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Archive for September, 2009

I usually like to refer to myself as a bleeding heart hippie liberal.  I believe in a lot of things that the right-wing conservative front does not.  I believe that the rich people of the world should help to take care of the poor.  I believe in a single-payer health care system.  I believe that if two people love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together, they should be able to get married, no matter what the squishy bits in their pants look like.  So I’m honestly not being invited to Joe “You Lie!” Wilson’s house any time soon.

But if I’m being honest, (not that it would matter to Joe) I have to admit that there are certain things about the left-wing, bleeding-heart liberals with which I don’t quite jive.  Sure, I believe in welfare, and I don’t think that every Spanish-speaking person is an illegal alien. (and even if they are, so what? I don’t think they’re the drain on our economy that people think they are) Anyway, there are a few issues that are clearly “left-wing”, that I disagree with.

For example, I remember watching a news story once on CNN. This must have been at least a decade ago, but it was about “Irradiated Foods”.  These were foods that had been exposed to radiation in order to kill diseases and bacteria that might be on the food.  This was often done to produce, and other foods that humans tend to eat “raw”.  During the subsequent man-on-the-street interviews, reporters put the microphone to an older woman, who disgustedly shouted:

“I DON’T WANT THEM PUTTING RADIATION ON MY FOOD!”

Now, leaving aside the semantic problems of that statement, I found myself bemusedly wondering aloud: “I guess this woman doesn’t own a microwave, then, huh?”.  But this was the kind of thing that has always bothered me about many of the issues in news and politics today.  It’s where “common sense” fails us.  This woman was not a nuclear scientist. She was not a physicist, and likely not an agriculturalist.  She was someone who heard the term: “irradiated”, and immediately imagined scary men in radiation suits, Hiroshima victims, nuclear power plants, and possibly even giant mutated ants.

I recently read that World’s-best-person Norman Borlaug died. I vaguely remembered that Penn & Teller did a bit where they spoke on this man, so I looked to find it. You can watch it here:  (Warning, some NSFW language)

As you can see in the clip above, the same argument is used against genetically-altered food. It’s not that the guys for Greenpeace, or the (admittedly kind of hot) chick from California are geneticists, or biologists, or any kind of scientists, it’s that they hear the words: “genetically-altered”, and they think of a thousand horror movies.  They know that once you start messing around with an organism’s genetic makeup, you’re just asking for trouble. Why do you think they call them: “Frankenfoods!” [thunder]

But these are the things that get my skepticism acting up again.  Many of the same hippies who claim that the FDA is a huge bureaucratic monster [thunder] that constantly prevents their miracle alternative health remedies from being made available to the public, are the same hippies who think the FDA just shrugs its shoulders and looks away whenever some bozo waves a  radioactive isotope around some supermarket produce.  I’m not a physicist, or a geneticist, and I am a hippie, but I have absolute faith in my government on the subject of:  “making things as complicated and tied-up-in-red-tape as humanly possible”.  So I’m not really worried about any process that’s made it through a bureaucratic department and judged to be harmless. [shrugs] Maybe that’s naive of me, but in many of these cases, it’s the opposition, rather than the treatment, that makes me skeptical.

That, and Norman Borlaug just kicks so much ass, I can’t imagine anyone being against him.  [peace sign]

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Thor Bless You

Hi there!

So someone just sent me an e-mail that was written by Ben Stein.  It spoke about the sorry shape that the world is in, and how those despicable atheists have allowed it to get this way by taking God out of our schools and removing Christmas decorations from government buildings.  And apparently someone asked Billy Graham’s daughter how a benevolent God could let a disaster like Katrina happen, and she said that we’ve spent so much time taking God out of our schools and government, that He respectfully stopped protecting us from natural disasters. I guess it’s truly a shame that God couldn’t have figured out a way to make it so that ONLY atheists died in that tragedy*, but I mean, what do we he expect? It’s not like he’s OMNIPOTENT or anything, right?

To be fair, I actually like Christmas. I’m not offended by religious displays, and I think the idea of a week or two where everyone is nice to each other is really not a bad idea.  But let’s look at this from a different point of view.  Christians are pretty big on tolerance and understanding, so let’s see if we can help Ben Stein get this mote from his eye. 😉

Let’s pretend that we’re Christians.  For some of you, this won’t be too difficult, but let’s imagine first that we weren’t BORN Christians.  What if your parents were a different religion than you?  Let’s say that your parents worshiped THOR.

ThorBright

Artist’s Conception

Let’s go one step further and say that 70% of the world’s population are “Thor-ists”. Let’s examine for a minute what it means to be a Thorist.

Thor is a god of War, so let us assume that he embodies all of the “noble” war traditions; Bravery, Honor, Love of your Country, and Brotherhood with your fellow Countrymen.  There’s nothing wrong with these traditions, now is there?  Don’t you wish that every child was imbued with a love for their neighbors and bravery in the face of adversity?  What if every holiday and observance was devoted to the Norse Gods?  Can you imagine a landscape in which every cross that sits atop every church were replaced with the Hammer of Thor?

thorshammer I mean, it kind of looks the same, right?

Now suppose you’ve grown-up in this Thorvian landscape, and your entire world culture revolved around the God of Thunder.  Suppose that Thor represented the best in humankind. Suppose that “In Thor we Trust” was on our money.  That’s not … offensive, is it? You wouldn’t be “pissed off” to hear songs of praise sung to Thor during the time of Yül, would you? Especially if those songs represented Peace and Harmony?

But … even in a world of Thor worship, where every sneeze was met with a hearty: “Thor Bless You?”, would you really believe in Thor? When a great storm came barreling through the area, wouldn’t your friends sound a little silly when they said: “Thor’s wrath sure is terrible, isn’t it?”. If you went to your child’s grade school open house and found a small warning sticker inside their science book saying: “This textbook contains information about the theory that lightning is electricity. This controversial concept is a THEORY, not FACT, and should be approached with a critical mind”, wouldn’t you be a little upset?  If you saw Conservative Thorists standing up at school board meetings and protesting the “Franklinian theory of electricity”, wouldn’t that annoy you?

And why SHOULD it annoy you? I mean, didn’t you just say that Thorism is a benevolent religion that teaches bravery and honesty?  Don’t you like the season of Yül and all it brings? Doesn’t it give people comfort to know that Thor is watching over them?  Let’s go a step further, and assume that YOU have lost someone that you love. Let’s imagine the worst possible thing that could happen.  You’re mourning the loss of a loved one, wondering how to go on, wondering how to cope with this loss, and someone puts a hand on your shoulder and says: “Don’t worry, they’re drinking mead with Thor in Valhalla now…”. Would that REALLY make you feel better?

So then, how do you feel when someone asks you why you athorists were always so cranky. Why were you always so cynical?  Can’t you just let ordinary people worship Thor the way that they want without trying to shoot down their beliefs? You know … it’s actually athorists like you that allow these disasters to happen.  If you weren’t so strident on taking Thor out of our schools and removing passages from the Volsung Saga from government buildings … this NEVER would have happened. 😦

 

 

*In fact, if that type of thing happened … ever, it would only serve to glorify his existence.  If it could be statistically proven that only atheists are killed by natural disasters, there probably wouldn’t BE any atheists!

 

 

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