Sarah Palin to Resign

I must admit, I’m stunned. Without any true reasoning behind the move, Sarah Palin announced today that she will be resigning as governor of the state of Alaska in a few weeks and hand the reins of state government over to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on July 25th.

Speculation is sure to be rampant; all Mrs. Palin would say is that she feels she can “affect change from outside government.” I’m sure we’ll hear what that means after July 25th.

Personal thoughts? There is no way this woman would have been able to finish out her first term without another major scandal and any hopes she may have once had to become POTUS were dashed by finding out just what the job entailed. She has given us an entertaining year…with likely more to come…but any presidential hopes she may have been harboring are pure fantasy. This woman cannot lead.

Scientists Visit Creationist Museum

The University of Cincinnati hosted the North American Paleontological Convention last week. In what appears to be a planned field trip, approximately 70 paleontologists, paleozoologists and geologists toured the Creationist Museum in Petersburg Kentucky. Apparently they were unimpressed, and who can blame them?

Many of the paleontologists thought the museum misrepresented and ridiculed them and their work and unfairly blamed them for the ills of society.

“I think they should rename the museum — not the Creation Museum, but the Confusion Museum,” said Lisa E. Park, a professor of paleontology at the University of Akron.

“Unfortunately, they do it knowingly,” Dr. Park said. “I was dismayed. As a Christian, I was dismayed.”

Sorry abuot that Dr. Park. I can only imagine what it’s like to have one’s life’s work completely taken out of context and abused and mangled in the way hers has been. But even sadder, I think, are those who visit the museum with the expectation and belief that what is being represented is not a point of view, but verifiable scientific fact. That it’s passed on to children as fact is even worse.

Terry Mortenson, a lecturer and researcher for Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built and runs the Creation Museum, said he did not expect the visit to change many minds. “I’m sure for the most part they’ll be of a different view from what’s presented here,” Dr. Mortenson said. “We’ll just give the freedom to see what they want to see.”

Dr. Mortenson and others at the museum say they look at the same rocks and fossils as the visiting scientists, but because of different starting assumptions they arrive at different answers. For example, they say the biblical flood set off huge turmoil inside the Earth that broke apart the continents and pushed them to their current locations, not that the continents have moved over a few billion years.

“Everyone has presuppositions what they will consider, what questions they will ask,” said Dr. Mortenson, who holds a doctorate in the history of geology from Coventry University in England. “The very first two rooms of our museum talk about this issue of starting points and assumptions. We will very strongly contest an evolutionist position that they are letting facts speak for themselves.”

I love it when religious people disagree with the fundamental conclusions of a scientific discipline but then try to use select parts of those conclusions to support their positions. It’s one thing* to reject science in favor of religion. It’s quite another to completely misrepresent science in order to force it to conform with your world view. The above statement is more than merely uninformed opinion, it’s intentional deceit. This man and the people working at the museum are intentionally deceiving the public in order to make their beliefs seem as though they actually have some bearing in scientific fact.

I’m more than a little amused that people who become so bellicose about science ‘making a mockery of religion’ are completely sanguine with the science fiction that is Creationism. It’s as if they thought to themselves that because science (in their opinions) belittles their beliefs, they now have the right to criticize science. Which seems somewhat arrogant and ignorant all at the same time.

What they don’t seem to realize is that science isn’t around specifically to disprove god or religion or anything of the sort. All science does…is explain our physical universe. Believe it or not my ignorant little theists, it is not necessary to even look at god in order to  do that. I do not need to invoke some unseen unknown inscrutable thing in order to know what conditions need to exist in order for lightning to occur. That isn’t a slight, no matter how badly you want to take it as one. It’s just that science sees that the simplest explanation is usually the best and most accurate. You need to get over yourselves. In short: science just ain’t that into you.

*Okay, yes, one very stupid thing.

The Senator from Minnesota.

Ladies and gentlemen….Mr. Al Franken.

As of 8 minutes ago, Senator Coleman (finally) stepped forward and conceded. The Dems now have their iron-clad 60 seats in the Senate. Of course, that’s with the qualifier that Sen. Joe Lieberman actually remembers he’s promised to vote with his former party. This seems highly unlikely, given he can’t seem to disengage his lips from John McCain’s backside.

Michael Jackson Was Not a Hero.

Friends, netizens, countrymen….lend me your ears.

