Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This is Simply Comical

The Huffington Post links a story from the New Yorker about Tom DeLay saying of Newt Gingrich's Adultrous affair, "My adultery was different than Gingrich's." Why on earth would DeLay compare it that way? So that he can show the world why Gingrich is morally bankrupt and DeLay isn't... even if in the comparison they both did the same deed.

This is worse than the pot calling the kettle black. In my opinion, this is more about how religion gone amuck affects the politics and when our hypocrisy is, at my times, the foundation for self-righteous indignation.

Heck, I wouldn't vote for either one of them. But southern America might- and with these two men, they may have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

Who'd've Thunk It?

I was all excited and happy today when I discovered that one of my favorite childhood magazines (/comics) has its own website: I remember with glee reading the hilarious cartoons (but only understanding about half of the humor) when I was young. Now that I am older, they are still funny... and I understand more of their humor.

In this particular post, I learned there are far more Hollywood Scientologists than I figured. From what I've read about these religious folks, Scientologists seem a good fit for some Hollywood actors. After the jump, you might be surprised as to who pays for levels of advanced knowledge with God and alien seduction. For a brief understanding of exactly what L.Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology created, go here to watch a brief and funny Steven Colbert video.

The Top 10 Secret Celebrity Scientologists.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mark Twain's Anti-War Poem

Published after his death, Mark Twain, that witty Southern gent, had hoped to publish an anti-war poem while he was still alive but was strongly encouraged not to do so. When you read this poem, you may understand why.

Mixing politics with religion is always a gamble; sometimes what you say can have a powerful influence. However, at its worst, it can polarize and demonize you as both anti-American and un-Christian. Today anti-war voices are being heard more and more by God's faithful--as it should be. But there is still the threat that if you correlate God and war and American idealism as a bad thing, then you might be labeled and dismissed as either a crackpot, a heretic, or Satanic.

Kudos for voices like Twain, even if after death, we can read the hypocrisy hidden between the lines as a call to repentance.

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

Thanks to Daily Kos for publishing this post on his blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Finally ... Geez!

I received my monthly subscription to The Advocate magazine today. For pretty much all of this year and last, the magazine was getting worse and worse. I was definitely sold on the idea that I was not renewing my subscription.

And then I heard that I wasn't alone. Many people had grown dissatisfied with The Advocate. And so two months ago, there was a "house cleaning". A friend who writes for them told me that just about everyone there was fired or let go. Last month's issue wasn't too bad but it hadn't the zing that made it famous.

And then I received this month's issue. Wowsers! It is fantastic! It has great articles, solid reviews, and much diversity.

Kudos to you, you New Advocate you! If you keep this up, I'll keep my subscription for sure.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What If ... ?

What if we could prevent cancer?

What if we could safely give a vaccine that would prevent a cancer that, if a person gets it, means certain death?

What if we found a vaccine for a cancer that needs to be taken early to be effective?

What if the particular cancer is caused by a virus, would that make any difference?

What if that particular virus was sexually transmitted? Would that make any difference?

As we have become smarter and our science has become more advanced, we have learned that some viruses cause cancer. One such example of this finding is the discovery that an HPV (human papillomavirus) viral infection can lead to cancer in men and women. In women, cervical cancer, which stems from an infection from HPV*, remains the number one cancer-related killer of all women world wide and the number two killer in the United States (*editorial change from original post).

So you'd think a vaccine, that has been noted to be successful, and if used, would be administered post-haste to stop this horrible disease, would be warmly welcomed by everyone. But unfortunately, you'd be mistaken.

We now have this vaccine that is being used in several clinical trials. In each of those trials, scientists are excited. In every place where the trials have been conducted, the vaccine has been 95-100% effective in preventing a person from contracting the HPV virus. But, as some of you know, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. And herein lies the problem.

West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico are rejecting the clinical trials in their states because they believe allowing them would be encouraging promiscuity. And since our religion teaches us that promiscuity is bad, we should not only discourage it, but punish those who do it. Okay, so they don't specifically say that last part--but they imply it.

In the U.S., it is estimated that 20 million people have it at any given time. Half of all women ages 18-22 who are sexually active, have HPV. In most cases, the symptoms clear up and goes away. But sometimes infections persist and when that happens, it can lead to cancer. In fact, according to the FDA, HPV accounts for 70% of all cervical cancer development. In total, it is estimaged that there are 6.2 million new cases of HPV reported each year. That's a lot of people, right? Shouldn't we be taking drastic measures to ensure that this virus doesn't turn into cancer and those infected with it?

Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council thinks that permitting the vaccine will cause more harm than good. More harm than actually killing a person, to be more exact. One wonders what kind of warm that could be? But Maher explains that using this vaccine would "undermine abstinence-only education". But she is assuming that if a person gets the vaccine that she will suddenly become a dangerous sex vixon who lurks on street corners picking up her johns and engage in other such nefarious behavior.

And yet, despite the fear mongering, reality has revealed to us that 95% of all Americans have had sex before marriage. One doubts that a vaccine will cause more people to have premarital sex. Sex is a natural instinct most people have--vaccine or not, people are going to have it.

In my opinion, it's one thing to have a religious conviction about sex and who should have it and when it ought to occur; it's another thing entirely to ban a life-saving vaccine because it violates that religious conviction. I mean, convictions are great for the person having them (or the persons in their care)--but to force that conviction on others is not only anti-American, if that conviction may cause death, then it is also sinful. I mean what's more important, your convictions or someone's life?

I know, I know, there are hypothetical arguments that suggest that ideologies are more important than life, and I am sure you can think of a lot of them. However, if ideology is favored over reality, then I believe a serious problem exists. Life itself is more than just a valued commodity--it is a gift from God. Life should be valued, honored, and cherished. In doing so, that value means we protect those who might be harmed or killed--even if in our protection, we offer something that may challenge our religious convictions.

This argument opens up a host of questions about faith and bioethics. What if a vaccine could be developed that would prevent HIV that later causes AIDS? What if that vaccine, if given to teenagers, would stop the disease from ever developing? What would be more important, our ideology or saving hundreds of millions of lives?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Five Steps to Being More Productive

Yahoo Finance has a great post by Penelope Trunk about ways to be more productive. It's a great list and if you're one of those folks who always thinks you could be doing more, then this is for you. I say that because I tend to think that a lot.

Here is one of the sample steps:

Keep your inbox empty.

Your inbox is not your to-do list; your to-do list is something you compile and prioritize. If your inbox is your to-do list, then you have no control over what you're doing -- you've ceded it to whoever sends you an email next.

Productivity wizards experience less information overload because they deal with an email as soon as they've read it -- respond, file, or delete. Nothing stays in the inbox. Reading each email four or five times while it languishes in your inbox is a huge waste of time, and totally impractical given the amount of email we all receive.

Go here to read the entire post.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Worst Generation

Here's a post about one man's rant against the Baby Boomer generation. He feels this generation is the most selfish one that's ever lived. His rant is particularly interesting because of the various comparison's he makes.

Here is a sample:

And don't give me this crap about Boomer music. The Beatles were all born before the end of the war. So was Janis. So while the Boomers can claim they had the good taste to listen to gifted pre-Boomers, when it came their turn to make music, the truest expression of their generation, what did they give us?


The generation that came before the Boomers gave them Dylan. The Boomers gave us KC and the Sunshine Band. Thanks a lot.

Go on, have a looksee.

Boy as a Human Shield

Here is a shocking photo of a 13-year old boy being used as a human shield by Israeli soldiers. Just when you think a nation cannot sink to a greater depth in human depravity, one finds something like this and stands corrected.

Go here to see a larger version of the picture and read the story.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Death Threats and Scripture

I just read a story about a gay couple in Florida, who upon picking up their luggage at the baggage claim, heard through the loud speakers a quote from Scripture in the Old Testament. The quote was from Leviticus condemning homosexuality as well as calling for those who do to be put to death.

The gay couple to whom the message was directed, immediately filed a complaint with the airport security as well as to the police department. They were not only offended but felt threatened--even more so, they felt there LIFE'S were threatened. Did they over-react?

What do you think? Is quoting Scripture about calling for someone's death freedom of speech? Is it religious freedom? Or, if the Scripture calls for death, could it also be a death threat? On the surface, I guess it depends on how seriously a person who is quoting Scripture is being serious enough.

But there are many folks who take their religion very seriously. We need only look to the extremists in Islam who do use their holy scripture to justify their murdering and killing. The picture in this post was taken when Iran strung up two teenagers caught who admitted to having a relationship with each other. Obviously, Iran takes their religion very seriously.

