Thursday, April 25, 2013

A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a rant.

There's been a lot going on recently, and I've not been able to pay as much attention to this page as I'd like.  My apologies to my regular crowd!

First, the weather is moving towards spring - finally - and there's some stuff that just has to happen in the yard in spring.  Longer days, more daylight, less time on the machine the Cyberwife calls my mistress.   Sigh.

Second, two of the cyberdaughters are pregnant, one with her sixth and the other (the oldest) with TWINS!  This'll make nine grandkids by December.  (My family breeds like rabbits - just let us put down roots, and we'll literally own the whole town in a generation, either outright or just by marrying into it!)

Next, one of my old friends on Facebook, Linda G., is dying of cancer.  Lung, liver and pancreatic.  She is not expected to last very long and has been moved to hospice.  Needless to say, her family is devastated, and the folks on FB who all belong to the group she started are all still pretty much in shock.

I got to meet Linda last year when I drove down to Florida to see Cyberdaughter the Youngest as I passed through Brunswick, Georgia, where Linda and a lot of the FB folks live.  It was a rare opportunity to do a face to face with an Internet friend, and it was good to meet her and share a dining experience, however briefly.

I finally have to face the fact that I am now old enough to begin to experience the death of people I know personally.  That is an idea I will need to adjust to.  It is a new one, and I am not certain how well I will be able to handle it.  Stay tuned on that one.

Last, I am working on a book.  Science-fantasy, and I will not (at this time) reveal the plot.  When I am comfy with it, I will perhaps release the prologue to see how it goes over.  So that will take up more time too.


Now, I promised you a rant, and I will not disappoint!  It will be a bit nuanced, though, because it impacts upon a couple of subjects I've touched on before.

First, Rachael Maddow had a very good segment the other day about how the right wing press - the mainstream bunch - has finally gone off on how Islam is totally at fault for the Boston bombing and how it is truly our enemy and how we should now go to war against the whole religion.

I have avoided, except in the most egregious cases, covering the right wing crazy stuff, because it has become so damn normal. Every time I turn around, some right wing nutbag politician has gone off the deep end and said something so totally stupid, if this were forty years ago, they'd have locked him behind a padded door.  But it isn't, it is now, and it is so damn normal, it is almost expected.

But this goes beyond crazy.

Islam is followed, nominally, by something over two billion people.  Now, one can argue as to the sincerity of many of them, given the totalitarian nature of a religion that kills people who say they don't believe the bullshit any longer, but there is no doubt that it certainly controls that many.  Meaning that it can command the public loyalty of those billions and can call upon many of them as combat soldiers if needed.  I truly question the wisdom of going to war with a religion that can command such numbers when our single country comprises less than 400 million.  True, we may have the biggest and most advanced military in the world, but as a past military man (I cannot remember the name of) once said, "Quantity has a quality all it's own!"

A population of two billion can command a lot more combat soldiers than we can.  A lot more.

Besides, the idea that every muslim bears responsibility for the crimes of a small fanatical minority is problematic.

I know that I have expounded on the theory that moderate or even liberal christians (and muslims), by continuing to believe in the sacredness of their holy scriptures, bear some responsibility for the fanaticism of the fundamentalists.  There is some measure of truth to that.  By cherry picking the holy books and ignoring the bad parts, you do allow the bad guys to cherry pick their own verses to provide religious cover for their criminal behavior.  Picking the bad ones you have ignored, thus creating a version of your religion that is probably diametrically opposed to what you, as a liberal, believe.

Funny how the same book can support two completely opposed religious ideals, huh?

On the basis of argument in the public sphere, I can argue this quite sincerely, yet believe at the same time that to blame the liberal or even the moderates to the point of war is nonsensical.

There is a definite difference between arguing theology and dropping bombs.  Public debate and argument is something that can persuade people to one's point of view - and a lot of people are moving away from religion, and not just in the US.  There is a growing number of very courageous people, both men and women in the muslim world, who are beginning to take a stand.

