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Saturday, 29 December 2007

Sad Decline of a Once Great Internet Discussion Board

The Internet Infidels Discussion Board (IIDB) has been in decline these last couple of years. IIDB was and is the discussion board of the Secular Web. IIDB was started in the mid-90's as a pretty free-wheeling discussion board, something between alt.atheism and alt.atheism.moderated. Theists were welcomed to try their best preaching in the Rants, Raves, & Preaching forum. Upper level fora were more heavily moderated, but usually for staying on topic. The discussions could get pretty heated, but were always interesting.

About 2 years ago, I noticed a trend in the board towards more moderation of the "PC" type. This type of moderation usually fell along the lines of "If you can't be nice, then STFU." A very bad policy for a board that calls itself "freethinking". Then there was the policy of letting theists moderate the discussion. So after this atheists who had nowhere to vent about the craziness of religion could not vent in a supposedly "atheist" board. Now I hear that several of the moderators and admins are religious (Buddhists and Pagans) and members are now saying that the moderation is even more biased.

Ebonmuse over at Daylight Atheism has more details in a couple of posts, and most of the long timers over at IIDB have moved over to Rants n Raves.

What's next for IIDB, fundamentalist Christians running the show? If the Secular Web does not want to have a discussion board anymore, then they should shut it down instead of running a fine board down into the ground.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Happy Holidays 2007

Well it's been a very busy couple of weeks going shopping, visiting neighbors, and making and buying presents for Giftmas. I cooked a large turkey with mashed potatoes, and my special homemade butter made from heavy cream. We are all so full and lazy today.

Here's the recipe for homemade butter:
  1. Take heavy cream and place in a jar where the jar is between 1/2 and 2/3 full.
  2. Let the jar sit until the temperature rises to around 70 def F. You can also place the jar into a container of room temperature water to speed up warming. But don't let the cream get too warm. When the temperature is right, you can see the cream clumping at the top. This is the butter starting to separate.
  3. Shake the jar. After about 10 minutes of shaking, the butter will start to clump up into large curds. Keep shaking the jar until the butter completely separates and a thin buttermilk remains.
  4. Strain the butter in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with very cold water.
  5. Remove the butter from the strainer (it will be very soft) and place in a container filled with ice water and ice.
  6. Knead the butter to remove more buttermilk from it. Also the butter will start to stiffen as it gets colder.
  7. Once most of the buttermilk has been removed from the butter, the butter is ready to be pressed to remove the water out of it. Then it is ready for storage in the refrigerator. The butter will keep for a couple of weeks.
This recipe is from my mother and grandmother. My grandmother had a farm where she had dairy cows and churned her own butter. Actually, it was my mother's chore to churn the butter.

Friday, 21 December 2007

New Book By Doofus

I spent an entertaining hour laughing my ass off reading the comments here and here over at Sadly, No! about a new book by Jonah Goldberg called Liberal Fascists. Apparently the main thesis of the book is that Nazis were gay rights activists and environmentalists like todays liberals, therefore liberals must be Nazis. Too bizarre for words. It's like he does not know the meaning of either the word liberal or the word fascist. And I don't think that the word liberal comes to mind when I think of Nazis or neo-Nazis.

Some of my favorite quotes from the commenters at Sadly No!:
“the National Socialist revolution and the Nazi party were animated and dominated by militaristic homosexuals, pederasts, pornographers, and sadomasochists.”

Wow. If you could get “closeted” in there, this would be a dead-on description of the American Conservative Movement.
and
If this is true (i.e., the Nazi power structure was riddled with closeted, repressed homosexuals who were tacitly accepted by the non-gay elites, who then hypocritically engaged in virulent public anti-homosexual practice and policy), it sounds an awful lot like today’s Republican party! Way to analogize, Doughboy.
and
In 1942, the death penalty was instituted for homosexuality. Offenders in the German military were routinely shot.

And interestingly enough, according to Machtan, capital punishment was also the legal penalty for any German who spread rumours that the Fuhrer was homosexual…
and
Well, you know the old saying about Nazi Germany:

“At first, they didn’t go after the homosexuals, and I said nothing. Then, they didn’t go after the Jews. And I still said nothing. I guess that makes me a liberal fascist.”
and
A good alternate title would have been, ‘Contractual Obligation: Shit I Pulled Out Of My Ass And Tossed Over The Wall Onto My Editor’s Desk’.
I wonder what Jonah would do if the psychotic, racist twits over at Stormfront found out that Jonah says they are all a bunch of tree-hugging queers?

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Onward Fundy Soldiers

MRFF has their latest report out. This report covers some of the religious rights attempts at creating a Christian military force within the United States military forces. I've covered some of this before in previous posts. It looks like organizations such as Campus Crusade Military Crusade just can't keep from taking advantage of young vulnerable enlisted and officer folk. See the highlighted text in my previous post for an example of why this is wrong. In that case it was sex being forced upon someone instead of religion.

Anytime a superior military member takes advantage of their rank to intimidate his or her troops, it does the military unit no favors. Whether it is Tupperware, sex, religion, or anything else, it does not matter. It is all wrong. Military members are trained to follow a superior unless the orders are clearly illegal. Most of the times sales or religion are pressured upon someone, it is usually not clear of the illegality of the superior's actions.

MRFF says that 95% of the complaints that they are getting come from Christians who "aren't Christian enough" for these fundamentalists. I thought that their religion says that you should not judge another person. I thought that this was one of the very few things the founder of their religion is quoted as saying. But as usual with Christianity, you can cherry pick whatever you want to support your actions.

It looks like Spc Jeremy Hall is back from Iraq and is stationed at Ft. Riley. He has sent some photos of some of the goings on their and they are posted in the report.

But what I find very serious indeed, are the statements by these ministries about creating "government paid missionaries". WTF? Don't they have a clue about the first amendment of the US constitution? In an earlier post I covered another evangelizing organization who claimed to also be creating "government paid missionaries". It seems that they are all working together in this.

But what I find even creepier are the links between the presidential candidate Huckabee, Chuck Norris, Steven Baldwin, and the OSU. I've seen Chuck Norris with Huckabee in several press conferences. It looks like the Operation Straight Up (OSU) guys are linked in with these military ministries and the Pentagon. And now with a presidential candidate. It gets even scarier the more you look into this. Add in these folks at Homeland Security; and I'm beginning to think it's tinfoil hat time; but no this is real.

Update:
There is additional information posted at Talk2Action.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Pervert Alert: Chaplain Loves Seamen

Yet another priest scandal, this time a Navy chaplain.
An HIV-positive Navy chaplain was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison after pleading guilty to forcible sodomy and other charges.

Lt. Cmdr. John Thomas Lee, 42, of Burke, Va., was sentenced after entering a plea agreement at his court-martial at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in northern Virginia. Lee admitted having sex with an Air Force officer without disclosing that he had HIV and forcing himself on a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman.

Marine spokesman Maj. Tim Keefe said after Thursday's hearing that nobody is known to have contracted HIV from Lee.
...
The forcible sodomy occurred in the fall of 2004, when the midshipman was in his junior year. The midshipman, who was not identified, had previously received counseling from Lee, and said he allowed Lee to perform oral sex on him because he was intimidated by Lee's status as a chaplain.

"This was a priest. This was a guy who knew all of my darkest secrets," the victim, now a Navy ensign, testified during the trial's sentencing phase.
The bolded text is why the government must always be careful when providing chaplaincy services to military members. Chaplains and other military officers have an incredible amount of control and influence on lower ranking members. And chaplains wield even more power over some religious military members.

I'm a former military person myself and have become appalled at how much power chaplains have started to have in the military. That is why I have spent quite a few posts discussing how the military chaplaincy program has overstepped it bounds quite often in the last several years. This is quite different than when I was in the military a decade ago.

Perhaps the Navy needs to provide coloring books to young recruits and officers like these. Heh Heh Heh.

