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The Crux: It is about Sex at Any Price

In an article discussing the fact that more people have been aborted in Obama’s term than have gotten jobs, I saw the following exchange:

  • Are you saying that an unborn infant deserves a right to control its own body? Also, are you saying that woman are inferior because they can bear children?

    • The zef can control its own body when it no longer needs the body of its host to survive. I am saying anti-choicers view women as inferior because they want them to have no control over their body and life and think all they should do is pop out babies. 

  • That is absurd and childish gibberish. You don’t have the right to murder the inconvenient people in your life because they burden you. If you don’t desire children and are unmarried don’t fornicate. You’ll be a better person in the long run and no one dies for your mistake.

    • The difference is the inconvenient people in my life aren’t living inside my body and I have a way to escape them if I want. The only way to escape the misery of an unwanted pregnancy is abortion or suicide. I personally think the first option is better.
      I will NEVER desire children and there is nothing wrong with having sex if you aren’t married.

This argument, that abortion is justifiable as ‘self-defense,’ is fairly typical.  Indeed, leading up to Roe vs Wade, it was actually argued that compelling a pregnant woman to carry a baby to term was actually slavery; it was said that the thirteenth amendment, which outlawed slavery, required that abortion be an option.

This is, of course, a variation of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion.

These types of scenarios are deliberate nonsense.  RufusChoate quite correctly describes them as ‘absurd and childish gibberish.’  In fact, if there is anything that seems to characterize the pro-choice perspective, it is its childish nature.  Anyone who has experience with children know that they will bend over backwards to justify and rationalize why they should be allowed to have their candy or toy.  If there is a competing interest involved, they are quite indifferent.  It is only as they get older that they realize the limits to such thinking.

For however many years in western society, sex is a toy.  No one wants to be told that they cannot play with their toy.  No one wants to be told that their toy might even be dangerous in certain contexts–like the child that wishes to play baseball in the living room does not like being told to take the baseball bat and ball into the field, where that toy is more appropriate–or, that they shouldn’t bash people in the head with the baseball bat.  In short, no one wants to be told that the best context for sexual behavior is in the context of a lifelong, monogamous commitment between one man and one woman.  They will play with their toy, and don’t let anyone stop them!

The fatal absurdity in the ‘self-defense’ argument is patently obvious to anyone who is not blinded by the pleasures of sex, in any circumstance, at any price.

For you see, we are not talking about someone who one day, minding his own business, wakes up the next only to discover that another person has been hooked up to him, and this person is now being used as life support for the other.  No, this is a situation where one day, a person engages in a behavior that the person absolutely knows may create that person who now needs life support.   The person would not have existed at all, if you had not had sex.  They would not need life support at all, if you had not had sex.  YOU BROUGHT THE PERSON INTO THE WORLD.  And now, finding that you are ‘life support’ for another living being–which you knew might be the direct consequence of your action–you have the temerity to insist you can also kill the person?

I don’t see any other way of understanding this mindset except that it is really the case that people really believe they have the right to play with a toy, even if it actually kills someone.  Let others die, that I might have sex.  Unbelievable.

I assume that if we return to the case of our children playing with a toy, if in the course of playing with that toy, a brand new child was the result, the parent wouldn’t come into the room and say, “LOOK at this mess!  I told you that if you played with that toy, you were going to make another person, and now LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!”  But that is actually what is happening–“LOOK AT this mess!”  Alright, well, I guess that’s another person we’re going to have to kill.  Yes, yes, keep your toy.  Can you please be more careful next time?  Here, take this drug;  there, there, carry on with your toy.  And if you get a disease, don’t worry, we’ll give you another drug for that.  But by all means, do not even consider not playing with your toy.  There is nothing wrong with playing with your toys in any manner that you please.”

It should go without saying that the self-evident nature of this line of reasoning becomes cloudy in a case such as rape.  Be honest:  acknowledge that these are a small fraction of the abortions that occur.

In the spirit of this post, you may wish to read my short story, Better Than Sex, which may put an even finer point on this issue.  That story can perhaps be dedicated to my public health official friend, who earnestly seems to believe that no one can contain their urge to have sex, and therefore we must try to protect them from the consequences of their urges–not of course, that we must urge folks to control their urges;  one would not want to get between a child and his toy.  This same friend wishes that we could ban guns (except, of course, in the hands of the government, where we can be quite sure they will be handled appropriately), in part on the argument that a gun has one sole purpose–to hurt, maim, or kill another person.  Can you imagine how he would recoil in horror if it was not merely the case that a gun killed a person when fired, but, that in pulling the trigger, it also created a brand new person, and then killed that person?  I have the sneaking suspicion that his positions are bound up together in some related fashion;  on the one hand, he is opposed to the populace having handguns, which only kill existing people, but he does not wish to stand in the way of people having as much sex as they want, despite the persistent rumor that when you have sex, you make new people; but never fear, in that case, you can just kill them!

I’d be interested in seeing that bit of irony parsed out sometime.

Sitting down to write this post made me reflect again on that old argument that the pregnant woman, whilst deliberately engaging in the activity that caused them to become pregnant in the first place, thought that this constituted involuntary enslavement.  How could a whole mass of people not perceive the absurd wickedness of that line of thinking?  Someone creates the very person who enslaves them, and thus has the right to kill that newly created person?  How bizarre.  Why isn’t it recognized more widely just how bizarre that is?

I realized that I put my finger on it already when I said a person is ‘blinded’ by their desire to experience sex, as often as possible, at any price, including if it kills another person.  Such a person is not a slave because they now are carrying a brand new human being.  They were already a slave, but to their own passions.   Does this mean that, like my public health official friend, conclude that there is nothing that can be done to stop people from having sex, and should seek to mitigate the harm from wanton sexual behavior?  No, because his thinking is that the best we can do is free people from the enslavement that awaits the results of their behavior, while I would argue that what we ought to be doing is freeing people from being slaves to the behavior itself.

Unfortunately, all that secular society can bring itself to do is speak to the latter freeing;  the first freeing, the more profound freeing, which sends freedom rippling down the whole sequence of events, has distinctly religious underpinnings to them.

I reckon that is the answer for all of it.  Sometime not too many years back, the stuff that would really give people freedom was driven from the public square, and now widespread slavery has resulted.  Since our secular society refuses to set the slaves really free, the best that can be mustered is attempts to clean up the mess the slaves make.

What a crazy world.

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Apologetics Interview Questions Part 3: Intellectual State of the church and favorite Christian apologist

4. What is your opinion on the current intellectual state of the modern church? Some apologists have begun to heavily criticize it.

I think there is no question that there are vast stretches of ignorance in the modern church, but I doubt the ‘modern’ part of that phrase is relevant. I’m not very impressed with the intellectual state of modern society in general; here again, the ‘modern’ part is probably not very significant.   What to do about it? Your best, as you are able, but I’m not a big fan of tinkering with systems, and I think one of the attitudes embedded in this kind of question is the view that we should ‘take the reins’ as it were, and shape the ‘system’ the way that we see fit. The church in America is largely structured so as to appear like a ‘system.’ Our congregations are organized on secular principles and legal frameworks, have ‘presidents’ and boards and committees, and so on. But the Church is not a ‘system.’ It is the Body of Christ. Christ is the husband, and the right to intervene and perfect his Bride is his and his alone. Our chief responsibility, in the face of pervasive ignorance everywhere, both in and outside the church, is to our own family. Sure, help out where you can, but your duty is to your own family.

Sure, I’ve lodged criticisms about the state of the church right now. I’ve even made the claim that the church is the leading cause of atheism in America. But what to do about it? Persuade, cajole, warn, equip, and educate. But I don’t think I’ll have to answer for the ignorance of Christians in, say, Uganda, or Chicago. God will hold me to account, however, if my own children are ill-equipped to live as free men and women in the world.

5. Do you have a favorite apologist, Christian thinker, or philosopher? Give us your top 3.

Hands down, C.S. Lewis. After him, C.S. Lewis. Coming in a distant third, C.S. Lewis.

C.S. Lewis corrected my arrogant view that I had come up with questions no one had asked before. He asked them–and answered them. I owe much to the man.

In fourth place, comes G.K. Chesterton. His book “Orthodoxy” was worldview transforming for me.

Other folks have also had an impact, though to a lesser degree. These would include Dorothy Sayers, John Warwick Montgomery, and FF Bruce come to mind. There are other apologists out there, and I’m not saying they are not as competent as these, I’m just saying that they were not foremost in my own personal journey.

6. What do you think is the strongest proof for the Christian God?

The Resurrection.

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Apologetics Interview Questions Part 2: On Hell

3. A lot of disbelievers have a problem with a loving God sending people to an eternity of torture by way of fire. What is your take on hell?

I also had a problem with that. C.S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorce” provided the imaginative framework I needed to get over the ‘hump’ on this issue. We talk as though ‘hell’ is a place of eternal torture, and it is certainly something very much like that, but the torture is self-torture. The phrase in “The Great Divorce” that stuck was, “In the end, there will be those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.’ In order for ‘free will’ to be a genuine, truly existing thing, there must be at least the possibility of rejecting God. Now, the mistake is to think that it is possible to reject God and still have a pleasant existence. In the first place, we know that the nature of ‘hell’ is marked fundamentally by the fact that it entails a full separation from God. See 2 Thess. 1:9. The fallacy is thinking that you can experience ‘goodness’ apart from God. James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” So, now imagine someone who says that they would like to have good and perfect gifts, but without God. It can’t be done. The thing is not possible. If people demand an existence apart from God, God will grant their wish; but there is no way for him to give them both the things that they want, simultaneously–existence apart from Him AND good gifts.

I have met too many people who seem to comprehend this, who have said that even if the Christian account correct, they would never submit to God, to view ‘hell’ as unnecessary. I’ve even interacted once who conceded that Jesus rose from the dead and was likely God, but he wasn’t going to submit to him–this gent will submit to NO ONE.

Do they know what they’re asking?

I wrote a short story about this called “Richard Dawkins goes to Heaven.” You can pick it up on Amazon. In it, I explain the above in story form. The New Atheist PZ Myers discovered it and plagiarized it, posting much of it to his website. There were some, like Myers himself, who thought I was relishing the ‘torture porn’ of seeing Dawkins get his ‘heaven.’ But other atheists said that I actually did a good job showing Dawkins as a stout fellow who wouldn’t bend his knee before an evil, tyrannical God.

Now, most of them didn’t read the story before piling onto it, one way or the other. But if they did, then they would understand the implications of the two verses above on the question of what ‘hell’ is and its absolute necessity if they were ever to get their wish for an existence apart from God. Many of them were quite clear in saying that, even if there was a God, they would wish to exist apart from Him. That means that they should welcome a place and manner for them to be apart from him.