Islam is a bit younger than christianity, by about six hundred years.  Funny how that coincides with the period of time after its creation when christianity began its internal struggle we now call The Enlightenment - that period when people began to see through the sciences and a growing sophisticated society that the old simple values of their religion just didn't work any longer.

Islam is now in the midst of their own struggle with the principles of Enlightenment.  Our news media don't cover it much for some stupid reason, but there ARE muslims out there of a moderate or even liberal persuasion who are vehemently opposed to the fundamentalism of the fanatics and argue strenuously against their actions, condemning them at every turn.  There ARE muslims in this country who are committed to the  American ideals of freedom, justice and the separation of church and state, and are willing to serve in our military to fight and die for those ideals.

The willingness of the right wing media to ignore these people and paint them with a broad fanatical brush is stupid, ignorant and ultimately self defeating.

There are plenty of reasons why I fight religious ideas.  The existence of fanatic fundamentalists willing to kill innocent people (even of their own faith) is one of the best reasons I can think of.  But the Islamic faith isn't the only one that breeds these nuts, Christianity has its share, the Jewish faith does and so do the supposedly peaceful Hindu.

The crimes of a few are NOT reason to declare war on over two billion people in dozens of countries.

We do NOT have the resources to win, folks. Think about that, if for no other reason.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More Religious Harm - Jewish style.

In my continuing series of articles on the harm religion does, the latest is a bit dated, since I've been busy playing Daddy Day Care this week and didn't have a chance to blog much.

It seems that in the State of Israel, where the Jewish Orthodox hold a desperate and tenacious hold on an outsized amount of political influence, the government has arrested and then released 5 women for the dastardly offense of praying at the wrong place.

To be sure, there is an effort at coming to a compromise over the situation, but in a country whose religion, as practiced by an influential few, is about as misogynistic as it comes, a compromise is hard to come by.

This time, the actual "harm" isn't specifically to these women, as they were released without charge.  This time.  The harm is to the peace and order in a society which chooses to worship in a religion which makes women second class citizens, not only restricting them from major religious activities, but supposedly espousing the virtually complete separation of the sexes.

Aren't women's lives hard enough without putting artificial obstacles in their paths as well?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

More Harm by Religion, but a bit outdated...

The New Atheist movement has been in the forefront of touting the Harm Done by Religion, and I've been riding that wave where I could find examples, in between my other posts.   As a movement, it isn't very old, as political movements go even in this country.

So, I figured as soon as I found this example of the Harm Religion Does, I'd better get it out there, so people could see just how pervasive and endemic in our society it really is! I mean, these guys should have been stopped, but I fear we're a bit late...
The reasons behind these bog body killings remains uncertain but Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland has suggested a very interesting theory (see Archaeology, No. 63, Vol 3, May/June 2010) . He believes that “these men were failed kings or failed candidates for kingship who were killed and placed in bogs that formed important tribal boundaries. Both Clonycavan and Old Croghan men’s nipples were pinched and cut. “Sucking a king’s nipples was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland,” says Kelly. “Cutting them would have made him incapable of kingship.” The bodies served as offerings to the goddess of the land to whom the king was wed in his inauguration ceremony. According to Kelly, both men’s multiple injuries may reflect the belief that the goddess was not only one of the land and fertility, but also of sovereignty, war, and death. “By using a range of methods to kill the victim, the ancient Irish sacrificed to the goddess in all her forms,”.

Oh, didn't I say?  This example is over two thousand years old... isn't it about time the human race grew up and stopped this nonsense?  I know, I know, religion these days doesn't do human sacrifice - we make our victims live out the pain and suffering long term, instead of killing them and putting them out of their misery.  We are much more sophisticated just how we go about it these days.

In a way, that's even worse.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The world is full of sick people.

In part, yes, I am talking about the terrorists who bombed the Boston Marathon today.  This is a terrible crime that will go down in the annals of American history as one of those things we all remember where we were when we heard about it.

Two dead and around a hundred injured, from spotty reports so far.  Other reports about supposed suspects, disarmed unexploded bombs, whether there was another bomb at the Kennedy Library or if it was just a fire - first reports of these things are always wrong and often exaggerated.

