Saturday, May 31, 2008
"I'mNotSorry.net was created for the purpose of showing women that exercising their legal right to terminate their pregnancy is not the blood-spattered guilt trip so many make it out to be. It is not intended to make women's decisions for them, but to provide information to make the choice that will be best for them. This site exists to tell women that it's okay not to feel sad or ashamed after an abortion. You are not a baby killer. You are not irresponsible. You are not selfish. And, above all, you are not evil."
Go there and check it out, it's worth a read.
Oh yeah, it's real.
So... I sent the school board that nice little note requesting that they also teach a course on The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I noted that I would understand if the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster needed to share time with The Bible. At least that way the children could be exposed to the good news of Beer Volcanoes and Stripper Factories, while hearing boring stories of resurrection and capital punishment.
Here is the response I received:
I took this response to be supportive. Therefore, I responded with this letter:
I regret to inform you that you have been misled, as evidenced by your message below. Mr. Gordon is "Interim Superintendent", not "Superintendent".
Aside from that, I wish to express my deep appreciation for your input in the matter of teaching a course on the Bible. I consider myself to be open-minded and endeavor to be fair in all my pursuits, but most especially in serving as a member of the Craig County School Board. I must profess, however, that I have been completely ignorant of the Pastafarian religion. Suddenly many things begin to make sense-- I have often noted that some of my friends seemed to worship pasta. Perhaps they felt inhibited from expressing the true roots of their devotion, since so many practitioners of other faiths tend to be more vocal. In particular, I often am beseiged by members of the Chocolatalians, who believe there is nothing more omnipotent, more able to show the One True Path than the great Cocoa Puff in the sky.
My own religious beliefs are not at issue here. Rather, it is whether any curriculum funded by the taxpayer adheres to constitutional mandates, whether the school system has the resources to provide for the course to be taught, whether the curriculum adequately supports the mission of the school (praise to thee, oh SOLs), whether sufficient students choose to attend and make it cost-effective, and whether acceptance of one such program opens the door to many others. This latter prospect has the potential not only to strain resources, but to engender competitiveness between proponents of various courses for scarce resources and student attention. I also hope that proponents are comfortable that equal time and funding may be allocated to perspectives at odds with their own.
Courses in religious literature and comparative religion are of great value in any educational setting. These have a profound impact on our world, past-present-future. But they must be inclusive, unbiased, and factual. Although I would like to give the Pastafarians a fair opportunity to present their case, I find it hard to believe that there will not be some inherent bias, even within the community of pasta worshippers, by lasagne advocates against mere spaghetti believers. Until I have a chance to review any proposed curriculum in detail and have it vetted by the School Board Attorney, the ACLU, and Mama Mia herself, I will have to respectfully abstain from supporting the implementation of the course you are requesting.
Meanwhile, I believe you can accomplish your goals quite sufficiently via extracurricular activities, to which I hope I will be invited to attend. I will have to beg forgiveness if I accidently eat your God, as I am a die-hard spaghetti fan and usually evidence my pasta worship by devouring the subject.
Please let me know if I may provide any additional information regarding this matter.
Dawna Clephas McDowell
Craig County School Board
Ms. McDowell,We have to stay strong. Get the Flying Spaghetti Monster back in the public school classrooms where He belongs.
I am so glad to hear that a member of the Craig County School Board understands the importance of the inclusion of all religions, especially a discussion of the worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If religion is going to be placed in the high school curriculum, it becomes vital that the message of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is represented.
I must concede that the pesky little document we refer to as "The Constitution" offers plenty of support to those who would request that we keep our personal religions out of the backpacks of public school students, or only present them as a course in comparative religions.
However, as long as we are going to push for a specific religious text to be given special attention in a public school, I believe it is vital we look at The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If we expose children to the text of a random religion (based purely on the majority's whim), without giving them exposure to the text of the Pastafarians, I believe that it is highly probable that they would assume that the initial religion was the one that the public schools supported, and this could greatly influence their belief system.
Therefore, we will be keeping close tabs on this issue as it progresses.
Thank you for your support on this issue.
May the Flying Spaghetti Monster look down with grace upon you.
P.S. Eating pasta is one of the methods of worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so you are perfectly fine in enjoying Spaghetti. It is our sacrament, and his way of supporting us in our daily lives. =D
Friday, May 30, 2008
How about that? One Republican in Capitol Hill grew a conscience. Who would have thought it would be the one who paid the bills by lying for the President for almost four years? Even the wicked can be redeemed, it seems, and I am happy to give McClellan the chance to make things right. He's already off to a god start. Below is an excerpt from the book:
Earlier Friday, McClellan said he would be willing to comply with a possible congressional subpoena to discuss the administration's handling of prewar intelligence, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer he'd be "glad" to share his views if asked to testify.
Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Florida, said Friday that McClellan, who left the White House in 2006, would be able to provide valuable insight into a number of issues under investigation by the House Judiciary Committee.
The committee is looking into the use of prewar intelligence, whether politics was behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, Wexler, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said.In the book, McClellan says President Bush told him he had authorized the leaking of Plame's identity to the press.
The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.I'm eager to see where this one goes. I do so enjoy seeing bad people get their comeuppance, and after this Administration has mandated torture, torn the Constitution to shreds, and committed us to a needless war which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, our President's penance is long overdue.
There was one problem. It was not true.
I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
We can thank Mitt Romney for dredging up the 1913 law that allowed states not to recognize gay marriage performed in another state or country. Well, yesterday New York Governor David Paterson decided that the decision in California made that law superfluous when he ordered all state agencies to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere.
Suck it, Romney. When I read that last line about making sure all the agencies are on the same page, I can just hear the "Whether you like it or not" that should follow it.
