Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frank Rich vs Melissa Etheridge Re: Rick Warren

Face it, people, we can't split the world down the middle. We can't exclude everyone we are not in lockstep with. We're not talking about Charles Manson here. If humans are going to move forward as a race we have to rub off on each other a bit. I know, it's risky--no,its not risky--its smart. We are up to this. We have to take the chances that may bring us a little closer.
Rick Warren may turn out to be another Hitler (but wouldn't that be giving him rather too much credit?). He may be another smooth talking snake oil salesman (its not like they aren't under every rock in D.C.).
I don't think that Obama's move in bringing him in is another airy-fairy attempt at reaching out--I think its a calculated move to start being involved with each other on a serious level.
We can't continue the cowardly luxury of the black-white thinking, red-blue politics or theist-nontheist drivel we've been indulging in because we're afraid of the slippery slope factor.
We can't continue to participate in the debasing trivialities of political maneuvering--at least not all the time.
It may be a disaster and it may not.
The risk here is that we will continue the red-faced pointing and blaming of the other and miss completely the opportunity to quit our infantile self-importance and step out of timidity and fear and stupidity.
We are intelligent grownups; we are capable of hazarding the hope of possibility and of dealing with the consequences in a responsible manner.
I give you Frank Rich and Melissa Etheridge .

Different and edifying.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

43 Degrees

Yes, finally the snow and ice has turned to rain. We're having some flooding and power outages but that's OK.Here in the lowlands around Puget Sound it rarely snows and because of that communities don't spend a lot of money on snow removal equipment.I would rant about that for a while but I'm so happy to step outside and see some pavement that I'll just shut up and be grateful.
The News:
*Israel is bombing Hamas targets after an unfortunate bout of rocket fire. I defer to Catherine 927 to expound on this--I'm too giddy today to be serious or down-hearted. It is the little things, isn't it?
*Pakistani troops are moving on the Indian border.
*Bernard Madoff has stolen Everyone's money.
*Rush Limbaugh is promoting a song about Barack the Magic Negro--when you can't think of anything intelligent to say (or if your listeners aren't intelligent). Regress!
*And zeppelins are making a comeback.Click on the links below for some very solid basic information regarding: and 2. human nature. I'm going out to play in the rain.
Local politics?
Responsible living

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tea to the rescue!

Hello. I am cold and still a little sick from my sinus issue. I fell asleep for the brief window of time that my husband was home and awake. Now he is asleep and I am mourning the fact that I barely even said hello to him. He does look comfortable though.
A lot of the snow has melted but there is still several inches out there. It does look like we'll make it to the store tomorrow, Mom.
My friend's baby is sick and in the hospital with a heart issue. I just read their blog updating us all on her progress. It looks good for her but I feel all negative today. Babies are sick. My other friend has lung cancer. I've got green stuff coming out of my head. At least I have always got tea to cheer me up.
I did not listen to the news at all today or read any email either. I'm over the news for a little while. Except for sports, of course. I cleaned my house a little bit. I paid the bills and realized I missed the due date on my second bill this month. That is so unlike me. I chalk it all up to the illness and the feeling of unreality this month has carried. I mean, all this damn snow and the freezing temps. It's like living in a square state.
I need to go buy one last Christmas present for someone who shall remain nameless. Then I need to do some wrapping and I'm all ready for the family gathering. I'm keeping the dinner itself pretty simple but I did decide on a new potato recipe. You get some Yukon Gold potatoes and heat up a skillet really good with oil in it. Then you lay the potatoes in there whole, browning on both sides. After they have a good color you pour in chicken stock half way up the taters. You then let them cook until soft and give them a little squish so they crack open and soak up some of the thickened chicken stock. Sounds good, huh? Saw it on Rachel Ray, whom I usually don't watch. She said she got it from Jacques Pepin.
Love, Catherine.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cabin Fever

69 Rabbits Discovered

In One-bedroom Apartment

During Recent Eviction In Illinois.

Welsh Rabbit (WB). Binge-eater, Emerson Llewellyn, 56, says he can't eat another bite of pizza or birthday cake (he loves the butter cream frosting). His mother, in Wales, had recently sent him her traditional recipe for WB and Mr. Llewellyn developed a craving for the delicacy.
What disturbed his neighbors was the smell from the burned sauce bechamel. "Just never could make a proper sauce" Mr Emerson told reporters "but I don't think it was the sauce that smelled so bad though--I think it might've been the 50 pounds of cheddar cheese--I couldn't fit it in the refrigerator."
Illinois Hazmat said that the clean up was a piece of cake seeing how the ingredients were natural and biodegradable. The Fire Dept and its crack hazmat team were relieved at the relative ease of the job. They'd recently spent time at the Governor's Mansion. "That's going to stink for a long time." said their spokesperson.

For more information see the writings of Ambrose Bierce.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Got You Beat.

That's me in my front yard. In the words of Clyde Bruckmann (I think that was his name.), "I'm not smiling; I'm wincing." Oh, and the sun isn't shining either.

But you did a good thing. Your post of 'Snuggs' actually made me laugh.

I feel bad for you guys out there. 16 degrees, huh? That's going to be tough on the plants. It'll be a bad year for camellias.

We're languishing around 30 degrees. That cold, gray, mucky eight-inches-of-wet-snow-that's-glued-to-all-the-tree-branches-and-power-lines kind of 30 degrees. I'm just waiting for the lights to go out.