However it turns out it is a terrible thing, but whatever the outcome, this kind of thing brings out the additional sickos, and this time the Westboro Baptist Church has decided to join the bandwagon.

Only someone with a religious perspective can be so mentally twisted as to decide to take something like this, totally unrelated to their main goals, and mangle it so badly to make it fit.

Sick bastards, all of them.  You can include in that number any of the players in this drama you want to.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Just when you think you've seen the worst...

I learned something the other day.  I'm sure you've seen the posts on FB and clucked disgustedly over it.

But, did you really think about it?  I mean, really, really think about it?

I did.  I'm talking about the man behind the Ron Paul homeschooling curriculum, Gary North.

The basics are bad enough, with a man like Ron Paul lending his name to a man with fundamentalist creds and allowing him to write something Paul will most likely never read - but will undoubtedly get well paid for!

But to see the movement that North is responsible for is ... well ... scary isn't a strong enough word.  I've written about the Dominionists before - a group who wants to bring theocracy to America, whether we want it or not.  Yes, they ARE scary, and you can read about them and their attempts to mold our Armed Forces into an Army of God by using the label "Dominionism" to sort my posts about that group.

But these guys are worse, if that is even possible.  The movement is called Reconstructionism, and it is to Dominionism what a tactical nuke is to a 500 lb high explosive bomb.  North wants to bring biblical laws not just to America, but to the entire world.  And not just the "nice" stuff theocrats want today in fundamentalism, but the whole ball of wax - stoning for adultery, slavery, sex slavery, stoning for kids who disrespect their parents, death to girls who have sex before marriage - everything the Old Testament calls for.

Listen to Walter Olsen:
Those who would face execution include not only gays but a very long list of others: blasphemers, heretics, apostate Christians, people who cursed or struck their parents, females guilty of “unchastity before marriage,” “incorrigible” juvenile delinquents, adulterers, and (probably) telephone psychics. And that’s to say nothing of murderers and those guilty of raping married women or “betrothed virgins.” Adulterers, among others, might meet their doom by being publicly stoned…
Notice that bit about the rapists of married women or betrothed virgins.  Gals who belong to a man.  Remember, the bible allows the rapist of an unmarried women to marry her - or rather it is termed a punishment for him, since he is not allowed to divorce her.  No mention, of course of the punishment to her of being forced to live with her rapist for the rest of her life...

But now, the kid gloves are off.   North admits fully that to him, religious freedom is merely the means to an end:
Everyone talks about religious liberty, but no one believes it. So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.

The story is at the Skeptical Libertarian Blog, and is entitled, "Gary North: The ‘Libertarian’ Taliban Who’s Writing Ron Paul’s Curriculum".

I urge you to go read it, I just can't go on with this, it is just too horribly wrong.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Internet Hoax

Well, it looked good:  Joel Osteen Renounces Christianity!  Resigns from Megachurch!

But, like a host of other headlines, it was a hoax.  An elaborate one; the creator not only created a fake Joel Osteen Ministries site, but several fake news sites to push the hoax!

Facebook, of course, picked this up and ran with it.

Look, I am the first guy to ever be glad that someone dumps the kool-aid and gets reality into their brain, especially if that person is someone important to the other side.

But there are limits to both believability and to what is the right way to do things, and to make a leader of a large number of people the target of a hoax is not only flat out wrong, but counter to what those of us who are humanists should believe in.  This hurts people, both the man as the target and the people he leads.  It also hurts the image those of us who are atheists would like the world to see of us.  This kind of childish prank hurts our cause and does not advance it one bit.

