Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How well did I do?

On September 5th I courageously (foolishly?) put down my predictions for the 2008 NFL season fully expecting to be totally humiliated in December. I wasn’t disappointed.

NFC East: I said Cowboys, the winner was Giants. That’s 0 right and 1 wrong
NFC North: I said Vikings, the winner was Vikings. That’s 1 right and 1 wrong
NFC South: I said Saints, the winner was Panthers. That’s 1 right and 2 wrong.
NFC West: I said Seahawks, the winner was Cardinals. That’s 1 right and 3 wrong.
AFC East: I said Patriots, the winner was Dolphins (!?). That’s 1 right and 4 wrong.
AFC North: I said Steelers, the winner was Steelers. That’s 2 right and 4 wrong.
AFC South: I said Colts, the winner was Titans. That’s 2 right and 5 wrong.
AFC West: I said Chargers, the winner was Chargers. That’s 3 right and 5 wrong.

So I did an eyelash better than a goat randomly selecting the winners by stepping on cards with the team logos. The goat would be expected to get 2 out of 8 right.

Of my four Wild Card picks, Jaguars, Jets, Packers and Eagles, only the Eagles made it. I’m still alive for AFC Champ because I picked the Chargers, but I’m dead for both NFC Champs and the Superbowl Champs because I chose the Cowboys and they didn’t even make the playoffs.

I did say I would get a second chance to make myself look foolish once the playoff picture was set. I’ll mull it over and let you know.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don’t you ever get tired…

I sent one of those “are you kidding me” e-mails to a fundy Christian site.

“Don't you get tired of peddling the same old nonsense? I had to stop going through your site because I was laughing too hard. Keep up the good work. Its sites like yours that will guarantee the death of Christianity because the misrepresentations are so obvious.

A law is stronger than a theory? LOL, laws are a part of theories. A scientific law is simply a mathematical description of some natural event such as a falling rock or the rate of zygote mutation.

Evolution is a fact. Live with it. There are no fulfilled prophecies in the bible. Live with it. Jesus didn't die for your sins. Live with it. You're NOT going to heaven when you die. Live with it.


They weren’t thrilled and sent the following reply.

“history has proven that Christianity is growing and will continue to grow.

the philosophy of evolution is already crumbling.

life from non life?


have you ever studied information formation theory in dna?

i'm sure you have not.”

I couldn’t resist replying to their reply.

“You'd be surprised at what I've studied.

Life from non-life? That's not even part of evolution, that's the province of Abiogenesis. At least get your branches of science straight. I make no claims about Abiogenesis, but if you're interested in the origins of life, allow me to refer you to Fox's experiments with protocells

I might point out that evolution isn't a "philosophy." That would be a promotion. It's simply the best explanation we have for the evidence that exists. If new evidence popped up tomorrow, such as finding the remains of a bunny rabbit in the Jurassic, science would gleefully scrap it for something better. Of course that's not very likely. For 150 years every piece of new evidence has simply refined and strengthened the basic theory.

As for its "crumbling," that lie has been around for a hundred years. It wasn't true a hundred years ago and it's not true now. It's just wishful thinking on your part. Visit the science departments of any of the great universities of the world and see if you can find any evidence of the Theory of Evolution "crumbling." There are lots and lots of questions in evolution about when, where, why and how. There is no question about "if."

You guys just keep recycling the same old tired Points Refuted A Thousand Times (PRATTS). Can't you come up with anything original? Let me clue you in on the 2nd law while I'm at it with an excerpt from an article I did that happened to address it.

'Let’s talk about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics also sometimes called the law of entropy. The 2nd law simply states that the entropy of an isolated system which is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.

In other words, left to themselves things get more chaotic and not more ordered. A broken down building doesn’t repair itself it gets increasingly broken down until it collapses.

Creationists point to the second law and say it proves that evolution, which Creationists view as calling for increasing order, cannot be valid.

Well, they’re wrong. The reason they’re wrong are the two words 'isolated system' in the definition. An 'isolated system' cannot import energy. But the earth’s ecology imports energy constantly from the sun. Therefore it is not an 'isolated system' and the second law doesn’t apply (it might apply to the universe as a whole but that’s a whole different issue).'

I'm sure this has been pointed out to you on numerous occasions yet you continue to push the same tired old claims about the 2nd law. Do you honestly believe that the 99.99% of reputable scientists that accept evolution don't understand the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

Christianity preys upon the young, the ignorant and the freightened. The cure for Christianity is education. Whenever the light of education shines upon ignorance and superstition, the ignorance and superstition melt away. Like slavery and segregation before it Christianity is already dead. It just doesn't know it yet. Knowledge will win over ignorance. The only questions are how long will it take and what will be the cost.”

You'll notice I ignored the question of DNA information formation. I'm not about to get into a discussion about information theory and Kolmogorov complexity through e-mail with folks that don't understand the relationship of a law to a theory.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rick Warren?

I’m not happy about Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural. Then again, I’m not all that happy about an invocation in the first place.

I hear the defense that’s this is the “reaching out” Obama talked about during the election. But there is a limit. One wouldn’t “reach out” to an anti-semite or KKK supporter so what we're talking about here is where is the line and is Warren over it?

Warren's over the line. He is a bigot pure and simply. For some bizarre reason the fact that he’s bigoted against gays rather than Jews or Blacks somehow makes it ok. A part of our society is willing to accept gay bashing and especially when it’s done by a Christian minister.

That’s a mistake. The time has come to make it clear that it’s NOT ok just like it was made clear in the past that it’s not ok when it’s Jews, Blacks or some other ethnic minority being bad mouthed.

Until we make it plain, where is the bigot’s incentive to either change or, if they’re unwilling to change, at least to STFU.

I’m organizing the “Snowball Battalion.” The idea is to blast Warren with snowballs when he tries to open his mouth. E-mail me if you want to sign up.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The South Carolina “I Believe” License Plates

Remember those license plates with the cross over the stained glass window and the words “I Believe” on it that South Carolina decided to make available as a no cost option? Well, a federal court has issued an injunction against issuing them citing them as a violation of the 1st Amendment prohibition against the establishment of a religion.

Gee, ya think?

State legislators are encouraging the motor vehicle agency to appeal the decision to the 4th Circuit. The odds of the 4th Circuit overturning this ruling are about zero.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Atheist Plaque Disappears

CNN reports that a plaque bearing an atheist message, erected next to the Nativity Scene in the Legislative building in Olympia Washington, has gone missing. The plaque, provided by the folks at the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FfRF), read:

At this season of
may reason prevail.

There are no gods,
no devils, no angels,
no heaven or hell.
There is only
our natural world.
Religion is but
myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.

A substitute plaque, with a sign attached saying “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” is to be provided until the original is discovered. The sign is called a exercise of Freedom of Speech. Well I guess someone decided to exercise their Freedom of Speech by stealing the silly thing.

I sympathize with the rational content of the plaque; I consider its placement next to a Nativity Scene of questionable taste, funny perhaps, but of questionable taste.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Confusion with the Written Word

It never ceases to amaze me how easily the written word can be misinterpreted. Usually when you look at it again in the light of a misinterpretation it’s easy to see how it happened. Once in a while though you just shake your head and wonder where the hell they got what they got out of what was written.

Have four or five people read the same fairly complex page and it wouldn’t be unusual to get multiple opinions on the precise meaning associated with different parts of the page.

Make it something controversial, and bring in various partisans, and you could get widely varying opinions. No wonder we have so many lawyers.

And this is the case when the damn thing is written in the reader’s native language and by someone who is a contemporary of the reader. Now hop forward a little bit and consider something like the bible.

The overwhelming majority of people are reading a translation, and a translation very likely influenced by previous translations and interpretations. For instance, the New International Version (NIV) makes no secret about the fact that some of the Hebrew Bible translation choices that were made were intended to maintain consistency with interpretations in the New Testament. The most famous of these is the translation of Isaiah 7:14.

The NIV renders this verse as:

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

This is consistent with Matthew 1:22-23.

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”

The problem is that Matthew is quoting from the Greek Septuagint which does in fact use the Greek parthenos which specifically means virgin. In the original Hebrew however, the word is almah, which some would argue simply means “young woman” and not necessarily a virgin. If Isaiah meant “virgin,” these folks point out, he would have used the Hebrew betulah which he uses elsewhere and which can only mean virgin. There are also some disagreements about tense.

In the Jewish Bible Yisheyah (Isaiah) 7:14 reads:

“Therefore the L-rd Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), claimed by some to be the most accurate English translation, and which doesn’t concern itself with maintaining consistency with the New Testament, translates the passage as:

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

In the NRSV the woman is already pregnant which sort of eliminates any question about her virginity.

I’m not getting into which of the various translations is right but I think it’s pretty obvious that it makes a big difference.

Another problem is that the bible was written in a cultural context that most people, including myself, have absolutely no conception of. Even supposed experts can only have a vague understanding of a culture several millenniums in the past. Consider 2 Kings 23:10 from the NIV.

“He (King Josiah) desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech.”

Seems fairly straight forward right? The most common interpretation is King Josiah destroys a pagan altar to prevent it being used for the burning of children as a sacrifice to the pagan god Molech.

Perhaps that’s correct, but there are a few problems with that interpretation. The first is that the Hebrew text doesn’t actually say “sacrifice.” It says “pass through the fire.” The NIV is interpreting that to mean “sacrifice.” Others have suggested that it might actually mean having children pass through two lines of fire as a sort of consecration ceremony. Dangerous perhaps, but not intended to be fatal.

