Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Georgia- Like Kansas, Only Dumber

Not satisfied to let Kansas or South Dakota hog all the crazy lime light, Georgia may use the Bible as a textbook:

In the late 1700s, Congress thought enough of the Bible as a textbook that it printed 40,000 copies. But the bold effort here in Georgia to use the Bible in today's secular curricula may be about presenting it as a moral code rather than a foundation to better understand the biblical allusions in literature, critics say.

"Behind this is the tension around the country about how to go about doing a Bible elective, and a lot is at stake," says Charles Haynes, director of the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va.

The Bible is already being used as a course study in as many as 1,000 American high schools, according to the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools in Greensboro, N.C. The US Supreme Court allows it as long as it's presented objectively, and not taught as fact. But the Georgia legislature's unprecedented decision to wade into what is usually a school district initiative has created concerns.

You think? Womder what all the Jewish and Muslim kids think about having the Bible as a textbook? who cares, right? if they believed int he right God, this wouldn't be a problem, am I right?

We are so moving out of this fucking state before the kids are born.

Link via Bookslut.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Read It While It's Hot

Jane Smiley has some words of wisdom for the recent GOP deserters who just now, this very minute figured out Bush is full of shit.

You really, really need to read the whole thing. This is said often on blogs and then hardly anyone bothers to follow the link and really read the piece in question but this time, seriously. Go read it.

Then you’ll understand why this part needs to be tattooed on the foreheads of every Republican voter in the land:

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

That way, when they talk to some other recent refugee from the GOP-induced coma, they will know the truth and never forget it. they did this through their own shortsightedness and negligence.

Via Tristero at Hullabaloo.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Machine of The World

I've talked about it for months. Written vague posts abot how it's almost done and the process by which I wrote it. Well, it's now really done and available.

The book I wrote for my wife as a birthday/Christmas/Valentine's day/Birthday-again present is now available online for download (as a PDF).

Have a read and let me know what you think.

Happy New year to the Librarians of Gondor!

My Archivist buddy, Jenny sent me this from the Archivist's Daybook:

March 25 Today is celebrated as New Year's Day in the Kingdom of Gondor, for it is the anniversary of Sauron's fall. Despite his power as a wizard, Gandalf needed to perform archival research to confirm his suspicions about the true nature of the Ring, thus setting in motion the events that led to the end of the Third Age. Tolkien's personal and academic papers, as well as most of his literary manuscripts, are at Oxford University's Bodleian Library, but Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has an extensive J.R.R. Tolkien collection that includes the original manuscripts and multiple working drafts for The Hobbit (1937), Farmer Giles of Ham (1949), and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955).

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Comfy Chair

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm Your Boogy Man

Via PZ Myers, a new study that shows atheists are even more feared and hated than Homosexuals and Muslims:

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study's lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today's atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past-- they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. "It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common 'core' of values that make them trustworthy-- and in America, that 'core' has historically been religious," says Edgell. Many of the study's respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. "Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens-- they share an understanding of right and wrong," she said. "Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good."

This line: "Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public," really jumped out at me. It's knee jerk reaction at its most base. "We don't know who you are, what you believe and couldn't pick you out of a crowd but we sure as hell don't like you."

Which is odd, seeing as how atheists don't throw bombs into abortion clinics (That would be Christians) strap bombs to their chests and detonate restaurants (Muslims and Jews), hijack planes and crash them into buildings (Muslims), trample people to death in a religious ceremony (Hindus), throw acid in the face of woman who turn you down for a date (Muslims, Hindus), or ritually scar young men (every religion believes in the utterly useless procedure, circumcision*). We atheists just question you're fairy tale-derived "wisdom" and want a concrete explanation for why things work. And for that we are even more distrusted than Sadr (Muslim Cleric), Robertson (batshit crazy Fundamentalist) and Hitler (German Catholic)?

It's a funny world.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Kitten in a Sink

Elvira and I are off to Washington DC for Spring Break, so the Library will be taking a little break for a week. The rest of the liberal Coalition can fill you in on whatever I miss, so check the links on the sidebar and try not to work too hard.

Will You Take Tom With You?

Isaac Hayes Quits South Park:

Isaac Hayes has quit "South Park," where he voices Chef, saying he can no longer stomach its take on religion.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

It's hard to figure out if this is just Hayes being a cranky old man or just an old crank. I'm going with old krank, since Scientology trumps all reasonable expectations of typical behavior (See: Tom Cruise's crazy ass).

That quote from Matt Stone really nails it though: Mr. Hayes is just fine pissing all over other religions but oh no, we can't besmirch the name of L. Ron Hubbard and his holy Pyramid scam. Oh well. Guess it's back to obscurity for Isaac, where he can practice his kooky alien religion without having to be offended by the booming sound of the world snickering behind his back.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Go Vermont!

