Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hate Mail - Duncan Black Reduces A Complex History To Dishonest and Counterproductive Ends

Pope On A Rope

I see a lot of liberals expressing sentiments like "THE POPE STILL SUCKS ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND GAY ISSUES SO HE STILL SUCKS." And, well, that's basically true. But he's the Pope, the head of a mostly conservative worldwide religion, not the leader of liberals. This Pope is better. I'll happily cheer better. The last two popes really sucked. JP II was treated as a nice guy, because he knew how to project that image, but he was a complete asshole. As for Benedict, well, I'll just say nothing. Better doesn't mean perfect, but better is progress.

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — Pope Francis offered a direct apology on Thursday for the complicity of the Roman Catholic Church in the oppression of Latin America during the colonial era, even as he called for a global social movement to shatter a “new colonialism” that has fostered inequality, materialism and the exploitation of the poor.

Most people have no idea just how horrible the church was in Latin America, and how strong the backlash against them was in some places, particularly Mexico. They were bad actors and this should be acknowledged.

o begin with, I suspect that what Duncan Black knows about the very long, very complex and entirely varied history of the Catholic Church in Latin America is extremely little of it and if he wants to present the violent, at times fascistic, atheist,  Calles* dictatorship in Mexico as a better alternative to what he seems to assert is the control of the Catholic church over the Mexican government,  then he is probably as ignorant of that, as well.  Of course any human institution with a history of a hundred years, never mind thousands and a history that unfolds in one country, as opposed to scores of countries is bound to, eventually, demonstrate the full range of human depravity, from worst to least.  The habit of the Anglo-Saxon mind is to imagine "The Catholic Church" as if it has been some monolithic, unchanging, demonic institution under the absolute dictatorship of "The Pope" (another undifferentiated evil) when that is, as well, an expression of ignorance about a very complex entity with a very long and complex history manifesting, again, the full range of human depravity.  That history includes hierarchical sanction of slavery and oppression of the native population but, as well, hierarchical and even papal denunciation for slavery and oppression.  The attempts to abolish slavery and injustice in Latin America has always had to struggle against the very secular powers, governments, financial interests, oligarchic families and imperial powers which opposed it and which, quite often, rather dominated the Catholic Church, even weak popes and those who were about as admirable as any other corrupt secular leader.

The history of the Catholic Church in Latin America has, to my knowledge, only ever included one period of direct rule under the authority of popes, or, rather, through their agents, the Jesuits, known as the Reductions of Paraguay, from about 1630 to the 1760s when they were destroyed at the behest of secular rulers and interests who forced a weak pope to removed the Jesuits so they could destroy the experiment in egalitarian democracy and economic justice.   You can read a detailed account of those from the old Catholic Encyclopedia of you can read what the popular historian, Will Durant, an atheist who had a rather negative view of religion and, especially the Catholic church he'd once been a member of and his wife, Ariel.

After what, I have to say, seems like a rather strange and perhaps romantic assertion of socialism among the pre-invasion Incas, the Durants say:

On the opposite slope of South America, in the Portugese colony along the Uruguay River, 150 Jesuits organized 100,000 Indians into another socialistic society (c. 1620-1750).  The ruling priests managed nearly all agriculture, commerce and industry.  They allowed each youth to choose among the trades they taught, but they required every able-bodied person to work eight hours a day.  They provided for recreation, arranged sports, dances, and choral performances of a thousand voices, and trained orchestras that played European music.  They served also as teachers, physicians, and judges, and devised a penal code that excluded capital punishment.  

Let me break in and note that, in the 17th century, their penal code abolished capital punishment, something almost no secular government achieved until the 20th century notably those two loci of the touted "Enlightnement"  France and Britain,  and many of them haven't even now, including the country and state that Duncan Black lives in, where an informal moratorium on it may well give way to a court challenge.  I believe no officially atheist state has ever been anything but enthusiastic in its imposition of death, both for criminal punishment but, as well, as a means of suppressing rivals and to terrorize the inhabitants as a method of control.

By all accounts the natives were docile and content, and when the community was attacked it defended itself with an ardor and ability that surprised the assailants.  In 1750 Portugal ceded to Spain territory including seven of the Jesuit settlements.  A rumor having spread that the lands of these colonies contained gold, the Spanish in America insisted on immediate occupation, the Portuguese government under Pombal (then at odds with the Jesuits) ordered the priests and the natives to leave the settlements; and after some resistance by the Indians the experiment came to an end.   

The Lessons of Histrory:  Socialism and History

I would guess that any group of poor, non-white inhabitants of, not only the English American colonies at that time would have traded places with the inhabitants of those Reductions but certainly just about any non-white people living under white rule anywhere in North America or Europe or various other lands invaded by Europe.   I would imagine many of the poor white people in England and certainly Ireland would have found the system the Jesuits imposed as a vast improvement on their lives under the regime of "enlightenment" which imposed the scientific "reforms" of the Poor Law almost a century after the end of the Reductions.   I would also guess that, today, as you read this,  if America's vast prison industry were run under those same rules that they would not only be entirely less violent but would actually be productive of something far better for everyone than the second-class, disenfranchised members of an underclass, generally of color of of poor-white people, many of whom are sent back into that system against their will.  That is under our entirely secular government, at the behest of our free press.

To lie about the best of what the Catholic church did and does in Latin America is as much of a lie as ignoring the worst.   Considering the rarity of moral action in human culture, certainly as much under secular rule as that under the alleged rule of religion, there is certainly more that is useful to be learned from one of the longest and most successful periods of better government than there is from ignoring that or brushing it aside in ideological ignorance.

There was a good reason that when the Reagan administration waged its terror war in Latin America in the 1980s, among the foremost targets of that war were Catholic lay people, priests, nuns, even archbishops, it is because they took the teachings of Jesus seriously, they took the long, long line of papal encyclicals on the subject of social and economic justice seriously and wanted to implement those in the real lives of real people who were oppressed by oligarchs, some of them, yes, members of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.   But those revolutionaries were not only also Catholics, they were the ones who asserted the teachings of Jesus and the Mosaic Law and the social justice teachings of the Church.

And Reagan's war was not a new thing, even such "liberals" as John Kennedy were part of the long effort of the United States to subjugate the people of Latin America.  In this video, as informed a commentator as Noam Chomsky - an atheist, by the way - attributed Kennedy's support for the Brazilian junta to his reaction to the radical turn towards that same gospel tradition, those same social and economic justice teachings by the pope during his administration, St. John XXIII.

Notice, especially in light of the above, his mention of Uruguay.  Also notice what he says about the hated evangelical movement as being entirely more complex than it is generally believed to be.

I have to admit, I have had more respect for Duncan Black than I did the present rump remnant of his blog community, though after being the target of libel in that community for the past several years, to his knowing indifference for that, I have to say I don't respect him an awful lot, these days.  I do think he is an example of a liberal who isn't very liberal, despite a few details of libertarianism and a few ideas about the more efficient management of economics.   But this post was just sheer ignorance due to the absurd reduction of a complicated history into an ideologically retained myth.  If I didn't think the real history was extremely important to learn from and to build on, I probably wouldn't have written this post.  I really don't know why you sent his post to me, though you clearly didn't think I'd be able to respond to it.

For more, see the series of posts I did detailing the Christian origins of abolitionism in February (see the archive index to the left) including several key papal encyclicals and writings of Christians and Catholics from the earliest centuries of Christianity till the period after official abolition was achieved but the actual practice of slavery persisted.  I will be indexing those, soon.

*  In his old age and out of power, as death crept up on him, Calles gave up atheism, in the same period he sort of gave up fascism.

