Wrapped in the Flag and Carrying a Cross.

18 06 2016

That headline is from a quote by Sinclair Lewis which seems more and more to be chillingly prescient. Here’s another quote appropriate to the topic at hand:

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”- George Santayana

You may be curious about where I’m going with these quotes. I’m going to post a link to a news article here that will make my meaning crystal clear:


Is everyone all through vomiting at the idea? Good. Let us continue.

For those who may have been living in a cave for the past few decades, there is an election approaching. This country has been mired in an election campaign for what seems like six or seven squintillion years. A campaign where the presumed nominee of one of the two major political parties has been openly espousing fascist ideology and overt racism to throngs of cheering supporters. Those same supporters who appear to be just fine with physically attacking anyone who vaguely hints at disagreement with their Leader or anyone with a less than lilly white skin tone. Supporters who have openly warned they would resort to violence if their Leader doesn’t win.

That’s bad enough, but now we have a retired politician from that same major political party saying- on camera- to a news organization that the country needs to return to the halcyon days of yesteryear in the form of the House Un-American Activities Commission. If you aren’t familiar with HUAC, go look it up. I’ll wait.

Here’s a bit of background for those unwilling to learn from history. In the 1950’s, a US Congressman names Joseph McCarthy claimed that he was in possession of a list of communists who had “infiltrated” the US government. He gleefully exploited public fear over the “Red Menace” (OMFG- the eebil rooshians are gonna come pollute our precious bodily fluids!) to establish the House Un-American Activities Commission in order to search out these communist infiltrators, wherever they might be- presumably including under your bed.

And so, the witch hunt was on. American citizens were accused to being communists or communist sympathizers, and the resulting public furor meant most of them lost their jobs and couldn’t get hired anywhere else. People were exhorted to inform on their friends, neighbors, and relatives if there was even a vague hint of “un-American activities”. Fear and prejudice and panic ensued, resulting in the director of the FBI investigating thousands of government employees to determine if they were sufficiently loyal to the United States- essentially based upon whether or not J Edgar Hoover agreed with their politics. Actors, writers, journalists, and publishers joined government workers in the endless search for the evil commies.

Please note that there was no burden of proof involved. Merely being accused was enough to destroy someone’s life and livelihood, and even successfully avoiding getting convicted in court wasn’t enough to undo the damage caused by being denounced.

This is what “the smartest man in the GOP” has publicly called for. On camera.

Never mind that HUAC was a cynically successful ploy by a small number of senior government officials and congressmen to gather more power for themselves. All these few people had to do was continually warn everyone they were in danger from godless communism and should therefore allow the power of the US government to be turned upon US citizens without check or hindrance. And the American people fell for it.

And a large number of Americans are being led down the same path to Hell today by their Leader.

Ooga booga! The evil moose limbs are coming to kill your children. Only we can protect you from this existential threat, but you gotta let us throw out that pesky Constitution in order to keep you safe. We pinky swear these powers will only be used against “them“. Them. The “others“. The people who don’t worship your god the same way you do. The people possessed of insufficiently white skin pigmentation. People who speak other languages. People who disagree with you politically. “Them“.

Shockingly, this message of xenophobia and bigotry is finding eager listeners among people who aren’t willing to use their brains much. Thinking is hard, and so is remembering lessons learned from long ago. Sure, it turns out that locking up tens of thousands of Americans who happened to be descended from Nipponese immigrants was stupid, expensive, wrong, and totally ineffective. Never mind that. This time is different, because … uh … because reasons.

Actually, there is a reason why dumb white people are buying into this line of thinking. There’s a reason why they have so much trouble articulating the source of their ignorant fear, and that reason is demographics. It turns out that white people will soon be less than half of the population. Oh, the horror! Rather than learning to treat other people equally, these dim-as-five-feet-up-a-pig’s-ass yokels are willing to destroy the very thing that made this country great: our non-homogenous society.

Every group of immigrants has made America richer. They bring in new ideas, new foods and drink, new attitudes, new beliefs, and America gets better and stronger from adopting the globe-spanning range of new stuff brought here by immigrants. And every single one of those immigrant groups is treated like shit by the descendants of previous immigrants. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the Irish being vilified by descendants of English and Dutch immigrants.When Italians began arriving on our shores, the descendants of those Irish immigrants who been the subject of bigotry treated the Italians the same way. Asians, Africans, and Jews have been perennial victims of American xenophobia, along with anyone from any cultural background who doesn’t belong to the right religious group. They’re different, and therefore suspicious- if not outright evil.

