Jesus Freak

We bring these bastards to justice. We hold them to account for their words and their actions and their endless treason. We drop the hammer on fascism so goddamn hard that these miserable fucks and their craven shitty stormtroopers never dare show their faces again.

There is no compromise with those who would murder us for their own profit. 

stonekettle

This was what was going on over on Conservative Reddit on January 6th, 2022. One year after Trump’s failed attempt at a Coup d’état the coup participants are still engaged in whataboutism. As the poster of the image in r/MarchAgainstNazis pointed out, this is typical behavior for Trumpists who still think they are the real conservatives in the United States right now.

A number of people who want to preserve the label Conservative from it’s ultimate demise in today’s America objected to the representation that the image featured sentiments that Conservatives are sympathetic to. There were other labels offered up as options that were more appropriate. Fascist was one of them.

I rather like fascist as a label for Trumpists, but it is a little overly general. Try defining fascist, it’s a lot harder than you think it will be. Are they fascists? Probably. It’s a pretty safe bet to say they are fascists, but if you are going to take the time to critique the behavior it’s better to have more than just a label to slap on it so that you can shout it at them.

I prefer the label that I created for them. They are the MAGA or the Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, thereby using their own language against them. Half the time I use the initialism I get likes from MAGA’s just because I used MAGA in a sentence. That is how blind most online resistance is.

The MAGA’s are the greatest threat that world civilization currently faces. They are the greatest threat because they are anti-science, anti-climate change and antivaxx and the list goes on and on. They are the greatest threat because they want to go back to fighting Muslims and the Chinese and whichever other ethnic group out there that they just can’t stomach instead of admitting that the problem with America is Americans. At least Americans that still support Caudito Trump.

I have taken to referring to the MAGA in generally more recognizable terms these days. I call them White Nationalists, like the Nazis were and still are or Christianists, the people who think that christian is a thing and that thing should be the thing everyone else values, namely capitalism and greed with a soupçon of nativism and isolationism. The prosperity gospel on steroids that is running rampant through what remains of the Religious Right.

The people who marched on the Capitol a year ago today chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” built a scaffold to hang him on, and then proceeded to force their way into the building beating cops all the way to their final destination were supporting Christianism and White Nationalism whether they knew this fact or not. I would further hazard the guess that most of the people who stormed the capitol also self-identify as Evangelical Christians. Most of the people who supported Trump and still support him are Evangelicals. They are Christianists of a more specific type.

There were several replies to the sub-thread I started that objected to the Christianist label. They wanted to split the hair infinitely. They wanted to be Christian instead of just whatever sect of Christianity that they participate in, but christian isn’t a thing that I’ve ever been able to define because there are people who want to be called Christian that disagree with each other about every single thing that Jesus said and every single thing mentioned in their holy book as defining what a christian is or would be.

So there aren’t Christians, there are just christians, a loose conglomeration of peoples that avow Christianity while not following it’s teachings. One can be a Jesus Freak and not be a christian; however you can’t be a Jesus Freak and be a Christianist. The two are incompatible. Christianism requires a militancy that Jesus would never have tolerated. Jesus was a lover not a fighter.

Thomas Jefferson was the original Jesus Freak. He took the time to excise everything from his personal bible that wasn’t a thing that Jesus could have said or done and not been miraculous. That is the definition of a freak, a fanboy, a geek for Jesus.

I was also a Jesus Freak in my youth. I loved everything Jesus. The whole god thing was an inscrutable mystery to me, but I loved me some Jesus. When I started drafting I spent a lot of time listening to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar:

spotify

I listened to it so many times that my mentor essentially forbade me from listening to it again. That is how I define Jesus Freak. However, decades of being immersed in the slowly evolving milieu that became modern Christianity drove me further and further away from my admiration for Jesus, just as discovering what Star Trek fandom was turning into ruined my appreciation of everything but the original series, stuck like a fly in the amber of the 1960’s.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a lot like Classic Trek in that you can’t change what it says in the original recording. You can only make a Next Generation Superstar and that won’t be the classic version no matter how loud you yell about how good it is. The militarism will prove that you don’t understand what the classic version was all about. I can still enjoy those original cast recordings. I’m listening to them as I write this.

As the decades continued to advance I lost my freakishness. I couldn’t stomach innocuous songs like Jesus is just Alright anymore. He wasn’t alright. Not if you just sing the song and don’t pay attention to the philosophy behind the name. I finally admitted to the break with the religion of my youth back in 2010. I never understood the need for gods anyway. Jesus’ teachings were worthy beliefs to follow, but not if I had to put myself next to people who happily spat on the poor and disabled and pretend that I wasn’t revolted by their callow natures.

