July 31, 2013

Sochi 2014 Olympics must be canceled

There's no other way, at this point. Read John Aravosis to find out why.

Seriously. The entire world cannot come together to participate in what has become the Anti-gay Olympics.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

PS: I've decided to put the tag "Russian pig sty" on every Russian post. They've earned it.

Dolan's hate-filled Catch-22

The evil Timothy Dolan
Luckily for us, the evil head of the NY archdiocese, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, went on TV yesterday to "clarify" the pope's words about gay people.

We really needed his help, since the pope said only a day before, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" We're far too stupid to understand a statement like that. So Timmy stepped in it to tell us what the pope's words really mean.
The gay-hating head of the New York Archdiocese, speaking Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," praised the new pope for the "beautifully tender way" that he spoke about the issue one day earlier.
Nice start, but he went downhill fast. To fully grok his evilness, you must recall that Dolan is the Catholic point-man for attacks on gay marriage. So what did he say on TV, to "clarify" the pope's words? 
Dolan specifically reiterated the church's teaching on same-sex relationships, noting "the immorality, in God's view, of any sexual expression outside of a man and a woman in lifelong marriage."
Thanks, Timmy! So let's see. Sex is only okay when it occurs within a marriage between (ahem) a man and a woman. Isn't that sweet? He reminds us that sex outside marriage is sinful -- and yet he is the honcho who opposes marriage for gays in the United States. So marriage makes sex okay -- but marriage must forever be denied to gay people: Catch-22. Timmy must be so proud of himself.

Thanks a lot, Timmy! We were confused by the pope's kind words but you straightened us out. Now we can go back to beating gay people up, killing them and making fun of them at every opportunity.

Hey Dolan, let me clarify your words for you. You're a filthy, gay-hating pig. If hell was real, it's where you'd belong.

July 30, 2013

How Great Thou Art

Oddly, I woke up yesterday with a song in my head. It was Dixie Carter singing "How Great Thou Art" (at least I think that's the name of the song). If you were a fan of "Designing Women", you might recall the episode where she sang this hymn.

It's the one where Charlene confronts her pastor about the church's inability to see women as full, valid persons. The episode included a long, sad conversation between Charlene and the pastor. He affirmed the church's position: women cannot be priests. So Charlene told him tearfully that she was going to have to leave the church. It hurt her terribly to consider doing this, but the church's misogyny was too much to bear. She couldn't be a part of that. And she figured a loving god would have nothing to do with a church that viewed women as adjuncts, helpers and servants -- but never equals.

And meanwhile, Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter) worried that she wouldn't be able to hit the high notes in "How Great Thou Art", which she was to sing in church that evening.

Anyway, this episode and that god-awful song were stuck in my head when I woke up to the news that Pope Francis likes gay people. But hiding behind this news, almost unnoticed by the media, was another statement: that the door is closed to women priests. Never. Gonna. Happen.

I think that was the huge news of the day, not that the pope managed to mention gay people without throwing up, but that the church will definitely continue to view women as half-persons, invalid beings who cannot fully participate in the church, by virtue of their vaginas.

I think dog was sending me a message by sticking that song in my head. It was a presentiment, a foretelling. Dog was saying, "The popeyguy's gonna trash women today. Watch out!" And lo and behold, that's exactly what happened.

If I was a Catholic woman who held out hope that the church would finally recognize my existence, I would be terribly depressed by the pope's words. And what is his reason for denigrating women? Because it's always been this way.

That's quite a church they've got there. It's a sickening organization in so many ways. But at least we know for sure now: the Catholic church hates women.

July 29, 2013

Pope pretty relaxed about gays

I knew it. He just didn't seem like a crazy homophobe. Today we get confirmation of his relatively relaxed attitude toward gays.
"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked. 

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. 
For a pope, that's pretty damn good. (And never mind the "sin" part. Catholics are crazy; gotta remember that.)