We should be better than that.  I want all of you to understand that I categorically denounce these kinds of pranks and do not support this hurtful activity.  Really, it wasn't even very funny.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Guest Post - "Passing Through Gethsemane"

Hi, folks!  The Cybernetic Atheist here!  I have a special treat for you, a Guest Post from the youngest CyberDaughter!  It is a long post, so I split it into two pages - enjoy it and please, read to the end!
Passing Through Gethsemane
Greetings and salutations, everyone! I am Cyberdaughter and I will be providing your entertainment for the evening. This is a pretty long story but I assure you it’s worth it to read until the end – I hope to make you laugh or, failing that, I hope to make you feel much better about your own day. Before I begin, a little bit about myself:
My gracious host, The Cybernetic Atheist, is my dear father. (Hi, pops!)
We get along swimmingly, for which I am grateful considering that we are very similar and this means I think I’m a pretty cool dude. We are fun, hilarious, corny, and love to both cook and eat food. We’re also incredibly talented, good looking, charming, rich…okay, okay, stop laughing, it’s close enough to the truth! Right…?
I live in sunny Florida and poke fun at my parents all winter long; in return they both poke fun at me all summer long. I live in a nice little one bedroom apartment in a quiet part of town with my two cats, Merlin and Lucy, both under a year old. Merlin is laid back, super cool, listens to me (I hesitate to use the phrase ‘well trained’ without knocking on wood), and loves to sleep on my head like a furry little football helmet. He’s also known as “Merle”, “Adolf Kitler”, and “Merlin Monroe” due to his ridiculous beauty mark. Lucy is three months younger, craves attention like sustenance, doesn’t listen to a word I say (ever), and is also known as “Tiny”, “Little”, and “Princess”. Both cats are very social and neither of them has ever lifted a tooth or claw in anger.

