Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Monday, 30 July 2007

They would never perform an exorcism on their baby.

You might think this is uncommon, but I don't know how uncommon it can be when I personally know someone who had a crazy aunt living with her who was determined to drive evil spirits from her, and abused her in all sorts of terrible ways to do so - Evil spirits she believed were in my friend because her mother died giving birth to her.

Uncommon or not, it happens too frequently.

I ferverantly hope that such things become less and less likely as time goes on.

(Hat Tip: Pharyngula)

Monday, 30 July 2007 08:34:35 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

It is remarkable in the extreme, to me, that people actually argue that we should have no such thing as "hate crime" laws.

There are really people who think that there is no difference between beating a child for being "brown" as part of a recruiting drive for the KKK, than to beat any child for no reason at all.

The would argue that demanding an extra penalty for participating in a Klan activity intended to inflame the passions of other people who would like to beat "brown" children, with the intent of recruiting them to advance the cause of being able to beat "brown" children any time they feel they want to, to incite more people to abuse minorities somehow minimizes the horrible nature of beating any child.

They don't think that using the beating of a child to inflame passions against minorities, promote membership in a hate organization, make a political statement, and incite and embolden further violence adds any kind of demension to the crime that should change the nature of the punishment.

In fact, to suggest that it does, in fact add a new demension to the crime has become extremely politically incorrect.

In which case, one wonders why they don't view terrorism as "simple murder".

Monday, 30 July 2007 06:23:21 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] | #
Saturday, 28 July 2007

I'm involved in a discussion group about a book called "Jim and Casper Go to Church" - written by Jim Henderson, a pastor/housepainter and Matt Casper, an atheist hired by Jim to accompany him to various Christian churches.

Disclaimer: Our discussion group is not unbiased- it is held in a United Methodist church, and most attendees are members. However- it has proven so far (on week 4) to at least be a healthy discussion, and not a debate. I'm honestly not a real fan of debate- or the whole "I'm right, you're wrong, and I could prove it if only you weren't so narrow-minded."

The opinions expressed in our class range from socially moderate to socially liberal, but don't cover extremes. As a rule, legalistic Christians view our church as anything from slightly misguided (not enough focus on sin) to blasphemous (preaching the untruth) and therefore steer clear. OTOH- I would say our church doesn't really appeal to the unchurched, atheists, or extremist liberals because it is difficult for some to believe the motto posted on our door "Open Hearts, Open Doors, and Open Minds", could apply to any Christian, no matter how well-meaning they may be.

Jim the Christian, recruited Casper the Atheist from an Off the Map blog contest to find an atheist willing to attend churches and speak openly about his experiences (The site is: Don't look for the same commitment to open-mindedness here-the threads too often are  dominated by people with an agenda-though they are generally polite about it.)

ANYHOO- these two guys, who become good friends, travel all over the country to visit many different types and sizes of churches, and this book documents the experience. In our group of about 20, questions based on the book are posed to us and we are invited to share our perspectives.

Some of Casper's observations demand a response. In one example, at Willow Creek- a mega-church outside Chicago, Casper is astounded to hear the preacher thank people for their prayers to help him land an interview with Bono. Casper says, "People are being killed needlessly in every corner of the world, kids are starving, and people are praying for their pastor to meet a rock star? That's ludicrous."

This does not resemble our church prayer experience- in fact Pastor Bill once got a complaint that his prayers for peace, and to help us to do as Jesus taught- to feed the poor, visit the sick and imprisoned, have compassion for the mentally ill, and to love our neighbors, etc. were too depressing. Yet I think it helps us to understand the perspective of non-Christians who think that at best we are largely failing in our call to help those in need, and at worst, whipping up a frenzy against "sinners" (which means everyone NOT like them), praying for personal wealth while we ignore the cries of the poor (clearly they are poor because they are "sinners") and praying for our pastors to win famous friends and influence people.  When you look at sheer numbers, Willow Creek has 20,0000 attendees each week, so its influence can't be ignored. It is obvious that these megachurches are as good at marketing as the more legalistic churches are at lobbying for political influence (If that point isn't obvious, just search "those wacky fundies" on Teresa's blog, and grab a coffee- cuz' you'll be reading a while.)

