Happen?

Dinesh D'Souza opened his mouth and inserted his foot.

Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found. Every time there is a public gathering there is talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing.

I read on in disbelief. D'Souza seems to think that Atheist are somehow devoid of human compassion, or sympathy for the dead and wounded.  His logic is questionable, his timing purely political. 33 people where butchered. Atheists had nothing to do with the Virginia Tech massacre. Why is D'Souza pointing a finger at us?

Where was my Atheism when after 33 people were murdered? I was trying to explain to my 12 year old son that Virginia Tech was not a middle school. That he and his friends would be safe attending his current school. That this crime was perpetrated by a mentally ill young man who may not have been responsible for his actions. I was a good dad to a son who needed comfort.

Personally, I held back tears as I heard the account of a young man who did not understand why he was still alive. I grieved over the tragic loss of a heroic professor. I spoke with a Korean friend who did not want to relive the hate that filled his live after the LA Riots. I general - I did what everybody else in America did. I did what I could. Only- I did not pray.

After Reading D'Souza's hit piece. I was left to wonder, does he really thing that we Atheists are somehow less affected by this tragedy because we did not have a visible presence in the mourning process? How absurd. I know a total of three atheists on a face-to-face basis - and I live in LA. We don't get together like Christians do. But then again - we don't stand around with little pointy science hats to identify us to the casual user. Atheists could have attended the candlelight vigils, memorial services, and various other events related to this tragedy - they probably did. I can only conclude that Dinesh D'Souza is an uniformed nutball.  let's see what others think:

And one other thing, Richard Dawkins is not the chief of my order. His action on inaction on a subject do not define me. My position stands - Dinesh D'Souza is now officially a nutball. Welcome to the club.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A few changes

I cut my 7 year old beard the other day. Nobody noticed - not even my wife. I'm  growing it  back now. I know, what a dumb thing to do. I loved my beard.

Change is good from time-to-time. I changed from a black background to a white one here at Deep Thoughts. I've had a total of 23 emails requesting the change since the new year. I figured - oh what the hell.

The Atheist Blogroll

On another note, the atheist blogroll is experiencing problems with the ping/update service provided by the always unreliable blogrolling.com. They have no customer service. They don't even update their website with basic status information. All they do is provide a spotty but essential service poorly. I really should look into starting my service.

I do not know when the ping service will start again. Outages last from days to a few weeks. I will let you know if I hear anything. I have support calls into Tucsows. I do not expect an answer.

Top Ten Songs - Number 9

I talked to a few people about my little top ten project today. A few confused it with Top Ten Songs of all time. I had to set them straight, this is my top ten - song that mean something to me. The songs I turn to when I need a lift. I have a story for each one. After all - they all tend to represent a slice of time from my life.

Stevie Ray Vaughan is a legend. His mastery of the guitar is expressed best in his signature song, Texas Flood. I have the SRV catalog, every song, every album, every video. The man was amazing. Listening to the video version of Texas Flood kills me every time.

Why?

I started listening to SRV in the early 80s. He was a popular play in a few of the bars I frequented when working in the South Bay. He soon became a favorite. I collected his ban's CDs and considered myself quite the SRV fan. Time passes. SRV passes. In the 17 year span between his death and today, I've managed to collect every song he or his band ever produced. Texas Flood made my top ten when it came out on Guitar Hero. I practiced until the day came when I could proudly show my young son my skills. He promptly beat my high score. Texas Flood binds my son and I together. This alone qualifies it for my top ten list - but the fact that it rocks, helps!

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olly is back!

10,000 Reasons to Doubt the Fish has returned to blogging - the world seems a little brighter today. Welcome back olly!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Top Ten Songs - Number 10

I am a huge music fan. I listen to music every chance I can. Live music is better, but with my iPod, I can make do with a good set of headphones. I love music. So I offer this challenge to my friends, family, and readers. Share your list of top ten songs. Post them here if you wish, or post them back at your own blog. Post all ten, or post them one at at time, it does not matter. The goal is ten songs and ten stories.

