Sunday, May 29, 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016

WTF Rep. Louie Gohmert?

I like to read the news on a lazy Saturday morning, but this morning I blew coffee out my nose.

“You’re wanting to save humankind for posterity, basically a modern-day Noah. You have that ability to be a modern-day Noah, you can preserve life. How many same-sex couples would you take from the animal kingdom and from humans to put on the spacecraft to perpetuate humanity and the wildlife kingdom?” - Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) on 5/26/2016 in a speech on the House Floor.

Gohmert does not belong in Congress. His ilk is a corruption of common sense and is one of the reasons we our political system is in serious trouble. Bad ideas, and by extension, bad politicians, should not make it to Congress. Thanks Texas.

Friday, May 27, 2016

If this were true…

If what this Muslim cleric says is true, California would have vanished beneath the waves of the Pacific a long time ago.

Malay Abass Mahmud said in an interview: “Allah gets annoyed when males engage in sexual encounter and such disgusting encounter causes earthquake.”

Via - The Independent

Very similar to our own Christian pastors who claim hurricanes are the result of various sins. Only, Christian pastors like to place blame after the event.

Trump’s politics are based on race

This bit of wisdom from Donald Trump’s top adviser Paul Manafort. According to Paul, America needs a white vice-president.

“He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

“There is a long list of who that person could be,” Manafort added, “and every one of them has major problems.”

The campaign probably won’t choose a woman or a member of a minority group, he said. “In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think.”

via Huffpo - Donald Trump’s Top Adviser: ‘This is not a hard race’

In our race to the bottom, people like Manafort lead the race. We need another white republic vice-president about as much as I need another damn colonoscopy.

Let’s not forget where Manafort gets his money. His lobbying firm was listed as among the top five firms taking money human-rights abusing regimes. Plus, serval other controversial clients, like the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Agency.

Does the bible have a place in Congress?

Every time I read a story about a Congressman or Senator using the bible to justify a moral position before a vote, I cringe. How are we different then an Islamic theocracy? Muslims use the Koran to deny progress and rights. We use the bible to the same end. It happened again just this week. Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA), a Methodist, read a passage from the bible during a Republican caucus meeting.

Rep. Rick Allen, a Georgia freshman, launched the GOP’s regular policy meeting in the Capitol basement by reading a Bible passage condemning homosexuality and suggesting that supporters of the LGBT provision, which passed the House the night before, were defying Christian tenets, attendees said. - via TPM GOPers Leave Meeting when Member Reads Bible Verse on Homosexuality.

The article goes on to state that some House members became upset and left the meeting, which I take as an encouraging sing, but the LGPT amendment was still voted down.

How is this different from a religious leader in Saudi Arabia issuing a fatwa against the morally reprehensible practice of taking photos with cats? Nothing really, and that’s why is so sad.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On Chris Kyle

Every time I hear news about Chris Kyle, my first question is, “Is he a Christian?” According to this story and many others, he is a veritable saint. Yet, I know at a fundamental level that being a sniper and being a Christian are mutually incompatible. 

I can just see that first conversation with Jesus.

Jesus says, “Hi Chris, what did you do for a living?”
Chris says, “I was a sniper.”
Jesus says, “The elevator to the basement is over there.”

Chris Kyle is in the news again today. This time because he exaggerated his military record by claiming Two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars, all for valor. Kyle actually won one Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. The truth is impressive enough. Why lie?

So… Chris Kyle is a Christian hero who tells lies. What next?

And let’s not forget this lie told about a fight that did not happen with Jesse Ventura. Why is he a hero?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Another reconversion story

I find de-conversion stories fascinating. Pathos has the de-conversion story of The Order of Elijah and its lead singer Shannon Low.

…he [Shannon Low] found Christians rationalizing the awful behavior instead of denouncing it. But he still held tight to his positive image of Jesus.

Low did some reading… It looks like The God Delusion helped him make up his mind.

Welcome to the ATeam!

Steve Wiles a.k.a. Miss Mona Sinclair

Conservative North Carolina State Senate candidate Steve Wiles used to work as an MC and performer at a drag queen show at Club Odyssey. When confronted about the inconstancy of supporting his state’s same sex marriage ban, he said the role was, “Just not something that I want to continue.”

Ok… I can buy that a conversion to christianity may drive behavior changes. In fact, it supports the whole redemption from sin mindset that’s popular with Christians these days. I have a problem with Steve Wiles’ position though. He’s lied about his past and he will not answer a basic question. “Are you gay?”

