A Few Clarifications on Happiness

THE DANCE OF LIFE

LIFE is like a walk or dance or run on the edge of a knife. On either side one can fall into death, living death, or just existence.

One can get this feeling when driving in fast traffic, but the reality is that dancing is a metaphor for the decisions one makes that involve the experiences one chooses to have.

There is the fact that in any situation one perceives a certain set of inputs though their senses which go into the brain. Then what one makes of those inputs determines what kind of reality one makes for themselves. Happiness is an activity not a goal. One can chose happiness or worse from any set of perceptions.

Continue Reading →

Reason, Religion and Ecology

Reason, Religion and Ecology
republished 11/15/14, originally published in Oct 2012

Reason is based on linking evidence to form a valid explanation. There is no evidence that a god exists. There are no answers to prayers, there is no supreme being ever seen or heard. The Universe may be infinite but no one knows for sure, but it’s much greater than any religion ever said. The big bang is only one explanation for how the universe was created, but its based on evidence. Astronomers and now physicists are finding evidence that may point to still other explanations. That’s the nature of science, theories explain facts until new facts are not explainable with the earlier theory. Science is a continuous discovery process. Religion, in contrast, offers no evidence, and assumes mythical beings exists who no one has ever seen or perceived. It’s a static view which cannot be challenged. Continue Reading →

Monsanto’s Dirty Dozen plus one. 5.28.13

Monsanto’s Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Awful Products Made By Monsanto

BY FRACTURED PARADIGM

 – APRIL 15, 2013 POSTED IN: FEATUREDGMOSPESTICIDES & HERBICIDESPOPULATION CONTROL

When you take a moment to reflect on the history of product development at Monsanto, what do you find? Here are twelve products that Monsanto has brought to market. See if you can spot the pattern…

#1 – Saccharin

Did you know Monsanto got started because of an artificial sweetener? John Francisco Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works in St. Louis, Missouri with the goal of producing saccharin[1] for Coca-Cola. In stark contrast to its sweet beginnings, studies performed during the early 1970s[2],* including a study by the National Cancer Institute in 1980[3], showed that saccharin caused cancer in test rats[4] and mice.

After mounting pressure from consumers, the Calorie Control Council[5], and manufacturers of artificial sweeteners and diet sodas, along with additional studies[6] (several conducted by the sugar and sweetener industry) that reported flaws in the 1970s studies, saccharin was delisted from the NIH’s Carcinogen List. A variety of letters from scientists advised against delisting[7]; the official document includes the following wording[8] to this day: “although it is impossible to absolutely conclude that it poses no threat to human health, sodium saccharin is not reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen under conditions of general usage as an artificial sweetener.” (*Read the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s History of Saccharin[9] here.)

#2 – PCBs

During the early 1920s, Monsanto began expanding their chemical production into polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to produce coolant fluids for electrical transformers, capacitors, and electric motors. Fifty years later, toxicity tests[10] began reporting serious health effects[11] from PCBs in laboratory rats exposed to the chemical.

After another decade of studies, the truth could no longer be contained: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report[12] citing PCBs as the cause of cancer in animals, with additional evidence that they can cause cancer in humans. Additional peer-reviewed health studies showed a causal link between exposure to PCBs and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a frequently fatal form of cancer.

In 1979, the United States Congress recognized PCBs as a significant environmental toxin and persistent organic pollutant, and banned its production in the U.S.  By then Monsanto already had manufacturing plants abroad, so they weren’t entirely stopped until the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants banned PCBs globally in 2001.

And that’s when Monsanto’s duplicity was uncovered: internal company memos[13] from 1956 surfaced, proving that Monsanto had known about dangers of PCBs from early on.

In 2003, Monsanto paid out over $600 million to residents of Anniston, Alabama, who experienced severe health problems including liver disease, neurological disorders and cancer[14] after being exposed to PCBs — more than double the payoff that was awarded in the case against Pacific Gas & Electric made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.”

And yet the damage persists: nearly 30 years after PCBs have been banned from the U.S., they are still showing up in the blood of pregnant women, as reported in a 2011 study[15] by the University of California San Francisco.

#3 – Polystyrene

In 1941, Monsanto began focusing on plastics and synthetic polystyrene, which is still widely used in food packaging and ranked 5th in the EPA’s 1980s listing of chemicals[16] whose production generates the most total hazardous waste.

#4 – Atom bomb and nuclear weapons

Shortly after acquiring Thomas and Hochwalt Laboratories, Monsanto turned this division into their Central Research Department[17]. Between 1943 to 1945, this department coordinated key production efforts of the Manhattan Project[18]—including plutonium purification and production and, as part of the Manhattan Project’s Dayton Project[19], techniques to refine chemicals used as triggers for atomic weapons (an era of U.S. history that sadly included the deadliest industrial accident[20]).

#5 – DDT

In 1944, Monsanto became one of the first manufacturers of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Despite decades of Monsanto propaganda insisting that DDT was safe, the true effects of DDT’s toxicity were at last confirmed through outside research and in 1972, DDT was banned throughout the U.S.

#6 – Dioxin

In 1945, Monsanto began promoting the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture with the manufacture of the herbicide 2,4,5-T (one of the precursors to Agent Orange), containing dioxin. Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that since become known as one of the “Dirty Dozen[21]” — persistent environmental pollutants that accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. In the decades since it was first developed, Monsanto has been accused of covering up or failing to report dioxin contamination in a wide range of its products.

#7 – Agent Orange

During the early 1960s, Monsanto was one of the two primary manufacturers of Agent Orange, an herbicide / defoliant used for chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. Except Monsanto’s formula had dioxin levels many times higher than the Agent Orange produced by Dow Chemicals, the other manufacturer (which is why Monsanto was the key defendant in the lawsuit brought by Vietnam War veterans in the United States).

(Pictured at left, Anh and Trang Nhan, with their father, when they first arrived at the Hoi An Orphanage; below are the same brothers shortly before Trang’s death. Source: Kianh Foundation Newsletter, Dec. 2011[22])

As a result of the use of Agent Orange, Vietnam estimates that over 400,000 people were killed or maimed, 500,000 children were born with birth defects, and up to 1 million people were disabled or suffered from health problems—not to mention the far-reaching impact it had on the health of over 3 million American troops and their offspring.

Internal Monsanto memos show that Monsanto knew of the problems of dioxin contamination of Agent Orange when it sold it to the U.S. government for use in Vietnam. Despite the widespread health impact, Monsanto and Dow were allowed to appeal for and receive financial protection from the U.S. government against veterans seeking compensation for their exposure to Agent Orange.

In 2012, a long 50 years after Agent Orange was deployed, the clean-up effort has finally begun[23]. Yet the legacy of Agent Orange, and successive generations of body deformities[24], will remain in orphanages[25] throughout VietNam for decades to come.

(Think that can’t happen here? Two crops were recently genetically engineered[26] to withstand a weedkiller made with one of the major components of Agent Orange, 2,4-D[27], in order to combat “super weeds” that evolved due to the excessive use of RoundUp.)

8 – Petroleum-Based Fertilizer

In 1955, Monsanto began manufacturing petroleum-based fertilizer after purchasing a major oil refinery. Petroleum-based fertilizers can kill beneficial soil micro-organisms[28], sterilizing the soil and creating a dependence, like an addiction, to the synthetic replacements. Not the best addiction to have, considering the rising cost and dwindling supply of oil…

#9 – RoundUp

During the early 1970s, Monsanto founded their Agricultural Chemicals division with a focus on herbicides, and one herbicide in particular: RoundUp (glyphosate). Because of its ability to eradicate weeds literally overnight, RoundUp was quickly adopted by farmers. Its use increased even more when Monsanto introduced “RoundUp Ready” (glyphosate-resistant) crops, enabling farmers to saturate the entire field with weedkiller without killing the crops.

While glyphosate has been approved by regulatory bodies worldwide and is widely used, concerns about its effects on humans and the environment persist. RoundUp has been found in samples of groundwater[29], as well as soil[30], and even in streams and air[31] throughout the Midwest U.S., and increasingly in food. It has been linked to butterfly[32] mortality, and the proliferation of superweeds[33]. Studies in rats have shown consistently negative health impacts ranging from tumors, altered organ function, and infertility, to cancer and premature death. Reference the above “GMO Risks[34]” page which includes countless references to support these statements.

#10 – Aspartame (NutraSweet / Equal)

An accidental discovery during research on gastrointestinal hormones resulted in a uniquely sweet chemical: aspartame. During the clinical trials conducted on 7 infant monkeys as part of aspartame’s application for FDA approval, 1 monkey died and 5 other monkeys had grand mal seizures—yet somehow aspartame was still approved by the FDA in 1974. In 1985, Monsanto acquired the company responsible for aspartame’s manufacture (G.D. Searle) and began marketing the product as NutraSweet. Twenty years later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report listing 94 health issues[35] caused by aspartame.

#11 – Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)

This genetically modified hormone was developed by Monsanto to be injected into dairy cows to produce more milk. Cows subjected to rBGH suffer excruciating pain due to swollen udders and mastitis[36], and the pus[37] from the resulting infection enters the milk supply[38] requiring the use of additional antibiotics. rBGH milk has been linked to breast cancer[39], colon cancer[40], and prostate cancer[41] in humans.

#12 – Genetically Modified Crops / GMOs

In the early 1990s, Monsanto began gene-splicing corn, cotton, soy, and canola with DNA from a foreign source to achieve one of two traits: an internally-generated pesticide, or an internal resistance to Monsanto’s weedkiller RoundUp. Despite decades of promises that genetically engineered crops would feed the world with more nutrients, drought resistance, or yield, the majority of Monsanto’s profits[42] are from seeds that are engineered to tolerate Monsanto’s RoundUp—an ever-rising, dual income stream as weeds continue to evolve resistance to RoundUp[43].

Most sobering however, is that the world is once again buying into Monsanto’s “safe” claims.

Just like the early days of PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, Monsanto has successfully fooled the general public and regulatory agencies into believing that RoundUp, and the genetically modified crops that help sell RoundUp, are “safe.”

Except Monsanto has learned a thing or two in the past 100+ years of defending its dirty products: these days, when a new study proving the negative health or environmental impacts of GMOs emerges, Monsanto attacks the study and its scientist(s) by flooding the media with counter claims from “independent” organizations, scientists, industry associations, blogs, sponsored social media, and articles by “private” public relations firms—frequently founded, funded and maintained by Monsanto.

Unfortunately, few of us take the time to trace the members, founders, and relationships of these seemingly valid sources back to their little Monsanto secret.

Fooling the FDA[44] required a slightly different approach: click on the below chart compiled by Millions Against Monsanto[45] to see how many former Monsanto VPs and legal counsel are now holding positions with the FDA. And don’t forget Clarence Thomas, former Monsanto attorney who is now a Supreme Court Justice, ruling in favor of Monsanto in every case brought before him.

 

 

 

A Baker’s Dozen: #13 – Terminator Seeds

In the late 1990s, Monsanto developed the technology to produce sterile grains unable to germinate. These “Terminator Seeds[46]” would force farmers to buy new seeds from Monsanto year after year, rather than save and reuse the seeds from their harvest as they’ve been doing throughout centuries. Fortunately this technology never came to market. Instead, Monsanto chose to require farmers to sign a contract agreeing that they will not save or sell seeds from year to year, which forces them to buy new seeds and preempts the need for a “terminator gene.” Lucky for us… since the terminator seeds were capable of cross-pollination and could have contaminated local non-sterile crops.

What’s the Result of our Monsanto Legacy?

Between 75% to 80% of the processed food[47] you consume every day has GMOs inside, and residues of Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide outside. But it’s not just processed food—fresh fruit and vegetables are next: genetically engineered sweet corn[48] is already being sold at your local grocer, with apples and a host of other “natural” produce currently in field trials.

How is it that Monsanto is allowed to manipulate our food after such a dark product history? How is it they are allowed to cause such detrimental impact to our environment and our health?

According to the Organic Consumers Association[49], “There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the U.S. spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases.

Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, U.S. factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer—backed by farm subsidies[50]—while organic farmers receive no such subsidies.

Monsanto’s history reflects a consistent pattern of toxic chemicals, lawsuits, and manipulated science. Is this the kind of company we want controlling our world’s food supply?