A large chunk of the questions from Casper in this book ask "If Jesus did X, why aren't you focused on X?", based on his experience visiting these churches. It is fair to say that this was his take-away more often than not.

There were also a couple of times Casper felt genuinely moved (not moved in the God-sense, but in a way he describes as "the humans' need for expression taking over"), and a couple instances where he was blown away by the positive impact a church had individuals or their community- hard-core criminals who authentically turned their lives around, and one church in an impoverished area that began their mission by providing a washer and dryer for the homeless to use so they could wash their clothes before appearing for a job interview, and now provides a free health clinic, free daycare, and builds no-profit homes for low-income people in abandoned neighborhoods.

Out of curiosity, I looked up some numbers. According to the Association of Religous Data Archives:  US mainline protestants +26,150,866, Catholics 62,035,042, Orthodox 989,106, Evangelical Protestant 39,935,307, Other religions 12,254,099 and Unclaimed 140,057,419 (which includes atheists as well as all others who were not adherents of any of the 188 groups included). Interesting. There are 3x as many Unclaimed as there are Evangelicals.

Our church is lumped in with the Mainline Protestants. Seeing the number 26,150,866 leads me to believe that if we strived to improve on practicing what we preach- that is a LOT of potential to help the poor, sick, and oppressed. Considering many of my friends fall in the Unclaimed group, and I know they too desire to help the poor, sick, and the oppressed- it helps me see how important it is to find common ground and pool our resources, and for Christians to, as Jim puts it "NOT be jerks to non-Christians."  In order to do this, we have to be willing to really get to know people beyond their soundbite "I'm an atheist" or "I'm a Christian" or "I'm a Wiccan", or whatever.

I guess that's the point of attempting to have an open dialogue versus a Convince-Fest.

Pastor Bill is gone this week, and I volunteered to lead the discussion on Wednesday night- and no one objected loudly enough to stop me, so if any of you have your own thoughts or perceptions you'd like to share, I'm interested to read them, and to share them with our group. Thank you to all who are willing to share, let others be heard, and not attempt to dominate the discussion or convince anyone of your stance.

Trees' friend Sue.

Saturday, 28 July 2007 23:05:32 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] |  | #
Friday, 27 July 2007

I really must apologize for all the stuff I am missing about the exchange student Host family experience.  I am mostly just trying to take it all in, as it is kind of a non-stop-full-attention-type thing.

You know "Help these kids experience America.  You have two weeks.  Go."

You might as well say "Give a marxist-feminist analysis of Mobey Dick.  Give careful attention to the issue of the futility of man's struggle against nature.  Be focused, complete, and original.  Fifty words or less."  (I have to just interject here and remark that the greatest irony I ever encountered in my study of literature was an admonition to stay focused in a deconstruction of Mellville.  That's like asking someone to keep clean during their mud bath.)

Today I spent most of the morning with the young man who hurt his finger on the waterslide.  The school nurse brought up to the clinic, and we sat around for hours.  He was worried that he would miss the pizza party and ice skating.

Needless to say, his injury is painful, but not serious.  He does not have any breaks (they took an x-ray) he has full mobility in the finger, and keeping it clean is the main concern.  He's has a tetnus shot, as we didn't know if he has had one in China or not.  He lost a fair amount of skin on the inside of the finger, and has a cut on the outside.  Also, he will probably lose the nail, but it will grow back.

He has started refusing pain meds now.

This morning the kids had a special treat.  The school's technical people rigged up a Skype connection between Loudi and Eden Prairie Highschool, and the kids got to see and speak to their parents.  There was much exceitment.  One girl cried a couple of times.  It was very emotional.