The memo informed state agencies that failing to recognize gay marriages would violate the New York's human rights law, Duggan said.
The directive follows a February ruling from a New York state appeals court. That decision says that legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions are entitled to recognition in New York."This was in direct response to a court ruling," Duggan told CNN. "Just to make sure all the state agencies are on the same page."
Following the California decision, the ball is a-rollin' in this country. Now it's only a matter of time before religious people, as usual, are forced by an avalanche of common sense and compassion to follow the rest of us into progress. It's as predictable as the sunrise. Every generation there is a push for the rights of normal people which is opposed by the religious people who, after kicking and screaming, always lose. They have always lost; they will lose this, and they will lose the next one. It just makes me sad that these battles must be fought at all.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Scott McClellan, the ex-Press Secretary to President Bush, will release a book on Monday criticizing the administration he served for four years regarding their rationale for the War in Iraq. What did McClellan have to say?
"As a Texas loyalist who followed Bush to Washington with great hope and personal affection and as a proud member of his administration, I was all too ready to give him and his highly experienced foreign policy advisers the benefit of the doubt on Iraq," McClellan wrote. "Unfortunately, subsequent events have showed that our willingness to trust the judgment of Bush and his team was misplaced."Misplaced? Alright, but just how misplaced was it?
In Iraq, McClellan added, Bush saw "his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness," something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents.
The president's real motivation for the war, he said, was to transform the Middle East to ensure an enduring peace in the region. But the White House effort to sell the war as necessary due to the stated threat posed by Saddam Hussein was needed because "Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would almost certainly not support a war launched primarily for the ambitions purpose of transforming the Middle East," McClellan wrote.
"Rather than open this Pandora's Box, the administration chose a different path — not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth," he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used "innuendo and implication" and "intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary."
"President Bush managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option," McClellan concluded, noting, "The lack of candor underlying the campaign for war would severely undermine the president's entire second term in office."
To quote Trotsky, "Dang...so....wait....you mean this guy, who was the spokesman for the Bush White House for all that time, is coming out and basically saying what we all already knew? That we knew those WMDs were imaginary, and it was all a huge lie? Well...that's just embarrassing."
Not that it makes that big of a difference now. Those who are interested in what is true regarding the War in Iraq succumbed to the evidence long ago (Indeed, some of us have been shouting it from the rooftops since day 1). For the rest of the loyal Conservatives who believe that changing their opinion is matter of defeat rather than enlightenment, anything short of a confession from Bush's very lips wouldn't be enough. So yet another confession from a man who was once a faithful employee of Bush, and who remains a supporter, will be unlikely to change anything aside from making those of us who are sick of this situation and the loss of life attached to it shake our heads a little harder.
And our soldiers continue to die. How can we not hold the man who sent them there accountable?
Since we're all campus activists, I say go fill it out. It took less than five minutes. I think they just want to compile a list of interesting causes and funny stories.
- Tired (before you go to sleep-it can really knock you out)
- You finally have some alone time
- Relieve cramps (girls only, obviously....unless you....ok, nevermind)
- Some one else is doing it for you
- Good workout
- It's a 'hobby'
- You are doing laundry anyway (Oh! Get it? Do ya?)
Got any more?
I love science. I love research. I love that magical ah-ha moment when it all comes together.
It makes me happy to see another science nerd experience that (albeit, on a much larger scale than my ah-ha moments usually are).
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Just imagine for a moment that we instead asked everyone to spend the day:
-Installing gray water irrigation to their flower beds.
-Walking instead of driving.
-Helping someone whos home was damaged by a recent storm.
-Recycling the items they normally trash.
-NOT WATERING THE LAWN.
-Picking up a trash bag of litter near a stream, creek, or beach.
-Donating a few dollars to Red Cross.
I have a suspicion that more would be achieved.
Seeing as The Pastafarians had such a remarkable effect down in Florida, I figure it is time to pull out our swords and go swashbuckling in. We must make sure the Flying Spaghetti Monster receives equal time!!
I drew up this letter, which was sent to Superintendent Gordon, as well as School Board Vice President McDowell, Principal Critzer, Board Member McPherson, Board Member Bostic, Board Member Stanley, and the teacher Jeanne Guthrie.
As an active member of the religious community, I was thrilled to hear that your district is going to begin teaching a course focusing on religion. I became worried, however, when I realized that you were only planning a curriculum focused on the Christian Bible.
As a member of one of the fastest growing religions in America, it is very important to me that religion is taught in the public schools. Children need to know the truth about their origins. I, and many many others, hold the strong belief that we were created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. We are known as The Pastafarians, and are completely devoted to our Creator. We are able to see the evidence of his existence in the world around us, and we feel touched by his Noodley appendage each day.
Since you are going to be creating a course designed to teach the Bible to your students, it is perfectly reasonable to expect you to also design a course to teach the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, written by our prophet, Bobby Henderson. Because of the financial strain that two separate courses would place on the district, I feel that it would be reasonable to simply teach the two religions alongside each other. I feel confident that the children in your district will be able to see the truth, when religions are compared up close.
You may be hesitant, at first, fearing that your faculty members do not have enough training to adequately teach our religious customs. We will happily guide your faculty members through the entire process. It is quite simple, although it does require that they be dressed in full Pirate regalia. To speak of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster without dressing in Pirate regalia would anger Him.
You may also be wonder if there is enough information on our religion to fill an entire semester. The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. We have an entire book, which you would of course require students enrolled in the class to read. We also have a great deal of information about the various proofs of his existence available online, at www.venganza.org.
If you have any further questions when designing this curriculum, feel free to call or email me, or visit www.venganza.org for more information.
