So, so tired of Christian Atheists

Here we go again, with more weird Christian bias from atheists.

You know, the first sentence is just fine — please do appreciated the culture and history of a place. Personally, I’m not at all fond of church bells, because I grew up near a church that insisted on playing those obnoxious electronic chimes every 15 minutes, and here in Morris some jerk insisted likewise that the local cemetery play ear-splitting hymns on their electronic carillon all day long (fortunately, no longer). It might be a matter of frequency, too, since the Catholic church 3 blocks away rings their bells every Sunday before mass, and that’s not a problem at all.

Dawkins begins to go off the rails with the second sentence. Why is he comparing church bells to “Allahu Akhbar”? 1) A better comparison would be with the adhan, or call to prayer, of an Islamic mosque. It’s not “aggressive-sounding” at all. It would drive me nuts if I had to hear it every day, but it’s analogous in every way to his church bells. 2) “Allahu Akhbar” just means “God is great”, a phrase you’ll hear all the time in Christian churches. It is awfully arrogant, but it’s exactly the same crap that goes on in the grand medieval building behind Dawkins. Just a different language and a different culture.

Which is why the third sentence is so disingenuously stupid. Exactly, Richard, it’s a matter of your cultural upbringing. What else would it be? This is nothing but a phony call-out to anti-Islamic sentiment.

But wait, his supporters say. He’s Just Asking a Question. Maybe he’s simply acknowledging the varieties of human experience and openly admitting that he has a preference shaped by his history? Read charitably, maybe he’s noting the similarities of these different cultures.

Nice try. Nope. He followed up with this:

“Allahu Akhbar” is anything but beautiful when it is heard just before a suicide bomb goes off…fine. Relevance? Do you really think the muezzin is urging all listeners to yank the cord on a suicide vest? It’s a call to prayer. Just like the ringing bells of a cathedral. Shall we make the point that the bells of Winchester cathedral are anything but beautiful when it is heard just before a priest yanks down the pants of a little boy? That “Onward Christian Soldiers” isn’t exactly about peace and love? Is it beautiful when Christian America thinks it would a great idea to nuke Mecca?

Talk show host Pat Campbell for WFLA-AM in Orlando, Florida asked the Colorado Republican Congressman Tom TancredoWikipedia’s W.svg how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons; he responded, “Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites.” “You’re talking about bombing Mecca,” Campbell said. “Yeah,” Tancredo responded. The congressman later said he was “just throwing out some ideas” and that an “ultimate threat” might have to be met with an “ultimate response.” “What is near and dear to them? They’re willing to sacrifice everything in this world for the next one. What is the pressure point that would deter them from their murderous impulses?” the representative asked, his spokesman stressing he was only speaking hypothetically.

Wow. That sounds just like a Sam Harris hypothetical.

It’s really simply bigotry when you condemn followers of one faith for doing exactly what followers of another faith do, and equate going to a mosque to pray with murder.

Science confirms the obvious!

Did you know that YouTube comment sections are a cesspool? And that women get harassed more than men? It’s been checked out.

I have a small-time YouTube channel and don’t get all that many comments, but I can tell you that I’m not enjoying the discourse. I’ve activated the YouTube comment filter, which lets a lot slide through, but also holds a lot of crap back for approval…and I’ve looked through those and am usually disgusted. I’ve also been quick on the trigger to ban people, but the way YouTube works, they can just bounce back instantly with a new pseudonym.

I doubt that YouTube will ever do anything to fix the garbage. Hey, you wanna whine about civility? Stop complaining about leftists repudiating Nazis, and pay more attention to trolls on social media.

Trump is just the tool. We’re the ones who betrayed America.

Trump is a bad man, corrupt and immoral. But putting the focus solely on his action in Finland is misleading. Russian meddling might have given him a slight boost in the last election, but really…lots of Americans voted for him. The Republican party is supporting him. All the howling aimed at one man is a distraction from the long term problem.

Why were Americans susceptible to Russian propaganda? Why do they vote for a criminal political party? Because for decades we’ve been demolishing our infrastructure, undermining unions, allowing big money to corrupt the political process, setting our standards for news media low, fostering greater income inequality, allowing racism and misogyny to run amuck, wrecking the educational system, and investing in the military rather than our people. It should be no surprise that people distrust and are resentful of The System, and are willing to endorse radicals who offer nothing but the promise to tear it all down and agree with the worst of our impulses.

Imagine a fantasy resolution: the Trump regime is thrown down, all of his appointees are thrown out and imprisoned, and the man himself is shipped off to the Hague and locked away for the rest of his life (that’s fantasy, it’s not going to happen). What next? What will change to prevent the next demagogue from taking over? What about the thousands of Republican party apparatchiks and the tens of millions of citizens who voted for them? We don’t need one guy stopped, we need the system changed.

