Saturday, September 22, 2012

Drawing upon sixth century thinking

I came across this and felt a need to respond.

Five Ridiculous Things You Believe About Islam

If the intention of the article is to convince me that there are any number of reasonable, rational, compassionate, educated, civilized Muslims in the world – we can shake hands and consider it a job well done. The problem is, this is not news! Any reasonable person would have ceded this ground a priori. However, I suspect that the true intention was to bolster respect Islam in general from the perspective of an apologist. I do not find the arguments helpful in bolstering respect for the brands of Islamd currently practiced in a number of places. In short, I suggest the whole article is based on a strawman argument.

We are meant to suddenly have a positive feeling about Islam based upon the amplification of some positive behaviors practiced by some adherents in some places. However this simply throws the real problem into stark relief. Simply stated, the underlying belief system comes from a text (Koran) which can, too easily, be interpreted to justify all manner of violent and heinous acts. Thus, arguing that some of the disciples, during some periods of time, in some places, choose to view the message in a more moderate way does not diminish the original argument.

If the reader has jumped ahead of me and has inferred that this same proposition would hold true for other religious texts (ie; Bible, Torah, etc.), Bravo. We are in lock step. It is not a matter of opinion to state that the people of the Middle East (Muslim and otherwise) have a strong case against the Christian world with regard to terrorism and religious zealotry. For the historically challenged, Google The Crusades.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Angry Desert Gods

It is comforting to know that all the war and angry god references in the bible are safely confined to the old testament, well before the warm fuzzy Jesus bits. Well, ok, not exactly all of them.

Quote from the King James Version (1Timothy6 verses 1-3):
[1] Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
[2] And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

Gosh, who doesn't love the "under the yoke" bit? The whole image of people treated as cattle is always a crowd pleaser. I know it leaves me frightened of the people who believe in this fellow.

And remember, God loves you. Unless you are a slave. Or a woman. Or a member of a group who has had some dustup with his favorite children. Parenthetically, this is a little reminder about good parenting as well. One should always have favorites. It helps keep the others on their toes. But that is a story for another time.

New Angle on DARE program?

Let's call this one, I dare you to find life saving prescription drugs.

Erin Fox, is the manager of the Drug Information Service. Citing ongoing manufacturing problems at several U.S. plants, Fox said, “All of these companies have had quality issues, yet they make the majority of drugs used in our country.” The U.S. has logged record numbers of drug shortages in the past two years, fueled in part by sudden closures of drug plants because of problems with contamination, crumbling infrastructure and other issues. “Between the shortages and the quality issues, it is difficult to have any kind of confidence in our drug supply,” she said.

This is so acute in some areas that Physicians are unable to administer anti-cancer drugs. Also, first responders and emergency rooms are using drugs from expired lots. Luckily there is a safety margin built into these things, so they are probably safe enough. However, I'd guess that is rather cold comfort to the loved ones of those forced to rely upon such measures.

So, what is the lesson we have learned today, class?

1: America was once such an enviable place in so many ways. The only thing Americans need to do in order to maintain that vaulted status is to continue asserting, preferably with great vigor and patriotic background music, that all is well.
2: Continue to elect leaders with a scanty understanding of science and a vaguely anti-intellectual stance. If they are also willing to stand on ideology, all the better. No worries, there is no requirement to provide evidence bolstering ones position.

 Now, let's all stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, after which we will raise our fists in the air and, with index fingers extended, shout, "America, Number 1". I know we'll all feel better.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Life can be so Taxing

Though it can be nauseating and mind-numbing, I make an attempt to keep up with what the far-right is (and,here, I use the term loosely) thinking. In looking over some of the drivel that passes for Tea Party punditry, I came across the attached graphic. For the record, I know that I am preaching largely to the choir. This probably won't make its way to those who most need to hear and understand this thought. Nonetheless, let me make this very simple and clear. The sentiment expressed in the graphic is true. The tragic bit is, the hordes of lazy selfish people, imagined by the right wing, are not found in some ghetto. If one wished to put a face on the offending group, it is my assertion that the one-percent of people in this country who own most everything and control most everything are the people for whom you are looking.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shoot it. Shoot It.

I wanted to shoot it but he wanted to Shoot It!

This is another Nature Update, of sorts. For those who've been following on Facebook, you already know that we've had confirmed coyote sightings in our yard close to the forest line. (See recent posted photo.)
My first reaction to the sighting was amazement and wonder. I know these creatures always live here but it is relatively rare to see one because they are very stealthy and primarily nocturnal. So, of course, I shot it. Then I posted the photo for everyone to see.

The fellow next door, who does not usually pass more than a pleasant "howdy" with me, walked over to share his story regarding the coyote. Judging by that conversation, my liberal, hippie, nature-lover response is the less common of multiple options. What immediately occurs to my neighbors is to shoot them. Shoot them dead, that is. Relax animal lovers. To the best of my knowledge, no animals were hurt in the making of this story. Though, I can not guarantee how long that will hold true.

In any case, this large powerfully built young fellow, who I know to be a long-time hunter, had been startled by the coyote while walking in his yard. Clearly he was down wind of the animal and moving quietly in the grass and had gone briefly unnoticed by the coyote. This highly unlikely scenario had put the two in relatively close proximity. Rather than enjoying the wonder of the moment and realizing that he was sharing space with an amazing member of the animal kingdom who meant him no harm, he became fixated on destroying the creature. He'd come by to "warn" me that there were "coyotes in the woods". He advised me that I should be concerned for the safety of my dog. It was all I could do to refrain from laughing out loud at that suggestion. Perhaps if I owned a shih tzu, this would be a concern. The only rational statement he made was that it was unusual to see a coyote during daylight. I will concede that if you see a normally nocturnal animal in daylight and it acts strangely or seems unafraid of humans, there is a possibility it could be rabid (though this is quite rare with coyotes here). In this case, the coyote immediately ran to the shelter of the forest upon noticing the man.

What strikes me about the whole thing is that it all comes down to this fear response that seems to persist in some. And, look, I get it. When frightened I do not act as my best self. However, the customary flow (for me and many folks) is: the further I get in space and time from the negative stimulus, the more rational thought begins to supplant fight-or-flight. Though, clearly, my emotional flow chart is not a model that works for everyone.

All that said, jesushbloodychrist! Why is it that so many Pennsylvanians purchase homes in or adjacent to the forest and then act as though they are under siege by every creature who resides there? And, oh by the way, does anyone else suspect a correlation between that sort of relationship to nature and a more generalized militancy?