September 23, 2020

Saturday Ramblings, March 14, 2015

Nazi cows, coming out poly, and Mexican mummy heads. Welcome to the weekend, imonks. Ready to ramble?

1955 was a good year

1955 was a good year

Strange Headline of the week: Jury awards $150K to employee who feared scanner as “Mark of the Beast.” The long-time employee was forced to retire after he refused to submit to biometric hand scanning because he feared the scanner would imprint him with the Mark of the Beast. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Consol Energy, claiming Consol had violated the employee’s religious beliefs, and he was awarded $150,000 in damages by a federal jury.

Okay, this one may be stranger: Farmer turns killer Nazi cows into ‘tasty’ sausage. Yes, it seems there is a strain of cattle engineered by Nazis, and a British farmer decided to import a few.  Unfortunately they were hyper-aggressive and “kept trying to attack any humans who came close.” Well, who could have seen that coming? The farmer finally had enough and had the cows made into “very very tasty” sausage.

We will get our revenge!

We will get our revenge!

On a related note, did you know the Nazi’s also tried to develop a cat breed?hitler-cat (1)

Richard Carrier is an atheist blogger and wannabe philosopher who, for some reason, wants to wear the mantle of Richard Dawkins.  He recently informed his readers that he was had a new “sexual orientation” and was “coming out”. But its not what you think.

So I can make it official:

I am polyamorous.

I have, and will continue to have, multiple girlfriends who are likewise poly or aware of my being so, and that will be the way of my life from now on. And I am going to strive from here on out to live that way as ethically and honestly as I should, working to grow and improve as a human being….

The ability to be more transparent, public, and open about my sexual orientation is a major part of what I’ve needed in my life.

Now this did not come completely out of the blue; he admits to cheating on his wife with several women recently, and finally concluded that, “I can’t do monogamy and be happy”.  He is now divorcing  his wife to embrace his new poly orientation.  The comment section is fascinating. One of the few to challenge Carrier that he was being a tad “self-serving” (ya think?) got the response that we should avoid advising people to commit to monogamy  “…just as you would advise someone never to promise to give up their love of eating meat just to be with someone either, knowing full well how that’s going to actually turn out. Cheating at that promise is, in objective reality, not relevantly different. Yet culturally we treat it entirely differently. Which may be a clue to the real problem. I’m not sure. Possibly I’m missing something.”  No Richard, you couldn’t be missing anything.  I’m sure your wife would agree that adultery and breaking a dietary promise are totally equal.  Another commentator was more frank:  “…all I hear is the voice of a middle-aged man who is a slave to his passions, one who rationalizes his moral failures to be circumstances out of his control, and hence not really a failure at all.” Richard responds by lambasting people like him as “weirdos who say sexist reactionary Christianized 19th century stuff.”  Yep, that’s some serious philosophizing right there.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the name of Carrier’s book: Sense and Goodness without God.

Terry Pratchett, a best-selling fantasy author, died this week.  There is a page online “petitioning death” to “reinstate” Mr. Pratchett.  Over 6,000 people have signed.  Annoyingly, death has not responded. Death is kinda a jerk.

The big news in politics this last week or two was the Hillary email scandal.  Mrs. Clinton finally came forward to explain why she used a gmail account for official emails as Secretary of State (instead of a .gov email) and why she stored them on a private server set up in her home (instead of on a more secure government server).  When her first line of defense (“You mean gmail doesn’t stand for government email?  who knew?”) fell flat, she claimed it was all for convenience. She did not want the hassle, she said, of carrying two phones (one for official emails, one for personal emails).  And besides, she and her aides personally went through and decided which emails were to be handed over to the archives.  Who could ever have a problem with that?


Flag banned? A resolution adopted Thursday by the legislative council of the campus’ Associated Students at the University of California Irvine calls for removing all flags (including the Stars and Stripes) from the common lobby area of student government offices.  The Student Council Executive Committee vetoed the resolution later in the week, but not before over 60 professors, many at UCI, sent an open letter which supported the removal of such “paraphernalia of nationalism.”  No word yet on whether the professors also supported removal of the oppressive dollars the government gives to fund their salaries.

As I said, the resolution was vetoed, so the resolution will not be enforced. But it may be instructive to examine the “reasoning” of the students who wrote the resolution and the professors who support them.  After all, your tax dollars are educating these young people; let’s see what they learned. You can see the whole resolution at the link above; it’s too long to include every dreary “whereas” so we’ll just hit the highlights:

Whereas the traditional patriotic interpretation of a flag is a result of a nation and/or persons who encourage a nationalistic understanding of the flag.  Hmmm.  So the problem is a “nationalistic understanding” of a flag? What does that mean?

Whereas traditional understandings and ideologies, as encouraged by the national government, include liberty, democracy, constitution values and are up for interpretation on constituents. Oh my.  So ‘liberty, democracy and constitution values” are…not what we should be promoting??? Is that what you mean? That isn’t what you mean, is it?  Maybe a few more whereases will clear this up.

Whereas flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy. Oh.  I see. Well, we wouldn’t want to homogenize standards, especially not those oppressive, idolized standards of freedom, equality and democracy.

Whereas displaying a flag does not express only selective aspects of its symbolism but the entire spectrum of its interpretation. Hey, something we can agree on!

Whereas the removal of barriers is the best option at promoting an inclusive space. Really? If every item bears the weight of the entire spectrum of its interpretation, then our spaces are going to be as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards. 

Whereas freedom of speech is a valued right that ASUCI supports. Well, that’s a relief.  I was worried there for a minute….

Whereas freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech. And there it is: Displaying a flag is free speech, but in this case free speech is hate speech. And hate speech is the trump suite.

Let it further be resolved that no flag, of any nation, may be hanged on the walls of the Associate Student main lobby space.

There you go, ladies and gentlemen.  Because the flag represents all that the country is, warts and all, displaying it can be hate speech, and should be banned. Your tax dollars at work.

Meanwhile, in Missouri: 


Speaking of compassion, Utah voted this week to reinstate the firing squad. But only when they could not get that whole lethal injection thing to work right.

