Thursday, February 20, 2014

White Salamander

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."-- Marcello Truzzi

The proof provided for the most extraordinary claims made by theistic religions is often as extraordinary as the claims themselves. Prophesy usually involves an infinitely powerful being revealing critical information to a single person in such a way as to be almost indistinguishable from the act of that person making the information up or hallucinating it. Think of all the people who hallucinate or invent stuff every day. We are to believe that amongst this multitude a true prophesy reveals itself every so often with little –if any- distinguishing character; that is extraordinary. It is even more extraordinary when true revelation and hallucinations come from the same individual.

Martin Harris was one of the original Latter Day Saints. He financed the original printing of the Book Of Mormon. He often saw angels or Jesus, and was the recipient of many revelations and prophesies. He was one of the few people who actually saw the gold plates from which the Book Of Mormon was translated. Every copy of the Book Of Mormon I have ever flipped through has a statement signed by Martin Harris attesting to his witnessing the gold plates.

“And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true.” -- "Testimony of Three Witnesses" Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris

Notice how much more extraordinary this testament is than we would expect from a mundane viewing of the plates. It is worthwhile to point out here that Joseph Smith carted around the plates for quite some time during the translation process. He would sit for hours with one or two of the witnesses and translate the plates. Never once did he actually show the witnesses the plates. He always kept them covered. If he did show the plates to them in person it would not have been as extraordinary. The witnesses would have just looked at the gold plates with strange “reformed Egyptian” characters on them and said “Hey look at those gold plates with strange characters on them. I guess what you are saying is true, and BTW we could scrape a bit of gold off the margins and pay for printing this Book Of Mormon.” That would not have been as extraordinary as an angel coming down in person and personally showing each of the three witnesses the plates; that is truly extraordinary.Unfortunately it also left them short on cash for the printing.

I think it is even more extraordinary that the angel of God did not really show Martin the plates. He showed him a vision of the plates. Why not show him the real plates?  Joesph was carting them around. 

"he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination." – one of several reports of statements made by Martin Harris in march 1838

This should prove to even the most unwashed skeptic that the gold plates did exist; if only in Martin's imagination.  In that crowded place they would never be alone. Martin once told of seeing Jesus himself “poised on a roof beam”. Another time Jesus came to him in the form of a deer and walked beside him for two or three miles “talking with him as familiarly as one man talks with another." Once Satan pounced on his chest in the form of a large dog-like creature, but others in the room saw no evidence of this.

According to Martin Jesus was “the handsomest man he ever did see”

According to Martin the devil was “a very sleek haired fellow with four feet, and a head like that of a Jack-ass."

Martin lived in a world that was much more extraordinary than the one you and I experience. The veil between the supernatural and mundane was shot full of holes, and awesome visions seeped through. This was noticed by many people he interacted with.

“had always been a firm believer in dreams, and visions and supernatural appearances, such as apparitions and ghosts” -- The Reverend John A. Clark

“great man for seeing spooks.” -- Lorenzo Saunders

“visionary fanatic.” Presbyterian minister Jesse Townsend

"The very countenance of Harris will show to every spiritual-minded person who sees him, that the wrath of God is upon him." [Latter-Day Saint's, Millennial Star, Vol 8 pp124-128.]

Despite personally being ministered to by Jesus and his angels Martin was not a steadfast member of the LDS church. He was excommunicated from the LDS church in 1837, and re-baptized in 1842. He was excommunicated from the LDS church later in 1842, and re-baptized in 1870. God even identified alternative LDS prophets, and Martin was arrested at least one time for disorderly conduct while preaching on a street corner about some alternative prophet’s teaching.

Prophesy is a tricky business. If a prophesy is too specific the mundane fact that it does not come true can appear to outweigh any amount of extraordinary evidence that it will come true. We saw this in May of 2011 and December of 2012 when the world inconveniently refused to end. Martin was caught in this prophesy trap a few times.

“Martin was something of a prophet--he frequently said that "Jackson would be the last president that we would have; and that all persons who did not embrace Mormonism in two years' time would be stricken off the face of the earth." He said that Palmyra was to be the New Jerusalem, and that her streets were to be paved with gold. “ -- Recollections of John H. Gilbert

"I do hereby assert and declare that in four years from the date hereof, every sectarian and religious denomination in the United States shall be broken down, and every Christian shall be gathered unto the Mormonites, and the rest of the human race shall perish. If these things do not take place, I will hereby consent to have my hand separated from my body." – Martin Harris 1832

So it should not be surprising that, thirty years ago in early 1984, the LDS church was not ubiquitously overjoyed to come into possession of an extraordinary letter written by Martin in 1830. Some in the LDS church surely saw it as more delusional ramblings of an awkwardly deranged man. Others undoubtedly saw it as more of the extraordinary proof that the extraordinary claims in the Book Of Mormon required.

