Fracking, economics, Obamacare and religious freedom…

Fracking I’ve never been aboard the “fracking is terrible and should be banned” bandwagon. I’ve always been aboard the “energy companies should do it right” bandwagon, and when the companies get sloppy and take short cuts, accidents happen, often with terrible consequences.

So, this study which showed that water contamination near gas wells in Pennsylvania and Texas was NOT due to fracking but instead due to leaky gas wells did not surprise me at all. Yes, there is a problem and it should be fixed. But the technique of fracking isn’t the culprit in these instances.

Of course, this headline is wildly wrong: it should read “no water pollution due to fracking”: (from here)


Economics Textbook economics is working fine, but too many economists have let ideology trump economic theory:

The big problem with economic policy is not, however, that conventional economics doesn’t tell us what to do. In fact, the world would be in much better shape than it is if real-world policy had reflected the lessons of Econ 101. If we’ve made a hash of things — and we have — the fault lies not in our textbooks, but in ourselves.

Yes, Obamacare is working for many, but those who are benefiting from it will vote for those who want to repeal it anyway:

The Affordable Care Act allowed Robin Evans, an eBay warehouse packer earning $9 an hour, to sign up for Medicaid this year. She is being treated for high blood pressure and Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, after years of going uninsured and rarely seeing doctors.

“I’m tickled to death with it,” Ms. Evans, 49, said of her new coverage as she walked around the Kentucky State Fair recently with her daughter, who also qualified for Medicaid under the law. “It’s helped me out a bunch.”

But Ms. Evans scowled at the mention of President Obama — “Nobody don’t care for nobody no more, and I think he’s got a lot to do with that,” she explained — and said she would vote this fall for Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, who is fond of saying the health care law should be “pulled out root and branch.”

Ms. Evans said she did not want the law repealed but had too many overall reservations about Democrats to switch her vote. “Born and raised Republican,” she said of herself. “I ain’t planning on changing now.”

So now you know why my sympathy for people is limited. I am for Obamacare as I think that it helps the economy. But as for the individuals helped by it: read the above.

I remember reacting with disgust when many who are on the public dole complain about President Obama and the liberals.

I suppose their cluelessness is a bit like this:

Separation of Church and state

Now, of course, what is said here is perfectly legal as a campaign rally is not a government sponsored event. And yes, Senator McCain had not yet arrived when this invocation was given (he was to arrive later via his “Straight Talk Express” bus:

But I’ll speak to my reaction (I was there): I bit my tongue and tried hard to not break out in laughter; to me this is “Zeus vs. Thor” stuff.

My point: while I believe in separation of church and State and believe that the government should not take sides on religion, I am NOT religiously offended at public prayers and the like. I see it as, well the way you might see an exotic (to you) culture going through some sort of ritual.

But the religious might be VERY offended; a prayer in one religion might be “blasphemy” to someone else.
Hence, religious people ought to be MORE in favor of “separation of church and State” than I am. Because if these aren’t separated:

The Satanic Temple is widely known for fighting to place a statue of Baphomet next to the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma statehouse grounds. And now they’re bringing Satanic materials to kids in Florida, and it’s all thanks to “Christian” extremists.

Had Christian extremists let the school remain a secular place that honored the separation of church and state, the Satanic Temple would not have been able to introduce kids to The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities, which will be widely available in Orange County schools.

The activity book asks kids to find ways to be inclusive in order to solve problem. For instance, one set of instructions in the book says, “These bullies are mad and afraid of things they don’t understand. Help Damian use inclusive language to defuse the situation.” In addition to the activity book other materials will include “pamphlets related to the Temple’s tenets, philosophy and practice of Satanism, as well as information about the legal right to practice Satanism in school.”

A Louisiana state lawmaker learned this the hard way:

In Louisiana, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal pushed for a voucher program that would allow state funds to be used to pay for religious schools. It’s unconstitutional, it’s a way to use taxpayer money to fund someone’s faith, and it was a bad idea to begin with.
But it passed.
Now, one of the state legislators, Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-Watson), just made a shocking discovery, though: Christianity isn’t the only religion!

