Wednesday, July 8, 2020

No One Will Stand Ahead Of Me In My Disdain For The Supreme Court, Give or take two of them

The obvious solution to the 7-2 Supreme Court ruling gutting the ACA healthcare protections of those who work for religious organizations is federally provided universal healthcare, taking employers out of the picture.   

The other one which I've favored, requiring a UNANIMOUS ruling in order to overturn duly adopted laws is also desirable but probably harder to achieve. 

This ruling should make the goal of universal, federally provided health coverage easier to get through, especially after all the friggin' hell breaks loose this fall and winter.  And it's going to. 


The geezer blog rat shithead called to my attention who used this as a way to slam "katlicks" on the Court didn't happen to notice that the Catholic Sotomayor voted against the majority as did the, I hope, ever reliable, frequently wonderful, Jewish justice, RBG - may she retire to a well earned retirement AFTER A DEMOCRAT NAMES HER REPLACEMENT.  I wonder what would have happened if someone pointed out that the two other "liberals" on the court Kagan and Breyer, who voted with the fascists were Jewish what would happen on the play-lefty blogs.  Breyer also having indicated from the bench that he's an atheist.   I have no doubt that most of the fascists on the Court are devoted servants of Mammon, the nominal Catholics among them, including the former Catholics who went Episcopalian.   

Using bigotry isn't something that just Trump does.  It is ubiquitous.  

Tell Me Any Materialist Who Has Ever Come Up With More Helpful Ideas For Someone In the Midst Of Terrible Pain

God's love doesn't protect us from suffering,  God's love protects us in the midst of suffering.  Hans Kung

and he also said:

In the last resort, a love of God without a love of humanity is no love at all. 


I am firmly convinced that there is life after death, nor in a primitive sense but as the entry of my completely finite person into the infinity of God, as a transition into another reality beyond the dimension of space and time that pure reason can neither confirm nor deny. 


I don't cling to earthly life because I believe in eternal life. That's the big distinction between my point of view and a purely secular position. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Driving Us Ever Farther Into Avoidable Caststrophe Is What Republicans Knowingly Do

It's not as if Mitch McConnell and the Republican-fascists don't know this is what is coming, it's that they love to watch poor people, desperate people, powerless people suffer at their hands.   

Republicans are the embodiment of evil, they do this because they like to feel their power to hurt people, it makes them feel good, they like doing it.  They are not good.  They must never have power again. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Recommended With Some Reservations

Last week someone recommended the Youtube channel of the physicist Sabine Hossenfelder to me and I spent some of the long drissely weekend watching a number of her subtly amusing, slightly but risk-free edgy and somewhat cool videos talking about modern physics, giving some very good popular level explanations of some of the problems with it that I've discussed on a layman's level.   I will say this for Hossenfelder, too, her music videos are the best of those I've seen from scientists and their associated sci-guy rockers.   

In general I like her though in the few I've watched where she talks about religion and, to some extent, science well outside of her field of expertise, she exhibits a milder form of the parochial ignorance of a complex subject which is inevitable from someone who has to spend so much of their time on their own complex subject.   That would be fine if she didn't, also, exhibit the vice of scientists who go make popular treatment of science, etc. speaking authoritatively instead of with the caution that vague familiarity should bring.  That's especially true when the topic is religion.   She's far, far from the worst offender but she does have the same trait in a milder form. 

One of the things that occurs to me from her talking about physics is that she practices the same kind of double-step that scientists do.  Proclaiming the modest ideals of what the physical scientists claim as the strict limits of what they do - not claiming to find "the truth" not going past where strictly controlled observation can inform their analyses and conclusions, not making undue claims for what they have found, always being open to refutation etc. while also claiming the opposite powers for science.   I will note that the scientific methods she proclaims are the main and overriding virtue of science are not methods that any scientist could bring to their lives outside of science,  relying only on evidence, not installing their ideological preferences, their interested claims of what is true, etc.  To claim that anyone could strictly apply the actual, agreed to, prescribed methods of science strictly to their everyday life and experience is a whopping big lie.  While I think she is unusually good at avoiding that for a scientist of her stature and her obvious ideological bias, that dishonesty is present in some of her presentations on the usual topics. 

For us mere laymen, I think she would disclaim the vulgar statement of scientism, that science is the only way to knowledge, that what science can't tell us cannot be true, though I think she more than implies that idea in her videos.   As any number of people have pointed out, that dictum of scientism is internally and fatally self-contradicting because science cannot support that contention.  Nor can it support any number of other such contentions.  Another is contained in her repetition of the contention that belief in God is not warranted because God is "not necessary" for the findings of physics.   There are any number of problems with that claim, not least of which is that science, including physics, is a human construct which formally excludes consideration of the question of God just as it excludes consideration of questions of morality.  When you start out that way, by excluding things, it is no great surprise when your chosen method cannot support the contention that those things are real or true - even as you formally proclaim that reality or truth are not the things you are trying to establish*.   She does both in the course of her videos, makes those true statements about the formal intentions of science but she, then, also tries to use them to debunk the existence of God. 

