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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

No such thing as truth

For conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family, there is no such thing as truth (little 't'), only Truth (big 'T'). What that means is that there ultimate truth in God and God's word, the bible. But otherwise, there is no other truth (sometimes referred to as human knowledge). One example of this disregard for truth comes from James Dobson. AlterNet provides us with an update to this story. Ed Brayton has more.

For Christians like these, all that matters is that they push their narrow theological views onto the rest rest of us at any cost -- usually distorting truth into a lie. All in service to their own Truth.

In this case, James Dobson wrote a TIME article slamming gays, gay marriage, and same sex parents. In the article he used scientific data to back up his position. Only this time he was caught red-handed distorting truth by the scientists whose research he butchered. It is true that Dobson may have done this unintentionally, but that is highly unlikely. This means it was deliberate -- an intentional lie. Why can we claim this? Dobson is a PhD in psychology. Surely, as a doctorate, he knows how to read and quote from a scientific paper honestly.

This is what really caught my eye in this case (as the whole dishonesty thing is quite common in fundamental Christian apologetics). Below is an excerpt of the letter the scientist wrote to Dobson:
I am writing to ask that you cease and desist from quoting my research in the future. I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine. Not only did you take my research out of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals that I do not agree with. What you wrote was not truthful and I ask that you refrain from ever quoting me again and that you apologize for twisting my work.

This was a professional, direct, and non-accusatory letter. It stated fact, did not attack Dobson or his beliefs, and limitied itself to truthful claims. Dobson on the other hand, plays in the mud. He insults, lies, accuses (all) gays of heinous crimes all without the benefit of truth.

So what do I see? I see that the side of reason fights clean, above-the-belt, and uses fact and honesty. Christians, in contrast, fight dirty; they lie, demean, insult, deceive and do it in the name of their peaceful and loving god-figure. It is no wonder that Christianity is thriving even today, for them, there are no rules -- and that is an absolute.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Update: All that Christians profess regarding this country...

... Is wrong.

Juan Cole had this to say:

The US Senate, full of founding fathers, and the Adams government, approved the Treaty with Tripoli (now Libya) of 1797, which included this language:

"As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

The treaty is important for showing the mindset of the fashioners of the American system.

I am a student of history, but this one has, until now, escaped me. I will forever more, pull this quote out any time I hear some Christian nut claim that our country is a Christian Nation.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Bible Moment to Remember

No, this is not a post about Christmas. Rather a holiday tragedy. CNN put up a news story about a woman in San Francisco who killed her sons.

When I read something like this, I have to wonder. There are so many Old Testament stories which describe how God talked to some person, who went out and did what God requested. It always had to do with killing someone, from one's son, to one's daughter, to entire civilizations. Yet today, when a person goes out and kills their sons or daughters, or groups of people and claims, "God told me to do it" they are called insane. So, what if all those biblical heroes lived and performed their actions in the name of God today? Would they be called insane, or would they be honored as prophets of God like they are in the Old Testament?

If I were a Christian and believed that the Bible were true, then there would be no way I could deny that God actually did talk to that person who just killed their children or some other group of people in God's name and at His behest.

For that would be duplicitous.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Wishes

Well, we are moving into the home stretch now. Last week of Christmas preparations. This atheist and his beloved woman have completed all shopping, dinner ingredients, and a final sprucing up of the jeffperado homestead. Here is a pic of our Christmas village we have set up. (Oddly enough, no nativity to be found.)

Unless something really interesting comes to light, I won't be blogging much for the next week.

Have a Happy Holidays! And enjoy a wonderful pagan holiday that early-middle century Christians absconded so that they could convert more pagans.

P.S. It's not too late to purchase that last minute Christmas gift for jeffperado from his Amazon Wish List either.... hint hint

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

God's own "gay agenda"

Note: Sorry for the slowness of this post. I know that this is old news by now.

