Saturday, March 31, 2007

3% Atheists

The latest Newsweek poll shows that 91 percent of American adults surveyed believe in God—and nearly half reject the theory of evolution.

The good news:

one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.

The oddly encouraging news:

Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist, suggesting that the term may carry some stigma. Still, the poll suggests that the public’s tolerance of this small minority has increased in recent years. Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents felt the country is more accepting of atheists today that it used to be and slightly more (49 percent) reported personally knowing an atheist.

I know two other atheists personally. The rest are Internet friends. In the last year I have met 0 atheists, 1 agnostic, and a bunch of theists and polytheists. I am an out of the closet atheist, I have never tired to hid my atheism. When people meet me and find out that I am an atheist, the responses are still negative. Are things getting better? I don't really see it.

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A taste of Jesus canceled

File this under "what the hell were they thinking". When I first heard this story I thought it was an April fools day joke. It opens on April 1st and closes on Easter. It seemed like a tasteless joke, but now I'm not so sure - the event has been canceled. Apparently, Catholics objected to a nude life sized Jesus hanging loose from an invisible cross. The display would have placed Jesus's penis at about mouth level for those viewing the exhibit. Who would be offended by that?

Oh wait, it gets better. apparently you can eat Jesus on Easter. I wonder what part of Jesus would be "eaten" first.

Now that the show is canceled - I hear nutball artist Cosimo Cavallaro will be selling his creation on eBay.

The Failures of Multiculturalism

Aidan Maconachy has a good post on the failure of multiculturalism. I wanted to post a comment, but remembered that he does not allow commenting. I'll make my comments here. I recently lunched with two Indian co-workers. Both are first generation immigrants to the U.S.A. One is old (my age), one is young. Both have arranged marriages. When talking about their futures, both were proud to be Americans, and proud to be Indians too. But mostly it was the pride one see when a first generation immigrant realizes that for the most part, the rest of the country really does not care who you are or where you came from. As long as you work hard and contribute to society, you are welcomed here - unless you choose to live in Waco that is.  My point is that in America I can go out to lunch with two Indian friends and talk about the future and nobody will care. The wonderful thing is, our dreams sound an awful lot alike, so do our fears.

A jolt with my java

Starbucks-21Starbucks has a program called The way I see it. It is a collection of a few hundred quotes which are placed on the side of coffee cups which are meant to encourage discourse. At first, Religions groups were offended by these messages. Starbucks responded to criticism by allowing content from the nutball fundie fringe. Yesterday, I came face to face with a great example of anti-science rhetoric.

Starbucks-18The Way I See It #224

Darwinism's impact on traditional social values has not been as benign as its advocates would like us to believe. Despite the efforts of its modern defenders to distance themselves from its baleful social consequences, Darwinism's connection with eugenics, abortion and racism is a matter of historical record. And the record is not pretty.

This drivel was written by Moonie Dr. Jonathan Wells.

Starbucks-16 Dr. Jonathan Wells is a Discovery Institute hack. He spouts fundie ID screeds in a single minded effort to discredit the Theory of Evolution. He does so by vilifying something fundies call Darwinism, but what Wells actually means is the worship of Darwin in place of God. Of course, the broken logic here is that eugenics was a tragically misguided 19th and 20th century philosophy, the fact that eugenics was pursued as a social theory has nothing at all to do with the Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection. it is a red herring argument and thus pointless, even dishonest. Allowing fringe religions nuts like Wells and the Discovery Institute access to a million coffee cups is not equal time - it is insanity. What is Starbucks thinking?

Friday, March 30, 2007

A picture and a story

Light study 6

It is spring here in Los Angeles. I have vowed to pick up my camera each day and look for inspiration. This morning I noticed my dirty window. - I shot a series of six. This is my favorite.

My story:

Over the years I have fed many hungry people. I feel obligated to feed people, it is a moral compass issue for me. It is right to feed hungry people, so I do so every time I can.

A few weeks ago I had another opportunity to feed someone, but somehow I could not bring myself to tell the story to anyone because I was troubled by the event. I had bought breakfast for myself at a local drive thru chain. It was a large protein meal, no carbs at all, one of my favorite meals. As I pulled away from the drive thru attendant, a shaggy homeless man walked in front of my tuck. He put a grubby hand on the corner of my truck near the headlight to stop me. He said "I am hungry". He did not ask for money, nor did he approach any closer than the front of my truck. He just stood still looked at me.

He was dirty and had skin that was a sun darkened brown. Like the skin of an old beach bum. He was dressed in layers, at least six or seven layers of different types of clothing. He had a plastic poncho draped over his shoulders and head with a rope for a belt. I could only see his face. He did not smile or frown, he just looked me directly in the eye and waited. After a few seconds, I reached for my breakfast. I handed it through the window along with my Diet Coke as I said "here, eat this". He moved slowly over to my window and took the food. When he was close enough to touch me, he spoke "Thank you Joseph", and then walked away.

He knew me. I tried to talk to him. He wanted non of it. He stomped into the roadside bushes and moved away at a steady pace. In a city of millions, a hungry man knew me. It bothered me. Heck, it still bothers me.

Not Christian enough

James Dobson recently weighed in on the 2008 presidential candidates with a pronouncement that makes moderate Christians cringe.  Referring to Law and Orders Fred Thompson, Dobson said:

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression,"

What Dobson actually meant was that unlike Newt Gingrich and John McCain, Fred Thompson has not bowed to Dobson's authority yet. I hope Thompson never does.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Skeptics' Circle 57

Skeptics' Cricle 57 is up at Aardvarchaeology. Drop in for some clearing thinking goodness.