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.
“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

(of course, she appears to believe that our Founding Founders were Christians; some were but others were not).

September 17, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, health care, morons, politics, religion, science, social/political, technology | , , | Leave a comment

Restaurants giving discounts for praying in public or for church bulletins…..

This post from Jerry Coyne’s website gave me food for thought. The topic of THAT post: is it legal for the restaurant to give a discount to those seen praying in the restaurant? You might surf there to follow the discussion. The restaurant “be seen praying to get a discount” topic is a bit different from what I am about to discuss as it might be reasonable to assume that anyone praying in public IS religious, so it appears to me that this is more likely to be religious discrimination. I am hedging what I say due to my lack of training in law.

I’ll go to a slightly different topic: is THIS legal?

This was in Waynesboro, Mississippi, which perhaps 50 miles northwest of Mobile, Alabama.

Once again, I am not trained in law so I can’t give a competent answer. But I can think about the underlying issues.

I can see how this might not be considered to be religious discrimination. Here is why: most anyone can attend any church service and pick up a bulletin; it costs nothing. One doesn’t actually have to believe anything the church says; there is no “test of faith” required to get the discount. In fact, I see going to church as an activity which can be related to what a person is, but doesn’t have to be.

In fact, Richard Dawkins would have been able to receive the discount on the day that this part of this film was filmed!

There might be a bit more trouble if the restaurant decides to say that the discount applies to only a certain kind of place of worship; they might be ok if they honor the offer for *all* churches/temples/synagogues/ethical societies/fellowships/mosques, etc. I heard of one that honored a program from a humanist meeting.

August 6, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, religion, social/political | | Leave a comment

Why I don’t buy this “Good Guy with a Gun” nonsense…

My fear: some thief robs someone and runs away. Hero wannabe who is packing heat decides to shoot at the thief…who is among other people.

Yes, such things happen. Here is an example: a moron robbed a gas station and fled:

Criminal asshole dude then led the clerk to a room to get cartons of cigarettes, at which point the clerk pulled out a gun and fired TEN ROUNDS at the guy robbing the gas station as the thief fled like a bat out of a Dick Cheney interview. Never seen a man run so fast as in the gas station video.

So Heroic Clerk is going BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM out the window of the damned convenience store RIGHT INTO what’s normally A VERY BUSY street. Rambo style…BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM…spraying bullets into the street. Whether the moron-cigarette-thief was hit is not clear. He made off with the smokes and the cash. What’s clear, though, is Hero Clerk was just firing willy nilly into Henry Street, which…..frankly….I drive down EVERY GOD DAMNED DAY with my kids.

And of course all the gun nuts are praising the Hero Clerk for sticking up for his boss’s stash of Newports and their smooth, smooth flavor. Never mind the hundreds of folks who pass by that place early in the morning, many of whom are taking their kids to daycare….any one of whom could have taken a bullet in the head.

Sorry, but even the pros have to be careful when shooting at someone in public; the untrained yahoos have no business firing a gun in such a situation. None.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, social/political | | Leave a comment

Government, prayers and religion: be careful what you ask for…

Some not-so-bright wingnuts showed then Senator Clinton sounding the warning about vouchers for religious schools:

Let’s just say that some Louisiana state lawmakers learned the hard way:

Sectarian feuds reignited in Louisiana last week when lawmakers debated whether to provide federal funding for Muslim and Christian schools under a new education bill, according to Think Progress.

Under the bill, called the Minimim Foundations Program and passed into law last week by the Louisiana legislature, students at failing public high schools can use government-paid vouchers to enroll in alternate schools — including those that are private or religiously affiliated. The program represents a bold endeavor by the state to privatize public education.

Stakes escalated last week when, to the frustration of some lawmakers, the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans applied for federal funds under the voucher program. Republican state Rep. Kenneth Havard objected to the Islamic School’s request for 38 government-paid student vouchers, saying he opposed any bill that “will fund Islamic teaching,” the Associated Press reports.

