Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The US has spent billions of dollars ensuring the right of Israel's right to existance and self determination.

At the same time back in the eighties this country under Saint Ronnie spent billions of dollars blocking the rights of the people in Central and South America to exist without repression and to choose their own governments without the fear of death squads, informers you thought were your friends and neighbors. To find your liiitle country in the crosshairs of the most powerful nation this planet has ever seen and not give up. To be cold, hungry, frightened, watching your children and your elders die and not give up. To finally spit in the eye of the oppressor and go back to the villages you were driven from replant your crops and rebuild your houses.

The fundies and the righties claim they're being repressed and persecuted. Any helicopter gunships flying overhead? Any fighter bombers strafing the civilians as they try for refuge across the border? And planes or choppers calling in mortor fire to get anyone they missed? Anybody keeping track of where you go to church or hold a Bible study? Anybody stopping the busses and taking people away? Any checkpoints around  town at times other than the favorite drinking holidays?

If not. STFU and pray it never happens to you. I hope I'm wrong but I've an inlaw of an inlaw that I suspect would be Johnny on the Spot to join the Amercan version of ORDEN.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Working with La La Land Credit Union you can transfer between accounts if it’s your account. I haven’t figured out how to transfer, on line, between two accounts where I’m primary on one and secondary on another. So, it’s do it over the phone. The one time I tried treating the transfer like paying a bill I was told I couldn't pay a bill on my own account. Thank you so much.

Usually it’s not too hard, but today I was ready to chew nails and spit rivets. Usually they ask what a recent TRANSACTION on the account was. This time it was a debit card purchase. Well, f’ing (didn’t actually use the F bomb) know, it’s been awhile since I blew the dust off that card, I usually write checks. When did I join the credit union? Damned if I know. It’s been awhile. Which branch did I join at? You’re kidding right? I think it was the old branch on campus, but I sure as hell don’t remember. Might have been VRC.

Then it started getting into intrusive territory. What’s your driver’s license number, What’s the code word you use before you enter your password. At this point I was royally pissed and heading for total badasss. Yeah I know. Jackie as a bad ass. I was able to get help from a supervisor. Finally.

Because I don’t fit in their lovely little pigeon holes we almost weren’t able to do business. All in the name of protecting me. Weird since I was transferring funds between the account where I’m primary to the one where I’m the secondary. This was my monthly grumpy day.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


there are folks on the border literally foaming at the mouth at the idea of kids from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras seeking refuge here. Take this guy's attitude and multiply it by about a million.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the idea that there were so many American businessmen in Guatemala after we overthrew the democratically elected government in the fifties. This is a piece of an interview with one Fred Sherwood, former president of said American Chamber of Commerce. Not exactly sure when this took place , but must have been in the seventies or eighties. And is, I believe, a prime example of why we ignored so much violence.

Question: the state department says the government hasn’t done enough to deal with the death squads. Do believe that’s reasonable?

Sherwood: Hell no. Why should we do anything about death squads? They’re bumping off our enemies, the Commies. I’d give them more power.

Question: Do all the U.S. businessmen feel the same way?

Sherwood: Of course they do. After all they’re trying to do business. The commies are trying to stop them from doing business…to stop the economic growth…it’s a hell of violence going around. No one approves of violence. I don’t. But it’s a question of them or me. I’d rather I be them…we grew up on the basis of private enterprise. But these peasants, they don’t know how to run anything. Really, I’m not down beating them, but they don’t. They’re dumb damn savages.

Jesus wept.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Remember back in the seventies and the Watergate hearings? Over and over it was “what did the president know and when did he know it?” And that was the attempt to steal an election that Nixon was probably going to win anyway.