Here’s a clue chit for the small-minded bigots among us: Different does not equal evil. Stranger does not mean enemy. Those “foreigners” you’re wetting your panties about aren’t foreigners anymore- they’re Americans. What are you imbeciles afraid of?

I want you


The night is black
Without a moon
The air is thick and still
The vigilantes gather on
The lonely torch lit hill

Features distorted in the flickering light
The faces are twisted and grotesque
Silent and stern in the sweltering night
The mob moves like demons possessed
Quiet in conscience, calm in their right
Confident their ways are best

The righteous rise
With burning eyes
Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies
To beat and burn and kill

They say there are strangers who threaten us
In our immigrants and infidels
They say there is strangeness too dangerous
In our theaters and bookstore shelves
That those who know what’s best for us
Must rise and save us from ourselves

Quick to judge
Quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear walk hand in hand…

Current status: Appalled

Current music: We Belong by Pat Benatar

Enough is Enough!

6 10 2013

Key-riced! Just when you think Congress couldn’t get any more irrational, they go and pull this crap.

For those of you living in a cave, or who get all their news from a certain vulpine “news” network (essentially the same thing, I admit), a small faction of one party in one half of one third of the government have decided to stamp their little feet and hold their breath until they turn blue unless they get their own way. They’re also threatening to take their ball and go home, completely ignoring the fact that it isn’t their ball to begin with. What’s worse, the supposed leader of that portion of the government- the horribly misnamed House of Representatives- is playing along with these imbecilic spoilsports as they ride their bikes at full speed toward the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Let’s take a look at this “House of Representatives”. They do not appear to be very representative of the country at all. The median net worth of House members is just a skosh under a million dollars. This is something like twelve times the median net worth of Americans in general. Leaving aside net worth, members of the House are paid $176,000.00 per year. The median US income is $51,000.00 per year (less than 1/3 what a Congresscritter makes). Women and minorities are dramatically under-represented, making the so-called House of Representatives a misnomer unless we’re talking about representing the richer areas of Vermont or New Hampshire.

So a cabal of psychologically stunted rich white guys have decided that they’re going to shut down the government and are threatening to tank the world’s economy  unless they get their way. Why are we letting a small group of extremist pinheads hold the country (and possibly the world) hostage unless we agree to their petty demands? I thought we didn’t negotiate with terrorists.

That is what the current situation boils down to- a hostage situation. A few desperate extremists are threatening economic violence unless their unreasonable demands are met. Unlike every other hostage situation in history, the US media seems determined to avoid casting the hostage-takers in an unsympathetic light. There’s endless blather about stalemate, gridlock, and similar weasel-words, but none of the US “news” outlets are willing to call it a hostage situation. In fact, the only place you hear comparisons to hostage-taking is on late-night comedy shows and on a few blogs (or similar non-media web sources).

The really scary part of this is the fact that no one seems to have any idea how the hostage-takers plan to get out of this. They have publicly announced that they have no strategy or end game. They are clueless about how to avoid the consequences of their petulant actions. All of their options end up with the opposite of what they claim to have wanted at the start of the hostage-taking.

More rational actors- denizens of Bedlam, for example- might realize that they’ve publicly fornicated the canine on National TV, murmur something vaguely apologetic, and quickly retire to a corner pub in the hopes that they could avoid any further disgrace by keeping quiet and off the public radar. This particular batch of loons are incapable of shutting the fuck up- and damn the consequences. Every time one of these guanopsychotic suits gets his or her face in front of a microphone or camera, they are apparently psychologically compelled to blurt out whatever imbecilic ramblings that pass for thought in their minds. They can’t help being stupid in public, bless their poor, dear hearts.

Not too long ago, people like these would have been kept out of sight by relatives or State institutions. Even when allowed out in public, the words and actions of such people were dismissed with embarrassment by those who knew them. “I’m sorry about Uncle Edward. He just can’t control himself, bless his heart. Pay him no mind.”

Now, however, the loonies are running the asylum. And we are all in the rooms with mattress wallpaper wondering what the fuck happened.

Not everyone is aware of the consequences of a government shut-down yet. Here are a few low-lights:

– Close to a million government workers have been sent home without pay.

– Those government workers who are still at their jobs are also not getting paid, although they might get back pay whenever Congress gets its act together.

