Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Uncle Bud

I sure get a kick out of my Uncle Bud Seawright. Oh, he’s not really my uncle, just a really good, long time family friend. The thing about Uncle Bud is, he calls things just exactly like he sees them. There’s no ‘finesse’ bullshit about Uncle Bud. And, Uncle Bud has a good bit to say about the current state of affairs in these good old United States of America today.

“Ain’t never been this bad before,” he says. “never, no time.”

One of his favorite topics lately is the Tea Party phenomenon. “What in Hell are they talking about they ‘won’t stand it anymore’?” he says.  “Hell, most of ‘em never had it so good in their gol-damned lives! That’s how come they got the time and wherewithal today to have them rallies they call ‘Tea Parties’ where they stand around and holler about how they’re gonna ‘take back their country’! Damnation! Pure dog ignorance oughten never to be a point of view!”

Uncle Bud says the only tea parties he ever knew about were for sissy little girls and their imaginary friends. And the more I think about that, the more sense it makes to me.

Uncle Bud says, "it’s gol-damned well obvious some folks never get too old to learn something stupid, on top of them already being dumber than a half can of five-year-old house paint to start with." I guess you might say he doesn’t have a whole lot of use for the Tea Partiers.

“Hell, most of ‘em’s on the social security rolls anyhow.” he says. “They’re just all churn and no buttermilk, and letting the demagogues run ‘em around like lab rats in a maze.”

And don’t get Uncle Bud started on what he thinks about today’s Republicans. “Hell, I used to think a lot of Republicans.” Uncle Bud says. “In fact, I voted Republican more times than not, back when they had some damned sense. Back a while you could count on most Republicans to do the right thing, but now, all they do is whore for the banks, the rich and big business, and talk gloom, doom and calamity with a black Democrat in the White House. That is, what time they ain't chasing restroom queers and little boys, and every damned one of ‘em preaching ‘family values!’”

“I remember what that Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith told that godawful slimy toad Joe McCarthy back in the ‘fifties.” Uncle Bud says. “She told him, she was a Republican, but damned sure didn’t want to ride to victory on the four horsemen of calumny - fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear. I was mighty proud of that little woman when she told him that, I tell you, still am, God rest ‘er soul. But, it sure looks like the Republicans have resurrected those horsemen lately.” 

Whenever I catch Uncle Bud mentioning ‘God’ or religion, I never say anything. I don’t want to get him started off down THAT road. 

Uncle Bud says religion, and especially the Christian flavor “Ain’t nothing but fairy tales based on myths writ down by goat herders thousands of years ago, and served up today by self-serving charlatans, to the naive and scairt, trying to relieve them of as much of their money as they can.”

"Hellfire, some of them 'Reverends' got gold rings on every damned finger!"

You can see why I don’t want to get off on that topic. He’s bad enough about it without my mentioning anything. The last time he got off on the subject of American Christians he got so mad he started shouting at me. Me, his loyal friend!

I said, “Uncle Bud, hold on just a minute. You know all that religion stuff is not MY fault?”

And, he just snorted and said, “I never said it was your damned fault! I just said I was blaming you!”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Evolution of Everything

Charles Darwin published his “On The Origin of Species” in 1859. And, the desperate  battles by religious people were begun in attempts to disprove ‘evolution’ as it came to be known. Most religions, and most particularly the Christian varieties, must argue against evolution since their messages insist otherwise. Most fundamental Christian religious cultures maintain ‘God’ created our world and everything in it or on it around 6000 years ago in spite of all evidence otherwise. Their battles against the reality of evolution continues to this day.

If you doubt this, all you need to do is visit the comments sections of web sites where this subject is discussed.

The Christian argument is based upon ‘The Book’ -  the bible and on their ‘faith’, or belief. That they can not present empirical evidence of any sort does not slow them from fighting fiercely for their convictions, and some can even name the date God created ‘everything’. Many Christians insist that faith alone is all the proof needed. It says so in ‘The Book’, therefore it is so. Some Christians demand their ‘Creationist’ viewpoint be taught to schoolchildren as a ‘theory’ as in ‘Creation Science’ and ‘Intelligent Design. This as a counter argument against evolutionary theory, which they insist is unproven - though there are volumes of scientific evidence to support it, and not one scintilla in support of creationism.

But, that does not matter when it comes to matters of faith, which by definition needs no evidence. The creationist argument reminds me of the ‘Flat Earthers’ who insisted the Earth is flat, and could not be round. A 'spherical Earth' notion also went against the prevailing cultural opinions of the time - even though there was plenty of evidence otherwise for those who were observant. Indeed there were many adherents to a flat Earth theory well into the 20th Century. Some Christians based their flat Earth convictions on references in The Book to the ‘Four Corners of the Earth’.