This isn't bad, either:
Francis was asked about Italian media reports suggesting that a group within the church tried to blackmail fellow church officials with evidence of their homosexual activities. Italian media reported this year that the allegations contributed to Benedict's decision to resign. 

Stressing that Catholic social teaching that [sic] calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity and not marginalized, Francis said it was something else entirely to conspire to use private information for blackmail or to exert pressure. 
Repeat after me: "Pope Francis is not a crazy homophobe." And thank dog for that!

On the other hand, things don't look promising for women who want to be priests:
In one of his most important speeches delivered in Rio, Francis described the church in feminine terms, saying it would be "sterile" without women. Asked what role he foresaw, he said the church must develop a more profound role for women in the church, though he said "the door is closed" to ordaining women to the priesthood.

July 28, 2013

How Americans treat veterans

Yesterday there were several commemorative ceremonies for veterans of the Korean War. While watching a report about one of the gatherings, I heard a Korean War vet say that the public mistreated them when they came home to the states. Americans didn't seem to value their service. One fellow said he was spit on. I really didn't know much about the Korean War, so this surprised me.

It started me thinking. Vietnam veterans were also ill-treated when they returned from the war. I remember those days well. Though the American public came to value their service in later decades, at the time, returning veterans were viewed with suspicion -- almost as if they'd done something wrong. And yes, some were spit on.

And yet WWII vets were treated like saints. And today, we honor all veterans of the strange wars waged by the US in the past decade. No matter your walk of life, if you're an American you feel respect for these brave individuals.

It's odd. If the "value" of the war was the primary issue, you'd think we would treat today's veterans poorly. Most Americans see the Iraq war and the continuing Afghan military operations as virtually meaningless. To put it bluntly, the American people don't even know why the United States launched these wars. Yet we rightly go out of our way to honor every veteran who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Add in another factor. All those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan volunteered to fight. You'd think the "value" of the war might thus be placed on their shoulders. After all, in prior wars, people were drafted. Yet the drafted veterans who fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars were reviled upon their return. It was as if they were perceived as being personally responsible for "their" wars. The draftees!

The whole thing just seems odd, don't you think? I'm glad we value our veterans today. (Though of course, I wish the US would stop attacking random nations. But that's another post entirely.)

But the blot on our character remains. It's terrible that those who served in Vietnam and Korea were ill-treated upon their return to the states. The American public committed a sin, en masse, by reacting with hostility toward their returning warriors. I can't imagine how much this hurt those brave veterans. If you don't mind, I'll apologize for all of us:
As an American, I'm sorry for the way you were treated. That was wrong and it never should have happened. You did a great thing for your country. You were brave and you worked hard. For all your efforts, you deserve only praise. Today and forever, you have earned and you deserve the respect of all Americans. Please accept my apology.

July 26, 2013

The "new world of Pope Francis"

The phrase in my headline is the title of an article at Spiegel Online (Der Spiegel's English-language web site). So, is it a new world? I guess it is. He seems much different from his predecessor. Mind you, he's still down with the same abortion, celibacy, and gay marriage policies. It's not a new world for gays and women. Still, he's making huge changes, and apparently some are not pleased.
The curia is currently divided into those who are concerned that the pope is overexerting himself, and those who are afraid of the new order. "The pope is still getting warmed up," says the source from the curia. "We are crouching in the trenches, and quite a few are trembling."
I guess the trembling is a good sign. But let's not forget that all Francis can offer the world is the same old fairy tale about Jesus, and the false promise of a glorious "afterlife". Religion is and always will be a magic fence surrounding nothing.