Not too long ago we had Ted Haggard as the latest Christian conservative to admit to not just being gay, but still being gay. Now we have another downfall of a conservative Christian pastor, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County.

It seems as though the healing power of prayer is not strong enough to "heal" even the most ardent of Christian warriors of the "homosexual blight." As we noted with Haggard, if God's most powerful and influential ministers and preachers cannot overcome homosexuality, how does that play out for your average gay?

But then I suddenly saw the light, just like God intervenes via small miracles in all fundamental Christian's lives to send them messages. Maybe he is sending one to fundamental Christianity as a whole, right now. And if God is speaking to them through these revelations, they had better listen. God's new message to all conservative Christians: "Get it right, Gay is OK."

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Monday, December 11, 2006

The Next Salvo in the War On Christmas

Who knew that George and Laura Bush were on our side (for the second straight year) when it comes to the war on Christmas. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, John Gibson and Bill O'Reilly all claim that anyone who says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas is nothing but a dirty secularist/atheist/satan-worshipper. Well, it looks like the Bushes for a second year are dirty secularists/atheists/satan-worshippers. For their "Holiday" card makes no mention of Christmas. Thanks go out to Americans United for pointing this out.

I expect the outrage from O'Reilly and Co at Fox News any moment now. Not to mention the Christian Right's own condemnation of the secularism of the Bushes and how they are not "true" Christians for the capital sin of recognizing other's rights to religious expression.

Now if the President could just take this idea and apply it to his Office of Faith-Based Proselytization. (Based on this NYT article.) Thanks Go Out to Crooks & Liars.

Well, this atheist has this to say to all:
Have a Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas if you celebrate it (as I do).

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Just a quick note

I've have a lot of trouble with spam commenting (adverting for drugs, travel, mortgages, etc.) So I turned on the word verification in comments.

I know its a pain, but please bear with me. Anyone can still comment anonymously if they so desire.

In the meantime, does onyone have any thoughts on the meltdown of the conservative/religious right? Who knew that the religious right conservatives loved gays so much that they would protect them over the lives and health of children? At least that is what Republicans are now claiming as their defense of the cover-up of the Foley scandal. To say nothing of the "new" idea that Americans should not work to earn their pay, that it is more important to get money for nothing and stay at home with the family. Hey someone sign me up for that program! I want to do nothing and get paid for it so I can stay at home more.

Friday, December 08, 2006

War on Christmas part (infinity)

For all you Christians out there who want to make me suffer because my atheism means that I am out to eliminate Christmas; here is your chance to win back Christmas. Simply click on the wishlist and buy me a Christmas present. Let the spirit of Christmas shine though and defeat all the humbuggery of us dirty atheists.

(Oh, and if you need any extra incentive to fire back in this war on Christmas by buying me a Christmas gift, here is my first shot:)

Happy Holidays!

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TheologyWeb and biblical fun

Apparantly, I have picked a huge fight with some Christian theologists because I simply said the bible states that the God-endorsed value of pi is exactly 3.0. And because I am merely the latest to point this out, your humble jeffperado is the newest and most dangerous big giant poopyhead. Why? Because as the claim goes, that I as an atheist, believe the bible to be completely true in all its aspects. That because I don't beleive in God, I therefore believe everything in the bible is literally true.

Now that is such an absurd claim as to not need any sort of rebuttal at all. However, it has drawn the attention of TheologyWeb Campus. So thought I would throw some more biblical zaniness their way.
[UPDATE: They opened up a new thread just for me because I decided to respond to their unprovoked attack/insult. ]

In Matthew 24:29
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken

(obviously I will be wrong for taking this verse literally, and not metaphorically) but what is scientifically wrong with this verse?

Let me first open with yet another bible passage, Isaiah 13:10
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not give their light;
The sun will be darkened in its going forth,
And the moon will not cause its light to shine.

