Friday, February 13, 2009

Putting Your Faith in God...

...or failing that, Smith and Wesson.

Via The Religion News Service, I see that the Arkansas State House has passed a bill specifically allowing for guns to be carried in churches:

'...The state House on Wednesday narrowly passed a bill to allow concealed weapons permit holders to bring their guns to church. Its fate will now rest with the Senate...

...House Bill 1237, the church-guns bill, won approval on a 57-42 vote.

The bill by Rep. Beverly Pyle, R-Cedarville, would amend state law to remove churches and other places of worship from the list of places where people with permits are not allowed to carry guns.

“Due to many shootings that have happened in our churches across our nation, it is time we changed our concealed handgun law to allow law-abiding citizens of the state of Arkansas the right to defend themselves and others should a situation happen in one of our churches,” Pyle told House members...'

This really doesn't speak well of the faith the Arkansas State Government has in Arkansas religious institutions to be a force for peace in this world. If the State House feels that churches offering messages of peace are ineffective without some serious packed heat to back up the message, then what are they doing funneling money to 'Faith Based Initiatives?'

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Stimulus we can believe in, courtesy of the U.S. Senate:

'...Buried in the Senate version of the economic recovery plan — despite the "heroic" efforts of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and other centrists to "fry the bacon" — is an allocation of $1 Billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for “weapons activities.”...'

Appropriation here. I can think of few things more stimulating than nuclear bombs. If you're a Cylon. If you instead are trying to stimulate an economy, then building schools will most certainly lead to more job creation, to say nothing of block grants to states in financial straitjackets.

Of course, World War II is, by popular myth and story, the reason we got out of the Great Depression, so what do I know? Think of all those rebuilding opportunities on Caprica. Maybe we could nuke each other; or maybe the Moon.

Buh-Bye, Dubai

Boom Times go Boom. From the London Times:

'...For many expatriate workers in Dubai it was the ultimate symbol of their tax-free wealth: a luxurious car that few could have afforded on the money they earned at home...

...Police have found more than 3,000 cars outside Dubai’s international airport in recent months. Most of the cars – four-wheel drives, saloons and “a few” Mercedes – had keys left in the ignition.
Some had used-to-the-limit credit cards in the glove box. Others had notes of apology attached to the windscreen.

“Every day we find more and more cars,” said one senior airport security official, who did not want to be named. “Christmas was the worst – we found more than two dozen on a single day.”...'

What on Earth? Why, those sound like perfectly good automobiles. What's going on?

'...Now, faced with crippling debts as a result of their high living and Dubai’s fading fortunes, many expatriates are abandoning their cars at the airport and fleeing home rather than risk jail for defaulting on loans.

...Under Sharia, which prevails in Dubai, the punishment for defaulting on a debt is severe. Bouncing a check, for example, is punishable with jail. Those who flee the emirate are known as skips...

...Police have issued warrants against owners of the deserted cars. Those who return risk arrest at the airport...'

Oh, I see. Good luck with those airport arrests. They're not coming back. Here are the economic projections for that crazy boom town Dubai in the coming year:

80% of the entire population (about 4.5 million) is expatriate.

8% total population decline predicted this year, as expatriates leave

1,500 visas canceled every day in Dubai

62% of homes occupied by expatriates; 60% fall in property values predicted

50% slump in the price of luxury apartments on Palm Jumeirah

25% reduction in luxury spending among UAE expatriates

Thursday, January 22, 2009


From the BBC Archives: Martin Luther King in 1964., talking about when America will have a Black President.

H/t: Religion News

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I watched the inauguration online yesterday, or, rather, as much as I could when the squirrels running the CNN servers were still working. But I got most of it. Including this part of his speech, as noted by Jonathan Cohn:

'...Using inclusive language about religion is pretty much ritual now. If you're a politician giving a speech and you're going to cite one faith, you have to cite many--i.e., not just Christians, but Jews, Muslims, and Hindus as well. And that's a good thing.

