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To some editor or other:

The better to see God, we remove the eyes of all our children who reach the age of twelve. (It's required by our holy book.) It's our religion, and the first Amendment of the Constitution protects this practice. (Freedom of religion. Yes!)

Occasionally a child sues, and the case reaches the Supreme Court. That often results in a narrowly defined compromise decision. We get to remove only one eye.

Sincerely,
Pastormam Joehamed, Church of the All Seeing God

PS: For Mayor of Los Angeles, vote for our COTAS candidate! (He's a one-eyed "moderate.")

--------------------

CONTRACEPT!

"Once again, we are reminded that men do not get pregnant.

Or corporations. We keep being told they're people, but if they were people who could reproduce, I guarantee you contraceptives would not only be free, there would be a tax break for taking them."

Gail Collins
NYT June 28, 2014

Contracept that Supreme Court before it reproduces!
MH
___________

HALF THE SKY (a TV documentary) is female.

 
October 1 & 2, 2012

If a raped three-year-old is a secondary issue to you (as it seems to be to our foreign policy gurus, except Hillary), please get off this website now. You are beyond redemption.

The PBS documentary "Half the Sky" is connected to the extraordinary 2009 book of the same name. (See below : "Being Female is Dangerous to Your Health" and "Excessive Sex Drive.")

In the first segment ( Oct. 1) the authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn take us around the world to expose the culturally sanctioned devaluation, exploitation, physical abuse and murder of girls. They offset the shock of many of these stories with determined individual success stories. They put their emphasis on small but heroic efforts to drag individual girls out of the male-dominated morass with some potent doses of education and love.
__________________

Cartoon-Big-3-Common-Ground

Hunter 2011

It's a Gass.

April 7, 2016
"I began to realize that evil actually was ignorance--ignorance chosen and cultivated--as he [Plato] and Socrates had so passionately taught; that most beliefs were bunkum, and that the removal of bad belief was as important to a mind as a cancer's excision was to the body it imperiled."

William Gass
The Tunnel
________

RAPE & DEATH

MH December 2011

 She "saw her best friend buried in the sand, up to her neck. Her friend had made the mistake of refusing to marry a Shahab commander. Now she is about to get her head bashed in, rock by rock."

Later, that witness...
"Five militants burst into her hut, pinned her down and gang-raped her...."
  Jeffrey Gettleman
  NY Times, 12/29/11

It is interesting that the "community of nations" recently rushed to defend the political rights of Libyans; yet the bashed, raped, and murdered women of the world have difficulty even denting the TV news cycle.

Republican clowns in Iowa (with their own versions of the war-on-women) are somehow more important.
  _____________

MH, June 2013

Oxford University Science Professsor Richard Dawkins loved the print ad that a TV station created for his anti-religion documentary.

It pictured a Manhattan skyline with the caption "Imagine a world without religion." The connection? The twin towers were conspicuously present.
________

"When on person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion."

Robert Persig 2006

(And we thought the Holocaust was the most horrific example of human violence against humans!)
 

BEING FEMALE IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH?

  MH 2011
"It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the twentieth century. More girls are killed in the routine

[Use arrows to cont.]

'gendercide' in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century."

HALF THE SKY by Kristof and WuDunn,
Vintage Books 2009

 

Egyptian Women Savaged.

  MH December 21, 2011
Video images out of Egypt on December 20, 2011 show groups of military men with sticks vigorously beating two women protesters who lay cowering on the ground, writhing in pain or trying to fend off blows that were repeated, and repeated, and repeated. Women in particular were targeted, we are told.

  [Use arrows to cont.]

When male arms tired, kicks to the torso were enjoyed and clothing was stripped--the better to humiliate and give pain directly to flesh. At one point a man jumped in the air in order to stomp on the woman with both feet.
  [Use arrows to cont.]

Toward the end of the video, the savages strolled slowly away like gourmands after a good meal. Someone tried unsuccessfully to raise one of the women to her feet. Her body drooped and her head lolled in obvious unconsciousness.