Fast forward to the eighties and Iran contra. In a complicated several way dance we channeled arms to Iran in hopes of getting some hostages in Lebanon freed. Weapons and money were channeled to the Contras in Nicaragua. Drug dealing was involved. There was a laundry list of suspects that were convicted, then pardoned by Bush I. To the the best of my knowledge nobody ever really asked “what did the president know and when did he know it?” And honestly, if he didn’t know WTF was going on it was because he was sitting in a corner, eyes closed, fingers in ears humming really, really loud.

Google War Against the Poor: Low Intensity Conflict and the Christian Faith by Jack Nicholas-Pallmeyer. It’s actually on the web as a PDF. Because it’s a PDF is doesn’t give me the usual ID so I can link to it. If you copy and paste to Word it runs about 114 pages including notes. If only half of what he wrote back in the eighties was true it’s a scathing indictment of US policy from the early fifties on.

There’s a film out here about how “special” America is. We’re special alright. But not in the way Dinesh d’Souza intended.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


In the comment section of an article on the work being done on the border by faith communities and people of good will one guy wrote “Jesus is crossing the border.” Most of the other commenters took his statement as either being a joke or mean spirited.

Well, depending on your theology Jesus is down there on the border. Jesus in solidarity with the poor and down trodden as liberation theology teaches. As you do to the least of these you do it to me.

Then there was the comment that we should take care of our poor, naked, starving US citizens first. Well, very few Americans are actually naked and starving. Although a lot of them are getting their clothes at Goodwill and need food pantries to get through the month if they’re lucky.

Trouble is you can’t function in this country without a car of some kind unless you live in a major metro area and then you’re probably living in a neighborhood that qualifies as a “food desert” with far more fast food joints than markets with fresh meat, poultry and vegetables. If you know how to cook. If you have the tools to prepare the food. If you can afford to stock your pantry with what you need. And in areas where food items attract bugs, a way to store your basics so that you get to use them before the roaches get to it. And if you're working two or three low wage jobs trying to keep the wolves from the door and keep track of your kids, who has time to cook? Or you may know in your gut that the money would be better spent on home cooked food but the kids are hungry now and those Golden Arches are right over there.

The dirty, really dirty, secret is that the problem is structural. That’s true not only for the so called third world but for many areas of the US. Not too long before his death MLK was joining the beginning liberation theologians. Our country couldn't solve the problem of minority poverty without helping all of our citizens out of poverty. And we can't solve the problems of poverty in this country without helping the poor of other countries out of poverty.

Our “problem” with immigration could have been solved forty years ago. If the multinationals and big business wanted it solved. the option of telling their workers "keep your mouths shut or I'll move your jobs to India or China," It suits business to have a labor pool in this country that can’t complain for fear of being turned in to the feds. Next step up is the pool that gets threatened with “keep your mouth shut. I can replace you with…” Next step up and so on.

The brutal truth is that in a world that celebrates automation and so called labor saving (Wendell Berry called them labor replacing) devices, a world trading scheme that pushes exports and sweat shop industrialization over sustainable local communities (that includes big ag in this country) this planet probably has an excess population of at least two billion people. What are they supposed to do? Starve quietly? Not bloody likely.

Although the Paul Ryans of this country are doing their level best to destroy the safety net without putting anything in its place. Like decent jobs and making sure that companies are penalized for shipping profitable companies overseas. And what about the countries that have no safety nets. Especially the ones like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras where US policy over half a century destroyed any chance their people had of building a decent society.

The vultures have come home to roost and they’re sitting on our southern border.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


“Ten years ago Javier Perez could provide for his family. He grew enough corn and beans on his small plot of land in southern Mexico to feed his wife and five children and sold his extra harvest to buy shoes, schoolbooks and other necessities. Over the years Javier earned enough to send his five children to primary school and to fix up his modest, dirt floor house.

About five years ago Javier lost his market for corn and beans. Upon Mexico’s entry into the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and the United States in 1994 imported US corn and other basic foods flooded the Mexican market, leaving Javier with no place to sell his crops. At the same time cuts in government supports to small farmers raised his cost of production.