And then the US host parents discovered what was probably our most significant contribution to the student's command of English:

The connection between Eden Prairie and Loudi was temporarily interrupted, and as soon as the screen went blank, all went silent, and one student said:


Immediately, there was a chourus of "oops" with every possible inflection that could express every possible shade and nuance of meaning.

One of the most widely and highly educated states in the nation, and what do we teach the exchange students?  "oops". 






By the way, the young man with the hurt finger got to the pizza party at the City Center OK.  Where there is another cute story.  The students were being treated to pizza by the school board.  When the school board was introduced, they heard the words "School Board" , and got completely silent, and got to their feet, standing in respect.  For the School Board.

I'm starting to feel a little trepidatious about the manners and habits of the students we will be sending over there.  How are we going to find 18 kids that will stop talking, stand up and show respect for the school board?

Finally, Dracut's admonition to avoid sports involving water was terribly apt.  One boy fell during ice skating and needed two stiches in his chin.  It's not just liquid water.

I tell you, these kids are intense.  They don't do anything half-way and they don't ease into stuff.  They just throw themselves into it.


Oh yeah, one more thing.  I think I got the best possible compliment on my Chinese the other day.  The boys got a phone call, and they were jabbering away happily, passing the phone back and forth and talking and laughing...and then they stopped, looked at me, and took the phone down into one of their rooms and continued the conversation.

Friday, 27 July 2007 22:54:45 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Thursday, 26 July 2007

One of the Chinese boys cut his finger at the water park.  It looks extremely painful, but not like anything that will result in permenant damage.  The school nurse is on her way to check it out.  Thank goodness for the school staff.  If it were one of mine, I'd ice it and disinfect it and take them to the pediatritian tomorrow.

Since it's someone else's kid, I'd rather a trained medical professional put the last word in.

I felt a little weird asking her to come all the way over here...but I the kid is miserable and a little freaked out, and it's my job to advocate for him and make him feel comfortable.  So that is what I'm doing.

Thursday, 26 July 2007 21:07:27 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Thursday, 26 July 2007 08:58:09 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #

Go read Ben's summary of Gonzales' testimony.

I laughed out loud...

...and then I went and wept silently into a pillow.

Thursday, 26 July 2007 08:21:57 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Tuesday, 24 July 2007

     Sunday we took our kids, and Shen and Gong up to Aitkin to visit Rocky’s parents.  We were very nervous about the weather as it was rainy and cold.  Rocky wanted to try anyway, since Sunday was the only day that it would be possible to do waterskiing.  The rain continued for the whole two hour drive and showed no sign of lessening.


  Rocky’s Dad taught them how to shoot an air rifle.  They were very interested in that, and did very well.  I don’t think they would have appreciated lessons that much if it have been a more powerful (and loud) weapon, though.  We wondered if the teachers would be unhappy if they shot guns, but they said that the teachers encouraged them to be adventurous.

     Shen seemed to take to it right away, and even shot equally well on both sides.  Gong required more instruction, but was soon plinking away tin cans with reliable regularity.  They both learned remarkably fast.

     The weather cleared about the time that shooting was becoming old hat to them, and we got into our swimsuits and headed down to the lake.  Rocky’s parents live on a beautiful little lake called Rabbit Lake.  We got the boat out and my father-in-law took Shen and Gong for a short ride around the lake.  They really enjoyed that.  Then, Adventure Boy got into the water and put on water skis.  Rocky drove the boat, and when Adventure Boy popped up out of the water, speeding along on the skis behind the boat, Shen and Gong went absolutely wild with enthusiasm.

     We asked if they would like to try it, and I was surprised at how positive they were, and didn’t seem the least bit trepidatious.