Experts attested to the letter’s age and apparent authenticity. So the LDS church released the text of “The Salamander Letter” for the world to see. Here is the full text of that letter:

Palmyra October 23d 1830

Dear Sir

Your letter of yesterday is received & I hasten to answer as fully as I can--Joseph Smith Jr first come to my notice in the year 1824 in the summer of that year I contracted with his father to build a fence on my property in the corse of that work I approach Joseph & ask how it is in a half day you put up what requires your father & 2 brothers a full day working together he says I have not been with out assistance but can not say more only you better find out the next day I take the older Smith by the arm & he says Joseph can see any thing he wishes by looking at a stone Joseph often sees Spirits here with great kettles of coin money it was Spirits who brought up rock because Joseph made no attempt on their money I latter dream I converse with spirits which let me count their money when I awake I have in my hand a dollar coin which I take for a sign Joseph describes what I seen in every particular says he the spirits are grieved so I through back the dollar in the fall of the year 1827 I hear Joseph found a gold bible I take Joseph aside & he says it is true I found it 4 years ago with my stone but only just got it because of the enchantment the old spirit come to me 3 times in the same dream & says dig up the gold but when I take it up the next morning the spirit transfigured himself from a white salamander in the bottom of the hole & struck me 3 times & held the treasure & would not let me have it because I lay it down to cover over the hole when the spirit says do not lay it down Joseph says when can I have it the spirit says one year from to day if you obay me look to the stone after a few days he looks the spirit says bring your brother Alvin Joseph says he is dead shall I bring what remains but the spirit is gone Joseph goes to get the gold bible but the spirit says you did not bring your brother you can not have it look to the stone Joseph looks but can not see who to bring the spirit says I tricked you again look to the stone Joseph looks & sees his wife on the 22d day of Sept 1827 they get the gold bible--I give Joseph $50 to move him down to Pa Joseph says when you visit me I will give you a sign he gives me some hiroglyphics I take then to Utica Albany & New York in the last place Dr Mitchel gives me an introduction to Professor Anthon says he they are short hand Egyption the same what was used in ancient times bring me the old book & I will translate says I it is made of precious gold & is sealed from view says he I can not read a sealed book--Joseph found some giant silver specticles with the plates he puts them in an old hat & in the darkness reads the words & in this way it is all translated & written down--about the middle of June 1829 Joseph takes me together with Oliver Cowdery & David Whitmer to have a view of the plates our names are appended to the book of Mormon which I had printed with my own money--space and time both prevent me from writing more at present if there is any thing further you wish to inquire I shall attend to it

Yours Respectfully

Martin Harris

If a transfiguring white salamander demanding that Joseph Smith unearth the remains of his dead brother is not extraordinary proof I don’t know what is.

Beleiving that necromancy-obsessed amphibians might be a little too extraordinary for the more mundane of Earth’s citizens the church engaged in a bit of image prophylaxis. They attempted to explain that “salamander” might mean “a spirit supposed to live in fire”. I suppose they thought the fire spirit interpretation would be more believable.

”there is another meaning of salamander, which may even have been the primary meaning in this context in the 1820s. That meaning, which is listed second in a current edition of Webster's New World Dictionary, is 'a spirit supposed to live in fire' (2d College ed. 1982, s.v. 'salamander'). Modern and ancient literature contain many examples of this usage” -- "Reading Church History," an address by Elder Dallin H. Oaks to the 1985 CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium at Brigham Young University, 16 August 1985.

It turns out that the person who was selling Martin’s 1830 letter was also selling some Emily Dickenson poems and a handful of other interesting historical documents. Some of these turned out to be fakes. In an attempt to cover his misdeeds the forger (Mark Hofmann) blew up the LDS contact who was buying the letter to donate to the LDS church, and then he accidentally set off another bomb and blew himself up. Mark survived, and is now doing time at Point Of The Mountain State Penitentiary.

But just because Mark forged the “Salamander Letter” how do we know it is fake? It would be even more extraordinary if God had directed Mark to re-create the document so that we could have the proof we needed to show that the events in the Book Of Mormon really happened. If God must test the faith of the faithful then demonstrably forging the evidence they need to believe would be a stroke of genius.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

the blue tractor has pet eel

To the uninitiated studying the popular incarnation of the LDS faith that is called Mormonism is a shockingly irritating endeavor. Eight year old boys become priests, and the entire rigid authority system is built by lay clergy who manipulate a liquid scripture by way of direct revelation. It has become difficult lately to tell what is revelation or even what this liquid scripture says. Many True Believing Mormons (TBM) obfuscate answers to simple questions as if clarity would only reveal their own embarrassing mixture of personal lack of knowledge and Church-wide lack of direction. The Church authorities themselves officially release information that may-or-may-not be official positions on topics.

The confusion-by-design permeates all layers of Mormonism. Simple questions like “why is April 6th important” or “Is iced coffee OK as far as the Word Of Wisdom is concerned” are met with non-answers. The most common iced coffee answer is “I don’t know about it being OK I just don’t care for it” as if each and every one of the dozens of Mormons I have asked this to are too narcissistic to hear my question and think it was not about their personal preference. Scripted misunderstanding is part of the problem with understanding Mormonism.

Amongst the tools used to create cohesion amongst Mormons is self-stereotyping. The Mormons engage calculated adjective usage to present ideas. Many Christian groups do this; it is not uncommon to hear of Christian virtues, or Christian morals, or Christian honesty. This makes it sound like there is a particular flavor of these virtues, or more importantly that people who brand themselves as a particular type of believer are auto-magically imbued with these virtues.

