New Commandments

Behold, atheists’ new Ten Commandments
http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/19/living/atheist-10-commandments/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

Printed here for your enjoyment:

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.

2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.

3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.

4. Every person has the right to control of their body.

5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.

6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.

7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.

8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.

9. There is no one right way to live.

10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

I am more of a polytheist than anything else (if you are curious, you can get more here) where I believe all gods have validity. However, I believe that gods were created by humans in the image of humans, which is why all gods tend to be fucked up. I think that if you need to justify doing something you should simply take responsibility for your thoughts/actions, not blame/attribute them to others (be they gods or humans). It wasn’t the voices in your head, it was your head making the decisions. Humans (much as my last post talked about) seem to love to not be personally responsible for anything. I think that is why religion is so popular, it allows one to absolve oneself of responsibility for one’s life/actions. Anyway, I kind of like these ‘commandments’ and thought I would pass them along to my reader(s).

Anti-sex

Conservatives’ HPV vaccine dilemma: are they anti-cancer, or just anti-sex?
Proof that vaccinating girls against the HPV virus does not cause promiscuity puts culture warriors in a spot
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/16/conservatives-hpv-vaccine-dilemma

I find this bit so amusing I am including it verbatim:

According to a recent study, giving children tetanus shots will not, in fact, encourage them to stab themselves with rusty nails or be less cautious when playing outdoors. Various political organizations have advocated against the tetanus vaccine, arguing that tetanus shots send the message that recreation is acceptable, and that if children know they’re protected from lockjaw, they will be less vigilant about avoiding the kinds of cuts and scrapes that can lead to deadly nervous system infections. Attempts to require tetanus vaccination have met extreme backlash from conservative groups who argue that mandating the vaccine is an assault on parental rights and family values.

Even bills that simply would have made the vaccine free for low-income children without mandating it were vetoed by Republican governors. Doctors hope that these study results, which show that tetanus-vaccinated children are no more likely to engage in unsafe recreational behavior than their unvaccinated peers, will increase the tetanus shot rate for children of parents who fear that tetanus shots encourage risk-taking.

At this point, you’re thinking, I hope:

“What in the world is this lady talking about? Everyone gives their kids tetanus shots! You’d be irresponsible not to inoculate your child against tetanus, and you’re nuts if you think that giving a kid a tetanus shot will make him be less careful about slicing his skin with filthy rusted metal. And there’s absolutely no political controversy around tetanus shots.”

You would be right. If only the same were true of the HPV vaccine.

I think the whole article is interesting reading, but felt that the part above would be most interesting to my reader(s), not that I expect many of my reader(s) to be in the class of people who would promote against vaccination.

This is just more of the anti-science attitude that is now pervasive in our society.

The pill, the automobile and the Internet

What killed social conservatism?
Technological progress has made it impossible for conservatives to obscure the truth about Americans’ sex lives
http://www.salon.com/2012/05/22/what_killed_social_conservatism/

Really interesting article that (to me) seems to provide a deep insight to the right-wing way of thought. I found the idea of the conservatives making their own enclaves quite amusing, so did the author…

…the best hope for social conservatives is to retreat to minority enclaves like those of the Amish. On self-created reservations they can raise their children as they see fit, segregated from mainstream culture and visited, perhaps, by morally liberal tourists nostalgic for an older, simpler way of life. And if their fertility is higher than that of the morally liberal majority, they can hope to take over America by strength of numbers — in 500 or a thousand years.

Of course, this sort of thing is already happening (and has been happening off and on for at least centuries, probably millennia, yet the end of the world stubbornly refuses to come). Groups that are convinced that society has become so morally corrupt that it will implode have fission-ed themselves off into ‘cults’ and whatnot (remember the Branch Davidians?). They form their enclaves and fester in their own juices for a while, then generally are involved in some sort of legal trouble (like Warren Jeffs) and fade away, only to be replaced a few years later. Groups like the Amish, I believe, maintain long-term stability because they are not a) driven by individuals (e.g., David Koresh, Warren Jeffs) and b) allow youth to go out and experience the outside world, then welcome them back if they decided that they prefer the (Amish, in this case) cloistered life.

Repeat the lie often enough and it become Truth!

Behind the Right’s Phony War on the Nonexistent Religion of Secularism
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/behind-the-rights-phony-war-on-the-nonexistent-religion-of-secularism-20120425

This quote kind of says it all:

“Mothers have long observed that after the first child starts school, the rest of the family starts catching more colds and flus. But other forms of disease are not so evident. What about the personality traits that start developing? What about the dissatisfaction with family rules and routines?… Why do children suddenly begin to complain about responsibilities toward little brothers or sisters? Why do they resent doing unaccustomed chores? Why does off-color language or unfamiliar slang suddenly crop up in a child’s conversations?”

Clearly the solution is to never let your children ever experience anything outside the home, that way they will never have a novel thought in their heads and will, generation after generation, get dumber and dumber, just, I am quite sure, God had intended (that is sarcasm for you too dense to realize).