I haven't been reading the news. I haven't been reading my email. (Well, I read a few. Yours, of of course.) I woke up to 102 unread emails today. Hardly any of them were spam. I think I'll be declaring email bankruptcy - just deleting everything and starting anew.

I have been reading mysteries. A book a day for the last three days. Too bad the only mysteries I ever buy are set in Edinburgh or North Yorkshire. Or Reyjavik. I should order some books where the murders take place on tropical islands or in hot, humid jungles. I know I have a Carl Hiaasen around here that I haven't read yet. I'd even read a Kathy Reichs, as long as it wasn't one of the ones set in Montreal or Nunavut.

This isn't a proper blog post. It's just a letter. I'll go onto the NY Times site and see if I can come up with something real. By the way, your post about John McCain was spot on! I always knew that he had at least two or three people wandering around inside his head. It's nice to see that the good one has come back for a bit. I hope that one sticks around awhile.

- Nanook

Good Morning from Frozen Tacoma, Wa

This is a photo of Snuggs the Cat standing in the street outside my apartment. Every thing's changed here. 16 degrees. NOAA is reporting the Big One for us--we could get 4 inches of snow.
Really, the PNW has no clue. The last time it went to zero degrees here was in 1949--they still talk about it!!
Well, we'll see what happens. I'm bringing extra underwear to work tonight just in case something really happens.
And now the news of the day:
The Beautiful Spanish Dancer was here the other day and pointed out that since the Madoff Incident there are a lot more people in the middle class. We're back to the 3-tiered system, haves, havenots and have-somes. Good news.
She also pointed out that with all these billions of dollars rolling around no one has actually seen any. It's all in cyberspace, unbacked by any precious metals or even green stamps for those of you who remember. And since it's all imaginary anyway why can't we reshuffle it to the schools and the hospitals and the shelters. We knew this already but isn't it crazy that you can buy a chateau in France or starve to death in Rawanda all using imaginary money? What is the Euro based on? Is it actually backed by something? It must be because it's the global standard now isn't it? This is the news and I'm asking you the questions! It's a wacky world.
In other news the NYT has this:
"A hydra-headed system of oversight currently finds the Department of Homeland Security answerable to 16 committees and 40 subcommittees in the House, and 14 committees and 18 subcommittees in the Senate."
Well no wonder we've had no major attacks of terrorism since 9/11. We're terrorizing ourselves financially--Al Queda knows this and as far as the USA goes they just have to sit back and wait.

In science news PE Obama has selected his team of advisers for science and technology: He says:
"Because the truth is that promoting science isn't just about providing resources - its about protecting free and open inquiry. Its about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. Its about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when its inconvenient - especially when its inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States - and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work." He said a lot more than that and it was all very sensible --you can probably see it on You Tube. It will be a great thing if we can learn to use real science not just responsibly--but AT ALL. Right now, as I mentioned in a previous post, we use sci/tech for toys and one upmanship. Like fire and like water, sci/tech can be a really bad thing or a really good thing depending on how we apply it. It will probably stay that way but let's try to lean toward the constructive shall we? This is a tremendous opportunity. And...
It will also be a vast relief to many of us when the USA stops looking backwards. Lately I keep hearing comparisons to 1930, 1968, 1974. STOP THE PRESSES: It's always good to be aware of your history but it is imperative to look hard at the present--it's where we ARE. We're like kids running with scissors or jumping off the garage roof. What you choose not to look at---what you don't understand, will cripple you.
On a lighter note its -3 degrees in North Bend--about 12 miles east of Seattle. The weather people on the radio are going insane. (run,run for your lives!) Bread and beer are selling well (stocks are up).
GWB just said he was going to shield the American people from a terrible economic blow (?)
Well, keep thinking America.
I'm going out for beer.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Truth about John McCain

This is the truth about John McCain as I see it. There can be no other explantion for what happened to the McCain campaign in the last several months before the election.

McCain struck everyone--even Obama supporters --as a decent, sensible, hard working politician who kept the people in mind. The man knew hard times, even though he has Cindy now and more homes than he can count at his advanced age. He also had a sense of humor that even we democrats appreciated.

Then came August 2008: What happened to John? He started telling the most amazing whoppers. He began wandering--in his speeches and while he was waiting to speak--moseying around the stage checking the drapes and the chairs--ignoring what was actually going on. We were all waiting for him to take a header off the dais a la Dole. And then there was the Palin incident--come on, John McCain, in another scenario, might make a pass at the tart-like valley-girl but intellectually they were in different dimensions. At that point--although the campaign became more colorful and lively--kind of like a freak show, it was over.

Most of us in the USA, although we see things very differently, at least have a crumb or two of brains in our heads, and we could see that the whole Republican process was FUBR.

THEN, Obama won the election and poof! Abracadabra, the old John threw off his clown outfit and emerged the statesman we once knew.

It's my opinion that John McCain looked at his republican party and thought to himself--'how can I bring these turkeys down?' As he saw it he had to be crazier than the craziest among them-- and he did a stellar job.

John McCain won. He was alone in that voting booth...and

...John McCain voted for Obama.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I know that there are men out there who get depressed and I feel for them but the fact is that women pretty much have the market cornered. I always wondered--and still do--why is there a depression gene? What good does it do?