Mormons will sometimes, but only very carefully, use self-deprecating humor to cobble together a stereotype. When I first moved to Utah I was told that MST really stood for Mormon Standard Time, and that because of this Mormons were always late. The first time I heard this joke it was corny. The second time it was old and corny. The third-forth-fifth-sixth-seventh-eighth time it was simply incrementally older. I began to imagine that this joke was a secret code for which I should provide a proper counter response. I imagined providing random counter responses like “the blue tractor has pet eel”, but I was too shy to say something like that to someone I’d just met. Around the 25th time I remembered the 1950’s movie “invasion of the pod people”, and pictured some lame-joke equivalent.

These are stereotypes that appear purposefully constructed.

The vast majority of Mormon priests become so having only a third grade education; this is because they are only eight years old. Much of the teaching is word of mouth or personal testimony. With such a foundation it is no wonder that there is confusion.

This sort of situation is not just irritating to outsiders who want to find out more about Mormonism. It is confusing to members who would like to conclusively state what it is their church specifically stands for; generalities can only get you so far. It is also terribly irritating to ex-Mormons who cannot readily separate official doctrines they dislike from some person’s personal interpretation.

Current and former members of the Mormon Church have united to draft an open letter ( to the authorities of the Church (Thomas Monson in particular) asking for more transparency. It would create more harmony in the world, and lessen the chaffing irritation of obfuscation, if the Mormon church got clear on a bunch of things they call important.

Of course… if they really, honestly, clear things up… well more people would probably leave the Mormon Church. Of course…. That IS a good thing in my opinion.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


On Sunday I was driving home from dropping off AYD to spend some time with her mother. An accident blocked the main drag into Tooele. The detour crept along a frontage road right past the accident. There were bits of car everywhere, and white sheets.

I would later be told that the daughter of the driver and front seat passenger of the government minivan landed on that frontage road after being ejected from the minivan; she must have been thrown over 50 feet, and reportedly only suffered a broken arm. The other teenagers who were ejected were more seriously hurt. The driver, who had somewhat recently suffered from disability and near death medical complications, may now have to deal with long-term paralysis. The two occupants of the oncoming Subaru the van swerved into died. The front seat passenger of the minivan also died; she was my co-worker.

I remember many things about her. We worked together for years. One incident from almost a decade ago will crisply remind me of who she was whenever I dust it off. AOD was trying Girl Scouts and was stuck trying to sell some cookies. I brought AOD’s cookie sheet into work for another co-worker who stated he wanted some. My former co-worker noticed it in my clutch of papers and asked how I was doing getting the cookies sold. I admitted my issues, and she offered –or more precisely insisted- on taking the sheet to find additional cookie buyers. She returned it with five times as many signatures, and ten times as many cookie boxes noted on it. She made sure every person on the list got their cookies, and made sure everyone on the list paid. Most telling of all was how she was genuinely happy to be able to take charge of the situation and genuinely help out AOD. She liked to do good things. I liked her.

The Post Chapel is performing a candlelight vigil on Tuesday. My fellow vanpoolians disseminated the information to each other over the weekend. Each person had tried calling the dead woman to find out information about the crash before they knew she was involved in it. She was a node of information. She was everybody's friend.  She was involved in her community in ways that I am not.

The police report describes how the accident was precipitated by a failed merger. The minivan moved over a lane, and a Mitsubishi Montero failed to provide enough room for them to merge. The back end of the minivan clipped the front end of the Montero.   The Montero did not lose control, and the minivan swerved into oncoming traffic. There are many reasons why the Montero could have missed the minivan merging into it, and I don’t know what the real reason is. I have driven that same stretch of road many times. The speed limit is 60, and the average speed is slightly greater than that. It is long and straight enough to entice drivers into making a couple phone calls or catch a couple texts. I have no idea if the Montero driver was texting, but I have seen many people texting on that road who could have been the cause of a similar accident.

In August of last year Werner Herzog released a short film about texting and driving called “From One Second To The Next”. I’ve embedded a link to the film in this post.  It has been shown to several hundred thousand school kids. Unfortunately the message about distracted driving is eroded each time someone successfully reads a text or dials a number without consequence. The typical distracted driver has mountains of empirical experiential evidence showing how safe their personal practices are. Before they know it they are zipping down state road 36 at speeds approaching 75MPH texting “YOLO” to someone without a hint of the irony they speed past.

I saw a perfectly good, but food-crusted, pan in a trashbin at work today. Even though my deceased friend moved her cubicle months ago I imagined a co-worker had thrown the pan out rather than leave it as unfortunate posthumous clutter. I hope someone tidies up for me after I die. It would be unfortunate if AOD and AYD had each expression of sympathy footnoted: “I’m sorry for your loss, but did AOA ever do dishes?”

Churches and chapels do a much better job of addressing a community’s loss than Atheist clubs during times of tragedy. I hope the local chapel does a great job handling the losses associated with my dead friend. One day secular community organizations will be performing this vital service, and everyone’s lives will be enriched because of that.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Poop That Corn

I have recently observed an undertow of criticism for a perceived over emphasis on LGBT-rights issues within the atheist community. While much of this critical backwash may be unfiltered homophobia there could be some validity to the claim, and it should be examined. If it is true then I am as guilty of this misdirection as anyone. A look back on my posts for the past year finds many of them that deal with LGBT issues from a unique -exquisitely clueless- perspective.