I come to bury Michael Jackson, not to praise him. Only the good the man has done lives after him; the evil is being interred with his bones. O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,  and men have lost their reason.

After several days of listening to wailing and moaning about our loss, I have begun to wonder why we refuse to acknowledge that our entertainers are human beings and as such….not the most wonderful beings on the planet. We are so enamored of our celebrities that we project the kind of personalities and attributes on them that we wish them to have instead of seeing them for who they were. At what point does art become so important that we are willing to sell our morality and look the other way? Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Michael Jackson.

There are those who espouse the position that his childhood is to blame for the darkness in his life. Doubtless the allegations against his father, Joe Jackson, do not paint the most flattering of pictures. It has been asserted that the man stood over the rehearsals of his sons with his belt wrapped around one fist. That he beat Michael more than any of the others combined. That he treated his children less as a father and more as an investor. But at what point does that cease to be an influence over one’s life? Is it not true that Michael has been estranged from his father  most of his adult life? Would it not be reasonable to expect that he would seek help to make sure he was not such a father to his own children?

There are those who insist that we should remember the good he has done in the world and forget the bad. Why? Why should we not learn from the serious mistakes the man made? Because he made us dance with him? Because we liked the tune? Is charm truly so much more important than the harm inflicted? Even if that charming person was rich and famous?

Still others insist that they don’t look into the personal lives of the artists they admire, and it is these people that infuriate me the most. No deed is too heinous, no life so shattered, no injury so grievous that they can be bothered to look at it, should it concern someone who gives them four minutes of happiness on the radio or a couple hours on the movie screen. “Oh, yes, that Mel Gibson is a racist drunken lunatic with no regard for anyone’s safety, but did you see POTC?!” Michael Jackson was accused of molesting several young boys. Only two cases got close to court. He fed a young girl sedatives and antihistamines to keep her asleep while he molested her brothers. He had cameras and alarms in the hallway outside his bedroom. Child after child came forward in the first court case to testify. He out and out ADMITTED in an interview to inviting young boys into his bed:

Pop superstar Michael Jackson admitted last night in a television documentary that he loves to have young boys sleep in his bed.

What’s more, everyone should do it, says the 44-year-old Jackson, who was accused of sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy a decade ago, and who admits recently encouraging a 12-year-old cancer sufferer to sleep in his bedroom.

“It’s what the whole world should do,” Jackson told interviewer Martin Bashir on the Granada television program, “Living With Michael Jackson,” according to a London Times account. Granada is one of the largest independent television companies in the United Kingdom…

According to Jackson, not only do children like to be touched, but the superstar told Bashir he would kill himself if he could not be close to young boys.

Yet there are those who still refuse to acknowledge even the possibility that Jackson molested those boys. Enough. Enough of the adulation and the canonization of this man. He ruined young lives. Enough of the waving away of criticisms with cries of ‘racism.’ It is an injustice to those who fight racism on a daily basis to even liken it to racism. Imagine those young boys, now young men. Finally, their nightmare is over…except for those who insist that the man that molested them is a god, not a monster. It is time we stopped treating our celebrities like deities and started treating them like people.

Why Ignoring Iran Was A GOOD Thing.

I’ve been gone for a month or so, and while there’s all kinds of fun and interesting happenings behind that, I’ll leave it for another post. Let’s jump in.

As you are all aware, Republican congresscritters and pundits have been having a virtual orgiastic hate fest over President Obama’s refusal to take a hardline stance on Iran, thus embroiling us in yet another middle east mess. Lindsay Graham just about out-sanctimonied himself on national television insisting that the president “lead the free world, not follow it.” He was echoed by … well, by most of the echo chamber. Sen. McCain, Sen. Grassley and of course…the ‘leader’ of the Republican party: Rush Limbaugh. This whole Iran election issue has been one long orgasmic episode for Rush, who just can’t wait to get us into another war we can’t afford with exhausted troops who should have been discharged two tours ago. Even David Gregory took time out from his full time occupation of driving Meet the Press into the ground to ask his round table snooze fest why it is imperative that we make the Iranian elections all about us.

Let me very quickly remind people of a few things. November, 2004. Remember that? Big election, lots of accusations of voter fraud, administration’s refusal to recount, foreign heads of state tut-tutting and criticizing. Some guy with the last name Bush ended up keeping the presidency. Do we all remember that? Yes? Do we all remember how we reacted to the criticism that our elections may have been tampered with? Let me remind you of that as well. It essentially came down to “This is America, we do things our way, you don’t have any say in how we run our country so you can all just STFU.” Interestingly… that sentiment came from those who are now crying the loudest for us to do something about Iran. Funny old world, huh?