The other problem is the word “Molech” itself. While traditionally interpreted as the name of a god, what you actually get in the Hebrew are just the consonants mlk which in other places are interpreted to mean “Melek” or king. This is a term which can apply to Yahweh himself.

So what did King Josiah put an end to? A, perhaps dangerous, consecration ceremony to a foreign god called Molech, a, perhaps dangerous, consecration ceremony to the Hebrew god Yahweh, the sacrificing of children to a foreign god called Molech, the sacrificing of children to the Hebrew god Yahweh or something totally different that no one has identified yet?

I’m not going down this road either because my opinion is utterly meaningless. Whatever the practice was it is clearly identified as an “abomination unto HaShem” (Jewish Bible Devarim 18:10) or a “detestable practice” (NIV Deuteronomy 18:10).

But without the cultural context it’s not all that easy to say exactly what’s being described nor exactly why Josiah felt extreme measures were justified.

Yet we have so many people that claim to know precisely what every word and phrase in the bible means and they’re willing to shove that interpretation down everyone else’s throat. I find that laughable.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

55 Days and Counting

Just in case you’re not counting, there are 55 days left to the Bush Presidency. While I’m not quite prepared to place the total blame for the ungodly mess the country is in at Bush’s feet, he certainly deserves a large portion of it.

We will recover from the current economic quagmire and we will restore the basic democratic principles so tarnished under the Bush administration. The Bush years will become another dark time in American history roughly equivalent to the McCarthy era and the internment of Japanese Americans during WW II.

Maybe, just maybe, Bush’s real legacy will be a swing to the left in this country. Perhaps we’ve learned that freedom for some doesn’t work; you need freedom for all. Perhaps we’ve learned that depending upon faith rather than facts is a piss poor way to run a country. Perhaps we’ve learned that the founding fathers really did know what they were doing when they established a secular government.

I wouldn’t take it for granted that we have though. The fight isn’t over, it’s just beginning. But at least more people seem to understand that there is a fight to be waged. There are those on the extreme right wing that are already plotting to undermine the success of the next administration and there is still a fair number of the electorate, beginning with the Evangelical Christian cadre, susceptible to the crap they will continue to spew.

Let’s not forget that people like Ann Coulter still have the audacity to claim that Bush was a great president that history will vindicate. Coulter also thinks that McCarthy was a great American somehow framed by a vast liberal conspiracy that included President Eisenhower, Congress, the news media and the U.S. Army. She has also concluded that Evolution is a discredited theory. What planet do you suppose she lives on anyway?

So, has anything really changed? I sincerely hope so. I hope that maybe, just maybe, more of us will be laughing at the lies now. I’ll take that as a start.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Republicans and Democrats

Believe it or not I was raised by my mommy to be a good Republican as well as a good Christian. Clearly, somewhere along the line that went all to hell didn’t it?

My earliest recollection of politics was in 1956 when Eisenhower was running for re-election against Adlai Stevenson. My grandfather was a member of the Republican club and in those days that meant access to lots of buttons, stickers, hats and all sorts of election paraphernalia. I don’t remember too much about the campaign, but I do remember the buttons. My favorite was about an inch and a half in diameter surrounded by a gold colored lattice showing President Eisenhower on an ivory background and displaying the motto “I like Ike.”

I also remember being surprised when my mother told me that my father wasn’t a Republican, “bah, what does he know” my mother would say, “He’s a Democrat.”

My mother would work on the election board and vote during the day. My dad would go vote at night after coming home from work and eating dinner. I put all the pieces together and concluded in my logical little mind that Republicans voted openly and proudly in the morning sun. Democrats on the other hand, had to sneak down to the polls at night so no one would see them. Clearly there was something unsavory and ungodly about voting Democrat.

My next recollection came in 1960. By then I was curious enough to check out the conventions on television and I remember watching the Democratic convention with all the delegates singing some song about going back to the White House that year. Needless to say, in my pre-adolescent wisdom, I thought they were completely out of their minds. There was no way the Republicans could lose. God would never let it happen.

Then I heard John Kennedy speak and the entire world turned upside down.

It’s been pretty much the left side of the aisle since despite considerable exasperation that some Democrats can’t seem to get it though their thick skulls that you cannot spend money that you don’t have. I believe that Barack Obama understands this point. I also believed that Robert Kennedy understood it.

To my mind one of the greatest tragedies of the 1960’s was the murder of Robert Kennedy. I was a big supporter of Bobby and I believe that he would have won the nomination and the Presidency in 1968. Eight years of Robert Kennedy as President of the United States would have changed the country and the world for the better.

After Kennedy’s death my support for Hubert Humphrey was subdued because of his pro-Vietnam War position. Still, he struck me as a better bet than Nixon. I remember sitting among a number of depressed college classmates in the cafeteria when word came that Nixon had won. The 1968 election marked the last Presidential campaign that I paid much attention to for a long time. Why? Because I graduated college in 1969 and entered the real world!

Through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I was working my butt off and trying to raise a family. An exercise that I was only marginally successful at. Overall I found the candidates offered up by both parties less than overwhelming. Mondale and Dukakis in particular left me feeling the very definition of underwhelmed. Nor was I terribly impressed with slick Willy although he did manage to balance the budget.

I mean the whole Monica Lewinsky thing left me shaking my head. Sure, JFK cheated while in the White House, but he had the class to do it with Marilyn Monroe!

Anyway, after being partially asleep for 32 years we arrived at the year 2000. To be honest I had been raised in the tweedle-dum, tweedle-dee era where the differences between Republicans and Democrats were fairly marginal and mostly fiscal.

In those days Southern Democrats were to the right of Moderate Republicans. Men like Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay and even Dwight Eisenhower himself were Republicans with a conservative fiscal outlook but fairly liberal social views. To describe me as a Rockefeller Republican would not be too far from the mark. I probably would have voted for Richard Nixon in 1972 if the Watergate information hadn’t started to leak out.

There are very few, if any, of that breed left today. Consider the shock I felt when I realized that the Republican Party had become a far Right Wing enclave under the influence of people that not only have reactionary views but literally advocate the gutting of American principles like the Separation of Church and State and Equal Protection under the Law.

Yes I’m talking about the Religious Right.

Look, I don’t care what you believe. You’re entitled to your own beliefs and I’ll defend your right to hold them. However, you are not entitled to bring those beliefs out of the privacy of your church or home and attempt to codify them into laws which restrict the rights and actions of someone else, period, end of discussion.

You believe abortion is murder? Don’t have an abortion and feel free to do your best to convince others not to have one as well but don’t advocate legislation restricting abortion access or, even worse, a constitutional amendment restricting it. The decisions people make regarding their bodies and their health are none of your business.

You think the gay lifestyle is an abomination? Fine, don’t go to gay bars and don’t socialize with gay couples, but, considering that sexual orientation appears to not be a choice, what gives you the right to restrict the rights of gays? Why are gay couples not entitled to the same protections under the law as heterosexual couples?

You believe that evolution is ungodly and Genesis is the obvious truth? Be my guest to teach your children that in your home and church but don’t you dare try to get your religious myths into a science classroom and call it science.

You think the Ten Commandments are simply the most elegant set of moral directives ever devised? Then feel free to post them in every room of your house. Get them tattooed on your forehead if you want. Just don’t force them on those of us who aren’t terribly impressed with them by posting them in public buildings.

It’s real easy. You stay out of my yard and I’ll stay out of yours.

It’s safe to say that becoming familiar with the Religious Right has shifted me from a slightly left of center moderate into a left wing pinko card carrying member of the ACLU, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Center for Inquiry, the Brights (real stupid name that) and the Atheist Alliance.

At the risk of being accused of vilifying those who simply don’t agree with me, I’m going to articulate my impressions of the current Republican Party.

To my mind the current right wing base of the Republican Party is culturally and psychologically the descendents of those who have fought tooth and nail against every advance in civilization since man started to experiment with fire.

These are the same sort of folks that championed slavery, the same sort of folks that opposed women’s suffrage and the same sort of folks that defended segregation. They’ve just learned to avoid marching around in sheets. But a lot of the people and organizations that are the so called Republican base are making the ghosts of those who did parade around in sheets proud.

When Sarah Palin talks about states and people who are “pro-America” what do you think she means? You don’t suppose that’s code for white Christian America do you? Because if you’re not white or not Christian, and the right sort of Christian by the way, then you obviously can’t be a true American. Or at least that’s what Palin appears to be hinting with her fairly obvious euphemisms.

Hell, they might as well put on the sheets and pointy hats and burn crosses at the Republican rallies. At least then they would be honest about where they’re coming from.

Sinclair Lewis warned that when Fascism came to the United States it would be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. You will excuse me but that description sounds a lot like the so-called base of the current Republican Party.

Is this an extreme view that is unfair to many Republicans? Perhaps, but I think those that feel it’s unfair need to look around at who they’re crawling into bed with in order to win elections. If you’re willing to bed down with the devil in order to achieve some advantage, don’t be outraged when you get accused of being devilish yourself.

John McCain was all bent out of shape by John Lewis’ comments that he and Palin were “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.”

While I believe Lewis went too far when he brought up a comparison to George Wallace, basically he was right on. If you simply remove the middle paragraph from his statement, then I say he was 100% right on. McCain, and especially Palin, were appealing to the basest instincts of the Republican base.

But note this; those base instincts are there to appeal to aren’t they? Do we really want to elect people that not only accept such support but actually go out of their way to secure it?