“I won’t go back home and explain to my people that I supported this,” he said.

“It’ll be the Church of Scientology next year,” Democratic state Rep. Sam Jones told AP.

The Islamic School of Greater New Orleans withdrew its request for vouchers before the bill went to vote.

Critics have pointed out that while the potential diversion of federal funds toward a Muslim school generated controversy among legislators, the state was already slotted under the new voucher program to provide millions of dollars to schools run by Christian churches.

You see, many people who push for vouchers for religiously affiliated schools for for prayers before government events aren’t interested in religious freedom; what they really seek is privileged status for THEIR religion and to have a captive audience for THEIR beliefs.

There was a recent ruling that allowed for city governments to have sectarian prayers before their public meetings (though they had to not discriminate by what type of sectarian prayer) and some really don’t like the consequences:

The recent Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision, which affirmed the right of groups to offer sectarian prayer at legislative meetings has caused quite a stir. Not only has it smashed a gaping hole through the wall between church and state, but it has opened the door to non-Christian groups offering said prayers.
For instance, Florida resident Chaz Stevens has requested to deliver a prayer to his lord and master (Satan) at a legislative meeting–something he can now do under his newfound “religious freedom.”
Unfortunately that right of any religion to offer sectarian prayer will not be honored in Roanoke County, Virginia. Al Bedrosian, a member of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has decided, despite that ruling, that only Christians will be allowed to offer invocation prayers at their meetings from this point forward.


Bedrosian, who has called freedom of religion “the biggest hoax placed upon the Christian people and on our Christian nation” because the founding fathers didn’t explicitly mention a choice between “Islam, Hindu, Satanism, Wicca and whatever other religions or cults you would like to dream up,” feels that freedom of religion means “the freedom to worship the God of the Bible in the way you wanted, and not to have a government church denomination dictate how you would worship.”
According to Bedrosian, “The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard.” When asked if he would allow representatives from non-Christian faiths to offer the legislative prayer at meetings, he said,“I would say no. That does not infringe on their freedom of religion. The truth is you’re trying to infringe on my right, because I don’t believe that.”
Non-Christians would be forced to pray during allotted time for citizen comment–meaning that if they wished to have the same right as Christians, they would likely not have time to address their actual concerns.

So, be careful what you ask for.

As for me: prayers to Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Ganesh, Yahweh or to Satan are all the same to me. Arguing that praying to one type of deity is blasphemy is, to my ears, like arguing about the optimal size and shape of a bone to put through one’s nose.

But to believers: it matters.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, religion, social/political | , , | 1 Comment

The Pledge of Allegiance….some facts

I was alerted to this recent Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling:

As CBS Boston reports:

The highest court in Massachusetts ruled Friday that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools does not discriminate against atheists.

The Supreme Judicial Court said the words “under God” in the pledge reflect a patriotic practice, not a religious one.

“We hold that the recitation of the pledge, which is entirely voluntary, violates neither the Constitution nor the statute,” Chief Justice Roderick Ireland wrote, later adding “it is not a litmus test for defining who is or is not patriotic.”

“Although the words “under God” undeniably have a religious tinge, courts that have considered the history of the pledge and the presence of those words have consistently concluded that the pledge, notwithstanding its reference to God, is a fundamentally patriotic exercise, not a religious one.”

An atheist family from Acton sued in 2010 claiming that the daily recitation of the pledge in classrooms violated their three children’s constitutional rights.

The family, who are not identified in the suit, claimed the ruling insinuates that nonbelievers are less patriotic.

Jerry Coyne notes that students can’t be compelled to participate and that courts have ruled that the “Under God” phrase is not unconstitutional.

Of course, some schools have ignored the courts and have suspended students for not standing during the pledge:

A student at a Texas high school says he was given a two-day in-school suspension for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, sparking a debate on social media about whether the school district violated the teen’s First Amendment rights.

Needville High School sophomore Mason Michalec told he refused to stand for the Pledge because of his opposition to government spying.

“I’m really tired of our government taking advantage of us,” Michalec said. “I don’t agree with the NSA spying on us. And I don’t agree with any of those Internet laws.”

