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Thinkage

21/04/2015

“[T]he useful way to understand fascism, at least for the purposes of [redacted], is as an aesthetic – as a particular mix of fetishes and paranoias that always crops up in culture, occasionally seizing some measure of power, essentially always with poor results. It can basically be reduced to a particular sort of story. The fascist narrative comes, in effect, in two parts. The first involves a nostalgic belief in a past golden age – a historical moment in which things were good. In the fascist narrative, this golden age was ended because of an act of disingenuous betrayal – what’s called the ‘stab in the back myth.’ (The most famous form, and the one that gave the myth its name, being the idea that German Jews had betrayed the German army, leading to the nation’s defeat in World War I.) Since then, the present and sorry state of affairs has been maintained by the backstabbers, generally through conspiratorial means.

“The second part is a vision of what should happen, which centers on a heroic figure who speaks the truth of the conspiracy and leads a populist restoration of the old order. The usual root of this figure is (a bad misreading of) Nietzsche’s idea of the ubermensch – a figure of such strength that morality does not really apply to him. He’s at once a fiercely individualistic figure – a man unencumbered by the degenerate culture in which he lives – and a collectivist figure who is to be followed passionately and absolutely. A great leader, as it were. (This is, counterintuitively, something of a libertarian figure. Ayn Rand’s heroes – the great and worthy men who deserve their freedom – are archetypal fascist heroes, because they rise up over the pettiness of their society and become great leaders.) It is not, to be clear, that all cults of personality are fascist, any more than all conspiracy theories are. Rather, it is the combination – the stab-in-the-back conspiracy theory coupled with the great leader that all men must follow – that defines the fascist aesthetic.” – Philip Sandifer, Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons

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“Black Sheep” by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs

21/04/2015

an oldie but a goodie
little noted at the time but
well worth listening to today

sam_the_sham_and_the_pharaohs_promo__80259.1407171463.1280.1280

Black sheep lays around drinking wine all day
Readin’ poetry and layin’ in the grass
Ask him for a drink, he’ll give you a glass

White sheep drinks one glass of beer a year
Ask him for a shot, he says it’s all he’s got
Not down from the cellar
Can’t help nobody

Black sheep, black sheep
Have you any wool?
Three bags full

For his friends he ain’t got in the world
Black sheep, he’s got an old ragged coat of black
Tell him you’re cold, he’ll take it off his back

White sheep he’s got thirty coats or more
Saved up from the last year and the year before
Been savin’ them up for a rainy day
And it rained yesterday, ain’t got none left

Black sheep, black sheep
Have you any wool?
Yeah, three bags full

White sheep he died a wealthy man
Had five gold watches, six gold rings on his hand
Had a million dollar funeral but it’s a shame
Nobody came

Ain’t not fair
Alone, dead

Black sheep left the world in a rough pine box
Everybody came ’round
Laughing, telling jokes
The old women cried ’cause the bad man he’d been
But when they passed the casket
And everyone looked in
Seemed like he grinned
Like he know somethin’

Black sheep, black sheep
Have you any wool?
Three bags full

Just layin’ over there dead
Still grinnin’ like he was holdin’ out on everybody

Black Sheep lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
written by Bob McDill

 

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Ode To A Christianist Screechweasel

6/04/2015

today you shout Muslim!
yesterday you shouted Communist!
and before that it was ******-lover!

shut up
we’re tired of hearing it
we’re tired of you

I’d tell you to go to hell
but you’re already there

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Ruben Bolling on Indiana

2/04/2015

Tom the Dancing Bug

find more of Ruben’s strips at GoComics.Com

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A Message To My Christian Brothers & Sisters

26/03/2015

This one is for my co-religionists, so here’s a cute animated gif of a bouncing cube of red jello for the non-Christians.

animated bouncing jello cube

I’ll see the rest of you after the jump.

Read the rest of this article »

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Facts / Opinions / Evidence / Truth

24/03/2015

Justin P McBrayer[1] recently posted an op-ed piece with the NYTimes called Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts [2] where he relates the following:

“When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

“Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

“Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

“…So what’s wrong with this distinction and how does it undermine the view that there are objective moral facts?

“First, the definition of a fact waffles between truth and proof — two obviously different features. Things can be true even if no one can prove them. For example, it could be true that there is life elsewhere in the universe even though no one can prove it. Conversely, many of the things we once “proved” turned out to be false. For example, many people once thought that the earth was flat. It’s a mistake to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives). Furthermore, if proof is required for facts, then facts become person-relative. Something might be a fact for me if I can prove it but not a fact for you if you can’t. In that case, E=MC2 is a fact for a physicist but not for me.

“But second, and worse, students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions. They are given quizzes in which they must sort claims into one camp or the other but not both. But if a fact is something that is true and an opinion is something that is believed, then many claims will obviously be both. For example, I asked my son about this distinction after his open house. He confidently explained that facts were things that were true whereas opinions are things that are believed. We then had this conversation:

“Me: ‘I believe that George Washington was the first president. Is that a fact or an opinion?’

