Hardcore History: James Burke & the K-Web

I have listened to all of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (wish I could say the same for Common Sense. I’m still missing the first 40 or so of those) and they’ve all been good. I would have had a hard time picking the best episode…

…Until now. I know, I know, this episode was rough, it didn’t have the polished edges of the rest of the episodes.

But
It’s
James Burke!

C’mon.

I’ve been a fan of this guy since I saw Connections 1 several years ago. I just recently caught Connections 3, and I guess I’m going to have to track down Connections 2 on my own because no one seems to be airing them.

I’m apparently not the same caliber of fan that Dan Carlin is, though. I’ve never even heard of American Connections before, and I put The Day the Universe Changed on my wishlist based on Carlin’s glowing praise alone.

While all of the interview was worth listening to, I was intrigued by Mr. Burke’s latest project The Knowledge Web. While not really up and running yet, the concept sounds a lot like Connections; which was intriguing to me at first glance because it reminded me of the way I used to read the encyclopedia; not from front to back, but from reference to reference.

Can’t wait to see it finished.

How about NO income tax?

So, I’m catching up on the podcasts, walking the dogs, and I spend an hour listening to CATO pundits and others go on about The Simplified Tax: A Bold Plan to End the AMT and Overhaul the Income Tax and I’m thinking to myself the whole time “How about NO income tax?”

We funded all the necessary functions of goverment for 150 years without one, why do we need on now? Beyond that even; what business is it, of anybodies, how much you make? Your employer needs to know so he can cut the checks, and you need to know so that you know how much you have to spend, save, invest, etc.

They tell you, in most corporations “don’t discuss wages with other employees, it’s a sensitive subject” but if I can’t talk about it with Bob over a beer, why would I want to discuss it with the tax man? Let alone be compelled to avow to it in writing on penalty of additional taxes being levied?

No thanks on that one. I think I’m pleading the fifth the next time the subject comes up.

The income tax needs to end (as well as 90% if the other taxes currently in existence) and not be replaced with anything. If they need additional funds to run the government, they can just sell more lottery tickets.

FFrF Radio: Secular Songs

Something that I’ve actually enjoyed while listening to the program. Not so much Dan Barker’s singing, but the other artists who are free thinkers whose works get mentioned and played makes a list too long to get into here.

Podcast link

Amongst the regular recurring songs (Ain’t it the Truth, It Ain’t Necessarily So, etc.) were several other songs I’d never heard before, including one by John Lennon (Found Out) and one by XTC (Dear God) I’m going to have to pick up an XTC album.



2006 Archive episode.

December 30, 2006 – Steven Pinker – Ghost in the machine? He doesn’t think so. The staggering complexity of the neural network in the brain is enough to explain consciousness. I don’t know that I agree with his argument, but he makes a pretty good case.

Several songs featured in this episode as well. Dan Barker’s rendition of Die Gedanken sind frei most prominently. Also a tribute to Auld Lang Syne composer Robert Burns at the end of Freethinkers Almanac.

What to do When Pulled Over

That’s the question that’s answered in the CATO Daily Podcast episode Free Riding featuring Timothy Lynch.

If you just want the information (especially since he’s not offering legal advice) it’s probably simpler to just go to this link to the ACLU and get their wallet card that covers the basics; such as:

IF YOU’RE STOPPED IN YOUR CAR


1. Upon request, show them your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant as long as the police have probable cause. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a sob story involving someone consenting to a search when they just knew their vehicle was clean. The answer should always be “I’m sorry, but I do not consent to a search”.

If you want to go beyond “police encounters 101” then you might want to check out the video at Flex Your Rights called Busted. I haven’t seen it myself, but the blurb on the website sounds interesting.

FFrF Radio: A Freethought Solstice holiday

Podcast link.

Freethought in the movies this week. Several good movies mentioned, including the aforementioned Golden Compass (which I enjoyed greatly, and I hope to read the book soon) O Brother Where Art Thou, Chocolat, Contact and Blade Runner all favorites of mine. There were also I few I hadn’t seen, such as The Contender, A Raisin in the Sun, Elmer Gantry, Inherit the Wind and several foreign language films whose titles I didn’t catch. More films are listed here.

“Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding.”

