Thots and observations about our culture  2009-2011

I had gone out to eat with a group of nice people. Apparently, each of us had been trained to not take the last piece of food. Shown is our plate of cheese and fruit appetizers with one small bite of each item left on the plate. Jill then cut each of these pieces in half, so there would be no more 'last pieces'. So, we each could eat another bit of appetizer (we even took turns going around the table).

The US Senate, in 1797, voted unanimously in favor of a treaty with Tripoli that stated: The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. President John Adams signed the treaty.

According to The Week magazine, Febuary 27 issue, "The Vatican recently announced that men who go to hell - likely for sins of lust - will have their souls pelted with fire and brimstone, while women’s souls will be punished - probably for sins of pride - by being “broken on a wheel.”
• How can a spiritual entity (soul) be pelted by physical objects (brimstones)?
• When will the Catholic church grow up and end its primitive ritualistic beliefs?
• Why do seemingly sane adults still buy into ancient superstitions?

How to solve America's financial woes, lessen the national debt, save lives, increase sales of cookies and chips, and possibly lower everyone's taxes:
1. Tax the business of religion. More info
2. Tax the business of marijuana sales. More info
3. Tax the business of prostitution.
What are we waiting for? The country and many individuals and families are in serious financial trouble. There are easy ways to generate income. People smoke marijuana. Churches, synagogues, and mosques are tax-exempt. People are paying for consensual sex. Lets tax and control these multi-billion dollar businesses.

Michael Jackson Memorial at the Apollo Theater. The media trucks continued around the corner and up the next block. The line of people continued the other direction, also around the corner and up a couple of blocks. 125th Street was closed to all traffic but buses and emergency vehicles. The photo below on the right is from the newspaper.

1967: Joe Jackson drove his sons from Indiana to the Apollo Theater so they could perform during amateur night at the famous Apollo in Harlem. They had very little money. He wasn't even sure where they would spend the night. The youngest of the Jackson 5 was Michael, 9 years old. They performed and won. The Apollo wanted them to come back but the Jacksons couldn't afford it. Soon after, Diana Ross saw them perform and she introduced them to the rest of us. The Tuesday after Michael died on Thursday, the Apollo Theater held an open house memorial from 2pm - 8pm. It was part respectful memorial, part party and celebration, and part shopping mall. I went to participate in the event. Michael Jackson's music formed much of the background soundtrack for me in the 1980s. Larry Lewis, one of my high school students, treated me to a ticket to the Victory Tour concert at Texas Stadium in 1984. It was a phenomenal concert. MJ can wow a crowd. Even in death.
Some facts:
1. MJ was acquitted - found innocent - of all charges in one of the 2 child molestation charges.
2. The other case was settled out of court to avoid negative publicity.
3. The mother of 2 of his kids, his family, and friends have all emphatically stated that Michael is not a pedophile.
There is no evidence that he molested anyone. There is much precedent, however, that some adults will exploit celebrity millionaires to get money.
4. He did not 'dangle' his baby off that balcony. He had a firm grip around the child. Dangle is the term the media used to sensationalize the event and millions of gullible viewers bought it, without thinking that it was the wrong term. I wonder how the media would report it when dads toss their kids, "Father abandons child in air" or "Dad lets go of child in mid-air."
Michael Jackson had an unusual childhood, a domineering father, success as a star at the age of 9, etc. Of course, he's going to be eccentric. But what talent. An incredible entertainer. And a great humanitarian.

This is a foto of St. Mergerie, sitting reverently on my dashboard. She is the Patron Saint of Freeway On-ramps. I pray to her each time I am entering a freeway and about to merge into the traffic (while driving a car). She clears a path and provides great peace of mind for me. When I first saw this statuette at a dollar store in Dallas, I assumed it was entitled, 'Do these painted flowers make my face look fat?' I soon learned her true calling. I keep this delicately painted icon right on the dash, as a reminder to have faith in her power. Hail St. Mergerie.