In recent years, Javier has planted papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon and tomatoes in turn. But without resources, technology, or a secure market he ended up with a barn full of rotting fruit and a growing debt with the bank. Like the majority of Mexicans Javier is now poorer than his parents were. In order to keep the family afloat financially, his oldest son has left for the United States where he has found work as a migrant farm worker and sends money home periodically. Another son and daughter are seriously considering emigrating.”

Testimony given the group Witness for Peace and quoted in School of Assassins: Guns, Greed and Globalization by Jack Nicholas-Pallmeyer printed by Orbis Books in 2001.

Reading this I realized that our taxpayer subsidies to Big Ag are never going to end. They play too big a part in the on going foreign policy efforts to break the economies on the smaller countries to bring them into line with toxic capitalism. In this world view Javier and his family are simply collateral damage. Pretty sick isn’t it?

Monday, July 21, 2014


I know I’ve written on this before. And I’ll write about it again. Why? Because the women and children were the ones really caught in the cross hairs. The war ended in the early nineties but those countries are still broken.

We called it the Cold War. Makes it sound almost like a chess game doesn’t it? Well, there was nothing “cold” about it for the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. In Central and South America all the oligarchs had to do was whisper subversion and the US came trotting up like Pavlov’s dog.
The US invaded Guatemala in the fifties on the advice of the Dulles brothers. One was secretary of state. The other was the head of the CIA AND on the board of United Fruit and the new democratically elected possibly leftist government was not in the best interests of that company. So it had to go. Does the term conflict of interest ring a bell? Events went downhill after that.

Most of these kids are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Countries that the US has interfered in the decades and that took the brunt of Reagan’s “war on communism” back in the eighties. If you don’t mind getting your heart seriously dented find a copy of Promised land by lay missionary Scott Wright. He spent a total of eight years in country working with Salvadoran refugees both in the camps and in the country. He lived with them, fled with them, prayed with them, hid with them, worked in the refugee camps with them, shared their beans and tortillas. When then had them. Went hungry with them when there was nothing. Watched as those with almost nothing shared what little they had.,

We shot them, bombed them mortored the, burned their houses, burned their crops. Well, WE didn’t. We just supplied the guns, ammo, choppers, fighter bombers,advisors,  training at the School of the Assassins, and little number that I haven’t read but is available on Amazon. The little hundred odd page magnum opus is titled Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare. It was the CIA’s how to manual for the war in Nicaragua.

At first the CIA tried to blame the document on an overzealous contractor. Later a few mid level officials were reprimanded or suspended. Finally, in 1987, the senior officials who were responsible for producing and distributing the manual were identified. But, the head of the CIA, William Casey, blocked any disciplinary action. “There’s no reason to discipline them for one little slip up.” And I’m sure that it didn’t stay limited to Nicaragua and that playbook was straight out of Viet Nam. The tragic gift that just keeps on giving.

The Salvadorans have been and are a resilient people. For the parents, if these kids have parents to send their kids north, it must be pure hell down there. In more than a few cases the kids, especially girls and young women, are fleeing their own families who have tried to traffic them or get them involved in the drug trade that they’re tied to.

Many of these children would probably qualify as refugees under the treaty Bush signed. If we can keep them in the US long enough to pry their real stories out of them.

I gotta tell you, reading this (and other books is causing a major shift in how I view this country and the “problems” we believe are so earthshaking. I believe deeply in the separation of church and state. And I know that there are groups that would try to impose their brand of Christianity on the rest of us. Good luck with that bro in a country that has almost as many guns on the streets as people. But, somehow facing listening to a sectarian prayer before a meeting pales when you read the stories of men and women murdered because they were lay church leaders. It may come to that here. I hope not. And I hope sharing the stories of men and women who faced the fire and came through might help just a little.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Back in 2012 the VP candidate for the libertarian party was Wayne Allyn Root. Granted he has a poli sci degree from Columbia but his claim to fame is as a sports handicapper. That's right. They ran a guy who pushes gambling as a business. Only in America.