I'll start with Number 10.

This Must Be The Place by the Talking Heads off Speaking in Tongues. I saw it performed live a very long time ago.

Why?

Home is where i want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - burn with a weak heart
(so i) guess i must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok i know nothing's wrong . . nothing

I hear these lyrics, the guitar and bass play some funky drone, and it suddenly seems that I cannot be sad. I smile, I sing along, I'm taken to my music happy place. It is a funky love song by an oddly talented musical genius named David Byrne and I love it. I sing along as loud as I can, I screw up every tine. I don't care. The song makes me happy.

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Ex-pastor gets six years in molestation case

Hat tip to my friend Imogen.

I missed this one! It happened in my own back yard and it had drama and everything! It seems that William Malgren collapsed when told he would spend six years in State Prison. I sure visions of violent ass rapes danced in his head. I have no sympathy. He molested a 7 year old girl over a 7 year period, damaging her young life in innumerable ways. I think a little rehabilitation is justified.

Malgren was pastor of the Grace Baptist Church in Moscow, Idaho. the Sheriff's arrest report indicates they are concerned that Malgren may have molested other girls and are asking for people to come forward if they have information. None have come forward so far.

Grace Baptist Church changed its name to New Hope Baptist Church. The key word is Baptist. I called 208-466-0312 for a comment from the current pastor, they would not take my call. What do you say New Hope? How do you feel about having a pedophile pastor as your spiritual leader for four years? More importantly - how do your daughters feel?

Situational Christianity

A man lied to me today. It was a blatant, calculated, hateful lie. A lie so transparent, so egregious, so outrageous that the shear nerve of the person flabbergasted me. In my younger days I would have aggressively confronted the lie. This is not the case today. I understanding the nature of lying much better than I did in my youth. I waited...

I try hard not to lie myself. I slip from time-to-time. I think everyone does. I slipped today - I boasted about my skills at a game I enjoy, and lied in the process. It bothered me so much that I had to correct the situation. And there is my problem. I try not to lie. I feel horrible if I do. I normally correct the situation, even if it means loosing face. It is hard for me to let a lie pass.

The person who lied to me today feels no moral obligation to the truth. I have heard  him tout his Christianity many times, yet it did not seem to matter today. I think it is called situational ethics (or situational Christianity). Whatever it is, It pisses me off.

The lie was deliberate. The intent was to harm the reputation of another person. I was deeply offended because I knew the truth to be something altogether different. Honor dictates that I do something. The person harmed was my friend.   

I spoke to the liar in private. My message was direct. I told him that I was aware of falsehood which he had spoken earlier in the day. I told him I would be speaking victim later in the day. I gave the liar an opportunity to make amends before I took action. He did.

I wrote the liars name in my little brown book with a reference to never trust him again. And so it goes... I made an enemy today. I protected a friend in the process. It was good day.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

New book to read

I received my copy of I Sold My Soul on eBay today. I'm half way through it already. Hemant Mehta has done well. I can see myself gifting copies to friends and relatives.  I have a couple of quick thoughts.

  • The book is well written and easy to read.
  • The writing is engaging and respectful. You will find no religion bashing in its pages.
  • The subject matter is captivating. Mehta's journey to atheism is both unique and familiar. I read his coming out chapter twice.

This has the makings of a good book. I hope to finish tomorrow and post a review.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pastor Pedophile in Whittier

This is starting to become to gruesome a task for me. With each passing day my Google news filter delivers a new pedophile pastor. It is really quite sickening. This new one, Misael Blanco Sarsoza, is alleged to have performed a lewd act on a nine year old girl.  

Misael Blanco Sarsoza, 56, of West Covina, was working as an assistant pastor when the child's grandparents reported the suspected molestation to Whittier police, who arrested him April 5, authorities said.

Most of the cases have been Baptists, this one is from the Whittier Seventh-Day Adventists.

