Well, That Escalated Rather Quickly

Dear, dear readers. I watched my weekly “Simon’s Cat” video today and then decided to watch a movie I purchased recently. While setting up the DVD player I scrolled through Wolff Blitzer on the CNN saying something, something, something else, and wah wahbitty wuh, North Korea. You all know how he gets….

I watched the movie, “The Circle” if you’re interested, starring the guy from Forrest Gump and the windgarium lev ee oh SAH girl from Harry Potter. It was entertaining in a meh way.

Then I’m thinking~ I’ll just have a peek at the twitter and then make some rawhzberry petit fours for lunch. I shouldn’t have done.

Here’s Donald, and he’s on about North Korea.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sigh. I need a nap now.

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Who’d Have Guessed Trump Is Cynical, Amoral, And Self Serving?

I’m shocked. Shocked I tell you. Someone said the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So when people like Caitlyn Jenner act all betrayed and dismayed about Trump’s treatment of gay people I’d say the most important information we have is how the now President treated his close friend and confidant Roy Cohn.  Cohn, a powerhouse lawyer, was always there to help with the shady tax abatements, the zoning variances, the sweetheart deals, and to threaten  those who might stand in Trump’s way. “You knew when you were in Cohn’s presence you were in the presence of pure evil,” said lawyer Victor A. Kovner, who had known him for years. What was in it for Cohn?  Ironclad loyalty. The quid pro quo of being essential to the rich and powerful. Cohn would go on to become one of the last great power brokers of New York. His friends and clients came to include New York’s Francis Cardinal Spellman and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Cohn would become an occasional guest at the Reagan White House and a constant presence at Studio 54.  Cohn had an indelible influence on Trump. “Roy was a master of situational immorality . . . . He used a three-dimensional strategy: 1. Never settle, never surrender. 2. Counter-attack, counter-sue immediately. 3. No matter what happens, no matter how deeply into the muck you get, claim victory and never admit defeat.” As columnist Liz Smith once observed, “Donald lost his moral compass when he made an alliance with Roy Cohn.” And they were inseparable for many years.

There was a fly in the ointment, however. In spite of being a rabid conservative and integral to the machinations of the rich and powerful, Roy was very gay. And that was a no-no back in the day. Roy was happy to stay closeted in exchange for not being an embarrassment that had to be explained away to Jerry Falwell and his ilk who were then coming into their own as the Dominionist backbone of the conservative movement. Well, actually there were several flies in the ointment. The one doing the backstroke like Mike Phelps in an Olympic pool was HIV. Word  soon began to circulate that Cohn was battling AIDS. He denied it. He was also under a cloud of fraud and ethical-misconduct charges. When it became undeniable, Trump dropped him like a hot potato.  Trump would eventually present Cohn with a thank-you gift for a decade of favors: a pair of diamond cuff links. The diamonds like Donald’s friendship, turned out to be fakes.

So this is a guy who knew where the bodies were buried, because he buried them. All that mattered not a bit to Donald.  The LGTBQ community is an easy target, and will get some blowback, but none from his core base.  Those around him like Jeff Sessions and those in his “inner circle” will do well to remember loyalty goes one way only.  When you no longer have any use betrayal is shortly around the corner.

So why did Trump announce his new transgender policy via twitter today?  According to Politico,

After a week sparring with his attorney general and steaming over the Russia investigation consuming his agenda, President Donald Trump was closing in on an important win. House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico. But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them. They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.

There you have it. The simple cynical explanation.

Oh, and the number of days its been Trump hasn’t been a national embarrassment?


Posted in politics, Post weakly | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Total Solar Eclipse Aug 21 2017

News flash: Eclipse reveals loonies [courtesy Kjennings952]

The loons are out in force over this eclipse.  Not a few loons. I’m talking WTF amounts of loons.  They’re predicting everything from the collapse of the economy, to the “tribulation” and anti christ.

I’m wondering how we got this ignorant and then I remember who’s in the White House….

Seriously go to YouTube and search “total solar eclipse” and prepare to be amazed.

Posted in Post weakly, Science and Tech | Tagged | 22 Comments

My Favorite Twitter Joke This Week

Son: Why did you name my sister Teresa?

Dad: Coz your mom loves Easter and it is an Anagram.

Son: Thanks Dad.

Dad: You’re welcome Alan.

Posted in humor, Post weakly | 8 Comments

I Have Coffee and Apple Pie So Let’s DO This! Why Is Suffering Necessary?