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Another Baptist rapist?

Pastor Charles Dickerson of the Pearly Grove Baptist Church in Fresno may have molested and raped two girls, including possibly raping one after she became pregnant.

With the volume of email I receive from Google filters on "pastor arrested" and "pastor sentenced". I could make a post like this once per day. Ironically, "atheist arrested" has yet to yield a hit.  

Another pedophile pastor goes to jail

The AP is reporting that former Baptist pastor William Alan Malgren has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for molesting a young girl. Is somebody keeping a list of this?  I seem to get one or two of these notices per week. What is it about religion, power, and sex that turns pastors and priests into raging sex crazed pedophiles?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Graffiti in bloom

Graffiti pain

Now that I drive home from work in the afternoon sunlight, I have started shooting pictures again. This is my first photo of spring. The graffiti is in bloom in Hawaiian Gardens.

I find beauty in uglyness, even this tends to appeal to me.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Obsessed with nudity

Another thing I do not understand about some Christians. Why are they so concerned about how other people express their sexuality. Naturist like to hang out naked. They tend to be well behaved, police themselves, and go the extra mile to keep away from the kiddies and keep things non-sexual. Naturists are not a problem. Yet uptight pastor Ralph Ovadal has dedicated himself to removing the scourge of sexual activity on a nude beach in Wisconsin. In case you don't understand the stupidity involved here. The sexual activity Ovadal objects to is the act of nude sunbathing.

Mazomaine nude beach has been a private spot for nude sunbathing for 50 years. instead of cutting down the trees that offer privacy, Ovadal should leave them alone, or if he wants to police them, he should join the fun.

I am not a Naturist. I tried nude sunbathing once when I was young and burned my ass so bad I could not site down for three days. The burn, and disappointment of realizing that most nude sunbathers were well into their 60s, removed any desire to try it again. The fact that religious people like pastor Ovadal feel compelled to limit my freedoms, pisses me off. It is one of the reasons I write this blog. Being a naturist may not be something I want to do, but I won't stand by and watch some uptight nare-do-well ruin the party for those responsible individuals who enjoy the activity.

Focus on your own damn family.

What the hell?

A new Christian blog called parabiodox (link removed) paints atheists as the opposition. I've seen links backs from this blog for the last few days. It looks like he's taking Planet Atheism feed. Are we the opposition? How do you oppose something that is make believe? I think it is more accurate to say Islam is the opposition.

We are the critics.

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A tsunami of sewage in Gaza

Or... fecal vomiting. I do not know which term evokes more shuttering revulsion. I heard both for the first time within the last 24 hours. LGF covered 5 innocent people dying in a river of sewage by calling attention to the religions ass hats of Hama who contributed to the disaster through inattention, corruption, and violence. I could not help but think about what it would take to look for the dead in a situation like this. It is too horrific for words. Fecal vomiting on the other hand, I saw first hand yesterday. The poor old lady who was being whisked away when I arrived for an appointment at my doctors office, well... she looked like death would soon take her. She left a trail of unspeakably nasty filth behind her as she was loaded into the ambulance. I would choose a bullet in the same situation. It was nasty, and all too real.

These things that makeup our days, sometimes they are horrible, sometimes sublime. You never know what will come next. A truck bomb in Iraq, or a child reunited with his parents - Take your pick, happy or sad, fecal vomiting or happy orphans. Don't worry, if you miss a day or choose poorly, it starts all over tomorrow.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

From purity balls to honor killings

There is something about the fundamentalist Christian practice of Purity Balls which strikes me as odd. The over emphasis on virginity reminds me of the same fascination with virginity which plagues the Islamic world. Honor killings occur when over protective families feel slighted by the alleged misdeeds of their daughters, often resulting in murder for transgression as simple as talking to boys. When fundamentalists Christians start to focus on the purity of their daughters, how long can it be before punishment for transgressions occur? How long before family honor becomes an issue?

What red blooded American girl is going to pledge her virginity to her father? It may be something that the "high-priest of the house" father can coerce from their daughters while they are young. However, only the brainwashing effect of constant peer pressure and fundamentalist indoctrination can ensnare an older teen.

The basic premise of a Purity Ball is that female sexuality is evil and must be suppressed.

Premarital sex is evil. Female sexuality must be, as ever, contained, repressed, shoved deep down lest it tempt men to sin like gleeful pagans licking ice cream from the pierced nipples of the devil. Girls do not know how to handle their own genitalia and therefore must be taught -- by their fathers, no less -- how to dilute their sexual power in order to attract a sexually unqualified, God-fearing husband. You know, same as it ever was.

I normally run screaming from this kind of thing. But a cousin recently mentioned how her daughter was baptized into a church which only allow children to date other members of the same church. It brought back all my ward-dance-with-the-Mormon-girlfriend weirdness from my youth. The practice of religion is coercive, the Mormons may be the worst, but Christian fundamentalist sects are catching up quick.

Purity Balls are bizarre, the pledge the fathers make is even more bizarre.