According to the SF Gate website:
Be sure to use your darkest red crayon of bewildered dread when you color this particular page, kids, because there it is, the pedophilia threat, the church's appalling multimillion-dollar sexual abuse scandal, right there on the page in the form of two sweet-looking, grinning (female) angels hovering around an innocent virgin altar boy and warning him — and by extension, you, the innocent virgin coloring book aficionado — to never, not ever, be alone in a room with an adult you do not know. Much like Jesus intended.

But wait, look again. Because there he is, right there in the doorway, a grinning priest, waving to you as the angels go on and seem to imply, "And remember boys, when we say 'adult,' we actually mean 'priest,' and you should never be alone with one unless the door is wide open or some other adults know where you are or there is a giant window in the room through which other wary adults or perhaps police officers can see if said priest begins to give the holy sacrament to your crotch. Next up: God loves bunnies!"
Heh Heh Heh.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Enjoyed the Golden Compass


We went to see The Golden Compass today at the matinée feature. The computer graphics were great. They blended in perfectly. Unfortunately, in order to keep the movie shorter, portions of the plot were sacrificed as well as the original ending. So the movie had a lame ending where Lyra, Roger, and the bear king were on their way to meet Lyra's father. They left the movie hanging like this. I wonder if there will be a second movie. Even though it was only in its first week, the theater was not very full. I live in a very conservative area of California.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

You Just Can't Make This Shit Up



I'm absolutely speechless at the mind boggling craziness of these people. PZ Meyers over at Pharyngula has a hilarious take on the video.

Pervert Alert: Some Like Them Young


Well, another, in the seemingly unending parade of Republican child sex scandals. It looks like Jeffery Ray Neilsen, a worker for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher as well as the Orange County Republican Chair, has pled guilty for molesting a 14 year old boy, and forcing sex upon another child (13 years old). What a loser.

Here is the story from the Orange County Weekly, as well as lots of sordid details from the report.
Jeffrey Ray Nielsen—the well-connected Orange County conservative activist who claimed the so-called liberal media, specifically the Weekly, was out to get him by publishing a series of exposés on his pedophile activities—finally admitted on Dec. 5 that he used two boys for sex since the early 1990s.

The son of former Fountain Valley Republican Mayor Ben Nielsen, Jeff Nielsen was brought to Washington, D.C., in 1994 by Rohrabacher as his aide. During this period, Nielsen befriended a seventh-grade Virginia boy he met as a church youth counselor. For years, Nielsen engaged in sexual conduct with the boy (including in public), tried to convince the boy he was homosexual, and wrote a series of love letters to the boy after he moved back to California to enter USC law school.

Rohrabacher, who nowadays claims amnesia about his ties to Nielsen, wrote a glowing personal letter of recommendation for Nielsen’s admittance into the school.

Nielsen later became close to then-Orange County Republican Assemblyman Scott Baugh. He worked for Baugh. He socialized with Baugh. He derided liberals with Baugh. When Baugh left Sacramento and negotiated a job with the powerhouse law firm of Manatt Phelps & Phillips in 2001, he convinced the firm to hire Nielsen with him. It was during this time that Nielsen found a Westminster high-school freshman in an online gay chat room. Prosecutors say Nielsen repeatedly picked the boy up from school for sex. Once, Nielsen visited the boy’s home when his mother was at work and screwed him on her bed, according to police records. The boy shared his experiences with a classmate, who promptly told school counselors
Apparently it looks like the Republicans he worked for tried to play down what he was doing with these children while he was working for them.
When police arrested Nielsen, a prominent GOP activist at the time, The Orange County Register failed to tell its readers. In fact, the paper—some of whose staffers enjoy cozy relationships with local GOP leaders, including Rohrabacher and Baugh—waited more than three years to mention Nielsen’s arrest. Worse, while Nielsen awaited trial for molesting the Westminster boy, the Register’s Richard Chang helped to bolster the accused pedophile’s reputation in the community. In an article, Chang didn’t mention the charges, but rather praised Nielsen for volunteering to help homeless puppies from the Katrina disaster in New Orleans.

You can’t make this stuff up.
More details over at Wonkette.
In the 4 years it took the case to come to trial (and after the mistrial earlier this year), it turns out that not only did Nielsen fuck a 14 year-old in California while under the big, protective wing of Scott Baugh, he fucked a 13 year-old back here in NoVa when he was working for nutjob right-wing Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Jeffrey Ray obviously has a type (and it’s far too young and very, very creepy)! Only, while the sex with the 14 year-old in California was consensual (according to the boy), the sexual contact with the 13 year-old (from whose parents Jeffrey Ray rented a basement apartment) was, well, sorta not.
The jury in the first trial seemed to be clearly confused, or else the prosecutor did not have enough evidence in this trial. Never mind the scads of boy toy internet porn on his computer. But apparently there was reams of evidence of the earlier molestation of the Virginia boy when he was 12.
A Democratic aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was arrested last week for allegedly attempting to arrange a sexual rendezvous with an FBI informant posing as a 13-year-old boy. James Michael McHaney, who worked as a scheduler for Cantwell, was fired from the job on Friday and subsequently charged with violating the Attempted Child Exploitation Act.
It looks like Democrats are only able to dream of child sex, but Republicans actually SCORE. I wonder what the percentage of Democrats to Republicans showed up at the house setup as a pedo trap a while back on one of the national news shows? I would put my money on most of the guys showing up to be conservative Christian right-wingers.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Giving Religion the Verbal Finger

Another great rant by Pat Condell.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

As The Compass Points

The latest lunacy by the right-wing nutcases is over The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. I deliberately went to Walmart to buy the trilogy. Heh Heh Heh. They were selling all three volumes of the series in one book. I received a couple of dirty looks from the woman behind me while I was waiting in the checkout line. I rarely shop at Walmart, but wanted to screw with their statistics as this was the only thing I bought there.

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League is paraphrased by UPI :
The magazine quotes Bill Donohue, the group's president, as saying the movie is "bait" to lure youths to Pullman's novels where they will be influenced by the author's "pernicious atheist agenda."
What does Donahue think the Catholic Church is engaged in? Don't they try to get people to join? What about the "pernicious Catholic Agenda" or the "pernicious Christian Agenda"?

I love Pullman's reply.
"To regard it as this Donohue man has said -- that I'm a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people -- how the hell does he know that? Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers?" Pullman said. "Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world."
These right-wing Christians must have very little faith in their religion if they think children's literature has the power to instantly deconvert someone. If you really believe something to be true, why would you be so afraid of little things like a children's book or a movie? No-one sane goes around constantly affirming that the sun will rise tomorrow; and neither do they run around afraid of literature that says otherwise.

I certainly wouldn't waste my time trying to convince myself of something I knew was true. For the most part I require evidence before I believe something is true; and once I have accepted evidence for something, I would then require evidence to change my mind. But I would certainly not be afraid of seeing the evidence that would change my mine, I would welcome it. So I really cannot understand the mindset of these overly religious types.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Blog Literacy

I guess this blog is a little more edumacated than I thought.

cash advance

Well, that's what I get for being a snooty, intellectual, over-educated, godless heathen.

Update
I guess I'm not so edumacated after all. I have now edited out all of the code except for the resulting image, but apparently the code contained some sort of Trojan horse that has infected some people. Details over here at Pharyngula.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Mmmmmmmm Sinfully Delicious



Mmmmmm Schadenfreude Pie. Doesn't that sound just delicious? I'll have to try the recipe.

Update
I made the pie. It was good with whipped cream while it was hot, but not so good when it was cold. The molasses was too strong. The pie would be better with most of the molasses replaced with dark corn syrup, and a more chocolate taste by adding several tablespoons of cocoa powder. Perhaps adding a little cream would soften the sweetness.