There is one odd, hopeful thing in the article. Apparently Francis appointed a prelate to check in on the Vatican Bank and report directly to him. He seems serious about cleaning up the bank. But there's concern over the prelate he's chosen for this job.
That appointment, though, could prove to be Pope Francis' first mistake. He chose Monsignore Battista Ricca, the former administrator of the Vatican guesthouse, for the job. But the magazine L'Espresso revealed last week that Ricca was transferred to the guesthouse in 2001 for disciplinary reasons, because he was allegedly living with and maintaining a homosexual relationship with a man in the nunciature of Montevideo and was beaten up in a gay bar. So does it exist after all, the "gay lobby" at the Vatican, whose members secure positions for each other? Did the curia deliberately conceal Ricca's past from the pope? These questions will have to remain unanswered for now, but the Ricca appointment could come back to haunt the pope.
Something tells me the pope knows exactly who this man is. I continue to think that the pope's got a soft spot for gay people. Call me a fool, but I do. It will be interesting to see where the gay issue lands after he's been pope for a decade.

Nuns are totally cool

As I watched the Mets/Braves game last night, I caught sight of two nuns enjoying the game. Is this a great image, or what?

The one on the right is a true Braves fan. Note that she's got earbuds. She's probably monitoring the game by listening to her favorite announcers.

And don't worry about the one on the left. She's not having a bad time. She's just got a mouth full of hot dog. Seriously, I love them both.

July 25, 2013

How to fix Ike Davis

Ike Davis is the Mets first baseman. He's very talented but suffers from debilitating performance anxiety. For the past two seasons, he hasn't been able to produce. He just can't hit the ball, which is absurd when you consider his natural talent. So everyone wants to fix Ike Davis.

But no one's saying the right thing. He's got to change his walk-on music. For the entire two-year period, he's been using the Stones' "Start Me Up" as his song when he's in the batter's box. It's become the sound of failure. His brain hears it, knows what it means (failure) and then he strikes out. This is not rocket science. Change the song! In fact, change it weekly until he starts hitting -- and then keep the song that "worked". His brain will connect the new song to success.

As long as we're talking about baseball, look at that jersey in the photo above. Oy. They combined ORANGE and PURPLE! And yes, I yelled when I said that. I swear, sometimes it's hard to be a gay baseball fan. I got nauseous every time I saw that onscreen in last night's game (which they lost). Oy again. The MLB needs gay male advisers who can help them choose their colors. We could also send in a Beard Trim Mercy Squad to fix up all those horrid beards.

But for now, I'd settle for Ike changing his song. Someone tell him about this (in case he doesn't read my blog).

Not huggy

Hugging means waiting for someone to let go of me. That's how I see it. No, I do not want to hug you. No, I do not want you to hug me. But people do it. You just can't stop them.

I think I inherited this attitude from my mother, who was a curiously unhuggable woman. Mind you, she was a sweet, good person. But she didn't like to be hugged. If despite her wishes, you hugged her, she would put her arms around you without touching you. She'd keep herself at least an inch away from the actual, you know, person.

If I was lucky enough to be in position to see her face as someone hugged her, I saw boredom and a grudging willingness to put up with it. This always made me laugh. I could almost hear her thinking, "I know you need this, honey, but I don't". Ever polite, she waited for the hug to end, put a smile on her face and made believe it never happened.

Mind you, there's a time for hugging. If someone receives horrible news while in my presence, I hug them. But if there's no major tragedy in the air, I keep my distance and hope the other person will do the same. Doesn't always work out.

Hugging. It's not for everyone. Where do you stand on the hugging spectrum?

July 23, 2013

Blogging (and life) update

I know, I know: I haven't been trashing the Vatican as much as you'd like. But I'm busy writing the next book -- and that's exactly what I should be doing.

Anyway, the Vatican has turned into a cartoon. Earning "indulgences" for following the pope's tweets? How can you make fun of something so dumb? You don't need satire here. It's enough to know that the church is offering people a way to shorten their stay in Purgatory by...clicking on something on their computer or phone.

And the pope's ludicrous arrival in Brazil yesterday! What can I say? The man must want to be killed (and I assure you there are many in the Curia who would love to do the deed). I like his focus on poverty, but offering Jesus as a constructive way out of this dilemma is ludicrous. Let's see this pope sit down with the IMF and straighten them out. That might mean something.

