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Yet Again I Blather On

20/11/2014

Andrew Rowland has a new podcast and the extreme misfortune to have me as his first guest.

Part One

Part Two

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“Tommy” by Rudyard Kipling

10/11/2014

I went into a public-’ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-’alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

 …..

bernie saunders quote re vets

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Bent-Con 2014 Spiritual Themes Panel Online

10/11/2014

B. Dave Walters has posted a link to a recording of last Saturday’s Spiritual Themes in Comics and Associated Media at Bent-Con with panelists Cyn Duby, David Berger, and yrs trly.

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Capitalism Explained

7/11/2014

American capitalism

the original
and more
found here

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Hatred: Illogical / Incoherent / Incontinent

17/10/2014

The colossal hissy fit being pitched in Houston has to do with HERO, or the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.  The point that is causing some people to defecate cinderblocks is a provision that basically allows people to use restrooms based on their gender self-identity, not the one arbitrarily issued at birth.[1]

animated horrified old lady

Now, one would think this would not be a problem.  People typically do not walk about unclothed in public restrooms, we tend to do our business behind closed doors or shielded by stalls.

Unless someone was acting out in a threatening or offensive matter, most people would just mind their own business when tending to their business, if you know what  mean and I think you do.

However, there are people who
cannot live and let live,
poop and let poop with others.

The main challenge to HERO has been the perceived threat than transgender people[2] pose to innocent public convenience users, in particular the dread fear that a pre-op transgender female would suddenly be overcome by heterosexual lust and use their still attached penis to commit rape on a physiological female.

Heterosexual, please…

First off, let’s not make light of the issue of rape: 
While certainly opportunistic rapes occur where the victim does not know the rapist, they are not likely to occur in well trafficked areas such as public restrooms.

This is certainly not to say restroom assaults never ever occur, but when they do they are committed by rapists who are just too psychopathic to recognize the danger they are putting themselves in, or else are excited by that added level of danger.

And while I have never heard of a heterosexual disguising themselves as a member of the opposite sex in order to get close enough to a victim to physically assault them, that’s not to say it has never happened.

But look at those parameters: 
It’s not the genuine transgender person who is feared of committing such a crime, but a heterosexual in disguise.

True transgender persons are no more / no less likely to be good or bad citizens than any one else, no more / no less likely to be criminals.[3]

If there is no pattern of same-sex rape in public restrooms among heterosexuals, why should one fear rape by a transgender person?[4]

A rapist determine to carry out a rape will do so, and if their modus operandi consists of donning a disguise in order to get close enough to their victim, they will don a disguise:  Their gender / orientation has nothing to do with it, and they will ignore any and all laws to commit their crime.

They will not stop just because they’re afraid of breaking a public ordinance against people of one physical sex wearing the clothes of the opposite physical sex in a public restroom.

No, this hysterical reaction is based on no real public threat,
it’s based entirely on the ick-factor in many Christians.

The exact same kind of ick-factor that repulsed
white Christians when African-Americans
wanted to use the same restroom.

Look, I understand being raised with one set of preconceptions and then later in life realizing those preconceptions were woefully ill-informed, and yet still not be able to completely shake the emotions and values associated with the now disproved preconceptions.

Nobody’s perfect, and it’s not unreasonable for a person who has been raised to believe “men are men / women are women” to be somewhat ill at ease in certain situations when encountering a transgender person.

But being ill at ease is not an excuse to torment or deny civil rights or common decency and courtesy to a person.[5]

I will give the benefit of a doubt to many of the people who are opposed to HERO and grant that they truly believe they are acting in the best interests of society as a whole instead of their own personal prejudices.[6]

But if they claim to be Christian, they better learn to give up their cherished ick-factor and start treating other people the way they want to be treated.

And if they don’t want other folks deciding
for them which bathroom they can use…

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[1]  I choose my terms carefully.  Typically all of us are assigned a gender identity on our birth certificates based on what appears to be our physiological sex.  Most of the time the hospital / nurses / midwives / taxi cab drivers guess correctly, but has been pointed out elsewhere, that ain’t necessarily so.  Even if only a small percentage of the human race has an issue with their assigned birth gender it is nonetheless an issue with millions of people, and all of them deserve courtesy and compassion in their attempts to come to terms with their physical form.

[2]  I use the term transgender as shorthand to cover a wide range of issues and concerns for a large number of people, not all of whom have similar, much less overlapping objectives and goals.  Insofar as the Golden Rule would seem to indicate we should not intrude on the private lives of others unless invited to do so, any commentary on a transgender person’s personal issues is unwarranted. 

[3]  Though typically transgender persons do tend to be singled out for persecution and bullying by heterosexuals.