Today, I look at these people who use their religion as an excuse to interfere in secular government and I can’t help but recall Jesus’ parable on paying taxes. If you want to resort to militancy in your goals for government, you can do it without your crutch of religion. If you instead use your religion as an excuse to beat your neighbor that you disagree with, then you aren’t a Christian. You might want to go back to studying your scripture.

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

Matthew 22:20-21

Beware the Woo: Pox Party

Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker

Friedrich Nietzsche

Back at the dawn of time, before there was modern medicine, there was the flawed notion that the thing that didn’t kill you made you stronger. A broken bone healed back stronger than the original bone. Surviving a childhood disease meant that you had a better chance of surviving being exposed to the disease as an adult.

None of this is actually true. A broken bone is more brittle at the point of breakage and will tend to break again. Childhood diseases can cause adult diseases that are even worse. Adversity can hone tenacity, but adversity also hardens hearts and warps desires. One does not walk causally into fire hoping to get scars. That would be stupid.

My mother was a Christian Scientist. She didn’t believe in science or medicine in a general sense. Medicine had killed her mother as far as she was concerned, and she never forgave it for doing that. This was also not true, but there was little point in arguing with her about the facts of health, disease, and the slow acquisition of knowledge. My mother went to her death denying she had cancer and refusing treatments for the cancer that she had been diagnosed with. This is what happens when you deny science. When you deny reality.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of staying a few days at a friend’s house for a pox party when he was infected with some disease or other that caused little red pustules to appear on your skin. This had been a common practice in generations previous to mine. In the time before vaccines were available for the many kinds of infections that can kill us. Some diseases, it was decided, were better to catch as a child because the disease caught as an adult could kill you much easier.

The people back in the early 1900’s didn’t know about Shingles or the fact that it was caused by the same virus that caused Chicken Pox because they had no tools that could discover these tiny bits of life code that float freely around us and in us. Not until the creation of more powerful microscopes could they see that there were infectious agents even smaller than bacteria, and it was decades after that before they could sequence the DNA and determine which viruses did what things to people.

They just knew that sickness was all around them, and that children were stronger than adults were. Sometimes these children died from the infections they were exposed to, but those were the weak children anyway. At least, that is what the parents of the surviving children told themselves. By 1968(ish) when I was taken to the pox party that I remember, there were vaccines for most of these infectious diseases, and the children around me had been vaccinated with the early versions of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) That vaccination is on my shot record as being given to me and it would have been required of all the other children, too. There was no vaccine for Chicken Pox until long after I was too old to get it, though.

Ever anxious to engage in whatever alternative medicine that was being practiced around her, my mother dutifully surrendered me to the quarantined house and I was exposed to whatever it was that my friend was sick with. He had a pretty bad infection, and several of the children who stayed with him also had pretty bad infections. None of them seemed to lead to any complications, but it is hard to judge the harm of an action until some time afterwards. The virus that causes Chicken Pox is one of the herpes family of virus, it stays with you all your life once you have caught it and causes Shingles in old age.

I had been exposed to some form of herpes virus when I was born. Being exposed to its cousin may or may not have done anything to my immune system, it is really hard to say. What I do know is that I never had a rash like the other children had and I always wondered why that was. Knowing what I know now, I wonder if the previous encounters with herpes had primed my immune system to ward off its cousin, or if the same immunity blindness that allowed the one to persist would also allow the other to persist?

In any case, I wasn’t interested in experiencing the slow torture that Shingles wreaks on its sufferers so I opted for the Shingrix vaccine a month or so ago. I just wanted to see what the vaccination did to my system and whether it altered the symptoms of Meniere’s or not.

Contrasting that vaccination with the COVID vaccination and my previous experiences with other vaccines, I have to say that the pain levels came close to echoing the Pneumococcal vaccine without the golf ball sized lymph nodes that made the experience so weird and hard to endure. I can’t tell yet if the vaccine will do anything positive or negative with Meniere’s symptoms but at least I probably won’t be getting Shingles anytime in the future, knock on wood. (promptly bashes self in skull)

For all you young mothers out there I just want to say, don’t take your children to pox parties. Just don’t do that. You never know what the other children are sick with; and if you think you do know and trust the doctor’s diagnosis of the disease (this is the only way to be sure) then why don’t you trust his recommendations for treatment too? Get your children vaccinated and stop this insanity please.

