Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Look at Guns: Arguments for and against them.

Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

The Constitution of the United States

Hate me if you must, but hear me if you can.

You know, every time I talk about guns with people, I always get the same answers. Now I've been wrong before when I thought I was right -- as when I thought I had the answers to life when I was a Christian. Boy was I wrong. But I'm pretty sure I'm right about this. I think I can shoot down (pardon the pun) every argument in favor of guns that I've heard. I don't favor banning every kind of gun, just to lay down a little guidance and perspective.

  1. It's our Constitutional right.
  2. Guns don't kill people, people kill people.
  3. Lots of things kill people, should we ban everything?
  4. We need them for shooting for fun.
  5. We need them for hunting.
  6. We need them for self defense.
True, it is in the Constitution. Let's look at this 2nd amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Do you, dear reader, have any doubt as to what a militia is? It would be the equivalent of the National Guard in your state. I'm fully in favor of this. If you belong to the National Guard of your state, or similar government arm, you would of course be armed. The intent of this amendment is obviously clear. In those days a militia might be necessary and would arise from the populace of the state, so naturally they would need their own firearms.

So that's the Constitution. It's clear what it means. These days we have police forces and military in the states, so militias made of ordinary citizens are no longer needed. And if it became so bad in a war that ordinary citizens needed to fight, they would be armed by the military with military weapons. Of course some would argue that the idea is to keep a dictator from seizing absolute power. They often reference Nazi Germany taking firearms away from it's citizens. But the idea that Hitler could only assume power if the German people didn't have access to guns, assumes that the German people wanted to overthrow him, and that that would have deterred the Nazis. The Wehrmacht rolled through entire countries, I hardly think armed citizens would have stopped them.

Anyway, do you really think you would stop the US military with rifles and handguns if they were somehow controlled by an American despot? This isn't the 18th century where a group of citizens soldiers would essentially be equally armed with any standing army. Besides the government has already restricted your ability to make was against it. Try going to your gun shop and buying military grade weapons. You can get some nasty stuff to be sure, but you would always be outgunned.

These were smart men that made this law. Do you really think that the current reality is what they had in mind? Guns in those days were a tool, and the fastest you could hope to shoot one was what, twice a minute? Is there one honest gun advocate reading this that thinks that the founding fathers would look at the array of guns that we have today, with the awesome killing power that they have, and say this is what they had in mind? Really? Especially considering what the 2nd amendment is referring to, not to mention the murders done so easily with a handgun? Really?

You know the Constitution isn't sacred. It's been amended multiple times over the centuries.

Let me put it to you this way: Let's pretend nuclear energy was around to power homes when the 2nd amendment was written, and an amendment was written ensuring that every citizen was entitled to keep plutonium to power their own mini reactors. After all, handled properly, plutonium is no more dangerous than a handgun. In those days, plutonium was only used to power homes and such. Now 230 years later, plutonium has an entirely different meaning, with dire consequences for the entire world in the wrong hands.

If such a scenario were true, would you still insist on your Constitutional right to own plutonium? I mean, just like firearms, plutonium is absolutely harmless when handled by a conscientious law abiding citizen. Plutonium doesn't kill people, people kill people, right? Yes I know, that's crazy, a nuclear device could kill millions, of course we wouldn't want people to have plutonium if it could end up in a nuclear warhead. But is that argument any different than pro gun people arguing that guns are safe until a bad guy pulls the trigger?

Sure a single gun won't kill millions at once, but how many murders are okay with you? A million is bad, but you can live with 10,000? How many accidental gun deaths are okay?

Yes, other things can be used as weapons to be sure. People kill with knives, blunt objects, rope, poison, whatever. But here is the difference: Guns have one primary purpose, to kill. At most it can be argued that a handgun can be used for target shooting. Is target shooting worth a single handgun death? You couldn't find something else to do for fun, or something else to use for target practice? Other things that are used to kill have other legitimate uses. And when was the last time you heard of a drive-by knifing? But even at that, I would be in favor of restricting something that was used to kill like guns are.

As far as hunting and self defense, I wouldn't be against a hunter owning a hunting rifle. Hunting is needed to control animal populations, even though I don't get why it's called a sport. But that's another topic. And I would also support owning a shotgun for home defense; I'm not naive, I realize that murders and crime wouldn't suddenly stop if no one owned a handgun etc.

Look, I'm not calling for an outright ban on guns. In a perfect world we wouldn't need them, but I know we don't live in such a world. But I am asking why do we need handguns? Why can't we ban them? Of course we would have to be careful how we did it since the criminal element wouldn't voluntarily give up their stash; and I would be satisfied with only a ban on handguns and their close relatives, so to speak. Not all at once, but with reason and wisdom.

I ask you again, how many murders and accidental deaths (done mostly by handguns) are okay with you? Yes we would still have gun murders and accidental shootings, but shouldn't we try to make that as rare as possible if it's in our power to do so? Is the fear of not being able to get 100% positive results a reason to not try?

How many do you say?

Do the right thing, Democrats.

The Huffington Post: The 15 Biggest Congressional Recipients Of Wall Street Campaign Cash

An open letter to the Democrats that received big campaign contributions from the financial sector.

Jesus Christ! Send the fucking money back, and send it back now! You cannot be working on finance reform while taking money from these people. Why the fuck do you think they are giving it to you? We don't hold you to blame for people contributing to your campaigns and PACs, they're not stupid, they know who's in power. But you damn well better believe that we will hold you to blame if you let this money influence you, and taking money from them is wrong regardless, considering how that money was earned in the first place.