One example: Joshua Slocumb was introduced to President Paul Krueger of the South African Republic during Slocumb's 1897 sailing circumnavigation of the Earth. ‘Oom Paul’ (Uncle Paul) as he was known by his people, strenuously objected, “You don’t mean round the world, impossible! You mean ‘in the world’!”

Krueger even sent around a deputation of clergymen from his sect ‘Reformed Churches of South Africa’ to convince Slocumb he was mistaken, even though Slocumb himself was empirical proof! Such is the power of denial by faith.

And, so it goes. ‘Faith’ convictions are never overturned until totally overwhelmed by reality beyond any and all doubt or argument. So long as there is the slightest iota of doubt - real or invented - already convinced people will deny reality in favor of their convictions. But, eventually there does come a tipping point, and the firm conviction gives way to unavoidable rationality. Few people today still argue for a flat Earth, at least and still be thought rational. And so it shall be with religion in time. We already see a strong tendency towards secularism in the western world today. People claiming a religious faith in the US are now less than half the population - down considerably just in the past two decades. In most countries in Europe, the percentages are far less. I view this as an ‘evolution’ in terms of human thought - our species is becoming more rational over time.

I think this holds true for other issues too. As a species, we tend to evolve our societies towards more rational and more protective concepts for the society as a whole. A recent report in Scientific American hinted at altruism in rats. Free rats would try to free another rat trapped in an enclosure, even if it meant then having to share food with the trapped rat. And those who argued against actual altruism in rats still make my point about evolution of the species, i.e., “Either the rat is freeing the companion to end its own stress (caused by an alarm signal) or it is doing it to end the perceived stress of the caged rat.”

The outcome is the same: Freeing the trapped rat is ‘better for the species as a whole”.

Overall, our world is evolving towards the betterment of the whole. You can track this from the family level, through local neighborhoods, states, regions, nations, and even the entire planet. And, even though we often experience setbacks, and sometimes major ones, the mean path always tracks towards ‘better’. If you take the long view, you will see this in religion, science, politics, technology, manufacturing, societies, cultures and everything else; the tendency is always to ‘evolve’ to a higher and better level over time. The pace of evolution is often tedious, sometimes taking decades, even centuries, but the path is inexorably ‘onward and upward’.

So, in spite of all the ills we see around us daily, the planet and everything on it evolves always towards the ever fitter overall, for ‘this too shall pass’. This gives me calm when I think about the legacy the present human generations are leaving for our grandchildren and descendants.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

God is on Rick Perry’s Side!*

Rick Perry was interviewed by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly shortly after the debate hosted by ABC on December 10, 2011:

O’Reilly: Welcome Rick!
Perry: Thank you Bill. Glad to be here.

O’Reilly: Well Rick, you sure gave a better account of yourself in the last debate.
Perry: Well thanks, yep. I studied up for this one and I guess it showed.

O’Reilly: Sure did. At least you didn’t make a stupid mistake like you did when you listed off three things then could only remember one and a half of them.
Perry: Yep. That was a real ‘oops’ moment for me there. Made me look foolish and stupid.

O’Reilly: I cringed for you when that happened. I said to myself, ‘Gosh. That sure did make Perry seem stupid.’
Perry: Ain’t that the truth? But, I ain’t really a stupid man - I just play one on TV sometimes. Just can’t seem to help it now and again.

O’Reilly: (Laughs) I’m saying one thing though Rick. You sure do have the presidential look to you.
Perry: Well, that ain’t an accident Bill. I practice looking like that. My mama used to tell me, ‘you got to look like what you want to be.’ ‘Course, she wanted me to be a preacher, and I guess you could say a preacher look is a lot like a presidential look in many ways.

O’Reilly: Yes, you sure seem to have that part down. I don’t believe any of your competition look as much like a president as well as you do.
Perry: Nope, I agree. But, remember another thing Bill. In a way being a president is a lot like being a preacher. Or, a governor. I mean being a governor is like being a preacher too in some ways. 

O’Reilly: How so?
Perry: Well, you know we give a lot of speeches and talks standing behind a podium like a preacher. It’s what I like to call it the ‘godly look’, and I practice that. And, you know like hand gestures. Holding your hands in a prayerful way, and moving out from behind the podium to make a point like a preacher. All that promotes the godly look. I have to confess I sometimes practice my godly look in front of a mirror.

O’Reilly: Godly look?
Perry: Yep. And, it ain’t an accident either. I AM a godly man. I brought God with me back into the Texas statehouse. I did that because God told me to do it.

O’Reilly: God told you?
Perry: Oh, yes. I’ll never forget it. He said to me, ‘Rick’ - we’ve been on real familiar terms since I've been governor - He said to me, ‘Rick, I’m counting on you, and I want you to save Texas, and steer Texas back onto the path of righteousness. Texas has been losing her way under democrat influence, and the queers, and you got to put a stop to that!’