A hiker was climbing a glacier on Mexico’s highest peak, Orizaba, last week, when he lost his footing and slid 100 feet.  He arrested his fall by digging his ice axe in the snow, and fortunately came to a stop. Gathering his wits, he looked around and this was the sight in front of him:



Actually two mummys were found, believed to be mountaineers who were caught in an avalanche in 1959. Mexican authorities have not yet been able to dig out and transport the bodies.

The tech world was abuzz this week.  Apple decided our current rotation of screens to look at is too small, so they introduced the applewatch.  It comes in a variety of styles and colors, so each user can individually express their submission to the richest corporation in the world. The top of the line version, called the “1 Percenter and proud of it” model, will set you back a mere $10,000, but you should be able to sell it for half that much when the applewatch 2 comes out this fall.

Or, you could just make your own apple watch

Or, you could just make your own

Apple also announced a new dollar Macbook priced at $1,300 .  Well, actually its pushing $1,400 by the time your buy the dongle you need to carry around.  You see, the new Macbook has no USB or even Thunderbolt ports.  None. Zilch. A big fat zero.  In a very rare interview, a senior Apple engineer explained the process.

Heather has two mommies.  And one dad.  That’s it for now. Maybe more later. Melinda and Dani began their relationship as a lesbian couple and became domestic partners in 2010. A year later, polyJonathan joined them as the third partner and the three married last summer in a ceremony that is not legally recognized.  “If one was to put a fancy label on our relationship one would say we are a poly fidelitous triad, meaning we are focused on just the three of us (for now at least) and not open to other partners,” Dani says.  Oh.  Okay. So your marriage consists of three people, but that number could expand in the future if you all become “open” to new partners?  So, when number 4 and 5 come along, is it still a marriage?  What about 8? 15?  Where is the line, and on what criterion do you draw this line?  I’m not trying to be snarky; I’m just wondering. If same sex marriage should be legal, then on what principled reason would Melinda and Dani and Jonathon be prohibited from marriage?  And if those three, why not another 5 or 10? PS: it’s not a strawman or a slippery slope if it has, in fact, already begun to happen.

The 2015 Templeton Prize was awarded this week. The most prestigious award in the world of religion and spirituality, it is valued at about $1.7 million and honors those who have made “exceptional contributions” to affirming the spiritual dimension of life. Amazingly The Ramblings were slighted again; I wasn’t even nominated. Instead the prize went to Jean Vanier, an advocate for people with developmental disabilities and the founder of L’Arche, (French for the Ark) a global network of communities where those with and without disabilities live side by side as equals. I love this quote from Vanier:

They are essentially people of the heart. When they meet others they do not have a hidden agenda for power or for success. Their cry, their fundamental cry, is for a relationship, a meeting heart to heart. It is this meeting that awakens them, opens them up to life, and calls them forth to love in great simplicity, freedom and openness.

When those ingrained in a culture of winning and of individual success really meet them, and enter into friendship with them, something amazing and wonderful happens. They too are opened up to love and even to God. They are changed at a very deep level. They are transformed and become more fundamentally human.”

That’s good stuff right there. I guess I can wait till next year.

And on the other side of the spectrum: Televangelist Creflo Dollar (motto: why would God give me that name if he didn’t want me to be rich) is looking for a new ride.  And his is looking for people to “sow” $300 for it. For those not acquainted with prosperity preachers, to “sow” something just means you write a check to their ministry.  So, Creflo, how many people are you hoping to help you with your desperate need for transportation? “We are believing for 200,000 people to give contributions of 300 US dollars or more to turn this dream into a reality.”  Hmmm [Rambler does math] Okay, that’s $600,000.  Well, that doesn’t seem so bad for a new plane.  A little low, even.  Wait.  [Rambler tries math again]. 6 Million? For a private plane.  Well, do they really cost that much? Crap…hold on, the math still isn’t right [Rambler gets out calculator].  Oh my.  60 million?  Creflo wants people to pony up 60 million in donations for a plane?  Really?

"And people complain about my Popemobile..."

“And people complain about my Popemobile…”

Tuesday is St. Patrick’s Day (you’re welcome). Here is a good article briefly explaining the real St. Patrick.  Best part:

“And at a time when Christian biggies like the Apostle Paul and St. Augustine never left the boundaries of the Roman Empire, Patrick was the first missionary to people considered barbarians. In the words of Thomas Cahill, “The step he took was in its way as bold as Columbus’, and a thousand times more humane.”

This brings to mind a classic video about Patrick trying to explain the finer points of trinitarian theology to fourth-century Irish peasants:

Well, we can’t let that be the final word of the Ramblings, can we? So let’s end with this moving video of Jean Vanier explaining what it means to be human:


  1. “PS: it’s not a strawman or a slippery slope if it has, in fact, already begun to happen.”

    Why do you have to be so testy man? Its Saturday Ramblins. I just wanted to be happy :(.

    It’s a strawman because there hasn’t (recently, at any rate) been a social movement to support groupings of more than 2. Marriage has historically been between one man and woman, western society wants to expand that to include same sex couples for any variety of reasons, personal or public (but generally not religious).

    When I see Mormons and Yuppies getting together to lobby for “polyamorous triads” or whatever, then yeah, you’ll have my back. I don’t believe that would make sense to legislate. Until then, there is no logical reason to believe that opening marriage to same sex couples is some kind of slippery slope.

    If what you’re saying is there is no logical reason that marriage *shouldn’t* be opened to more than couples, well… yeah. Its a social legal construct. There’ s no reason it should be anything, logically. But if that’s your argument, then opening marriage between races was a slippery slope to opening it to bestiality. Its a bizarre way to think about things.

    You’re just being snarky about a touchy subject 🙁 No fun.

    • When enough people engage in that particular behavior then there will be a call to legitimize it with marriage. What percentage, you may ask? Well for comparison sake, if 5%-10% of the population are homosexual, and 2%-3% of them demand the right to marry the one they love, what percentage of the population ARE they? Quite small, I would say.