– A large number of contractors working for the government have been sent home- also without pay.

– All of those people not getting paid are tightening their belts and cutting back on expenditures to ride out this Congressional temper tantrum. This means that everyone who does business with those people is suddenly earning less money. So they cut back on their expenses- perhaps they order fewer replacement parts or supplies. All of their suppliers are suddenly going to see a drop in their revenue streams as well. Can you say ripple effect?

– After a week of furlough from the shut-down, Federal workers are all eligible for Unemployment benefits. Imagine what the October labor report will look like after a million or so Federal employees and contractors all sign up for Unemployment. Note that the states where these people live will have to pay out more than they had planned, resulting in state and local budget issues as well.

And all of this is yours, thanks to the actions of a few spoiled children in the inaptly-named House of Representatives.


Current status: Enraged

Current music: Toccata and Fugue in D by Johann Sebastian Bach

On Madness

8 01 2009

I’ll break the ice with a little joke. A man was driving down an unfamiliar road which had a very tall chain-link fence running alongside it. He soon passed a gate with a sign saying, Sunnyvale Mental Health Facility. The man could see scores of people wandering aimlessly around the immaculately-groomed lawn beyond the fence, all wearing identical pajama-like garments in various pastel colors.

A few minutes later, his car lurched and gave off the distinctive whopwhopwhop sound of a flat tire. Cursing, the man pulled onto the shoulder next to the fence to change the tire. Several of the inmates had apparently seen or heard the blowout and wandered toward the fence nearest to him. He was nervous, but did his best to ignore the small crowd of observers, who watched his every move in an eerie silence. He had enough presence of mind to place the lug nuts from the flat tire inside the upturned hubcap to keep them from getting lost in the weeds near the shoulder of the road, but the ever-growing crowd of loonies watching him in spooky silence was really getting to him. He tried to hurry, but the spare slipped off the wheel lugs and fell out of his hands. The tire landed on the edge of hubcap holding the lug nuts and flipped it into the weeds like a tiddlywink.

More cursing ensued. The man finally managed to get the tire onto the wheel lugs, but could only find one lug nut of the original five. After several fruitless searches through the weeds, the man sighed heavily and tried to figure out what to do next. As he stood and glared at the car, he heard someone say, “Hey!“.

He quickly turned around,  and one of the inmates at the fence called out, “Take one lug nut from each of the other wheels. That will give you four lug nuts on each wheel, which ought to get you into town if you drive carefully.”

He thought about it for a second, then broke out in a broad smile. “You know,” he said cheerfully. “That will work! Thanks for the tip.” He quickly put the inmate’s words into practice and grinned in satisfaction. He turned around to thank his benefactor.

“I’d probably still be trying to figure that out if you hadn’t chimed in,” he said. “What on Earth are you doing in a loonie bin?”

The inmate replied, “I’m crazy- not stupid.”

Just because someone is goofier than bug shit doesn’t necessarily mean they’re stupid. You may wish to remember that when you deal with people who have mental problems- and there are lots of people in this country who fit that description. Whenever possible, try to treat the mentally ill with the same courtesy as everyone else. Being condescending or rude is both needlessly cruel and counterproductive. After all, the loonie you just ignored might be able to point out some fact or otherwise help out.

Consider, for example, the case of Norton I, Emperor of America and Protector of Mexico.

Briefly, Joshua Norton was a San Fransisco businessman during the California Gold Rush who went round the bend while enduring a painful bankruptcy. On September 17th, 1859, he delivered a proclamation to several newspapers in that city declaring himself to be Emperor of the United States. At least one paper printed the proclamation, and for the next couple of decades he marched around the city inspecting public works and officials for proper functioning and issuing proclamations whenever the fancy struck him. Several of these proclamations were useful or prophetic: he called for the construction of a bridge or tunnel connecting Oakland and San Francisco, which came to fruition nearly a century later. He also demanded the establishment of  a “League of Nations” to prevent wars. Other useful decrees called for the dissolution of Congress and the abolition of the Republican and Democratic parties. Clearly, the Emperor was a man ahead of his time.

San Francisco being the city that it is (even in the late 19th century), Emperor Norton became a beloved (or at least tolerated) fixture of the city. The city paid for upgrades to the Royal uniform, and police officers would salute him as he passed. At intervals during his reign, he would issue bonds or scrip for US currency, which were duly honored as cash in many establishments. Several establishments which the Emperor frequented (because of their “free lunches”) adopted brass plaques boasting, “By Appointment to His Imperial Majesty, Norton I“.