Oh, and he graduated from Columbia the same year as the president. He doesn't remember seeing him on campus. Seriously? How many of you who went to college remember anybody except the people in your dorm and would you recognize them today? Even those who shared a major with you? I know I wouldn't. But of course with a little spin you can make anything out of it.

Mr. Root also claims that there were at least a million fraudulent ballots cast in the last election. Even though nobody in any state has been able to find more than a handfull of fraudulent ballots. I am getting so fucking sick of this crap. Truth? What the hell is that? Has about as much chance of surviving as a snowball on a sidewalk in July.

Oh and I ran across this because an in law posted a link on FB to an outfit called the Conservative Tribune. And Politifact rates the claim as false.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Is more than the absence of violence.

I’ve been piecing my way through a bio of Oscar Romero. Unbelievably, almost painfully detailed. That’s why I’m tending to read topic lines on paragraphs. Frankly I’ve learned more than I ever needed to know about the rift between the archbishop (maybe one quarter his making, three quarters the others) most of his bishops, the papal nuncio and a few of the clergy. Given the level of opposition to just about everything and the backbiting the man had a patience of a saint. Perhaps a little too patient. However, I believe canon law frowns on introducing an obstinate subordinate to the old Missouri soup bone when he goes behind your back for the umpteenth time.

The church was supposed to stay traditional, all this talk of justice and fairness and access to land and the right to organize and so on is just disrupting everything. We’re supposed to preach peace and the joys of the hereafter.

I’m reminded of an old saying. I’m not sure who said it first. “Peace is more than the absence of conflict.” Too true especially when the so called peace is being imposed from above at the point of a gun, with check points, midnight arrests, bombs, mortars, lies, deceit, and slander.

No, I’m still not much of a believer but I do believe that the peasant church in Latin America has a lot to teach us Norte Americanos. Especially for those who are trying to stem the slide of most of the American church into total irrelevance, Frankly, I’m in the let it crash and burn corner. Maybe when to dust settles something can be salvaged from the wreck. And maybe we’ll quit pretending that corporations are not only people but they go to church. Phooey.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


There is an excellent documentary, Monsenor:The final journey of Oscar Romero. Unfortunately outside of a couple of YouTube excerpts it appears to only be available for purchase. You can instant rent damn near anything on Amazon, but not this one. I'm not recommending buying on my say so, but a church library might have a copy.

If the film were just about Romero I probably wouldn't have bothered. However, it makes extensive use of archival news film from those last three years. Army patrols, bodies, army patrols, frightened men standing to one side with their arms tied behind their backs. A mark of the death squads. More army patrols. Mothers gathering together to demand to know what happened to their disappeared children. One women had four sons. They were all missing. I doubt if she ever found out happened to them. Mostly peaceful street demonstrations that were cut short in a hail of bullets. Crowded, narrow city streets. Almost claustrophobic even on film.

The interview that stands out for me is with a woman who was a lay churchworker at the time. She held Bible studies in her home. During one meeting a newcomer asked her if she knew that three men were sitting in a car outside her house watching who was coming and going? Gulp time. I don't think it ever got so bad that being discovered with a Bible could get you killed. But, next time somebody complains about how bad Christians have it here ask them if anybody has tagged a building in their neighborhood with "be a patriot, kill a priest lately."

In fact. The next time some paranoid idjit natters on about how oppressive this government is gently remind them so far our children aren't being disappeared, our neighbors aren't being beaten or worse; their bodies found in the local dump or by the side of the road. In most of the country we don't hear gunfire or screams in the night.