Feel free to copy and paste anything you like, or mix and mingle it to make it your own. Just get some emails flowing.
This line should send it to everyone I mentioned above:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
If I get ambitious tonight, I might even send them a care package snail-mail, with some Ramen and a drawing of a Beer Volcano.
The following is the letter that Ryan sent in:
An Open Letter to the Craig County School Board
Dear Craig County School Board,
I am pleased to hear that you are hoping to institute a class focusing on the Bible. As a Captain of the Missouri State University Chapter of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it is important to me that we convert as many people to my religion as possible. As is evident in your support of this proposed class, you feel the same way. And, as you well know, Craig County School Board, nothing works half as well as gettin' 'em young.
Anyway, Craig County School Board, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I expect my religious beliefs to be taught (funded, of course, by taxpayer dollars) right alongside your own.
I'll explain my religion here in brief, just in case you haven't been informed.
Pastafarians (that's us!) believe that a gigantic, sometimes invisible ball of spaghetti crafted the Heavens and the Earth. And a tree. Also a midget. This Flying Spaghetti Monster, as we call Him, is a generally well-disposed fellow. If you live by flimsy moral standards, you get to go to Heaven. His heaven has a beer volcano and a stripper factory. Sadly, His Hell has stale beer and strippers with venerial diseases. Not a pretty sight.
We have a plethora of holidays, which we expect you to take as seriously as you take your own, Christian holidays. Most important are:
-Friday (Friday is the name of the holiday, and when it takes place! Like the 4th of July!)
-Holiday, lasting most of December and well into January (those Happy Holiday signs you see in stores are in celebration of our holiday, Holiday)
-Halloween (which originated with pirates giving away candy to children).
The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster must also be taught in full pirate regalia. Nothing less will suffice, Craig County School Board, as we believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be angry if it is not.
I hope to hear of the adoption of the Gospel of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster into your school's Bible study curriculum, as our school's ACLU lawyers will likely be relieved that they do not have to sue you.
Have a wonderful day, Craig County School Board!
I might be a tad bit touchy, seeing as I have been doing mind-melting data entry for the last three hours, but doesn't this seem to completely ignore the intervening variable of CULTURE to anyone else?
Feministing just posted a blog on The Boston Globe's recent article on women in the sciences. (Feministing also linked one of my other favoritiest-blogs... Sciencewomen... in the article. You should check them out.)
The article summarizes recent research by J. L. Rosenbloom showing that women choose careers in non-science related fields.
The problem that I have with this article, a problem which seems to arise any time the media touches research, is that it goes for the for the sensationalized headline...
"Why aren't there more women in science and engineering? Controversial new...while ignoring the caveat that this doesn't necessarily show any innate differences, but instead may reflect the sexism of the culture that women are being raised and educated in.
research suggests: They just aren't interested."
Later in the article, the role of sexism and biases in early education are discussed, but the article still leaves you with the line...
"If the hard-fought battle for gender equality has indeed brought America to a
point where women have the freedom to choose their career paths, then the end
result may be surprising - and an equal-opportunity workforce may look a lot less equal than some had imagined."
What the hell? Wouldn't' we need an equal-opportunity workforce to even begin making such statements??
Didn't we just mention that woman still often receive unequal
treatment by educators and employers? The initial article even mentions an upcoming
publication which found that "women often leave technical jobs because of
rampant sexism in the workplace". The research found half of the women who took
technical science positions dropped out by the time they were in their mid
thirties, and that two-thirds of those women reported that they had been
subjected to sexual harassment in their workplace.
How does this show that women are "choosing" careers besides those in the sciences?
Ughs. At least The Boston Globe is receiving some backlash over this.
Monday, May 26, 2008
In this vid, the other mother gets attacked by the other family's mean Christian friends.
In this vid, the two moms meet.
Work of Teh Juggernauts was just linked on PHARYNGULA!
The bad news:
All of the work for atheism and reason that the team does, and we were linked because I jokingly allowed Carly Ann to film me for BF&P saying that I would let Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers Eiffel Tower me.
At least BF&P will get a lot of views off this. The video has already been reposted on at least one other atheist blog. (Emancipate Yourselves From Mental Slavery)
Have fun! I'm about to.
Links have been fixed. :D ~ JT
Hey all you Astronomy nuts out there...
...NASA probe Phoenix has touched down on Mars and is already sending back images. They have dropped Phoenix into an area where they hope to find ice, and have offered up some very optimistic appraisals for their chances. I hope they're right!
Also, the date for the activation of the Large Hadron Collider (See the Wikipedia entry here) has been pushed back to late August with no date set in stone yet. Preliminary test runs are going incredibly smoothly. The machine has already been used to smash particles at lower speeds and everything appears normal. A few people have asked me how happy I will be if we do, in fact, discover a Higgs Boson Particle (or "God Particle" as Physicists refer to it), since such a discovery would put a lock down on many theories about our universe, as well as being further evidence for string theory and, hence, multiverse theory, which will take us many steps closer to affirming that no creation was necessary for our universe. My answer is that we've already established this. A closed manifold universe is just one possibility out of several that would preclude a creation event, so yet another one won't really change anything.
Oh, there's also some people pissing and moaning about how it might destroy the Earth, and this has gotten a fair amount of media time. The thing is, the equations that suggest that a collision at 7 TeVs (Tetraelectronvolts) would cause a black hole to form also predict that the black hole will immediately evaporate courtesy of Hawking Radiation. As Phil Plait points out, those worried that a created black hole won't evaporate shouldn't be worried they'd be created in the first place. For more on how we have nothing to worry about, listen to what the Bad Astronomer has to say about it. We're gonna be ok here, and we're going to learn a lot about how reality works¹.