Don't get the idea that because we swept Obama into power, we will overlook avarice and bumbling from the Democratic Party. You don't get a free pass. There is no droit du seigneur here, let the principle of noblesse oblige be your byword. Don't even think that because we don't support the nutty teabaggers, that we are giving you a free pass to do whatever you please. If you don't deal with this correctly, you will absolutely lose the swing voters and sweep the Republicans back into power -- and we will all pay for that. I don't care that Republicans are also taking money from them, you are in power, and you will rightfully shoulder any blame that results from influence from the financial industry. Who the fuck is advising you people anyway?

Do the right thing, send this money back, now. Don't let me wake up one morning to find that Michele (looney tunes) Bachmann in running things in the house and Sarah Palin is -gulp- President Palin. The Democratic Party has the a unique chance to make historic changes and put people in control of their lives, don't fuck it up.

Do the right thing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm no genius, but I think space is pretty big -- and we aren't.

Spitzer Space Telescope

So I'm flipping around on the Internets today and I came across some pictures from the Spitzer Space Telescope. It's an infrared telescope that was recently re-commissioned after being down for repairs. I was looking at the photos strictly for the "wow" factor that I get from seeing galaxies and the like; those sort of photos just blow my mind. Just the thought that there are such glories in the universe that don't give a damn about me or my little problems makes me very humble and thankful for this life. But something else got my attention, something that I had considered before and wasn't really a revelation, but it's something I wanted to share as just a reminder of our place.

Now, mind you there are galaxies and nebulae and so on much farther away than this, but this will do. One of the pictures from Spitzer was of a distant galaxy called NGC 4145, about 68 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. I've done this sort of thing before, where I ask myself just how far away is 68 million light-years? But this time I wanted to know just how long it would take us to get there using some future technology.

So here's what I did. I took the speed of light, times the number of seconds in a minute, the number of minutes in an hour, the number of hours in a day, and the number of days in a year. So:

~ Light Speed - 186,000 miles per second

~ Multiply by 60 = 11,160,000 miles traveled in 1 minute.

~ Multiply by 60 = 669,600,000 miles traveled in 1 hour.

~ Multiply by 24 = 16,070,400,000 miles traveled in 1 day.

~ Multiply by 365 = 5,865,696,000,000 miles traveled in 1 year. Which is also 1 "light year."

~ Multiply by 68,000,000 = 398,867,328,000,000,000,000 miles traveled in 68 million light-years.

In other words, that galaxy is almost 400 quintillion miles away from us.

Now, the fastest man made vehicles are two sun probes called Helios, their top speed is something like 150,000 mph, give or take. Now that really has more to do with the gravity of the sun and the close proximity of the probes to the sun, but okay, we still built it. But, let's look say 100 years in the future, anything more than that and you wouldn't even begin to guess what will take place. But I think we can take a decent guess at the next 100 years. Of course this is just speculation, but that's all we can go on.

Let's say in the future, we decide to send a probe to that crazy NGC 4145 galaxy. Because goddammit, we have to spend our 100 trillion dollar space budget on something! Okay the 100 trillion part is pure fantasy, but we will be sending out more probes in the future. So we work for a decade or so and build the fastest damn thing ever seen by humanity: The Hasenpfeffer 9000 space probe -- brought to you by Walmart's Hasenpfeffer stew!

The Hasenpfeffer 9000 is the finest and fastest thing that Americans can pay for and our Chinese masters can build. That baby will do a sweet 1,000,000 mph! That's right, 1 million miles per hour! So come launch day they fire that baby up and send her on her way. But, I hope you left instructions for whatever future species will be here, because here's how it will play out.

~ Our speed - 1,000,000 mph

~ Multiply by 24 - 24,000,000 miles traveled in one day.

~ Multiply by 365 - 8,760,000,000 miles traveled in one year. That's 8.7 billion miles in 1 year. That's a lot!

~ Divide 398,867,328,000,000,000,000 by 8,760,000,000 = 45,532,800,000


It would still take us over 45.5 billion years traveling at 1 million miles per hour to reach that galaxy, if the universe is even still around then.

And don't forget, even if we could travel at the incredible speed of light, which is an utterly amazing, unfathomable speed, it would still take us 68 million years to reach that wacky NGC 4145!

Even if my math is off or I skipped a step, there's no getting around just how tiny we are, and how little we mean to the rest of the universe. Humbling, ain't it?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jesus said he loves me...and other reasons for Christians to have sex.

Because I'm bored.

- The roof was leaking, and I needed a dry place to keep my wang.

- If we don't multiply, the terrorists win.

- Because not having sex is socialism!

- Telling people they will burn in hell just makes me hot.

- I can always say I'm sorry later and ask forgiveness. Forgiveness rules!

- Are you kidding? I'm surrounded by horny virgins!

- Well, all of our leaders seem to be getting their groove on, why shouldn't I?

- Because I'm a man, and she will do as I say! It's in the bible!

- The Lord Jesus rode an ass into Jerusalem, so I'm just following his example.

- Because Argentina pussy is just so sweet! Just ask any Governor of South Carolina.

- That damn altar boy was asking for it! Jesus will forgive me for anal rape of a child, and the church will hide me, so you know, it's all good. Wait, what was the question again?

- Who else will bring the gospel to those two-dollar whores?

