I was pleased to see not too much hoopla over DADT becoming history. I guess all the vitriol lost some steam in the face of so many blank stares from people who wonder what the hell the big deal is. It seems that most of the people who object to it are non-military, a few retired military, and church representatives within the military. I asked Lance Criminal (in his new gray belt) what scuttlebutt says, do the rank and file really care? (As if they don't know they've been serving alongside gays the whole time...) His answer:
"We got over that a while ago."
Well said, young man, well said. Do you suppose the military has finally come to the end of the list of patriotic, competent, honorable, qualified candidates to exclude? Now, if only Churchianity had so much courage.
This photo, taken by Leigh Cummings, shows a memorial for Mary Easty that is part of the Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial (dedicated 1992) in downtown Salem. It is adjacent to the 17th century Charter Street Old burying Point.
Three hundred nineteen years ago today, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-(count them, there should be 9)-grandmother, Mary Easty, was executed by hanging in Salem, Massachusetts, for witchcraft. She was 58 years old. It's an interesting link to history, but a sad one.
Of course the real story of the Salem witch trials was one of power and wealth - politically motivated people taking advantage of a disruption in the lives of ordinary people. It started with a handful of bored teenyboppers, and it ended when the PTB's decided it was all hogwash - right about the same time that the "possibly unwarranted accusations" were making their way up the food chain and threatening the wives of said PTB's.
I visited Salem long before I knew Mary and I were blood relatives. My utter hatred of evil committed in the name of religion, predates my knowledge of that connection by many years. Kind of a cool coincidence, isn't it? Or maybe it's hereditary...
Each morning, like clockwork, they board the subway, off to begin their daily routine amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
But these aren’t just any daily commuters. These are stray dogs who live in the outskirts of Moscow Russia and commute on the underground trains to and from the city centre in search of food scraps.
Then after a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.
Experts studying the dogs, who usually choose the quietest carriages at the front and back of the train, say they even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop – after learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train.
Scientists believe this phenomenon began after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, and Russia’s new capitalists moved industrial complexes from the city centre to the suburbs.
Dr Andrei Poiarkov, of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute, said: “These complexes were used by homeless dogs as shelters, so the dogs had to move together with their houses. Because the best scavenging for food is in the city centre, the dogs had to learn how to travel on the subway – to get to the centre in the morning, then back home in the evening, just like people.”
Dr Poiarkov told how the dogs like to play during their daily commute. He said: “They jump on the train seconds before the doors shut, risking their tails getting jammed. They do it for fun. And sometimes they fall asleep and get off at the wrong stop.”
The dogs have also amazingly learned to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, said Dr Poiarkov. And they use cunning tactics to obtain tasty morsels of shawarma, a kebab-like snack popular in Moscow.
With children the dogs “play cute” by putting their heads on youngsters’ knees and staring pleadingly into their eyes to win sympathy – and scraps.
Dr Poiarkov added: “Dogs are surprisingly good psychologists.”
A few weeks back, Weer'd put up an
interesting post about the 9/11 memorial. I chewed on it for a
while, then I got sick, so I didn't write down my thoughts. His
focus was on the cross-shaped bit of rebar from the rubble, and that
the American Atheists organization was protesting its inclusion,
because it's a religious symbol. There followed a discussion about
the constitution and religion. Feel free to read it; Weer'd's pretty
cool, and I identify with him as a former liberal and gun enthusiast.
as a former Atheist I gotta wonder what the big deal is. Sure I get
upset if somebody gets up in my grill or actively judges me (I’m
most impressed with the people who pray for me simply because I don’t
subscribe to their theology) for not believing what they believe, or
when I see them supporting bashing of other ideologies or lifestyles,
or if they’re “praying away the gay” or forcing your kids in
public school to Memorize the Ten Commandments in social studies, or
study the Book of Genesis as an alternative to Darwinian Evolution.
thinking you can go through life not believing in a higher power and
be insulated from religious icons, relics, or seeing religious
ceremonies or practices isn’t very realistic.”
My first thought is about the Constitution. I don't know the history
of case law on the topic, but logic tells me that acknowledging
religion is not the same as establishing a state religion. And if
it's a slippery slope, well, there's another slope on the other side
of the same hill: refusing to acknowledge religion as banning
religion. It's all a matter of degree, isn't it?
The thing that really got me though, Weer'd's last statement:
up and get over yourself. Not believing in these things SHOULD mean
they don’t have any power over you!”
Isn't rational thinking the hallmark of most Atheism? The Atheists I
know are generally very
intelligent and logical. So why are they bothered by the inclusion
of religious symbols in a government-sponsored event? Especially in
this case, where the “cross” is literally a found object, rubble,
not a commissioned piece? I think there are some vocal Atheists who
are being very subjective in their protests against something as
subjective as religion.
Among the comments was this:
are a number of things people *don’t* believe in and don’t attach
labels to them for doing so… If you want to believe that it is
faith that unicorns don’t exist.. you are entitled to your opinion.
Could I be wrong in thinking they don’t? Sure.. but I’ll keep not
believing in unicorns.”
was, of course in response to my insistence that technically, Atheism
is a matter of faith, a belief without proof. ( And yes, I understand that
Atheism is as broad as deism; there is no single “doctrine.”)
Naturally, being me, trying to hold my own among some very smart
people, it took me days to figure out the point I was trying to
pursue. Hence, my title.
the thing. If a “meaningful”
no meaning for you, why would you object to it? A devout Christian
to give meaning and importance to his beliefs. Objectively however,
his faith has no inherent
meaning; it is a personal belief. Period. So why do many Atheists
also choose to give meaning to the faith of Christians? I've heard a
few Atheists say, “I don't believe in God the same way I don't
believe in unicorns.” In many cases, I think that's untrue. I
think many Atheists “don't believe in God,” with a great deal
more emotion than they “don't believe in unicorns.” Where did
their empirical objectivity go?
people DO believe in unicorns (and some of them are actually adults.)
How many Atheists protest the unicorn in a sculpture at the Old
State House in Boston? Some people believe that Pan is a real deity, and
there is a sculpture of him in the Capitol building. Any protesters?
are fifty silhouettes of pentagrams on the United States flag.*crickets.*
These are all, quite literally, religious symbols sponsored by the
government. My theory: these are symbols of minor
ones. Unimportant to those who don't follow them, but very important to
those who do. So groups like American Atheists object only to
symbols of big powerful religions, religions followed (and led) by
lots of folks who would be happy to rule others according to their
not about religion, is it? It's not about personal beliefs regarding
divinity. It's about politics. Truly rational Atheists would ignore
the symbol, because the only power it has is the power given to it by
each and every individual, believer or not. Violation of the
Constitution comes not from objects, but from people
who would use any
tool to restrict the rights of others. The real issue isn't faith or
religion, it's freedom.
What am I missing? This topic has been rolling around the edges of
my brain for five weeks, and frankly, I'm feeling a bit smug about my
conclusions here. That's a bad sign. I've learned that when I have
the answer, I'm not always asking the whole question; my own biases
usually blind me to something.
Any glaring fallacies or assumptions here? In my quest to be "right," I welcome (rational and gentle, please) criticism of my logic. I
hate to be wrong. When I am, I want to fix that. Insights?
Peter is more liberal than I am. Isn't it funny though, how much patriotic liberals have in common with patriotic conservatives? It's almost as if liberalism and conservatism aren't as important as The Constitution of the United States!