The Watering Hole: March 29 – Forfeiting the Future

Picture found at


The BBC:

China is on course to overtake the US in scientific output possibly as soon as 2013 – far earlier than expected.

That is the conclusion of a major new study by the Royal Society, the UK’s national science academy.

The country that invented the compass, gunpowder, paper and printing is set for a globally important comeback.

What a shame. I remember perfectly when “American scientists say…” as an introduction to any discussion about science  invariably lent credibility to what you were saying. We looked up to America as the country of progress and scientific prowess. Then came creationism and reason went down the drain, along with education as an asset.

This is our daily open thread. What do you think of this and other stuff that’s going on?

284 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: March 29 – Forfeiting the Future

  1. Certain factions in the US have been struggling for decades to put science ‘in its place’, i.e. way behind the bible as an information source. They’ve pretty much succeeded in at least slowing innovation down in many sectors, sometimes even coming close to scuttling it. China, meanwhile, emerged from its own self-imposed intellectual black hole beginning in the seventies with globally improved diplomatic status, eventually coupled with greatly increased manufacturing to satisfy a global market for consumer goods.

    Today the trends continue. We continue to bash science (climate change denying currently leading the charge) and outsource manufacturing jobs to China even as we borrow a trillion dollars from China to finance stupid wars, even as China finally emerges from her self-imposed black hole with official support of science and technology research and innovation. Even as America tries yet one more time to disavow the reality of evolution, China builds high speed trains and works diligently on innovations in renewable energy. China spends very little on warmongering as the US pisses away a trillion per year on same.

    In short, China’s decline appears to be over; America’s now well underway.

  2. frugal, China is investing a lot into solar technology and they are even threatening Europeans (foremost) Germans with the technology. In the light of Fukushima China has stated they would reassess their plans for building new reactors. I haven’t heard anything about that from the US. In Germany last weekend’s state elections brought huge wins for the Green Party who are against the use of nuclear technology since the 1970’s. Nothing like that in the US. The thing is, the US is way beyond the ability to change, when it comes its energy needs. Even if there were enough solar panels and wind turbines available, the infrastructure is so lousy huge amounts of energy will be lost on the way to the consumer. Changing gear would definitely mean having to change lifestyles and this is simply not possible to demand short of a catastrophic event. No one will believe it’s necessary until the Big One (be it seismic or meteorological) has hit.

  3. My logic is a little fuzzy today, so I forgot to say what I wanted to say in the post above. I assume the reason for resorting to bible science is the need to make sense to what is essentially senseless and at the same time reassure yourself that it isn’t so bad after all. If you don’t like the results, change the premiss. So to justify the mistakes of the past and present, you have to change your science into the bogus stuff.

    Those sticking to reality, however, own the future.

  4. Then came creationism and reason went down the drain, along with education as an asset.

    And I, for one, blame Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party for this. The anti-intellectualism had always been there, hiding beneath the surface. But when Reagan came in, it was given permission to expose its ugly self for all to see. The first victim (IMHO) of all this anti-intellectualism was Jimmy Carter. Carter was smart, and therefore, Carter had to be demonized while Reagan, who put on an act of being “folksy and regular”, had to be lionized.

    Many of today’s Tea Partiers (who think Reagan exemplified all they stand for, but who, in fact, would reject Reagan today for not being sufficiently Reagan enough) don’t know that when Reagan signed into law the bill that deregulated the Savings & Loan industry, he turned to his Republican supporters behind them and said, “Gentlemen, we’ve just hit the jackpot.” Our country’s serious financial problems started at that moment.

    And education was one of their primary targets. They wanted to control the educational system in this country so that it either produced people who believed as they do (wrongly), or that it would collapse entirely. And all smart people had to be the enemy if their plan was to work. The Right Wing’s leaders in this country know that they are perpetrating a scam on the American people. They know that the things they say aren’t true. But they are counting on the stupid people in this country to fight on their behalf. They are even targeting unknown college professors who have the guts to stand up to the liars on the Right.

    How Republicans Tried to Silence a Professor Critical of Their Destructive Right-Wing Agenda

    I fear that it is going to get worse in this country before it gets better, but I have to believe that, eventually, it will get better. Eventually, they will expose themselves (probably through their arrogance), and people will begin to see that just about everything the Republicans stand for is wrong, and just about everything they want to do in this country hurts 99% of Americans. And they will pay for what they’ve done.

    • Wayne, you had Reagan, Maggie Thatcher did the part for our part of the world, along with Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Schröder and then some.

  5. EV, you mention America’s lack of investment in (energy delivery) infrastructure. That is, of course, one of the tips on the huge iceberg that, in two short years, has become the frozen massif that spending public funds (on anything but wars, of course) is essentially criminal. It’s the philosophy that maintains the only real purpose of money is to enable wealth and the power purchasable therewith. Cut taxes on the wealthy so they can become wealthier; raise tax burdens on the poor and middle class in order to finance the military industrial complex’s pursuit of profit at any cost, and to pay for the wars it takes keep the demand for materiel high.

    The currently emergent political power structure in the US is more than willing to destroy everything that ever made the US even interesting if that’s what it takes to move the nation’s monetary wealth to the penthouse. If that political trend continues, watch in the not too distant future for an effort to privatize federal lands; that’s a major and untapped gold mine, one of the few remaining that hasn’t yet been handed over to the top 1% (imagine mansions on the rim of the Grand Canyon, for openers).

    Henry David Thoreau said that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Thoreau was right. It took America another hundred years to make that sense of desperation enforceable by the few, but the process is underway and well along; we’re almost there.

    • frugal, I fully agree. But there is another side issue. I am writing a post about Germany and Fukushima and if I ever finish it, you’ll find more on that, so just in a nutshell: The German nuclear industry (ok bee in my bonnet all right) built their reactors from public money well before the industry was privatized. Now Germany had decided to stop using nuclear energy after a downsizing period. The Merkel administration has extended the timeframe (there is nothing like making money from a plant someone has given to you for free, eh?) for the corporations to milk the cow just a little bit longer. Now we have some real old clunkers, which even under the new rules were about to be shut down. One of them Neckarwestheim I belonging to EnBW. Just a few months ago in a very shady deal the state of Baden Württemberg has bought back huge amount of EnBW shares. Guess why? The nuclear plant won’t yield any more profits now, but the dismantling costs billions. So: Have infrastructure built by the government – privatize – suck dry – socialize again. The former State governor Mappus (former since Sunday) who has initiated this buy-back has resigned his role as head of the State Party, but not his mandate in the parliament. Why? As a elected representative he is immune from prosecution.

      Can someone please start a revolution? I’m too old.

  6. Hasn’t worked with me, Raven. I never pay attention to professional sports, and I’ve never owned (and never will) a pair of Nike shoes. But yeah, you’ve nailed a big part of the problem!

    And where are “American” Nike shoes made? 😉

  7. Boulder, eh? Welcome to Colorado. It’s snowing this morning, is supposed to be near 80 by the weekend! The first time I lived here, in the sixties, a ‘local’ told me that if you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait ten minutes and it’ll change. He was spot-on correct then and still today.

  8. As gas prices continue to rise, we head towards another global economic meltdown. Republicans successfully blocked any regulations intended to prevent speculators from pushing energy prices up, thus ensuring a repeat of the 2008 collapse.

    Those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder have already fallen off; they are the uncounted terminally unemployed. The working poor are next, as people in the middle class take whatever jobs they can to be able to put food on the table. The middle class is well on its way to becoming the working poor; there simply is not enough wealth available to the vast majority to be able to sustain a middle class. Too much wealth has already been concentrated into too few hands — and shipped off-shore.

    The disparity in wealth is set to increase exponentially with the Republican/Evangelical policies coming to full fruition. Taxes on the wealthy are reduced, allowing them to keep more and more of their money, while budgets are balanced by raising taxes on the poor and, at the same time, eliminating the social safety net that keeps the poor from becoming destitute.

    But there will come a day, a day when white, formerly middle class Americans will go to their churches with their gospel singers and glitzy slide shows, hearing the message of God that Greed is Good, that God Blesses the Rich, that the Rich are God’s Chosen, and they will look around and see that their numbers are dwindling – that more and more of their neighors have left — moved, kicked out of their homes they could no longer afford. And they will begin to question thier religious leaders. They will ask, Why? Why are they not, too, part of God’s Chosen? They will have done everything God has asked of them, from killing abortion doctors to discriminating against gays to blindly supporting everything the rich people want. But the riches promised them keep eluding them.

    And as they question, more and more of them will realize that the God of the Authoritiarian Christ, the Christ of The Family, has lied to them.

    Balance will be restored. The challenge will be to stay out of harm’s way during the upcoming civil war in America.