Five Vermont towns vote to impeach Bush.

Now if we can only make that fifty states (or I guess, 33 for 2/3 majority).

Via Kevin Andrew.

A Saturday Afternoon ID Rant Does a Body Good

I haven't ranted about the ID crowd in a while, mostly because PZ Myers pretty much has that area covered and in a way that is deeper and more informed than I ever could be. But I was just reading John Roger's own little rant and decided I just have to put in my two cents.

This anti-ID rant braught to you by the makers of Bibles and people with vapid little minds who think, gosh and golly gee willikers, we just don't know the really real truth, you know, so let's all take Pascal's Wager and sleep off this nagging doubt, because after a rousing prayer service followed by a sunrise omlet at Denny's everything is so much clearer.

The thing is, to a great extent we do know what the truth of the matter is, regarding evolution and cosmology. Claiming otherwise is just lazy if you're, say, a mail carrier or a Baseball player and disingenuous if you're a school teacher or politician.

Believing that the sun sets because some god wills it and that we were hatched out of a cosmic egg six thousand years ago and all the facts to the contrary are tests of the divine chicken is the purview of the primitive mind. It’s OK to believe that nonsense if your wardrobe consists of a single filthy loin cloth and you hunt for your dinner in a jungle.

But if you live in a society that has penicillin and nuclear reactors and satellites and reasonably reliable cell phone service, than you do not get the luxury of feigning ignorance because it makes you feel all fuzzy and warm inside. And you especially do not get to fake ignorance just so you can justify being a belligerent son of a bitch who thinks he gets to make decisions about women’s bodies and which tribe of brown people half a world away lives or dies.

Being the most advanced civilization on the planet comes with a price, namely, having to be reasonably well informed on most matters scientific, or at least knowing someone who is and talking with them regularly, especially if you have designs on a public office, even if it is just dog catcher general.

it's the 21st century, people. We may not have hover cars and moon bases but damn it, we do have access to more knowledge about the inner workings of the universe than any people who came before and pretending that whatever old superstitious beliefs worked for Great Granddad will work for us is beyond ridiculous, it's criminally negligent, as the War in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina aftermath both proved. Pretending that prayer works may win you elections but it's a lousy foreign policy and even worse Federal disaster plan.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Your Piece of Film Trivia for the Day

When ABC first aired A Fistful of Dollars in the 1970s, they added a prologue, shot with a Clint Eastwood lookalike as The Man With no Name and Harry Dean Stanton as the Warden. The Man with No Name is pardoned and released, on the condition that he cleans up the small town of San Miguel. Executives at ABC thought that an American Audience wouldn't accept a hero whose only motivation was greed.*

A hero, no. A President? Sure thing

*The art of Italian film posters.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Brokeback Oscars

Elvira and I saw Brokeback Mountain last night and two things stand out:

1) It is worthy of not only the numerous Oscars for which it I nominated but also the profound hype surrounding it. And

2) The Hype surrounding it is skewed by what I can only describe as a Media befuddled by ts own reductionist tendencies.

This last point, I realize, needs some elaboration.

Critics would have you believe that Gay Cowboy Movie is an accurate descriptor for this film. It is, for shorthand but so woefully under descriptive for any meaningful commentary to be made. There are so many layers of subtext to the film, you can barely comprehend that it was actually financed by a major production house. Until you remember it's an Ang Lee film. That man can make a movie, I tell you. We've forgotten this little fact due in no small part to the blundering fiasco that was Hulk. But let the Hulk fade. This is Crouching Tiger hidden Dragon level of brilliance. The sorrowful, blisteringly true to life details are so beautifully portrayed and against such a rich Bckdrop of culture, scene and time that it it comes off, in my description as sounding like a pack of cliches. But really, it’s just that fine of a film. Something for the ages.

Tonight, I'll be rooting for this one, even though I absolutely loved Good Night and Good Luck as well and have heard nothing but good things abut Capote.

For other Academic warbling, see the collective efforts over on the Oscar Blog.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cat and Dog

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Right on, Rushdie!

Middle East Times:

PARIS -- The recent violence surrounding the publication in the West of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed illustrate the danger of Islamic "totalitarianism", Salman Rushdie and a group of other writers have said in a statement.

Rushdie, French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy and exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen were among those putting their names to the statement, to be published on Wednesday in the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, one of several French newspapers that reprinted the Mohammed cartoons.

"After having overcome fascism, Nazism and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global threat: Islamism," they wrote. "We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all."

They added that the clashes over the caricatures "revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. The struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field.

"It is not a clash of civilizations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats."

"Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present."
Now we just need one of these against Christian Evangelicals and we'll be all set.

Link via Bookslut.