Even after he was murdered the killers couldn't take a day off. The crowds for his funeral overflowed to the plaza outside the cathdral. Somebody threw a smoke bomb and the killing began. It continued and went on for ten long, tortured years. Those kids on the border are just the tip of the iceberg. We've sown the wind. I hope we can survive the whirlwind.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


“Each time we look upon the poor, on the farmworkers who harvest the coffee, the sugarcane, or the cotton, or the farmer who joins the caravan of workers looking to earn their savings for the year…remember, there is the face of Christ…

The face of Christ is among the baskets and the sacks of the farmworker; the face of Christ is among those who are tortured and mistreated in the prisons; the face of Christ dying of hunger in the children who have nothing to eat; the face of Christ is in the poor who ask for their voices to be heard. How can the church deny this request when it is Christ who is telling us to speak for Him?” Oscar Romero

And I might add that the face of Christ is in the faces of those children on the border. I’m assuming that at least some of the protestors claim to be Christians. I suspect that most of them belong to the “Jesus died for my sins” wing of American Christianity and that’s as far they go in following Him. The hubris. My sins are so horrible that Jesus had to die to atone for them. This isn’t the only theology out there, but sure as H E double toothpicks is the one you hear about the most.

That and the “if you believe hard enough God will make you rich etc.”  Also known as the prosperity gospel. Their pastors tend to live very well since the measure of your belief is measured by how much you give. I'm not sure how well their followers live but, hope and idiocy springs eternal.

I know there are good people working their butts off down there with little support or recognition. Sure haven’t seen their faces on the news. And now the house is working the change the law so we can just scoop these kids up and send them back to hell without even a hearing to determine if they’re refugees or not. Frankly, I’d like to send some of them down there in their underwear with no ID and no money. They wouldn’t last a day.


June 1987. Ronald Reagan, safe behind a wall of Secret Service agents, challenged the leader of the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall. The worshippers of Saint Ronnie oooohed and awed and swooned over the courage of “Great Communicator.” (excuse me while I go throw up)

1987. The civil war in Guatamala had been going on since the seventies. The main targets anybody supporting labor unions, teachers, preachers, supporters of land reform and especially the natives of the country. There were whole sections where the religious leaders had been driven out and lay people took their lives in their hands smuggling the means of celebrating communion in sacks of corn or beans. Being discovered meant death. If you were lucky they didn’t torture you first and mutilate your body afterwards.

1987. The civil war in El Salvador had been going on since the late seventies. Foreign church workers had been deported. Local priests had been murdered. Archbishop Romero probably signed his own death warrant in a homily given two weeks before his assassination. It concluded with “In the name of God, then, in the name of the suffering people, whose cries rise to the heavens, every day more tumultuously, I ask you, I beg, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression!”

That was 1980. Later that year four American church women were brutally murdered. El Mozote, other villages, nameless refugees. Villagers driven from their homes, fleeing on foot, often for days or weeks. The old, the weak and the young dying on the side of the trail. This went on for over ten long, murderous years.

Honduras. No civil war but lots of refugee camps. These are the countries the children are trying to escape from, Countries with minimal governments but lots of gangs. These kids are just trying to survive. At least some of them may have relatives in this country who came as refugees a generation ago. These are the countries we broke. We’ve never faced it. We’ve never admitted it

We didn’t hear the voices that just might have cried out Mr. Reagan stop sending the gun ships. Mr. Reagan, stop sending the bullets, mortars, guns and weapons that are killing us. Mr. Reagan, stop training the soldiers that are killing us. Mr. Reagan, let us live. Let us choose how we want to live. Give us the chance to raise our children, not bury them.

