The Pudding

I know that my family isn’t the only one to have used the expression “the proof is in the pudding” as a way of saying “you’ll know best what’s good to do when you do it and it turns out good”. Aspy that I am, I embraced that idea wholeheartedly … perhaps even letting it get to third base.  Proof. Proof delights me.

That’s why I am delighted that report that the liberal ideology of taxing the rich and using the money for the social good and raising minimum wages in order to build a strong economy and thus reduce poverty has a big ol’ pudding in Minnesota:

“When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate … During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly — a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He’s also agreed to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Republicans like state representative Mark Uglem warned against Gov. Dayton’s tax increases, saying, “The job creators, the big corporations, the small corporations, they will leave. It’s all dollars and sense to them.” … [However] Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota’s economy — Even though Minnesota’s top income tax rate is the 4th-highest in the country, it has the 5th-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent … Minnesota’s private sector job growth exceeded pre-recession levels, and the state’s economy was the 5th fastest-growing in the United States … As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. And according to Gallup, Minnesota’s economic confidence is higher than any other state

In a nutshell, people who live under governments who tax the rich and demand a higher minimum wage have a stronger economy than places still practicing “trickle-down” economics. It was true in the past and it is true today.  “In truth, a top marginal rate of 70% was the lowest we ever had from 1936 to 1981, a period of time when the United States enjoyed strong and sustained economic growth, so much so that it’s referred to as the “long boom.” The strongest economic growth we’ve seen since then occurred in the 1990s—under a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who did raise the top marginal rate, albeit not to pre-Reagan levels.”

How much pudding must be served before everyone can see the logical choice for either the GOP or Democrats (Roosevelt or Eisenhower, if you will) is to keep the middle class thriving by taxing those who have the most money? Why is the proof ignored?

Posted in irony set on "stun", poli-ticks, shit I think y'all should know | Leave a comment

What Mr. Spock Meant to Me

Leonard Nimoy passed away on Friday, February 26th. From all accounts, Mr. Nimoy was an excellent human being and will be sorely missed. However, it is the loss of Mr. Spock that I grieved for.

I didn’t get my Asperger’s diagnosis until I was in my late 30s, after my then four year old eldest daughter was diagnosed with it. This is a common phenomenon nowadays. There is also a plethora of information on how to live and work among normal people while having Asperger’s. However, there was no such understanding of the autism spectrum when I was a kid. All I knew was that, on the deepest level, I wasn’t like other people and I didn’t understand why they acted/responded the way they did. I didn’t know why I got in trouble so often. I didn’t know why the things I said were always taken in ways I did not intend. I didn’t know why everyone  could always tell when I was fibbing, but I couldn’t seem to figure out when they were. I didn’t understand why telling the truth could get me in more trouble than lying.

The only person who seemed ‘like me’ was Mr. Spock.

It was through Spock that I discovered the short word for the phrase “why are people doing stuff that doesn’t make sense” was “illogical”. To this day I am befuddled to the point of pain by illogical beliefs and actions. I am astounded and nearly disgusted when people choose their opinions and beliefs over facts. Denial of facts – such as global warming or evolution — makes me feel something akin to revulsion because it is so … illogical. Now, I know that is a frequent facet of autism. Then, all I knew that I was an alien surrounded by humans who did irrational things … just like Spock.

I even felt kinship to Spock’s emotions. Vulcans have powerful emotions – so powerful they have to work constantly to suppress them via logical meditation. I spent my childhood trying to control my strong emotional reactions that were almost invariably considered too much or ‘wrong’ by the adults and other children around me. I was also ironically considered ‘cold’ because of my seeming lack of empathy for things the normals took so seriously but I didn’t care about because they were just such illogical things to care about. I didn’t know why some concerns were even a thing and was bewildered why the idea that there were hungry people on the planet didn’t make everyone weep and feel desperate to make that issue better. It was illogical to put money above people. It was illogical to the point of stupidity to be sexist or racist or to embrace any form of prejudice but people did it anyway.

Alien was the word I had for Asperger’s. I felt alien. I felt like Spock. But like Spock I loved my friends and would move heaven and earth for them. I loved my family, even though they didn’t understand me in the slightest. I didn’t ‘get’ the people on the spaceship, but I loved them and wanted to help them if I could. I wasn’t like them, but I was – in some odd way – one of them and I wanted to bridge the chasm between their thoughts and mine.

Like Spock, I wanted to do the ‘right’ thing even if it was the wrong social behavior. You would not believe the shit that can rain down on a kid for that. Spock would persevere though, and so would I — comforted by moral rectitude even when crying from loneliness and confusion.

When Mr. Nimoy died I sobbed because Spock was gone too. I wept because that touchstone was gone, and I don’t see how any public figure in popular culture can ever again be what he was to me.