In Jesus' retelling of this prophecy, he changes a few things, you have to give the Knower-of-all-things some credit for that. Even though he is still wrong. The first thing to notice is that the moon does not produce any of its own light, it only reflects light produced by the sun. Thus the prophet Isaiah was flat out wrong, and Jesus was wrong by suggesting that the Sun not longer shining was an independant event from the moon no longer shining.

As for the stars, well they are all suns in their own right; massive, strong gravitational pull.. They would not fall to the earth like meteors, rather, they would pull the much smaller earth to them, making the earth falling in to them.

[Granted, I could also say something about the "powers" of the heavens being shaken as well as that is patently absurd both methaphorically and literally as well, but I won't. That one will stand for all to see as either God's omnipotence will be shown to be otherwise, or the laws of nature of the universe will suddenly vibrate.]

Next time on "Fun with Theologians" Why the only way God can let mere humans into heaven is by committing suicide as a sacrifice unto Himself -- even though he can't really die.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oscar Wilde would be proud (if he weren't pushing up the daisies)

Check out this link at Huffington Post and be prepared to convert to Christianity.

I think I have uncovered the truth as to why I've been wrong all these years, and all those fundamentalist Christians are right: circular logic is not only real but the only logic. This can now be proven mathematically, if the correct value of pi is used in the calculations (that value being exactly pi=3.0 as mandated in 2 Chronicles 4:2.) For more on this new proof of God, see the ad for my Christian Calculator which was used in this proof.

In comments, I have been discussing with an anonymous person, a couple of issues. One being that the bible does not actually define "pi". This is absurd on its face based strictly on a reading of the passage. In the NKJV we have this translation, "it was completely round" This completeness means that by definition it was an exact circle. Then why go on to specify both the circumference and diameter. A circle is defined by pi and one dimension, either the diameter or circumference. By specifying both, and the "completeness" of a circle, then by default pi is being defined. This is not up to debate, it is pure and simple math.

that the bible stated this is not of my doing, nor is it my argument. That I state what is there, and what is real (i.e. that pi is definitionally equal to the ratio of circumference to diameter) is not up for debate. It seems that the poster's issue is with other Christians who disagree with him (or her). For I merely state what is real. It is other Christians who dispute what in the bible is fact and what is metaphor. the poster's debate deals with the claims made by AiG and other Christian groups who claim the bible in its text is perfect and inerrant. I make no such claims as I think the bible, in its entirety, is myth.

Update 2:
Here is an older essay on this very issue. Jason Rosenhouse discusses the biblical value of pi here.

I hope this helps.

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Newt Gingrich Loves China and Hates Ann Coulter

Hopefully everyone is aware by this point that Newt Gingrich wants to shred the First Amendment in the name of protection from terrorists (as if by not being allowed to speak freely will prevent anyone from hijacking planes and slamming them into skyscrapers).

Well, he just spoke again in defense of his ridiculous position. (read it for yourself.) Only now we learn more about what he wants to see happen. And that is simple. He wants to adopt China's limitations on free speech and the internet. He wants to shut up Ann Coulter and Little Green Footballs because they talk about the desire to kill Americans, from public servants such as Supreme Court Justices down to average citizens (if they happen to be working at the New York Times at the moment that Ann Coulter blows it up). Who knew that Newt was such a flaming liberal that he loves Communist China and loathes true conservatives like Ann Coulter and the good down-home folks at LGF?

Next thing you know ol' Newt is going to be advocating forced abortions for those Anti-Americans who support Free Speech and Habeas Corpus (along with the rest of the Constitution) and cloning of himself to create an army of Newts to bring down the entire U. S. of A.

Brain Damage.


Bulldog Alert! More fun with ChristianExodus

Yes, it is true, I just don't know if I can let this organization go without sinking my teeth into them any deeper. (And again, I want to stress that I like this org, and want them to hang around for years more, so that I have plenty of material for the future.)