One thing that stands out as profoundly idiotic. The father pledges to be "pure". When he breaks the pledge, through infidelity, divorce, incest, drinking, drugs, or from being a normal everyday bad father, is the girl set free to have sex with impunity? No - not likely. The poor girl will be given the mixed message that dad can still be a shit, but you must keep your legs crossed. I may sound overly harsh here, but statistics are on my side. Christian fathers are no better fathers than the rest of the population. They will fail their daughters - what happens then?

Pledging to be pure does not change behavior for either person. The girl will go thoughts puberty, become sexually active, and sleep with young Johnny from down the block. The fact that she pledged to be a virgin till marriage will lead her parents to hold back important information on birth control and STD's. It really is just like sticking your head in the sand, only this time your daughter gets pregnant, Chlamydia, and kicked out of the house at the same time.

Nope - I can never do anything like this, not ever. I will beat the hell out of any boy that comes sniffing around my nieces, and I will make sure my sons know the truth about sex, birth control, and STD's. Heck - I just had the "if you want to drink a beer" talk with my 11 year old son a few days ago...

Feed the Muse: Poetry

Special lady friend

Not something to hide behind

And a pair of testicles

The Big Lebowski Haikutomatic.

Liberating my cross

In January of 2005 I took a picture of my friends Paul's Coptic Orthodox Tattoo. I subsequently posted it on my blog,along with a short blog post describing how Paul had acquired the tattoo. The post generates a 25 hits or so each month, but no comment traffic. I had forgotten about the photo until my friend plopped a copy of the March/April edition of the Coptic Herald in front of me at work the other day. He related a story of opening the magazine and looking at what appeared to be his own tattooed wrist being used to illustrate a story about Coptic Youth and the Culture of Apathy. Paul did not remember how the picture was made, it freaked him out a little. The photo had been casual thing,taken in jest and out of curiosity. Why would he remember?

A few nights later, Paul woke himself up with the memory of our brief photo shoot - Joe did this! (a refrain I hear often) He told his priest that the photo was of his arm. I don't think his priest believed him. A few days later he showed it to me.

I took a closer look at the picture, it was my photo. The skin tone had been warmed and the photo cropped, but the parts that showed were a 100% match. The picture was credited to the Encyclopedia of the Orient. I found the photo by using the search words "Coptic tattoo" and by changing the search type to "match all words". I found the photograph was uncredited and was therefor in violation my creative commons license. I wrote an email to the editor asking for the proper attribution. He complied. I was happy and the mystery solved. It is however, a very small world.

*** Update ***

I just found it used at The Poor Blogger. I'll ping him for credit and see what he does.

I will take your literature and give it to my master

I found a humors guide to getting rid of Jehovah's Witnesses.  I have my own methods. Usually I just tell them I'm an atheist and they walk away. If they happen to piss me off, like they do when they knock on my door at 8:00 AM on a Saturday morning, I'll answer the door with a grumpy smile. I'll ask them to give me a second or two to "take care of something important". And then I'll leave them standing on my doorstep for 10 minutes or more. I figure if they waste my time, I can waste theirs.

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Blogroll Update: Goldbricker

Goldbricker has joined the atheist blogroll. He likes to watch the the gradual destruction of our theocratic republican leadership. I do too - only I wish it were quicker.

Evangelicals seem to be fighting amongst themselves. I like how this coincides with the ultra slow-motion implosion of the Republican party and conservatives. It's wrong for me to say, I know, but after six years of the absolute rule of both, I'm having a good time watching what seemed to be these unstoppable juggernauts do what Democrats are accused of doing (and rightfully so) most of the time.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What is normal?

Rev. Craig X. Rubin is a nutball. He runs Temple 420, whose purpose is to dispense and consume marijuana under the auspices of an organized religion. Any objective person can see this as a fraud. The fact that it happen in la la land here in Los Angeles only makes it worse. Last week, Rubin was busted. I noted the incident, and then did some light reading to prep for a potential post. I was going to let the issue pass, but a post by Cavman Considers started me down another path. Caveman said:

I’m thinking the free exercise of religion doesn’t cover this weirdness

Really? Is smoking pot in church any different than dancing with poisonous snakes? What about a congregation rolling around on the floor of a Pentecostal church while speaking in tongues? Is there really a difference? None of it makes sense. It is all make believe. I cannot really call Rubin a nutball, I would have to call every pastor a nutball. I guess he qualifies as normal.

Blogroll Update: A Marquee Version!

Uri Kalish has a marquee version of the full Atheist Blogroll working on his blog, I also have it running on the bottom on the right . The Marquee version will scroll all 220+ blogs in a smaller window at the speed you desire. The code for this cool modification was provided by Uri Kalish and is available for download here.

Uri would like me to point out that the user can adjust the attributes (width, height, scrollamount, scrolldelay) to suit their taste.

Many thanks Uri!

Blogroll Update - Yes, I am behind

I normally post new blogs as I add them. A busy work and social schedule has kept me away from my normal duties. Consider this a catch up post, a mini blogroll carnival if you will.

First up, the not quite hard core atheist blogger Rae of Expired-Convictions. I say "not quite" because after reading her blog, I had to ask her if she was sure about her decision to join the Atheist Blogroll. She assured me she has a darker side, and she has posted the blogroll proudly on here sidebar, so I adder her outstanding blog.

Skeptic and activist, Greg Hartnett, offers a blog dedicated to a wide range of content focused politics, technology, and activism. Try on clicking for friends to get an understanding of what Greg's blog is all about.