BDSM Is A Symptom of Terminal Illness Of Liberalism And Of The Surrender of Feminism

I have been having a rather astonishing argument at another blog that stems from a flippant remark I made about the rather disastrous Twitter Q&A session that her people arranged for E. L. James, the author of the repulsive 50 Shades of Grey,   Considering the, um,... "theme" of the book and its, uh, "plot" it was probably predictable that giving people an opportunity to ask James about her writing would generate such questions as,  "Is there a safe word we can use to get you to stop writing such drivel?"  "Which do you hate more, women or the English language?"  "Do you ever feel guilty that you made so much money from romanticizing sexual abuse and selling it as "erotica romance"? and, getting back to other such  woman-hating "chick lit",  "Did you see the abusive relationship of Bella and Edward and think "hmm needs more abuse"

My comment was "Well, FINALLY, some good comes out of Fifty Shades. The tweets were the only good thing about the book. Didn't look at the movie, hate movies to start with but it sounds pretty awful for a movie plot."  To which a member of the BDSM "community" objected,  and objected again and again as I answered their comments.   I will say that this happened at what is one of the better feminist blogs, though I have my doubts as to the gender of the "woman" I was having the argument with.   If you want to read it I was using the Simels thwarting (though not anymore) pseudonym,  "Camera Obscura".

But my point in this post is to say that this is a golden opportunity to point out that there is no shade of gray about this.  Bondage, "discipline," sadism and masochism are not just some other variant on sexuality that, as good liberals, we are bound to respect and advocate as just another lifestyle.  That point is so obvious that it screams to be addressed as whatever wave of feminism is supposedly washing over us, no matter what assertions relating it to civil rights are claimed on behalf of people promoting  or engaged in those behaviors, they are wrong and immoral and the assertion that they are deserving of support by liberals is incoherent and a complete destruction of liberalism, itself.

Take the first word in the acronym,  "bondage" as in tying someone up so they can't get away, flee, or defend themselves, putting themselves at the mercy of someone else whose "kindness" is hardly to be counted on and likely not  the motive of the "slave master" or whatever other terms for the dominator of the one consenting to be trussed up or handcuffed, controlled, or whatever.    Did the entire course of liberalism over the past three centuries struggle against EXACTLY that scenario, shed blood, fight an enormous war, engage in dangerous struggle, endure terror campaigns and murder do it so that exactly what they were struggling against could be adopted as just another means of sexual gratification?   Did feminism struggle, not only against the kind of imprisonment of women that was and still is possible in the worst scenarios of men dominating and terrorizing women?  Of oppressing them in the worst ways?  Not to mention the threat that such possibilities plays in every aspect of the subjugation of women, of intimidating them into accepting the coercion of the merely less bad, the very kind of thing that restricts their movement, their right to self determination?  The thing that makes some of them feel so despairingly weak that they'll put themselves in an oppressive relationship or marriage with someone who MIGHT treat them with less violence as they protect them from worse?   And to promote that as kewl and sexy?   Apparently so.  As I've mentioned before, when you include something, no matter how depraved, no matter how unhealthy or dangerous or abusive as a part of sexual arousal, the inverted morality of post-liberalism goes blind to its actual reality in the real world as opposed to its PR fantasy.   When did women forget that men treat women that way BECAUSE THEY GET OFF ON IT.   Sexual domination by men always had a component of sexual gratification in it, it was part of what feminism had to struggle against.

The next word in the acronym is a lie, a bald faced lie,  "Discipline" is a dishonest euphemism for sadistic domination, abuse, terrorizing, hurting, harming and any range of other pain that can enter into the scenario.  It infantilizes adults to the status of disobedient children.   Of course the infliction of pain as a means of demonstrating and enjoying the ability to control someone else is the purpose of the thing, no matter what ruse of "consent" is asserted on the part of the one who is the target of that exercise of power.  One of the more frequent assertions of porn with this theme is the "breaking" of the submissive person so they will accept and want the abuse.  I doubt there is any possible and meaningful adult level of consent to submit to such a situation, it is a sign of a damaged mind to tolerate such a situation, never mind freely submit to it.   And the mind so damaged is often managed by the one who wants to hurt them.   The "grooming" of a victim of pedophile abuse is no different from getting someone to submit to their own abuse, even if that person is nominally an adult.

One of the questions asked of E.L. James was, "Can you confirm that you will be writing the story of Ramsay Bolton from his perspective, showing he is just misunderstood?"  I had to look up Ramsay Bolton, a character in Game of Thrones, but there is a more telling question from reality,  the excuse of a number of men who murdered women after raping them is that it was "rough sex" gone wrong. That was the defense of the murderer of Jennifer Levin,  the infamous preppie murderer, Robert Chambers, his exculpatory narrative sounded exactly like it could have been inspired from BDSM lit, porn, in another word.

Sadism and masochism are the real sicknesses which are the reality of the proposed "vanilla sex" version, B and the D.   And those terms arose to describe mental illnesses, pathological behaviors and the mental sickness those arose from.  They really are no different and are all so closely related to rape, sexual enslavement and murder that to deny that is, in itself, a mental disorder.   The assertion that they are merely another form of consensual sex is as transparently a lie as the assertions that women invite rape and so rape is a myth.

The assertion that this is just another means of jaded people to keep their interest in sex lives alive shows how stupid the topic of sex, and especially sex which is allegedly sophisticated and kewl makes your typical person anxious to be seen as kewl and up to date.  Which has nothing much to do with liberalism or of any aspiration to freedom and liberation.   That anyone could think that striking that pose is a liberal one is as stupid and irrational as asserting that allowing employers to maintain people in horrible, dangerous working conditions as "right to work" or "free to choose" is also a liberal pose.   To assert that people whose choice is coerced or the result of progressive and systematic fear, intimidation and terror is their exercising of their "agency" is such total and rank bull shit that I can't think of any other word to succinctly describe it.  Yet such is what is to be taken as not only liberalism but feminism when those very acts violate everything that liberalism exists for and which are the primary means through which women have been subjugated and oppressed.  The same goes for the means by which LGBT people have been oppressed, what part of violence and intimidation, inequality and immorality are we supposed to pretend we don't see for what it is in this striving to be kewl and transgressive?

Liberals often wonder why they don't win in politics since the 1960s, why the hard fought progress of, not only decades past, but centuries past is being overturned all around us.   It is exactly this, that liberals have been duped into giving up liberalism in the original sense of the word for the indifferent, amoral laissez faire style of liberalism that was asserted in the late 18th and 19th century, the means by which rich men, aristocrats, with no moral restraints could do to workers, to sex objects, what they wanted to.   The promotion of BDSM is as neo-liberal as sending jobs to slave labor countries, it turns the people left here into a life of the same kind of desperation, if somewhat less grindingly poor. That is, as well, a theme of 50 Shades of Grey.   It was all about the perverted rich man, after all, Christian Grey.   His victim had to be groomed to "consent".    Liberals gave up this fight through being duped by a series of false equivalencies and a desire to be modern and up to date.   There was never any reason for liberals to accept what is a total, basic and complete violation of the only reasons for liberalism to exist,  to fight bondage and oppression and the desire of more powerful people to dominate and hurt, to use and destroy other people.   That's hard enough without getting duped on behalf of the sex industry and hack writers who substitute the talent they don't have with sexual exotica and the publishers who get rich putting that junk out.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mercedes Sosa - La Flor Azul

Mercedes Sosa, voice
Omar Espinoza, Guitar and charango
Jose Luis Castiñeira de Dios, Bass and guitar
Domingo Cura, Percussion (his solo on the bombo makes you wish it were longer)

La Arenosa

Update:  Años

Listening to this music, like reading Latino poetry always makes most of the stuff being produced in English seem like ephemeral fluff.   Too many overly comfortable and fussy university based poets, too many first-world problems.