Great Mobius Transforms Video

A great little video illustrating transformations on a plane. Later in the video a third dimension is introduced to show that projecting the line from a light source on the sphere through the plane projected on the sphere and intersecting another plane produces Mobius tranforms. Here is a description of the video which won as a honorable mention in this year's Science visualization contest.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Religious Relatives Have Left the Building

Well, my in-laws have left to go back home after spending a couple of weeks. I can now get back to posting. My ultra-religious brother-in-law and his wife slept in the same room that I have my computer in. Unfortunately, they go to bed early and I usually post late at night. I did manage to get a few posts in under the radar, but did not want to freak them out. Not bowing my head, during my brother-in-law's self imposed "mealtime blessing" was scandalous enough for them. Heh Heh Heh.

Also, I decided to put away some of my books away while my hubby's family visited. I was trying to get another chapter of God is Not Great read several weeks ago and my hubby made a crack that his family would absolutely freak at my reading material this past year. He thinks is hilarious, but I felt that I did not need the stress of his family freaking out over some of my books, especially the ones with the A-word in the title. His mother has already spent the last 30 years trying to tell my hubby that he needs to divorce me. Unfortunately for her, we get along just fine, we're deeply in love, and he is just as unbelieving as me. Only he is not as open about it as I am, so she is unaware of it.

A couple of years ago, we visited his mom. I was trying to take a nap, as I was recovering from a bout of pneumonia, and overheard them arguing. His mother was going on and on about how he should "dump" me as I was not Christian enough for her. Apparently, divorce seems to be a "family value" in this Christian family. Hubby told her she was full of it and just to shut up. He loved me and that was that.

Apparently, my mother-in-law is being influenced by my hubby's younger brother. He is some sort of deacon in the fundy church he attends. He has been married about 4 times, each marriage worse that the one before. My mother-in-law is a follower, and does what everyone around her does and is easily swayed by people. My brother-in-law does not really like me, especially since at the last few family gatherings, I seem to be "occupied" elsewhere when it is time for the blessing. It really seems to tick him off. Well, tough shit.

Now we can enjoy the piece and quiet. I like my husband's family, but they are way too high strung for me, as well as being too passive aggressive for me to put up with for very long.

Schedule of Events

Jason Torpy keeps a schedule of Atheist events over at Internet Infidels. The calendar is a listing of events and dates for atheists and freethinkers. I used to post over at Internet Infidels under a different pseudonym, but I haven't been over there in some time. The forums have become too PC for me. When I'm over there, there is the feeling that the moderators are just too heavy handed, and you can't really offer an opinion sometimes.

I miss the good old days on the IIDB, especially the old Rants, Raves, and Preaching (RRP) forum. I would go there for a much needed laugh. Sometimes I would laugh so hard my sides would hurt. Nowadays, the forums at IIDB are way too tame for me.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

WooHoo Some Recognition

Check this out. The Atheist Blog List on a Google Video clip, thanks to toomanytribbles. Some of my favorite blogs are shown. My blog is shown a few times in this short video on Google.

Just Keeps Getting Worse

Bruce Wilson over at Talk2Action has a post and video here about the continuing efforts of right-wing Christians to force their religious viewpoints on America's military men and women. MRFF has a new report about the continuing violations of church-state separation which have happened in the last several months. I've documented several of these here on this blog.

Finally Getting to Post

Well I'm finally getting to post here. I've only been able to do small changes such as playing around with setting and such. My hubby's mother, brother and brother's wife are visiting. They are extremely religious Catholics and don't know that we really don't buy into any sort of religion. My brother-in-law and his wife are staying in the room that my computer resides in and they go to bed early. Since I post late, there goes any time to post here.

It's really funny that over the years they really seem to assume that I'm Christian like them, even to the point of imposing a blessing at mealtimes. Since their heads are bowed, they seem to be completely unaware that me and the hubby are simply looking at each other with knowing grins. They are nice people, but are very limited in their experience with other viewpoints. This, I think, is the reason they seem to be unaware of how presumptuous they are.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Blog Blahs

As you can see, I've decided to redo the look of this blog. Partially in response to the fact that my post can sometime get rather longwinded, and hard to read in a fixed width format. Also my monitor died this week and when I looked at the blog with the new monitor, I was horrified at the color scheme. Hopefully the new format will work out better. I also plan to work on the header.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Friday Fungus: Sweet Tooth

The Sweet Tooth Mushroom (Hydnum repandum) has a distinctive appearance.

Why is it Always the Engineers?

A friend of mine was in the hospital the past week. While I was waiting at the hospital with the family, there were also a couple of other families waiting for their loved ones to also undergo surgery. There was one family who had two small children who did surprisingly well for being cooped up in a hospital waiting room all day. There was an older man who was waiting for his wife to undergo surgery to remove a part of her liver. He was there with his daughters and their children.

In the afternoon the gentleman started discussing finances and economics with the volunteer helping in the waiting room. She was very knowledgeable about those subjects as her husband had taught economics at UCLA or something. The guy started on about some sort of weird conspiracy about finance systems, government involvement, and some sort of coming immanent financial crises or worldwide depression.

The volunteer wasn't buying it however, and it was fun watching her debate the guy. After she left for the day, I heard the Mr Conspiracy telling his daughters that he knew all about hospital secrets. All the while he was constantly on his computer checking various web sites and trying to get people to read them. He seemed to be addicted to web surfing and these conspiracy sites. Perhaps it was a way to keep his mind off of his wife's surgery.

Later that night, my friend and myself were still waiting for her husband to come out of surgery. The conspiracy guy was waiting for his wife to get out of recovery and into a room. We were talking about diets, and of course he acted like an expert on the subject (sort of acted like an expert, but with no actual knowledge). I made a comment about gaining weight since I was spending a lot of time either working behind a desk or working on my thesis at home or school.

We go to talking about my thesis, I gave him a brief overview, but I could tell that he was unfamiliar with optimization and routing algorithms. He made a comment about designing an algorithm to generate a logarithmic curve without using higher-level mathematical functions. He asked if anyone had done anything like this before. I replied that it is a fairly common practice on chipsets where there are no higher level functions other than add, subtract, or multiply. He couldn't get is head wrapped around the idea that someone else could have come up with the same solution that he had, even though he had made no such search for similar solutions to his problem.

Why does it always seem to be the engineers or computer programmers who fall to conspiracy theories or to creationism? I have a degree in applied math instead of engineering. What are they not teaching engineers these days? No critical thinking? But surely an engineer should be able to solve problems and to use critical thinking to come up with solutions.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Friday Fungus: Morel of the Story

The Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta) grows in the woodland.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Business Leadership Classes Have Really Gone Downhill


I signed up for a self-improvement class at work a couple of weeks ago and took the class this week. It was called Mental Models. I won't name the company or the instructor as it would be too identifying for this blog. But some of these same comments will be reserved for the evaluation form that my company will send me in a few days. Heh Heh Heh.

The class was advertised as an introduction to critical thinking and problem solving. Instead, I was subjected to 2 days of pop psychology, brain teasers, attempts by the instructor to sell his Multilevel Marketing scam, and his bizarre right-wing political theories. There were good tidbits of information buried within the class and the instructor was very entertaining, but far too much time was taken up by the instructor with his pseudo-scientific garbage.

I decided to search the internet for the company and the class to get an idea of the subject material for the class, and any background for the owner of the company and the instructors. A couple of the higher up management people at my company are very fundamentalist Christians and I wanted to see if there would be any bias in the class and the company selected.

Wow! Looking at the bio of the owner of the company, his customers are companies that I recognized as having a very heavy fundy orientation, and lots of articles in religious magazines. This does not mean that I would be subjected to conversion attempts or anything. I simply wanted the guy's background so I could understand where he was coming from, as well as identifying any bias in the information taught. This is something that I always do before taking a class.

The first day of the class went pretty good, but he gave only a very rudimentary introduction to critical thinking. This consisted only of identifing facts versus interpretations of facts. Nothing that I didn't already know before taking the class. And that was it for critical thinking. No logic and logical fallacies, no identifying bias, no skepticism, and no determining the validity of data and facts. There was a lot missing from this topic. But he did teach a lot of good techniques for listening to others and conflict resolution on the first day of the class.