Goodbye, Spock. Thank you for being a spar I could cling to in the heaving ocean of life among the fully-human.

Posted in Asperger's and Autism Spectrum, I've been thinking too much, life as I know it | 2 Comments

Y’all, I am going to Hell because Jessa Duggar Seewald said so

O, woe is me! Alas and alack! Drat!

I am apparently going to Hell when I die because Jessa Duggar Seewald, a fundamentalist evangelical Christian most famous for emerging from the clown car Michelle Duggar uses as a uterus, recently posted a smug little opus on Facebook explaining why SHE was ‘saved’ from Hell but liberal (i.e. tolerant, well-read, and Episcopalian) Christians like me were gonna burn like Satan’s personal mesquite.

In her role as God’s mouthpiece, she said that naughty Christians like yours truly who “believe in a loving God, not one who would send people to hell” are delusional poopy-heads with an imaginary friend “because he doesn’t exist. They are not talking about the God of the Bible. They have created a god in their own mind to suit themselves. They have removed any notion of the Justice of God, and have created a god of their imagination that they can be comfortable with.”

First, as a Christian I can say central ideology of Protestant Christianity is that Jesus is the only one who gets to tell you what God wants from you. What does Jesus say about the Big Kahuna? Well, Jesus says God is both loving and kind. In fact, the New Testament flat out says “God IS love” in John 4:8. Clearly the Bible supports the idea of a kind and loving God every bit as much as a horrible, wrathful one. Thus, Jessa Duggar Seewald has publically come out as an atheist, since she says the deity Jesus describes is a figment of the liberal imagination.  Shame on you Jessa. I’m telling.

Secondly, Jesus wasn’t thrilled with people who thought they were all that and a pack of crackers. Jesus told his disciples a parable about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18: 9-149 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Maybe Jessa should tone down the smug a bit? Just a thought.

Thirdly, if Jessa Duggar Seewald and other fundie nutbags are correct about the literal interpretation of scripture as God’s word, I’ve got some options once I die. Exodus 18:11  says that “the Lord is greater than all other gods and Exodus 34: 13-15 says that the God of Abraham is a jealous god who will be angry if these other gods are worshiped, which means that God himself claims (or at least strongly implies) that other gods exist.  If, upon my death, I discover that God is as hate-filled and unloving and wrathful as the fundies swear that He is, then I am going to covert to Team Hathor and go hang out with Her crew. If there is no life after death, I won’t have a clue about and it certainly won’t hurt.

All in all, I think Jessa Duggar Seewald can bite me. 

Posted in I've been thinking too much, Jesus loves you but I think you are an asshat | 5 Comments

Power AND potable water!!

Yay! Some good news! The world’s first wave power station that pumps power onto a public grid has been set up off the coast of Western Australia!  

“The company’s technology named CETO after a Greek goddess of the sea converts ocean swell into zero-emission renewable power and zero-emission desalinated freshwater.”

The non-fossil-fuel energy is a boon in an of itself, but the desalinated water is beyond good news. Drinkable water is going to be an issue in the not so distant future, and scientists are predicting megadroughts in the USA because of global warming.  We need CETOs off of every coastline and we need them ASAP.

I want to give this technology a great big kiss on the mouth with tongue!

Posted in I like this, dammit. | Leave a comment

The Inherent Fallacy of Smug, Part Two

Last week I wrote:

“I have a surprising number of atheists in my life (waves) and they are almost uniformly wonderful people. Come to think of it, the one jackass atheist who I abhorred has been dumped by his lovely atheist girlfriend and is out of my life, so I can say that all the atheists in my personal sphere are great. It is very rare when one can claim a universal, no?

I do have some beefs with some closely-held beliefs in the larger atheist community, however. I don’t give a mouse sized shit that they are non-theists; that is their business and I respect their choices.  My beef is with the smug  assumptions on the part of some who think that atheism is not an ideology and is completely immune to asshattery. Why does this bother me? For the same reason self-righteous hypocrisy bothers me when theists do it. The very concept of someone who thinks they have de facto ascendancy over those who think or feel differently makes my ass crave buttermilk.

This is extremely silly of me, inasmuch as “when you are dealing with that kind of level of certainty, whether you are talking about a religious fundamentalist, or an atheist fundamentalist … it’s really a waste of time to try to argue either data points or logical reasoning, because they have already made up their mind and it becomes kind of useless to have that kind of conversation.” However, I am not preaching to fundies of any sort. I’m explaining something. Explanations exist independently of their pensiveness.”

In Part One I tackled why atheism is an ideology, and in this one I scoff at the idea that atheist ideology can never be perverted into violence the way religion can be. Au contraire! Twatwaffles pop up like piles of cowshit on the pasture of life, and they can pervert ANY ideology into violence.

