Monday, March 27, 2006

Virgin Mary Tags Another Bridge

Last night I caught part of the local news and I'm glad I did. Apparently another miracle has happened-the Virgin Mary put an image of herself on a bridge in Illinois (you can also go to CNN and there's a video showing the image as well as some very creepy christian chanting which I had trouble linking to). Now personally I think it's inappropriate for someone to draw their image everywhere and litter the country with grafitti. Just take a look at some of the images we've been blessed with in the past year.

This last one is the image of Jesus, in case you don't see the obvious. So this brings me to my next question. Why the fuck can't any of these christian dieties draw worth anything?!? I mean, shit, if I had supernatural powers and I was going to put up an image to bring hope and increase the faith of my followers I'd make a beautiful picture on the moon, or in the sky. And the quality would be better than anyone's ever seen. But putting some crappy sketch of yourself in someone's toast? C'mon, how am I supposed to fear an all-powerful god when apparently he can't even make a half-decent sketch on an overpass?

But you know, maybe I just don't have enough faith. Maybe I'm using my brain too much and think that I know what Jesus and Mary look like. But perhaps I don't, and they are trying to correct my perception. This theory sounds pretty rock solid so I don't feel nervous jumping the gun and proclaiming my discovery. Behold, the following is what Jesus and Mary really looked like.

Please contact your local church and make them aware of all the false images they're helping to advance.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Highlighting a Few Good Blogs

I intended to write something tonight, but I'm feeling a little under the weather. Goat STDs....Santorum was right, who would have guessed? So instead I'm going to just going to highlight a few blogs and interesting posts I saw on the web today.

  • Jesus' General-This blog is probably my favorite. Updated on a daily basis and generally very funny. If you're not reading it already, you should really check it out.

  • Rationality-This is a relatively new blog and today he had a post describing the breakup of he and his girlfriend of 2 years. Why did she break up with him? Because he wasn't a christian. So go on over there and let him know how he's much better off now.

  • Boxer the Brown Horse-Another new blog that I discovered. He started the blog less than a week ago and has posted almost every day since. He recently thanked me for taking his "comment virginity". Go get some sloppy seconds!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

America-Global Defender of Christianity

     Yesterday Bush addressed the case of an Afghan man who might be given the death penalty for converting from islam to christianity, saying that he found it "deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because he chose a different religion over another". Right on Mr. President! I mean yeah, it's okay in the United States when christian and other faith-based organizations are given special funding and attention, when it is essentially a prerequisite for Americans to be christian in order to become president, and to allow religious bullshit to get in the way of science and the health of the country's citizens, but the death penalty, that steps over the line! Actually, can you imagine Bush giving a damn if it were a Muslim who was going to become an atheist? I doubt we'd hear anything about it. Hell, maybe we'd even supply them with the bullets. We know that Bush's dad doesn't like atheists. As he said in 1987 in an interview

Reporter: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?

Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me.

Reporter: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Reporter (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?

Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.

     So our leaders believe that religiousity should be required for citizenship....hmmm....what's the difference between us and them again? Oh yeah, we don't kill atheists yet. We're so civilized.

     It's funny, we've "liberated" many countries before and their governments subsequently massacred their own people. We officially call those "struggling democracies". But if they're going to put a christian to death, well then, intervention must be necessary.

     But to be sure, killing someone from going from one silly superstition to another is an absolutely horrible thing. However, I do agree with the Muslim government on one issue. In the judicial proceedings they are questioning the christian's sanity =)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Inferiority of the Two-Party System

    I remember back in middle/high school being in my history and political science classes and learning about the differences between the two party system that we in the US have and about the proportional representation system that exists in many other countries. Most of the class, including myself, found the two-party system to be clearly superior. When I look back at the "advantages" of the two-party (2P) system today, I am shocked at what I used to believe. But then again, I guess that's patriotism for ya. So let me go through the arguments that I found on a variety of websites in support of the 2P system and quickly note why none of it supports or even remotely justifies the 2P system.

  • In a 2P system, the ruling party is always voted in with a majority of the popular vote.

    Lol, I had to start with this one. Besides being true by the very nature of the system, it means nothing. Hell, a dictator is voted in unanimously.

  • Unconventional ideas remain non-influential.

    Again a true statement, but why should this be desirable? It basically says that unless you are in the mainstream, your opinion doesn't count. In a PR system minority opinions would be represented in proportion to how many people held those opinions. Sounds like that's the way it should be. This is especially important because those who are on the extreme side of an issue can also be the ones who are most correct. My fellow atheists should sympathize with this especially.

  • Policies and government do not change rapidly.

    Public opinion doesn't generally change rapidly so I don't think this is an issue. Besides, this argument is basically that it is advantageous for a government to not be responsive to its people. Also, stability is definitely not a virtue if the thing in question is bad. Dictatorships are also pretty stable.

  • The dynamics of a 2P system drive both parties toward the middle of the political spectrum.

    This statement would be true if it weren't for the fact that both political parties are in the pockets of the wealthy and so are both right-wing (the problem of financing a campaign makes this a necessity for them to even get elected). An example of how the parties pander to the wealthy at the expense of almost all Americans is health care. Roughly 80% of Americans favor universal health care, even if it would raise taxes. However, when it is discussed in the media it is often called "politically impossible". Days before the 2004 election, the New York Times reported that "there is so little political support for government intervention in the health care market in the United States that Senator John Kerry took pains in a recent presidential debate to say that his plan for expanding access to health insurance would not create a new government program", which is exactly what the people want. But of course they don't matter, the insurance and pharmaceutical companies have spoken. So in reality the 2P system is driven to the right of center by other forces. A PR system would make this more difficult as there would be more parties for the companies to have to buy off, and if they managed to buy them all, it wouldn't be difficult to introduce a new party into the system.