When confronted about working at the club, he initially denied it. That constitutes a lie, right? If he had gone through a religious conversion, would it not make more sense to proclaim that he was a form drag queen turned Christian and then use that to his advantage in the election? And why lie? My guess… being gay is an unforgivable sin in evangelical circles.

Steve Wiles qualifies as a hypocrite on several fronts. The one I find most disturbing is that he acts against his own community. How can anyone trust him?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

If memory serves

I am getting on in years. I notice it most when I look back 10 years and realize that without my journals, I would not remember much. I have general memories, but what I thought of the past is influenced by what I know now and not by what I knew then. Take the Invasion of Iraq for example. I know now that it was folly perpetuated by politics, and that knowledge influences my memories of the past. My journals tell another story. I supported the war. I thought it justified. I bought the whole international terrorism angle.

To my credit, I was skeptical, but not enough to dissuade my support. I was not a President George W. Bush supporter and I thought Vice President Dick Cheney was Satan, but for some reason I thought the war was legitimate and I supported it.

Today, I read history, analysis and memoirs to put together a better picture of what happened. It’s a slow process, but I find it fascinating. What I continue to learn is that I am not skeptical enough. I tend to buy the big lie. I tend to not think too deeply.

What I continue to learn is that I continue to learn. That being skeptical is not enough. Everybody has an agenda. That every time a politician speaks he or she is trying to shape our perceptions and push an agenda. What I learned is that our news sources are corrupt and that social media is a marketing tool. What I learned is that I need think deeply, be more skeptical and journal more.

Friday, May 20, 2016

I smell propaganda

I read, Courageous Christian on death bed asks mother to forgive Isis thugs who burned her alive via IBT.

A Christian child on her death bed used her final words to ask her mother to forgive the Islamic State (Isis) thugs who burned her alive in her home. The courageous child, believed to be around 12-years-old, was burned in the Daesh (Isis) stronghold of Mosul, in northern Iraq, after her family were shaken down by the jihadists for Jaziya — a religious tax.

I smell propaganda. The author, one William Watkinson, is reporting hearsay as fact and then goes on to describe how horrible it is to be a Christian in Iraq. He feeds the Christian forgiveness trope. The bias is obvious.

To be clear, I believe that Christians are persecuted in Iraq because there is ample evidence. Do I believe the burn victim used her last words to forgive ISIS? Not at all.

I am immediately skeptical

Black Lives Matter activist Charles Wade was arrested and charged with human trafficking. The official story claims he was pimping a 17-year-old out of a Howard Johnson Inn hotel room in Maryland. The evidence, as presented in The Daily Caller, seems substantial. Wade’s story, which paints a different story, also seems plausible.

I have a problem though… I’ve become jaded. I don’t trust the official story because Charles Wade has fought the good fight on behalf of Black Lives Matter and frankly, I think entrapment is possible. But Wade also seems… like he is full of it. Painting himself in his own self effacing statements as, too trusting. Wade also has a history that leads one to believe he plays loose with the law.

I’ve learned a few things over the years, but not enough to stop me from reading 20 articles and posts, plus comments. My conclusion, Wade is in trouble and likely going to jail, plus the world is full of racists. The comments on each article are horrifying. What is the truth? I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Eye contact and empathy

I ate lunch at a Carls Jr. yesterday. I normally eat at my desk these days, but things worked out and I found 30 minutes for a quick bite with a friend. He sat across from me at an angle at a table for four. Behind him, in another row, sat a disheveled man in a wheelchair. I took him for a panhandler.

I could not look at my friend with looking at him. We made eye contact at least a dozen times. I took to looking down at my food instead of looking at my friend. The man was homeless and squatting in a restaurant. I kept asking myself, why should I pay him any mind? He should not even be here.

An older Asian man stopped on his way out of the bathroom to hand the homeless man something. The Asian man made eye contact with me and smiled. It was a small thing; he donated a quarter and gifted me a smile. I kept asking myself, why is it so hard for me to care?

I finished lunch and as I was throwing my tray away, I saw that the homeless man was an amputee. My friend said he needed to order something to go so I lingered and asked the man what his story was. He flashed a smile and in an accent I did not recognize said, ‘Just waiting.”

I asked if he was hungry. He shook his head no. I asked if he needed anything, which should have prompted a request for spare change, he just shook his head no. I started to leave, but asked one more questions, I asked if I could get him anything. He asked for coke. I bought him one. He smiled when I delivered it and said thanks.

