Friday, March 28, 2008

Andrew Sullivan, again being brain dead

Our regular readers will know that I'm not a fan of Andrew Sullivan. Both his religious views (see the awesome smackdowns he repeatedly gets from Sam Harris here) and his fatuous "I don't think any of us could have foreseen how bad the Iraq war was or how bad Bush was or how maybe Bush was lying to get us to got war" are ridiculous.

But this little posting takes the cake:

One word on his [Merton] untimely death: he was electrocuted at the age of 53 when getting out of the bath. It seems awful, unseemly, almost humiliating at first. And yet what a merciful way to be brought back to God. No anxiety; no fear of death; no forewarning. Are there any moments you'd be less expecting to die than getting out of a bath? Merton was so close to God I doubt God needed any last confession or contrition from him. So He took him instantly.
What? Is he saying you need to be close to god before you can die? Or is he saying that all those little children and innocent people randomly smited by natural disasters are all so close to God that God decides, hey, they have full lives ahead of them but I'll take them?

Or that God pays attention to everyone individually that he just decides, okay, time's up, whether you're in the bathtub or walking down the street or at your desk?

Nice guy, this God dude.

Stupid comment of the day

In response to this post, commenter Jonathan writes:

Only on a Liberal website would you find an advertisement for homosexual dates.

Un-fucking real.

Don't forget to wear a rubber.

Well. Where to start.

Quite apart from the fact that, yes, Mike and I are indeed quite gay, there are a few fun propositions here.

Let's do the simple ones first, before pointing out that Johnathon sort of missed the entire point (that I was making fun of the stupid "be free of homosexuality by embracing Jesus" thing.)

"Only on a Liberal website." First I'll assume that the capital L is deliberate. So there are no gay Tories? Right. And if he is just cro magnon and American and meant liberal, well, there are plenty of conservative gays out there.

"Advertisement for homosexual dates." Well well. Does that bug you? Too bad. You name the web site and I'll point out the hundreds of links to or or or whatever, all geared towards the breeders. (And if he thinks it was an actual personal ad, give me a break--Mah reading komprehenshun skillz, let me sho u them.)

But finally, and most importantly, it wasn't a freakin' ad for sex. It was a critique.

You see, if you click the link, you get to a web site for people who are trying to suppress being gay, and are being told that if they just pray hard enough, they'll turn into good little heteros and be "free" from being gay.

First: I don't feel particularly "un-free" for being gay. Nor does anyone I know that's well adjusted.

Second: It's false hope. Praying to the sky god isn't going to do anything, and even if it were, it would be treating the symptom and not the cause.. It would be suppressing something, not changing it.

Third: These things are the fast way to mental problems. The people who are religious enough to think Jesus can help them--and want to not be gay--are clearly coming from already repressive backgrounds. They don't want to be gay because they've been told it's a sin, they've been told it's icky and immoral and they'll go to hell. I.e. they're not coming from a tolerant place. And they're conflicted and tortured. And then they get told that yes, Jesus is right, you must stop being gay, it's a sin. It's a vicious circle of self-hate, religion, more self-hate, more religion, etc.

Fourth: It's incredibly damaging to young kids. When I was a kid I used to try to wish it away. I thought about hypnosis. I thought about medication. I thought about all sorts of things that I could make it go away. I once read, when I was 15, on a bathroom wall at Cinesphere (of all places) that "it's a fact that 25% of all men have homosexual thoughts for up to 3 years." And so I spent 3 years thinking, hey, I just have to wait it out.

And I think about how much happier I would have been in high school had I not believed in false hope (or believed it was bad or wrong or unnatural (and thank god I've never believed in god)) and accepted myself for who I am. 'Cos I'm pretty damn happy with it now.

The only people who have "success" with the ex-gay-through-Jesus moment are people who suppress it, who deep inside yearn for intimacy and love but feel that if they just love Jesus enough, they'll be okay. And yet every time they're around guys, they know what they want, and they have to pray that little bit more to control themselves.

And so, dumbass Johnathon, my point was that the whole city will be full of men desperately trying to be something other than who they are.

I have some pretty good-looking friends (Mike, for one, ain't bad on the eyes). And so the point of my suggestion was hey, let's go there, and make them all the more conflicted, and show the "pray away the gay" bullshit for what it really is: a joke.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

For those on the West Coast

And who are looking to find hot (same sex) dates, this might be a great place to go.

A city packed with confused, tortured men and women trying desperately to control their desires and praying to Jesus must be such easy targets it's like dynamite in a fish farm.

Yet another reason to love the Queen

She likes the Wii.

Unlike that previous, useless, do-nothing government...