  9. I see this as just another specter of the Laws of Unintended Consequences.

    While the religious crowd has this unrealistic desire to return to a “more moral time” when children had respect for their parents and you could still paddle unruly children in school. Every marriage was sacred and the man was the head of the household (even if that meant that the husband beat the wife to keep her in line). A woman couldn’t have a job outside the home and so was totally dependent on the man of the house for her very existence, even if that existence turned out to be a prison. And God makes all of the big decisions.

    At the same time that we want to enjoy all of the advances that science has brought us: A woman’s role in the home has shifted. She no longer has to spend hours washing dishes or clothes by hand or cooking all day… just popping a dinner in the microwave can bring dinner to the table in less time than it takes to read what I have written here. And so, women can have a career outside the home ( or at least could before the current economy) and can walk away from a bad marriage if necessary, children are untended and our modern conveniences of life both bring us together and isolate us at the same time.

    At the same time that religious people cling to this image of how things used to be, they have to choose. Either you can stick with leeches as a form of health care, or you can embrace the fact that science has made certain advances beyond that over the years. But because science is fact based, or at least observable fact based, religion has to be compartmentalized in order for society and science to advance. But the religious crowd wants none of that. They want things both ways. They want all the advances that modern science can bring without having to change their thinking about how the world works. Or how God might fit into it.

    They have succeeded in marginalizing science to the same degree that we now get our news… it has to be fair and balanced against the backdrop of religion. They mock the funding of experiments that when they may sound frivolous, they are not, and may provide valuable insight into our understanding of our world. (Remember how Palin mocked a fruit fly study in the ’08 election?). Investing in the study of sciences has been defunded to a degree that we are no longer making the great strides that we once did. And that is sad.

    I still hold out hope that we can turn this boat around. But it is harder with the monied interests more concerned about the size of their bankrolls centered on current technology that we are forgetting to fund future technologies at our own peril.

    • LibertyLover, have you seen you around here before, if not “Welcome to The ZOO”!

      May I add to your excellent analysis that it was the “economy”(you know that new god we have to make sure feels well) was in desperate need of women as workers to make sure all those bombs got to the war scenes on time. So it created “modern” women and gave them microwaves, so they still could uphold their role as a homemaker on top of everything else. And as the economy in its current form is a male god, it kept up the myth of the Mother and Homemaker and didn’t even give us the rights (or the salaries) that go with the work.

      Disclaimer: I don’t hate all males, if nowhere else, the Zoo is the place where you can find the best.

  10. The book to read on this topic is Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes The Merchants of Doubt.

    I would note that creationism has been around longer than the theory of evolution, so linking the decline directly to it is an error. Creationism is a “free rider” here. Aside from some noisy hand-wringing, they haven’t the resources to force the changes that have occurred.

    The place where change can be seriously linked is with the tobacco industry in the late ’40’s, very early ’50’s. The industry knew then that there was a scientifically indisputable linke between cigarette smoking and numerous catastrophic health issues including cancer, and they began a systematic campaign to attack the science by fabricating doubt.

    But the real tectonic shift came with the wind-down of the cold war. Many physicists who had been active in the US weapons programs of that era were approaching their retirements, and were well past the point of making useful contributions of their own, saw the emerging environmental movement as the next Big Threat. Staunch anti-communists, they commonly characterized environmentalists as “green on the outside, red on the inside.” Ideologically pro-business, these people (almost, but not exclusively, men) were not only easily recruited by big business, they actively went out and curried the favor of corporate interests. Thus, one of the earliest right-wing propaganda “think tanks,” the Marshall Institute, was formed by a group of just these former scientists with the express purpose of promoting corporate interests and challenge policy based on real science. (They did not use those exact terms, but it was clear that was their aim.)

    It is worth observing that the bulk of such individuals who possessed any scientific background were physicists, and as such entirely incapable of commenting with expertise upon environmental subjects. Nevertheless, they played the Bill Murray, “Back off, man! I’m a scientist” card constantly. In addition, they exploited the then still in place Fairness Doctrine to compel media outlets to treat their dogmatic tripe as being on the same footing as real science. Let me emphasize this last point: people today often long for the “good ol’ days” of the Fairness Doctrine; but it was THAT policy that allowed the anti-science corporatists to kick the door down on real science journalism.

    If you look back over the past 35+ years, the same people and groups have been involved in every anti-science campaign: primary and secondary tobacco smoke, acid rain, the ozone hole, Raynuts’ “Star Wars” program, anti-environmentalism, climate change denial, the recent Rachel Carson revisionism. It these people who’ve undermined science in this country, not the creationsits, because it is the former who have the money to compel media attention, shift elections, and place their people in positions of formulating government policy.

  11. Back in 04-05, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to Americanize Dante’s original Seven Deadly Sins, came up with this:

    1. Lust of political, corporate, or religious Power, of monetary wealth
    2. Gluttony as in the monopolistic goals of political parties (Republican vs Democrat), corporate conglomerates, and specific religious groups, sects, or philosophies (i.e. evangelical, pentecostal, fundamentalist, vs. mainstream Christian)
    3. Wrath/Anger ranging from political dirty tricks to warmongering; corporate union busting, hostile acquisitions/buyouts; religious imposition attempts, i.e. ‘believe as I do or burn in hell NOW!’
    4. The Slothful habits of non-productive ‘make work’ political bureaucracies; lackadaisical attentions of mega-corporations to the environment and to the natural world as a whole in re pollution of air, water, or destruction of land and habitat; the religious restrictions on free and creative scientific thought with reliance instead on Biblical metaphor suddenly proclaimed absolute truth.
    5. Greed is little more than Lust (see above) magnified and put into practice, then expanded endlessly. What we are witnessing in America is Lust for power become the Greed OF power – a never-ending cycle in which success in satisfying Greed always breeds more Lust for more power, etc. etc.
    6. The Envy of that which others possess, whether envy of power, or resources, or material goods, or even position in an appropriate pecking order inspires evermore Lust and Greed and Gluttony and even Wrath/Anger, each parcel to the never-ending cycle of attainment of power.
    7. Pride, an otherwise quite common and generally benevolent asset of the overall human condition quickly becomes perverted when power becomes the master, the motivator. One needs not look far today to see perverted pride in action as it reinforces political and corporate imperialism both at home and abroad, as it comes to define Patriotism in dangerous and intolerant terms, and as it motivates religious fervor.

    Seems to me the only thing that’s changed in the last six years is that the speed of officially instituting the above as national policy has picked up rather dramatically.

  12. Wow, is this one of those “go around and everyone contributes a chapter to the book”?

    Some really profound writing on here today….Liberty great comments and the concept that there is a more moral time to return to is such nonsense. What they considered a moral time women like my grandmother considered it an oppressive time.

    Science, along with Obama, is being demonized to justify more and more drill baby drill. When the sun is blocked out and we enter that “permanent winter”, somewhere along a lonely deserted highway there will be a billboard and on one side it will say, “BUSH do you miss me yet”, and on the other side it will say, “It was all OBAMA’s Fault.

    And then the few survivors of the permanent winter will say……..anyone got any coal???

  13. They won’t have to cut them down Raven, the trees will just topple over without sunlight…..They will simply pick them up and take them back to their caves to keep warm……and if they save enough of whatever passes for money in those days they will be able to visit the new Camelot.
    It will be a huge facility built on one of the few area’s on the planet that has any vegatation left and will be home to the RULING 400. It will be call “KOCHLAND THEME PARK”.
    There will be wonderful entertainment like gladiators, both male and female. Prayer facilities where you can stop by and pray to either Charlie or David, and of course you’ll be required to leave a few monetary offerings.
    It will just be fab!!!!

  14. Hi Krissy! Glad to see you could make it back in time for brunch!
    Today’s selection includes eggplant parmesesn with freshly grated herbs and cheese … it would have been dbadass’ birthday dinner, if he had shown up here yesterday to appreciate all who appreciate him 🙂

    So, anyone else who wants to food share today, let me know … I’m all ears 🙂

  15. “They’ll cut down the National Forests for firewood.”

    ..and ship the wood to China.

    Morning folks and thanks for a lot to think about. I’m not sure that Bible literalism causes a rejection of science, I think it just as likely that those incapable of scientific thought are more likely to find refuge in an unquestionable doctrine. Once herded together they are easy prey for the greedmeisters who manipulate them. They blindly follow the agenda of their masters in search of security. I don’t think Jesus was very fond of smug security and I think we piss God off if we refuse to use the ever inquiring minds we’re blessed with.

  16. No food for me lass, I’m living on yogurt until this disease my son brought home from middle school subsides. 😦

  17. Thanks EV… I came over on one of the recent TP boycotts although I have been a secret lurker for as long as I have been on TP.

    Sorry for the long post, I’m not sure I was even making sense as I typed it. I spent my life in the sciences and although for a long time, I was able to compartmentalize my work life and my religious beliefs, something profound happened to me in 1993 that made me question my beliefs about everything. It took years to resolve.

    One additional note to my above post. I really think that the recent attacks on a woman’s right to choose is also tied up into the desire to take away women’s ability to be independent from men.