Haven’t read all my old posts? Well there is a little over 100,000 words worth of them waiting patiently for your attention.

Anytime I hear that there may be a worthwhile question hiding in the execution of a worthy endeavor I wonder which metaphor best describes the relative importance of the question:

  1. Is it a diamond in the dirt? (Could the question be of greater importance than the endeavor itself.)  
  2. Do we need to separate the wheat from the chaff? (Is the issue of equal importance to the endeavor which hides it.) 
  3. Are we putting pearls before swine? (is the issue of importance to many people, just not the ones who are engaged in the endeavor which hides it.) 
  4. Are we picking corn out of the poop? (Even if the question could be somewhat interesting if it had never been associated with the endeavor one can never collect anything useful by picking it out.)

One of the reasons why it may be reasonable to question if Atheists like me are spending too much energy on LGBT issues is that the LGBT “community” is not an atheist community. In fact many LGBT individuals whom I know are decidedly not Atheist. Just yesterday I had a lovely conversation with a member of the LGBT community who talked about coming out, leaving the LDS Church, getting married along with a crush of LGBT couples here in Utah this December, and a smattering of inconsequentially trivial pleasant things. Throughout the conversation I could not shake the feeling that I was somehow inherently deviant for not even wanting to be a believer in anything supernatural. Don’t get me wrong, this was nothing close to the outright disgust many theists display towards me, but it did remind me that being LGBT and being an Atheist are two completely independent conditions.

So is the question of over emphasis on LGBT issues a type 2 metaphor question? Not really.

What LGBT people may think about LGBT issues does not comprehensively capture the current importance of those issues. To conservatives who self-identify as being outside the LGBT community LGBT rights issues are Atheist issues.

According to the Supreme Court (well at least one member) there is a homosexual agenda:

“Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.” Justice Antonin Scalia in an opinion to LAWRENCE et al. v. TEXAS (2006)

According to homophobe-rights organizations like Massachusetts-based MassResistance there are Homosexual activists who designed the Homosexual Agenda to go beyond what Gay-Rights activists hope to accomplish in the Gay-rights agenda. The “plus” in this gay-rights-agenda-plus is militant Atheism.

In December 2013 Brian Camenker (important person at MassResistance) made presentations introducing the Homosexual Agenda. The last item on the Homosexual Agenda (number 11) was: “Attack Churches”.

MassResistance is not a group of fools. Brian delivered this information at a rally in Jamaica. Hate looks much better under the sun when it is high in the sky, and warm, and happy-faced-yellow like it is in Jamaica’s December; much better than the slanty cold grey sun of Brian’s home state in December. Brian was introduced as a “Jew”. I suppose an actual “Jew” would appear to the audience as having firsthand knowledge of attacking churches; I assume that most of the audience was not only familiar with the blood libel, but had signed copies of the “Protocols of Zion”.

Brian's assertion that homosexuals are out to get you if you go to church is a straightening of the Alliance Defense Fund’s 2003 revelation that Homosexual Activists had devised a “Six point plan” in 1989. Point 5 of the “six point plan” was to “Make the victimizers look bad”. To me this does not sound like a very bad thing to do, and it might in fact be a good use of our first amendment rights. Closer inspection apparently reveals that the Homosexual Agenda actually means “Christians” when it states “victimizers”, and that by “Look bad” they really mean “we hate you because we’re atheists”. Brian’s new revelations make this Atheist Agenda much clearer.

So Atheists should support LGBT rights issues. Not just because we may simply agree with their goals of equality (though this is a good reason on its own), but because LGBT rights issues are Atheist issues.

So I give the question of over-emphasis on LGBT issues a type 4 metaphor rating. Poop that corn.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Crusaders for Homophobia

Homophobia. You are doing it wrong.

Many “Liberals” might tell you that there is no way of doing homophobia correctly.

Fellow “Conservatives” know better. Look at former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals and famous Homophobe Ted Haggard. He essentially authored what should be rule number one for homophobes:

1) Do not get caught with a male escort, even if your relationship has lasted years and you do methamphetamine with him during sex.

The subtext to the Haggard Rule is clear. People are going to have a hard time taking you seriously as a homophobe if you are participating in homosexual sex. People are not going to believe that it was “research”. People are not going to believe that you were “framed” (sorry Congressman Larry Craig R-Idaho). It is surprising the number of homophobes who will not follow this simple rule.

So surprising is it that it is conceivable that the homosexuals, or “gays” as they sometimes like to be called, may have some sort of secret technology that is being used on unsuspecting homophobes. What if gays could turn innocent homophobes gay? Such a technology might cause permanent damage to homophobic America.

Every once in a while I go out onto the internets on maintenance missions. Surprising as it may sound there are actually people on the internets who are actually wrong about some things. Every once in a while I venture forth to set these people straight, and help create a better tomorrow.