I’m pleased to say that despite heavy pressure to once again support a regime change to a leader that most Americans know nothing whatever about other than his name, the President resisted and kept his comments directed toward support of the rights of the Iranian voters. Why was that a good thing? I’m so glad you asked. Because despite the ridiculous hand waving and rhetorical wank fest, there was a very real reason to not get involved.

And it has just reared its ugly head. That’s right.Iran is now implying the U.S. (CIA specifically) may have had something to do with the death of Neda Agha Soltan. That because she was in a quiet area without protesters and with all kinds of cameras on her, it was a publicity stunt by the Americans to foment revolution and make it look like the Iranian government would mercilessly gun down its own citizens in the streets.

Think on this a minute, kids. What would have happened had we actually gone on record and made a formal accusation against the Iranian administration? What do you think? The citizens would have every cause to believe that we may have done that horrible thing. I tell you now: we are well out of it. If Iran is going to revolt or fail or reinvest in itself…it will do so on its own. We do not need to help.

Do I think the Ayatollah needs overthrowing and Iran needs to get itself out from under its fundamentalist religious regime? Certainly. But they do not need the United States telling them how to do it. Or they aren’t doing it, we are. Support? Certainly. Cheer them on? You bet. But if we blunder into that region once again insisting that everyone do it our way, we lose the opportunity to truly allow democracy to happen. Hard as it is to sit and watch, it’s time we learn that this is not about us. Not in any way, shape or form. Yes, I know. We like to think everything is about us. It isn’t. The Iranian citizenry is doing just fine without us. Let us not give them a reason to think that what they’re doing is wrong. Let us not give Ahmadinejad the excuse to try to unify his country behind the slogan “Death to the Americans” again. Let us allow the Iranian people the same right to fight for their own freedom that we take for granted.

Sotomayor gets the nom for SCOTUS

In a move that shocked no one, especially those bright fellows over at The Daily Beast, President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to be the next Justice to the Supreme Court replacing the outgoing Justice Souter.

Judge Sotomayor has a stellar background; 5 years with the district attorney’s office after Princeton and Yale Law School, then elevated to the federal bench by George HW Bush and appointed to the federal court of appeals by Bill Clinton.

While I was personally pulling for Brinkmann, I think Ms. Sotomayor is an excellent choice. Her history makes her nigh on bulletproof, although I’m sure the Republicans will try. One rather interesting quote from the article comes from an RNC staffer:

“The Republicans are going to strike a tone that’s fair, that allows the vetting process to happen like it should, and that’s in stark contrast to how the Democrats dealt with Judge Roberts when you look back a couple years ago,” the official said, referring to the 2005 confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts.

Bearing in mind that Chief Justice Roberts sailed through with little to no opposition, I can only assume said staffer is either in possession of a very bad memory or it’s opposite day, and this is code for “We’re gonna give the Puerto Rican chick hell!”

Senate minority  leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Fantasy Land) stated:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said that Senate Republicans “will thoroughly examine [Sotomayor’s] record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law evenhandedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.”

I’m sure Mr. McConnell will advise Judge Sotomayor that her actual job is to uphold the policy decisions of the current administration, regardless of what the Constitution actually says, just like they expected the Court to do during the last administration’s tenure. I’m equally certain this insistence on the part of Senate Republicans to oppose any nominee, regardless of background, has nothing to do with Rush Limbaugh’s urging or as retribution for the Dems’ opposition to the wholly unqualified Harriet Miers for SCOTUS Chief Justice. Unlike White House counsel Miers, however, Ms. Sotomayor’s experience and rate of 99% of upheld appeals make Harriet Miers look small time indeed. Good luck, party of no.

It’s going to be an interesting July, people! The best birthday present I could possibly have hoped for.

The AFA Blackmails Pepsi

The mob has a lovely little setup they call “protection.” The federal government calls it “racketeering,” and has laws against it.  The American Family Association, headed up by Donald Wildmon learned a lot from La Cosa Nostra; specifically racketeering and strong arm tactics.