[4]  Indeed, when such assaults occur it is typically nothing to do with sex but everything to do with dominance; typically a gang will humiliate a victim of the same sex in order to demonstrate their control and authority.

[5]  Not even on Facebook.

[6]  But not to their leaders, who are lying sacs of human excrement.

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Lying Sacs Of Human Excrement

17/10/2014

If no chain is stronger than the weakest link, no bridge stronger than the weakest girder, then the Christian church is royally fucked.

animated the general trestle collapse

We have bullying liars who, when called on their bullying and their lying, proclaim themselves to be victims, and the very people they have been actively seeking to harm are portrayed as villains.

Let us discuss the recent brouhaha regarding the subpoena issued by pro bono lawyers for Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

Ms Parker and the Houston City Council recently passed a measure called HERO (for Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) as is their right as duly elected officials of that city.

So far, so good.

A group of people opposed to that law circulated a petition for a referendum to repeal it.

Again, so far, so good.

Ms Parker et al rejected the petitions citing discrepancies that invalidated most of the signatures gathered.

Hmm, could be problematic;
hope they have the facts to back this up.

The group opposed to them filed a lawsuit — as is their right — claiming the petitions had been arbitrarily and unjustly dismissed.

A serious charge, if they can prove it’s true.

Up to this point, a few things that make one go “hmmm” but nothing illegal, unjust, or unconstitutional. Elected officials make a ruling, challengers go to court to challenge it, happens all the time, all legal and above board.

The next step is the one where
the lying sacs of human excrement
present themselves front and center.

See, under the laws of this great land — hell, under any standard of common human courtesy & decency; including most specifically the Bible’s own Golden Rule — what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

If you file suit against someone, you are asking a court to compel them to hand over evidence they may possess that will strengthen your case, establishing and proving facts that will help your claim.

But guess what?
They get to do
the exact same thing
right back atcha!

Pro bono lawyers, responding to the lawsuit on behalf of the LGBT community, fired back with a volley of discovery subpoenas of their own — which is their right!

They requested internal communications from the group bringing the lawsuit, as well as with people outside that group who had been working with them on the petition issue.

Now, you want to make the argument
that was not the brightest political
move to make, go right ahead;
I’ll agree with you on that point.

But there was nothing illegal, unconstitutional, threatening, or stifling about it.

Rather it was just a logical step any competent (albeit in this case politically tone deaf) lawyer would have done.

The subpoenas issued, while legal and basically justifiable, have been criticized as too broad and ambiguous, in particular when asking for copies of sermons written / delivered by various pastors who were associated with but not part of the group suing the mayor and city council.

The mayor, when she learned of them, had those particular subpoenas recalled; she and her legal team will obtain the information they need through other means.

But here’s what the lying sacs of human excrement have done:
Instead of saying merely that the opposing legal team’s subpoena request re discovery in a lawsuit that they and/or their allies had initiated was too broad, they quite deliberately and unambiguously presented the perfectly legal discovery subpoenas as an unwarranted, unprovoked, and unilateral action aimed at Christian churches purely with the intent of stifling opposition to laws passed by the government, in particular laws that reaffirm equal rights and protection under the law for all citizens and legal residents, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, nationality, gender, or previous condition of servitude.

And that, in a nutshell, is why people
are leaving organized Christianity
in greater and greater numbers.

If you’re going to act like a bully and deny other citizens their God given and constitutionally guaranteed rights, if you are going to file suit against people who protect those rights and demand discovery from them, then you are a hypocrite of the lowest, rankest order if you then turn around and deny you started the ball rolling, deny you initiated the process, deny your opposition is merely enjoying the exact same rights as you do in the exact same set of circumstances.

You are hypocrites.

And you are the reason more and more people are saying “shuck this fit” and walking away from our churches, never to return in our lifetime.

You lying sacs of human excrement are poisoning the well. You are convincing millions and millions of others that everything Christ taught, everything the church traditionally stood for re mercy and compassion and justice for all is nothing but a sham and a lie.

Nobody will side with that.

The time is coming when perhaps the kindest thing true Christians can do to the rotting shell of their organization is just to walk away from it, let it collapse, and start planting seeds for a truly organic Christian faith to grow.

It may be time to start thinking about walking away from Omelas.

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Corleone Family Values Day

13/10/2014

You celebrate your murderous Italian criminals,

corleone family portrait wedding

I’ll celebrate my murderous Italian criminals.

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Grudge Match: Norman Rockwell vs Edward Hopper

30/09/2014

So I was reading a discussion on art (specifically what differentiates “good” art from “bad” art)[1] and it occurred to me that while usually comparing one artist to another is typically at best comparing apples to artichokes, there was one comparison where we could at least get granny smiths compared to jonagolds.

Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978) and Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967) are near perfect compare & contrast subjects. Both lived at the same time, both staked out small life America as their prime subject matter.

Make no bones about it, Norman Rockwell was a phenomenally talented painter, and easily one of the best illustrators ever. A good eye for detail and composition, an even keener eye for anatomy, characterization, and facial expression. Look at his paintings and a whole story unfolds before you. Clever, witty, a consummate illustrator of the American scene.

Norman ROCKWELL Going and Coming 1947

Note that word:
Illustrator.

As much as I enjoy Rockwell’s work, as appreciative as I am of his talent and ability, Rockwell only brought so much to the party. He expected — nay, required his audience to already be familiar with his subjects before his put brush to canvas.

norman rockwell the-discovery

There was nothing new he had to offer, nothing original besides his personal style which, while good (arguably the best in his field) was not demonstratively different from literally scores of other artists working for the same markets.

norman rockwell cover_9260626

Yes, there is something unique to Rockwell’s work, and you can almost always spot a Rockwell painting…but there are a whole lotta guys who were doing pretty much what Rockwell was doing and they were all pretty much interchangeable.[2]

Norman ROCKWELL Christmas Homecoming 1948

This is not to diminish the talent or the ability or the skill sets of Rockwell’s direct competitors, but the difference among them was pretty slight, typically one of degrees, never of magnitude.

Amos Sewell - baseball-in-the-hospitalcase in point:  Amos Sewell

Cross to the other side of the street to see what Edward Hopper was doing with the same subject matter and –

HOLY @#%& — LOOK AT THAT LIGHT!!!

edward hopper - nighthwk

NOBODY EVER SAW LIGHT THAT WAY BEFORE!!!

Whatever Rockwell saw in a scene, Hopper saw something…else. He saw something that was truly unique, something that no other artist had ever put on canvas before.

conference-at-night

Something we had all seen but had never realized we had seen, and so when we saw it through his eyes it was a shock to the system, a startling realizing that yes…it was like that…it did look that way!

Summer Evening by Edward Hopper

Hopper didn’t rely on us to bring our own past knowledge to the experience; Hopper brought something we didn’t even know existed.

Office at Night

And that would have been remarkable by itself, but Hopper took it several steps further.

morning-sun_custom

He used light as no one ever used it before, taking the quality of his light — be it a melancholy setting sun or an office like by a single stark bulb or a nether zone of shadow between the dreamscape of the cinema and the tawdry lurid lights of the lobby — and putting it to work to literally shade and illuminate his characters.

tumblr_mex7awoYXs1s0psoao1_1280

It’s pretty easy to figure out the story in any Rockwell painting, and with the exception of the occasional rained out baseball game we know it’s going to be a happy ending.

hotel-lobby

Not so with Hopper. There are dark, unseen melancholies we can’t recognize not because we are unfamiliar with them but because we are too familiar with them, locking them up and blocking them off deep in our hearts, pretending they do not exist.

cdec177946b613760fa806e405ec86cf

Hopper brings them forth, and we are forced to admit we have no pat, happy answers to banish them, that they will stay with us now, circling around the edges of our consciousness, a sad but constant reminder that we are not the masters of our fates / the captains of our souls that we want to be.

Kinda special for daubs of paint of stretched cloth, huh?

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[1] As distinguished from hack work.   Hack work exists all along the spectrum.

[2] Don’t believe me, go look at the “slick” magazine covers of the 1940s – 60s: Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Liberty, plus dozens of regional and special interest magazines. If Rockwell had been abducted by aliens in 1940 the genre would never have missed him and would have continued on pretty much as it did, only with more work for the other guys.

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Been There, Done That

13/09/2014

So Bill Maher went on the Charlie Rose show and said blah blah blah something something something “most Muslim people in the world do condone violence just for what you think”.

Not having seen the show but only reading the transcript, I don’t know if Maher meant it in the sense of “condone violence just for the thoughts you think” or if he meant it in the context of beheadings, stoning apostates, genitally mutilating women, etc., etc., and of course, etc. being what you think the Muslims condone.

And being the crafty shifty shaper of words that he is, he immediately tries to have his cake and eat it by saying “vast numbers of Islamic people around the world [are not distancing themselves from ISIS]. That’s just not true” but “Vast numbers of Christians do not believe that if you leave the Christian religion you should be killed for it. Vast numbers of Christians do not treat women as second class citizens. Vast numbers of Christians…do not believe if you draw a picture of Jesus Christ you should get killed for it.”

Well, thanx, Bill:
You just created enough straw men to cast every production of The Wizard Of Oz well into the 23rd century.