Oh God/dess this is too much. I pray my nephews and their children won’t be called on to answer for our sins.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Like so many stories, I stumbled across this by accident in another story. More about that later. There is an epidemic of chronic kidney disease that affects several countries on three continents. The disease affects the tubules of the kidneys. And its occuring in coutries that are ill equipped to handle chronic diseases of any kind. An epidemic that hasn’t hit the news in this country. And the scientist in the interview has a scathing opinion of why. The epidemiological study was done in Sri Lanka. With a population of just over twenty million there have been at least four hundred thousand victims with twenty thousand deaths. At that rate there would be at least six million victims in this country. And while our technology is better, I doubt this country could handle that many dialysis patients in any state.
The disease currently affects mainly farm workers in
  • Sri Lanka
  • India
  • El Salvador
  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Honduras
  • Egypt
  • Tunisa
  • Viet Nam 
The disease hits working men between the ages of thirty and fifty. The prime ages for the workers at the bottom of the social scale. The evidence points to a combination of glyphosate and the heavy metals in the water. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in RoundUp. The poison Monsanto and corporate America keeps pushing on the rest of the world. With deadly results. Separately neither is lethal. Together? People are dying.

And one of the commenters apparently had some reading comprehension problems. Yes, Sri Lanka has limestone formations that put calcium and other heavy elements into the water. However, they've been growing rice on the island for two millenia, with apparent problems. Add the glyphosate and we are in a whole new world.


And no place else. If anyone is interested in the rest of the types of baloney out there and how to recognize it here's link to the article on RationalWiki. Their examples tend to refuting creationism and intelligent design. I'm a little cruder than the late Dr. Sagan. but the word bullshit rhymes so well with kit it's hard to resist. There's so much out there to take on. That you can poison your way to food security. That you can keep pumping ancient water out of the ground to grow grass in deserts. That we can plunder, pillage and pollute without consequences. That we can take it all leaving nothing for our children. Or great nieces as the case may be. Hey, my portfolio is fat and happy. I've got mine.

Caught the end of an old Errol Flynn film, They Died With Their Boots On. He played Custer. Some of the history is iffy but there's an exchange between Custer and part of a cabal whose actions have set the Lakota and their neighbors on the warpath. The twit is holding out for making as much money has you can. Custer points out that you can't take the money with you, but you can take your honor and your good name. As I said the history in the film is iffy, but the sentiment is oh so true. Two or three genertions down the road will this generation be praised, or damned as the exploiters, pillagers and plunderers that they are.

No, we aren't all guilty, but it's being done in our names and we can't seem to stop it.  

Monday, July 14, 2014


This piece on Huffington Post is absolutely, totally, freakin' priceless. There was a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away when our representatives at least pretended to respect us. Part of the time.

Much time was spent in the Oregon legislature this session debating whether counties could ban GMO seeds. It finally died. Oregon has a world class organic seed industry and possible cross contamination from say, GMO beets had the farmers in a swivet.

There's a bill in congress that would forbid states from passing anti GMO laws or laws requiring labeling. All for our own good of course since we're to stupid to understand the labels and the companies have spent millions of dollars and Euros proving that the damn things are "safe."

God forbid that local people should have a say in what's grown in their fields and what's in the food we eat. God forbid that farmers save and share the seeds they're grown for decades if not centuries. God forbid that we should question the almighty corporations of Dow and Monsanto instead of crawling on our bellies in worshipful adoration.

I've been wondering for awhile where the money comes from to fund the anti evolution crowd. After all anybody with half a brain and basic understanding of natural selection will realize that breeding crops you can poison without killing them, but killing the weeds is futile. A scenario that's playing out right now. The main ingredient in RoundUp is fading. So now they want to up the ante and ok 2 4 D for wider use.

Yeah, 2 4 D. One of the ingrdients in Agent Orange. Yeah, that Agent Orange. The chemical cocktail that the military spent decades denying was poisoning our troops.

Make sure that the local farmers have access to land and water. They'll feed themselves and their families. Jeebus Kerist they've been doing it for hundreds of years. And they'll keep doing it if the corporations, the US and the plutocrats get the hell out of the way.


There seems to be a bipartisan effort to urge the president to send as many of those unaccompanied children back to their hell holes as quickly as possible.