The man was not homeless, nor was he a bum. The Asian man had placed a small book in his hand. He was just waiting for somebody and I was a judgmental jerk.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Facebook, egos and control

I’ve always had about a thousand friends of Facebook. I’m at 1,035 at the moment, but lately I’ve been cutting ties with lots of people. It started with ego centric posts that grew intolerable. These are people who live for minor celebrity status in our small little atheist community. I moved on to people who start dictating what I can post or how I can comment. These people are usually aligned with the victimhood movement. Somebody who suffers from depression and cannot tolerate a post that may trigger her unease about said aliment. Or somebody who posts a list of memes that are off limits. Or somebody who comes out as transgender and starts a round of pronoun wars. We are warned, “If you dare to post something I find offensive, I will ban you from commenting or unfollow you.” Or worse, “I will unfriend you."

I’m not sorry about this but… fuck you all to hell. Let me be the first to unfriend you. I friended you in the first place because I liked your ideas, you art or your activism. I some cases I friend you because you are just interesting. I don’t have enough energy to keep track of what content or subject offends which friend. I really don’t. Who does?

Case in point; I posted a list of books I’ve read so far in 2016. One book, The Deep Blue Good, A Travis McGee Novel, by John D. MacDonald, apparently raised the hackles of a feminist who messaged me to express her dismay that I would read such a horrible book. She suggested that I edit it out of my post so as not to offend others. The protagonist, Travis McGee, is an epic mansplainer sure, but the story was written in the early 60s and I’m a big boy. How would reading it offend some feminist friend? I don’t know, nor do I care. I have a solution though. Unfriend…

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Christian and just crazy

Maverick Dean Bryan, a Christian activist who seems crazy, is sitting in jail after threatening to hang seven mayors unless they replaced Common Core books with the bible. He seems crazy, but may just be on the left tail of IQ bell curve.

People like Bryan set self-defeating traps by sending traceable letters and posting ads in local newspapers. They are not smart enough to hide their intentions. Acting out loud is an effective way to grab a moment in the news and become important. Did Bryan really think he could pull this off? He is dim and coupled with his delusional Christian lunacy, becomes the subject of jest.

What happens when the next Maverick Dean Bryan appears and instead of spouting insanity, he acts on it? What if the next guy is smart? What if he is organized and understands technology? What if he hangs mayors, gays or atheists? This kind of scenario keeps me up at night. What if the next guy is the equivalent of Islamic terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. What if he embraces terrorism?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Priest + Grinder = Hypocrite

It’s easy to create a hypocrite. The formula is a homophobic priest + Grinder = hypocrite. Just ask Father Rory Coyle.

A well-known Catholic priest in Ireland — who was vocally homophobic in his sermons — has been outed for having his own secret Grindr profile .

35-year-old Rory Coyle was a priest in Armagh, a town in Northern Ireland — until it was discovered that he’d been keeping a secret Grindr account, chock full of illicit selfies.

Somebody recognized him. Given the prevalence of facial recognition, I am surprised this does not happen more often.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Chile rojas with a side of despair

I eat breakfast on Sundays at a little Mexican restaurant near my house. Sometime I eat alone, like today, but more often I eat with my wife. I ordered chile rojas and eggs, which is spicy enough to make sweat, and settled in with a book. I was after some high-quality me time. I did not get it. 

Facing me across the table was a party of four. One old fat man in a wheel chair and his robust wife. A bald old man of 70 or so sat across from him along with his fat wife. The talked about everything; all of it loud. 

They got my attention when the bald man stuck a foot up to show his friend the deal he got on 99 cent diabetic socks. His foot, encased in a shoe with the sock showing just above the ankle, rose to within a foot of my table and food. He did it again with his second foot to show that he was wearing a tall sock on that foot. I thought they were idiots. What they talked about next proved it. 

Gender neutral bathrooms... They did not believe school children could identify as different gender. They had never met a transgender child, so transgender kids did not exist. The bald man, said, "There are no school children who need a gender neutral bathroom. If they are gender confused, direct them to the principal!"

Most people in the restaurant looked away, embarrassed. I stared at the man, but he would not look my way. 

Gender talk went on for a few minutes and included digs at President Obama and Target. The man was working himself up to some point, but then he switched gears and started in on welfare cheats. His solutions to a crisis that did not exist were Fox News talking points. I hope he does not vote. 

I did not interrupt these old fools. I wanted to, but this in my neighborhood place, so I did not want to make a scene. Plus, I am a big scary man and I tend to make people uneasy when I insert myself into their conversations. Instead, I did my best to ignore these idiots, just like everyone else in the restaurant. 