And there is such a place; we call it Hell.

As is so often the case with atheists, we give them what they want, and they still aren’t happy. Many of them claim to hate God specifically because of ‘hell.’ They might say, “But why should God honor such a request? Shouldn’t he just compel people to do what is in their best interests?”

In this scenario, between two choices, existence apart from God and spiritual rape, they would choose the latter. But ask them if they think God should just dictate their every move, practically rendering them for all intents and purposes, a robot (but without talking about ‘hell’ as the alternative), they will balk and get all up in arms.

Like was said in Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian”, “There’s no pleasing some people.”

For the people who can’t be pleased, there is a place; we call it Hell.

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Apologetics Interview Questions Part 1, My testimony and the purpose of Athanatos Christian Ministries

I was recently asked to answer some interview questions about my apologetics ministries.  What follows are the questions and answers, in installments.

—————-

1. Will you share your testimony? When did you begin to believe in God and why?

I was raised in the faith and believed in God from my earliest memories. However, despite twelve years of Christian schooling, when I went to college (to become a pastor) I began reading the Bible for myself, for my own interests, rather than for assignments, and was immediately struck by all kinds of difficulties. Worse, when I asked people for insight, no one seemed to have any. That included my professors. I concluded that A., I must be a very bright lad, thinking of these hard questions that no one apparently had ever considered before and B., what does it say when even my professors can’t answer me. Looking back, neither conclusion was the right one. There is a difference between “can’t answer” and “won’t answer.” At the time, though, this was faith-shattering.

For a period of about six months, I dropped God like a bad habit. But within that period, God was working. I did realize that I had been approaching the Bible as though it were ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and recognized that this was not a fair approach. I reversed my approach, and then, when one isn’t nitpicking everything, but actually taking it as it stands as a whole, things begin to make sense. By the end of my freshmen year in college, I could comfortably call myself a Christian again. I did, however, doubt very much that pastoral ministry was for me. My eye turned towards teaching and apologetics.

2. You’re Executive Director over Athanatos Christian Ministries. What is the purpose of the ministry?

After seven years of ‘professional’ church work, my job situation changed, and I decided it was time to put an official umbrella over the apologetics work that I was already doing. In fact, there has never been a time since that freshmen year that I have not been carrying out apologetics. The vision and direction of ACM has changed shape over the years as I myself have tried to sort out just what kind of apologetic work I should be doing. It seems that our early emphasis on apologetics through the arts is what is going to eventually win out. The motto comes from a passage in Ecclesiastes that says, “He has set eternity in the hearts of men.” If you think about that, it has profound implications. C.S. Lewis said once that we have never met a mere mortal. If this is true, then there are other avenues to reach the boxed-in heart, and I find that the arts and ‘literary apologetics’ are one such powerful avenue; incidentally, the enemy knows this too, and is actively working to poison the culture so that it is toxic to faith, faith formation, and even the existence of the believers themselves.

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A Tribute to Coach Dennis Tuomi

About a week ago, my high school wrestling coach passed away at a good old age.  Hundreds turned out for the funeral;  thousands wished they could have.  I went.  It was the least I could do to honor a man who was instrumental in shaping who I am–the things I value most about myself.   His son, Tom, was right in there with the shaping, but he’s going to have to wait until he passes away at a good old age before he gets a tribute such as this one, although I hope he knows my gratitude.

Coach Tuomi coached for decades, and I was just one among countless others he impacted.  I can’t speak for them, for the most part.  My reference point is my own life.  Others had him for other sports, but for me, it was only wrestling.   I hadn’t wanted to wrestle, but through some clever footwork by my father, I gave it a shot. After about a month, I was hooked, big time.

It is all very hard to explain.  I had only hit 5 foot the summer before my freshman year and at my first weigh-in, I checked in at a scant 88 pounds.  Not ideal, even for the lowest weight class (103) but worse, the guy at 103 had experience, and he spent that first month (heck, that first season!) cleaning my clock.  I had to wrestle 112, which I did not weigh enough for.  I may have been the only person in wrestling history that had to EAT in order to make legal weight!  But I digress;  the point is that in my all my scrawniness, I had some glimmer of the warrior inside, but no real hope that that warrior could stand its ground when push came to shove–until wrestling.

The number one thing that Coach Tuomi gave me was his steadfast belief in me.  Not just in the sense that I would prevail on the mat, but that I would prevail in life.  He wasn’t a man to say much (to me) but there was never a moment that I saw him regard me with anything but kindness in his eyes, and confidence that come hell or high water, I would do my best.

There were two things that Coach imparted both as a coach and as a teacher.  Both have been emblazoned in my mind:

“Do not worry about the things you can’t control.”

“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

There are valuable life lessons in these, but they are especially appropriate for those who wrestle, and only a few outside of the sport of wrestling will know what I mean.

You need to understand that when you step out onto the mat, the whole universe rushes away and you are fundamentally alone;  alone, that is, except for the other guy on the mat who wants to inflict intense pain upon you.  He wants to crush your will, dominate you, batter you into submission.  And he will, too, if you let him.  No one else can stop him.  Not your coach.  Not your parents.  Not your fellow wrestlers.  Not the fans watching.  Perhaps only the referee, provided he can get there in time to keep the damage from becoming permanent.

If you lose in wrestling, it is usually because the other guy was better than you.  More disciplined.  More skilled.  Or maybe he just wanted it more than you did, and was willing to pay whatever price necessary.  It isn’t like basketball, where your personal attitude is a tiny, tiny component feeding into the final outcome.   There are too many variables–your fellow teammates and of course the whole other opposing team.  The mental game is just categorically different.  Basketball players may step on the court nervous about the outcome of the game, but wrestlers have every reason to fear for their very well-being.  Their ego and dignity are at risk.  There is a chance that, literally, they may very well be brutalized–both body and mind.  And there would be no one else to blame except YOU.

Do not worry about the things you can’t control… but in wrestling, Coach Tuomi knew that there were a great many things we could control, such as how hard we worked, how disciplined we were both on and off the mat, and so on.  We could not control those factors in our opponent, but we certainly could with ourselves;  don’t worry about the opponent.  Worry about YOU, lay it all on the line, and then, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.  If you step out onto the mat thinking you’re going to lose, Coach knew it, and wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest that you did, in fact, lose.  He wasn’t surprised when you won, either;  it was too be expected, after all, you knew before you stepped on the mat what the outcome was going to be.

I internalized both of these statements.  I remember something coach said about me, which got back to me from a circuitous route.  Another wrestler, he said, was always surprised when he won.  But I was always surprised when I lost.  And that is still true today;  I expect every venture to result in victory, because I pour myself into the endeavor, leaving very little left on the ‘mat.’

Yet, sometimes I do lose.

I’m sure that Coach had much to say about this component, but perhaps it just goes back again to the nature of wrestling.  Very few wrestlers escape their careers without chalking up a few losses.  In fact, I feel sorry for those who never lost at all, whereas I am proud beyond words of the guys who stepped out onto the mat, over and over, and lost nearly every time.  Do you know what kind of person one must be to have that kind of character?   Most people lose once, and they’re done.  Losing, when there is no one else to blame for losing, stinks, to put it mildly.

Indeed, in my own career, I still chalked up more losses than many people even compete.   My career was not been defined by my victories, but by my defeats, and how I reacted to them.  The spillover into later life has been immense and profound.  I owe as much to Coach for his words after a defeat as I do from his help in preparing me for victory, but of the two, it is the former that has proved more important.

It is so hard to explain.  I’m talking about who I became, who I am, as a man.  You would have to know something of the victories and the defeats, and the personal price paid for each, and then understand that solitary war one fights on a mat, and how that anticipates the victories and defeats of life.  All Coach Tuomi demanded was our best;  that is all, but it wasn’t always enough.  What do you do?  You get back up.  You circle back to the center of the mat.  You bid your opponent to come forth again;  he bested you once, but before God and his holy angels, you’re going to make him pay.    He may win, and may inflict pain, but oh dear Lord, imagine how he will look after he met the buzzsaw; sure, he may escape with another notch in the win column but only–insofar as it is within my control (and if it isn’t, I’m not worrying about it) as one barely escaping the flames.

You may have my body, but you will never have my spirit.  But in your quest to have my body, know this:  I will have my pound of flesh.

How much of this was imparted by Coach?  How much of it is just a function of the great sport of wrestling?  (Remember, wrestling is the only sport that God participated in–see Jacob;  granted, in that case, God cheated.  But still).  I don’t know if I could ever parse it out, or if it could ever be parsed out on this side of the veil.  I’ve seen other wrestling coaches, and the kinds of wrestlers they produce, and I just know in my bones that Coach brought something profoundly different to the table.  I can’t put my finger on it, but I know it.  And I know that I am in his debt.

I think about my victories, and I know he is to have some share in them.  And the losses, too;  Tuomi would have been insistent that I be gracious both in victory or defeat.  But sometimes I find myself mystified by what I have become; a rock, in some ways, as I think he must have been.  The times when I’ve been surrounded by opponents–not mere competitors, but actual foes–who point their scrawny fingers or raise their bully voices, who have had success issuing shrill, self-righteous howls… I see their faces, their looks of confusion when I am entirely unmoved.   Goodness gracious, what can they do to me compared to what I have already endured?  It’s laughable, really.  I’ve had bones stressed to the breaking point, been practically suffocated to death, dropped on my head, and so on.  These yahoos, what are they going to do?  The truth is, I pity them.  Don’t they know that if I lose, but I want it bad enough, I’m circling back to the center of the mat?  And I’m going to do that again, and again, and again, and again, each time extracting my pound of flesh?

Probably not.  They were probably basketball players.  😉

And then there are the twists of fate and fortune, the acts of God, as it were.  When my daughter was diagnosed in the womb with spina bifida it was suggested we abort her.  Physically and emotionally, it was just like getting body-slammed.  But you know what, I’ve actually been body-slammed before.  The pain is temporary;  you learn that in wrestling.  It is something you rise above and wade into on your way to your destination.  There is nothing for it but to get up and keep moving.  It was like that for me.  It is so hard to explain to those who haven’t had these experiences.  That profoundly sick feeling you have in your stomach the night before and the moments prior to the match, which by sheer force of will and discipline, you swallow hard and transform yourself into a warrior, and a sheer force to be reckoned with; may God help the one who does not give due respect to the weapon.  We did not abort our daughter.  We got up.  We circled back to the center of the mat and bid the universe to rejoin the battle–if it dares.  We will have our pound of flesh.