Beethoven - Sonata op 22 in Bb Major - Rudoph Serkin

This is about my favorite recording of this sonata.  Apparently it was of whoever owned this disc, as well, it's been well played.  Wish there were a more pristine copy of it to post.  Serkin was about my favorite player of the classic German repertoire from the time I was a beginning player.  He still is. There are times, especially in the second movement, when it's like the heavens are opening up.  When he was a young student an impresario approached his father with the idea of touring him as a prodigy.  His father, who, if I recall the story correctly, could really have used the money.  Serkin's father said, "We don't want a prodigy, we want an artist."  They got one.   One of my teachers told me he'd played at his university and he listened to him practicing, he said when he began it was good but not fantastic but after a couple of hours it was brilliant, so he worked at it.

I think it's understandable, if kind of regrettable, that he pretty much specialized in that one area of repertoire.   He was, for a time, involved with Schoenberg's circle,  I don't know if he recorded any of that repertoire but I suspect he'd have performed it beautifully.   Artists have to make a choice of how they're going to go with their career.   His son, Peter, also a fine pianist has played a far wider range of music.

Religion And Politics Will Always Mix Liberals Are Idiots To Have Ever Denied That Reality

In addition to the idiotic atheist bromide discussed in my morning post, the insistence by atheists and others that religious people keep their religion out of politics is absurd unless you are prepared for rule by atheist despots instead of by The People.  The People giving government legitimacy in the only way that is possible, by voting it into office and agreeing to its rule insures that religious thinking will always be part of that.  And, as Richard McBrien pointed out, that's produced some of the best political action that has ever happened, as well as some far less good.  As he says, it all depends on which person's understanding of religion wins out in the end.  And, as I said a few days ago, if I have to take a chance on that, I'd rather take the chance on someone taking the words of Jesus seriously than I would leaving things to those who reject those to assert a modern version of Roman imperial paganism or, as bad, scientistic materialism.   The commandments given by Jesus would lead to egalitarian democracy, the others to unequal oligarcy, tyranny and death.   To cede the political ground to the fundamentalists, as liberals have been duped into by atheists since the 1960s, is to surrender liberal political success.   If you want to see what is possible in its absence, look at the corporatist Democrats we've managed to elect as president since then as compared with Jimmy Carter.

The Church and Politics

"Religion is a quare thing," Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley once said. "Be itself it's all right. But sprinkle a little pollyticks into it an' dinnymite is bran flour compared with it. Alone it prepares a man f'r a better life. Combined with pollyticks it hurries him to it."

Many people would say they agree with Mr. Dooley. "You mix religion and politics at your own peril," they insist.

I suppose there are some purists who really do hold to an absolute wall of separation between the two realms, but they're far outnumbered by those who seem to live by the motto, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of puny minds."

In my observation, most people who oppose the mixing of politics and religion are selective about their opposition.

For many right-wing Catholics, it's wrong for the bishops to appear before Congress on such matters as Salt-II, or the MX-missile, or U. S. policy in Central America, but it's right for them to use the same forum to argue for aid to parochial schools, or against pornography, or in support of a constitutional amendment on abortion.

For many left-wing Catholics, it's wrong for bishops like Cardinal Obando y Bravo to assume the role of an opposition leader to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, but it's right for Cardinal Jaime Sin to have played a key role in the downfall of the Marcos regime in the Philippines.

For many right-wing Catholics, it was wrong for Father Drinan and Sister Agnes Mary Mansour to become involved in partisan politics through elective or appointive office, but it was right for Cardinal Krol to appear prominently at the 1972 Republican National Convention, in more than a praying role, and to host a campaign stop at Doylestown, Pennsylvania, for then-candidate-for-reelection, Ronald Reagan.

For many left-wing Catholics, it's wrong for fundamentalist televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to try to influence the electoral and legislative processes, but it was right for Martin Luther King, Jr., the Berrigan brothers, and Jesse Jackson.

The 1984 Presidential campaign dealt a body blow to civilized and reasoned argument about the issue of religion-and-politics.

President Reagan and his supporters practically welded the two together. 

But give them credit. They were right. Religion has a lot to do with politics---for better or for worse.

The question is, however, which kind of religion?

Parson Thwackum in Henry Fielding's Tom Jones once declared, "When I say religion I mean the Christian religion, and when I say the Christian religion I mean the Church of England."

For all the talk about "Judeo-Christian values," when the President's supporters said "religion," they meant the Christian religion. And when they said Christian, they meant fundamentalist Protestant Christianity.

But that was no excuse for the Democratic nominees, Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro, to flee to the opposite extreme, insisting that religion is an entirely private affair.

It wasn't a private affair for Martin Luther King, Jr. On the contrary, it was the principal motivating force behind the whole civil rights movement.

The question, therefore, is not whether religion and politics mix, but how. 

There are many ways. The most obvious is through open and active support of, or opposition to, a particular regime or to candidates for public office.

In the United States, our bishops have explicitly rejected this option, even though there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent it.

Another way is through participation in the public debate over issues, relying, however, upon the force of arguments rather than upon appeals to divine authority. 

This is the path taken by the bishops, especially in their recent pastoral letters on nuclear war and their forthcoming letter on the economy.

In between these two ways lie a whole range of options, including public actions designed to call attention to deficiencies in the political system (the civil rights' sit-ins and marches were one example); or the founding of organizations and movements to pursue a particular agenda (Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority is a case in point).

Sometimes, of course, we indirectly do things which we say we're opposed to doing directly.

For example, the U. S. Catholic bishops emphasized during the 1984 campaign that they were not in the business of endorsing candidates, but the public statements of some high-ranking bishops were taken by many as a clear non-endorsement of some candidates and at least an indirect endorsement of others.

What the Catholic bishops, nuns, priests, and laity did in Haiti and the Philippines in recent weeks makes many of us proud. But we have to ask ourselves, "Why?"

And we shouldn't be too quick to scare away the hobgoblins of consistency. 

3 / 17 / 1986

The Belief That Science And Religion Are Incompatible And Contradictory Is Superstition

"Small draughts of philosophy lead to atheism but longer draughts bring one back to God."
Luigi Galvani

The other day, in a blog brawl at Salon, a commentator whose identity I happen to know told me that you could either believe in science or God, that was it.   Now, I know this guy to have been most well known under his real name as a rather minor composer who was unable to keep on with his work, mostly film scoring, due to hearing loss and who, perhaps as a result, has gone into pretty much full time being an atheist blog troll.  As a musician, my sympathies are with his personal tragedy, if musical training in the United States and, indeed, many other places had put a proper emphasis on ear training he may have been able to do what Beethoven could do, keep composing despite hearing loss.  If I were faced with that situation, I'd try to work on that with what little hearing I might have left or through imagining sounds, intervals, rhythms in an orderly and disciplined manner, trying my best to make up for what my education had deprived me of.   I am not, though, in sympathy with his chosen path of making stupid, bigoted and hateful remarks about the large majority of humanity who disagree with him about God and religion.

