Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - The Big Electron




For your Tuesday Tonic, some classic remarks about human existence from Bill Hicks (who died on this date in 1994 from pancreatic cancer) and George Carlin, delivered inside one of melodysheep's excellent autotunes.

Lyrics:
                                                                                         
Is this real?
Or is this just a ride?

The world is like a ride
You think it's real - it's just a ride
And we can change it any time we want
It's only a choice - between fear and love

The ride goes up and down and round and round
It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly colored
Up and down and round and round
And it's very loud
                                                                                                   
Don't worry, don't be afraid
It's just a ride
And we can change it any time we want
It's only a choice between fear and love

Why are we here?
I think we're part of a greater wisdom
That we won't ever understand
A higher order - call it what you want -
Know what I call it?

The Big Electron. Whoa whoa.

It doesn't punish.
It doesn't reward.
It doesn't judge at all.
It just is.
And so are we...
for a little while.



Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Music - Men At Work!



For your Monday Music break this week, let's go Down Under and listen to Men at Work!


Down Under

Traveling in a fried-out combie
On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
She took me in and gave me breakfast
And she said,

"Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six-foot-four and full of muscles
I said, "Do you speak-a my language?"
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said,

"I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

Lyin' in a den in Bombay
With a slack jaw, and not much to say
I said to the man, "Are you trying to tempt me
Because I come from the land of plenty?"
And he said,

"Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."
Yeah!

Living in a land down under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover!

Living in a land down under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!





























Good Day, Humans.

It is still winter in Minnesota.

But I am a resourceful cat.

I usually prefer my place of honor on the rug

in front of the fire.

Or my position of superiority on the back of the sofa

in front of the fire.

Occasionally, however, I will deign to honor my Human with my company.

As long as she is sitting in front of the fire.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!



Cat's Dream
- Pablo Neruda

How neatly a cat sleeps,
sleeps with its paws and its posture,
Cat in the Moonlight
watercolor by Chandra Larocque
sleeps with its wicked claws,
and with its unfeeling blood,
sleeps with all the rings--
a series of burnt circles--
which have formed the odd geology
of its sand-colored tail.

I should like to sleep like a cat,                
with all the fur of time,
with a tongue rough as flint,
with the dry sex of fire;
and after speaking to no one,
stretch myself over the world,
over roofs and landscapes,
with a passionate desire
to hunt the rats in my dreams.

I have seen how the cat asleep
would undulate, how the night
flowed through it like dark water;
and at times, it was going to fall
or possibly plunge into
the bare deserted snowdrifts.
Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
like a tiger's great-grandfather,
and would leap in the darkness over
rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.

Sleep, sleep cat of the night,
with episcopal ceremony
and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams;
control the obscurity
of our slumbering prowess
with your relentless heart
and the great ruff of your tail.

Translated by Alastair Reid


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow in Phoenix?

Not what I had in mind.























Of course there is snow in Phoenix.

NiftyDottir and I are going there tomorrow to catch some sunshine!

And we get to fly out in a snowstorm, too!  Whoopee!

Damn you, Mother Nature! (but remember, kids, global climate change is a hoax!).



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Humanity's Epoch



Exciting news! There is a new video from melodysheep!

For your Tuesday Tonic, may I present the freshly created Humanity's Epoch.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Music - From Now On



For your Monday Music, a bit of classic Supertramp. Love the jazzy riff in the last half.

Guess I'll always have to be
living in a fantasy.
That's the way it's got to be
from now on.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Isn't That Just Ducky!


Hello there!

Hi!

Hi there!

Hello!

Oh, were you reading?

Were you trying to work on the computer?

I can help you! Let me just come a little closer and...

Fooled you!

I actually have a slobbery chew for you to toss.

Playing fetch is much more fun than work!

Ffwup! Here, take this slimy chunk of rawhide.

You want me to "get down"
so you can go back to work?
Ha! Ha! Good one!
Now throw it! Throw it!