I would recommend her videos for their unusually clear - though complex - descriptions of some of he things modern physics currently holds as reliable knowledge and her critique of some of those which are most obviously not reliably believed - though they include some of the most popular of highly promoted science of the post-war period.  Her critique of the crisis in physics is extremely good as it would be for someone who is honest and as familiar with the field as she obviously is. 

On topics outside of her professional competence, she is generally better than most but you should take what she says with the kind of skepticism that the world would be better off if her colleagues applied that to the claims within their fields.  

Her music videos are some of the better imitation Brechtian stuff I've seen.  Though I hope she expands past that rather tired set of rather empty theatrical conventions.  Brecht was a practitioner of the cynical, the sensational and the circus like.  That doesn't get you far though it might get you an audience.  I think she'd benefit from reading Hans Kung, Existiert Gott? would be a good place for her to start.  I'd recommend she take advantage of her situation and follow up on his extensive citations and bibliography.  It would be a good place for anyone to start.  It's not an easy book but it is, as Elizabeth A. Johnson noted, the best handling of atheist arguments around.   

*  I'm not going to bother answering the snark, go look at her videos.  I'm finding that I'm feeling very reluctant to continue to argue with blog-rat, youtube-rat level trolls.  You won't listen to her so I don't think answering your snark is going to make any difference.  I'm not interested in things I know won't make a difference, anymore. 

Fun While It Lasted But It's Gone The Way Of All Kew-el Catch Phrases

My mother had a cousin who was an only child who married another only child and they never had children.  They socialized only with people in their own age cohort and mostly had little to do with people younger than them.  They both died in the early years of this century but when they'd visit they sounded like people who were frozen in the 1940s, using slang that I only ever heard in old movies, expressing opinions that moved on little from then.  I loved them both dearly and enjoyed listening to them - they were seldom in a room where they didn't dominate the conversation - it was like living history when they came to visit.  My mother used to shake her head at how lost in time they were, noting that they didn't have much exposure to people younger than they were. 

As someone who enjoyed younger people saying "OK, boomer" to the full-of-themselves members of my age cohort who, like my mother's dear, fondly remembered cousins, don't seem to notice that younger people have moved on, I have to say that what was funny has now become what I suspected it would as recently as last December.

I do have a word of warning to the young people who are enjoying the "OK boomer" thing.   You want to watch out that you're not doing what the boomers did as you're making fun of us.  I might never have bought into the worst of 60s youth self-righteousness but I could have learned something from people I should have taken more seriously.  Just not the ones TV and pop-culture was telling me to listen to.   Pop culture is commercial shit about 98% of the time.  That goes for the "counter culture" stuff as sold, too

These catch phrases and slogans just about always turn into that, they're a lazy substitute for thinking.  Maybe it's a general rule that even the good lines go old really fast, like even the best of jokes.  Jokes sometimes carry a nugget of truth but that won't carry them past that stage of stagnation.  The slogans and buzz words, they usually don't even have that much energy in them. 

It's too bad, there should be some way to wise up the geezers and coots of my age cohort without becoming what you're making fun of, yourselves.  Maybe making better points and arguments?   Too much like work?  Well, yeah, I've been arguing with those jerks for fifty years, myself. 

Carnivores Going To Get Us All Killed With The Help Of The Media

Given the potential that a news story about bubonic plague, "the black death" being reported in China becoming a tool of American racists - from Trump on down - the New York Times should have put the last paragraph in their report, today, first.

Plague cases are found in limited numbers across much of the world. In the United States, about seven cases, usually the bubonic form, are reported on average each year, most often in rural areas of western states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

So if an outbreak happens here, blame the friggin' cowboys from cowboy country.  

Still, there is a warning in this for Americans because anyone who thinks the Republican-fascists and their supporters would handle an outbreak of the human-to-human form of this or any potential pandemic disease must have been asleep for the past six months.  Our news media certainly was for the start of it.  

Also important information carried in the story should be something of a clue as to why this is such a dangerous thing.

The Bayannur city health commission said the plague was diagnosed in the herdsman on Sunday, and he was in stable condition undergoing treatment at a hospital.

The commission also issued a third-level alert, the second lowest in a four-level system, warning people against hunting, eating or transporting potentially infected animals, particularly marmots, and to report any dead or diseased rodents.

The city government said it had put in place plague-prevention measures that would remain in force for the rest of the year.

Note the warning consists of advice against "hunting, eating or transporting" animals.  This after both the Covid 19 virus is known to have arisen from the "hunting, eating or transporting of animals," as, indeed is the other pandemic potential illness that was in the news last week.  You would think that that on top of the other pandemic illnesses that regularly sweep the planet that originate in animal husbandry or the killing and eating of wild animals would do something to make people conclude that meat eating is one of our more serious health risks but I wouldn't expect it will do much to turn the New York Times or any other newspapers reporting on food and dining vegan.  I don't get the times till one of my friends is well done with it - generally I read it months later as I'm using it to start the fire but I'll bet they've got some recipes for their mid-brow sophisticates to cook up that include species which will probably soon figure in another pandemic story carried by the news section. 