The rage and relish obvious in these vicious behaviors speak volumes about the military culture--or is it about Middle Eastern male culture and its hatred (fear?) of its own women?

One is reminded of the beatings of black protestors during the civil rights movement. What is this need to hurt, humiiiate, and repress? And where are the new abolitionists that the world so desperately needs? Will no one fight for repressed and brutalized women of the world?
  ____________

YOUR INNER ECONOMIST

  [MH April 2011]

Formal economics is rather like psychiatry. The theories are fascinating. They contain logic, science, and wisdom, but in practice their results are spotty.

Even if we don't know how to define "monetarist" or "Keynesian," we are all inner economists. Something deep within us says "Yes! Free market! 'Free' has got to be good! Poor people need to try harder!" Or...

Or our unconscious screams "Spread the wealth! Spread the wealth! Allowing poverty to hobble, injure, and kill is wicked! The gap between extreme wealth and extreme poverty is unnecessary, immoral, and unsustainable!"

  [Use arrows to cont.]

(Our inner economists tend to yell.)

Of course, history has brutally exposed the results of unfettered capitalism. We have only to look at the robber barons to know that "free market" is jungle economics. (Only the strong/lucky eat.)

Whether you call it feudalism, dictatorship, oligarchy, capitalism, totalitarianism, or simply dog-eat-dog, in a "free market," power congeals in the hands of a few.

Oh yeah, it's impossible not to notice that real-life communistic attempts to spread resources evenly always seem to end in the same place as free-market barbarity. Power collects in the hands of a few, and freedom and justice for the many disappear.

Our Constitution-makers couldn't be expected to anticipate Wall Street, but they tried to tell us how to avoid power in the hands of a few. It's called CHECKS AND BALANCES.

Whoops! The rich have become absurdly rich, while many lack survival basics. Balance that. Hmm. The populace is too idle and unproductive. Check that. Then we get bold and creative! Oh, that didn't work? Think harder. Try again. (Checks and balances are a lot of hard labor. Lazies, dummies, and sissies should not apply.)

Checks and balances require educated, smart, utterly dedicated elected officials. Checks and balances cannot function if those folks are co-opted by money, or religion, or anything other than facts and we-the-people.

Who does all this checking and balancing? Sorry guys. It's us via government. (Size of government is irrelevant.)

Imagine: We-the-people cause government to educate us. We-the-people cause government to legislate big money out of elections. We-the-educated-people elect knowing officials who devote constant attention, intelligent trial and error, tinkering, expection of some failure and eagerness to correct, and...

We-the-people trade in our inner economists for smarter stuff.

Wow. I dream.
   [April 2011] MH  

USE BIRTH CONTROL OR KEEP YOUR PANTS ON!  (This planet cannot take too many more of us.)

GET DUMBER WITH FOOTBALL


THE FOOTBALL RESEARCH KEEPS POURING FORTH. EVEN BOB COSTAS DOESN'T WANT YOUR SON TO PLAY THE GAME! (11/12/13)

ONE MAY WONDER WHY, IN MOST COMMUNITIES, TAX MONEY SUPPORTS AN ACTIVITY THAT CAUSES OUR KIDS TO...

EDUCATION/SPORTS RESEARCH
[Reprint from MH APRIL 2011]
Apparently, the $31,000 financing of Ichabod Crane high-school football was a big issue in the meeting of the Board of Education, as reported by Emilia Teasdale in the Columbia Paper (4/28/11).

This reader was struck by the fact that there seemed to be no one at that meeting who questioned the basic appropriateness of high-school football in light of recent studies of cognitive damage from the game.
[Use arrows to cont.]

One study in particular indicates brain damage to most players—not just those with obvious concussions.

FRONTLINE summarized an interview with Tom Talavage regarding his neuralogical study:

“An associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University and co-director of the Purdue MRI Facility, Talavage authored a study [PDF] that found cognitive damage in high school football players who had not been diagnosed with a concussion.

  [Use arrows to cont.]

‘Nobody really expected to see this at the high school level,’ he tells FRONTLINE. ‘And we certainly didn't expect to see it throughout the season in such a large percentage of the players.’ This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on March 1, 2011.”