Great idea: wireless pizza. There are machines that can digitize photos and documents. Now we need a machine, about the size of a toaster oven with a USB or FireWire connection, that can digitize a pizza. The digitized info can then be transmitted wirelessly to another machine where the pizza is translated back to analog from digital. These machines could even be installed in cars. I am now looking for investors to fund this new Wi-Fi-Pi venture. Please contact me ASAP so we can get started. Thanks.

Now, this is a beautiful Hummer with lots of accessories - about a $60,000 car. A woman saw me shooting these fotos with my phone and stopped to ask if I was admiring the car. I paused, not sure of how much I should tell her. I decided to tell the truth - that I was intrigued by the car and the LifeChurch decal on the back window - "I doubt Jesus would have bought a pimped-out Hummer." Her smiled drooped as she contemplated what I was saying about 'Christians' and priorities. She had no response to WWJD?
When Jesus returns to Earth, I hope he doesn't see this Hummer. He may get angry - just as he did when he saw the moneychangers in the Temple.
LifeChurch is a mega-church in Edmond, Oklahoma. $60,000 is well above the annual salary for the average American. Granted, most Christians are not very Christ-like, but this flaunting of one's religion and one's fancy vehicle seems too inappropriate. Christians can have 'nice things', but a Hummer is just blatant excess, well beyond a 'nice thing'. No one needs a Hummer (unless their psychiatrist has prescribed it to compensate for paranoid insecurities, low self-esteem, or a really small penis).

A stupid phrase: "give back"
A current buzzword among celebrities is "I want to give back."
What did they take? I am concerned because using this phrase is a symptom that one is not a thinker, but a follower. They use the phrase just because its a trendy buzzword right now that sounds impressive and altruistic. But, for those who give to their community and are thinkers, the phrase doesn't make sense.
A good person doesn't give 'back', one simply gives of him or herself. That's impressive enough.

Pervasive Catholic abuse
An independent commission in Belgium reported that children had been sexually abused in every Catholic parish in the country. Hundreds of boys and girls were raped or molested by hundreds of priests, with some children abused over many years. At least 13 committed suicide. “None of us was prepared for the severity of some of the accounts of abuse,” said a psychiatrist who headed the commission. From The Week magazine

Average military compensation
$70,168 in pay and $52,095 in benefits for a total compensation of $122,263 per person in 2009, up from $58,545 in 2000 (benefits include the value of housing, medical care, pensions, hazardous-duty incentives, enlistment bonuses and combat pay in war zones).  From USA TODAY
Percentage growth of compensation, 2000-2009:
       84 % Military
       37 % Federal workers
       19 % Private sector

One night recently, Jim had a chip on his shoulder

I hate it when this happens. Just spite and anger. But I flicked it off, dipped it in salsa and ate it - then, everything was okay.

Some thoughts on the illegal immigration issue
Why do Mexicans risk their health and lives to enter the USA illegally?
To give birth to an American child.
Federation for American Immigration Reform: automatic citizenship for children born in the US is one of the main magnets for illegal immigration. While many illegal immigrants are searching for jobs, many others come here to have a baby who is entitled to a wide array of government benefits and can eventually help the parents become citizens as well.
USA TODAY: The number of children in the USA born to illegal immigrants jumped to 4 million in 2009. Those are automatically granted US citizenship and represent 5.4% of all children under the age of 18 in the US. An estimated of 8% babies born in the US in 2008 came from illegal immigrant parents.
Solution: Change the law that allows any baby born in this country to be considered an American. Immediately.
To escape violence in Mexico due to the drug wars.
Solution: Legalize marijuana. Remove the black market. Step up enforcement in Mexico and US border towns. Work with Mexican police to minimize corruption.
To work and earn money.
We actually like and want illegal immigrants in the US. Their willingness to work for low wages keeps prices lower in these industries: restaurant and food service, construction, roofing, and landscape and yard work. Myth: "But, they don't pay taxes." They pay sales tax, gas tax, property tax (through their landlord), and others. The only tax not paid is the income tax (some wealthy Americans pay very little income tax).
Solution: Not sure - how can we balance keeping prices lower and still manage the influx of illegal residents. Work visas? New working class designation with lower wages than minimum wage but still pay income tax?
It does seem apparent that a huge wall along the border hasn't yet solved the problem. Remember how we cheered when the Berlin Wall came down and yet we are now building our own Wall.

