Sunday Roast: 15 things atheists are tired of hearing

I’ve heard every single one of these obnoxious questions/observations — most of them from certain family members.

Being an admitted atheist is a fairly recent development in my life — the last 10 years, or so — mostly because religion, for many years of my life, was simply a non-thing.  I just didn’t care either way.  *shrug*

My family attended church and Sunday school when I was a child; it was just something we did.  I tried to believe in God and Jesus, but even as a young child, I just couldn’t make myself believe it.  I mean, come on, the whole concept was just so unlikely.

One Sunday, while I was enjoying the most interesting part of church — juice and cookies afterwards — I heard an older man was talking about the joy of feeling the presence of Jesus in every part of his daily life, and I remember thinking that he looked kind of dazed and sounded so child-like.  It felt really uncomfortable, since I was about 10 years old at the time.

Religion has begun to worm its way into our everyday lives, whether we want it or not, and it’s just not okay.  In fact, it’s destructive to the secular world, as well as to religion.  It’s not the American way, and openly saying that I am an atheist (feminist/Liberal/Socialist, etc) is a way of saying “NO, this has gone too far.  Get a fucking grip, people.”

This is our daily open thread — Discuss this topic or whatever.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday October 14, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

The Global ‘Americanization’ of Diet

I remember many years ago watching television about subjects and events that occurred in foreign countries. When they scanned the places features, particularly cities, the ubiquitous Cocoa Cola stood out in stark contrast to the shop signs in native languages. Coke was, and has been, the leader in exporting poor nutritional content to the outreaching arms of the huddled masses.

U.S. food aid programs soon followed suit with foodstuffs that were processed for long shelf life. Then the food industry got in to the act. Here and abroad, highly processed food has become the norm in country after country. A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found obesity rates and obesity related diseases increased dramatically since 1980.

” The study found that the proportion of overweight and obese people increased in every country in the world between 1980 and 2013, and that nutrition-related diseases, including diabetes and pancreatic cancer, are also increasing.”

The disturbing news? Not one country bucked the trend. Nutrient deficient food is now the norm across the globe.

Open thread – discuss.

 

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 1, 2014: Ferguson Police Ordered to Shoot Unarmed White People

In the face of lingering, and growing racial tensions in Ferguson over the police shooting of an unarmed African-American, a new and highly unusual edict has come down from the chief of police: Shoot Unarmed White People. The order reveals the hope that by killing unarmed white people, the Ferguson police department will no longer be seen as racists.

It suggests targeting senior citizens pulled over for traffic citations, any white teen wearing a hoodie, and young mothers with children. Targeting these demographics, the memo continued, should result in tremendous public outcry, overshadowing recent events where people of color in Ferguson and elsewhere in this great country were gunned down without apparent provocation. The police chief’s order also reminded officers to yell out a commmand, such as “Stop or I’ll shoot” at least a split second before, not after, opening fire. This, the memo said, would provide the necessary legal cover to defeat any lawsuits.

The memo concluded with P.S. DO NOT LEAK THIS MEMO TO THE PRESS.

OPEN AND SHUT THREAD

Sunday Roast: Until we could

Poem by Richard Blanco

I knew it then, in that room where we found for the first time our eyes, and everything— even the din and smoke of the city around us— disappeared, leaving us alone as if we stood the last two in the world left capable of love, or as if two mirrors face-to-face with no end to the light our eyes could bend into infinity.

I knew since I knew you—but we couldn’t…

I caught the sunlight pining through the shears, traveling millions of dark miles simply to graze your skin as I did that first dawn I studied you sleeping beside me: Yes, I counted your eyelashes, read your dreams like butterflies flitting underneath your eyelids, ready to flutter into the room. Yes, I praised you like a majestic creature my god forgot to create, till that morning of you suddenly tamed in my arms, first for me to see, name you mine. Yes to the rise and fall of your body breathing, your every exhale a breath I took in as my own wanting to keep even the air between us as one.

Yes to all of you. Yes I knew, but still we couldn’t…

I taught you how to dance Salsa by looking into my Caribbean eyes, you learned to speak in my tongue, while teaching me how to catch a snowflake in my palms and love the grey clouds of your grey hometown. Our years began collecting in glossy photos time-lining our lives across shelves and walls glancing back at us: Us embracing in some sunset, more captivated by each other than the sky brushed plum and rose. Us claiming some mountain that didn’t matter as much our climbing it, together. Us leaning against columns of ruins as ancient as our love was new, or leaning into our dreams at a table flickering candlelight in our full-mooned eyes.

I knew me as much as us, and yet we couldn’t….

