Saturday, January 31, 2015

Women Have The Right To Stand Up To Oppressive Religions!



Author and atheist Sam Harris hits it spot on in his masterful book, 'The Moral Landscape' (p. 63):

"Because religions conceive of morality as being obedient to the word of God (generally for the sake of receiving a supernatural reward), their precepts often have nothing to do with maximizing well-being in the world. Religious believers can, therefore, assert the immorality of contraception, masturbation, homosexuality etc. without ever feeling obliged to argue these practices actually cause suffering. 

They can also pursue aims that are flagrantly immoral, in that they needlessly perpetuate human misery, while believing these actions are morally obligatory. This pious uncoupling of moral concern from the reality of human and animal suffering has caused tremendous harm."

Examples reflecting the last points exist in abundance, such as the RCs' excommunication of  an American nun (in Arizona)  for saving a 27 year old mother’s life at the expense of her fetus’. Her moral choice was either to let the birth occur and see both mother and infant die, or prevent the birth (because of the mother’s blood pressure complications) and save the mother.

The Vatican's distorted morality (the same that forbids artificial contraception as "mutual masturbation") demanded that both mother and infant perish rather than allow the lesser of the beings (the fetus, not yet a fully formed person) die to save the more advanced being.  But  this is exactly what Harris meant when he referred to the "pious uncoupling of moral concern from human suffering".

To her credit, the nun chose the higher morality not dependent on simple obedience to an archaic God-concept. Realizing both lives couldn't be saved she chose to save the mother's.

In a similar way, another courageous woman - Brittany Maynard - realized that she already had a death sentence from brain cancer, but she had the power to circumvent it having the "last word". Thus, Brittany chose to end her life as a still sentient being rather than descend into a totally vegetative state lacking any life quality - with excruciating pain to go with it. Hence, Brittany's choice to end her life manifested a greater morality .  This morality rejected the suffering of merely existing in a debased vegetative condition based on the specious presumption  of "sanctity of life" demanded indiscriminately for any and all conditions.

Examining Brittany's choice one can see in retrospect that it was highly moral while the religionists attacking her exuded a morality that was "flagrantly immoral" because it extended human suffering.

These are extreme examples, to be sure, but lesser examples can also be invoked to show that women have the power (and right) to exercise their own choices - say in the matter of artificial contraception or abortion.

Thus, a Catholic woman with four kids already may understand that another would incur enormous hardship because of lack of resources. She is therefore totally justified in rejecting the Catholic Church's proscriptions against birth control.

Likewise, a single woman given a ''roofie"  in a drink by some low class renegade, and who later gets pregnant, is fully justified in getting an abortion. Her pregnancy occurred against her will, not her choice, so she is not obligated to endure the biological suffering and hardship a nine-month pregnancy will induce. 

Other single women, who may work in Catholic institutions (schools, hospitals),  have the right to demand FREE contraception as specified under the Affordable Care Act.  The argument that the institutions' "religious liberty" requires that no contraception be a part of any health plan is nonsense. This also extended to the Hobby Lobby fracas, irrespective of the decoupled SC decision.

As the Obama Administration has persuasively argued:

The owners of Hobby Lobby aren’t entitled to exemption for their business based on their individual religious beliefs


Or, as the Philadelphia-based federal appeals court pithily put it:

Businesses do not pray, worship, observe sacraments or take other religiously motivated actions.”

It is also important to note the Court has never recognized a for profit corporation's "religious rights" under federal law or the Constitution. 

As far as the Catholics' claim, it is also detached from reality- since workers at Catholic institutions are under no obligations to adhere to Catholic dogmas.

The bottom line is that once women - of all faiths or none- see that religions' moral precepts have nothing to do with maximizing well -being in the world, they will be charged to act under their own consciences. This is their right and it trumps any "pelvic proscriptions" the religions may have on offer!



Friday, January 30, 2015

'The 'Imitation Game': A Shoo-In To Win "Best Picture" (Some Minor Spoilers)

The Imitation Game poster.jpg
Do you own a computer? Do you work with one in any kind of capacity? Then, it is incumbent on you to see  the Weinstein Company's  'The Imitation Game', starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly and Charles Dance (from the 'Game of Thrones'). This film had us gripping our seats for two hours as we watched the goings on at an obscure place called Bletchley Park, during World War II . According to Wikipedia:

"Bletchley Park, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was the central site of the United Kingdom's Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), which during the Second World War regularly penetrated the secret communications of the Axis Powers – most importantly the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers."

But left unsaid is the torturous, years long effort to crack the Enigma machine's ciphers which daily set new U-Boat and bombing targets and which the British were at a loss to stop using archaic methods. None of the usual cipher-busting methods work because well, you were talking about a machine that could create over 170  million permutations of the letters. At a dead end, the War Office had no choice except to try a new approach, and that is where Alan Turing (played by Cumberbatch) enters. Turing, then a Mathematics professor, told the war authorities: "The only way to beat a machine is by building another machine, and that is what I intend to do." And that led to the original "Turing Machine" and the basis for modern digital computers.

Turing and his team (including Keira Knightly's character) then set out to crack ENIGMA, though at the beginning Turing is isolated - all by himself fiddling with his rotors and circuits- lacking the social skills to entice cooperation. Indeed, the other four members of his team (before Knightly arrives) continue their old ciphering methods and regard Alan's machine as a more or less useless waste of time, even costing lives every day.

To test the success of ongoing efforts, the Bletchley team had its own German ENIGMA machine (seized during one op)  so that if they believe at any point they've cracked the code for the day - they can run it through the machine and see if the result matches actual events, e.g. U-Boat attacks. Once recruited for their task, they aim  -each day - to crack the ENIGMA code to be able to stave off attacks the next day.