The Apostate offers an ex-Islam viewpoint which I find refreshing. I read the whole blog the first time I visited. There is Patriarchy and Then There is Patriarchy is an outstanding post from way back in February. The Apostate is a wordpress blog. Wordpress does not allow JavaScript, so displaying the atheist blogroll is a problem. Does anyone know how to display a blogroll on a wordpress blog?

Buddhist are atheists... Right? The Atheist Jewish Zen Buddhist will be able to tell me. More and more women seem to be joining the atheist blogroll, I like it.

Well.... This site has a pixie, that can be good or bad. I think we are talking good. The Mary blog address issues ranging from Agnostic Atheism, to pixies. Enjoy.

Gratuitous Common Sense offers large does of... common sense. Correlation vs. Causality: A Deeper Understanding makes for an interesting Introduction.

Those individuals who say that teaching abstinence is the best sex education constantly confuse correlation and causality. Basically, Sex Education does have a causal relationship with safe sex. More specifically, sex education causes a higher percentage of the sex being had to be safe sex. But it does not cause more sex to be had...

Disgusted Beyond Belief mad it hard on me. He posted his desire to join, but did not send me a way to contact him. He managed to figure it out, our blogroll is display on his sidebar.

The Barefoot Bum writes on many issues and does atheism well. Check out Secularism and Anti-religious Atheism.

The Atheist Blogroll has 220 blogs listed as of today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Do not confuse my message

I receive a large volume of well intended but essentially off target email from Christians. About three quarters come from fundamentalists and tend to be angry rants. The rest are from what I would call well meaning Christians who are concerned with my soul. The one thing they tend to get wrong is that I am a strong advocate of the right to practice ones religion without interference from the State. They tend to think I want to do away with all religion, which is just wrong. I believe Freedom of Religion to be a fundamental human right. It is one of the reasons I object so strongly to any attempt by Christians to turn America into a theocracy. Americans must be free to practice their religion, or lack thereof, without interference from the state. Many Christians don't understand this point. They interpret Freedom of Religion to mean Freedom to Dominate, which just pisses me off.

There are places where the practice of religion is restricted. Mainstream Baptists has an short post called The Cost of Discipleship. It focuses on the price which Christians must pay when trying to practice their religion in China. I find the situation horrific and would not wish anything like it here in America.

In China, being a Christian can become a costly experience. Witness the case of Ms. Li Huage, who was arrested and sentenced to ten days for allegedly "disturbing public order." for being a Christian. The report continues

She is now detained in Ying An Lu Detention Center, Wancheng district, Nanyang city, Henan province. Her husband, pastor Dong Quanyu was released March 16 after serving a ten day sentence for an "illegal religious gathering." "Ms. Li was beaten heavily by the PSB officers on March 16 outside the detention center before she met with her released husband," CAA says in a report obtained by ANS.

It boggles the imagination, doesn't it, to consider how many American "Christians" would endure such things simply in order to attend Church. Most American Christians would rather sleep in on Sunday than make their way to the House of God. Maybe that's why Christianity in America is waning and Christianity in China is growing.

The cost of discipleship is high in China. And low in America. And if somethings cheap we all know no one wants it.

To put it bluntly - I would fight any attempt to move in this direction. We all should.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One toke over the line sweet Jesus

One toke over the line... Kris Helphinstine decided to just jump over the line. You know the line I'm talking about. The line that separates religion from our secular society.  The line that says fundies cannot teach creationism or poison the minds of our youth with religious ideology while in a public school. High on fundamentalism, "science teacher" Kris Helphinstine launched right into his students with a full load of fundie propaganda. He paid for it with his job.

During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

This kind of behavior is deliberately deceitful. Would Jesus have lied his way into a school science class? I don't think so.

Sunday, March 18, 2007 - Your Guide To The Gods

I was looking for the name of the Celtic god of making really good pasta, when I cam across God Checker. The site contains a comprehensive list of deities from various cultures and mythologies. I had fun looking up the Celtic deities.

FINN-MACCOOL: Legendary Hero of the Fenians.

He burnt his thumb trying to turn the wise fish FINTAN on a makeshift spit, and when he sucked the resulting blister a great splurge of knowledge was released into his head. But his digestive system couldn't cope and all the knowledge passed onto his son OISIN.

With a salmon that smart, it's more than likely it escaped back into the river and burning Finn with a fin was a ruse to put this into effect.

The heroic FINN-MACCOOL delights in cross-country running into strange situations with dogged persistence.

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Carnival of the Godless #62:

Carnival of the Godless #62 is up at Black Sun Journal.

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Bligbi: How to drive Christians Stark raving mad

Bligbi is tracking the reaction to Representative Pete Stark coming out as an non-theist. The theists are starting to beat the war drums.

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Blogroll Update: Primordial Blog

In my younger days I was a bible thumper. I wonder how many of us can claim this phrase as our own. I can. So can Brian Larnder of Primordial Blog - our newest Atheist Blogroll member.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Another pedophile pastor

Ever since I put "pastor arrested" in my news filter, I've received the most disturbing news snipits. In this case, Kevin Ogle, a Reverend for the Northgate Colonial Baptist Church, was arrested after sending nude pictures of himself to an officer posing as a young girl.

Members say there hasn't been a time since the case broke February 20th that they lost hope.

Hope in what exactly?

More on this story here, here and here.