I am certainly not sympathetic to his bigoted and superstitious remark about science and religion.   And his assertion, widely repeated among atheists is, truly, a superstitious remark because the existence of scientists, some of them among the greatest of scientists, who were also very religious makes that co-existence as real as any of the factual findings of science.   In fact, it is incontrovertible that those religious scientists existed and do exist, that some of them are the very founders of modern science, Copernicus, Bacon, Galileo, Steno, Newton, Volta, Dalton, Faraday, Mendel, Lemaitre, ....  Those people who contained both God and science in their singular minds, some of them attributing their belief in God as inspiring their science is definitive refutation of that widely promoted superstition of atheists.  To deny the existence of that phenomenon is as superstitious as it would be to deny the evidence proving evolution, it is, in fact, far stronger proof than that which can be cited to support many of those things accepted as science*.   In a post I did on this subject once, I was able to quote the non-scientist, Herbert Spencer as promoting it

"Of all antagonism of belief, the oldest, the widest, the most profound and the most important is between religion and science."

while Lord Kelvin, the most prominent British scientist of the same time refuted Spencer,

"Science confirms the existence of A Creator."

Which, while out of style, today, is remarkably consonant with many of the things which the first generations of scientists believed they were doing, they believed they were discovering the thinking of God as revealed by the creation of God.  I, like my antagonist mentioned at the start, am not a scientist so I really am not qualified to enter into that discussion, neither was Spencer, by the way.


By chance, I was looking at the poetry of  Ernesto Cardenal, the Nicaraguan priest, poet, theologian and leftist politician, the one who Pope John Paul II shook his finger at because he disapproved of his political activities when he was trying to keep Nicaragua from reverting to the fascist dictatorship which had been overturned by the original Sandinista revolution.  I may post some of it in translation but, for now, In doing that I happened to find this New York Times article from last winter in which he, at the age of 90, talked about how science had deepened his faith and informed his religious belief.

Science brings me close to God because it describes the universe and creation, and that brings me close to the creator.  For me this is a prayer

His use of the science of evolution as an explanation of creation, of why we are here and why there is something instead of nothing would certainly not be welcomed by Spencer or by the neo-atheists but it proves the other side of what is proved by the existence of religious scientists who were inspired by their religion, science can also inspire religion.

He [Fr. Cardenal] recalled the tranquillity of a boat ride back to the peasant community he had founded on the islands of Solentiname in Lake Nicaragua, and he repeated his wonder at the knowledge that all life evolved from a single cell.

That fascination with evolution recurs through much of his later work. In the last poem in the anthology, “The Saga of the Third Chimpanzee,” Father Cardenal describes how speech distinguishes humans from the other primates, but in the final lines he makes a plea for humility.

“The third chimpanzee has dominated earth/ the one that made Chartres and the Sistine Chapel/ and now begins to explore space/ he is speaking to the stars/ that have yet to respond/ has seen the birth of the Big Bang/ from which everything was born and he was born/ and like a baby with his mother/burst into babbling with God.”

The laws of science are not just a source of awe and poetry to Father Cardenal. Their transformative force has a greater purpose. To illustrate what he meant, he repeated these lines from his 1989 “Cosmic Canticle,” an epic musing on the origin of the universe:

“Biology also teaches:/ the peaceful animals are favored by selection/ The murderous groups in the same species do not prosper/ (Somozas, Pinochet, etc.)”

TO Father Cardenal, science shows why tyranny will ultimately crumble.

“We have to have hope that the world will change,” he elaborated. “And, going back to modern science, it has been shown, with the discovery of the Big Bang, the great explosion in which the whole cosmos was born, that we are in an incomplete universe. That is why there is evolution — because the universe is incomplete.”

Those points, seem to me, to be as important a refutation of the asserted incompatibility of science and religion, perhaps even more so because they are of a piece with his view of the continual evolution of political events, as well.  He is certainly a major critic of the return to power of his one-time co-revolutionary, Daniel Ortega, a government vastly different from the original Sandinista government.    

Father Cardenal later became a critic of the Sandinistas for what he believed was a distortion of their cause. He continues to condemn the actions of President Daniel Ortega and has been a fierce opponent of the government’s project to dig a channel across the country that would presumably compete with the Panama Canal.

“What would Sandino have done about the canal?” he asked the audience at the reading, referring to the revolutionary Augusto César Sandino, who fought the American Marines occupying Nicaragua in the 1920s.

Considered in the sweep of history, the collapse of Nicaragua’s revolution barely seems to give him pause.

“The Bible is full of revolutions. The prophets are people with a message of revolution,” he said. “Jesus of Nazareth takes the revolutionary message of the prophets. And we also will continue trying to change the world and make revolution. Those revolutions failed, but others will come.

When the original Sandinista government fell, in elections as a result of the vicious and massive terror war financed by the Reagan administration, I was in despair.  I had occasion to ask Noam Chomsky how he kept going, decade after decade, concentrating on the massive evil that was rampant and which seemed to never decrease,  how did he manage to not give in to despair?   His answer to me was that he had no right to become discouraged, that he had an obligation to keep going.  Which advice probably kept me from just giving up.   Now, with Ernesto Cardenal's further observations, I feel even less like giving in to despair.

Cardenal's account of the discussion group of poor people generating theology in The Gospel in Solentiname is even more important than that.  In that discussion I had the sense of the Gospels in a more authentic context, in the lives of people living in the kind of poverty, grinding oppression, foreign occupation and daily encounters with violence and death that the people Jesus talked to experienced.  Like some of those in that discussion, Jesus, his cousin John the Baptist, I believe virtually all of the Apostles if not all of them, met violent deaths at the hands of dictators and hostile establishments,  Science might provide one important frame to understand the world, The Gospel in Solentiname, liberation theology, makes that science seem like it might actually be important to continued human existence.  Perhaps even important enough to actually do instead of just pontificate about ideologically on blog discussion threads.  But it won't turn out that way without that religious context, science without morality will kill us.  Morality without God is unanchored.

*  I am, of course, referring to natural selection, among other things, which also informs Ernesto Cardenal's thinking, as noted above,  but, about which, I am very skeptical.   The minds of religious scientists are indisputably there, they are not disputable, the support for natural selection as being anything but a conventional framing required for talking about how species evolved through the deaths of individuals with certain "traits" is entirely more tenuous.   I might go so far as to claim that natural selection as the ultimate force of biology and Daniel Dennett's insane extension of natural selection outside of biology, is far more superstitious than to believe that science and religion are not only compatible but are able to inform each other.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hate Mail - It's All Material

Why would it upset me if someone who's been libeling me for years makes an ass of himself by parading his ignorance to other asses?  And that they prove that by being clueless on that count, thus providing me with even more material? 

As to him swearing off commenting here last weekned, that would be a rather easy thing for him to do as I said I wouldn't be posting any more of his comments this month even as he posted, by my count, more than 18 comments in one day which I didn't post but answered, as it suited my purposes.   If D.D. finally looked up the word "henotheism" after all of this time, well, good for him.  I always figured he and about four other people were the only ones of any intelligence who still bothered with Duncan Black's Eschaton.  Everyone else left long ago.

Alternet Is A Hate Group It Hates Most Of The People Of The United States Which Is Why It Posts This Kind of Stuff. Salon, too.

It's never a shock when the hate site Alternet has a piece of anti-Christian junk on it, it has a stable of writers who write little else or make it a mainstay of their career as alleged journalists,  Amanda Marcott, Greta Christina and the frequently fact-challenged Valerie Tarico are just a few names that spring to mind.  Tarico has a piece reposted at that other locus of such hate talk, Salon, in the ever silly struggle to convince the mid to low brow audience for such stuff that Jesus never existed.  She is so ham handed a researcher that it doesn't take many words into it to find that out.

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.