    And you are correct, the men that I have met here (and at TP) are gentle souls and very enlightened.

    • Again welcome LL. I agree. We are to be enslaved.

      I have started working again last November after 14 years as a “homemaker”. I so enjoy the newfound independence, I am happier than I was in years. And I still love my family to bits.

  18. Gary… some very interesting points. And you are correct that the creationists are a part of a larger picture. But I must caution you that while on the large scale the undermining of science has happened much as you described, but now, it has been ingrained in people’s heads ( much like the twin lies of supply side economics and free- markets ) on the common man level and is self-perpetuating at this point.

    Case in point: my daughter’s High School Biology teacher is a creationist, but told us at meet the teacher night, that she “had to teach evolution by state law.” And I Am so thankful for that law at this point, but I worry, what if that law gets changed? Would she have the choice to not teach evolution? Or would she try to balance the theory of evolution with teaching about Genesis in the Bible? I just don’t know.

  19. lass, let me change clothes and I’ll be right over. Can I bring anything, wine or a good pot???

    EV I agree, I don’t hate all males either, actually I don’t hate men at all however I have been challenged on that statement whenever the subjects or Patriarchy or the devaluation of women come up. The thing about it is that Patriarchy is as abusive to men as it is to women. Someone once asked me if it wouldn’t be wonderful if we had a matriarchy instead, of course both sides of the same issue and both are abusive to the participants,
    If I remember correctly in Ancient Babylon, the Priestess was the primary focus of their culture. Every year the Priestess would venture out into the population and pick out a male as a mate. During that year the male was treated like an equal, but when the year was over, the male was sacrificed to the gods and the cycle started all over. Any form of radicalism on either side is abusive.

    • pot???!!! Maybe I should hang on here..this is getting racy. 😆

      No I have to leave, I still have to read Gary’s comments and more, but I really don’t want to stay in the office. I hope I can be back later at home.

  20. Patriarchy is abusive to men because it forces them into the belief they always know what’s best.
    If the average male has any sentient consciousness at all, he knows this is not true, therefore setting up guilt, and the resulting aggressive and abusive behavior as he tries to cover up the falsehood.

  21. How can anyone teach biology (for which presumably you have to get a biology degree and post grad from something other than Oral Roberts)…. and be a creationist?

    TommytheTurtle (aged 9 1/2) has relayed commentary from his schoolmates that they don’t ‘believe in evolution’…..

    …. I have given him a Socratic grenade to throw at all those ‘Doubting Thomas Aquinases’ in his class..

    “Why do we not use penicillin any more for treating infection?”

    …. and he is capaable of ‘pulling the pin’ on that one too..

    As for me, I thank His Spindly Airborne Noodleness for his infinite bounty and grace every time I turn on the TV and it actually comes on…. because I know if it doesn’t, its because I’ve been a bad man (probably cut off some dude getting on the freeway or something).

  22. Maybe penicillin cut some due off pulling on to the freeway…… and is being punished by the God of Abraham and Isaac and….

  23. If the average male has any sentient consciousness at all, he knows this is not true, therefore setting up guilt, and the resulting aggressive and abusive behavior as he tries to cover up the falsehood.

    Well written, Raven.

    Nailed the ’50s – the ‘good old moral’ times the Repugnant Party wants us to replay ~
    No. No. and No.

  24. During that year the male was treated like an equal, but when the year was over, the male was sacrificed to the gods and the cycle started all over

    Wasn’t Ursula Andress in that movie?

  25. If it as Ursula Andress (as in 1960 Ursula Andress) maybe I’d be on for that…. Janet Reno?…. maybe not.

  26. Wayne, you had Reagan, Maggie Thatcher did the part for our part of the world, along with Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Schröder and then some.

    Maggie was the first modern neo-liberal – gave Milton Friedman one of his last serious chubbies.

  27. Are you sure it wasn’t Elizabeth Taylor?
    (If it’s too soon for this, my token apologies to whomever it might offend.)

  28. I question whether males actually ever get the choice to not participate in patriarchy. I do not believe that anyone can really understand how men treat women without understanding how men treat other men—and no one can really understand how men treat other men without understanding how men treat women. The father-son relationship is usually a boy’s first exposure to the complex interlock of sexuality. The lessons he learns in this relationship last a lifetime, and they become the basis of all he ever believes to be true about who he is supposed to be in relation to women and to other men.
    It is my belief that patriarchy is the cultural basis for not only father-son relationships, but all human relationships.
    The most remarkable aspect of patriarchy is the quantity of violence required to enforce it, the quantity of violence required to perpetuate it, to keep it the form in which humans live out their lives, the air they breathe so long as they inhale and exhale. If patriarchy were inevitable, or inherent in human biology, one might have thought that so much coercion would not be necessary—and so many people would not be hurting.

  29. The father-son relationship is usually a boy’s first exposure to the complex interlock of sexuality.

    I have a pretty vivid memory of watching a dad page through the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated with his son, who might have been as much as 12. Needless to say, his comments were not about the lighting or the scenery.

  30. Patriarchy is possibly a throwback to base animalistic natures, where males had to compete to breed, the lesser males being weeded out. Males were therefore, numerically at least, more expendable than females, and thus could also better defend females and young against predators.

  31. Hi Krissy, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you … bring whatever you like, really I am flexible … your company would be the most important aspect; of course, now that brunch is over, the next Zoo feed won’t be until after 6pm, as I have to head across the river to work now . . .

    Looking forward to meeting up with you and chatting then, it seems that we have more in common than I thought being smart science chicks and all; we’ll try not to scare the Zoosters too much with this … 😉

    on second thought, bread might be a good thing to bring and any “left over” veggie for my stockpot that is sitting atop the stove and simmering … )

    Spinderella, signing off …

  32. Have a great day Spinderella, look forward to getting to know you better…
    I suspect the Zooster’s can handle anything we can throw at them, they seem to be a very resilient group

  33. Sarah Palin Wonders Aloud if Libya Action is a “Squirmish”
    By karoli

    Madam Malaprop, thy name is Sarah Palin. Whether by design or accident, she never fails to drop some tidbit that sends the idiocy scale off the charts. Called in by Fox News to deconstruct President Obama’s speech, she wonders aloud whether the Libya action is a war, an intervention or a “squirmish”.

    The balance of her “opinion” is to be expected, but at the end, just after the “squirmish” drop, she goes on some weird tangent about the North Star and how it’s a guide.

    Just imagine this woman as your President. What a nightmare.

  34. There are many reasons for the patriarchy attitudes we are burdened with today. Joseph Campbell wrote some interesting books on the subject. It was based on the fact that in hunter/gatherer societies men went out and did the hunting. Partly because they were bigger and stronger than the women but mostly because they had dry teats. No milk glands.

    In modern society this is a moot point. Both men and women can care for children. There are no more sabretooths. What we are faced with is a world that has rejected the idea of yin-yang, of balance in life and it shows. There is no more reason for men to be macho deerslayers anymore than their is a reason for women to be eternal moms. Yet we cling to religions that try to enforce these old platitudes carrying the burden of ancient chains while our science and technology is running ahead.

  35. Quote for the Day:

    “I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9, I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” — Newt Gingrich at a church in Texas, according to Politico.

  36. ” a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists ”

    And Newt is the educated Repiggie.

  37. The earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia and elsewhere tended to be goddess worshipers, and hence matriarchal. As agriculture began to replace hunter/gather social structures, nurturing and communication gained momentum, arts and sciences followed.
    Unfortunately they still had to defend themselves against less developed tribal structures who began to prey on the abundances of agrarian cultures, and warfare regained prominence.

  38. “…a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists”

    Newt places one foot over the other, and shoots them both.

  39. Y’all are missing it “I have two grandchildren” — Newt Gingrich

    No! Tell me this man did not procreate. There’s never been any mention of children – not even at Wikipedia. These must be step grandchildren.

    At wikipedia under religion: Roman Catholic (formerly Baptist)

    Is that a ‘in your face’ to the Baptist?