P.S. Monsanto’s not alone. Other companies in the “Big Six” include Pioneer Hi-Bred International[51] (a subsidiary of DuPont), Syngenta AG[52], Dow Agrosciences[53] (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, BASF[54] (which is primarily a chemical company that is rapidly expanding their biotechnology division, and Bayer Cropscience[55] (a subsidiary of Bayer).

 

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TAGS: Agent Orange, Asparatame, Atom Bomb, Bovine Growth Hormones, Dayton Project, DDT, Dioxin, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Genetically Modified Crops, Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, Manhattan Project, Monsanto, Nuclear Weapons, PCBs, Petroleum-Based Fertilizer, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Polystyrene, Roundup, Roundup-Ready, Saccharin, Terminator Seeds, Vietnam

 

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Posted May 28, 2013 at 2:14 PM

 

What’s Going On? Commentary on a festival.

 WHAT’S GOING ON?

(IN THE WORLD)

 by William Olkowski, 5/20/13

 Is the nation of shop keepers and war mongers transforming into entertainment junkies?

 

I may have an answer to this question, but I certainly have an important pertinent observation to report.  I just came back from 4 days near Joshua Tree National Park attending something called Shakti Fest, a Celebration of the Divine Feminine (May17-19) at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.  My fiancé raved about this festival but I was cautious in my approach, but thought ok, she thinks it’s a good thing, so I went.

 

I came in cold to the event, mostly, since I had not attended a “festival” previously in my many decades.  She said its lots of music, dancing and yoga.  It didn’t sound too heavy, besides we needed a break.  A big plus was a rented house nearby with a pool.  So I went along.  It took a 4-5 hour drive from Santa Barbara to reach the desert grounds where the festival was located.  The place was nicely positioned amongst old Joshua tree expanses common to the area where the great National Park is located. 

 

WAS IT ENTERTAINMENT OR A RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT?

My approach to anything religious is very cautionary as I view such social institutions with great skepticism.  I was raised a catholic and the only good thing worth mentioning from that period is that once out of the social/mental trap/maze set up by this belief system, one gets inoculated against similar diseases.  For that I will always value my upbringing, for once bitten always warned.

The Shakti Fest, as it is called, smacked of religion when after the first day events.  These were mostly yoga sessions led by people who used certain words over and over again.  A sample would suffice: words like Universe, Divine, Heart, Love, Light, opening, healing, centering, etc.  As these were never defined I became suspicious.  Yet, the people seemed happy, interested in personal development, were engaged in music and dancing in a big way, and there were many yoga adepts, judged by the number carrying yoga mats, something I see regularly down here in Santa Barbara. 

I thought it doesn’t seem painful, nor does it have anything like the religious trappings from Christianity, like sin, the necessity to experience pain and suffering nor a mystical creator who died for our sins.  But they did mention reincarnation, karma, and somebody called Krishna, who I took to be an analogy to the monotheistic idea we call God.  But I slogged on with my suspicions because the context seemed benign. 

Besides the different workshops were full of young females, my estimate was about 1,500 people, 90% female, mostly young and pretty all dolled up in colorful costumes.  The night dancing went almost to 12 midnight and I staggered home after a brief drop in the hot tub.  In my sleep I was forced to admit that all those Goddesses who sang and danced and taught were great and “it couldn’t hurt, right?”

The Second Day I was converted to a “fester” and took in various yoga classes which in my decrepitude were refreshing, leaving me lightly exercised, or maybe exorcised would be a better term. 

I have a bad knee and some of the “exercises”, really procedures of stylized movement, with soft flute music, gongs, fluets and chants, lasting an hour or more were relaxing like I never experienced before.  And I danced deep into the night with the throng around the main stage.

I was puzzled by the constant reference to various words and phrases, apparently from Sanskrit and the funny stylized songs with regular audience responses, something I had only seen before in religious ceremonies.  Apparently, this form of music is called Kirtan and its a world-wide genre, much like the internet mob dancing also sweeping the world.

I concluded this festival is an expression a social movement, a sort of amalgam driven by musical artists primarily – certainly a social movement with its own belief system.  And since there was no priesthood but mostly muscian/artists/singers I was drawn in. 

Apparently this whole movement is an invasion from India being creolized or amalgamated by Americans into an entertainment, business thing, which looks like a religion but has no pope, nor hierarchy to control what is permitted or excluded.  There are impressarios in charge, apparently, but they seemed imbued with the spirit of festivals, sort of like a regular episotic Woodstock.  So I joined the throng and decided to find out how to learn a thing or two at a deeper level.

The third and last day, pushed me over the top.

This occurred primarily from a work shop on Tantric Love based on artistic interpretations of Indian sutras.  Here is the item describing the workshop from the catalogue:

“Laura Amazzone – Shakti and the Tantric Wisdom Goddesses!  This workshop is an exploration of the wisdom teachings of ten wildly passionate and independent expressions of Shakti known as the Tantric Wisdom Goddesses.  lauraamazone.com.

I chose this workshop because the one I had planned to attend was full up.  The randomness of the selection made the event even more special, but it also tells of a poor presentation in the catalogue.  Besides, it was inside and being inside compared to a tent-like mat-filled-session was more pleasant than being hot outdoors. 

Well, was I pleasantly surprised.  A friend pushed a small booklet into my hands called – The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche, PhD, just as the first performance began. 

Lorin and Laura were a team heading the workshop who explained what was to come next but opened with a most expressive enticing dance routine, played to music from a group of musicians sitting on the floor who were very familiar with the format and actually helped out making the expressions which followed most striking.

As a prelude to the series of interpretations by members of the audience, Laura performed an ecstatic dance, one component of which I will never forget, an erotic undulating representation of an orgasm. 

Although not named, the dance was easily recognized and fully acknowledged by the audience.  It was a beautiful sexual expression without being pornographic, better described as erotic.

The forward by Shiva Rea explains the text, translation from Sanskrit, being passed from generation to generation verbally and now translated by Lorin Roche into English — no small feat.  An example will suffice: “This text glows with an expansive intimacy in the conversation between two lovers, Bhairava and Devi (male and female, respectfully).  It releases a naturalness of being.” …

Here is sutra No. 60, which was translated into beautiful expressive dance by one of the volunteer participants — which itself was both surprisingly unpracticed yet beautifully authentic and seemed normal in this type of workshop:

“Rocking, undulating, swaying,

Carried by rhythm,

Cherish the streaming energy

Flooding your body

As a current of the divine.

 

Radiant One,

Ride the waves of ecstatic motion

Into a sublime fusion

Of passion and peace.”

 

So this little gem of a workshop made me glow and I went on to other similar experiences, with yoga demonstrations/teachings, and the finale capped the whole festival feeling, deep into the night with the kirtan music running into hours.  I danced along with a throng in front of the stage.  I was transformed into an appreciator rather than a skeptic.

As one of my heroines said (Gilda Radner, from Saturday Night Live’s early days), “It can’t hurt”.

Oh, by the way, this is what the Sanskrit word Shakti means (paraphrased from an article titled Mighty Shakti, by Dr. Lorin Roche in LA Yoga, May 2013:

power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability, faculty, skill, and effectiveness or efficacy (of a remedy).

I figured out what the festival was all about from combining various ideas expressed by different artists: love and passion is what could heal the violence and hatred fostered by our society, most of our political leaders, religions, institutions, and sick psychological failings.  If that is what you think you might just want to pay attention to, this festival/musically driven belief system.  It certainly looks like a good thing.  And besides I came home with some new interesting foods, drinks, music and information, along with a relaxed yet exercised danced out body, with a bunch of new ideas and daily practices.  That’s a good thing for an old skeptical atheist.

end

AT LAST SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF CHRISTIANITY

AT LAST SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF CHRISTIANITY

Labeling GMO’s?

By William Olkowski, PhD

Well, I am clapping for my religious friends and family for a recent report by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), on how to end world hunger.  As part of a broad alliance of world wide Christians some ecological sense may be emerging from a group I have little knowledge of.  The EAA are calling for food and farming systems instead of systems based on pesticides and GE seeds.  Haleluya!!

What’s so funny about that sort of statement is they think its based on the ” Christian values of fairness, care for creation and sustenance for generations. This global network of Christians calls for investment in agroecology. Why? Because it works.”

We should take “Whatever Works”, as Woody Allen recommends, but while keeping an open mind, let’s not let the brains fall out (from my favorite Skeptic), and forget that religions are still the greatest force working to keep us human’s apart.  And as long as we are separated there will be wars over oil, water, land, wildlife and other resources.  But there is common ground hardly explored, food security is one of them.

 

This is a global Week of Food Action, and as part of the push, a broad alliance of Christians from around the world has released a set of recommendations for ending world hunger.

Despite best attempts by the chemical industry to use “feeding the world” as moral justification to sell pesticides and proprietary, genetically engineered (GE) seeds to farmers worldwide, members of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance are calling for investment in agroecology. Why? Because it works.  Read further as there are some good examples which could have wide applicability.  Some few successes amidst so many tragedies, so let’s give the successes some clapping.

http://www.e-alliance.ch/en/s/news/single/article/2012/10/16/press-release-churches-take-action-for-food-justice/

Reason, Religion and Ecology

Reason, Religion and Ecology

by William Olkowski, 10.25.12

Reason is based on linking evidence to form an explanation.  There is no evidence that a god exists.  There are no answers to prayers, there is no being ever seen or heard.  The Universe may be infinite but no one knows for sure, but its much greater than any religion ever said.  The big bang is only one explanation for how the universe was created.  Astronomers and now physicists are finding evidence that may point to still other explanations.  That’s the nature of science, theories explain facts until new facts are not explainable with the earlier theory.  Science is a continuous discovery process.  Religion, in contrast, offers no evidence, and assumes mythical beings exists who no one has ever seen or perceived.  Its a static view which cannot be challenged.

There may be new explanations for the construction of the Universe, but they will not ever be supernatural as claimed by religion.  Religion and science cannot coexist in explaining natural phenomena, with one exception, the study of hallucinations induced by propaganda and repetition, particularly on young forming individuals before they have the capacity for critical thinking.  And no church teaches critical thinking.

So Where Does Religion Improve Civilization?

So far religions of the world, the traditional religions, for example, Christianity, Jewdacism, Islam, Hinduism, seem just ways to divide up humanity for competition and yet they carry useful historical information and all have their different, but overlapping, rules for living.  Even the schisms within the particular religions have led to competition which easily escalates into violence.  Scientific cosmology differs significantly with all these religions so could unite humanity by providing a common cosmology.   But this idea is resisted almost universally by those who carry past traditions as a prerequisite for their particular constellation of  beliefs and myths.

Science does not care directly for the poor as do many religions, yet is this not just a recruitment strategy.  Feed them and convert them to my belief system.  Still, there is some relief to misery and suffering, which should be the goal of all belief systems, right?  I wish it were so stated but alas, this idea does not resonate in any religion unless one sees Buddhism as a religion.  It, however, seems a bridge between philosophy and a religion, rather than just a religion.  Maybe my definition of a religion is limited by the nature of my knowledge of the major religions.

This could be so as I grew out of Catholicism into science as a belief system.

The pageantry, songs, myths, art, and architecture derived from the religions seem a statement of belief adorned by the imagination, which is truly amazing with one exception.  The exception is major, however.  Does art serve recruitment and maintenance of control over people, or does it truly elevate people to perform noble deeds?  Does science do this, in contrast?  At times I wonder, considering how scientists serve the military, giant corporations who ruin the biosphere and exploit natural resources without consideration of the future.

Maybe science and religion both carry reflections of the good and the bad of human nature and what we as humans must do is evolve first in our knowledge and place our history in perspective to this knowledge.

What Kind of Knowledge Could Unite Humanity?

Humans are animals and share many characteristics with animals, plants and microbes.  To deny this is to deny our senses, our historical record and all the recent knowledge derived from the last 100 or so years of biological knowledge.  Science is broad and encompasses biological information, but biological knowledge goes beyond just science in the traditional meanings of science.  The growth of scientific knowledge has arisen from the physical to the biological which truly dominates all knowledge now as we have come to understand how the Biosphere functions and how we fit into the Biosphere.

Ecological Awareness Could Unite Humanity

Ecology is the study of how life interrelates with non-life.  The Biosphere encompasses all life, for this discussion, life on Earth.  This life is derived from the non-living components of the planet with some regular inputs from the cosmos.  We are really made of star dust as Neal Tyson so poetically portrays humans.  We are made of the same elements we find in stars as judged by our knowledge of how different elements affect light which reaches us across immense distances and time. This awareness is the output of human discoveries in astronomy, which incidentally, has been obtained by the devoted and expenditure of lives of scientific saints like Galileo who risked their lives and actually gave their lives up for their discovered truths.  This parallels the saints of the traditional religions.