Though I forgave your blue eyes turning green each time you lied, but kept believing you, though we learned to say good morning after long nights of silence in the same bed, though every door slam taught me to hold on by letting us go, and saying you’re right became as true as saying I’m right, till there was nothing a long walk couldn’t resolve: holding hands and hope under the street lights lustering like a string of pearls guiding us home, or a stroll along the beach with our dog, the sea washed out by our smiles, our laughter roaring louder than the waves, though we understood our love was the same as our parents, though we dared to tell them so, and they understood.

Though we knew, we couldn’t—no one could.

When the fiery kick lines and fires were set for us by our founding mother-fathers at Stonewall, we first spoke defiance. When we paraded glitter, leather, and rainbows made human, our word became pride down every city street, saying: Just let us be. But that wasn’t enough. Parades became rallies—bold words on signs and mouths until a man claimed freedom as another word for marriage and he said: Let us in, we said: love is love, proclaimed it into all eyes that would listen at every door that would open, until noes and maybes turned into yeses, town by town, city by city, state by state, understanding us and the woman who dared say enough until the gravel struck into law what we always knew:

Love is the right to say: I do and I do and I do…

and I do want us to see every tulip we’ve planted come up spring after spring, a hundred more years of dinners cooked over a shared glass of wine, and a thousand more movies in bed. I do until our eyes become voices speaking without speaking, until like a cloud meshed into a cloud, there’s no more you, me—our names useless. I do want you to be the last face I see—your breath my last breath,

I do, I do and will and will for those who still can’t vow it yet, but know love’s exact reason as much as they know how a sail keeps the wind without breaking, or how roots dig a way into the earth, or how the stars open their eyes to the night, or how a vine becomes one with the wall it loves, or how, when I hold you, you are rain in my hands.

Stunning.

If I’d loved like this, I wouldn’t have done my part in the destruction of the “sanctity of marriage.”  Although, I guess it’s okay to inflict all manner of destruction on the institution of marriage, as long as you’re in a marriage with someone of the opposite sex — which is really idiotic, if you think about it.

This is our daily open threadMarriage equality now!

The Watering Hole: Tuesday September 23, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics

So the climate march was big, almost 400,000 in New York. Will it change anything? Did 500,000 marchers stop the Iraq war from going forward? Well the UN Secretary marched in this one, but I’m afraid climate change will be addressed locally for the next who knows how many years. Nothing will change in Washington. We need  Democratic presidents to continue to be elected until the Supreme Court can be changed, so that gerrymandering can be legally ceased, and this the balance of power (one person = one vote) can be restored. Right now Republicans hold a hugely unfair advantage in many rust belt and mid Atlantic states because of the way districts are drawn at the state rep level and the congressional level. I weep when I think of how long it will take for our political apartheid (marginalizing Democratic majorities) to be rectified. This will be a 50-100 year war, I am afraid. The stakes are high. The powerful never relinquish willingly.

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 22nd, 2014: ‘Fair and Unbalanced’

On the Friday before last (September 12th), we watched the Bill Maher two-venue HBO special live from Washington, DC.

Former Governor Haley Barbour (whom Jerry Seinfeld later referred to as “Boss Hogg”) thrice repeated a line to which no one responded with what I thought was the obvious answer. Although it’s not in any transcript that I’ve found, you can find it here.

Barbour’s line: “The President’s got to LEAD.”

My response: The President cannot lead people who have sworn not to follow.

It’s as simple as that, no one can be a leader without people following him/her. While some Democrats may hesitate to follow President Obama’s lead on some matters, the entire Republican membership has made it their sole mission to thwart the President’s leadership and to hinder any possible accomplishments that would reflect well on the President. Former Governor Barbour also trotted out this canard about Saint Ronnie:

“Reagan, when he was president, every time he passed something, he had to go meet with the House Democrats to get their votes. He compromised on everything. President Obama doesn’t even talk to the Republicans.”

Well, when the Republicans started off the first Obama Administration with a meeting to discuss how to obstruct everything and make the new President a “one-term President”, and when Republicans invited to the White House decline the invitation en masse, who can blame Obama for not wanting to talk to the Republicans?

What the internets picked up on was Bill’s statement about Fox News, and that Jerry Seinfeld “pushes back”.

Here’s the only part of the transcript that I found, on Real Clear Politics (which may have a video clip):

BILL MAHER: “I find that it’s not the state you’re in it’s whether you’re from a city or in the rural part of America. I’ve been to two cities in Alabama this year. I’ve been to Birmingham and Mobile. They look like everywhere else. They have a Pottery Barn and Thai food. And we’re talking about the polarization in Washington. I wonder, people always talk about Washington, the politicians can’t get along, I think maybe it’s that the people are polarized and the politicians just reflect that and I feel –———————–like the reason the people are polarized is Fox News. I think of all the things that changed in America, Fox News changed the most. It used to be the John Birch Society came to your door once a year. Now they’re in your TV in your living room everyday and we don’t even know how to talk to each other. It’s like we have a language barrier. because what they’re hearing on Fox News — it’s the same people. It’s like what? Saul Alinsky? We don’t know who that is…”

FMR. GOV. HALEY BARBOUR: In fairness, Fox News doesn’t have a monopoly on television taking sides.