Somewhere along the line I learned something very interesting. It seems that in fact my father rarely voted Democrat. He voted for the New York Liberal Party. Usually the Liberal Party endorsed the Democratic candidates so, at least in New York, it amounted to the same thing. But there were exceptions. Two major exceptions were the 1965 and 1969 mayoral contests. In 1965 John Lindsay was both the Republican and Liberal Party nominee while the Democrats nominated Abe Beame. In 1969 Lindsay won with only the Liberal Party nomination.

When I asked my dad why he bothered to vote Liberal rather than Democrat when it didn’t make any difference he said it was to remind the two major parties that, as much as they’d like to ignore the fact, there were other choices.

He was a smart man my dad.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why I Reject Christianity

I’ve been asked this question a number of times so here’s my attempt at an explanation.

I reject Christianity for two reasons. The lesser of the two reasons is that intellectually I find much of its doctrine utterly absurd. An obvious problem with a statement like this is the lack of common doctrine between different branches of Christianity. I’m not going to try and sort that out. If a particular doctrine listed below doesn’t apply to your particular brand of Christianity, feel free to ignore it.

Christian beliefs that I find absurd include, but are not necessarily limited to:

Rejection of the Theory of Evolution
If there is a first cause related to my leaving the church, this is it. As far as I can see Evolution is a fact, pure and simple. Are there lots of questions related to how, when, why and where? You bet there are but there is no question to my mind about “if.” Christianity’s continued rejection of the Theory of Evolution led me to first begin to question the validity of Christianity itself.

The inerrancy of the Bible
Unlike most Christians I’ve actually read the bible. I don’t see how anyone with an ounce of common sense or any objectivity whatsoever can conclude that the bible is “inerrant.” Yes I know that Christian Apologists have devised “explanations” that demonstrate that the errors and inconsistencies aren’t really errors and inconsistencies. I applaud their creativity but find their arguments totally unconvincing.

The bible is the word of God
There are only three things that I am absolutely certain of and one of them is that the bible is not the word of God. This sort of reinforces the conclusion that its not inerrant doesn’t it? Why would God (1) care whether a woman is a virgin or not on her wedding night, (2) feel obligated to include a census of the Hebrew Tribes in Numbers and (3) go into such excruciating detail about the right way to sacrifice animals? And that's not to mention Balaam's Donkey in Numbers 22 or the Test for an Unfaithful Wife in Numbers 5.

The concept of Adam and Eve
A “perfect” creation that didn’t understand the difference between good and evil? A talking snake? Punishing someone for disobedience when they didn’t know the difference between good and evil and therefore didn’t know the difference between right and wrong?

The virgin birth
Sure. Happens all the time (*cough, cough*). This strikes me as a sort of Christianity trying to keep up with the Horuses. It's basically a ripoff of the numerous pagan virgin births. I might point out that if it was a virgin birth, then Joseph wasn't the father therefore Jesus was not of the House of David and therefore couldn't be the Messiah.

The gospel miracles
Why should I believe in these miracles any more than the reputed miracles performed by Apollonius of Tyana or the Emperor Vespasian?

The doctrine of the Atonement
This is possibly the central doctrine of Christianity and one which makes absolutely no sense. Why would God, whose making up all the rules to begin with, have to incarnate himself as a human being and die a rather messy death in order to “save” humanity from its sinful ways? Sinful ways I might add that were inherent in the creation that God created! Why not simply tell everyone to say ten Hail Marys and five “Our Fathers” to atone for their sins? Hell, it works for the Catholic Church. By the way, if Jesus was God, who the hell was he praying to in the Garden of Gethsemene? Himself?

The Trinity
You can say that one is three and three is one as often and as loudly as you like and it's still total gibberish. The Trinity grew out of how to reconcile the divinity of Jesus with the concept of monotheism. The fact of the matter is that the two concepts are totally irreconcilable but that didn’t stop Christianity from coming up with an apologetic that did “reconcile” them.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus
Sure. Happens all the time (*cough, cough*). The sun god raising again on the 3rd day is a straightforward astrological event associated with the Winter Solstice which occurs on December 22nd. That what makes December 25th such a big day in pagan astrological circles. Think there's a relationship here perhaps?

The concept of an infinite punishment for finite crimes, and even for relatively trivial finite crimes, is not the attribute of a supposedly just God. And if God isn’t just, we’re pretty much screwed no matter what.

To my knowledge no Christian has ever been able to come up with an attractive explanation as to what Heaven is actually like. Most of the descriptions sound downright boring or even scary. Besides, if Evangelical Christians are going to Heaven, then it’s not a place where any self-respecting rational human being would want to hang out.

Turn the Other Cheek
This has got to be the absolute worst advice I’ve ever heard of. A wise man once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil if for good men to stand by and do nothing. You will excuse me but evil must be fought and injustice must be fought and they must be fought with violence if necessary.

The Meek will Inherit the Earth
The second thing that I am absolutely certain of is that the meek are not going to inherit the earth unless it’s a microsecond or two before the extinction of the species (by the way, the third thing I’m absolutely certain of is that the scientific method works).

There are probably more but these will do for now. However, remember I said that this is the lesser of the two reasons. The greater of the two reasons is the dishonesty of Christians.

Whether it is arguing against evolution, pushing for bible study in the public school or advocating the display of the Ten Commandments, I am absolutely disgusted at the total lack of respect for truth and simple honesty.

I’m not talking about differences of opinion. Honest men can disagree. I’m talking about blatant lying and distortion.

Let me give one example. Let’s talk about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics also sometimes called the law of entropy. The 2nd law simply states that the entropy of an isolated system which is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.

In other words, left to themselves things get more chaotic and not more ordered. A broken down building doesn’t repair itself it gets increasingly broken down until it collapses and reaches "equilibrium."

Creationists point to the second law and say it proves that evolution, which Creationists view as calling for increasing order, cannot be valid.

Well, they’re wrong. The reason they’re wrong are the two words “isolated system” in the definition. An “isolated system,” cannot import energy. But the earth’s ecology imports energy constantly from the sun. Therefore it is not an “isolated system” and the second law doesn’t apply (it might apply to the universe as a whole but that’s a whole different issue).

This is one of the more famous Points Refuted A Thousand Times or PRATTs. Yet you will continue to find this claim on numerous Christian Creationist web sites along with a smattering of quotes from physicists, biologists or other famous folks that imply they agree with the Creationist argument. In reality however, the quotes are knowingly either taken totally out of context, and often a context which specifically refutes Creationist arguments, or are knowingly related to the second law under circumstances not even remotely related to the Theory of Evolution.

This is dishonesty. You can’t twist it, you can’t turn it; it is a bald faced disregard for the truth. It is this kind of dishonesty that convinced me that Christianity is a bankrupt philosophy devoid of truth and unworthy of adherence or respect.

This was an emotional reaction. The intellectual reaction I outlined as the first reason came later. You can argue with me on the reasonableness of the doctrines and you might even get me to concede a bit (although its not very likely unless you have some arguments I haven’t heard) but there is no way in pluperfect hell you are going to convince me that any philosophy that relies upon dishonesty can be anything other than false.

Please, don’t hit me with the “no true Scotsman” argument that only some Christians, the “bad Christians,” are dishonest and not the majority of “good Christians.” You will excuse me but the deafening silence of the “good Christians” criticizing and refuting the dishonesty of the “bad Christians” speaks for itself.

So that’s the deal. It was realizing that Christians lied with regularity when pushing their religious views that led me to originally question my faith. Since then I’ve followed a fairly long and twisted road to arrive at where I am at the moment. I’m sure my journey isn’t at an end, and won't be while I continue to breathe, but I’m also pretty sure, not positive but pretty sure, that the way is forward and not back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gay Violence over Proposition 8

Apparently there have been some nasty incidents in California including one in San Francisco where gays physically helped a religious group preaching conversion to heterosexuality to leave the neighborhood.

I’m getting a kick out of all the Conservative sites and blogs essentially screaming “see, they’re intolerant too.”

You know a philosophy is bankrupt when “tu quoque” is the only defense it can come up with.

Personally I think Proposition 8 was something of a wake-up call. A lot more people now realize that the enemy is religion. The Mormons and the Knights of Columbus, both of whom donated a lot of money to get Proposition 8 passed, have a lot to answer for in their support of Proposition 8.

Personally I think the Mormon Church should lose its tax exempt status and if the K of C is tax exempt, then it should lose that status as well.

I’m not a supporter of violence but there are times when you are left with no choice. You know the old saying, “Ballot Box, Jury Box and then Cartridge Box.”

As for the specific incident, if I were gay I would take a group of Christians praying for me to return to being straight as an insult of the first order of magnitude. You insult people that badly, you better be ready to fight.

I don’t buy this we returned love for hate crap either. Pitching your religious garbage is hate pure and simple. You are effectively telling people that they are evil and damned if they don’t kowtow to your brand of superstition. Calling it love doesn’t change the situation one iota.

I used to ignore folks pitching religion on the street. Now I make it a point to challenge them. Hey, it’s a free country and the first amendment is still in force and that means I have freedom of speech just like the gays in San Francisco have freedom of speech.

Post on Proposition 8

Geoffrey Stone in a post on Proposition 8, the California measure which overturned a court ruling and outlawed same sex marriage, presents statistics that the defeat of the measure looked to be something of a religious affair.

For instance, Evangelical Christians supported the ban 81% to 19% and those who said they attended church services weekly supported it 84% to 16%. On the flip side, non-Christians opposed it 85% to 15% and those who don’t attend church regularly opposed it 83% to 17%.