      So, if that same percentage were to demand multiple person marriage then who are WE to say they can’t? What are we, haters? (Where is HUG when you need him 😀 )

      Seriously though, science fiction writers, dystopian novelists and futurists have been projecting this same type of thing for years, and whatever comes into the heart of man he will then endeavour to do it. You and I may think it to be silly, but 20 years ago gay marriage was a pipe dream too.

      • Oh, and by the way kerokline, it wasn’t gay marriage, per se, that has kicked down the barrier, it was the decision to redefine marriage by saying it was a matter of “who you love” that is at issue. If “who you love” is the standard, well then…

        • Was said redefinition a bad thing?

          • Great! a real question instead of an imprecation (not from YOU, necessarily)…

            My issue is that there just wasn’t an honest discussion of redefinition. It was first put forth a “equal rights” (they already had the same rights to marry the OPPOSITE sex) and then morphed into “fairness” and finally into the stupid “who you love” trope, despite marriage not historically being about LOVE..

            Perhaps, in retrospect, they wouldn’t have been successful plainly arguing for redefinition because it might be too big of a bite for most to chew into swallowing size, so an “end around” (football metaphor) was in order to get it done.

            My general opinion has always been the government’s reasons for codifying marriage, that is, it is necessary to make easier the transmission of paternity and, therefor, the transfer of property and wealth from one generation to another for taxation purposes.

            Redefine all you want, just be clear as to WHY it is being done and WHO, ultimately, benefits.

        • Oscar, it more than likely goes back to the Supreme Court case Loving v. VA, in which the Court struck down all anti-miscegenation laws.

          • That case was decided back in 1967.

          • Numo, that MAY have been at the back of some peoples’ minds, but that didn’t involve changing the NATURE of marriage. The question was black and white marriage. The same sex issue involved a definition that had remained unchanged for as long as marriage has been a state sanctioned institution. It was STILL a male/female issue.

            Anyway, we’ve been down this road before and I do not necessarily want to retravel it at this time. Maybe another day…

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      Hi Kerokline.

      I actually teach logic and logical fallacies as part of my philosophy class, so I think I have a handle on the concepts. I guess we will just have to disagree. I don’t see a massive movement toward triads or group marriage yet, but last week’s and this week’s posts both included triads, so at least we see it’s on the radar.

      I mainly just included the item to pose the question to you all, most of whom are smarter than I: IS there really a principled reason to affirm gay marriage and prohibit group marriage? I’m not saying there isn’t. I just want to open the discussion.

      • There are certainly Christian ethicists who uphold the idea of marriage being lifelong, faithful, and monogamous, but who believe we should expand that definition to include gay couples. (David Gushee would probably be the most well-known example of someone who takes that position.)

      • I really don’t think we are looking at a slippery slope.

        By raising the topic of revising legal standards governing marriage, same sex marriage opened the door for additional proposals by people. However, any significant re-evaluation of marriage law (it didn’t have to be this one) could have provided such an occasion. It was only a matter of time.

        Even if there was no proposal to accept same sex marriage – and even if there was never a single gay or lesbian person born, ever, in history – monogamous marriage has never been the only game in town. Polyamory, polygamy, and concubinage all preddate our current conversation on marriage. Polygamy used to have its occasional advocates, and polyamory has been an alternative pattern (and at times a fashionable one) for some time. If there is sufficient interest in these ideas and there were an opportunity, these topics have always had the power to come up all on their own. They generally haven’t because they have been marginal ideas with little wide appeal.

        On a related note, the futurist writers have speculated about alternative marriage arrangements because there has long been a conversation in the cultural soup about how sexual relationships will transmute over time. Reflections of economics, reform of relationships between men and women, and so on have always led to speculation in this area. See also: the history of feminism and the history of free love.

        So, same sex marriage happens to be occasioning the current, emerging conversation, but it was not the necessary precondition to it occurring.

        I’ll go out on a limb and make this thesis – it is a third event (or cluster of them) – that makes possible both the contemporary conversation on gay marriage AND makes it possible for people to speculate openly or advocate alternative models of marriage.

        As to whether the the acceptance of same sex marriage will lead to the acceptance of other arrangements: not necessary. Only if the cases made for both causes are similar. And the gender of the parties being married is a distinct question from the number of persons who can be party to a marriage contract. Yes, as Oscar points out, people who say – as does happen a lot in the popular conversation ‘ “All that matters is love” are going to conflate the cases. But that’s never been the formal argument. The formal argument was always that monogamous marriage was a socially important institution that confers special benefits and protections, and aids a couple in rearing children, and so legal and monogamous marriage ought to be extended to include people who were previously excluded, and whose identities and needs were not before acknowledged. You can try porting this logic over to groups of 3 or 4 people, but its not going to be seamless.

  2. I for one look forward to the Daniel Jepsen annotated transcripts of the 2016 Presidential debates. (not the debates themselves, just the annotations…)

    I wonder if the sticker on the home made Apple watch says “Designed by Apple in California”…
    (did you make that yourself Daniel or find it online?)

  3. Christianity Today posted a story about a guy who had a vision of Jesus while high on peyote. Does that make peyote the gateway drug to the opiate of the people?

    (I’m doomed to moderated comment purgatory for sure with this one).

  4. Can I be a negative nabob of negatism tonight? I found Jean Vanier’s video to be gobbledegook. I must have read tons of that type of dialog back in the 70’s when I was running from God but still looking for relevance. It’s the type of stuff that you can’t really grab ahold of but still sounds important. Guess I’m just not a fan, maybe even morally deficient or hopelessly ignorant.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      I believe the technical term is “nattering nabob of negativity”, if I recall my Spiro Agnew correctly.

      But I always appreciate your take.

    • Oscar, I think the problem comes when we try to describe something that of itself is so centered in the “non-binary” aspect of human relationships. His main point as I understand it is that in our “fallen” Self we seek importance/meaning by our accomplishments and by setting ourself over/against all other Selfs which produces isolation, competition, rivalry, and all sorts of violence. If, however, we recognize that our true identity is that of Beloved of the Father, then how I view myself and others is radically altered–I will be much less fearful and much more willing to be compassionate.