Why is it that when THE government issues a press release, they insist on using "This Government"? Of course, we all know that "This Government" is shorthand for "Unlike the previous government". I'm not sure how they do it, but when I read the release, my mind automatically added a Harper-esque sneer. And the capitalized 'G' on government is a nice touch. Memories of CNG. Really conveys that This Government is serious about Governing.

Get your hands off my bulbs!

Wonkette highlights some crazy Yankee legislator's attempt to restore freedom of choice . . . in lightbulbs.

(Amusingly, the woman is against abortion--so women can't decide what to do with their bodies, but can control what they do in aisle 4 . . . ).

While certainly phasing out the incandescent bulb makes sense, don't we have bigger environmental fish to fry (er, dry in the sun according to traditional native methods that don't involve any fossil fuels or carbon emissions)?

Commentator procrastinator has a good point:
How about we ban SUV's first?

"Anthropological" argument against SSM totally PWNED!!!11!!!

Here is an awesome takedown of purportedly "anthropological" arguments against same-sex marriage (i.e. the contention that everywhere in the world the natural state of marriage is one-man one-woman.)

Worth reading, not least because it really highlights the fact that people mustering arguments against SMM just plain make up the facts.

Sort of like Republicans do generally.

Closing lines:

As an addendum, I call upon Focus on the Family to acknowledge they deceived their readers when they recently said anthropologists agree with the so-called “traditional definition of marriage” and issue a public apology and correction. They must honestly inform their readers that the American Anthropological Association has previously and publicly condemned attempts to exclude homosexuals from marrying, declaring that marriage, as defined cross-culturally, is inclusive of same-sex marriages. A failure to do so simply reaffirms the view that Focus on the Family is more concerned about its political agenda than its Christian identity.

Kady & Wells, also tag-teaming

We are big fans of tag-teaming, of course, but when the full power of our two favourite columnists gets applied to the Tories, we are truly smitten.

Much Paul and Kady, we think the whole attack by Flaherty on the Ontario budget to be a little bizarre. I mean, what can they hope to accomplish if they're trying to break into the Ontario electoral market? Although we Ontarians (even those of us who live in LA) aren't really very nationalist and don't ever see ourselves as Ontarians before Canadians (ut incipit sic fidelis permanet and whatnot), surely this will drive Tory sympathizers to the Liberals?

The only real rationale we could think of is that it's for consumption outside Ontario; i.e. "Look at those Liberals in Ontario, screwing everything up. That's why you should vote for us. Also, we're going to bat for you, because, Alberta, once Ontario becomes a have-not province, all your oil money will be going to support the pinko-latte-sipping-homo-commies in Toronto. And then it's only one step further to a new NEP."

But that just doesn't make any sense. Because the Liberal brand is pretty moribund in Alberta anyway.

Some might say it's just more of Harper's brand of corrosive, divide-and-destroy politics.


Saw this picture on icanhascheezburger and had to post it.

Of course, it originally was addressed to Dick Cheney, and while I don't doubt that Darth Cheney eats kittens and puppies for all three meals, it seemed a little more appropriate for the Premier of Ontario.

For our stumped American readers, here's some background.

Perhaps one day

The world will look back and wonder why the freest, most stable country in the world, one of the oldest continuous democracies, one of the tiny minority of states without civil war, that has never flirted with totalitarianism (or endorsed terrorism) was not given the Olympics, to be hosted in the most multicultural city on the planet.

One day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Sam Harris is so awesome.

And he's kinda cute too.

Good quotes:
Might the Senator from Illinois be unsure whether the Creator of the universe brought forth his only Son from the womb of a Galilean virgin, taught him the carpenter's trade, and then had him crucified for our benefit? Few suspicions could be more damaging in American politics today.
Like every candidate, Obama must appeal to millions of voters who believe that without religion, most of us would spend our days raping and killing our neighbors and stealing their pornography. Examples of well-behaved and comparatively atheistic societies like Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark--which surpass us in terrestrial virtues like education, health, public generosity, per capita aid to the developing world, and low rates of violent crime and infant mortality--are of no interest to our electorate whatsoever.

Obama's candidacy is also depressing, for it demonstrates that even a person of the greatest candor and eloquence must still claim to believe the unbelievable in order to have a political career in this country. We may be ready for the audacity of hope. Will we ever be ready for the audacity of reason?
Mike and I were talking to a Yankee Friend ("YF") of ours re Canada having Good Friday off and the US not. Our YF suggested this was because the US was more secular.