Follow up on Helphinstine

Elaine of Kalilily had some trouble posting on Nutball Alert: Kris Helphinstine, so I reprinted her email here.

Here's what I wanted to say re your Nutball Alert post:

I don't understand why someone hasn't mentioned that there is a place in the curriculum to address creationism.  I did it thirty-some years ago in my unit on mythology for my eighth grade English student.  We compared the creation myths of a variety of cultures and religions.  When my students asked if I believed in "god," I told them that was my private business.  When they had questions about their own religious beliefs (they had never looked at their beliefs in the context of a world full of variations on the theme), I told them to ask their parents or their pastor.  It seems to me that's a good way to separate church and state in the classroom.  And so, in science classes, if students bring up creation beliefs, the science teacher should give them a reading list of books that explore the creation stories of various cultures and suggest that they might bring up the topic in English or Social Studies class, or at Sunday school, where it's more appropriate

Thanks Elaine! I like your approach. This is similar to how it was taught in my day(way back in the 70s).

Baptist Pedophile in Lubbock Texas

Blaine Miller, a youth pastor at Lakeridge Baptist Church has been arrested for sexual assault of a child younger than 17. Miller has been employed as a youth pastor since his arrest on sexual assault of a minor in 2004.

Merle Fulmer, the senior pastor at Lakeridge Baptist Church said:

"Nothing in his character would make me suspicious"

Of course, Fulmer knew about the 2004 sexual assault charge and kept it from the parents of children at his church. Let's see, "Nothing in his Character would make me suspicious", that sounds odd. Is Fulmer an idiot? At a minimum, duty of care for the members of his church dictates that Miler be kept away from children. I wonder if Pastor Fulmer knows the meaning of the word "culpability". Because, I am sure the parents of the most recently victim will be happy to explain it to him over some tasty tort action. Or perhaps the DA will take an interest.

Note to pastor Fulmer - culpability means the degree of blameworthiness in the commission of a crime. Sexual assault is a crime. You new Miller was a sexual predator. You let him work with children... Let's see, 2+2 = 4, or in your case 2+2 = 1.5, the rest falls on Miller. Texas prisons can be such fun places...

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Friendly Atheist hits the press

Hemant Mehta - the Friendly Atheist and author of I Sold My Soul on eBay hit my "atheist" Google news filter with an article in the Chicago Reader titled The Atheist Who Went to Church. I'm pre-ordered for Mehta's book.

The coverage is favorable.

He’s disturbed by the biblical verse “Every knee shall bow” and flabbergasted by Christians who maintain silence while extreme fundamentalists say God visits disasters upon unbelievers.

But Mehta, a 24-year-old high school math teacher, uses a beatitudes bookmark. He blogs as the “Friendly Atheist” at friendlyatheist.com, and the Christian blog awaitingrain.typepad.com includes him on its blogroll. When he met prosperity-gospel preacher Joel Osteen (Your Best Life Now) at a church* he gushed, “Joel, I’m an atheist, and my mom, well, she’s not a Christian, but we’re huge fans!” His own first book, I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist's Eyes, is being published by Waterbrook, an evangelical Christian division of Random House.

Mehta's blog is a great read. It is one of the few that I read "religiously". I'm pre-ordered for Mehta's book. You can do the same from his website.

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Noel Gallagher & Gabriel Byrne come out

...as atheists 

Noel Gallagher is the lead songwriter in Oasis.

Gabriel Byrne is an outstanding Irish actor.

Don Imus - what do I really think?

I figured it was time to answer the 50 or so emails I have received requesting to hear my voice. I don't know why some of you want to put a voice with my words, but hey, it is your ears.  I've been meaning to make a post on Don Imus - give it a listen.

 

Don Imus - what do...