One hundred and twenty-nine years ago today (January 8th, 1880), the first and only Emperor of the United States was walking to a meeting of the Academy of Sciences when he collapsed and died on a rainy sidewalk. People in the city paid for a royal funeral, which was attended by an estimated twenty thousand residents. When San Francisco closed and moved all the cemeteries outside the city in the 1930s, the city paid to move Norton’s remains to Woodlawn cemetery, and a large stone marks his grave- inscribed with the words, “Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.”

The best epitaph for Joshua Norton was given by a city official more than ten years before the Emperor died: “He has shed no blood; robbed no one; and despoiled no country; which is more than can be said of his fellows in that line.

This is exactly the sort of ruler our modern civilization needs- one who rules best by ruling least. Norton’s demands upon his subjects were few and limited largely to basic needs. He provided both foresight and the benefit if a good example to others.

Tonight I will raise a glass in his memory. We could use a few more gentle madmen.

Current status: Amused

Current music: Mandlebrot Set by Jonathan Coulton

Get Over It!

10 12 2008

After the 2000 election, many Democrats started lamenting the decline of democracy in America and asserting, “He isn’t my President!” Republicans largely ignored this as typical post-election bitching. Most conservatives took pains to declare that this was not a useful attitude, and urged the sore losers (as they called them) to deal with the loss and work on the next election. To their credit, most Democrats did just that.  A modest number of liberal Americans continued to grouse and complain at great and annoying length- especially on the internet. After a couple of years of this nonsense, conservatives got tired of hearing it and told the whiners to “get over it”. Conservatives asserted that they would not be so petty if the election had gone the other way. After the 2004 election, liberal whining continued unabated, prompting renewed calls from conservatives to get over it. Conservatives again declared that they would not indulge in this sort of whining nonsense if they were the group out of power.

Time to live up to the promises made when you were flushed with victory and smugly certain that you’d never be put in such a position, conservatives. As of tomorrow, Barack Obama will almost certainly be the official President-Elect. It is vaguely possible that the Electoral College will ignore the popular vote and choose someone else to be President- but it is a vanishingly unlikely possibility.  It is now time for conservatives to make good on their boasts about how they would deal with electoral defeat. After the Electoral College finishes voting tomorrow, I demand that every prominent conservative loudly and publicly congratulate the new President-Elect and announce their willingness to work with the new administration in the best interest of the country. Anything else would demonstrate self-serving hypocrisy.

Fortunately, my expectations are safely low when it comes to political activity. The Aluminum-Foil Deflector Beanie™ crowd has members throughout the political landscape. One need only look at the nonsense being brought before the Supreme Court recently (tip o’ the hat to Deus Ex Malcontent for the link). Take a good look at the folks described (and quoted) in that article. If you are a conservative, you should immediately and forcefully denounce these wingnuts forthwith- possibly even fifthwith. These people are bat-shit insane. If conservatives do not wish to be lumped together with this sort of conspicuous ass-hattery, they need to act publicly to distance themselves from these kooks. Aside from the utterly specious claim that Obama is not an American (completely debunked by reliable sources), these wingnuts also claim that he is a Muslim. My reply to this last is, “So?

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not vote for Obama. I wrote in Joseph Worzlebacher and Jon Stewart. My politics are generally socially liberal and fiscally conservative, so I’m not fond of Obama’s legislative record and dislike many of his stated policy goals. My opinion (or anybody else’s) on the subject of his fitness to be President is moot- the Electoral College will make the final decision tomorrow.

For those of you who are dithering incoherently about the possible perfidies of an Obama administration, please remember that the President does not run the country. The President of the United States has sharply limited powers granted by the Constitution. The really dangerous powers are vested in the House of Representatives and (to a lesser extent) the Senate. Members of the House only serve for two-year terms. The Founders set it up that way on purpose, so the People would have greater control over their country.

Of course, the AFDB-clad members of the Republican party are unlikely to be swayed by facts or logic. To those people I say, “Get over it!

Current status: Annoyed

Current music: Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull

Alchemy, Astrology, and Other Nutty Ideas

26 10 2008

I wrote a rant recently, wherein I described a flier for some mail-order scam entitled, “Mastering Alchemy”. In a desperate attempt at self-preservation, my brain instinctively shut down and prevented me from seeing much more than that. One of my readers asked that I confront this stupidity in the interest of sacrificing my own mental well-being for the benefit of making others laugh. So be it.