Well, that makes a mess of my day

Hey! Today is the day I pick up my wife from the airport! It’s only been 6 weeks apart. She’s probably mostly distraught about having to leave her grandchild for…me.

But then, as I was packing up to leave, she informs me that her flight has been delayed about 2 hours, she had to rebook her connecting flight, and she’s getting in 5 hours later than expected. I’m ready and eager to set off to the Twin Cities, but I guess not. Think I’ll go clean the cat box again.

I don’t think I understand baseball anymore

I detest David Bentley Hart, everything he writes makes my lip curl in disgust, and his recent op-ed in the NY Times is no exception (although, given the downward trajectory in the quality of their opinion pages, that’s no surprise). It’s a hate piece, and the hyperbole is practically Lovecraftian in its florid descriptions of the target of his hatred. That target is…the New York Yankees. Jeez. I know that opinions of the Yankees tend to be passionate, but would you believe this is a description of a baseball game?

Not that the horror is easy to recall clearly. The trauma is too violent. Memory cringes, whines, tries to slink away. One recollects only a kaleidoscopic flux of gruesomely fragmentary impressions, too outlandish to be perfectly accurate, too vivid to be entirely false: nightmarish revenants from the dim haunts of the collective unconscious … monstrous, abortive shapes emerging from the abysmal murk of evolutionary history … things pre-hominid, even pre-mammalian … forms never quite resolving into discrete organisms, spilling over and into one another, making it uncertain where one ends and another begins. … It really is awful: ghastly glistening flesh … tentacles coiling and uncoiling, stretching and contracting … lidless orbicular eyes eerily waving on slender stalks … squamous hides, barbed quills, the unguinous sheen of cutaneous toxins … serrated tails, craggy horns, sallow fangs, gleaming talons … fragrances fungal and poisonous … sickly iridescences undulating across pallid, gelatinous underbellies or shimmering along slick, filmy scales. …

And what raucous yawps of elation they emit, like sea lions crying out in erotic transport. How languidly and grossly they intertwine with one another — how clumsily, lewdly, indiscriminately — like lascivious cephalopods merged in seething tangles of prehensile carnality. And somehow, without having to see, one knows things about them: that the categories “parent,” “sibling” and “mate” are only hazily delineated in their minds; that they suck nourishment from cellulose, heavy metals and cactus spines; that, should they grow hungry on the journey home from the game, they may pull over to the side of the road to devour their young. One simply knows. …

I take back the “almost” in “almost Lovecraftian”. Ol’ HP would be telling Hart to dial it back a notch if he were editing that bit. Also, if baseball was anything like that, I’d be at the stadium every weekend.

But there is one good paragraph — only one! — in the whole overwrought piece. This one.

America — with its decaying infrastructure, its third-world public transit, its shrinking labor market, its evaporating middle class, its expanding gulf between rich and poor, its heartless health insurance system, its mindless indifference to a dying ecology, its predatory credit agencies, its looming Social Security collapse, its interminable war, its metastasizing national debt and all the social pathologies that gave it a degenerate imbecile and child-abducting sadist as its president — remains the only developed economy in the world that believes it wrong to use civic wealth for civic goods. Its absurdly engorged military budget diverts hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public weal to those who profit from the military-industrial complex. Its plutocratic policies and libertarian ethos are immune to all appeals of human solidarity. It towers over the world, but promises secure shelter only to the fortunate few.

Hart’s point, of course, is that America has become almost as evil as the New York Yankees. Almost.

With the right lens, I can reinterpret the world

I just stumbled across Making fists with your toes: Towards a feminist analysis of Die Hard. I am amused.

It gives me life when a certain sector of thin-skinned Nazis get sad about films I like. From Fury Road to Star Wars, their tears bring me joy. Since, like many other people, my favourite Christmas film is Die Hard, it is my intention to highlight how this film is in fact a celebration of femininity, and perhaps one could even call it feminist, for a rather Eighties value of feminism. Am I trolling? I don’t even know any more.

I don’t care if she is trolling. It’s an entertaining exercise to take a classic 1980s macho action movie, flip it over on its belly to get a completely different perspective, and then make penetrating reinterpretations of of its tropes, over and over again, until John McClane squeals and confesses to his inner femininity. I think it strains too hard and is a bit forced in places, but realistically, you’re not going to get Bruce Willis to surrender by being gentle with him.

Now I need a similar analysis of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. That stuff is fraught, and Bay has … issues.

Babes

Knut is just standing there, looking cool with his grandma.

That’s his latest trick — standing. He’s pretty impressed with himself.

Unfortunately for him, he’s only got two more days with this grandma, since she’s got to come home to take care of me for a while. He will be flying to Korea to spend some time with his other grandma later this summer, though.