     Shen tried first, with Adventure Boy coaching.  His first attempt was disastrous, as he failed to get up on the skis, but also death-gripped the rope (instead of letting go), and was pulled under the water.  Water was forced down his nose and he panicked.  I yelled as soon as I saw him go down, and Rocky stopped the boat.  Shen’s life-preserver popped him up above the water, but he was stunned, and appeared to be in trouble.  My Father-in-Law leaped into the water fully-clothed and pulled him to shore to re-assure him.

     He was very subdued, and didn’t seem to want to talk or be social after that.  He was even more subdued when Gong tried and popped right up on his first attempt.  Gong went quite a ways before tipping over.  I asked him how he liked it, and he said “Fun!  Too exciting!  It’s too exciting!”

     Naturally, Shen could not allow himself to go without trying again.  My father-in-law seemed to  very much respect his willingness to try again.  Shen popped right up on his second try and managed to ski quite a distance before falling.  He was very happy after that.

     Anyone who has ever done waterskiing will know how difficult it is to get started.  I think it is very impressive that they learned so quickly.

     The Chinese boys were not accustomed to the cold, spring-fed water of Rabbit Lake, and while it had become sunny, it was not a very warm day.  They were chilled at this point so I walked them up to the house where they changed into clothes.  Rocky’s dad built a fire and they sat by the fire, watching as Adventure Boy and Rocky took turns trying to do various tricks and stunts on the skis.

     Naturally, we used the fire to make s’mores.  I think Shen and Gong like s’mores OK, but they don’t seem to be used to anything even remotely as sweet as that.

     We went back up to the house and had dinner, and then the boys played basketball in the driveway while I cleaned up the kitchen and Rocky caught up with his parents a little.

      All of the kids fell asleep on the drive home.  As did I.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007 11:56:42 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Monday, 23 July 2007

Tammy Faye Messner better known by her married name as Tammy Faye Bakker has died of Colon cancer.

It's a terrible way to die, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.  Whatever thoughts and feelings I have about how she spent her life can wait for another day.

I hope those who loved her find the comfort they need.

Monday, 23 July 2007 06:23:19 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Saturday, 21 July 2007

So we’ve had a couple of Chinese exchange students living in our house for a few days now.  Shen Zhexin and Gong Xiaosui from the city of Loudi in Hunan Provence in China.


They are really nice kids.  Like, really really nice.  We had two of their classmates over today to play basketball and football and such.  Wanna know how nice they are?  Their idea of trash talking is one of the boys, gestured to a chair and said “Ladies first” to another boy.  Gales of laughter, and what I can only assume is the Chinese teenager version of “oooo!  SNAP!” ensued.

The target of the jibe laughed loudest of all.

All of the students speak English beautifully.  We have no problem understanding them.

They are very kind and assure me that my Chinese is very good.  Their teacher is also kind, but is also helpful in correcting me, so I know that the boys are just being nice.

Also, when Grasshopper had to take a bathroom break for basketball, they asked me to stand in for him, so I did.  Adventure Boy passed me the ball and I made a break for the basket.  Both Shen and Gong rushed me, and made a great show of trying vigorously to take the ball away from me…yet never came close.  I shot and scored a basket.  They congratulated me.  I pretended that I was completely unaware of their subterfuge.

Grasshopper is already talking about how sad it will be to see them return home to China.  He said “They don’t let me do anything for myself, they just treat me like a little brother.”

It’s been a lot of fun.  We’ve learned a lot.  Primarily, our children have learned how easy they have it.  Shen and Gong begin school at 7:00 in the morning, and continue until 10:00 at night.  They are not allowed to play video games at all.  Their summer vacation is only one month long (half of it, they are spending here, studying American culture).

Shen and Gong are very lively and engaged in everything.  However, when there is nothing going on, Shen falls asleep.  But as long as there is anything to learn or something new to do, he is awake, alert and absorbing it like a sponge.

Adventure Boy and Grasshopper have probably played more basketball in the last few days than they have their whole lives.


Anything we show them , or do with them is always greeted with exclamations of “lovely” “wonderful”,  “I like it” and such.  It has been quite an intense few days, but everything is going very well, I think.