But if the standards of polite political discourse now require accepting people who pray to god in different ways, it doesn't require recognizing those who choose not to pray at all. At least not yet. That made this line in Obama's address significant:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus--and non-believers.

Perhaps this is another barrier, albeit a rhetorical one, that Obama intends to tear down over the next few years...'

It is a rhetorical 'barrier,' that is true, but it's nonetheless important. As the saying goes, an atheist couldn't be elected dog catcher in this country. And when politicians start incorporating religious talk into their babblings, it invariably ends up being a Protestant formulation - hardly an inclusive act. So we have a long way to go and it's a small step, but an excellent one.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Be Seeing You

R.I.P. Patrick McGoohan.  Yeah, I'm a Prisoner geek.  You have a problem with that?  I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Freedom of Choice

Krispy Creme is celebrating the inauguration:

'...Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies -- just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet 'free' can be...'

Sounds like fun. But the problem with evil things is that they often appear innocuous. To wit:


The following is a statement from American Life League president Judie Brown:

"The next time you stare down a conveyor belt of slow-moving, hot, sugary glazed donuts at your local Krispy Kreme, you just might be supporting President-elect Barack Obama's radical support for abortion on demand - including his sweeping promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as soon as he steps in the Oval Office, Jan. 20.

"The doughnut giant released the following statement yesterday:

'Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies -- just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet "free" can be.'
"Just an unfortunate choice of words? For the sake of our Wednesday morning doughnut runs, we hope so. The unfortunate reality of a post Roe v. Wade America is that 'choice' is synonymous with abortion access, and celebration of 'freedom of choice' is a tacit endorsement of abortion rights on demand.

"President-elect Barack Obama promises to be the most virulently pro-abortion president in history. Millions more children will be endangered by his radical abortion agenda.

"Celebrating his inauguration with 'Freedom of Choice' doughnuts - only two days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to decriminalize abortion - is not only extremely tacky, it's disrespectful and insensitive and makes a mockery of a national tragedy.

"A misconstrued concept of 'choice' has killed over 50 million preborn children since Jan. 22, 1973. Does Krispy Kreme really want their free doughnuts to celebrate this 'freedom.'

"As of Thursday morning, communications director Brian Little could not be reached for comment. We challenge Krispy Kreme doughnuts to reaffirm their commitment to true freedom - to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - and to separate themselves and their doughnuts from our great American shame.

"American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Julie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to natural death."...'

Tough Decisions

From the text of the final speech of the Captain of the Titanic:

'...You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions...'

To which IOZ responds:

'...It really is an extraordinary notion, isn't it? That the act of deciding exists independently of the decision itself, that the outcome is an invalid rubric for judging the appropriateness and rightness of the initiatory act...'

Yes it is. It's also extraordinary how much of a fetish our nation has for some vaguely defined notions of masculinity, such as 'decision making.' For some reason we now view careful deliberation as some sort of feminizing activity. Probably some sort of post 9/11 martial viewpoint.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hey, Zeus, Christos

We just finished watching ‘I, Claudius’ on DVD, and now are trying to complete season 4.0 of Battlestar Galactica before the next episodes start on Friday. An interesting narrative thread that runs through both is the division of their respective societies into polytheistic worship of ancient (Greek) gods, and monotheistic worship.

Just in time I read a post on GetReligion, linking to a two year old article in the Guardian:

‘…It was high noon when Doreta Peppa, a woman with long, dark locks and owlish eyes, entered the Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus…To the astonishment of onlookers, Peppa also began babbling Orphic hymns, before thrusting her arms upwards into the Attic skies and proceeding, somewhat deliriously, to warble her love for the gods of Mount Olympus. But, then, for the motley group of modern pagans coalesced around the temple's giant Corinthian columns, this was a special moment. Not since the late fourth century AD, when the newly Christian Roman state outlawed all forms of pagan worship, had a high priestess officiated on the sacred site.