Anti-Vaccination Agitation

One way to look at it is this – a small minority now has the ability to hijack public health policy by waging their own shadow campaign on social media. They are accountable to no one. They can force the expenditure of limited public health dollars just to minimize the effect of their own campaigns. This is also an asymmetric campaign, because it is much easier to spread fear than proper information. At the very least it is reasonable to filter out their harmful misinformation from private platforms. Panels of experts can be used to provide the filter, and fair processes can be made available for appeals. At the very least these options need to be explored.

Sciencebasedmedicine.org
Sciencebasedmedicine.org

This article was about Gardasil. The vaccination worked, but social conservatives hated it because it gave women permission to be promiscuous. Think about what that means. They wanted people to suffer and die from a preventable cancer rather than vaccinate them against the cause of that cancer on the grounds that sex outside of marriage is bad and should be discouraged. They used vaccine fear to wage a war against this vaccine, and this isn’t even the first time, nor was it the last.

facebook/Stonekettle

That is the Conservative-Republican-Trumpist line now about the coronavirus vaccine:

Oh, we’re not anti-vax. We just don’t think vaccines work.

…Strangely, it is the same argument they offer about their obvious racism. What their resistance is about now is still religion. Their religion of conservatism. Their invented Republican Jesus, the one who loves capitalism and profit more than he does the poor and the sick. Their belief that government can’t do anything good in the world.

I’ve heard this pushback from dozens of sources now. They just object to this one vaccination, not the general idea that vaccinations work. Either the science is real, or it isn’t. Either we have stopped Small Pox, Polio, etcetera through vaccination, or the entire business is a sham. A con job. Pick one side people, because it can’t be both sides at the same time. The vaccine works. It works and you should get it.

Postscript

This was originally posted as a quote on January 11, 202o and I have advanced and appended the quote with the current coronavirus crap. I have cut ties to family members now over this subject. When I found out that some of them had not gotten the vaccination recently, I wrote and then sent them a link to the recently published WWBD? A humorous dig at their reticence, their refusal to admit that medicine works.

I had not realized how deep the science denial goes in my family. One of them promptly stopped speaking to me. The other one sent me this article:

From recent reports it looks like this new variant we call Omicron, but I prefer to call #Moronic, will likely replace the Delta variant here and across the world IF it continues to spread like it has in South Africa. Good news is that in the about 3 weeks since Omicron made the news, there have been few hospitalizations and only one death as a result of Omicron which we are not sure if it was FROM Omicron or WITH Omicron.

therealdrstevenhorvitz

When I tried to explain to them that they had fallen prey to the same kind of snake oil salesman that had hoodwinked my mother all her life, that had me talking about waking up the sheeple for more than ten years, they promptly stopped talking to me as well.

Steven Horvitz D.O. is definitely coming right out of the same libertarian vein that most of the “I’m free to do whatever I want so fuck you” mentality that I was a part of during my early political activism. It is too early to say anything about the Omicron variant aside from noting that it spreads like wildfire and will soon overtake the Delta variant just as predicted. We won’t know how deadly it will be until long after that point, so the good doctor’s feigned knowledge on the subject is 99.9% bluster. (Dr. Steven Novella on Omicron)

Which is fine. If I can’t convince them to save their own lives, I’m not going to waste energy trying to save them from themselves without their begging me to help first. Since they’ve rarely had more than ridicule to vent at me for most of my life, I see little chance of them begging me for anything until long after Hell freezes over.

Train Tanker Crush; or, The Power of Vacuum

Someone posted a GIF captured from this video, claiming it was a telekinetic experiment or whatever:

Railroad tank car vacuum implosion – Sep 29, 2008

It took me mere moments to find the video the image came from, so I’m not sure if they were fools or trolls trying to fool others. It really doesn’t matter. The image itself was removed from the Facebook group it was posted in. The only reason this article makes it to the blog is because of the search I had to conduct just trying to find the Mythbusters episode that I knew demonstrated what this video doesn’t explain.

The video itself could have been of a crush test (it is not an implosion) The crowd in attendance suggests that it is a demonstration. The crowd is a little too close for comfort. The steel deformed in a way that suggests it wasn’t the same thickness as the Mythbusters tanker, but the Mythbusters definitely demonstrated what is going on in the video.

Discovery wants you to buy their videos, therefore Mythbusters isn’t available from them on YouTube. You can get them by subscribing to Discovery+ on Amazon.com or on their website, but you can’t watch full episodes on YouTube for any price. Discovery has a playlist for all the Mythbusters classic highlights, but not complete episodes. I watched all ten seasons of Mythbusters on Discovery, another must-see series whose ending marked the ending of my time paying for cable TV.