(scamper scamper scamper scamper)

Ha ha! Good job!

Ffwup! Throw it again!

(scamper scamper scamper scamper)

Ha ha! Good job!

Ffwup! Throw it again!

(scamper scamper scamper scamper)

Ha ha! Good job!

Ffwup! Throw it again!

(scamper scamper scamper scamper)

Ha ha! Good job!

Ffwup! Throw it again!

(scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper)

Ha ha! Good job!

Ffwup! Throw it again!

(scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper)

Ha ha! Good job!

Ffwup! Throw it again!

(scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper

scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper scamper ...)

Isn't this fun? Much better than working on the computer!

Ffwup! Throw it again!

Isn't that just Ducky!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Happy Darwin Day!
























There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being,
evolved.

There has been an effort to have February 12 officially declared "Darwin Day" in honor of Charles Darwin who was born on this date in 1809. The famous naturalist is the author of The Origin of Species (full title: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection) his seminal work which first introduced the public to the theory of Evolution.

A simple demonstration of natural selection.
"As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form." Charles Darwin

To mark Charles Darwin's 204th birthday, here is a BBC Horrible History performed by (an actor portraying) the man himself! As if this awesome video about an awesome man and an awesome subject is not enough of a treat, you get an extra bonus: the entire thing is set to the tune of David Bowie's awesome song, Changes!

Enjoy! And Happy Darwin Day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!





























May I help you?

Yes, I am in the exact same place where I was last week.

Is this a problem?

Did you not get the memo that we have moved to Minnesota? In the winter?

Humans perplex me.

It is cold outside. It is warm inside by the fire. I am dozing by the warm fire.

It all makes perfect sense.

The twins are off somewhere doing whatever it is that foolish kittens do.

My Human is busy scribbling away. (She is the perfect companion.)

And I am sensibly comfortable. Now go away, do human things and enjoy your day!

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!



Cats Sleep Anywhere

Cats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair.
Top of piano, window-ledge, in the middle, on the edge.
Open draw, empty shoe, anybody's lap will do. -->
Fitted in a cardboard box, in the cupboard with your frocks.
Anywhere! They don't care! Cats sleep anywhere.

Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965)


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - Now This Is A Mayor!
























This week, the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada are bracing for a snowstorm projected by some news sources to be "historic" in snowfall and disruption. While nor'easterners are battening down the hatches and preparing for the coming excitement, The Weather Channel and its affiliates NBC and Weather Underground have gleefully "named" the storm Nemo, and have wallpapered the internet and TWC with hysterical "reports" about the possible magnitude of the storm. 

This naming of winter storms is an effort to equate (in the public psyche) regular winter events with massive, life-threatening but far less regular occurrences such as tropical cyclones. So, let's talk about that.


The northeast has endured wicked winter storms for centuries. 
The people really do know what to do and how to handle themselves.

Winter storms are a pain. They also have the potential to cause life-threatening conditions, but nearly always of the sort that can be avoided by sensible people preparing for normal winter events. Slippery roadways and cold, while potentially deadly, are nearly always avoidable or manageable - unlike 120mph hurricane winds taking the roof off your only shelter or massive flooding caused by a cyclone which inundates every shelter for miles. Except in rare circumstances, winter storms are just a costly nuisance. That is the reason why very little is being made of the possible aftermath of "Nemo" - because the truth is that it will cause a lot of headaches for a couple of days and then nearly everyone will get back to normal life. 

In this age of easily roused rabbles and the 24-hour panic-of-the-week news cycle, it is a refreshing change to come across an elected official who behaves like an adult, calmly assessing the situation and then sensibly describing the reality instead of throwing out hyperbolic statements to score political points. Upon learning that a similar storm was bearing down on his city a few weeks ago, Mayor Dennis O'Keefe of St. John's advised the citizens to be prepared for a lot of snow and possible power outages, stay off the roads and try to enjoy the unexpected day at home. 