- Internet porn just wasn't doing it for me anymore.

- A future crazy-ass Republican President will need some Christian warriors for cannon fodder.

- Eating their weight in cheeseburgers wasn't enough to satiate their carnal desire.

- I'm rife with power. Snorting blow off a hooker's ass is the only thing that can bring you down from that high.

- Have you ever worn a satin robe?

- Wine, candles, bread, and virgins. You figure it out.

- Because as a Christian woman, I was put on this earth to be a baby maker -- and nothing else.

- They're obsessed with sex. This isn't calculus.

- Who gives a fuck? At least that's 2 1/2 minutes they won't be preaching at me.

- I'm just doing unto others as I would have them do unto me. Giggity!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another gosh darn slap at sanity, and free speech. And look, it's about religion! Wonderful, wonderful religion!

Ireland bucks trend with anti-blasphemy law

Goddamn It, Ireland Outlaws Blasphemy

Well, here I though it was the 21st century, and it turns out to be the 11th. How could I have missed that? They sure make good beer these days. I was thinking it was the 21st century because no thinking person would even consider trying to outlaw something as nebulous as blasphemy, as they apparently recently have in Ireland. Now I know you will say "Jesus McTitfuck, you must be crazy, that could never happen now!" But you would be wrong to assume such a thing. And hey, watch the language, okay? Let's not get you in any trouble.

You know whether this was done to make the Catholic majority in Ireland happy, or because this law was required by their constitution, neither looks good. If it was added because they are trying to protect Catholics, or any religion for that matter, what does that say about that particular religion? And if it was done to satisfy legal requirements, what does that say about the Irish Constitution and the people that decided it made sense?

I mean, this is Ireland we're talking about here. Ireland! Now I know religious intolerance is nothing new in that part of the world, considering the long history of bloodshed in Northern Ireland, but damn, this is just insane. I would expect this in Iran or Pakistan where this probably seems like a no-brainer, and entering the civilized family of nations has rarely been a laudable goal. But not in Ireland. Not even if this is only procedural and is quickly overturned. Goddamn, what the fuck!? Seriously!

Well, scratch off Ireland along with Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea as places to visit.

From this point I'll just post the best article that I came across on this subject, because from here on out it was just going to be me and every goddamn blasphemous fucking thing I could think of to say about religion, sky fairies, and yes probably even fluffy bunnies if I got mad enough.

And just for clarification purposes and covering my own ass: I am not in any way affiliated with ABC News or Mr. Paulos, and the photo for this post is from the ABC article.

The following story is from ABC

New Blasphemy Law in Ireland
Monitoring the Illogic of Modern-Day Religious Persecution

When a modern Western country whose economy is based on science and technology adopts an absurdly medieval law, one would think that this would be a news story of at least moderate size.

Oddly though, almost no attention has been paid in the United Stares to the passing last month of a bill establishing a crime of blasphemy in Ireland.

Approved by the Irish parliament, it states: "A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding euro."

Furthermore, "a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage."

Even if I weren't the author of a book entitled "Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up," I would find this bill abysmally wrong-headed.

Even Parodies and Bad Jokes Liable to Fine

Although it provides for exceptions to prosecution if a "reasonable person" finds literary, scientific or other significant value in a work, it would allow for atheists to be prosecuted for denying the existence of God, a denial that clearly causes outrage in many.

Those writing parodies and bad jokes would also be liable to the 25,000 euro fine. Even an innocuous riff on God rescinding the Bible in the middle of the night the way Amazon called back the Orwell book from its Kindle reader could be prosecuted.

And if the reaction of some irate readers of my book is any indication, so could an imagined instant message exchange between me and God that appears in the book.

But non-believers would not be the only, or even the primary, ones affected by this blasphemy bill. People, irreligious or not, presumably could be prosecuted for drawing cartoons of Mohammad. Christians could be prosecuted for expressing scorn or even disbelief in the Christian teachings of other denominations.

Likewise, Jews and others could be prosecuted for denying the divinity or even the existence of Jesus. Or, if atheism is considered a religion (which it is not), atheists also could claim to be outraged by the expressions of their religious countrymen, each of whom could then be required to cough up 25,000 euro.

Law Allows for Confiscation of Blasphemous Materials

The law also allows for the confiscation of blasphemous materials -- novels, non-fiction books, short videos, full-length movies, etc.

Interestingly, the blasphemy law is not the only medieval aspect of Irish law. The preamble to the Irish Constitution maintains that the state's authority derives from the most holy trinity, stipulates that no one can become president or a judge without taking a religious oath, and declares that all citizens have obligations to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Similar but less overt sentiments and statutes exist in this country. Witness the arguments put forth by many that the U.S. is a Christian country.

More analogous is a little-known example involving the state of Arkansas, which has not yet roused itself to rescind article 19 of its constitution: "No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court." A few other states have similar laws.

Same Impulse in Politics

The impulse to enact benighted laws of this sort gives rise to more than these Taliban-like religious laws. After all, it is not only all-mighty deities that need special legal protection. Generals and politicians do too, so the same fearful defensiveness also leads to draconian edicts to protect political leaders and parties from ridicule.

Pakistan, to cite a recent example, has just announced a prohibition of jokes about President Asif Zardari. Anyone sending e-mails, text messages or blog postings containing such jokes is subject to arrest and a 14-year prison sentence. I'm sure even more prohibitive restrictions exist in those hotbeds of free-wheeling political humor, Burma and North Korea.