Perhaps the last great prophetic voice in Western journalism, Karl Krauss, noted that war and despotism is carried in on the feuilleton section of the newspapers, he didn't live long enough to really see what the even more destructive influence of the movies, radio, etc. would bring in.  Is it any surprise that plagues would be promoted by them, too?  I wonder if the Chinese newspapers carried features with recipes for eating exotic animals as provided by the notorious and cruel wet markets.  Though, as I've mentioned over and over again, one of the greatest potentials for that in the world is the American meat and egg industry, as well as those found in any other place on earth.  

We will be driven into extinction by our appetites, especially as appealed to by the media that exists by selling us through appealing to our worst sides. 

Awaiting Moderation - Had To Take Out The Trash After The Holiday

Going online has done more to disillusion me as to the product of American culture of the post-war period than anything else I've ever seen. I'd say I'm disillusioned about the educational system but I think they're more a victim of it than a participant in the destruction of the minds of Americans.  We've been through this before, if you want to see why people are stupid and both won't and so can't think, look at what they spend the most time doing.   And it's not sitting in a classroom and it's most certainly not sitting in a church.  It's watching TV and media planned and geared to trigger their attention at the lowest, most visceral level, appealing to their strongest weaknesses.  And those weaknesses are inevitably those which the Jewish and especially the Christian scriptures warn against.   I will grant that the encouragement to amorality in the law, in the general culture did flow from, especially, the most elite of universities which have always in the modern period been there to service primarily the desires of the rich who give them money and send their brats to get credentialing papers from them but certainly the faculties have large numbers of teachers who do care about at least their subject matter and, more generally, the morality of intellectual integrity.  Not to mention those who go into teaching in public grade and high schools.  

In short, I've been getting flack from college credentialed idiots who, finding they can't make a refutation of what was said, they start flinging any old line.   More on this later.  I'm sure. 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Dr. Cheryl Black - William's Leap For Freedom

William's Leap for Freedom, hosted by Dion Graham, is an original one hour audio drama based on the life of freed slave William Wells Brown. The Audie-nominated performance was recorded live at the June 2010 NATF workshop in West Plains, Missouri and stars Mirron E. Willis as Wells Brown and features Barbara Rosenblat along with a multi-voice cast.

William's Leap for Freedom is a two part drama; a play within a play. This performance, was adapted for audio from the stage play, William Wells Brown's Leap for Freedom written for the stage by Dr. Cheryl Black of the University of Missouri Department of Theatre.

Dr. Black's play was written and produced in 2008 for the Missouri State Historical society's Missouri History in Performance Theater. In 2009 it was adapted for the National Audio Theartre Festivals by Renee Pringle of NPR, with assistance from mentor Sue Zizza.

Beginning with a fictionalized conversation between William Wells Brown and Mr. Polite, this audio dramatization then introduces part two of the play which features selected portions of The Escape or Leap for Freedom, as it relates to the tale of three slaves, Cato, Glen and Melinda. Brown often stated that this play specifically was autobiographical. The couple, Glen and Melinda, did exist, while Cato is Brown himself.

ABOUT WILLIAM WELLS BROWNWells Brown was born a slave in Lexington, Kentucky in 1814. It is said that his mother was the daughter of Daniel Boone and a black slave, while his father was known to be a member of the Wickliffe family of Kentucky and Louisiana.

Throughout his lifetime, Brown was a fugitive slave, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, an abolitionist, an anti-slavery lecturer, an historian, a medical doctor, and a poet.

Brown is the author of the first novel, the first drama, and the first travelogue published by an African American in the U.S. His particular life experiences gave him a thorough education and with that came an understanding of human nature, and of American culture and society, from 1814 through 1884.

In 1856, Brown decided to stop giving lectures at paid abolitionist engagements and instead began performing his dramas. Through drama he emphasized that all Americans, northern and southern, participated in deceptions necessary to support the system of slavery.

A popular form of drama at the time was the blackface minstrel. Using minstrel comedy in reverse, Brown was able to dispel familiar stereotypes and ridicule the perpetrators of those misrepresentations. In this way, Escape or Leap for Freedom is also a commentary on the minstrel style.

Brown consistently emphasized that blacks should use wit and trickery to fight against and survive their oppression, not heroic confrontation. His dramas emphasize the oppressive circumstances of black and white women; sexual violence against black women; the emasculation of black men; the hypocrisy of the religious community, and the paradox of a system of slavery in America, the so-called land of liberty.

Brown was known as a trickster among scholars. With guile, wit, and charm, he moved his white audiences to face issues without insulting them.

This production, directed by Pringle, with assistance from producer Sue Zizza was post produced by SueMedia Production's David Shinn.

"In what non-religious sense is human equality self-evident?"

