Archive for March, 2015

Whether Religion should be Mocked

March 30, 2015 | By | Reply More

Hemant Mehta argues that religion needs to be mocked, but only in the right way with the right type of audience, and using the right tone. Mockery is a form of criticism, he states, and many aspects of religion deserve to be criticized.


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Little coverage of these important stories by the corporate media

March 29, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

If the media were really liberal, we would see a lot more coverage regarding these issues:

1. Where the jobs went.

2. Upward wealth redistribution and/or inequality.

3. ALEC.

4. The number of people in prison.

5. The number of black people in prison.

6. U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world.

7. Glass-Steagall.

8. Gerrymandering.

9. The number of bills blocked by Republicans in Congress.

10. The Citizens’ United Supreme Court decision

11. Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

12. Tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy.

13. What’s happening to the bees?

14. The impact of temporary workers on our economy.

15. Media consolidation

If the media were “liberal,” it would serve the public interest and shine a light on issues like the ones above.

More people would also have a better understanding of global warming, peak oil, population growth, political lobbying, government’s role in a functioning economy, how much we spend on the military, and countless other issues.

What you’re more likely to see in the media, however, are stories designed to get you to buy their paper, or watch their show, or listen to their radio station. If it bleeds, it leads. This is why the media is concerned with scandal, celebrities, gossip, and fear.

If anything, our news consists of paid advertisements and outlets too scared of offending anyone to publish much of substance. Investigative journalism is also expensive; entertainment is cheap. . .

One way to approach the topic is to simply ask: If we have a “liberal media,” where are the liberal stories?


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Transubstantiation disproven

March 29, 2015 | By | Reply More

Explosive headline concerning the alleged transubstantiation. Here’s the title and opening sentence:

Vatican reeling as DNA tests show communion wafers contain 0% Christ

The Vatican is this morning facing a further crisis after routine DNA tests revealed that the communion wafers used in Sunday mass contain 0% of the body and blood of Christ.


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More on endless and increasing American warmongering

March 27, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

Alternet gives us real numbers on the cost of endless warmongering:

President Obama and Senator John McCain, who have clashed on almost every conceivable issue, do agree on one thing: the Pentagon needs more money. Obama wants to raise the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2016 by $35 billion more than the caps that exist under current law allow. McCain wants to see Obama his $35 billion and raise him $17 billion more. Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees attempted to meet Obama’s demands by pressing to pour tens of billions of additional dollars into the uncapped supplemental war budget.

What will this new avalanche of cash be used for? A major ground war in Iraq? Bombing the Assad regime in Syria? A permanent troop presence in Afghanistan? More likely, the bulk of the funds will be wielded simply to take pressure off the Pentagon’s base budget so it can continue to pay for staggeringly expensive projects like the F-35 combat aircraft and a new generation of ballistic missile submarines. Whether the enthusiastic budgeteers in the end succeed in this particular maneuver to create a massive Pentagon slush fund, the effort represents a troubling development for anyone who thinks that Pentagon spending is already out of hand.


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War on Terror: The medicine is worse than the disease

March 27, 2015 | By | Reply More

Common Dreams reports:

In their joint report— Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror—Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that this number is staggering, with at least 1.3 million lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone since the onset of the war following September 11, 2001.

According to Gould’s forward, co-authored with Dr. Tim Takaro, the public is purposefully kept in the dark about this toll.

“A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization cause by decades of outside military intervention,” they write. “As such, under-reporting of the human toll attributed to ongoing Western interventions, whether deliberate of through self-censorship, has been key to removing the ‘fingerprints’ of responsibility.”


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What’s Old in St. Louis?

March 25, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

I own an old house in the Shaw Neighborhood of the City of St. Louis, a gorgeous historic neighborhood. The houses are works of art–unique works of stone and brick. My house is especially old, built in 1894. A few days ago, I wondered what is was like to live in Shaw at about the time my house was first built. I posted my thought on a neighborhood list, and received more than a few suggestions. One of those included this link to a page that shows when every house in the St. Louis area was built. Using this page, I can see that when my house was built it was surrounded by large tracts of undeveloped land.

Other people suggested I take a look at drawings by Dry and Compton. I hadn’t heard of this work before, but it was exactly what I was looking for. In 1875, a company called Dry and Compton sent balloonists sailing into the sky with map experts who somehow divided the city into a big grid and then made precise comprehensive drawings of each of section of this grid. The individual drawings can be found in a large old book. I went to the Mercantile Library (at the University of Missouri) last night to take photos of some of the drawings, focusing on my own neighborhood. I then created the attached composite photos of the Shaw Neighborhood, as best I could given that the grids don’t fit together perfectly. The resulting collection of images gave me a very good idea of what the Shaw neighborhood looked like in 1875.

Dry and Compton - Shaw neighborhood extra lo res

For those familiar with the area, the above image focuses on the Shaw Neighborhood itself, with Tower Grove Park located at the bottom right of the image. To get one’s bearings, note the location of the Compton Heights Reservoir along Grand (with the Water Tower, which would not be built until 1898.

The image below focuses on Tower Grove Park and the area to the south of the park. I love that these resources are available to enable this trip through time. Click on either of these images for much greater detail.

TGP area - Dry and Compton - extra lo res


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What’s new on Catholic radio

March 25, 2015 | By | 3 Replies More

Not much is new on Catholic radio.

Here in St. Louis, we have a Catholic radio station. Sometimes I listen to try to understand how Catholics think (I was raised Catholic). Yesterday, a woman called in and reported that her parish priest was serving up grape juice instead of wine to the 7-year old children who were about to receive their First Communion. She was upset because it isn’t proper to drink grape juice. Ten minute conversation ensued, with the radio hosts urging her to confront her priest, and then report this to his superiors if he didn’t change his ways.

I was thinking, “What would Jesus do?” (assuming that there were a divine Jesus). I couldn’t imagine any person with any heart sending a child to hell because she drank grape juice instead of wine.

Next caller wanted a clarification about the doctrine of papal infallibility. Another 10 minute discussion–it left me completely bewildered. Metaphors heaped onto metaphors, framed with utter vagueness. It reminded me of Daniel Dennett’s characterization of theology as “tennis without a net.”

Today, a caller wanted to know why priests couldn’t get married. The expert answer: Ao that they could focus on the important work they do. The voice in my head then said, “That’s why all the CEOs of all the big corporations are celibate and unmarried (as well as all professional athletes, entertainers, politicians, doctors and computer programmers).


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Falling through the center of the earth

March 24, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

Fascinating thought experiment now has a more precise answer:

Suppose you dug a tunnel through the center of Earth, jumped in, and let gravity pull you through. How long would it take you to reach the other side of the planet? For decades, physics students have been asked to calculate that time and have been taught that the correct answer is 42 minutes. Now, a more realistic analysis has lopped 4 minutes off that estimate.


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No way out for Democracy?

March 23, 2015 | By | Reply More

Robert Kuttler is pessimistic about meaningful democracy in the U.S., as I am. In his article, “Why the 99% keeps losing, he gives the following reasons:

  • Reason One. The Discrediting of Politics Itself.
  • Reason Two. Compromised Democrats.
  • Reason Three. The Reign of Politicized Courts and Big Money.
  • Reason Four. The Collapse of Equalizing Institutions.
  • Reason Five. Bewildering Changes in How Jobs Are Structured.
  • Reason Six. The Internalization of a Generation’s Plight.
  • Reason Seven. The Absence of a Movement.

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