I have the gene as does my sister and daughter and son--my mom had it as well and goodness knows how many others in the family. We all fight to stay on the safe side of the half empty glass. I've been told that it's the sadder but wiser syndrome, if you can see life too clearly, well, of course, you feel like crap.

There's some truth in that. It's also true that humans have had the fun bred out of them. We're happy until we're born and then we're stuck with people who have no idea how to raise a child, have no money, don't love each other or there's a war on or a depression (ha!). We're like birds tied to the earth--there's something else we should be doing. We've been sold a bill of goods at the molecular level.
God as Joker: 'See that beautiful tree with all the fruit? You can't have any.' See? Right from the start it's all been a practical joke. Well, we depressed people are mad as hell and as soon as we can get up the energy we won't be taking it anymore!

From the Oubliette

I haven't written anything in too long. Just can't seem to find the impetus. I suppose I'm depressed, but when I went to look for an image to illustrate this post, and typed 'Depression' into Google Images, all I came up with were pictures of people crying.

That wouldn't be accurate. I don't feel sad. I'm not all teary and weepy. I almost wish that I could cry. I just feel like....nothing. I have mental paralysis.

At times like this, my whole physical nature changes. Instead of being made of flesh and bone, I'm made of guilt and regret. ( With a little apathy and irritation thrown into the mix. ) And I can't see color. I mean, I can tell whether a pepper is red or green, but the color doesn't reach me. In fact, that's how I can tell when I'm about to ascend from the pit. It usually happens when I'm driving. Suddenly, I'll notice a shimmer of light off the water or the flash of a bluejay's wing or a cardinal in flight, and because of the way the color jumps out at me, I know I'm getting better.

These pale, blue funks usually only last less than a week, and I've been dwelling here for at least three days now. No color excites my eye, no music catches my ear. No book interests me enough that I don't put it down after the first few pages. It's nearly impossible to get out of the house, except to go and sit with Louise, who, I suspect, is in a deeper blue funk than I am, poor old girl.

I wrote a letter to all the people I know at the German Club, telling them that, for personal reasons (none of them serious or amusing) I would be unavailable for the next few days. I know that a few of them do read this blog, so now they know why.

It's like I'm homesick for a place I've never been, or lonely for a person I've never known. It's like I'm waiting for something to happen, but without much hope that it will happen.I feel like that old toy, Mr. Machine, and that my wind-up mechanism is winding down.

Kurt is so good. Any other person wouldn't put up with this. They'd nag at me to stop being such a baby. And they'd be right. But Kurt just asks, "Is there anything I can do for you, Hon?", and looks worried.

Maybe I should take a Vivarin. That would make me nervous. It would start up that internal vibration that makes me think a hive of bees has taken up residence in my thorax. It might 'jump start' me into action.

Me, me, me. What a schlump.

- Me, poopy.

EDIT: Two hours later: The Vivarin did NOTHING!

December 17th--I can't believe it!!

We are wussies here in the PNW. It really never snows or gets cold but its been in the 'teens and twenties here for the past couple of days and last night there was a dusting of snow.
It's 30 degrees right now but I think this is supposed to be the high for the day.
It feels like Christmas--I may hang some lights or bake some muffins --wow, that's not like me at all.

If you want a good muffin recipe use the one on the back (or side) of the All-Bran cereal box. It's easy to adjust the recipe so that its not so good for you and you can add golden raisins and chopped walnuts or anything you like, you can also dust the muffin tops with white decorating sugar (big and coarse) just before you put it in the oven--the tops will be extra sweet and crunchy.

I'm going to go read the newspaper now and have a cup of coffee--then I'll post something depressing about the plethora of not so smooth criminals emerging in the political world just so we can finish 2008 on a low note.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 16th! Can you Believe it?

I'm not feeling well today and although there are tons of things to write about I'm just going to post some pictures today. There's no theme involved--for some reason I just like them. I took some of the photos and others were stolen. The photo of the crane with the box-like item hanging from it was taken by my son-in-law--he was 'flying' the the port-a-potty to a more convenient location. Talk to you tomorrow.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

For now...

...on religion belongs to the illustrious L. Margaret Kampp, my beloved and incisive sister:

"Religion has had it's finger in every pie that it could lay it's greedy, divisive, irrational and POLITICAL hands on. That's what we have to put a stop to. Religion can no longer be allowed to dictate national policy, or decide which books we can read and which books should be banned or burned. We are a civil society, duty-bound to use reason, evidence and precedence to govern ourselves. (I'm talking about the USA here. Taking on any more would be biting off more than I could chew.) Religions are constructs of man, designed to raise high the elite and repress the rest. And I CAN label myself as anti-religion.I'm not the thought police. I would never attempt to coax or coerce others into accepting my status of an anti-religionist as their own. I just require that they stay out of my face with their religion, on both a personal and national level.Here Endeth the Lesson.:

Another question regarding recession-driven worship

"Bad times are good for evangelical churches.
“It’s a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us,” said the Rev. A. R. Bernard, founder and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York’s largest evangelical congregation, where regulars are arriving earlier to get a seat. “When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors.”"