Last time I mentioned a timeline. If you took a look at it, you know it is too easy a target. Have fun with it as a mental exercise, but I will leave it alone in all its grandstanding glory. What I want to look at is their "legal" Position Statement. The sheer zaniness of this is immediately clear for any first year law student, or any human with at least a semi-functioning brain.

First off, their intention:

ChristianExodus.org is an association of Christians who no longer wish to live under the unjust usurpation of powers by the federal government, and therefore resolves to formally disassociate itself from this tyrannical authority, and return to the model of governance of a constitutional republic. We seek a republican government constrained by constitutionally delegated powers. If this cannot be achieved within the United States, then we believe a
peaceful withdrawal from the union to be the last available remedy.

Ouch! Who knew that Interstates free of potholes was an abomination to God? Or maybe CEs Christians all are personally willing to donate their time charitably to pour concrete and build bridges in lieu of paying taxes.

South Carolina constitutional reforms:

ChristianExodus.org seeks to include many of our positions in a new constitution in South Carolina. For example, some constitutional guarantees ought to include the protection of human life at conception, the Ten Commandments as the foundation of law, the prohibition of any redefinition of marriage, and a strong reserve clause (reservation of undelegated powers to local government).

Yes, stoning to death any Muslim for the crime of believing in "other gods" sounds reasonable for a new "constitutional republic" as mandated by the first commandment of the venerable Ten Commandments.

Regarding the U.S. Constitution:

A simple distinction [between rights and privledges] can be made by asking oneself the question, "Is what I seek guaranteed to me by my Creator?" Some examples of rights include: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, defense of private property, self-defense (bear arms), religious belief, etc.

God (the creator) granted the rights of liberty and religious belief? The authors of CE's position statement must have been on LSD when they wrote this. What did they sleep through their study of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, (Numbers), and Deuteronomy? All God did then (not to mention the next books regarding Israel's Judges and Kings) was kill outright all non-believers and those who chose liberty over complete submission to God.

And self defense? Well it is good to know that the Canaanites were morally right and the Hebrews were morally wrong, according to the master theologians of CE.

Then there's "pursuit of happiness".. Is not a gay man who pursues happiness a partaker of this right? Apparently, pursuit of happiness is just a euphemism for being utterly miserable.

Then there's the issue of private property. How much of the then Israel actually belonged to the Hebrews? If you were to bother to read the bible, you would learn that the answer is zero. It was all stolen via warfare and conquest. How can that be interpreted to mean a respect for private property? Just Askin'.

Next, there's this piece of excrement that defies all reason, either Christian pretzel logic or actual rationality:

ChristianExodus.org believes government may regulate behavior so long as the regulation does not violate unalienable rights of citizens. Legislation outlawing certain behaviors must reflect the will and values of the majority of the governed. It is within the unalienable rights of every community to define a set of behaviors that may be considered detrimental, unhealthy, unsafe, criminal, and undesirable for the community. To deny a community the right to govern such behaviors and reflect the values of the majority of its citizens is to impose tyrannical oppression on the community and deny its fundamental rights.

Someone explain to me how "pursuit of happiness" is an unalienable right, yet it can be limited by the whims of some (any) majority. I would really like to know how, if given the CE gets their society, that a Muslim majority moves into one Christian town, and votes to make Islam its official religion they could possibly complain? They could not, but you all know damn well they they would simply deny it. Try this mental experiment: Transplant Las Vegas to South Carolina. Now using CE's logic, they would, by their very own definition, be perfectly happy with that. This perfectly illustrates just how silly and dishonest they really are.

Notice how they twist 180 degrees what tyrannical oppression means. They say that a "majority" has the right to do anything they commonly vote (agree on) upon the minority -- yet that is somehow not tyranny. To them, tyranny means the minority having the right to live their lives in "the pursuit of happiness" in spite of the majority's wishes. Funny, I never before knew that oppression was the act of expressing the "unalienable rights" given by their God.