Stone finds these numbers disturbing and makes the statement “Christian Evangelicals have every right to try to persuade others to accept and abide by their beliefs. But they have no right - indeed, they violate the very spirit of the American Constitution - when they attempt to conscript the authority of the state to compel those who do not share their religious beliefs to act as if they do.”

While I tend to agree with Stone, I’m not certain what one can do about it. How does one separate a “religious belief” from any other kind of “belief?”

While it might be obvious to you and me that an Evangelical Christian is voting based upon a religious belief, I’m not that sure he would agree. As far as gay marriage is concerned he believes he’s defending traditional non-religious values and as far as abortion access is concerned he believes he’s opposing murder.

This brings us back to an ongoing argument that I have with a number of people. To my mind Evangelical Christianity is fundamentally incompatible with American Democracy. In order to support both you have to bifurcate your thinking processes, compartmentalize your beliefs and be able to understand that your religious beliefs should not dictate the laws of a multicultural democracy.

It takes a very sophisticated, fairly well educated and intelligent person to do that. The 19% of Evangelical Christians that voted against Proposition 8 probably fall into that category. The other 81% probably don’t and most likely do not understand that what the preacher preaches on Sunday ain’t necessarily what the sheriff should be enforcing on Monday.

If you consider this a problem, and I agree with Stone that it is, you have one of two options. Option #1 is to try and move more people from the latter category into the former. Personally I think this would be an effort in futility. We are never going to get a lion’s share of Evangelical Christians to understand that their religious beliefs shouldn’t effectively be the law of the land. After all, isn’t this a Christian country that should be governed based upon biblical principles?

Option #2 is to attack Evangelical Christianity itself with the ultimate objective of destroying it. If there aren’t any Evangelical Christians, then they can’t try and use the law to enforce their religious beliefs on the rest of us now can they?

I’ve been a supporter of Option #2 while most folks I know are still are trying to figure out how to get Option #1 to work. It ain’t never going to happen. You might as well try and convince Ann Coulter that she should tell the truth occasionally.

When I say attack I don’t mean physically (although I wouldn’t take that option off the table), I mean intellectually. Christianity in general, and the fundamentalist variety in particular, is wide open to assault on both the intellectual and back alley levels. It has so much absurd dogma that it would be like shooting fish in a barrel if, and this is the big if, we can rid ourselves of the “religion deserves respect” axiom.

There has always been a small cadre of intellectuals attacking religion. What is needed is for us regular folks to pitch in whenever possible. It’s not easy because you will offend people and people don’t like being offended. The Internet helps because you can attack anonymously. When the day comes that folks do it face to face we will have begun to grow up as a species.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things I do

Now that the election is over and, at least temporarily, I have nothing to obsess over and drive myself crazy with, what the hell am I going to do with myself?

Well, let’s see. Work takes up most of my time. I hit the gym five to six times a week. I do intend to continue updating my silly little blog occasionally. Then there are always the Giant’s games at the stadium and on TV to get all upset about. My kids still drive me nuts from time to time and last, but not least, there’s World of Warcraft.

Ah yes, good old WoW. Talk about a money printing machine. The latest expansion, Wrath of the Lich King or WoTLK, is scheduled for release tomorrow November 13th, 2008 or, more accurately, at midnight tonight. Local Electronics Boutiques, including the one I ordered WoTLK from, are going all out with masquerade parties leading up to the big 12 Midnight availability when you can actually get your copy for $39.99.

They will probably sell a million copies the first day. Blizzard released a huge new content update a week ago in preparation for WoTLK so everything is supposedly ready to go. Assuming I don’t encounter any installation adventures, which is no where near a sure thing, I should be up and running sometime Thursday night (no I’m not going to pick up my copy at midnight).

While WoW is getting a tad long in the tooth and too familiar, they keep updating and “improving” the thing so it sort of manages to keep your interest. I put “improving” in quotes because while generally the new stuff is good, some of it I can do without.

A whole new continent to explore, 10 more levels to gain and lots of new bad guys to take out, might be just what the doctor ordered.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Now That the Fur Has Settled a Bit

Two days have passed since the election and the glow of satisfaction is just beginning to fade.

The world appears to approve of the U.S. election result with the most common sentiment I’ve heard being something along the lines of “it’s about time you guys came to your senses.”

The economic woes haven’t miraculously repaired themselves however and that appears to be what will be dominating Obama’s time for the foreseeable future.

In very late breaking election news, North Carolina has gone into the Obama column while Missouri and the second district of Nebraska are back in the “beats the heck out of us” category although McCain leads in both. That makes the current totals Obama – 364, McCain – 162, Too close to Call – 12.

Clearly Barack is not expecting everyone to get in a circle and sing Kumbaya given his appointment of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff. Emmanuel is a “make it happen” kind of guy. If at first you don’t agree with him, he’ll drag you kicking and screaming over to where you need to be.

Over on the Republican side the persecution of the innocent has begun and the morons are emerging from the woodwork. The persecuted innocent is Sarah Palin who, while she may not have been much of a help, certainly shouldn’t shoulder the lion’s share of the blame for the McCain debacle.

The moron is Tony Perkins of Focus on the Family who’s screeching that clearly the Republican Party needs to shift further right and expunge any and all moderates. Tony cites the wins over gay marriage in California, Florida and Arizona as evidence for that idea but doesn’t mention the anti-abortion defeats in California, Colorado and South Dakota.

Here’s the deal, a majority of Americans don’t like the idea of calling legal unions between gays marriage. They no longer appear to have a problem with extending full legal protection to gay couples they just don’t want to call it marriage. How about that as a reasonable compromise? Provide the same legal protections and just call is something else. That would pretty much eliminate the sole issue the GOP has.

I can’t think of a worse idea for the Republicans than to shift to the right. Obama won this election by spreading his appeal into the center. In the final analysis it’s the moderate center that determines elections.

If I were the Republicans the thing that would scare the hell out of me from election night would be the fact that voters in the 18-29 age range voted for Obama by a margin of 2-1. Add that to the fact that younger voters are more likely to be less religious and more secular implies that letting religious fruitcakes like Perkins steer the Republican ship is an absolutely insane idea.

But enough of that nonsense, let’s talk about something important. What kind of dog is Barack going to get his daughters?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election 2008

Dang it feels so good to be wrong. It feels so good to learn that all my paranoia was just that, paranoia. What Bradley effect?

I sat with my Windows Vista laptop (yes, I’m a PC) with CNN, and tabs. The CNN map provided the raw update information and the map provided a list of which news networks (ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the AP) had called which states plus a running total of electoral votes called by all networks, dark blue or dark red on the map, and those called by at least one network, light blue or light red on the map. On both maps all you had to do was run the mouse pointer over a state to get the display information. I had the TV tuned to NBC with the sound off, because lord were they annoying, to get the occasional piece of insight. At Nate Silver was providing snippits of information related to the relative performance of Obama vs. Kerry. Silver was right on target about Indiana remaining close and Virginia eventually going to Obama.

There were some scary moments in the early going. McCain appeared to be pulling away in Indiana and clearly Virginia was not going to be an early call. Then Obama pulled ahead in Florida. At they were declaring that Obama had more reason to be excited about Florida than Virginia.

Vermont was the first state to be called for Obama.

At 8:00 PM EST the polls in New England and the North Atlantic coast closed and immediately almost all the Blue States (is that term even meaningful anymore?), Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey plus the District of Columbia, fell into the Obama camp. The sole exception was Pennsylvania. The early returns from Ohio and North Carolina looked promising but the main focus was Pennsylvania.

Illinois went blue as soon as its polls closed.

Somewhere around 8:30 NBC and ABC called Pennsylvania for Obama. It was an enormous relief as one by one the other networks followed and Pennsylvania turned dark blue on my map.

Since New Hampshire had gone dark blue earlier that meant Obama would carry all of the Kerry states for a total of 252 electoral votes and now the wait began for Red States to flip. The polls had closed in Colorado and New Mexico at 9:00. We’d have to wait for Iowa until 10:00.

In the meantime Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York and Rhode Island remained true and turned dark blue on my map.

I had this fleeting paranoia attack of my nightmare scenario coming true only it was Colorado that refused to go blue rather than Pennsylvania.

While I was focusing on Colorado, Ohio on my CNN map flipped to blue. I just stared at it. Remembering the fiasco in 2000 with Florida I refrained from getting overly excited but I knew that if it held up, the election was essentially over and all that was left was for the clock to get to 11:00 when the West Coast polls closed.

Ohio held and the question was no longer would Obama win but how big was the victory going to be.

In the meantime New Mexico went blue.

At 10:00 Iowa joined her sister states in the Obama column. One has to wonder what the Republicans were smoking when they claimed Iowa was a dead heat. At 11:55 NBC switched to local news. I didn’t hear much of what they said. I was watching the clock on my cable box tick off the minutes.

At 11:00 NBC switched back to network news and we were greeted with a picture of a smiling Barack Obama and the declaration that he had been elected the 44th President of the United States as California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii added their votes to Obama’s total.

It was over, but it was far from over. Nevada, Colorado, Florida and even a tardy Virginia eventually joined the parade of states declaring for Barack Obama.

The current numbers stand at 349 – 173 as some networks have now given Indiana to Obama. North Carolina, as of 10:00 AM EST November 5th 2008, is still undecided.

I had lost much of my respect for John McCain because of the campaign he waged and the choices he made (Sarah Palin? Who said Sarah Palin?) but his concession speech last night restored all of it and more. Clearly McCain got some lousy advice.