I’m pretty proud of my little furry friends. As I told my oldest sister: what separates me from the crazy cat ladies of the world is that they brag about their cats, but they’re nothing special. I brag about my cats because they’re clearly cooler than everyone else’s. Also, I’m not quite old enough to be a crazy cat lady yet.
But enough about my cats. I work in customer service and I’m fortunate enough to work from home most of the time, which saves me more money on food than it does on gas. I’m a redhead, which I’m exceptionally proud of. I’m sure this is a surprise to you. Contrary to stereotype, however, I may just have the world’s longest fuse. I am a well of patience and understanding. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but I’m pretty calm and laid back most of the time. When my fuse runs out, however, that is a different story.
Few people have ever seen it, and most run when they realize I’m not laughing anymore. They are smart, and they are alive.
I’m also an avid reader. I will read anything I can get my hands on, and I blame my eventual financial ruin on my parents for teaching me how to read. Thanks a lot, guys.
I enjoy writing on occasion, so when I told my dad this story he choked back his uncontrollable laughter and asked me to type it up for him so that I could guest-blog. I like to think I’m an exceptional storyteller, but I’m not sure how well this translates in to text – I use a lot of sound effects and grand gestures which don’t type up well. Maybe next time I’ll volunteer to record a video? Who knows, I could be a YouTube star one day! (Hah.)
I ask that, in light of this, you use your imagination to visualize my stunning self contorting my body in various ways while shouting and mimicking cats to illustrate precisely what is occurring at each moment in the story. I’m quite dramatic, so don’t hold back.
So! To set the scene for you, I will tell you that my apartment is nice and clean. I spent Sunday doing my big cleaning of the week, plus a little extra since I have company coming this weekend. Everything was spotless, I hadn’t used the kitchen yet, and the laundry was freshly washed. All of it! Incredible! These are rare, treasured days. I normally keep my place looking nice, but this was truly exceptional.
--TRIGGER-WARNING: Read at your own risk. Stop now if you are easily disturbed by bodily functions or have a weak constitution. Surprisingly, despite this warning, this is a work-safe story.--
Monday was a bad day for me.
This is rare – I don’t normally have bad days. Well, everyone has bad days some time, but normally my cynical and self-deprecating sense of humor helps me overcome them (or at least grin knowingly and then go grab a glass of wine…good enough). Monday left me shaken, though. I was dealing with a woman at work (we’ll call her Dana) that seemed to deliberately outmaneuver my every attempt at organization and civility, and I was done. That night I relaxed, watched a little B5, and tried to hit the reset button.
On Tuesday morning when I woke up I was understandably wary – Monday had pulled a fast one on me and I was hesitant to see what this new day would bring. I begged the universe: please, please! Nothing could be worse than that! The universe looked back at me, thumbed its nose, and sang “nah-nee nah-nee boooo boooooooo!” like some little kindergarten brat, and Tuesday was born.
I spent the entire afternoon dealing with Dana again. She’s a classic case of avoidance – my supervisor would call her and leave a message; she would email me a response. I would call her and leave a message; she would email my supervisor a response. Nothing of substance, mind you. She would pick over the carrion of our messages and regurgitate a response that cobbled together only the most convenient of the facts mixed with some sort of bizarre internal fantasy that she must be running in her head 24/7. The last email that she responded with sent me over the edge. That was it – she got under my skin. My blood boiled, red fuzz crowded out the edges of my vision, my mouth hung open as I tried to formulate some sort of response to her insanity.
So I stepped away. After some deep breathing (read: cigarettes, lots of them) I came back to the computer, sat down, and began typing. I constructed this email in Notepad because I knew that if I accidentally sent her this message I would likely be in line at the soup kitchen by next week. It was a carefully crafted masterpiece that explained in no uncertain terms that what she wanted was impossible, it was her own damned fault, and she would have to take what we would give her.
Except, you know, more diplomatic. I do work in customer service, after all.
I then sent this note to my trusty coworker and asked him, “Hey S, does this make me sound like a bitch?” to which he tactfully replied, “well, we should probably fix this sentence…and this one…let’s re-word this, too…”
He’s a great coworker.
I then sent the now acceptable email to our salesman to review, assuring him that I wasn’t going to ruin his commission with a few choice words. He approved, so I went ahead and sent her the message.
Not expecting a response for several hours, I settled in to wait. I kept an eye on our inbox and let the steam slowly escape from my ears, praying for patience, praying that she wouldn’t respond until tomorrow. Eventually I calmed down. Not all the way down, exactly, but I backed away from the edge of murder and in to the slightly quieter territory of imagining her slow death. By 5:00pm I was able to think about other things for short periods of time, even if it was mostly about the glass of wine (or four) that I would be having the moment the clock struck six. The seconds dragged by as I kept an eye out for anything that might come through, but things stayed quiet.
I smell poop.
Now this isn’t entirely unusual. All cat owners know that when a cat uses the litter box there is a brief wave of horrifying odor before the magical cat-crystals cover it up somehow. I ignored it.
I still smell poop.
If anything the smell may have actually gotten a little bit stronger. Now we’re moving in to the realm of the unusual. I sit for a moment, torn, before finally deciding that I should probably find out where the poop smell is coming from. Maybe someone forgot to cover? I swing my chair around and get up, take one single step, and…
I have stepped in the poop.
I have a moment in which my entire soul cries out to the universe: “WHHHHHYYYYYYYY?????!!!!!!! WHY TODAYYYYY??!!” and then I quiet myself. It’s not dignified. I heave a huge sigh and grab some tissues, clean the poop off my foot, and hobble to the trash can. Did I mention that I’m not wearing any shoes? That’s right. Nice, warm, squishy poop oozing between my big toe and my second toe, laughing at me through my nicely painted red toenails. It’s a desecration. I then hobble over to the sink, prop up my foot, and wash it.
One freshly geranium-scented foot later I decide that I should clean up the poop. Immediately. I glance at the computer – no emails. I go grab a paper towel (or seventeen) from the kitchen and head back to pick up the poop, stopping to stand over the spot, when a sinking feeling starts in my chest.
Something is wrong.
There is no poop.
Where is the poop? I had only stepped in one small, discreet turd nugget. Where is the rest? No cat poops just one little nugget and then walks away! Right…?
I must find the rest of the poop.
So now I’m on a poop expedition. An exploratory mission that encompasses the entire house, but each room passes in disappointment. No poop in the bedroom. No poop in the bathroom. I head back and check the bed – I’ve heard stories – but there is no poop. Nothing in the entry way and nothing in the living room. No poop in the dining room and the kitchen is as clean as a whistle.
More puzzlingly, there is no poop in the litter box.
So where’s the poop?
I work my way around again, slowly, checking under furniture and behind shelves and in my shoes.
No poop.
Then the sinking feeling begins again. There is only one other place that the poop could be. The thought is horrifying but some instinct inside of me takes over and gets down to business. Must be the mother instinct. I play back the video in my head of stepping in the poop and realize that the closest cat to me when it occurred was Lucy (she is, after all, a medium hair). She is now standing, curious, about three feet from me in the living room. The cats have been following me the entire time, as they are wont to do.
“Hey Lucy, come here sweetie.”
She bolts.
This, too, is very unusual. Lucy is a born and bred attention whore and would do anything, possibly including murder, to get a neck scratch. That sinking feeling has turned in to a small lead weight in my stomach. Fortunately I’ve done at least one thing right in my life and my cats love and trust me implicitly, so it only takes a few moments to coax her out from under the coffee table and in to my arms. I soothe her and reassure her that she’s done nothing wrong, giving her the scratch she so clearly wants. I then slide my left hand under her front legs and hold her up, using my right hand to lift her tail.
Sweet love of god. That is the smell I have been searching for.
The poop is stuck to Lucy’s butt.
Despite the discomfort this is going to cause both of us I am feeling a little bit relieved now because I have solved the poop mystery. I carry her over to the sink to grab a paper towel and get this whole undignified act over with, but this is where the real trouble starts. First of all, I realize I’m going to have to let go of her tail in order to get a paper towel. I was really hoping that I would grow a third hand some time between the living room and the kitchen, but no such luck – her tail will probably get poop on it. Then I realize I’m going to have to set her down for a moment because she is starting to squirm with discomfort, but there are dishes in the sink. I compromise and set her back paws on the edge of the counter as I move the dishes to the other half of the sink with my right hand, then carefully set her back paws in to the sink. There is no way in hell I’m going to get poop on my counters.
This is about the time that Lucy realizes that we are at THE SINK. This is where WATER comes from.