I really have to wonder how the leaders of CE would feel if America held a national referendum and the majority allowed abortion to continue. Would they issue a news release saying that they no longer considered abortion an issue, since America had spoken out against their position and drop it entirely as an issue. I really doubt it.

Their final statement on the purpose of government is the wackiest of all:

Government does not exist to redistribute wealth, to create means of production, to usurp the authority of the family, or to regulate the church. Moreover, the state's authority is subservient to the Creator's authority, and when in conflict, government must adjust its position to conform to God's natural law. This authority structure is imperative because should the state be considered supreme, our rights are no longer secure.

Pardon me here, but didn't their very own supreme dictator, Jesus Christ, state on more than one occasion that redistributing wealth was the moral thing to do? But don't take my word for it, take the Supreme Dictator's word on it: Luke 12:33, "Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys." Matthew 19:21 "Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'"

I believe I can safely state that our rights are only no longer secure if these Christians gain control of our government.

Under the Status of Government banner, we have this jewel of compassion:

Americans have lost the ability to distinguish rights from privileges. American government routinely taxes the private property of producers and redistributes the revenue to individuals who have not earned it.

You see, the poor deserve the God-Given Right to live out on the street, starve and die of disease because the government has no right to supply these services. Only if the poor submit and give over their own personal religious beliefs to the Christian charities do they have the right to shelter, food and medical care.


Our federal government does not allow protection of the unalienable right to life of Americans in their mothers' wombs.

Here again we have the prime anti-abortion call. That being that a speck of cells (i.e. life just after conception) constitutes a full-fledged human being. I am not going to get into an abortion debate here, other than to say this: Considering the fact that there are many spontaneous abortions (fertilized eggs failing to implant in the womb) does that make God the biggest abortion doctor ever? Read the Pentateuch. God commands the killing of babies, pregnant women, and young children. Not even abortion doctors advocates this. Abortion is not only justified in the Bible, but intanticide, genocide, and general murder are advocated. At least we anti-bible types have better morals than the Judeo-Christian God.

And next:

American courts routinely violate the unalienable rights of individuals and communities to express their religious beliefs.

This is flat out false. No American (or any individual on American soil) has ever been denied their rights to religious freedom.. With the exception of Mormons who were told that they could not be polygamous. At least, according to CE, Utah should be allowed to return to their practice of polygamy since it would be voted so by the majority of its citizens. The problem with this is that it would invalidate their argument regarding "traditional marriage."

And next next:

The state of Massachusetts flagrantly declares that its authority is supreme to the Creator's when it redefines the God-ordained institution of marriage.

See above. God's institution of marriage is clearly laid out in the Old Testament. So just how many wives and concubines did David have, or Solomon? Oops! Traditional marriage isn't so traditional after all. And what about the "traditional" ban on interracial marriages throughout the South? Just what is a traditional marriage according to CE? I guess its all in what the current (non-traditional) thinking is. And what about the opinion of the majority? CE says that matters, but here they say it doesn't, their most recent concept of "tradition" is all that matters. I guess contradiction is a "right" to be written into CE's idea of their new Constitution.

Under the heading, "Intentions for Government" we find this gem:

Local government offers people choices and variety by way of easy relocation to a nearby community more in tune with their beliefs. Decentralized power promotes competition between communities that desire to attract new residents. That government is best which governs least and resides closest to the people.

That first sentence really is saying this, if your neighbors don't like you because you believe differently, then your only option is to uproot your family and move out. The fact that you have a job, friends, roots, means nothing, GET OUT! So what if you can't find a job in the community that does agree with your beliefs, that is YOUR FAULT!

The last sentence is the most absurd of all. It says that the absolute best government is no governement at all -- anarchy.

Religious freedom:

At no time in American jurisprudence has religious persecution been acceptable. Nor does ChristianExodus.org believe any tenets of the Christian faith promote persecution of other faiths. Our organization stands decidedly in favor of religious freedom and liberty for all human beings so long as their religious behaviors do not violate the God-given rights of others. Again, ChristianExodus.org will not support any efforts on the part of government to violate the unalienable right to freedom of religious belief. People of all faiths must have the same rights and freedoms guaranteed to them under law.