As for Sarah Palin, it’s too much to hope she’ll go away. There is going to be a come to Jesus debate in the Republican Party about what to do now and Palin is clearly a favorite of the right wing conservative social values segment of the party. Luckily I think there are calmer, more talented and far more appropriate leaders in the Republican Party such as Charlie Crist.

I thought Obama’s acceptance speech in Grant Park was damn good. Of course having 500,000 people hanging on your every word and cheering everything you said helped. The one shot that I will always remember was Jessie Jackson in tears as he listened to Obama speak.

It wasn’t all good news however. The Pro-choice cause did well but Gay Rights took it on the chin.

Anti-abortion measures in Colorado, California and South Dakota all went down to defeat. I believe the American people are making it clear that they do not want the government to regulate what is clearly a medical issue.

The biggest disappointment of the night was that Proposition 8 passed in California. This is a bitter disappointment especially given the underhanded tactics used by the Proposition 8 supporters. Similar prohibitions against gay marriage passed in Arizona and Florida. Arkansas outlawed adoptions by gay couples.

Clearly we have some work to do in this area. But notice how the battlefield has shifted slightly. In Arizona the measure that passed was much less restrictive than the measure that was defeated the last time around and left open the possibility of equal legal rights under something like a Civil Union.

What’s happening is that slowly, but surely, equal legal protection is being accepted. Folks just don’t want to call it marriage. Actually, I could probably live with that compromise but I’m not gay so it’s not really my choice.

Now comes the hard part. Obama has to figure out a way to maintain the enthusiasm and work not only with the new Democratic Congress but with the Republicans as well. Then he has to figure out how to address the enormous problems facing the country and the world.

Can we all manage to work together and change the world?

Yes we can.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008



If you don't, you will regret it for the rest of your life.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thoughts on Election Eve

Tomorrow evening we’ll learn whether Barack Obama will become the next President of the United States or whether the country has decided to betray its legacy and go with the “safe choice.”

To be quite honest with you I believe that McCain, far from being the safe choice, is the reckless choice when it’s someone as unqualified as Sarah Palin waiting in the wings.

If Obama wins it will a great victory for liberty and equality and the zeitgeist will progress a little further. Should he lose, it will be a disappointment and a setback. But it will only be a temporary setback.

Right wing reactionaries have been standing in the schoolhouse door of progress for as long as anyone can remember. Often they appear to be too strong to overcome. But, in the end, as people become better educated and learn not to fear people that are different or ideas that are new, liberalism finds a way to triumph.

If McCain wins things will look bleak indeed with a President and a Vice President that think this a Christian nation and that Christianity should have special privileges, that the jury is still out on global warming, that a woman shouldn’t control her own body, that gays should be second class citizens and that you can build an economy from the top down.

Bleak, but not hopeless, we just have to regroup and continue the fight.

Victory is certain. The only questions are how long will it take and what will be the cost?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Guess what? It's STILL all about Pennsylvania

Sean Quinn at wrote a post this AM declaring that Pennsylvania is a done deal for the Democrats and that he expects the Presidential race in that state to be over as soon as the polls close.

I hope he's right.

Quinn sees the fact that the only Democratic stop planned in Pennsylvania is by Joe Biden on his way back to Delaware as evidence that the Obama campaign is not concerned about Pennsylvania.

I agree they don't appear to be concerned. The question is should they be? Last week Obama warned against overconfidence. Perhaps he should have listened to himself a tad better.

The polls close at 8:00 PM EST in Pennsylvania so we'll know pretty early if Sean is right.

We started out the year with the greatest surprise in Super Bowl history when the Giants beat the unbeaten Pats. Let's hope we don't balance the year out with the greatest comeback in Political History.

Allow me to Clarify about Offense and Defense

Sheesh, yes I know the difference between offense and defense and yes I know that Obama is campaigning in the red states.

The problem is he doesn't NEED any more red states. He needs to hold Pennsylvania. While he and his general staff are engaged in futile attempts in Arizona, Georgia and North Dakota, McCain is on the verge of stealing Pennsylvania which should have been easy to hold.

Read my lips. Obama is not going to win Arizona, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia or North Dakota. He may win Virginia but it's going to be close.

Pennsylvania is the key. Rather than screwing around in states he can't win, Obama should be insuring victory in Pennsylvania. Maybe this was an attempt to distract McCain from his goal in Pennsylvania but McCain is like a bulldog and isn't about to let go once he has made up his mind.

And what happens if, as unlikely as it seems, Iowa is back in play? Not a problem if Obama wins Pennsylvania, but a loosing position if he only wins Virginia.

I think the Democrats are beginning to believe the talk of a landslide. I just don't think they realize who it is that might get buried.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Obama on the Defensive

I know the difference between offense and defense, the difference between advancing and retreating and the difference between pressing home an advantage and just trying to hang on.

Incredible as it seems the Democrats are on the defensive, retreating and just trying to hang on in the last three days of the campaign. The McCain Pennsylvania strategy is clearly working. I base this upon a significant drop in Obama's lead in the polls and the increasingly shrill cries for help by the ground troops in the Keystone State.

To make matters worse, the Obama campaign appears to have miscalculated its finances and now faces a last minute situation in which McCain has more money than Obama.

So what the hell were they doing buying air time in Arizona and North Dakota?

Like I said a while back, its the Democrats stupid. Experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Still, the lead Obama has amassed may be too formidable for McCain to overcome. Then again, it may not be. I hate to say it but my nightmare scenario appears to be taking shape. I'm afraid it's going to be a very long night.

Virginia and Florida close at 7:00 PM EST, Ohio at 7:30 PM EST and Pennsylvania at 8:00 PM EST so we should have a pretty good feel by 9:00 PM EST just how long an evening it will be.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It’s Still All about Pennsylvania

“Buyer’s remorse” is setting in as Republicans who have been toying with the idea of voting for Obama because they were pissed off at George Bush appear to be coming home. That phenomenon has shrunk the Democrat’s lead heading into the final four days.

I’ve looked at the trends and analyzed the data. Since this is Halloween I can’t think of a better day to predict the results of this race.

Take Pennsylvania and put it off to the side for a moment. Barack Obama will win all the rest of the states won by Kerry plus Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. That will give him 257 electoral votes.

McCain will win all of the remaining states won by Bush in 2004 including the so-called battleground states of Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Missouri. That will give him 260 electoral votes.

Whoever wins Pennsylvania will win the election and we won’t know that until the early hours of the morning of November 5th.

My fear is that McCain squeaks out a win in Pennsylvania and wins the election 281 – 257.

Why am I afraid this could happen? Because (1) I think the race is really closer than the public polls are showing, (2) the youth vote is not going to show up in the quantities that Obama needs and (3) the “Buyer’s Remorse” is going to be much worse than usual this year with large numbers of folks reverting at the last minute.

This is my nightmare scenario. I'm afraid of sitting there with Obama stuck at 257 votes while one by one the "too close tocall" states that could put him over the top fall into the McCain column.

Should my nightmare scenario come through, we're in big trouble. McCain and the Republicans will just try to continue down the same path with the Democratic Congress fighting them every step of the way. A good definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

You think this country is divided now? You ain’t seen nothing yet. We’re talking about four years of total gridlock while literally everything deteriorates. Don’t expect much out of Washington while things are going to hell beyond partisan finger pointing and recriminations.

It’s not likely I’ll live to see the 2012 elections. Look for Hillary to go for it again and McCain may, or may not, be in a position to run for re-election. He may face a revolt from the extreme right wing of his own party. Hell, we might see Sarah Palin stab him in the back and end up as the Republican nominee. Dang, Hillary against the born in an igloo dingbat, I’ll be sorry to miss that one.

Hopefully this is just my natural paranoia and pessimism raising its ugly head. I’d never be so glad to be so wrong. But I'm not the only one that's worried. The internet traffic is pure angst and paranoia. You know the old saying, no smoke without fire. All of us must be sensing something in the numbers.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

McCain Campaign Convinced Race is Tight

McCain and his campaign are more convinced then ever that they will win this campaign. Their internal polling shows the races in all of the key battleground states within the margin of error and apparently they even believe that Iowa is back within play.

The guy in charge of polling for McCain is Bill McInturff and he is a skilled professional with a reputation for honesty and competence. If he says this race is close then he has good reason to say so.

In the meantime Mason-Dixon reported the Pennsylvania race at just +4 points for Obama.

I am also seeing mathematical rumblings that bother me. I’m especially bothered by the fact that the polls are scattered all over the map. They can’t all be right. The polls are clearly making different assumptions and crunching the numbers different ways to be getting such a variation.

That means that some are right and some are wrong. Averages, if they include garbage data, can be extremely misleading and all of the projection sites I’ve seen use weighted averages of one type or another.

What if McInurff’s assumptions and number crunching are the only ones that are accurate? If that’s the case, then November 4th is going to turn into a disappointment of colossal proportions.
The other possibility is simply that his data is fresher than the public polls and he is already seeing a trend that may, or may not, become apparent in the days just before the election. If this is the situation it will give the election projection sites an opportunity to wipe a little of the egg off their faces.

If nothing else McCain appears to have gotten his campaign focused on the economy and particularly on the mantras that Obama wants to "redistribute wealth" and will penalize those who work hard and succeed. I think the Joe the Plumber angle, which his campaign has continued to pound away at despite it being discounted by many as a gimmick, is having an effect as well.

Can the gap be closed quickly enough in enough places is the question. They seem to have a high degree of confidence that they are doing precisely that.