      Vanier, imo, attempts to give words to the what that L’Arche does. Vanier is well within the RC mystical tradition of “the perennial wisdom.”

      • Is the perennial wisdom part of RC mystical tradition? I think Vanier is more in line with traditional Christian incarnational mysticism.

      • Tom, I appreciate you explanation, but I just don’t do “mystical” very well If I can’t wrap my hands around it then it does me little good. I understand others may benefit, but I am not in that group.

      • I understood the same as what Tom recounts.

        Vanier is also well within the tradition of Orthodoxy. That’s as good a capsulization as I’ve ever read of what is found in the first couple of chapters of Fr Meletios Webber’s book “Bread, Water, Wine and Oil.” It’s not so much mystical as psychological (though if one had to differentiate I would say it does lean Incarnational), recognized by wise people before there was a label for it.

        I personally, for a long time, have believed that Vanier is a saint.


        • Perhaps my own understanding is deficient, but I believe that the concept of Perennial Wisdom is rooted in the Perennial Philosophy, which, according to Aldous Huxley, is the core of all major world religions, the heart that they all share in common and which constitutes their true spiritual value; Christian mysticism, however, including incarnational spirituality as practiced and written of by Vanier, puts the person of Jesus Christ at the center, not any set of universal teaching to be found in the world religions. In Christian mysticism, there is far less talk about the self as a universal reality, and more stress on forgetting of the self and remembering to look for Christ in others. Is this not also true of Eastern Orthodoxy?

          • Dana Ames says

            Yes, but with use of different phraseology 🙂


          • I understand Robert F’s distinction and think it’s valid. I wasn’t being as precise as I could possibly have, but my intent was to speak to some aspect of universality in what Vanier was saying.

    • Christiane says

      Hi OSCAR,

      a reflection by Jean Vanier that I read during every Lenten season might give you another picture of him that is less negative (maybe) (hopefully):

      “”‘Love one another as I have loved you.’
      Love your enemies.
      Love those who hate and persecute you.
      Love ?those who have become outcast
      and those who are excluded from the group
      because they are ‘useless’, non?productive:
      the blind, the lame, the sick, the poor and the lepers.
      Love not just those of your own tribe, your own class, family or people,
      but those who are different, those who are strangers,
      who are strange to your ways, who come from different cultural and religious traditions,
      who seem odd, those you do not understand.
      Love as the Samaritan loved the man he found beaten up by robbers,
      somewhere on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.” (Jean Vanier)

      • Thank you Christiane. I have never really gotten into that type of meditation because it just doesn’t align with the way I think. It’s like trying to read a foreign language that you have only a passing knowledge of. Some of it is understandable, but most of it is opaque. I’m glad that people benefit fom it, but I’m just not one of them.

        • how so, Oscar? It seems pretty straightforward to me, but then, everyone is different, and I can see why this might not appeal. But I am curious as to why.

          • Numo, it just doesn’t inspire me, it makes me feel deficient. It may just be a character flaw in me, but there it is anyway.

          • Christiane says

            Hi OSCAR,
            we, all of us, are ‘deficient’ . . . that is why our great human need for ‘grace’ from God . . .

            is a story from Corrie ten Boom who was a survivor of the Ravensbruck concentration camp. She spoke at a conference after the war, and later a man came up to her who had been a Nazi guard there and had been cruel to her and to her beloved sister Betsie, who died in that camp. He did not remember Corrie, but she remembered him:

            “““ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
            “ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
            “And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
            “It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
            “For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

            “I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
            And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
            “And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
            “ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
            “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”” (Corrie ten Boom)

            OSCAR, it’s when people forget that they are ‘deficient’ that they no longer have room in their lives for Christ.
            Embrace that feeling of ‘deficiency’, it is a kind of humility and humility is the signature mark of a Christian person. It allows for the reception of grace.

        • Oscar, thanks for your reply. I have that same reaction to much that comes from the evangelical world. for me, it’s a gut-level aversion to certain words, phrases and ways of framing things. All party lines that i believed at one time, but which always made me feel deficient.

  5. Quite the potpourri of news tidbits.
    Speaking of Brigham Young – he had 40 wives. He wrote to a friend telling him Life At Home was HELL. I’d imagine so actually. With 40 wives, one of them was undoubtedly “on her period”.on any given day in the month.

    • The menstruation period of the uterine cycle lasts 3-5 days, while the entire cycle is averaged at 28 days, giving a fraction of 4/28 = 1/7. With forty wives the ratio becomes 40/7; therefore, Bringham could reasonably expect five of his wives to be experiencing catemenia on any given day.

      • Ladies who live together tend to find their cycles aligning slowly, though, so it wouldn’t be as evenly distributed as all that.

        Did all his wives live together, though? I thought that they didn’t.

        • My, my! If they lived together LONG enough then Mr. Young got what he deserved! 😀

        • Toakh, you’re correct. They did not.

          Dr. Fundystan, that “5 days”” thing is highly variable, depending on the person. Not sure why you raised it in the 1st place, but what the hey…

  6. Concerning that hiker in Mexico who found those two mummies on the mountain beside him….Shhhhhhh! Looking at the current craze about zombies, it could become a new hit TV show. Climbing the Living Dead. I think there’s been enough zombies and vampires on TV to last a lifetime. 😛

  7. I very rarely judge ideas, even ones I disagree with. I do, however, judge poor thinking and idiocy in all its forms, even if (especially if) I agree with the idea. For this reason, I have to point out that Richard Carrier has all the intellectual rigor of an asparagus, while the UCI Associated Students have all the critical thinking and writing skill of a carefully trained gerbil.

    • Shoot, Dr. F, Mr. Carrier doesn’t rise to the level of this aparagus:

    • “the UCI Associated Students have all the critical thinking and writing skill of a carefully trained gerbil.”
      Oh I think you give them way too much credit. Fundy. I think Swamp Water better describes their critical thinking skills.