  40. The visual portrayals of the Goddess are pervasive in ancient cultures and frequent today among feminist and nature artists. The central image is Creator/Mother/Earth–source of life energy and transformer of decay to new creation. The visualizations of the Goddess change with the culture and the era and always support the psychic needs of the time. In Paleolithic times, when humans were hunters and gatherers the Goddess was frequently drawn as an abstract pattern created out of chevrons, V shapes based on the pubic triangle of creation and becoming. She was also imagined as birds and animals illustrating strength and abundance. The drawings were in caves resembling wombs that later became tombs.
    Neolithic people held rituals in sacred temples and shaped and decorated pottery with seeds and plants as well as animals. They created settlements in the great river valleys. They lived off agriculture and developed cultural roots through rituals honoring interdependence and balance. They revered nature and created art and beauty in daily life. Woven cloth kept them warm and the weaving reminded them of the repeating patterns of life. Each culture named the Great Goddess differently: Ishtar in Babylon, Astarte in Syria, Gaea in Greece, Isis or Au Set in Egypt and Cybele in Turkey, to name just a few. Symbolic of nature and the intuitive truths known to humans about the process and purpose of life, the Goddess was honored. She frequently was portrayed in one of her three aspects: maiden, mother, and crone–or wise woman–emphasizing that each was part of the life cycle and depended on the others the same way as spring led to summer, fall, and winter before bursting full of life again.
    In Iron Age cultures, people began to seek to control the forces of nature for their benefit. They invented ways to record events in writing and numbers and began trading resources between settlements. They built hill forts to protect their settlements from invaders. Self-sufficiency gave way to control of territory as an economic paradigm and natural resources became the source of wealth and status and no longer gifts from the Goddess. The intuitive forces represented by the Goddess went into decline as the powers of logic and reason were developed in the human mind. Men saw the possibility of achieving a power equal to that of women’s life-giving one and they claimed rational thought as their own, forcefully relegating women too intuitive, nurturing tasks, As the unit of focus for a community moved from the family and the tribe, to the city-state, rational laws became essential to social organization. Technology improved with experimentation and men learned to blend metals for stronger tools and weapons. The Iron Age became the Bronze Age and sword handles, cups, and bowls were beautifully decorated with the symbols of the new culture thus entering people’s daily lives. Both trade and invasions stimulated the interaction of cultures and the symbol systems of old and changing cultures gradually melded into the newly dominant ones. Men, tired of serving the Goddess of creation, promoted the “myth” that the semen held the seed of life and wombs were only fertile soil in which it grew. The process was biological and understandable. The mystery of life was repressed. Women were owned or controlled by their husbands and masters. Once women were owned the process in the patriarchal society of “objectification” became a process expected of men and supported by “biblical power.” Masculine and feminine energies were unable to give each other mutual respect.

  41. From a favorite poet —

    Edna St. Vincent Millay summarized, perhaps, one woman’s view of the man-woman relationship when she described, in sonnet form, that potentially final outcome, the one I’ve always sought to avoid:

    I, being born a woman and distressed
    By all the needs and notions of my kind,
    Am urged by your propinquity to find
    Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
    To bear your body’s weight upon my breast:
    So subtly is the fume of life designed,
    To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
    And leave me once again undone, possessed.
    Think not for this, however, the poor treason
    Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
    I shall remember you with love, or season
    My scorn wih pity, — let me make it plain:
    I find this frenzy insufficient reason
    For conversation when we meet again.

  42. “the semen held the seed of life and wombs were only fertile soil in which it grew”
    I suspect that all laws, religious or secular, designed to give men power over women are a result of the fact that men could never be sure that someone else wasn’t plowing those fertile fields krissy.

  43. If we get another Republican president they can use real fat people as crash test dummies. There won’t be any other jobs and as long as they’re not fetuses they’ll happily let them die especially if they’re brown people.

  44. We can all learn from the Raptors of nature:

    Egalitarian – (whether it be eagles; hawks; peregrines, etc)

    there is no next generation without both participating in the incubation, then feeding of the young. Falcon & tercel are integral in rearing and safe-keeping the young until their dispersal.

    I’ve been fortunate to watch the parents ‘guide’ the newly fledged. To fly is innate – it’s the landings that need honing.
    The young one dropped 7 floors before it realized – hey I can fly. The moment it left the ledge the Falcon was off to guide. About two blocks later the little fellow alighted in a Sycamore tree where he stayed for hours.
    The Falcon, satisfied went back to the ledge to watch over the other three. (while she was off guiding – the Tercel came close and was ‘watching’ the the other young ones).

  45. Raven, the fundies already are ignoring the words of Jesus. Finding something written earlier than Biblical texts would just mean more words to ignore.

  46. “Buckle up for safety. Buckle up. Always Buckle Up.”!

    I am feeling really, really old after watching those PSA’s. Thanks zxbe!

  47. “[Another] one of the things that is most likely pointing towards a Christian provenance, is that these are not scrolls but books. The Christians were particularly associated with writing in a book form rather than scroll form, and sealed books in particular as part of the secret tradition of early Christianity.”]

    That’s a bit intriguing – how does one interpret that? If one wanted to keep secret documents – rolling up a scroll and secreting it would certainly be more advantageous than having a solid form (book) sealed?

    I imagine it’s all in the interpretation. Dating such an artifact may be tricky.

    It always interested me that the, misogynist, Paul’s writings were one of the first christian works to surface.

    “Little is known of the movement after Jesus’ crucifixion until the letters of Paul several decades later, and they illuminate the westward spread of Christianity outside the Jewish world.”

  48. Sorry ebb, didn’t mean for it to have that outcome.

    One I remember that I thought should make the list was about 67-68, an anti-smoking ad. It was something along the lines of “like father like son.”

  49. “I suspect that all laws, religious or secular, designed to give men power over women are a result of the fact that men could never be sure that someone else wasn’t plowing those fertile fields krissy.”

    I can’t speak to that, Outstanding, since in my life my ex was the one plowing those other fields…. and felt entitled to do so.
    We had a mentally challenged child and he left within a month of that birth because, “it wasn’t my fault he was born like that, what did you do?” Guess that seed of life thing he wasn’t buying at the particular moment…

  50. The Abrahamic religions have been the sole source of discontent and violence for over 1,500 years in the West. They have fed nationalism, autocracy, monarchy and war solely based on divine right. And all of it is based on the babblings of people who think this God thing is on their side. Screw people and worship.

  51. hooda, I’m perfectly OK with people believing whatever they chose or want to believe, what I’m not OK with is the “entitlement” to force me to believe what they believe.

    Just look at the world today and then subtract ALL religion and I leave it to you to imagine what would be left……………

  52. …Yes the Gop wants to add the coathanger to every state flag in the country…

    Wouldn’t that make a good visual?

  53. Terry the Turtle… yeah, I particularly liked the irony of her teaching genetics and not have her head explode. But then again, maybe she compartmentalizes as well.

  54. Organized religion has been about control since it’s inception. The belief in some sort of deity has been used by politics since man wondered why.

  55. Damn krissy that’s awful. I also have a child with challenges and it’s difficult and rewarding both. Your ex must have really been something to bail after a month. ((HUGS))

  56. Ebb, she is doing well. Goes to see an ortho tomorrow morning but she is walking more and getting cranky about the restraint.

  57. krissy…

    Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.

  58. “Little is known of the movement after Jesus’ crucifixion until the letters of Paul several decades later, and they illuminate the westward spread of Christianity outside the Jewish world.”

    Paul has always struck me as something of an opportunist. A spiteful little basturd who got nowhere persecuting early followers of Jesus until he figured out a way to turn a prophet into a profit. Sure he died at the hands of the Romans for his activities. So did a lot of other people.
    That’s why these lead books are intriguing, they may shed light on what the early followers of Jesus were truly doing after his execution.

  59. Outstanding, it’s OK. When my son was born they told me that day to prepare for his funeral, wouldn’t last 2 weeks; after 2 weeks I was told to find and institution because he would always be a vegetable; today he lives independently in a group home that myself and 4 other moms bought. I wrote a grant and he State took over funding while leaving us with control of the Staff.
    He went to school all the way through High School; was voted the most social child in the school; the most admired by his teachers; today he works full time at a job that he loves; every 4 to 6 weeks he flies home on USAir; he will be home Monday, April 4th
    If I could be prouder of him I’m not sure how I would express it;
    AS for the ex, payback is hell kind of thing. One of his stated reasons, among many, was that I was getting too old and I had gone from a size 8 to a size 12 and was therefore fat. He married an 19 year old who was absolutely stunning. A year later, she had gained 60 pounds and he was miserable…….

    • Krissy, I hope every woman your ex ever meets gains 100 pounds within a year — it ain’t about the woman anyway.

      On the other had, awesome work with your son! Doctors have so little faith in the human spirit.

  60. I’m waaaayyy out here today! A couple of times I’ve sat down and tried to catch up to the subject, but I’m doing household chores, and listening to Hartmann, so I haven’t been able to be attentive. I had to go for bloodwork this morning so it put everything about two hours behind schedule.

  61. Raven, I’ve often wonder about the two saints of early Christianity. Peter denied Jesus to save his ass and Paul was an assassin turned saint. Just what one should build a faith on.

  62. “the semen held the seed of life and wombs were only fertile soil in which it grew”

    To be fair, this was long before it was understood that the human woman contributed 1/2 of the genetic code to any offspring. And the only thing that the ancients observed was the planting of seeds into the ground and having the resulting product being a plant.

    They didn’t know at the time that the seed contains all of the genetic material needed to make a new plant, being the byproduct of the fruit from the fertilization process that began with pollen on the stamen.

    Again, it was science that changed our thinking about procreation.

  63. Good to read you House. Fasting blood work?

    The weekend is going to be very busy for you – what with the ‘vroom vroom’ racing and the hoops!