The only thing that can be said here is that honesty and straighforwardness are not values held CE. For they are giving religious freedom to all here (in violation of their other statments I have pointed out above) and yet also claim that the majority has the right to dictate morals. So what happens when a religion says that same-sex marriage is not only acceptable, but are performed under the auspices of the religious leaders. Then, by their claim here, same-sex marriage (i.e. their non-"traditional" marriage) would by default be acceptable to government.


ChristianExodus.org recognizes that homosexuality is an unhealthy, unsafe, detrimental behavior that affects all citizens in a community, not just the participants. Additionally, sexual conduct outside the bonds of marriage is not a God-given right. Therefore, homosexual activity is a behavior that a state may regulate and legislate against.

Of course, using this logic, then all pre-marrital and extra-marrital sex would also be illegal and punishable by jail time. Good luck funding all the jails that will be necessary to house everone who breaks that law without taxing residents. And to make this extra-silly, consider this: in violation of the no-redistribution of wealth via taxes, building jail cells and paying for food for the convicts would no be possible since those convicts should be paying their own way. This would turn convicts into forced laborers (i.e. slaves).

Furthermore, since homosexuality is not considered a sin by all Christian religions, then the religious freedom of those homosexuality-allowing Christians would have to be limited, in violation of the God-given right to religious freedom.

Religious displays in public:

Communities have a right to express values consistent with the majority of their citizens. This includes the public display of religious symbols such as crosses and the Ten Commandments. This communal right rests upon freedom of religious exercise and freedom of speech. However, there is no right to freedom from exposure to religious expression. To suggest otherwise would automatically negate and violate the unalienable rights of religious freedom and free speech. In other words, a religious minority in a community does not have a right to deny religious expression to the majority. As with all other communal decisions, the values and expressions of a community will inevitably result from popular will at the ballot box. If a religious minority does not like the decisions made by the majority, they may either relocate to another community or attempt to change the minds of the electorate and become the majority.

Finally, a fundie Christian organization who says outright that atheism is not a religion!

But it would be fun to watch all the CE members squirm under the blowback from their rules they set up. Imagine a Community taken over by CE later being re-taken by Catholics who then vote to place Mary statues and actual crucifixes (not crosses) all over town. And making "Hail Mary" the official prayer before all official government functions.


If public education exists, local control of education is paramount. Funding of local schools should come exclusively from local revenue. The local community alone should generate the policies and values expressed in schools.

Science and Math are right out the door. The Bible is God's science and math books. God set the value of pi=3.0. Man is the guilty party who redefined pi=3.14159.... CE's civil engineers will used only the God-ordained value of pi in their design of buildings and bridges. Biology and Medicine will become forbidden topics as God explained how to cure the sick and how all animals came to be and propagate.

Oh, and let's not forget literature. Instead of listing banned books, public schools will list acceptable books. Those books acceptable will be: The Bible and that is all.

Interests of minority in South Carolina:

If secession is effected in South Carolina, there will be a minority of unionists in the state. The under girding principle in a representative form of government is that majority rules. It then becomes the responsibility of the minority to relocate or change the policies of the state through the ballot box. It would be a great injustice to suggest that the preference of the minority ought to prevail over that of the majority.

In other words all minority only have the rights given them at the whim of the majority. If the majority deems that all members of the minority be rounded up and marked via tatoo and special clothing, to be later rounded up and placed in specialized "camps" that will be perfectly legal and acceptable to CE -- but only if the majority votes for it at the ballot box.

Religious tests for citizenship:

ChristianExodus.org does not desire the establishment of a theocracy where religious tests are required for citizenship. Also see our position on religious freedom above.