 Mayor O'Keefe: leading by example




“Enjoy the day and 
get ready for the clean up. 
Don’t panic, 
don’t sweat it. 
The power will come back.” 
Mayor Dennis O'Keefe






Solid advice. Most valuable, however, was the Mayor's calm demeanor. You've been through this a hundred times, he seemed to say. You know how it goes. There is nothing to be gained from scurrying around in a panic. There will be plenty to do later. Get ready, then relax and rest up for the work to come. That night, the storm came and the storm raged and there was, indeed, a "heavy snowfall". Nearly two feet fell over most of Mayor O'Keefe's city. The wind howled -  blowing heavy wet snow in front of it. The power did go out in a lot of places, but people were mostly prepared.

People hunkered down, lit candles, fired up the grill and made hot beverages. They joked with their neighbors, embraced the unexpected long weekend, griped about losing power or rejoiced about power restored. Facebook friends offered to deliver hot food and drinks to friends without power, and everyone kept tabs on everyone else in case help was needed. People settled down for a long winter's night. As they have done for years.

And in the morning, the clean up began. The power did come back - not as quickly as some people would have liked, understandably - but it did come back thanks to the efforts of linemen and power crews who braved the elements to repair lines thrown down by the gale force winds. Neighbours and friends worked together again to shovel driveways and dig out cars and clear a pathway to the front door.

"Nemo" may dump up to two feet of snow on parts of New England before it finally pushes off to the north Atlantic. But, like Newfoundlanders, northeasterners are used to winter storms. They know what to do!

Whipping people into a frenzy with hyperbolic projections of "historic" storms is really not helpful for anyone but those who stand to benefit from increased viewer ratings (ahem, NBC). The northeast has endured wicked winter storms for centuries. The people really do know what to do and how to handle themselves. The damage and the scope of the coming storm may indeed be greater than most storms in the past, but not so much greater that it should be used to pad TV ratings, stoke the panic machinery and drive storm-related purchases. The stuff you did to prepare for the regular old snowstorms before the naming nonsense began in 2012 is still the stuff you will always need.

It's probably going to be a blizzard. Judge yourselves accordingly. Stay informed and stay prepared, but don't let the panic-mongering of modern commerce rattle you. You know what to do. Do it.

Preparedness tips from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency here.


Isn't That Just Ducky!





Hello there!

It's another drizzly, chilly, slippery day out there.

There is too much salt on the roads to walk.

We are stuck inside and I am bored.

Can we play?  Can we play again right now?

I like snow but I do not like sleet and salt and ice.

I guess I will have to just curl up on your lap.

What? No, the laptop won't get in my way! See, it moves!

I guess we will just have a quiet day today.

Isn't that just Ducky!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Interspecies Cooperation!



via Keller Laros

According to this article, diver Keller Laros was taking a group out for a night dive to swim with the manta rays when a lone dolphin appeared and seemed to be asking for help. Mr. Laros, an experienced diver with over 10,000 dives to his credit, quickly spotted a fishing hook imbedded in the animal's pectoral fin. While the dolphin bobbed patiently next to him, Mr. Laros was able to remove the hook from the fin and then used his diving tools to cut the animal free from the attached fishing line in which it had become entangled.

Because the diver regularly takes groups out for these dives, he often has a professional photographer along to record the experience for the group. On this occasion, videographer Martina Wing managed to capture the whole amazing encounter on film.

Above is a version of the encounter that Mr. Laros has posted with captions explaining what is happening. For the full eight minutes of raw video of the event (with captions, too), look here.

Nice work, Keller Laros!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Music - New Sum



via sonicrecords

For your Monday Music fix: a thought-provoking song and a really cool video!

You're going to love this. Watch it all the way through - in full-screen if possible.

Four and a half near-perfect minutes: Enjoy!