But, he inappropriately advertised (trolled) for his MLM in the class at the start of the first day. I just ignored it and the exaggeration's that usually accompany those who try to suck others in this type of scam in order to enrich themselves. The MLM had something to do with expensive vitamin supplements or some such nonsense.

Day 2 is where the weirdness started. First, we had an assignment to determine facts versus interpretation in the news. I gave an example if bias in differing coverage of the fires here between Fox News and NBC and CNN. Showing how Fox New's bizarre theory of Al Quaeda fires was off the wall and the other new stations had the coverage of accidental and arson files. No sooner than I mentioned the word "bias" as a factor in interpretation, the instructor cut me off and went to the next person. Well, I thought "Perhaps I'm just off topic and he only wanted cover facts versus interpretation, and not get into bias yet."

Then we had a break about an hour later. I came back from the restroom and the instructor was talking about Hillary Clinton having massive amounts of lesbian affairs. WTF did this have to do with critical thinking? All it showed was that he uncritically accepted rumors as fact, thus ruining his credibility to me. What was next? Reptoids in the White House basement? Twin Tower conspiracy theories? But this was only the start of the insanity that was to come in the afternoon.

After lunch, we had a couple of good exercises on talking out problems, resolving issues and identifying emotional points that could hinder problem solving. All well and good, until he made the remark about management authority. He said "Well, if you can't solve the problem or change something wrong, then just let management take care of it. Then you could just wash your hands of it and it would be someone else's fault."

Talk about authoritarianism in a nutshell. Just submit to authority and all would be well. It was all I could do not to roll my eyes and go take a restroom break or something. The instructor said something interesting in the previous day about anger and frustration being the result of violated values. Well, this advice certainly violated my values (integrity being a value I hold dear). It was yet another case of a fundamentalist Christian seeming to have a lower standard of ethics than my own. And what about other options? I can easily think of a few much better options: 1) call the company ethics or legal department, 2) alerting the customer (anonymously) or 3) quit.

But the highlight came in the last hour of the class and left me absolutely speechless. He started shilling The Secret of all things. That bunch of repackaged bullshit, pseudoscience, and prosperity gospel crap. That all we had to do was simply want something and it would be ours. If this wasn't a work class I would have challenged him by asking him "If I get cancer, then all I have to do is simply wish it away?" I left the class totally disgusted. He certainly won't get a good review from me.

But perhaps he was looking for suckers that would fall for his bullshit. If they would fall for The Secret, then perhaps they would fall for his MultiLevel Marketing scam. You know, I like being skeptical, it really helps you avoid getting taken advantage of. Perhaps I should of hung around to see who was getting sucked into the scam.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Friday Fungus: The Sickener

The Sickener (Russula emetica) is a poisonous mushroom that lives under conifers among the moss.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

The Harassment Continues

In an article by Kay Campbell in the Huntsville Times shows that the situation in the military towards the separation of church and state continues to erode.
Though the U.S. Constitution mandates that the government apply no test of faith for employment - and, one presumes, deployment - of American citizens, soldiers who are open about being non-believers can face harassment and ostracizing from fellow troops and their officers, some say.

"We didn't let anyone know we were atheists," said Steve Moore of Huntsville, who served two tours in Iraq as an Army staff sergeant.

Moore and his wife, Renee, also an Army veteran, were taking a break a couple of weeks ago from packing goody boxes for non-believing soldiers for the project Operation Foxhole Atheist sponsored by the North Alabama Freethought Association.

"We didn't want any stigma to thwart our career," Moore said. "There is nothing more frightening than a radical fundamentalist with an assault rifle."
Holy shit!
Chaplain Major Rajmund Kopec, a veteran of Serbia and Iraq now stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, has seen it all - both the violation of military principles of respect for each soldier's conscience and the heroic support of it.

As a Catholic, he's been assured of his own eternal damnation by some Christians, he said during an interview in his office recently. He's not surprised some atheists would rather keep their beliefs to themselves, though he remembers enjoying long conversations and friendly debates with one atheist stationed in Iraq.
Well it seems that a few chaplains are doing their job correctly. Sounds like this particular chaplain is an alright guy. I think that the religious people who force their beliefs on another are very insecure and probably haven't thought about why they believe what they believe.
"My own personal experience in being in the Army and working with different denominations and faith groups has helped me," Kopec said. "Number one, I have come to appreciate my own tradition even more. Number two, I appreciate, respect and love other traditions, too. You find a balance: to work in a pluralistic environment and to not compromise your own faith."
Too bad many Christians don't share this point of view. I think a lot of Christians have grown up in an overly sheltered life and don't really know to work with others who don't share their background. They have grown up in an environment where their beliefs have never been challenged and have never really given them much thought. I grew up in the South and would run into these people. They seem lost and threatened when they are not surrounded by other Christians or in a non-Christian environment.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Friday Fungus: Pretty in Purple

The Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystea) grows in the woodland.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Pervert Alert: A Sad Ending

What is going on in the heads of some ultra fundamentalist Christians these days? Every time I turn around there is some story or another about right-wing Christian conservatives getting into extreme kink. Apparently Gary Aldridge, a long-time friend of the late Jerry Fallwell was found dead last month.

He was found wearing not one, but two wetsuits, rubber underwear, booties, five ties, a diving mask, and bound with 11 straps. Apparently, the two possessions he was found dead with were his wedding ring on his left hand, and a dildo stuck up his ass. How sad for him that he went to such lengths to enjoy himself. I guess all of those guilty, and repressed feelings were eventually expressed with such kinkiness. Details can be found at the Smoking Gun. Was he trying for a full body condom?

More details can be found over at Pharyngula, as well as a nice memorial poem.
...
A member of the Christian nation,
Friend of Jerry Falwell,
His last attempt at masturbation
Didn't go at all well.
...
Masturbation and Christian Nation go so well together as we find in the news lately.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

I Wonder Why, Hmmmmm...


The latest Barna Group Poll on the number of non-believers shows that as the younger the age group becomes, the greater the percentage of non-Christians. Note that they call non-Christians "outsiders". I see there is an overlap between the age groups of 18-41 and 16-29. These groups have very similar numbers. This means that the large number of people aged between 18 and 41 are approximately 37% non-Christian. WooHoo.
As pointed out in the Barna Update related to atheists and agnostics, this is not a passing fad wherein young people will become "more Christian" as they grow up. While Christianity remains the typical experience and most common faith in America, a fundamental recalibration is occurring within the spiritual allegiance of America’s upcoming generations.
Sounds all good to me.
David Kinnaman, who is a 12-year-veteran of the Barna team, pointed out some of the unexpected findings of the research. "Going into this three-year project, I assumed that people’s perceptions were generally soft, based on misinformation, and would gradually morph into more traditional views. But then, as we probed why young people had come to such conclusions, I was surprised how much their perceptions were rooted in specific stories and personal interactions with Christians and in churches. When they labeled Christians as judgmental this was not merely spiritual defensiveness. It was frequently the result of truly ‘unChristian’ experiences. We discovered that the descriptions that young people offered of Christianity were more thoughtful, nuanced, and experiential than expected."
Well what do they expect when a lot of Christians act like arrogant asses. It certainly does not make me want to be a Christian when I'm the recipient of death threats and condescension from them.

Monday, 8 October 2007

They Just Won't Stop

More tales of Christian evangelization in the military are detailed today over at truthout and over a DailyKos by Jason Leopold. In this story Military Ministry and Military Missions Network are shown to be actively trying to convert fresh, young, vulnerable recruits into a form of fundamentalist Christianity.