Shaken to the core? Which core? The one where you beg for mercy to the spirit in the sky? Why do we rush to church when our portfolios hit the skids? What would your parents say to you if you rushed home everytime your finances disappeared in a puff of smoke?
The little-noticed study began receiving attention from some preachers in September, when the stock market began its free fall. With the swelling attendance they were seeing, and a sense that worldwide calamities come along only once in an evangelist’s lifetime, the study has encouraged some to think big.
“I found it very exciting, and I called up that fellow to tell him so,” said the Rev. Don MacKintosh, a Seventh Day Adventist televangelist in California who contacted Dr. Beckworth a few weeks ago after hearing word of his paper from another preacher. “We need to leverage this moment, because every Christian revival in this country’s history has come off a period of rampant greed and fear. That’s what we’re in today — the time of fear and greed.”

Well, the Copper Bottomed Bitches are against fear and greed. It leaves you open to exploitation by any Big Daddy that comes along with a comforting message. Is that what Evangelicals provide? Comfort, companionship, maybe some good practical advice--straight from God.
And why don't the old-line Protestant and Catholic Churches grow during periods of recession? It could be that they don't fill the fearful with the comforts they require (the article cited in yesterday's post bears this out. See here.) Neither do the nonbelievers (provide comfort, that is). We'll just hand you a copy of "Your Money or Your Life" by Robin,Dominguez & Tilford and tell you to get started.
Maggie, help me here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Timely but sad...

Look at this! It's an article about how much church attendance is growing since the Wall Street Big Dive.

Maggie got it in One!

If you don't know what to do and your savings is a just a memory and your SUV could be repossessed--turn to Jesus.
I'll write more when I'm rested.

Hope for the Non-Aligned

Rays of Hope from Hermana, Margurite the Fantastique:
TiaHermanaMaggie said...
According to this article in The Washington Post, "Only 6 percent of people over 60 have no faith in God, and one in four adults ages 18 to 22 describe themselves as having no faith. (That's 25 percent! Yay!)Javier Sanchez-Yoza, 21, a biology major at George Mason University, is a former born-again Christian who gave up his belief in God two years ago and is starting an atheist club at school. He turned atheist after growing skeptical of Christian friends' arguments for creationism."I think that Religion is a leftover from humanity's childhood. 50,000 years ago we were filled with questions; Why does it get dark at night? What are those lights in the night sky? What happens to us after we die? And, of course, HOW IS BABY FORMED? We didn't begin to have the tools or the technology to answer those questions. The answers were beyond our reach.I don't think it's worrisome that non-believers are having less children. I don't know a lot of non-believers, because they're kind of thin on the ground. But NONE of the non-believers I know had parents who themselves did NOT believe.Disbelief, skepticism, and incredulity are the products of a good education and a 'grown-up mind. Lots of people will never 'grow up' to the extent that they're are able to abandon the fairy tales and superstitions that sustain them.I think we have to recruit rational non-believers from the ranks of those who are beginning to be exposed to history, science and technology. You have to be old enough to support your skepticism with data. A three-year old can't be an Atheist (though it WOULD be nice if the three-year old wasn't having religious dreck poured into her head along with stories about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny).
December 12, 2008 10:12 AM
It would probably be a good idea for us free-wheeling types to just set a good example and keep bringing the rational and humanistic to the fore a la Sam Harris. That means we can't separate ourselves from the public at large. (see Hermana's previous post of December 7th regarding Atheists getting all clubby and having picnics and potlucks and such and giving themselves cute monikers denoting their non-believer status) No monikers, no clubs, no T-shirts, just get out there and live -- go to church even--and when asked tell them you love the companionship and the singing--you're smart, you can think of something nice to say.
Whatever you do--don't tell them we're infiltrating and recruiting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh. Ye of Little Faith! Listen Up!

It's time to loosen up, hunker down and


See this article from More Intelligent Life

Just why are the non-religious not producing? Is sex not as thrilling if it's not a sin? Most people cling to the religion they were raised in (so the article says & I think it's true) and people of religious belief tend to have more children therefore religions are growing.
This is a real conundrum. Pretty soon we, the nonpartisan, will be extinct. So, all you unaffiliated of childbearing age better start making some moves.

The Governor from al. Just a thought.

There's an article by Gail Collins in the NYT today.
Gail spoofs the corruption of the powerful and gets some thought- provoking comments. Read it.
The power and isolation of office does a job on our public officials. Add to that the fact that you have to be at least a little screwy, if not a megalomaniac, to want such a position in the first place. It's hard to keep to the high ground when you're surrounded by aides and lackeys and hangers-on, all grabbing at you and expecting their due for supporting you & maybe you weren't looking for the high ground anyway.
What are the citizens to do? We aren't exactly sterling characters ourselves.
Shall we rely on the Journalists to watch and report on the devious? That didn't work with GWB--and journalists are prey to big-headed power plays themselves. And then there are all those bizzaro episodes like the Spitzer Affair.
Reformers and the Righteous and the Downright Insane.
We're surrounded.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fugue State