( Nifty PSA: "Nous sommes" = "we are" (en fran├žais))

New Sum (Nous Sommes)

oh see the great citizens
with all their white sticks tapping brick
they can't see the wire strung in between them
and all that young scum reeling

but oh you do your blinded best
with all these arrows through your chest
feel em forcing through and they're forcing you
to follow through to where they want you

was it a trick of light? shook my head from side to side,
i seen a million lines, the finest thread strung spine to spine

animals run on the sidewalks
animals run in the national parks
and all the bankers and all the beggars and all the bears are brothers.

is it a trick of light? i shake my head from side to side
we rub our eyes and shake our fists at the passersby
we scare the kids but mama it's all for the best

what is the new sum, us tied up? with no thumbs?
is it a noose hung? and us tied up? with no thumbs?
yeah but in the new sum you gotta count us, we see the lines run
we see the lines run, can you see them? can you see them?
can you see them?

by Hey Rosetta!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday - Me and Bobby McGee



The incomparable Janis Joplin.

Me and Bobby McGee

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin' fer a train
When I's feeling nearly faded as my jeans
Bobby thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained
And rode us all the way to New Orleans
I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
I's playing soft while Bobby sung the blues, n-yeah
Windshield wipers slapping time I's, holding Bobby's hand in mine and
We sang every song that driver knew

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing, I mean nothing honey if it ain't free, no no
Yeah feeling good was easy Lord when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun
Yeah Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done
Yeah Bobby baby kept me from the cold world
One day near Salinas Lord, I let him slip away
He's lookin' for that home, and I hope he finds it
But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday
To be holdin' Bobby's body next to mine

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
Nothing, and that's all that Bobby left me, yeah
But feeling good was easy Lord when he sang the blues
Hey feeling good was good enough for me, hmm-mm
Good enough for me and Bobby McGee.

La da la la la, la da la la la da la
La da da la la la Bobby McGee yeah
La da la la la, la da la la la da la
La da da la la la Bobby McGee yeah
La da la la la, la da la la la da la
La da da la la la Bobby McGee yeah

Lord I called him my lover, I called him my man
I said I called him my lover just the best I can c'mon, c'mon
Bobby now, c'mon Bobby McGee

La da la la la, la da la la la la la
Hey hey hey Bobby McGee yeah.

- Kris Kristofferson, Fred Foster

RIP EAN

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Modern David and Goliath Story - Teenager Zack Kopplin Takes On The Christian Right






























When Zack Kopplin was in his sophomore year at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, in 2008, he started his fight against a new law called the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), which has earned him fame and notoriety for being a notable advocate for science in defiance of this law's disguised attempt at introducing creationism into the classroom in Louisiana.*


For your Saturday Inspiration, may I present a modern day David vs Goliath story:

When Christian fundamentalists in the Louisiana legislature passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, it was a signal that the religious right had finally declared open war against reality-based public education. This law virtually guarantees that growing numbers of children will be deprived of education as the modern knowledge available through comprehensive educational curricula is replaced by medieval constraints on learning where all access to knowledge must be restricted to whatever can be Biblically referenced.   

Alarmed and angered by these developments, LA teenager Zack Kopplin pushed past his shyness and fear of retaliation to protest the law. Zack began by writing a research paper on the subject while still in high school. Since then, he has sought and gained the support of 78 nobel laureates in his effort to persuade the Louisiana legislature that the LSEA was not just a mistake, but potentially disastrous for Louisiana children and the future economic growth of the state. He was disappointed in that effort: the Louisiana legislature refused to repeal the law. To Zack's (and many others') horror, Tennessee soon followed Louisiana's example and passed a similar creationist bill of their own.

Zack's concerns are founded in chilling reality. Not only has the LSEA opened the door for creationism to be taught to unsuspecting children by dishonestly calling it "science", but the Louisiana legislature - with the blessing of Governor Bobby Jindal - has also passed bills for school voucher programs which funnel public tax dollars into religious schools which teach this overtly religious material. This blatant violation of the Constitutional prohibition against government endorsement of religion was made possible through a cleverly packaged bill purporting to support "academic freedom".