Here’s the thing. Folks be giving the S&M crowd the side eye while they’re surfing the porn sites, but in church on Sunday they don’t give a second thought about the concept of vicarious atonement [penile substitution 😘]. What is vicarious atonement you might ask?
It varies from theology to theology. Some have a somewhat more benign view but this is pretty much what it boils down to:

Vicarious atonement in the Christian system is made by the offended party. God is the party against whom sin is committed, and he is the party who atones for its commission. Vicarious atonement, consequently, is the highest conceivable exhibition of the attribute of mercy: “Herein is love, that God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

And what does “propitiation” involve? Well god has this whole thing about punishment for sin. Sin demands death and eternal punishment. Seems like there’s no other options available to a god who is also capable of doing anything. To be consistent in the logic and the story Jesus should have then died and then [don’t pass go, collect $200 have an easy weekend and a resurrection] been sent straight to the lake of fire for eternity. Now that’s a sacrifice. That’s commitment. That’s the punishment atheists are supposed to get. The thinking around this idea is a little fuzzy to me. I’m hoping someone will be able to help me out with it. Say someone owes me $100. As the aggrieved party I could simply forgive the debt. What the bible seems to suggest is that the debt can’t be forgiven until/unless someone else gives me $100. Now that may be good for my bottom line but is that really forgiving anything? Can I claim the moral high ground? A just merciful god who claims to have unconditional love for humanity wouldn’t demand death and unending punishment, he’d just forgive the debt because he’s a mensch. I’m pretty sure Republican Jesus doesn’t approve of that, though.

So where does this notion of punishment come from? Why do so many people think suffering has virtue? I can’t think of any society with cultural justice norms that doesn’t include punishment of some kind.
There’s Opus Dei of the Catholics:

Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei,
stipulated that self-harm is mandatory if one wishes to live the “Spirit of Opus Dei” fully.
In his book The Way, he wrote: “Blessed be pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain. . . glorified be pain!”
Aside from the metal cilice, some members of the Opus use a “discipline”, a whip that is used once a week on the back. They also take cold showers, remain silent or fast.

Then there’s this snake charmer Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu otherwise known as Mother Teresa.
She wasn’t the least bit interested in her own capacity for suffering, rather she preferred
to enjoy the misery of others.

“[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” quote Hitchens

To Mayor Marion Barry during visit to Washington DC:

‘Mother Teresa, what do you hope to accomplish
‘The joy of loving and being loved.’
‘That takes a lot of money, doesn’t it?’
‘It takes a lot of sacrifice.’
‘Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?’
‘I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept
their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. 1 think
the world is being much helped by the suffering of
the poor people.’
quote Teresa in her own oft repeated words

Islam [Shia sect] has their version:

Like other monotheistic death cults, they practice routine mutilation of themselves and their children.

Judaism has chest beating during Yom Kippur, and some rather sketchy practices involving goats.

The high priest would hold a lottery among two goats. One was designated to the Lord, which meant it was promptly taken to the altar, slaughtered and its blood was splattered in the Holy of Holies. The other was designated for Azazel, a demon of the wilderness, who – according to Enoch 1 – taught men how to make weapons and women how to adorn themselves with makeup. [*now we know how Jezebel got her start]
A red band was tied to this unfortunate goat’s horns and he was taken by another man – usually a priest – to the Judaean Desert. Jerusalem notables accompanied the man and goat on their 12-kilometer trek. They ritualistically halted for refreshment at 10 huts specially erected for this purpose, where food and drink were ceremoniously offered the man, who would refuse it.

    The goat’s preferences were apparently not considered.

After the 10th booth, the man and beast proceeded alone. When they arrived at the top of a cliff face, the man would hoist the goat into the air and toss him down the hill backwards. The goat would tumble down the hill and die, at which point a system of flag signals would inform the high priest that he could continue with the rest of the day’s rituals.
from Haaretz

[*my emphasis]

But religion isn’t the only bastion of torture on the way to “something”. The Matis tribe in Brazil have a bitter poison dumped in their eyes in order to “improve” their vision. After this, they are beaten and whipped. Finally they must endure the excruciating conclusion to the trial in which they inject themselves with the poison of the Giant Leaf Frog using wooden needles. Young Fula boys must undergo a whipping battle in which they trade blows with another boy from a different tribe in order to become a man. The sticks they use to whip each other have sharpened points and thorns all over them to maximize the pain they inflict. Both boys attempt to take the blows without wincing or showing any signs of weakness. The boy whom the observing crowd deems the winner is considered the bravest, and earns the right to be called a man. Enduring fire ants, ritual scarification, physical and mental privation, is common across many cultures. Wanna know what the number one ritual for rite of passage is? Guesses anyone? Yup. Genital mutilation, both male and female. I suspect that’s how it got so popular among the religious. It helps convince it’s practitioners it is necessary because “god” wants it.

Where am I going with all this? I’d like to meet the god who isn’t angry, or coming back angry, or about to wreak retribution on some massive scale. I’d like to think we can get along without unnecessary suffering. I’d like to think life is hard enough and the “rite of passage” where we’re all accepted as adults is to have done it with grace, dignity, help from our friends and family, and love.

Posted in atheism, Post weakly | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments