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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Politics as Usual, depressing. Religious Healing? Bullshit!

Hey guys, how has everyone been?  About normal in my neck of the woods.  (For those that are new to the blog, that roughly translates to hectic, chaotic, and unpredictable)  It looks like I might be going back to working animal control, or even possibly a state job in the environmental management area.  We'll see how it goes, though I still want to teach.  Got a few topics I was wanting to talk about a bit.  I know I said I would write about "The Family" or "The Fellowship", but I'm still researching them, and I keep hitting dead ends, and I don't want to rely solely on Wikipedia for documentation.  I'm also going to start doing at least a couple of semi-regular segments.  One idea I had was to borrow from George Hrab and discuss the most annoying religious or political stupidity during an as of yet unannounced time period.  Another one is "What's Skeptical Okie listening to now?"  I know it's not the best name, but it will suffice for now.  And now, on to the show!

One thing that really bothers me is when people put so damn much weight on the crap that falls out of celebrities cake-holes.  Remember Jennie McCarthy and all the good she did.  How many children were saved because of her well informed and publicly held views on the link between autism and childhood vaccinations?  I don't remember that happening either.  For those that live outside of the U.S., it's presidential season.  For us, it means hours of lip service debates, horrible t.v. ads, pundits accusing the other side of foul play, pundits blaming the other side for their candidates failures, people fighting over which candidate is the better liar, and hearing the candidates go on and on about how their opponents plans won't work, but theirs will because it has a donkey or an elephant behind it.  And on another tangent, why a donkey and elephant for political party mascots?  Because both are stubborn and will trample you if you get in their way?  Recently I heard on N.P.R. that Meatloaf, the singer, not the foodstuff, is supporting Romney for president.  Now I put together a short list of people of celebrated personage for everyone to compare and contrast.  I also put in what they are known for.

Romney                                                                 Obama
Mike Rowe-T.V. Dirty jobs (a personal favorite show)                                          Daniel Craig- 007, not an American
Gene Simmons-Music, frontman for KISS                                                              Russel Crowe- Actor, not American
Jenna Jameson-porn starlet                                                                                      Daniel Radcliffe-  Harry Potter, n.a.
Jeff Foxworthy-comedian (who I think got his ideas from my family)                Mark Hamill- Luke Skywalker
Trace Adkins- musician                                                                                          Richard Dean Anderson- McGuyver
Kid Rock- musician                                                                                                  Morgan Freeman- actor, voice of god
Jon Voight- actor, Angelina Jolies Dad                                                                  Angelina Jolie- actor
Ted Nugent- musician                                                                                               Brad Pitt- actor, hubby of Angelina
Chuck Norris-  actor, will kill you                                                                       Samuel L. Jackson- actor, total badass
Donald Trump- rich, bad hair, insane                                                                  Chevy Chase- actor
Clint Eastwood- actor, going senile, thinks a chair is president?                            Leonardo DiCaprio- actor

I love how the first three I listed for Obama aren't even American citizens, but no one else seems to have pointed it out.  Romney seems to attract the loud kinda crazy people while Obama seems to get the people with the calming voices that you would want to be the ones to announce the end of the world.  Also, I noticed that Romney has 1 porn star supporting him (insert your own mormon underwear/pornstar joke and submit it in the comments, best one gets 15 cool points) while Obama has 8, count them 8 pornstars including Ron Jeremy giving him a hand.  And speaking of porn stars, Jenna Jameson is quoted as saying "When you're rich, you want a republican in office" (   Once again people, why the hell does anyone give these peoples choices more weight than say mine?  They memorize scripts or tunes.  Yes, some of them are very intelligent, and very thoughtful, but still.   Who out there is waiting for the Metallica contingent to speak up before they make their choice?  (And to those that are concerned with who the stars pick, Bill Nye and I believe Neil DeGrasse Tyson support Obama)  I say look at the candidates, find out where they stand on the issues that are important to you, and,  oh hell who am I kidding.  Vote Obama, Romney as president is already giving me nightmares.  To any Canadian readers:  If Mitt Romney wins, can we camp out at your place for a while?  I'll work for room and board, and I hear that you guys have decent medical care up there.  Thanks, A Rational American.

A second topic I want to bring up is Ann Coulter....I think I just threw up a little.  This goofy woman recently tweeted  "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard."  This obviously refers to President Obama as having a mental deficiency.  She refuses to back down from the comment stating that for the past 30 years it has come to mean loser.  (What debate were you watching Coulter?  Or did you only watch the commercials and fill in the blanks yourself?)  And then along came this man
This paragon of virtue (and that comment was in no way derogatory, I honestly mean it.  This guy has brass balls the size of a Mac truck) is John Franklin Stephens, a 30 year old Special Olympian that has Downs Syndrome.  He wrote Coulter (and hell no, I'm not going to dignify her with the proper polite title of Ms.) an open letter, which you can find at  , and I heartily recommend everyone of you read what this man has to say, and if possible, copy it and forward it on to Coulter until she recants her hateful term, even though the damage has already been done.  And if possible, tell Mr Stephens that it took a lot of courage for him to write to her the way he did, and that he does have peoples support.