Look, all churches are based on nonsense. There's nothing sensible about any religion. Belief in gods is, quite simply, a scourge upon humanity. In the end, I truly believe that religion will bring about humanity's extinction. I'm sure some of you think this remark is over the top. But once you let nonsense into your mind -- like the idea of living after death, and the very existence of gods and angels -- your mind is open to any sort of idiocy. And that is the road to ruin.

We need a rational approach to our global problems. But as long as religion continues to delude most of mankind, we'll never get to the point where we can come to grips with our problems. After all, why bother? Jeebus will fix everything -- and it really doesn't matter, in the long run. After all, we're all going to heaven, where everything is pink and fluffy and faaaabulous. Why worry? Sigh.

As for me, I've been easing myself back into fiction-writing mode. Little by little, it's happening. Not only am I writing the new book; I'm also thinking about the story as I walk, shower, watch baseball, and live my life. That's the most important trick: creating a place in your mind where the story can blossom. The game is on, kids. The new book ("The Worlds") is happening.

So hang on. When I've finished the book I'll return to blogging full-time. And at that point, I promise I will bash religion relentlessly, day after day. But for right now, I'm busy. And thank dog for that.

PS: I think they should name the Royal baby "Nit".

July 22, 2013

Not Royal baby; "It was just gas."

Kate Middleton did not have a baby boy. As she reported late this afternoon, "it was just gas." But reporters had already gone with the rumor...

Wait a minute. Someone is trying to get my attention.

Tch. Never mind.

Frightening headline doesn't disturb Americans

"Secret court okays continued US phone surveillance", the headline said. It sounds like something from the former Soviet Union, but it's not. This is an actual headline in the United States and our sheep-like citizens didn't find it disturbing at all. 

When Americans see this sort of thing they just move along, maybe go pick up some more donuts or something. "Ho hum" is now the official American mantra. Stuff happens; why worry?

Sigh. The old United States is gone. Dog only knows what will happen next. But don't worry: the secret courts will undoubtedly take care of everything. In fact, we may not even hear about the next big thing.

Hmmm. Maybe I'll go get some Krispy Kremes.

Royal baby? What's that?

There was an amusing segment on NYC's local TV news last night. A reporter approached people on the street and asked them if they were excited about the impending royal birth.

No one had any idea what he was talking about. Though the news shows would have you believe that everyone everywhere is excited about this impending birth, New Yorkers couldn't care less.

Go, New York!

July 21, 2013

Slow clap

I wondered about the meaning of a slow clap -- when an audience engages in methodical, slow-paced clapping that builds as more and more people join in. It's a dramatic, inspiring thing to observe, perhaps the more so because it seems to well up naturally, as if it has a life of its own. Here's what the Urban Dictionary says:
A gradual building of applause, usually starting with one person clapping slowly, and ending with an enthusiastic standing ovation. Generally shows approval for an underdog in a come from behind victory or after losing with pride intact.
After they hoisted their broken sled to their shoulders, the jamaican bob-sledders slowly walked towards the finish line. Much to their surprise, the dick-head East German began the slow clap. Soon, the whole crowd was riotously cheering them on.
I like everything about that definition. We're lucky to live in the internet age. I know you'll find this hard to believe, but it used to be difficult to locate information. I know: sounds crazy. You had to be there.

July 20, 2013

Heatwave's almost over. (Cheers from the crowd!)

What a week this has been. I recall experiencing high temperatures in the past, but the humidity wasn't this high. Usually temps of 100 degrees or more produce a dry heat. Not this time. And the heat seems to last all night. Again, I don't remember this happening in the past.

We're expecting a storm tonight in NY, which will bring a subtle change -- and hey, we'll take anything at this point. Then Monday it should feel almost normal, about 82 degrees. Thank dog!

Usually, I don't mind the heat because it brings baseball along with it. But the play this year has been so dog-awful, it's hardly worth watching. I don't know whether it's the absence of steroids, or what. But something has brought baseball to its knees.

No one can hit. No one can catch a ball. The defensive play on the field is like watching the Keystone Kops. Sheesh. Heat and lousy play. I want a refund for my Summer.