None of this works, and ultimately the War Office loses patience, threatening to close down  the Cipher squad unless they can get results in one month. They're already miffed at having shelled out over 100,000 pounds for Turing's  machine.

I will not relate the critical breakthrough, but in many ways the "Eureka" moment - captured when Turing is hobnobbing at a party (after finally developing some rudimentary social skills) - reminded me of John Nash's solution of his game theory breakthrough  in a key scene in 'A Beautiful Mind' . That occurred while in a Princeton, NJ bar with his buddies,  trying to decide which of 4 coeds they'd approach.

At Bletchley, the solution was now in sight,, which amounted to an input.  As the team raced back to check it they're delighted by the success. The ENIGMA machine spit out actual latitudes and longitudes for future U-Boat attacks with the dates. Some members of the team demand an immediate phone call to alert commanders of when and where the attacks will occur, but Turing won't have it. "You can't do that!" he screams. One team member with a brother on a ship due to be attacked is so vexed he punches him in the face.

The reason? If the Germans see that the attacks are neutralized, they will know the ENIGMA code has been cracked and therefore  re-design new codes and new machines.  The only solution? The Cypher bunch comes up with a new program in conjunction with the War Office called "Ultra".  The basis of Ultra is - having seen which attacks are coming up - to compute statistically (using the Poisson distribution of 'expected events') the accepted number of  interventions (hence saved lives) which are below the random threshold - so as not to arouse suspicion.

The last part of the film then shows the team at work computing 'saves' that are acceptable and within the bounds of the "randomly expected"  statistics.  It is brutal, thousands still die, but it is vastly more important to preserve the cracked existing code to ensure the D-Day success.

Of course, this Bletchley Park plot all runs in tandem with Turing's own life situation and being hounded by a nosey detective - determined to open his high security war file. When the snoop meets impediments he gets suspicious and ultimately his  persistence pays off. It is at this point, Turing's homosexuality is exposed and he's given the brutal choice of either spending his years in prison - or taking hormone treatments which remove the sex drive (but also wreak havoc on one's brain.)

To my mind this is the best movie of the year, and I would be amazed if it didn't win the Academy's "Best Picture". See the movie and then decide whether you agree!

To read more about ENIGMA and Enigma machines:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enigma_machine

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Elias Isquith And Other Liberal Mouthpieces Need to Stop Covering Up for LBJ!



Henry Marshall (USDA official) was one of the bodies left behind in LBJ's rise to glory. Why don't liberals take their heads out of their asses instead of protecting a false icon?


Who controls the past controls the future.  And who controls the present controls the past.

 
In those immortal words of George Orwell (from ‘1984’) we see at once the importance of history in determining our lives, and outcomes of public policy. Sadly, and I hate to say this – too many liberals don’t know their own past, the nation’s past, and don’t want to. They believe merely because they are scribes at Salon.com, HuffPo or some other site, they’re entitled to weigh in on recent history and distort it. Worse, they want to remain gloriously ignorant - steeped more in hagiography, or misplaced hero worship – than actual history. See e.g.



 
Therein I noted that

it is when hagiography eclipses facts and history that the critical mind must take note and understand when the wool is being pulled over its eyes.  Sadly, too many in the U.S. today are unprepared to cast a critical eye on goings on, far less be disposed to expose a so-called history as really pulp hagiography.”

 
This was in reference to all the overblown hype and hoopla on how dear old “Lyndon” had really been the one to put the pedal to the metal on civil rights and pushed through those major pieces of legislation, the civil rights bill and the voting rights act. Do not believe it for a damned minute! LBJ was a feral, racist rat who also had JFK killed. He called the civil rights act “that nigger bill” and also used the word with abandon as his own tapes disclose, e.g.


 
Now, salon.com writer Elias Isquith appears to have jumped head first onto the LBJ hagiography bandwagon with his piece:Roger Stone vs. the World: The Conspiracy-Filled Mind of Legendary GOP Trickster’. See e.g.


 
He commits the error of retrospectively condemning  current claims as invalid by virtue of an author’s previous actions. In this case, because Stone was a former GOP dirty trickster (who perfected the dark political art of “ratfucking”), then he clearly cannot be trusted to speak the truth now regarding claims made in his new book,  The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.  Isquith also fails to process that the exact same case against LBJ  has already been made by Philip Nelson and Barr McClellan in earlier books. Indeed, it was first made 24 years ago by Craig I. Zirbel in his 'Texas Connection',  showing clearly how all the pieces we'd thought were disconnected (disposal of JFK's clothing, removal of the limo, autopsy manipulations  etc.) made sense when it was understood that only LBJ could be the "choreographer".  The most  Roger Stone can be guilty of then, is merely rehashing the prior work of others.





As Stone notes in one response to Isquith:

He was a crude, corrupt, sadistic, unprincipled psychopath. This is a man who I believe ordered at least 17 murders on his way to power, murders to cover up corruption or voter theft. I make a compelling case in my book — using fingerprint evidence, eyewitness evidence, and deep [research into] Texas politics — that Lyndon Johnson was the linchpin of the conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy. He has the motive, means and opportunity. So it reads like a murder mystery, it reads like a thriller novel, but unfortunately it’s the truth.”

 Is it false or "conspiratorial" because a former Reepo operative said ir? HELL NO! I say it TOO! So do many others who've finally  - after decades - removed the blinkers, irrespective of party or ideology. Perhaps the best documentation is by Philip Nelson in his own book (which I have read): ‘LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination”

 Most of us who have followed the documents track since the release of records via The JFK Records Act, have been seeking the skeleton key, if you will, or the linchpin that ties together all the disparate, apparently unrelated facts – originally portrayed by the media as “coincidences”, "oversights"  or “mistakes”.  Which too many of us, excessively gullible, accepted instead of they're being deliberately planned.