My sentiments exactly

When i was Chair of the Department of Design, one of the tasks i enjoyed the least was having to write Strategic Plans (redundant words to begin with - a strategy and a plan are the same thing). We spent a disproportionate amount of time preparing reports for an administration that didn't know nor care what we really did. The university bureaucracy would have us write reports and fill out forms that had little-to-no value. Once, i had to call a meeting with the Design faculty and the admin to present the SSCI report - a huge paper that discusses our procedures for planning. The VP asked me to detail the ways in which i involved the faculty in the preparation of the report. I told him that i didn't involve the faculty at all - i saw nothing in the SSCI that would help faculty do a better job in the classroom and i wouldn't be so inconsiderate as to ask them to help with a useless report (no one in Admin read the entire thing or used it to improve teaching at the university). The poster above is from the Baltimore Print Studios of a quote from Herb Kelleher, the guiding force behind Southwest Airlines, a lean company that makes profits while other airlines lose money. Herb is a doer.

An 'Act of God' destroys the 'King of Kings' statue

In June 2010, near Cincinnati, Ohio, a bolt of lightning struck the Kings of Kings statue at the Solid Rock Church, setting it on fire. Believed to have been the largest sculpture of Jesus Christ in the USA, it showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the raised arms. There were lightning resistors and grounding rods in place around the statue, but they failed to divert the bolt from the Heavens.
“I can’t believe Jesus was struck,” said someone who noted the giant sign for the Hustler Hollywood adult store across the street was untouched. The Lord hasn’t struck down the adult store, yet. The statue will be rebuilt. “We are blessed. Now we get to build a brand-new one, all paid-for (because of insurance coverage). This time we are going to try for something fireproof." (to avoid another clear message from God.)  Complete updated essay

An idea whose time has come
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Members of Congress can retire with the same pay after only one term. They are exempt from many of the laws they have passed while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest example is that members of Congress have exempted themselves from the Healthcare Reform legislation. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. Here is a good way to stop this divisive self-serving:
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.

Sometimes, the old world ways still suffice

Saw this man looking for aluminum cans on Wall Street in front of Federal Hall and the NY Stock Exchange. He may be an immigrant from China. Compare him to the photo of the ancient Chinese farmer.

Just too many receipts - even when arranged neatly in symmetrical rows

What a waste of paper. The store/restaurant needs a copy and the consumer needs a copy. Shouldn't that be enough? Doesn't the technology allow the number of receipts to be reduced? The Apple store emails a receipt or asks if you want a printed one from the store at time of purchase. That reduces the number to zero or one. Much better.

Finally, proof that President Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim

Obama and Michele prayed not for peace or comfort, but for a recovery. 3 days later came this announcement:

If God won't answer a prayer from the Leader of the Free World, then Obama must be praying to the wrong God.

Billy Graham's March newspaper column
Since God created everything, then is he responsible for all the evil in the world?
Billy replied: No, God is pure and good. Evil is from some of the angels that God created who turned against him.
1. God flooded the earth, killing thousands of men, women, children, and aborted fetuses by a horrible death of suffocation in water. How can that be described as pure and good?
2. Has Billy read Isaiah 45:7: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."?
Or Amos 3:6: "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?"
Note: some Biblical scholars translate ‘evil’ as calamity or disaster. But even that doesn’t put God in a good light.
I posted the above on Facebook and there were 60 comments posted. Some were from 2 Christians. One said, "People of faith need no explanation. For people of no faith, no explanation is possible." Not a single person responded to that, possibly because its so shallow. People of faith don't need to think or reason, even when faced with absurdities. The other Christian just repeated what he had been taught, again, with no deep thought or rational thinking.