The Rolling Stone cover

David Weinberg wrote an article for CNN about the Rolling Stone cover that has everyone's panties in a bunch. I agree with everything he says. Here's his opening:
I know I'm supposed to be outraged by the Rolling Stone cover that depicts Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a dreamy young man, with its implicit resonances with the famous Jim Morrison photo. When taken with the words that overlay it, the photo presents a mystery that we need to explore. So, I am not outraged. In fact, I am discouraged by the outrage itself.
I am, too. Americans who object to the photo of Tsarnaev are acting like spoiled children. And how many of them bothered to read the article within those pages? We used to be a mighty nation of thinkers. This is no longer true.

Obama did good

There's a lot wrong with this president, but what he said about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman yesterday was perfect. Credit where credit is due.

July 19, 2013

Star of David controversy

The "Yellow Badge" Jews were forced to wear.
It's rare to find anything interesting in HuffPo's religion section. But today I found an article that piqued my interest.

There is a plan to put a Holocaust memorial at an Ohio statehouse, and the memorial is set to have a Star of David figuring prominently in the piece. You can see an artist's rendition of the memorial at the linked article. I think it's stunningly beautiful.

The question, of course, is whether a religious symbol can be used on state property. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (an organization that does great things) has a problem with it. I don't.

Check the article out and see what you think. Since the Holocaust was an event in which the Star of David figured prominently, I see no reason why it can't be used in the memorial. It's not a memorial "to Jewishness". It's about an historic event that affected Jews more than any other group.

Here is an excerpt from the article:
The wording on the memorial is set to say, "In remembrance of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and millions more including prisoners of war, ethnic and religious minorities, homosexuals, the mentally ill, the disabled, and political dissidents who suffered under Nazi Germany."
How can anyone object to this? I can't. If you have an opinion, click the comment button and tell us what you think.

Nuclear nightmare

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the "risk of a catastrophic irradiated nuclear fuel storage pool fire is vanishingly small". This is an insane statement.

I direct you to two sources. First, to Artichoke Annie's blog for a rundown on the current NRC debacle. And secondly, to a post I wrote in 2011 about a French documentary film called "Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare". (You can watch it on YouTube.)

If you think nuclear power plants are "safe" and believe they produce "clean energy", you really need to see that documentary. It will freak you out. Spent nuclear fuel is literally a 200,000-year curse placed on future generations. It is a danger that is out of control in the US and every other country that maintains nuclear power plants.

We are killing the world right now by failing to address climate change. And we are killing the future world by littering the planet with wildly toxic waste that we have no idea what to do with. 

But don't worry. the NRC says the risk is "vanishingly small". Phew. Go read my 2011 post. It's worth your time. I promise.

July 17, 2013

Appearing in ESPN body issue = Satan

Good old Poland: always behind the curve. Apparently this extends to its Catholics, too. A "Bleacher Report" article reports that the Catholic hierarchy in Poland was none too pleased when one of its Catholic "spokespersons" appeared nude in the ESPN Body Issue.
After appearing in a photo spread for the “Body Issue,” Polish tennis star Agnieszka Radwanska has been dropped as spokesperson by a Catholic group in her home country. 
Huffy bunch, these Polish Catholics. And always afraid of the bodies. Strange, that. I loved this part of the article:
"Personally I am very sorry that someone declaring herself to be on the side of Jesus has at the same time played up to the mentality of those who treat people as just a thing to be looked at," Father Marek Dziewiecki said in the group’s official statement. 

Others have taken to Twitter to stand up for Radwanska, including Ryszard Czarnecki, a conservative Polish politician and member of the European Parliament.

"[She is] a pretty girl—slim and efficient," Czarnecki wrote. "And you, are you jealous?"
As far as I'm concerned, he hit the nail on the head. Sexual oppression -- and that's what this is -- almost always has its roots in an unsatisfactory sex life and the perception that one is not sexy. They're jealous. But...isn't that supposed to be a sin?