Read more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/football-high/interviews/tom-talavage.html#ixzz1Ky22uN9i

Cognitive damage!

This study was also featured in a PBS special. Reports in Sports Illustrated, Slate, the N.Y.Times are available, with articles that describe long-term, football-related suicide and depression issues.
 
No doubt coaches and trainers take every precaution currently available to protect the safety of Ichabod Crane players, but this information should not be ignored.

If the facts about cognitive damage have not been refuted, no one should be in favor of allocating $31,000 to a school-sponsored program to make our local kids dumber!

  [April 2011] MH]

 

BEHEADINGS, EGOS, GOD-FANTASIES, & FUKUYAMA

MH August 27, 2014

James Foley was an America journalist. His beheader, a British Islamist. (I guess that Brit's god likes beheadings, as he allows so many of them.)

The Islamist message seems to be...
"Take that, you rich, technologically advanced, democratic
peoples, you! You think Islamists have a backward, savage,
ignorant culture? We'll show you "backward, savage, and
ignorant!' For our god, and for some (many?) of our males,
demeaning or brutalizing our own females is simply not
enough thymos-satisfaction. Some cutting-off of body parts
is required. Severed heads will demonstrate our
superiority and teach you Westerners a lesson! (Our clitoral
cutting certainly is instructive to our women.)"

[Use arrows to cont.]

How little that culture understands the West! They hope to make us tremble. Instead, they rouse the thing they hate most: our contempt.

Back in the nineties Francis Fukuyama created lots of academic talk about a universal history--one that would suggest a long, if bumpy pattern of progress toward liberal democracy and human freedom. (Two books and some articles later, he brilliantly perseveres.)

Along the way, he takes note of the Christian notion of humans as equals in the eyes of a god.

The magical-god thing seems to be fading (except with the brainwashed, the gullible, or the schizophrenic); but the equality notion may have legs if it can just get glued on to liberal democracy. (Liberal democracy being "the end of history," as Francis has defined it).

Still, we must contend with over-thymosed male egos and god-fantasies.

_____________

A VERY SAD TALE

MH November 17, 2015

Once upon a time there was a nation called Democratus. Though it was a far-from-perfect place for human beings to live, it was very advanced in technological accomplishments, and it existed within a group of advanced nations loosely called Westciv.

With varying degrees of success, Democratus leaders struggled to afford all humans in their nation an equal chance at long, prosperous, and interesting lives.

Also on the planet existed a culture of a few billion humans who called themselves Allists. The Allists were convinced that all humans must obey some rules that their ancestors had written centuries before--rules as interpreted and enforced by their current male religionists.

The world-view of this culture included "OF the male religionists, BY the male religionists, and FOR the male religionists." (Some Democrati supected that, for many Allists, the religion thing was pap for their masses and a thin disguise for their own lust for power. But perhaps these doubters were unduly cynical.)

[Use arrows to cont.]

Democrati prided themselves on their tolerance, including generous amounts of it bestowed upon ignorance, violence, and silliness. Allists who came to live in Democratus would surely assimilate, be reasonable, and democratize, they thought.

But alas, Allists had no intention of assimilating, reasoning, or democratizing. Slowly, their reproduction and infiltration began to be evident in votes. Making use of Democratus-style principles, immigrant Allists began to vote away the rights of women and nonbelievers. Allist penitration was turning into political power.

Tolerant nations followed their wonderful democratic principles for a long time, blithely ignoring the odd possibility that hard-won democracy itself could be "voted" out of existence.

We don't really know much about ancient Democratus because its name was changed, and the study of history was replaced with the study of religious texts (males only, of course, as women must remain "modest" and preferably lliterate.)

Westciv is nearly forgotton, but a few people like me secretly search for its history and long for its return.

THE END.

Little Stories

U.S. Knew of Syrian Nerve Gas Attack 3 Days Ahead?