    • Yeah, my first reaction was, this letter can’t possibly represent the opinions of the student body as a whole… because it’s clear that none of the English majors had a look at it before it was sent. I mean, maybe using “hanged” instead of “hung” was supposed to be a really subtle jab at those evil fascist nationalists and their culture of violence. But there’s really no excuse for making mistakes in subject-verb agreement.

      • In my experience the English Majors were the ones with the poorest spelling and grammar skills…

    • The students? Never mind the students, what about the professors who supported the resolution?

    • Whenever anyone begins or ends criticism of a state university with the reference, “Your tax dollars at work!” I roll my eyes. Universities are semi-autonomous, don’t run only on state money, and the scholars in a field should figure out what work has significance. It matters about 0 percent that the average person cannot read a paper proposal in gender theory or physics. Can you imagine the circus that would ensue if the state legislature butted in all the time?

      However, the resolution really was stupid. In fact, it got worse every time I read it! Someone needed to take the student representatives aside and explain that they really couldn’t publish the document.

      • About state universities: yep.

      • flatrocker says

        > Universities are semi-autonomous, don’t run only on state money

        Which is true. They also run on federal grants, federal programs, and federally backed low interest student loans. So the tax dollars continue to be at work (insert eye roll here).

      • Proud graduate of a state university.

  8. Question – what does the UCI story have anything to do with Christianity?

    • flatrocker says

      Sometimes the Rambler leaves the church parking lot.
      There’s a big world out there to explore dontcha know.

      Thanks for driving us around Uncle Dan. When can we stop for ice cream?

    • I thought Saturday Ramblings rarely drifted toward Christianity – at least rarely toward SERIOUS Christianity.

  9. The danger of polygamy is not any precedent set by same-sex marriage but rather its inherent patriarchalism. If Genesis 3:16 is the basis for “biblical” marriage and the job of a man is “rule over” a woman, then why not in herds? If the church can’t put an end to patriarchalism, then polygamy is going to be hopelessly difficult to stop.

    • Interesting, DOx.

    • i’d have to agree, DO.

    • That makes sense, but what if the drive has nothing to do with religion? Wouldn’t it be the government’s duty to redefine the relationships so that ALL benefit equally? There are clear benefits to polygamy (AND problems). For the man, if he can afford it, it is obvious. For the woman there is financial security with the added benefit of not having to put up with a man’s demands as much as a monomarriage. I’m sure some of the sisters here may differ, but let it roll!

      • The man can afford it…the woman needs security. That is patriarchalism. The church breeds this Disney princess notion that women are helpless or reckless and need a man to protect or break them. Christs sets us free – men and women alike. That should be the message of the church. If it was the message, the church would display much more righteous indignation against all forms of oppression. Rather, it shrugs its collective shoulders at the likes of Wilson as if he may have a point.

        • Great for the Church, but I’m looking at the purely secular implications. If a woman sees this type of relationship as beneficial to her and her children then are you saying Christian abuses should be the deciding factor in deciding its efficacy? Aren’t you then going into the typical fundy camp belief that we need to impress Christian teachings on a secular society? Just wondering…

    • Lots to think about in this comment. I’m finding myself agreeing. I don’t know what an egalitarian polygamist marriage would look like, but I imagine it’s quite different than standard polygamy.

  10. Concerning all the “poly” unions/marriages/whatever… I’m not too worried or afraid. So what if it’s a “real” slippery slope. The logistics, costs, hassles, and chaos that will naturally arise from such unions will probably deter most people from trying it… Sooner or later some natural laws will have their say, just like they’ve always had and keep this to the fringe. Oh, my mid-life self can be tempted for a bit to fantasize about the few perks of such an arrangement, but my common sense and rationality (besides morality) kicks in pretty quick and laughingly derides such a silly idea.
    I can’t imagine most of Solomon’s subjects were imitating his harem – I kind of suspect he was the only one or one of few – and that’s because he could afford it…

    • Richard Hershberger says

      This. Long-term gay couples have been around since forever, and turned out, once they could be reasonably open about it, to be not particularly uncommon. This was long before gay marriage was legalized. Larger groupings have also existed since forever. Interestingly, while I have personally known countless gay couples over the years, some being more committed to their relationship than most straight married people, I have known only a handful of similar larger groupings. I’ve known lots of people who slept around, of course. That’s not what I am talking about. Sometimes they have shared housing arrangements, but that’s not what I am talking about either. I am talking about people who regard themselves as being in permanent (at least theoretically) relationships akin to traditional marriage, but with more members in the partnership. These, in my experience, have been rare.

      This is before we have the “what does a poly marriage mean legally?’ discussion, which the slippery-slope crowd routinely glosses over. Marriage is, from a civil law standpoint, a set of default rights and responsibilities. You are in a coma on a respirator. Who decides what to do next? If you are married, then by default it is your spouse. You can make other arrangements that override this default, but few people do. So who,in a poly marriage, makes that decision? Heck if I know. This is just one simple example. The entire infrastructure of civil marriage law has “two people” built into it. Of course they assumed that these two people would be a man and a woman, but it turns out that this doesn’t have to be true for the system to work. It works just fine with two men or two women. But three? The whole system is reduced to gibberish.

      • This is before we have the “what does a poly marriage mean legally?’ discussion, which the slippery-slope crowd routinely glosses over.

        Well, I didn’t gloss it over! What you brought up is MY concern as well. There has to be a chain of legal responsibility in such groupings, and that, for simplicity’s sake, must mean ONE person. In other words, it will look like a traditional marriage with added accouterments. If it becomes more of an issue then government MUST define it, else the court system will have to do it, which is usually a slip-shod way of getting it done.

      • “Marriage is, from a civil law standpoint, a set of default rights and responsibilities. You are in a coma on a respirator. Who decides what to do next? If you are married, then by default it is your spouse. You can make other arrangements that override this default, but few people do. So who,in a poly marriage, makes that decision?”