Bismark, the famous German leader, said to unity humans one must influence them to acknowledge a common enemy.  We have this enemy and He is us.  This was the theme of the famous book, Lord of the Flies which was also made into a movie of the same title.

The Enemy is US

Us here is not an abbreviation for the United States as many in the world believe to the point of sacrifice of lives, although they may be justified in this belief by our political/industrial/religious behavior.  We project a violence in all these realms which the world recognizes but which we fail to recognize ourselves.

In the broadest sense the enemy is humanity in its relentless, mindless exploitation of the planets resources to the point of threatening human existence.

Merely  the nuclear arsenals of the world, particularly the arsenal of the United States, threatens the Biosphere.  A mere 100 nuclear bombs could vaporize the living world by shutting out the sun with dirty particles in the atmosphere.  This scenario was developed over 50 years ago and has not yet been internalized into national policies to limit and eliminate nuclear weapons and their supporting electric power generation systems, which number in the hundreds.  Nuclear power is the most dirty of all the power sources available for electric generation, by far.  Just the major waste product, plutonium, with a half life of 24,000 years tells that story.

 

Population Control is Taboo

Have you recognized that no politician has endorsed any measures to limit  population, with only one exception: China.  China has had a one-child policy for decades now.  Maybe this is because it is not a democracy.  China is a modern day oligarchy, which is defined by rule by an elite.

—————

Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning “a few”, and ἄρχω (archo), meaning “to rule or to command”)[1][2][3]is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next.[citation needed]

Throughout history, oligarchies have been tyrannical (relying on public servitude to exist) or relatively benign. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich,[4] for which the exact term is plutocracy, but oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy.

From Wikipedia

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The United States, in contrast to China, is evolving toward an Plutocracy.  Economic power is concentrated in fewer and fewer, almost unknown hands.  The plutocrats are basically unknown.  They exert their power by domination of the political system through public media, with one exception so far: the internet.

If the democracy of the United States’ can be saved from its slide into plutocracy it will be through the internet as the main media sources, TV, newspapers and publishing are all now dominated by personal and corporate bodies.  These, in turn, manipulate the government through political appointments over the civil service, judicial and executive branches, even the military, now transformed into a mercenary institution.  This is, and was, done by domination of the electoral processes, including districting, methods of voting, methods of debating issues and policies, electoral college, and advertizing expenditures.  This has created a military/industrial complex previously warned about by D.W. Eisenhower in his parting speech.

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Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows people to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.

The term originates from the Greek: δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,[1] which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (kratos) “power”, around 400 BCE, to denote the political systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens.

A democratic government contrasts to forms of government where power is either held by one, as in a monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy or aristocracy.  Nevertheless, these oppositions, inherited from Greek philosophy, are now ambiguous because contemporary governments have mixed democratic, oligarchic, and monarchic elements. Karl Popper defined democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them without the need for a revolution.[2]

Several variants of democracy exist, but there are two basic forms, both of which concern how the whole body of citizens executes its will. One form of democracy is direct democracy, in which citizens have direct and active participation in the decision making of the government. In most modern democracies, the whole body of citizens remain the sovereign power but political power is exercised indirectly through elected representatives; this is called representative democracy. The concept of representative democracy arose largely from ideas and institutions that developed during the European Middle Ages, the Age of Enlightenment, and the American and French Revolutions.[3]

From Wikipedia

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The Hope of the Internet

It could all be different, however, if there were a deep and comprehensive attempt at moving toward a true democracy, which could be facilitated by communications across the internet.  But democracy demands a good public educational system as alone, public elections can be dominated by demigods.  G.W. Bush is a good example, with his cadre of psychopaths.

An imagination experiment carries this idea by a universal voting scenario example.  Today it is possible to have all candidates for all elections listed by name and governmental organization.  All funding measures and legal proceedings could be similarly listed with votes tabulated via independent computer systems.  We can, for the most part, now assure most people that voting systems can be made secure, as financial systems make this claim every day.  Sure there will be cheaters but the possibilities are good for universal participation.  All ballots could be available on public and private computer screens, for example, along with a voting system to track votes.

 

No country has yet instituted such a system but nescient voting and listing systems are in effect, but they are not yet integrated.  The debacle of compromised voting demonstrated so aptly by the plutocratic manipulations which brought us G.W. Bush and the now incessant wars should never be forgotten in pursuit of such a universal voting and electing system.

 

I still have hopes, although they are tarnished by the presidential election debacle.  How much does your politician cost?

 

William Olkowski, PhD.

 

Dr. William Olkowski is a specialist in Integrated Pest Management and Biological Control of Insects and an active Environmentalist, gardener, teacher and perpetual student.

His books include “Common Sense Pest Control” and “The Gardeners Guide to Least Toxic Pest Control” and the Integral Urban House, among others.  His publications include other books, scientific papers, government reports, book reviews, technical pest control manuals, and more extensively, articles in the “IPM Practitioner” and “Common Sense Pest Control Quarterly for over 25 years.” His blog covers book reviews on health, ecology, parasitology, medical entomology, among others, essays, movie reviews, personal poems and rants.  A website includes many of his published scientific papers, paintings, poems, and project reports.   He has consulted with the EPA, NPS, AID, NIH, private businesses and city, county and state agencies about least toxic pest control.  He is familiar with various ecological social organizations from starting non-profit organizations, and is proud of helping to start the first recycling centers in the US, the first ecology center (in Berkeley), and the Farallones Institute, Antioch College West, and a small farm based school for educating disadvantaged young women.  Now based in Santa Barbara, CA, at  wo1615@gmail.com.

 

MRSA and GMOs: is There a Connection?

MRSA and GMOs: is There a Connection?

by William Olkowski, PhD

10.13.12

This is a note presenting a hypothesis for further testing and confirmation: that MRSA and GMO’s are linked.

Staphylococcus. aureus is a commensal bacteria found in most people, but with some it gains entry to the blood stream and causes first flu-like symptoms and later full blown fresh eating disease of horrible consequences.  When antibiotics fail to eliminate it the infection it  is called MRSA.  MRSA is short for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus  Aureus (see Wikipedia for history and background).  Although MRSA was first widely connected to hospitals later it was also found in the community.  Which came first is unknown.  See my book review on MRSA on my blog (entomologicalPhilosopher.com).

For background information in addition to Wikepedia, check the online textbook of bacteriology at: http://textbookofbacteriology.net/staph.html.   Each year, some 500,000 patients in American hospitals contract a staphylococcal infection (1).

I think SA  gains entry to the blood stream regularly through the skin, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, and the alimentary tract but in most people, who are healthier,  it is eliminated by their  immune system.  The standard treatment is a short coarse of antibiotics (ABs) but this does not help many people who have long term infections. Others are treated with ABs and eliminate the infection.  When MRSA was found in the US a few years back, in Europe where all people admitted to hospitals are tested the problem was not as severe..  This occurred because the insurance companies in the US did not want to pay for these simple nose swab and culturing tests.  Consequently the problem became prominent and deadly for many people, surely unnecessary.  Hurrah for the almighty buck and our for-profit health care system.

So there might be some basis for the snake oil treatments of all sorts when faced with an incurable MRSA case.  I don’t know and am not pushing any treatments one way or the other.  I am interested in how the bacteria gains entry to the blood stream.  I learned some valuable lessons when caring for my wife Helga who experienced a stroke which eventually killed her.  Stroke victims are universally susceptible to infections.  With her as my patient I learned  that there is something called Leaky Gut. I learned this by reading and by sending saliva samples for antibody analysis.  Lab results come back showing  she was carrying a wide range of anti bodies to most foods.  I did not believe the results at first, but by rotating diet components and repeated saliva samples and other diet changes we got it under better control – meaning fewer and fewer reactive antibodies where previously there was a reaction.  The number of foods she was allergic to went down slowly, but became greatly reduced.

Enter Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Now comes my latest AHA experience.  Since her death I have become very active in passing Proposition 37 here in CA.  My interest was peaked by Jeffrey Smith’s book: Genetic Roulette.  It’s a great book (see book review on blog) summarizing a huge range of studies implicating GMO altered crops in many maladies.  Now I used Bt for many years and know how it kills certain groups of insects: by disruption of the gut walls which allow a bacterial spore to sporulate, and the combination of the proteinaceous toxin and the sporulating microbe kills the bug.  The protein toxin opens the gut so the spore can gain entry to the blood system.  Used an a traditional spray on insecticide it is a superior product because it is highly selective, not killing natural enemies as most other insecticides and  showed no reactions in human feeding tests.  I treated it as virtually harmless solution.  And it was most helpful in reducing unecessary pesticides.

Now that Bt corn has been secretly introduced into the world’s diet by Monsanto et al, blessed by a dysfunctional and compromised regulatory system (gift from Reagan-Bush), we have been eating Bt toxins for many years.  That is if we were eating the altered foods.  And since we don’t know if we are eating them because they are not labeled it is likely to affect most people.

Monsanto is  the same corporation who gave us agent orange, DDT, the herbicide 2,4-D and now the universal contaminant herbicide glyphosate.  All were declared safe and if not banned contaminate all our bodies, air, water, soils and wildlife.  DDT, for example, banned in 1972 still shows up in large samples of human tissues in the US, particularly in umbilicord samples.  Such umbilicord samples mean the embryo, so sacred to our Republican friends, are subject to its carcinogenetic, teratorgenic, mutagenic and hormone disruptors at very low dosages when the new human is just a single cell or just a bunch of cells.  Its better to be borne crippled than to die in utero, right?  Any takers?

Even a few meals of Bt corn, soybeans, sugar (fr. beets), canola oil, and a few other less common foods, can transfer the Bt genes to human gut flora.  Then the gut flora produces Bt toxins on a continuous basis.  This is not the same thing as spraying a Bt insecticide, no way.

An AHA FLASH?

Now comes the flash: Leaky gut in humans may be caused by GMO foods.  If not the principle causes they  can certainly make a bad situation worse.  And that can account for the invasion of a normal commensal,  S. aureus, into the blood stream by gut disruption, the very same method the microbe uses against pest insects.  Most people are healthy enough to regularly round up these critters, but the oldies and compromised don’t have this sort of protection any more.

And the kicker is that we don’t need Bt corn, nor any other GMO foods.  These crops are not higher producers but lead to resistance as pollens carried by the wind distribute them across huge sections of the Biosphere.

Now what do you think of that?  Scares me no end.  We already have many epidemics of flu, other viruses like West Nile Virus,  food borne illness caused by mirobial contamination, neurological problems, the key one of which is electing Reagan, Bush and now Romney is on the way.  I am sad for our country.  And note that 50 other countries have labeling laws and once labeled the foods are not selected and consequently are not grown.  Our agricultural policy goes along with our military policy, and our belief’s in a mythical god who will protect us and save us from ourselves.  I wish it were true.  No wonder much of the world hates us.  Can you connect the dots?

Reference cited:

1)  Bowersox, J.  1999.  “Experimental Staph Vaccine Broadly Protective in Animal Studies”. NIH. Archived from the original on 5 May 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2007. (from wikipedia).

 

 

THE GMO HEALTH DEBATE: War of the Blogs

THE GMO HEALTH DEBATE: War of the Blogs by William Olkowski, PhD. 10.1.12

This so called GMO health debate is shaping up to be another David and Goliath Story, with the prize – all life. We have on the Right, Big Ole Goliath paid for by the well heeled Monsanto Group (Monsanto and Nine Others, Including DuPont). They have already started the cascade of lies, twisted reasoning, ad hominum attacks, reinterpretation and critiques of poorly funded studies, Jeffrey Smith warns us about in the book Genetic Roulette. But now I see an actual gas-type attack starting and the fog is coming our way. I call this a reasoning fog, the most deadly weapon in their arsenal. The poorly funded Academics are now certainly hard to see. And then there are people like me, volunteers, who can think critically and are able to connect the dots. They don’t know I am here.

David and Goliath Are Made Up of People There’s similarity in structure between the protagonists but the Giant has bad feet, the ground is quaking. But the beast will fight back fiercely. It’s now and it’s for all life, including us humans, a most vulnerable species, VS the thousands or so employees (of the Monsantoes and their untold numbers of stock holders).

Here is a Weak Blast from the PRO CROWD?