Dang, I’m SO depressed now. I was really hoping I was way off base thinking that this election was going to be a real nail biter.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

California’s Proposition 8

Almost as important as the need to elect Barack Obama is the need to defeat California’s Proposition 8. This proposition would overrule the California Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage in California.

Aside from the problem of establishing second class citizens, opponents of Proposition 8 have engaged in utterly reprehensible practices.

A field trip by a California class to attend the wedding of their teacher to her longtime partner was filmed, edited and turned into a video TV commercial in favor of Proposition 8. For good measure, the Prop 8 proponents threw in a whole slew of distorted information about California’s “Opt Out” rules which allow parents to pull children from school activities to which they object for religious and other reasons. In fact, two parents did “Opt Out” their children from that particular field trip.

The parents of the kids used in the video, educators across the state and teachers are going absolutely bonkers over the whole thing AS THEY SHOULD.

The parents are demanding that the video cease being used, have asked the San Francisco Chronicle to intervene on their behalf and are threatening legal action. Educators and teachers are calling on the Yes campaign to stop lying about the “Opt Out” rules which are easy to invoke and are fairly routine for a whole host of activities including field trips.

Educators have also called on the Yes campaign to stop implying that young children, including kindergarten kids, are taught about marriage when in fact they’re not.

I understand the Catholic Church supports the Yes campaign, I wonder how it can possibly condone the kind of crap being peddled here.

Less than a week to go

I can’t take this. I have never been so emotionally tied up in an election and it’s driving me nuts. I’m absolutely obsessed. I cringe at every piece of bad news and mumble “I hope they’re right” at every piece of good news.

Nothing really has changed as far as I can see it. It’s still all about Pennsylvania. If McCain loses Pennsylvania then that should do it. He may even win Pennsylvania and still lose. Slate has Virginia firmly in the Obama camp and it looks like Nevada is on the verge of joining Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico in the Democratic column.

Assuming all of those states do in fact go for Obama, and he carries all the Kerry states other than Pennsylvania, that would be 270 electoral votes.

Obama gives his half hour Infomercial tonight. I think it’s the right thing to do but there’s the old saying, if it ain’t broke, than don’t fix it. We shall see what we shall see.

In the meantime McCain and Palin continue to lie, cheat and steal. I mean, political spin ok, but outright lying? I’m simply flabbergasted by the number of media organizations and individuals that have had to stand up and criticize the McCain campaign’s statements and ads. Forty workers at a telemarketing firm in Indiana walked off the job, without pay, rather than make calls about Obama being easy on criminals that the McCain campaign had paid for. Then there was the McCain campaign worker who made up a story about being attacked by a black man which, almost unbelievably, the McCain campaign tried to cash in on and then lied about trying to do so.

Yet, the man remains confident that he will win both Pennsylvania and the election. I read a memo from a McCain pollster explaining, statistically, why the public polls are actually way off and the election is in fact too close to call.

In the 2000 election, when we still had confidence in things like projections and exit polls, when the networks called Florida for Gore, I pretty much assumed that was a done deal. I had never remembered the networks calling a winner and then having to retract the call. Still, I remember clearly an interview with George Bush after the call and he was supremely confident that he would win Florida just like McCain appears supremely confident that he will win Pennsylvania.

Of course, McCain doesn’t have Katherine Harris and brother Jeb Bush to help him out like Dubya did.

Still, there’s enough criticism to go around and most people, including myself, tend to focus on things which support their pre-conceived notions.

I’m nervous as hell about this election and I just want it to be over so I can either celebrate or begin the healing process. Enough with the preliminaries already, LET’S FIGHT.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let’s talk about Race

Race is a factor in this election.

The math is really very simple. Southern Rednecks won't vote for Obama. White Evangelicals will, mostly, not vote for Obama and white working class folks will, mostly, not vote for Obama. What's really sad is that most of these people will be voting against their own economic interests.

If the man were white, this election would be long over. Apparently McCain is holding to his Pennsylvania strategy after all and McCain and Palin will be spending most of this week appealing to the baser natures of Pennsylvania's white working class. If they succeed, this thing could get very sticky. I see a number of scenarios with Obama stuck 5-10 electoral votes short while a half-dozen or so states remain in the "too close to call" category.

It could be a very long and frustrating night.

Democracy ceases to function effectively when a significant portion of the electorate ceases to vote in its own best interest but rather it allows itself to be swayed by false issues.

What is a false issue? A false issue is one which has absolutely no real effect upon the electorate but for which there has been constructed a passionate partisanship.

Gay marriage is such an issue. About 95% of the American electorate will never even encounter a gay couple never mind be negatively influenced by whether they call their relationship marriage or a civil union. It’s a false issue. It should be a big don’t care.

The same thing is true about a candidate’s race. It doesn’t matter. What matters are his qualifications and his positions on key issues.

I was just reading an article about McCain and Palin campaigning in Beaver County Pennsylvania where they expect to find fertile ground for their planned Pennsylvania comeback. Beaver County is on the Western edge of Pennsylvania, is 92% white working class and has a median family income of around $37,000.

When you talk about “the war on the middle class” or “the squeezing of the middle class,” the folks in Beaver are precisely those people getting hurt the most. They have been mauled by the economic decisions of the Republican Bush administration and are precisely the people that the Democratic campaign is looking to help with tax cuts, tuition aid and health care. Yet many, if not most of them, will probably vote Republican either because they’ve been hoodwinked into believing that Obama is planning to raise their taxes or because of Obama’s race.

The first point is a flat out lie and the second is a false issue yet you can be sure that the Republicans will pound away at both these points, the first overtly and the second by implication.

Please don’t tell that there are legitimate reasons why these people would be better off with a Republican administration because it’s sheer bull. I would probably be better off with a Republican in the White House but not most of these people.

The CEO of AIG, one of the major collapses in the current economic crisis, got a $6.9 million bonus last year despite $4 billion in company losses. No one deserves a $6.9 million dollar bonus. Even if the company had made $4 billion it wouldn’t be deserved. This is more money than the overwhelming majority of American workers will make in their entire working career. You will excuse me if I’m not particularly worried if he has to pay 39% of that in income taxes rather than 36%.

The poor baby will only have $4.9 million to spend rather than $5.1 million.

To the folks in Beaver, it’s only fair to ask you boys, whose side are you on?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yin and Yang

The Giants win, my unemployed daughter gets a job nibble but McCain guarantees a victory on November 4th.

Hmmm, all logic says McCain is dreaming so why do I continue to have this uncomfortable feeling in my gut? Call it butterflys, call it apprehension or call it fear. Any normal person is familier with the feeling.

If you are physically engaged, it can egg you on to incredible feats; if you are a spectator it just makes you feel uncomfortable and helpless. I feel uncomfortable and helpless.

There are things called unrealistic fears that we all have from time to time. I hope this falls into that category but I just don't trust the American electorate. If Obama has a weakness it's that those segments of the electorate in which his support is strongest are also the segments of the electorate that historically have had the worst turnout on election day.

McCain says they're doing just fine and it's all going to hinge on the voter turnout where clearly the Republicans expect to win it. Either that or they've obtained access to the voting machines.

He's right about voter turnout being the key so MAKE DAMN SURE YOU VOTE because NOW is the time and HERE is the place. OBAMA '08.

I Guess I Just Don't Understand Politics

Either that or I’m really dumb because I’m really confused. McCain’s strategy looked reasonable. Concede Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado, hold the other traditionally Red battleground states and deny Obama Pennsylvania. If it could be pulled off, he wins.

So what the heck are he and Palin doing campaigning in Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico? I guess John’s not satisfied with just a win and he’s looking for a clear electoral mandate. Either that or he's decided it would be easier to deny Obama Colorado than Pennsylvania.

That would also work except Obama winning any other state, inclding Neveda which would mean an electoral college tie, would give Obama the election.

I have to ask the question again, what does McCain know that the rest of us don’t know? I have this really bad feeling that we’re going to be spending the night of November 4th and the wee hours of November 5th looking for that one state to take Obama over 270 while a half dozen or so remain too close to call.

The other wild card is in the reports that Sarah Palin is chaffing under her handlers and wants to have more direct access to the media and to pitch her own message. In the words of the McCain camp, she’s going Rogue.

I have no idea if that will be a stunning success or backfire so completely as to finally sink McCain. She’s just too much of an unknown quantity. I do know one thing, if the polls are right then the Republicans have little to lose.

My natural paranoia, given how low the bar is for Palin, and how the media tends to gush over her, says that she’d have to say something unbelievably stupid for this to backfire. That means they might just let her have her reins and, given the fragility of this race, that could throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing. My fear is that might turn out to be exactly what McCain needs.

Please, don't let this turn into the biggest turn around in political history. I don't think I could take it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It’s all about Pennsylvania

Obama takes Pennsylvania and he wins. That’s why McCain is focusing on the state. The other reason is that Pennsylvania always turns out to be closer than it looks. I learned last night that internal campaign polls show the state to be essentially a toss-up and there are clear signs of concern within the Pennsylvania Democratic organization.

Here’s how the math goes. If you take Pennsylvania out of the mix, Obama looks on track to win all the other states carried by Kerry in 2004. McCain may argue about New Hampshire but that looks more like nostalgia than reality. That’s a total of 231 electoral votes.

Obama also appears on track to win Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico with a total of 21 electoral votes. That brings Obama up to 252. Pennsylvania, with 21 electoral votes of its own, is an opportunity for McCain to wipe out the three Democratic gains. If Obama also takes Pennsylvania then turn out the lights because the party is over. That’s 273 votes and none of the other swing states matter.

