Wednesday, December 28, 2005

First Amendment of the US Constitution

The worrisome news for most American citizens lately is the fact that our President is proposing that the government be allowed to spy on citizens of our country. Now he wants to control the media and censor things HE feels is a "threat against national security". The Washington Post reports "President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security." Apparently Bush does not care about the Constitution or the rights of the American people. Maybe someone should give this man a U.S. Government test that our children are required to take and find out how much he really knows and understands!

The First Amendment of our Constitution states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Visual Contradictions

Throughout the United Stated during the holiday season, many front lawns are decorated with Nativity scenes, animated characters, Santa Clauses and snowmen, fake flying reindeer, elves, and whatever a person feels like...all in one big conundrum. We had a visitor with us from Sweden for a few days who thinks these arrangements are quite hilarious. It is really quite bizarre the way that mainly Christians have the whole Santa + baby Jesus + Commercialism thing going on so brightly and boldly right on their own front lawns. What is seen by the passers-by is a menagerie of contradictions!

I recently was told by a 4-year-old child that Santa was in "heaven" with Jesus...(and also her grandma's kitty. Jesus and Santa were taking care of the kitty "up there" I guess.)
This is the same child who the year before said that Santa was going to bring her a certain present and her father asked "how do you know that?" and she said "Jesus told me." It was cute, and funny, but also points out the absurdity of these conflicting beliefs and the confusion it causes in the mind of a child..

When the time comes to tell the truth about Santa, there is an immediate need for the parents to explain then that Jesus and God are real, but Santa isn't, Santa is just made up. . and even though we cannot see Jesus and God, they are not made up. No wonder that one of the fastest growing professions in this country is psychotherapy! If children were raised with honesty and taught to think rationally, there would be far fewer problems in the world and people would be happier and less disappointed in life.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thought for the day

How many people would believe in a god if there were no rewards promised to the self for doing so?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

Mahatma Gandhi, "Non-Violence in Peace and War"

Sunday, December 11, 2005


My husband and I have been searching for and making a list of items made in the good ol' USofA and have compiled a very short list so far. I have found hunting gear, cowboy jackets and Amish furniture and quilts. Maybe some odds and ends items that few people buy.

When we go shopping we look at the labels of items we consider buying only to find MADE IN CHINA on almost everything anymore. Most items that are not made in China are made in Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh or some other third-world country where people are susceptible to exploitation because they are so poor and will work for practically nothing.

Dick Gordon, of The Connection of WBUR Boston states, "As China's economic power grows, so does the suffering of those whose sweat and blood fuels the country's economic miracle." Does anyone really care as long as they get those LOW PRICES on their low quality merchandise at Wal-mart and most other stores around the US? (Remember when Wal-Mart's slogan was MADE IN THE USA?) Who's to care if workers in China are exploited and children are made to be slaves as long as we can have MORE BARGAINS to buy and cram into our already overflowing closets and drawers. Even the American flags that people buy from their local stores to display proudly on their houses and flagpoles are made in China. (Take a close look at the flag in the photo above.) Does anyone care if Americans are losing jobs as factories are being closed and more and more companies are choosing to take their business to Chinese sweatshops across the sea?

Quality doesn't seem to be a factor anymore in today's throw-away world. If things break, they are cheap enough that we can just go buy another. Who cares that the garbage dumps are filling up with discarded appliances, electronics items and cheap toys and a large number of other things.

In additon to all those Chinese products that are being imported in the US, we are also getting added "bonuses" of exotic Chinese insects that sneak in shipping crates and boxes and upon arriving here devour our pine trees, eat our vegetation while multiplying and become uncontrollable pests!

What can we do? Write your congressmen, your senators, THE PRESIDENT, and buy American whenever you can. If we keep shopping at the stores who are the biggest Chinese importers, all of our complaining will fall on deaf ears because HUGE profits are being made by these companies and what's a little crying from the public if they are still buying items with the little Made in China stamp on them.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Defining Atheism

There has been lots of disatisfaction amongst the atheist community about the common textbook definition of the label "atheist". According to Merriam Webster and most dictionaries used by the average student today, the definition if atheist is: "One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods." I find the "denies the existence of" particularly annoying; as if I know a god is there, I'm just denying it. If you MUST give us non-believers a LABEL...then please know the new and better definition of atheist which is now widely endorsed and used by atheists all over the globe.

atheist n. : One who has rejected all existing theistic concepts.
CLAP - 1 : to strike (as two flat hard surfaces) together so as to produce a sharp percussive noise.
: 2 : to show approval of especially by clapping the hands
Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary

One of the most annoying sounds in the world for me is the sound of clapping, especially after just hearing a magnificent piece of music, or a symphony, or a beautifully moving song. After listening to a live recording of Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma (for example) before he is even finished the audience launched into loud and disturbing applause! Clapping ruins the whole mood of the previous hour or two performance. Wouldn't it be better to be able to sit and reflect upon the sounds one just listened to or the play one just saw? Harmonious sounds full of emotion and deep meaning are shattered with the CLAP CLAP CLAP to boost the egos of those who just performed it. Are performers playing music or singing or acting for the love of their art, or for merely superficial gratification of being loved themselves for playing or singing or acting out a part?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.
Katherine Hepburn - Ladies' Home Journal (October 1991)

The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion.
~ Bertrand Russell

Sunday, December 04, 2005

painting by Danny Benson - "Bureaucracy"

McCarthy's Maxim

"The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy
is its inefficiency."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It is interesting that even in 2005 many school districts are still afraid of including Huckleberry Finn and many other previously banned books even in a historical reference. It is also interesting that many people find the "n" word offensive in Huck Finn but tolerate that "n" word as well as other derogatory language about black people when it is written by black authors. I had a whole two semesters of African American Literature at the university and was amazed at the lanugage in much of it and the offensive "n" word was all through the studied literature. Mark Twain is wrong for using it, but it is okay for someone like Toni Morrison or August Wilson because they are black? I have been in classes where heated discussions have taken place over this issue.

The university I went to was about 60% African American and African American Literature was, and still is a requirement to graduate. Most of the black students felt that Morrison (who I admire tremendously as a woman and an author) and other black authors had a right to write the "n" word straight out because they are black and they understand the history of how it has been used to hurt. In addition, they thought it was okay to use this word in joking or calling other black people "N"...but white people are not allowed since the intention of that word would be different. This in turn stirred up the white folks who said they do not go around calling other white people "honkey" but black people call each other "n". We white people had a difficult time understanding that. As far as the literature goes, in my Mark Twain class when we read Huck Finn the black folks said they still CRINGE at the word when they read it, which I can understand completely. However, I do not understand why they cringe at the word when reading a book from the 1800s and then read the same word in modern literature or hear it from comedians and not cringe. We never came to any resolution to this word question in any of my classes where it was discussed. Maybe they cringe at earlier literature with that word because back then because people really DID mean it as derogatory? I guess maybe white people will never understand because we are not black.

Students should be smart enough to understand that these authors are attempting in good faith to capture the real language of their characters. To change the language is to lessen the power of the language needed to convey what is going on inside a character's mind and also to show who a character really is. If we are going to water down literature for fear of offending someone, then we may as well not write or read at all.