Military Missions network even has a 40 page document on its web page showing their plans. This document is filled with references to Paul, but not very many references to what Jesus teaches. They seem to be Paulists, like many fundamentalists.
Our mission - The mission of the MMN is to ignite a shared vision, to equip kingdom leaders, and to build a global network for the purpose of reaching the world through the military of the world.
This is found on page 28. They seem to think that the military is their own personal army of missionaries. What fucking arrogance.
Our vision - An expanding global network of kingdom-minded movements of evangelism and discipleship reaching the world through the military of the world.
Found on page 29. Again with the idea that US military forces are their own personal army of missionaries. Never mind that the people in the military come from very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.
Why is it important to intentionally connect with others doing strategic missions through and ministry to the military? First, all Christians should be concerned for the health, well being and propagation of the body of Christ worldwide. Second, Christians are required to partner in the matter of winning, discipling, and caring for those within the military lifestyle and culture. After all, the body of Christ is worldwide and the military is worldwide. Partnership is a required necessity! The question is, will we do this well, in an intentional and strategic way, or will we do this haphazardly and poorly? When it comes to military missions and ministry, missional churches intentionally connect with others both locally and globally in order to be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
Throughout the document, there seems to be an emphasis on selling Christianity as some sort of product and where you need to get more customers. Why do fundamentalists try to apply marketing techniques to a person's most deeply held beliefs? I've run into several evangelists who seem to think that changing one's belief is like switching a brand of soda or something.

At the end of section 5 there is a list that Christians should believe. Wow, the arrogance in the expectation that people should all conform to the same set of identical beliefs. And throughout the document, there seems to be an attitude that everyone will simply just convert. Holy shit, again, what arrogance.

They seem to think that someone who does not believe as they do will simply stop any say "Gee, Mr Christian, I've never heard Jesus advertised like this before. Wow, a new and improved Jesus, I'll simply get on board and be apart of this happening scene." What idiots.

And in the document, they don't seem to have any advice for would-be Jesus salespeople who will end up running into someone who is not convinced by their advertising campaign. This is especially worrisome when someone is being proselytized by their military superior. Especially when the missionary won't take "No" for an answer.

Update:
Upon further reflection, I find the thought of an official military presence for spreading Christianity very disturbing. Didn't this happen in the 12th century, and don't we call those military folk "crusaders"?

Cool X-Wing Rocket


Very cool 1/2 scale X-Wing rocket. Here's the video of the launch/CATO.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Military Members Force-Fed End-Times Christianity

Christianity Today also has an article covering the attempts by fundamentalist evangelical Christians to coerce military members into their religion. The article, for the most part, has simply reiterated what has been said elsewhere. But there was one part of the article that I have taken exception to. A quote from Marc Stern of the American Jewish Congress:
"He's uncovered some very disturbing stuff that shouldn't be going on in the armed forces," says Marc Stern, a religious liberty expert at American Jewish Congress. "But it's important that you not go too far." Mr. Stern disagrees, for instance, with Weinstein's stance on the Air Force guidelines, such as preventing military supervisors from ever speaking of religion to people under their command.

"He did a disservice to his and our cause by taking a position beyond what the law requires, and in fact may intrude on people's rights," Stern adds.

Military regulations prohibit military superiors from selling products and soliciting business from their subordinates. I would think that this would also prohibit soliciting religion as well. The military is not like the public sector where one could quit and seek another job if one's boss is being an asshole about his religion. A military member is required to follow his superior's orders, except in those cases where it is obvious the order is illegal. Most of these cases of evangelization are not quite as obvious, but the pressure to conform is there.

Why do some of these Christians want everyone to follow the same beliefs as themselves? I've even been told that it doesn't matter if I don't believe, just pretend. WTF? God, if he existed, wouldn't know I was pretending? This is just kindergarten theology. I guess they don't seem to realize that a god so easily fooled would not be worthy of worship.

A military unit needs to be a cohesive team. If all of the persons in the unit are of the same religion, this is an easy and cheap way to get a group working together. But our citizens, from which military members are drawn from, are of various races, religions, and cultural backgrounds. Trying to force unit cohesiveness by forcing religious conformity in a religiously diverse unit is a recipe for disaster.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Friday Fungus: Red Death

This mushroom (Cortinarius rubellus) is very, very toxic.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Updates to MRFF Lawsuit


I've been gone on a business trip for the last week, and am just now getting to blog on the latest developments in MRFF's lawsuit against the DoD. Spc Hall is the plaintiff in the lawsuit is the one standing behind the sign in the picture above.
An Army major who was sued last week for allegedly threatening to retaliate against a soldier, and whom Pentagon officials said could not be located, has been tracked down through his MySpace page.
This is detailed over at the truthout website. Also a few more details over at Friendly Atheist.
Freddy J. Welborn was identified in a federal lawsuit filed last week by Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, 22, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog organization. Because his name was mistakenly listed in the complaint as Paul Welborne, the Army said it was unable to locate him.

However, Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said researchers working for his group discovered Welborn's MySpace page on Sunday morning. Weinstein said the complaint his organization and Hall filed against Welborn, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, will be amended and refiled in US District Court in Kansas City, Kansas on Tuesday to reflect Welborn's proper identity.
Apparently, the Army was unable to locate the Major, even though he was stationed at the same place as Spc. Hall and had a My Space web sight saying where he was stationed. I don't think the Army investigators are this clueless. I think they were deliberately hiding him.

And what of the Major himself. Here are his own words from his MySpace page:
Welborn, 44, who appears on his MySpace page in his Army uniform, wrote on his MySpace page that he is a devout Christian who received a bachelor's degree in "personal evangelism" and a minor in "Biblical world view" from Temple Tennessee University. He wrote that he is pursuing a second bachelor's degree in Christian studies from Calvary Bible College And Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. He lists his occupation as "Bible Study--Operation Iraqi Freedom" and wrote that his interest is evangelism and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Currently serving w/3rd Inf Div [3rd Infantry Division] Civil Military Operations (Governance) in Baghdad Iraq," Welborn wrote on his MySpace page. He describes himself as a ""Warrior for the Lord Jesus Christ." He wrote that he and his wife Carla "place all our Faith & Trust in our Savior the Lord Jesus - who provides eternal life to anyone that believes that he is the Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, lived as God in the flesh (as man) was crucified, died, and was buried then rose from the grave the third day, then acended [sic] to the right hand of the Father - True repentance (turning away from Sin to God) Being born again, Forgivness [sic] & Justification occure [sic] to the True Believer in Christ when Baptized w/God's Holy Spirit."

If this officer really wants to be a preacher, he should resign his commission as an army officer. He seems to think that its just fine and dandy to push his beliefs on his subordinates. He seems to regard the base as an endless supply of conversion fodder to prop up his beliefs. This conduct is unbecoming of an officer and Major Welborn should either be reprimanded or should be forced to resign.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

The Stupidity, Oh It Burns

I had a very interesting day at work this past week. I get a call from someone in computer support. They needed to inventory all of the equipment in my office. I have several computers, a hub, a printer, etc. I tell the woman, "Sure, come on down and we can get this done."

She arrives a short time later and says that she needs to get the serial numbers of every piece of equipment, including the removable hard drives in the computers. I hand her the key to the disk drive for the SGI at my desk, expecting her to hit the shutdown button to power the machine down. To my dismay, she quickly turns the key and PULLS OUT THE HARD DRIVE WHILE THE COMPUTER IS RUNNING.

I stare absolutely speechless for several seconds, and then I see her heading for the next computer. "Wait one minute" I say and turn off all of the electronic equipment in the room. Luckily, the drive was not harmed.

But amazing as this was I could not believe what I saw earlier when I was getting ready for work the same day. I had just exited the shower when I heard my husband call out to hurry and see what was on the television. The new host on The View did not know if the earth was a sphere or flat.



And later that same day, a co-worker relayed a story about some of the people attending a company "teamworking" class. The class was divided up into teams and the teams were to workout what they would need if they were stranded on the moon. One guy said that he thought they would need weapons in case "aliens" tried to get them. My friend told the guy that there was no life that we knew of on the moon. This person asked how he knew there was no life on the moon. My friend replied that exploration during the Apollo missions showed that the moon was lifeless. "We went to the moon?" the guy asked.