While science has been in the crosshairs of religious fundamentalists for decades, it is not the only school subject in danger. History is being rewritten in Texas (the source of the vast majority of textbooks used by all American schoolchildren), while Bible-based Mathematics (yes, Math!), Economics and  Literature, currently being taught inside the Christian homeschooling movement, are poised to be launched into the public school curricula as soon as Christian fundamentalists succeed in getting their agenda passed in state legislatures around the country. Louisiana is far from the only Republican-controlled state to be pushing through these anti-education measures, either. In addition to Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas (unofficially), four more states are considering legislation which will allow religious fundamentalists to do an end run around both the Constitution and reality-based educational standards.

Fresh legislation has been put forward in Colorado, Missouri and Montana. In Oklahoma, there are two bills before the state legislature that include potentially creationist language.
A watchdog group, the National Center for Science Education, said that the proposed laws were framed around the concept of "academic freedom". It argues that religious motives are disguised by the language of encouraging more open debate in school classrooms. However, the areas of the curriculum highlighted in the bills tend to focus on the teaching of evolution or other areas of science that clash with traditionally religious interpretations of the world.
Four US states considering laws that challenge the teaching of evolution, Paul Harris, The Guardian, January 31, 2013.

Why are religious fundamentalists so determined to inject religion into science curricula (and into public education, generally) anyway? What possible benefit can there be in denying reality and refusing to accept the scientific theories which enabled humankind to develop technologies and medical treatments which these same people presumably do not refuse to use? The answer is sadly banal. Christian fundamentalists are attempting to destroy secular public education for the same reason that religion has always opposed allowing the people access to real education: for the preservation of the religious elite's power and wealth.  

American Christianism - like all religions - is a symbiotic relationship: religious elites derive their power and wealth from legions of followers who look to pastors and preachers for leadership and who believe that the religion they promote is true. Church is big business. From the enormous, multi-million dollar mega-church corporations to the one-man storefront church business, there is a huge incentive for preachers and their organizations to do whatever they need to do to maintain their "moral authority" over their flocks and thus hold on to their power and wealth.

The allure of religion
For their part, Christian believers provide a steady flow of income and huge political power to their church leadership (in the form of the "Christian" vote) in exchange for a sense of order and purpose in life, moral guidance and perhaps most important of all (though seldom acknowledged as a separate reason) the sense that they are valued members of a powerful majority.  For many born-again believers, that sense of belonging to a powerful majority is one of the few comforts they have in an often bewildering, disempowering and depressing life. 

The foundation for this mutually beneficial relationship is the Christian belief system. The moral authority of the religious leadership depends upon general acceptance of - and willingness to profess belief in - the doctrines of the faith. It is this belief system which is the weak link in the power structure of the business of religion. When the supremacy of the belief system is challenged, the power of the leadership is threatened. 

The problem for both the fundamentalist leaders and their willing followers is this: Christian beliefs - like most religious belief systems - are founded in mythology and the supernatural so evidence-based reality is obviously a threat to that foundation. Reality-based education, the goal of good, secular schools, is a direct threat to religion because by teaching children empirically supported facts about the natural world and giving them the critical thinking skills to continue to seek the truth about the world and our place in it, it teaches them the skills they need to understand how religion manipulates and controls the culture and to see how that manipulation is often motivated by very worldly, selfish goals. 
The Christian right has long suspected
that colleges are their enemies.

Well-educated people may not lose their belief in gods, but they often move away from organized religion. As more and more educated people moved away from organized religion during the last century - and gained independence from religiously-mandated tithing, rules for living and political activism - the wealth, power and influence of the church began to decline. The religious elites realized that public education was their mortal enemy. In the 1970's, a group of influential evangelical Christian leaders joined forces and formulated a plan to "take back America" - and a major focus of that plan was to undermine the public education system which they saw as the most dangerously effective dispeller of religious mysticism.