Speaking of Science, you'll recall how Ben Stein said that science leads you to kill people. Never mind that science has provided us with every single means (as in, religion has provided none of them) by which we have lengthened our lives and allowed the disabled or otherwise afflicted with handicaps to live, but new discoveries by scientists that allow us to survive in an indifferent universe are being made continuously. A recent example comes from a 16 year-old boy from Canada who has determined a means to make plastic deteriorate faster - we're talking like, 1,000 years faster². The benefits to the environment will be phenomenal since 97% of the plastic bags we've ever made still exist (the other 3% were incinerated - See "Polymers are Forever" by Weisman).
Such is the power of science, and why I can't help but shake my head when people assert that science is a matter of faith. Science provides actual results we can test and it is bound by how reality appears to work, unlike any religion. I submit to you this young lad's experimental steps as an example:
He knew plastic does eventually degrade, and figured microorganisms must be behind it. His goal was to isolate the microorganisms that can break down plastic -- not an easy task because they don't exist in high numbers in nature.
First, he ground plastic bags into a powder. Next, he used ordinary household chemicals, yeast and tap water to create a solution that would encourage microbe growth. To that, he added the plastic powder and dirt. Then the solution sat in a shaker at 30 degrees.
After three months of upping the concentration of plastic-eating microbes, Burd filtered out the remaining plastic powder and put his bacterial culture into three flasks with strips of plastic cut from grocery bags. As a control, he also added plastic to flasks containing boiled and therefore dead bacterial culture.
Six weeks later, he weighed the strips of plastic. The control strips were the same. But the ones that had been in the live bacterial culture weighed an average of 17 per cent less.
That wasn't good enough for Burd. To identify the bacteria in his culture, he let them grow on agar plates and found he had four types of microbes. He tested those on more plastic strips and found only the second was capable of significant plastic degradation.
Next, Burd tried mixing his most effective strain with the others. He found strains one and two together produced a 32 per cent weight loss in his plastic strips. His theory is strain one helps strain two reproduce.
Hypotheses, test, view results, new hypotheses to improve the old one, so on and so forth. Sure enough, his improved hypotheses was later confirmed: his plastic-eating bacteria was Sphingomonas and the helper bacteria was Pseudomonas. I submit to you that you will never come across a story that reads this way (I guess you might in something like The Daily Christian News, but never in anything whose standards for truth aren't equivalent to Humpty Dumpty):
The lead scientist noted that paper decomposes faster than plastic and, realizing that we have no idea why, elected to kneel down and pray to Jesus for the answer. Later, he recorded the results of his prayer as inspired by god and the bible, concluding that the eternal god of the bible is all his deserved glory was, in fact, responsible for paper's faster rate of decomposing†.Congratulations to Daniel Burd for his contribution. Indeed, he has given mankind more of a helping hand than god ever has, with none of the insane baggage that comes with treating your feelings as though they were facts.
I love living, and I love being able to see the world how it truly is. Reality is gorgeous, and all of it we have come to know has been revealed to us by science. Fairy tales and myths cannot compare, and certainly cannot explain any of it with such eloquence and concise reason.
I think I'll go for a walk and smell some flowers now. :D
¹ There are people who claim to have knowledge about the universe's origins or how reality functions that no Cosmologist has, though they have no data or experiment to corroborate that claim - they call this "faith". They go under many different names such as Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. While the label is different, the use of "faith" as an attempt to support their claims is consistent. Many of them say that science, such as the LHC, is equally bereft of explanatory power and is also a matter of faith. They are wrong .
² Lauren actually found the article and was gracious enough to let me use it to make this point.
† It was later discovered by scientists, using their usual secular methods, that god accomplishes this by the existence elements in our world, such as insects and bacteria, that help certain bonds dissolve and their inherent elements to change state, which is the process we refer to as decomposition. Scientists have isolated these elements and have provided us with everything we know about them, yet we knew way before the scientists that god put them on Earth to help us (he just didn't tell us anything about them). Too bad we beat those faith-ridden scientists to the punch with that positive prediction and useful conclusion, right? Hallelujah for the power of prayer!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
More Ikea catalogs are printed every year than bibles.
Sex is the safest tranquilizer in the world. It is ten times more effective than Valium.
It is cheaper in India to have sex with a prostitute than to buy a condom.
In Kentucky, 50 percent of the people who get married for the first time are teenagers.
The only acceptable sexual position in Washington, DC, is the missionary-style position. Any other sexual positions is considered illegal.
Texas is the only state that permits residents to cast absentee ballots from space.
The day after President George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, Canada's main immigration website had 115,000 visitors. Before Bush's re-election, this site averaged about 20,000 visitors each day.
The fertility rate in states that voted for George W. Bush is 12 percent higher than states that favored John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
George Washington spent about 7 percent of his annual salary on liquor.
In Hong Kong, a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands.
Quebec City, Canada, has about as much street crime as Disney World.
There are at least two reported instances of British college students auctioning off their virginity on eBay.
Residents of an Austrian village called Fucking voted against changing the name in 2004, but did replace their road signs with theft-resistant versions welded to steel and secured in concrete to stem their frequent theft. (The name is pronounced to rhyme with "looking.")
Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide their body odor-hence, the custom of today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
This is beautiful.
John McCain can not be allowed into office. It cannot happen. He is a bigoted old man who is still clinging to the racist prejudiced homophobic bullshit of the previous generation.
Watch... and **Smile**...
Here is the bad news...
The other options aren't super great. I am partial to Obama, and I understand that he has to remain electable to the general populous. Still, his stance on Gay Marriage makes me want to cry.
Here is Hillary's...
And here is Obama's...