On one such maintenance mission on the FaceBook internets I came across the following “status”:

Progressives (Communists) for years have worked tirelessly to blur the lines of morality, case in point, breast cancer awareness, boys and men wearing pink, the left says "its not harmful, its for a good cause" I say its a Trojan horse with vile intent.- HC

Could this protector of homophobia have discovered a gay anti-homophobe technology? He provided more explanation in the second comment:

HC- its a girl color, its associated with girls, you may not have noticed but breast cancer recieves the most attention out of all the cancers and yet its not even close to being the highest cancer, this cancer has been spotlighted and sexualized for a reason, you dont think its strange that its the only cancer that gets 100% media coverage, its highlighted every year in the nfl and other media, its intended to make homosexuality much easier to accept.

Are there other colors used in this technology? What about proper capitalization, or use of the apostrophe?

HC- i never said anything about blue jeans, blue is a gender nuetral color where pink has always been exclusively feminine, why cross that traditional boundary? its simply to make faggotry more acceptable, we may have had breast cancer in our family but the fact is that testicular cancer and colon cancer far out pace breast cancer and yet they choose to highlight breast cancer with pink as their flagship color.

I needed to jump in. Had this Homophobe Crusader (HC) discovered a technology that could eventually turn the world gay? Was HC himself now gay after seeing athletic men wearing pink?

AOA- Actually HC [Homophobe Crusader] Breast cancer is the leading diagnosed cancer in women. It is diagnosed in women at a rate more than twice that of the next most common cancer (lung). Early diagnosis, driven in great measure by publicity campaigns, has increased the survival rates for breast cancer dramatically. So the wearing of pink has done real measurable good. Why do you see homosexuality in a successful campaign to protect women by focusing on their breasts? I personally like to think about breasts when I think about breast cancer, but I am immature like that sometimes. You, on the other hand, think about men having sex with men. I think you doth protest too much.

HC- Not complaining AOA, just expressing an opinion.

AOA- Of course you are HC. It's just that when you opinion is that there is a huge multinational conspiracy to make you think about men having sex with one another my immediate reaction is not to think that you are somehow more connected with conspiracy dynamics than most people.

HC’s relative - Not to change the subject but I heard that we're supposed to wear red tomorrow for National Heart Day. How is that any different?

HC- Red is traditionally male and female.....but seriously why are you so worried about wearing what people tell you to wear? You dont see that as Pavlovian training?

Some of you are noticing that HC can use capitalization when he wants to. Perhaps it is just the apostrophe…. Or is it CHEMICAL WARFARE?

HC’s relative - No. I see it as a campaign to foster awareness about serious health issues.

HC- Horse sh*t, these people make millions on these disease oriented fund raiser, awarness raising programs, they dont give a shit if people die, the only reason we have a breast cancer epidemic is because people use anti perspirants, anti perspirants make it hard for toxins to leave the body.

AOA- So the anti-prespirant makers are trying to make people gay along with the NFL? This conspiracy is worse than I thought.

HC- I think you would be hard pressed to sincerely make the statement that there isnt a push to make homosexuality more acceptable to society.

AOA- I think the question here is if having people wear pink for breast cancer awareness is a conspiracy to make more men like you picture men having sex with other men. Of course there is a push to make homosexuality more acceptable to society. It is largely run by public action groups. Groups with names like "We want to make homosexuality more acceptable to society". You have uncovered a Trojan horse conspiracy that is much more interesting. I think you should provide more details.

HC- The difference here AOA is you do not perceive homosexuality as a danger to our society, I do, you assume homophobia on my part when in fact I do not have said phobia, I interact closely with homosexuals quite often and do not have an issue with them, I do know that rampant, unchecked immoral behavior destroys society's. As for your conspiracy dismissal I would say that is all that is....knowing something exists and dismissing it because its easier than acknowledging the truth, its only a conspiracy if it comes from my side of the fence correct?

AOA- So you are only afraid that uncontrolled homosexuality will destroy society, and so you are not homophobic?

HC- Absolutely AOA, you use the fear paint brush as liberals always do, I do not fear a mouse bite but I do fear an infestation of mice not because they will attack me in force but because the infestation brings disease and ruin of all things.

AOA- I wanted to know more about this Trojan horse you have uncovered. Was it just your idea, or did a bunch of similarly not-homophobic men come up with this idea while sitting around in a circle or something? How is the Trojan horse supposed to work?

HC- Gosh AOA you are an educated man, hell you went to college and now you want your humble servant to explain the trojan must have attended

AOA - Not what a "Trojan horse" is in the general sense, but how this one you and your friends discovered is supposed to work. Is wearing pink supposed to increase the number of homosexuals or increase the homosexual activity in the homosexuals who are already around?

HC- Roe v wade was a progessive trojan horse, it was a fraudulent case brought before the supreme court to open the way for legal abortion, the scopes trial was also a staged "trojan horse" event, conspired by a group of liberals to push christianity out of schools.

AOA- So you have no idea what this Trojan horse is supposed to do. You just have been seeing men dressed in pink and thought of homosexuality.

AOA- HOW do you imagine this Trojan horse working? Will there be an increase in the number of homosexuals or an increase in the homosexual behavior by the homosexuals we have now?