Somewhere in my online drifting over the last couple of days I came across an assertion that Thomas Jefferson got his concept of "self-evident" truths from the natural science of his day.   I don't know why he would have to have relied on that as our entire mental activity depends on a vast range of self-evident truths, which are self-evident only in the sense that we chose to believe what we saw and heard and, presumably later concluded for ourselves from our experience and from what those we chose to trust told us. I think his choice of the term "self-evident" in the famous phrase discussed, especially on the 4th of July, which commemorates that document that was to be forgotten once its aim of an independent republic had been achieved - the Constitution notably doesn't do much in the way of the assertion of self-evident equality and the self-evident endowment with unalienable rights, what they promised the common people who the mostly non-combatant founders hoped to get to fight for their independence from the British government.  I don't know if he ever said where his inspiration for those words came from but self-evidence as an intellectual framing was available in a far older and far more stable form in the geometry that any educated person would have been familiar with, indeed the self-evident propositions of mathematics are what the less self-evident assertions of the natural sciences of Jefferson's time rested on.  Certainly those of Newton and Descartes, Galileo and Copernicus did. 

But, that aside, it's clear that the self-evidence of Jefferson's proposition would have made no sense at all unless they were based even more solidly on the assertions of the Jewish monotheistic articulation of God, God's intentions towards people and the world.  There is no way in which his propositions can be asserted to be self-evident without that, nothing in geometry or physics or chemistry or the other sciences then or now can say about the matter of human equality and human rights.  In short order science was used to make claims that the contrary was true, that humans were unequal - which Jefferson himself asserted as a matter of science, especially as his calculations of the benefits of slavery to his wealth became a topic of his correspondence - and that human freedom and rights were anything from merely a matter of social convention to a non-existent delusion of the chemical processes of our brains which, themselves, had no transcendent character that makes them any more significant than any other chemical reaction.  Materialist scientism rusts out the claims of the Declaration of Independence, they don't support them in any way.  

I hadn't intended to write this much but, there you go. I'm reposting the rest of this from a previous post. 

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."   This is the kind of thinking I would like to recommend.  We don't know the nature of Jefferson's religious beliefs, or doubts, or disbeliefs.  He seems to have been as original in this respect as in many others.  But we do know he had recourse to the language and assumptions of Judeo-Christianity to articulate a vision of human nature.  Each person is divinely created and given rights as a gift from God.  And since these rights are given to him by God, he can never be deprived of them without defying divine intent.  Jefferson has used Scripture to assert a particular form of human exceptionalism, one that anchors our nature, that is to say our dignity, in the reality outside the world of circumstance.  It is no doubt true that he was using language that would have been familiar and authoritative in that time and place.  And maybe political calculation led him to an assertion that was greater and richer than he could have made in the absence of calculation.  But it seems fair to assume that if he could have articulated the ideas as or more effectively in other terms, he would have done so. 

What would a secular paraphrase of that sentence look like?  In what nonreligious terms is human equality self evident?   As animals, some of us are smarter or stronger than others, as Jefferson was entirely in a position to know.  What would be the nonreligious equivalent for the assertion that individual rights are sacrosanct in every case?  Every civilization, including this one, has always been able to reason its way out of ignoring or denying the most minimal of claims to justice in any form that deserves the name.  The temptation is always present and powerful because the rationalizations are always ready to hand.  One group is congenitally inferior, another is alien or shiftless, or they are enemies of the people or of the state. Yet others are carriers of intellectual or spiritual contagion.  Jeffereson makes the human person sacred, once by creation and again by endowment, and thereby sets individual rights outside the reach of rationalization.

My point is that lacking the terms of religion, essential things cannot be said.  Jefferson's words acknowledge an essential mystery in human nature and circumstance.  He does this by evoking the old faith that God knows us in ways we cannot know ourselves, and that he values us in ways we cannot value ourselves or one another because our intuition of the sacred is so radically limited.  It is not surprising that the leader of a revolution taking place on the edge of a little-known continent, a an clearly intent on helping to create a new order of things would attempt an anthropology that would not preclude any good course history might take.  Jefferson says that we are endowed with "certain" rights, and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are "among these."  He does not claim to offer an exhaustive list.  Indeed he draws attention to the possibility that other "unalienable" rights might be added to it.  And he gives us tht potent phrase "the pursuit of happiness."  We are to seek our well-being as we define our well-being and determine for ourselves the means by which it might be achieved. 

That epochal sentence is a profound acknowledgment of the fact that we don't know what we are.  If Jefferson could see our world, he would surely feel confirmed in the intuition that led him to couch his anthropology in such open language.  Granting the evils of our time, we must also grant the evils of his and the cultural constraints that so notoriously limited his vision.  Yet, brilliantly, he factors that sense of historical and human limitation into a compressed, essential statement of human circumstance, making a strength and a principle of liberation of his and our radically imperfect understanding.

Marilynne Robinson: The Human Spirit And The Good Society

That was so well and beautifully said that I didn't want to break into it to comment.