Friday, May 23, 2008
Some of us are vegetarians, while others support hunting and fishing.
Some stand behind Obama, both with our single votes and our campaign efforts, while others see third-party votes as the only conscionable choice.
We all, however, fight for change in the ways we feel most apt to breed success. We have started campus groups, passed out fliers, hosted benefit concerts, registered voters, voiced opposition to those who would voice bigotry and oppression, wrote in to the local media, attended and organized protests, held banners, attended marches, and raised money for charities.
We all stand for a change that the current political administration is resistant towards. It is very likely that at least three of us have "files", limited biographies that we will never read. I wonder, occasionally, what they say.
A friend of mine was able to see her file once, a few years ago. It read that she should be observed, as she was a "known anarchist".
A belief system has now become adequate reason to follow someone?
Anyways... cue the ominous music.
This article just came out in the Portland IMC.
Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.
Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he'd been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn't in trouble.
Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson's arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.
"She told me that I had the perfect 'look,'" recalls Carroll. "And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for."
What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at "vegan potlucks" throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort's primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division's website, is to "investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines."
Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.
"I'll pass," said Carroll.
For 10 more minutes, Mazzola and Swanson tried to sway him. He remained obstinate.
"Well, if you change your mind, call this number," said Mazzola, handing him her card with her cell phone number scribbled on the back.
I'll let that sink in a minute.
We are being watched and observed. We have done nothing wrong. We actually stand up for the founding documents of this country, and yet somehow we have been labeled as the traitors.
The terrorists we hear about on the news are men in the Middle East, who have bombs strapped to their chests.
Why is the FBI wasting money searching for the terrorists who attend VEGAN POTLUCKS??
Could it be, just perhaps, that they are not looking for those who are willing to commit terrorist acts against this country, but simply those who would commit ThoughtCrime against an administration who has repeatedly trampled upon our Constitution?
For those of you that don't know (and I would consider you lucky in your ignorance) a purity ball is a somewhat prom-like dance where fathers and daughters go to consummate (oh yeah, I used that word on purpose) how the dads are supposed to keep their little girls' virginities intact until they are married. In a nutshell, they are complete creepfests.
Here is an example of a pledge:
“Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future
mate, and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical
*Throws up in mouth a little*
I can't believe that this shit actually exists. How are these kids going to function properly as adults, or even young adults, if they are forced to live a certain way? I bet that these kids aren't being taught anything about their changing bodies, much less anything about sex or sexual health.
Placing so much importance upon a girl's virginity can only be damaging. It's as if she is being treated as some sort of commodity rather than a human being.
Here's a news report on purity balls with some interesting interviews with a few participants:
This is a really flippin' creepy video following a particular 'Fundamental Christian' family:
And to get that bad taste out of your mouth, here's a really awesome video on 'what virginity is' from TrixieFilms, who is putting together a film about the stigma that surrounds intact hymens in today's society.
One of these days, no one will care about virginity, especially female virginity. But, until that day, I think I might just have copious amounts of intercourse just to make up for their abstinence. Just sayin'...
Ok, rant over now.
P.S.-Would someone else please post on the blog? Please? I feel like a total blog hog right now...and that rhymed!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
When we got there, we found a stack of three numbers on the reception desk, which we dispersed amongst ourselves. Minutes passed, and it became clear to us that those numbers represented the three individuals who would be seen that morning by the clinic nurse. Three people. Once we realized this, we immediately gave up our numbers to the others who had shown up. It was painfully obvious that their needs greatly outweighed our own.
As we left the clinic, we were absolutely sickened by the entire situation. It turns out that only three people are seen two (thanks, Amber!) times a day. The population of Springfield is 151580, with approximately 16% living at a poverty level. I fail to see how this can adequately meet the needs of the city. How are we supposed to stop the spread of STDs, much less offer somewhere to be seen for maintaining your general health, when the free clinic is so limited in its capabilities?
Teh Juggernauts immediately took action. JT is planning on speaking at a community meeting to funnel more funding towards the free clinic, Amber is contacting various media outlets, and I...am bitching about it on the interwebz. 'Cause I'm cool like that.
Anyhow, since I am about 300 miles away from Springfield at the moment, I thought that I would look up some places you can go be tested for STDs.
- The Free Clinic
- This choice isn't for everyone and is very limited (*ahem*, see above experience), but it is still a valid option.
- Planned Parenthood
- Always a good option. They offer a wide range of services for a nominal fee. And, as far as I can tell, they are thoroughly nonsketchy.
- College Health Facility
- For us college kids, this is a good way to go. It's always cheaper than going to a regular doctor...but it can be a little bit sketchy. As far as I know, Taylor Health and Wellness at MSU doesn't offer STD testing. It turns out that they do offer on site STD testing. Thanks, Carly!
- Your Lady Parts/Dude Thingies Doctor
- I suppose this is the most obvious option, but can get pretty pricey. But knowing what's up with your junk is very integral to anyone's well being.
Basically, these people put complex networks into pretty pretty pictures for all to see. My personal favorites so far are:
Voting Patterns Among US Senators
Who Owns The Internet
Check it out! It's called Ill Doctrine.
Crossville, Tennesse recently (March, 2008) erected a statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster near their courthouse. It seems the courthouse has decided to allow anyone and everyone to apply for permits to erect statues on the front lawn. The FSM stands beside a Jesus, a Statue of Liberty, and a Moses Statue, as well as chain-saw carved bears.
Rock the fuck on.
According to Justin, Laughing Squid recently blogged about it.
A local news crew did a story on it, as well.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I believe in God and the right to worship according to my own faith and religion. I believe in America and the American way of life... in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I believe in fair play, honesty and sportsmanship. I believe in my Boys and Girls Club, which stands for all these things.