Billy Graham explains why God struck Haiti with that earthquake
From his column: For years, I've pondered the question of why tragedies such as this occur; honestly, I don't have a full answer.
We live in a broken world, where evil and suffering often seem to gain the upper hand. The Bible traces this back to the rebellion of the human race - along with that of Satan and his fallen angels - against the authority of God. As a result, 'The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.' (Romans 8:22).

So, it sounds like we can answer the question with one of these options:
• As preached by the Godly Pat Robertson: God caused the massive death and suffering because he was pissed off that the Haitians, years ago, made a 'pact with the devil'.
• Satan and his fallen angels are more powerful than God.
• God is vengeful and struck back at humans who, thousands of years ago, rebelled against his authority.
• The earthquake was simply the groaning of creation.
• Geologic forces were set in motion years ago by God and when the tension was released he simply chose not to intervene, allowing the murder of 200,000 of his children.
• We just aren't able to fully comprehend, without suspending rational thought, why a fairy tale superpower would murder hundreds of thousands of his children.
• The earthquake was caused by tectonic plates sliding by each other and releasing tension.

Oklahoma is the seventh-most religious state in the USA New England states and Alaska were among the least religious states, with New Hampshire and Vermont at 36% compared to Oklahoma's 69%. Oklahomans also ranked 7th in worship attendance, with 50% saying they attend religious services at least once a week, and 12th in frequency of prayer, with 66% saying they pray at least once a day. 80% of Oklahomans believe in God with absolute certainty, while nationwide, 71% say they are absolutely certain, and in several states, fewer than 60% say they are absolutely certain God exists.
This helps explain why Oklahoma ranks near the top in incarceration of women; household hunger; divorce; smoking; methamphetamine laboratories; youngest age to get married; teen births; and prevalence of obesity - and near the bottom in women’s progress economically, socially, and politically; teacher pay; and population covered by health insurance. More on Okie values.

gada goda wirk
We often say, I have to go to work or I gotta go to work. This attitude of 'have to' can be a bit demoralizing. Like its an awful ordeal. One's entire outlook can change with a simple change of attitude about work. Given the option of not working, going to work is usually preferable. We like the benefits that work provides - a sense of satisfaction, service, and productivity and, often, a sense of self-worth. We also love the benefit of a paycheck. We love the money to pay bills and buy stuff that we want. So, maybe the a healthier attitude would be I want to go to work.
American English intrigues me - it is still evolving and adapting to cultural needs. I read the phrase I got to go to work on Facebook and wondered if it could still be read if it was translated into phonetic and slang: gada goda wirk. The unscientific survey confirmed that it could.


Iraq: What was gained, what was lost
The Week, December 22, 2011
After nine bloody years of war, some 4,500 US troops dead, more than 33,000 wounded and maimed, and nearly $1 trillion spent, many Americans question whether our achievements in Iraq were worth the staggering cost. This war may turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes in US history. It was "launched under false pretenses" by the Bush administration, which exploited the nation's post-9/11 fears and manufactured evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Between 150,000 and 400,000 Iraqis were killed in the war and the bungled occupation and civil war that followed, and another 1.3 million were displaced from their homes. And what did their losses - and ours - produce? A destabilized Middle East, a newly emboldened and empowered Iran, and "widespread hatred of the U.S."
The US is also leaving behind a giant US Embassy and 16,000 contractors and State Department personnel.