HC- I see, the progressive agenda has for many years used the school system as indoctrination centers for our youth using behavioural adjustment techniques such as making male behavior less male and more gender nuetral, great example is taking a color that has traditionally always been associated with the female gender and sending a message that "its ok to cross gender lines" there is another push in the school systems to penalize students who refer to other students by gender, in California there is a law suit that is trying to clear the way for "trangender" kindergarten age children to decide which bathroom they use regardless of actual gender, this activity has been used to break down the moral fabric of our youth thereby breaking the bonds of traditional moral behavior.

AOA- So, what you are saying is that males, especially young boys, will see NFL players wearing pink and want to have sex with other males.

HC- If thats your myopic view steve then yes! The lines are being blurred just to bring in immorality, any immorality.

AOA- So NFL players wearing pink could cause other types of of immorality? ... other than just more men having sex with men?

At this point HC brings in some additional crusaders. I am hoping they can provide details.

HC2 - Using the exit carries a price ultimately. The social diddlers can say what they will but the reality is , when you open the sewer lid and dip vital bodily parts into it , often there are those things called consequences.

AOA - And what do you think the consequences are of NFL players wearing pink?

HC3 - Other than making them sissy boys and Castro street boys, I guess nothing. LOL!

AOA- So wearing pink will turn the NFL players gay?

HC3- God made it smelly down there for a reason....

AOA- So what you're saying is that NFL players who are focused on women's health and breasts will turn gay because you see them wearing pink and think about men having sex with men.

HC3- Pink, who knows, but like the rainbow it shows sympathy and association to a known group of deviants.

HC2- It's gay culture entering the mainstream is what it is. Using the NFL as its' test ground. It seems innocuous and you don't hardly notice what is being done in front of you. It is a subtle form of insertion of counter culture.

At this stage the reinforcements falter. They act as if they have read the status which generated this discussion for the first time. They are momentarily apologetic.

HC3 - You didn't indicate that it was worn for breast cancer...different story.

HC2 - If you are wearing it for Breast cancer , that's one thing. But if it is otherwise it is an assault on masculinity.

I offer an olive branch to help achieve internet harmony. Kumbaya.

AOA - Many heterosexual people do not see people supporting breast cancer awareness and think of men having sex with men. I have been told that many gay people think about men having sex with men for a variety of reasons. I suppose I think about having sex with women for all sorts of reasons that don't make sense, so I'm willing to be accepting of your desire to see men having sex with men based on the color of someone's clothing.

They refuse the peace offering, and soldier on.

HC3- What it does show is an intrusion of the "sheocracy" on a masculine sport, there are other venues that are more appropriate for breast cancer awareness.

HC2- AOA, why can't they use another venue. Why do they require that they use this in a masculine setting ?

HC3- Well, then why use the NFL to promote this, where was the prostate cancer awareness?

AOA- I guess some people think about breasts when they think about breast cancer awareness and some people like you guys think about men having sex with men. Of course I also think more about the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders when I think about the Dallas Cowboys but I'm immature that way.

HC2- No but pink is feminine AOA. The NFL games is just a piss poor place to put that type of thing.

AOA- I think the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are rather feminine also.

HC3- Right, but they are not players nor was Dallas in the Superbowl this time around.

AOA- Now back to the question at hand. When you guys see men in pink do you feel more homosexual? If your theory is to be considered with any degree of validity there should be experiential data to back it up.

HC- As I was watching the nfl chanel this past week they ran a spot showing a pop warner team ten year olds running out on the field wearing pink jerseys and matcing wrist bands, you cant tell me that they arent trying to insinuate homosexuality onto these boys, wouldnt testicular cancer be the appropriate awarness guidon? We are not talking about wrist bands here, hell we arent even as talking about the top killer cancer, why isnt mens cancer addressed this way?

AOA- Testicular Cancer even has a mascot. "Senhor Testiculo"

HC3- Now that would be funny to have him run around the field during half time! BWAHAHAHALALAHHA!!!

AOA- We are talking about this because awareness programs have been causally linked to better survival rates for THE TOP diagnosed cancer in women. We are talking about it because you insist that seeing men in pink drives other men wild with homosexual lust. Is it just a wardrobe sensibility for you all? How did you react when all the Chevy Nascar teams painted their numbers pink for cancer awareness in 2011?

AOA- Of course in 2012 Austin Dillon painted his entire car except the number pink for breast cancer awareness, and he got a pink fire-suit to go with it. Still wore the black stetson though.

HC3- An exception not the rule by miles. Pink in general is always going to be a femine color, no matter how you want it to be mainstream for men, well at least those that are not light on their loafers.

AOA- You must have missed where I pointed out that EVERY Chevy Nascar team painted parts of their cars pink for breast cancer awareness two years in a row!

HC3- Your skull must be very thick because I indicated it is an exception, wishing it to be something other than a female color is part of a sheocracy and turd burgler agenda.

AOA- Did I say two years... well that was just the numbers. Last year most of the racers painted their entire cars.

HC3- Personally, NASCAR like the NFL is not the place to promote it and especially that way. Looks very very G_A_Y. Showing me more photos doesn't make it change.

HC- Promoting the pink "I'ts alright to slip your buddy the high hard one" guidon in mens sports is brain washing, the fact that these racing teams are participating in it simply shows bad judgment that they may regret laterx slapping the homophobia label on men who dont agree with it is as lame as calling people who disagree with obama racist.....its cheap and wreaks of desperation.