I guess the goal is, by labeling non-religion as a religion, they (the nebulous ‘they’ of the right wing GOP extremest nuts who believe this shit as managed by the unscrupulous uber-rich oligarchy that knows how easy these morons are to lead) can now make the separation of church and state itself a religious war. We all know how well religious wars turn out and the evils done in its name, but hey, if our god is on our side then all the appalling injustice we met out is all OK, right?

The oligarchy clearly knows that the more fragmented any opposition is, the more each fragment thinks that any other fragment is immoral, the lower the chance that any of them will come together and agree on anything, let alone challenge the oligarchy. So easy to see for me, yet, apparently, so difficult for the sheeple to see.

Liberals, of course, can be just as easily lead and believe just as many lies as conservatives do (moderates, also, are prone to believe whatever lies are repeated, but since we aren’t represented in our laughable excuse for a democratic government, it matters not the least). We all be sheeple at some point, some are just sheeple more often than others. It is ironic that today, with so many information sources so easily accessed, that people seem even less interested in doing research. It won’t shock me at all to see Romney successful in his efforts to reinvent himself (al la etch-a-sketch) because despite there being YouTube video of him staking out his extreme right-wing positions, the average voter will simply ignore all that as the lies are repeated over and over and over again.

This is why my favorite curse word remains ‘human’.

Analytical thinking incompatible with religion?

Thinking can undermine religious faith, study finds
Those who think more analytically are less inclined to be religious believers than are those who tend to follow a gut instinct, researchers conclude.
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-religion-analytical-thinking-20120427,0,5374010.story

Something sure to rile up the religious right, I am sure, since there are already reports circulating that conservatives tend to do less analysis than their liberal counterparts. I haven’t delved into the primary literature on either report, largely because social science seems a wee bit of an oxymoron to me (yes, I have heavy ‘hard science’ biases), and as is often the case in the science I am more familiar with, these studies could either be seriously flawed or, due to reporter’s bias, might actually even be concluding the opposite (as is often clear to me from my reading on science research reporting).

The article is quite interesting, though, as it could easily be modified to discuss the fairly simple ways to encourage people to change from hunch-driven decision making to analytical-driven decision making and leave the whole bit about religion aside. I often find myself working to validate my hunch (or gut) driven decisions with analysis (and often get quite frustrated when my hunches fail to measure up) and it could be interesting to try to trigger analytical thought patterns with some of the ‘tricks’ mentioned in the article. I generally find it difficult to think analytically (in my college standardized tests that is always where my lowest scores were, sometimes as low as the median (and a source of frustration to more than one professor I did research for)) and tend to make decisions based on inspiration (which is not to say that I don’t perspire a lot, just the opposite, I tend to perspire more because I often don’t find analysis easy). It would seem from the article that I would be the type of personality that would lend itself toward strong religious thought patterns, but I don’t feel that. Now, if you strip out the religious angle, I am a pretty damn good fit for what the article describes, though I bet there would be vastly fewer readers of the research if they left that angle out.

A MUST READ

Hopefully my reader(s) here all have the capacity to read this and feel shame being a US citizen. I strongly doubt that the vast majority of the sheeple in our stagnant, corrupt third-world country even have the capacity to read the document to the end, let alone see the horrifying truth. Perhaps by my having it linked here it will pop up on Google’s news list and perhaps a few more handfuls of people will read it. It is a small thing for me to do compared to the massive thing he has had to suffer, but at this point it is all I can think of…

The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case
http://www.salon.com/2012/04/13/the_real_criminals_in_the_tarek_mehanna_case/singleton/

Follow the Sacredness

Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness
http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/forget-the-money-follow-the-sacredness/

An interesting bit of a theme working out here, purely by accident…

OK, read the following and pick if you are Type A or Type 1…

Type A:

“Once upon a time, the vast majority” of people suffered in societies that were “unjust, unhealthy, repressive and oppressive.” These societies were “reprehensible because of their deep-rooted inequality, exploitation and irrational traditionalism — all of which made life very unfair, unpleasant and short. But the noble human aspiration for autonomy, equality and prosperity struggled mightily against the forces of misery and oppression and eventually succeeded in establishing modern, liberal, democratic, capitalist, welfare societies.” Despite our progress, “there is much work to be done to dismantle the powerful vestiges of inequality, exploitation and repression.” This struggle… “is the one mission truly worth dedicating one’s life to achieving.”

Type 1:

“Once upon a time, America was a shining beacon. Then liberals came along and erected an enormous federal bureaucracy that handcuffed the invisible hand of the free market. They subverted our traditional American values and opposed God and faith at every step of the way.” For example, “instead of requiring that people work for a living, they siphoned money from hard-working Americans and gave it to Cadillac-driving drug addicts and welfare queens.” Instead of the “traditional American values of family, fidelity and personal responsibility, they preached promiscuity, premarital sex and the gay lifestyle” and instead of “projecting strength to those who would do evil around the world, they cut military budgets, disrespected our soldiers in uniform and burned our flag.” In response, “Americans decided to take their country back from those who sought to undermine it.”