The 15-year-old has refused to stand for the Pledge for most of the year, but he ran into trouble when a different teacher noticed he was staging a silent protest.

“And she told me, ‘This is my classroom. This is the principal’s request. You’re going to stand,'” Michalec told the station. “And I still didn’t stand and she said she was going to write me up.”

Michalec said that after he was punished with two days of in-school suspension, the principal warned him that he would face more suspensions if his protest continued.


What is especially of interest to me is that the Pledge originated in 1892 (and no, the Founding Fathers didn’t say it, even if Sarah Palin thinks that they did) and of course, only the latest version (from 1953) contained “under God”: (via Wikipedia)


Note: the title of this video is wrong; this is NOT the original version, but it is a version prior to the “Under God” being added:

Note: I am NOT arguing that all change is bad, though I think that this one was.

May 9, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Interesting excuses and examples of cluelessness

Workout notes
Some post workout “sort of” pain in the left shoulder; it is better than before.
Weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, Achilles, abs (3 sets of 10: twist, crunch, sit back, v. crunch), plank, back
pull ups: 5 sets of 10
bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 8 x 170
incline: 8 x 150, 4 x 160
military: 10 x 75, 9 x 85 standing, 1 set of 10 x (140) Hammer
curls: 2 sets of 10 dumbbell, 1 set of 10 machine
pull downs: 2 sets with the machine, 1 set 10 x 160
rows: 1 set with machine, 2 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer

Then I walked 3 miles in B. Park; I passed the XC team that was walking on the grass, doing feet exercises.

Arkansas State Legislature: are trying to regulate the kind of body piercings and tattoos one can get.

Republican Representative: drove drunk because of…gay marriage?

There is no shortage of indiscretions when it comes to politicians these days, and here is yet another. However, this one didn’t seem to learn his lesson the first time, which makes things even worse… for him, at least.

Meet Rep. Don Dwyer (R-MD). He pleaded guilty just a little while ago to operating a boat while drunk. The crash that resulted from that debacle resulted in injuries for seven people, including a five-year-old-girl. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the boat was named “The Legislator,” showing that Dwyer is, if nothing else, obnoxiously arrogant.

Now, he is making headlines again, only this time it was a car he was operating while intoxicated, not a boat. The car’s tags and registration were also expired, The Huffington Post reports. Luckily, this time, no one was hurt. Dwyer was stopped on Route 100 at about 12:45 AM this morning, due to erratic driving. According to the police report, he appeared glassy-eyed, with slurred speech. He also reportedly failed three field sobriety tests. The hearing for the boating incident is scheduled for October 25 of this year.


The real doozy comes when we examine the supposed reasoning or the drunken boating. Dwyer was interviewed by the Capital Gazette, in which he attributed his behavior on the boat to his own marriage falling apart, and to his feeling “betrayed” by fellow lawmakers who backed marriage equality legislation in Maryland. Dwyer said to the Gazette:

“I felt a tremendous amount of pressure in my family. You take those personal issues [and] add betrayal on the professional side, and it really gets to be overwhelming.”

Awww. Whatever happened to the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY Republicans?

Weirdness in lawmaking bodies is not limited to the United States though.
One Mexican Congresswoman is against gay sex because…well, they don’t look each other in the eye when having sex.

What a….”Missionary oriented” statement. :-)

College education
There are some services that people sell to the parents of college students. One such service: they will help the students REGISTER FOR CLASSES. (psst: most every college has student aides that will do this for free).

August 21, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, injury, republicans, social/political, walking, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Some Social Commentary

Check out the headlines:

Dana Rohrabacher ‘Would Defund White Trash’

Wow…that is some statement, especially coming from a Republican!
Well, to be honest, it was probably a gaffe by some staffer who tweets for this representative:

Screen shot 2013-08-10 at 3.58.28 PM

As you can see, this was answering a critic using their own language. It was, however, “tone deaf” and not a politically wise thing to say.