It's instructive to contrast these authoritarian laws against blasphemy, jokes, political humor and free speech generally with the way people deal with dissent from established scientific laws.

No laws prohibit people from denying that Earth is spherical, that evolution explains the development and diversity of life, or that the moon landing ever took place. The same holds for mathematics. No one claiming that pi is a rational number, that there are finitely many prime numbers, or that Godel's theorem is false has ever been hauled into court.

Of course, I by no means intend to equate the irreligious with scientific quacks. Just the opposite, in fact. It's simply that in most domains, those who insist on denying conventionally accepted beliefs are for the most part simply ignored. Statements that can stand on their own two feet (evidence and logic) don't need crutches (blasphemy laws) to support them.

As mentioned, Ireland is a modern pluralistic state with an educated population, a world-class literary tradition and a healthy economy that has transformed itself in recent years in large part through science and high-tech jobs. To continue this transformation, the religious and irreligious alike should reject this silly blasphemy law.

The religious should probably be most opposed to it, however. Placing punitive sanctions on the robust, or even the rude, expression of irreligious thought does not seem to say much for religion.

John Allen Paulos, a professor of mathematics at Temple University, is the author of the best-sellers "Innumeracy" and "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper," as well as (just out in paperback) "Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up." His "Who's Counting?" column on appears the first weekend of every month.

Please, let's get our asses to Mars! ASAP!

A One-Way, One-Person Mission to Mars

The Case for Colonizing Mars

You know, I have always been fascinated with all things celestial since I was a little boy. I'm not sure why exactly. It must have been a movie I saw or something like that. I just find the subject fascinating. And you know, that really doesn't strike me as anything out of the ordinary for someone to be attracted to. After all, to understand the cosmos-- or at least to try to understand the cosmos is to understand where we came from and where we might be going. Even as a fundamentalist Christian I was fascinated by "outer space" and everything in it.

So why do I feel so different these days? Why do I feel like no one really cares that much about it? I'm not going to argue about whether or not other important issues should be put on the back burner, or if they are more important or less important. And I'm not going to concern myself with why people don't seem to be into it. Maybe it's because it's not such a new and fascinating thing these days or because of everyday concerns. I really don't know, and quite frankly I really don't give a shit why. I'm just pro-space exploration. Maybe I'm completely wrong on this subject, in every way, but I'm not able to be any other way. I just get the impression that people don't care as much these days about space exploration and the like as they once did. There are lots of great programs on TV that discuss the many facets and disciplines of space science, and plenty of fictional shows and movies. Yet there doesn't seem to be any great call for new exploration. Hell, most of NASA's probes go unnoticed when they are launched.

And many of these probes have been sent to the one planet that we will ever explore in the foreseeable future. That planet is Mars, of course. From the Mariner missions on down, we have sent probe after probe to investigate our planetary neighbor. Most of them were successful and have given us lots of new data about the "red planet." If it wasn't for these accomplishments we wouldn't even be considering further space exploration-- no question about it. And it certainly has helped to maintain at least a certain level of interest about the cosmos in the public consciousness-- and has even helped to move the debate along.

That's all great and necessary, of course, but isn't it time to move beyond the probes and insert the human component into the mix? I'm not even talking about getting NASA or any other world agency on the ball about this. I mean isn't it time that we as a people, as a species, began looking out beyond the confines of our own little existence? I think NASA and others are already chomping at the bit to get humanity to the far reaches of our solar system. But unless there is a popular will to do this, unless we make this a default mandate for anyone that would ask us to put them in a position of leadership, both scientific and political, the chances of this coming to fruition are much less I think.

Going to Mars is a tough enough challenge when you're talking about probes, but to get people safely to Mars would be a enormous and overwhelming challenge. But the success of such a mission would also be an enormous and overwhelming triumph. And the difficulty of such an endeavor means that we must make this a priority and that the support of the citizenry of the world must be the backbone of it. No compromises must be allowed to take place, and no egos must get in the way. And in doing so the world will see what can be done when we come together as humans instead of fight each other as rivals.

Look, I'm no fool. I know how hard it is to even get countries to agree where they will hold a meeting, let alone what they will discuss. There won't be a damn thing about this that will be easy. People will cry about priorities, about the feasibility, and about the impossibility of committing to such a project. This will be a mammoth undertaking that will push us to the very limits of our human capabilities. The technology involved in this will no doubt be on the bleeding edge, and there will be failures along the way, maybe even disasters. But if we were to quit, or not even try because of failure or the fear of failure, then we never would have made it to the moon, and we would have stopped sending probes to Mars a long time ago.

Sure, I know there are some things that we as humans are currently incapable of accomplishing. We are probably still centuries or even millennia away from exploring other galaxies or even eradicating disease and such on Earth. The vast, unfathomable distances alone will take some new technology to overcome. My own dream is to see the Milky Way Galaxy from an outside vantage point. I can think of no greater glory in this life than to rise out of and above our own galaxy and see it as maybe some other distant civilization sees it, and to know that right there, in that spiral arm exists unique life. What a revelation that would be! But that's just not going to happen. Not anytime soon anyway. I know that dreams like those really are just dreams right now, and will be for a long time to come.