AOA- You keep on bringing up homophobia. The homophobic attitudes of you and your buddies is so comically over-the-top that it suggests something else entirely. Men who insist on thinking about men making love to other men when they see some men trying to draw attention to women's breasts are only doing so because they want to.

Then a self-identifying female with an attractive profile picture chimes in.  Since most self-identifying females with attractive profile pictures on the internets are actually middle-aged men I will refer to "her" as SIF, for Self-Identifying Female.

SIF - Well im wearing blue today i hope noone gets offended lmao.

HC is not amused, sand snips at her in a series of comments that were quickly deleted.

AOA- Apparently, according to Scott's fabulous fashion sense, blue is a gender neutral color. I, on the other hand, would like to image that whatever blue outfit you are wearing is, in fact, very gender synergistic.

SIF snips back. She self-identifies as bisexual, and directly calls into questions HC’s libido by suggesting that the will be engaging the attentions of women at a rate far exceeding HC’s ability. HC snips back. All these comments are also deleted.

AOA- SIF's gone farther to proving your point than anyone on this thread. First she talks about how she's wearing blue. As a corollary to how you imagined men having sex with men when men wear pink she mentions how she is wearing We should be imagining women having sex with other women. Impotent as we are we (at least i) don't pick up on it, so she has to come back and make specific reference to how she is getting female sexual attention... Perhaps at this very moment. She has certainly sent my thoughts on a trip over the rainbow.

HC- AOA, if you think SIF made any kind of point in your favor or her favor then you are grasping at straws, im also not sure why you are so obsessed with this idea of two guys having sex AOA but thats your issue, as for SIF speaking of the way I dress all I gotta say is darlin' 1984 called and it wants you to stop wearing its sh*t!

AOA- OK HC. If you are afraid of the subject which you posted about that is OK. You should really own your own fears rather than so weakly attempt to sublimate them onto others.

HC3- AOA: You are a homo supporter and apologist, so have at it, support people that live a deviant lifestyle, I mean you could even get some pink trousers that open with a flap in the back to really give yourself to them and their cause. SICKENING!

HC- Thank you HC3, I had to delete SIFs comments as they were vulgar and childish, it got ugly for a minute there but I unfriended her and things got better looking after

HC goes on to post another status explaining his position on attractive women:

“So much for civil conversation in fact so much for intelligent discourse on facebook, if you are going to be vulgar, disrespectful and obtuse im just going to delete you, as for that certain angry woman, im sorry that life made you a full-time waitress, it must be hard to be 50 years old and still earning $2.14 waitressing part time during the day and then blowing old drunks for drinks at night, dont take that out on me just because I wouldnt ask you see I only f#ck pretty women.....sorry!” -- HC

HC- SIF, you didnt challenge me or my opinion at all, the only thing you did was act like a drunk hyena in a bar, absolutely no relevance to the conversation just hysterical name calling, in fact I showed a couple of my lesbian friends your tirade and they were ashamed that someone who claimed to be gay/bisexual would represent themselves that way.

HC provides more details of his “Lesbian Connection” in a separate status:

“I wrote a post few days ago concerning an activity that I perceive to be pushing the gay agenda, a couple whack jobs commented on it and insinuated homophobia on my part, as luck would have it I ended up working with not one but two lesbians, I told them what I had written and what the reactions to it had been, I showed them one womans bisexual outburst against me and they were disgusted and said that they were embarrassed to have someone represent their lifestyle the way this woman did, one of my lesbian coworkers said this to me "HC, I know what your political and religious beliefs are, you've never hidden that but you have never treated me any different than anyone else, ive never felt uncomfortable around you and you've always treated me with respect" its funny how things work out in life, this one woman in particular and I had a very personal dialogue all day long, apparently she was so comfortable with me that she was able to confide Many intimate and personal things to me.” -- HC

Then, for some unknown reason, HC allows SIF to have the last word, and then there is nothing left to say…

SIF- Lmao. Ha ha really thats funny you have friends.. you are just a virus put here for the rest of us to learn from. And nothing more. Namaste...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Science Ham

Last night Bill Nye the science guy “debated” Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (AIG) at Ham’s Creation Museum in Kentucky. Many people have questioned the wisdom of debating creationists. If people are not going to look up information and learn it on their own how is being humiliated in front of a crowd of people going to help? Beating a village idiot does not educate the idiot about much; it is, instead, more effective in educating everyone about your personal cruelty. Bill’s job was to step up to the lectern, state the obvious, and not appear too cruel while doing so. He succeeded, and I think the bow tie helped.

There were other tactical pitfalls Bill had to steer clear of. He could not go into much detail about any one aspect of Evolution lest he bog down his audience while Ken flitted off to some unrelated set of questions. Ken did not have to risk getting bogged down as his entire thesis is contained in 74 words within the 1st chapter of the first book of the bible:

“And God said, “Let us make humankind in our image and according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every moving thing that moves upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the likeness of God he created him, male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27 Lexham

This is somewhat repetitive, and it could easily be reduced from 74 words to 20: “God created humankind in his image, in the likeness of God he created him, male and female he created them”. Actually the gist could be gotten in three words: “God created humankind”.