The right to worship according to my own faith? Really? But... as long as it fits with the I believe in God, right? So I believe in God and I can worship according to my own faith... that's right? That's what you're saying, BGCA? Cause that makes no damn sense!
I'm so much more disappointed than you could ever imagine. I cannot stand for this religious propaganda! I will not stand for it!
The clinic opened at eight o'clock in the morning, and we arrived slightly before seven-thirty. Upon entering, we found three slips of paper with the numbers 1-3 on them at the clinic check-in window along with a stack of the form we'd need to fill out. We took the numbers and set to work.
Minutes later, a man walked in and made his way to the check-in window. He was wearing faded, torn clothing and we noticed that he was lightly favoring his genital area as he walked. With a worried expression, he asked us if we had seen where the numbers had been laid out, and we explained that we had them. He lamented that he had tried to get in before and that he was here so early because the lady working had told him that she put the numbers out at seven-thirty sharp: he had tried to get in before. We assured him that if these three numbers were all that could get in, one of us would part with ours. By the time eight AM rolled around, about ten other people were there, including a girl holding a marriage license and a pregnant Latino couple.
Sure enough, three people is all they could service - just three. It is no wonder that nobody is getting tested for STDs. This is simply unconscionable. It can't be that the city is saving money, since preventative maintenance is less costly than diverting the time and resources of our hospitals to treating fully developed STDs, of which even the curable ones can do extended harm if not detected early. This policy is surely costing the city more money and resources.
Noting that we had lesser needs than everybody there, we all gave up our numbers to those we felt needed them most and left. After all, the three of us are almost certainly clean STD-wise, and were only doing it for the show, so it made sense. After drowning our sorrows in biscuits and gravy, we returned home and called the city clerk to arrange five minutes to speak at the next city council meeting. I believe it will be me doing the speaking, while Amber is going to spend the next two weeks writing letters, undoubtedly with help from the rest of the Juggernauts.
About an hour ago I received a call from the lady in charge of the health clinic. Apparently the city clerk had forwarded her my number and she was calling to see what went wrong. Likely, the city had called her up and jumped down her throat after attributing our forthcoming addressing of city council to a complaint with the clinic itself rather than the lack of funding they're receiving for STD screening. She was very relieved, not to mention overflowing with praise, when she realized that we are going to be championing her cause, and that we had no intention to indict the clinic itself for not having the funding to do these tests. Ultimately, she agreed to e-mail me all the relevant statistics on her end with which to do battle on June 2nd, which is when the next city council meeting is.
We will keep you updated with our letters, numbers, speeches and what not, as well as any way you can help by writing or contributing. Stay tuned.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
A recent blog post consisted of the following question:
HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH: What should the response of the church be?
Some moronic imbecile that god blessed with the good fortune of a keyboard left this gem:
The church needs to respond the same way it does all other sins. What the church has done is put some sort of stigma on the sin of homosexuality. Just because one does not suffer from that particular sin they should not ridicule those who do. Divorce is another act that many are quick to burn others at the stake but forget they to struggle daily with their owns sinful nature. We must respond as Jesus does. With love and righteousness. We must not destroy but build up and like the women caught in adultery we MUST tell the go and sin NO more.I just left this response. We will see if it gets a bite.
The Church's response cannot be one of complete acceptance. To embrace sin is just as wrong as practicing sin. Also they cannot keep silent on it. Silence is acceptance. The key is to call all sin, sin. We need to stop babying America in fear of smaller crowds and stick to preaching the uncompromising Word of God.
I agree completely. The Church should never shy away from the teachings of The Bible, for fear of assaulting those who feel that our understanding of the world or morality could grow or improve over time.
We should follow The Bible completely. In The Bible we are instructed to stone to death those who participate in homosexual behavior (Lev. 20:13, Romans 1). We are also instructed to stone to death those who engage in adultery, bestiality, idolatry, breaking the sabbath, cursing God, or rebellion against our parents.
I encourage each and every one of us to follow this book completely. We cannot allow our societies changing understanding of morality to influence our desire to adhere to the scripture given to us by God.
The next time you hear of a man who becomes remarried, pick up the nearest stone and chuck it. If you are in a Chinese restaurant and see an alter to the Buddha, start throwing things. The girl in the mall has purple hair? You know what to do.
We cannot allow these heathens to blaspheme the Word of GOD. We do not know when He is coming back, and we must always follow His Directions.
If we fail to channel God's wrath, we can only assume that His wrath will become focused upon us, during the coming End Times.
The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. (Psalm 119:160)
Yay for Poe's Law.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
"(CNN) -- The California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Thursday, saying sexual orientation, like race or gender, "does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."
In a 4-3 120-page ruling issue, the justices wrote that "responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation."
"We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples," Chief Justice Ronald George wrote for the majority.
Beneath the clamor of wedding bells, you can already hear an outpouring of indignation over this emanating from the pulpit. Throughout history, there have been a string of scenarios where religious moderates are forced by modernity to admit that their religion is being inhuman - we are rapidly approaching one of those times.
How will you religious moderates react? There is a clear divide here between what is right, and what is fundamentally Christian. Will you evolve with the rest of us?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I was motivated to post this after reading Carly's testimony. If you leave a testimony, let me know if I can repost it. I would like to get a good list of testimonies going on teh blog.
Several polls have revealed that Atheists are amongst society's most deplored and least trusted demographics, with most people unwilling to vote for a qualified atheist on the grounds that said atheist rejects the voting publics' particular fairy tale of choice. About a year ago, Richard Dawkins launched the Out Campaign to counter this.
