Monthly Archives: January 2009

United States Becoming More Secular

A just-published study by the American Religious Identification Survey found that14.1% of Americans or 29,481,000 people identify as atheist, humanist, agnostic or non-religious (see pages 12-13, SO sorry about the PDF).

Additionally, nearly 40% of those who identified as Christian stated that neither they themselves nor members of their families belonged to or attended a church or religious institution. The difference between “identification as” and “affiliation with” [a religious institution] is very pronounced: people call themselves Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim… but don’t attend Church/Temple/Mosque. The association is more a state of mind than actual state of being.

Can we now, then dispense with the meme that “we are a Christian nation”? That in fact, we are a nation of people, many of whom identify when asked as Christian, but have no actual ties to any Christian church?

I take this as a particularly encouraging sign. What was previously seen as an impenetrable wall now seems no more than smoke and mirrors. Church membership is declining. Atheism and humanism is markedly on the rise. Reason is making headway in public schools and government. It does lead me to wonder, however, just how accurate a certain survey was. You know the one. It shows atheists as being the least trusted group in the U.S. With close to one fifth of the U.S. atheist/agnostic or non-religious….just how accurate is that statement?

It’s Official. Rod Blagojevich Is Delusional.

Are you watching? Are you? It’s like watching a trainwreck. I can’t look away. He waits til the very last second of his impeachment trial and then actually expects to give a speech about getting a cup of coffee for the prior governor and what a great guy he is and how they HAVE to let him bring in witnesses…and expects it to WORK?

The man thinks he’s in a movie.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, from the sound of it. “I’m here to appeal to your sense of responsibility.” Um, Governor? Their sense of responsibility is WHY you are being impeached. “How can you ask a Governor to resign just for trying to help senior citizens?” Do you really believe that’s why you’re here? “I did that in my FIRST term! If it was impeachable, how come you didn’t impeach me then?” Yes, but you see, governor, it isn’t like a mulligan in a golf game. This isn’t a do-over, and your prior mess ups don’t get erased.

I’m transfixed. Truly, the amount of bullshit being slung is impressive. He isn’t even really addressing the charges of abuses of power. In fact, he’s refusing to move on from the  second article of impeachment, the charge regarding obtaining prescription drugs from Canada. He’s dropped every big political name in the Democratic party from Ted Kennedy to Bill Richardson to Rahm Emannuel. Not that it’s working. Many of the state legislators (when the camera cuts to them) actually look embarrassed on his behalf. I have to keep closing my mouth; it drops open on its own.

If he’s going to go article by article, it’s going to be a very long day. I’m not going to do the Blago impeachment drinking game. Alcohol poisoning kills.

Sarah Palin is the New Paris Hilton.

I wish I was joking. The very last thing our country needs right now is another famous for being famous cult of personality that’s as vapid and clueless as Sarah Hilt..er, Palin, but the fact of the matter is the woman simply. Will not. Go. Away.

When I woke up on Wednesday, November 5th, I rather foolishly comforted myself with the naive thought that it was all over and Caribou Barbie would sink back into the obscurity from whence she came. Okay, there’s no need to look at me like that, I see I was being stupid. Clearly, national attention is like heroin to the woman; why else would she have started her own PAC less than a week after Obama took office? Or announce that she’ll be having dinner with the President? Or, FSM save us all, write a book? The last one is so deliciously ironic the jokes just write themselves. “I thought she only read magazines and newspapers.” “A book? Will it have a soft cover and cardboard pages?” My biggest concern is that no matter who they get to ghost it, it’s going to be so obviously doctored, there’s simply no WAY anyone will fall for the fiction that it’s in her own words. How can it be? I mean, you could probably get a FEW pages out of soundbites, but eventually you have to develop plot and characters, no? And the syllables! The poor tortured syllables! It ain’t right to do that to unsuspecting words.

I was SO angry when John McCain compared Obama to Paris Hilton. I thought unleashing that human STD back on an unsuspecting populace was one of the worst things he could do during his campaign. Ohhh, but that was before Sarah Palin. Infecting us with Paris as opposed to infecting us with Sarah? Sadly, there is no Vancomycin for television.