But dammit, we can go to Mars. We must go to Mars. We will go to Mars, eventually. At some point in our future, we will have no choice but to go to another planet. Isn't it better to go now, or to at least start the planning now and learn as much as we can for future generations for when they will need to go to another planet? This planet has seen mass extinctions before. It will certainly see them again. That we will see another ice age is an absolute fact. And who knows what future events will bring to this less than stable planet? And I will freely admit, I also want us to go just for the simple reason that we can. The benefits to me far outweigh the risk and the cost involved. The benefits to future scientific discovery and advancement alone is worth it. Even if we lived on a perfectly calm planet with no danger of future annihilation, I would still say "go."

Believe me, I understand about everyday concerns and mundane details crowding out the grander things that we can contemplate. But we are humans, this is what we do. We explore, we discover. Please don't let me die without knowing that we have at least made plans to go to Mars.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Copyright ©2009 Rum Tickled Humanist

Sarah Palin: Milking it for all she's worth.

Sarah Palin Matches David Letterman in Cheap, Classless Jokes

Note: this was written before this dingbat announced she was quitting her job as Governor of Alaska. I will address that towards the end of this opinion piece.

Hey Sarah Palin, how about you shut the fuck up? Why wouldn't your daughter (and you know which one Dave, and now me are referring to) get knocked up by Alex Rodriguez? She clearly has no problem with getting her groove on. Stop pretending that your daughter is some virtuous Madonna that is above reproach. She let some dude shove his dick in her like any other horny teenager would. Your cover is blown. You're not the perfect Christian family that you are trying to portray. And your wounded mother act is wearing thin. We know you are already running for President in 2012, and this is some pathetic attempt to lure women voters. That's pretty fucking cynical if you ask me. How stupid and gullible do you think women are?

What makes you think that most women will believe for even a nanosecond that you're standing up for their rights?

And don't you have a state to run? Wait, you know what, on second thought, keep making an ass of yourself and bring the Republican party to it's knees with your idiotic, retarded blathering. Hopefully you will tie your party to the religious nutters like you for good, ensuring that they never win another race. Power hungry fools like you only care about one thing, and that's power and glory. No tactic is off the table, and no lie is too big to overcome. You are using your daughter to garner sympathy from women in hopes of setting yourself up as the protector of women. But most of us are intelligent enough to know that we are seeing one more cynical politician that is out for herself.

And where was this propriety that you allegedly live by when you were slandering President Obama during the campaign? You practically called him a terrorist sympathizer, and you stirred up the innate paranoia and fear that right wing Christians lunatics suffer from by doing so. Spare me your offended sensibilities, asshole. I don't believe for a second that you are offended by anything you hear, considering the ease with which the lies and hyperbole spill from your lips. You sank the McCain campaign thanks to your bizarre babbling on all things global, and now you're sinking the Republican party faster than your ratings sank after your debate. Not that McCain had a choice with the fundies co-opting your party.

Actually, do shut your pie hole, I'll take the chance that fundies will sink the party that was once the party of Lincoln, all by themselves.

And isn't it so nice of you to step down as Governor of Alaska because you wanted to spare the "people." Please. You voluntarily step into the limelight to seek your glory when you had to know that you have no business being one step from the most powerful job on the planet, and we're supposed to believe that you care about the people of Alaska? Are you joking? Let's get to the real reason, shall we?

Dealing with the things that all governors deal with no longer had any appeal for you after you got a taste of the big stage, and now you can't be bothered with the petty details and minutiae of governing a meaningless state where you were no longer quite as popular as you once were. Some will say you are trying to avoid more probes into your actions, but I think it's more about that job holding you back. During the campaign you clearly demonstrated that you have no compunction about getting down and dirty, so I doubt that you were worried about such matters.

No, I think you are just like any other politician out to promote themselves and their agenda, and being a governor was holding you back. Who gives a fuck about the pledge you made when you took your oath as Governor, right Sarah? So you're the wet dream that every nutter has a hardon for? Goddamn, do they plan to ever get back in office? Well I guess it's down to you now that their other sanctimonious golden boy, Governor Mark Sanford got caught with his dick in a woman that wasn't his wife. Well Sarah, at least you aren't boring us to tears. I guess I should thank you for that. Maybe you and Mark could go on the road together as the paragons of Christian virtue that you so clearly are.

Copyright ©2009 Rum Tickled Humanist

Sunday, May 17, 2009

There she is, Miss California! You Californians must be so proud...

Pageant Official Quits Over Miss. Calif. Decision

You know I just don't get it. How can anyone take this Carrie Prejean chick seriously? She is clearly all about herself. She talks like she has a direct line to God, but yet she apparently thought her god's handiwork wasn't perfect enough, so she gets a boob job to increase her chances to win a goddamn beauty pageant. And I guess that dude doesn't mind one of his followers flashing some tit to advance their career.

Now, you'll never hear me saying women shouldn't get fake boobs, or that they shouldn't do nudity or even porn. I may have an opinion about that, but it's not my place to tell someone what to do with their own body. But for that same person to turn around and tell someone else that their choice is a no-can-do,, no, no. Sorry, when you've had major surgery (and it is major surgery) and used your sexuality to win a fucking beauty contest, you may not have forfeited your right to speak out, but you have lost your right to expect to be taken seriously. And when you speak out about any subject that has to do with restricting someones personal choice, you will not be taken seriously by others, or at least by me. And you will also have your motives questioned.

It's funny, the Fox News crowd, most of which are Christians, will eat her up. And yet she has made a mockery of Christianity, using it like she used her fake tits to advance her career. I don't believe someone like her holds anything as a sincere belief, except that it's all about her.