Let it not be said that I failed to take precautions. Fortified by a magnificent buckwheat ale from Belgium, I commenced my research into the subject.

For those of you hazy on the details, here is the Wikipedia entry on Alchemy. Alchemy has the same relation to chemistry that astrology has to astronomy: not a whole lot. Alchemists in the Medieval period in Europe were trying to turn lead into gold, create life from unliving matter, and master the secrets of the universe- primarily through the “Far Side” scientific method (2 scientists standing in front of a chalkboard. Step one is a column of equations, and so is step three. Step two, however, says “then a miracle occurs”).

All of these goals of alchemy were noble enough. We do the same things now with nuclear physics, inorganic chemistry, and particle physics. The primary difference lies in the methodology. Alchemy relied upon communion with mythical creatures, learning the ancient secrets of leprechauns, and not infrequently massive doses of snake oil.

That last is the only connection I can find between historical alchemy and the scam being perpetrated under the name, “Mastering Alchemy”.

It turns out that the flier I saw was just part of a marketing scheme aimed squarely at the further reaches of the aluminum-foil deflector beanie crowd. Casual review of the web site for this garbage (please do not click on this link) elicits a great deal of pain (despite the analgesic effects of beer) from the notion that someone is making money from this lunacy. That means there are enough stupid people in this country to make this scam profitable. That’s enough to drive me to drink.

Here is an actual quote from the web site:

“Alchemy is accomplished by changing the frequency of thought,
altering the harmonics of matter and applying the elements of
Love to create the desired result.

Excuse me for a moment. I feel my gorge rising, and I think I’ll burn this keyboard after writing such drivel.

As scams go, this one is pretty small-time. The only good I can find in the idea of this con being successful is the fact that it is competing directly with some of the other great scams in history. I imagine that the target demographic for this nonsense is the same one eagerly sought out by evangelical christians, scientologists, and Obama supporters.

OK. That last wasn’t fair. Obama supporters have an actual living creature upon which to focus their adoration. Other than that, however, all three groups have a lot in common: They have a profound reluctance to accept contrary opinion, facts, and evidence; they all routinely accept whatever nonsense spills forth from their leaders; and they all tend to form insular micro-societies. I will grant that evangelicals and scientologists tend to go overboard in this regard in comparison to Obama supporters, so perhaps that isn’t a fair comparison either.

To allay fears that I am using this blog to promote McCainiacism, you may rest assured that I will do no such thing. When given a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, I prefer to create my own choices. I refuse to promote or vote for either of the douchebags currently running for office. As I type these words, my wife is at the door telling some Obama campaign workers that we aren’t willing to drink their Kool-Aid.

Back to the so-called alchemists. Here is some more from the website:

  • Simultaneous Time
  • Balancing the Masculine and Feminine Aspects
  • Merging with the Soul
  • Merlin’s Crystal Ball
  • Activating the Higher Dimensional Chakra Systems
  • The Soul’s Purpose: Alignment with the Will of God
  • The Sanctuary of the Pink Diamond within the Heart
  • Creating with the Rays of Creation
  • Integrating Three of the Five Sacred Geometric Platonic Energy Fields
  • Creating a “Personal Power Field ”- an Energy Field of Light
  • Merging the Two Still Points into the Heart
  • Building the “Light Body” with the Blueprint of the Soul
  • Resurrection: Freeing the Soul to Go Home
  • Dissolving the Veils of Forgetfulness and Ignorance

Ugh! I feel dirty for putting that on my screen.

OK. At a casual glance, it seems that this bozo is grabbing bits and pieces of tripe from several different self-improvement scams and marketing it under the “Alchemy” banner. The only people who might fall for this are the same types that fall for any other religion/cult: nutjobs.

Here’s a better advertisement, more in line with “truth in advertising” laws:

Hi there! Are you bored? Angry? Disaffected? Unhappy? Are you the child of a rich white family? Do you believe in UFOs? Do you feel that something is missing from your life?

If so, please come and join our group. We will give you something to believe in for the low, low price of your dignity, self-respect, and all of the money in your trust fund. If you have no money, we will accept sexual favors and unpaid labor.”

That’s a lot more honest, and has the benefit of being usable by all religions with only minor editing.