Their most recent “project” is an attempt to boycott PepsiCo because Pepsi had the audacity to dare to donate $1M to the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG. It’s very obvious from the AFA’s Boycott Pepsi website they were truly loath to do this. They “asked Pepsi to remain neutral in the culture war, but the company refused — choosing to support the homosexual activists.” The BASTARDS! Of course, when AFA said neutral, what they really meant was “side with us,” but that’s just semantics.

Even worse, according to AFA: “Pepsi has made no effort to hide their support for the homosexual agenda!” Can you imagine the nerve? Instead of being ashamed of treating those in the LGBT community like people, Pepsi is actually PROUD of their actions! Well. Obviously, AFA took immediate action, setting up a website  to boycott Pepsi products. They’ve even got links to contact Pepsi distributorships and letters to and from Pepsi, which essentially read like a bad gangster movie.

Recently we noticed that PepsiCo gave a $500,000 donation to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.  We were indeed surprised by PepsiCo’s support of the homosexual group.  It would appear to us that PepsiCo would not involve itself in a political and culture war, especially supporting an organization seeking to redefine marriage and family.

We ask PepsiCo to remain neutral in this culture war, neither supporting nor opposing the homosexual agenda.

We would like to discuss this matter with PepsiCo.  Would you have a representative of PepsiCo contact us?

In other words: “Gee, Pepsi. This is a nice little place you got here. Be a real shame if someone were to torch it.”

Pepsi’s response was intelligent, honest and, IMO, brilliant:

’m responding to your letter to our Chairman. In 2008, the PepsiCo Foundation awarded a grant to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to support a national program specifically designed for workplace environments.

The initiative seeks to promote further understanding and equality in the places where people spend much of their time at work.

Among the values promoted by the PepsiCo Foundation is ensuring a work environment that is respectful and where associates are valued for their contributions.  I hope this helps  clarify this grant by the PepsiCo Foundation.

Honestly? Aside from Cherry Pepsi (for which I am an absolute fiend), I’m not much for junk food. But today? I’m tempted to go to the store and buy as many Pepsi products as I can fit in my budget.

Oklahoma State Legislature Jumps the Shark, Film at 11

Recently, the University of Oklahoma to speak at their celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. Dawkins’ talk focused on “seeing purpose all around by looking at the differences between the appearance of purpose, as seen in evolutionary development, and true purpose, being the product of the mind.” All went well, and Dawkins was greeted like a rock star.

Sadly, Rep. Todd Thompson was so threatened by the very thought of the brilliant biologist speaking and discussing evolution at a public university, he went and wrote up two resolutions, one of which stated:

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

Rep. Thompson, how dare you? How dare you attempt to enforce what can only be called censorship and hide behind the people of Oklahoma? And how dare you use something as transparent as argumentum ad populum to hide your repugnant and ignorant views? Once the “views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma” have a say in what can and cannot be taught at the UO, then that university will quickly top the list of “schools not to attend.”

The University of Oklahoma is not a religious university.  It is a state institution, and as such is subject to the laws not only of the State of Oklahoma but also the United States. Censorship is a crime, and your resolution is censorship, Mr. Thompson. It is to be hoped that the rest of the state legislature will recognize the harm that would be done not only to the university, but to the state should these resolutions pass. The university will slide further behind the national average and lose students, tax dollars and prestige. The state in turn will become that much less competitive and functional and more deeply entrenched in economic stagnation.

This is precisely why religion should never be allowed control of the state. In every instance, ignorance triumphs over learning.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Sadly, Me.

So the SO and I decided to head over to Plano last weekend to catch Watchmen. His summation? “The movie jumped the shark when they did the slow backward pan from Dr. Manhattan’s asscrack.” I thought it happened a lot sooner than that.

Watchmen did not manage to carry off the dark, gleeful chaos that the Coen Brothers elicited from V for Vendetta or even the surreal alternate universe feel Wimmer created with Ultraviolet. What Zack Snyder presented was, instead, a disjointed, overburdened attempt at wrapping up three plotlines in three hours; a feat not easily accomplished and one that has been the undoing of other directors (I think Spiderman III more or less makes that argument for me). Had he stuck with the core plot, any of those three components may well have succeeded.

