Monthly Archives: October 2009

Peace Prize?

It would be funny…if it weren’t so damned close to the truth.

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Living in Pre-Rational America

When speaking and writing, I often refer to the place and time in which I find myself as “Pre-Rational America”. In as much as I have been both queried and challenged as to my use of that term, allow me to offer the following evidence for my assertion:

According to a Harris poll:

82 percent of adult Americans believe in God,

79% believe heaven is a real place,

75% believe in angels,

Not only do 74% believe that Jesus is God or the son of God, but 72% accept the resurrection as fact and 60% that he was born of a virgin,

69% believe the soul survives death and 62% think both hell and Satan are real,

41% believe in ghosts,

35% in UFOs,

31% in witches,

29% in Astrology, and

21% in reincarnation.

Contrast all this to the fact that only 42% of Americans accept Evolution by Natural Selection as fact, and you are well on your way to understanding why I hold today’s Americans in such disdain.

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Damn. Just Damn

I lost my best and most loyal friend this morning, and there is a hole in my life that will take a long while to fill.

Nellie died at about 9:50 am, on her favorite bed in my office.

It was a good thing, really. I had scheduled to have her put down a mere thirty minutes later, as it had become obvious her organs were shutting down due to end-stage liver disease. It was good, I think, that she died in familiar surroundings, with familiar sounds and smells until the last.

She had been diagnosed just three weeks ago, put on a course of “supportive” meds, and given three to six months to live. The end was sudden and unexpected. Until she stopped eating barely thirty-six hours earlier, there had been no sign that the end was so near. Just yesterday she eagerly joined me for a ride in the car as I ran some errands. When the sun rose this morning however,she was unable to even stand, and so I had called the vet and made arrangements. Thankfully they were not necessary.

Nellie was good to and for me. Unwilling to endure separations of more than a few minutes she followed me from room to room and dashed to the door at the slightest sign I was preparing to leave. A couple of times a day, indoors or out, she would assume a play bow, tail wagging, and commence to chase me until, generally after only a dozen steps or so she caught me; then rolled over on her back in anticipation of her celebratory belly rub.

On the one occasion a few years ago that the flu laid me up for a few days, the only times she left her station on the floor beside my bed was to join me on it. When I was away undergoing cancer treatment in California, she became depressed and sullen during the week, only to erupt in joy and play when I came home on the weekends.

I’ve had a half-dozen dogs in my lifetime, but Nellie was special beyond words. Feisty and tough, it took months to earn her trust but, once earned, no amount of gruffness on my part could stop her tail from wagging or dissuade her from being near.

Goodbye faithful old friend. I will grieve for you until the day that I die.

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Dismissing Karen Armstrong

The “Christian Science Monitor” had an effervescent book review this morning of Karen Armstrong’s latest attempt to devolve the debate over gods and religions into her own personal Neverland of transcendent gobblygook. Mindful of Christopher Hitchens’ comment, “That which can be asserted with no evidence can be dismissed with no evidence, I responded with the following:

So Ms Armstrong thinks atheists have a shallow understanding of theology. Exactly how, I beg to ask, does one acquire a deep understanding of the invisible and the non-existent?
What Ms Armstrong is really doing, although she will be the first to deny it, is inventing her own peculiar god, one that is less likely to set off the alarm bells of cognitive dissonance that apparently haunt her understanding of the traditional god of the Abrahamic faiths.
While she may be correct in identifying within the human spirit a desire for “the transcendent”; where she errs is in assuming that it takes a god or religion to fulfill that desire.
The wonders opened up to us by science, from the cosmic to the sub-atomic, can be just as satisfactory a source of the awe she seeks as the invisible nothing she worships. The love of family and friends, the beauty of nature, and the joy of fine wine or good poetry are far more real examples of a transcendence we can experience than any of the pap she serves up. The fact that we are all made of stardust, along with the knowledge that we are the only life forms on earth capable of that understanding, is transcendent experience enough to last a lifetime. Indeed, that we were so lucky to have been born at all, considering the incredible odds, is enough to set spirits soaring as no phony, contrived belief system can ever do.
Sorry, but Ms Armstrong’s latest swipe at the rational is no more compelling than her previous attempts to justify mythology at the expense of reality.


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Why the Left is as Wrong as the Right on Healthcare

I am not a conservative, at least not in the contemporary meaning of that word. At worst, I am a classical liberal – see Jefferson, Madison, Locke, Mills, et al.

That said, let me be perfectly clear: I not only do not want to pay for someone else’s healthcare – or rent, groceries, or anything else – I feel absolutely no moral obligation to do so. (That said, our family voluntarily gives an above-average proportion of our annual income to charity.)

You see, I stayed in high school rather than dropping out for a job in the local shoe factory. I struggled through college, with a combination of (non-government) loans and part-time jobs.

When I began my career, I went to work every day – never skipping a day because I stayed up late watching Johnny Carson, or because I was too hung-over from a night of partying.

So that I could save my money, what little I made early on, I drove a used car and watched a black and white TV when everyone else had the newest color set.

I never smoked cigarettes, nor did I ever “do” dope.

I only had children after I was 1) gainfully employed, 2) married, and 3) could afford them.

As much as I could have used and highly desired more pay and better benefits, I was also keenly aware that if my employer was unable to make a profit he would be equally unable to provide me with a job.

I was just about the last person I know to have a home computer or a cell phone, and my cell today is, well, a phone – it doesn’t play movies or songs, or surf the internet.

When friends and relatives were taking nice vacations to Mexico or Europe, my family was spending a weekend in a rustic cabin in the woods a short drive from where I lived.

Now I’m not saying I lived a perfect life. I made mistakes, spent some money I should have saved, and screwed up an investment or three.

But my lower-middle class, factory worker family raised me to be self-sufficient, not to expect nor look for a hand-out from government nor anyone else. The point being I got to where I am today trying to do things the right way, and succeeding at same a bit more often than not.

Today some folks, including “friends” on Facebook and elsewhere, are telling me how selfish and unreasonable I am for not wanting to pay higher taxes and/or burden my children and grandchildren with high inflation and lower economic growth so that people who spent their entire lives making poor decisions and being selfish and irresponsible can enjoy the same benefits that I have earned.

What the Marxist Left is really doing is not only rewarding, but encouraging even more, indolence and irresponsibility and, in the process, undermining both the proud heritage and the future of our nation.

I not only oppose such an approach, I consider it to be immoral as well as depraved indifference to reality.

Thanks, but no thanks.

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The Inimitable Christopher Hitchens —

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