I grant, 100%, that Canada and the UK are more officially religious. Our Queen's title, in both countries, includes "Defender of the Faith." Ever last coin ever minted in Canada includes "Elizabeth II D.G. Regina," which means "Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God, Queen." Our second anthem (and Britain's first) is God Save the Queen. And, though I'm atheist, were I Governor-General, I would end every Throne Speech with the traditional invocation (more common in the Provinces) of "God Save the Queen" (or "May divine providence guide you in your deliberations.") Our constitution--easily the most enlightened on the planet--begins with placing god on the same plain as the rule of law.

But if a candidate for high office stood up and bragged about his faith, he'd be laughed down. Think of Stockwell Day (to which the response was "no, the Flinstones was not a documentary"). Simply put, in Canada, in the UK, in the rest of the Commonwealth and the EU, religion and politics are separate, notwithstanding "established religion."

This country (the US) is fucked up. In no other reasonable western country would a contender for the country's highest office (er, I should qualify that with, for constitutional monarchies, the phrase "head of government," because, of course, our head of state is not elected) have to say how much they love Jesus and how much superstition guides their world view. And yet here we are forced to endure--to the rapturous applause of the masses--how so-and–so's pastor and so-and-so's priest are important figures, and how great Jesus is, and whether Obama really is Christian blah blah blah.

America: Not only are you a pathetic nation of pussies who fall over in terror the minute bin Laden or whomever suggests he is looking at you, you're also a pathetic nation of superstition.

And I end this with a very secular statement: God Save the Queen.

Memo to the American Nation: You are pussies.

I'm sorry, America. You are fucking pathetic.

In 1939-45, we faced down the greatest threat to freedom that has ever existed. A force with real armies, a force that took over countries and destroyed cities and enslaved nations. And we fought them back--the combined power of the West and the USSR. And we (the West) did it without spying on our people, without torture, without forgetting who we were.

And now, some dude in a cave makes a pronouncement, and you fall all over yourselves, shitting your pants and cowering, duct-taping your houses, bowing down to your leaders, all-too-happy to surrender your freedoms, to turn on your neighbours, to give in to fear.

Fuck you.

You never faced what the world faced in the 40s. And I'll bet if you did now, you'd all die of fucking heart attacks.

Get some goddamn balls.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

If you think

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More stupid religion

NPR today did a story on some dude in Israel who wants to help people who can't physically get to various "holy" sites nevertheless pray there. Basically you call in, record your prayer, and then it gets broadcast over speakers to whatever particular "holy" place you choose.

Right. Let me see if I have this straight. What really apparently matters is that the sound of you intoning whatever mumbo jumbo you think will curry god's (or gods') favour hitting the "holy" place, not the act of your saying it or the intentions behind it.

What a cool god(s): Up until now, all those people who could never make it to Jerusalem/Mecca/etc had less-effective prayers--so for centuries god's basically been discriminating against the poor or the sick or the immobile. Great. Well done, god. All that "help the poor" and "blessed are the meek" shit really doesn't matter--your prayers are far better if you say the in the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, RIP

This makes me incredibly sad.

I have always, always loved Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction, mostly because it is so categorically different from other Sci-Fi writers. Whereas others focus on action and adventure, Clarke's works always struck me more as ways in which he could project his different visions of the future, and of society. The story was simply the vehicle to convey the message--much as Tolkein's works started out as a way for him to use the new languages he had created. In reading his books, I always loved simply puzzling out the sort of society he had projected.

Similarly, his books The Trigger and The Light of Other Days explore how a single invention could change society: in The Trigger, there is an invention that causes explosives to detonate within a certain range, which almost instantly ends the scourge of handguns (with differing reactions in different parts of the world), and in The Light of Other Days, a way is found to project a sort of worm-hole to look at any place in the world at any time in history: the invention aside, his point was to explore what would happen in the world if privacy instantly vanished and everything you ever did could be looked at by anyone, any time now or in the future.

There was also something timeless about his stories. Even reading the works written long before the present, there are themes and ideas that resonate. So much Sci-Fi written in the 50s and 60s--and even in the 70s and 80s--can seem incredibly dated, relying too much on then-fantastical technology that to us now seems mundane. But you can read his stories and connect with them--much like Shakespeare and Mozart's operas are enjoyable and meaningful to audiences hundreds of years later.

I have not read everything of Clarke's, and so much of it is sadly out of print. Here's hoping that with his death, some of this older novels will be republished.

We lost a great author and great man today.

(Final aside: In all of his books that created future societies (instead of being set in the present), there was one constant: total acceptance and toleration of homosexuality. And in his Rama series, there is a direct parallel and deep compassion for HIV/AIDS and criticism of those who would quarantine those afflicted by it.)