    But for sake or argument, let's assume that the 2P system actually does drive politicians to the center of the political spectrum. This is still inferior to the PR system for the same reason that in elementary calculus it's better to approximate the area under a curve with more rectangles than with fewer.

    This is the 2P system, with only two parties (rectangles) attempting to represent the roughly bell-curve of American political feeling.

    Ouch, that sucks.

    Here is a PR system with 8 parties participating.

    Now that's much better!

  • 2P systems make it easier for the voter.

    Bullshit, Americans can juggle voting for a dozen or so Idols, top models, etc. every week. They can handle a few options every couple of years.

    There are also many advantages to the PR system, including a much higher voter turnout. This of course because people can vote for candidates that represent them and they do not feel powerless politically as many in America do. But I won't go into any of these here.

    I really don't even know how someone would argue in favor of the 2P system unless they were to employ some sort of elitist "the people don't know what's best for them" authoritarian apologetics. Yet it continues to be the law of the land...

    So what can we do? You can't really contact your local representative and complain because they aren't going to help you with it. I guess all one can do is to get involved in educating others and hopefully inspiring them to want a more representative democracy. Maybe one day enough people will care about it that they could force the government to take action and get the laws changed. Or what would be even cooler, we could distribute a bunch of Guy Fawkes masks and descend on the Capitol (for those of you who have seen V for Vendetta, which was awesome btw).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Stabbing the Homeless is the Lord's Work

     Have you ever taken a nice stroll in the park and out of the corner of your eye you see a homeless man sleeping? Ever had that thought "damn, I'd like to kill that man in his sleep, just for the hell of it"? Sure, we all have. But what keeps many of us from doing it is the thought that if we were caught, we'd go to jail and even if we got out, it'd be impossible to find a job. Well, no need to worry any longer, because christians have made it very clear this past week that they will welcome you with open arms.

    James Tramel, a man who got out of prison on Sunday after serving nearly 20 years for he and his friend's participation in the stabbing of a sleeping man in a park (the police described it as a "thrill kill"), went straight to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Berkeley to become an assistant pastor. The church and its members were extremely excited to have him come to teach them about morality and the way to live their lives. Linda Hicks, an older member of the church, said,"God came through!" Yep, congrats to you God. You had to kill a homeless man to do it, but you finally succeeded.

     I mean, it's one thing to forgive and forget and accept the man into the community again, but to ask him to teach you about ethics, now that's another thing. This just goes to show that christians will excuse any behavior as long as they send up the praise to Jesus, who incidentally, was also a homeless man.*

*In popular mythology of course.

Friday, March 03, 2006

got PRopaganda?

    In today's world the public relations industry is huge and its impact on society is undeniable. From convincing us that our razor with 3 blades isn't enough and that any decent man would use 5+1 to selling us our leaders as "one of us" and "compassionate", they are continuously affecting our thinking. Over half a million people serve in the public relations and marketing related industries in the United States alone. I think if you look carefully at the public relations industry, the news media, and many other sources of information that is available today you will notice that it is essentially complete propaganda which serves to advance the interests of the powerful elite, those who actually run our so-called democracy and who "own" a great portion of this world's resources. But rather than cite examples today I'd like to explore the origins of the PR industry, which I think suggest a great deal to its nature.

    Public relations really got its start during WWI. Edward Bernays, known as the "father of public relations" got his start during this period. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, talks about his realization that this kind of industry could be useful, saying
When I came back to the United States, I decided that if you could use propaganda for war, you could certainly use it for peace. And propaganda got to be a bad word because of the Germans....using it. So what I did was try to find some other words, so we found the words Council on Public Relations.

    Bernays was always strikingly clear in what the role of PR would be in our society in the several books that he published, including Crystallizing Public Opinion, Propaganda, and The Engineering of Consent. In Propaganda, for instance, Bernays writes
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country

That doesn't sound like a democracy to me. Another great quote from the book is
If we understand the mechanism and the motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible

Bernays also realized that politicians could get their interests served by the media as well. He notes
The newspaperman looks for [the politician] for news. And by his power of giving or withholding information the politician can often effectively censor political news. But being dependent, every day of the year and for year after year, upon certain politicians for news, the newspaper reporters are obliged to work in harmony with their news sources

These quotes are a very good representation of what is in Propaganda, page after page.

    Now of course, just because the founder of the PR industry is extremely explicit in how its purpose is to spread propaganda and to be used as a tool for the powerful few to control everyone else does not mean that we are awash in propaganda today. But I certainly hope this makes you look at the issue more carefully. If you'd like to learn a little about how the media is used for propaganda, both by the government and by powerful business interests (as if they were two different things!), I recommend Manufacturing Consent-The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Noam Chomsky. If Chomsky is new to you, you should really look into his writings and speeches. I really believe that until you recognize the propaganda that bombards you on a daily basis as such you will cease to make progress in your understanding of the world, at least in the political and economic aspects of it. And I don't simply mean Fox News, and it's a sick joke to call it a news station. There's a better fucking case for Christ. I mean all major media outlets, and I urge you to look into it.