Post on a Facebook Status Update
I am sitting in a wonderful little coffee shop that I frequent and that I know a lot of fellow Christian brothers and sisters hang out in and it disturbs me how many times I have heard "Happy Holidays". I am so sick of this politically correctness folks? What happened to tradition? I have many Jewish friends and I respect you and Happy Hanukkah. To my Christian friends stand up and be bold. We don't celebrate a holiday! We celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Merry Christmas!
My reply
In a situation where one knows the religious beliefs of the other, it is most appropriate to say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Eid, or whatever. However, you were in a public place where strangers are greeting each other. Because religious beliefs are so personal, one won't always know another's beliefs. Therefore, in those instances, it is more respectful and appropriate to wish them a Happy Holiday (Holy Day). And, you are celebrating a holiday. Jesus was not born on December 25 - that date is merely symbolic of his birth and is now regarded as a Holy Day. Happy Holidays has been a tradition for decades - we are sticking to tradition. Its just not your personal tradition. But, your personal spiritual beliefs should not dictate how others behave in a public coffee shop. Relax a bit, Erick, and enjoy this wonderful time of year. So what if others don't use the phrase you prefer? Will that harm your beliefs or how you celebrate Christmas? I hope not. Jesus taught us to love others and be patient with them - not to be sick and disturbed by them. Merry Christmas.

Clerics clash in Bethlehem brawl at Jesus' birthplace
From USA Today, December 28, 2011

Up to 100 Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic priests and monks swinging brooms clashed inside the Church of Nativity today in Bethlehem in a frenzied turf battle. The fighting broke out during cleaning of the church in preparation for Christmas celebrations, as each side jealously guarded its territory.
Palestinian police, using batons and shields, broke up the fighting inside the basilica. "It was a trivial problem that ... occurs every year," said the police Lieutenant. He tells the news agency that there were no arrests "because all those involved were men of God."

Favorite politically correct holiday greeting, from Glenn
To my friends,
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive and gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all; and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2012 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (but not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, gender, religious faith, choice of computer platform or sexual preference of the wisher.
[By accepting this greeting you are accepting the following terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable, but without alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for him-or-herself or other and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.]
Keep in touch

A thoughtful idea: sanitizer outside the restroom

So one can sanitize hands after leaving the restroom, touching the door knob, and closing the door.

Display of arrogant ignorance

These are two large Interstate Highway Crosses: one in Effingham, Illinois and one in Edmond, Oklahoma. As a devout Christian, I read and studied the Bible many times. I could never find any verses in which Jesus recommended that his followers spend money on large structures of the symbol of crucifixion. If you know of any Bible verse that confirms that Christians should build such ostentatious structures, please email me at the address below. Thanks.

Another in the series Graphs of the human condition

House Reaffirms 'In God We Trust' as US Motto

On November 2, 2011, the House passed a non-binding resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the national motto. The measure sponsored by a Republican Rep, supports and encourages the motto's display in all public schools and government buildings. The resolution was needed because President Obama had once called "E pluribus unum" the national motto, and the Latin phrase meaning "from many one" was engraved in the new Capitol Visitors Center until Congress ordered that it be corrected. A Democrat Rep called the resolution a meaningless distraction from the nation's real problems. "Nobody is threatening the national motto."
"In God We Trust" officially became the national motto in 1956 and began appearing on paper currency the following year. So, we have publicly stated (defying what Jesus preached about not making a public show of faith) that the US puts its trust in God. Since we began this in 1956, we have lost hundreds of thousands of Americans to horrible deaths in war, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, traffic accidents,and terrorist attacks. The bankrupt US economy has hurt many people.
Observation: It clearly seems that trusting God hasn't been a good move for America.
Suggestion: The US should consider trusting a different God - this one is not working out too well.

Quick, name the country

Its not Nazi Germany, nor some mideast battleground.

The Occupy movement, October, 2011, the United States of America. Maybe, the Revolution has begun.

Easter morning

The emotions of 9/11 in photographs

Robert Peraza, 68, had been selected as a reader at the 10th anniversary ceremony, but before the 9/11 Memorial opened to family members, Peraza took a moment to walk near the North Pool around 9:45a. It was there that he found his son's name: Robert David Peraza, who had been working on the 104th floor of the North Tower, just above the gaping hole left in the building by the impact of American Airlines flight 11.
Justin Lane, a press pool photographer, took Peraza's picture and it soon appeared around the world, showing up on the cover of the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post.