Exactly! CE does not desire a theocracy because a theocracy requires that God be the king of the government and its citizens, and CE knows that while God is king, he is not king of government. Or something like that. I certainly cannot figure out how making religious views and religiously-based morals the only law of the land is not defined as theocracy. I guess they can claim this because they want to write a direct violation of the Ten Commandments into their new Constitution, that being religious freedom and worshipping other gods.

16th Amendment:

We hold that the various States should repeal the 16th Amendment, which grants Congress the power to directly tax the people. Direct taxation of the people is contrary to the original intent of the Union and deprives the States of a powerful check on federal excess.

I guess that by this logic, then CE fully endorses the repeal of the 13th Amendment and a return to slavery as originally provisioned in the Constitution. This is to say nothing about the amendments allowing blacks, women and 18 year olds to vote. Since none of that was in the Constitution originally either.

Wouldn't that make a great recruitment advertisement for CE?? "Come join us in South Carolina. We plan to strip all women, blacks and 18 year olds of the right to vote. Oh and we're going to reinstitute slavery too!"

I really have to wonder who at Christian Exodus actually wrote all this garbage. I can only picture an inbred, home-schooled adult who was repeatedly dropped on their head as an infant. That seems to be the only way to produce a person so ignorant and illogical capable of writing this tripe.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

This is why FOX News is not known for science

Polonium - 210. The poison that killed the Russian Spy, Alexander Litvinenko. (see most recent CNN news story here.) It seems the FOX News has put their crack science guy on the trail of polonium-210. And so now we have the "fair and balanced" reporting on this isotope:

All it took was a simple Google search — “buy polonium 210 online” – and there, right at the top of my results, was a link to United Nuclear, a nifty little mail-order company in Sandia Park, NM, which I guess makes this desert crossroads the Mail-Order Nukes Capital of the World[.]


Now, to be fair, United Nuclear’s owner, physicist Bob Lazar, goes to great lengths on the site to explain why the amounts of Polonium-210 — and other radioactive materials — are not hazardous.

“The amount of Polonium-210, as well as any of the isotopes we sell, is an ‘exempt quantity’ amount,” Lazar’s Web site says. “These quantities of radioactive material are not hazardous – this is why they are permitted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to be sold to the general public without any sort of license.”

For the record, let me just say that I am a Health Physicist and a former Radiation Safety Officer. I know a thing or two about not just radioactive materials, but their regulation as well. So please allow me to say some things about exempt quantities. First did any of you know that virtually all of you are in possession of exempt quantities of nuclear-reactor-produced radioactive materials already?

Yes, it is true. You all have a smoke detector in your homes. Those smoke detectors all operate because of an exempt quantity of Americium - 241. And yes, there is no naturally mined or occurring amounts of Americium anywhere on this planet. Every single smoke detector in existence uses a radioactive material only produced via nuclear reactions from a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator.

Second, did any of you know that all exempt quantities found in radioactive sources like those sold by United Nuclear or found in your smoke detector are also "sealed sources" This means that the material is contained in a matrix that prevents it from escaping and getting loose in the environment. The Polonium sources referred to by uber-scientist George Kindel are also sealed sources. Those sources are completely harmless and are used in many science labs in universities and high schools around the country and world to teach students about the nature of radioactive decay. They are also used in laboratories of businesses for any number of purposes, such as instrument calibration. All those medical scanners like CT, PET, PET/CT X-ray machines, flouroscopes, etc. All have to be regularly calibrated, and the are done using any number of sealed sources. In addition, any radiation detection equipment used at nuclear power plants, and anti-terrorism units around the country also are calibrated using sealed sources.

Now before I continue, I feel it is necessary to define briefly what an exempt sourse is. An exempt source is one that contains only a very small amount of a radioactive material. There are also "general license" sources which contain larger quantities of radioactive materials, but can be used by anyone with a license to possess them for the general porposes outlined in the license. Next are more powerful sources, those are "specific license" sources. And they can only be used under very strict guidance, and require special handling procedures. These are the sources that contain the most radioactive material in them. They are also the ones most likely to be found in uses like gauging pipe thickness, or calibrating medical scanners.