The blast comes from discovery magazine, no author is specified in the reference my Google Search Engine creates which delivers my GMO mail each day. Normally this survey tool documents a ground swell of great proportions for Yes on 37 the California proposition to label genetically modified foods. Plus, my recent sampling of an old rocker crowd of 5,000 here at the Santa Barbara bowl (Led Zeplin was playing) of 5,000 at least 1,000 gave me the thumb up sign, mostly women. The seats were selling for over $80 bucks on average. Some were going for $125, so a guard tells me.

Here is the citation, check it out yourself.

News 13 new results for Genetically Modified Organisms Under Controlled: Why the New GMO Panic Is More Sensational Than Sense Discover Magazine (blog). Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have always been a controversial topic. On the one hand are the many benefits: the higher crop yields from pesticide- and insect-resistant crops, and the nutritional modifications that can make such a difference in … See all stories on this topic.

Read the above announcement and then read the review with a critical eye, at least with the same level of scrutiny the author displays in her critique. She is saying yes there is a problem but your proof needs further work and better descriptions. No argument there. The conclusion stands, however, until another study confirms or challenges the conclusion with evidence. That’s real science at work. Evidence needs confirmation. At least the study shows a potential exposure route and really bad physiological effects. And there are many other studies showing potential harm in animal tests. These are not mentioned by this author neither is Jeffrey Smith’s book, Genetic Roulette. And the announcement implies great yield improvements are happening, something debatable, for sure.

She does not take the conclusions of the study that GMO foods are causing tumors, but weakens the conclusion by saying its a small study of 200 rats, even though it ran for two years. Aparently its the longest known feeding study (from France). Note that our science establishment did not do the longest study so far.

BACK TO THE BATTLE FIELD

It’s us good guys, outnumbered and outgunned against the giant with all the money, over $30 million so far poured into the No on 37 campaign. The fear that labelling, already done in 50 other countries will reduce purchase and use of such foods is the source of this money. We have a pittance in comparison. But remember the Giant has only one EYE, did you notice it? He sees movement like we do, but he has a haze around his head. The haze is created by money, and he must see through this haze to move around.

These Monsantoes are very smart, experienced, well paid mix of business types, and even scientists who have swallowed the business hook. The hook is this twisted sharp tool called money, one of the main roots of all evil. These Monsantoes, if they think, think that money is how you keep score in life. They think the profit motive is untouchable, and its the only reason one has for living.

We have Right and Truth on our side, however, and ultimately these helpers will win the battle. We have brains that are connected to our ethics, certainly our politics. As for behavior, I think GMOs are criminal and the whole lot of 10 Genetic Modifying Companies should be bought by the all the governments where the Monsantoes have property; bought at cost, and run as an interim non-profit, and phased out. We don’t need GMOs and never have. We all ate before GMOs and will do so again. The existence of organic farmers, who demand a higher price for their products should be proof enough that good food is great and possible. But this requires people who could think clearly.

If corporations are people lets use the death penalty, after all when the dust settles and I am right many people have and will suffer needless painful deaths from the poison these poison peddlers are peddling. Close the businesses is the equivalent of the personal death penalty, no need to actually hang, or inject the CEOs, etc.

And we will not demand an apology for contaminating us and the biosphere with corrupted genetic material. No, just get out of the business, retire everybody, let an international UN committee run the 10 corporation as a public corporation and wind down the stock of contaminated seeds. Go out of business, go away.

I wish it were that easy. And I hope I am wrong, but right now there is a stink so bad it dwarfs even Fukushima, certainly one of the biggest stinkers of all times. How many stinkers do we need to change things? Apparently we need too many.

BIOSPHERE CONTAMINATION IS FOREVER

There is also concern for contaminating the biosphere, including our gut fauna. A contaminated gut fauna will convert other normal gut bacteria to producing Bt poisons, proteinacious poisons, on a continuous basis. Round Up Ready corn has the herbicide in the corn. This happens when the herbicide is sprayed over the plants since the plants are resistance to herbicide damage. Don’t worry we will breed a human tolerant strain like the microbes do, by selection. Selection here means no reproduction process is safe from exposure to these microbial poisons and “cides”. And we also have the herbicide glyphosate offering synergistic effects in combination with Bt genes in the same corn plant. This adds fuel on a hot fire already. Let’s throw the fire back at that eye.

HOW MUCH DOES A SCIENTIST COST

Cheaper than a bought-politician. Cardiologists start at least at $100 grand per year with benefits, a little above an entry policeman. My bet is that’s the salary level of a bench scientist in these companies. But I could be wrong. This group buys scientists by the bucket full, why they can even buy movies, certainly a science writer or two.

ON THE MOVIE FRONT

On this front however, surely the first effective blow was delivered by Jeffrey Smith in his book and movie, Genetic Roulette. Before that it was the Seeds of Deception. This Roulette movie could by itself take down the giant. He tells of test animals dying with disrupted guts, infections, tumors, a panoply of altered molecules producing organ changes and certainly not dying the best way, quick and fast, but slow and painfully.

The microbial poisons in Bt corn, for example, kill slowly acting like chronic poisons, like the blood thinner poison and medicine called Warfarin. This analogy is strong. To use warfarin against a rat, for example, the animals must be baited first to establish a habituary gustatory exposure route. Then after a day or two, the poison is introduced. Warfarin works very slowly, a few days after an effective dose is built up. With repeated ingestion the animal bleeds to death and dies from dehydration. During this time they wander and search frantically for water. After a “baiting” session or two dried carcasses, not picked up by the poisoner, can be found as the dying animals crawl deeper into their runways, die and dry up.

THIS IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE SO FAR

The biological issues Genetic Roulette alone raises, point to the need for a make over in FDA, EPA and USDA regulatory systems. Certainly a human health disaster OF MASSIVE PROPORTIONS is a potential outcome. It may dwarf Chernobyl reactor mortality cases, set at ONE MILLION. But genetic pollution is worse than even nuclear pollution. Genetic pollution is forever, while nuclear pollution is just a few hundred thousand years, for example. That makes genetic pollution potentially greater than nuclear pollution.

ON THE RELIGIOUS FRONT

I take it that Gaia is doing some furniture moving. She could be working on chopping off a chunk of humanity. However, beneficial in any case this will certainly lead to another financial fiasco with its old shell game: The rich getting richer, the poor, poorer. That’s two positive feedback mechanisms going in opposite directions. But the medical industry loves disease, after all, they cannot make money when someone just ups and dies. They must suffer so at least can get pain medications.

If I had any stock in these companies I would sell it now, for they are going to loose. Even with surely some multiple of the pennies in our war chest they will loose. “You can’t fool all the people all the time.” But we have the TRUTH. With the Truth as David we will damage the giant. Even the $30 million that the Monsantoes are using to fight the Yes on 37 campaign is chicken feed with these companies PROFITTING billions, every year. More is needed to cure ourselves.

WOMEN WAKE UP YOUR GUYS

Are women smarter? I wonder how many women work for the Monsantoes? Employees for Monsantoes probably number in the high 3 orders of magnitude, but I bet a maximum of only 5 % are women. And they have the lower incomes of course. That figure will tell a lot. The upper income levels in these companies are probably all males. Competition and battle is what males do, females are responsible for the next generation. So ladies, wake up your guys. Your kids are being damaged by GMO foods and have been so for almost 15 yrs, now. We are now discovering we are all contaminated with a microbial toxin, it’s the new generation’s DDT coming around again.

THE BIOSPHERE IS UP ON THE SELLERS BLOCK

What is at stake in this battle is not just WHO WINS THE battle, but all life for all future time. The GMO stuff is another set of world wide contaminants yes, but this poison in a new kid on the block. This one makes poison, like a small scale factory, you just have to get it out there into human guts. These inserted gene collections are molecule makers. These excrete proteins that are altering the genetics of the biosphere, BIGTIME.

Toxicants, like those produced by Bt destroy other molecules and tissues, certainly as they penetrate cell walls in insects, test animals and most probably any human who eats GMO contaminated foods. But it’s a slow acting poisoning process hard to detect. The food chains of the world are already contaminated by numerous pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, metals, and medicines. So are all the waterways, great areas of fertile soils, and air masses, ALL have their doses, like ours. Nobody is adding it all up. Nobody keeps tract of all the poisons. If they do, it should be public information, forget the patent laws.

We are not same people who fought Goliaths before, like Nazi Germany. We are distracted and poisoned to some degree, sometimes I think actually neurologically impaired. That’s how I account for the closeness of the political poll results. A lot of people even look neurologically impaired and can’t reason logically. I think neurological damage and political belief are connected but I am willing to learn differently. Please tell me that there is some brain power left in enough people to swing a moratorium. That’s what is needed now, stop all creation and production of GMO foods. We don’t know what we are doing with this technology.

This would not be the first time a halt was made in technological development. We have the stupid stop or brakes put on researching stem cells which was a big mistake. Before that the Supersonic Transport was stopped which was good. Now we must stop genetic food tampering.

SOME SPECULATIONS: What to do Now? DONT EAT PROCESSED FOODS

Eat Organic Pay more now so you don’t pay later to the Medical Industry.

By processed foods I mean anything with corn, soybeans, sugar, canola oil, cotonseed, sugar beets, Hawaiian Papaya (most) and a small amount of Zucchini and Yellow Squash, for starters. GM alfalfa is fed to livestock and that includes hamburgers, milk and milk products.. Eat organic foods because they are subject to third party verification.

HYPOTHESIZING that people are being exposed to nerve poisons is not just a speculation, many pesticides are derived from poison gases used in WWII. Organochlorines and organophosphates are all nerve poisons, and now many have been found to be hormone mimics. Nerve poisons are among the worst poisons as they kill nerve cells. So one should examine nerve diseases for rate changes, or frequency changes correlated in time to about 15 years ago when the first genetically engineered (GE) crops were approved (First Bush to G.W. Bush, etc). I will begin a search but can someone help me here?

Further, I would check the rosters of all the advisory committees at EPA, FDA, and USDA appointments for former employees of these companies. Those are the generals for the Other side, the Monsantoes. Lets get them out. Establish citizen advisors and pay them for their time and representation. Select from the Sierra Club, for example. Why not, we select from Monsantoes now, why not plain old citizens?

WHO WILL WIN? LIFE OR DEATH? AT WHAT COST?

I am rooting for David who is supported by volunteers like me. But Goliath is much bigger being supported by the Monsanto Group. The David and Goliath analogy is applicable here because a classic RESOURCE mismatch of epic proportions has started. This is certainly true if you count up the millions being poured into the impending misinformation campaign courtesy of the Monsantoe Group. Remember now, there are many scientists, certainly agronomists, horticulturalists, entomologists, physiologists, medical researchers, statisticians, and microbiologists working for the Monsantoes of the world. Some will lose their jobs if Yes on 37 passes and it cascades across the US. The strategy of the intricate defense can create a mental fog, in which the evidence gets obscured, all by design. Then our lawyers in Washington will all have a field day, talking to each other until millions more are threatened. Lawyers are not scientists, nor are all scientists biologists. Lawyers don’t examine biological data so just follow the authority they like. This is a risky way to make decisions affecting the whole Biosphere. 15-20 years of virtually constant human exposures to microbial proteinacious toxins and herbicides via the alimentary tract are turning up health problems in the simplest association, which is correlation. Even I can see the patterns after a few minutes of movie exposure watching Genetic Roulette. Percentages can be compared also. Even percentage comparison as indicators might show patterns for further examination.

And there are excellent theoretical indicators that physiological damage is very likely upon toxic exposure of living cells to Bt toxins, certainly those in the human gut. After all, Bt was discovered by insect pathologists and later showed great selectivity. There were different strains more effective in a pest control sense with different species, i.e., larval flies, Lepidoptera and Coleoptera. The toxin kills by disrupting the cell wall in the insect stomach, or at least somewhere along the alimentary tract. A tissue study can be done rapidly and monitored on a daily basis with chromatograph sampling and X-Ray diffraction (or whatever is now state of the art) studies to determine molecular structure. Toxicity evaluations based on low dose exposures with ability to detect genetic damage are vitally needed.

Consider a molecule able to tear through the alimentary tract in a wide range of insects. Consider the number of cells which would be needed to be killed to allow sporulation in the hemolymph of other insect species, mice and rats. An Ames Test would be low cost and can be used to evaluate if this toxic can destroy the same type of cells, i.e., to at least damage or kill the same number of cells damaged in an insect, in their guts. Now, proteinacious toxins able to kill insects, including hundreds of species are not innocuous. Just because feeding studies done with commercial Bt products show good safety margins, does not mean they are innocuous. The Bt spore and crystal protein toxin level required for ingestion by immature insects should be acknowledged as a poor indicator of safety when millions of people are eating the toxins.