They left before I finished my breakfast. the place quieted down. My server apologized for the old idiots. She said that they were regulars. I smiled and waved it off. After a few minutes, I took another bite of chile rojas along with an unordered side of despair. The world is full of idiots. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Does Anne Graham Lotz speak for you?

Anne Graham Lotz thinks that God allowed 911 to happen because gay rights

...What happens then is God abandons us and backs away, he he takes his favor and blessing away from us.

[If we repent] I think he would begin to reveal the plots of terrorists before they are carried out, even the weather patterns he can control and protect us from violent storms.

Lotz whats us to think that she can read divine tea leaves. That she can interpret the mind of God. That she knows what is right and that the rest of us are inviting disaster by doing the right thing. She switches accountability for the actions of terrorists to the victims. By  her logic, a rape victim is responsible for her own rape because she wore a halter top that displeased God. Or, that New Orleans brought on its own destruction because of jazz. God could have redirected Hurricane Katrina if only the citizens had repented and sang gospel instead. This type of thinking is absurd and childish. Is this Christianity?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

LYFT, Uber or cab?

I took my first LYFT ride in Chicago a few days ago. I had used Uber before and enjoyed the convenience and the experience. While in Chicago, I had also used cabs. My trips were short, a mile or two at most. While waiting for a LYFT, I turned down several cabs. Chicago is a saturated environment. 

Cities like Chicago regulate cab rides. Each cab I used had the cab number posted on a placard inside the passenger compartment. It read, "This is ca no. 1234. All compliments or complaints should be directed to the Dept. of Consumer Services 14-hour hotline. Call 311." I don't see anything like this in Lyft. My only options are a one star rating or emails to corporate headquarters. Are my rights protected? It makes me wonder.

I don't notice much incentive from a cost perspective. Both times I used LYFT, I paid a 75% surcharge. The rides, with tips, cost about the same be it taxi or LYFT. 

My first ride’s fare was for $13,51. It broke down like this:

  • Ride (1.02 m, 5m 14s), $3.66
  • Prime Time + 75%, $2.25
  • Trust & Service Fee, $1.60
  • Surcharge, $.50
  • Tip, $5.00 (I gave the driver a big tip because he spent a few minutes explaining how LYFT worked from his perspective.)

Without the large tip, my fair would have cost about $9.56. A cab fair would have cost $8.91 plus tip. Why is LYFT better? Because I save $.50?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The wisdom of cabbies

I flew to Chicago last week and upon arrival, took a taxi from O'Hare to downtown. During the 30-minute ride, my cabbie, a Kufi-wearing African immigrant, listened to the radio. I recognized NPR's All Things Considered and fell into a practiced listening rhythm. 

Politics and Donald Trump dominated the stories. Each time Trump spoke, the cabbie lowered the volume so that we could not make out Trump’s words. After doing this a few times, I asked, "Why do you lower the volume when Trump speaks?"

His reply, in a deep Ghanaian accent, was beautiful,  "It is best to deny evil a chance to whisper in my ears."

Monday, May 09, 2016

On writing again

I was prompted to write again after listening to two young women talking in line for dinner this evening. One woman said to the other, “Did you listen to pastor Phillips’ sermon Sunday?” The other replied, “Yes.”

There was a moment of silence and a few giggles. One woman said to the other, “I’d really like to fuck him.” The other said, “Me too.”

A three-year old girl stood between them.

I thought to myself… I really need to tell this story.

Facts… Pastor Phillips is a fictitious name. The city was Rancho Cucamonga in California. The restaurant was (don’t hate) Chick-fil-a. I really wanted to take a photo, but did not do so because of the creep factor involved.

Pastor dumbass

Pastor Alvin Weasel was arrested for brining a loaded gun to the airport. It was his second arrest for the same offense.
Weasel said that he has asked God why he made this mistake a second time. 
“Perhaps he’s trying to use this so others can learn from my mistake and then perhaps he’s using this to teach me, so that something worse wouldn’t happen,” he said.  
Source: Nebraska pastor arrested for bringing a loaded gun to the airport - twice.
Really? Did God do this to you or did you do this to yourself? Does God really control your life to the extent that he makes you forget about a loaded gun that you apparently carry with you everyplace you go? Does that even make sense? Here is a solution. Set an iPhone reminder to check your gun each time you arrive at destination airport.


oh yes… I’m back.