Types of atheists

CNN has an article that lists six types of atheists. It's based on a study by two researchers from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. (Note that the link to the actual study is nonfunctional; it only brings you back to the article. Why is it that major media cannot handle the simple science of links?!)

If you're an atheist, try to find your "type" in the list. This is mine:
4) Anti-theist
This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote.
“Anti-theists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental,” the researchers wrote. “The Anti-Theist has a clear and – in their view, [ahem] superior – understanding of the limitations and danger of religions.”

Anti-theists are outspoken, devoted and – at times – confrontational about their disbelief. They believe that "obvious fallacies in religion and belief should be aggressively addressed in some form or another.”
Yup, that's me. So what type are you? Tell us in the comments.

July 16, 2013

The birth of a new language

I often read articles about language. What can I say? I love the topic and can't get enough of it. Over the years, as I read such articles, I learned a fascinating thing: children are the creators of language. Adults have nothing to do with this process. It's always the kids who have the upper hand. Every language in the world was created by children. But we've inferred this fact rather than observed it in the wild. Firsthand evidence was lacking for an obvious reason: new languages aren't born every day.

However, we now have documentary evidence of this fact in a remote village in Australia. For the first time, expert linguists have been present to monitor the birth of a new language.
The language, called Warlpiri rampaku, or Light Warlpiri, is spoken only by people under 35 in Lajamanu, an isolated village of about 700 people in Australia’s Northern Territory. In all, about 350 people speak the language as their native tongue.
That is just so cool. It makes you wonder how the process started. Luckily, the article answers this question:
The development of the language, Dr. O’Shannessy says, was a two-step process. It began with parents using baby talk with their children in a combination of the three languages [used in the local area]. But then the children took that language as their native tongue by adding radical innovations to the syntax, especially in the use of verb structures, that are not present in any of the source languages. 
Throughout the history of humanity, children created every single language spoken on this planet. I don't think many people understand this. Read the linked story for more information. I loved it.

And the next time you hear an oldster say something about the "way kids talk today", you may have a deeper understanding of the phenomenon. It's what kids do.

July 15, 2013

Cuz I feel like hearing this

The not-so-great outdoors

I live in a suburban/rural region with lots of trees and occasional areas that can still be called a "forest". I remember exploring areas like this as a kid when my family spent summers on Long Island. In both Long Island and in Dutchess County (where I live now), mega-houses replaced most of the trees, but the forest still exists. It's just been parceled into smaller areas. You only have to wander into the trees to discover this green kingdom (or vestiges of it, anyway).

But I won't be wandering through the trees anytime soon. It was frightening enough to know that deer ticks can transmit Lyme Disease -- but now they've become truly lethal. There's a report today that the virus that causes encephalitis has been found in the local tick population. Dog!

My grandmother had sleeping sickness (another name for encephalitis) and it was a nightmare. After being bitten by a tse tse fly in Italy at the age of 16, she suffered her whole life. Headaches, constant pain and a brain that couldn't function properly -- that's what encephalitis did to her.

I will never let high weeds touch my skin again. And I certainly won't tramp off into the forest to learn what's there. It's sad. It's like the environment itself has become toxic. And I suspect we'll see more diseases move into the area in the coming years.

With climate change increasing the temperature across the US, how long will scourges like dengue fever remain a distant problem that affects only "other people"? Already, the ticks in Dutchess County (where I live) have tested positive for two malaria-like infectious diseases, babesiosis and anaplasmosis.

It's not safe out there anymore.

July 13, 2013

Atheists less happy than religious nitwits?

Well, there you go. It's settled: religious nitwits are happier than atheists. But just for the heck of it, let's look at the article. First of all, I jumped the gun. The actual title says: "Christians happier than atheists -- on Twitter". So how did they come to this startling conclusion?
The study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tapped Twitter as a research tool and compared the messages of Christians and atheists. 
Hmmmm. Sounds okay, so far.
The conclusion: When they are limited to 140 characters or less, these researchers say, believers are happier than their counterparts.
Well, of course they are. Religious people's thoughts are limited to 140 characters or less. They like tweeting because their teeny nitwit ideas fit into the space provided. Praise Jeebus! Okay, let's see what else the article says.
With the help of a text analysis program, the researchers found that Christians tweet with higher frequency words reflecting positive emotions, social relationships and an intuitive style of thinking – the sort that’s gut-driven. [As in "facts ain't got nuthin' to do with nuthin'", I imagine.]