September 2, 2013
Donald Johnson
Piedmont, CA

The White House Office of the Press Secretary issued a report on August 30, 2013 entitled, "U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013." This report, under the subheading "Preparation," states the following:

We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical
weapons personnel--including personnel associated with the SSRC
(Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center)--were preparing
chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the
attack, we collected streams of human signals and geospatial
intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess
were associated with preparation for a chemical weapons attack.

"Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus
suburb Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on
Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix
chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime
element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus
area, including through the utilization of gas masks. Our intelligence
sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in days
prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to
usechemical weapons.
[All italics added by MH]

Our intelligence officials knew with apparent certainty, three days before the fact, that Syrian government forces were making
[Use arrows to cont.]
preparations for an imminent chemical weapons attack on rebel forces, and the U.S. government did nothing to prevent that attack?
[Use arrows to cont.]

Wasn't there an opportunity between August 18 and August 21 for the U.S. Government to issue a public warning directed to Bashir al-Assad stating, "We know what you are up to and if you go ahead with your planned chemical weapons attack on the rebel forces in Damascus area, it will cause the certain end of you and your military forces."?

Don't you think, if such warning had been issued, it might have been possible for the U.S. Government to have saved the lives of those killed in the attack--the attack the U.S. knew was coming?

Don't you believe, in the unlikely event that the Syrian government ignored such a warning, that Russia and China might have joined in military action against Syria?

Finally, why wasn't U.S. intelligence regardng the attack shared with the rebel forces before the fact?
_______________

Syria Flummoxes the World; However...

MH September 5, 2013

What to do about nerve-gas attacks on the people of Syria? The world seems to be offered a choice between a backward, benighted, brutal Assad dictatorship and a backward, benighted, brutal Islam.*

Anything that slightly-more-civilized countries do to tip the balance between evil X and evil Y promises ugly consequences.

Slightly-more-civilized countries may choose not to choose.

However, it is crucial to note that Assad is/was probably not out to rule the world. His brutality is/was geographically circumscribed.

Islamists, on the other hand, are on the march as only a culture/religion smarting from its relative powerlessness--coupled with rabid religious/cultural sureties--can be.

Like those master-race folks of WWII, Islamists aim to rule the planet. And don't you underestimate their youthful vigor, their passion for their superstition, and their eagerness to do violence in its name.

History may see our current dilemma about Syria as a mere blip in the big drama of the century: Islam vs. Western civilization.

Are we prepared for it?

(Of course, if aliens come warring from outer space....)
________________

* If there are "moderate" Muslims out there, let them stand and be counted. At present they are mute and invisible.

Pope Retirement Questions

MH March 16, 2013

(THE POWER-DRENCHED, GRISLY HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS GREATLY AT ODDS WITH THE DISNEYESQUE, RED AND GOLD MEDIA CIRCUS SURROUNDING A 2013 POPE.)

MH February 28, 2013

As we watch Benedict, the reluctant ex-Pope of 2013 swooping off in a white helicopter to a luxurious, if muzzled and obedient retirement, perhaps some simple questions are in order:

Wouldn't humanity be infinitely more grateful if Benedict had used his "infallibility" to retire the whole shebang and put the Vatican on the market? Or perhaps he could have ceded the real estate to an economically starved Italy. He might even have turned its billions over to the more grounded Catholic Charities who could use it to relieve the desperately poor.

[Use arrows to cont.]

With the Vatican on the market, how many of the world's potentially Catholic children might Benedict have saved from the traditional brainwashing? How many adults would have been eased away from their addiction to magical theology? (This addiction is a sorry condition which religionists share with lovers of magical-television-plots, astrologers, Republicans, and California psychics.)
[Use arrows to cont.]

Wouldn't many of the ex-priests love to be free to get into therapy and get right with their sexuality?

Wouldn't scientists be thrilled to get off the stage opposite religionists? (You know how weary they are of that.)

Wouldn't politicians love to stop publicly bowing, scraping, ring-kissing, and honoring the cross only with fingers behind their backs?

Wouldn't women of Catholicism love to escape from the church's particular brand of misogyny?
_______________

Of course, we all know some super-decent Catholics--people who behave with extraordinary goodness. Their goodness is nominally connected to their religion--until you realize that extraordinarily decent athiests are probably just as numerous.