 

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

light and dust bunnies

Abstract2 I've been struggling with my digital camera these last few days. My CCD has dust bunnies and some light fogging. Cleaning it has become a major project. I have to shoot reference pictures to find the dust and then tediously remove them. I've done it seven times already. I still have more to go. I believe it is a design flaw. At this point, my camera is all but useless. Nikon needs to come up with a better design.

I shot this abstract light study today during a cleaning session. If you look close you can see a few bunnies.

Today in the mail

My wife dropped this mailer in front of me tonight with a laugh. It's going in my "odd things from Christians file". In this case, the Knott Avenue Christian Church, which is not to be confused with the Knott Avenue 1st Christian Church, of the Christian Church of Knott Avenue, or the Knott Avenue Reformed Church - I can go on and on... The last thing either of us need to do is take sex lessons from our fundie neighbors. Yuck. Repeat after me - everything I need to know about sex I learned through practice.

Whatever packs em in I guess. I wonder if David Trotter and the Revolution Church will use this approach next? Let me see, appeal to greed, appeal to titillation, appeal to what next - gluttony?

Preacher Predators on 20/20

Via confessions of a recovering Pharisee

PREACHER PREDATORS: INVESTIGATING CHILD SEX ABUSE IN THE PROTESTANT CHURCH

JIM AVILA REPORTS ON ABC NEWS’ “20/20,” FRIDAY, APRIL 13

Child sex abuse by Catholic priests has been headline news in recent years, but is the same abuse happening within Protestant churches? In a six-month investigation, ABC News’ “20/20″ found preacher predators in every corner of the country, including several affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) — the largest Protestant denomination. Jim Avila’s exclusive report airs on20/20,” FRIDAY, APRIL 13 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

Avila’s reporting finds that the SBC, an organization of 43,000 independent churches and 16.3 million members – has an overall structure that makes it difficult to police preacher predators. One example includes a profile of a SBC pastor who abused kids in Kentucky and then moved on to do the same to eight boys in Missouri before he was finally sent to prison. In an interview with Avila, the SBC president concedes that there is a problem with tracking predators.

“20/20” lists numerous SBC preachers who have been convicted or charged with child sex abuse, including pastors still identified on the SBC’s own website of ordained ministers.

Avila also interviews a preacher who admits, in his jobs as Southern Baptist preacher and teacher in East Texas, that he molested more than 40 boys. For the first time, Ken Ward speaks publicly about how he manipulated families and churches as he targeted and molested children in his care, and how the church is actually a magnet for predators. “I wanted them to love me and that was part of the strategy,” Ward tells Avila. He also gives insight to parents about how to spot a predator.

“20/20” is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and John Stossel. David Sloan is the executive producer.

Watch the video here:

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

One More Elected Atheist Comes Out

Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers is a nontheist. Who's next?

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R.I.P Kurt Vonnegut, Dead at 84

I can give no better testament than to say I think I have read every word Kurt Vonnegut ever published. His obituary from the NY Times can be found here.

I remember when my church youth group tried to organize a book burning. We all pitched in a few volumes. I was standing beside the fire when a girl named Wendy threw a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five  into the fire. I watched as is started to burn. I had already read it a few times by then. I hesitated  and then reached into the fire with a stick and fished it out. My friends and the youth pastor gave me grief, one friend even punched me - he never read anything. As Pink Floyd would say, it was another brick in the wall. I kept the book. I still have it today.

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Nutball Alert: Kris Helphinstine

I was going to let Kris Helphinstine fade into obscurity. With his "science degree" I am sure he can land an important job at the Discovery Institute. I hear they are looking for an assistant propaganda officer.

One of Helphinstine's buddies, or more likely Helphinstine himself, has been posting ID crap on my original post on this subject. If you recall, Helphinstine is the teacher who did his best to teach ID in his 8 day stint as a science teacher - and was fired for his efforts.