This isn’t to say that atheists don’t use these words, too, but they out-tweet Christians when it comes to analytic words and words associated with negative emotions.
Hmmm. It sounds like the atheists might be, you know, thinking. Gotta love those gut-driven religious nitwits, though. Thoughts seem to play no role in their lives. Let's go back to the article again.
Christians, they found, are more likely to use words like “love,” “happy” and “great”; “family,” “friend” and “team.”

Atheists win when it comes to using words like “bad,” “wrong,” and “awful” or “think,” “reason” and “question,” said Ryan Ritter, one of the students behind the study.
There goes that thinking thing again. Darn those atheists! Why can't they just use happy words in their tweets?
Based on previous studies cited by these researchers, analytical thinking may "diminish the capacity for optimism and positive self-illusions that typify good mental health."
Hypothesis confirmed. Those darned atheists think too much. If they'd only limit themselves to tweeting about love, happiness, family, friends and teams, they might begin to understand the joy that jeebus has in store for us (at some vague, late date - probably after we're, you know, dead.)

If you like this sort of thing, do read the linked article. There's some juicy stuff at the end, when an actual atheist responds to the idiocy of the survey. (I suspect he's one of those darned "thinkers".)

Okay, I'm going to go think happy, pink thoughts for the next hour. About "love", I think. I did "teams" yesterday. And then tomorrow, I'll think about "family". You know, I think I feel better already!

Malala Yousafzai is a living saint

Coming on the heels of Pope Francis' meaningless announcement that two previous popes are about to become saints...we get to meet a real saint.

Yesterday, Malala Yousafzai addressed the United Nations. It was her 16th birthday. I assume readers are familiar with her name. She is the young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for championing the right of girls to be educated.

If you saw the video of her appearance, you felt the power of this young woman. Her cry is clear and just: the world's children deserve a fine, free education. It is their right. And if you missed the video, here it is:

Those are the words of a true saint. And yes, she thanks "god" in her talk. It is a reflection of her heritage, and I suspect the words are meant to chasten those listeners who are religious, to tamp down their differences. She is saying, "We are all one" when she thanks god.

When Malala makes a public appearance, I always wonder what the folks at the Vatican think. I mean, here's a real, actual saint -- as opposed to the nonsensical "saints" of the Catholic faith. I hope Pope Francis was chastened upon hearing her words. When you hear Malala, you hear truth and goodness. She stands for what is right and just and caring. And yes, she is a true saint.

This reminds me that we should re-purpose this otherwise meaningless term. We should award the title of saint to those secular heroes who stand up for the rights of others. Let's give this word a real-life meaning.

Saint Malala. I like it. Surely there are other living saints in this world. I say we give them all their due. The Saints of the Secular Landscape. That sounds good to my ears.

July 12, 2013

Wisdom from the TV weatherman

I just watched the local TV news. And because it's summer, I paid attention to the weather report. Alas, the weather person warned that New York is in for another heat wave next week. He said it will be even hotter than the last one. Yikes.

And then he said, "it will be in the 90s, and might reach three digits or more."

Jeez, a thousand degrees! He's right. That's a lot hotter than the last heatwave.

Sun image: Wikipedia Commons

Polish exorcists are on the case. Have no fear!