It wasn't only religious leaders who wanted to maintain the illusion of religious Truth™, however. If that were the case, they would have failed miserably since they are a relatively small elite with nowhere near the number of votes they would need to control elections or influence legislatures. They needed an army of loyal followers willing to act against their own material interests to provide the financial backing and votes needed to support the fundamentalist Christian agenda. Incredibly, they were able to marshall just such an army of dedicated, ideologically-driven followers within a couple of decades. Why?

Why would millions of people vote against their own interests and support a leadership which is working to deprive them of rights and their children of education?  On some level they know the Bible-based worldview is flawed and that the anti-science movement is wrong. They know it - even if they refuse to acknowledge it - because they use science-based technology, medicine and reproductive technology every day. Yet they deny the truth and vote to deny the truth to their own children and their neighbors' children, too. 

It is tempting to chalk this up to stupidity or irrationality, but that is a mistake. Christians are no more stupid than any other Americans. They can understand the truth but they choose to ignore it. Religionists see that the power lies in going along with the fiction, and they see what happens to people who refuse to bow to religious power. People gravitate to power and they can see that in a democracy the power is with the majority, so many make a choice to join the majority. That is not stupidity, it is calculation. In a purely objective calculation - looking at the negative social consequences experienced by outspoken non-Christians, for example - it may actually be more stupid not to go along with the Christian majority.  

The charge that Christianists are "irrational" is probably without merit, too. We cannot know what people really believe in the privacy of their own thoughts, only what they profess to believe. We can, however, see that perfectly sensible people say and do objectively irrational things for very rational reasons.  For example, when people endure hazing rituals in order to be accepted into a highly desired group, it is clear that they do not "believe in" the irrational things they must say or do to win a place in the group, but it is equally clear that they are willing to do whatever it takes to be members because they do believe in the value of belonging to the group. Self-professed Bible-believing Christians may or may not believe that the Bible is literally the source of all truth and knowledge, but they definitely believe that belonging to the Christian religion is worth saying that they do. When you consider the harm that they know they would experience in their social, personal and professional lives should they refuse to submit to the pressure to profess the Christian faith, it is undeniable that in a very real sense it is more rational to go along with Christian fundamentalism than it is to fight against it.

So, while it is true that supporting the Christian Right's agenda is harmful to their own material interests, for many Christians the psychological benefits - they might call it their spiritual interests - of belonging to the church are more important. Church followers were, and still are, anxious to preserve the fictional foundation upon which their own position in a powerful majority is built.  They support lies in order to preserve their religious privilege. Feeling safe in a modern world full of cures and conveniences made possible by science, they cannot imagine losing those gains so very few followers of fundamentalist Christianity can see any downside to denying reality in this manner. They don't see that, having grown up with a decent education themselves, their religious "belief" is a choice, but for children who know nothing else but indoctrination (backed up by the fear of hellfire), there may be no psychologically safe "choice" possible. They only see the upside: the consolidation of their group's position of supremacy in American society: the continued normalization and forced public acceptance of false beliefs which supports their own psychological comfort and social position. 

Public apathy about the creep of religious fundamentalism into the public sphere will have a profound impact upon the future of this country. This is not a fringe movement which poses no threat to our reasonable, sensible little corner of the world. This is a powerful, well-organized and - until very recently - stealthy campaign to concentrate power into a few hands, using religion as the weapon to subdue and incapacitate the people. Nearly 50% of the population already professes to believe that the creation myth explains our existence and the Bible is literally the source of all knowledge. That number could jump to an overwhelming majority of future voters if an entire generation of schoolchildren is deprived of the ability to think critically or to understand the basic principles of math and science which underpin nearly all of modern technology and medicine.