The power-seeking, authoritarianism and corruption in religious leadership is not mitigated by those individuals. (Without checks and balances, all authoritarians become corrupt.)

I pick on Catholicism only because the current media is regurgitating hours of theater regarding the election of a new Pope. Actually, all superstitious "faiths" are in the same retiring helicopter. But at the moment, it is this particular religion (with its expensive costumes, crowns, art, and other worldly riches) that is an irresistible target.
[Use arrows]

With a new Benedict or Paul or John, Catholics will undoubtedly limp on for some decades--or even centuries; but face it, guys: basically it's over. Only the disingenuous, the ignorant, and the gullible are yours to exploit.

Another magical religion, Islam, now rises to race with anti-religionism. Fortunately for the advance of civilizatiion, most magical theologies seem to be burning out.

Please, homo sapiens, do the sapiens thing and pick some ethical humanism from the ashes--and retire the rest.
_____________

MALIGNANT INFECTIONS

MH August 28, 2013

Religionist Jim Jones convinced hundreds of "faithful" followers to drink the kool aid and die.

Richard Dawkins asks, "Given such prodigious credulity, can anyone doubt that human minds are ripe for malignant infection?"

Please someone tell me why the science-deniers and birthers and gay-haters and female-devaluers and killers-for-religion and killers-for-profit are not "malignantly infected."

We humans are good, "faithful" learners. Unfortunately, we learn trash as easily as treasure.
_________

The Liberal State is Destined to Perish. (!)

MH January 2014

"The liberal state is destined to perish."

Sounds like Ted Cruz? Rand Paul? No, it was Mussolini, 1932. (See MH review of Ira Katznelson's new book Fear Itself on the Book Reviews page.)

In the 1930s Congress was held hostage by our southern legislators. FDR's agenda could rescue the country from the Great Depression only if everyone turned a blind eye to racism and lynchings. Nothing could pass without southern votes.
[Use arrows to cont.]

In 1938, the first civil rights bill had an overwhelming number of supporting votes--but was killed by a filibuster.

Not much in the realm of congressional hostage-taking has changed, it seems.

Obviously there are procedural glitches in our governance. No Tea-Party rear end should be able to wag the congressional dog.

It looks as if our task is to find alternatives to the filibuster and to gerrymandering.

For years, I have (half jokingly) entertained the wish that Lincoln had let the South secede. Lately there is less joke and more wishful fantasy:
The red states secede. U.S. Blue welcomes all
their despised populations: African Americans,
Latinos, gays, atheists, scientists, and women.
( I wonder how the Reds will like it when women
move out in droves.) U.S. Blue leans
Scandinavian-left-liberal. (You know: healthcare
for all, top-notch education, little poverty, lots of
innovation, lots of revived infrastructure, etc.)

Ah well.
_____________

Imagine: No Religion

ATHEISTS EMERGE FROM CLOSETS!

  MH April 26, 2012
  Minor edits Sept. 3, 2012
A recent study suggests that more and more people are willing to admit that they don't have any religion. Brava, bravo! It's long past time for anti-religionists to come out of the closet.

Of course, it's still dangerous. Followers of certain religions are just as willing to murder atheists as they are to murder homosexuals, abortion doctors, and followers of competing religions.

Apparently they amend, "interpret," or cherry-pick their holy books.

Particularly unsavory are the folks who admit that they don't believe the mythologies espoused by their church, synagogue, or mosque, but that they go there "for the community." (Can't they get any friends?) They support--with their attendance and their cash--all the woman-squashing, the hatreds and superstitions that are perpetrated by those institutions. They support those "sins," which are passed down the generations, where they far outweigh any social services that the institutions may be supplying.

Morality (our kindness to one another) is the single most important thing in our lives; but it has nothing to do with the fairy tales and power plays concocted by religions.

So atheists, welcome to the "living" room! You don't belong in the closet. It's dark in there.
  _____________

A FISH STORY

"There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys, how's the water?'

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?' "

  David Foster Wallace

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