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Islam Glossary

I found the Official Islam Glossary. Strange, it does not have a definition for the word beheading.  

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Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

I am starting a list of the reasons why John McCain should not be our next president. My first entry, McCain does not understand the role of condoms in preventing the spread of H.I.V. When asked this question:

Q: [from reporter] So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

McCain responded with:

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: [from reporter] “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

A man who would be president and does not know his position on one the most important global heath issues of our day is simply ignorant. How can he not know that condoms help reduce the spread of H.I.V. What's more, he supports George Bush's moral position on abstanace, which is unscientific voodoo lunacy and helps spread H.I.V. A man who must struggle for the right political answer to a simple question does not desire to lead us. Just say no to John McCain in 08.

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The Nerd Quiz

I was doing a little blogroll surfing when I found Scientia Nature's post on the nerd quiz. She scored a 70. I took it in good faith and scored a 94.

 I am nerdier than 94% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

It's wrong. So wrong.

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Blogroll Update: Three more!

As word spreads about our atheist community's blogroll, more good bloggers join. I want to thank everyone who sends in dead links. It helps cut down on maintenance, which makes adding new blogs all the more easy. On this Saint Patrick's day, we have three new bloggers joining the team.

The Passionate Atheist is new to blogging. His very first post, Where does he pick all those wonderful battles? is an interesting look at theist activism. Of course, as a new blogger, he's on probation. Remember - post or die (or in your case, get dropped from the blogroll).

Beaman's World is a UK based Atheist blogger and a poet. I will be a regular visitor. I'm a poetry fan. He writes poetry. It seems like a good match.

There was this sport, an Englishman’s game,
From the days of Empire old,
In which brave knights of the realm, in armoured coats,
Rode over savannahs of gold.
Under the Union Rag, that was proudly raised high
They sparred with ferocious lions,
Whose wild mains shone like giant blazing suns
Surrounding eyes filled black with iron;
And teeth that ripped flailing arms from torsos
With a savage and sickening verve,
As terrified, the greatest of warriors
Did well to preserve his fraying nerve!
Taunted death, like bullfighters of Pamplona,
And afterwards sipped sweet Bordeaux --
As dusk fell they sang songs of daring and splendour,
About the game named Seraglio.
By Beaman

Saint Gasoline is an Atheist Cartoonist. His first Cartoon, The Idiot's guide to genesis, is a hoot.

Drop in an offer some encouragement.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Feed The Muse: The Arrow of Time

A simple project - one photo of each family member, taken on the same day each year. After 30 years, the results are remarkable

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Thing in a Jar

Odd. I find it appealing.  

Thursday, March 15, 2007

For others to conclude

Yet another reason to make sure Hillary Clinton never becomes our next president. When asked if she thinks Homosexuality is immoral, she declined to answer. let me help you Clinton - the answer is no.

Blogroll Update: Uri Kalish - Urikalization

Uri Kalish - Urikalization has joined the atheist blogroll. Urikalization is a science blogger and like many of us a fan of Battlestar Galactice. Drop by and express your condolences over the death of Starbuck.

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All roads lead to Rove

My personal opinion here: George Bush and his staff will go down in history as one of the worst Presidencies in recent history. Karl Rove is leading the descent, followed closely by Alberto Gonzales.

The Bush administration's first instinct was to shield Karl Rove from scrutiny when Congress began inquiring about the unusual firings of eight U.S. attorneys. Among the replacements, the proposed new U.S. attorney for Arkansas happened to be one of Rove's most devoted underlings, his head of opposition research, Tim Griffin, who boasted during the 2000 presidential election about the effectiveness of the negative campaign against Al Gore: "We make the bullets!"... Source: All roads lead to Rove | Salon

AG Alberto Gonzales has tirelessly worked to turn the Department of Justice into another branch of the Bush political machine. When confronted with his misdeeds, he lied to congress. When congress dug a little deeper, they found Rove.

I've heard the argument that the attorneys general's serve at the discretion of the President. They also take an oath to defend the constitution, not to the president. Firing the seven AGs was an immoral act. Lying about the firings was an evangelical act. It is all about the spin baby, all about the spin.

AG Alberto Gonzales has been busy focusing the Justice department on Bush's priorities. We know about the political agenda - find dirt on Democrats, but what about Bush's moral agenda?  Gonzales has launched a project to defend religious liberty. In the words of Gonzales, First Freedom Project is:

"Preserving religious liberty requires an ongoing commitment to protecting this most basic freedom for people of all faiths."

What does this mean? Vital Department of Justice resources are dedicated to teaching Americans about their religious rights. What the hell is going on? Why are we spending a dime on this non-issue? What happen to focusing on crime? Why do we need to be taught our rights? I smell Bush pandering to the Christian Fundamentalists again.

The Department of Justice has been busy.

As detailed in the report, from 2001 to 2006 the Department of Justice dramatically increased enforcement of these laws. But there is more work to be done. The First Freedom Project includes a number of facets to ensure that this precious right, guaranteed by our laws and Constitution, is recognized and protected:

  • A commitment to continued expansion of enforcement of civil rights statutes protecting religious liberty.
  • Creation of a Department-wide Task Force on Religious Liberty, chaired by the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, to review DOJ policies impacting religious liberty, coordinate religious liberty cases, and improve outreach to stakeholder communities.
  • Initiation of a series of regional seminars to be held around the country to educate religious, civil rights, and community leaders, attorneys, government officials, and other interested citizens about the laws protecting religious freedom enforced by the Department of Justice and how to file complaints.
  • Increased outreach to religious organizations, civil rights organizations, and other groups and individuals concerned with religious liberty issues through meetings, speaking engagements, and distribution of informational literature.

