Friday, May 30, 2014

Picture Friday!

In honor of spring, which gave us another of its beautiful days again today, I shall post some pretty pics of some of the trees and plants in our yard!

I hope you enjoyed them!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day rant

It was originally my intent to talk briefly about Memorial Day and remembering the people who have died in defense of our liberty.

But I have been increasingly discouraged by the increasingly evident lack of true caring on the part of our government and those who run it for maintaining that liberty and I really don't have the stomach right now for fighting that fight.

What happened?

Seven people died in California this week, victims of our patriarchal society and its misogynistic imbedded hostilities towards women.  There may not seem to be much of a connection, but look at it this way.

Our militaristic, macho-manly oriented society demands that the highest calling a man can aspire to is to be a warrior.  Doesn't matter if you are 4'10 and 110 lbs dripping wet.  Being a warrior is the highest possible calling you can have.

Of course, along with that is the "benefit" that women "love" a man in uniform!  The picture is clear, she'll tear your clothes off, IF those clothes are a uniform.  Because you deserve it!  You are macho, manly and risking your life!

Enter the Men's Rights Advocates.  The guys who maintain that men deserve it all.  Nothing should be denied them, especially love, sex and automatic adoration of the fairer sex.

Our society, from the basic separation of the genders by role and custom, demands certain actions, responses and roles of each sex, and woe be unto the individual who crosses the line.  These basic rules are pressed into the minds of our children from early childhood.  We dress them, give them toys and expect them to stick to the assigned roles, depending on the particular plumbing with which they may be equipped.

The thought that any child may not be hardwired to comply with those arbitrary roles doesn't enter into it.  You will get pounded into the hole you should fit in regardless of your shape.

The perpetrator of the massacre in California IS ultimately responsible for his actions, don't get me wrong.  It is still illegal to kill people for displeasing you, no matter how justified your chosen moral code may slant the facts.  But, it should be illegal for people to be enticed into a cult of moral certitude which denigrates and virtually enslaves half of the population to the point where a member of that cult feels entitled to kill people he imagines have insulted and rejected him in a manner which violates the tenets of the cult's imagined rights and benefits.

Society is as guilty here as he is.  This does not reduce his guilt.  It does not reduce the responsibility he has for his actions.  It spreads that responsibility to others, like a plague which infects any who support and encourage such insanity.

Which, if the truth be known, is all of us who fail to make our displeasure and repugnance known to those who try to perpetuate this attitude.  It is time for us all to drive this ugly patriarchal penchant from out of our society.   Educate your daughters to refuse to knuckle under, and educate your SONS so that they are also outraged by misogyny and hatred towards women.

It is fine and admirable to "fight for women's rights".  To fight for women's rights to health care and reproductive freedom.  To fight for equal pay for equal work.

But it is better and more effective to fight AGAINST patriarchy.  To fight those who hate women and perpetuate the culture of misogyny and rape, subjugation and control.

The other stuff will come automatically if we can defeat the misogynists at the core of the problem.

We need to stop treating the symptoms and start working on the real disease - patriarchy and misogyny.

When we do that, we will end the wars and the need for spending more money on defense than the next ten lower spending countries combined, and the need to add more dead vets to the list of those to remember and memorialize.

I can think of no better way to honor those who have fought for our freedom than by doing OUR part in fighting for that freedom and liberty, right here at home.  For all of us.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

As an atheist, are you a hard core extremist, or are you an accomodationist?

Hey, I'm back!  (Sorry, but I was visiting Grandkids - not much time to write with CyberTwins to keep up with!)

Anyway, I was perusing FaceBook this morning briefly, and ran into an argument about how Atheism should act as a movement.  There were two sides - those who argued that the Extremists were too harsh and intolerant and those who were defending the position, with the argument centered around Dawkins.  As in, Dawkins is either a Grade A Number One Dick, or he's the best thing to come along since sliced bread, at least for the Atheist Movement.

While I agree that Dawkins can be acerbic at times (especially when confronting Theist idiots), but in general, he is pretty British in arguing his positions.  Meaning that he can be very polite while tearing you a new asshole.

But he isn't counted as one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism for nothing.  All four - Dawkins, Denning, Harris and Hitchens (may he long be remembered for his cutting wit...) are known as such because they performed a singular function.  They are responsible for awakening the world to the growing number of atheists in this country (and indeed world-wide) by being, in a word, Assholes.

They served the same function as the Gay Pride movement, namely, attracting media attention to our existence and our growing numbers.

High profile, indeed!  They wrote books, gave interviews, went on TV, established web sites, then blogs and have, in general, made themselves into tremendous pains in the ass for influential theist leaders everywhere.  By telling the world that we are here, we are growing in numbers and influence and will NOT go away.  (and by ripping their theology into very small, very insignificant pieces...but that's another discussion.)

And we've got opinions about religion that are in the process of upsetting the balance of power in, especially, the First World.

As for the argument, there is a contingent that argues that being an asshole and intolerant of the beliefs of theists isn't changing minds.  That it is counter-productive because it turns them off and makes them ultra-defensive.

Of course it does.  So did the in-your-face Gay Pride movement.  They paraded around the country in big cities where they had the numbers to defend themselves and got people talking.  They allowed others like themselves in less gay-populated areas to realize that THEY WERE NOT ALONE!  They made the media pay attention.

As time has gone on, the methods used by the Gay Movement have mellowed.  They do still have Gay Pride parades, but you don't see the radical dressed-up outrageously decked out folks in those parades like you used to.  These days, you can hardly (even if you squint) tell them from the regular folks who also march with them in support!

Which is kinda the point - gays are just like us.  They have lives, loves, jobs, dreams and debts.  Just like straights.

So do atheists.