These included:
 
-        All of Kennedy’s clothing, including the bullet –holed suit coat - ordered destroyed.

-        The blood spattered and bullet- impacted limousine ordered dispatched to  Detroit,, where it was cleaned, disassembled, then completely rebuilt then sent to Ohio


-        Zapruder film (altered with attempted juxtaposition of frames)

 
-     Original autopsy notes of Dr. J.J. Humes   (burned)


-        Kennedy’s skull (re-imaged using mattes in re-done autopsy photos to make the massive wounds appear in the front and the entry wound in the rear- to comport with the Warren Commission Single Bullet theory[1])


-        Kennedy’s brain (missing from the time the body arrived at Bethesda). The brain would have shown the path of 'cavitation' clearly and added to the weight of evidence for a frontal shot.

 
Over the years many of us began thinking that none of the preceding were coincidence or error – but deliberate- ordered by LBJ to cover his nefarious tracks, including in the Warren Commission investigation which HE created!  I mean, Oswald couldn’t have done those things. Nor could any of these have been done by the Mafia, angry Cubans or even rogue CIA agents. The orders had to come from the top, since the evidence was all material, and in addition under control (at various times) of federal agencies, including: FBI and Secret Service.  In fact, the relevant records disclose that none other than Cliff Carter (one of the co-conspirators found guilty in the Henry Harvey Marshall slaying) gave orders for the actions which, if refused, were followed up by Johnson himself making telephone demands[2].

 
Johnson also violated federal and state laws with assorted usurpations, destruction of material evidence, not to mention hijacking Kennedy’s body instead of allowing the autopsy to be performed at the same Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
 

Further, by of his creation of The Warren Commission on November 29, 1963, LBJ acquired the total power to block any House, Senate or Texas state investigations, while awarding himself the power to control all evidence that might possibly surface, and either ignore it, suppress it or allow it to be distorted- thereby further distancing himself, all in the name of “seeking justice”.  To quote a notable wit: “To commit the perfect crime it is only necessary to be in charge of the investigation that follows.”

 
Thus after much deliberation, we realized (some reluctantly) it could only have been ONE man – LBJ – who also had the most to lose if he didn’t get rid of Kennedy at just that juncture of time. In the words of author Philip Nelson (Chapter 6: The Conspirators, p. 317):


“The crime could only have been accomplished with at least the acquiescence and foreknowledge of the only man capable of choreographing the massive cover-up which was immediately launched. It is axiomatic that since the cover-up started before the shots were fired, the order for JFK’s assassination could only have come from his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.”


So I hate to break this to Elias ,  but most of us who’ve been involved in deep politics and researching the JFK assassination have finally come to realize that LBJ indeed was involved in taking him out – for all the reasons I delivered in the hagiography link. We only regret it took us over 20 years to realize Craig Zirbel was right all along! (Dating from his 1991 expose of Johnson's role.)

Unsaid in that blog post, not yet revealed, is the way LBJ secretly courted the military to fire up the Vietnam War though Kennedy was steadfastly against it – ultimately made clear in his National Security Action Memorandum 263. Hence, the lingering smoking gun of Johnson’s guilt pertains to his disgusting back channel efforts to curry favor with the military (especially prime JFK hater Gen. Curtis Lemay). This entailed setting up a network to receive actual Vietnam intelligence behind Kennedy’s back – while ensuring the spooks and Pentagon sources delivered only doctored pap to JFK.  In many nations, this would be regarded as high treason, and anyone who did it (and found out)  put before a firing squad.

Much of the credit in digging up the relevant records goes to Military Science Professor John Newman in his book, JFK and Vietnam which documents that by November 24, 1963 – two days after Kennedy was dead (and before he was even laid to rest)-  a policy shift transpired toward massive commitment to American military forces in Vietnam – despite Kennedy’s NSAM 263. 

In the words of another researcher, Peter Dale Scott (Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, p. 30) it also proves that Johnson – since 1961  - had been the ally of the Joint Chiefs and especially Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. Let us recall for reference it was LeMay who compared Kennedy to Neville Chamberlain when he refused to go all out and bomb Cuba and invade it during the Cuban Missile crisis.

Peter Dale Scott summarized Johnson’s treason nicely (p. 31):

A back channel had been established whereby ‘the boys in the woodwork’ were feeding (Howard) Burris and Johnson a steady stream of accurate Vietnam intelligence reports which were denied to the President.”

These latter were almost uniformly false and “optimistic”.


He goes on (ibid.):

Meanwhile, U.S. Army Intelligence in Honolulu kept producing a second series of reports, more accurate and gloomy. These were denied to the President and McNamara but supplied by a secret intelligence back channel to Johnson

If this duplicity was all there was it would be bad enough but the real smoking gun – I’d even say fired gun – goes off when it is learned how a secret NSAM (273) had been prepared by Johnson that effectively nullified Kennedy’s restrictions for further U.S. Vietnam involvement set out in NSAM 263..

Johnson’s NSAM 273   “deleted Kennedy’s restrictions and sanctioned plans for U.S.operations to begin shortly thereafter”. (That is, after Nov. 21 – one day before JFK was shot dead in Dallas).  In other words, the fell plans for reversing Kennedy’s NSAM were already in existence a day BEFORE JFK was killed. Scott notes (p. 30) a draft of this NSAM 273  (The draft prepared for Kennedy’s signature spoke only of “additional resources” given by the South Vietnamese to fight North Vietnam – as per JFK’s original instructions in NSAM 263 – but this was the part deleted.)