For over 200 years, a wide ranging array of theologians and historians—most of them Christian—analyzed ancient texts, both those that made it into the Bible and those that didn’t, in attempts to excavate the man behind the myth.  Several current or recent bestsellers take this approach, distilling the scholarship for a popular audience. Familiar titles include Zealotby Reza Aslan and  How Jesus Became Godby Bart Ehrman.

Good old Bart Ehrman, one of the favorites of the internet religion bashers, I suspect because they saw him on TV or heard him on Terri Gross, not because they actually read anything he wrote.  Though I suspect a lot of them merely read what other atheists, online said about him, such is the level of scholarly activity which is the basis of much of internet culture, especially neo-atheism.

But if they did bother to read what Ehman said in an article posted at Huffington Post, they'd find he, himself, dismisses the rest of Tarico's assertions in her article.

In a society in which people still claim the Holocaust did not happen, and in which there are resounding claims that the American president is, in fact, a Muslim born on foreign soil, is it any surprise to learn that the greatest figure in the history of Western civilization, the man on whom the most powerful and influential social, political, economic, cultural and religious institution in the world -- the Christian church -- was built, the man worshipped, literally, by billions of people today -- is it any surprise to hear that Jesus never even existed?

That is the claim made by a small but growing cadre of (published ) writers, bloggers and Internet junkies who call themselves mythicists. This unusually vociferous group of nay-sayers maintains that Jesus is a myth invented for nefarious (or altruistic) purposes by the early Christians who modeled their savior along the lines of pagan divine men who, it is alleged, were also born of a virgin on Dec. 25, who also did miracles, who also died as an atonement for sin and were then raised from the dead.

Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies or any cognate field, let alone in the ancient languages generally thought to matter for those who want to say something with any degree of authority about a Jewish teacher who (allegedly) lived in first-century Palestine. There are a couple of exceptions: of the hundreds -- thousands? -- of mythicists, two (to my knowledge) actually have Ph.D. credentials in relevant fields of study. But even taking these into account, there is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.

Why then is the mythicist movement growing, with advocates so confident of their views and vocal -- even articulate -- in their denunciation of the radical idea that Jesus actually existed? It is, in no small part, because these deniers of Jesus are at the same time denouncers of religion -- a breed of human now very much in vogue. And what better way to malign the religious views of the vast majority of religious persons in the western world, which remains, despite everything, overwhelmingly Christian, than to claim that the historical founder of their religion was in fact the figment of his followers' imagination?

The view, however, founders on its own premises. The reality -- sad or salutary -- is that Jesus was real. And that is the subject of my new book, "Did Jesus Exist?"

So, what does Tarico do to support her case that there are 5 good reasons to believe Jesus never existed?  She sites David Fitzgerald, incoherently contradicting her first paragraph.

The notion that Jesus never existed is a minority position.  Of course it is! says David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All.For centuries all serious scholars of Christianity were Christians themselves, and modern secular scholars lean heavily on the groundwork that they laid in collecting, preserving, and analyzing ancient texts. Even today most secular scholars come out of a religious background, and many operate by default under historical presumptions of their former faith.

And what expertise does David Fitzgerald bring to the discussion of these ancient texts and the historical and social milieu from which we have them?   His bio says:

David Fitzgerald is an atheist activist, historical researcher, writer and national public speaker. He was the co-founder & director of the world's first Atheist Film Festival and San Francisco's oldest annual Darwin Day celebration, "Evolutionpalooza!" 

Today he works for the Secular Student Alliance and co-runs The Godless Perverts Story Hour. He is also author of "NAILED: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All" and "The Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion" series.

Oh, yeah, I can see how someone who is a professional atheist-religion basher is credible even though he apparently lacks ANY academic credentials relevant to the field.  And that is an accurate description of him, he works for the CFI, probably the biggest of the alphabet soup of religion bashing groups started by Paul Kurtz, and the Secular Student Alliance, which is pretty funny because he was born in 1964.  Apparently "secular students" can't be trusted to speak for themselves and run an organization.

She mentions a movie, "Zeitgeist"  made, not by a scholar but by Peter Joseph, someone who worked in advertising and as a private equity trader on Wall Street, which she credits for introducing millions to the idea that Jesus was a myth, though she admits it was flawed.   She credits Fitzgerald with correcting those.  As an aside, apparently another of Joseph's interests is the boring, stupid, childish, brainless, metal band, Black Sabbath.

Tarico does, actually, mention two people with actual credentials,  Richard Carrier and Robert Price, perhaps the two mythicists with credentials who Ehrman referred to as being the outliers in both academic opinion on the question and in the field of Christian bashers which is full of people who don't have any idea what they're talking about.

Oddly, considering his declaration that Jesus was real, Tarico enlists Ehrman to make her first of five claims that support her contention.

1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.  In the words of Bart Ehrman: “What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death – even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era – there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time – the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.” (pp. 56-57)

Which is a rather ridiculous "proof" that a destitute Jewish peasant preacher, preaching to Jews in a backwater of the Roman occupied territory didn't exist, that "secular" writers didn't mention him.  I would bet there are all kinds of such preachers around today who are entirely ignored by people outside of their own movement and that's with mass communication and the explosion of literacy. Some scholars doubt that Jesus or his followers were literate, though I don't know what they base that on.  As is frequently pointed out in this context, there is no contemporary mention of Socrates outside of a tight circle of Athenian intellectuals until well after his death.   Two of his students and Aristophanes, I believe, are the only ones to mention him.  And certainly Plato and Aristophanes had their own axes to grind, no doubt aspects of the man they didn't include.  Plato presents him as never having argued with much of anyone but fools.  Yet I am pretty sure that few atheists, especially those who claim him as one of theirs would tolerate anyone claiming he didn't exist.

And the idea of "secular evidence" in the early 1st century AD* seems to me entirely anachronistic.  I doubt there was any concept of "secularism" back then.  The word "secular" apparently dates from the 14th century and, in the way Tarico uses it, it would seem to be a concept invented by mid 19th century Brits.

But, then, Tarico's concept of history is rife with anachronistic conceptions and expectations, like that of pretty much all but those who take the most exigent of means to sift those out from how the people at the time are likely to have thought and written.  The view of history from after two thousand years is full of opportunities to even unconsciously impose ideas and thinking on people back then which they not only likely didn't have but almost certainly couldn't have.  Ideas come into being in time, concepts and expectations, as well.  And that's not to mention that atheists making religion bashing a career are as likely to create such distortions of historical times and texts as those promoting religion. And, in the popular press, with no kind of academic discipline and review entering into it.  No penalty to be paid for lying.   To fault the Gospels and the various other writings about Jesus on the basis of the modern concepts of biography and history are absurd but widespread, especially among atheists and especially among online atheists of the kind who get posted by Alternet and Salon.  And that pretty much covers the rest of her four "reasons", which are not really reasons but assertions supporting her professional shtick as a pseudo-journalist.

*  I use BCE and CE to annoy the kind of people who find those anoying, I use BC and AD to annoy other people.  Who says I'm not even handed?

PS.  I do find it amusing to see how Alternet alternates its hatred of Christians with having to deal with the popularity of Pope Francis.  I also notice that even their regular readers apparently are getting tired of the religion bashing, if their side bar of most read stories is anything to go by.  But then, I don't look at the thing much anymore.  No more than I look at World Nuts Daily or Clown Hall, and for the same reason.