I just love the following quotes she gave in interviews after all of this:

- "I felt as though Satan was trying to tempt me in asking me this question. And then God was in my head and in my heart saying, "Do not compromise this. You need to stand up for me and you need to share with all these people . . . you need to witness to them and you need to show that you're not willing to compromise that for this title of Miss USA."

- "This happened for a reason. By having to answer that question in front of a national audience, God was testing my character and faith. I'm glad I stayed true to myself."

Say what?? Right, she didn't compromise to win the Miss USA title; she stayed true to herself. Oh brother! I guess she forgot about the boob shots that happened because it was a "windy day". And she must have forgotten about the new fake tits that she had gotten only weeks before.

I can't believe she said her god talks to her and gave her this as a test. Really? What test was he putting you through when he told you to get bigger tits and when he told you to flash some skin for a photographer? If he told you one, he told you the other. Why can't people just admit their biases instead of passing it off on their god or religion? Thankfully for them, their god is only make believe. If I thought for a second that there was a god, I would have more respect for that god than to blame it for my own bigotry.

Please. There was no test, this media whore new exactly what she was doing when she was getting her breast enhancement and flashing her boobs for the camera. Then when she was asked that question by that idiot blogger, it fell right into her lap. Her clunky rambling answer was one thing; I can forgive that because people can get nervous. And if she honestly felt that way, then so be it. But to then use that moment on stage as a launching pad for her career and act like she is a paragon of virtue because "I stayed true to myself" blah, blah, blah, is just too much. Reading the above quotes, what else can we assume except that she is saying she wouldn't compromise herself or her religion to win? That my friends, is BULLSHIT. Of course she compromised. But now that she has become the darling of the Christian right, she's making out like she is a hero for sticking to her bigoted beliefs--when she was in fact just answering a question that she probably didn't give a rip about.

And make no mistake, she is one of two things. She's either a bigot, or a lair that's trying to advance her career. She's not a bigot for answering that question on stage in my estimation, but because of the shit she said afterward. She's a bigot because she, like most if not all people who are against gay marriage, cannot give one example of how gay marriage will prevent heterosexual people from getting married or how it will have a deleterious affect on them--aside from hurting their feelings. They're just bigoted toward gays. And even that wouldn't be so bad if they would just admit it, instead of this bullshit about "protecting the sanctity of marriage" and such. Right, the most ignorant people in the world can get married multiple times and have all sorts of bastard children, and you don't hear one goddamn peep from the nutters. But gay marriage, that must be stopped! Please.

Or, she's a liar that is out for herself like so many other people in this world. She has already proven that she has no problem lying when she conveniently forgot about the titty shots that she was supposed to tell the pageant officials about--not that I care about them either. Does anyone believe that she wouldn't have been shown the door for lying if Donald Trump wasn't in charge? Anyone?? And wasn't it nice of her to cancel on Larry King at the last minute? Think she'll be canceling on Fox News? Hm...the Magic 8 Ball says no, she won't.

And you know what's funny? By exposing the hypocrisy of this asshole, people like me are actually standing up for the nutters that probably think she's the greatest thing since Jesus, and can't wait for her inevitable career at Fox News to begin. It would be no trouble for me to see the faithful get their asses handed to them again like so they have been by so many other frauds in the last 20 years or so when their hypocritical, less then holy predilections are exposed. But too bad, I guess. Hypocrisy is one of my least liked qualities in humans, and I won't shut up about it when I see it. It's not that I don't expect it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Conduct your life as you please, just don't tell me to do ( or to not do) something when you yourself aren't willing to do the same. Gay marriage isn't natural, right Carrie? It's not approved by your god. But fake tits and fake who knows what else, he's down with that, is that it? How about you just shut the fuck up, you vacuous and ignorant nincompoop?

Anyway, if she turns out to be just another bigot, oh well, the world is full of them. She's already joined the paranoid lunatics at the National Organization for Marriage, so maybe she is. But all signs point to her being an opportunistic media whore that doesn't give a shit about whom she hurts. Whether it's the nutters that she will no doubt ride to get her career going, or the gay people that she will harm for the same reason, she will be hurting some people along the way. It's bad enough that there are ignorant people like her in this world, but it's even worse when someone like her uses that bigotry to advance their career and probably couldn't care less about whom they harm. "No offense" she says. BULL F-U-C-K-I-N-G SHIT.

I hope I'm wrong and she's just a young lady that is misguided and lost, and doesn't know what she believes yet. And no doubt she will get used by the nutters as much as she uses them. But be that as it may, that still doesn't excuse her. And goddammit, wrong is wrong, and I do NOT have tolerance for intolerance, and I have even less tolerance for intolerant people that are hypocrites.

And you know what? This brings up another point--stupid people trying to sound smart. It's embarrassing to watch, and it hurts their cause. So when someone is out of your league, don't hurl insults and invectives, just bow out gracefully. It's not a sin to lose an argument.

A "windy day"... please, just go away.


So, she was finally shown the door by pageant officials. A little late, but they really had no choice if they wanted to have any control over future contestants. So now we will have to see what this dingus comes up with next. let's see if she was just the flavor of the month, or if she hooks up with Fox or some other right wing outfit. But, more pressing issues are revealing themselves, and she will be soon forgotten by me, and hopefully all of us. But there will always be people like her to take her place. I hope she comes to her senses.

Copyright ©2009 Rum Tickled Humanist

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Watchmen: Just another movie?