Clarence Darrow

I noticed that the hosts and guests to the show spend a lot of time correcting the usage of the word Christmas to the phrase “Solstice Holiday”. The word Christmas doesn’t have anything to do with the word christian as it is used in the US; and I’ve pointed this out before. I’m not giving up the word Christmas just because Santa is my solstice holiday icon; and I’m not going to change the date of Christmas to coincide with the actual solstice, so I don’t see the point of renaming it Solstice Holiday. It’s Christmas, and It’s going to stay Christmas, a secularized solstice holiday that features a jolly red elf. Get over it.

Although I did like the point (and have made this point myself before) that the Puritans who settled North America left England because they objected to Roman Catholic excess; namely the celebration of holidays not found in scripture. Like Christmas.

So much for the christian reason for the season.



2006 Archive episode.

December 23, 2006 – Confessions of a Lonely AtheistThe acknowledgment of Robert Ingersoll in the Freethinkers almanac segment reminds me of the so far unmentioned part of the show that I actually look forward to on each podcast. You actually don’t have to listen to the shows to get this information, you can find it here. The guest this week was Natalie Angier, discussing her article Confessions of a Lonely Atheist, and the advancing numbers of self acknowledging Atheists in the US these days. She also discusses raising a child in this religious fevered nation (no place like Texas for that, so I can identify) and what that entails.

Also the debut of the song Intelligent? Design? is in this episode.

Intelligent? Design?
by Phillip Appleman
Set to music by Dan Barker

Your eyes have seen a blurry scene
that’s only known to man.
You’re optic nerves are backward
and have been since time began.
That’s what the preachers tell you
is god’s very special plan.
Intelligent design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
The great designer knows what’s due ya.
Nothing else can stick it to ya like
Intelligent Design!

You wish a guy’s urethra did
The jobs that were proposed:
Both lover’s clout and waterspout
Is what you had supposed.
Alas, the Great Designer squeezed
A prostate ’round your hose:
Intelligent Design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Nowhere does the Bible clue ya
That your glands would soon subdue ya:
Intelligent Design!

Your tummies sick, your heart goes tick,
your hips are giving in.
childbirth is a horror
’cause your pelvis is to thin.
when your appendix ruptures,
the designer only grins.
Intelligent Design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Making do will have to do ya
flim-flammers cooked this up to screw ya
Intelligent Design!

Sung to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Too funny.

FFrF Radio: Scary Mitt Romney & Steve Benson’s first appearance

Podcast Link.
December 15, 2007Recent, successful state/church litigants

Scary Mitt Romney. Just listen to the speech. Sheesh.
…And I thought Huckabee was a religious fruitcake.

More talk about court successes. Not the kind of seasonal fare I’m after.


2006 Archive episode.
December 16, 2006Reason’s Greetings!

Theocracy alert features an expose on “Christian Embassy” within the military, which violates several rules governing the military.

Tom Flynn (the guest) is your average Christmas humbug (I’ve met several over the years. If I didn’t have children, I might have become one) I have a hard time paying attention to these types of people. Although he does go into the various myths that contributed to the Jesus birth myth that is tied to Christmas (Secular Solstice Holiday. I’ve said this before) it’s not anything that the average student of the holiday probably hasn’t heard before. If you haven’t, give it a listen.

FFrF Radio: The Golden Compass

Podcast link.
December 8, 2007The Golden Compass Rumpus!

The title says it all. I thought Phillip Pullman was going to come unglued when Dan Barker asserted that the books were not children’s books. I understand where both of them are coming from. Having heard several reviewers state that they did not think the film (and books) were suitable for children, I’m sure Pullman was anxious not to feed the fire of “inappropriateness” that seems to follow so many books that are popular with children these days (the Harry Potter series, just to name one) which lead him to object that the books were “most certainly children’s books”.

But I tend to agree more with Barker’s assertion that they are not children’s books; not because they are inappropriate for children, but because they are not written for children alone. The movie definitely appeals to adult audiences as well as children. I was there opening weekend myself, and I have nothing but praise for the film.

As far as story content goes, it’s hands down the best of the epic fantasy films I’ve seen (and I think I’ve seen all of them so far) and the effects are also top-notch. I can’t think of anything that I would object to, no matter the age of the audience viewing it.