Armed with white doves, Peppa, a former advertising executive, was not going to hold back - even if it meant defying the furious Greek officials and riot police gathered at the second-century temple's gates, unwilling to stop the ceremony for fear of provoking a violent confrontation. "Sixteen and a half centuries is a very long time to wait," she said. "After so many years of Christian persecution we were finally able to call on Zeus, our king-god, to bring peace to the world ahead of the [2008] Olympics. For us, it was a very, very big thing."

So big, that like a thunderbolt from the deity himself, the one-hour ceremony has achieved the near-impossible task of unnerving Greece's powerful Orthodox church. Since Peppa's performance 10 days ago, hierarchs have redirected the venom they usually reserve for homosexuals, Catholics, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, masons and the "barbaric" Turks at the "miserable resuscitators" of the degenerate dead religion. In fire-and-brimstone sermons priests have slammed the "satanic" New Ageists and fulminated against their idols…’

While this sounds like something out of ‘American Gods,’ the YSEE, an umbrella organization that represents groups seeking a ‘restoration of the Polytheistic, Ethnic Hellenic religion,’ is trying to promote religious freedom in Greece, a country overwhelmingly run by Orthodox Christianity:

‘…For years, we the Ethnikoi Hellenes, i.e. contemporary Greeks who still respect and honour the rites and beliefs of our ancestors, the Hellenes, remained stoically patient when faced with the systematic (and not at all coincidental), negligence and degradation of our monumental and living ethnic heritage by a "Greek" State, which is obviously enslaved by an economico-religious giant whose cultural and logical interests promote the open scorn for our real (i.e. pre-Christian) ethnic Tradition…

Under this new and terrifying reality that we all see being formed against real Hellenism, and as none of the State Officials supposedly responsible for its protection seem sensitive enough, personalities from the community of the Ethnikoi Hellenes have decided to found the Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes, which shall aim at the protection and restoration of the real (pre-Christian) Hellenic Tradition. We shall work by all legal means necessary towards awakening the Greek people and securing respect, survival, natural and moral protection, restoration and honour of our monuments, symbols, ideas and living forms of ancient Hellenic Tradition in the forms of cosmoperception, philosophical thought, political perception, ethnic religion, arts, morals and customs, language, mythology, symbols etc…

…Honour and Glory to our Ancestral Gods’

Looks like the Old Gods are fighting back. With the help of a former advertising executive.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I meant to post these, oh, say, two weeks ago when it actually happened and was more timely, but I’ve been rather busy with all of this school and work stuff going on. But the above are shots of the line I stood in for 2 ½ hours to vote. My normal wait time has been 15 minutes or so; this time the line went out the door, down 6th Avenue, around the corner down Berkeley, and down to 5th Avenue, around the corner and towards Lincoln. It’s about a fifth of a mile.

What was also amazing is that the line was there just because of turnout. No problems at the polling place (it was all running relatively smoothly), just tons of people coming out for their franchise. And no one was discouraged by the line. They just got a cup of coffee and a paper and waited along with everyone else.

It’s been hard for me to get motivated about all of this, I confess. While I eagerly hoped that now President-elect Obama would win, most of my wish was based on a fervent desire for Senator McCain not to win. My aspirations for the next presidency have been simply a ceasing of the idiocy and destruction of the previous eight years of kleptocracy. In short, to stop digging the hole. I place no hope, however, on getting the hole filled in – I’m far too much of a cynical realist for that. I would love nothing more for a progressive agenda to be enacted, but that aint gonna happen.

And behold today: Senator “Obama is a socialist” Lieberman gets to keep his Chairmanship. Here’s the fun quote:

‘…Asked what it would mean if Lieberman kept his chairmanship, one Senate Democratic aide said bluntly: "The left has been foiled again. They can rant and rage but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes. Their influence would be in question."…’

Friday, October 03, 2008

More of This, Please

The above is a speech Richard Trumka, the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, gave back in July to the United Steel Workers. Mr. Trumka is a third-generation coal miner from Pennsylvania. Watch the entire thing - it's powerful.