I believe, as Dawkins does, that the way to combat this is to be heard. Therefore if you do not believe that a god exists, leave your testimony here and whether or not you will allow me to reprint it. If you suspect that Jesus may not have been born of a virgin or that Allah is not the creator of the universe, but have never been that vocal about it, consider making now the time. Being counted as an atheist in an overtly religious nation that statistically abhors us is not easy to do, I understand that. Consider the fact that your testimony will make it easier for the next person to come out, and all the people after them. I know from the e-mails received over the last three years that many people who have grown up being indoctrinated with faith have long since shed their religious ballasts in lieu of seeing the world as it is - not how they or those who wrote their holy books want it to be. There is no liability to this whatsoever, and you should not be ashamed to drink in the beauty of the universe from a clean glass.
We are intelligent people, we are moral people - our only crime is how much more rational about assessing reality we are than our pious counterparts, and it is an indictment we should welcome.
- "I'm so atheist that I won't even ball any dudes that talk about supernatural forces controlling our lives."
~ Jessica Landis, Chicago IL
- "Even as little as six months ago, I used to feel like everyone's religion was their prerogative. How did I have the right to say that I'm right and other people can't have this strange fantasy called God and religion when it makes them feel so good about themselves and their lives? (All ridiculous fanatics excluded.) I didn't think there was any god, but I didn't feel the need to push that on others.
But then I changed my mind."
~ Carly Ann, Springfield MO
(Read the rest of Carly's testimony on Teh Juggernauts.)
- "Most of the activities at church I only attended for social reasons, though. My closest friends went to the church events, so I would go to hang out with them, which I expect is what the majority of Christians do as well. Still, despite this, I'm one of the very few Christians I knew who faithfully had a quiet time daily for years straight. As a result, I think I have a vast knowledge of the Bible, both what is in it and what isn't in it.
Last year, when I was 18 or 19, if someone held a gun up to my head and asked if I was a Christian, I would have said yes without the slightest hesitation. I believe I would have anyways. I had thought about it often (which, in itself is sad)."
~ Kevin Sweet, Springfield MO
(The rest of Kevin's Testimony can be found here - it's really quite good)
- "Of course, once I had started to look critically at what religion has done (both to me, and to society in general), I was infuriated. I grew up feeling like there was something wrong with me for going through puberty normally and wanting to have sex. I felt ashamed of myself my whole adolescence because I was told that having an attraction to someone was a sign of sin. I grew up hating myself because of religion. I trusted an imaginary person to protect me from my abusive stepdad, and actually believed that he helped! I taught myself that what I saw around me was false, and that doctrine was right no matter what. I forced myself to believe lies and discard the truth. I trusted in so much that simply does not hold up…all for the hope of another life so I didn’t have to deal with this one.
This has been the most important year of my life. I have searched myself and found much. I have found that I have no reason to be ashamed of myself. I have found that there is no fate but what we make. I have found that if I want my life to be better, I need to work towards it, since nobody else will do the work for me. I have learned to be a stronger person. Even though it hurt, I’m proud to say that I’ve discarded superstition."
~ Josh Wilson, Springfield MO
(The rest of Josh's testimony can be read here.)
- "What I was reading in the bible appalled me. I may have cast the monstrosity of it aside, saying that god’s ways are inscrutable or something like that; except that it was shortly before I started reading the bible that I also began to read up on Astronomy. The difference between the bible and even the most elementary Astronomy book astounded me. There was no need to explain away seemingly atrocious parts of Astronomical texts – they were written plainly and precisely. They were stuffed with so much information, things that I could not even come close to comprehending as a child, but that they were always willing to explain if I applied myself.
Conversely, the bible insisted that I could not question. It made a virtue of obeying even the cruelest edicts without pause (see the story of Abraham and Isaac or of Jephtha and his daughter). There was never a case of god ever explaining anything to anybody. It occurred to me that this was why people were always bickering over what god’s will truly was, even in my old church. It was because the bible is a muddled book from which we can draw no precise conclusions the way they could in Astronomy."
~ JT Eberhard, Springfield MO
(The rest of JT's testimony can be read here.)
- "Many life events conspired to put me in my place. A main influence was the canceling effect of Eastern Orthodoxy on my Protestantism. I had to abandon a great deal of the shallow things which justified my Protestant viewpoint, and in mid-process noticed I wasn't standing on anything at all. Not only that, but if we are to take what the Church Fathers said seriously all of the sudden there are some very specific things to disagree with on a variety of issues not necessarily elucidated in Scripture. I was better off in Protestant land where I could very easily disagree with everyone and heed my own interpretation. Anyway, Eastern Orthodoxy was clearly a better denomination and also clearly set itself up (to me at least) for a fall. Another factor was a girlfriend at the time whose opinion I respected showed me what a Prot-bot I was. And yet taking the "cult think" seriously led directly to being one. It doesn't say on the Bible, "Humanistic values not included."
~ Ben Schuldt, St. Louis MO
(The rest of Ben's testimony can be read here.)
But then I changed my mind.
Now, when I become friends with a new person, I get really disappointed if I find out that they love God and God's holiest of holy ways. Oh, you think Jesus is the way and the truth and the life? You have lots of bible quotes scattered about your Facebook profile? I guess you believe in fun old storybooks and fairy tales, yeah? Well... umm... it was... nice to meet you. (runs away)
*This testimonial inspired by The Out Campaign.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I also pulled the "What could change your mind gambit." This is done by listing just a few of the things that could change your mind (I keep a 14-digit number in my wallet and offer them the chance to ask god what it is) and then, having established the openness of your mind, ask them what could possibly change theirs. Most are honest enough to say "nothing," which is precisely what the lady said.