WTF? How could someone educated in the United States be unaware of the shape of the earth or that we had sent people to the moon? I fear for our nation.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Atheist Soldier Receives Death Threats

Jason Leopold has a continuing series on the effects of religious coercion in the military. As you may recall, a soldier named Jeremy Hall is part of the lawsuit that MRFF has filed against the Pentagon and against the Secretary of Defense. He is the young soldier who was harassed and threatened by his commanding officer.
An Army specialist stationed in Iraq said he has been repeatedly threatened by other US soldiers after word spread that he sued the secretary of defense and an Army major this week for allegedly retaliating against the soldier when he convened a meeting of atheists, according to the founder of a military watchdog organization that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the soldier and has been in close contact with him since then.

Jeremy Hall, 22, who is based out of Fort Riley, Kansas, is deployed in Iraq. The email said a fellow soldier has threatened to "beat his ass," called him an "atheist ass pirate" and "a faggot" and enlisted a "lynch mob" of other soldiers to intimidate Hall because of the allegations Hall made against the military in a lawsuit Weinstein's foundation and Hall filed Monday in US District Court in Kansas City.

Weinstein said he has been in contact with supporters of his foundation who have reported the posting of messages on military and civilian-based blogs, such as military.com, apparently threatening Hall with "fragging," a term used by the military in which an unpopular soldier could be killed by intentional friendly fire during combat.

"Mikey, I hope I am not a victim of a hate crime while I sleep tonight," Hall wrote in an email to Weinstein Thursday evening. "I do not want to die for my country this way. [The soldier] is threatening to beat my ass and all sorts of things. I may be harmed or worse. I am afraid for my safety. I can't sleep, man.... I just lay in my bunk for two hours and I couldn't sleep."
Well it looks like the religious kooks are at it again. Apparently Hall is receiving death threats both in person and by email. Looks like some religious people are feeling defensive and threatened. I don't understand this. If you really believe something and think it is true, why would you feel threatened if someone thinks something different?

Why do some religious people think that threatening someone will win them over? Yeah, I really want to hang around with someone who would treat me in such a manner.

Friday Fungus: Black Trumpet

The Black Trumpet (Craterellus fallax) is a large trumpet shaped mushroom.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

MRFF vs Pentecostalgon

Well, it appears here at truthout and here over at DailyKos that the MRFF has military members who are ready to challenge the Pentagon in court over the atrocious behavior of certain military chaplains and senior officers. Jason Leopold over at truthout has been documenting the infiltration of the military by right-wing fundamentalist for the last 5 months. See my previous post about the young enlisted folk who were subjected to a verbal barrage by their senior officer.

Here are a couple excerpts from the articles:
"A military watchdog organization filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and a US Army major, on behalf of an Army soldier stationed in Iraq. The suit charges the Pentagon with widespread constitutional violations by allegedly trying to force the soldier to embrace evangelical Christianity and then retaliating against him when he refused....

The complaint, filed in US District Court in Kansas City, by the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), on behalf of Jeremy Hall, an Army specialist currently on active duty in Speicher, Iraq, alleges that Hall's First Amendment rights were violated beginning last Thanksgiving when, because of his atheist beliefs, he declined to participate in a Christian prayer ceremony commemorating the holiday...

...the complaint [also] alleges that on August 7, when Hall received permission by an Army chaplain to organize a meeting of other soldiers who shared his atheist beliefs, his supervisor, Army Major Paul Welborne, broke up the gathering and threatened to retaliate against the soldier by charging him with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice

.... The complaint also alleges that Welborne vowed to block Hall's reenlistment in the Army if the atheist group continued to meet - a violation of Hall's First Amendment rights under the Constitution. Welborne is named as a defendant in the lawsuit....

The complaint charges that Hall, who is based at Fort Riley, Kansas, has been forced to "submit to a religious test as a qualification to his post as a soldier in the United States Army," a violation of Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution.
"This landmark federal litigation is just the first of a galaxy of new lawsuits that will be expeditiously filed against the Pentagon in a concentrated effort to preserve the precious religious liberties guaranteed by our beautiful United States Constitution," Weinstein said Monday.
The ideology that is being promoted, from the very top of the Pentagon, militates towards an attack on Iran and a necessary religious war - in secular terms, those among Samuel Huntington, et. al, who say we're headed towards an inevitable a clash of civilizations.

Apocalyptic Christian ideology, in the United States military, may help power that clash. That's what I'm fighting against, with Michael Weinstein and Chris Rodda, and with MRFF.

As a former Air Force officer, I've been aware of this problem for many years. But only in the last couple of years, have I been aware of how bad the problem is. I have a nephew in the Air Force who tells some stories that can give you nightmares. I also have a cousin in Army Intelligence who has also had run-ins with some of these religious freaks.

I've had my own share of stories while I was in the Air Force for 8 years. But I really did not seem to have had any animosity directed my way. Perhaps because I'm not religious, and at that time had absolutely no interest in religion for or against. I was completely oblivious to what they were doing. I'm pretty laid back and I tend to ignore and laugh off conversion attempts.

Though in this post, I detail about what happened to me at the Officer Training School. There I had to attend a church service in order to get 5 merits useful to offset demerits. But I went and was pretty up front about why I was in church and bible study, much to the dismay of the chaplain.

Now that I think about it, an attitude of complete and utter disbelief that someone could possible believe in the Rapture garbage and take it serious, can be intimidating to these people. As in "You've got to be kidding, right? This is some sort of joke, isn't it?" I recall a couple of attempts by others to try and get me into their church. But as anyone who knows me, my skepticism is too great a hurdle for any sort of argument.

Way to go MRFF, I hope these fundy bastards lose and end up looking like the pinched faced, prudish, pricks they really are.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Weinstein on FFRF Podcast

The latest podcast over at FFRF features Mikey Weinstein from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation discussing the latest problems the evangelicals are causing in the nation's military. Some of these stories are absolutely horrifying. He tells of soldiers who are nonbelievers being sent out on the most hazardous of duties, while the Christians sit back in their tents all smug and self-righteous. I guess this shows that selfishness and the fear of death is the motivation for these Christians.

Others who are deemed to be "not Christian enough" for their fundamentalist commanding officers are treated like shit. An example concerns a new army recruit (a Christian) who simply wanted "Christian" on his dog tags. The person at the the in processing center wanted him to put "Four-Square Pentecostal" on his dog tags. The new recruit refused and his dog tag ended up with "None". When he arrived at his unit in Iraq, his commanding officer saw the "None" on his dog tags and made him spend two weeks in the latrine picking up pubic hairs with a pair of tweezers. I wonder how bad it is for open nonbelievers in that particular unit. What a nightmare.

Another story concerned a unit where the commander stated openly that if there was one member who did not join his fundy church, then all members in the unit would not receive"God's Blessing". What a terrible thing to say. That any misfortune that befell the unit would be caused by anyone not going along with the commander. I guess this commander thinks that the god he believes in cannot tell if someone is faking belief. Obviously, the commander is someone stupid enough to fall for Pascal's Wager and expects others to be just as stupid.

What a group of self-righteous, moralizing, judgmental hypocrites these "born-again" commanders are. How can they possibly expect people to want to voluntarily join their religion? Do they think that their god wouldn't notice that some members have been coerced into joining? Of course there is no god to notice, they are simply using religion as a means of forcing compliance with their actions.

I know that if someone treated me like shit, I would definitely not have anything to do with them. Or perhaps go undercover and find out what they are up to and leak out information; after all, payback is a bitch.