Pregnant women and those just pregnant must be alerted to the potential teratogentic hazard. Proteinacious toxins can be expected to elicit immune responses. Opening gut tissues allows incompletely digested materials into the blood stream where they elicit an immune response, leading to inflammation, already associated with numerous aging diseases, like arthritis, heart disease, and even cancers. A real epidemiological study would have to compile all diseases associated with an immune response, so all microbial infections, especially West Nile Virus is a target, being so much in the news recently. Since 36,000 die each year from influenza, even an examination of changes in influenza cases might be useful. To this formidable list must be added allergies, attention deficit disorder, depression, mental diseases, liver and kidney diseases. These should also be evaluated individually and in combinations using multiple correlation analysis. Let’s use our big computers for such studies rather than collecting all the emails of the US into some huge building. Imagine now they will have robots reading our mail, including this message. I wonder what a machine would make of our stupidity.

Positive indicators in epidemiology indicate the need for emergency study of causes. So we must demand further study, but also demand a moratorium on new genetic food products while the issue gets examined. All sales of GMO products should cease.

TO THE GOVERNMENTAL WORKERS at EPA, FDA, AND USDA

Our government regulators are contaminated by former employees of the very companies they are tasked to regulate, and so is our government, right up to the not so Surpreme Court. From this sort of government impartiality we are told such genetically modified products are safe. Is it true that, THESE GMO PRODUCTS were approved with no evaluations, just assumptions? Nobody has told me other wise. It would be interesting to have a justice probe to understand the financial relationships of these companies to our elected officials and our civil servants, also.

RESEARCH COSTS BIG MONEY and, SO DOES ADVERTISING.

Independent research costs money and whatever publically supported scientists are able to assemble by way evidence has already alerted us to a pending acknowledged health epidemic OF TRAGIC PROPORTIONS. Early results are important as they point in dark directions for millions of people who have been eating these poisoned foods.

Some FACTs for Review.

Millions of People Have been Eating a Tiny Bit of Pertinacious Poison for about 15 years since the first GMO product was approved. This poison is produced by some kind of mix of genetic material forced in the genomes of crop plants which are eaten directly, or as a processed food. Corn and soybeans are fed to cows, so beef, milk and milk products are worth examinations. Other genetic alterations are occurring on various animals (mosquitoes, pigs, some other domestic animals) as well. This should be stopped on logical grounds alone. These poisons will effect all future generations once released, because they do not stay in the plant, they move with the wind in pollens. I bet no one cleared the pollens of GMO crops for air contamination. I would hate to breathe on any GMO farm.

The potential is there for tragedy, so I would like to be shown evidence to prove me wrong. Prove to me that Bt toxin is safe for realistic exposure levels for the life of test mice, and rats, for starters. More study would be helpful. Who will fund this? Not the biggest research institutions in the world, certainly not the pharmaceutical industry. Public sources like CDC, NIH, USDA, EPA, FDA will fund such studies? Can we believe them now? I would also like tests done on fungi, bacteria, viruses, worms, in vitro. This could be a tiered test system, moving up to more complex forms of life once and if damage levels are detected in the lower forms. We are already ready for upper level testing. But why go on?

A moratorium now may be most critical. Since adequate testing was not done before registration, let’ s stop sales, and test. Such studies should not be held up to the best studies money can buy at this moment. Risks based on lower than the 95% level can be correct and aid preventative strategies as they can lead to prevention of further genetic contamination. Such strategies are not subject to the 95% rule when the stakes are so high. Even a 70% level in such a regulatory context should be enough to stop further registrations, certainly further sales. Stopping the production of more genetic modified seeds until evidence shows they are safe is rational.

Our Toxic Substances Control Act needs a drastic overhaul.

MONEY- MONEY-MONEY – MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND

Of course we all know where all the money is, it’s in the military and in the chemical industry, Monsanto and their ilk. We must get over money as the way to keep score. How about a Nobel Prize for Compassion and Pain relief? How exactly was those first GMO products released? Who was paid off? Lets retire them to Lompoc Prison. =========== end

Does the Mayan Calendar Predict the End of the World?

Does the Mayan Calendar Predict the End of the World?

By William Olkowski, PhD. 9.22.12

I heard the Spindrift broadcast, on Thursday 9:30 am to 10:00 on 91.9 FM, and found it lively, informative and knowledgeable.  I learned that the peak of Mayan civilization was about 910 AD, when Europe was in the midst of the dark ages.  This Mayan civilization ran from 850 BC to 1050 AD, a period of over 1000 years.  Comparatively, this was a good run by an isolated people living out of jungle ecosystems with only underground fresh water cisterns for drinking and crop irrigation.

The mythological end of the world is said to be near the end of December this year.  But as is commonly discovered with such prophecies this one is illusory.   In this case the prophecy is merely the end of their calendar records.  This so called prophecy is based on a speculative interpretation of one major surviving monument. The speculation is a an evidence stretcher due to several factors, particularly a hazy interpretation of one surviving monument.  This momument, like the whole group of structures was hidden by jungle overgrowth until the early 20th century.

The discovery of the amazing structures hidden by jungle overgrowth for a thousand years created a sensation at first and many people still are transfixed by so many great stone buildings and temples arising out of the jungle. The pyramid-like structures were rediscovered and restored by intrepid archaeologists and rugged adventurers.  New discoveries are still happening as more recovery and interpretive work is done.

Mayan monuments are called steles and were the focus of a long term decoding project by many scholars around the world. The monuments are limestone upright 4 x 6 feet structures which report on various dynasties, with records of battles, births and deaths of kings, and their families.  The glyphs displayed on these steels and buildings seemed to be Egyptian-like at first but were based on a novel language/symbol system which defied decoding for many decades.  They were finally decoded in the late 1900s. Most of the glyphs document various dynasties, roughly each about 400 years.

The written records of the civilization are largely lost due to one Spanish padre who took it upon himself to burn all 20,000 written codexes.  This is the sort of standard genocidal efforts made by the Catholic church and other conquerors on other civilizations around the world. Only three codexes survived. They were written on fig bark papers.  This catastrophe occurred during the brutal Spanish occupation in 1562.

The Mayans had two calendar systems one based on a 28 day cycle (moon), the other a 60 day cycle, the later believed is believed to  be modeled on the Venus annual circumnavigation of the sun.  An alternative explanation for the 60 day cycle is the period of maze development.

Jeanine Kitchel’s book  “Maya 2012 Revealed, Demystifying the Prophecy” promises to be a great read.  Kitchel informs us that the Mayans are still with us at 7 million strong spread out in a different Central American countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, etc).  After the civilization crashed mysteriously the people scattered into the jungles where they carried on the same rituals and customs developed during their heyday.

The end date speculation is based on rather limited evidence, mostly from a broken Steele, the pieces of which were scattered in Europe andMexico. The paper and photo recreation of this steel is interpreted as announcing an end date because is reads something like: “God will descend after 13 periods (which was interpreted to mean the end of December this year); and then, there was to be a renewal.”

Commentary:

I like the idea of a renewal, it’s sort of promises a bright future for a world community.  This is something vitally needed today, but I hope not maintained by force of arms and bloody wasteful wars as our history so tragically documents. The Mayans are believed to have lost their cities about 1000 AD from a 200 year drought.

We in North America are now in a severe drought year (and trend) with large scale wildfires, dropping water levels and threatened farmers.  Drought and climate change is of vital interest today. Can we learn something from the Mayans? We don’t have a jungle to retreat into, however.  Lots of questions here that a 30 minute program cannot conceivably cover. Read the book for further details and maybe some guidance on survival.

Ice core data and other collaborating evidence shows that a long term drough sometimes lasting a 1,000 years or more occurred repeatedly in human history.  One of such long term drought almost snuffed out our species as it wandered North from Southern Africa.  Such a period can be triggered by climate change in as short 3 years.

end comment

Spindrift is hosted by Marika Davidek on 91.9 FM on the UC Santa Barbara campus (KCSB).  See the program announcement on the authors biographical notes and program description on the station website.

 

HOMOPHOBIA AND THE BOY SCOUTS.

HOMOPHOBIA AND THE BOY SCOUTS OFAMERICA

By William Olkowski, posted 9.14.12

The Boy Scouts of America has reaffirmed its exclusion of known homosexual men from membership and as volunteer teachers.  As a former Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow, an honorary membership organization within the Boy Scouts, I am disgusted with the ignorance of the executive committee about a natural phenomenon.

Homosexuality is a natural phenomena and it is vitally needed now that our population is too high.  Homosexuals don’t have their own kids, but can help raise other people’s kids. Cutting out such people from being volunteers over the fear of pedophilia is unreasonable.  If that is the source of the fear of homosexuality it would be good to exclude all Catholics judging by the vast number of legal actions taken against the many priests of the Catholic church.

The following is excerpted from Wikipedia and tells a great deal more about homosexuality than any Christian church or any of its priests, ministers or church leaders.  Theology is not a good source for explaining natural phenomena.  This exclusion of a minority of citizens of the US is undemocratic, something the BSA should reaffirm.  Are we going to be a democracy or a theocracy?  If it’s to be theocracy get ready for the fight of our lives as history tells horrible stories about such conflicts.

Our country was founded on the separation of church and state largely because of the ferocious conflicts at that time from competing religious belief systems.  They are all divisive; each thinks they have the direct word from God, so they can’t all be right.  In fact, I think they are all wrong.  So, I can’t be proud to be a former boy scout and I say good riddance.  But I do so reluctantly as my memories were formative for me.   But I can see now what used to be a fine experience for young boys being changed into another religious institution.  We already have too many religious institutions; we need a secular non-demonized democratic educational organization with an emphasis on camping and knowledge of the natural world, just as its originator desired.

Homosexual behavior in animals refers to the documented evidence of homosexual and bisexual behavior in various (non-human) species. Such behaviors include sexcourtshipaffectionpair bonding, and parenting among same sex animals. A 1999 review by researcher Bruce Bagemihl shows that homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms, and is well documented for 500 of them.[1][2] Animal sexual behaviour takes many different forms, even within the same species. The motivations for and implications of these behaviors have yet to be fully understood, since most species have yet to be fully studied.[3] According to Bagemihl, “the animal kingdom [does] it with much greater sexual diversity – including homosexual, bisexual and nonreproductive sex – than the scientific community and society at large have previously been willing to accept.”[4] Current research indicates that various forms of same-sex sexual behavior are found throughout the animal kingdom.[5] A new review made in 2009 of existing research showed that same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom, common across species.[6]Homosexual behavior is best known from social species. According to geneticist Simon Levay in 1996, “Although homosexual behavior is very common in the animal world, it seems to be very uncommon that individual animals have a long-lasting predisposition to engage in such behavior to the exclusion of heterosexual activities. Thus, a homosexual orientation, if one can speak of such thing in animals, seems to be a rarity.[7] One species in which exclusive homosexual orientation occurs, however, is that of domesticated sheep (Ovis aries).[8][9] “About 10% of rams (males) refuse to mate with ewes (females) but do readily mate with other rams.”[9]

The observation of homosexual behavior in animals can be seen as both an argument for and against the acceptance of homosexuality in humans, and has been used especially against the claim that it is a peccatum contra naturam (‘sin against nature’).[1] For instance, homosexuality in animals was cited in the United States Supreme Court‘s decision in Lawrence v. Texas which struck down the sodomy laws of 14 states.[10]

 

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Book Review: The Atheist Manifesto

The Case against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, 2005, 2011, by Michel Onfray, translated French by Jeremy Leggatt. Arcade Publishing, N.Y. 246 pp.

By William Olkowski, Ph. D. -11/2012.

Wow, what a blast against religious thinking by a detailed examination of the history and writings of the Big Three monotheistic western religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.  Lest you forget, by the way, these three are still locked in their thousands-of-years fight for the human belief system.  We in the US even elected a theocrat, G. W. Bush whom we will be recovering from for decades, if ever.  Onfray clears away these centuries of indoctrination using the written records that survived the terror campaigns and book burnings promulgated to keep the religions pure.  Starting with the quote by Nietzsche (see below) the salvos by Onfray penetrate the fog created by these anti-life religious systems of Judaism, and its derivatives, Islam, and Christianity.  The quote below encapsulates Onfray’s blast using the written records mostly produced by those who gave their lives to expose these belief insanities including many “lapsed” theologians and priests who suffered death by torture.