Saturday, 21 July 2007 21:13:49 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #

Ben at Eclecticsanonymous has an entry up about Prussian Blue again.

For me, the relevant quote in the video he referanced is:  "People change".

To me that is the most important thing in the whole clip.  I have watched the twins casually since they first came to my attention on Jason Bock's blog a while ago.

All along, I have told myself that kids grow up and that people change.

Maybe these unfortunate girls will triumph over their upbringing and learn that you can love who you are. and that it isn't a choice between being proud to be white, or ashamed to be white..."white" is a description, and idea, a shorthand.  It carries fragments of an identity, but only fragments.

Just look at the white supremicists sometimes.  Watch them talk to each other.  They can't even decide definativly what "white" is.

"Race" is a powerful part of a peson's identity...but try to define what it's part of you, but what part?  To what extent?  What is there about your race that you can plant a flag in and say "This is what my race makes of me?"

When you try to do that, you realize how slippery the idea really is, and how futile and unnatural it is to try to define everything you are and everything you think and feel and do by your race.  Just as it is futile and unnatural to do so with anyone else.


Saturday, 21 July 2007 06:20:28 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
Thursday, 19 July 2007

An upsetting article about a woman who died in police custody.


I don't recall the exact quote, but I recall Paine writing about how brutality in punishment and treatment of prisoners leads to a general harness of heart and general brutality of spirit in a society, such that it cheapens life, humanity, and human dignity generally in society and lessens the ability of the people to excersise compassion.

How do we think it will effect the other people held in that jail, that they watched one of their fellow prisoners die without care, comfort, or help?  Will we be able to expect compassion and decency from them?  Only if they themselves triumph over the experience.  They certainly have nothing useful along that lines from this experience.

When someone says something about Iraqi civillians unable to count on medical care, or hurt as "collateral damage" in the war, people shrug and say 3000 of our own people died on 9/11.  We watched people who became representatives of a whole society murder our countrymen right before our eyes, and many of us reacted by having a brutal and callous attitude to an entire culture.  Brutality and callousness beget brutality and callousness.

If you watched someone die right before your eyes while representatives empowered by your society simply watched and did nothing, would you feel obligated to care about that society or any of its members?  Would you feel motivated to re-join that society as a useful and productive member?  Would you trust any social compact offered by that society?

Thursday, 19 July 2007 08:37:40 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Apparently, there is a rolicking good debate going on over at Neil's place about what the Bible says about homosexuality.


I don't know how there possibly could be, since the Bible clearly says that Homosexuals are an abomination to God, and should be put to death.


The Bible is very very clear on this, and there's really not a lot of wiggleroom if you have to interpret everything the Bible says literally and as though it comes directly from the mouth of God himself.


To me, it's just one more reason to not believe that the Bible is the word of God, and one more reason I'm not a Christian anymore.  It became a choice between believing God, or worshiping the Bible for me.  If the universe is the creation of God, and the bible is the creation of men, I'm going to trust in the dictates of natural law above human invention.  If the universe is not the creation of God, then the Bible is equally useless.

Still, if you are interested in watching different flavors of Christians thrash each other out over whose version of mental gymnastics puts the most accurate spin on what that load of schitzoid time-and-translation-and-Nicean-council-selection-ginsued-word-salad most reflects the mind of God, be Neil's guest.


Tuesday, 17 July 2007 11:13:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [9] | #

I think my favorite part of Convergence was our friend "Saveau's" "motivational" posters.  Here is a sample:



Unfortunatly, someone didn't get the jokes and left snarky post-it notes on the Battlestar Gallactica posters...but that's what Con is all about.  Fans getting together and getting their obnoxious on in a safe environment.


Well, that's ONE of the things that Con is all about.  Other's include seeing friends, and drinking and geeking out over stuff that would normally get you locked away in the real the Great Luke Ski, for instance.