Update:  I was tempted to post the Youtube of David Fitzgerald's Godless Perverts story telling but I really can't encourage my readers to waste a quarter of an hour of their lives.  OK, I suppose it falls under the category of research.  Erotic it ain't, funny, less so.  Seeing him, though, I do think it's pretty funny for a 50s something, dumpy guy in a kilt to be billed as hot.  And he sounds ever so much like how a 12-year-old boy who has just discovered sex imagins a woman thinks.   Apparently my suspicion that San Francisco is a concentration of  men with Peter Pan complex has some evidence to support it, contrary to stereotype not even most of them gay.  And this is the guy who Tarico cites as a reliable scholar.   Such are the standards of contemporary atheism.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Debussy - Première Rhapsodie

Anthony McGill, clarinet
Christopher Shih, piano

Anthony McGill has to be one of the finest clarinetists in the history of the instrument.  His duo playing with Christopher Shih is a great partnership.

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.15 D-Major op.28

Maurizio Pollini, piano

Back, Sort Of

New, well, used, computer.  Old one scrapped.  Unfortunately, still Windows 8.  I suppose I'll have to get used to it.

I was away for one day and already had have several notices that Simels is at his same old lies at Duncan Black's blog.  Thanks for the heads up, I guess, though I don't know what else I can do about it except repost my answer to it not two weeks ago.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hate Mail - Simels Is Calling Me An Anti-Semite on Duncan Black's Blog Again Today

Anyone who isn't aware of why I bother with Steve Simels, it is because he has, for years, been calling me an anti-Semite on Duncan Black's Eschaton blog, from which Duncan Black banned me so I can't refute the lie where it lies.  NOT that I'd want to go back there for any other purpose.

For anyone who might be curious as to what I said that he twisted into a charge of anti-Semitism, here is a link to my original post on it, again.

The use of a charge of anti-semitism has, in the hands of such people as Alan Dershowitz, the neo-cons, the Israel lobby and such insignificant figures as Simels, has become absurd.  Its absurdity is such that many of those who the charge has been made against are Jews such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finklestein, Tony Kushner, Howard Zinn, Tony Judt and Adrienne Rich  and any one who is at all critical of the actions of the Israeli state and military, including some Israelis.   It's not my business to protect the integrity of the accusation but I know it can't be used as it has been for the past several decades and retain its credibility when actually needed.

What I said is that I regretted that either Jews hadn't been admitted into the United States as citizens during the period when there were legal quotas restricting their immigration instead of left to die in Europe,  or that the United States MY OWN COUNTRY, hadn't donated land so a Jewish homeland could be placed on North America, where the liklihood of it being in a constant state of war, with all of the deaths, all of the waste of resources on the military, all of the enablement of fascist politicians  for the last six decades and counting was far less likely.  Really, wishing your country would give up territory for the establishment of a secure Jewish Homeland is anti-Semitism.  Imagine that as the definition of anti-Semitism.  If that's anti-Semitism, what is wanting Israel to be a sitting duck and in a constant state of war and under threat of attack?   Israel has been in a state  of war since its creation and that is unlikely to change any time in the foreseeable future.  I regretted that a Jewish homeland couldn't have been established under conditions where it was more likely to be at peace or that Jews hadn't been allowed to become citizens of the United States, such as Steve Simels and almost everyone who has been libeling liberals as anti-Semites have been for their entire lives.

The dishonest use of the term by such liars has taken an important word and weakened it into a meaningless epithet to be flung around whenever someone of low character, such as the above, wants to use it.  Duncan Black obviously doesn't care that his blog is used by people like Steve Simels for that purpose, even as he also sponsors many, actual, way over the line anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish comments, including those made by one of Simels' friends as documented at the link above.

don't think people who are  lied about are under any obligation to ignore it, so I don't.   Lying has become endemic in the age when bloggers figure the court ruling exempting them from responsibility for lies defaming people, libeling people etc. relived them of any responsibility for what they post and their commentators, as well, figure they can lie with impunity.  I don't think anything like a decent society can tolerate that situation, democracy certainly can't be sustained on a regime of lying.  If that's the rule for the alleged leftist blogosphere, it may as well be FOX "news" and hate talk radio.   As it is, I've been told that that ruling only applies to bloggers who don't moderate comments.  That category, I'm also told, likely doesn't cover Black's blog because he bans people, such as myself, from answering the lies his regular commentators post there.   I'm no lawyer, just someone who is lied about, at least several times most weeks for years, on Duncan Black's blog.  I don't know how far I'm willing to go to stop it but I'm not going to let it continue without pointing out the people who are lying about me, directly and indirectly.

Update:  First, I'm not "bringing down Eschaton", Duncan Black did that when he gave up actually writing content for it and he stopped doing that years ago. Eschaton was significant, to some extent, before 2008, since then, not much at all.

Second, I really do think that Dershowitz and Simels are using the same tactic. Of course, I'm not especially significant and Dershowitz, unlike Simels, has some intellectual resources so it's a question of kind and not of magnitude.   Being a daily reader of The Boston Globe and, especially, of anything by or concerning Howard Zinn (he was on the same Democracy Now program and another person targeted by Dershowitz) and Noam Chomsky, two of my favorite intellectuals and with whom I have had some major disagreements.  I remember the second incident that Chomsky talks about here, quite well.

I'll point out that I wasn't even critical of Israel in my comments, all I did was point out that it was a dangerous place for Jews to live.
That will remain my answer to it whenever I feel the need to repost it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Damned Computer Crashed This Morning

I'm on a friend's computer as I type this.  I'll post a real post when I can get it fixed.  If I can't who knows when I'll be back. 

Have I mentioned I hate Windows 8 recently?   Has anyone ever uttered those word?  I LOVE Windows 8? 

Windows 98, well it wasn't love but it worked. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Beethoven 32 Variations - Emil Gilels

Dan Savage: Big Mouth Little Journalism

I don't like Dan Savage very much and especially don't like that he's held up as some kind of great and positive figure representing LGBT* folk.  His sex advice goes from OK to dangerous and disastrous, his antics like turning "Santorum" into an especially gross and obscene synonym was attention getting but politically unproductive - it had nothing to do with the eclipse of Rick Santorum's political career - and early his role in "Draw Muhammad Day" combined all of the above with an indifference to the real possibility that his childish advocacy could have gotten people killed.   His more benign role in "It gets better" hardly makes up for the rest of it.   At the very least, he isn't a great role model of responsible adulthood in a group which is targeted by negative stereotypes of the past as superficial, immature and self-absorbed, attention-getting and not capable of being reliably serious and mature.  And I'm just waiting for the straight folk to tell me just how wrong I am about that, as if a life time of being a gay man didn't prepare me to understand that better than a life time of not being gay would.  I'm also used to being condescended to by straight folk from that life time of experience.

The link to this video was thrown at me a while back, I didn't watch it then but I did watch it this weekend and it is especially stupid and especially galling because its central premise is so obviously and demonstrably false.  The vid is entitled, "The Christian Left: Do They Exist?"  Despite what the disclaimer at the front of it says, there is no mature view point expressed.

So Savage, who has been part of the trendy religion bashing, Christian-bashing effort of the past dozen years is blaming liberal Christians that they aren't heard, claiming that liberal Christians haven't stood up to the fundamentalist right.

One thing about this is transparently clear, neither the alleged journalist, Savage nor "TakePart TV" did the minimum of fact checking as liberal Christians have done everything he claims they should start doing, have been doing it for, not only years but decades, only to have both the corporate media and the neo-atheists ignore that effort.

As I pointed out last week, the United Church of Christ began advocacy for the rights and equality of LGBT people in 1969, the year Savage turned five.  They've issued statement after statement, were pioneers in ordaining lesbians and gay men, expanding their commitment to equality just about every year in between that year and now.   And they are hardly the only Christian and Jewish denomination to have done so.   If Savage had done what counts as the minimal level of journalistic practice these days, a google search, he could hardly have failed to discover that.   And equality for us is not the only liberal effort that those churches and even many churches considered conservative have been engaged in.