“The concept of ‘God’ invented as a counter-concept of life – everything harmful, poisonous, slanderous, the whole hostility unto death against life synthesized in this concept in a gruesome unity!  The concept of the ‘beyond,’ the ‘true world’ invented in order to devaluate the only world there is – in order to retain no goal, no reason, and no task for our earthly reality!  The concept of the ‘soul’, the ‘spirit’ finally even ‘immortal soul,’ invented in order to despise the body, to make it sick – ‘holy’, to oppose with a ghastly levity everything that deserves to be taken seriously in life, the abode, the questions of nourishment, spiritual diet, treatment of the sick, cleanliness, and weather!  In place of health, the ‘salvation of the soul’ – that is a folie circulaire [manic-depressive insanity] between penitential convulsions and hysteria about redemption! The concept of ‘sin’ invented along with the torture instrument that belongs with it, the concept of ‘free will,’ in order to confuse the instinct, to make mistrust of the instincts second nature!”

— Nietzsche, Ecco Homo

I never knew Nietzsche was so clear headed as I always associated his beliefs with Nazism.  But the better association is with the Catholic Church as Onfray shows with his brief history of the collusion of Hitler with Pope Pius XII (fully documented in the bibliography).  And Onfray points out that the collusion continues with the churches unwillingness to acknowledge the error implicit in the Vatican’s support for Nazism.  Did you ever wonder why Hitler hated the Jews so much?  Well Hitler was a Christian, probably a catholic too.  Rather than follow the 6th commandment, though shall not kill, he elevated it to a catechism never to be forgotten.  And even though the Romans killed their hero, Jesus, the Christian mythology says it was the Jews who did it.  And that bubble is not the only one burst by this important book.

Onfray pulls no punches compared to Alfred Russell’s rather logical and gentle objections in “Why I am not a Christian”, for example.

Here’s another quote – this time from Onfray (p.125):

Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John did not knowingly deceive.  Neither did Paul.  They were deceived, for they said that what they believed was true and believed that what they said was true.  None of them had encountered Jesus physically, but all credited this fiction with a real existence, in no way symbolic or metaphorical.  Clearly they believed what they wrote.  Intellectual self-intoxication, ontological blindness.  All of them credited a fiction with reality.  By believing in the fable they told, they infused it with more and more substance, Proof of the existence of a truth is often reducible to the sum of errors repeated until they become received truth.

Does this ring true for modern times?  Consider the whole fiasco about Weapons of Mass Destruction, which justified G. W. Bush invading Iraq; our most wasteful, costly and longest war to date.  Repeating untruths enough times makes it true.  This is an example of performance utterances; a class of statements that perform an action rather then describe or report on it.

In the section (p. 83) summarizing religious hatred of science he points out the fallacy of believing that one book has all anyone ever needs to live the good life

Monotheism does not really like the rational work of scientists.  Clearly Islam embraces astronomy, algebra, mathematics, geometry, optics, but only to calculate the direction of Mecca more accurately by means of the stars, to establish religious calendars, to decree prayer hours.  Clearly Islam values geography, but only to facilitate the convergence on the Kaaba when pilgrims from all over the world flock to Mecca.  Clearly it prizes medicine, but only to avoid the impurity that mars one’s relation with Allah.  Clearly it esteems grammar, philosophy, and law, but only to enrich commentary on the Koran and the Hadith.  This religious instrumentalization of science subjects’ reason to domestic and theocratic uses.

These religions never learned from the Enlightenment.  They turned their back on learning preferring “mental night for the nurturing of their fables”.

My fear is that this religious filter can dominate our cultural future.

An example may help: My gift of a painting to my mother before she died explains many things about religious belief: I asked her if she liked the painting (of what I thought was a good representation of one of the beautiful desert scenes we were traveling in.  Here is what she said:

“Isn’t God wonderful (for creating such a beautiful place).  From the get go her and me were on opposite sides of this fence.  But this is the take home message: she never saw the painting.  She only saw God.  That’s a classic result of religious indoctrination: an obliteration of perception with an illusion.  Oh well, “she went to her reward”, but did live a good life.

More Hatred

Among the hatreds fostered by the Big Three (and many other illusory belief systems) is hatred of women, of sex, and pleasure.  I remember a critical experience I had to endure upon entering and leaving our Polish Catholic Church in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.  Leaving was most difficult because we had to pass by a full-scale replica of Jesus dying (or more accurately dead) on the cross.  Gads, such a picture of the hero of our belief system.  Surely this speaks volumes about the goal of life – to give oneself up to torture.  Don’t worry there’s a reward for your avoidance of sin (an impossible activity, by-the-way); there’s a better life ahead after this life.  Of course the original sin is Knowledge, and this sin was derived from Eve who gave the apple to Adam and caused the expulsion by a crazy god.  So sin and woman are a big problem for these male dominated religions.

Onfray cites the daily prayer of Jewish men: “Praised be God that he has not created me a woman (from Talmud, Menahot 43b).  The Koran is similar: God prefers men to women (4:34), e.g., the prohibition on exposing the hair out of doors, use of the veil, or exposing bare arms and legs, no sexuality outside legitimate relatives with a member of the community, who may himself possess several spouses, prohibition of polyandry for women, and praise of chastity, prohibition on marrying a non Muslim, probation on wearing men’s clothing, no mingling of the sexes at the mosque, no question of shaking hands with a man unless wearing gloves, marriage mandatory with no tolerance for celibacy even in the name of religion, passion and love advised against in marriage, only celebrated in the interest of family, tribe and community, recommendation that the wife submit to all the sexual desire of the husband, who “plow his wife whenever likes, for she is his tillage – the metaphoric is Koranic, permission to beat one’s spouse on mere suspicion, the same ease of repudiation, the same existential minor status, the same legal inferiority, a woman’s courtroom testimony worth half that of a man, while a barren woman, a woman deflowered before marriage posses exactly the same value; none at all.

More Hatreds

And then there is praise of castration.  And there is more anti-pleasure to contemplate.  Jews for example, have to submit to circumcision, which certainly reduces the nervous sensation of the penis.  So do Muslims (but note that Muhammad was born circumcised!).  The legal definition of mutilation is an act of removing a healthy part of a non-consenting child on nonmedical grounds.  60% of Americans are circumcised, 20% Canadians, 15% Australians are circumcised – but on medical grounds

And then there are the commensurate tortures of females; Three types: 1) “gentle sunna” which means tradition or way of the Prophet – removal of the head of the clitoris, 2) moderate sunna, or clitoridectomy, or removal of the clitoris and all or parts of the labia minor, and 3) infibulation, or total removal of the clitoris, labia minor, and labia majora, followed by sewing together of the remaining tissue, often with thorns, leaving a matchstick caliber opening for urination and menstruation.  All of these mutilations are done without anesthesia, and constitute means to establishing community membership and identity, and preventing erotic inclinations from eroding energy better employed in celebration of God by sapping lust and facilitating mastery of desire.  By carving into the flesh it supports a hatred of desire, libido and life in the very place where life originates, thus supporting a victory of the death-fixated passions at the very spot where the life force is located.  This is a way to turn the life force against itself “for our own good”. “With the advent of Christianity the death fixation was ready to poison the whole planet”.

Concluding Remarks

Lest you think this whole book is full of such revelatory expulsions read the book for it also lays out the idea of Atheism as much more than rejection of religion.  It affirms reason and recommends fighting such silly, stupid, and dangerous beliefs from thousands of years ago.  There is no index but the last section is a detailed bibliography showing how deep the atheistic sources are even given the relentless terror campaigns, book burnings and lists of banned books, and deaths of critical scholars over the centuries.  The section on religious opposition to democracy should be mandatory reading instead of intelligent design.  How about that for a campaign: teaching the real history of religious persecution, but it’s not science.

Belief Systems

compiled by Wm Olkowski  republished from 1.30.12

Extracts from http://www.alternet.org/belief/153836/Once_Again%2C_Believers_Have_it_Wrong%3A_Atheists_Don%27t_Just_Want_Sex%2C_Drugs%2C_and_Lack_of_Morality/?page=3

The expansion of rights for women and minorities, the spread of democracy and separation of church and state, the rise of science and the Enlightenment — all these undeniably positive trends occurred in the teeth of fierce resistance from religious defenders of the status quo. Every time, the church authorities warned that changing the way things had always been was in opposition to God’s will and would surely bring disaster. And almost every time, once the change happened anyway and no disaster resulted, those same authorities switched sides and pretended they had been supporters all along.

This proves the point that every moral code, whether theistic or atheistic, changes over time as we gain new knowledge and our perspective widens. Churches and religious apologists don’t like to admit this, since it undermines their claim to be in possession of perfect moral truth from the beginning; which is why they’re usually the staunchest defenders of old and unjust systems and the very last ones to bend to the tide of progress, causing much needless human suffering in the meantime. They’d be much better off if they’d simply admit that there is no non-human moral authority, admit that their holy books and doctrines contain moral errors, and then join the rest of us living in the real world and using conscience to figure out how we can achieve the greatest good.

As sociologist Phil Zuckerman has documented, some of the highest rates of organic atheism in the world can be found in Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. And many of these same countries show up near the top in worldwide rankings of societal health indicators like life expectancy, child welfare, educational attainment, gender equality, and per capita income. As Zuckerman has found in his research, despite still having state-sponsored churches that they belong to for cultural reasons, most Danes and Swedes are completely indifferent to religion. It simply doesn’t play an important role in their daily lives. And far from collapsing into depravity or anarchy, these societies have remained free, secular, prosperous and peaceful.

And the correlation runs in the other direction as well. Sociologist Mark Regnerus, among others, points out that in America, the highest rates of teen pregnancy, divorce and sexually transmitted diseases are highest in the religious, socially conservative “red” states (in most of which abstinence is taught to the exclusion of all else), while in the more liberal and more secular “blue” states, young people tend to marry later, start families later, and have lower rates of divorce. The conclusion from Regnerus’ research: “religion is a good indicator of attitudes toward sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior, and… this gap is especially wide among teenagers who identify themselves as evangelical.”

When It Comes to Indiana Creationism Bill, It’s Not Just the Lawmakers Who Are Idiots… It’s the Media, Too!

The miseducation committee of the Indiana legislature recently approved a bill to allow the teaching of creationism in the schools, and nowthe Indianapolis newspaper approves, with the usual tepid and illegitimate arguments.

Much would depend on how teachers handle the origins of life in a biology or science class.

No, it doesn’t. A bill that inserts garbage into the curriculum is a bill that inserts garbage; it doesn’t matter if you think it could be used to make a lovely collage, or as an exercise in recycling, it’s still garbage. And if you trust teachers to do their job, let them do it without boneheaded cretins in the legislature telling them how.    Read more

By PZ Myers | Pharyngula
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 07:03 AM

————————–

Another Religion Misinformation Campaign

http://www.alternet.org/belief/153909/conservatives_use_creationist_playbook_to_attack_climate_change_education_in_schools

 

Manning is a member of the National Science Teachers Association. Last year an online poll of its 60,000 members found that 82 percent had faced skepticism about climate change from students and 54 percent had faced skepticism from parents. Some respondents added comments: Students believe whatever it is their parents believe. . . . Administrators roll over when parents object. In a recent survey of about 1,900 current and former teachers by the National Earth Science Teachers Association, 36 percent reported they had been influenced directly or indirectly to teach “both sides” of the issue.

“We have been hearing for several years now that teachers were getting pushback on teaching climate change, and some of the playbook used by those promoting teaching ‘both sides’ was very similar to the attempt to have evolution ‘balanced’ by creationism and intelligent design,” said Mark McCaffrey, who is spearheading the Center’s new initiative. “From my experience working with teachers, it is clear that the so-called ‘controversy’ about climate change science is a major impediment to teachers and the polarized political climate around teaching the topic is a big problem.”

McCaffrey is a pioneer in climate change education. He’s cofounder of the Climate Literacy Network and while at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) helped develop the Essential Principles of Climate Science, endorsed by the federal government’s U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Resources:

http://www.terc.edu/

http://cires.colorado.edu/

——————-

The Freedom From Religion Foundation will be suing the U.S. Forest Service over the unconstitutional presence of a Knights of Columbus shrine to Jesus in Flathead National Forest in Montana.