Adventure Boy came to Con for his second time, and Grasshopper joined us as a nubee.  Also joining us was Padewan...Adventure Boy's bestest friend in the whole world...who is moving to Montreal in just a couple of weeks.

The boys had cell phones, so we kept in contact with them and more-or-less let them roam the Con during the day.  They attended a surprising number of panels, and seemed to have every day scheduled tight as a drum.

Here are some of my other favorite posters:


Tuesday, 17 July 2007 06:12:48 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  | #
Monday, 16 July 2007

As numerous Conservative religious pundits have pointed out over and over and over again, THIS sort of thing is not the fault of religion.


See, this is the sort of thing that happens when uppity members of a minority group forget their place and start asking to be treated like everyone else.


The Religious Conservative pundits will tell you that if “the gays” would just be quiet and stop making trouble and stayed in the closet, they wouldn’t get hurt.  It’s this “gay marriage” thing,  and the “I’d like to have an equal chance at getting and keeping a job” thing, and the “please say they can’t kick me out of my apartment just because I’m gay” thing.


If “the gays” didn’t keep trying to “push their agenda”, we would all be peaceful and friendly and live happily in our don’t-ask-don’t tell-no-really-we’ve-just-been-roomates-for-forty-years” society.




Yeah, and Mathew Sheppard was murdered over drugs and money.  Amazing how fast the “gay panic defense” can turn to “we didn’t mean to, we just wanted him to tell us where the drugs and money were” when you find out that killing someone because they were gay isn’t a slam-dunk defense like it used to be, but has instead morphed into a hate crime while you weren’t looking.


And really, I don’t think it’s about religion either.  Seriously.  It’s about crazy people being able to hide so easily in religion.  This Mangum guy is insane.  Religion probably didn’t make him insane.  Just like the excessive religious zeal of the Virginia Tech shooter was more the product of insanity than religion.   He just, for some reason, felt more comfortable expressing his psychosis in terms of a religious approach to the world rather than the alternative.  Insanity makes anything but religion almost impossible.   Religion supports and validates and gives focus and direction to insanity that nothing else can.


Oh yeah, and one more thing.  It also protects it.  If someone says “the great talking walrus I saw in my bathtub told me to kill homosexuals”, we lock them up for their own good and everyone else’s.  If someone says “God says we should kill homosexuals” he gets to have his own organization, and important Republicans invite him to all their parties and give him lots and lots of money.


And when something like this happens, the religions conservative pundits will shake their heads and say how unfortunate it all is, and isn’t it too bad that the “gay agenda” made this Mangum guy so mad he had to go out and kill a gay man. And those who preach the hate by quoting directly from the Bible will get yet another pass.  Forget about Hate Crime Legislation.  You won’t even be able to get one person from the mainstream media to get up and say something about how preaching hate is wrong and leads to murder.


Because they don’t want to piss off those who worship the Bible.  Those poor, powerless persecuted Bible worshipers.

(Hat Tip: Pharyngula)

Monday, 16 July 2007 09:07:23 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  |  | #
Sunday, 15 July 2007

I have no idea what that means, but some of you haz maths. Some of you haz maths and are interested in teh taxes and the subject of useing lowering teh taxes to stimulate teh economy.

So I'll send you over to MarkCC's Good Math, Bad Math for a treat.

Also, I confess that I am powerless before my nerdiness and need God's help to overcome it.  Through his power I may be able to resist to powerful lure that is engaging in poorly-understood and executed l33tsp33k. 

(Hat Tip:

Sunday, 15 July 2007 08:10:29 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Saturday, 14 July 2007

I just bought a Bissle steam cleaner at Costco.

Is it weird that I fill out the warrenty card, and read the manuel before I assemble/use the machine?


Saturday, 14 July 2007 18:17:58 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] | #
Friday, 13 July 2007



Much is being made of this video.  Some people think that it is a bunch of rude, obnoxious, theocratic extremeists trying to silence a religious blessing upon our government from a holy man from a significant minority group who contributes greatly to the richness of our society.