Coach was a warrior, a sheer force to be reckoned with.  He shaped me.  He inspired me.  He taught me how to wrestle, but through wrestling, taught me how to live–with courage, dignity, and principle.  It is too hard for me to parse out his influence.  I think it just permeates me.  What kind of man is able to do that?  What kind of man was able to do that for thousands and thousands?

Words cannot describe such a man.

He died last week.  But you know, as powerless as he was to defeat death, he knew the one who had, Jesus of Nazareth.  I can see Coach in my minds eye, departing the tomb, leaving it quite empty, and regarding Death for the first time as it really is–a wholly defeated foe.  I can see Coach circling back to the center of the mat, bidding his foe to take another crack at him.  But Death is nowhere to be seen.  It’s run for the hills.  The final victory had already been won, all that was necessary was to be steadfast.

And if Coach Tuomi was anything, it was steadfast.

I look forward to thanking him again one day, in person… if I have just an ounce of his steadfastness, I have full confidence I’ll have that opportunity.

I realize, of course, that I’ll have to wait in a very long line.

 

 

 

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The Death of the Republic and Gay Marriage

I have spoken out against gay ‘marriage’ from a number of different viewpoints on this blog but there is one angle that I feel reflects the real danger that gay ‘marriage’ presently poses, and that, in the United States, is the death of the Republic altogether.

There are of course all the other arguments, but ironically, pro-gay ‘marriage’ advocates like to brush those aside as being ‘religious’ in nature, and demand that you only bring ‘secular’ arguments, but this argument actually is secular.  Irony on top of irony, their arguments are the ones religious in nature.   I should mention this very important thing:  gay ‘marriage’ is only the latest manifestation of an acid that has been eating away at American society for decades, if not even more than a century.  In a nutshell, we are witnessing the near collapse of the rule of law and the effective disenfranchisement of a huge majority of the American people, all brought about by relentless manipulation and propaganda coming from our schools, our media, and the government itself.

I would like you to consider how it is that we are on the verge of having gay ‘marriage’ codified as the law of the land right now, considering that over the last ten years or so, state after state, referendum after referendum, constitutional amendment after constitutional amendment, has gone against gay ‘marriage’ and explicitly affirmed a ‘traditional’ understanding of the term as denoting a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman.  To achieve this, gay ‘marriage’ proponents have essentially burned down the country to get what they want.  Perhaps they deem that this is worth it.  Obviously, they must.  However, and I am totally sincere in this warning, with no malevolence implied or intended, this kind of precedent can come back to haunt them in some serious ways.   There is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Some may see some poetic justice to such a thing happening but again, there is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face!

To put it another way, if only the gay ‘marriage’ proponents had worked patiently and persistently within the system, respecting the wishes and will of their countrymen, I would have been thoroughly against their position and terribly displeased by it, but hey, in our system of government, if you can play by the rules and garner up the necessary legislative support for you position, I say more power to you.  This is precisely the courtesy that has been denied to those with my position, with the added insult that we already played by the rules and garnered up the necessary legislative support for our position!  And how has this been done?

By the whimsical judgement of a handful of men and women–probably not more than 30 people, out of a population of 300,000,000 plus–who have seen fit to override the will, as expressed explicitly at ballot box after ballot box for fifteen years, that’s how.

Yea, that can’t end well.

But perhaps you cannot grasp the full scope of what has happened and just how quickly it has.  Allow me to produce some documentation.

First of all, we clearly knew where things were going for awhile.  In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), was passed by Congress.  Consider these stats:

In the House, the ‘yeas’ were 342 and the ‘nays’ 67.  In the Senate, the ‘yeas’ were 85, and the ‘nays’ 14.  It was signed by the lusty Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

While 224 of the ‘yeas’ on the House were Republicans, 118 Democrats voted against their comrades to support the bill (118-65).

In 2013, SCOTUS struck down DOMA as unconstitutional;  so much for SCOTUS not wanting to intervene in matters best decided by the people through their elected representatives.

I know what you are saying.  Why are we talking about a piece of legislation that is 150  years old?!?!?  How can this be relevant today?!!?  People’s attitudes can change after 150 years.  We’re talking about a bill that was passed years and years and years ago–not only are the people who passed it dead, but the children of those who passed it are dead!

Oh, wait.  What is 2014-1996 again?  Quick, can a recent graduate from a New York public school get out a calculator and figure this out?  Is it 150?  I apologize.  I’m sure its closer to 100;  ages ago, at any rate.

Oh, wait.

The writing was clearly on the wall, and of course everyone knows you can’t very well trust the Feds, so now the states get involved.  Wikipedia has very helpfully helped organize the sequence of what came next.

These are all amendments to state constitutions rejecting gay ‘marriage.’ Do you know how hard it is to get constitutions amended?  It’s hard work, Jim.  Nonetheless:

  1. In 1998, Alaska ratified its ban on same-sex marriage with 68% of the vote.
  2. In 2000 AND in 2002, Nevada did the same, with 69.6% and 67.1% of the vote, respectively.
  3. In 2000, Nebraska did, with 70% of the vote.
  4. In 2004, Mississippi passed its with 86% of the vote.
  5. In 2004, Missouri did, with 72%.
  6. In 2004, Montana did with 67%.
  7. In 2004, Georgia did, with 76%.
  8. In 2004, Kentucky did, with 75%.
  9. In 2004, Louisiana, did, with 78%.
  10. In 2004, North Dakota followed suit, with 73%.
  11. In 2004, Ohio concurred with 62% support.
  12. In 2004, Oregon did, with 57%.
  13. In 2004, Utah did with 66%.
  14. In 2004, Oklahoma did with 76%.
  15. In 2004, Michigan did, with 59%.
  16. In 2004, Arkansas did, with 75%.
  17. In 2005, Kansas passed theirs with 70% of the vote.
  18. In 2005, Texas did with 76%.
  19. In 2006, Colorado did, with 56%
  20. In 2006, Tennessee did with 81%.
  21. In 2006, Alabama did, with 81%.
  22. In 2006, South Carolina did with 78%.
  23. In 2006, South Dakota ratified theirs with 52% of the vote.
  24. In 2006, Wisconsin did with 59%.
  25. In 2006, Virginia did, with 57%.
  26. In 2006, Idaho did, with 63%.
  27. In 2008, Arizona did, with 56%.
  28. In 2008, Florida did with 62%.
  29. In 2008, California did with 52%.
  30. In 2012 — CENTURIES AGO! — North Carolina did theirs with 61%.

Only in one state did an amendment to ‘clarify’ what the human race has heretofore considered ‘marriage’ fail, and that was in Minnesota, in 2012.

Let’s count.

30-1.

Setting aside for now how ancient these efforts were, let us observe first of all how in the vast majority of the cases, the ‘traditional’ definition won out by margins that would be considered a landslide in any other context.

Second of all, these were just the constitutional amendments.   If we add state statutes, the numbers run even higher, although in order to make a point, I want to highlight just one of them, California.

California has been voting overwhelmingly liberal and Democrat for quite a long time.   Despite being a bastion of the left, there was still widespread desire to ensure that when native English speakers use the word ‘marriage’ they mean what native English speakers have always meant.  Being a bastion of the left, the citizens could not get their representatives to follow through, so they went straight to the people;  Proposition 22, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, was passed by referendum in 2000 with 61.4% of the vote (4,618,673 people.)

IN CALIFORNIA.

Surely this was just a fluke.  They couldn’t possibly believe all that jazz there on the Left Coast, could they? A handful of judges decided it must be so, and tossed it out.  This forced Californians to really get serious if they wanted their will represented, so they went for the whole kit and kaboodle, by way of a constitutional amendment.  Even after nearly ten years of some of the best propaganda you’ve ever seen, Proposition 8 still passed, IN CALIFORNIA.  This time it was ‘only’ 52.24% of the vote, but look at the raw numbers!  In that election the ‘yeas’ numbered 7,001,084 votes.

That is more than the population of many states, and is in CALIFORNIA.  When did this happen?  145 years ago, you say?  Oh.  In 2008.  Quick, someone give me a calculator… 6  years ago…

Do you know how many people voted for Obama in California in 2012? 7,800,000.

So basically, about the same number in California that did NOT want gay marriage DID want Obama.  I did say it was a liberal state.

And even in a liberal state, when the people were allowed to speak, they were quite clear on what they had to say.

California wasn’t the only leftist utopia where even leftists wanted to affirm a ‘traditional’ definition of marriage.  Massachusetts comes to mind, and we find a similar story, where the people tried to state their mind, but were overruled by a tiny handful of individuals.  The people of Massachusetts did not have the same success as those in California, though, and I’d be willing to bet that if that state had the same ability for citizens to create referendums on the fly that California did, that would have ended differently.

Now, there is no question, of course, that there has been strong support in some areas for gay ‘marriage.’  Still, we are told that there is massive support for it, but the above litany tells a different tale altogether.  Within the last two, three, five, and ten years, going back to DOMA itself, there has been huge opposition to gay ‘marriage’ that has dwarfed the public support that the gay ‘marriage’ proponents could muster.

What to do… what to do… ah, right.  Judicial activism.  The go-to mechanism for liberals for decades.  What could go wrong?

Bam Bam Bam… in 2013, California and Utah’s CONSTITUTIONAL amendments were overthrown and in 2014 (that is this year, fyi) Oregon,  Okalahoma, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Arkansas and Idaho had theirs reversed too.

And were they reversed via that time honored tradition or repealing it, like Prohibition was repealed!  Why yes… wait, no!  All fell victim to a tiny sliver of men and women in black robes.  Millions and millions and millions of people, working hard to follow the rules and govern themselves thwarted by a tiny handful of people.

What could possibly go wrong?

In the meantime, of course, public sentiment seems to be bending towards gay ‘marriage.’  In my estimation, if similar votes were held today, many of these amendments wouldn’t have passed, or they wouldn’t have passed with the high margins that they did.  A friend wags his finger at me, “Why, Johnnyboy, don’t you know that according to the latest polling, like 52% of the American public is in favor of gay ‘marriage’ today!  How dare you insinuate that the will of the people is being thwarted!”

This raises a couple of issues, but the first has to do with the categorical difference between THIRTY constitutional amendments and polling with sample sizes of a couple of thousand or so.  It’s as if the whole world has gone clean out of their mind–it is hard work to get a constitution amended, and you can’t do it without a huge amount of public support.

Of course, all those people wasted their time, because as various courts have made plain at this point, it doesn’t matter what they believe.  Even so, the fact that they played by the rules whilst the gay ‘marriage’ proponents violated the law left and right and pursued in the courts what they couldn’t dream of accomplishing in the ballot box sets these far apart from the latest Newsweek polling.  I should like to have seen some of the gay ‘marriage’ proponents try their hands at a constitutional amendment.  Ha!  I know.  Fat chance.  But my contempt for their cause would be far less then it is at present, because they would have at least made a good faith effort to engage their fellow citizens in the marketplace of ideas where it all comes (theoretically) to a head, the ballot box.