 
Peter Dale Scott correctly observes that in the wake of this perfidy most media sources (e.g. Michael Specter in the NY Times) and talking heads have prattled that “NSAM 273 continued Kennedy’s policies” which it did nothing of the sort – as I showed. Scott further observes (p. 29)  that "even the Nation participated in this obfuscation of the record."

Indeed,  from all I’ve seen, and in exchanges with so-called “liberals” at various sites (e.g. smirkingchimp) it is clear to me this bollocks about NSAM 273 has been swallowed as completely as the crap that LBJ was this avid defender of civil rights. These libs would rather peddle these fairy tales – along with LBJ’s hagiographers and puppets – than face the brutal truth that a former DEM President was a bloody conspirator and murderer. ("Oh me oh my, we can't provide any more fodder to the Repukes! Better to hide the truth!")


But I make no apologies for bringing the truth out, any more than others have, and my only regret is too many choose to bury heads (and brains) in the sand emulating the ostrich.

 
Lastly, let’s bear in mind the NSAM 273 perversion led directly to an even greater outrage, the fabrication of the Tonkin Gulf incident  in August 1964, wherein the Turner Joy and Maddox were allegedly attacked without provocation in the summer of 1964. This precipitated the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which directly led to the massive expansion in ‘Nam. As I’d previously written in March, 2013:


“In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese Naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated regarding August 2:

“At 1505G, Captain Herrick ordered Ogier's gun crews to open fire if the boats approached within ten thousand yards. At about 1505G, the Maddox fired three rounds to warn off the communist boats. This initial action was never reported by the Johnson administration, which insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first”

and regarding August 4:

“It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2”


In other words, LBJ and  the U.S. aggressors used it as a pretext to demand the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and launch a war that killed nearly 58,000.


Make no mistake, this cornpone turd, so blindly idolized by too many,  is nothing but a verminous traitor, racist and murderer. He not only saw to it Kennedy would meet his death in Dallas (including by altering the motorcade route and venue for his Dallas speech) but also created a phony commission to cover it up even as he manufactured a document to expand the war in Vietnam leading to monumental loss in blood and treasure.

Anyone who doesn’t do the background work from the released document trail, and that includes Isquith and Maureen Dowd et al, doesn’t merit any pass to call out “excess conspiracy” on anyone else – even a former Reepo dirty trickster. Let’s be clear here that simply because one’s political past might be shady doesn’t mean he’s off target in his claims – especially concerning LBJ. The liberals and LBJ hagiographers who protect this POS merit no remote consideration – until they also do the grunt work of document parsing! 


See also:


 


[1] Photo-optic specialist Robert Groden, however, believe that the skull was actually reconstructed using mortician’s plaster, then photographed. See the details in his book Killing Kennedy.
[2] Twyman, High Treason,  p. 92.

 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Auschwitz Commemoration: Why Wasn't Russia Invited?


Let's get it clear that the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and its commemoration in Poland (now a NATO puppet state) ought to have Vladimir Putin and the Russians front and center. It was the Soviet Army  that liberated that reprehensible Nazi concentration camp - not the U.S. (which was hundreds of miles to the west). Hence, by all standards of respect, civility and acknowledgement, the Russians ought to be there - and way, way before any appearance by Barack Obama (though I am glad he didn't go since Vladimir Putin isn't allowed).  Those who hammer Obama for not making an appearance really have no idea that he shouldn't be present in any case. The commemoration is mainly on behalf of the survivors and the nation state (Russia)  that actually liberated the damned camp. (Poland was a Nazi satellite state at the time)

The Russians also suffered far , far more than the U.S. and primarily in holding back the Nazi onslaught in Operation Barbarossa.  This "evil empire" (in Ronnie Reagan's Alzheimer's-  generated parlance)  saved the West's living ass as it turned back Hitler's troops in Barbarossa, at the cost of losing 20 million of their people. Think about that! How do you think America would have handled a vicious aggressor actually invading the nation and laying waste to major cities as the Hitlerites did to Russia? And losing 20 million?  (For some insight, google: "Battle of Stalingrad")

During Barbarossa, 5 to 6 million Red Army soldiers were taken captive by the Nazis, and of these more than three million died of disease (mainly typhus), forced labor and the brutal conditions to which they were subjected.  By contrast, the U.S. suffered 405,400 total  war deaths or barely 13.5 percent of the Russian losses - from deaths in captivity alone.

The Russians, having bravely decimated the Nazi war machine  to the point D-Day could succeed (without worrying about immense masses of troops and  thousands more Luftwaffe planes), then moved westward to meet up with the allies, on the way liberating concentration camps including Mauthausen, e.g.

Photograph of hundreds of the corpses Russian soldiers encountered at Mauthausen in May, 1945.

They then also went on to liberate Auschwitz, and were the first to see what the Nazi vermin had wrought (including from the horrific human experiments) and also caring for the hundreds of survivors - including many Jewish children, who had to be  treated following Josef Mengele's experiments gone awry.

In specific Auschwitz liberation film records, for example, the liberating Russians beheld a 12 year old boy who'd  been infected with Leprosy and the results after just 6 weeks. In another segment, one watches with heart break as the bandages are removed from a 10 year old girl's foot, showing blackened flesh - after she had been forced to stand ten hours in freezing temperatures. In yet another segment, a 9 year old boy is unable to exercise or move either of his arms - they had been amputated and replaced with the arms of a 9 month old infant.

Russian medical personnel also observed:

- Removed skin (treated with chemicals) from prisoners waiting to made into for chairs, and for use as art 'canvas':   In this case the selected bodies of certain gassed victims had their skin later removed and used to form the fabric for chairs - generally by the particular concentration camp Kommandant - and also for "art" canvas, with the art often pornographic.