"You know, mankind has been trying to kill each other off since the dawn of time, and now that we have the means...we can finally do it." ~ Edward Blake/The Comedian

Roger Ebert review of Watchmen

It's been a few weeks now since I last saw Watchmen, and I think I'm ready to have a go at a few thoughts. Please forgive me if I ramble or drift into sophistry. First of all let me say that this movie is not for the kids. It's violent, contains sex scenes, nudity, and most of all is simply brutal about it's subject matter--which is us. And secondly, don't read this if you haven't seen it because I won't be keeping secrets and spoilers will abound.

I know that some people find this movie depressing and cynical, but I only saw it as realistic. I won't delve into the characters and make this a standard movie review, but rather a commentary on what the movie was saying. I've now seen this film three times with the last viewing being a few weeks ago. This blog post has been several weeks in the making so please forgive the tardiness of this post. But since this is more about the subject matter than a review to convince you to go see the movie, I feel it's relevance is timeless. But still, you should go see this film. So let's get into it...

Of all the crime fighters in the film only Dr. Manhattan could be said to be superhuman, and the rest were just highly skilled human beings that chose to fight crime; only these crime fighters were less than perfect and had no trouble dispatching the bad guys with extreme prejudice. It would be hard to nail down just exactly what the director was trying to convey to the audience. But I like that a movie leaves me with something to ponder. While I certainly enjoy more straightforward films, I am rarely left with something to think about after I've left the theatre. Mind you the past year or so has been a banner year in that regard, and for that I am thankful.

Having said that, I will attempt to sum up what I think are the main points of the movie, or at least what I took from it. First, we better pull our collective heads out of our asses and we better do it quick, before our only option to avoid nuclear destruction is to fight another devastating war which may be just as bad. Second, no one is truly good. We are all full of contradictions and both good and evil exist in us. And third, there may not be hope for us or a painless solution to our penchant for violence and our human condition. In this film the one superhero that is considered the smartest takes vigilantism to an extreme by developing a device that mirrors the powers of Dr. Manhattan and then uses that power to level several cities, thereby scaring the two countries that are about to go nuclear into living in peace by the end of the film.

Yes, it is a brutal way to prevent what would have been a devastating nuclear war. But is this our future? Of course this is a fantasy, and no one knows the future with certainty. Maybe in that reality, or even in ours, the result would have been a conventional war--but that is not the point. We will kill each other. Whether we annihilate each other with nuclear weapons or with conventional weapons, war seems to be unavoidable for us. The way I saw it this movie was a commentary on humanity. There was going to be a war because that's what we do. To relieve the pressure when it becomes too great for whatever reason, we kill each other. Whether it's done through a limited nuclear engagement that levels several cities, a full engagement, or a conventional war, it was going to happen.

This movie will be seen by some as saying it's okay to kill millions to prevent a war--that it's trying to justified the slaughter of people for a greater good. They will say the movie is saying murder is justified and that we should accept the inevitable. But that's not it at all. The movie is making the point that this is what happens when you appeal to war. One way or another people are going to die. The solution for Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, was to fool humanity by making the nations of the world frightened of an outside power. But they weren't less inclined to kill each other through an organic process or evolving of the human mind, they were simply turned into scared children of a god. But even that god, Dr. Manhattan, knew that while you can trick mankind you cannot change the nature of mankind. And he knew that in it's current state, this was the only hope for mankind. A false hope to be sure, but the only one that would be effective. It wasn't a matter of saying that murdering millions was the solution, this movie is saying that murdering millions all too often is our solution. Who can deny this as we look back at the wars throughout history? Mankind needs no assistance from a movie to reveal the evil that we are capable of.

There are parallels in our world today. So many people believe in a higher power and only do good, or at least don't hurt others, because they fear their god. They are no less capable of killing than the unbeliever is, and will never evolve to a higher plane of existence as long as they only do good out of fear or for a reward. This film makes the point that in a world that has devolved into this state, the only solution is an unimaginably horrible one that would only be a solution in such a violent and hopeless world. In this world the one person that would show the world the true nature of humanity and the lie that their new "utopia" is built on, must die for his beliefs. In this world and in ours, humanity is not yet ready to rise above petty differences and embrace each other, so the only means to obtain peace is violence. In this world telling the truth is no longer a virtue and is instead an inconvenience when it doesn't serve the new utopia, and is a commodity when it does. Look at how we vilify people that threaten our comfy bubble by telling us the stark truth. For us the martyr isn't a crime fighter, it's truth itself.

One way or the other, there was going to be violence, and only the fear of annihilation will make us what we should be. But because it took that fear to change them (and us), we haven't achieved a lasting peace. We will bring ourselves to the brink again; it's only a matter of time until we do. And I think the message that the movie leaves us with as the journal of Rorschach (the murdered martyr who would reveal all) is shown in the office of a journalist, is will we be able to maintain this false peace for real when we once again have the freedom to entertain our darkest thoughts without fear of annihilation from above?

To me this movie spoke to me as an allegory of religion in it's most distilled form. So many of us need religion and the threat of eternal damnation, or at least the promise of eternal bliss, to do what we should do without reservation if we would refuse to be controlled by our lowly origins and instead strove for a higher existence. And saddest of all, just like the plan of Ozymandias, it doesn't make us better at all; it only hides our true nature and in fact often makes us more effective agents of hate and will continue to retard our growth as human beings.