The majority of these kids aren't from Mexico. They're from Guatamala, El Salvador and Honduras. Three countries that took the brunt of our "anti subeversion" efforts back in the seventies. These countries are lines on maps. I wouldn't call them nations. Salvador traded the death squads for the the gangs and many of these children just might qualify as refugees under the treaty we signed during the Bush administration.

However, allowing these kids to go before a judge and testify under oath will open a can of worms many politicians on both sides of the aisle would prefer to keep firmly closed. Under several feet of concrete if at all possible.

The truth is a funny animal. You can clip its wings. You can starve it. You can try to ignore it but it won't leave your door. Long past time to face up and lance the boil.

And I don't know whether to laugh or cry over all the hoo haw over the supposed health threat posed by these kids. Nobody worried about how healthy the illegal adults were over the years.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


I am feeling pretty damned disgusted right now. I can sympathize with the liberal and progressive Christians who are trying to stem the tide. Personally? I believe it's hopeless. There's too many centuries of hate, persecution and death. That itinerant rabbi didn't come to start a church and he certainly wasn't a "Christian." God/dess knows too many of those who claimed to speak for God were just talking to themselves. Cyril who drove the Jews out of Alexandria and became a saint anyway. Augustine who pretty much created Orignal Sin out of whole cloth. Martin Luther who saw the devil in his room. John Calvin who could have used some good drugs, but he still would have been a sociopathic psycho.

Let the whole, sorry mess crash and burn. Go back to the first couple of centuries. Before Constantine made the church legal and the persecuted (not nearly as persecuted as the stories would have us believe) became the persecutors. Rediscover the Celtic branch that the mainline churches, Catholic and Protestant, have tried to stamp out from the beginning. There's some hope there.

As for the fundies that keep pushing? Introduce them to the old Missouri Soup Bone. The greatest freedom we have in this country is THE FREEDOM TO BE LEFT THE HELL ALONE.  And yes, Jackie is in a pretty foul mood right now. I passed total disgust about twelve squares back.

I'm off to talk to the dogwood and pet a cat.


No I didn't drop off the face of the earth. I do not recommend coming down with sinus problems and bronchitis in July during the first heat wave. Not good. So not good. And then when I did come up for air the politics was, and is, even more incredible than usual. The head of one of the biggest Megas in Dallas says that Jesus would want to build a border fence.

A nitwit in Georgia claims that the refugee kids are carry the Ebola virus, among other diseases. Earth to twit, if those kids had Ebola...let's just say they'd have never made it to the border and there would be a trail of death in their wake. Never mind that this particular health disaster is strictly, so far, a West African disease.

Another idiot in Minnesota has a really original take on what causes AIDS. Totally wrong. Good Goddess have you been living on Pluto since the seventies or what?

The problems in the Middle East are all Obama's fault. Never mind that these civil wars have been in the cards since the Ottoman Empire fell and the Europeans drew lines on the maps without considering if the people inside the lines would be willing to get along or hated each others guts almost as much as they hated the colonial powers.

All this crap over the religious right to act like a perfect idiot whiskey tango foxtrot is going on. I'm waiting for the obvious conclusion. "I have the right to try and spread the Good Word anytime, anywhere to anyone and you can't stop me." Semi Quaker that I STILL am. I'm hanging on by my fraying fingernail. Try that with me and you'll be sitting on your ass. Charge me with assault and I'll dare a jury to convict me.

And those kids on the border? If they were blond, blue eyed Presbyterians we wouldn't be having these discussions, /Admit you're a bunch of freaking racists and get it over with.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Hank Campbell’s entry on Girodano Bruno in the Five Things Tyson got Wrong definitely describes a kinder, gentler inquisition than I’ve read about in my history books. They just wanted him to say he was wrong, possibly with his fingers crossed behind his back and he could have gone on his way.
The Wickipedia article on Bruno does not specify which charges he was finally found guilty of, but the charges included:
  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers. 
  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ and the incarnation.
  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus as Christ
  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary. 
  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation and the Mass. 
  • Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity. 
  • Believing in the transmigration of the soul and that human souls might be reborn into lower animals. 
  • Dealing in magics and divination
The sequence in Cosmos describes, in my opinion, a mystical experience. Bruno experienced a vision of multiple suns, many with their own worlds. He had the vision. He didn’t have the science to back it up. Neither did Copernicus, actually. And to be painfully honest it wasn’t until man stepped off this planet into space and could stand on the moon, or turn Voyager’s camera back towards the sun that we could really prove that we live in a heliocentric system. And there are still those who claim that we don’t.