The second issue, though, is probably far more serious, and pregnant with much more cause for deep concern.  Let us imagine for a moment that in the course of a single presidential cycle, the entire country has moved from one side of the equation where they exerted themselves strenuously, even going so far as to pass amendments in state after state, but now has genuinely come to a point where a shade over 50% will collectively shrug their shoulders over the prospect of a scant 5% of the population redefining ‘marriage’ come hell or high water.

To what do we owe this huge swing in a matter of four or five years, tops?

My friend bemoans the influence of ‘big money’ on elections and in the Prop 8 fiasco, described above.

Isn’t it as plain as the nose on your face that if there is ‘big money’ propaganda involved here, it has got to be from the side of the homosexual activists?  Or do we really want to believe that  hundreds of millions of Americans, between the time it takes their eyes to blink, genuinely changed their mind without any kind of coercion or manipulation?

I think not.

In my opinion, the opposition to gay ‘marriage’ is still quite strong, so what we’re going to continue to see is judicial oppression in order to make it ‘stick.’  (What could possibly go wrong?)

However, I will concede that to some extent there has been a real shift of attitudes, but I do not at all believe these gains by the homosexual lobby have been gained honestly.  I don’t know who you are, but I know you are out there, oh ye manipulators of public opinion, oh ye proteges of Bernays and what not.  I can’t see you, I don’t know your name, but millions of people simply don’t change their minds on such a fundamental issue unless someone like you is at work.  I know you’re out there, I can hear you breathing.

And just remember, two can play that game.  Don’t whine when the shoe is on the other foot.

In the meantime, as far as I’m concerned, this whole burning down the Republic in order to get your way thing cannot end well, not for you, and not for me.  I do hope you change your tune before something really dire happens.  After all, you didn’t think you could destroy democracy without it having some kind of negative effect, did you?

I know, I know.  I can see you sitting their all smug, cigar in hand.  You think its cute that I still think we have anything that passes as a democracy.  Consider it the last splinter of idealism I have left.

 

 

 

 

 

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Padding and Borders in WordPress 3.9 Removed–RIDICULOUS

I don’t normally descend into complaints about tiny things that bother me, but every now and then things get under my skin and I just need to vent.  In this case, the most appropriate places for my venting were shut down, cold.

If you are reading this, then you probably know that WordPress has decided to remove the ability to manage image placement in a post or page, which was easily doable from the advanced options section simply be entering how wide you wanted the horizontal or vertical spacing, the width of the border, and so on.

I spent about twenty minutes trying to properly align one simple little image in 3.9, figuring that it had to be my stupidity for not being able to figure out where this setting was.  I decided to take to the net to find the answer.  Then I found some threads on WordPress where it was revealed that it was intentionally removed.  Dude.  Not cool.

I would have complained there, but as is often the case, the omnipotent forum administrators–knowing what’s best for everyone (and hence, also omniscient) closed the threads down.  If comments in the thread are true, there were some complaint threads that were actually deleted.  Here are the two that I found, here and here, both closed.  WordPress forum admins insist that there was no great demand for these features, but a user astutely pointed out the obvious:

“You don’t see a groundswell of complaints regarding the changes to images because you keep closing topics.”

It seems that I, too, am in the ‘minority’ that found this functionality very useful, and its removal incomprehensible.  But now I think I have it figured out:

“Those features are not coming back any time soon. […] use a theme that actually formats your images properly in the first place.”

I think this comment admits more than was intended.  In a sane universe, we could simply give a retort that should not even have to be explained–no theme can possibly anticipate all the different ways an image may need to be formatted on a particular page.  As if every image needs to be vertically aligned, or given a padding of 5, or a border of 2.  Even if themes had an easy way to adjust the CSS for all of the images on a website… who on earth would really want that?  Presumably, this particular coder has not had to deal with people who have exacting demands on how they want their webpage to view;  in many cases, this is not optional, as there is money involved.

But that’s a sane universe.

The real answer probably has to do with snobbery.

You know what kind of person I mean, even if you haven’t met a code-snob before.  These are the people who are so confident that they know the best answer and the right solution that they’re just going to enact their program without explanation, defense, or rationalization (and often without warning), and if you don’t like it, TOUGH.  If only others had done it “properly in the first place!”  But ‘proper’ is often in the eye of the beholder.  For me, as for thousands, if not tens of thousands, instead of being able to very easily manipulate how an image appears on the page through a couple of simple clicks, I will now have to edit stylesheets or the code itself on a particular page.

A WASTE OF MY TIME.

So, WordPress forum mods–you were able to shut down and stifle complaints and feedback in your own sandbox, disabling my ability to leave polite but dissatisfied feedback on your site–leaving me no option but to post a rant here in hopes that the code-snobs might see the light.

Anyway, I’m really a big fan of WordPress and use it on all of my websites.  But this could be a serious obstacle to my continued use, at least or especially in cases where I have to work with a lot of images.  Even more so, in cases where I have been hired to build sites with the intent that I will turn over management to the client–who usually will know next to nothing about stylesheets, CSS, and the like.

Don’t forget who made you great.

 

 

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Elliot Rodger–Would-be Modern Eugenicist

The dude who killed 6 before killing himself managed to get his manifesto posted to the web before offing himself.  Clearly, Elliot Rodger was not a well person.  Perhaps sometime I will have something more to say about him, having scanned his book.  I do not find his screed particularly surprising;  it seems exactly what we should expect in a hyper-sexualized society that emphasizes ‘fairness’ and elevates the alleviation or lack of suffering as the highest moral good.  What follows below is an excerpt where his viewpoint is summarized, and it dovetailed so well with some of my researches in eugenics, I wanted a record of my own for future discussion.

Probably the worst news to come out of the whole affair is that Rodger was not a Christian or a ‘member’ of the Tea Party and did not commit his acts in a place where gun control laws are very loose.

bringonbravenewworldHorvath-thumbAs it seems to me, Rodger definitely has caught the spirit of the eugenic mindset, minus the power he would need to practically implement any of his improvements of the race, and endued with a hatred of women stemming from his own hyper-sexualized outlook on the purpose of existence.  Besides the Darwinian/eugenic elements, there is the Nietzsche-Superman element that is often present in our mass murders, past and present.  I’d really like to see the books he was reading.

If you swap out ‘women’ for ‘Jews,’ ‘Negros’, or ‘feeble-minded,’ you will have pretty nearly the same flavor of things pre-1945, in Germany, yes, but also in America.  Three generations of imbeciles is quite enough, don’t you agree?

Anyway, reading this I was also reminded of my short story, “Bring on the Brave New World” where there are some uncanny similarities between my main character and the ideological components that fester in his mind and whatever was festering in Elliot Rodger.  The difference seems to be that in my story, my main character sees the same problem that Rodger does–what can practically accomplished “in his lifetime”–and sees that as the first thing to address before moving on to bigger and better things.  Apart from that, the similarities are striking;  methinks there is a universal acid at work, here.  Without further ado, from Mr. Rodger:

——————-

When I think about the amazing and blissful life I could have lived if only females were sexually attracted to me, my entire being burns with hatred.  They denied me a happy life, and in return I will take away all of their lives.  It is only fair.

I am not part of the human race.  Humanity as rejected me.  The females of the human species have never wanted to mate with me, so how could I possibly consider myself part of humanity?  Humanity has never accepted me among them, and now I know why.  I am more than human.  I am superior to them all.  I am Elliot Rodger… Magnificent, glorious, supreme, eminent… Divine!  I am the closest thing there is to a living god.  Humanity is a disgusting, depraved, and evil species.  It is my purpose to punish them all.  I will purify the world of everything that is wrong with it.  On the Day of Retribution, I will truly be a powerful god, punishing everyone I deem to be impure and depraved.

Epilogue

And that is how my tragic life ends.  Who would have thought my life will turn out this way?  I didn’t.  There was a time when I thought this world was a good and happy place.  As a child, my whole world was innocent.  It wasn’t until I went through puberty and started desiring girls that my whole life turned into a living hell.  I desired girls, but girls never desired me back. There is something very wrong with that.  It is an injustice that cannot go unpunished.  There is no way I could live a  happy life with such a scenario.

Not only did I have to waste my entire youth suffering in loneliness and unfulfilled desire, but I had to live with the knowledge that other boys my age were able to have all of the experiences I craved for.  It is absolutely unfair and unjust.  In addition, I had to suffer the shame of other boys respecting me less because I didn’t get any girls.  Everyone knew I was a virgin.  Everyone knew how undesirable I was to girls, and I hated everyone just for knowing it.  I want people to think that girls adore me.  I want to feel worthy.  There is no pride in living as a lonely, unwanted outcast.  I wouldn’t even call it living.

I am not meant to live such a pathetic, miserable life.  That is not my place in this world  I will not bow down and accept such a horrific fate.  If humanity will not give me a place among them, then I will destroy them all.  I am better than all of them. I am a god.  Exacting my Retribution is my way of proving my true worth to the world.

 

In the midst of my suffering, I have been able to see the world much clearer than others.  I have vision that other people lack.  Through my suffering, I have been able to see just how twisted and wrong this world really is.  The current state of humanity is what makes it wrong.  I look at the human race and I see only vileness and depravity, all because of an act known as … sexuality…

Sex is by far the most evil concept in existence.  The fact that life itself exists through sex just proves that life is flawed.  The act of sex gives human beings a tremendous amount of pleasure.  Pleasure they don’t deserve.  No one deserves to experience so much pleasure, especially since some  humans get to experience it while some are denied it.  When a man has sex with a beautiful woman, he probably feels like he is in heaven.  But the world is not supposed to be heaven.  For some humans to actually be able to feel such heights of heavenly pleasure is selfish and hedonistic.

The ultimate evil behind sexuality is the human female.  They are the main instigators of sex.  They control which men get it and which men don’t.  Women are flawed creatures, and my mistreatment at their hands has made me realize this sad truth.  There is something very twisted and wrong with the way their brains are wired.  They think like beasts, and in truth, they are beasts.  Women are incapable of having morals or thinking rationally.  They are completely controlled by their depraved emotions and vile sexual impulses.  Because of this, the men who do get to experience the pleasures of sex and the privilege of breeding are the men who women are sexually attracted to… the stupid, degenerate, obnoxious men.  I have observed this all my life.  The most beautiful of women choose to mate with the most brutal of men, instead of magnificent gentlemen like myself.

Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with.  That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence.  If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men and creating stupid, degenerate offspring.    This will cause humanity to become even more depraved with each generation.  Women have more power in human society than they deserve, all because of sex.  There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female.

Women are like the plague.  They don’t deserve any rights.  Their wickedness must be contained in order to prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy.  Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such.

 

In fully realizing these truths about the world, I have created the ultimate and perfect ideology of how a fair and pure world would work.  In an ideal world, sexuality would not exist.  It must be outlawed.  In a world without sex, humanity will be pure and uncivilized.  Men will grow up healthily, without having to worry about such a barbaric act.  All men will grow up fair and equal, because no man will be able to experience the pleasures of sex while others are denied it.  The human race will evolve to an entirely new level of civilization, completely devoid of all the impurity and degeneracy that exists today.

In order to completely abolish sex, women themselves would have to be abolished.  All women must be quarantined like the plague they are, so that they can be used in a manner that actually benefits a civilized society.  In order to carry this out, there must exist a new and powerful type of government, under the control of one divine ruler, such as myself.  The ruler that establishes this new order would have complete control over every aspect of society, in order to direct it towards a good and pure place.  At the disposal of this government, there needs to be a highly trained army of fanatically loyal troops, in order to enforce such revolutionary laws.

The first strike against women will be to quarantine all of them in concentration camps.  At these camps, the vast majority of the female population will be deliberately starved to death.  That would be an efficient and fitting way to kill them all off.  I would take great pleasure and satisfaction in condemning every single woman on earth to starve to death.  I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch them all die.  If I can’t have them, no one will, I’d imagine thinking to myself as I oversee this.  Women represent everything that is unfair with t his world, and in order to make the world a fair place, they must all be eradicated.

A few women would be spared, however, for the sake of reproduction.  These women would be kept and bred in secret labs.  There, they will be artificially inseminated with sperm samples in order to produce offspring.  Their depraved nature will slowly be bred out of them in time.

Future generations of men would be oblivious to these women’s existence, and that is for the best.  If a man grows up without knowing of the existence of women, there will be no desire for sex.  Sexuality will completely cease to exist.  Love will cease to exist.  There will no longer be any imprint of such concepts in the human psyche.  It is the only way to purify the world.

In such a pure world, the man’s mind can develop to greater heights than ever before.  Future generations will live t heir lives free of having to worry about the barbarity of sex and women, which will enable them to expand their intelligence and advance the human race to a state of perfect civilization.

It is such a shameful pity that my ideal world cannot be created.  I realized long ago that there is no way that I could possibly rise to such a level of power in my lifetime, with the way the world is now.  Such a thing will never become a reality for me, but it did give me something to fantasize about as I burned with hatred towards all women for rejecting me throughout the years.  This whole viewpoint and ideology of abolishing sex stems from being deprived of it all my life.  If I can’t have it, I will do everything I can to DESTROY IT.

My orchestration of the Day of Retribution is my attempt to do everything, in my power, to destroy everything that I cannot have.  All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy.  All of those popular people who live hedonistic lives of pleasure, I will destroy, because they never accepted me as one of them.  I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer.  It is only fair.

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What World War Two Online Can Teach Us About God, the Universe, and Ourselves

There comes a point in the evening when I’m totally tapped out. I hit about 10 p.m., and all I really want to do is go to bed. Unfortunately, I’ve always had trouble falling asleep. There are few things I hate more than laying on my mattress, staring at the ceiling for 2-3 hours, wishing for sleep. Others, I suppose watch TV, but I’m not much of a TV person. Reading a book or writing used to be my ‘go-to’ solutions but for at least a half decade now, my eyes glaze over and I get nowhere. Thankfully, there is a game out there that fills in this time period nicely, World War Two Online.

In brief, it is a military simulation game that re-enacts a phase of World War Two and allows genuine combined arms combat. You can play as infantry with a variety of weapons to choose from, grab a tank, fly a plane, drive a supply truck, takes to the seas as a destroyer, or the rivers in a patrol boat. The arena of conflict is Europe, at half-scale. Nearly every combatant one encounters is a real human player; only in a few cases are there ‘AI’ emplacements. It’s just cool to be advancing on a town with a dozen other soldiers with allied tanks creaking along next to you, watching a flight of fighter pilots screech overhead–knowing that all of these are real players, not programmed ‘entities.’ That many of the players are history buffs and have a deep appreciation of the sacrifice that soldiers made during the war, and make today, is a big plus. I find in many of the players kindred spirits.

The game started in 2001. I played it for a few years, took a long break, and then picked it up again about 2 years ago. I have always been drawn to the theological aspects of the game.

“Theological aspects of the game? Did you really just say, theological?”

Yea, that’s right. In fact, about ten years ago I penned an essay reflecting on the challenges that the owners of the game (Cornered Rats Software) have in creating the World War Two Online. On the one hand, they want an accurate and realistic simulation, and on the other hand, they need people to subscribe to the game, and if there are elements of ‘reality’ that people don’t like, there is no way for CRS to compel them to continue paying or playing. As a case in point, except under narrow circumstances, death by ‘friendly fire’ is not permitted in the physics of the game. One can only suppose that there were early problems with people on the Axis side spawning in on the Allied and gunning down their compatriots, causing grief and, worse, unsubscriptions. (the Allies would never do such a thing! 😉 ) Out went friendly fire. But how realistic is that?

Not very, and it has definite in-game consequences. For example, when there is a huge battle going on and there is a high number of players on either side in a small area, it is common to have a bomber or ten come flying in and drop their bombs on everyone below. Since there is no friendly fire, only the enemy players die. You can imagine the tactical implications for the pilots if friendly fire was indeed enabled. Interestingly, this is one of the few ‘hacks’ of ‘reality’ that players don’t complain about.

The present campaign has taken a turn for the worse for the allies. For some reason, Allied players tend to be Americans and the Axis tend to be Europeans. (This is a very broad generalization.) When the Americans go to bed, the Europeans come out during what is referred to as “Time Zone 3” or TZ3, and are able to quickly and efficiently capture town after town after town, finding little to no resistance. What was a brutally hard fought victory involving hundreds of players the night before is erased by maybe a dozen Axis players overnight.

And boy are the Allies howling, threatening to ‘unsub’ and demanding tweaks to ‘reality.’

They remind me very much like your garden variety atheist.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can understand the Allied player’s frustrations, just as I can understand your typical skeptic’s complaints about our own reality. After all, no one likes losing, and right now, the Axis have a deep beachhead in England and are on the verge of winning the whole campaign–all of this because of one night’s romp through northern France. Similarly, no one likes poverty, suffering, pain, evil, slavery, persecution, hunger, and so on. God is omnipotent and omniscient, no? He should know how to be able to end all of those things–by definition–and he should have the power to carry out that plan in a blink of an eye–by definition–so why doesn’t he?

I think that games like World War Two Online give us good clues to the answer, which is, in short: we don’t really understand what we’re asking, and, if we’re being honest, we’d still find a way to complain, even if we were given exactly what we asked for.

In the case of the game, any number of ‘proposals’ have been offered to mitigate the harm that players in TZ3 can inflict, but of course the assumption is that the only one this would apply to are the Axis players during a time period when all the Americans (the bulk of the paying customers, I suppose) are in bed. They forget, however, that the Europeans also must go to bed, and they have their own version of TZ3, where they risk getting rolled back into Germany. Any rules created to deal with the TZ3 situation would have to be applied to both sides, or else there would really be an uproar. I can just see what the Allies would say about 1 p.m. in the afternoon when they try to get something going, only to be hemmed in by arbitrary ‘patches’ to the game reality, ‘patches’ that they demanded to be implemented.

As in the movie “The Life of Bryan”, there is just no pleasing some people.

Similarly, if you were to take just one thing that we’d like God to snap his fingers and fix, say, pain, the ‘fix’ seems easy but I think we’d instantly complain about that, too. If we’re being honest, anyway. Pain is felt because of some kind of violation of the human envelope, from a thorn piercing the skin, a bullet through a bone, a cancer growing from within. So why couldn’t God just make someone’s skin bulletproof ? Easy enough. An omniscient, omnipotent God would be able to pull that off quickly enough. After all, we mortals know how to make things bulletproof–sandbags, very thick glass, Kevlar, and so on.

“Say, are those sandbags under your eyes, or are you just tired?” Yes, I can just see how happy we would be if humans were now encased, permanently, in materials inches to feet thick, impervious to the painful touch of the death-dealing bullet–and also to the pleasures that come from being able to interact with reality, and with each other.

So then you say, “How about just having it so that our skin is just how it is now, but when someone tries to shoot another person, at that very instant, their skin becomes bulletproof, just in that spot, and then reverts back to normal?”

To which I might reply, “And if that person is in the midst of a terrible crime, say, raping another person, should that person’s skin also become bulletproof?”

And now our skeptic has to weasel out of the implications of his request. “But God will know when that rule should apply, and would only make someone bulletproof if they are the innocent person.”

“Are you saying that we humans have always agreed on when someone is innocent or not? If someone is shot and killed but you were certain they were innocent, wouldn’t you complain? Would you not also complain that He has one set of rules for some people and another for others, or even for everyone, depending on the situation?”

The skeptic retorts, “But God could easily insulate everyone from every evil, painful act that anyone ever does, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all. I know what you’re going to say–this would eliminate our ‘free will,’ but it wouldn’t because we could still do the things, we could still shoot someone, for example, just nothing would happen when it was done with evil intent.”

To which I would say, “So, in other words, but if God intervened in this way, consistently, there would be no such thing as anyone being able to do anything with evil intent in the first place, because whenever someone acted evilly, God would intervene. What you’re asking for is that God build into the rules of reality your absolute and total obedience to what He wants. In this scenario, how does one distinguish between Him and You at all since everything you do is exactly what He would have you do? You’re not just undermining free will, you are obliterating any possibility of there being a real you distinct from Him.”

To which I have heard in reply, “If it is really the case that in order for me to really be me, and not just a God ordained and programmed automaton, there must be pain–”

I interject at this point, always, to clarify, “the possibility of pain…”

“–there must be the possibility of pain, then seeing the way the world is, I can only conclude that it would be better to not exist at all. Why even bother creating us if he knew (and he must have known) what kind of horror humans were going to inflict upon each other?”

In my experience, this is about where everyone ends up if they begin insisting that God bends reality in particular cases to address particular abuses that different individuals perceive are in play–ignoring, as they always do, that different individuals invariably demand mutually exclusive ‘fixes’ that cannot all be implemented, at the same time, such that this person or that person will invariably conclude that, if this is really the case, it is better to not exist at all.