However, if Obama doesn’t win Pennsylvania, that means he will have to take at least one and possibly two additional Red States. Either Ohio or Florida would put him over the top but both are traditionally Republican states that are very close and still have a fairly large undecided contingent. This late in the game, undecided voters tend to go their traditional way and that means Republican in these two states. I think McCain wins both Ohio and Florida.

That means Obama would have to win Virginia and either North Carolina, Missouri or Nevada. These are all states that twice voted for George Bush. North Carolina hasn’t gone Democrat since 1976! Personally I don’t see either North Carolina or Missouri going Democrat.

That leaves Virginia and Nevada. The only problem is the most recent pole in Virginia shows the state a two point toss-up and Nevada isn’t much better. I seriously think Obama needs to win Pennsylvania or he runs a very real risk of losing the election but I don’t think the Obama campaign sees it that way. McCain has a damn good chance of stealing Pennsylvania, and therefore the election, right out from under the Democrats noses.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Confusion on Top of the Cake

Reading all of the political stories on the web can give you an absolute headache. Now the Associated Press is saying that its poll puts the race dead even with Obama at 44% and McCain at 43%.

However, I have to admit I was a little confused at the way the numbers were reported. The AP stated that this was among 800 “likely voters” out of 1,101 polled. The numbers of everyone polled was Obama 47% and McCain 37%. That would mean that Obama leads among “unlikely voters” by 55% to 21%! Allow me to suggest that the Obama folks might want to work on getting these people to the polls. Enigmatically the AP also reported that Obama leads among “registered voters” by 5 points.

This poll is also showing 13%-16% still undecided which is a huge number at this stage of the game.

In the meantime Sarah Palin told James Dobson in an interview that the election is “in God’s hands.”

I knew it was only a matter of time before this came up. I’ll tell you what. If it’s in God’s hands, does that mean you’ll look upon whoever wins as God’s anointed? That’s what good old Paul claimed. Allow me to quote Romans 13:1.

Romans 13:1 - Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

If I remember correctly this was the justification for the idea that the king ruled by divine right. If you buy this one, then the American Revolution was a revolt against God’s will. Sort of makes the ideas of “In God We Trust” and “God Bless America” sound a bit silly doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s Christianity that’s silly. If there is a God he (she? it?) clearly doesn’t give a hoot whom we elect to govern the country for the next four years or are you telling me that he (she? it?) wanted George Bush in the White House?

Dang, even I consider that blasphemy.

Less then 2 Weeks to Go

We’re now officially less than 2 weeks to the Presidential election and the focus has squarely shifted to the electoral math.

Pew Research upset the apple cart yesterday by releasing a large sample poll (over 2,400) showing Obama with a whopping 14 point lead. Then the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll followed up on that last night by releasing figures that showed a 10 point Obama lead.

To further confuse the issue, a number of organizations now believe that some polls may have been understating Obama’s numbers due to the phenomenon of cell phone only households. Cell phone only households are overwhelmingly young voters and young voters favor Obama by a ginormous 67% to 27% margin. This wouldn’t apply to Pew Research though as they claim to be taking the cell phone only households into account. We shall see about this one when the actual results are counted. This is too good to be true and if it seems to good to be true...

Of course none of this matters one iota. What matters is the electoral math. Strange as it sounds Obama could, in theory, win the popular vote by 10 points and still loose the election. Let us not forget that Al Gore won the popular vote by 543,000 votes and we still ended up stuck with George Bush.

On the electoral side things don’t look nearly as flush. CNN is reporting that the McCain campaign is pulling out of Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado to focus on Pennsylvania. As I pointed out last week this is a very risky approach. Current polls have McCain trailing in Pennsylvania by 51.7% to 40.7%. Still, that’s better than last Thursday when I reported him trailing by 53.6% to 40%.

McCain apparently also believes that he has an ace up his sleeve in New Hampshire and the last I heard he hasn’t yet conceded in Wisconsin. I have to ask the question. What does this man know that the rest of us don’t know?

According to the polls McCain trails in New Hampshire by 52.2% to 42.8% and in Wisconsin by 52.2% to 40.8%. What the hell? Could the public polls really be that wrong?

The McCain campaign also appears to feel that Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri are safe and are focusing primarily on Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. In all of these states the candidates are within 3 points of each other with the exception of Pennsylvania as noted above and Virginia where Obama is reported ahead 52.8% to 44.8%.

Why is this man smiling especially considering that the demographics, the money and the plunging popularity of the callow and shrill partisan, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called Palin, are all working against him?

If the parties were reversed and it was the Democratic candidate facing these kinds of numbers we all would be declaring it over except for the punishing of the innocent so WTF is going on?

Easy, it’s the Democrats stupid and they are masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Besides, the election always tightens near the end and I'm not sure why this race should be any different. Personally I think McCain is relying on “people returning to their roots” between now and pulling the lever. That’s a euphemism for, when push comes to shove, white people aren’t going to vote for a black man. I wish I could say with conviction that this is not going to happen. The shadow of Tom Bradley still lingers.

Either that or the Republicans have gotten control of the voting machines in the key states.

I can’t discount that possibility either. I still believe that Obama needs Pennsylvania. But if somehow McCain pulls out New Hampshire, that sets up the possibility of an electoral vote tie.

In that case it goes to the House of Representatives where each state would get one vote and 26 votes would be needed to win. It would be the newly elected congress that votes so it's not 100% certain what that would mean. At the moment the Democrats have a majority in exactly 26 states and might pick up more but who knows?

If no one gets 26 states then the Vice President, selected by majority vote in the senate, would become acting President. The Democrats should have a majority in the Senate so that means Joe Biden should win.

If through some weird warping of space (or the Republicans manage to sabotage the Senate voting machines somehow even though the Senate doesn't have voting machines) and the Senate doesn’t choose a Vice President, then the Speaker of the House who, baring the second coming, should be Nancy Pelosi, would become President.

Bottom line, a tie means a Democratic president. Most likely Barack Obama (like about 99.9% probability), but in an oddball situation could actually turn out to be Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi.

Either that or we'll get Jesus making his grand entrance to judge the sheep and the goats.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The New York Daily News Endorses…

Barack Obama! I never thought I’d live to see the day. Come on guys, even the News can see Obama’s the right guy in this time and place. Stop worrying about whether or not it might cost you an extra dollar or two and think about how much better off we all will be in the long term.

Think especially about how much better off our kids and grandkids will be. If there is a god, think about how you’re going to justify not taking this opportunity to do what’s right because you were too worried about your pocketbook.

Obama leads McCain in newspaper endorsements 112-39. Kerry barely led Bush in 2004 213-205. Are there that many less newspapers or have less than half issued an endorsement?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Debate

Here’s the deal. When Obama was talking I felt confident and comfortable. When McCain was talking I was looking for cover because I thought he was about to hit me!

Talk about an angry young man. Sheesh! I’m sure his combativeness will make his under 100 IQ trailer park base yell YE-HAH! Unfortunately for McCain, the rest of us would prefer a President with a little more control over his emotions.

McCain made some good points and Obama sidestepped some specific questions such as the question of nuclear power. But the fundamental problem, and it has been a problem in all three of the debates, was that while Obama addressed what McCain said in real time, McCain addressed straw men.

This was especially obvious during the health care conversation. Whatever plan McCain was attacking, it wasn’t the plan that Obama was articulating at that moment and, as far as I can tell, has described fairly consistently since the beginning of the Presidential debates. It’s fairly obvious to almost anyone when one candidate says my plan is A-B-C and the other candidate criticizes plan D-E-F.

As far as Joe the Plumber is concerned, if he’s in a position to buy a business which nets $250,000 a year, the cut off point in Obama’s tax scheme, I’m not sure why any of us should be worrying much about him. Hell that’s like feeling sorry for the poor executives at AIG who will have to forego their free company paid hunting trip this year.

I’d also like to know what the hell McCain was thinking about when he implied that folks coming out of the armed forces could immediately become teachers without having to go through the certification process that most states require. Teaching is not simple. I know. I tried it with mixed results. My wife is a teacher. Trust me; it’s a lot harder than it looks and teacher training and certification are definitely needed.

Ignore the pundits; I’m keeping an eye on the Intrade market. After last night the price of an Obama becoming President share, which had been holding around 77, jumped to 86. The price of a McCain share, which had been holding around 22, dropped to 13.8 so that makes it pretty obvious who won the debate.

Despite McCain trying to give the election away I still feel this thing is something of a toss-up because there are large portions of the American electorate I just don’t trust. According to a report this morning McCain has pulled out of all the Blue states other than Pennsylvania (however, it appears that report was incorrect and apparently McCain is still contending New Hampshire and Wisconsin in addition to Pennsylvania). That means he’s essentially conceding 231 electoral votes and by any reasonable estimate he has 174 votes locked up. That brings us to the 112 electoral votes in states that went Red last time but are on the edge this time and the 21 electoral votes of Pennsylvania.

Obama needs 39 of those 133 votes. McCain needs 96 of those 133 votes. Iowa (52.8% for Obama, 41.0% for McCain), Colorado (50.4% to 44.6%) and New Mexico (50.7% to 42.3%), with coincidentally a combined total of 21 electoral votes, look like long shots for McCain. Assuming those states are lost, that brings Obama up to 252 votes so McCain must win Pennsylvania along with everything else.

At the moment McCain is trailing in Pennsylvania 53.6% to 40% and they’re pushing for, and will probably get, a much high voter turnout in Democratic Philadelphia. I guess the McCain camp figures that concentrating on Pennsylvania rather than going after Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico would be more efficient.

