July 23, 2014

I can't breathe

That phrase - "I can't breathe" - has become a rallying cry against police abuse in NYC. I'm sure you've seen the story on the news. Eric Garner was simply engaging in a common poverty-economy practice -- selling single cigarettes to earn a few bucks -- when the police attacked him and caused his death.

I hope you've seen the video. (I've embedded it below.) You can clearly hear Mr. Garner saying, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" as the police continue to hold him by his neck and put pressure on his chest. They killed him. There's no two ways about it. And for what? For selling loose cigarettes, as thousands of people do every day in NYC? That's a crime that deserves the death penalty?

I thought about Eric Garner yesterday as I suffered my second attack of being unable to breathe. It's only happened twice to me and I don't know what causes it. It's terrifying. It's as if my lungs cannot use the air, as if there's no oxygen in it. And it makes me feel desperate and wonder if I'm going to die.

My second attack happened outside a medical clinic, as I was on my way to an allergy doctor to find out why this happens to me. And as soon as someone realized I couldn't breathe, a "code yellow" was called and five medical professionals rushed toward me with a wheelchair, oxygen, etc. They put me on a machine to help me breathe and within an hour I felt fine.

But all the while, I heard Eric Garner's voice saying, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" I couldn't help but contrast the comforting response of the people around me, with the callous and inhumane actions of the police and EMS staff who surrounded Mr. Garner and simply watched him die.

Eric Garner is black and I'm white. And he was unlucky enough to have this happen while he was surrounded by NYPD officers who didn't give a damn whether he lived or died. They're not only the police -- they're the new militarized version of the police that has cropped up in NYC since 9/11. These officers see civilians as the enemy. And apparently you don't help the enemy, especially if he has brown skin.

It's so wrong. I'm fine today and Eric Garner is dead. Why? And if it's just his race, then we are not living in a civilized country. We're all supposed to be equal here. Where were the caregivers to help this man? Why did EMS workers not intercede when they heard his cries for help? And why did the officers not lift themselves off him when they heard he was having trouble breathing? Why?

Something has to change. We are all equal. It's just that some monsters don't recognize this. I don't want people like that to be handed a badge or a medical license. I hope many officers go to prison for a good, long time for what they did  to this man.

And by the way, he was a good man. Everyone says he was a gentle giant who would help anyone with anything. All you had to do was ask. The police murdered a teddy bear, not a criminal. And they should pay for this.

July 22, 2014

More harm from religion

Okay, so the article I'm about to quote was at HuffPo. But hey, it's got links to real articles so I think we can trust it.
Young children who are exposed to religion have a hard time differentiating between fact and fiction, according to a new study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science.
Gee, what a surprise.
Refuting previous hypotheses claiming that children are “born believers,” the authors suggest that “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.”
Put simply, religious thinking poisons the mind. Personally, the thing I hate most is seeing a story about religious parents who kill their kids to send them to "a better place". Ahem, that would be the grave. A poisoned mind is capable of terrible things.

I often say that religion is the reason why Americans can't think clearly. They've had no practice in logic because their brains were poisoned at an early age by religious nonsense.

There is no heaven, there is no hell, there is no god or devil. And that's why we should try our best to be kind to everyone we meet (including those kids at the border). Since there's no afterlife for those who suffer here on Earth, what say we try to avoid the suffering in the first place? Works for me.

July 21, 2014

Uh...that explanation won't fly

I assume my readers know all about Chris Kluwe and his stellar GLBT activism. Great guy, well-spoken. And of course he was fired from an NFL team because of it.

Apparently the Vikings supplied this strange statement in their defense:
The Vikings lawyers claims that although Preifer said we should “nuke… all the gays,” he was otherwise completely respectful of LGBT people and those advocating on their behalf.
I'm like, totally sure this is accurate. Totally. Aren't you?

This has been your daily exercise in "Explanations that don't work".

July 20, 2014

Communion on the moon. Oy.

This actually happened.
As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to take "one small step for man," Aldrin wanted to commemorate the moment in a way he found most personally meaningful -- by taking communion.
You know you want to read the full story. Damn, and it's Sunday and everything.

Blood Orange - Chamakay

My nephew sent me a link to this song. I like it. Understated and lovely.

July 19, 2014

Studies suggest...