Now on to some slightly .... I don't know how to describe this story.  Mostly because I do take a perverse pleasure when religious groups get in trouble, especially the really crazy ones, but I really don't like it when someone dies when they probably shouldn't have.  Not that I like it when some one dies when they should, but you know what I mean.  By crazy, can anyone guess this weeks religious flavor?  No. not Mormon, but close.  Not episcopalian, and you see me after class.  Yep the (damn I hope I don't get sued for this) scientologists.  Recently at the Narconon Arrowood facility, there have been at least three deaths, and at least one of them have no known cause.  Looking at the Narconon website, they claim a better than 70% success rate for treating addiction, using scientifically proven methods.  Of course, scientologist science is an entirely different flavor of science than what most people deal with everyday.  One of there methods includes high levels of niacin combined with up to 5 hours in a sauna.  This helps to flush the toxins out of your system, and prevents the withdrawl symptoms, which can be painful and sometimes lead to death.  As of right now, there are 3 suits against the Arrowhead facility for wrongful death, and failure to provide care.  This place is right here in Oklahoma, near Lake Eufala, up by Tulsa.  This folks is why religion and science don't mix.  If you do use religion and medicine, side effects may include: shortness of breath, inability to get medical help, failure to use logic, and death.  Please use responsibly.  I don't have a problem with someone praying for help, as long as they are actually getting help.  In the bible, god himself says that "He helps those that help themselves."  So if you're going to use a religious tome to help with your health issues, use it to hold the door open in the doctors office.

And now for the new segment "Whats Skeptical Okie Listening to?"  Or as my wife says, "What the hell is that?"  I am talking mainly about podcasts I try and listen to on a regular basis.  A new one I found is Cognitive Dissonance.  Tom and Cecil are the hosts, and this is mostly a back and forth banter type of show.  They do tend to deal more with atheist topics, but there is a lot of good skeptic quality there.   It honestly sounds like a couple of guys just talking about whatever pops into their heads.  Granted, they curse a lot, and there is a disclaimer at the beginning that basically says if you don't like bad language and sensitive topics talked about in a frank and open manner, don't listen.  2 thumbs up, just remember, not for the kiddos.  I still listen to the grandaddies of them all, The Skeptics Guide and the Geologic Podcast.  I have also begun listen to a couple of casts by Parrot or The Dumbass, depending on if you know him on the SGU message boards or not.  The first one is The Dumbasses guide to knowledge, and the second one is The invisible Sky Monster.  Both are pretty good, the guide being a general talk type and Invisible being an interview.  I also listen to Monstertalk and The Conspiracy Skeptic, both being interview shows, both definitely worth your time, depending on what your skeptical bent is.  And finally, there is Exposing Pseudoastronomy (man I hope I spelled that right)  which deals with astronomical conspiracies, or astronomically large misconceptions.  The newly minted Dr. Stuart Robbins does a very good job of breaking down the details and taking the conspiracy nutjobs arguments apart with scalpel like precision.  That and he tears Hoagland a new one.  I don't like Hoagland. 

Well, that's it for now guys.  I'll see everyone soon I hope. Until next time, be good, and have fun, especially on Halloween.  All good skeptics, humanists, secularists, and atheists should really enjoy this holiday.  Let me know what your costumes are going to be.  I'm going as Roland Deshain, from Steven Kings "The Dark Tower" series.  Youngish Roland, I've got too many fingers.  See you soon.

The Skeptical Okie

Friday, October 12, 2012

religious reluctance, carnivorous hogs, and evolution is from hell?

Hey kiddos, how has everyone been?  Things have been a little frustrating here, but that should be going away soon.  As soon as I have a steady paycheck again, it should make things easier.  There have been a lot of things that have popped up lately that have really irked me, and one that was a little morbid, but goes to show that on occasion, urban legends and folk stories do have a grain of truth behind them.  I've got a lot of short stories to get to, so lets go.

A quick congratulations to the State of California. They have banned gay cure therapy, but still won't let same sex couples marry. The copy of the article I found was at . This has been an issue in a lot of places, especially lately. For the life of me, I have no idea why people try to "cure" the gay out of people. It's like trying to pray the gay away. Neither works, unless they both involve some form of gene therapy that is decades ahead of anything else on Earth (which I just realized is the only planet not named for a Roman god). I hear a lot of people say that homosexuality is a choice. Why the hell would someone choose a lifestyle that will leave them ostracized from friends, family, community, and possibly cost them their lives? Once again, kudos to California, and if they would just get back to work on the marriage issue.