Having now read the book The Golden Compass, I think I can see why hard core fans would object to portions of the film. The film doesn’t strictly follow the book. It doesn’t betray the spirit of the book (the way that Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers destroys one of the central characters, Faramir, of Lord of the Rings) but still, there are significant departures from the book by the film. I’d have a hard time saying one is better than the other, though. I think this is a good example of a Boovie.


2006 Archive episode.
December 9, 2006From “Latter-day Saint” to “Latter-day Ain’t”: Steve Benson

Steve Benson’s first appearance on the show. All of his appearances have been worth listening to. In this episode he speaks at length about his separation from the Mormon church. His description of the origins of the Mormon church is priceless.

Free MP3 download of “Salt Lake City Blues”

FFrF Radio: Litigants & Breaking the Spell of Religion

Podcast link.
December 1, 2007Guests: Michael Newdow & Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers

It’s funny. I recently read an article from some humanist group or other asserting that there weren’t any Atheist groups supporting the lawsuit that wanted to remove under god from the pledge of allegiance.

Truthfully, I just want to remove the whole idea of a pledge, myself.

I found the interview with Ernie Chambers far more interesting. Anyone who is so unpopular with the powers that be that they pass a law targeting him specifically…

…I just want to shake that guys hand. Good luck to you, Mr. Chambers.


2006 Archive episode.
December 2, 2006Breaking the Spell of Religion

Introduction of the concept of ‘bright‘ by the guest Prof. Daniel C. Dennett (author of the book by the same title) His approach to religion as a societally important issue is quite thought provoking. Comparing sugar, music, alcohol and religion. There are natural reasons why all of these things are a part of human history. Religion exists because medicine and ritual were originally combined, and those who responded positively to ritual responded better to primitive medicine, which lead to a better survival rate. We are genetically programmed to respond to ritual through selection pressure.

Stephen Weinberg excerpt, from a speech at the Salk institute.

Freethinkers Almanac features Samuel Clements.

FFrF Radio: Atheist in an Iraqi Foxhole

Podcast link.
November 24, 2007Atheist in an Iraqi Foxhole

Theocracy Alert. Pat Robertson. Can you find anything to like about this guy? (Answer: not really) Rick Perry campaigning for Rudy Giuliani. That worked out well. Now we just need to get rid of Perry.

Freethinkers Almanac. The King of Ragtime – Scott Joplin, Jodi Foster & Voltaire. Want more info? Check the calendar.

Jeremy Hall finally gets on the air (Mikey Weinstein spoke in his place previously) Here’s this guy, putting his life on the line for his country, and he has to be given a body guard because of threats against his life from inside our own military; all because he’s an Atheist and simply wants to talk to other Atheists where he’s stationed.

Land of the Free?


“Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.”


Abbie Hoffman

2006 Archive episode.
November 25, 2006Ron Reagan on Stem-cell Research

Elton John on religion. Salk Conference.

Ron Reagan. This episode reveals that much of what was said on the first nationally aired episode was contained in this previous interview. This interview seems a bit more fresh, almost like he’s given this interview too many times since this aired.

The interview is about a lot more than stem cells.

Freethinkers Almanac. Lydia Maria Child & Voltaire.

The Origin of Government Corruption

Dan Carlin’s Common Sense – Show 112 – The Big Corruption Show (only 4 shows this time. He must be more on his game) The whole basis for the show’s name is a sort of miscue.

The US government is corrupt. Duh. The nature of the corruption is campaign contributions. No, it’s not.

The nature of the corruption is influence peddling; the ability of representatives to grant benefits to contributors is why the contributions occur in the first place. In the 1800’s this was predominately seen in land deals for corporate sponsors. In the 1900’s it morphed into corporate welfare schemes, and other types of wealth transfers; a function of the Monopoly money that was created in 1913.

The way to fix it is to divest the government of all property outside of those parcels of land necessary to conduct government business; and to remove the basically unconstitutional Federal Reserve. Don’t hold your breath on either of those things coming to pass.

More access for candidates at public expense (Dan’s solution) just widens the trough that the useless talking heads we already get too much of, feed at. It won’t fix anything.