So many places to start, perhaps first to point out to "the evils of his  [Jefferson's times] and the cultural constraints that so notoriously limited his vision."  His not only holding Black People in slavery but, also, raping and fathering children with a teenaged girl he held in slavery, his increasing both the number of those People he held in slavery and the intensity of scientific increase in their production, all of it dependent on and practiced through violence and the threat of violence.  All slavery is a product of violence and the absolute opposite of the acknowledgement of the self-evident truths that the young Thomas Jefferson wrote as the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.   It could have been that that document is the best thing about Jefferson, that year the best one he lived.  And there were certainly other issues.

His articulation of the ideas he set out couldn't have been more impressive, especially under the analysis that Marilynne Robinson subjected it to and expanded in her recommendation of it. I have never read any better such articulation of the meaning of Jefferson's words, the only possible source of those ideas and their expansive potential that is, as well, dependent on his attribution of those human gifts to God.   

As Marilynne Robinson asks, what would a secular, a scientific, a materialistic assertion of that idea look like?   I am entirely certain that there could be no such secular, scientific, materialistic, atheistic articulation of that idea that wouldn't collapse into a rubble of internal contradiction.  I am entirely certain that what she said is absolutely if not exactly self-evidently true, "lacking the terms of religion, essential things cannot be said."

And I think that her point that, "every civilization, including this one, has always been able to reason its way out of ignoring or denying the most minimal of claims to justice in any form that deserves the name," and, though she didn't state it, Thomas Jefferson's own biography proves that he certainly ignored his own claims, even if he didn't formally deny them, proves that anything short of a framing in which those truths are holdable to be "self-evident" even axiomatic will be a frame too weak to hold them up in practice.  I absolutely have come to the conclusion that nothing short of a holding of divine will supporting them will work in any human society, under any humanly administered government.

I do think that the extent to which Americans, those who are devoted or casual secluarists or those who pretend to believe in Judeo-Christianity ignore or deny the moral obligation to respect those rights as a co-equal, concurrent endowment of God to all people will be the extent to which they give in to those tendencies.  Jefferson doing so, with his words out there for all the world to see and to judge his actions by, proves that without that, even someone as able to articulate those claims as Jefferson was will give in to the temptation to ignore them.

I think that the ebb and flow of religious activity of the type that increases or decreases the explicitly religious foundation necessary for that truth to become not only self-evident but effecttively potent in real life can explain a lot about our national devotion to making those rights and their equal endowment real.  The post-WWII period in the United States saw a sharp increase in religious activity among the liberal Protestant churches and there was, as well, a liberalizing movement in the Catholic religion that, I have come to believe, accounts for the liberalism of the 1960s.  I believe our present day anti-democratic malaise is a product of that being made to be considered gauche among elites and that attitude trickling down the way to those who don't want to seem so.  That de-religionizing has happened at the same time when the Mammonism of the TV hallelujah peddlers and radio ranters replaced (or were replaced in) mainline Protestantism and the neo-integralist backlash against Vatican II took hold of the Catholic Church in the John Paul II, Benedict XVI decades.  That so many of the overt fascists on the courts are the product of that reactionary Catholic movement certainly accounts for their attacks on racial, gender and economic equality, even as those two arch-conservative popes issued encyclicals calling for the very things they attacked.  

I am even prepared to think that the Supreme Court, ACLU driven campaign to de-religionize the public sphere has had more than a little to do with it.  On top of that was their campaign to permit the media to tell any lie they chose to with impunity, and to bear false witness against those who were inconvenient or unprofitable to them, including the proponents of equality and equal justice and, especially, economic justice.  Such liberals as supported that may well count as the biggest suckers in the history of the United States because under that regime of secular deregulated media things have gone to hell.  It certainly wasn't the Gospel or The Law or the Prophets who brought us here, it wasn't Jefferson's greatest sentence of all of those he wrote which is entirely dependent on God to justify American democracy. 

How Bizarre And Sordid Is This Monument Bullshit?

From Smithsonian Magazine:

The son of polygamist Mormons from Idaho, Borglum had no ties to the Confederacy, but he had white supremacist leanings. In letters he fretted about a “mongrel horde” overrunning the “Nordic” purity of the West, and once said, “I would not trust an Indian, off-hand, 9 out of 10, where I would not trust a white man 1 out of 10.” Above all, he was an opportunist. He aligned himself with the Ku Klux Klan, an organization reborn—it had faded after the Civil War—in a torch-light ceremony atop Stone Mountain in 1915. While there isn’t proof that Borglum officially joined the Klan, which helped fund the project, “he nonetheless became deeply involved in Klan politics,” John Taliaferro writes in Great White Fathers, his 2002 history of Mount Rushmore.

Borglum’s decision to work with the Klan wasn’t even a sound business proposition. By the mid-1920s, infighting left the group in disarray and fundraising for the Stone Mountain memorial stalled. Around then, the South Dakota historian behind the Mount Rushmore initiative approached Borglum—an overture that enraged Borglum’s Atlanta backers, who fired him on February 25, 1925. He took an ax to his models for the shrine, and with a posse of locals on his heels, fled to North Carolina.