  64. Our children are our gift to the world. And it is our task to make sure what they get is a gift. If not, we have to teach them to join the fight with us.

  65. Paul has always struck me as something of an opportunist. A spiteful little basturd who got nowhere persecuting early followers of Jesus until he figured out a way to turn a prophet into a profit.

    Sometime in the last decade or so, a book was published that maintained that Paul had only written about 50% of what had been attributed to him, and that the really creepy women-hating work was done by Evil Paul. Good Paul had a completely different take on people, especially women. I seem to recall that the author did a good job supporting this thesis but I can’t even remember who it was.

  66. I am aware. I am somewhat fascinated by the Bible and that it had many authors. I can look at religion objectively and dissect it (much like a scientist would). It helps me to understand, much like Krissy’s post describes, how we got to the societal world that we live in today.

  67. BTW, if you see me quoting scripture over at TP, then I am generally trying to use it as a weapon against some of the more religious trolls or even the non-religious ones.

    If those Christian trolls really believe like the Bible says that we are (or should be) our Brother’s keepers, then they should fully embrace Mathew 25 about how they should treat the least of Jesus’ brothers.

    I find it fascinating as well that liberals actually do care about their fellow man where the avowed Christians could seem to care less.

  68. Except that the person who taught this was not Paul, but someone lying about his identity so that his readers would think he was Paul.

    What the hey?

    Interesting piece by Mr. Ehrman – it does not clear up anything, for me at least.
    I tend to agree with Hooda on the New Testament being a compilation edited many times over.
    Mr. Ehrman points that out with the above statement.
    My question – how do they know this was the ‘good Paul vs the Evil Paul as gummitch points out?

    gummitch if the title of that piece comes to mind – please post. I’d like to read to see how they distinguish the ‘voice’ of the true writer of such things.

  69. The Bible, as we know it today, was the result of a man who saw Jesus in the clouds telling him to whack Rome. Which he did. And he gathered the religious heads of the time to compile the Bible to consolidate his political power.

  70. Except that the person who taught this was not Paul, but someone lying about his identity so that his readers would think he was Paul………….isn’t this sort of like being on TP???

    Paul was a troll???? Who would’ve guessed?

  71. LL, the New Testament wasn’t written. It was compiled. And edited. There is nothing about it that dates to Jesus.

    But the Bible is inspired by God? So were the editors also visited by the Spook? How about the dude who translated to Greek? What about the King James translators – the Spook waited until the 16th century to catch those boyos too? Does the Spook visit the dude who runs the spell checker as well?

    /caustic snark off

  72. Previously posted by moi:

    Adam Kirsch reviews Timothy Beal’s The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book:

    While there is no denying that the Bible remains central—Beal quotes polls indicating that “65 percent of all Americans believe that the Bible ‘answers all or most of the basic questions of life,’ ”—he notes simultaneously that Americans are surprisingly ignorant of what is actually in it. “More than 80 percent of born-again or evangelical Christians believe that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is a Bible verse,” he writes. Less than half of all adults can name the four Gospels; only one-third can name five of the Ten Commandments.

  73. LL: “while on the large scale the undermining of science has happened much as you described, but now, it has been ingrained in people’s heads ( much like the twin lies of supply side economics and free- markets ) on the common man level and is self-perpetuating at this point.”

    Definitely not a point I was disputing. The creationists are “free riders” in that they are exploiting the opportunities opened up for them by the money, media access, and political influence of others. Thus the politicians elected and judges appointed that are sympathetic to one form of anti-science will almost certainly be sympathetic to many others if not all.

    Thus, a colleague of mine in the NW engages in regular, scheduled debates on the subject of climate change. The individual he typically debates is a lawyer who, it turns out, is also directly associated with the “Discovery” Institute. The information while new and unexpected proved to be as tediously unsurprising as you might expect.

  74. Ebb,

    Yes, I had to fast this morning. I couldn’t manage it yesterday morning, but the place I go is walk-in, so I just get there before they open and get in line first.

    The weekend is going to be very busy for you – what with the ‘vroom vroom’ racing and the hoops!

    Actually, we’re down to two games Saturday on the men’s side, and one race in Nascar on Sunday. It’s an off week for F1 and Indycar.

  75. gummitch if the title of that piece comes to mind – please post. I’d like to read to see how they distinguish the ‘voice’ of the true writer of such things.

    Count me in on that as well.

    And hooda…as I type this, does that mean God is in my fingers? 😉

  76. Raven: “Patriarchy is abusive to men because it forces them into the belief they always know what’s best.”

    King made a similar point about racism — you cannot degrade or dehumanize another except by degrading and dehumanizing yourself.

  77. I agree with MLK Gary.
    Those who go on about being superior to others betray their own inferiorities, and insecurities.

    Thanks for that list badmoodman.
    I’m heading out to abominate for awhile, I’ll pop back in later.

  78. badmoodman, just as an interesting aside, ‘answers all or most of the basic questions of life’ , would fit the dictionary too….

    There is an old but incredibly rich book that I read many years ago that I thought really addressed some of the issues we are talking about today. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this book I highly recommend it…I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. One of the great parts of this book is it extensive use of history in making the point. He especially uses Soren Kierkegaard as a base line for some of his theories. I remember I was in my Masters program Psych and one of my professors asked on a question, “who was known as the father of modern day psychotherapy”. Of course he was looking for Freud, but I answered Kierkegaard. It took many visits to his office but he finally gave me that it could be a toss up…

    It’s called “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker:
    “Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life’s work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker’s brilliant and impassioned answer to the “why” of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie — man’s refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than twenty years after its writing.”

    Editorial Reviews
    Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. Author of On Death And Dying It puts together what others have torn to pieces and rendered useless. It is one of those rare masterpieces that will stimulate your thoughts, your intellectual curiosity, and last but not least, your soul…

    New York Times Book Review …a brave work of electrifying intelligence and passion, optimistic and revolutionary, destined to endure…

    Albuquerque Journal Book Review …to read it is to know the delight inherent in the unfolding of a mind grasping at new possibilities and forming a new synthesis. The Denial of Death is a great book — one of the few great books of the 20th or any other century.

    The Chicago Sun-Times It is hard to overestimate the importance of this book; Becker succeeds brilliantly in what he sets out to do, and the effort was necessary.

  79. “Paul was an assassin turned saint.”

    I believe that, technically, Paul was a lawyer. Add to that list Jean Calvin, and you’ve got a pretty compelling argument why lawyers should never be allowed to get their hands upon religion.

  80. Thanks for the list badmoodman, but….but… I thought I saw that list elsewhere, I believe it was called

    “The Republican Party Platform”, I could be mistaken though


  81. I think you’ll love it Gary. I remember when I first read it, the first three chapters were to give the reader an understanding of the issue in psychoanalytic terms, I thought I would never get through it, then it just took off and I couldn’t put it down…..

  82. Sarah Palin Wonders Aloud if Libya Action is a “Squirmish”

    The poor dear can’t even get Libya right. No, Ms. Communications-Major-With-A-Degree-In-5-Years-At-4-Different-Colleges, Libya is not a “Squirmish.” Libya isn’t a real war so this comes under the category of a Squimmage.

  83. We had squimmage for dinner last night with the baked chicken. the only skirmish was getting the kids to eat it. 😉

    Krissy, I’m going to add Denial of Death to my reading list.

  84. Good afternoon, everyone.

    Speaking of books, there’s one available online that really explains the right-wing mind very well. I make sure to pimp it every few months and it’s available here for free:

    For the other bird lovers and people who are fascinated by nature in general:

    Mother nature has been trying to give us Minnesotans a break after record snowfall. No rain, sunny but cool days, and nights well below freezing. Every day we put off high temperatures and significant rain should serve to mitigate flood season. We might just get by without the “hundred year flood” that many were predicting.

    Lots of song birds around now. Gulls, terns, pelicans, cormorants, and all types of waterfowl have returned with the first open water. I still haven’t managed to get a good look at the visitor building, or rebuilding, the nest on my deck. I’m going to go take a nice, long, walk and check in later.

  85. I’m going to go take a nice, long, walk and check in later.

    Hello! petelnghr,

    We’d be most appreciative of a report!

  86. I saw that too, badmoodman. I know that there’s not enough intellect to figure out what Bible Spice is trying to say but I saw no sign that she was trying to be cute. I think she thinks “squirmish” is a real word. Also too: between Palin, who doesn’t even speak (squeak?) a recognizable human language, and that shrieking freak, Greta, I nearly had to puncture my eardrums before I got through the clip.

  87. LL & badmoodman, “squimmage” is this a cross between spinach and squash?

    In case you were serious:

    Scrimmage + Skirmish = Squimmage

  88. The Authoritarians is one I’ve seen mentioned on a number of occasions — probably at TP, and possibly by you, Pete. Anyway, it is already on my Kindle (I loves me some free books!!)

  89. badmood – I should have /s. “Word Salad” has a tendency to conjure up vegetable images.