Dan Savage is a media fixture, he's not a journalist, he isn't a mature voice or especially interested in knowing what he's talking about.  Savage has a long history of not knowing what he's talking about, loudly, vulgarly, in the most attention-getting way, an odd trait for an alleged journalist.   Though that's pretty much the standard of being a media celebrity today.  Unlike another person who uses vulgarity and brash expression, The Rude Pundit who is enough of a journalist to know what he's talking about when it comes to the substance of what he's saying.

Savage is a symptom of what's wrong with a large part of the alleged left today, why we aren't going anywhere. And he's hardly the only one.  Such people are just the flip side of the right wing media fixtures who spout off colorfully about things they don't know about and don't care enough to find out about.  They're not useful for making a convincing, fact-based case for something, they're only good for congregating those who are like them, such people don't make positive change, they're just camera hogs who are useful to our opponents.   I would classify him as being more of a libertarian than any kind of liberal or useful leftist.   While I wouldn't echo him and wish he "would just die"  or "be dragged by a truck until just the rope was left" I wish people would get tired of his act and look to someone who at least knows what they're talking about.

*  Considering his past comments about trans-folk and his "outing" of a public figure as trans, when they weren't, I'd be surprised if many informed people from that community would welcome him being considered as speaking for them.   I certainly don't want anyone mistaking him as representing how I think and live.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mary Osborne Trio - Blues in Mary's Flat

Mary Osborne - guitar
Sanford Gold - piano
Frenchy Couette - bass

Mary Osborne played with a lot of really great musicians, including Coleman Hawkins, and holding her own with the great Mary Lou Williams in many really great recordings, one of my favorite of those which I've posted before,  Boogie Mysterioso.

Despite what the picture says, that was by Mary Lou Williams' Girl All Stars including Mary Osborne - Guitar, Margie Hyams - vibraphone,  June Rotenberg on bass and I think it's Bridget O'Flynn on drums but am not sure.

I had no idea Mary Osborne sang until I came across this today.

No Moon At All

Can't find the credits, though that's definitely her playing guitar as well. 

Update:  That one was intentional.  You know you missed your calling, you could have probably been an honest secretary instead of a dishonest scribbler. Now, I'm done toying with you and will ignore every lie you choose to tell about me for the rest of the summer, so, go ahead.  See if I care. 

Last Update to a bad date:   I had the vision of you as a fussy English teacher but, then, thought I had far too much respect for fussy English teachers.   You'd never put that much work into anything.

Is This My Most Daring Crime Yet?

Apparently there has been a furious 2 Minutes Week Hate going on over the suggestion of putting pureed peas in guacamole.  I hadn't been aware of it until I saw Echidne had posted on it with links.  Apparently many 1st worlders have been up in arms, or at least fingers on the issue and have been carrying on peed off about peas for days.  

I could have added some practical advice, having found a recipe in one of Dean Ornish's books for low-fat guacamole using frozen peas.  A lot cheaper than using avocados too.  So, I happened to need a quick thing to bring to a family pot luck a few years back and I made it.  I didn't tell anyone how it was made and it passed off as guacamole quite successfully.   No one flipped out when I told them.  Here's what I think is the recipe I used on that occasion.


3 C. green peas, fresh or frozen

2 T lemon juice

1 C. red onions

2 tsp freshly minced garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne


Steam the peas if fresh. Do not overcook. They should still have their bright green color. If using frozen peas, just defrost them. (I blanched them) 

Puree the peas in a blender or food processor (I used a hand cranked food mill) with the lemon juice, onion, garlic, cumin and black pepper. Add cayenne and salt to taste.


I'm pretty sure I probably added more garlic and probably more seasoning, probably threw in a few other things too, though I don't remember.  

I'm really counting on being condemned and vilified over this post.  I'll be very disappointed if I'm not.   Go ahead, do your worst.  That just means the more for the rest of us. 

Another Reason I Despise Republicans And Other Libertarians

By now I guess most people have heard about the poor drunk fool from my state who killed himself by trying to fire a fireworks mortar tube off from the top of his head, no doubt to impress his equally drunken friends.  I'm surprised to read he's only the first to get killed, many have been hurt, I would guess some actually maimed.   Last night here was the worst I've heard yet, if it were as dry as it sometimes is at the 4th of July I'd probably be homeless and writing this from some homeless shelter, our woods blazing.

They should require at least as much training for setting off serious fireworks as they do cutting hair.  Some of them are as dangerous if not more so than guns AND THEY ARE SET OFF IN RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS.  From back yards, for the love of Mike.  Someone told me that their friend spent all night in fear as her idiot neighbors set off two pallets full of fire works.  Though I'd suspect they didn't set all of them off and she might have one or more nights of anxiety ahead.

We won't ban fireworks again till one or more big, expensive structures owned by connected fat cats get burned down or some rich person gets killed.   Just another of the benefits of Democrats losing the election in 2010 and us getting the criminal and odious Paul LePage and a raft of some of the worst Republican goons in the legislature in living memory.    Despite that movie I posted yesterday,  fireworks are nothing for idiots to be setting off.   They don't require training or sobriety to set them off, it's a disaster waiting to happen.  And, as the tragedy in Calais shows, it's already here.

Louis Armstrong Earl Hines - Weather Bird

Update:  1947 Ain't Misbehavin' with his All Stars

The Band: Louis Armstrong, (Tp Voc); Bobby Hackett (Crt); Jack Teagarden (Tb Voc); Peanuts Hucko (Cl); Dick Cary (Pno); Bob Haggart (Bs); Sid Catlett or George Wettling (Dr).

I think it was Miles Davis who said something about no one playing anything in Jazz that Armstrong hadn't played first.  I'll have to look up the quote.   And Davis passed out compliments about as seldom as .... well, no, I'm almost done with playing this game.  Fifth of July, holiday's over.

Update:  Thanks for the heads up on the typo.  Though I'm sure you didn't mean it as help.   You see, I type so many more words for a post than you do and, unlike you, I generally haven't typed them out at least a dozen times before, copying the from other kulcha vultures who said it before I did.

Really, that's the closest you've gotten to the truth in this duel.   Sort of like when Dershowitz caught Chomsky on a truly minor point which changed nothing about the fact that everything else in the debate proved that Chomsky was the one telling the truth and Dersh was Dershing.

Louis Armstrong - West End Blues

There's a reason this was called the most influential solo in the history of American popular music.  Both the trumpet and the singing.

Louis Armstrong, trumpet
Fred Robinson, trombone,
Jimmy Strong, clarinet and tenor saxophone,
Earl Hines, piano,
Mancy Carr, banjo,
Zutty Singleton on drums.

And that was just one of the pieces from just the 1920s, there were dozens of others that could as well prove my point.

Here's Potato Head Blues from the year before and the original personnel of the Hot Five.

Louis Armstrong, cornet (or trumpet, his playing on cornet is so strong it's hard to tell)
Johnny Dodds, Clarinet
Kid Ory, Trombone
Johnny St. Syr, banjo,
Lil Hardin Armstrong, piano

Compared to that, your choice of genius,  meh.

Hate Mail is Over Flowing Today

Now Simels is pointing to a joint appearance Springsteen made with The Beach Boys.  He's an adult, he gets to decide who he's going to appear with.   That doesn't make Brian Wilson greater than Beethoven and Louis Armstrong.  I'll bet if he got the chance to play with either Wilson or Armstrong, he'd take the greater musician and that's, beyond any doubt, Armstrong.