O’Reilly: Oh, really? I mean, God talks to you in person?
Perry: Sure does. Every day. Oh, I know there’s plenty who’ll say it’s just in my head. That I’m hearing God in my imagination. But, I’m here to tell you God picks out some people to do his work here on Earth, and I’m one of them. No doubt about that. And, that’s why I’m doing all I can to do God’s work.

O’Reilly: Well, Michelle Bachmann says exactly the same thing.
Perry: Michelle is just a wannabe, and she doesn't really have the platform like I do. Saying it's so doesn't make it so. There's no way God would pick her to do His work.

O’Reilly: His work? You mean like having an official Texas day of prayer for rain to combat the drought?
Perry: Oh yes. That was just one of the things God told me to do.

O’Reilly: Well, some folks will say, in fact a lot of folks will say that hasn’t exactly worked out. They’ll say the Texas drought is now actually much, much worse now than before all the prayers. And, they’ll say it is much worse in Texas than anyplace else.
Perry: Well they can say anything they want. It’s a free country. But, my answer to that is God has his reasons. There’s a mighty good reason God wants a drought in Texas. We just don’t know His reason. Maybe it's a way to bring folks back to God's house. Sure has worked out that way.

O’Reilly: But, if God wanted a drought in Texas why would He ask you to have the entire state pray for rain?
Perry: Bill, like I said, maybe it's a way to bring people back to God. But, it is not for man to question God. Ever. Like I said, I don’t know why God wants there to be a drought, but He wants one or else we wouldn’t have one. I do know we can’t second guess God. God works in his own mysterious ways and and I can tell you He has his reasons, I know they are darn good reasons too, and if and when He wants us to know, he’ll let us know. God does not answer to man, but man must answer to God.

O’Reilly: Amen, Rick. But, I also wanted to ask you about that ad you got so much criticism over from gay people and non-Christians.
Perry: What about it?

O’Reilly: Well, many people are saying it was over the top, that you emphasized Christianity too much and were disrespectful to gays.
Perry: Well, this is a Christian nation Bill, and I was just pointing that out. And gays and lesbians are an abomination in God’s eyes, and this administration lets them serve openly in the military.

O’Reilly: Well Rick, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Many people dispute this is a Christian nation, and surveys show up to 25% of all Americans are homosexuals. Are you telling me you would rule out one quarter of the population from serving the defense of the country?
Perry: I don’t care how many people dispute anything.The majority of Americans are Christians, and the majority rules. If the majority wants this to be a Christian nation, then that’s what it is. As for the queers, that’s where I agree with the Taliban. We need to take them all out and stone them to death.

O’Reilly: Kill 25% of all Americans?
Perry: Damned right! People are always complaining about over population anyway. Why not kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, if you’ll pardon my pun?

O’Reilly: Pardon accepted as I happen to agree with you. OK then, back to the Christians. The First Amendment to the Constitution says, ‘"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Perry: That’s exactly right! Congress doesn’t have any right to say this ain’t a Christian nation! And if the Constitution did, it would need to be changed!

O’Reilly: But, there are lots of Jews and Muslims and a lot of other religions in this country who could be offended if this were declared to be a Christian nation.
Perry: Did you not hear what I said Bill? Majority rules! If those others don’t want to be Christian to live in a Christian nation they can leave, by God!

O’Reilly: Gosh, Rick. Research shows 60 to 70% of Americans claim to be Christians of one sort or another. Population in the US is around 310 million, so if  say 35% are non-Christians, we’d be left with around 200 million. Then take out 25% of those as being homosexuals stoned to death, that would leave just 150 million people in the country - less than half of today’s, and actually less than what we had back in 1950. That would be turning back the clock 60 some odd years!
Perry: Yep. And that’s what I’d call being just about a perfect world Bill. The 1950’s were some glorious years in this county Bill. Of course I don't remember them well myself since I was a small child, but that's what my folks tell me, and they were just good Texas Christians.

O’Reilly: Well, I'm a year or so older and I remember them, and it is true the 'fifties were some great times. I can’t help from being nostalgic for the Joe McCarthy years myself. He was just a half century ahead of his time.
Perry: Oh yes, well, we’ve got a chance now to set things right again, if you’ll pardon my pun. When I’m elected President of the United States that’s just what you will see.

O’Reilly: Well, you’ve still got a lot of opposition, and you are still down in the polls.
Perry: I don’t pay attention to polls Bill. I don’t need to since I’ve got God on my side.

O’Reilly: Yes you do. I wish you luck Rick.
Perry: Like I said Bill, I don’t need luck. I’ve got God on my side.

* This is a parody on the bizarreness of some potential GOP nominees. If we can't make fun of the these bozos, we are in some real trouble.