There's a dumb story over at HuffPo. I know; that's not news. But if you want to find an idiotic religious article to blog about, HuffPo's a veritable goldmine. Today, I found a gem. It seems that Polish exorcists are looking into the "Madonna problem".
For years, international pop star Madonna has infuriated Catholics the world over with her unabashedly religion-tinged performances and songs that often play off Catholic imagery. But the singer's distinctive style has apparently crossed a line with an international community of exorcists, who plan on discussing the "Madonna problem" at their annual conference at a Polish monastery.
Well, I guess that's it for Madonna. Now that Polish exorcists are after her, she truly has nowhere to run. The poor dear!
"Part of the conference is dedicated to the hidden subliminal message in communication, and the choice of this subject was inspired by the woman who dares to call herself Madonna," Father Andrzej Grefkowic, an exorcist and conference organizer told The Telegraph. "We've been worried about her concerts." 
Indeed. We all worry about Madonna's concerts. Demon Waves probably shoot out of her head when she sings -- and they can be harmful! Let's hope these exorcists can rid the poor woman of her demonic hangers-on.

Seriously, Madonna has to love stuff like this. She's getting free, insane publicity from these loons. So how can I get these Polish exorcists to focus on me? I mean, I must have the devil inside me. Elsewise, how could I be an atheist blogger? And even more pointedly, how could I have written "Xmas Carol"?!! It just stands to reason that I am possessed. Horrors!

But of course, the real shock is that anyone living in the 21st Century could think the devil is real. That's the sort of belief that turns reality on its head -- needlessly, of course. There are no devils, kids. Not even one. Still, it must be terrifying to be a Catholic. I can't imagine living in a world where unseen enemies are always stalking you. Religion: it's the ultimate nightmare.

July 11, 2013

Pope Francis not very nice, really

The Catholic church continues to amaze me. Readers might at first experience pink, fuzzy, hopeful thoughts on seeing this in the news today:
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis overhauled the laws that govern the Vatican City State on Thursday, criminalizing leaks of Vatican information and specifically listing sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children that can be punished by up to 12 years in prison. 
Swell, huh? But then you read a little further and come upon this:
It was issued at a critical time, as the Vatican gears up for a grilling by a U.N. committee on its efforts to protect children under a key U.N. convention and prevent priests from sexually abusing them. The Vatican signed and ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 yet only now — 23 years later — has it updated its legislation to reflect some of the treaty's core provisions. 
So this law was enacted under pressure and it only took 23 years for a pope to pipe up and say something about protecting kids. Oh, and the law only covers priests and lay people who work or live in Vatican City. For Catholic priests stationed all around the world, it's business as usual.

That's quite a religion they've got there.

July 4, 2013

Independence. It's a good thing.

On this July 4th, independence comes to mind. No, not the old-timey "we're free from British rule" kind of independence. I mean real independence.

On this blog I've said many times that when the world gets too low, when everything in the news is ugly, boring, small-minded and evil, there's a place I can go. That place is inside my mind, where stories and characters and plots spring to life.

All this is by way of announcing that it worked: I'm writing the next book. I can't express how invigorated I feel after only a few days of work. When I write, the shackles of life and circumstance fall away and I find myself in a place where anything can happen. That's true independence.

Happy 4th of July, everyone. I hope you find your way out, too.

The Cardinal of evil

Timmeh. Ugh.
I had to break radio silence today because there's a great editorial about Timmy Dolan in the NYT this morning. Here's a taste:
Tragic as the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been, it is shocking to discover that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of abuse by priests. 

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop [sic] of New York, has denied shielding the funds as an “old and discredited” allegation and “malarkey.” But newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy. 

“I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability,” Cardinal Dolan wrote rather cynically in his 2007 letter to the Vatican.
The Catholic church and Timothy Dolan: a twosome from hell. Let's see Timmy lie his way out of this one. By sucking up to power and conveniently forgetting the difference between right and wrong, Timmy may have earned himself a nice, long stay in prison. I certainly hope so. Since there's no such thing as hell, prison is where this destructive man belongs. 

What a filthy creature Dolan is. It's not surprising that his second job, after hiding money and protecting pedophile priests, is to launch relentless attacks against gay people in the United States. He is evil personified. (And there was talk of this fool becoming the next pope! That's quite a religion they've got there.)