Interestingly enough, Mikey Weinstein also stated that he and others over at his organization also think that Blackwater employees may have been in the area where Pat Tillman was shot. And Blackwater is known to have employed people who have been linked to right-wing death squads in Central America in the 80s and 90s. I share this opinion and have stated this in a previous post.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Interesting Labor Day Weekend

Wow, what a weekend. First we had thunderstorms, then a tornado similar to the one on the left. This was followed by large down drafts causing dust storms and a power outage. The electric was out from Saturday until late Monday. What a pain, especially since temperatures reached 110 degrees in the sun for the last three or four days.

It was really exciting seeing the tornado. It lasted about 5 minutes and was tall and straight, and partially transparent. I love watching the shows on satellite showing tornadoes, and this one was spectacular and was about two miles from our house. Too bad I did not think to grab a camera or video.

Then we had an hour of violent dust storms, the visibility was down to zero. The micro bursts were so bad, several power lines leading to our neighborhood snapped like match sticks.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Martial Pastors

Earlier I posted about a creepy government program involving martial law, terrorism, and the use of clergy to manipulate a worried populace. I wondered what would happen to those of us who do not go to a church and do not regard the clergy as any sort of an authority. Now I see that someone else has also speculated about such matters. Over at OpedNews.com, Joe Park has more details that frankly scare the shit out of me.
A KSLA-TV news report from Louisiana has confirmed the story that Clergy Response Teams are being trained by the federal government to "quell dissent" and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law.

The report confirms the existence of a nationwide Homeland Security program which is training pastors and other religious representatives to teach their congregations to "obey the government" in preparation for a declaration of martial law.
This is really a very serious matter.
A whistleblower who attended one of the training sessions reports that the feds were recruiting religious leaders to help implement government Homeland Security directives in anticipation of a terrorist attack or a nationally declared emergency.

The first directive was for pastors to preach to their congregations Romans 13, the often taken out of context bible passage that was used by Hitler to hoodwink Christians into supporting him, in order to teach them to "obey the government" when martial law is declared.
It was stressed that the pastors needed to preach subservience to the authorities ahead of time in preparation for the round-ups and to make it clear to the congregation that "this is for their own good."
I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days. I really am having trouble wrapping this around my brain. What the hell is wrong with these people? Have they never taken a civics course during high school? There is so much that is patently and unconstitutionally wrong with this sort of activity. This is subversion and treason at the very least. Why do moderate Christians not challenge these people? Unbelievers like myself are ignored for the most part when we point out these statements.

Don't these pastors realize that they are subverting the laws of the land and perhaps aiding and abetting treason? And what will they do with those of us that they round up? Put us in cattle cars on the way to a death camp? Have these idiots never studied recent history?
Pastors were told that they would be backed up by law enforcement in controlling uncooperative individuals and that they would even lead SWAT teams in attempting to quell resistance.
Could they really handle the 24 million American citizens who do not belong to any religion? And what would be the cost of dissent? Our lives?
So there you have it - Homeland Security is working with local police departments and religious leaders to prepare for a declaration of martial law and in particular to develop techniques they will employ during the crisis to "quell dissent."
Well certain groups, like Christian Embassy, who are associated with dominionist leaning churches, such as the Assemblies of God, have close ties with the military. And these groups probably also have close links with law enforcement agencies as well. And mercenary contractors such as Blackwater are also owned, ran, and staffed by fundamentalist Christians.

So that possibly pits these groups, as well as sympathetic fundamentalist citizens, against those of us who don't subscribe to these religious viewpoints. And in addition, we have preachers such as Joseph Fuiten, an AOG pastor who lately has stated that those who don't think as himself should not be considered citizens. It seems that the more these guys reveal their agenda, the more frightening their plans appear.

I will continue this in further posts, once I've researched more of the the links.

Friday Fungus: A Stinky Member

The Stinkhorn mushroom (Phallus impudicus) is a stinky, slimy member (so to speak) of the fungi.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Pervert Alert: His Own Private Idaho

Sen. Larry "Woody" Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in a public restroom for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. According to MSNBC, Sen. Craig was arrested in June, pled guilty, and paid a fine for lewd behavior in a public restroom. What is it about conservative Republicans and public restrooms? I guess the dirtier and kinkier and more public the sex is, the better they like it.

Over at DailyKos, the thread has a lot of hilarious comments. Family values, my ass. What about his wife and children?

Oh, and over at Idaho Values Alliance, check out the bonus bytes section:
One of the tragic characteristics of the homosexual lifestyle is its emphasis on anonymous sex and multiple sexual partners. It is a little-acknowledged secret that many active homosexuals will have more than 1,000 sex partners over the course of a lifetime (the average among heterosexuals is seven – still six more than we were designed for). This sordid fact of homosexual life surfaced yesterday in an AP article yesterday that reports on the number of arrests police have made for indecent exposure and public sex acts in the restrooms at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. The increased restroom patrols, begun to apprehend luggage thieves, instead uncovered a rash of sex crimes. Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist. One such ad was from a man saying he was stuck at the airport for three hours and was looking for “discreet, quick action.” (AP: Arrests Up in Atlanta Airport Restrooms)
Hahahahahahahahahahaha. What irony.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Scary Overview of Fringe Evangelicals

Excellent overview of the infiltration of fringe evangelicals in the US military force can be found here at truthout. Chilling summary as follows:
"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal," said Bill Moyers, a journalist-commentator for the Public Broadcasting Service in a speech to Harvard Medical School in December 2004. "It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts." Moyers is an ordained Baptist minister.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Friday Fungus: Toxic Black Mold

Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) is a very toxic mold that grows in damp areas in houses, causing many health problems.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Don't Worry Anna, Sometimes a Conspiracy is Just a Conspiracy

Channel 12 in my home state of Louisiana has a sensational but scary story here. Apparently, if martial law is declared, clergy members allied with the government will be there to counsel people to obey the government.
Could martial law ever become a reality in America? Some fear any nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil might trigger just that. KSLA News 12 has discovered that the clergy would help the government with potentially their biggest problem: Us.
and
For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13. Dr. Tuberville elaborated, "because the government's established by the Lord, you know. And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's stated in the scripture."
And what will they do with those of us who don't fall under the authority of any church? Round us up, and then what? What would we have to do, find a cover church?
But gun confiscation is exactly what happened during the state of emergency following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, along with forced relocation. U.S. Troops also arrived, something far easier to do now, thanks to last year's elimination of the 1878 Posse Comitatus act, which had forbid regular U.S. Army troops from policing on American soil.
But I think this plan is unenforceable. Even in New Orleans after Katrina, people were supposed to relinquish their firearms, but did not. And I have relatives who came into New Orleans via the waterways to rescue some of the stranded people. They were heavily armed, because of all of the rumors circulating about gunfire in the city. They found they had no problems, and there weren't roving gangs at all. Just a lot of tired and hungry people. The Blackwater guys gave them a wide berth. After all, who wants to tangle with a bunch of heavily armed Cajuns?

The Rapture is not a Viable Exit Strategy

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Mickey Weinstein and Reza Aslan discuss the increasing links between the military chain of command and proselytizing, fundamentalist Christian groups.
Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering "freedom packages" to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.
Like I've said before, why would soldiers in their off hours play a game about hunting down and killing civilians that differ from themselves? The Straight Up guys must be clueless dweebs who don't have a clue what military service is like. Led by idiots like Stephen Baldwin, they think the military is some sort of muscle bound club full of brainless street fighters. One look at their overtly butch t-shirts tells me exactly what sort of guys they are. A group of immature phallically challenged individuals disparately trying to be men.
Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word "crusade" and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.
Duh, wouldn't you know.
It's time to actively strip the so-called war on terror of its religious connotations, not add to them. Because religious wars are not just ugly, they are unwinnable. And despite what Operation Straight Up and its supporters in the Pentagon may think is taking place in Iraq, the Rapture is not a viable exit strategy.
It seems like this is another ingredient in the Religious Right's recipe to force Jesus to come back. I had, until a couple of years ago, thought that the religious Christians believed that Jesus would come in his own time, and not by the Religious Right's schedule.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

VoteVets Letter for Pat Tillman

Over at VoteVets, they are getting a petition to the White House for further inquiry into Corporal Pat Tillman's death. Here's the contents of the letter.
Mr. President:

On behalf of the veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and those troops still in theater, I implore you to reconsider your decision to invoke claims of executive privilege in refusing to share vital documents regarding the death of Corporal Pat Tillman with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

As you know, this week the Associated Press obtained the medical examiner's finding at the time of his death that Corporal Tillman's fatal wounds seemed to indicate shots fired from ten yards away, or less. The doctors who examined Corporal Tillman urged a criminal investigation into his death be opened at that time, and were refused. Since that time, the Department of Defense has put forth two explanations for the death of Corporal Tillman, the first of which was proven false, and a second which now seems to have been proven to be a lie, as well. In both cases, the White House has actively pushed these false findings to the public.