    Hooda, we’ll be relying on three year old Thunk for interpretation of the Quitter’s words.

  90. ebooks can be formatted pdf which seems to be the common reading format for things. I have resisted buying a book reader until there is a common format. Proprietary formats and protocols are dinosaurs, Kindle is just getting while the getting is good.

  91. Don’t get me wrong, I am a writer. I would love to get paid for my writing. I also realize that the current market is such that I will never get rich at it. Times change.

  92. Pretty much any native eBook format is inter-convertible to any other. The Calibre freeware utility — — is very good at this.

    On the other hand, while any .PDF file is likely readable on any eReader these days, the format is fixed. This means that the readability of the file will be directly related to the screen size of the reader. Precisely because so much of what I want to read is technical literature from sources such as the Journal of Symbolic Logic or the periodical Philosophy of Science — which can only be had in .PDF formats — the sine qua non for me was a large screen. Hence my eReader is a Kindle DX.

    However, as a great many of my interests are in classic philosophy and literature, many of the books I’ve downloaded are from free sites such as “Feedbooks” ( or “Manybooks” (, which allow you to download in any of the major formats; and the University of Adelaide (, which only downloads in .EPUB format, a trivial matter due to the above mentioned Calibre freeware.

    “Kindle is just getting while the getting is good.”

    That claim, in this bald form, is simply false. The Kindle technology is superior to many other options on the market on several accounts, depending especially on the users criteria for an eReader. The Kindle display is built around a fairly new technology known as “ePaper,” which displays like a printed page without any backlighting. This is a critical difference between the Kindle and, say, a tablet computer such as the iPad. Backlighting is harder on the eyes when it comes to reading. On the other hand, the ePaper tech of the Kindle has a contrast ratio of text to background that is quite serviceable. Even in a darkened saloon, the Kindle is readable to a normal pair of eyes with just a standard “itty-bitty booklight.” (Experience speaking.)

    The Kindle display is only BW, with the capacity for 16-tone gray scale. Thus, if what you are working with involves serious artwork on any substantive scale, then one of the other devices on the market might be better suited to your needs. This usage is entirely valueless to me; that said, my copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost came with extensive etchings by Dore that display very nicely.

    Also, the logical and mathematical formulae that are to be found in my technical readings all come up well. On occasion, I’ll use the magnifying feature of my DX to display such things at 150%. The mag feature is a fairly new software enhancement that is only needful with .PDF files, as native texts in any of the eReaders can have their font size changed.

  93. The problem with Kindle is, far as I can tell so far, that even though I can upload a pdf of my book instantly (to our account) and access it immediately on either the Kindle itself or my computer screen, the formatting in the original pdf doesn’t carry through to the kindleized version. For example: the table of contents compresses and winds up making no sense at all, and if, as in my case, each chapter is headed by a centered quatrain verse, the verse is no longer centered and no longer is it four lines, looks like any other text. Italics and boldface come through, but the all the rest of the formatting is mushed up. Trying to figure out how to preserve the formatting at present, have my (whiz kid) daughter working on it. Time will tell.

  94. Oh, I should add that with the wireless turned off, the Kindle gets and easy 2-weeks usage of battery life. This, again, is due to the absence of any backlighting.

    Also, I can email documents to my Kindle. I suspect this feature is available in most any of the compettitors on the market, but I have not actually checked. This is of value to me professionally, as I now use my Kindle when I’m delivering a paper at a conference rather than chew up another tree that I’ll only throw away.

  95. Frugal, try uploading the document in its original MSWord format.

    As noted, .PDF files preclude the possibility of changing the format to fit the screen.

    Alternatively, download the Calibre freeware (link above) and feed it the document in its native — that is, non-.PDF — format, declaring what format you want it converted to.

    .PDF files are only useful so long as you are content to accept them w/o any functionality beyond their bare display. Part of the attraction of .PDF’s is precisely that the cannot be changed. But if your intention is to have a document that will dynamically format itself to an eReader, then you absolutely MUST have something other than a .PDF.

  96. Thanks Gary, amazingly detailed information for me to work with. Hubby and I both read voraciously and we’ve both been looking at these items for awhile. Decided not to go with an Ipad due to the fact that among a number of things you pointed out, I don’t want to be tied to Apple anymore then I like being tied to Microsoft….

    Zooey, thanks for the remarks about my baby. To be honest about it though I sort of feel like the opposite is true, he actually worked with me. When he was born I was totally shut down emotionally, so I allowed myself to let my son be my guide on opening to my feelings. Children don’t have the filters we develop and they are just pure, beautiful, raw emotion. If they feel it, they show it…. He really help me grow as a human being, a person, a mom, and a woman……
    I’ll shut up now, I know everyone is just as proud of their children and don’t need to “see” all the pictures in my bill fold………giggle

  97. Gary — I just downloaded the Calibre software. Thanks for the tip. As far as MSWord format is concerned, no can do — the manuscript is in WordPerfect (I started with WordPerfect an eternity ago and have learned to detest MSWord) and any attempt to convert is met with grenades and gunfire from all quarters.

    I will try feeding the WP manuscript to Calibre and see what happens, all-the-while hoping for the best. Again, thanks for the tip and the link.

    • WordPerfect!!?? I used to love using that program, but it won’t be read by Word, so I finally had to give in and switch, so I could email assignments to Profs.

      Just copy and paste the thing into Word, and fix the formatting. 🙂

      **ducking behind wall to avoid gunfire**

  98. “As noted, .PDF files preclude the possibility of changing the format to fit the screen.”

    Last time I checked I had no desire to change the format of any book I read.

    And there are literally thousands of PDF files I have read that didn’t need to be changed.

  99. frugal, I downloaded OpenOffice a while back. It deals with Word Perfect and Word files easily. In both directions.

  100. What Hooda said about OpenOffice. I don’t think I’ve had to deal with WordPerfect files, so I could not speak to its uses there. But, indeed, once a document has been imported into OO, it can be exported as an MSWord file (pre 2007 format) w/o difficulty. I do not know how the various utilities are with OO or other formats, but MSWord will convert into .AZW or most any other format pretty much transparently.

  101. Friends,

    I’m back.

    No blockages found by cardiac cath test and doctor says that I am normal. My Wife demands a retest!

    Staying relaxed for the next few days. Lifting limit is 5 pounds til the 5th Then it goes up about 5 pounds a week until it hits 25.

    I can be back to posting no later than the 9th.

  102. Hooda,

    I’m a writer too but, for some reason, I need pen and paper to come up with anything terribly profound. I have volumes of notebooks that I just have to transpose some day. The real problem is that I always end up editing while transposing and everything gets muddled. Another problem is that most of my stuff is written in a backwoods dialect that makes spell-checkers have nervous breakdowns.

    I really should get on it. Many of my stories were inspired by my old grand-uncle’s tall tales about being “a pirate in North Dakota”. He was born in a sod hut, huted the last herd of Buffalo in North Dakota, served in WW1, became a dentist and Renaissance man, and left me with more mirth and wisdom than any other dozen people. I just attributed his stories, with a few embellishments of my own, to a character I call Ol’ Hahry who lives in a holler somewhere in Appalachia. All written in first person, of course.

    Whether its “fishen fer cats”, “how the hawgs et my baby brudder”, “how ta commsummate a mahridge”, or “my third dead wife Abigail”; my friends enjoy them. I really should get up the ambition to share them with others.

  103. Hooda — the .PDF formatting is w/o regard to your screen size, so this can be a problem on a too-small screen: If you fit the text to your screen, it can be unreadably small, while if you size the screen to read you can be scrolling left & right & up & down in really annoying ways.

    If your screen is big enough and not back-lit, then what you own is a Kindle DX.

  104. I loooove OpenOffice. It even allows seamless transitions between Linux and Windows(spit!). Oh yeah. I’m not going to let everyone off the Linux hook but I won’t be too insistent. If nothing else, Linux helps a person learn a lot about computers in general and my favorite OS, called PCLinuxOS, is very user friendly. By the time I found the distribution I like I was venturing into the deepest bowels of the dreaded XP “Repository”.

    Believe it, or not, I can explain what all of that means in simple language.

  105. “I need pen and paper to come up with anything terribly profound.”

    Thinking does not happen “in the head,” it happens in the world. Motor habits like writing do not exist in a separate box from the motivations that cause us to write in the first place. So that it takes a pen in your hand, Pete, is interesting but not especially surprising.

    Me, I have to have sound and a lot of it. I’ve done some of my best studying in bars, and wrote my entire dissertation with Metallica blowing the glass out of their panes. I can’t concentrate when it is too quiet.

    (OT: I seem to have had a comment vanish.)

  106. Zooey: “Just copy and paste the thing into Word, and fix the formatting. :)”

    Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-blammo-boom. 🙂

    There is a tool that comes with WP-X3 that allows conversion to an MSWord document. Everything works but the formatting. I.O.W., the words are there, but …

    300 words, no big problem. 268,000 words, huge problem.