The complete silliness of George Kindel's article should now be plain for everyone to see. He's basically mocking smoke detectors here.

But he's not done yet, he gets even sillier...

He’s right. Polonium-210 is so common, traces of it are found in everything from cigarettes —I hear another class-action lawsuit brewing — to the stuff you use to make sure your pants don’t cling to your socks.

It also makes you wonder that if this dead former KGB spy, Victor Litvinenko, and his wife Marina, and a mysterious Italian nuclear expert named Mario Scaramella all were poisoned by it — Litvinenko fatally — then someone’s spending a lot of money on Polonium-210, or has access to a lot of nuclear materials.

I just don't know what to make of him at this point. Surely he's joking entirely. In which case, I did not know that FOX News had become the conservative Comedy Central.

I certainly am not laughing because I happen to be well-educated when it comes to radioactive materials and radiation detection, so I know just how silly he is being. But to anyone not familiar with this would easily be fooled into thinking he was serious. Making a joke out of this is not funny, especially if the rubes who believe him don't know it is a big fat joke and think he's serious.

Of course the person who poisoned Litvinenko got it from some larger stockpile of Po-210 and not by buying a million dollars worth of exempt quantity sources.

I am reminded of that line by Dan Akroyd in Spies Like Us, "We mock what we do not understand."


Friday, December 01, 2006

Another Finger-Crossing Moment for the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI said this:
"You know well that the church wishes to impose nothing on anyone, and that she merely asks to live in freedom," the pope said at Istanbul's Holy Spirit Cathedral, where he was joined by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. [emphasis mine]

That's certainly good to know. From now on, the Vatican will no longer impede efforts here in America to put rationality back into sex-education when it comes to condom and other contraception usage, and that politicians who are pro-choice will no longer be condemned by the pope. I think I'm going to like this new idea of freedom that the pope espouses.

I just wonder how deeply into the next election cycle it will hold before the pope announces he was only kidding, that he had his fingers crossed behind his back...

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There's Crazy, Then There's Lobotomy Crazy

Let me be the first to say this, conservatives do not have a monopoly on the monumentally stupid. There are some liberals out there who fit this classification as well.

Imagine this scenario: It is 1965 and you are the Governor of California. The Watts Riot has just occurred. What do you do? If you're a reasonably intelligent person you send in the police and the California National Guard to restore peace. But if you're Jacob Weisberg, you have a much better idea. You would solve the Watts Riot by forgoing the National Guard, and in its place sending in the KKK to bring peace to that neighborhood.

Monumentally Stupid, right? No one would actually think that could possibly be the best course of action. At least no sane person.

But, this is precisely what Jacob Weisberg has suggested when it comes to solving the Iraq quagmire:

Other countries should care about preventing the slaughter of innocents in Iraq, just as they should have in Rwanda and should yet in Darfur.
This sounds almost reasonable, no? But then look at his solution:
Where might troops come from? The most willing providers would probably be "new" Europeans such as the Poles, who remain eager to demonstrate their cooperative capabilities and earn some cash. Muslim troops might come from neighboring Jordan and Turkey, which have obvious stakes in preventing the refugee crisis that would attend violent partition. [emphasis mine]

Right now in Iraq, the Kurds have been relatively quiet, but send in Turkish troops into Iraq and they will go nuts. The bad blood between the Kurds and Turkey is as deep as the bad blood between the KKK and African Americans. Doing this would enlarge the existing civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites to include the Kurds to say nothing about drawing Turkey into the civil war.

About the only idea that could be any stupider (and this level of stupidity requires a fake word) would be to summarily execute every single Iraqi and then relocate all of Europe's Muslims to the newly vacated Iraq. But I suppose that will be the big idea in Weisberg's next article.