Given that America is a Christian nation founded solely on Judeo-Christian principles (a false claim that Christians would have you believe), U.S. presidents have always ended their State of the Union speeches with “God bless America,” right?

Wrong.

As noted by Robert Schlesinger, opinion editor of U.S. News and World Report (and son of historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.), Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution mandates that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

George Washington gave the first address in 1790. Thomas Jefferson thought a speech in person too “kingly” and gave Congress written ones, as did the next 13 presidents until Woodrow Wilson, who revived the oral address. Franklin Roosevelt was the first to call it “The State of the Union.”

None of them ended their speeches with “God bless America,” nor did any president until Richard Nixon in a non-SOTU address from the Oval Office.

And we all know how great a moral Christian he was.

————–

A great Rant:

But from where I stand these days, the only thing I see religion doing in the public sector is gay bashing and telling women, mostly poor and desperate and in deplorable financial and personal situations, what to do with their bodies. I see busybodies deciding what drugs they can dispense to which customers, or deciding that they don’t have to issue a marriage license because of some petty deity that I don’t believe in told them to hate their fellow citizens and ignore the law. In a country in dire financial straits but still spending billions and billions of dollars on education, I see religious folks actively and openly working to make our schoolkids dumber. I see them shooting people who provided a medical procedure, and I see others rummaging through people’s personal lives to find out who hasn’t lived up the word of God. I see glassy-eyed fools running for President claiming that vaccines that save lives actually cause cancer, or that if you get raped and are pregnant, you should just lie back and think of Jeebus and make the best of a bad situation. In fact, everywhere you look these days, if Christianity or religion is getting a mention, it means something ugly is happening and someone somewhere is being victimized, marginalized, or otherwise abused. Go read some of the arguments against integration and you’ll see the same bible verses used today against homosexuals. Fifty years from now, they’ll be recycling them again to trash someone else they don’t like or who isn’t good enough for them.

From: By John Cole | Balloon Juice
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 @ 02:42 PM

Prayer Breakfast at West Point

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written a Jan. 31 letter to the U.S. Military Academy calling for it to do some “soul searching” over West Point’s annual so-called “National Prayer Breakfast,” after a controversy about Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin’s invitation to speak.

It is appalling, given this history of incendiary and unprofessional comments, that the U.S. Military Academy would honor Boykin by inviting him to provide an address at a West Point event. His views are off-the-wall, conspiratorial, and advance a tired ‘persecuted’ Christian theme that seeks to pit Christians of his persuasion against everyone else,” wrote FFRF.

 

Bill Maher: “Atheism Is a Religion Like Abstinence Is a Sex Position”

During last night’s New Rules segment, Bill Maher noted that “Until someone claims to see Christopher Hitchens’ face in a tree stump, idiots must stop claiming that atheism is a religion.” He goes on:

Not only is atheism not a religion, it’s not even my hobby. And that’s the great thing about being an atheist — it requires so little of your time….

There is a growing trend in this country that needs to be called out, and that is to label any evidence-based belief a “religion.” Many conservatives now say that a belief in man-made climate change is a “religion,” and Darwinism is a “religion,” and of course atheism — the total lack of religion — is somehow a “religion” too, according to the always reliable Encyclopedia Moronica.

To believers he says, “You don’t get to put your unreason up on the same shelf as my reason.” Then he un-baptizes Mitt Romney’s dead father-in-law, because hey — if religious people get to do wacky things like that, why not atheist Bill Maher?

Watch the segment below, via Mediaite:

By Lauren Kelley | Sourced from AlterNet

Posted at February 4, 2012, 8:33 am

Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism (often with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism), is a secular philosophy. It embraces humanreasonethics, and justice while specifically rejecting religious dogmasupernaturalismpseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making. From http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

end

A Puritan’s ‘war against religion’

by Wm Olkowski, PhD

Roger Williams, the Puritan who founded Rhode Island, insisted on the state refraining from intervening in the relationship between humans and God.

“forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”

when one mixes religion and politics, one gets politics. So to protect the purity of the church, he demanded — 150 years before Jefferson — a “wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.” …”when one mixes religion and politics, one gets politics. So to protect the purity of the church, he demanded — 150 years before Jefferson — a “wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.”

In January, while conservative Christians and GOP presidential candidates were charging that “elites” have launched “a war against religion,” a federal court in Rhode Island ordered a public school to remove a prayer mounted on a wall because it imposed a belief on 16-year-old Jessica Ahlquist. The ruling seems particularly fitting because it was consistent not only with the 1st Amendment but with the intent of Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island expressly to provide religious liberty and who called such forced exposure to prayer “spiritual rape.”

Forced exposure to prayer is “spiritual rape.”

As Williams’ nearly 400-year-old comment demonstrates, the conflict over the proper relationship between church and state is the oldest in American history. The 1st Amendment now defines this relationship, but understanding the full meaning of the amendment requires understanding its history, for the amendment was a specific response to specific historical events and was written with the recognition that freedom of religion was inextricably linked to freedom itself.

The church-state conflict began when Puritans, envisioning a Christian nation, founded what John Winthrop called “a citty upon a hill” in Massachusetts, and Williams rejected that vision for another: freedom. He insisted that the state refrain from intervening in the relationship between humans and God, stating that even people advocating “the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichristian consciences and worships” be allowed to pray — or not pray — freely, and that “forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”

Yet Williams was no atheist. He was a devout Puritan minister who, like other Massachusetts Puritans, fled religious persecution in England. Upon his arrival in 1631 he was considered so godly that Boston Puritans had asked him to lead their church. He declined — because he considered their church insufficiently pure.

Reverence for both Scripture and freedom led Williams to his position. His mentor was Edward Coke, the great English jurist who ruled, “The house of every one is as his castle,” extending the liberties of great lords — and an inviolate refuge where one was free — to the lowest English commoners. Coke pioneered the use of habeas corpus to prevent arbitrary imprisonment. And when Chancellor of England Thomas Egerton said, “Rex est lex loquens; the king is the law speaking,” and agreed that the monarch could “suspend any particular law” for “reason of state,” Coke decreed instead that the law bound the king. Coke was imprisoned — without charge — for his view of liberty, but that same view ran in Williams’ veins.

Equally important to Williams was Scripture. Going beyond the “render unto Caesar” verse in the New Testament, he recognized the difficulty in reconciling contradictory scriptural passages as well as different Bible translations. He even had before him an example of a new translation that served a political purpose. King James had disliked the existing English Bible because in his view it insufficiently taught obedience to authority; the King James Bible would correct that.

Given these complexities, Williams judged it impossible for any human to interpret all Scripture without error. Therefore he considered it “monstrous” for one person to impose any religious belief on another. He also realized that any government-sponsored prayer required a public official to pass judgment on something to do with God, a sacrilegious presumption. He also knew that when one mixes religion and politics, one gets politics. So to protect the purity of the church, he demanded — 150 years before Jefferson — a “wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.”

ITS IN THE BIBLE SO WE MUST ABIDE

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by an east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

 

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

 

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

 

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

 

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify?

 

Why can’t I own Canadians?

 

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

 

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

 

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

 

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

 

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? 

 

Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

 

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

 

Your devoted fan,

FREEDOM FROM RELIGION

 

FFRF announces new ‘Secular Vote’ webpage

A call to freethought, family and freedom

August 13, 2012

Dear Freethinker:

The 2012 election will be pivotal in America’s history – and freethinkers can be the deciding voice!

The “Nones” (nonreligious) conservatively make up a fifth of the U.S. adult population. At least a quarter of young adults are “Nones.” This makes seculars as powerful as the core “religious right.”

Inform the debate so that secular voices are heard and our vote counts! Register yourselves and others, and participate by voting in upcoming run-offs and on November 6.

Our nation faces major challenges: the economy, increasing poverty, environmental crises. Educational challenges and competing in a global market are made more problematic in America, which is handicapped by misplaced loyalty to religion over progress and reason.

The political debate is further complicated by the intense pressure on political candidates to wear religion on their sleeves, by “gotcha” issues which encourage politicians to kowtow to religious lobbies, and by polls which still show that an atheist would still be voters’ least desirable presidential candidate. Only 54% of Americans recently told Gallup

they would vote for an atheist (which is up from previous polls) and 58% would vote for a Muslim, while 90% or more of Americans would vote for a black, a woman, Catholic, Hispanic or Jewish presidential candidate.This is a country where half of the population rejects evolution, making Americans credulous, uninformed and vulnerable to political manipulation. Many religiously-motivated referenda will be appearing on ballots, which is used as a way to lure “religious right” voters to the polls.

(Get one of these bumperstickers)

The religious right remains dogged in its religion-based attacks on the separation between state and church, specifically citing scripture and doctrine to target women’s rights, reproductive liberty, health care reform, gay rights, and marriage equality.

Never in our history has there been a greater need for engaged, informed secular citizens to stand up for freethought, family and freedom.

(Get one of these bumper stickers)

(Get one of these lapel pins)

The religious right — fundamentalist and Catholic churches — are tirelessly exploiting church congregations to reach and influence voters. We expect many election-year political abuses. Some theocratic organizations are even openly encouraging ministers to break the IRS code and endorse from the pulpit.

Student voters

A special word to freethinking students — this is an exciting time to be on campus, where you can make a difference. Make voter registration the goal of your freethought clubs through November 6. Set up tables. Arm yourself with the facts. Know your rights. Check with your city or county voter registrar’s office to ensure you and your friends know how to register and apply in time for the appropriate ID (government photo ID is being required now in many states that used to accept campus photo ID).

Standing up for our godless and secular Constitution,

Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor

Co-Presidents, Freedom From Religion Foundation

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, FFRF is strictly prohibited from engaging in political campaigns. We do not endorse or oppose any candidates for public office at any level of government. This page is merely intended to encourage our members and other American secularists to get out the vote this election season.

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

Population Control: Deliberate or by Default

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an 1887 painting by Victor Vasnetsov. The Lamb is visible at the top.Image from Wikepaedia Commons.

Population Control: Deliberate or by Default

by William Olkowski, PhD, reissued 8.6.12

 

Homosexuals don’t reproduce kids.  They raise other people’s kids if they have kids.  And that is one of the best reasons why homosexuals should have all the rights of heterosexuals? Because it’s one of the best ways to live into the future, i.e., without kids.  There are other reasons why the religious crazies are wrong about homosexuals, including that it is part of many species behavior, thus a natural pattern of behavior.  The famous animal behaviorist, Konrad Lorenz documented homosexual behaviors in Graylag geese, for example.  Graylags mate for life and when a pair lost a mate, they formed another pair with a member of the same sex.  Since then hundreds of examples have been documented in other species.  Humans are not that different from other species, especially primates.

This idea flies in the face of the belief systems of the Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  These are old belief systems with their mythical stories and constitute cultural artifacts like the fossils of the archeologists.  Supernaturalism is the core of these belief systems and seems to bring up all sorts of primitive feelings that help people bind together in groups.  Just like those fossils you can find supernaturalisms poking out from other people, sometimes even friends, which is shocking.  For example, the astrology of present day is a derivative and substitutes for real knowledge.

I joke that one of the best things Christianity brought to human cultures is the idea of a day-off, i.e., Sunday.  But in reality the day off goes back before Christ, whoever that was.

But otherwise it has been a disastrous terror campaign full of belief in witches, ghosts, and evil punished by burnings, property seizures, book burnings and mind damage of all sorts.  It reinforces magical thinking and supernaturalism even in the face of recent hard won knowledge of how the natural world works.  The full extent of this history is mostly glossed over by most Christians.

But my friends know this about what I think.  But consider the following argument derived from a biological idea: The Balance of Nature.  This refers to the idea that once a population exceeds its carrying capacity something will come along to cut down the population to match the carrying capacity of the environment.

I argue that this point of exceeding the carrying capacity of the Earth has already been reached.  Consider the numbers of diseased people, the poverty levels, the homeless, the proportion who have no access to health care and adequate food supplies, the ever growing size of the human population and how most people live today.

Who or What will Restore the Balance of Nature?

There are only two ways to restore the Balance of Nature: 1) deliberately or 2) by default.  By default I mean Pestilence, War, and Famine.  The deliberate means are birth control and its associated back up system: abortion.   Birth control and sterilization are preventative processes.  But these all require good sex education, which is opposed by religious fanatics.  The result is why I see so many young girls pushing baby carriages.  And now I see multiple babies in single baby carriages. The later phenomenon is due to fertility drugs which stimulate multiple ovulations.  So there are some people working to produce greater imbalance.  The key problem I lay at the feet of the male dominated Christian churches as I am most familiar with them.