  107. Bird update:

    Not a whole lot of migrant songbirds today but all the horny locals are singing up a storm. My eyes aren’t what they were 20 years ago so I listen for songbirds more than I watch them. Cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, several kinds of sparrow and such. I heard a couple warblers and a pair of wrens. We have plenty of robins and blackbirds. As for the waterfowl I love so much? There were a pair of blue-wing teal and a half dozen wood ducks on the local ponds.

  108. pete, like you I enjoy writing. Not typing. I do shorts and rants on the keyboard but I prefer taking my old fountain pen and paper when I have lots to say.

    It isn’t called keyboarding or typing for a reason.

  109. Zooey,

    I may have mentioned this before but here’s a link to DiscountPC. That’s where I bought my current system, minus a monitor, for $140.00 shipped to my door. They used to ship without Windows but now it seems like they include Windows XP Pro for no extra cost. Even if one were to really screw up one could just recover the Windows and be perfectly fine, for anything but games and such, for a few years yet. Or? One could just scrap the included hard drive and buy a new one and the Windows of your choice. One would still be able to get a pretty good machine for a fraction of the cost of a state of the art new one. In fact, at $140.00, I looked on mine as being disposable, if things didn’t work out, but it’s worked out just fine.

    I hope that you, and everyone else, feels free to ask me specific questions any old time. There are lots of other places, including local stores that provide support, where one can save big bucks on computers but this is the one that worked out well for me.

  110. Glad to hear the good news Walt!

    I found this on one of my regular media sites. We’ve been seeing posts about this for a while now, but this is a direct quarter-to-quarter comparison on Beck.

    ‘Glenn Beck’ Ratings Tumble vs. Last Year

    2011 hasn’t been a good year for Fox News’ Glenn Beck. His eponymous show is down 30% in average viewership, and down 37% among the cable news advertiser target adults 25-54 demo vs. the first quarter of 2010. The 5-6pm competition on both CNN and MSNBC saw increases during that same comparison period.

    I don’t pay any attention to the various rumors swirling around the show, but the ratings are no rumor.

    I’m hoping this site will do a comparison for Hannity for the same period. I’m thinking the Republicans taking back the House has calmed down a lot of the Faux audience, and they know there’s less chance of the Dems getting their way now. Before the election they were much more likely to watch than now.

  111. hooda, isn’t it weird? There’s something about the act of writing vs. the act of typing. As long as keyboards have been around there have been those who can write at the keyboard and those who need the tactile experience of pen and paper. Like any art form one has a chosen medium. Those who draw? Draw. Those who paint? Paint. Those who sculpt? Sculpt. And on and on. There are some generalists but they tend to be rare.

    Music, being another art form all it’s own, works the same way. Mom tried to teach me to play the piano at a very young age and I never got it. Then I tried to play guitar for almost twenty years and never got it. For some reason, I suspect because I took my only vocal lessons while my voice was changing, I thought I couldn’t sing. After a couple of decades trying to get friends who could sing to give my lyrics life; I finally got drunk enough to step up to a mic while the tape was rolling. I was utterly shocked that, for a moment here and there, I didn’t suck. I’ve gotten better.

    Luckily, I have a very dear friend who had almost as many undeveloped instrumentals as I had lyrics. We’ve mixed and matched and we have about 25 songs that, if nothing else, give my friends and me a great deal of enjoyment even if we never leave the basement. We are all perfectionists so we’re a bit afraid to trot out the original stuff except at “drunken orgies”.

    It’s hard to put something one cares about up for judgment. And then, on the other hand, I have horrendous stage fright and anxiety so I can’t really, in good conscience, ask others to invest too much in a product that I may not be able to deliver on demand.

  112. pete, when/if I get my new computer, I’ll look into the Linux thing. I have no idea what it’s all about, but I hate the Microsoft empire.

    I almost suggested Linux to you when we last discussed this. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe you can have Dell load that for you rather than Windows. It’s certainly true at Free Geek.

    When I took this particular job 10 years ago, I got permission from IT to take a salvaged PC and do a complete Linux install myself. There was something of a learning curve, but Linux releases have made leaps and bounds since then, particularly in terms of user interface. I like Windows XP just fine but they won’t support it forever and I do not want to be forced to buy hardware I don’t need as a result. Only laziness has prevented me from exploring the necessary workarounds needed for the few functions I use on my home computer — and some of the programs I already use were originally developed for Linux (e.g. Gimp for photo processing).

  113. MS Busters, Zooey. Same thing, basically, as tank busters. But unfortunately, either my aim is no good or there are more MS’s out there than anyone ever thought. I’m patient though. I’ll get ’em. 😉

  114. pete. I have tried. I have hit the keyboard. Scanned old typewritten stories. I even paid people to enter my handwritten stuff to get it in an acceptable format. Ok, maybe I’m not the best writer. Maybe my stories aren’t saleable.

    Fact is, I’m going back to writing. Screw the market.

  115. I’ve tried multiple times to switch over to Linux. But each time I was stopped by the fact that after almost 25 years in the computer industry, the prospect of learning yet another operating system reduces me to a puddle of tears wrapped in inarticulate rage.

  116. If I write anything with a pen or pencil, I cannot read it in the morning. And when I say that, I’m not stretching anything, either!

    I love my keyboard, even though some keys don’t work well since I spilled that glass of wine that time.

  117. frugal, I can almost hear that. On my site is Beer and Rough Times. I wrote that long hand and a very dear friend typed it out for me. She liked the story.

  118. Hooda, I guess I don’t care about the market. I please myself and, occasionally, make a friend laugh or think about something that wasn’t on their mind. That’s enough for me.

  119. gummitch et all.

    Have you tried PCLinuxOS? It’s a Mandriva based OS and I found it very intuitive. I also made converts of a few friends whether they were Windows or Linux (one Red Hat and one Suse) users. It uses KDE as the default desktop but can be configured to use GNU. It also uses the Debian based package manager with pretty much anything one could hope for, including Google Earth. It also runs from a LiveCD so one can play around, although it’s very slow, before one tries to install it. It also has a good partition tool for installing it to an existing Windows machine. I used it with my laptop and the aforementioned friends also managed to install it without a hitch or corrupting their Windows OS’s.

  120. Zooey, if I can help you in anyway please feel free. I don’t buy computers I build them as a hobby for myself and friends. Not suggesting that I build one for you, only that if you need help with the specs on what is good hardware etc…Just ask, if I don’t know the answer, I know where to look…
    If you decide to buy a computer I would strongly suggest Newegg! There prices are a little better then most places but that’s not the strong point of Newegg, its there customer support. I bought a motherboard from them 6 months ago (Gigabyte board) and it went bad, Gigabyte wouldn’t do anything till I posted my experience on Newegg, within a week I had a brand new board…………….
    Anyway, being a single mom all those years i had to teach myself allot of things since I couldn’t afford to buy anything…………..

  121. hooda said: “It isn’t hard to put writing up for judgment. It is hard when there is no judgment.”

    You got that right. With most of my recent writing going into songs that I am also singing; the biggest frustration is a lack of input from the people I respect. They are far more accomplished musicians than I but THE BASTARDS WON’T CRITIQUE MY WORK! I have no problem recommending different approaches for the instrumentalists, they even accept most of them, but they simply refuse to say “You should try this” or “that part was godawful caterwauling”. It’s HARD to be the moving force in a band when one doubt’s one’s own “chops”.

    Heck! I can’t even manage to get our chief composer( who happens to be a professional musician, IT professional, music producer, and my best friend) to help me download some of our better recordings so we can copyright them and share them with others. As I said, we are all perfectionists and it’s working against us.

  122. Sorry, I know that. And appreciate it a lot. The good news is you are one of the few people on the planet who know the end of Siege.

  123. Zooey said: “Wow! There are some really knowledgeable people around here!
    For me, it’s all take and no give in that arena.”

    There’s an old saying that says: “Those who can’t do, teach”.

    I say: “Those who can’t teach might as well die young”. WTF is the point of learning anything if one can’t pass it on?

    • So I’m supposed to write a one page paper, stating whether or not I think asteroids are the biggest danger we face on earth.

      Uh, no. I’m more nervous of mosquitos and morons around nukes.

  124. I’m sorry but I would have to write a huge fictional piece about an asteroid wreaking havoc and doing horrible things. Forcing dogs and cats to live together and such.

    • I might do something like that just to entertain myself. It doesn’t seem to matter what I write, as long as I hand in something with my name on it.

  125. I wish my child could write about killer asteroids, he’d at least enjoy that. He got his report card today, D’s in math and history. He works so hard that he’s pretty demoralized. So am I.

  126. Sarah Palin: Seasoned hunter/commercial fisherwoman…not so much.

    This is a very telling passage – [there appears to be very little admiration or love in this relationship].