Finally, I’m going to let you all in on a secret: Even as I type this, my wife is practicing alchemy in the kitchen. She’s taking flour, fruit, nuts, and sugar and turning them into cake. Last night, she took some meat, vegetables, spices, and water and turned it into a delicious soup.

That’s a religion I can believe in.

Current status: Drunk

Current music: Excalibur by Pain

(Out of) Focus Groups

17 10 2008

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend reading a short story by Heinlein called, “Year of the Jackpot“. There’s a point to mentioning this: I seem to be encountering an increasing number of utter lunatics these days. Did I desecrate a shrine, or something?

First, there were a couple of people earnestly promoting a symposium entitled, “The Ancient Ones of Lemuria”. Although it causes me physical pain to write something this stupid, I will give a brief description of what Lemuria is: an ancient civilization, supposedly the Pacific counterpart to Atlantis. A couple of minutes on your search-engine of choice will get you far more information on the subject. Fair warning, the stupid on most of the links regarding lemuria is particularly toxic and may result in bleeding piles, cranial explosions, a mild case of rigor mortis, and possibly rabies.

I find it hard to believe that anyone takes this slok seriously, but there is apparently a whole industry devoted to taking advantage of people stupid enough to do so. Therefore, there must be enough gullible morons to make the support industries profitable. This is a depressing thought.

On the same shopping expedition where I encountered the Lemuria Loons, I saw a flier for a mail-order training program on the secrets of Mastering Alchemy. I can’t relate much more about the flier, because my brain instinctively shut itself off to prevent damage from being exposed to such lethal levels of stupidity. Perhaps you’ve heard Lewis Black tell his joke about “If it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.” After saying those words, he cautions the audience not to think about them, lest they suffer a brain aneurysm and blood would start shooting from their noses. This is an equivalent degree of ultra-stupid which I generally deem to be “Weapons-Grade Stupidity”.

At home after these traumatic experiences, I read a depressing article which said the Creation “Museum” was drawing record crowds. Sadly, nowhere in the article did it say the crowds were engaged in mocking the owners and their customers. The record number of visitors was made up of actual “museum” attendees, who took time away from their busy schedules of burning heretics at the stake and rooting out homosexual tendencies in everyone but themselves to look with awe at the paintings of Jebus riding a dinosaur and similar atrocities against rational thought. Sometimes I weep for the future of our Republic.

Lastly, I took this past Monday off, and spent the day doing nothing much at all. I did pop onto the web for a while and almost immediately encountered a pronouncement that Tuesday would see the arrival of a two-thousand mile wide UFO to usher in a new era of love and enlightenment. The person spreading this bit of good news was named, “Blossom Goodchild”, so you can tell she would be a reliable source for this information. After all, if extraterrestrial sentients did exist, they would obviously pick someone named Blossom Goodchild as their intermediary. Wouldn’t you?

There are always going to be whackjobs among us. This is inevitable, and can be an enjoyable source of comic relief from the regularity of what can be grudgingly referred to as reality. What is particularly disturbing is the sheer number of apparently-sentient humans that always turn up in support of these wingnuts. Is there something in the air or water that is producing nutjobs in boxcar lots? These people are never individuals. There are always groups of lunatics demanding that the Government stop concealing evidence of extraterrestrials among us, exhorting us to follow this or that collection of metaphysical drivel, or complaining that the CIA is telepathically projecting top secret conversations with the Gnomes of Zurich into their brains.

The real pity about these out-of-focus groups is that the Universe is really a pretty wonderful place. There is a lot of new stuff to learn, interesting things to do, and cool stuff to see practically everywhere you look. Instead of looking at the marvels that surround us, these people are compelled to invent “miracles” which are almost always far less interesting than the real world. Worse still, they often get mightily wroth when you fail to believe as they do.

Another major problem with the fruit-loop contingent among us is their sheer toxicity to rational thought. People of average intellect can sometimes be persuaded by the intensity of the lunatics’ belief or their appealing earnestness, but those who have a passing grasp of theoretical physics (for example) are likely to suffer painful brain collapse on encountering stupidity in its raw form. The best defense against the risk of permanent brain damage from encountering these refugees from reality is scornful laughter. The angrier they get, the funnier it is, and the harder you should laugh. Never try to use logic or rational arguments against people who believe this sort of thing- they’re naturally immune. Howls of derisive laughter is the only effective antitoxin for the mental poisons for which these people are carriers.