I had fairly high hopes during the first half; the buildup of backstory was well presented and the suspense was introduced early. At about the 90 minute mark it started to flounder. One was left with a feeling that the movie was like a Seinfeld episode; not really about anything. The twist on saving humanity from itself was heavy handed and so campy it floundered under its own weight. The only thing that broke the tedium was the sex scenes, and even they couldn’t stop themselves from descending into camp. The whole slamming down of the hand on the “fire” button…wow. I would like to be able to say I enjoyed some other part of the second half of the film, but to be honest, I fell asleep right about the time Silk  Specter the younger went off to Mars with Dr. Manhattan. I haven’t fallen asleep at a movie since Gattaca, and it’s the first time I’ve considered walking out of one since The Saint. 

On a meta level, it was amusing to see this, the conservative whine about whiney liberals and how kindness kills a society all reduced to easy black and white lines, replete right down to the refrain “Won’t someone think of the chilllllldrennnn?!” and the insistence that we are creating our own destruction by “coddling criminals” and the “immoral behavior of whores.”  It’s a conservative wet dream. “Look what you liberals did to us!”  It was almost enough to keep me awake (because I really wanted to laugh at it) but the soporific effect of  Billy Crudup & Matthew Goode’s voices and the absence of direction were impossible to fight.

I am still mystified by the fanboi reaction. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting cinematic masterpeice. All I expected was to be entertained for a few hours, but apparently you can’t make that happen even with a decent story and $100M. If nothing else, it has convinced me that  Zack Snyder is simply incapable of directing a movie I’m interested in watching.

My Annual Valentine’s Day Rant

So. Here we are once again, February 14th, and you’re nervous as hell that all you managed to get your SO after days of searching and sweating and asking the opinions of others is a bunch of overpriced flowers picked by Brazilian produce workers for pennies an hour and some chocolate that you’re not quite sure she’ll like and you’re afraid you’ll come off trite and insincere when, dammit, you TRIED, and who the hell came up with this stupid holiday, anyway? I will tell you, as I do every year. It was not, as those even more cynical than this chronicler (hard to imagine, isn’t it?) will tell you, the South African diamond merchants and the Hallmark people…though if there’s justice, a specialized hell awaits them all. Damn, atheism bites hard sometimes. No. It was the Romans. And, is too long to sum up, so I will splain.

Once upon a time, there was a rather sweet little custom held by the ancient Romans called the Lupercalia. As I tend to leave the dry, scholarly posts to those who actually enjoy such things, I will link the wiki article for you to peruse and enjoy at your leisure. Essentially, the Romans were celebrating fertility. They liked doing that quite a bit, and managed to find many, MANY inventive reasons for doing so. Every year on February 15th, the local priests would round up the year’s crop of likely young men and take them up to the cave where the she-wolf suckled the twins, Romulus and Remus. There, they were daubed on the forehead with the blood of a goat, and afterward, they were to take strips of goat skin, dip it in the blood and run through the streets touching everything in their path with the goatskin. Especially women. Go figure. It was supposed to cleanse the town and make women fertile. And afterward…and this is my favorite bit… there was a HUGE feast; lots of meat (goat, sure, you didn’t want it to go to waste after all…), lots of wine, everyone laughing and happy, and just when the evening hit its zenith…there was the sex lottery. You heard me. See, while the young men were up on the hill, the unmarried young ladies would all put their names in this urn. After the feast, the boys would draw names from the urn, and they’d take the young ladies off and do what it is kids do. It was an arrangement for a year to decide whether or not they liked each other well enough to be married which, when you get right down to it, is a hell of a lot more practical than a lot of what we do now. It was considered lucky if she became pregnant on the Lupercalia, and the pregnancy generally signaled an intent to make the arrangement permanent.

So what happened? Do you really need to ask? The Catholic church, of course. They got all tingly and uptight whenever they thought about the Lupercalia, and they knew that something that felt that good just COULDN’T be right. So they took a little known saint who may or may not have ever existed (Valentinus), ran it smack up against the Lupercalia, and, oh, yes, took away the sex lottery. Instead, the urn was stuffed with the names of saints, and the youngsters were instructed to research those saints and emulate them. Yeah, that’s more fun. Over the years, it has morphed and changed and become what it is; a holiday that takes the fun out of love. Manufactured romance. And yet…and yet…at the base of it…if we really want it…the Lupercalia is still there, winking and wearing not much more than a come hither look and a smile. So forget the flowers and the Whitman’s sampler and the two hour wait at the restaurant. Get a bottle of really good wine, some decent candles, and whatever it is you and your sweetie like best to eat. Feed each other in the candle light. Then go and make ol’ Lupercus proud. Be the secret entry in each others’ respective sex diaries. The page they never talk about and blush to think about.