    In a 2008 People interview, Todd said, “When she’s working for me out there in my fishing boat, she’s pretty vulnerable. It’s my element.” To which Palin responded: “He’s the boss out there on the boat while we commercial fish. Yeah. That’s a different story then.”

    (it also seems to tell us – she doesn’t do as much of this commercial fishing as is boasted – and the article does expose that very thing)

  127. gummitch,

    That’s the beauty of PCLOS. One can try it from the LiveCD and my friends and I have not lost any data when we decided to install it. If you run into any issues just ask. I can’t make any guarantees, and it is a free OS, but I have no desire to ever go back to Windows or any of the Linux “distros” I’ve tried. The only problem that I ran into was doing my taxes in previous years. However, with the new upgrade, I was able to do them without a hitch this year.

  128. I know, but no one seems to know what he needs. The pace of the work is just too fast, NCLB ya know. While he has a para to help in history and I review everything with him, it’s just too much stuff. I wish we could just go at a pace that suits him. The math lady just confuses the child. I spend a lot of time explaining to him that he must have misunderstood because the way he is doing things is wrong, but even when I have him joyfully working the problems, the next day it can be just..gone.

    • Outstanding, it’s their job to figure out what your son needs. It sounds like they haven’t evaluated him very well, if they don’t even understand that the pace of the work is moving too fast for him.

      It’s your right to put on all the brakes and call a meeting with everyone concerned, in order to tell them their program is not helping your son. Then you have to tell them what you think he needs, why, and that you expect them to do it.

      I don’t like to see kids on the autism spectrum in the special ed room (or whatever they call it now), because what they need is to see how the “normal” kids behave and socialize, but if he needs to move there for a short time to get his feet back under him and experience a little success, then that’s what he might need to do.

      If you can get one, try to get a full time aid who goes to all the classes with your son. They will balk BIG TIME at this, but it’s most likely what he needs — a buffer/translator for what’s going on in the classroom who can stick up for him when he’s just not getting it. The plus about a full time aid is that she/he can be helpful to other students in the class when your son is doing well — that’s a selling point.

      A full time aid is the ONLY thing that worked for my son. Academics were not his problem, but he just didn’t understand what all these damn people were doing around him all the time.

      One thing you might want to check out is taking an advocate with you. Sometimes parents just don’t know all their rights, and can’t remember the questions to ask in the moment. It’s your right to have someone with you. Stop by your local disability action center — they all have different names — and tell them what’s happening. They may not handle that sort of thing, but it’s likely they know who to send you to. I used to take my dad with me. All he did was sit there, but the school people knew he was an attorney at the time, and I seemed to get what I wanted. Not sure why. 😉

      PS: You might check on this, but the school may be planning on leaving your son out of the NCLB testing. That may help. My son finished school before that bullshit came along, so I’m not sure how it works now, but there was some rule that they could leave the special ed kids out of the standardized testing of the time. They spent a lot of time reassuring me that my son wouldn’t have to take those tests, and I rolled my eyes and told the dumb shits that his scores would raise their scores significantly.

  129. Zooey and Ebb,

    Without self-awareness, empathy, and compassion; “love” is just a word. Neither one of the Palins seem to meet the minimum requirements. Shit! They barely seem to achieve the self-awareness, not to be confused with selfishness, exhibited by chimps or even cats.

  130. Thanks for some great conversations today! I love talking about science (if you couldn’t tell).

    It was so nice to be in troll-less environment as well.

  131. The above 8:05 post is the first one that has gotten through since 4:38. Rebooting everything — which nominally ends with my computer being assigned a new IP address — may have done the trick.

    • It’s not you, Gary. It’s the stupid spam bin.

      Ebb & Turtle know it’s hard to get the bin to let go after you’ve clearly told it to bugger off. 😉

  132. “but he just didn’t understand what all these damn people were doing around him all the time.”

    That’s my quetzal in a nutshell. I know my rights, I just don’t know what he needs and the last time I asked the school system to help determine his needs they decided he was obsessed with violence, which he’s not, just interested in disasters and at the time maybe a little weirded out that dad was in Afghanistan. I reckon it’s back to UVA to get some ideas.

    He did make an A in agriculture, and his aide doesn’t even go to that class with him.

    • Outstanding, they decided my son was obsessed by violence as well, but they just weren’t trying to understand him — and they let other kids attack him in the hallways, and he had to kick a few asses. Don’t get me wrong, he had a few wonderful teachers who did him a world of good, but the crappy ones will cause set-backs, which are devastating for our kids.

      Do get more evaluation, and have them focus on his strengths — A in agriculture! — as well as his weaknesses. They may be able to help work up a program that will work for him.

    • One other thing, Outstanding. I heard a quote one time, but don’t remember where it came from. It said that kids with autism are like extraterrestrials without a home planet.

      That made a lot of sense to me.

      • Hell, they could make all his lessons relate back to agriculture somehow. Maybe that would help him look at his lessons in a context he understands, and in which he’s been successful.

  133. The steps I took — turning off not only my computer, but my DSL modem — nominally should assign me a new IP address. That seems to be what the spam filter was fixating on, because I now appear able to post again.

    I still don’t entirely trust the eff’er, so I’m staying at vapid trivia for the time being.

  134. He did make an A in agriculture, and his aide doesn’t even go to that class with him.

    That’s the Bee Keeper in him! Love it!

  135. Going to the spam bin is annoying- at least it can be retrieved, by ‘qualified personnel’.
    It’s when WP gets hungry and snacks on a brilliantly laid out post! poof into the ether ;>

  136. Thanks for sharing that Zooey. At least no one attacks mine, he has a cadre of older kids that do not allow anyone to mess with him. I just need to be stronger, and I reckon, get some sleep.

    • I made the mistake of moving him to Redneckville, Dumbfukistan.

      Thank FSM for his aide. She’s an angel on earth! I saw her a while back, and she made a point of telling that her four children were getting their PhDs in education, and ALL of them were specializing in the filed of autism. I started bawling right there. Might do again just thinking about it…

  137. “It’s when WP gets hungry and snacks on a brilliantly laid out post! poof into the ether”

    I don’t mind my posts getting snacked on so much as not even getting a kiss afterwards.

  138. Zooey, I live in Redneckville, Dumbfukistan, and we’d not have made it this far without the handful of aides and teachers that acted as his angels. I might just cry too.

  139. Well, I’m going to go off and read for a while then hit the sack.

    Zooey & OIMF, my greatest respects for the challenges you’ve faced as parents in a world that seldom wants to deal honestly with such challenges.

  140. I’m not a parent but I have mentored several kids with special needs while I was managing restaurants. I developed two simple rules:

    Never ask the “kid” to do anything that one wouldn’t do and treat them as equals. I had some great successes.

    One was a kid who had been pulled out of public school by his insane fundy mother and home”schooled”. He joined my crew when he was 17 and, the first time I asked him to light a grill, he broke down in tears because he had never lit a match. He’s now married, a qualified auto mechanic, and has three great sons.

    The other “special case” was harder. I have no idea what his specific diagnoses was, aside from OCD, but he had always been treated like crap by his peers and, much more sad, his family. When he disappeared and took an electric screwdriver to every loose screw in the joint? I thanked him instead of tearing him a new one for disappearing. That was all it took to reach him. I then made him a grill cook, where he was right next to me, and he flourished. He graduated in the top half of his high school class, went into the Marines, and went on to college and majored in behavioral disorders. He’s now helping others as I helped him.

    Bringing out the best in a kid is, for lack of a better description, both complicated and simple. There’s also a good deal of luck involved. But? If one gives them respect combined with achievable goals most of them will, eventually, do just fine.

    • That’s the thing, pete. You’ve done some great work for some kids who really needed. Thank you!

      So many parents can’t get over the fact that their child isn’t the child they thought they would have, and the kid usually ends up paying for that, which is truly shitty. The first time anyone ever treats them like a regular person, they are surprised and shocked, which is sad, but sometimes that’s all it takes to get on the right path.

      I just figure everyone on the planet is different somehow, so there’s no need for a lot of special treatment (other than accessibility and education) — if you’re an ass, that is duly noted, and if you’re deaf and an ass, I’ll make sure you can see my lips moving when I tell you to fuck off. 😉

      But all kidding aside, some kids are messed by their families because they’re a little odd, quirky, or disabled in some fashion, and they’re the ones who need to be noticed, need to have that extra attention or nudge, and thank goodness there are people like you, pete, to give them the opportunity to shine — in spite of their upbringing.

  141. I must be sleepy because I forgot the main point in my last post. Introduce kids, whether they have special needs or not, to hobbies.

    The young gentleman who is now a mechanic? I introduced him to radio control cars. The other young gentleman, who had OCD and had been bullied by his peers and family? I took him fishing (though to be fair I had some reservations the first time I handed him a fillet knife).

    We need to find common ground with kids whether they are ours or not. I have no use for those who tried to bash Hillary when she said “it takes a village” to raise a child.

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