Not an accident that I chose to label them type ‘A’ and type ‘1’, I was trying not to show any preference for one or another. According to the article, if you picked A then you are a liberal democrat. Picking 1 means you are a conservative republican. Notice, though, that both are justifying actions that are tantamount to war, demonize their ‘opponents’ and thus make it easy to accept that the ends justify the means.

The whole article is very interesting, I hope that the tidbits I have here will encourage you to read the rest…

Outsourcing McCarthyism

Outsourcing conservatism
Arizona’s new contraception law shows how the private sphere often leads the way for reactionary policies
http://www.salon.com/2012/03/15/outsourcing_conservatism/singleton/

What can’t be accomplished from within the government gets done anyway. Using the Constitution to shield un-Constitutional activities, picking and choosing laws, using religious exemptions when it suits them and insisting the US is Christian when it doesn’t. Very nasty behavior of these people. The win-at-all-costs and the Bush-era “you are with us or you are against us” attitude forcing polarization amongst those who likely wouldn’t normally give a damn.

If nothing else, this round of high visibility politics has revealed the ‘conservative’ movement for what it is: a return to the 50’s era where women were expected to be barefoot, pregnant and keeping the house and everything else was “man’s” work and minorities (i.e., those not born white and into wealth) stick to their cotton picking plantations. The whole religious objection to contraception has revealed their true objection to abortion and it has nothing to do with saving lives and everything to do with imposing authority’s control over women. Normally I would predict that this attitude would ensure a landslide loss of the GOP this year but women are sheeple too and it is clear that women are just as eager to believe pleasant lies as men are. Of course, when the other choice is a Constitutional shredding ‘centrist’ (it was just a few years ago everything Obama ‘champions’ today was mainstream GOP) with no desire at all to implement even the slightest speedbumps in the destruction of our economy by the oligarchy it really does boil down to the non-choice choice of death by hanging or death by firing squad.

I really hate to have to say this, but: Go Paul!

My own little bit of promotion

Birth Control Matters
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nita-chaudhary/kathleen-sebelius-plan-b_b_1241653.html

This is a big deal, but the topic has been hijacked by people who have no stake in the matter and want to revert us to a reproductive stone age. I recently read an article in the National Geographic (this looks like the article, but I didn’t do more than skim the first couple of paragraphs) about how Brazil’s birth rate had crashed to the point that in just one generation they now have legitimate reasons to be worried about keeping the population from _decreasing_. This was attributed to women gaining control over their family planning and the vast majority of them deciding that 1 or perhaps 2 would be fine. They are also putting off having children until much later (late 20’s instead of mid to late teens) which has the additional effect of those children being brought into a more stable financial environment. All this in a strongly Catholic country that frowns on abortion. So why is it so impossible here to promote birth control? Why is it that we are finding situations like those mentioned in the article above? I think too many people are allowing too few to speak for them and since our media reports only those who yell the loudest, the sheeple get a skewed idea of society’s wants.

Of course, I guess I could be totally wrong, perhaps the vocal minority does indeed represent the sheeple.

Up to now I had ignored Romney’s Mormonism

Mitt and the White Horse Prophecy
A close look at the roots of Romney’s — and the Mormon church’s — political ambitions
http://www.salon.com/2012/01/29/mitt_and_the_white_horse_prophecy/singleton/

I have more or less ignored Mormonism since I learned the basics of their religious belief (to wit, that an angel ‘Moroni’ guided Smith to de-compress the golden plates into the unbelievably verbose result) and didn’t give a damn that Romney was/is a Mormon. That was, until I read the above article. Presuming it is based on fact (I didn’t do any research, but in my experience Salon’s writers tend to be on the up-and-up) it is quite clear that Romney has been groomed since birth to become the Mormon Presidential candidate (which, I guess, helps explain Huntsman dropping out (of course, his crappy poll numbers could explain that as well)). It seems he is considered the embodiment of their “White Horse Prophecy” that they produced when their original man, Smith, was assassinated during his attempt at the White House. Still, does that even matter? Well, I would say that if he made no bones about the prophecy and talked openly about it (which, I am sure, would have torpedoed his run before it started), then no. However, he (as quoted in the article) has specifically denied any association with the prophecy, including being considered as its embodiment. Since it is totally clear to me that Romney will say whatever it takes to get elected (which, of course, just makes him the same old politician that there ever was; why is it so bad to have principles in US politics?) I am now left questioning is he doing that because he is a soulless politician who will lie, cheat and steal, sell us to special interests and chortle all the way to becoming a billionaire president (in other words, just an ordinary politician) or is he part of a conspiracy within the Mormon church to get him installed in our highest office so they can de-secularize our government and put Mormonism as the official religion (which, if I read what the article’s author said correctly, was what Smith was up to so many years ago).

Maybe I won’t sit idly by during the election as until(if) Romney provides answers that make me feel reassured (which I am having problems envisioning what those could be), I don’t think I would want to see this particular Mormon as our President.