Man, these teabagger groups are real cold-hearted idiots, right? This was put out in Portland, Oregon:

A New Low For Tea Bagger Bigots: Public Shaming Of The Disabled


While this is a lot like public shaming of those who receive food stamps or need a high amount of pain meds to survive, it reaches a brand new low for these bigots, because they’re actually naming disabled people who receive benefits. Let’s hope that the people responsible for this are tracked down and … well, what should we do with them? Let us know in the comments. I can think of several ideas, mostly involving torches and sharp farm tools.

The Portland Commission on Disability requests that anyone who has received or seen this flyer to please report it so they may track it.

Well, while I certainly don’t like this action, it appears to me that this is some sort of “lone wolf/small group” and not some larger movement. I can’t tar all or even most Tea Party groups with this brush.

Self Esteem more of a result rather than a goal? Via Scientific American:

If your self-worth depends on success, you may be in for a fall. To feel good about yourself, think less about you and more about others.

That sounds good, but there is some actual evidence to back this up:

It turns out that having self-esteem, as a fairly stable personality trait, does have a few modest benefits. High self-esteem also has drawbacks, however, and is mostly irrelevant for success. Further the pursuit of self-esteem is clearly detrimental to well-being. When people chase after a stronger sense of self-worth, it becomes their ultimate goal, leading them to sacrifice other aspirations, such as learning or doing what is good for others.

The hunt for self-esteem through a focus on achievement makes us emotionally vulnerable to life’s inevitable travails and disappointments. It also causes us to engage in behaviors that can actually harm our chances of success, our competence and our personal relationships. A far better way to bolster your sense of self-worth is, ironically, to think about yourself less. Compassion toward others and yourself, along with a less self-centered perspective on your situation, can motivate you to achieve your goals while helping you weather bad news, learn from your mistakes and fortify your friendships.


Yet even as the self-esteem movement gained momentum, scientific research began to undermine some of its major assumptions. For one, the data did not show that many of us suffer from low self-esteem. On the contrary, most of us already feel pretty good about ourselves. In a study published in 1989 psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and his colleagues Dianne M. Tice and Debra G. Hutton, all then at Case Western Reserve University, found that the average American’s self-esteem score is well above the conceptual midpoint of self-esteem scales—the point that denotes a moderate or decent view of the self. Like the children in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, most of us have decided we are above average.

What is more, our egos seem to be expanding, not contracting. In a study published in 2008 psychologists Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University and W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia concluded that high school students like themselves more now than they did in the 1970s, even though they do not see themselves as more competent than previous generations did. That is, the students do not consider themselves better at math, music, sports or other activities than adolescents did in the past, but they think more highly of themselves anyway.


Now for the evidence:

Compassionate goals appear to engender a sense of worth and connectedness without the devastating drops that come after feedback suggestive of failure. In a study published in 2011 Crocker and Amy Canevello, now a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, examined the consequences of compassionate goals in college freshmen and their same-sex roommates. Every roommate rated the extent to which they had compassionate goals such as “be supportive of my roommate” and “be aware of the impact my behavior might have on my roommate’s feelings”; they also answered a self-esteem questionnaire at the beginning and end of the semester and each week in between. In addition, participants rated their regard for their roommate, how responsive they viewed themselves as being to their roommate’s needs and how responsive they perceived their roommate to be to their own needs.

Students with compassionate goals were more receptive to their roommates’ needs, according to both the student and the roommate. Their roommates noticed and responded in kind, creating a virtuous cycle that solidified the relationship. Furthermore, the more responsive students were, the more their self-esteem increased during the three-month semester. Their roommates’ self-esteem also rose, suggesting that having compassion for others may be an effective strategy for boosting self-esteem over the long run. In contrast, the roommates who were primarily concerned with what their roommates thought about them were less responsive to their roommates, a pattern of behavior that undermined their self-esteem and that of their roommate.

Compassion for the self seems to be linked to compassion for others. In experiments presented at the 2012 Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, psychologists Juliana Breines and Serena Chen of the University of California, Berkeley, boosted compassion for others by asking research participants to write a note designed to make a friend feel better after causing a minor car accident. Those participants then rated themselves as higher in self-compassion than participants who recalled a fun time or read about others’ suffering.