Gypsy Jean and I went to Seattle yesterday to spend money and go to Benaroya Hall for a Grand Sing Along with the Seattle Symphony Chorus. It was not exactly the experience we expected. Firstly, the Chorus was excellent, as usual. Secondly, about 40% of the seats were empty which I had never seen before and lastly the Watjen Concert Organ at the Hall was used to great effect to instill the atmosphere of the Solstice Season. But I had never heard a fugue before--except by Dr. Phibes and by Davy Jones at unrelated events.
Adeste Fidelis in fugue was played in a solo performance by the Hall's resident organist, Joseph Adam, a man of impeccable credentials & massive and diverse experience.
If you've never heard a fugue you'll want to read up on it first, otherwise you'll look at the person next to you and say 'is this a mistake?'
Not at all, a fugue is a contrapuntal (look it up)it is reputed to be the most fully developed procedure of imitative counterpoint. To a neophyte it evokes dark childhood memories of Vincent Price as the madman at the keyboard. It is discordant and abrasive and mostly minor key. When heard unexpectedly it grabs you by the brain, spins you around and thumps you to the floor then jerks you up and shakes you, growling and screaming, until nausea arises, your eyes roll back in your head and all your points of reference are lost in the angry mists. To top this off we were in box seats 2 floors above the orchestra, clutching our seats and wondering if this kind of musical assault could trigger an earthquake. It didn't and the concert ended traditionally with the Alleluia Chorus from Handel's 'Messiah'.
On the whole a memorable experience but beware of fugues--they've been known to trigger flight and amnesia.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Warning!! I HAVE been drinking!

I was goofing around on Reddit today and found a post on the Golden Rule, which consisted of this image. (Click LINK for larger image.)

When I'm drinking, I tend toward hyperbole. So when I say that there have been, presently are and will be zillions of religions, you can reasonably take that number down to 'thousands'. (Or perhaps, tens of thousands.)

They can't all be right. And being willing to take your own life, and the lives of other people to prove the validity of your faith only proves that you are obsessed, single-minded and deluded; willing to waste the experience of life just to make an false and tragic point.

But then I look at this image. They're all saying the same thing! (Although the Unitarians, for whom I ordinarily have great respect, managed to make it sound like a corporate mission statement.) This declaration seems to be nearly universal. And I don't limit this to people of religious faith. Rational and moral non-believers would not argue against this being a good rule for living; a valid and true path to a fully civilized world.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions about why all these diverse religions have come up with very same idea. (My own opinion is that we are born with an innate sense of altruism, which is all too often overcome by fear, greed, insecurity and the desire for power.)

I shall now submit this to Reddit / Digg and be "down-modded into the perma-frost", as one Redditor so elegantly put it. There goes my 'Karma'.

- Maggie

HealthCare HeadsUp

Looking grim. Read this

The health care industry in America is going the way of banks and auto companies. Mis-management for fun and profit is taking it's toll. Too long, the CEO's and executives of non-profits have been taking huge salaries while they expand services and advertise these services to the public. Advertising is great as long as you've really got what you're shilling for but too often the building is built, furnished, stocked and opened to great fanfare while nurses, support staff and communication technology have been skimped on. Either they've been unwilling to spend the money on credentialed people, who are expensive and a liability, after all or they've been unable to find credentialed people who haven't been disenchanted or abused by the system and have called it quits. Healthcare is now a top heavy industry like any other. Two-tiered like all America is becoming. Haves and have nots. Just how many CEO's and Insurance companies can dance on the head of a pin?
Even an immediate and drastic change to healthcare policies won't stop what's happening now. The snowball is rolling and anyone who can't foot the bill for their own care is going down.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I have no words... describe this article in the NYTimes today. It illustrates America's desperation to save it's comforts on so many levels. Just look.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Wouldn't Belong to Any Club That Would HAVE Me As a Member.

I see that the Seattle Times has proclaimed Atheists as "Hot!"

This is a little irritating for me. I've always been a person who does not believe. There was never a good reason for me to believe. I was never tempted to find solace in faith.

For fifty four years, wherever I go, whoever I'm with, I end up getting bonked on the head with somebody's religion. I've been the target of conversion attempts twice in the last year, by people who pray for me and pity me and are very sad that I'm going to go to Hell. Am I offended? No! I reassure them. I tell them that I love life as much as anyone can, that I take joy in my marriage, my books, my plants and my rocks. I tell them that I'm going to be fine and that they shouldn't worry about me.

As I've said before (and will doubtless say again), I don't even like the term 'Atheism'. Denying theism gives theism too much creedence. Why should there be a name for a null function? Why isn't it the default position? I don't have to give a name to my disbelief in banshees or the Fountain of Youth. Why should I identify with people who single out some petty little Gods to disbelieve in?

But it seems that Atheists are now forming clubs. Going on camping trips. Having cook-outs. Organizing. Eeeeew! They believe in Atheism!

I think they're on the wrong track there. The problem is religion. I don't deny the fact of religion. It exists as surely as the Sun and the Moon. It HAS existed, in myriad forms, as long as we have. Religion has deeply affected the course of history. Literature, music, painting, architecture have all been inspired by religion. (Or commissioned by some rich clod looking to buy a ticket to Heaven.) Religion has also inspired Inquisitions, Crusades, Jihads, and Genocide and no-holds-barred war, and continues to do so to this day. In the 3,000 or 4,000 years in which the Abrahamic religions have developed, and distorted and deranged (The Big Three, The Top Dogs, The Chosen, The People of Peace) their followers have been killing each other AND themselves as exuberantly as if there were no tomorrow. The words of their Holy Books, as contradictory, arbitrary and insane as they might be, are cherry-picked for passages that will allow even more atrocities and horrors to be committed whilst citing a higher authority.

Religion has had it's finger in every pie that it could lay it's greedy, divisive, irrational and POLITICAL hands on. That's what we have to put a stop to. Religion can no longer be allowed to dictate national policy, or decide which books we can read and which books should be banned or burned. We are a civil society, duty-bound to use reason, evidence and precedence to govern ourselves. (I'm talking about the USA here. Taking on any more would be biting off more than I could chew.) Religions are constructs of man, designed to raise high the elite and repress the rest. And I CAN label myself as anti-religion.