The Stone Mountain sponsors sandblasted Borglum’s work and hired a new artist, Henry Augustus Lukeman, to execute the memorial, only adding to Borglum’s bitterness. “Every able man in America refused it, and thank God, every Christian,” Borglum later said of Lukeman. “They got a Jew.” (A third sculptor, Walker Kirtland Hancock, completed the memorial in 1972.)

Note the irony of the neo-Confederates sandblasting a "monument".  Not to mention that the racist Borglum turned out to be a Jew-baiter as well. 

I'll note that while the Smithonian article brings out what a sleaze he was, the general tone is more ironic than condemning.  I think it ties in well with Trumps use of the atrocity in South Dakota, his and Borglum's motives in using it are identical.

From supporting the Klan to memorializing Lincoln: What are we to make of that trajectory? Anyone who creates an immensely popular sculpture by dynamiting 450,000 tons of stone from the Black Hills deserves recognition. Taliaferro says we like to think of America as the land of the self-made success, but the “flip side of that coin,” he says, “is that it’s our very selfishness—enlightened, perhaps, but primal in its drive for self-advancement—that is the building block of our red-white-and-blue civilization.” And no one represents that paradox better than Gutzon Borglum.

I'm not inclined to recognize that act as anything but a desecration of a natural wonder held sacred by people from whom it was stolen when gold by white gangsters was unfortunately found there.  It should be as infamous as the Confederate monuments or those which were removed when the Nazis were deposed or Mussolini or the likes of the Ceausescu gangsters. 

It would be ironic if in reaction to Trump's Republican-fascist chicken pox party there last night if it became associated with killing off lots of his supporters.  Though they'll probably spread it to many innocent and even responsible people.   Typhoid Trumpy.  

You're Probably Wrong About Confederate Monuments

This guy does what so few video makers at Youtube do, he gives extensive documentation.  I especially liked his reading of the GAR demand that the Confederate monument at Gettysburg be removed, from the 1880s.  

Friday, July 3, 2020

Late Hate Mail

The total incompetence of Associate-professor of Biology P. Z. Myers comparing a cell wall to a "wall" of driftwood that accumulates on a beach couldn't be more obvious.  The sticks and logs that accumulate on a shoreline don't interact with the other sticks and longs on a shoreline except,perhaps, to have their further progress up shore stopped by them.  They don't do much of anything once there except decay.  Once they've been stopped by each other, they really can't be said to do anything, they don't interact, they don't allow in or exclude molecules or smaller particles.  THEY DON'T EVEN CONTAIN ANYTHING.  They certainly don't contain the lake, the lake isn't there because of them, its continued existence as a lake doesn't depend on the "wall" working in any way.  The lake doesn't divide into another lake due to the accumulation of molecules and structures within the driftwood wall.  The wall doesn't split and reform - even arguably resealing itself around two new bodies of water.   One stick in the driftwood wall cannot be said to have a functional relationship with any other stick not touching it as the molecules and structures within even the walls of the "simplest" organisms must have in order for it to function as a part of a living organism or part of one. 

I would argue that to consider a driftwood accumulation on the shore of a body of water to be "complex" a complex unity is a rather naive and superficial way to, look at it.  It is certainly, in no way, complex in the same way that the containing membrane of a single-cell organism is.  The improbability of it forming by  random chance events is certainly far less than the incredible improbably of a viable, working organism's cell wall forming and working by random chance.  

Certainly the complex molecules that would have had to form, persist, come come together in proximity to each other for them to spontaneously form into a cell wall that just happened to contain other molecules of the same or, perhaps, even grater improbability so as to form the first living organism on Earth are far less likely to have been there and come together in just the right way at just the right time under just the right conditions AND TO HAVE WORKED PERFECTLY THE VERY FIRST TIME IN ORDER TO METABOLIZE, INTERNALLY GENERATE THE COMPONENTS OF REPRODUCTION - WITH NO TELEOLOGICAL PURPOSE FOR ANY OF THAT HAPPENING - AND SUCCESSFULLY REPRODUCING is far, far more remotely likely than the dead parts of many thousands, tens of thousands, and more large, complex, multicellular organisms falling into a body of water and floating on top until the waves of water pushed them ashore.  

In every way P.Z. Myers' analogy is incompetent and stunningly stupid, coming from someone with his credentials and position. 

Excellent Post

The estimable rustypickup called RMJ's excellent post on the St. Louis couple who made themselves infamous by confronting peaceful marchers, who weren't even marching to their fabulous "gilded crypt" with loaded guns "a sermon for this Independence weekend"  and such it is. 

Repubican-fascists And Their Adoration of War Criminals

If you think calling Republicans "Republican-fascists" is unfair, watch this.

A man convicted of war crimes who accepts a pardon for those crimes is admitting to them.  The American media, ESPCIALLY ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA, Hollywood and right-wing "news" promotes war criminals as heroes.  That's exactly what fascist countries, the Nazis did and do.   Just as Republicans glorify traitors and champions of slavery and racism. 