        Yes, this. One reason same sex marriage can be implemented it that it keeps all the legal standards currently governing marriage and simply allows the genders to either opposite sex or same sex.

        I don’t know how you can get to multiple partners *and* have an egalitarian society in which all parties to the marriage are on equal footing. You’d have to establish some kind of priority on who ultimately makes legal decisions when there is a disagreement. You’d have to have something like a “first wife” or husband/second wife or husband. I don’t expect a proposition like that is going to fly so long as we still have a society where women are “liberated” and we place stiff social censure on vast inequalities in relationships.

        Perhaps there are other alternatives. I’ve never thought through what they might be. Maybe the polyamorous folks have ideas. Boy, though, that would that be a heady conversation.

        • flatrocker says

          This is simply an argument from the vantage point of “it will upset the order of things.” Which, btw is the same stance taken to justify the social arrangements in the antebellum south. It is only valid from the position of those who hold the power. But for those on the outside of power, simply standing behind the “we’ve always done it this way” is an oppressive position. There may be other social arguments that can justify anti-poly relationships, but using this point as a basis for erecting societal boundaries is insensitive at best and probably specious at worst.

          Justifying a position by invoking historical norms or proven legal constructs leads us back to an overwhelming validation in favor of hetero monogamy. Either we stand with classically defined relationships or we allow many other forms to the front of the bus.

          It’s naive and somewhat arrogant to think we can allow partial admittance to the party without allowing full admittance. And standing behind this paper tiger simply because we can’t assign a proper power of attorney or entrust an alternative partnering arrangement to make a good decision concerning a loved one is legally rather shallow.

          You can have it or you can eat it. But you can’t do both. Better to come up with another justification for an anti-poly stance as this dog won’t hunt.

    • Just watch the movie The Ice Storm to see how well swinging tends to work for people and their families.

      • I remember an interview in which Ang Lee called The Ice Storm “my horror movie.” I think it’s a very apt description.

  11. I just don’t believe Hillary. So much spin-doctoring makes me incredulous. And then to have the temerity to excise and delete those e-mails from the record that she deemed unnecessary to hand over speaks to the kind of use of executive power she would practice, if she ever became President. I just don’t trust Hillary.

    • In other words: The perfect president!

      • Hardly.

        I have never trusted her, and never trusted her husband, either. Would far rather see E. Warren get the nomination.

        • People don’t usually elect angry people. Elizabeth is articulate and intelligent, but her message is more “us versus them” rather than “all of us together”. If she officially decides to run it will be an interesting campaign to follow, no matter which party you belong to.

          • Well, she would obviously need to change her approach. But still, i would so much rather her than Hillary…

    • flatrocker says

      I sometimes wonder if our decisions will be made on the content of her character vs. the requisite number of X chromosomes present.

      (probably could make the same point concerning the number of non-negotiable Y chromosomes required for some of the other candidates).

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I expect that you are right, but it is worth noting that this was standard operating procedure during the Bush administration. Clinton was continuing an existing bad practice, not instituting a new one. Why didn’t (and doesn’t) that darned liberal media make a big deal of this? Partly short attention span, but largely because the “liberal media” meme is a myth. The fact that Walter Cronkite correctly informed his audience that the war in Vietnam was going poorly doesn’t mean that nearly a half century later the news industry is run by a bunch of Trotskyites.

      • The liberal media meme is not a myth, it is reality, and one that has grown over the last decade.

        • And the same is true of the conservative media.

          • Other than Fox cable news and talk radio, and maybe the Washington Times, could you be more persuasive?

            • The biggest problem is the nut-cases on both extremes. They shout the loudest and get the most attention. If we can speak of “the media” having a general fault, it is that it is too Washington-centric and focused on “big issues” that bear little relation to most people’s actual lives. It’s ivory tower journalism.

          • Yes, but the vast majority of the media is liberal. Though Fox easily beats the other cable news shows, they are dwarfed by the network news of CBS, NBC, and ABC, and they are all overwhelmingly democrat, as well as most major news papers. It comes through in the way the report stories, the stories they choose to cover, and the way they speak of certain politicians. Heck, it even came through when one of them was supposed to be moderating a debate between Obama and Romney. The moderator scored big points for Obama when she “corrected” Romney, even though she had to admit that next day that Romney was actually right.

            • jon, I heartily disagree. There was likewise little pushback on President Bush when he was in office. If “the media” is sold out to anybody, it is moneyed interests.

              Besides, the point I’ve made here on Internet Monk time and time again is that it shouldn’t be “the media” that influences our lives anyway. The more people who come to accept that, the better off we’ll all be, regardless of our views.

          • I disagree. If what Clinton did with her personal email accounts had been done by a Republican, they would’ve been crucified. When it gets done by a Democrat, most media outlets try to sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away. I have no data, obviously, just this sense that a Republican in the exact same situation as Clinton would be facing a lot more criticism and scrutiny.

            • Not sure what news you’ve been listening to Rick. That story has been front and center every day on every mainstream news outlet I’ve seen, with lots of criticism voiced by pundits.

          • I guess I don’t see her being as crucified as much as I believe a Republican would’ve been. But I could be wrong.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            @ Chaplain Mike: “If “the media” is sold out to anybody, it is moneyed interests.”

            This. The media is overwhelmingly corporate. This doesn’t always fall neatly along liberal/conservative lines, but it is conservative more often than not. Any issue directly affecting corporate interests (or perceived corporate interests, which isn’t quite the same thing) will receive coverage that could have been (and sometimes was) written by Wall Street public relations offices. Case in point: the Occupy movement, which was dismissed as a bunch of dirty hippies with as little as possible discussion of the issues. Wall Street loves a good war, so these get consistent cheer leading. Remember the massive and widespread protests against going to war in Iraq? No? There is a reason for that. Then there is labor affairs. Did you know that there has been a massive strike of refinery workers? Perhaps. It has received coverage, and has been blamed (partially, but not entirely fairly) for rising gas prices. But how much have you read or heard about the issues behind the strike? Here’s a hint: it’s not just about money. If you have read or heard anything beside money, has it been vague generalities about “worker safety standards” or have you seen specific, detailed, and graphic reports of what that means?