Naming hurricanes
David emailed me with a great idea: a hurricane name that provides more information. Naming devastating storms after people does provide a reference, but there are 2 problems:
1. The name does not provide any information about the storm - like when it is, what ocean, etc.
2. It associates a negative connotation to a name. I suspect that, a few years ago, not many baby girls were named Katrina.
We don't name terrorist attacks after people - we use 9/11 for September 11, 2001 and the English use 7/7 for the terrorist subway bombings. In Oklahoma, we still refer to the May 3 tornadoes - we refer to them by their date, not someone's name.
David's suggestion is to use a letter prefix to denote the number of the storm in a year, followed by the year. So the 3rd storm of 2009 would be named C-09.

I wonder if we can go a step further and add a code for the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Maybe just A, P, or I? And even add the month to the year. The date may not work since a hurricane can last several days and strike different locations on different days.

Example: P3-8-11 would be the 3rd storm in the Pacific, occurring in August of 2011.
Downside: tough for the weather reader to say on air - maybe a storm has both - an on-air name (Irene) and a letter/number denoter (A2-8-11). In print, the storm could be denoted by both for clarification.
This doesn't address the issue of potentially tainting names with a negative association. They could assign obscure names such as these that have previously been assigned: Hazel, Beulah, Caesar, Hortense, and Ophelia.
But, improving the system for naming hurricanes is certainly an idea worth considering. Thanks, David.

Background, from the FEMA website
For hundreds of years, hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint's day on which the hurricane occurred. An Australian meteorologist began giving women's names to tropical storms before the end of the 19th century. In 1953, the US National Weather Service, which is the federal agency that tracks hurricanes and issues warnings and watches, began using female names for storms. In 1979, both women and men's names were used. One name for each letter of the alphabet is selected, except for Q, U and Z. For Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, the names may be French, Spanish or English, since these are the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean where the storms occur. The World Meteorological Organization uses six lists in rotation. The same lists are reused every six years. The only time a new name is added is if a hurricane is very deadly or costly; then the name is retired and a new name is chosen.

Satan must work for God.

Here's the system: When people die, God passes judgement and decides where their souls should spend eternity. If its Hell, then He must ask His fallen angel, Satan, to help him out. "Satan, old buddy, would you do me a favor and torture these sinners for all eternity? Make them suffer? Thanks, I owe you one."
So the two work in tandem, God sends them, Satan punishes them.
But, wait, doesn't Satan defy God and try to usurp His power? Why would Satan cooperate with his sworn enemy? Seems it would be more likely that when God asks for Satan's help to punish the sinners, Satan simply says, "No!" Or he says Yes, and then, just to spite God, allows the sinners to relax in a La-Z-Boy recliner watching TV (but no 'reality' shows), with the remote, an air conditioner, nachos, and a cooler of cold beer.

Studies have long shown that the more intelligent one is, the less likely one is to be religious (religion defies logic, reasoning, and rationale thought). This chart is similar - addressing proficiency in writing to a variety of religions. This study is a double whammy, however. In addition to showing that religious folks have lower proficiency, it follows that the USA, predominantly Protestant and Catholic, has a low level of writing proficiency.

Isn't this what 'pray for rain' really means:
    Dear Lord, I know that you have created this drought according to your glorious plan.
    But, I don't like it and I ask that you change your perfect plan to suit me and my desires.
    I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, Amen.

A few more musings on religion from Facebook status updates
I'll worship God as soon as I find one that is up to my moral standards. If I were God, I would have stopped those planes on 9/11, not have sent that tsunami to Japan, nor tornados to Joplin and Oklahoma; I would erase cancer for all children, feed the hungry, and stop suffering. Wouldn't you act similarly? Why worship a God that's not as nice or as moral as you are?
In 2009 16 Hindu diners went to a New Jersey restaurant, Moghul Express, and ordered vegetable samosas. But, people in the group realized they had actually eaten a meat-filled version of the pastry. Now, the group wants the restaurant's owner to pick up the tab for a trip to India's Ganges River, where they say they must cleanse themselves in order to save their souls after eating the meat.
Let me see - these people believe they must fly to India to wash in a specific river or their God will send them to Hell for accidentally eating some meat. And these people choose to worship such a God.
God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller as time goes on. - Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Religion is an old relic that is no longer needed in today's society. Mankind is capable of so much more but it is being held back by 2000+ year old superstitions. It's time for us to embrace our future by moving away from religion.
Christians believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and they say that atheists are the ones that need help? - Dan Barker
If the faithful could stand outside of their delusion for a minute they would likely be shocked at how ridiculous their claims are.
Why do so many black people embrace Christianity when it has such a history of oppression and servitude?