A quick note on this story I found on NPR. Basically, it states that both candidates are going to avoid mentioning god, or any other deity on the campaign trail. I say YIPPEE. Now if they can just leave god out of the White House, regardless of who wins, and policy is developed on rational thought and careful analysis, everything should be good.   That can happen, right? Right? At least we can hope.
This one I found at

The morbid one has nothing to do with religion, WOO, cryptids, education, or any other normal skeptical topic, but being the farm boy that I am, it grabbed my attention, mostly because I grew up hearing warnings about this, and we always had to have an adult with us when we went to feed the hogs.  I grew up, as I said, on a self sufficient farm.  Meaning we had a lot of livestock, including pigs.  Anyone that has grown up around hogs has heard the old saying "If you need to hide a body, put it in the pig pen."   I don't know why every hog farmer feels they have to know where to hide a body, but they all do.  I found the story at  .  When I heard people talking about it, I realized most people 1) Don't realize that pigs are omnivores (they eat animal and plant matter) and 2) don't realize where their food comes from.  I don't just mean the meat eating part of society.  I'm including vegetarians, vegans, and all the other plant based energy intake diets that exist.  The only exceptions are those that grow all of their own food, and to these people, my commendations.  I feel sorry for the mans family and it was a horrible way to die, but contrary to some of the vegans I've seen or heard comment on it, I don't feel that it was an act of karmic fair play.  Shit happens, and sometimes, you get eaten by breakfast.

Here's an idea.  Tell me what you think.  Take a religious zealot, the kind that thinks god is punishing America for allowing homosexuals in the military (or to exist), will picket military funerals, his group is fairly litigious and the leaders are also lawyers.  Lets also have him against evolution and get him to run  for a board of education position.  It's happening in Kansas, sorry guys.  A member of the ever popular, forward thinking, love thy neighbor Westboro Baptist church is running for a board of Ed. seat.  I glanced at his Twitter feed, and he comes across as being a little unstable.  The Friendly Atheist has a pretty good blog post about him at  .  I know this will probably send a few readers to his blog, mostly due to the fact that his articles are a lot more researched with better references than mine,as well as he seems like a friendly guy,  but come back, there's cookies and milk later.  Really though, his articles are really good, and he puts in the hours. 

This next topic shows what we may be in for for the next few years.  I found this one in several places, but I think The Independent covers it the best, just ignore the banner that pops up in the middle occasionally.  Paul Broun, a Georgia politician, basically says that evolution is from hell and is a test of faith.   I'll give you 3 guesses as to his party, but the first 2 don't count.  Keep in mind that this man is responsible for U.S. government policy on science and technology.  What The Fuck People!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This kinda of dogma is why I keep saying religion should not have any bearing on public policy.  If he has his way, evolution will be taken out of schools and basically the answer to everything will be "god did it"  or "god willed it".  This is a scary, scary man.  This kind of power, and these religious ideals are like matches and small furry animals.  They should not be put together. 

This last one pissed me off to no end.  I mean I was yelling at the television.  Recently in Tulsa, which for the foreign contingent in located in north-eastern Oklahoma, there was a 13 year old girl that reported being raped in a stairwell on a church campus.  She reported the assault to employees at Victory Christian Center, which is a mega church.  I don't know if these things exist in other countries, and if they do, let me know.  If you haven't seen these, they are monstrous.  Instead of a normal church that holds maybe 150-200 people, this one has 17,000 members.  No, I did not misplace the comma.  I've pulled a couple of dogs out of these things, and the stage looks more like a television studio than any pulpit I've ever seen.  The girl reported the rape on August 15th and it was finally reported to authorities on the 30th.  Just the fact that someone would sexually attack a child is enough to set me off.  Personally, my views on harming children is no quarter given.  People that hurt kids like that should have no where to hide.  What really pissed me off is the fact that the 5 people that were suspended for failure to report the rape are being allowed to return to work at the ministry.  This poor girl is believed to be at least the 4th victim of a couple former workers.  I believe in forgiveness, and I know it's kinda the churches deal, unless you're gay, muslim, buddhist, or some other non-christian denomination.  Other than that, it's forgiveness out the wazoo, which I think may be a stoning offense in Leviticus.  This church tried to investigate the matter in house.  To me, as an outside observer, this seems to be more damage control than anything.  This story can be found at The Tulsa World and other places.  I first heard about it on one of out local news channels and the on-line article is here.

I know that I had a jumble of topics this time, and they kinda ran the gambit.  I just needed Kevin Trudeau, Sylvia Brown, holistic medicine, Richard Hoagland, and bigfoot riding up on Nessie and building a pyramid before taking off to Alpha Centari and I think I would have had it all.  And I just found out that bigfoot is not a valid word in spellcheck, but Nessie is.  I know I mentioned "The Family" in the last post, and I promise, I'll talk about these goofnuts soon.  The research is taking longer than I thought, partly because a lot of links that I've tried to follow on-line end up being dead ends, or are so pro-The family that I get nauseous.  I thought that reading the creation museum or answers in genesis web site was rough.  Have a good weekend, be good, be skeptical, and stay out of jail this time.

The Skeptical Okie