Dick Armey Is A Sexist Ass

This evening on Chris Matthews’ show Hard Ball, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey sunk to online ad hominem tactics by telling salon.com’s Editor in Chief Joan Walsh:

“Oh, Joan, give it a rest…”


At 5 min. 45 sec. into this video, and

“I’m so glad you could never be my wife, because I surely wouldn’t have to listen to that prattle coming out of your mouth every day. (laughs) You’re talking like a political hack, here…”

at 9min. 45sec.

Mr. Armey, I am truly relieved you are no longer a representative of my state or a member of the United States government. Your performance tonight was absolutely shameful. Your sexist remarks aside (and that’s a BIG aside), your attitude was hardly one of a professional politician willing to discuss policy, but more one of a threatened frat boy who could only respond with a “so’s your mother” joke because he simply couldn’t find an intelligent answer to your opponent’s charges.

It is this blogger’s considered opinion that Dick Armey should be uninvited from Hard Ball and other political round table discussions until such time as he is able to interact with others with the same amount of gravitas and respect due our current political situation as any other elected official. Mr. Armey was dismissive of relevant issues, waved away serious intelligent questions, and generally acted like a pompous self important ass whose word was above reproach and didn’t require actual facts.

Mr. Armey, you owe Joan Walsh an immediate, public apology. Your behavior was reprehensible, and you insulted 51% of the voting public by insinuating that any woman’s opinion that differs with yours is, by gender definition, inferior. You, sir, are a gas bag unworthy of the camera time you garnered.

I Wonder If Dorothy Parker Ever Felt This Way…

Well, likely not. It’s one in the afternoon, I’m awake and sober. All due respect to Mrs. Parker, I don’t believe the woman believed in mornings. Or sobriety. But I do wonder if she ever felt frustrated, restless, scared and breathless all at the same time…waiting for something to happen, worrying that it will…

There is a rhythm and flow to writing; a natural progression in which all the words just spew themselves from fingers to keyboard, bypassing the brain. Which explains why the ramblings are so damn disconnected. But the flow’s been interrupted the past week or so. Lately it feels like work, which is most distressing. Maybe if I drink alot and sleep in. I’m already acerbic and bad tempered. I could start insulting politicians. Oh, wait. I already do that.

I think what is really needed is a reset. Something unpleasant and soul destroying that will make me appreciate what I have and embrace life more fully. Maybe I’ll attend a Republican Ladies’ lunch. They’re lobbying to get ex-President Bush to speak at one of their fundraisers here in Dallas. My god, I think I’ve sufficiently horrified myself just with the thought. I’ll find inspiration. Just please do not make me spend time with those soulless stepford women.

Okay. Up and out of bed, laptop off. I will be back later, hopefully with something interesting to say.

It’s 19° F Outside. Don’t WANNA Go to Work.

I am fully prepared to admit that, being born and raised in Central California, I am somewhat spoiled when it comes to road conditions and weather. It rarely gets below freezing in the SF Bay area, and snow is something on the hills that you look at and say “ooo, how pretty.” This is my first winter in Dallas.

So. That said….I have just one question: How in hell do people here get anything done in the winter?! I mean, really! It is 19° outside, there is ice on EVERYTHING, the schools are closed, none of the businesses are opening til around 10am because of the ice storm last night…I’m sitting here with a mug of hot chocolate watching the news, and the idiots who ARE out on the road are only going about 30mph because of the half inch of ice on the roads.

I don’ get it. There have been more than 40 accidents since 5am. Every local station is advising that if it’s at all possible, people should remain home and wait for the ice to melt. The darling man, of course, is having none of it. “They always say that,” he shrugs as he bundles into his coat. “But…there have been a ton of accidents!” “I’ll be fine. The problem is other drivers, not me.” “Okay, did you actually hear what you just said?” He went anyway, of course. I told him he’d need a crowbar to get my ass out from under the electric blanket. He called me about five minutes ago. “Guess who made it to work alive and well?” “Great. And I was going to buy a Jag with the life insurance.” “You think we have life insurance?” Idiot. At least I know what to do in this kind of weather. I’m getting some more marshmallows for my hot chocolate and going back to bed with my book.

Planned Parenthood is Not Evil and You Are Not Saving Anyone.