It’s obvious that the author is a believer, that he took the time to identify one of Bruno’s heresies as Arianism and defended the inquisition however faintly makes me suspect he’s Catholic. Can't say one way or the other. There's precious little biographical information available about Mr. Campbell. That’s really neither here nor there. The Vatican has an official astronomer. He’s Jesuit with degrees up the pipe.

What really bothered me was the comments section. It’s four hundred years later and there are still individuals who believe that the church, any church, has the right to dictate belief and kill those who don’t bend the knee. To burn or ban their books because they don’t fall in line with scriptures written in the Bronze Age and cherry picked to fit an agenda. When I was twenty and handling my first copies of hominid skulls in Anthropology lab I never dreamed I’d be writing an entry like this. And I find no joy in it.

Incidentally, neither Copernicus nor Bruno fared very well at the hands of the Lutherans or the Calvinists. Tyson is quite specific. Giordano Bruno was not a scientist. He took information from several sources ranging from an ancient Roman and Copernicus and made some lucky guesses.

He was not a martyr for scientific beliefs. The condemnation scene makes it very clear that believing in multiple worlds was just one of the charges against him. But, he was a martyr for the right to do those things that make science possible. And that includes

Seeking independent confirmation of alleged facts.
Encouraging open debate about the issue and the evidence
Questioning authority and that includes Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson
Questioning everything, especially your own ideas.
Making sure every step in the argument is sound. If there’s a question, then go back and start over.
If the results are inconclusive the simplest explanation that fits the facts you have is probably the truth. Or as close as you can get at the time. Remember theories change as more date becomes available.


Not really sure how far I'm going to go with these. It's been fun playing with these. It's also fun to see how many "pieces" of baloney your can find in one article. Say the description of a film that being put out by Santorum on how the US is turning in Nazi Germany. Or a  politician who believes that it would be ok and Biblical to stone gays to death. Not that he's actually advocating doing that. Oh no. However he is looking forward to getting elected so he "can apply Biblical principles to Oklahoma law. Oy.

Anyway onward. Here's the latest.

Non sequitur

Type of Fallacy:
Non sequitur
Latin for “it does not follow”

Plants and animals believed to be extinct have been found to have survived after all. One example is a fish known as a coelacanth.Kind of an ugly speciman isn't it. Notice the differences in the fins and tail from the fish we're familiar with. Scientists are reasonably certain that something looking this was probably the first critter to haul itself out of the water, on to the set sand or mud and go staggering off. There are still small fish that can spend some time out of water. They have very rudimentary lungs and are usually driven out of pools that are drying up in search of someplace wetter.

 It was assumed to have gone extinct sixty five million years ago. At least until the 1930’s when one was caught in a fisherman’s net. Westerner’s were amazed. Turns out that if anyone had known to ask the fisherman they would have said. Oh yeah, we know about them. Lousy eating but the dried skin makes great sandpaper.

Actually the living form is known as Latimeria, very similar to the lines that went extinct millions of years ago. This one may have branched off from the original line and found itself a nice little niche that nobody else was using and managed to survive.

So, since one representative of the coelacanths survived; a representative that may not have even existed sixty five million years ago, dinosaurs could have survived and coexisted with humans. It doesn’t follow that just because an ancient fish survived that dinosaurs did too.

Actually I prefer my baloney with cheese, mustard and relish on a couple of slices of good bread.