Don’t laugh–that’s exactly what the ‘ethicist’ Peter Singer said when faced with the prospect of unending human suffering. See this link.

Leaving aside, for a moment, the fact that there is a brand of theism that does not posit unending human suffering, but insists that it is a temporary thing that God is not indifferent to and has take definite action to deal with–but according to the previously established ‘rules’ of the ‘game’ He had created–I find that the problem, chiefly, is not the Game Maker, but the game players, and their ornery nature.  (This brand of theism is called ‘Christianity.’)

To quickly illustrate–I know an atheist who asked God for a sign that He existed and that there was an after-life, who then received said sign, called me up frantically on the telephone to discuss the matter in detail, only to decide, as time went on, that his experience was more likely to be a hallucination or an elaborate prank.  At the time, he thought neither could possibly be the case.  Here is a man who got exactly what he wanted, and still was not satisfied.

To me, that is the story of mankind.

The right question, in my view, is not, “isn’t it better to not exist at all?” ie, seeing the matter from our perspective, but rather, from the Maker’s perspective, “isn’t it better to not create free agents at all?”

The answer to this, I think, is not the sort of thing easily ‘reasoned’ out. Those of you reading this who are artists and creators know exactly what I mean. The people who run and operated World War Two Online know what I mean, too. They aren’t in it just for the money, of this, I am absolutely sure. There is a joy and a sublime pleasure in creating universes that others can come and participate in, and I assure you, that pleasure is a pale thing indeed if the ‘others’ are merely pre-programmed entities that do precisely as the programmers dictate. There is a certain kind of joy, different categorically than other joys that we often experience, in watching other free agents make use of our creations in their own, creative fashion.

As an author who enjoys writing fiction, I must write. There is a joy in the writing–in the creation of whole universes, spun out of my mind. I suppose if there was never going to be any one to read any of my works, I would still have to write, because that is my nature. Even so, there is a much different kind of joy, one that I would say is in fact a greater joy, that comes from hearing that someone entered into my universe and brought to bear their own imagination in it. This joy, in turn, is only a hint of the kind of joy that people who create universes where people can actually enter into those universes in a tangible fashion, such as game worlds like World War Two Online, experience. If money were no object, I’m convinced they’d continue on with the project to the end of their days.

Now, if this is the case for authors, who spin out one, limited kind of universe, and programmers of simulations who spin out much more robust kinds of universes, why shouldn’t this be the case for the maker of our universe, who has spun out a universe where His creations themselves are spinning out sub-universes?

I assure you, the gamers of World War Two Online give the programmers no end of grief! But there are sublime pleasures, in there too, that make it all worth it–and the gamers agree, I think, when they settle down and begin thinking reasonably. When they cease making their threats to ‘unsub’ and participate in the joyous aspects, it doesn’t make losing any less annoying, but it does help put it into perspective. The suffering and pain we experience is not any less diminished just because we put it into perspective, setting against it the tremendous joy and pleasure of actually existing, and enjoying the existence of others.

There are a couple of important differences.

The gamers of World War Two Online can ‘unsub.’ The programmers can ‘tweak’ the physics of the game to try to address the myriad of mostly contradictory demands that their paying game base demand; but there is always a cost to these changes. There is a diminishing of the ‘joy’ of participating in the universe as more ad hoc changes are programmed in. The programmers have to make accommodations, or else they risk going hungry, or worse! their universe ceasing to exist altogether. That is the price of intransigent threats of withdrawing from the game. But God cannot be held hostage in this way.

In short, He is not going to jump through hoops to try to meet the usually arbitrary and capricious demands of billions of people. And you can’t ‘unsub,’ even if you tried.

Rather than choosing the void of non-existence (an option that is not even available to you) you are better off taking the way of wisdom: coming to terms with an existence fraught with problems and difficulties but bloated with inexpressible joys everywhere you look, too, and then searching for the explanation that best accounts for the whole package. That account, in my view, is Christianity; God’s answer to suffering: Jesus–God himself, the ‘programmer’ entering the world He created to suffer “for the joy set before him.” (Hebrews 12:2)

And by the by, if you do happen to join the game, feel free to look me up. The clever ones are able to find me. 🙂 But usually only between 10 p.m. Eastern time and midnight. 🙂

 

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It’s time for Marriage Equality! Support this man’s desire to marry his computer

Have you heard about this case where a man has been filing petition after petition demanding the right to marry his computer?

The article cites other precedents, such as people being able to marry dolphins and cardboard cutouts of themselves.   On this blog, I gave the example of the person who married a pillow–although I did issue some probing and important questions that all pillow-rights activists should be prepared to answer.

I find the man’s problem with the courts perplexing.  After all, state after state has voted to forbid gay marriage, with referendums, through legislation passed by majority-elected representatives, and even constitutional amendments, and US courts have trampled all over all of these efforts–I mean, we may be closing in on a dozen or more examples now.  Yet, here we have courts refusing to affirm this man’s love and devotion for his computer.

This bigotry should not be allowed to stand.

And just so we are clear, if you do not think that people should be allowed to marry their computers, or pillows, or cardboard cutouts of themselves, or their dog, or their two year old daughter, YOU ARE A BIGOT.

Marriage equality means marriage equality.  You don’t get to pick and choose;  if you believe otherwise, you are a BIGOT.

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China is beating us at our own game; abortion is a population control measure, no more, no less

There are, of course, many people who are pro-choice because they sincerely believe the standard line that abortion on demand is a necessary evil (although sometimes they deny it is evil at all) in order for women to have ‘reproductive freedom.’  These people, I’m afraid to say, are nothing but sincere dupes.  The people that foisted abortion on demand in the ‘civilized’ West were concerned about population control, no more, no less.

The evidence for this is everywhere if anyone cares to look.  For example, the founder of Planned Parenthood herself, Margaret Sanger, sang the praises of ‘birth control’ in language reflective of ‘reproductive freedom’ but she was not shy at all about her true objectives, which was to use ‘birth control’ to improve the race.   Her many remarks of a eugenical sort have been forgotten today by people who don’t wish these grotesque connections to be made or factored into their support of abortion on demand.  For example, in Women and the New Race she wrote:

Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives.[1]

See?  Nothing more, or less, than the weeding out of the unfit.  That’s pretty unambiguous.  Stop being a dupe.

It isn’t as though the pro-abortionists have been shy about this perspective.  Sitting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg probably revealed more than she intended when she reflected on the passing of Roe vs Wade, saying,

Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.

Most people would be surprised to hear that this was the sort of reasoning that was prevalent at the time, but for anyone who actually studies the period, it is inescapable.  Seeking to clarify her remarks, Ginsburg attempted to put distance between what she observed and her own views on that perspective in this article.  You would be wrong if you think I am attributing those views to Ginsburg;  for all I know she is just another ‘splendid dupe.’  The point is that these concerns were ‘in the air.’

Some would say (and the linked article above does say) that this is true, but that’s not why we have abortion on demand.  This is mere self-serving mythology.  Sanger’s comments alone are enough to dispel that myth, but a hundred examples more could be offered.  These would almost certainly lead someone to miss the point, because they think that in uttering these comments I am invoking conspiracy theories.  Far from it.

To illustrate, I remember sitting down with someone and talking about the fact that my wife and I did not abort our child, diagnosed in the womb with spina bifida.  He was a bit mortified by this, wondering how we felt about bringing into the world someone we knew would live out only a life of suffering.  In his view, our daughter had a life unworthy of life.  We talked about that for a little bit, investing a solid 15 minutes on the issue of ‘reproductive freedoms’ until suddenly we were talking about the problem of over-population in Africa and what ‘we’ were going to do about it if we did not back abortion on demand and import it around the globe.  He was thoroughly sincere in his outlook, but the conversation wound down rapidly after that when I pressed him on whether or not he supported abortion on demand because of a “woman’s right to choose” or because we needed a ‘tool’ to curtail “growth in populations that we don’t want too many of.”  I don’t think he had ever considered the matter, and I don’t think  he particularly liked considering the matter.  (Incidentally, this young man was on his way to a conservative Lutheran university to become a pharmacist.  Consider my joy.  Bleh.)

This was not a man enmeshed in a conspiracy.  He was a man who had accepted certain assumptions about reality and these led inexorably to justifications of abortion on demand that had nothing at all to do with “women’s rights.”  He was not even aware of the fact that he was actually a eugenicist until I connected his own dots.  Now imagine thousands more just like him, well-meaning and sincere, without a even a smidgen of introspection, slowly winding their way up the layers of power.  They merely act on the logical implications of their logic;  no conspiracy necessary.

In the ‘civilized’ West, we are ‘checked’ from fully acting on the implications of our logic because of our own particular historical trajectory.  We look back at the Holocaust and the eugenic rationales that drove it on, and we strain to find ways to keep alive some of the more ‘tame’ and ‘reasonable’ eugenic measures (eg, incentives to have people sterilized, etc) that have fallen in disrepute.  Utterly blotted out of the modern consciousness is the fact that the Nazi ideology borrowed a great deal from ideologies in America and Britain.  Indeed, in 1934, a prominent American public official named Joseph Dejarnette, lamented, “The Germans are beating us at our own game.”

I believe, like many, that there is a Holocaust underway in the world today that makes the German Holocaust pale in comparison, but in many places (eg, the ‘civilized’ West) it happens out of sight;  out of sight, out of mind.  But in other places in the world, where there is less historical connection to the Nazi Holocaust and other ideological traditions, they happen in plain sight.  Which brings me to that bastion of “reproductive freedom,” China.  You know, that country with population control measures about which VP Biden said, “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

We see how far Joe Biden’s support for a woman’s reproductive ‘liberty’ goes… and we conservatives still have to put up with asinine and infantile charges that we are the ones engaged in a war on women.  But I digress.

The point is that China is merely “beating us at our own game.”  If today the US was in a position where ‘one wage earner’ is taking care of ‘four retired people’ the veil of justification for abortion on demand, that it has anything to do with a woman’s reproductive freedoms, would slide into oblivion–at least among those who have risen so high in the ranks of power that they believe they have the responsibility to manage the herd.  You know, people like Biden, who feel acutely the problems posed by managing large populations.

Today I was directed to this link which revealed some of China’s ‘one child’ policy in action.  Large banners are sprinkled around the country with statements such as:

  • If it should be aborted and is not aborted, your house will be destroyed and your cow will be taken.
  • Even if you bleed enough to make a river, you must not give birth to an extra child!
  • If you should get sterilized and you don’t, you will be detained and prosecuted. If you should abort and do not abort, your house will be torn down and your cattle will be led away!
  • Call back those who are located far away, dig out those who are hidden, Those who are pregnant outside the policy absolutely must have labor induced. Those who should be sterilized absolutely must be dragged down
  • If you are supposed to wear an IUD but don’t, or are supposed to have your tubes tied but don’t, you will be arrested on sight!