They are the indigenous American fascist party.  They have been for a very long time, now. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

My experience of long holiday weekends is that people don't read blogs so I'm not going to bother writing much till Monday.  I hope everyone has a safe holiday, we had rain here so I'm not so worried about the idiots lighting the woods on fire with their damned fireworks.  I hate the 4th of July for those damned things.  I'll be cursing the damned Republicans for legalizing them here, again. 

Probably The Stupidest Thing I've Heard An Atheist Ideologue Scientist Say About The Problem Of The Origin Of Life

This is still my favorite example of how the atheist-ideologue-scientist's mind grasping for an answer to the improbability of their origin of life scheme will grasp at any straw, or driftwood, to try to avoid dealing with it.  The now largely forgotten P. Z. Myers (he was really big in blogland and the atheism industry back then) was trying to make the issue of a containing membrane in the first organism go away by, among other things, mistaking the issues of "complexity" with complex functionality.  Atheists, especially those in science, are really shitty at thinking about things like what words mean and what they don't mean and when meanings might seem similar but aren't, really.   He's hardly alone, I've shown, over and over again, that scientist-ideologues of atheism are always inserting their ideology directly into science and the teaching of science without anyone noticing, we're so used to that happening, or objecting to it. 

This was such an obviously stupid metaphor for the containing membrane of a one-celled organism ONE MADE BY A FACULTY MEMBER IN A BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT OF AN ACCREDITED AMERICAN UNIVERSITY! that the group posting it is Myers' sworn enemies, the intelligent design industry.

I will note that Myers slips in a dig at those who believe in intelligent design, claiming that most of them don't have any training in biology.  But that's certainly as true of those who believe in his atheist scheme of non-design.  There are people who promote intelligent design who are more eminently qualified than Myers in biology, some of them holding probably more prestigious faculty positions in accredited universities which are not bastions of intelligent design.  I would like to know who the audience who were listening to and chuckling along with PZ were because I'd bet that most of them know crap about biology.  NO ONE WHO KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGY AND CHEMISTRY OF CELLULAR WALLS COULD HONESTLY NOT CRINGE AT WHAT HE COMPARES THOSE TO.   A cell wall is functional, not merely accidental and inert.  His comparison with a wall of debris on a lake shore and a human constructed wall, made for a functional purpose, was as logically inept as it was just plain stupid and lazy.   

Dave Holland Quintet - How's Never

I don't see any difference.   

Let's try a music video.

Steve Johnson, vibes
Robin Eubanks, trombone
Chris Potter, sax
Dave Holland, bass
Nate Smith, drums 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Oliver Messiaen - Visions de l'Amen: - I. Amen de la Creation

Ralph van Raat and Hakon Austbo pianos

Continuing on with Hans Kung About The Radicalism Of The Gospel

Finishing Hans Kung's listing of ways in which God and reality are presented as the ultimate of radicalism.  This is his third heading.

3.  Love means renunciation;  there is a warning against exploitation of the weak.  A resolute renunciation of all that hinders readiness for God and neighbor is required.   Expressed forcibly, it means even cutting off one's hand if it leads to temptation.  Jesus however expects renunciation, not merely of negative things - of lust and sin - but also of positive things - of rights and power.

Typical of Jesus is voluntary renunciation without accepting anything in return.  This can be expressed in concrete examples:

Renunciation of rights in favor of other person;  going two miles with someone who has forced me to go one mile with him.

Renunciation of power at my own expense:  giving my cloak also to someone who has already taken my coat. 

Renunciation of counter-force: presenting the left cheek to someone who has struck me on the right. 

These last examples especially show ore clearly that even that Jesus' requirements must not be understood as laws.  Jesus does not mean that, while there can be no reprisals for a blow on the left cheek, it may be right to hit back after a blow in the stomach.  Certainly these examples are are not meant to be taken merely symbolically.  They are very typical borderline cases (frequently formulated in a somewhat exaggerated Eastern style) which might at any time become reality.  But they are not to be understood in a legal sense, as commands that do just this and to do it constantly.  Renunciation of force does not mean a priori renunciation of any resistance.  According to the Gospel accounts,  Jesus himself certainly did not present the other cheek, but protested when he was struck.   Renunciation must not be confused with weakness.  With Jesus' requirements, it is not a question of ethical or still less ascetic achievements which might make sense in themselves, but of blunt requests for the radical fulfillment of God's will in each particular case to the advantage of our fellow man. All renunciation is merely the negative aspect of a new positive force.  

From this standpoint even the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament seem to be - in the Hegelian threefold sense - "canceled" (aufgehoben)  discarded and yet preserved, elevated to a higher plane through the radical "higher righteousness" proclaimed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. 

We must certainly not only have no other gods beside him,  but must love him with our whole heart, our whole soul and our whole mind and our neighbor and even our enemy as ourselves;

We must not only not use God's name pointlessly, but we must not even swear by God.

We must not only make the Sabbath holy by resting, but must be active in doing going on that day.