Religious relic of St. Anthony stolen from church
A 780-year-old religious relic was stolen from St. Anthony Catholic Church in Long Beach CA, in June of 2011. The relic was of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost causes and missing objects.
"It belongs to the entire Catholic church. He's the patron saint of lost causes, so he'll come home. I'm hoping we've got some higher sources who've got our backs here and we can get it back. People here are pretty upset but they're praying to St. Anthony for the return of his own object." Associated Press June 2011
Makes me wonder just how effective these Saints are and why people in 2011 still pray to them.

That's God holding her up.

LaRhonda of Oklahoma City weighed 433 pounds. Her health was in jeopardy. Chris, from Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, worked daily with her for months. She wasn't able to control her eating on her own, but with the constant help, guidance, and sacrifice of her trainer Chris, she lost 202 pounds! LaRhonda was later interviewed on ABC:
"I give all the credit to God."  
How rude, inconsiderate, ignorant, insensitive, and mean. Shouldn't some of the credit go to Chris and some to herself?
(And where was God while she was overeating and getting dangerously obese.)   July 2011

Lets try this one more time.
Texas Governor Rick Perry initiated an event, called The Response, and has invited the nation's 49 other governors to endorse it and attend. The day-long Christian rally is scheduled to take place at Houston's Reliant Stadium. Attendees are asked to fast and bring Bibles. On The Response's website, Perry writes, "Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy."
Some questions:
• Haven't we asked Jesus to guide us through struggles (1929 stock market crash, 3 years of the Dust Bowl drought, Iraq War, 9/11) before? Since he didn't do it then, why would he now?
• If we are a 'Christian nation' founded by Christians, why would America even have to struggle?
• Shouldn't we thank the Founders and the soldiers for our freedoms? Is Perry giving them the shaft? Are we, instead, to thank this fairy tale character?   July 2011

This is so sad on two levels.

Texas Rangers baseball game, July 9, 2011. An Oakland player hit a foul ball that ricocheted into left field. Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton picked up the ball and tossed it toward fans in the bleachers behind a scoreboard. The toss was a bit short. A man in the front row with his 6-year-old son reached for the ball, leaned a little bit too much over the railing and fell headfirst behind the left-field wall - as the entire crowd gasped. The man, Shannon Stone had taken his son, Cooper, a huge Josh Hamilton fan, to the ball game. They even stopped on the way to the stadium to buy Cooper a new glove so they could catch a foul ball.
Hamilton's Christian faith is a big deal in his life. Soon after the tragedy, Josh Hamilton said: "I can't imagine what they're going through right now. All I can think about is praying for them and knowing that God has a plan. You don't always know what that plan is when those things happen, but you will."
Can you imagine what a horrible thing that is to say - this child saw his father fall, screamed, rode in the ambulance, and probly watched his father die. Hamilton who threw a lob that was a bit too short, suggests that God had planned this horrible death. And that Cooper might not understand it, but he will someday.   July 2011

Wow - lots of ignorance about the Caylee/Casey Anthony trial.

Simple: the prosecution did not present a convincing case. Therefore, the jury had 'reasonable doubt'. Casey may be guilty, but we just don't know. However, millions of Americans say they know. They insist that Casey is guilty of murder (she may be) and that the jury should have convicted her (no, they couldn't - see Simple above). Many people confuse what they know with what they believe.   June 2011

Assessment of the names of network morning shows
The Early Show
Early is not typically associated with something positive: early to a party, early to work, early in the morning. "Dang, Its awfully early." "Why are you up so early? And why are you dressed like that?"
The Today Show
A bit better, at least its neutral. One can't deny the fact that it is today.
Good Morning America
This is the strongest - positive, cordial, and patriotic.
Appropriately, the program with the negative name is in third place in the ratings.