            Gay marriage is a counter-example, of an issue where the media generally sides with the liberal side. Even this, however, is consistent with the media as corporate shill. Back a few years ago when some states were passing laws against stuff like employers extending benefits to same-sex partners, the corporate world opposed such laws. Why did it care? Partly because it doesn’t like being told what it can and cannot do, from either side of the political spectrum. More practically, because such laws limited corporate flexibility. They would make it harder to persuade an employee or potential employee to transfer to such a state, should the individual in question happen to be gay.

            What about issues where there is no corporate interest. These are few and far between, but the record there is hardly uniformly liberal. The mainstream media has bought lock stock and barrel the Big Lie that “Christian” = “White American Evangelical Protestant” and any religion news gets reported within this assumption.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            @ Rick Ro: “If what Clinton did with her personal email accounts had been done by a Republican, they would’ve been crucified”

            As previously noted, what Clinton did with her personal email accounts was standard operating procedure in the preceding administration. You didn’t know that? My point precisely.

          • Richard – yes. Although I saw what looked like deliberate censorship and renaming of certain things in headlines/stories on the NYT site, back when Bush II announced the last major offensive of troops in Iraq (under his aegis), claiming that we were fighting Al Qaeda. Anything to avoid clearly stating that Iraq was in the midst of a civil war (caused largely by our ham-fisted interference in the region).

            The NYT promptly changed headlines and text that clearly stated that the fighting was between partisan groups (and that the US was fighting partisan groups within Iraq) to “they are all fighting Al Qaeda.” It was very disturbing to me, but then, war reportage has changed so much since the Vietnam era that I’m innately suspicious of most things that end up in the media, and tend to read newspaper sites from other countries to get other perspectives.

      • Don’t expect me to say that I trusted the Bush administration, because I didn’t . Don’t expect me to talk about “the liberal media,” because I won’t. Don’t expect me to trust Hillary, because I can’t.

        • +++!

        • I was entertaining the idea of voting for Hillary until, watching one of Bill Moyers’ shows, Elizabeth Warren described how Hillary did a 180 on Wall Street regulation policy. That alone was enough for me to decide not to vote for her. I could buy the “not wanting to carry 2 phones” excuse, though it is lame, if not naive, but then this whole business of her deciding which emails to hand over is really over the top. I’m married to a government employee who has to follow rules, and his ass would be ushered out of his office permanently if he ever tried anything like anything Hillary did. Sheesh.


          • I agree Dana, but who ya gonna find among politicians not sold out to Wall St.?

          • Dana Ames says

            True, Ch Mike – sadly and infuriatingly true.

            My Godmother and I both want Bill Moyers for President!


          • Richard Hershberger says

            Will her opponent in the general election (stipulating for the sake of discussion that she received the Democratic nomination) possibly affect this decision? Because if not, then you are demanding perfection before you will vote for any candidate. I wonder who you have ever brought yourself to vote for. It would be lovely to have a perfect candidate to vote for. In the meantime, there is pretty much always a better (or, if you prefer, a less bad) candidate to vote for. Case in point: everyone who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 got, instead, countless tens of thousands of dead bodies. Hooray for virginal purity!

          • Dana Ames says


            I don’t think it will make any difference. I look for someone with whom I agree on most (not all, that’s unrealistic) substantive issues. As my husband said in 2012, “We ain’t voting for the Pope here,” and held his nose and marked his ballot for Obama – as did I, without holding my nose…

            But this issue is a very big one for me. In 2016, I envision myself voting for a 3rd party candidate, unless the Democrats can come up with someone else.


          • Richard, of course we will never have a “pure” candidate for any office, regardless of party affiliation. But the Clintons are not exactly my favorite people, and Hilary has made a LOT of mistakes (in the public eye, too) since her husband 1st took office. This is the latest in a long string of them.

            I will likely vote for her if she gets the nomination, but I would rather it be somebody else (Warren, for example). I lived in the D.C. area during the Clinton years, and there I have major reservations about her as a result. (Bill, too.)

          • Christiane says

            She may not be perfect, but I’m supporting Hillary against most of the possibilities that are lining up on the right . . . 2012 may have been a freak show in the right’s line-up, but I have a feeling that 2016 will be an all-out horror show . . . there’s only so much craziness you can exhibit and not scare the . . . . out of folks.

            BTW, I do hope someday Elizabeth Warren runs for the office of President . . . she is someone who has a lot of cred with middle-class folks. It would be nice to have her on our side instead of some of the freaky people that usually run these days.

            In the meantime I’d like to say that I think Barack Obama has served us well . . . our economy is out of the ditch and mending and Bin Laden can no longer stir the pot. I think he has had quite of lot of obstruction to deal with and well as bad right-wing press,
            but he has managed to maintain a dignity worthy of his office. And his wife . . . awesome lady . . . great kids, too . .

        • Good decision, Robert . No one is expecting you to talk about these things, “liberal” media, gay marriage, lol, This was irony, right? Some good posts today, objectivity represented.,


    • Whoever slapped the caption on that Hillary photo apparently didn’t realize that secure government email CAN’T go on a personal phone, and personal email ISN’T PERMITTED on a secure government phone. So the whole premise of that attempted-joke photo is no joke. Being Secretary of State or Secretary of Anything means having to tote around two separate phones.

      • I carry two phones – business and personal. As far as liberal media passing on this, Charlie Rose displayed the 4+ electronic devices he carries around everyday on the morning news this week. The point was made very clearly that her argument about carrying one device was invalid. Let’s instead discuss the integrity of Faux News when it defends the “inaccuracies” of its anchors based upon their ratings.

      • Daniel Jepsen says

        Mea Culpa. I did not think of that, Al

    • Yeah. Whether or not it Hillary’s actions were the Standard Operating Procedure for the Bush administration, I don’t think her conduct can be defended.