Mr. Matthew Derosia has issues. He’s been committed nine times since 2004, which amounts to more than twice a year. So, Red, why are we talking about some guy you’ve never heard of you ask? Because last Thursday, Matthew Derosia took his mother’s boyfriend’s SUV and rammed it into the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul Minnesota.

Fortunately, no one was injured, because Matthew decided to destroy private property at 7:42am before business hours. Damage appears to be minimal, and the clinic was not closed down.

Matthew’s statement is particularly disturbing, stating that Jesus told him to “stop the murders.” One has to wonder…what would’ve happened had he actually committed his crime when there were people at the clinic? If he had run down a pedestrian or actually harmed someone inside the clinic? Why is it okay then? Why do living, breathing people take precedence over potential people?

Enough. Planned Parenthood is not evil. In fact, I’m fairly sure that most people don’t even know what Planned Parenthood does beyond abortions. How about a few facts from a nurse who actually worked for PP?

  1. Abortions account for precisely 3% of Planned Parenthood’s business. The vast majority of their business comes from office visits and contraceptives.
  2. They also provide assistance for low/no cost mammograms for low income women, pediatric services for the children of low income parents, pre-natal services for women who decide to have their babies, annual pap smears, sterilization services for men and women, counseling for teens, and, of course, contraceptives.
  3. They contribute more to their local communities than nearly any other medical non profit organization.
  4. They provide MUCH needed sex education to teens and schools. I was an educator for PP for a year…some of the things that are accepted by teens as fact are plain scary.

Planned Parenthood is not the enemy. The people who work there are, in my experience, some of the most empathetic, community spirited people I have ever met. They are dedicated to the cause of women’s health, and the truly believe in what they’re doing. It’s sad that the people who work so hard to put them out of business aren’t even aware of half of the services provided in those clinics, or that the people who are helped are usually low income with nowhere else to go.

Additionally, many anti-choice women make use of Planned Parenthood’s services. Not for education or contraceptives, sadly, but for the very thing they picket and protest against: abortion. In the spring of 2000, Joyce Arthur collected anecdotes from doctors, nurses and health workers at PP as well as pro-life women about women who obtain abortions even though they protest at clinics and identify as pro-life. It’s eye opening.

Abortion is an incredibly polarizing subject. What people forget when they argue that subject is that it’s also a very difficult, painful choice for the women who make it. It doesn’t need to be turned into a shameful, guilt ridden one as well because someone doesn’t approve. The people at PP are doing a difficult job providing services to men, women and children who need them. They don’t need “saving,” and their patients deserve dignity and understanding. They’re not a cause, they’re people. Actions like those of Matthew Derosia just further remove the realization of that fact.

Ted Haggard’s Closet Gets a Little Fuller

Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted. What are we going to do with you?

Yes, it’s true. Ted Haggard, public homophobe and pastor of the Denver New Life Mega-Church, is once again the center of a gay sex scandal. I know. I’m as shocked as you. Who would’ve thought that just two short years after having meth fueled sex with a male hooker (which I understand isn’t nearly as pleasurable or fulfilling as the straight laced hetero man on top get it over with quick with the lights out kind), yet ANOTHER story about Ted Haggard having gay sex with a member of his own church would find its way to the surface? Other than me and, probably, you.

The article states:

Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.”

Ohhh, good. Because of all the things wrong with the head of a mega church that influences public policy by snuggling up to the President of the United States and getting him to pass harmful legislation against gays and women being found to have gay sex with a young member of his church, the one I’m MOST worried about is whether the young man was underage or not. Mr. Boyd, are we on the same planet? I think something a bit more worrisome was the fact that Mr. Haggard paid the kid off.

In a letter e-mailed Friday to New Life Church members, Boyd said of the settlement and agreement not to talk: “This decision was made not as an attempt to conceal wrongdoings, but to protect him from those who would seek to exploit him.”

Okay. I think we’re stretching the suspension of disbelief a little far, even for Christians. If part of the agreement was explicitly that neither party discuss the affair? It was hush money.

In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can’t be put into “stereotypical boxes.”

