Friday, August 5, 2011

Odds and Sods - Skeptical edition

From Yellowdog Granny, who has all the funnies.

All sorts of busybodies weighing in about all sorts of heavy topics. Your humble narrator is terribly outclassed in trying to keep up... and in figuring out a decent opinion.

Amanda Marcotte worries that the atheists and skeptics are "mixing up" their respective social movements. (I didn't even know they were still separate, so that tells you how much I know.) In doing so, she doesn't miss a chance to use the "fairy belief" comparison. (sigh)

Really, can't yall come up with something else? As a lifelong scifi-fan, I resent the fantasy-fans' terms being privileged over mine... if you are going to insult me, please call me a believer in aliens and UFOs instead. Okay? Instead of "sky-fairy believer"--I insist upon FLYING SAUCER believer. In fact, you can use any term you like: Flying Saucers, UFOs, Area 51, Aliens, Extraterrestrials, Little Green Men/Women, be my guest. But seriously, fuck this fairy-obsession, you know?

Ah, but here we come to the heart of it... the Politics of the Insult. Are they willing to write off the UFOs, as they freely write off fairies and God? Since they claim they are all about rational evidence, certainly they will unquivocally announce that UFO-belief is all bullshit too? But few do. Hm, I wonder why?

Lots of atheists like sci-fi and consequently do believe in aliens, is the awful truth.

Not that they could prove aliens exist; they simply enjoying thinking they do. It's a matter of faith. It's FUN. Just like fairies and St Francis are enjoyable and fun, right? But their fun and our fun isn't comparable. They are lots smarter than us, so their fun is allowed under the rules of rationality, while ours is dangerous and must be abolished... right along with those innocent fairies, who last time I looked, didn't do anything to anybody. Rationality uber alles.

Amanda doesn't like it that Skepticblog actually thought Christians (fairy believers) should participate (!) in a famous Skeptics panel.

She wants to trash people, but you know, not when they are actually sitting right there in front of her.


Before I get accused of being all mean to Amanda, I did very much enjoy what she wrote about the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind. And I find it fascinating that even though we are 20 years apart in age, I had the exact same emotional reaction to the Anarchist Cheerleaders that she did.

I tried to wrestle with the fact that 20 years has gone by since then, and I found myself thinking--

Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot

I tried to rewrite this for grunge, couldn't quite get there. This was the best I could come up with:

Don't let it be unsaid
That once there was a dread
of scary kids who took the plunge
into Grunge.

In any event, my sentiments are the same as Camelot.. and my hugs and kisses to you kidz out there who tried to resurrect the old faith. It was a nice moment, and you should be very proud and remember it fondly your whole lives.


Feministe has an endless thread about adoption as a feminist issue, that you must read. Although very long (374 comments as of this writing)-- it is amazingly heartfelt, as first mothers and adoptees and adoptive mothers and everyone else jumps in with their opinions, experience and knowledge. The thread includes excellent links and research, particularly about the feelings of mothers who give up babies for adoption. One commenter says the regret-percentage is as high as 96%, which surprised me... but not really.

Lots of talk on that thread about why people feel the necessity of having their own biological offspring, had me skipping all over the net, and eventually brought me to this scary story on Strollerderby: Sperm Donor Never Reported Fatal Illness: 24 Biological Children Could Be Affected Yow!

But why is that so surprising? You pay some guy for his sperm, which he'd just be wasting anyway, right? Easy money. Why wouldn't he lie to keep the easy money coming? Why would he kill the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs?

When you pay money for the biological properties of reproduction, this is one of the things that can happen, as in any other retailing or merchandising: a lack of quality control.

As PT Barnum famously said, you pays your money and you takes your choice.


Warren Jeffs is guilty! Well, of course he is, but now it's official. How many of you DEAD AIR folks listened to the tape recordings of the 12 and 14 year-olds (Jeffs' "spiritual wives"), having the sordid FLDS "facts of life" explained to them? The sound of little-girls "amens" was freaky and alarming. And then, the silence on the (audio) tapes as he rapes them. He doesn't deny anything. The infant of the 14-year-old (now 15) was proven through DNA to be Jeffs' -- so the evidence for that was already a done deal.

The Prophet (as he is known) Warren Jeffs stood defiant at the end during closing arguments (he acted as his own lawyer after opening arguments) and was silent for the allotted 30 legal minutes of his closing. Instead, he stared at the jury, one by one. They stared back. (I knew then, dude, you are going down.) Finally, he announced in prophet-like tones, "I am at peace." (Honestly, my first thought was of the fictional character modeled on Jeffs, Harry Dean Stanton in Big Love, who would do something equally melodramatic and unexpected in a courtroom.)

Today, during sentencing, Jeffs walked out after reading a statement about his Prophethood:

Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. Yesterday, he was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, whom he'd wed during what his sect considers "spiritual marriages."

Jeffs represented himself during the eight-day trial. Before the punishment phase began today, Jeffs asked to leave the courtroom, saying he objected to the proceedings against him. He also read a statement promising a "whirlwind of judgment" on the world if God's "humble servant" isn't set free.