How is this our ‘own’ game?  It has been well documented now how the ‘voluntary’ sterilization programs of the United States were often punctuated with threats that if people did not get sterilized, they would lose their children or their benefits.  (Hence Ginsberg’s belief that Roe vs. Wade was supposed to be a way to subsidize abortions through Medicaid).

Through a bizarre twist of fate, Roe vs. Wade was decided on the basis other than public health, and this has served to block overt expressions of abortion on demand as a tool for balancing the books in America.  It would be a grave mistake, however, to think that this is a game that America has abandoned.  There are many reasons to think that ‘public health’ rationales could surface again in a heartbeat if conditions changed.  It isn’t as if that rationale was ever repudiated, and as my conversation with the would-be pharmacist illustrates, it lurks beneath the surface even now–just typically applied to other countries, and not our own.

If you really want to make sure that the horrors that China is inflicting on its own people do not visit the ‘civilized’ West than the roots of the abortion on demand philosophy have to be pulled up completely–every last one of them.

I propose we start with the illusion that abortion on demand is legal in this country because those that have the power to make it legal or illegal care about a “woman’s reproductive freedom.”  In reality, all this turns out to be is the rationale du jour that gives them the tools they need if they believe, in their own discretion, to manage the population–and cull the herd.  It’s sort of like voluntarily giving them the stick they’ll beat you with.  Here’s an idea:  don’t give them the stick at all!

In short, stop being a dupe.  Before you get us all beaten, if you please.

Thanks.


[1]
                 Margaret Sanger, Woman And The New Race (New York:  Truth Publishing Company, 1921), 229.

 

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The Ovens of our Era: More than One Way to Host a Holocaust

Today’s headline on the Drudge Report did not surprise me in the slightest:

ABORTED BABIES INCINERATED TO HEAT HOSPITALS

The article linked to is this one in the Telegraph:

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals:
The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as ‘clinical waste’ by hospitals in Britain with some used in ‘waste to energy’ plants

I had a variety of thoughts hit me simultaneously and in quick succession.  I have read stories about abortionists tossing out sacks of aborted babies.  I am aware of the use of fetal materials derived from aborted children to create vaccines.  I know that there are companies using fetal remains to do experiments to perfect the taste of foods.  (This link gives a good overview of both of those examples).  Those are things already happening.  Then, there are ‘bio-ethicists’ such as Jacob Appel proposing that women purposefully sell the parts of their aborted children on the open market;  his article doesn’t speak to the ethics of, perhaps, a woman conceiving for the express purpose of financing her way through school by selling off the body parts of of her offspring.

And then, of course, there are the people eating aborted babies.   It would be better, of course, if we just brought the fetus to term, used it as a sex toy, and then turned it into a health food, but I digress.  [Link]

Honestly, with these and many other examples in mind, it is hard to be surprised when perfectly respectable and upstanding medical institutions decide to ‘go green’ by incinerating aborted children.  What is surprising is that anyone objects to it at all, if you’ve already come to support abortion on demand.

One of the thoughts that assailed me as I read this article was the irony of a country going to war not too long ago to stop another country from shoving people into ovens, now doing the same.

There are some differences, of course.  The English are at least making sure that they are dead, first.  But of course, that is not a point in their favor, exactly, because if you have already decided that abortion is ok…. you’ve already decided that the unborn child is not a child at all, or, if a child, not worthy of protection, or not even concerned about sparing them pain and suffering (further irony loaded into that!) and allowing them (where ‘them’, on their view, means only a ‘lump of cells’) to be scalded by saline, or–my personal favorite–allowing the baby’s head to exit the birth canal, but nothing else, to allow the abortionist to jab scissors into the skull, suck the brains out of it, and then afterwards vacuum the rest of it out (this way, it is not yet a baby;  it is still a fetus.  A magical transformation happens–one of the few bits of magic that liberals, atheists, and pro-choicers believe in–when a baby fully descends down and out of the birth canal; this moment, a fetus.  The next moment, a baby.  Halfway in?  Still a fetus;  kill it at will.)  …

Yes, if you have already decided all that, and are happily giving out abortions to whomever can pay for them, then it is hardly to your credit that you are not shoving them into ovens alive, because a ‘lump of cells’ can’t really be alive, can it?  If you were concerned about that, you wouldn’t have killed it at all.  But you can’t kill what isn’t alive… oh, never mind.

But there is of course, another difference, and that is that the foolish Germans, despite their huge emphasis on efficiency that they had during the period, never thought that perhaps they could use the energy created by incinerating Jews to power their factories.  Leave it to English ingenuity to cover that angle!

There is a very important similarity, and it is this:  the Germans had decided that the Jews were not persons and therefore did not warrant the respect and consideration that we accord to persons (in their mind, the Jews were vermin, like rats), whilst the English have similarly decided that the unborn also are not persons… parasites, rather… and likewise have decided not to accord these little lumps of cells the respect and consideration that we accord to persons.  It is fitting, therefore, that in both cases, the refuse is tossed into an oven.

I assume, of course, that the English ovens are specially designed to ensure that in generating energy they do not pollute the atmosphere.  After all, while it is only appropriate that we do everything in our power to recycle in order to save the earth, we shouldn’t do so carelessly, putting out baby-ash into the atmosphere, undoing what we just achieved by recycling the biological waste products.

I think there are stages of inhuman violence, both privately and publicly.  The first stage, in either case, is a depersonalization of the persons you wish to do violence upon.  Before society comes to accept the same de-personalization, it may be necessary to commit the violence in secret, in the dark of night, say, beneath white hoods lit by burning crosses.  Or, say, in small acts of cruelty, such as breaking the windows of the vermin in your neighborhood.  Or, in the sterile white room, outside the view of onlookers, where children are pulled limb by limb from their mother’s wombs.  It is hard to imagine how, when once someone has decided a person is not a person, and this view has come to permeate a whole society, that violence could not eventually spill out into public in grand,  horrific fashion.

That the ashes of the unborn rose of the civilized and respectable English men and women in public, grand, horrific fashion–yet, unnoticed by them–does not surprise me in the slightest.  (I know, I know.  There were no ashes, because the incineration process was environmentally friendly.  It’s a rhetorical point, savvy?)

The difference between the ‘civilized’ today and the German Nazis of just a few decades ago seems, to me, to amount to nothing more or less than we moderns carrying out our Holocaust in a more civilized fashion.  Obviously, a civilization hosting its Holocaust in privacy is bound to pile up loads more dead than the ones who did it brazenly, but it isn’t just the sheer number that concerns me, but my belief that such depersonalization and violence cannot stay private for long, once a society and culture had collectively decided it is morally justifiable.  We may all wonder who the next to be classified as ‘vermin’ or ‘parasites’ are, but I think we can state with confidence that whoever it is, they will be dispatched in pristine white rooms as part of a ‘procedure.’  But we may be decades from this.  I don’t know.

While assailed by these thoughts, I could not help but note with a wry smile the Dr. Dan Poulter, the health minister seemingly in charge of this matter, declaring that all of these NHS trusts (27 of them, apparently) had engaged in “totally unacceptable” activities.  These same NHS trusts, I wager, are in charge of administering the Liverpool Care Pathway, and we can rest assured that in that at least they have shown much better judgement, and were certainly not guilty of hastening the deaths of the terminally ill and the old in the name of ‘efficiency’ (for which they received awards and rewards!).  Certainly not.

But that is another digression, because I feel pretty confident (without actually looking into it) that Dr. Poulter is a firm supporter of a woman’s reproductive rights, up to and including abortion on demand.  Why should he view incinerating fetal remains as “totally unacceptable” if he has no objections to having them killed in the first place?  Surely it just makes good sense not to let the remains go to waste and instead use them efficiently in the cause of saving the planet.

As in many other cases when private and personal depersonalized violence accidentally (and inevitably) spills out into public to the embarrassment of many ‘civilized’ people, we see people bemoaning something that is far less significant than the underlying violent act that they actually support.   Ie, though it is a sign of the times, and perhaps of all times, it is bizarre that it could be deemed “totally unacceptable” to incinerate the ashes of fetuses but the execution of the fetuses in the first place is, of course, seen as perfectly fine.  After all, a woman has the right to her own body, and all we are really talking about is an unwanted batch of cells that has parasitically taken up residence inside her.  If that’s all it is, then logic ought to suggest that there can be no objection to disposing of those cells unceremoniously, and, if anything, using those cells for the good of the planet or a ‘social good’ should be commended and applauded as “totally acceptable.”

For you see, as abhorrent as I find Jacob Appel’s arguments to be (pretty much all of them, anywhere he has made them, on any topic), he is basically right on the logic:

Of course, those who believe that life begins at conception will never find such a market desirable. But for those of us, myself included, who sincerely believe that human life begins far later in the growth process, I believe that we have a moral duty to women to give due consideration to the legalization of such a fetal-organ trade.

If “human life begins far later in the growth process” as Appel says then it really doesn’t matter what you do with the fetal remains, does it?  May as well put it to a good social or environmental purpose, no?  And if personhood doesn’t kick in until up to the age of 2, like Singer, Giubilini, and Minerva (to name a few) have maintained, then there is no reason why we should be drawing lines even at the birth canal.

Once you’ve gone down this road, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why we should be drawing any lines at all.  They all seem to me to be arbitrary sentimental gobbly-gook.  Some day, when we set that sentiment behind us, we won’t have any silly health ministers decrying the incinerating of remains as ‘unacceptable’ while supporting the procedures that made those remains remains in the first place.  We’ll just man up to the implications of our collective worldview, and act appropriately.  I suppose, if we are all being consistent, there could be a time and place when it will be alright to toss a toddler in the oven, while we’re at it–provided it is to save the planet and does not further pollute it in the process.  And why stop at toddlers?  No one else in history has, once they’ve wandered down the de-personalization process.

—————————-

I went after the English pretty hard in this essay, but don’t we already know that it is entirely likely that precisely the same thing is happening in the good ol’ U S of A?  What’s in the air you’re breathing?

Nothing like the smell of burning baby in the morning!

I know, I know.  Its a fetus, not a baby. And these are efficient ovens.

All the better to conceal the Holocaust that transpired in order to fuel them.