Death is inevitable, unfortunately, but Pestilence, War and Famine can all be eliminated, at least in theory.  End.

Is the 10 Commandments the Basis for our Constitution?

by William Olkowski, PhD, 8.6.12.

NO, NO, NO, for pictures see the FFRF website and sources below or the FFRF website: Did you know.

The 10 commandments are not the basis for the US Constitution as many religious people claim.  They are ignorant of the facts and are merely repeating things they have heard.  Consider, instead some actual facts as collected by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF):

Was the 10 Commandments the basis for the US Constitution?

Ans: NO

Did you know that the purpose of the Ten Commandments was to establish the ancient nation of Israel, not the nation of the United States?

 Did you know that the purpose of the First Commandment was to declare which god among many (Elohim) was to be worshipped by the nation of Israel?

Did you know that the first four Commandments have nothing to do with law or ethics? They are religious edicts.

Did you know that the First Commandment violates our Constitution? Did you know that the United States Government cannot tell citizens what god to worship, how many gods to worship, or that we should worship any god(s) at all? Did you know the phrase “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” contradicts the Bill of Rights?

Did you know that breaking the first Commandment is not illegal under American law?

Did you know that making graven images is not illegal under American law? Exodus 20:4-5

Do you know that the second commandment violates the First Amendmentguarantee of freedom of speech?

Did you know that taking the “lord’s name” in vain is not illegal under American law?

Do you know that this commandment also violates the freedom of speech?

Did you know that failing to worship on the Sabbath is not illegal under American law? Do you know that our Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion?

Did you know that it is not illegal to dishonor parents under American law?
Although respect and honor are good ideas, especially within a family, there is no American law that requires it.

Did you know that adultery is not illegal under federal law?
Although adultery is a serious matter with social and moral consequences, it is not (and should not be) a federal crime in the United States.

Did you know that it is not illegal to “covet” your neighbor’s property under American law?  This commandment, if enforced, would undermine our entire system of free enterprise!

If American law is based on Hebrew scripture, why are 70% of actions forbidden by the Ten Commandments legal in the United States?

Why will no officer of the law arrest you for any of these acts that were clearly prohibited by the ancient Israelites?
Could it be that American law is based on something else?

Did you know that only three of the Ten Commandments have any relevance to modern American law? Did you know that these three humanistic precepts existed long before the ancient Israelites claimed the copyright?

Did you know that American law allows for mitigating circumstances, degrees of homicide, self defense, while the Ten Commandments do not? Did you know that telling a lie is generally not illegal under American law (except in proscribed circumstances such as perjury and truth in advertising)?

Exodus 20:17

Did you know that the Tenth Commandment insultingly lumps women with property, along with houses, slaves, and animals?

——————————————————————————-
19th Amendment
 to the Constitution
1920

The right of citizens of the United Statesto vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United States
or by any State on account of sex.

——————————————————————————-

If American law is based on the Ten Commandments, why are women legally equal with men in this country?


 

Did you know that the Supreme Court, following the Constitution, has declared that the Ten Commandments are “undeniably a sacred text” (which may not be posted in public schools)?

Wording from Stone v. Graham, 1980

Did you know that no U.S. Supreme Court decision has ever been basedon the Ten Commandments?

Did you know that the Supreme Court decides whether an action or law is constitutional or unconstitutional, not whether it is biblical or unbiblical? .

Did you know that none of the U.S. founding documents mentions the Ten Commandments?

Did you know that during the Constitutional Convention when our secular Constitution was adopted, the Ten Commandments were not mentioned once?

Did you know there was no formal prayer at the Constitutional Convention?

THEN WHAT IS THE BASIS OF AMERICAN LAW?

Did you know that the basis of American Law is the U.S. Constitution, not the Ten Commandments or any religious teaching?

——————————————————————————-
First Amendment
 to the Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

——————————————————————————-

Did you know that the United States Constitution–the basis of American law–is a completely godless document?

Do you know that the only references to religion in the Constitution are exclusionary?

——————————————————————————-

U.S. Constutition, Article VI, paragraph 3

. . .  no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification
to any office or public trust under theUnited States.

——————————————————————————-

Did you know that the U.S. Constitution is not based on a king, deity, goddess, lord, monarch or sovereign authority?

Did you know that the sovereign authority of the U.S. Constitution is “We, the people”?

Did you know that the “consent of the governed” (mentioned in the Declaration of Independence) is an anti-biblical concept?

Did you know that our secular Constitution is what makes the United States truly great?


REFERENCES & NOTES

Religious Symbols in the U.S.National Capitol

snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

Symbols of law at the Supreme Court

www.supremecourt.gov/about/symbolsoflaw.pdf

Statues of Contemplation of Justice and Authority of Law

www.supremecourt.gov/about/FraserStatuesInfoSheet.pdf

Inner door, as described by guides at the Supreme Court

One report of the guides’ remarks, told by a surprised pastor who visited the building, appears here.

Western Pediment

www.supremecourt.gov/about/westpediment.pdf

Bronze doors

www.supremecourt.gov/about/bronzedoors.pdf

Courtroom Friezes: North and South Walls

www.supremecourt.gov/about/north&southwalls.pdf

Courtroom Friezes: East and West Walls

www.supremecourt.gov/about/east&westwalls.pdf

Eastern Pediment

http://www.supremecourt.gov/about/eastpediment.pdf

Fasces

The term “fascism” derives from fasces, which represented “strength through unity,” because it is harder to break a bundle than a single stick.

Penalty for working on the sabbath

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whoseoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:2) For the chilling application of this law, see Numbers 15:32-36, where a man who picked up sticks on the sabbath was stoned, “and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.”

“Consent of the Governed” antibiblical

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes.” (Proverbs 3:5-7)
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1)
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19)

* Some Christian “Did You Know” sites to which this article responds:

America’s Christian History — The Ten Commandments — Did You Know? — DID YOU KNOW?

(Prepared by Dan Barker for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, August 2012.)

 

FAQ CATEGORIES

 

Reason and Religion can Coexist?

Posted as a comment on Coeur d’Alene Press, FFRF in the News

August 3, 2012

Reason and religion can co-exist

August 2, 2012

http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_ed344ede-dcff-11e1-bc68-001a4bcf887a.html

The article on this website indicated above received this posting from me today, 8/3/12.  This article indicated above claims that reason and religion can co-exist.  The article reasons that there are only three explanations for the Universe, two are scientific, which the article claims are false, and the third, is therefore the only reasonable explanation: which is that a supernatural being called god did it.

DearCoeur d’Alene Press (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho),

Reason is based on linking evidence to form an explanation.  There is no evidence that a god exists.  There are no answers to prayers, there is no supreme being ever seen or heard.  The Universe may be infinite but no one knows for sure, but it’s much greater than any religion ever said.  The big bang is only one explanation for how the universe was created.  Astronomers and now physicists are finding evidence that may point to still other explanations.  That’s the nature of science, theories explain facts until new facts are not explainable with the earlier theory.  Science is a continuous discovery process.

Religion, in contrasts offers no evidence but assumes the that mythical being(s) who no one has ever seen or perceived, created the universe.  There is an “s” on the word being, because almost every religion has its own god or gods who are deemed responsible for the creation of the Universe.  Can they all be right?  Not unless they assume they have all the same god. And that would be heresy.

Religions offer a static view of the Universe which cannot be challenged.  There may be new explanations for the construction of the Universe, but they will not ever be supernatural as claimed by religion.  Religion and science cannot coexist in explaining natural phenomena, with one exception, the study of hallucinations induced by propaganda and repetition, particularly on young forming individuals before they have the capacity for critical thinking.  And no church teaches critical thinking.  Reason and religion are at best two ends of a pole with a big gap between.  Science is based on reason, religion is based on myth.

end

Poem from a Friend, Jose Cross (deceased)

My Life: A Friend’s Poem Found Amidst My Stuff

My friend Jose Cross (formally he called himself Jose Manuel dos Santos Cross) passed away just after Helga this year (2012) in the late spring.  He was an iconoclastic artist who did not really care to sell his creations, which were unique wood carvings, paintings (charcoal, oils), sketches, pen and inks, photographs and writings, which included some poems and essays.  He was a Portuguese immigrant who came to the US at age 9, later joined the merchant marine and roamed the world via different boats.  One of his favorite writers was Jack London who wrote stories about the ocean world.  I found some of London’s work gloomy at times which seemed to pervade Jose’s dark house as he built it himself while he and his wife Virginia raised two kids, Amalia and Valon.  He worked building the house by building ramps to hold a wheeled chair he strapped himself to which he would use to move around the structure on ramps as it was built.  This itself was a great accomplishment.  The house constructions too reflected his sculpture work which filled the place on the walls and a whole studio attached to the house.  Many pieces were real masterpieces, which when I showed them, with his permission, to local artists and friends all were blown away.

I joked with him that he should convert to being a paper artist as all his stuff required transporting if anyone else would see it.  And that would be a challenge.  And I emphasized that paper was very light to carry.  He smiled.  There was one piece which the world should see.  He called it: Tootalltabletootall, all one word.  He was a great word smith who loved to make up word combinations and long sentences which produced a sort of twinkle in his personality and certainly in my mind.  The TALL Table was actually a tall table, beautifully constructed and painted (3 coats), about 14 feet tall with a full course meal with wine bottle and roasted pig, something like over 100 pieces of dinner wear all carved out of wood.  The table was too tall to actually view so he installed a mirror so a viewer could see the setting.  I though it deserved to be in the Smithsonian or somewhere important so millions could see it as it spoke vast truths about hunger and the distribution of resources.  It was displayed one time in a local gallery.

Helga knew Jose from her Beatnik days when they would all take various substances together and remembered her friend as a tall delightful handsome guy who had lost a leg in a boating accident involving a rope.  He settled for a one time payment and used it to buy a bar in Oakland which he eventually lost someway.  Then, he became an artist after going through the art college in Oakland, the College of Arts and Crafts.  We gave a talk there once.  These are just fragments of what I learned from him when we talked late into the night as I lay down next to him to view his TV, and watch Jon Stewart, a PBS show or a dance or whatever. And we would talk.

 

 

 

This opportunity to connect up came about when H and I came down the coast on our first big journey after we retired back in 2000, or so.  We followed the West coast up and around the coast of Washington and came back down stopping at various places.  We had a Lance camper on the back of a big Ford diesel pickup then.  The Mendocino Coast seemed to me to be the most spectacular scenery we saw on the entire coast, especially because it was accessible.  The coast was always a fascination for us, and I believe it’s why Jose settled in Mendocino.  In the old days Mendocino was a rather isolated artist colony mostly, but over the years it built up into a tourist local with its group of galleries, small shops and restaurants it became when we visited there from about 2000 to 2009.  Jose let us park and we helped him with food purchases in exchange for an electric supply for our RV.

Jose was what I like to call a Luddite, because he refused to use a computer, and there was no reception for a portable phone, and he had no answering machine, things almost everyone had in those days.  He typed on an old clunker (like Woody Allen) and wrote many funny things which I hope to add to this memorial someday.  But here is the poem I started out to copy.

First a bit about how I found this in my things.  I keep all sorts of things and have accumulated gobs of paper, mostly, all sorted into various categories which I stumble upon now in my decrepitude.  I am determined to not leave a mess when I go, so I have recycled over 60 or so boxes so far.

In this array of stuff I found this poem and thought it was one of mine as I was in the habit of dashing off something now and then amidst the rush of life, and not taking the time to adequately file it so I could find it again someday.  But then I saw Jose’s name on the bottom and realized it was from him.  I tell you this because we had a mutual viewpoint about belief that I don’t think his wife, nor children had, although for that I am speculating from rather meager evidence.  Here’s is the poem I wished I had written: (it has no punctuation nor a title, but I would title it Matter.

No Title

We are doomed or blessed with limited perception about

What

When

How Much

Why

 

Does it matter

Does it really matter

How much does it matter

How much matter is there

 

Is there enough time to find out

Is there enough space

To encompass time

Is there enough time

 

And do i care

And do i need to care

And will matter be affected

If i do not care

 

And will time matter

But matter will be timely

From the beginning

Onward to infinity

 

And i … and you

Will matter

As matter

Throughout time

 

end