Nothing could be further from the truth.  The truth is that our Deist founders who didn't believe in organized religion, nevertheless decreed that the United States was a Christian nation.  Sure, natural law was a good enough way for them to live THIER lives, but for the country, they thought that bronze age morality was the cure and they said no other religion could be practiced publicly.

And don't quote me Jefferson's letter to the Baptist convention about the "Wall of Seperation" malarky.  That was just a ruse to lull the non-Christians into a false sense of security.

Anyway.  What's going on here is that the Christians are exersising both their RIGHT to use their free speech to silence other religions, and their SACRED OBLIGATION to harass non-Christian in the country.  And by non Christians, I mean non- Protestants.


Protestants are the REAL matter what the Pope says.


I mean, who does this Hindu holy man think he is anyway?  What makes him think that we WANT to ask to be guided by the supreme deity who created and runs the universe, and have our deliberations and decisions and actions subject to his laws?  What makes him think that we have any obligation to remember that we are part of a country that is part of a planet, that is part of a universal system whose reality we are subject to, and whithin which we are called to function with the best possible expression of our nature?


Oh. Wait.  I guess this must explain something that someone has called to my attention:  Some Christians think that liberal Christians are actually Hindus.  LOL.  Maybe we should re-think the percentage of Hindues that make up the population.  Maybe we need to add more Hindu chaplains.

It seems almost futile for religion to call people to humility anymore.

(double Hat Tip:  Eclecticsanonymous)

Also, Jason Bock has commentary on this.

Friday, 13 July 2007 06:11:24 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] |  |  |  |  | #
Monday, 09 July 2007
Your results:
You are Worf
Mr. Sulu
Deanna Troi
Mr. Scott
Geordi LaForge
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Will Riker
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Jean-Luc Picard
Beverly Crusher
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
You are trained in the art of combat
and are usually intimidating.
Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test
Monday, 09 July 2007 10:29:03 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #
Sunday, 08 July 2007

Little bit of catch-up.

The fourth was fun, for the most part.  We got together with the extended family and did some camping and BBQing and water-skiing and stuff.  There was a parade and fireworks and all that jazz.  Rocky, the kids and the dog all had a fabulous time.

I behaved myself for the most part.  At one point we were in the livingroom watching  the travel channel and there was a show on Niagara Falls.  One of the bits was about the history of the falls as related to the underground railroad.  The show described run-away slaves crossing an ice bridge that formed over the falls, as well as a suspension bridge that went over the river into Canada.  One tour you can take traces the route of escaped slaves over the (now modern) bridge into Canada.

The relative we were visiting was not pleased by the description of people escaping the US to find freedom in Canada.

So he proceeded to tell the children that the slaves brought to America from Africa were better off as slaves in America than they were as free people in Africa.  He asserted that slavery was not as bad as some people claimed, and also, that modern black people should be GRATEFUL that their ancestors were slaves because if they weren’t they’d be over in Africa with all the disease and genocide.

Now, this relative is a Conservative older man, living in a rural area, and is unlikely to change his opinion or outlook in anyway, and is unlikely to actually be able to harm anyone with his opinion either.  So I left and took a little walk and later talked with the kids about the conversation, making sure I let them know where this relative was in error.

Later, back home, we had some other relatives as houseguests, and discussion of the health care system ensued.

Let’s just say that I was called ignorant, and stupid, mocked derided, talked over, interrupted, and my ideas completely re-interpreted and misrepresented and scoffed at.  When I tried to explain how the relative was going off in a completely different direction, he raised his voice and said “Let me finish.”

I got very upset.  I was tired from the first day and night of CONvergence, so I teared up and had trouble speaking.  It is something that sometimes happens when I get really angry and I am exhausted.  I was practically speechless to be treated this way in my own house…and by someone I actually like a lot and respect, but whose personal manner changed dramatically on this particular topic.  It was a bit shocking to me.