I see no way he can swing Pennsylvania with a 13 point Obama lead. Every week I get requests from the Obama camp to drive down to Pennsylvania and help out so they clearly still have their eye on the ball.

That gives Obama 273 votes and that’s the most I believe he can expect. Maybe 278 if Nevada holds. I don’t for one minute believe that Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri or Ohio, regardless of what the polls say, is going Blue.

So Obama needs Pennsylvania, Colorado, Iowa and either New Mexico or Nevada. He can also win if he loses either Colorado or Iowa and wins both New Mexico and Nevada.

Like I said, it’s going to be close.

One very definite potential issue I see is Obama may have peaked a tad too early. From where he is at the moment, he has no place to go but down. Call me an alarmest but the news that Sarah Palin is going to be on Saturday Night Live concerns me a great deal.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Republican Base

Apparently things are getting ugly at the Republican rallies as Sarah Palin riles up the base. Cries of “traitor” and “kill him” aimed against Barack Obama have been heard from the crowd. The Republican elite, including John McCain, is appalled at the reaction and looking to calm things down. McCain also appears to be muzzling Palin a bit which sounds like a really good move.

Why is this kind of reaction a surprise? For years the Republicans have been cozying up with the lunatic fringe and waging an assault on the emotions of the under 100 IQ trailer park set. Now they’re surprised when Bubba six-pack gets upset? DUH, here’s another reason not to vote Republican. I thought only Dubya was too dumb to understand the implications of his actions.

You play with fire and eventually someone gets burned.

In the meantime…

Life goes on even as the Presidential election moves into the home stretch. Last week Connecticut became the third state to approve gay marriage. Unfortunately, in the second state, California, a ballot initiative that would introduce a constitutional amendment outlawing Gay Marriage called Proposition 8 is leading in the polls by a 47-42 margin.

The approval of Proposition 8 in California would be an enormous step backwards. Every major newspaper, Governor Schwarzenegger and numerous celebrities have come out against the proposition but a well financed anti-gay marriage campaign, at least for the moment, appears to be winning.

Ironically it appears to be Blacks and Hispanics, the folks who have the most to fear from discrimination, who are supporting Proposition 8. Allow me to suggest that these folks might want to consider whose side they’re on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Let’s Talk about Bill Ayers

McCain and Palin are trying to make a big deal about Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers and Obama is trying to play it down. Personally I think the ties between Obama and Ayers were more than Obama’s willing to own up to and I also think it doesn’t matter one iota.

Only the Republican faithful would give a crap. I don’t care if they’re bosom buddies. Ayers was a radical 40 years ago. Those days are over. He’s currently a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois for Christ’s sake. Watch my lips, he’s teaching teachers how to teach.

While Ayers still believes opposing the Vietnam War was a social imperative, he has apologized for his part in the violence. He spent 10 years underground. Both his children were born while he was underground. I think the guy has paid for his mistakes.

More importantly Obama has openly condemned Ayers actions back in the 1960’s and 1970’s when Obama was all of 8 years old.

Keep in mind that no one was killed in these “terrorist attacks.” They were small explosives aimed at property damage rather than killing innocents and therefore fundamentally different from Islamic Terror attacks or the Timothy McVeigh variety of attack.

Most of Ayers and the Weathermen’s activities were big flops. The “Days of Rage” in Chicago attracted no more than 200 participants who, after damaging some cars and shop windows, were rounded up by police and dumped in the hoosegow to cool their heels.

The Weathermen were most dangerous to themselves. When they decided to switch to an anti-personnel nail bomb, they botched it and Ayers best friend, Terry Reynolds, and his girlfriend, Diane Oughton, were both killed.

The charges pending against Ayers and his wife, the former Bernadine Drohn, also a Weathermen (Weatherperson?), were dropped as a result of the COINTELPRO scandal of the late 1970’s. That investigation revealed the extent of illegal FBI activity aimed not only at radical groups, like the Weathermen and KKK, but also at mainstream social activists groups such as the NAACP, CORE and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

So here’s the deal, who cares? I’m sure Obama also smoked grass while he was at Harvard. It’s ancient history that’s going to have no impact at all moving forward. There are no lessons to be learned from 40 years ago that are nearly as important as the lessons to be learned from the last 10 years. The Republicans don’t want to talk about those so why the hell should I care about what happened in the 1960’s? Besides, I was there, and you had to be there to understand.

So where are we in this election?

Damn good question. Less than four weeks until election day and, as far as I can see, this thing is still a toss-up. There are an awful lot of swing states still hanging by a thread and I think McCain would be making a massive mistake to go down and dirty like some of the far right whackos in his party are urging him to do.

I thought Obama won the second debate handily. Allow me to suggest that media attempts to level out the result are more aimed at keeping the ratings and interest level up than they are at providing an honest appraisal.

I’m seeing signs of panic in the Republican camp that I believe are totally unfounded. The simple fact is that North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada are all still very much in play for three reasons.

The first reason is that all of these states have at least 10% undecided and voters who choose late are more likely to go with the “safer” choice. Putting Sarah Palin aside, I suspect that most people still view McCain as the “safer” choice. I suspect that Palin is going to hurt McCain here if he doesn’t muzzle her. Suddenly embarking upon what could be viewed as a personnel vendetta would definitely hurt him here.

The second reason is, despite what I’m hearing from academia, we still can’t be sure we’re not going to see a significant “Bradley effect.” Named for Tom Bradley, who ran for governor of California back in the 1980’s, the Bradley affect occurs when people tell pollsters what they think they should say, or what they think the pollster wants to hear, with regards to a black candidate and then change their mind, or let their true colors show, when they enter the privacy of the voting booth.

Figures lie and liars figure and you can use statistics to argue almost anything position if you’re selective enough and spin it right. Same folks claim the Bradley effect is real and is going to be a factor, some say it’s a phenomenon of an America that no longer exists, some say the effect never existed in the first place and some are even claiming that more likely is what is being dubbed an Obama effect going the other way because pollsters aren’t properly taking into account younger voters that tend to be more cell phone than land line oriented.

Personally I think the effect is real and is going to be a factor. I can almost guarantee you it will be a factor in the states listed above. What I don’t know is how big a factor.

The third reason is what I can only call the “buyer’s remorse” effect. For whatever reason, things tend to tighten in the last month of the campaign because folks who have reached a tentative decision to vote for the leading candidate start worrying if they’re making a mistake. That leads to paying more attention to what the opposing candidate is saying. Invariable that leads to some conversions. This doesn’t happen on the other side because folks figure their candidate is going to lose anyway.

Pulling against this would be the so-called “bandwagon effect” where folks decide to go with “the winner” simply because he’s winning. Things are way too close for this to be much of a factor in my opinion.

So there are potentially three things pulling in McCain’s direction, therefore it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s a stunned McCain giving the victory speech in the wee hours of November 5th while Obama is wondering what the hell happened.

Obviously, I hope I’m completely wrong about this but I doubt it. Even if the election were held today I don’t think the poll numbers would hold up and I expect them to tighten between now and election day assuming nothing dramatic occurs.

Promoted to Goddess?

Speaking of Religulous, I see in the AP that a new Royal Kumari, considered to be a living goddess, has been appointed in Nepal. Not to worry however, it’s only until the 3 year old girl reaches puberty.

At that point she gets demoted back to mortal and can try to adjust back to a normal life after spending nine or ten years isolated in a palace in Katmandu.

Apparently the girl, selected by a panel of judges and having passed a final test where she had to spend the night in a room surrounded by the heads of slaughtered animal, is viewed and worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal as the incarnation of the Hindu deity Taleju.

The Royal Kumari lives in the Kumari Ghar in Katmandu, always dresses in red and has a representation of a third eye attached to her forehead.

As soon as menstruation occurs, a new Kumari is selected and the previous one gets divested of her symbols of divinity in a ceremony over a four day period. At the end the girl is left with a gold coin, a scrap of red fabric from her previous regalia and memories. Superstition has it that men who marry a former Kumari die young by coughing up blood so they’re not exactly high on the date list.

It seems there are actually several Kumaris in Nepal. It’s just the most famous one that is the Royal Kumari in Nepal. One Kumari got into deep water after she attended a screening of a documentary about the living goddesses at the Silverdocs film festival in Maryland. She almost lost her position because the visit to the U.S. had “tainted her purity.”

Hey, I’ve been to Maryland, going there would taint anyone’s purity. Nah, I’m only kidding. Maryland is the home of the world’s best crab cake.

Consider how ridiculous this whole living goddess thing is, especially given the multiplicity of them. Oh well, I guess it’s not much more ridiculous than the concept of a trinity is it?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Religulous Reviews

Overall, the movie appears to be pretty funny although clearly even some of the professional reviewers appeared miffed at the topic.

Of course the User’s Reviews were an absolute hoot. About the first 40 on Yahoo were unanimous in giving the movie all F’s. After that it becomes more distributed but with a preponderance of A’s as the atheist camp tries to swing things the other way. No movie is worth a perfect string of A+.

Clearly all the people giving the F reviews didn’t see the movie and were part of a failed effort to water down the rating. All you need to do in order to figure this out is read the comments and notice the spelling. It’s just another example of Christian dishonesty. Do they really think the rest of us are stupid enough to be fooled?

Have I gone? No I haven’t. My daughter asked me if I wanted to go next Saturday but I’d signed up for a registration drive so I figured I’d wait and see if I get called to do that first.

I’ll get around to it (I think).