- Bodies of fetuses (expelled by their mothers in the gas chambers) designated for autopsies.

Much of this is shown in vintage films finally accessible after the fall of the Soviet Union. I watched it in the 'Liberation of Auschwitz' part of the 5-pack collection, The Holocaust Testaments. Incredibly, the O.S.S. (forerunner of the CIA) was aware of many of the films but adamantly was opposed to any release or even exposure because they believed the materials to be Soviet propaganda. (The Auschwitz films are introduced by Simon Wiesenthal, of the Holocaust Museum, and I sincerely dispute he'd be introducing "propaganda"!)

I believe every American ought to see these films and see what part different allies had in liberating the Nazi death camps, especially the Russians who are given far too little credit and respect for their crucial role.

That the Russians, who liberated Auschwitz and actually treated survivors, are not present at the commemoration because of pique at certain recent Russian actions (in response to NATO incursions into Russia's sphere of influence, e.g. in the Ukraine) is absolutely abominable and unacceptable. For an occasion like this, political pique needs to be relegated to the sidelines to allow the proper recollection of the event - and acknowledgement of the Russian role. Poland and its NATO masters can return to their Russian -hating and subversive moves on her doorstep after the commemoration. See also:


http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2014/03/putin-is-acting-rationally-col-lawrence.html

and:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-game-theory-perspective-on-ukraine.html

To learn more about the history of Auschwitz:

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005189

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Primary Protein on the Menu for 2040: INSECTS!


Not even chicken wings will be available for football games by 2040.  Boiled beetles? More likely!


It doesn't really take an astrologer or fortune teller to forecast the primary protein on the menu by 2040. It will most assuredly be insects. All the signs point to that, in particular that with the ramping up of global warming water will become even scarcer (especially combined with the frack craze) and so water-intensive meats like beef will be literally "off the table" - except maybe for the richest.

Fish eaters will fare no better. As the March, 2014 issue of National Geographic noted, p. 74:

"The oceans are dying. The collapse of fisheries marks the decline, a steady funeral drumbeat: cod in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, anchovies off Peru. salmon off the Pacific Northwest, Patagonian toothfish in Antarctic waters, sharks in all the oceans. Bluefin tuna are among the most overfished species on Earth. The stock that spawns on the western side of the Atlantic has been reduced  by 64 percent since 1970."

Some scientists go so far to predict only jellyfish will be in the oceans by 2040 on account of acidification. This means unless people living at the time (another reason not to live to 100 for many of us) fancy jellyfish they had better look for other protein sources.

What might these be? Well, insects! They are in abundance on this planet and provide an excellent protein source. Here are some facts dredged up from the September, 2014 issue of National Geographic:

- More than one fourth of the world's population (2 billion) already incorporates insects into diets

- The number of known edible insect species now totals 2,000

-  Crickets are 12 times more efficient than cattle at providing nutritional (protein ) value.

- Nearly 80 % of cricket body mass is consumable compared to barely 50 % for salmon and 40 % for cattle. You get more 'bang for the buck'!

Some may be aghast, but insects properly prepared, e.g. fried crickets with some tabasco or hot pepper sauce, actually taste damned good!  Apart from that, insects are already being used in a number of products, including certain medicines, cosmetics (lipstick) and to flavor alcohol.

In reality, much of the problem with eating bugs is in people's heads, the so-called 'ewwwww' or 'yuck' factor.  But there are practical ways to get around that, and the sooner we train our grand kids - since they will be the ones having to either gobble bugs or become Vegans, the better. Arnold van Huis, of Wangeningen University (Netherlands), quoted in the NG issue insists the best way to do this is to "conceal the insects form". So, for example, say you are given this giant hornet:

vespa mandarinia
What would you do to prepare maybe 10 of them for a casserole? Well, van Huis suggests numero uno is to process them "into pastes or powders". This then can be added toward the end of say, your macaroni and cheese casserole.  By the time the dish is presented to you,  you won't even know it unless some killjoy lets the bug out of the bag.

Also noted in the NG piece, "bug flours" - that are part flour and part ground insect, will "be on the market soon".

This is all good, because it gives us more time to prep our future generations for the main (and likely only widespread) source of protein they will be able to access. If we can get OUR kids used to eating them now, there will be fewer problems in getting their kids to put them on their platters by 2040.

And lastly, don't knock fried crickets until you've tried them!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Religion's "12 Most Dangerous Ideas" and Neutralizing Them (Part 2)

Ancient image of 'Hell' with Lucifer at the forefront and his demons at work incinerating evil humans. Hell is one of the worst ideas and likely a creation of the reptilian brain.

We now continue looking at more of   Valeria Tarico's "most dangerous religious ideas" (in her salon.com piece) and my responses on how they can be neutralized.

7. Blood sacrifice – In the list of religion’s worst ideas, this is the only one that appears to be in its final stages. Only Hindus continue to  ritually hack and slaughter sacrificial animals on a mass scale.

When our ancient ancestors slit the throats on humans and animals or cut out their hearts or sent the smoke of sacrifices heavenward, many believed that they were literally feeding supernatural beings. In time, in most religions, the rationale changed—the gods didn’t need feeding so much as they needed signs of devotion and penance. The residual child sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible (yes it is there) typically has this function.

Christianity’s persistent focus on blood atonement—the notion of Jesus as the be-all-end-all lamb without blemish, the final “propitiation” for human sin—is hopefully the last iteration of humanity’s long fascination with blood sacrifice.