Note: feeling good about yourself after an accomplishment is fine, but it is short lived. Focusing some on others is a more permanent way to feel good about yourself.

Salon puts yet another article that condemns some statements made by Richard Dawkins concerning Islam and Muslims. Read at your own peril.

Yes, let me make this clear: it is wrong to deny someone a job or a house or fair treatment because they belong to one religion or another. But, as far as the type of statements that Dawkins makes about Islam:

Ok. Remember, this is coming from a mainstream cleric and not some Muslim analog of the Westboro Baptist Church. (note: the Westoro Baptist Church members would be MODERATES if they were Muslims!!! After all, they merely say that their deity punishes America for a variety of “sins”; they aren’t calling for homosexuals to be put to death, as they are in some Islamic republics!)

Also: remember this?


The orange fluid is urine.

Remember the Christian riots? Remember the mainstream Christian preachers calling for Andres Serrano to be put to death?

That’s right; that didn’t happen.

Now, remember the Danish cartoons?


What happened?

You get the same thing when they don’t like a book.

Is this a small percentage of Muslims?

Well, look at what polls say:

The Pew Research Center’s vast new study on the views and attitudes of global Muslim populations was bound to create controversy. Like the U.S. public knowledge polls that find that one-third of Americans can’t name the vice president, Pew’s report includes some less-than-flattering pieces of data. And while it’s important not to generalize about entire populations or demographic groups based on one study, some of these numbers are difficult to ignore.
One of the questions, which Pew asked of Muslims in 38 countries from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, was whether or not they support making sharia the official law in the country. In many countries, the answer was overwhelmingly yes, although Pew notes that many respondents said sharia should apply only to Muslims and, just as importantly, that “Muslims differ widely in how they interpret certain aspects of sharia, including whether divorce and family planning are morally acceptable.” Many respondents reject the stricter laws and punishments for which sharia is often, fairly or unfairly, known in the West. In other words, just because some people say they support sharia law does not mean they want to make their neighbors live in a 9th-century-style caliphate.
Still, amid an otherwise innocuous or even reassuring report, Pew’s study found some disturbing details. One that jumped out for me was the alarmingly high share of Muslims in some Middle Eastern and South Asian countries who say they support the death penalty for any Muslim who leaves the faith or converts to another.
According to Pew’s data, 78 percent of Afghan Muslims say they support laws condemning to death anyone who gives up Islam. In both Egypt and Pakistan, 64 percent report holding this view. This is also the majority view among Muslims in Malaysia, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

It’s important to note, though, that this view is not widely held in all Muslim countries or even among Muslims in these regions. In Bangladesh, another majority Muslim South Asian state that has a shared heritage with Pakistan, it is about half as prevalent, with 36 percent saying they support it. Fewer than one in six Tunisian Muslims hold the view, as do fewer than one in seven Muslims in Lebanon, which has a strong Christian minority.
The view is especially rare among Central Asian and European Muslims. Only 6 percent of Russian Muslims agree that converts from Islam should face death, as do 1 percent of Albanian Muslims and, at the bottom of the chart, 0.5 percent of Kazakhs.

Still, what percentage of Christians think that people who leave Christianity should be put to death?
I suppose that one could argue that these answers reflect the backwardness of the countries which had the higher answers, but then again, look at where the riots occurred?

AGAIN none of this justifies discrimination against an individual from a religion nor does it justify banning a religion. In the United States, I have NOT seen a movement by Islam to deny anyone rights; in fact, all too often, I’ve seen it go against Muslims in America. Remember all of the stupid outrage over the “ground zero mosque”? (Park 51) In the United States, any religion has the right to build their places of worship/community where ever they have the building permits to do so.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, politics/social, religion, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Topics: smoking, smoked, slaps and prayers

No, I don’t agree with the Obama administration on everything:

The Obama administration and congressional Republicans have found something to agree on: Town councils should be allowed to open their meetings with a Christian prayer.