JERRY SEINFELD: Yeah, that’s true.

BARBOUR: Take tonight, for instance. Bill Maher is a big personality in American politics.

MAHER: Well, thank you.

BARBOUR: We have those two moderates on the TV show — Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann**. Let’s see, you have these four Republican congressmen you’re trying to decide which one to assassinate.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

SEINFELD: I think that you’d have a better argument that each side just talks to its side, listens to its side.

MAHER: Right.

SEINFELD: That’s polarizing. To blame it all on Fox News doesn’t seem completely fair.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Couldn’t you argue there are people out there who are fed up with everything that happens in this city and aren’t voting, aren’t involved. That’s the silent majority of middle, moderate, thoughtful people, who just want thoughtful people –

BILL MAHER: With all due respect, the opposite of fox news is not really me. It’s MSNBC, which doesn’t get near the ratings of Fox News because I think there is something in the conservative brain that wants to be hearing the same thing over and over and doing the same thing — thing over and over. Liberals like different. Always a new restaurant. Conservatives are like no, I go to the diner and I get the number five every day.

HALEY BARBOUR: Those of us, including y’all who grew up in the time where we had three networks and two big newspapers and they all had the same message, same way. Fox News was the first thing to come along that gave a conservative point of view and as you say, there are big networks that are very, very left and I think there’s a huge market in the middle of the United States. I think people want a common sense, straight talk problem solving. They want to get things done. Your point is the media has become as polarized is –

JERRY SEINFELD: That’s not as entertaining as hysteria.

**Keith Olbermann is back to sports and has been for some time now, and, while Michael Moore is a Liberal who makes documentary films about current events, he does not have a 24/7/365 pulpit reaching millions of viewers, whether they like it or not. And, as Americans Against the Tea Party puts it:

“But what these “false balance” denialists fail to take into account is that Fox News wields disproportionate influence, and that the station is far from “fair and balanced.”

Breitbart TV, of course, has their own take on the Maher/Seinfeld issue: the title of their article is “Seinfeld Defends Fox News Against Maher Attack”. Unfortunately – very unfortunately, as I’ll discuss further along – the Breitbart link was one of the few that came up when I binged ‘video of Haley Barbour on Bill Maher.’ Until last evening, sources that promised the video had had to take it down. Here’s how Breitbart’s Pam Key interpreted the discussion:

“Friday night’s live broadcast from Washington D.C. of the season premier[sic] of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” featured a take down of the hosts’ attack on Fox News from comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) that had even rival MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell recoiling at Maher’s insistence that Fox News was responsible for the polarization of America.” [I'd say that Jerry was more, well, gently chiding, and could in no way be described as a "take down." And, though I'd have to watch the video again, I don't think that "recoiling" is an accurate description of Mitchell's reaction.]

Maher began by discussing the real polarization being between rural and urban America but then not realizing the contraction[?] of blaming regional differences of a country on a cable news network created in 1996, he began to insist Fox News has created a “language barrier.”

Barbour countered by saying Fox News didn’t create the polarization — it was a response to it. Because Barbour explained there used to be a monopoly of three networks with liberal views that had “the same message, the same way. Fox News was the first thing to come along that gave a conservative point of view.”

Jerry Seinfeld jumped in saying “each side just talks to its side,” so it’s silly [to]single out Fox News, adding “to blame it all on Fox news doesn’t seem completely fair.”

I think that the Breitbart writers exaggerated a tad by calling Seinfeld’s statements “defend[ing] Fox News, and that Barbour’s and Andrea Mitchell’s protestations were a “take down” of Bill Maher.

However, the worst on the Breitbart site were the comments. I must call out one in particular, which featured a quote from Bill Maher stating that he’s more afraid of (climate-change-caused) ice melting than he is of ISIS. When I first looked at the quote, I didn’t realize what the commenter had superimposed it over a photo. To spare you all from having to actually view it, let me describe it: someone had taken one of the still photos of one of the journalists beheaded by ISIS, and had photoshopped Bill Maher’s head in place of what had apparently been the victim’s head, held in the dead man’s hands.

I have it saved, even though I never want to see it again. But if I EVER hear again the bullshit that liberal commenters are just as bad as conservative commenters, I’m dragging that piece of excrement out as the ultimate evidence.

This is our daily open thread.  Please feel free to discuss anything you wish.