“… that laughter is the Gods’ best gift,

so to the Gods our laughter lift.

Aye, though their wrath the Heavens split,

they grant us Scorn, to laugh at it.”

Current status: Shocked

Current music: Hoedown by Copeland

Why does God need a starship?

12 08 2008

Humans have a series of deeply-ingrained reflexes as a result of our evolution. Most of the standard ethical beliefs (those held by every existing culture) are the result of this physical and cultural evolutionary process. If human mentation was not such a conscious process, these reflexes could convincingly be described as instincts. Most of the time, our conscious control of reflexive behavior is a good thing- it allows us to make (slightly) better decisions when the fight-or-flight reflex kicks in, for example. We can also (most of the time) control our natural primate curiosity under certain conditions.

A good example of nearly-universal human reflex behavior could be called the “Awwwwwwwww” reflex. At some point in our evolutionary background, it became a survival mechanism for humans to enjoy cute and cuddly creatures- even those of different species. Most humans like seeing puppies at play, for example. Note that there are a variety of theories about why this might have been a survival benefit which I won’t get into at the moment. Note also that this is not entirely universal among humans- just nearly so.

One reflexive human behavior which needs no great feat of logic to understand is the almost-atavistic urge to protect children. All successful human societies are based (at their core) on the premise, “Women and children first“. This is because individual humans have been physiologically and culturally indoctrinated to sacrifice themselves to preserve the species. This primal reflex is the basis for all morality. Women and children are any society’s only hope for survival. Morals derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior beyond the individual level.

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly, which can—and must—be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a “perfect society” on any foundation other than “Women and children first!” is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly—and no doubt will keep on trying.- RAH

This is why those who prey upon children are so (justifiably) loathed- they have broken one of the basic compacts upon which society is based: Women and children first! Any creature so damaged as to violate this basic premise cannot be trusted to adhere to any of society’s fundamental principles. They are acting in a way that damages the survival potential of the group.

That brings me to the point of this particular rant. It seems that yet another group of religious wombats have crossed the line into counter-survival activities in the name of their imaginary friend. A christian fringe group called “1 Mind Ministries”, based in Baltimore, apparently starved a 19-month-old boy to death because he refused to say “amen” after dinner one night. According to the group’s imaginary friend, that made the child a demon, who had to be punished by withholding food and water. When the child died, the group’s leader claimed that “God would resurrect him” and kept the body around until it started to stink. At that point, the Leader burned the child’s clothing and the mattress on which the body had been placed, and the carcass was unceremoniously placed in a green suitcase- which was apparently sprayed with deodorant from time to time. Where was the boy’s mother during all of this? She meekly accepted the Word of God and held her son as he died. Nice of her.

A cynic might imagine that the decision to avoid medical care and hide the remains might have been motivated by more than religious fervor- such as the fact that the boy’s grandparents were filing suit to get custody of the child at around the time he died.

These people- all of the supposed “adults” in this religious group- have crossed the line. They have irrevocably broken one of humanity’s most fundamental survival rules in the Name of their Invisible Angry Skyman and his Jewish Zombie Offspring.  Their continued existence is a threat to the safety and well-being of all humans, everywhere. Yes, this sweeping statement specifically includes the boy’s so-called “mother”, despite the grandparents claim that she had been led astray by the “cult”.

Hey, grandma and grandpa! I have a clue for you: anyone who allows their 19-month-old child to be starved to death has not been “led astray”. She had to have been a willing participant in the death of her child. As such, she deserves death.

I doubt anyone with religious beliefs reads anything I write. If you are reading this and happen to be religious, ask yourself why your God or Gods allow this sort of thing to happen. Ask yourself why your priest/pastor/rabbi says or does what he/she does- is it because their imaginary friend told them to do so?
If your God or Gods are supposed to be so much better than mere humans, why does his/their actions so closely resemble the worst in humanity? Why is so much unadulterated Evil committed in the name of your imaginary-friend-of-choice?

For everyone else, ask yourself, “Why do we permit these lunatics to continue with their patently contra-survival behavior?” Every religious text I have ever read is filled with the most despicable acts committed by, for, in the name of, or at the request of some deity or another. When will we- as a species- throw off the yoke of superstitions which demand we act in ways that undermine our civilization? To paraphrase a certain rug-wearing actor in a horrible movie, “Why does God need a starship?

Current status: Disgusted

Current music: Squirrel Songs II by Foamy