Friday, May 4, 2012

The Muslim Backlash

Related to my point about people judging the Bible on a different set of standards than the Koran, here's Conor Friedersdorf writing about the backlash Muslims have faced since 9/11.

It sounds to me like there was a significant backlash in 2001, and that even after that, hate crimes against Muslims stayed from three to five times more likely than they were before the terrorist attacks. And, of course, hate-crime statistics are hardly the only valid measure of discrimination.

We need to stop blaming all Muslims for the actions of a very select few. We don't tolerate that with any other religion or ethnic group; we shouldn't tolerate it against Muslims, either.

Monkey Helpers

I don't recall hearing about monkeys being trained as service animals before, but this is rather amazing. I have to say, though, that as someone with MS (relapsing-remitting, not progressive) this was particularly hard to watch.

Maybe I'll have a monkey someday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Koran = Bad, Bible = Good??

I heard some coworkers talking about something today that bothered me. Somehow discussion came to the Middle East and Muslims and one woman brought up the Koran. She said she and her daughter had read parts of it after 9/11 to try to understand why the terrorists did what they did. Based on her readings, she determined that Muhammad was crazy and that Muslims just had radical notions that were completely antithetical to Western beliefs. The guy she was talking to nodded in agreement and said some things that weren't much better. Both of these people are nominal Christians.

Whenever anyone brings up the Koran and things they've read in it (or heard were in it), I wonder if they've read the Bible. I mean really read it. There is a lot of messed up things there. Too many people seem to conveniently overlook these parts when they talk about their wonderful Christian faith. But being a Christian should mean grappling with the hard parts of the Bible and not just the Beatitudes. Let's take a look at some troubling passages in the Bible.

1 Timothy 2:12

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

Sure, there are some denominations that still believe in this passage, but most don't. Why not?

Psalm 137:7-9

Everyone likes Psalm 137, right? It's quite beautiful. Many people never seem to make it to the last couple of verses, though.

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

I know there are some Christians that seem to get excited about violence, but how many think it's okay to pray for the death of babies?

Exodus 21:20-21

And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

So, according to the Bible, a slave owner who beats his slave to death should be punished; but if the slave lives then the slave owner is free and clear? Got it. How come I haven't heard any preacher building a sermon based on this passage?

I could go on, but I'll let you find some more fun verses on your own. My point with this is not to say that the Bible is monstrous and should be thrown out. My point is to say that the Bible is very similar to the Koran in that there are some very beautiful things in each and some very troublesome things. We can't look at either with blinders (or blast helmets) on and make judgments on fragments. We must be fair and evaluate the whole. Perhaps you'll come to the conclusion that one or both are full of garbage and only idiots would read them for guidance in life. That's your prerogative. However, you should make your judgment based on a fair reading of the entire text and not just the bits and pieces that support your preconceived notions.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shep Smith Calls It Like He Sees It

Here's your funny for the day.

Why don't more anchors do this? Are they so desperate for the attention and adoration of famous figures that they are too scared to call a spade a spade? Whatever it is, it's not healthy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One More Reason I Don't Joint a Political Team

Conor Friedersdorf writes about how ideological voters are easy to manipulate.

The fact is that ideological voters are easy to manipulate. Think of the last presidential election. Conservatives had been complaining about John McCain for years. What did it take for them to rally around the Arizona senator? A vice-presidential pick and the perception that the media was attacking her unfairly. This makes no logical sense. The media's treatment of Sarah Palin had no bearing on whether or not McCain would be a good president, or sufficiently better than Obama to justify conservatives going out to the polls for him despite their misgivings and the signal it sent about the future -- that the base is always going to rally around the Republican in the end.

I won't hide my liberal proclivities, but I don't want to be a Democrat. I don't want to feel pressure to conform to the party line even when I disagree with it. It's too easy to say, especially in a two-party system, that your team is the good guys while the other party is the Evil, Scary, Un-American Other who will probably, most likely wish to do unspeakable things to you. How can we have effective governance when politicians spend more time telling us how bad the other person is instead of what their ideas are? Ideas get dismissed out of hand as soon as someone from the other team espouses them. See for example the origins of the ACA ("Obamacare"). It's basically a bill built on Republican dogma! But as soon as the Democrats embraced it, it became an unconstitutional assault on our freedoms.

There's a reason the Founding Fathers were wary of political parties. Perhaps it was naive of them, but it's hard to say that political parties have really done much to benefit our country, especially when today's Republican Party has gone completely off the deep end.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Question of Spaces and Periods

I've made no secret of my disdain for using two spaces after a period. What amazes me is how prevalent it is. It's been a year or two since typewriters were widely used and you'd think that would be more than enough time for this dinosaur to be laid to rest. Alas, 'tis not so. I made a crack about this on Facebook today after reading a coworker's report that somehow managed to put three spaces after a period. Lo and behold, Two Spacers jumped out claiming that they were correct.

I don't want to hurt any feelings here, but Two Spacers are wrong. Here is Grammar Girl with the skinny.

Although how many spaces you use is ultimately a style choice, using one space is by far the most widely accepted and logical style. The Chicago Manual of Style (1), the AP Stylebook (2), and the Modern Language Association (3) all recommend using one space after a period at the end of a sentence. Furthermore, page designers have written in begging me to encourage people to use one space because if you send them a document with two spaces after the periods, they have to go in and take all the extra spaces out.

Okay. Okay. It's a style choice, so feel free to use it if you must. Just don't be surprised if I'm editing your document and I do a find and replace to make all of the double spaces into single spaces.

Once More Unto the Blog, Dear Friends

So, it's been a little more than a year since my last post and it's time to bring it back. It's something I think about nearly every day. It calls to me. "Youuu...muuuusssst...wriiiiite!" it says to me in a dry, crackling whisper. It calls to me and I must heed its demands. My goal is to post once a day, except maybe on Saturdays. During the week, look for shorter posts on whatever catches my fancy at the moment. On Sundays, look for longer pieces. I think I'm also going to start featuring some of my fiction. It's a good incentive to get back into that. Look first up for a sequel to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" which I seem to have gotten myself into on Facebook. Also, I think I'll start featuring some of my photography which will again be good incentive. The game's afoot!