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Author Involvement Central to New Publishing Models

Not too long ago I had someone pitch me a book. The book had good potential, but needed some revisions. As in other cases in my experience, the author was ready to participate in the marketing of the book, but by that it seemed clear that it was going to be publisher-initiated. The author expected me to help him revise his book and then take the lead on advertising it. This is what ‘traditional publishers’ do. I had to explain that A., I am not a publisher in that sense and B., publishers like that are a dying breed. There are of course many cases where publishers will provide these services, and probably always will be. However, there is something really new that is afoot–we may term it the marriage of Print on Demand technologies and the Internet, and just for kicks, the word processor.

Today, every author and his mother can produce a book, and they are. Moreover, the author’s mother is doing the same! Literary agencies and publishers have to cope with a huge influx of submissions while keeping their eye out for the title that they reasonably expect will be able to turn a profit in the era of the Ebook and collapsing brick and mortar book chains–and the continued dominance of Amazon.com.

The demise of the brick and mortar book chains have an important side effect. When the book stores were the primary avenue by which best-sellers were made, the cozy relationship between the publishers and the chains meant that it was easier to block the self-published authors from the path to success. However, with the book stores going under, other avenues such as social media, pay-per-click advertising, and reviews on Amazon, have become increasingly powerful routes to exposure for authors. And anyone can avail themselves of these options. And they are. There is no more blocking anyone from the ‘means of marketing.’

I saw on a literary agent’s web page today a compelling indicator of what this means for publishers. The search was on for “authors with the ability to partner with publishers to market their work.”

In the great melee of authors getting their work out to the masses and making use of tools that publishers themselves are increasingly relying upon, the publishers are looking for authors ready, willing, and able, to take the initiative in marketing their work.

Superfan by Anthony HorvathMany if not most of the authors I interact with (and in this, I will include myself) self-promotion of any kind is just not the kind of thing they find enjoyable. Really, it is downright uncomfortable. Here’s the bad news, friends: TOUGH.

Digital technologies have made it easier than ever to produce, distribute, and market a book. The person best able to advocate for a book is the one who wrote it. That means that if a publisher has to choose between two books of equal quality and the difference lies in the willingness of one author to get out their and hawk their book, that’s the one they’re going to go for. When you are Stephen King or JK Rowling, perhaps you can ignore such uncomfortable realities, but until then, pinning your hopes on finding a publisher that is going to do all the work for you, happily satisfied that they found a quality manuscript, is increasingly just that: a mere hope.

Realities such as these is why I formed Bard and Book Publishing. We are focused here on building a community of readers and authors, and I hope that you will join us. Authors interested in hearing more about my take on digital revolution in book selling should take a look at my latest, a little booklet called: Superfan: How You Can Turn Your Favorite Indie Author Or Artist Into a Star – A “New Economy” Advertising Primer for Authors and the People Who Love Them

The tips in this book can apply as much to authors as to the ‘superfans’ that I call upon to be the authors advocates, since, as I have just argued, the authors themselves are the best advocates for their work.

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What the Ukraine Can Teach us About the Future of America

Actually, a fair number of illustrations from a variety of countries in recent memory could have served.

As I write this, the president of the Ukraine has been deposed and there are tens of thousands of people massed in great, giant, demonstrations.

Have you ever noticed that in a certain *kind* of country, this is the kind of thing necessary in order to get rid of the bad men in charge?  Remember Libya?  Remember Egypt?  It probably would have worked in Iran, too, except for Obama’s refusal to challenge the fraudulent election there.

In saying this, I am not condoning or even applauding these mob actions.  What I am doing is observing that there are certain places where it takes sustained mob action, usually accompanied by severe and significant violence among all the parties (Remember Syria?) to effect a change of governance.  In a stark contrast, the United States changes its course every two years, with hardly any fanfare at all.

Before we consider that unappreciated fact, let us consider why in other countries it takes mob action.

1.  Rampant corruption within the government of that country, including widespread doubt about the legitimacy of ‘elections’ (if they even feign to have one).

In theory the mechanics are there for a peaceful transition of power, but in practice the elections are rigged, and everyone knows it.  Deprived of a functional process for peacefully exerting one’s political will, people look for an alternative.

2.  A total collapse of the rule of law.

This runs parallel to #1, but even in a dictatorship it is possible to have a rule of law.  Critical components of the ‘rule of law’ include constancy and equitable application.  If the law can change on a whim, and does frequently, people live in a constant state of fear that they may be spirited away in the dead of night for doing what had been legal just a day or so earlier.  If the law applies to this person and not that person, the same fear emerges, and bribery and corruption further disenfranchises the great mass who are unable to ‘grease’ the system in their favor.

3.  Safety in numbers.

While the police and the army might be as bloodthirsty as all get out, they still want to live.  If there are more people than bullets, or it is logistically impossible to successfully wipe out the threat without exposing oneself to danger, the government forces will play it cautiously.  Smaller groups, of course, are ripe for the picking;  the people in these countries know this, which is why they try to make the biggest demonstration possible.  There is also the fact, of course, that it would look really bad if word got out that tens of thousands of people were massacred.  See #4.

4.  The people are disarmed.

Since the government has all the guns and all the bullets, if push comes to shove, pretty much the only thing that people have left is to throw their corpses up against the citadel and hope there are enough left alive to clamor over them to take down the government.

It is clear that in the Ukraine, points 1 and 2 were in play.  Probably 3 and 4 as well, but I don’t know enough about the Ukraine to know the details.  In many of the other countries where we have seen great upheavals recently, these 4 general observations seem to fit pretty well.  It would also seem that one of the factors in a successful insurrection is access to technology and the Internet:  turning out enough people to be dangerous on very short notice, before the authorities can put a stop to it, is a massive tactical advantage for the mob.  In places where the authorities have their thumb more firmly on top of the nation’s communication system, it is much harder to organize these kinds of marches.

I notice that in the United States, things are progressively moving in this same direction.  They have been steadily going this way for many, many years, but Obama has put his foot on the accelerator.

More and more elections are coming under suspicion, largely because of the work of leftist groups such as ACORN, but also because of the amazing way that Democrats manage to keep finding new, uncounted ballots.  And lest this be seen as a strictly partisan jab, I am aware that the left is also concerned about election stealing.   While I think they are the ones doing most of the stealing and the number one cause for why the elections are increasingly becoming suspect, that doesn’t change the fact that both the left and the right, as well as the middle, are feeling like their vote counts for less and less each passing election.

The rule of law has been under siege for decades in the United States.  The signs of its decay are everywhere.  In my estimation, and the estimation of many others, a total collapse could occur just about any time.  Obama certainly has not helped this with his constant usurpation of the legislative branch and his heavy handed use of government agencies to get what he wants.  The use of the IRS to undermine Tea Party groups obviously undermines the validity of the 2012 election.  We are to believe, for example, that the reasons for the 2010 GOP revolution ceased to exist in just two short years.  It is hard to prove, of course, but it would seem that the anti-Obama vote was suppressed, and the current administration does not have its power because a majority of the populace wanted it to.  It does not have to be proved;  what I’m saying is that the suspicion is enough by itself, and the fact that it can neither be proved or disproved adds to the many other suspicions that people already have.

I am absolutely certain that bribery is going on.  However, the various exemptions and extensions of Obamacare, in defiance of the actual legal language of Obamacare, the sweet deals given to places like Solyndra, the use of government agencies to sue the pants off of organizations and individuals that do not have the same capacity to print more money to pay for the lawyers, the use and manipulation of courts to achieve that which the ballot box did not allow (ie, gay marriage), and so on and so forth, like an avalanche, all illustrate how the ‘rule of law’ is on its way out in the United States–some wonder if it is already completely gone.  One thing is for sure, the only people following the law are the great mass of people–because they know they are the only ones subject to it;  the rich, the privileged, the elite, and so on do not have to follow the law, and aren’t.

In short, we are rapidly approaching a point in the U.S. where there is not even the hope that we can change things by changing the law;  the very people and organizations and institutions we want our law to restrain will gleefully violate it anyway, and know that they’ll be able to get away with it.

As far as #4 goes, I don’t think anyone failed to notice that the Obama administration wanted to heavily restrict gun ownership.  Nor does anyone doubt, not if they are being honest, that if liberals could get their way, the only people who would have guns in this country are government officials… who, ideally, the liberals would control.

In saying this, I am not necessarily doubting the sincerity of the many liberals who believe they are acting in the public interest with such measures.  But that’s the nice thing about well-meaning, sincere people:  they can lay the foundation for tyranny (or bad outcomes, more generally) and then be surprised when things didn’t turn out the way they expected.  That’s why one of the liberal’s favorite sayings is, “Well, yes, there are always going to be ‘bumps in the road.'”  They figure as long as they had good intentions, everything can eventually be worked out–the assumption being, of course, that the people they put in power have the same good intentions.  But see #1 and #2.

There is a #5, but I think it is in a different category, though still important for us to consider.  Namely, in the Ukraine and elsewhere where we have seen these mob actions, there are very often sectarian and ethnic divisions that serve to further create problems.  When Group A controls the government, and numbers #1 and #2 and #4 are seen as realities by Group B, then Group B has no choice but to resort to #3.  And if Group B succeeds in their insurrection, of course now it is Group A’s turn to resort to #3.

There is no question that liberals and progressives and Democrats in the United States are constantly engaged in ‘identity politics.’  They are doing everything in their power to foment class envy and will engage in race baiting whenever they can;  who else do we see constantly warning about a ‘war on women’?  You hear a lot of tripe out of them about ‘unity’ but in their policies and their actions, the truth emerges that it is they that are creating this country’s divisions.  They feel that they need these abused sub-populations in order to win elections (as if the elections were fair!), and in this they are probably correct.  But in the long run, in creating all of these groups, it is inevitable  that there will be one or more groups that have been disenfranchised per points #1 and #2, and knowing that their government does not fear them and has all of the means of destruction (see #4), this will force the people in these groups to believe that their only recourse is to take to the streets and burn things down.  Naturally, rival groups that the liberals helped create and delineate will meet them with clubs and knives and whatever other lethal instrument the liberals haven’t yet outlawed.

I have noticed an increase in massive marches and demonstrations in the United States over the last ten years.  Some see this as a healthy by-product of democracy.  I think it is the opposite.  I think it is an indicator that democracy is in some stage of collapse.  Certainly, any legitimate democracy should grant a free right to assemble, but that the people feel they have to assemble in the first place in order for anything to get done means that there is the stench of something very rotten in Denmark.  It isn’t easy to put one’s finger on what it is–but that’s precisely part of the problem.   If you want to get a feel for how the Republic is really doing these days, don’t look to that meaningless ‘State of the Union’ speech given by the president each year.  Look to the streets and see how many, and how often, the people are coursing through them.

And if you don’t like it, you best take a hard look at #1 and #2.  Just because it is “your guys” in the government doing things you like by fiat, doesn’t mean in a long run that its good for the country.

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