District Judge Barbara Walther told Jeffs that he couldn't leave and continue to represent himself. She ordered two lawyers who had been standby counsel to represent him.

Jeffs could be sentenced to life in prison.

Certainly, I understand where Amanda and James Randi and everybody else gets their skepticism, or atheism, or whatever they are calling it. This kind of thing is too disgusting for words.

But I am utterly confident that if there was no religion, the Warren Jeffs of the world would find another playground to exercise their disgusting desires, oppressing women and exploiting children.

I wish I were not so confident of that (sigh), but I am.


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, time for some grunge!

Biographical background: Some years ago, I decided to 'pick up' (as we say in recovery) a substance I had sworn off. You probably know which one it is. I had gone without it for 23 years... Twenty. Three. Years. Can you believe? But at the time, things were emotionally very rough... and I thought, you know, I will choose the most benign substance I can think of... and I will offer no excuses.

And I don't and I haven't.

And yes, I know the guy singing this is dead. I wish he'd chosen a more benign substance, too.

Alice in Chains - No Excuses

It's alright, there comes a time
Got no patience to search for peace of mind

Laying low, want to take it slow
No more hiding or disguising truths I've sold


Have a great weekend everybody!



I never understood how people could make fun of other people for being in 'aliens or ufo's' when they believe in a imaginary man that lives on a cloud.'..sigh*

DaisyDeadhead said...

I love UFOs, I am totally serious about that. I believe in pretty much everything, actually, I just don't think we should get too carried away with our belief-systems. (And I have been somewhat carried away before, so I do know the difference.)

I've decided its the approach to belief and what you do with it that is crucial, not the belief itself. No matter what it is.

If someone believes in _____ (fill in the blank) but rarely talks about it, who cares really?

AllSaintsDay said...

Apologies for doing the lurk-but-don't-comment-until-you-disagree thing, but this

"Are they willing to write off the UFOs, as they freely write off fairies and God? Since they claim they are all about rational evidence, certainly they will unquivocally announce that UFO-belief is all bullshit too? But few do. Hm, I wonder why?"

is very false. Just look at the post you linked and the comments on it, and search the page for "alien" or "UFO." Every single place those appear, belief in them is either being ridiculed or simply being held up as a ridiculous belief someone holds, including one in the original post by Amanda herself.

DaisyDeadhead said...

ASD, in that instance, I was also referring to beliefs among atheists I know and have personally argued with face-to-face. (It was also a rather snarky jab at Carl Sagan's unabashedly-religious "Contact"...)

AllSaintsDay said...

If you're using the terms correctly, (which you seemed to say may not be the case) that's as it should be. Atheism doesn't preclude belief in alien visitation.

But if you meet people who claim to be skeptics and also believe in UFOs, they're about like folks who claim to be feminists and try to restrict women's freedoms. It may fit their strange definition of the term (skeptic or feminist), but it doesn't fit the one used by the world at large, which in the case of skepticism is the one relevant to Amanda's post.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Interesting... I get that. As a quasi-Buddhist, I am not sure if atheism commonly co-exists with Buddhism, but it seems to me there would be many atheist Buddhists since there is no creator God necessary for adherence.

Marxism (the brand of atheism I am most familiar with and once attempted myself) frowns on any supernatural or superstitious thing: astrology, aliens, Bigfoot, Nirvana, Tarot, whatever. Consequently, I'm always surprised when they overlap.

thene said...

I don't mind getting accused of being mean to Amanda. She's always been a very 'why oh why can't you just be like ME' blogger who seems to regard all her personal tastes as sacred ethical determinations. I quit reading her years ago because she's just so enraging *shrug* And meanwhile, I've been getting back into tarot! It really is wonderful, and why? Because it's a game.

Douglas said...

Marcotte doesn't deserve the grace you extend to her, Daisy,

Most atheists are emphatically against the abolition of religion, if I don't miss my guess. I myself am resigned to its perpetuity,

I read sci-fi and deride notions of UFOs and ETs, whereas I don't, for example. deride the belief that Barry Bonds deliberately took steroids. I do, though, disagree that such beliefs are faith in the same way Anglicanism and Islam are faiths.

You're right, Warren Jeffs would have molested kids even if he was an atheist, just as he would have if he were not a polygamist. I can just see the deluge of blog posts, from the sort of feminist who can't abide the thought of threesomes and swing clubs, insinuating that polygamy is the cause of wretches like Warren Jeffs. Katha Pollitt will almost surely sully the Nation's pages with such a screed.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Douglas, I see nothing wrong with polygamy per se, as I wrote here. I do, however, wish the option was popularly extended to FEMALES TOO. But this would technically be polyamory, not polygamy. (see reference to Kerista commune, in my link)

I don't think government should be in the business of telling people which religious doctrine to follow, either. And when you make polygamy a CRIME, that is in effect what you are doing...

muzikluvver said...

GREAT song - thnx.