“Him: ‘It’s a fact.’

“Me: ‘But I believe it, and you said that what someone believes is an opinion.’

“Him: ‘Yeah, but it’s true.’

“Me: ‘So it’s both a fact and an opinion?’

“The blank stare on his face said it all.”[3]

To quote one of the great rhetoricians of our era:

sam-jackson-retort-468x350

“Facts,” “truth,” “evidence,” and “opinion” are not the same thing. They may overlap when referring to concrete examples, but that’s a function of language, not reality.

Facts, so to speak, are the atoms of reality: They is what they is. They carry no moral weight of judgment, no meaning in and of themselves. A fact either is or it is not.

Truth is the summation of several facts in conjunction or juxtaposition against one another. The “truth” of water, for example, is a summation of several facts about it: Its molecular formula, the pressure and temperature points where it freezes or vaporizes, the way it interacts with other molecules, etc., etc., and of course, etc.

Evidence are facts assembled to produce a truth, either in whole or in part.

Opinion is a belief, preferably based on informed knowledge about the facts and evidence before one, that makes a presumption about what truth is.

Fact: I was born

Opinion A: I was born within the borders of the United States at that time

Opinion B: I was not born within the borders of the United States at that time

Without fact based evidence to prove either Opinion A or Opinion B, they are both equally valid assumptions.

I’m the flippin’ Schroedinger’s Cat of procreation, and lacking facts in evidence my birth within / without the borders of the US are equally valid opinions.

Only one of those opinions is true, of course.

And all the logic, rhetoric, assembled supporting evidence, sincerity of belief, and numbers of believers does not alter the factual truth one iota.

There are no moral “facts”,
but there are moral “truths”.

Unlike facts which can be fixed in time and space, truth does not need observable concrete evidence to be true or not.

There was no cup of coffee on my desk an hour ago, there is a cup of coffee on my desk now, there will be an empty cup on my desk in an hour are all valid statements of fact even though they do not represent the same exact thing. They can be assembled to form a truth about my having a cup of coffee while working.

Or more precisely, they can be assembled to produce an opinion about the truth; for all you know I’m just shining you on about the coffee, the desk, and me working. Or more precisely still, the truth is that it’s possible for me to drink coffee, and that truth remains unalterable regardless of the facts of my coffee drinking / non-drinking.

McBrayer wants to have his imaginary cake and make you eat it. George Washington’s status as the first president of the US stands independent of McBrayer’s belief, no matter how much evidence he assembles to prove it. He is right in his opinion — this time.

But he could just as sincerely believe even more and better evidence of other facts and assemble them into a conclusion that is not the truth.

It drives hard line moralists nuts to live in a universe where their opinions are not automatically revered and treated as fact, but to quote another great rhetorician:

“Dem’s da conditions wot prevails.”

.

.

.

[1] Yeah, I know: “Who?” Bear with me, I gotta fill a quota on this blog and this one’s an easy pop fly.

[2] Probably for the same reason they don’t think there’s any dry water, either; McBrayer is using mutually contradictory terms.

[3]  Congratulations, Justin, for opening a can of pseudo-intellectual whup-ass on your seven year old…

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I Fail To See A Difference

21/03/2015

This is Barronelle Stutzman. She is a Christian being persecuted for staying true to her beliefs.

Barronelle Stutzman coverstory-4

This is Lester Maddox. He was another Christian who was persecuted for staying true to his beliefs.

lester-maddoxs-quotes-4

No, that’s not Lester on the left; Lester is the guy with the gun threatening an American citizen for demanding his Constitutional rights (the guy with the axe handle is Lester’s son, IIRC).

Lester’s religious belief was that African-Americans were subhumans who were being punished by God for their great-great-great-great-great-times-howmany-grandfather Ham’s sin against their great-great-great-great-great-times-howmany-grandfather + 1 Noah.

And because of that, Ham’s descendants were cursed with black skin and condemned to be slaves to white skinned people for all eternity.

Sez so right in the Bible…

Bad enough the US government went and changed the Constitution to get rid of slavery — which, after all, had been ordained by God — but then they went and let those uppity so-and-sos have equal rights with white people, and that just ain’t right!

Still, Lester and his buddies were willing to live and let live…just so long as the uppity so-and-sos were willing to live in the colored part of town and stepped out of the way when a white person passed by and not vote or go to public schools or run for election or expect fire or ambulance service.

And they sure as hell weren’t supposed to come into a fine white person’s establishment and demand to be treated just the same way as a white customer was treated.

Why, that was violating God’s holy law! That was a sinful abomination! If God had wanted people to treat each other the way they wanted to be treated, with kindness and compassion and mercy, well then, wouldn’t God have said that in His holy scripture?

Hunh?

 

Hunh?

Hunh?

Barronelle believes it’s her religious right to deny her fellow citizens their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Recently a couple of African-Americans…no, wait…a couple of Jews…no, wait, a couple of gay guys came into her florist shop to order flowers for their wedding.