I’m bleeding.
Wishing once again for a third hand, I desperately try to soothe her (“I’m not going to give you a bath honey; I’m just trying to get the poop off! Stop struggling!”) as I clumsily grab a paper towel. After a few attempts which result only in tiny pieces of paper towel, I manage to grab four. Now is not the time to worry about waste, though – I have poop to clean! I finally scruff the squirming mass of black fur in front of me and take a deep (shallow, really, it smells vile) breath before I dive in to the work. Her tail is battling me just as much as her paws are and I’m trying my best to maneuver around it, but I’m not very good at this.
I smear the poop.
What was once a nice, tiny, easy-to-remove nugget is now firmly embedded in 800 cubic meters of the softest, most absorbent cotton batting you can imagine – Lucy’s butt. If you were watching me at this moment you would note the panicked look in my eye, the defeat written on the four new wrinkles I just formed, and the sudden slump of resignation in my shoulders.
I’m going to have to give Lucy a bath.
“I’m sorry honey, I know I promised, but you squirmed and mama’s not so good at poop-cleaning, apparently.” I turned on the water in the sink to bring it up to a decent kitty temperature.
I’m bleeding again.
At this point she has clearly sensed my inevitable betrayal and starts mewing piteously. There is no one in all of the world she trusts like her mama, and her mama is committing the worst crime against cats humanly possible. Her life is over and she is crying out her misery to the world. I should mention that Merlin has been following this entire saga with quite a bit of interest and takes this opportunity to start screaming at me in protest. I am clearly killing his sister slowly and viciously and I must be stopped at all costs. The chorus is deafening.
Lucy: “MEEEeeeeewwwwww….MMMMEeeeeewwwwww….!”
Lucy’s tiny little mew is heartbreaking, but Merlin’s angry yell is almost as bad – I just went from his favorite person in the world to Benedict Arnold, the worst turncoat this apartment has ever seen.
I have betrayed them both and I am ashamed.
Despite all of this, I know that I must get the rest of the poop off as best I can with the paper towel. This is not easy as Lucy is now struggling as if her life depended on it. In her opinion it does so I can’t really blame her all that much even though I probably have a few new scars already. Eventually I manage to grab a hold of the poop and as I begin to pull it out I realize what the problem was the whole time.
It’s not one poop.
It’s three.
Connected by a string.
A shudder runs through my body as I realize that I am literally pulling poop out of her butt, not just off of it. To think that earlier we all thought we were suffering an indignity – we had no idea!
I pull a fantastic gymnastics maneuver (read: probably looked like a mime with epilepsy) and throw the poop away while keeping the cat’s writhing body in the sink and avoiding the screaming banshee at my feet. There is a sense of relief as I realize that we’re done with poop now, all I have to do is clean the cat and we’re good to go. They’ll probably hate me for a while, but I have some delicious canned treats for emergencies like this. I’ll buy my cats’ love back, I’m not ashamed.
The water is finally at a reasonable temperature, so I stick Lucy’s backside under the flow. Her flailing reaches a peak but I have her in a ninja grip now so I’m able to keep her from severing my arteries. By ninja grip what I really mean is that I’m scruffing her and apologizing like I killed her mother as my face narrowly avoids her razor-sharp claws. I feel horrible. The chorus intensifies.
Lucy: “MEEEeeeeewwwwww….MMMMEeeeeewwwwww….!” There’s a distinct waver to it this time.
Merlin: “MOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOW! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” Somehow he has managed to make this meow sound nasal, like he’s from New Jersey or Boston. I’m too disturbed to laugh.
Now that Lucy is wet, I grab my dish soap (thankfully just swapped out for something all-natural and probably really safe for cats. I hope) and pour a generous amount on to her hindquarters. I take another deep (shallow) breath and resign myself to the fact that this is gross but necessary, and then I dive right in.
As I swirl my hand in large circles around the poor cat’s butt, I suddenly realize that I did NOT get all of the poop with the paper towel. I am now creating large, bubbly whorls of what I can only call poopsoap.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