I'm not the thought police. I would never attempt to coax or coerce others into accepting my status of an anti-religionist as their own. I just require that they stay out of my face with their religion, on both a personal and national level.

Here Endeth the Lesson.

- Maggie


This woman does NOT need make up. She needs an MRI and a neurological work-up. Call 911!

Seriously, this is not even the worst of the Raw Minerals ads that show up on my email site. There's one where the woman looks like half her face has been the victim of domestic abuse. The other side of her face is pink and smooth and smiling beatifically. Another ad makes the right side of the model's face look like an industrial abrasive.

Are we so naive and gullible that this company is actually making a profit? I suspect we are.

Forget 'The Matrix'. We are all living in 'Brazil'.

- Maggie

More Ridiculous Nostalgia Than you Can Shake a Stick At!

If you have never visited, you're missing a great site. It's a treasure trove of comics, postcards, company-sponsored cookbooks and old ads, all rendered even more hilarious by Mr. Lileks incomparable eye for the ridiculous.

You can spend a whole day on the site. Don't miss The Gallery of Regrettable Food (Did we really eat these things?) or The Grooviest Motel in Wisconsin'. Classic.

- Maggie

Proposition 8 - The Musical, with Jack Black as 'Jesus'

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

I could really go for a shrimp cocktail right now.

- Maggie

Aha! Not Only Are We Portuguese, We're Also Neanderthals!

I'm so excited! I've always wanted to be a Neanderthal!

And it might explain some peculiarities on my paternal side.

A 24,500-year-old skeleton found in Portugal shows Neandertals and early modern humans intermixed and produced children, said Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts and Sciences. Trinkaus is the principal paleontologist examining a 4-year-old child's skeleton that was excavated from the Abrigo do Lagar Velho, near Leiria, Portugal, about 90 miles north of Lisbon.

- Maggie (Amateur Flint-knapper)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Learn French with Eddie Izzard. Tres bien!

I guarantee that you'll learn more French in this six and a half minute video, than you would in your first French 101 class. "Le sange est sur le branche!"

- Maggie


I was reading some old Christopher Hitchens stuff and came upon this line about Sarah Palin:

"Palin also says that she doesn't think humans are responsible for global warming; again, one would like to ask her whether, like some of her co-religionists, she is a "premillenial dispensationalist"—in other words, someone who believes that there is no point in protecting and preserving the natural world, since the end of days will soon be upon us."

I had no idea there was a name for the 'end times' people. But aside from that, even if you are a premillenial dispensationalist, shouldn't you respect the Earth until it's finally in the can? This is our home--we live here---supposedly God made it. Not treating your home in a kindly and respectful manner, even though its close to the end and you're rapturing out, is like spitting on your grandmother because she has Alzheimer's disease.

Shame on you.

Just for a Laugh

I've been saving the exclamquestion point for a funny day.
The funny day is here and we can all laugh heartily for a few moments while we're walking down the Primrose Path.
President Elect Obama is planning an expensive overhaul to these United States. Schools, Hospitals and Infrastructure are on his agenda. (I say let's do it--as long as out of work auto workers, bank tellers and suchlike persons get the jobs and the wages)
Somewhere in the New York Times this morning there's a statement that conservatives may not go along with that idea because they'll want to be assured that the money is spent wisely!!!!!
Oh, yes--let's get some good advice from the conservatives.
Get back to work now....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Taking a Global View, Accompanied by Pink Floyd

It's terrifyingly magnificent!

- Maggie

Yippee! Let's Do It!

From Rich Simon's Blog

"Get rid of the CEOs and the boards whose business plan is a root cause of so many of our travails, from melting icecaps to the Iraq War, to George Bush and his hamhanded stewardship of the economy. Legislate the end of cross-ownership between the auto and oil industries. Harness these industrial behemoths and ride them into a new age, in which Americans don't have to kill people on other continents in order to get to and from work. Make them the leading edge of clean, mean, green technological re-industrialization."

This is the time to do it, America. While their assholes are showing and before we get fat and comfortable again.

God, Healthcare and Happiness

The following is simplistic, to be sure, we can get more complicated as the days go by, but for now:

#1 God: There's a billboard in Olympia, Wa. placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation--it celebrates the Solstice and comments on religion's tendency to make nutballs (my word) out of people. See Hermana's post below.
The Repubs in the Washington State Legislature are planning to have it removed---somehow---they don't specify the method.
Some of our citizenry is threatened by the presence of this billboard. I ask them, is God so fragile that he'd be obliterated by a billboard? Is your faith so shaky that a Freedom from Religion statement hits you in a weak spot?
Claim your faith. If God is all the things He is proclaimed to be, he doesn't need your protection. He needs your love. He needs you to be kind and generous and serene in your faith and to set an example for your companions here on Earth.
That might actually persuade people to your belief.
Having tantrums in God's name makes you small and petty.
#2 Health Care. Is Health Care a right? It's not in the Constitution but what I have to ask is that with more than 300 million people living in the USA what kind a population do you want? I prefer mine healthy and educated. Raising toothless, stupid, angry people makes jobs, of course, for the prisons and the Depts of Health and Human Services, police departments, border patrols--you catch my meaning. Providing basic health care (including dental) for all people in America might be a nice change. Let's try it.