We must not only honor father and mother in order to have a long life on earth, but - for the sake of true love - show them respect even by leaving them.

We must not only not kill, but we must refrain from angry thoughts and words.

We must not only not commit adultery, but we must avoid even adulterous intentions. 

We must not only not steal, but we must even renounce the right to reparation for the wrong we have suffered.

WE must not only not bear false witness, but we must be so absolutely truthful that "Yes" means simply "Yes" and "No" means simply "No". 

We must not only not cove our neighbor's house but we must even put up with evil.  We must not only not covet our neighbor's wife, but must even refrain from seeking  a "legal" divorce.  

Was not the Apostle Paul right - here too in striking agreement with the Jesus of history - to claim that love is the fulfilling of the law?  And according to Augustine, it may be stated more forcibly,  "Love and do as you will."  There is no new law, but a new freedom from the law.

But precisely in the light of all this, the question arises; was Jesus himself content with words, with appeals?  Did he prefer a congenial, noncommittal, inconsequential, pure theory to practical action?  What did Jesus do in the last resort?  Did he put his own theory into practice?  

So many things jump out of that, I mean other than an observation that I'm certainly nowhere close to fulfilling much of any of it.  I look at what Kung said in regard to the extension on the Commandment against stealing, we must even renounce the right to reparation for the wrong we have suffered and can well imagine how that would be used in contemporary American politics around the pending issue of reparations. I will note that while that may make especially good sense when addressing people who have not been enslaved, it takes on a very different cast when it is told to people who have been enslaved, legally or on a de facto basis.  And, I will point out, while it may require those with a right toreparation to renounce that right, there is not a statement that the OBLIGATION of those who have benefited from the enslavement of others has that obligation wiped out.  

The claim is often made that Christians have constructed an easy way, a way of them getting off for doing evil - especially in the misunderstood theory of the Catholic sacrament of confession - but this passage shows that couldn't be farther from the truth.  Jesus doesn't set out an easy road to salvation, it is the most radical one, the one with requirements as steep as its aspirations.  It is exactly the kind of thing that I noted in the two interpretations of "freedom" and "liberty" which can either be taken to mean freedom to be selfish or freedom to be selfless, both individually as well as in the entire society.   And I think egalitarian democracy, requiring similar renunciations of power and privilege, even what get called "rights" when those impinge on the greater rights of others is obviously related to what is said here.  I think in this we find why Habermas named, specifically, the Christian doctrine of love as the only source of nourishment of the positive aspects of modern egalitarian democracy and the personal freedom which can either bless it, if exercised in lines similar to those Kung laid out here, or it can destroy it if taken in the "enlightenment" secular view of freedom and "rights" which allow those with natural or legally bestowed power and privilege to tyrannize those beneath them and to cheat those among them that they can get away with cheating. 

Why I Do Not Worship Random Chance As A Creator God - It's Just TOO Improbable - Hate Mail

I will revise and correct a paragraph from the post you didn't like to make you like it even less.

But that would get us back to just how improbable random chance assembling even the first organism so as it came to life, a persisting, containing membrane structure just happening to contain the right chemicals and structures [each of those structures certainly requiring an equally improbable random-chance assemblage, as well] so as to begin metabolism and maintenance of the organism before we get to the more incredible unlikelihood of random chance allowing its reproduction on the first and only try it would get to do that successfully, ending up with at least two of itself - if it reproduced to three, that first time or more, the chances against that happening rise incredibly fast.

If its unlikelihood happening once is measured as one times ten to some very large exponent of times. if the first act or reproduction resulted in more than one organism as a result, I would guess the first term in that equation would go up by the numbers of reproductions which would, of course, increase the resultant improbability on a very, very steep curve.  

And that doesn't bring up the improbabilities involved with such things as the original organism internally reproducing things like those complex molecules and structures in the numbers allowing it to split into two or more viable organisms.  

The internal mechanisms for allowing that internal reproduction of components - and to what random-chance, undetermined end? - is among the most improbable of the many improbabilities of the first organism arising by mere random chance.  So far we've only imagined the organism reproducing beneficial internal structures and molecules, organisms, as well, generate those that endanger its continued life, but that's only an observation to show that there are random chances against it working, as well. 

And, since we are supposed to detest teleology in biology as well as physics, why would it do that?  Why would it split in a totally unprecedented way (there would be no such thing as precedent for that first organism)?  What are the chances of those thing happening by random chance?   If you imagine the scenario I described here - and I don't see how even the most daffy of abiogenetic ideologues could not believe that had to have happened -  how could you maintain that all of the events preceding AND ALLOWING FOR SUCCESSFUL reproduction would have just happened without that result being anticipated?  

No, it's totally implausible that that happened by mere random chance.  God making it happen any number of times is far more plausible, the chance of it happening if God chose it to happen is one in one, not some integer times ten to an incredibly huge and ever underestimated exponent of times. 

Atheists are always playing the plausibility game based on the chance of something happening.  Well, you want to play that game, game on.  I'm more than willing to look at their claims for just how much they are claiming happened by chance.