Response:  As noted above most of these primitive acts are on the way out so need not concern us. The blood atonement is the only one that does - the notion that the "pure lamb of God " (Yeshua) had to sacrifice himself for the expiation of humanity's "sin". But as I noted in previous posts, this is only relevant if Yeshua was really a "god-man" and there is no evidence he is, see e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2014/04/jesus-was-he-really-son-of-god-do.html

In the context of the God-concept, Yeshua is derivative and not primary in any case. In other words he is the "son" of the God-concept which most Christians accept. But again, if all such concepts are relative it doesn't matter in the end if people accept him as "Savior" or not. If it comforts them to do so, then that's fine. But because of the relative nature of the primary concept one can't use the son as a belief cudgel to threaten others who don't accept it.

8. Hell – Whether we are talking about Christianity, Islam or Buddhism, an afterlife filled with demons, monsters, and eternal torture was the worst suffering the Iron Age minds could conceive and medieval minds could elaborate. Invented, perhaps, as a means to satisfy the human desire for justice, the concept of Hell quickly devolved into a tool for coercing behavior and belief.

Response: The point about the limitations of "Iron Age" minds is apropos and fits also with their primitive god-concept of something along the lines of the vengeful, petulant demiurgos. Beaten down by climate upheavals and with tribe members eaten by beasts, these minds could only come up with vicious gods that punish for the smallest offenses, and demons that enforce "justice"

But at some point human brains - especially since the Enlightenment - were able to see through this nonsense, and with the advent of science moved on to more sophisticated God-concepts.  This meant religions had to figure out a new way to integrate "eternal" punishments into their dogmas. They also had to make "Hell" more believable - away from it cartoon fire basis. Dante Alighieri's great contribution lay in using the power of his imagination, in his Inferno, to remake Hell away from its childish, cartoon Hellfire imagery.

Instead of unending "fires" which were impossible and spelled  numerous metaphysical problems, including demon reproduction, Dante invoked and created subtle forms of eternal torments peculiar to the violations of the damned. For example, in the 2nd Circle of Hell we find those condemned for their lust, "the carnal malefactors"- for letting their raw carnal appetites subdue their reason. They're the first ones to be truly punished in Hell. (The First Circle is not truly a punishment level but rather "Limbo" - for all unbaptized infants. Not even Dante could image them being sent to eternal perdition!)

The RC Church, especially, began to invoke similar, more nuanced Hell visions to reinforce  its objective to coerce behavior, i.e. if you have sex before marriage you go to Hell, if you masturbate you go to Hell, if you kill yourself for any reason, you end up in Hell.

But the problem for the Hell mongers is that the concept isn't even logically coherent, e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2010/07/hell-impossible-fiction.html


9. Karma – Like hell, the concept of karma offers a selfish incentive for good behavior—it’ll come back at you later—but it has enormous costs. Chief among these is a tremendous weight of cultural passivity in the face of harm and suffering. Secondarily, the idea of karma sanctifies the broad human practice of blaming the victim. If what goes around comes around, then the disabled child or cancer patient or untouchable poor (or the hungry rabbit or mangy dog) must have done something in either this life or a past one to bring their position on themselves.

Response: There is not much to add to this, other than the 'blame the victim' meme comes to the fore.  Also, it appears none of the karma backers grasps the unending karmic loop engendered, and where it ends. If some bad guy did evil act E1  to Y, and it was Y's "karma" and Y does evil E2 to Z to make it Z's "karma" where does the karmic chain end? One karmic adherent I had a debate with claimed the Jews  that died in the Holocaust were all receiving "karma" for terrible things they'd done in past lives. The absolute abominable subtext of this needs no elaboration but it gets to the bottom (glaringly!) of what is wrong with the karma idea. That last example alone ought to be sufficient to neutralize it.

10. Eternal Life – To our weary and unwashed ancestors, the idea of gem encrusted walls, streets of gold, the fountain of youth, or an eternity of angelic chorus (or sex with virgins) may have seemed like sheer bliss. But it doesn’t take much analysis to realize how quickly eternal paradise would become hellish—an endless repetition of never changing groundhog days (because how could they change if they were perfect).

The real reason that the notion of eternal life is such a bad invention, though, is the degree to which it diminishes and degrades existence on this earthly plane. With eyes lifted heavenward, we can’t see the intricate beauty beneath our feet. Devout believers put their spiritual energy into preparing for a world to come rather than cherishing and stewarding the one wild and precious world we have been given.

Response: The last part is especially cogent and why I personally hate the idea of "eternal life" or "heaven" because it leads directly to the dismissal of Earthly life, environment and living in the here and now. It is no wonder then that those who cling the most to concepts like heaven have the least care about climate change and acting to stop it. "What's the point? Earth is only a way station anyway, heaven is my final destination".

But as I also noted in an earlier (April 14, 2012)post:

"The error of the Heaven confabulators, then, is basically the same as for the Hell inventors, since the two represent opposing poles of the same afterlife fantasy or two sides of the same sanity-raping coin. In any reward-punishment setting, one must offset the other. If you invent Hell to punish the unfaithful or the hardcore sinner who refuses to repent, you must have a Heaven for those who comply."

Thus, heaven falls just like Hell because they are two sides of the same "reward-punishment" God-concept. Since all God-concepts are relative then all afterlife concepts are as well, none is to be preferred to any others. Thus, the Buddhist concept of afterlife nothingness is as justified as the heaven-Hell model.

See also:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2010/02/myth-of-heaven.html


11.Male Ownership of Female Fertility –  The notion of women as brood mares or children as assets likely didn’t originate with religion, but the idea that women were created for this purpose, that if a woman begets life she must be subjugated is part of many religions.