Lawyers for the administration and two groups of lawmakers from the House and Senate, nearly all Republicans, separately made that argument in briefs to the Supreme Court this week. The high court should relax the constitutional limits on religious invocations at government meetings, they argued.

The case could lead to a major change in the law on religion that would go well beyond prayers at council meetings. [...]

“This is a big deal of a case because of what it could mean. And it makes the administration’s position doubly disappointing,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented the two women in the New York case. “A town council meeting is not like a church service, and it shouldn’t be treated like it is.”

Unfortunately, President Obama has always been like this.

Tone deafness of a Republican PAC:
There is nothing wrong with an anti-Hillary Clinton PAC. But having a “slap Hillary” game is just tone deaf; even Republican women won’t like this.

Milton Friedman: OUCH. Friedman appears to be dissed by both sides of the economic spectrum. As Paul Krugman says:

But never mind. What I think is really interesting is the way Friedman has virtually vanished from policy discourse. Keynes is very much back, even if that fact drives some economists crazy; Hayek is back in some sense, even if one has the suspicion that many self-proclaimed Austrians bring little to the table but the notion that fiat money is the root of all evil — a deeply anti-Friedmanian position. But Friedman is pretty much absent.

This is hardly what you would have expected not that long ago, when Friedman’s reputation bestrode the economic world like a colossus, when Greg Mankiw declared Friedman, not Keynes, the greatest economist of the 20th century, when Ben Bernanke concluded a speech praising Friedman with the famous line,

Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.

Best wishes for your next ninety years.

At a fundamental level, however, this was an inconsistent position: if markets can go so wrong that they cause Great Depressions, how can you be a free-market true believer on everything except macro? And as American conservatism moved ever further right, it had no room for any kind of interventionism, not even the sterilized, clean-room interventionism of Friedman’s monetarism.

So Friedman has vanished from the policy scene — so much so that I suspect that a few decades from now, historians of economic thought will regard him as little more than an extended footnote.

e-cigarettes: is smoking in again?

“I’ve been smoking where I want and when I want,” said Sidney Prawatyotin, 36, a publicist who said that he had a pack-a-day, two-decade smoking habit before switching to e-cigarettes during New York Fashion Week last fall. “I no longer take smoke breaks from work. I no longer stink like tobacco.”

Manufacturers suggest that e-cigarettes are safer than their conventional counterparts and cheaper because they can last longer and are reusable; critics, however, say they glorify smoking and turn back the clock on public health advances.

I don’t know what the vapor smells like. But if it isn’t too bad, we have the best of both world:

1. Non smokers won’t be subject to second hand smoke and
2. We’ll attain the necessary percentages of early cancer deaths (from tobacco use) which will ensure that pensions, Social Security and Medicare won’t be overwhelmed.

Maybe screaming kids ruining a restaurant meal will be a thing of the past? I sure hope so.

I saw this on the CNN Facebook page:

Don’t mess with a military mom. A Lake Stevens, Washington, cafe owner learned that lesson the hard way this week after posting a photograph of the aftermath of a family’s visit to the Rainy Days Caffé. According to CNN affiliate KCPQ, Rainy MacDuff asked two military wives and their children to leave her restaurant when one of the children had a screaming fit, then photographed the scone crumbs the group had left under a table.

Rainy MacDuff’s Facebook post captioned, “I’d like to take this time to thank our customers with small children who don’t make messes,” was intended to draw sympathy to restaurant staff forced to clean up after their young patrons. Instead, it backfired, going viral and eliciting comments threatening boycotts of the business and bodily harm to MacDuff after one of the mothers, Kellea Poore, shared the post with friends and called for an apology. [...]

Never mind this constant “don’t mess with A MOM” memes….seriously, most moms are rather average people. Get real. But the other point is that the Facebook link generated a ton of discussion, and much of it was about PRAISING the owner for kicking out the families with the misbehaving kids! Seriously folks, your kids are your problem. Don’t inflict them on others.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, political/social, religion, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment


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