Is there no end to the hypocrisy?  What next, tabliban style religious police? Government sponsored religion? Oh wait, we already have that.

Uncommon Sense: Latter Day Nonsense

Would you vote for a Mormon for President? I have trouble just voting for a devout Christian, a Mormon is a definite no.  

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God's dupes - Sam Harris

Via Sam Harris and the LA Times

PETE STARK, a California Democrat, appears to be the first congressman in U.S. history to acknowledge that he doesn't believe in God. In a country in which 83% of the population thinks that the Bible is the literal or "inspired" word of the creator of the universe, this took political courage.

Of course, one can imagine that Cicero's handlers in the 1st century BC lost some sleep when he likened the traditional accounts of the Greco-Roman gods to the "dreams of madmen" and to the "insane mythology of Egypt."

Mythology is where all gods go to die, and it seems that Stark has secured a place in American history simply by admitting that a fresh grave should be dug for the God of Abraham — the jealous, genocidal, priggish and self-contradictory tyrant of the Bible and the Koran. Stark is the first of our leaders to display a level of intellectual honesty befitting a consul of ancient Rome. Bravo...

News Buster's Mark Finkelstein has a problem with God's Dupes.

What in heaven's name has gotten into Sam Harris? The Los Angeles Times regularly lends its op-ed page to the atheist activist. In God's Dupes, Harris took advantage of the opportunity today to make a bizarre and slanderous accusation against American Christians.

It comes down to an "our fundies" versus "their fundies" perspective. Finkelstein sees the daily jihadist violence as real in-your-face mayhem.  By comparison, the few fundamentalist Christians calling for the stoning of gays, exist only to those who are actively monitoring the movement (like me) or, those who are participating in the movement (a small fraction of Christians). Comparing the two is illogical. It is like comparing paper airplanes with stealth bombers. Harris oversold his point.

The House of Apostasy

Via LGF - The House of Apostasy. A blog about leaving Islam.

This blog will hold regular blog roundups of current thoughts from ex-Muslims, especially with regard to how they have come to view their former faith, and will be an enjoyable survey of the chatterings of the ex-Muslim blogosphere.

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Blogroll Update: The Homeless Atheist

Yes - our newest atheist blogger, The Homeless Atheist, is homeless. He lives in the woods of Olympia, Washington. You can watch I Live In The Woods to see his camp. His blog's about section is interesting.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be homeless with the dilemma of theist missions, soup kitchens, and faith based services? Many homeless are coerced with mandatory evangelical church services if they want something to eat or shelter for the night. What if you are homeless and atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, pantheist, or even Buddhist atheist? If so, your choices are marginal for finding a secular service or shelter. I am homeless and atheist; a quasi Buddhist too.

Source: The Homeless Atheist

AG Gonzales troubles my thoughts

Since the mass dismissal of eight federal prosecutors hit the press, I've been troubled by thoughts that take me back to the Communist Russia. I remember reading about the communist party and their insane insistence on loyalty at the expense of truth, and their maniacal adherence to the party line. I keep thinking that our situation with Bush and Gonzales is close to what to what was the norm in communist Russia. Truth does not matter, only perception of truth, spin, ideology, and loyalty matter. The results were just as tragic then as they are today. Alberto Gonzales lied - the AGs were fired for blatantly political reasons. At one point, Gonzales and Harriet Miers were even considering a mass firing all AGs in the name of ideological purity. Stalin would be proud.

I listened to Ted Koppel's Bush's White House, Built on Partisanship? yesterday on All Things Considered. Koppel's editorial echoes my thinking. Bush's insistence on loyalty at expense of competence, and ideology at the expense of truth, is troubling. Koppel uses the film The lives of others, and the book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City to illustrate his point. There should be certain limits. I agree.

As a citizen of the United States of America, I hereby request the resignation of Alberto Gonzales.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Evangelical Christians gets one right

Evangelicals tell Bush his situational ethics are wrong when it comes to torture and the treatment of detainees.

The authors, who call themselves Evangelicals for Human Rights and campaign for "zero tolerance" on torture, say that the US administration has crossed "boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible" in the treatment of detainees.

The National Association of Evangelicals move away from social issues towards issues that matter is refreshing. As long as they continue down this path, I'll give them good press and a few good links.

Rev Richard Cizik has my respect. First the environment, now torture. Now ,if they could just back away from their gay rights position and the whole abortion mess....

Its been such a long time...

...I think I should be goin, yeah
And time doesn't wait for me, it keeps on rollin
Sail on, on a distant highway
Ive got to keep on chasin a dream
Ive gotta be on my way
Wish there was something I could say.

Boston's lead singer Brad Delp killed himself on Friday.

I worked as a roadie for Boston when they toured Southern California back in the 70s. My duties were simple. I pulled a cable, I rolled cable, and I listened to all their concerts too. I was a sound tech back in those days. Music was a big part of my life. I was more into punk than rock, but I got paid to do the Boston show, plus there was free beer, so I worked the shows with a drunken smile.

I met Brad Delp and the rest of the band at an after show party. I had a crew pass and everything. The band bought us a round of beer (Coors) and told us a few war stories. It was so cool.