Now, the thing a non-bigoted Christian American would have done would be to sell them the flowers. See, a non-bigoted Christian American might not approve of what another person’s religious beliefs are, but they will acknowledge they are supposed to treat them the same way they treat someone whose beliefs they agree with.

And that’s what same sex marriage is all about:
Their religious belief is that it is not a sin for two people of the same sex to marry.

Same as two divorcees re-marrying have a religious belief that it’s okay for two divorcees to re-marry.

Same as two people with different ethnic backgrounds have a religious belief that it’s okay for different ethnic groups to marry.

All of which had been outlawed at one time
but finally allowed when laws were changed.

Now, if your religious beliefs preclude that, no one is demanding you marry someone of the same sex, or who was previously divorced, or of a different ethnic background.

It would be wrong to force you to do that.

But just as it would be wrong to force you to do it, it is equally wrong for you to attempt to deny others their rights.

And that’s what Barronelle Stutzman is doing by refusing service to them.

Same as Lester Maddox.

The only people objecting to same sex marriage today are doing so from a conservative religious background.

They were taught it was wrong and nothing will change their mind.

Not even Jesus himself (God incarnate to Christians), who taught “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Who quoted Rabbi Hillel, a Jewish heavy hitter of a century earlier, when he taught “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

And who taught “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you”

And “Give to every man that asketh of thee”

And “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

And “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

I’m sure Barronelle Stutzman and her allies think of her as a good, decent, kind, loving, generous, righteous Christian being persecuted for her faith; if they didn’t, why do they keep running pictures of like this when they try to gin up support for her?

Barronelle Stutzman coverstory-3

Funny thing is, I look at that photo and am reminded of this:

nazi family cropped

 

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Latin Grace Prayer

1/03/2015

Latin Grace Prayer

“To those who have hunger
give bread and to those who
have bread give the hunger
for justice.”

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The Fixer’s Manifesto

26/02/2015

The Fixers Manifesto

originally found here

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Could Superman Be Black?

22/02/2015

black superman hqdefault

For Superman as he exists now to be the character that he is, he has to grow up in a relatively sheltered environment. He and the family that has adopted him can not be subject to persecution or victimization; he has to be able to empathize closely enough with dominant culture that he adopts their values & morality as a given, and he must never encounter anything as a child that would challenge that.

The occasional burglar / out of town gangster / dam bursting / forest fire / alien invasion not withstanding, Superman while growing up can not be either subject to or a witness to systematic persecution, much less systematic persecution based on racial or religious discrimination.

And historically, discrimination is what happened to people who fell outside the white Christian camp in North America, particularly rural North America.

Now, it’s entirely logical & plausible that by either the grace of God or miraculous good fortune, Kal-El was adopted by the Kents, who being white Christians in a predominantly white Christian culture did not get persecuted by their neighbors yet who at the same time were good enough as Americans and/or Christians to instill in Clark the importance of liberty, justice, and equality for all people of all beliefs.

When Superman finally makes his presence known to the world at large (we’ll presume that outside the immediate community, his exploits as Superboy were written off as the equivalent of UFO or Bigfoot stories), he has a fully formed set of ethical & moral values that could only come from a person who believes the system is intrinsically fair, that everybody who plays by the rules has a shot of success & happiness, and that discrimination is not the norm nor should it ever be tolerated.

That would not be his POV if he grew up as an African-American child in rural America. To this day African-Americans are discriminated against and treated unjustly on the basis of their skin color; if you don’t believe me, go find some African-Americans on FB and ask them to give you their POV re Ferguson & the shooting of Michael Brown.

An African-American Superman — raised as an infant in rural America — would not see the dominant culture as A Really Swell Thing but rather an obstacle that must be overcome. The fact that Superman as he exists today is lauded and praised by the dominant culture is proof he is no threat to them; if he was black & beating the snot out of racists, the reaction would be far, far different.

Let’s look at the
other side of the
superhero coin:
The Batman

Thanx to progress that has been made in America, today the possibility of the child of an African-American billionaire deciding to avenge his parents — killed in a non-race related crime — is as plausible as a white kid doing the same. Operating in an urban environment, Batman would encounter a variety of people, good and bad, from all races / classes / religious backgrounds.

Batman as a concept is also comfortable with the idea that the system — if not inherently corrupt — has been subjected to corruption that must be addressed through extra-legal means. He is not the cockeyed optimist that Superman is.

Billy Batson, altho white in previous incarnations, has also grown up in a lower class urban environment; his worldview is not as far from a lower class urban kid of any other ethnicity / religion. Captain Marvel (whom Billy exchanges places with; he does not transform into the big red cheese) is a supernatural being from a spiritual realm; he is literally above and beyond ethnic identity as practiced in North America. He could be any color — including green — and still fill his function as Captain Marvel, and Billy could be any color so long as he was from a lower class background and understands what it means to be the underdog.

If Clark Kent was not raised by wise / protective parents in the background of a dominant culture that he was presumed to be part of, he would not be Superman.  An African-American Bruce Wayne or Billy Batson would still produce a Batman or a Captain Marvel.

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