Response: Again this goes hand in hand with the patriarchal nature of most primitive god-concepts: envisioning "God" as an old white man with a beard,  ruling over everything and everyone- especially women. Of course, the . most expeditious way to eradicate this foolishness is by replacing all personal God-concepts with impersonal ones, i.e. defining the ultimate in terms of energy. Since energy has no gender the male patriarch image becomes redundant.  The nature of a holistic impersonal Being is explicated in my recent book, Beyond Atheism, Beyond God.


12. Bibliolatry (aka Book Worship) – Preliterate people handed down their best guesses about gods and goodness by way of oral tradition, and they made objects of stone and wood, idols, to channel their devotion. Their notions of what was good and what was Real and how to live in moral community with each other were free to evolve as culture and technology changed. But the advent of the written word changed that. As our Iron Age ancestors recorded and compiled their ideas into sacred texts, these texts allowed their understanding of gods and goodness to become static. The sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam forbid idol worship, but over time the texts themselves became idols, and many modern believers practice—essentially—book worship, also known as bibliolatry.

Response: This is something I have commented on in previous posts. In terms of the God-concept context, it means that the Jewish concept of Yahweh, the Muslim concept of Allah, the Hindu concept of Brahmin and the Christian concept of the Trinity all stand in the same epistemological relation.  From an informational point of view, none can be selected as “true” to the exclusion of the others.

 This is completely analogous to there being inadequate information to distinguish one religion’s claims as true to the exclusion of all others. In the case of individual religions and religious traditions, the embodiment of the respective truth claim is found in a sacred revelation, or holy book. For example, the Holy Bible for Christianity, the Talmud for Jews, the Koran for Muslims and the Upanishads for Hindus, each proclaims inherent truths. For many of the respective faiths’ followers, these inherent truths are also absolute in the sense they dare not be contradicted. But if God-concepts are all relative and subjective, then all the sacred books on which they are based must be. None can be "true" to the exclusion of the others.
 
The problem is that the early writers for each scripture suffered from the same limitation of comprehension as their modern counterparts. A finite neural capacity means limited intellectual grasp, irrespective of the particular conceptual allegiance.  This then leads to a "holy" document or scripture that itself is limited and subjective, not absolute.

Note, a genuine God putatively doesn’t make mistakes since perfection is surely a fundamental divine attribute. However, a human brain is quite likely to project its flaws onto its concepts and that includes beholding the contrived deity botching assorted events and actions. No one can blame (finite) brains for this propensity, but humans at least need to recognize that they do it!
 
On the other hand, this defect means that worshipping holy books is to avoided at all costs as another form of idolatry.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The "12 Worst Ideas Unleashed On the World By Religion" - How They Can Be Nullified (Part 1)


Heretics meet their tortured ends at the hands of the Inquisition.

Let us agree as a starting proposition that any form of intellectual enterprise or program predicated on fantasy worlds or what are deemed "beyond the natural" realm (i.e. supernatural) are bound to be rife with terrible ideas. The reason is simple: By ignoring natural world constraints and natural laws (e.g. 2nd law of thermodynamics) then "anything goes" and the casual violation of the laws becomes as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

This then can lead to a fictitious morality and sanctions that have no realistic bearing on what is humanly feasible or possible. These can then lead to arrogant overstepping of bounds and persecution of others simply because they don't share the same beliefs.

So we are clear where I am coming from, and as I pointed out in my recent book, Beyond Atheism, Beyond God, religions ought to be accorded respect but only in so far as they agree they are really  espousing God-concepts - not any actual God. The reason is logical and simple: If there are 2,000 religions they cannot all be claiming  the same truths - or the same "God"- which is the same thing.  Hence,  the only conclusion must be their dogmas and sacred books are about God-concepts. These are fallible, artificial creations of the human mind which are inherently flawed and limited.

If  religions or religionists claim they are advancing the SAME God but in different ways, then the critical thinker must point out the redundancy and all but one are useful. Since they will never agree on whose God meets that standard, then we must come back to the notion of relative God concepts.

The use of the term God-concept then recognizes implicitly that the nearly universal allegiance to some God concept or other is separate from the issue of any factual existence of a deity. In other words, the widespread use and appeal of God concepts does not mean that there is a genuine correspondent in reality. In fact, humanity's penchant for creating Gods via God-concepts is full explainable by appeal to brain architecture and tendencies such as described by Michael Persinger in his monograph, The Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs, 1983.

All this is put forward before I examine each of the '12 worst ideas unleashed on the world by religion' discussed in a recent article  by Valeria Tarico on salon.com. Now, taking them in order - with the author's (edited) descriptions-  then my take:


1."Chosen People" The term “Chosen People” typically refers to the Hebrew Bible and the ugly idea that God has given certain tribes a Promised Land (even though it is already occupied by other people). But in reality many sects endorse some version of this concept, i.e. he New Testament identifies Christians as the chosen ones.

Religious sects are inherently tribal and divisive because they compete by making mutually exclusive truth claims and by promising blessings or afterlife rewards that no competing sect can offer.

Response: This is pretty well spot on, especially the last part. If then we were to replace "God" with God -concept most of the problems would vanish because mutual exclusion vanishes since all God-concepts are relative one to the other (i.e. none can be known absolutely) and hence none is superior to the others.  Effectively, God "competition" ceases and there can be no spoken idiocy such as one Gen. Jerry Boykin once uttered ("My God can beat your God!")