Why I stop at stop signs
I don't stop at a stop sign just because there is some red and white paint on a piece of metal. It doesn't even matter that its in the shape of an octagon. I choose to stop there:
1. To avoid the hassle of being pulled over and paying for a ticket.
2. To avoid hurting people.
3. To minimize damage to the car and paying for car repair
4. It's easier than closely checking for cops and other cars.
This list was prompted by seeing several people get stuck at stop signs in our naberhood during the blizzards. If they hadn't stopped (there was no other traffic), they could have glided right on. I suspect these were Foxies, people who are trained to obey and not think for themselves: "Its a stop sign - I have to stop."
March 6 2011

Irrational Catholic abuse
An independent commission in Belgium reported that children had been sexually abused in every Catholic parish in the country. Hundreds of boys and girls were raped or molested by hundreds of priests, with some children abused over many years. At least 13 committed suicide. “None of us was prepared for the severity of some of the accounts of abuse,” said a psychiatrist who headed the commission. From The Week magazine, November 30 2010

More spelling words
Spelling Wensday, probly, and Febuary more intelligently sure makes sense. But how about the word restaurant? Few of us say rest • au • rant. We often say restraunt, but I'm not yet sure how this should be spelled. Restrant? But that looks too much like restraint (which we often do not have in restraunts). Restrawnt? Too clumsy. Restraunt seems to be the most logical and clearly communicated.
This is different from rest runt, which is a command to the smallest dog in the litter. June 16 2010

Religion May Be Heading for Extinction in Parts of World
From A study, conducted by the American Physical Society, finds that religion may become extinct in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Researchers from the University of Arizona and Northwestern University took data stretching back 100 years for those countries.
"In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40 percent, and the highest number, 60 percent, was in the Czech Republic. The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction."

The study also found that "Americans without affiliation comprise the only religious group that is growing in all 50 states."
"In 2008 those claiming no religion rose to 15 percent nationwide, with a maximum in Vermont at 34 percent," the study says.

The First Presbyterian Church of Perry, Oklahoma, burned to the ground and was a total loss.

Why do leaders of burned churches seek to rebuild instead of heeding God's wrath and warnings?  More on God burning churches

Massachusetts Mom Accused of Killing Daughter in Exorcism
By Jessica Hopper, ABC News
Dora, 26, is accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter by stuffing roses down her throat in an exorcism to remove the demons inside the girl, according to court documents. Dora's brother told police that when he arrived at the home, his sister told him that "they need to pray and that their sister, Maria Elena, was also in the room." Maria Elena had died several years ago. Dora previously told her brother that she'd been "given a gift by God that allowed her to see people that had passed away." Dora stuck a rose down Nicole's throat because God had told her to, but then "she realized the rose was actually her fist and that 'the devil' bit her hand through Nicole."
While being interviewed by police, Dora began "singing and praying." She said that she had recently returned from a religious retreat. Police observed her holding her hands out to make a cross symbol.

Pity the poor atheist who is grateful and has no one to thank!
Atheists simply thank those responsible rather than a fairy tale character from a book. Unlike the coach who thanks God for a victory, rather than the players for their hard work; or the family of the healed child who thanks God rather than the doctors, the equipment, facilities, and nurses; or those who thanked God rather than the pilot, Sully, who skillfully landed the plane in the Hudson River. Isn't it more Christ-like to not pity our neighbors but to express appreciation to the people in our lives who are responsible for the kindness shown?
I am often quite grateful. For example, for my health. But I know exactly who to thank: my parents for providing nutrition, doctors for assessment and advice, teachers for information and motivation, friends for support, and myself for dedication and effort.

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