#3 Happiness in times of trouble. We are a perverse species--times of trouble enliven us and make us think--the trick is to keep your wits about you and think sensibly. No finger-pointing, no tantrums. Take a good look at what's going on in the world and make appropriate changes. Admittedly, these may be BIG changes if the economy continues to dive so steeply. Don't be so frightened--it clouds your mind, it scares your kids. Teach those kids how to get through difficult times honorably, bravely, with a smile even. We all might have to give up the big homes, the extra cars, the private schools. We may have to eat red beans and Spam for a good long while. We'll have to shop at second-hand stores---the ones where you can buy clothes by the pound. Not so much cosmetic surgery for a while--save it for that appendectomy or heart valve replacement you're going to need.
We have to live small, simple lives for now, we're not going to get the dream we imagined. But new dreams are always good.
Exactly what is it that we're afraid to lose? Our money or our King of the Hill status?
We can do this. We can square our shoulders and look reality in the face and walk forward into whatever mind-blowing, heart-breaking changes await us.
Stand up straight, take a good deep breath and go, Go, GO.

Paraphrasing Epictetus:

What is in our power is the capacity to adapt ourselves to all that comes about, to judge anything that is 'dispreferred' not as bad, but as indifferent and not strong enough to overwhelm our strength of character.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where's God's Coonskin Hat?

After all, he IS protecting the State of Kentucky from terrorist attacks. Too bad he can't protect them from legislation by corn-pone headed idiots who neglected to read the Constitution of the United States. .,0,6784488.story "Atheists Appalled"?? I would hope that anyone with an IQ greater than a sea squirt would be appalled!

And here's a story about how Bill O'Reilly is reviving his annual 'Culture War' by criticizing the Governor of Washington State. .

I wrote to Governor Gregoire with this message:

Most of my beloved family lives in your beautiful state. I support your statement that "The U.S. Supreme Court has been consistent and clear that, under the Constitution's First Amendment, once government admits one religious display or viewpoint onto public property, it may not discriminate against the content of other displays, including the viewpoints of nonbelievers,"

Please continue to stand firm on this. At a time when Kentucky has ruled that a Christian God is an integral part of Homeland Security, we need more people like you to set an example. Thank you.

- Maggie

Speaking of Lutherans....

It was a big day when the Lutheran Church that my husband attends finally erected their new steeple. As a good friend of Grace Lutheran, (though, alas, an infidel) I went along to take pictures of the process.

My favorite picture is the one on the top of this post. Even as I took it, I was thinking,"If this was in black and white it would look like Walker Evans took it." (Ordinarily I'm very modest.) So I desaturated the color and voila! (See the second picture.)

Walker Evans (the Real Deal) took the picture at the bottom. I'm willing to concede that he was a slightly better photographer than I am. But he didn't have to deal with the moire effect! It took me FOREVER to get it out of the grating in the steeple. But I had to do it. I was afraid that it might trigger seizures in the susceptible.

- Maggie

News of the Day...and comment, of course

Hail and Greeting from Beautiful Tacoma, Washington.

The wooden stair was photographed at Point Defiance Park from Owen Beach and the foggy Olympic Mountains are seen from Sequim, Wa.

I bring news from the Huffington Post: REGARDING REPUBLICANS

Regarding Sarah Palin and the state of the Republican Party: I wouldn't use Palin's name again but she's a big draw for so many reasons, as noted in the article.

And this:

Just where is the bottom of Karl Rove''s Barrel and Who Lives There? Mr. Rove comes from the school of If You Say it Long Enough and Pound it Into Their Stupid Skulls They'll Believe Anything.

Please, God, don't let this happen, we've been stupid enough.

GWB has just apologized for not being prepared for war.

The BIG THREE in Detroit had to be humiliated into at least appearing to understand what the problem is--I'm sure they don't--they're going home every night and kicking the poor dog. They've admitted they've made mistakes but if they do not come up with a appropriate plan for the future (the 21st Century) and if the PEOPLE of the USA don't keep watching them they'll go right back to their lyin' cheatin' ways---you can rely on it---they believe, like Karl Rove, that we are sheep to be raised, herded and slaughtered for their betterment.

We can't rely on our elected representatives to do it. Americans have to be the watchdogs.

So, put down the Pepsi and the Cheetos. Get out of the Hummer for a minute.

And think.

In the new world we're in we need the basics: Food, clothing, shelter, work, health, education, saving for the future--all the things we've always needed. And we need to work with the new technologies that come at us faster and faster---Food, clothing, shelter, work, communication, health, education and saving for the future. Technology has changed everyone of these things---we have to deal with it and integrate it into responsible human interaction.

So far we've used all our new gadgets like toys--discarding (or ignoring) the ones we don't like or that aren't going to show us an immediate profit.

The Long View is longer than we've been looking.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Atheist Stew for the Lutheran Church

I'm a big fan of the Lutheran church that my husband attends. Though I am a life-long non-believer, Pastor Kennedy of The Grace Lutheran Church was happy to perform our wedding ceremony so very long ago; no pressure, no coercion, because that's the kind of man he is.

Pastor Kennedy is a GOOD man. He is so cool and so tolerant, that he introduced me to another non-believer, simply because he knew we shared the same political views. What a guy. (By the way, the other non-believer is a structural engineer and worked on the design and construction of the addition to the church, gratis!