In the same way, if all are relative, none can promise special "eternal" rewards that the rest can't - because again, all are relative to each other, and subjective. Thus, their beliefs - such as concerning afterlives - must also be relative and subjective.  As I observed in Chapter 1 of my book:

 The implicit relativism acts as a restraint, backing the believer away from a militant absolutism. Ideally, this should dispose him or her to be more tolerant toward unbelievers, and tolerant toward those of different religions


2. Heretics – Heretics, kafir, or infidels (to use the medieval Catholic term) are not just outsiders, they are morally suspect and often seen as less than fully human.

Response: Again, spot on.  "Heresy" is merely a lingual confection and device to isolate a person or minority group if their beliefs do not coincide with the primary belief group's.  In thereby performing this lingual exercise the outcasts created  ("heretics") are rendered sub-humans and can thereby be tortured by the primary group at will - such as shown in the depiction of heretics tortured by the Inquisition.

But if all "Gods" are relative to each other, and also subjective - since as James Byrne observes ('God', Continuum Press, 2001, p. 151.):

"The idea of God as Being is the creation of the philosophical gaze, a result of the drive to objectification which is the hallmark of the history of metaphysics. It is the ‘God’ which is argued about in theism and atheism, and which can only be a projection of humans"

Then it's a wash. No one's God is truer than any other's so anything one person says pertaining to its nature is as good as any other description.  Hence, "heretic" becomes meaningless and superfluous because the original need for isolation is eliminated. This can be formulated as a kind of axiom: "In a world with only God-concepts, which are all relative, there can be no such thing as heresy or heretics."

3. Holy War – If war can be holy, anything goes. The medieval Roman Catholic Church conducted a twenty year campaign of extermination against heretical Cathar Christians in the south of France, promising their land and possessions to real Christians who signed on as crusaders. Sunni and Shia Muslims have slaughtered each other for centuries.

Response:  Given what has already been said in my response to "heretic" the application of the God-concept meme is even more cogent here. Indeed, since all God-concepts are relative and subjective it becomes a stupid waste of time to wage "holy war", crusades, or "jihad" - call it what you will.

Understand here the fundamental thrust of all holy wars is forced conversion of the invaded population to the religion or beliefs of the invaders. But if all Gods are relative, via God-concepts, then conversion emerges as asinine and useless. Conversion would only make sense if one could be absolutely certain his God was superior to all others, But he can't because his brain architecture is too limited to know that. Its capacity for absolute insight is foreclosed and since even the brains of the authors of the respective scriptures are limited, then one can't learn any more from those works either.


4. Blasphemy – Blasphemy is the notion that some ideas are inviolable, off limits to criticism, satire, debate, or even questioning. By definition, criticism of these ideas is an outrage, and it is precisely this emotion–outrage–that the crime of blasphemy evokes in believers. The Bible prescribes death for blasphemers; the Quran does not.

Response: Again, if Gods are replaced by God-concepts, then blasphemy becomes redundant and irrational. It is no longer possible to rationally invoke it because one's deity is no better, no more advanced or "perfect" than another's. This is admittedly a difficult pill for the religious absolutist to swallow, but there it is! Also, let's be clear that severely limited god-concepts can themselves wreak havoc. (Since God-concepts are relative, it is possible to have inferior or puerile ones as well as more sophisticated advanced ones -depending on the level of culture and intellect of the people who created it).

To distinguish retrogressive deity concepts from the more advanced, I invoke "god-concepts"- with the common 'g' indicating a primitive version. In the case of the Biblical prescription of death for blasphemy cited above, let us note this comes from the Old Testament where the primitive concept of the demiurge  or demiurgos dominated. [1]


5. Glorified suffering – Picture secret societies of monks flogging their own backs. The image that comes to mind is probably from Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, but the idea isn’t one he made up. A core premise of Christianity is that righteous torture—if it’s just intense and prolonged enough–can somehow fix the damage done by evil, sinful behavior. Millions of crucifixes litter the world as testaments to this belief.

Our ancestors lived in a world in which pain came unbidden, and people had very little power to control it. An aspirin or heating pad would have been a miracle to the writers of the Bible, Quran, or Gita. Faced with uncontrollable suffering, the best advice religion could offer was to lean in or make meaning of it.

Response: This grotesque idea was at the heart of many of the critics' responses to Brittany Maynard, i.e. to just "offer your pain and suffering up to God".   But what if Brittany didn't believe in God, or in the "God" of these fanatics? Then again, the notion of God-concepts comes to the fore. If Brittany adhered to a more subtle or nuanced God-concept, i.e. that rejected unnecessary pain, then her first duty would be to eliminate the possibility of reaching that stage, e.g. of a pain-wracked vegetable with no cognition who could only experience agony and lacked bowel, urinary control.

Others may insist that THEIR God declares this to be "suicide" and a "mortal sin" or whatever, but since all God-concepts are relative, it doesn't matter. Brittany's choices (even if she adheres to NO God-concept) are as good and as justified as those who accept a more stringent or punitive God-concept.


6. Genital mutilation – Primitive people have used scarification and other body modifications to define tribal membership for as long as history records. But genital mutilation allowed our ancestors several additional perks—if you want to call them that. Infant circumcision in Judaism serves as a sign of tribal membership, but circumcision also serves to test the commitment of adult converts.

Response:  All true, which is exactly why,  as I noted in a previous blog post, e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2014/12/cdc-trying-to-get-male-teens.html

that all forms of such mutilation, including male circumcision, amount to an antiquated religious practice that has no place in the modern world. Neither does it have any place in any objective religious world where all "Gods" are really God-concepts, and "covenants" are derived from these and also subjective and relative.


[1] See, for example, Elaine Pagels’ explanation in her book, The Gnostic Gospels, p. 37, wherein demiurgos is a lesser divine being who gives the law and metes out judgments to those who violate it. Obviously, demiurgos is a primitiv concept for a preliterate people or culture.

(To Be Continued)