Studies suggest that many people reading this blog are not actually alive. These "people" are zombies. This is something up with which I cannot put. Thus I must determine if you, the person reading this, are alive. But how can I do this?

Wait a minute! I'll bet zombies can't get through the captcha verification system (those squiggly letters you have to decipher in order to post a comment). That's the ticket! Okay here's the deal. If you are not a zombie...prove it by commenting on this post.


I posted this two full minutes ago and there hasn't been one comment yet. OMD, it's true -- you're all zombies!

I may have to rethink my blog in light of this new information. I'll get back to you.

And no religion, too

More good news:
President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work, fulfilling a promise to a crucial Democratic constituency, White House officials said on Friday. But the directive will not exempt religious groups, as many of them had sought.
It's that last bit in bold that's the super good news. I am so sick of religious gits attacking gay people and using their god for cover. God wants them to be cruel to gay and transgender people. It's their duty.

Screw your duty. You're just hateful loons. Kudos to Obama for not letting contractors discriminate against gays by using a religious back-door. Let's get rid of all those back doors. Hate is hate. And if your religion tells you to hate gays and transgender people, your religion is scum.

God's followers mad with urge to kill

This morning, I read an op-ed called "Faith-Based Fanatics" at the NYT. Here's a tiny excerpt:
God is on a rampage in 2014, a bit like the Old Testament scourge who gave direct instructions to people to kill one another. 
I won't steal more from the article. Just go read the original.

July 18, 2014

Not this atheist author

In a post at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton quotes a religious wingnut who thinks, or at least says, that atheists don't exist. I won't run the whole thing down here. You can read Ed's original post to get the dirt. I'd just like to focus on one thing the writer said. At one point, he speaks of cosmic justice and suggests that all people, even atheists, believe in such a thing. I don't think the guy knows many atheists.

Here's the nugget that snagged my attention. After saying that atheists believe in something akin to karma, he adds:
This idea, he writes, is played out on a number of differently [sic] levels—including narrative literature, where even atheist authors invariably write stories that “exist to establish that there exists a mechanism or a person—cosmic destiny, karma, God, fate, Mother Nature—to make sure the right thing happens to the right person.
Invariably, eh? Well, this atheist author wrote a novel called Xmas Carol. In my book, there isn't a hint of a cosmic master who runs things so "the right thing happens to the right person". On the contrary. As in real life, it is luck that runs the show.

The book does, however, take every opportunity to bash religion while suggesting that humans will inevitably create their own version of heaven -- one that is real, as opposed to the vapor-ware favored by religious people.

No real atheists, indeed. There are at least a zillion of us on the internet. Has he not noticed? Religion never has anything new to say -- and that's a feature, not a bug. It's also why religion will die out, quite soon I think.


July 17, 2014

Irresponsibility is built into American news

Officer Melvin Santiago
It happened again. A guy (whose name I won't include in this post) killed a police officer in New Jersey so he could become famous. He went into a drug store with no intention of robbing it. He simply accosted the private security officer, took his gun and waited for the police to arrive. They were his quarry.

When Officer Melvin Santiago, a 23-year-old who'd only been on the force for six months, pulled up in a police car outside the drug store, the perp shot him in the head, killing him.

In the subsequent news barrage, the media helpfully informed us that the perp had told people earlier in the day that they should watch the news tonight "because I'm going to be famous."

He was right. The news media complied immediately with the killer's wish, plastering his name and image all over the TV stations and newspapers. He got what he wanted: they made him a star.

This is stupid and irresponsible but media heads don't consider the effects of their coverage. They just blast it out there, heedlessly. It doesn't have to be this way. They could easily make a simple decision to call these idiots "Coward 1" (and Coward 2, etc.) and never show their image. If the creeps don't get the media coverage they hunger for, they won't think it's "fun" to kill more cops. You think they want to go into prison and shout "I'm coward number 23!"? I seriously doubt it.

The media fosters these murders as surely as if they put an ad on Craigslist that says, "Wanna kill cops? We promise to cover the event and make you a star! Go for it!"

It's sickening. Wake up, news media. You play a huge role in these murders. But hey, I'll bet that doesn't even bother you. The money keeps rolling in, so why should you care?

And that, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with America: money is god, and all else bows before it.