Helphinstine's powerpoint presentations are available via this article in the Bend Weekly. They can only be viewed by IE - sorry. (Hat tip to Furious Nads).  And let me just add - as a connoisseur of powerpoint presentations - they suck.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Religious Literacy

One of our local public radio stations, 89.3 KPCC has a program called AirTalk hosted by Larry Mantle which plays near the lunch hour. I try to catch it when I can. Today he hosted a segment on a book called Religious Literacy by Stephen Prothero. The show notes are posted below.

In his new book, Religious Literacy (HarperSanFrancisco), Stephen Prothero addresses the tenets of the world's major religions and the real differences among them. Larry talks with Prothero about what he believes every American needs to know about the world's major religions in order to confront the domestic and foreign challenges facing this country today.

You can listen to the show here.

I've added this book to my reading list. It sounds like a must have. The premise behind the book is education. The author seems reasonable. He's compiled a book aimed at teaching the basic tenants of each major religion. I think it will be a great addition to my library.

Always look up

Underside

I read a post today that brought to mind happy memory from my time in France. Good posts are supposed elicit emotions - right? Reading about Joshua Bell playing a concert in the Washington metro brought back a moment of transcendent happiness. It was a great feeling. Anyway - thank you Carolyn Ann. Your brief post reminded me that inspiration can come in many forms and at any time, all I need to do is look for it.

Beauty, if looked for, can found every day. I found it this afternoon when I captured this abstract image. I was driving slow on a busy freeway with my camera in hand. I looked up to see an interesting pattern of weathering on the underside of a concrete bridge. I captured the shot and a few honks in a brief moment of time as I moved beneath the bridge. I am pleased with the result. Carolyn Ann, this picture is for you. Thanks.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

rants and more rants

I normally don't post on Mondays. In the tradition of the LDS church, I like to reserve at least one night a week for my family.  We will watch a movie or play a game, or sometimes just be together in three separate rooms (while reading). I need this time with my family. It helps keep me sane.

I'm posting tonight because I have a headache. I've spent an evening trying to relax, and now at 11:15 PM I know that I am in for a long sleepless night. My guess is sleep will come around 4:00 AM. So until I sleep, I post.

Headaches make me a little cranky. Things only get worse when fundies like like Dan "The Truth" Marvin leave their screed on my blog. It causes this little vein to pop out on my forehead, my eye twitches... I eventually feel compelled to post a response. Dan - what the hell are you doing posting your crap on my blog while not allowing me to post on your stupid excuse for a blog? He actually wants me to review Lee Strobel's A Case for A Creator. As if... I guess he thinks he is witnessing - of course, it also means he did not look at my blog. In my book that would make Dan Marvin a fundie nutball. The content on his blog only confirms it.

Lets use mathematics: Lets say the population doubled ever 150 years. And we start at Adam and Eve and after 32 doublings at 4800 years we get around 8.6 billion people but we take the “Flood” in account at 4500 years and we get a number around 6.5 billion people. Assuming the conservative growth rate the current population can be reached well within a 6000 year period.

The only thing to do is make fun of him. Friggen fundie, my brain hurts to much to come up with any real good put downs. Perhaps my atheist buddies can help?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy

Via Beep! Beep! It's Me and Austin Atheist Anonymous

Happy Easter - or as my secular neighbor to the south boasts "please join us in celebrating a Spring Egg Roll. I love egg rolls, they are not as good as tacos, but pretty close.

149 to go

Monica Goodling resigned suddenly last week when it became clear she was going to be left holding the bag in the Justice Department firing scandal. The Washington Post article Justice's Holy Hires goes into the fundie nature of Monica Goodling and her minions at the Department of Justice.

Goodling is one of 150 graduates of Regent University who have served in this administration, as Regent's Web site proudly proclaims. Pretty impressive for a 29-year-old school. The university says that "approximately one out of every six Regent alumni is employed in some form of government work." And that's precisely what its founder desired. The school's motto is "Christian Leadership to Change the World." Former attorney general John Ashcroft teaches at Regent, and graduates have obtained senior positions in the Bush administration. The express goal is not only to tear down the wall between church and state in America but also to enmesh the two.