Your administration has faithfully shared a number of documents with the committee, but has withheld a number of requested documents under the specious argument that sharing the documents would violate confidentiality among you and your staff. For instance, the Committee has requested a number of communications between senior administration officials and the Pentagon, which may offer important details into the death of Corporal Tillman, and if there was an attempt to cover them up, by some in the Executive Branch.

Respectfully, Sir, when it comes to outright lies conveyed to the public about the death of a soldier - especially one like Corporal Tillman whose service was used as a recruiting poster for the military - there is nothing which cannot be shared with the Legislative Branch or the people.

Confidence in the institution of the military from those within is at stake, the longer you withhold information. The longer questions remain about the death of Corporal Tillman and possible White House involvement in an ensuing cover-up, the more our troops will question whether this government will properly honor their sacrifice and let their families know the truth, if they are killed in action. It is simply impossible for the military to function, if those in its ranks do not have full faith in our leadership up the chain of command, all the way to Washington.

Additionally, by letting questions fester regarding the death of Corporal Tillman, you are placing an undue burden on our recruiters, at a time when our Army and Marine Corps can ill-afford more of a drop off in recruiting. Our military depends on being able to visit homes and gaining the trust of mothers and fathers to allow their 18-year old son or daughter to wear the uniform. What mother would allow her son or daughter to serve a nation she feels will not honor her child's service?

Finally, as Commander in Chief, you owe the complete and total truth to Corporal Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman. It is the duty of any officer to write to the families of those under us who were killed, and tell them the entire truth regarding their love one's death. To lie about any details or withhold any information would not just cause unjust pain to the survivors, but is to dishonor the fallen. As our nation's top commander, it is your duty to Pat Tillman and his family to release all materials related to his death.

For the good of our military, our troops, the Tillmans, and our nation, I respectfully call on you to comply with all past and future requests of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the matter of the death of Corporal Tillman.

Respectfully,
I signed it this weekend. Dear reader, if you support this, you should sign as well.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Clowns for Jesus

Well, it looks like the Steven Baldwin and the Operation Start Up guys will not be sending their bizarre care packages with the Left Behind games in them. Max Blumenthal over at The Nation and ABC News exposed their plans. Looks like these folks won't get a tax credit for the game. Oh, it's just too bad.
OSU president Jonathan Sprinks in a recent press release said of Baldwin, "Since God made a difference in his life, he's been very outspoken."

Sprinks came under fire from bloggers for writing on his Web site, "We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war-torn region," about OSU Tour's planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."

The above text has been removed from Sprinks' site but can be viewed on the cached page.

Sprinks did not return requests for comment on this article.

The Defense Department's only comment on the record was that the OSU Tour is "currently not planning on sending any care packages to the troops in Iraq."

In addition to the game, OSU Tour's "Freedom Packets" were supposed to include pocket-sized editions of the New Testament, evangelical DVDs and books, baby wipes and phone cards, according to its Web site.
So we see the real reason was to send out the games. Why can't they send out the rest of items in the care packages? I'm sure the soldiers would appreciate the phone cards and baby wipes. Sounds to me like the guys at OSU are acting like children. I guess if they can't send the religious items, then they don't want to send anything at all. Waaah. What a bunch of clowns.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Friday Fungus: Radioactive Fungi


The fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum can harness dangerous radiation to grow.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Suicide by Armageddon

Earlier I discussed the superstitious behaviors of some fundamentalist Christians. I showed that some fundamentalist sects such as the Assemblies of God type Pentecostals engaged in such behavior as anointing in oil and cursing enemies (imprecatory prayer). You know, the only difference between them and a witch doctor is the voodoo dolls. They have voodoo crosses after all.
how these young people wrote down on small pieces of paper the names of “non-Christian students” at the school and nailed them to a cross they brought to accompany the prayer service.

But I really think that they are trying to work a really big spell, one which is trying to get Jesus to come back. Think of Buffy and the Master from the first year of Buffy. All of the meddling in the Middle East is designed to accomplish this goal. What else could explain the incredibly stupid decisions made in this region?

Check out this article and video by Max Blumenthal for an example. All of these people are using Israel and the Jews, and war with Iran, as ingredients in their spell to bring back Jesus. And with Jesus comes Armageddon and death (or exit to heaven for these guys). And like any crazy mass murderer they don't care how many they take with them when they go.

Okay, perhaps that was a little over the top. But hey, this subject almost always gets a rant out of me. Pentecostal like "God Warriors" like Margaret Perrin scare the shit out of me with their irrational behavior.

Crusaders for Hire

Looks like I'm not the only one to recognize the similarities between today's soldiers for hire (represented by Blackwater) and yesterday's crusaders. See this article for more details on privately contracted armies. Paul Nyden over at the Charleston Gazette has an interesting editorial.
Blackwater executives, and many government officials who work with them, are evangelical ideologues, both authors point out.

Edgar Prince, founder of Blackwater, grew up in a politically conservative, evangelical Catholic family near Detroit.

Blackwater, based in the Great Dismal Swamp near the North Carolina coast, has become the nation’s largest mercenary company.

L. Paul Bremer, who oversaw Iraq for one year after the U.S. invasion, is also a conservative Catholic, who was always protected by Blackwater guards during his time in Iraq.

John Negroponte, who succeeded Bremer, previously helped create “death squads” in Vietnam in the 1970s and coordinated Washington’s “covert support for the Contra death squads in Nicaragua and for the Honduran junta” in the 1980s, Scahill writes.

Jim Steele, who worked for both Bremer and Negroponte, also helped organize counterinsurgency groups and death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Joseph Schmitz, forced to resign as the Pentagon’s Inspector General amid growing controversy, took a job with Blackwater in 2005. His government resume lists membership in the “Sovereign Military Order of Malta,” a Christian militia founded in the 11th century before the Crusades.

“It all comes down to this,” Schmitz said in a speech while at the Pentagon. “We pride ourselves on our strict adherence to the rule of law under God.”

The irony, Scahill points out, is that while Iraq goes up in flames, Blackwater’s future seems bright.

Both authors warn of increasing dangers to world peace and American democracy.

Many of our own intelligence and military officials fear a continued backlash from the brutal actions of many mercenaries.

In addition, Scahill notes, many active-duty American soldiers harbor resentments toward mercenaries paid so much better and accountable to no one.

What the future holds is unclear.
and
Companies like Blackwater also recruit and hire hardened soldiers from repressive regimes such as South Africa during the apartheid era and Chile under Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Salvador Allende in a Sept. 11, 1973, coup and remained in power until 1990.
and
Private contractors also lead to increased violence against local people in Iraq.

Pelton and Scahill both describe how mercenaries rained gunfire on "moving targets" in Iraq and Afghanistan, without knowing whether the targets were insurgents or peaceful citizens, adults or small children.

For example, they routinely shot at ambulances bringing wounded Iraqis to hospitals in Fallujah, Scahill writes, hospitals that were already "a death row for innocents" because the U.S. embargoed medical supplies.
Wow, a bunch of money hungry, evangelical thugs. I wonder if any of these characters were near Corporal Pat Tillman when he was shot. After all, what better target for a crusader than an unbeliever.