I had beat up old 68 VW Beetle back in the day. I used it to go surfing each morning. I listed to Foreplay/long time anytime a took my friend Craig along. He was a Boston/ELO kind of geek. I have many memories of driving down to Huntington Beach in the dark with my friend while Boston played on a handheld tape deck. It was good times.

All of that was over 25 years ago. I don't even have Boston on my iTunes deck any more. A pity, I was feeling nostalgic.

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Blogroll Update: two by two

They join in pairs. There must be a flood or something. First up, The Science Pundit.  He writes about science and other important stuff, like playing Bohemian Rhapsody with with fart sounds. It is truly amazing.

Our second entry has only a single post, so he automatically qualifies for double secret probation. Which means, I'll drop in soon and if he's not posting, I'll have to whack him. Please welcome Atheist Movies, (actually Atheist Movie at the moment) I sure hope he continues to post.

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Oddly Bruce Almighty

I was reading the Bruce Almighty entry at Wikipedia when I found this odd bit. I posted it here because it might not be there tomorrow.

The film caused controversy because God contacts Bruce using an actual phone number rather than a number in the standard fictional 555 telephone exchange. The original telephone number was 776-2323. No area code was included. Several people and groups sharing this number have received hundreds of phone calls from people wanting to talk to God. Oddly enough, some of the calls went to a church located in Sanford, North Carolina, whose pastor also shared the same first name as the Jim Carrey's character in the movie.
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Aardvarchaeology : Four Stone Hearth 11

My favorite Swedish archaeologist and blogger, Dr. Martin Rundkvist of Aardvarchaeology, is hosting the science carnival Four Stone Hearth 11. It makes me want rush right out and learn all about this "science" thing Martin writes about so much...

My favorite:

Chris at Northstate Science looks at the relationship between archaeology and creationism. (It's what he was made to do).


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I want a name

Can somebody give me the name of the idiot who determined that moving up daylight saving time was a good idea? I don't like waking up before dawn. It throws my whole day off. This morning was the worst. I felt like a grouchy old bear.

My posting has dried up too. I came home from work on Monday and Tuesday tired, too tired to post. I could not find the energy to write. Heck, I could not even find the energy to log on the Christian Counter Strike server and kill a few Christian kids in a rousing gun game - and I love killing the kiddies. It is so much better than drinking a beer and watching the TV.

Give me a name... I need to write a nasty email. I might even use profanity.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

First atheist in congress

Well... kind of an atheist. He does not believe in a supreme being.

Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark, D-Calif., is the first openly "nontheistic" member of congress, the Secular Coalition for America announced Monday, March 12.

Of course, he's a Unitarian. I attended a Unitarian service a few years back as part of a survey of religion course. It was weird and made me feel uncomfortable.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Former Waco pastor headed for prison

A friend in Waco passed this gem along to me. A local pastor was being served with an arrest warrant when he jumped in a car and lead police on a high speed chase. Ron Keener was the quintessential pastor and community leader who turned to a life of crime. Why does this story sound so familiar?

Keener, dressed in black-and-white striped jail clothes, answered Morgan’s questions in a loud, clear voice and only nodded in agreement when Morgan commented how unusual it was for him to be sentencing someone to prison who has a master’s degree from the Southwestern Theological Baptist Seminary.

I've been to Texas a couple of dozen times. When in Texas, I do not drive over the speed limit out of fear of an old school beat down. I cannot imagine what occurred when Keener was finally caught. I bet he was eating pudding for a month.

While looking into this story I found Bad Religion. It chronicles Keener type offenses from 2005 on.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

There is dumb, and then there is dumb

The anti-300 petition - Dr. Hamed Vahdati Nasab might just be on the dumb end of really dumb. Did I mention I think he's dumb? 

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Former Pastor Must Serve for Statutory Rape

I have been planning a regular religious hypocrisy section here at Deep Thoughts for over a year. Every time I start to write it, I get discouraged. These acts of violence, abuse of power, larceny, or just plane dishonesty upset me. So I pass on posting in favor of more upbeat stories. The story changes when people like convicted child rapist Gregory Stanley Dempsey come to my attention. These types of asshats are why I want to write the hypocrisy section. Dempsey molested a young boy at the Oak Street Baptist Church. When sentenced to almost four years in prison for his crime, Dempsey bemoaned his inability to find work.

He ((Dempsey) said the incident has cost him to lose his home and life savings and he is having difficulty finding anyone who will hire him.

Asshats and nutballs - they piss me off.

Dempsey's story is typical. He had power and influence. He had unsupervised access to children, and he had co-workers who just did not care. Even after his conviction, his friends are standing by him - I can hear them now - "He is not a bad guy really, he just likes to sodomize young boys". I am sure his work for Jesus is much more important.

Priests to purify site after Bush visit

 Bush defiles a holy Mayan site with his Christian presence. Right....

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites — which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles — would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30

I not saying this sound crazy - OK wait, I am saying this sounds crazy. Do the spirit guides (whatever they are) purify the site after every visitor, or just after the evil ones? Do I need to tell them I'm coming before I visit?

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Not beer - tacos

Not BeerI stopped for a diet soda on my way home from work Thursday. Del Taco sells a macho sized drink big enough to quench the thirst of a small family, it was just want I needed. Since this is my neighborhood Del Taco, the manager recognized me. He added a sample shredded beef taco to by drink order gratis. I was pleased. The taco tasted like the tacos my childhood friend's Mexican housekeeper used to make. Yummy.