Anyway, she left me a card for her church and invited me to attend and talk about Jesus. She said that some of the people there would likely have the answers I craved. So I just sent the following e-mail to Pastor Bill Lyne:
Pastor Lyne,I'll keep you apprised to how this unfolds. My guess is that the answer will be a resounding "no" - after all, church is not a place Christians go to in order to question what they believe. You never know though.
Hello sir, my name is JT Eberhard. I was working recently when a very sweet woman named Lola Hill passed through and invited me to attend your church and speak about Jesus. I would very much like to do this.
Here is my concern, I have found that when speaking about Jesus with no outside pressure bearing down on us to be reasonable, the conversation tends to be very one-sided with no real interest in reaching a meeting of the minds - even Mrs. Hill admitted to me that she could envision nothing that could change her mind. So what I would like to do is discuss the matter with you, or whomever you feel is best suited to apprise me to the facts of Christianity that would make belief a reasonable stance, in front of either a congregation or a group of appreciable size. I am most certainly open to the idea of god, I simply need something that makes Christianity credible. I have done this type of thing before, having hosted an open forum on faith on my own campus (MSU) this last year.
Would this be feasible?
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
It has all of Teh Juggernauts in it... so you kids should check it out.
The post is HERE. You can read the questions, and comment on the video, over there.
Friday, May 9, 2008
The executions of those who trespass against the norms of a society have been present for, well, as long as we have formed societies. The trespasses that warrant execution, however, change and sway with time.
In 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court ruled that you had to be mentally competent to be executed.
Their exact wording was that the "executions of mentally retarded criminals are “cruel and unusual punishments” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment."
I just received an "Urgent Action Appeal" from Amnesty International. It was asking me to write to Virginian Governor Tim Kaine, asking him to stay the execution of a young man who is obviously incapable of understanding the reason for his punishment.
Levar Walton (a black man) was 18 when he killed an elderly white couple and another young black man in his hometown of Danville, Virginia, in 1996.
Walton had a long history of mental illness. He had been displaying signs of severe schizophrenia since he was 16. Before, during, and after the trial, the following took place:
- He told his family that he was "The Queen Bee", "Superman", and "Jesus Christ".
- He explained that he would come back to life as soon as he was executed, and that he would be able to bring his diseased grandfather back to life with him.
- His lawyer testified that "Levar Walton did not meaningfully assist us in preparing a defense... There were occasions where we could not tell whether he understood what we were saying to him." He also said that they "were unable to convince Mr. Walton that he would not come back to life", if executed.
- Psychologists suggested that Walton should be placed in a secure mental health facility.
- According to the Amnesty International message... When "asked whether he would plead guilty or not guilty, he refused to speak, but responded by writing the word "chair" on a piece of paper."
- Since conviction, the prison hospital has described him as "floridly psychotic".
- Six judges agreed that they had "substantial evidence that Percy Levar Walton does not understand that his execution will mean his death, defined as the end of his physical life."
This (obviously incompetent) young man is scheduled to be executed on June 10th, 2008.
I just sent the following message to the Governor of Virginia.
Dear Governor Tim Kaine,
I am writing you in regards to the pending execution of Levar Walton.
I understand that Levar Walton has been convicted of a horrendous crime. My strongest condolences go out to the friends and families of Elizabeth and Jesse Hendrick and Archie Moore. He should be detained, and incapacitated.
However, I face great concern with regards to the method of incapacitation. When considering Levar Walton’s long-term history of mental competency, it seems that he is incapable of understanding the reason (or severity) of this punishment. He is severely schizophrenic, and is not cognitively able to understand his punishment. He has repeatedly expressed the belief that he will be resurrected immediately following his sentencing, and his lawyers have stated that they do not believe that he understands the punishment he faces.
There is legal precedent set that would support the decision to stop the execution of Levar Walton. In their decision on Atkins v. Virginia the Supreme Court decided that it was cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore in violation of the eighth amendment, to execute those who were mentally retarded. Also, your predecessor Governor Gilmore previously stopped the execution of Calvin Swann, based on a very similar case of schizophrenia.
The foundation of a civilized society is compassion for its members which cannot be considered competent. It is the human desire to care for one another. I urge you to use your powers as Governor, and stop the execution of Levar Walton. It is the only ethical and legal decision possible.
I urge you all to take 5 minutes, and send a similar email. Copy and paste mine, for all I care. Just let this man know that all eyes are on him, and that he needs to consider his decision carefully.
You can see the initial Standard article HERE.
Click HERE for a direct link to the comments.
Some of my favorite parts...
Obviously this "test" was done by someone who does not understand the issues at hand. We are not discussing the issues of wether we want guns on campus but rather do we want good guns on campus or not.
You claim that this test isn't applicable, since we were discussing "good guns" on campus. I think that it is very applicable to the debate over concealed carry. The question is literally whether students, with training, should be allowed to carry guns. This study found that the student population did not feel comfortable with this option.
I submit to all of you that Andrew Simpson, the same nutjob that posts under his name, FBP, and the occasional other alias with patent unreason and an easily perturbed dedication to ideas (no matter how strong the evidence or opposing argument may be), could legally carry a gun - he's told us he has the permit. If ever there were a reason to believe that conceal carry laws will not make us safe from this manner of (as Ryan put it) John Wayne throwback, this is it.
As a biology major, you should understand that criticism of the results of a study should be based on questions regarding the design or initial assumptions, and not simply because you don't like the results. Perhaps you would submit a better operational definition of "good guns" for consideration?
You comments above would indicate that you simply disagree with Dr. Brinker's study, yet you don't have any criticisms of the study. As a self-professed science nerd, this is a bit upsetting. We must give the scientific method the respect and authority that it deserves, and not just write off the results that disagree with our personal biases.