I haven't the talent to construct buildings, but every year I make beef stew in sauerbraten gravy for the church Oktoberfest. And since I'm at a loss for something to blog about today, I'll tell you about that.

As to making it, there is no recipe, so I'll just tell you what I do. Have on hand:

(Preferably chuck or shank: Something that can take a LOT of stewing.) in one inch cubes (I'm usually not so neat but if the cubes are roughly the same size, they'll all tenderize at the same time.
Onion, Celery, Carrots and Apple(s) (Lots of onions)
Beer (Best to have a six-pack on hand.)
(Not apple juice.)
Cider Vinegar
Bacon, Thick-Sliced, Hickory-Smoked
(I use Boar's Head)
Nabisco Ginger Snaps

Ok, so brown the bacon in a big stew pot. Do it slowly, because you're more interested in the bacon fat than the bacon, and browning it slowly will render the most fat without burning the bacon.

Remove the bacon and reserve. Brown your beef in the bacon fat. Brown it really well because that makes a big difference to the taste. You may have to do it in batches, if you've got a lot. Remember, don't crowd the pot. You want each piece to have space around it while it's browning. Use tongs to keep turning the pieces.

When the beef is browned, remove and reserve in bowl. Into your hot pot, dump onions, celery, carrots and peeled/cored apple that have all been roughly diced. Toss them around over high heat until the onions start to wilt. (If you keep them moving, the bacon fat won't burn.)

Leaving the heat on 'High', immediately pour in a bottle of Sam Adam's or Spaten or Newcastle Brown Ale. (Corona's not good for stew, just good to drink.) Give it a stir. Then pour in a regular-sized Dixie cup of cider. Stir it around, lower the heat, put top on pot, go have cigarette and check email. (It's what I do.) But don't get too far away from the kitchen, because you'll want to know when it starts smelling right. Take top off pot, raise heat and reduce liquid a little while stirring occasionally, then dump the beef back into the pot.

This is where it starts to get a little iffy. Add the cider vinegar; maybe an ounce of it. Better too little than too much, because you can always add more later. Check the liquid level. It should be just below the top of the meat and veg, so if you need more, you can top it off with beef stock, or more beer or cider, or even water. I'd probably use beer. Then lower the heat back to medium-ish, give it a good stir and replace the top. Go have cigarette, drink bottle of Corona and laugh at LOLcats on internet.

Hey, did you save that Dixie cup from before? Good. Stack ginger snaps in it until they almost reach the top. With your finger on the top cookie, fill the cup with cider, then replace your finger with a flat plate to hold the cookies down. (They float like styrofoam!) They'll dissolve pretty quickly, but you can just leave them till you're ready for them.

When the smell starts to change again, (Nota Bene: I'm not talking about a burning smell. Avoid burning smells.) check to see if the meat is getting tender. (Not 'falling apart' tender, but tender enough to eat.) When that time comes, raise your heat a little and dump in the ginger snaps that have dissolved in the cider. (But stir them up in the cup a little bit before you dump them.) Stir the stew until the gravy has thickened; about five minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, replace the top and have another cigarette, stop the cats from climbing the shower curtain and have another Corona, IF you don't have to chauffeur your spouse anywhere afterward.

You'll notice that there are no potatoes in this recipe. That's because I prefer it with egg noodles. (and red cabbage) If you want to put potatoes in, use a one-inch dice and put them in now.

When the meat (and the potatoes, if you use them) are fully tender, check the gravy for taste. You might want to add a little salt; sometimes I do. It might need more vinegar, but only a little! It might need more ginger snaps dissolved in cider. Do whatever you need to do, chop up your reserved bacon and throw it back in the pot and give it a good stir. Replace the top and contemplate what a good upper body work-out you've gotten while cooking this meal. Check it after 15 minutes. It should be perfect.

I wish I could tell you amounts, but I can't. It all depends on how many people my husband estimates will be eating it, and then I just guess anyway. It all works out in the end.

- Maggie

Monday, December 1, 2008


Peggy Noonan's column in the Wall Street Journal is titled:

Turbulence Ahead

I thought to myself, well of course, it doesn't take a pundit to tell us that.

But Peggy has a point, she says:

"One of the weirdest, most perceptually jarring things about the economic crisis is that everything looks the same...It's as if the news is full of floods but we haven't seen it is odd, surreal, to have the steady downbeat of Great Depression II all over the news, and few signs of GDII on the street, odd that the news we're hearing is at odds with what our eyes are seeing."

This is what happened with the Bush Administration--the loss of our freedoms proceeded slowly with an overlay of fear that made us susceptible to denial. We handed over our rights, our money and our intellects like children petitioning to be loved and protected.

The GreedMongers have been pushed back for the moment by the global financial crisis, everyone is looking right now, but they will creep back sooner than we think. As soon as we feel sufficiently comforted by what we cannot see the lenders will return with a bridge they want us to buy. They will take the fruits of your labor again and make wage slaves of us once again, bowed by usury and fears of poverty and humiliation.

This is not easy to avoid. Why, we'd have to educate ourselves! We have to pay attention. We have to stand up and say Back Off, Jack!
So, don't be comforted. Be smart, alert and educated!
Use the moneylenders, the politicians and the Industrial Giants before they use you.
It can be done.