What was it that made me stupid and ignorant?  I don’t really know, but the relative in question argued that a basic national health care system that only covered standard treatment for routine medical problems would stifle innovation, because people would not buy catastrophic or “Cadillac” healthcare plans if they had the basic national plan available for free.  I wanted to point out that I never proposed it be automatically free for everyone…but that was one of the times I was waved off as “interrupting” before I could get the clarification out.  I suppose it would be overly snarky of me to point out that the clarification would have been unnecessary if I hadn’t been interrupted.  So the person continued to completely demolish the point he thought I had made rather than the one I was actually trying to make.

 I wanted to point out that the plan I was trying to discuss would actually add consumers to the health care system because people currently going without care would be getting it, whereas people who currently have great coverage would choose to use their great coverage and this would drive innovation just as much as it ever has.  No go.

The person insisted that nobody would spend money for insurance to provide state-of-the-art treatments if they could get the insurance for cheaper less innovative treatments for free.

I said “So you don’t think people can be trusted to understand that they need to pay for better coverage to get better treatment?”

Apparently, this is a terrible thing to say to a Republican with Libertarian leanings.

But it seems to me that the average American understands this.  If you have better coverage…you get better treatment.  If you have crappy coverage, you get crappy treatment.  A minimally adequate coverage will get you treatment that is effective for most of the things that most people encounter in life…and no coverage at all is a recipe for disaster.

I assume that, like now, people will try to get the best coverage they have access to.

All I was trying to say is, wouldn’t it be possible for us to have a program to move the people who have no coverage and crappy, inadequate coverage into the category of having minimally adequate coverage?  While it might not be that great if you get cancer…you’ll love it if you get a broken leg or a sinus infection.

The person responded that it would just cost too much to overhaul a system as big as our health care system for what is essentially an incidental segment of the population.  He asserted that it is really very exceptional cases where people cannot afford insurance and are unable to pay for treatment.

I asserted that the overhaul of the system is coming one way or another.  We can either let it break down its present form and change on its own…hoping the magic of the market fairies will pull a better system from the chaos…or we can plan it and manage it so that hopefully it doesn’t lead to radical disruption of our society.

My discussion partner expressed incredulity at that assertion, and told me that people should just bring down costs by buying generics and such.

I said good luck with that since you have an entire industry built around “motivating” doctors to prescribe new formulations of existing drugs, presenting the new formulations as “innovations”, and fostering the perception that generics are inferior to brand-name drugs (I personally know a drug rep who flat out told me – on several occasions – that I should, under no circumstances buy generic drugs as there was just too much variance in their manufacture and performance…for instance.  I didn't listen to him.  I buy my meds at Costco and go genaric whenever there is one available.  Ther are usually cheap enough to cost me a fraction of my co-pay.)

He countered snidely that I didn’t trust people to be able to make rational decisions on their own.  My attempts to explain the difference between a general understanding of levels of coverage and people making a choice when there is a multi-billion-dollar industry focused on shaping their perception with the complicity of the people who are supposed to be their health advocates fell on deaf ears as he condescendingly explained to me that I had employed a double-edged sword when I invoked personal choice and responsibility.

I guess I had to be punished for defiling said deities by using them in a "liberal" argument.  The Conservative Libertarians have claimed them as their own and nobody else can use them.

Apparently, the magic of the Wonder-Twin Magic Market Fairies of Personal Choice and Personal Responsibility work the same whether you have access to high-quality information from reliable sources or not.  I guess I know better now.

Needless to say, the rest of the conversation is kind of a blur.  I wish I’d walked away from that conversation as well.

Fortunately, CONvergence was in full swing and things can never go that wrong when CONvergence is going on.   I’ll talk about that more in my next entry.

Sunday, 08 July 2007 23:37:33 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [12] |  |  | #
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