And more about Simels' favorite group, American Atheists and its creator goddess.

In the past, Madalyn has claimed as many as 100,000 members in her organization. If that were true, the $40 annual dues would exceed by more than five times the $750,000 budget of the American Atheist Center. Sometimes Madalyn uses the more ambiguous figure of 60,000 or 70,000 “families.” When William Murray resigned from the center, he said that the organization’s mailing list comprised only 2,517 names, less than half of whom were actual members. “If I headed the atheist movement for twenty years and had only twelve hundred and forty members, I’d look for something else in life,” he said in 1980. The latest official numbers are 55,000 members representing 45,000 families. Brian Lynch, the former treasurer of American Atheists, whom Madalyn fired for alleged sexual misconduct (he emphatically denies the charge), says that the actual membership is about 2,400, “the highest total she’s ever had.” Lynch continues, “That’s pretty pathetic considering that there are somewhere between eighteen and twenty-three million atheists in the United States and that when you mention atheism to most people, the only name they can think of is Madalyn Murray O’Hair—a loudmouth who has a bad family life, communist ideas, and a negative personality. She’s brought atheism into a position of intellectual disrepute, accomplishing in only twenty-five years what churches haven’t bee able to accomplish in centuries. I think she ought to get a check from the pope.”

The checks Madalyn counts on come from the estates of deceased atheists. Lynch maintains that Madalyn’s organizations (besides the American Atheists, there are the Society of Separationists and the Charles E. Stephens American Atheist Library and Archives) took in $1.9 million, most of it from estates. “Madalyn told me she learned from Jerry Falwell that if you create a crisis every month, people are more likely to respond with money,” says Lynch. Although Madalyn occasionally does report bequests to her members, it’s also true that her complaints about money are legendary. Her newsletters are filled with urgent requests for funds. “In a continuing way, I feel like an old dog outside the stoop of your house, waiting for you to throw me a well-chewed bone, devoid of the meat,” Madalyn complained to her members. Frequently she has told her employees that she cannot meet their payroll that month. At the annual American Atheist convention she hectors her loyal followers about the need to include her organizations in their wills. “Madalyn is not an atheist activist,” wrote G. Richard Bozarth, a former employee. “She is an atheist mendicant.”

... In 1970, after the student movement had made leftist politics more acceptable, Madalyn began calling herself an anarchist. In 1976 she contemplated a race for governor of Texas, but turned her attention to running for the Austin City Council instead. She received six percent of the vote. Undaunted, Madalyn briefly considered running for president. Instead, she became the chief speech writer in the 1984 presidential bid of pornographer Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine. It was, in many respects, an odd alliance. Only a few months earlier Flynt had declared himself “saved” and had returned to his native Kentucky to be baptized in Stenson Creek. “If elected,” he said after announcing his candidacy, “my primary goal will be to eliminate ignorance and venereal disease.”

Flynt’s campaign was cut short by his imprisonment for contempt of court when he refused to disclose the source of secret tapes he had released in connection with the drug arrest of carmaker John DeLorean. While Flynt was in prison, Madalyn apparently got him to sign over a power of attorney, giving her and Jon Garth “every cotton-picking thing that the owned, all real, personal, and mixed property,” including Hustler magazine. Madalyn privately estimated the fortune at $300 million. This coup was blocked by Flynt’s brother Jimmy, who filed suit in Los Angeles for a conservatorship of Flynt’s estate. By the time Flynt got out of prison, he had apparently changed his mind and decided to keep his fortune for himself."

And there's a lot more of that.   I guess the atheists have more than their share of the suckers who are born every minute.

Hate Mail - Steve Dershowitz jr. Simels And The Futility of Taking The High Road With Habitual Liars

Steve Simels, blog malignancy  an hour ago

I'll pay Steve Simels ten bucks if he can locate anywhere I've ever 
expressed a negative opinion of Bruce Springsteen. I don't believe I 
ever have,
And I quote: "Rock is what you get when white boys take all the interesting stuff out of the blues."
You've said it a million times, Sparkles, and it was moronic each time. But there was never a Springsteen exception.
Please make out the check to AMERICAN ATHEISTS. Thank you.

1. Obviously he can't come up with an instance in which I've dissed Bruce Springsteen as I never have, making what he said on that count, yesterday, a what?  A lie. 

2.  What I said was about rock and roll, it wasn't about Bruce Springsteen.  As I recently posted links to The Guess Who that proves I can like some rockers without necessarily liking the genre.  I also have linked to The Band and Motown artists as Simels mocked, I suspect because they're insufficiently white-bread and middle class enough for his usual taste.  Or maybe insufficiently tied to the greater NYC area, his hub of the universe, he being at its epicenter.    It's all of, by, for and about HIM in the end.  I think Springsteen is a superior song writer whose performance style is his own choice.  I think a lot of his songs certainly transcend the confines of surfer turned acid dropper rock that was the origin of the brawl.  I would put him in the same category as Bob Dylan and The Band.  

3.  American Atheists will have to do without a sawbuck from me as you and your buddies fail to cohere again.  Really,  that old crook, Maddy Murray O'Hair's operation to swindle the stupid and the uninformed atheist, that's who you support. 

I'm wondering if it's a mistake to try to argue coherently and honestly with habitual liars as that automatically gives them a benefit which they don't reciprocate.  I'm not talking about actual lying - sinking to their level - I mean making the most of their incoherent lapses, playing up ambiguities in what they say, that kind of thing.   I've always said that I saw no reason to allow them to impose a double standard in their favor, lying being one of their primary means of setting up and enjoying that double standard.   Not entirely fixed on a course to use that habit of theirs but I'm thinking about ways to turn it against them other than just pointing out that they are liars.  They don't mind that not thinking it's a sin to tell a lie.

Update:  Now Simels is trying to extend my comment about a genre of pop music, rock and roll as opposed to the blues, to cover anything produced by any boys of European descent, by name.   Really, maybe I should start posting his comments, pure Baron Munchhausen territory.  And remember, he posts this stuff on Duncan Black's Eschaton blog to the adoration of the ever shrinking blog community there.

As to what a nasty, bigoted, sleazy operator the founder of American Atheists, Simels' hero, was, here's just one comment from a fairly honest atheist, Jim Lippard:

user 4873956
Phoenix, AZ
Post #: 297

Too much honesty? That's an erroneous diagnosis. Have you read Bozarth's _The Mouth That Roared_? Have you read Fred Woodworth's _The Atheist Cult_? Have you read Lawrence Wright's _Saints and Sinners_ or his profile of O'Hair in the _Texas Monthly_? Have you spoken with G. Richard Bozarth (who worked at AA HQ), or Anne Gaylor, or Jeff Frankel, or Brian Lynch (who worked at AA HQ), or Judy Sawyer of the Phoenix Skeptics, or the former student members of University Student Atheists at UT Austin, or anyone else abused or lied to by O'Hair? If not, then you have no basis for your judgment.

Here's a letter from Madalyn Murray O'Hair to John Lauritsen (for what it's worth, he's now an HIV-denier kook), kicking him out of the American Atheists:


John Lauritsen,

The California Chapter of Society of Separationists, Inc., has sent me a zerox [sic] copy of your letter dated May Day, 1976.

I would expect this kind of literature to issue from a misogomist [sic]. I am a _female_ head of an American Atheist group. You are a cock-sucker. You like men and boys. You don't like women. We don't have cocks for you to suck.

Also, we are not Marxists as you are.

Form your own group of cock-sucking Atheist Marxists and be happy, kiddo; but don't count on me as an ally.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair


Image of this letter: http://www.discord.or...­