The second chapter of Genesis goes over the same ground as the first, and adds a bit more detail about the male:

“ when Yahweh God formed the man of dust from the ground, and he blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” – Genesis 2:7 Lexham

And an interesting twist about the female:

“And Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man. While he slept, he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh where it had been. And Yahweh God fashioned the rib which he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.” – Genesis 2:21-22 Lexham

In last night’s debate the rib and dust details were not used by Ken as additional evidence. This was undoubtedly because, although they flesh out the details of the story a bunch, they do not add to the believability of the story.

When I was younger the “fact” that women had one more rib than men was presented as evidence for biblical creation. In a strange twist several people I knew suggested that the extra rib was simply an accident of evolution. Ever the experimental scientist I obtained enthusiastic permission to count the ribs on a living woman, but due to significant distraction I kept loosing count, and my data was inconclusive. Nowadays all the modern “experts” and “textbooks” will tell you that men and women have the same number of ribs, but I think it might be worthwhile to repeat the attempts at counting just to be sure.

Abundant redundancy and trivial detail is a hallmark of biblical scripture. If the bible is the word of some god then that god is fairly trivial and redundant.

The level of redundancy and trivial detail in the bible makes it mind-numbingly dull. It will be of little use to anyone when fewer people demand that it is divinely authored. Even biblical literalists, who insist that every word is true, shy away from any questions about what use much of it is. I’m not just talking about the interminable “begats”; read Exodus 26 to a biblical literalist, and then ask them what purpose the chapter should play in your life.

Thousands are probably asking the same thing about last night’s “debate”. What purpose does it serve in our lives?

It may serve as the point in history where young-earth creationism (YEC) was identified as a marginal concept. Going into the “debate” many thinking Christians had already abandoned YEC as kooky. Coming out of the debate there is an alternative that wears a bow tie, and is more goofy than scary.

Bill may not have kicked ass and wiped the stage with Ham, but he is widely considered the “winner” of the “debate”. Christian Today’s site had put in place a poll widget to capture the reaction. It was apparently disabled when, after 10s of thousands of people had responded, Ken was trailing Bill by a 86% margin.

It is time to abandon YEC. Continuing to discuss it at all is unproductive… or at least it will be once the number of adherents decreases to a level as marginal as the ideas they espouse.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Jail, Institution, and Death

Tooele has been suffering a labeling problem lately.

Last week Wednesday a man doing some remodel/maintenance on his house found a couple of boxes labeled EXPLOSIVES/TNT under a subfloor. 20 evacuated homes and a couple of x-rays later the contents were identified as homemade soap.

Strange things do turn up in Tooele homes. In 2008 a contractor re-roofing a 1920’s era house in Tooele discovered a desiccated human head. The head apparently originally belonged to a native-American.  The previous owners thought the disembodied head was cool, but then threw into a corner of the attic when they got bored with it.

Yesterday a young Tooele mother of 5 tried feeding her 2-year old some Gatorade from a bottle labeled "Gatorade" that was actually full of methadone. Her 2-year old would not drink the reddish-pink "Gatorade" so her 5year old tried it and said it was awful. Her 8-year old also tried it and said it tasted mediciney. Her 11 and 14-year olds did not try it, and so they remain, along with their father, the only members of the family not jailed, hospitalized, or dead. The 2-year old died of an overdose shortly after drinking the "Gatorade".

The sort of story that ends with the death of an otherwise healthy 2-year-old demands questions. First of all Jill and her husband Cody were not a stereotypical couple who grew up and became stuck in the small town populated largely by their cousins in which they too were born. They grew up and attended Grantsville High, and Grantsville is several miles away from Tooele.

Of course the obvious questions concerning how or why Jill had a Gatorade bottle filled with methadone may be interesting, but I haven’t a clue as to the answers. I also cannot answer why a 32-year old woman had 5 kids.

When Jill married Cody on June 10th 2000 she was still a teenager. June in the Tooele Valley can be excruciatingly hot or wonderful, and it can change between these extremes several times a day. June is a time for picturing a future filled with wonderful fragile weather, both real and metaphorical.

Less than 14 years later she would be bouncing around in a double-wide with five kids. It was one of the largest homes in the neighborhood, and it boasted an actual white-picket fence outside. Perhaps it was a desire for a stable more perfect future that inspired Jill to birth so many children. Inside the home the motivation for storing powerful narcotics disguised as sport’s drink would birth unimaginable loss.

Right now the ground in Tooele is coated with a fresh couple inches of overnight snow.  The day's sun is brushing it off the bushes that locals call "trees".    The black of the bare branches is blacker still against the sub-freezing snow.  With the air cleared of Salt-Lake-City smog by the light precipitation the small, bare, black bushes look insignificant in the vistas that stretch out to mountains defining the Tooele Valley, and then beyond to a horizon defining the place where sky adsorbs the great Salt Lake.   But even when squinting into that void beyond these impressive distances it appears as if sunnny days in June are obscured by clouds.

This side of the winter solstice the days are getting noticeably longer.  The twisted black twigs will sprout leaves again soon.  Time will goose-step mercilessly towards another spring.  People will unforgivably smile in the sun, and find love again.