      The Obama administration wrote regulations that placed a higher value on transparency. Although the topic sounds mundane, how you handle records is a significant component of this principle. I don’t know what the State Department is telling its people, but I am a boring little civil servant in a middling position in the chain of commend or our office, and even I take training on records management that stresses the importance of being able to recognize what a federal record is and handling it properly. You cannot conduct agency business outside of the record keeping systems. You cannot destroy or alter the records. Heck, there’s even a report you are supposed to write if you do these things accidentally.

      Now, admittedly, I WOULD harp on this point because I am archivist working for the agency that keeps federal records for posterity. Agencies are supposed to maintain those records that document agency business. A portion of those wind up in the National Archives. If you screw with this imperative, nobody can get your records with a Freedom of Information Act request, and historians down the road cannot find out what you were doing.

      Tisk, tisk, Hillary.

  12. And the great, downward pull continues…

  13. Thanks for the Lutheran Satire. Something to smile about amidst the insanity, although like the two peasants, I’ve never heard anyone describe the trinity well. Every analogy breaks down, so letting the ancient creeds do the job works for me.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      Unfortunately, it is by far the best of the lot. I watched a bunch of the Lutheran Satire pieces a year or two ago. Most of them consist of proof texting of the lowest sort, presenting arguments which consist of Our Hero addressing all questions about Lutheran theology by having a set of proof texts ready to pull out at a moment’s notice, with the interlocutor rendered speechless by the brilliance of the argument. Anyone using this as a script would be easily disarmed when meeting a non-Lutheran with proof texts of his own. Or alternatively, the two people would talk past each other, each shouting his set of proof texts. Proof texting is a terrible way to prove a theological position because it can be used to prove anything. Lutheran theology is better than that.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Most of them consist of proof texting of the lowest sort, presenting arguments which consist of Our Hero addressing all questions about Lutheran theology by having a set of proof texts ready to pull out at a moment’s notice, with the interlocutor rendered speechless by the brilliance of the argument.

        Sounds “just like the Conventional Christianese Fiction trope, Except Lutheran(TM)!”

        (Seriously… Have you ever READ any of those Final Showdown scenes? Or seen them in such blockbuster movies as “God’s Not Dead”? That’s their script almost word-for-word.)

  14. Kudos to you Daniel! A wonderful mixture of the profound, silly and irrelevant. Just what I need on a Saturday morning. Keep up the good work!

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      Thanks, Oscar. Actually, I felt this one was too serious, but the humor takes more time to write, and I was short on that this week.

  15. On the “mark of the beast” thing, Consol has a pretty good PR department, but they essentially own the region that I live in, so I could see jumping to the agents of the beast conclusion if you were a little unhinged already.

    I’m joking, but it’s one of those jokes that has a small nugget of truth in it.

  16. What? No mention of the 40 something senators’ letter to Iran? I realize the Rambler pulls a little to the right lately, but that story is the size of big rig jackknifed across the road. Kinda hard to miss. 🙂

    • flatrocker says

      Kinda makes you wonder if that jack-knifed big rig is positioned to stop the runaway train.

      Ahhh…so fun to watch separation of powers unfold as intended.

    • One Republican interviewed this week stated the potential need to go to war with Iran. It all looks like more neo-con unfinished business.

    • John, you are so funny! I perceive the pull to be more to the LEFT! Must mean they are splitting the difference…

  17. That Other Jean says

    I think you got it wrong, Daniel. Death isn’t a jerk, just a supernatural entity with a job to do, even if his job is to escort his creator into the afterlife. He’s one of the good guys. Anybody who hasn’t already done so needs to read _Reaper Man_.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      And don’t forget Blinky, quite regular and natural himself.

      The 3 last tweets from Terry Pratchett were quite something. One could not remain dry eyed.
      And as some said, quite the Victorian death – with the family gathered aroind and the faithful cat sleeping on the bed. A blessed death for a man who gave us so much.

      • That Other Jean says

        Indeed. We should all be so fortunate–although Mr. Pratchett’s death was very much too early, for very wrong reasons.

      • When I arrived at my grandfather’s bedside last spring, just five minutes after he’d passed, the cat was there keeping his feet warm. Pratchett was in good company, it appears.

  18. No mention of one of the greatest holidays of our lifetime–pi day?? 3-14-15 (and at 9:26:53 for 10 significant figures)

    • But is that Greenwich Mean time, or is it subjective to the areas across the spectrum?

      • Hehe…I suppose everyone will be celebrating it at different times, depending on what time zone you’re in (just like other holidays such as new year’s)!

        • Don’t forget–much of the rest of the world does dates differently: dd/mm/yyyy. Then there are the Chinese, the Jewish calendar, etc.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      I totally forgot about pi day. Dang

  19. Oh, and everybody, happy Pi day! Let’s compute it to the last digit while having our piece of Pi!

    And in memory of Leonard Nimoy on this day:

    • Hooray for pi!

      Also Einstein!

      I missed the connection between Pi Day and Spock (logic?). But why not … to Leonard! We all loved you, Nimoy.

  20. “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Consol Energy, claiming Consol had violated the employee’s religious beliefs, and he was awarded $150,000 in damages by a federal jury.”

    Wow. First I heard this. I thought we were losing all our religious rights in the U.S. Persecution!

    • This decision is lunacy. The employer was obviously not in any way violating the employees religious liberties. I’d be surprised if this decision wasn’t overturned, if it’s appealed.

      • I wonder if the judge is one of those Christians who not only have read the “Left Behind” series, but consider it Holy Writ…

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The proper term is “History Written in Advance”.
          (That include the two Author Self-Inserts?)

  21. tonight you spoke to me
    when I needed you to speak

    and you told me
    that I’m not alone

    tonight you spoke
    in ordinary words

    that filled my heart
    with angels & light

    words made me cry
    with gratitude & love

    tonight you came close to me
    and said I am with you

  22. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Richard Carrier is an atheist blogger and wannabe philosopher who, for some reason, wants to wear the mantle of Richard Dawkins.

    Just like so many young preacher-boys wanted to wear the cage-fighting mantle of Mark Driscoll.