I think Rorschach had it right-- tell the truth, consequences be damned. If we are to survive and prosper then it will be through trial by fire; but at least it will be because we will have learned the futility of hate and war. Maybe then we will appeal to our higher natures. And if we fail then it was our future anyway, because no false peace can last and only delays the inevitable. Let's not kid ourselves, how long would we last without laws and the fear of punishment? I'll let you be the judge about whether or not this false peace, this manufactured sense of security, is worth maintaining or offers any hope for our future.

Are we just putting off the inevitable, or are we buying ourselves precious time at the cost of our present sufferings?

Copyright ©2009 Rum Tickled Humanist

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thoughts on abortion...

Obama Tries to Appease Both Sides of Abortion Debate

Recently I saw a few dozen people protesting abortion here in town in the Downtown area. And it made me want give voice to few things about the issue. The following are my thoughts and questions:

- I am abhorred by abortion, and yet I cannot find it in me to tell a woman that she must carry her fetus to term. Although I wouldn't be against it being illegal say after 7 months or so--whatever is medically prudent. I wouldn't support it, but I wouldn't fight it. I think it would be an acceptable compromise. Actually, I think many states already have such laws, if I'm not mistaken.

- I am completely disgusted that there were children marching and holding signs. That's nothing less than child exploitation and indoctrination. No child should be allowed to participate in such a thing. They can't possibly understand what they are doing and will only parrot what the parent believes in. I fucking hate parents that do that to their children.

- Would they force a woman that is raped and impregnated to carry the fetus to term?

- Have those that march and protest against abortion ever really intellectually considered their stance?

- Why do we never see abortion protesters outside of fertility clinics? Life begins at conception, right? Many embryos ("babies") are destroyed or fail to develop. This is gambling with human life. People know full well that many embryos may die in order for one fetus to be carried to term. Could it be that many Christian woman would be inconvenienced by shutting down these clinics? Where's the moral outrage?

- The Catholic Church is against infertile couples having children without the act of sex being involved. I'll give them credit for being honest about their stance, but it doesn't make it any less stupid. It's one of the most retarded things I've ever heard coming from a religious faith, and that's saying something.

- Why is it that they fight so hard against using embryos for research that may have the potential to alleviate some of the most devastating diseases? They seem to care more for the potential living (a clump of cells in reality) than the actual, fully formed living beings.

- So I assume that the anti-choice folks would like all women that have abortions prosecuted for murder, since they constantly call it murder. The funny thing is, you rarely hear them actually say that. I wonder, is there a part of them that knows abortion isn't actually murder?

- Are they aware, have the anti-choice folks ever even considered what will happen if it is criminalized? Have they thought about the number of teenage girls that will commit suicide because they are desperate, scared, or ashamed to tell their parents, and the option of legal abortion is no longer there? Have they considered for one second how many women will die while trying to give themselves an abortion because they can no longer go to an abortion clinic? Do they really think abortions will stop because it is outlawed?

You constantly hear them cite how many abortions there are every year, as if there were none before Roe V. Wade. It's funny, you never hear them say what their plan is for a post legal abortion world. You never hear one offer a solution beyond criminalizing it. Their magic bullet seems to be adoption, which of course is an option today. For various reasons that isn't a persuasive option. What makes them think women will suddenly see the light? And maybe someone should point out to them that if they keep passing laws to ban gay couples and single people from adopting (in other words people that don't fit the definition of worthy according to their religious dogma), there won't be enough people to adopt this massive amounts of unwanted children that will come into the system.

- Have they given a moments thought to their positions on adoption? Do they imagine in their fantasy world that even if there were enough people that wanted to adopt, that every child would find an eager couple ready to adopt them and love them no matter what the race or affliction of the child? Have they considered how much more enormous the bureaucracy that oversees child welfare would need to become, and how many more children will slip through the cracks?

Every time I see one interviewed on TV, they seem woefully misinformed and ignorant. They seem like credulous fools that follow the lead of their master keepers without question. This is one more example of the dangers of religion to the human mind. Try pointing out some of the flaws in their stance and asking them some tough questions and marvel at the blank stares. At best you'll get a Frankenstein's monster response of "Abortion is murder!" or "Life begins at conception!" or some such tautology. Fire bad!

I certainly will admit that I don't have a solution. I wish there were no abortions and that there was an easy solution, but that's not reality. I can wish think all I want, but it won't change a damn thing. And being equated with a murderer because I support a woman's right to choose isn't making me amenable to engaging in a reasoned debate with them, and it sure as hell isn't helping their cause. If I hear one more goddamn time that I support the murder of innocent children, I can't guarantee what my reaction will be.

I want a solution, and right now all I can think of is education and at least making it safe. You may call it murder, but the killing won't stop just because you make it illegal, so shouldn't we at least make it as safe as we can with the least number of deaths as possible? And that includes going after doctors and clinics that don't follow the law and proper procedures.

So anyway, that's just what was rolling though my head after witnessing their little march. I just had to say something about it, so my apologies if this blog post seems a little perfunctory. The stupidity needs to end, and we need to find a middle ground where we can devise a workable solution. What that is I can't say, but I do know that the answer is not outlawing it. And religion needs to be left at the door, because there is no such thing as compromise for the fundamentalist. So just like any extremist, they need to be shunned and marginalized while the thinking adults work towards an answer; an answer that doesn't include divisive politics and ideology.

Copyright ©2009 Rum Tickled Humanist