But honestly, would that ever happen here? I mean, in America it's different, right?

But it does make me wonder: is it imaginable that a person in America would kill another person based upon the readings and laws of the Bible, if that person knew they could get away with it? Of course they would.

Answering such a question in the affirmative might help explain why gay and lesbian activists are trying to ensure that the laws of the land protect all of its citizens including those who are gay and lesbian. If someone tells you that we are fighting for 'special rights', be sure to remind them that we're fighting for 'equal rights'--the right to live as anyone else lives without penalty or threat of life.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Disturbing Quotes

I found an interesting post this afternoon about the 100 darndest things fundamentalist Christians say. Sure, a lot of the quotes seem to center around the evolution debates which also seems to imply that these quotes were gathered by either atheists or agnostics. Still, for moderates, these quotes are both just shocking and even a tad scary--scary to think that some folks may actually believe them. The quotes are interesting at first but begin to wane towards the end. All in all though, the quotes kind of left me asking a lot of questions-- could people really believe this way?

All in all, I was left thinking that if one person believes one way, he or she's opinion probably affects other opinions too. For instance, if AIDS is caused by sin and not a virus (as you'll read in an example below), is that person more or less likely to care about safe sex education or vote for more funding into AIDS research? Probably not--if the "real" problem to them is only a sinful lifestyle, then the money would be better spent on something else thereby causing the virus to continue to spread and kill more people--whereby the person's opinions may continue to be reinforced rather than challenged.

The last quote in my example quotes is just plain scary. Now, I don't have any children--but the justification for this behavior seems to reinforce how this guy views God and how others probably do the same. It isn't any wonder then why some fundamentalists are so unkind and mean spirited when it comes to 'killing those who sin'. If we don't do it, then God will be mad at us for NOT doing it--and we'll be judged and punished as if we committed the same sins ourselves. Sure, this might sound nuts--but I wonder how many people believe it? The number might be surprising.

Here are a few samples of those quotes. You'll notice a smart-allecky and sometimes funny heading followed by each quote.

Fundamentalism In A Nutshell Award
"There are a lot of things I have concluded to be wrong, without studying them in-depth. Evolution is one of them. The fact that I don't know that much about it does not bother me in the least."

Proudly Marching Into the 16th Century Award
"AIDS is caused by immoral behavior, not by a virus."

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child Award*
(*I changed the original title of this post, the author had something that was offensive to me.)

Dr. Jack Hyles said, "Let the child realize that you are simply representing God in the execution of the punishment. Explain to him that parents represent God before their children and that they are ministers to execute His judgment. Psalm 103:13 says, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." So God is like a father and He chooses fathers and mothers to represent Him in the punishing of little children. Let the child realize that if you as a parent do not punish him properly, you are being disobedient to God and committing the same sin the child is committing. Explain to him that you are a child of God and if you refuse to obey God in the execution of His judgment upon your children, God will pour out His wrath upon you. For you to be a good child of God requires that you be a good parent to the child. Let him understand this. He will get the idea that God is a holy and just God, One Who loves and yet One Who wants us to become out best. For this to be so He must punish us when we are deserving.

Sometimes spanking should leave stripes on the child. Proverbs 20:30 says, "The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil; so do stripes the inward parts of the belly." Our natural man rebels a such punishment, but we are reminded in I Corinthians 2:14 that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Hence, we have to trust the God Who knows more than we and obey Him.

The spanking should be administered firmly. It should be painful and it should last until the child's will is broken. It should last until the child is crying not tears of anger but tears of a broken will. As long as he is stiff, grits his teeth, holds on to his own will, the spanking should continue."

Go here for Dr. Jack Hyles' webpage on raising children.

Go here to read the 100 quotes.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

There Is No Green Dot

Here is a fun eye illusion. After the jump, you will be taken to a screen with flashing pink dots arranged in a circle. Staring at the pink dots, you see pink dots. If you stare in the middle of the circle where the black cross is, all the pink dots turn into one green dot. And if you stare long enough, you will only see one green dot going around in a circle and all the other dots disappear.

Go here, follow the directions and be amazed.

Just when you think seeing IS believing, something like this comes around and changes everything.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Joke

A wealthy old lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa , taking her faithful aged poodle named Cuddles, along for the company.

One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that he's lost.. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.

The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep trouble now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was o one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!

Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says, "Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!