*sigh*…. Ted? Ted, you’re gay, and you’re closeted. That’s about as boxed in as you can get. Look. I’m going to try to help you. I know you’re scared and  I know you’re worried, but at this point…how much worse can it really get? You lost your church, you lost your reputation, you’re a national joke, and the woman you’re married to doesn’t trust you now and (thanks to this new thing) probably never will again. You’ve shamed your children. Was it worth it? Ted…stop making their and your life miserable. There IS a way. Two simple words, and then … believe it or not… life will get easier. Ready? Repeat after me. “I’m gay.” Now own it. It will be okay. I promise. Your wife will be able to move on with her life. You may even be able to mend fences with her. Your kids will need lots of attention and understanding, but you could really be a model dad, one who shows just what grace and acceptance really mean, not all that fire and brimstone crap you’ve been spewing for years. And YOU, Ted, will be happy. At least, happier than you are now. Believe it.

And later, we’ll work on that whole god fixation thing.

BLOWFISH TESTICLES POISON SEVEN!

Best. Headline. EVAR. No, I am not even kidding. Story here.

Apparently, 44 people were sickened and 3 people died from fugu poisoning in Japan last year, usually from preparing puffer fish at home. This particular incident took place in a restaurant in which the sushi chef was not licensed to prepare the dish. Fortunately, all the diners survived, or I’d feel horrible about the mocking headline.

Okay, honestly, I was giggling before I even found out they were all still alive. My mind kept visualising the funerals…. “It’s how he would’ve wanted to go…” Can you see it? I mean, I grant you, you wouldn’t care once you were dead, but can you see YOUR significant other explaining to people that you died eating fish testicles? I can actually see my friends’ faces as the darling man delivered the news; all of them nodding and trying not to smile, thinking “yup, that sounds about right…”

Texas Rejects God in the Science Classroom

I am still being surprised by my adopted state. I have had to reject my preconceived notions about Texas and recognize that, while some stereotypes do apply, when it comes to politics and sociological views, it’s as diverse as my home state of California.

Today Texas stepped firmly into the 21st century and embraced science without religion. Although it isn’t final, the fifteen member board voted to remove the “strengths and weaknesses” clause in the state’s science curriculum as it applies to evolution. The clause has previously been used to open the door to the “alternative theory” of Intelligent Design.

The article states:

The new science curriculum standards will take effect beginning with the 2010-2011 school year and last about 10 years.

[snip]

Instead of allowing teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theory, the proposed science curriculum standards would encourage students to apply critical thinking, scientific reasoning and problem solving “to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing.”

In other words, YES, question evolutionary theory. YES, look for gaps in reasoning and facts. But use facts to get there. The original wording of the “strengths and weaknesses clause” reads as follows:

(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and

(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.


Never mind that were science simply taught as science, there would BE no controversy, or that religion and philosophy have no place in a science classroom, or even that the US Senator who originally proposed the clause was a huge proponent of intelligent design and felt religion should be re-instituted into public schools. Just go ahead and teach the kids that not everyone “believes in” evolution because we need them to know God’s there, too. No. If you want your kids to know that God’s there, too, YOU teach them that. Let the science teachers teach science. It isn’t their job to remind them that they need to feel guilty for learning there’s more to the universe than was covered in the Bible/Torah/Qu’ran.

So I think it is an astounding and wonderful and courageous move by the Texas Board of Education that in the face of knee jerk reactionaries and politicians who are too afraid of not getting re-elected and the near omnipresent church (you can’t go three blocks without seeing a church in Texas), they agreed to let the kids learn how to apply logic and reason in their studies. Of course there are those who disagree:

Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, who voted to keep “strengths and weaknesses,” said he wouldn’t rubber stamp recommendations from the experts.

“This is a battle of academic freedom. This is a battle over freedom of speech,” Mercer said. “It’s an issue of freedom of religion.”

No, Mr. Mercer. It is not an issue of freedom of religion, because there IS no religion in our classrooms. It is an issue of teaching science in the classroom without fear of religion being inserted. It is an issue of teaching our children to be competitive in a global market. Because we owe them that. We owe our country that. The US is falling behind in scientific development, and the blame can be laid squarely on the shoulders of those superstitious uber religious fundamentalists who have been allowed to push their agenda in our schools and our government. No more.

Today I can honestly state that I am proud of my adopted state; happy to be a Texan.