BM Scarecrow

Next time tell us what you mean by “vast” and “not vast”.  You can pull anything out of your ass hat and claim it fits those parameters.

He blathers on:
“There was a Pew poll in Egypt done a few years ago — 82% said, I think, stoning is the appropriate punishment for adultery. Over 80% thought death was the appropriate punishment for leaving the Muslim religion.”

Cherry picking data from a poll taken at an unspecified point a few years back, Maher fails to state if he is citing actual responses to questions or if he is merely extrapolating from data.  More recent polls have indicated a small-to-medium shift away from Islamic believers support of strict Sharia law, but, hey, you can’t trust “those” people, can you?  They never change their attitudes and beliefs…

…just as American Christians never change
their opinions on matters like same sex marriage.

And needless to say, the bigoted chattering class
has embraced Maher’s weaselly rantings.

I’m sorry, folks, but I can’t hear you over the screams of Holocaust victims, burning Huguenots / Knights Templar / “witches”, Caribbean and Native American peoples, or the weeping of Africans crammed in the hulls of slave ships…

Yeah, right now there’s some pretty ugly stuff flourishing in various corners of the Islamic world.  We in the Christian West had to go thru similar festering periods in our own history, they have to go thru it now.

You don’t get to escape your adolescence on your way to becoming an adult.  The West has, for a variety of reasons, a 500 year head start on the rest of the world.  We also have more blood on our hands and in our history than they do.

As a brown skinned Middle Eastern religious leader of a few millennia back once said:
“First take the plank out of your own eye…”

Read Rodney Stark.  Read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, And Steel.  So called “Christian” nations & leaders have behaved just as swinishly as non-Christians, they just sugar coated it with “it’s God’s will” or “manifest destiny” or “divine providence” or “American exceptionalism”.

Bull. 
Fucking. 
Shit.

Look how many people were murdered in the Holocaust by Germany because they were the wrong religion. Germany gave us Martin Luther, and for all the good he did Luther also signed off on the persecution of Jewish people.

His poison permeated the German culture:
Track down an unexpurgated collection of the Grimm Bros tales and see how many stories involve a Jewish villain who deserves death or a Jewish victim the Christian hero is justified in abusing.

All this created a toxic environment where selfish industrialists in the aftermath of World War One promoted a crackpot and his failing anti-Semitic party in order to prevent communists / socialist / trade unions from demanding any of the industrialists’ hard earned won stolen cash.

And weep not for Germany:
Millions of them turned a blind eye and kept a silent tongue towards the hatred and persecution of the Jews and the gypsies and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They capitalized on the extermination of their neighbors even if they didn’t shove them into the showers personally.

What happened to them at the hands
of the Russians was richly deserved.

They never questioned their culture, they never asked if “those” people were truly as evil as their children’s stories and popular literature and pastors claimed.

To further quote the aforementioned brown skinned Middle Eastern religious teacher of two millennia ago:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Oh, but that was those nasty rotten Germans:
We are better; we are Anglo-American Christians and thus have a higher, nobler standard we live by.

Again:
Bull.
Fucking.
Shit.

Look at the Manga Carta; while preening over how wonderful a document it is regarding rights and freedoms, don’t overlook the part where a Jewish person’s estate couldn’t collect debts after they died, nor should you overlook the Edict of Expulsion just a few years later.

Cross the Atlantic:
Read about Columbus & his men enslaving or massacring Caribbean natives, often using brutal methods that make a trip to the showers at Auschwitz seem like a spring walk.

And speaking of walks, how
about that Trail Of Tears?

Want something a little more recent?
Let’s talk about how the Southern Baptist Convention was formed to justify slavery as a Christian institution in the U.S., how after the Civil War they supported segregation and fought against civil rights, how they and others of their ilk formed the backbone of the Ku Klux Klan, lynched hundreds of African-Americans, terrorized hundreds of thousands more, then when the rest of the country finally said, “Hold!  Enough!” to segregation, they ran off to form colleges and private schools and start home school movements to make sure their previous white broods didn’t have to breath class room air contaminated by…”them”.

Maher’s rant is based on one thing:
All he sees in the Islamic world is a bunch of “not-mes” he can justify dehumanizing and hating.

Maher, being an avowed atheist, is
welcome to his God-damned opinion.

What disgusts me is the huge number of purported Christians who kvel orgasmically at this utter repudiation of Christ’s basic message.

Going back to that ol’ brown skinned Middle Eastern religious teacher:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

If you want to embrace this bigotry,
please, by all means, feel free to do so.

But have the common courtesy
to renounce Christ first, m’kay?

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Never Complain About Your Job…

12/09/2014

Professional Poo Diver

…EVER!

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