Not Beer - I think the sticker is guerrilla marketing for the website alliance wake.

My Wal-Mart phobia

I happened upon a book review for The Wal-Mart Revolution: How Big Box Stores Benefit Consumers, Workers, and the Economy. I've read the book. It's good. It does not change my anti Wal-Mart bias. I will not shop at Wal Mart. I will not buy their shoddy products. I will not camp in their parking lot, nor will I smile at the senile greeters. Every experience (all two of them) have been life altering digressions into banality and frustration. I will not go back, ever. I'll even pay more for my paper towels. I don't care. Wal-Mart sucked the life out of me. it will never happen again. I don't care if Richard Vedder and Wendell Cox think otherwise. Wal-Mart sucks.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Blogroll Update: Die Eigenheit

Die Eigenheit has joined the Atheist Blogroll. I'm listening to his repost of Six Seconds That Changed The World as I write this. Wow, I mean wow - welcome to the team.

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Onwards and Forwards: why I am not an atheist

 I am confused, Onwards and Forwards goes out of his way to tell us why he is not an atheist, but also goes out of his way to tell us he is an something like an atheist. He is not a Christian, is not a theist, is not agnostic, and is not even religious. that means what.... an atheist or a polytheist, or a nutball. 

He states five reasons for not being an atheist:

1. Worldview

2. Scientism

3. Belligerence

4. Intolerance

and 5, atheism is closed. 

Atheism is not an open, but a closed way of thinking. Atheism does not seem willing to ask: “Is there not a concept similar to ‘god’ that would prove useful for explaining the world?”; “What is religion good for?”; “What do the religious mean - beyond what they manage to say?” Atheism is just plain not curious enough for me.

Of course, he does not address what actually means, he instead focuses on his perception of people who are atheists. His thinking is flawed. What a shame.

I encourage the atheist community to pay Onwards and Forwards a visit - he needs clarification.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Blogroll Update: Two nuubs

The Thermal Vent spews godless goodness as our newest member of the Atheist Blogroll. Did I mention he likes really cool science

Acrylic is our first tumblr blog - it looks interesting and it has all the right bloggy pieces, so I let him join. He's new - so it's double secret probation for the next three months.

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woohoo - 100,000 hits

Deep Thoughts had its 100,000 hit today.  I started my blog on May 10th, 2004 with Freeway Rant.  My original intent was to provide a place to let off steam while I was attending graduate school. I posted on whatever popped in my head, and shot lots of pictures. Over time I drifted towards Atheism, partly in response to Bush and his fundie minions, and partly because I care about the subject.

Deep Thoughts gets about 300 hits a day and is ranked something like number 7,000 on Technorati. My fellow bloggers tell me Deep Thoughts is a top 10 atheist blog. The truth is, I don't really care. I write because I've always wanted to be a writer and photographer... which is an escape from the mega IT geek I turned into. Mostly, I write to relax, have fun, and meet a few other like minded people.

I have a few rules: I keep it clean, I don't write about work or what I do for a living.  I try to be nice, and any nutball is fairgame. I am a people watcher at heart, odd people intrigue me. Take libertarians, I am one myself, but I cannot stand the vast majority of those I meet. Libertarians are crazy, with bizarre and frightening ideas.  The same goes for the super religious (and super atheist) people I meet.- they all tend to be a little crazy. What is left is the great unwashed middle - it feels like home.

I do not have any plans to stop posting. I may change my editorial slant a little. I'm on an atheism tear at the moment, but I feel like writing about art and music, and now that spring is here, I will start posting pictures too. My off work priority is a book project , however, I will still put an hour of my day into Deep Thoughts, plus - I love keeping up the Atheist Blogroll.

I want to thank everyone who has been kind enough to visit Deep Thoughts over the last few years. Your kind words and encouragement has helped me to smile after long days spent at a thankless job. Heck, I even like the fundie nutballs, so don't stop sending the hate-filled emails!

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Blogroll Update: Fox Valley Thinker

We had another blog sneak in under the Tuesday blogroll deadline - well there is no Tuesday deadline really, but you get what I mean, it's late, I had a hard day at work, I've already loaded five blogs, and House is on...

Fox Valley Thinker is new, good, and worth a read.

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Blogroll Update: New Members

Our blogroll community has increased by five members. Please take a  minute to welcome our newest members.

1. Confessions of an Anonymous Coward - a very entertaining blog. Check out Mormon Missionary Methods for an intro.

2. A Whore in the Temple of Reason - blew me away. Metal Masturbation was interesting. I had never heard the term "Southern romance" before. It made me smile.

3. The Science Ethicist joined today -  Pay no attention to his formatting problems. I am sure he is working out the bugs (just like I am).

4. Migrations - a wordpress blog, is outstanding and should appeal to the science geek in all of us. Evolutionary Medicine and Cancer is a good representative post.

5.Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refugee is a team based Science blog. Read We dare you to read it with the Notbelly Laughs. I found this post particularly interesting as I am heading off to China for work starting in May. My last trip was filled with stuff like this.

A plea for help: Please pass along dead links when you find them. I removed 17 dead blogs last week. Finding them was tedious process. I can use all the help I can get. Also - if anybody knows how to display a blogroll in wordpress, please pass it along.

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