We, too have lives, loves, jobs, dreams and debts.  Heck, walking down the street, one can hardly tell an atheist from a god-lover these days!  Ahem!  Sorry, I digress...

Which is why the Four Horsemen were and are needed - to wake people up.  To show them that we ARE HERE, and we are NOT going away.  We live alongside you, we are in your schools, your grocery stores, your parks, even in your churches!

And the more people see atheists as normal people, who do not eat babies nor worship Satan, the more they will see that we have common interests - like the Separation of Church and State.

Those who are derisively called "accomodationists" ARE needed.  Yes, it is Ok to be tolerant of others' religious beliefs.  Yes, we need to work with theists to bring together this society to push out the extremists of all kinds so we can learn to live together.  So we can build a country (and a world) that is neutral at the governmental level so everybody can hold and discuss opinions different from others.  So we can have political disagreements and discussions that will not result in violence and hatred.

In short, this is a big world, with a lot of different people in it.  Just as there are as many religious opinions as there are people, there is room in our movement for many differing techniques for approaching the theist audience, depending on who they are, and what interests we may have in common.

Instead of bad-mouthing other atheists who don't approach the subject like you do, try to understand who they are trying to reach, and discuss how to make them more effective in that effort.  Discuss how YOU can be more effective in reaching YOUR audience, too.  Try to see how the different approaches can be used effectively together, instead of accusing each other of being hurtful.

We've got billions of people to reach, and we can't reach them all using just one technique.

Cooperation works better than infighting.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Here's where the Christian rubber meets the road.

Haven't heard of this guy before today, but Darell Trigg is running - already - for President in 2016, and he's already got a platform.  A Christian platform!  He's running under the Christian Party, naturally.

His platform is simple, really.  Too simple for the good of this country, in my opinion, but he does throw in some bones for some folks - like a raise in pay for teachers and more money for education - of course, since he plans on the public schools taking over for Sunday School.

The highlights:
1. Separation of Church and State will be changed to the Union of Church and State. God will be asked to be an integral part of the government of the U.S.  The national religion of The United States of America will be the Christian religion.
2.  Public Schools – all schools supported by the U.S. Federal and State tax systems.  The Bible will be a standard required subject in all public schools and universities, for all grades , the same as English and Math.
3.  Homosexuality will not be recognized legally, or in any other manner, by the United States government or any state, city, or county government.
4. Public - Traded Corporations.  The income and other compensation,  received by the managers and officers of public - traded corporations will be limited to $300,000 per year.
5.  The income of coaches of sports teams at universities will be limited to $300,000 per year .
6.  The legal drinking age will be increased to 25 for any alcoholic beverage.  Alcohol will not be allowed on university campuses.
7.   Marriage and the family will be protected by draconian new rules.
8.  The rating system for movies and T.V. shows will be drastically overhauled.  No show or movie will be allowed on T.V. systems or computer systems accessible by homes that contain nudity, strong sexual content, excessive foul language, blasphemy, or any form of homosexuality.
9.  Abortion will only be legal in situations where the child has a small probability of living and the pregnancy is placing the life of the mother in extreme risk.
10.  Industries in the United States ( U.S.)  that have suffered from foreign competition with much lower labor pay rates, lower employee compensation costs, and lower environmental compliance costs will be assisted and protected. Assistance will include financial help in building or refurbishing manufacturing plants and training employees and low capital gains taxes. Protection will include tariffs on imported goods in order to establish a market fair for these U.S. industries. These tariffs will be used to help prevent inflation on these manufactured goods.
11.  The Welfare Department will be overhauled. This overhaul will include training welfare recipients for jobs that match their abilities. The financial responsibilities of caring for children of mothers who are not married will be shared by the father .
12. The insurance and medical system of the U.S. will be overhauled. Employers will be required to provide insurance for their employees. The costs of medical services and pharmaceuticals will be reviewed. These will be offered at a fair price without excessive profit for the providers.
13. Illegal immigration laws will be enforced . Laws will be passed to assist this enforcement.
14. Several laws will be reviewed, including several statute -of-limitations.
15. Marijuana will not be legal  except for medicinal purposes.

 Any bets about how long after the implementation of these measures it takes the economy of the US - and the First World - to simply collapse?

Of course, due to his item # 4 and his limitation of compensation to Corporate officers, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that this guy will win anything more than public ridicule and laughter.  The Oligarchs won't stand for it.

But this is a clear and open look at the goals and aspirations of the Dominionist movement and what they want to do with this country.

You fail to take them seriously at our mutual peril.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Shameful, indeed.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States of America took the next step towards the dismantling of the Bill of Rights.  For years, they have chipped away at various parts of it, mostly having to do with citizens' rights in encounters with the police and other parts of the Justice System.

Today, they dealt a body blow to the First Amendment.

In a case brought in regards to a city council holding sectarian prayers (specifically Christian prayers mentioning Jesus) at the beginnings of city council meetings, they basically said it's ok.

Let's look at that again.

They said it is OK for a governmental body made up of elected officials to hold sectarian prayers.  That it is ok to push citizens of other religious beliefs into an official second class citizenship status by virtue of having to listen to prayers endorsed by the majority of those elected officials.  And by virtue of some of the language in the majority opinion, it is the right of the MAJORITY to force their religion into those prayers.

So, how long will it be until a small town somewhere becomes dominated by Muslims who then endorse a specifically Islamic oriented prayer - thereby causing redneck heads everywhere to explode with rage upon discovering that a five justice majority consisting of all Catholics ruled that such a display of sectarian religious ceremony is legal and supported by their precious Constitution?

I sincerely hope that is within the period of my lifetime.  I really, really want to watch the fun, especially when Scalia's head is among them...

If he can even remember how he voted on this ruling by that time!