A prime example is the former USSR. Starting in 1917 the Communist party introduced gosateism (“state atheism”) and by 1922 it had upped the ante by persecuting religious groups and institutions, including execution of priests and .  Even in  the late 80’s – just before the Berlin Wall was torn down – the USSR was featured as a major offender in the International Handbook of Human Rights for incarcerating, suppressing, torturing, and executing open practioners of faith as ‘dissidents’ violating gosateism.  According to the archives of the Library of Congress, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, and Catholics were especially targeted. If you want a good secular overview of religious persecution and blowback against atheist regimes, check out or buy either Christopher Marsh’s (he’s a professor not an evangelical with an axe to grind) book Religion and the State in Russia and China or professor James M. Nelson’s textbook Psychology, Religion and Spirituality. In Russia alone it is estimated 12.5 million people were killed because they refused to become atheist.

Now, some atheists insist that the slaughter wasn’t done “for” atheism; it was political. Let me take the time to give a hollow laugh. First, it is bullshit to say atheism had nothing to do with it because the people of faith were killed/persecuted BECAUSE they wouldn’t become atheists to match the atheist ideology of the state. Conversion at sword point, anyone? Secondly, do you think ANY slaughter ostensibly about ‘religion’ was not motivated by the quest for political and economic power with the lame excuse that it was for a ‘good’ or ‘moral’ reason, or the quest for an ideal???

What’s that you say? The murders of millions of innocent people isn’t “real” atheism or represenitive of atheist beliefs? Well, join the fokking club on that one. However, if ALL of religion is on the hook for the actions of a few people seeking power who claim to be motivated by their ideology for the greater good, then ALL atheism is on the same hook. Personally, I don’t believe in ascribing the term ‘bad’ to a group just because a few people in it used a commonly held idea as an excuse to do horrible things, so I don’t blame all atheists for Russian atrocities. It would be nice if the radical anti-theists among the non-believers would extend the same courtesy to people of faith.

Do you know that before the the 1950s the USA wasn’t an evangelical wasteland and religion seldom invaded our politics outright? Bibles were seldom thumped and those that thumped them did not aspire to high office. All the ‘moral’ censorship was because culture had deemed nekkid flesh and sex bad, although religion was used as an excuse. Why did that change? As a blowback from “Godless communism”, that’s why. All things communist were dangerous, and getting all up into religion was a way to FURTHER differentiate the ‘Greatest Nation on Earth” from the atheist, religion-persecuting USSR. The First Amendment Center and the American Journalism Review released the results of a poll in 2003 wherein 73% of respondents claimed the line “under God” in the pledge of allegiance is “primarily a statement related to the American political tradition.”

No group, no matter how peaceful the ideology, is immune from atrocities being committed “for a good cause”.

 

   

 

Posted in I've been thinking too much, shit I think y'all should know, victim blaming | Leave a comment

Atheism In The Dawkins Age

Betty Fokker:

See? I told y’all the atheists in my circle of friends were all lovely :)

Originally posted on fromthemindoftinapj:

My Sooterkin™ is currently doing an OU course entitled “Why is Religion Controversial?” He talks over his essays with me which is fascinating. However, I now have come to realise that I am an atheist. It’s not just through these conversations that I have come to define myself as such. This is after a long process of thought, reading the definitions and understandings of people such as Annie Besant (who later turned to spirituality and denied atheism), Terry Pratchett, the aforementioned Dawkins and many other atheists. I was a Christian in my youth; attending a wonderful Methodist church with a female vicar from the age of four until I was 16 and teaching Sunday School to 4-6 year olds from the age of 12, then joining sixth form friends at what I called a ‘happy clappy’ evangelical church until I was 18. By then though I was questioning everything, especially…

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Ups and Downs

We’ve been snowed in for about a week. Wait. I tell a lie. We were snowed in by bad roads for 2 days and the rest of the time school was closed because it was negative OMG wind-chill factor out there, leading us to go into pseudo-hibernation in warm flannel jammies. Thus, we were housebound for about 5 days.

My girls, whom I love with all my heart, played together without fighting during this time. That’s very good and gave me a warm glow. Since they were busy with playing, the older two girls really didn’t need (or want) a whole lot of my time and attention. However, my baby Spock wanted me to be in the living room with them and not on my computer in the office. She used her super-power on me; her big brown eyes of pleading. I folded like a lawn chair and went to the living room.

On a positive note, I got to read a shit-ton of books while holding the couch down. I also got to hear a VERY cute conversation between Spock and Stitch. Inasmuch as Stitch was patiently helping her learn to play a new computer game (educational, of course), Spock burst out with, “You are the best big sister anyone could ever imagine!” With complete and utter seriousness, Stitch modestly responded, “Well, I have my ups and downs like everyone else.”

The solemnity of this coming from a seven year old kid was just too cute, y’all. 

Posted in daughters, I like this, dammit., life as I know it, motherhood | 2 Comments