A child devastated by the  
"good news" of Christian
indoctrination. (Jesus Camp)
The school voucher concept was the brainchild of religious extremists who were determined to completely dismantle the secular public school system and reduce all education in this country to a training ground of future foot soldiers for the conservative Christian elites. They have been working on this elsewhere in the world (in places where the public education systems are far less robust than in the USA) through their "mission" programs, too.  The United States was a tougher arena for the Christian war for supremacy, but little by little, the religionists have succeeded in chipping away at the Constitutional protections which once guaranteed that American children would have access to an education free of ulterior agendas. Laws like the ones that Zack Kopplin is fighting in Louisiana deprive children of a real education while indoctrinating them mercilessly with the mythology, eschatology and psychological terrorism of fundamentalist Christian theology. The Christian right intends to return Christendom - within a generation or two - to an appalling condition where a majority of the population will not understand the nature of reality and will be too cowed by theological terrorizing to ask any questions about it. 
"Give me a child until he is seven
and I will give you the man."

Coming soon to a school near you: Belief instead of knowledge. Feeling instead of thinking. Obedience instead of understanding. Acceptance instead of justice. Conformity instead of liberty. Fearful self-loathing instead of hopeful confidence. 

Unless America wakes up to put a stop to this madness, the result of these laws will be the perversion of every cherished American ideal. Christian fundamentalists have been working on this particular strategy to control American society for more than 30 years (before that, they tried other strategies which were not as successful). If this sounds alarmist to you, consider that these religious extremists are counting on that. They are counting on the moderate middle of America to dismiss those who are raising the alarm, while they continue their stealth campaign to destroy the foundation of religious liberty and establish a Christian theocracy in the USA. If we continue to ignore this situation and allow religious extremists to write, lobby for and pass laws which enshrine a particular religious ideology as the government-endorsed national ideology, the consequences for religious, political and intellectual freedom - not to mention technological and economic development - in this country will be disastrous.

Please read more on this topic and spread the word.  Below, you'll find some links worth checking out (even if you have no time to read, please take 5 minutes to watch the video linked at the bottom of this post):

*Meet Zack Kopplin: The Millenial Fighting Creationism in Louisiana (Q&A), Dillon Zhou, policymic, January 28, 2013.
How 19-year old activist Zack Kopplin is making life hell for Louisiana creationists, George Dvorsky, i09, January 16, 2013. Loch Ness Monster used to debunk evolution in state-funded school, Claudine Zap, June 25, 2012
Christian Fundamentalists teach US Children Loch Ness Monster is Real to Disprove Evolution, Lucy Sherriff, The Huffington Post UK, June 25, 2012.
New Creationist Bill in Colorado, Ed Brayton, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, January 27, 2013.
She Brainwashed Me With Science, Ed Brayton, FTB, January 24, 2013.
Another Clueless Legislator on Evolution, Brayton, January 26, 2013.
Texas Public Schools: Still Teaching Creationism, Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones, January 28, 2013.
Critics say Montana allows creationism in schools, Associated Press (OregonLive), January 25, 2013.
Loch Ness Monster seen as real dinosaur in biology books taught in Louisiana school, Eric Ortiz, NYDailyNews, June 26, 2012.
14 Wacky "Facts" Kids Will Learn in Louisiana's Voucher Schools, Deanna Pan, Mother Jones, August 7, 2012.




If you doubt that the school voucher idea is for anything other than to undermine secular, public education for American citizens, please take five minutes to view this video excerpt from the documentary, School Choice: Taxpayer-Funded Creationism, Bigotry and Bias.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!






























Good Morning, Humans.

It is the first day of February, the time when one really notices the days lengthening again.

Well, one would notice the days lengthening if one could stand the cold long enough to take a look outside!

PrrrrBrrrrPrrrr
Did I mention that we have moved to Minnesota?

My humans seem to love it. I have my doubts about their sanity.

Have you seen the weather outside? 35 below with wind chill!

I have decided that the best way to cope is to curl up and sleep.

And the twins have sensibly followed my example.  -->

It is quite cozy here, actually, snuggled up by the fire.

Prrrr. All is right with the world.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

                                               


On A Night of Snow

Look at this foolish feline!
No, close the door, you fool!
Cat, if you go outdoors, you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white shoes of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat.  Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet -
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.

Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore,
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar -
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done.  Open the door!

 - Elizabeth Coatsworth