I hate to say I told you so - ok ok, I love to say I told you so - but the Bush administration has gutted the Department of Justice in the name of promoting Christianity. This latest fiasco is just further evidence of their attempt at remaking the United Sates into a Christian Nation. Read it and weep.

I have hope - Bush and his cronies are in decline. The rats are starting to leave the ship. We will see many more "Goodling Departures" in the days and weeks to come. I will be counting each one.

If you want to see what this fundie soldier of Christ looks like, I found a picture here.

Book Review: The "God" Part of the Brain

Matthew Alper's The "God" Part of the Brain puts forth a hypothesis that I want to believe, but for various reasons, I cannot. Alper asserts that belief in God is an evolutionary function, a genetically inherited trait which grants humans an evolutionary advantage. If effect, Alper asserts that we "make it all up" because we are wired to do so. As an atheist and skeptic, I understand that what Alper puts forth is not the result of scientific rigor, but his generous interpretation of various scientific disciplines, a layman's theory if you will. Having said that, I would describe Alper's work as thought provoking, insightful, and a valuable read. I do not agree with Alper's central thesis, however his book promotes a valuable discussion on the nature of belief and why we seem to choose to believe in the supernatural.

Alper's work first came to my attention in the late 90's when it was originally published. My first read sent me down the road of examining why I had at one time believed in God. I had never considered the reasons why I had believed in God in my previous life as a Christian, I was focused on defending my position as an Atheist. The"God" Part of the Brain guided my mental efforts towards looking to why people tend to believe. For a few years at least, Alper’s work was an important part of my development as an Atheist. It was gradually replaced by other more complex works. Reading it again has been a pleasure.

The central thesis, that humanity is pre-programmed to believe in God, is worthy of further study. Alper suggests that genetic predisposition towards belief in God is a universal human trait. Alper tends to use words like "all" to describe arguments in his thesis. For example, his assertion that all cultures have a supernatural component does not ring true when large segments of humanity fall outside his all-inclusive net. Buddhists for example, do not hold a supernatural view of the world, spiritual maybe, but not supernatural. This might seem like a small thing, but to someone who automatically rejects universal arguments as poor logical constructions, it can cause discomfort.

Alper also asserts that consciousness is a physical entity, which is tied to a physical process in our brain. He reaches this conclusion in much the same way I did, by analyzing a physical process that changed the essence of who we are. In his case, a bad LSD trip prompted a significant change in his personality, in my case, a bad knock on the head caused a change in the way I look at the world. Consciousness as a physical process is a reoccurring theme in Alper’s writing. It is used to support his thesis that belief in God is a physical process as well. While I do not agree with Alper's central thesis, I find his ideas refreshing and worthy of further consideration. Of course, physical evidence of the “God” part of the brain would have made his argument much more compelling.

A discussion of other reasons for the belief in God are superficial, and in most cases missing altogether. For example, learning spirituality as part of our socialization process is a significant area of study with a large body of work supporting it, yet it receives little or no attention. A critical analysis would have been helpful if for no other reason than to show the differences between his theory and the works of others.

Alper's work falls into the category of thought provoking rather than groundbreaking. I view The "God" Part of the Brain as a glimpse into the mind of a man who is coming to terms with his own lack of faith. I find Alper's work comforting and familiar. His journey could be my journey. He attempts to provide an explanation I need to confront the faithful when they ask why I do not believe in the supernatural. For this alone I can recommend the book. Add expanding my understanding of the transient nature of consciousness, the fact that a stroke or bad LSD trip can change who we are to such an extent that we are no longer who we were, and Alper’s book a worthwhile read. Essentially - The "God" Part of the Brain prompts the reader to think, which is a rare thing in books these days. Despite my problems with the central thesis, I find it easy to recommend. Just don't expect the answer to any big questions. Enjoy.

(Authors note: This review was solicited by the publisher. I found other solicited reviews here, here, here and here)