You thought the election brought out the crazy? You ain't seen nuthin' yet!

Here I thought things were getting quiet, with not a lot to talk about.

Then I got this email from Barry Lynn, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State talking about a new bill being introduced by the North Carolina Legislature.
North Carolina’s House Joint Resolution 494 asserts that “each state is sovereign and may independently determine how the state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion.” It declares that “the North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
 Now I'll be the first to admit that I Am Not A Lawyer (IANAL), and a Constitutional Scholar I am not, either.  But I did take a Constitutional law course in college as part of my degree in Public Administration (yes, you can get a degree in that) and unless I am getting senile, I distinctly remember that the 14th Amendment specifically applies the protections of due process of law to the States as well as the Federal Government.  Given that Article VI specifically denotes the US Constitution as the supreme law of the land that supersedes the State constitutions, these nut bags don't have a leg to stand on.

This is, quite frankly, pre-Civil War nonsense.  Over a half million Americans died to prove their theories on States Rights wrong in that war, and I am of the opinion that to continue in this vein should be considered seditious.

The United States of America is ONE country.  We are past the times when people identify with one State, then as an American.  Millions of Americans were born in one State and now live in another, many having moved to and from multiple States in their lives.

State governments are subservient to the Federal government, period, end of story.  The idea of a uniting overarching Federal government was to solve the problems that were found to exist in a weak non-federal system where States Rights were paramount.  InterState Commerce of all types and kinds, and in fact that much hated term (by Republicans) "The General Welfare" are all Federal responsibilities, as are the resolution of interState conflicts and disagreements.  (By the Supreme Court, which these idiots say they are not subject to.)

All of this nonsense isn't just crazy stuff.  It is, in fact, trying to lay the groundwork for the Dominionist Movement, using a popular Southern meme - States Rights - to suck in the uneducated right wing nut bags in the South to back their cause, not realizing the disastrous consequences of overturning the Constitution.

Too bad the Democrats don't have the cojones to do anything about it.