Now, to illustrate a scientific fact that I know to have been demonstrated before, I have to subscribe for a monthly fee just to be able to reference a specific episode of the show, and the person I want to show it to also has to subscribe in order to see that one show. This situation is beyond ridiculous. We should be able to just watch that one show if that is what we want to see. Not that I would pick that one episode of Mythbusters to watch. As impressive as the demonstration is, that is not the best episode of the show. What is the best episode? I’d have a hard time saying.

If you are talking to Discovery, tell them how frustrating the unavailability of this show is, please. I just wanted to be able to reference it for informational purposes. I shouldn’t have to pay them a fee just to be able to reference the show that already exists in their archives.

I did find another account that published the full Tanker Crush show. I created a playlist from their videos. I doubt that they will stay up long. There were other videos claiming to be that Mythbusters episode on YouTube and other video websites, but none of them that I looked at were complete.

Finite Understanding

I never am really satisfied that I understand anything; because, understand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand about the many connections and relations which occur to me, how the matter in question was first thought of or arrived at.

Ada Lovelace (?) (datanerds.com) (Amazon.com)

A hat/tip is owed to The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe #818; however, I could find no source for the quote. I haven’t decided if it is worth the effort to go through all her papers in order to find it or not find it.

Ada Lovelace helped write programs for a computer before there was a computer to run them on. She translated articles on Babbage’s analytical engine from other languages. She experimented with electricity and tried to write a calculus for the brain to explain why we think and feel the way we do.

Not only was she born before her time, but I would say that her time has not yet arrived. Imagine what she could have achieved had she been born tomorrow?

[The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine.

Ada Lovelace (Wikipedia)

Featured image: a watercolor of Ada found on Wikipedia

Eternity vs. Finality

“Join us in undeath” she said, in a quavering voice. It was definitely a female voice. I was just as sure that I had misheard her.

“Beg pardon?” I asked.

“Give in to the truth.” she whispered. “Join us in undeath.”

“I’m afraid I can’t understand you. Are you saying you are not alive? Then how are you speaking?”

“Many things speak that have not life.” The voice replied. “Do the rocks not shout their permanence at you? Does the water not speak of eternal motion? Is it so hard to believe in undeath?”

“Well, since you put it that way” I said “why don’t the things that speak as you suggest not use words that I can understand?”

“Can you not understand permanence? Can you not comprehend endless motion?”

“I began and I will end.” I said. “That is the truth that I know. What can I really know of permanence? What temporary being can comprehend eternity? I can grasp the concepts. I can’t really know the meaning.”

“Then join us.” The voice repeated. “Join us in undeath.”

“Let’s say I believe you are undead.” I replied. “What does that mean? Do you have substance? I can’t see you.”

“We are all around you. You cannot see us because your impermanence will not let you see. You have but to speak assent, and you will be one of us.”

“I will assume then that you do have substance. Are you confined within that substance forever? Or can you change what you are?”

“We are not water and we are not rocks. We are neither permanence nor fluidity. We are undeath.”

“Ah. So you are defined by what you are not. You are the alternative to death?”

“We are undeath”

“Yes. I think we’ve established that fact.”

“Do not mock that which you cannot understand.”

“No offense intended. I beg your pardon ma’am. I just want to know why this choice is being offered to me now?”

“All who face death are offered this choice at their moment of transition.”

“You mean my time is up then?” I hadn’t thought about where or when I was until this very moment. Where was I? It wasn’t home, wherever this place was. It was too… fuzzy. Worse than my usual myopia. Were those my bookshelves? No. No, mine were not that large. Or were they smaller than mine? Were they even shelves? Bars, maybe? It was so damn hard to see. Where were my glasses? I started to reach out and realized that I had no arms. I didn’t have legs either, now that I tried to move those. They were simply not present. I started to panic. “What has happened to my body? Where am I?”

“Your people have many names for this place. The place of transition? Translation? Perhaps you wait for the ferryman? Purgatory? It is hard to say what concept that you would find meaningful in its description. It is the place of gathering. It is the place of weighing and judging. All come here before taking their place in the universe.”

“My wife and children? Are they here too?”

“All come here before taking their place.”

“Are they here now?”

“All come here before taking their place.”

“Can I see them? Can I talk to them?”

“This is your time and place. Yours and yours alone. Choose now.”

“All right then. What are my choices?”

“Ending or remaining are your choices. Choose.”

I contemplated existence. It had been a good life. She was beautiful, my wife. Maybe not beautiful to other people, but beautiful to me. She showed up just when I needed her in life, and stayed with me through all the ups and downs. We had beautiful children. They grew and moved on and had their own children.

I had work that had been rewarding. I had made the world a better place, I hoped anyway. It had been a good life. “What is there here that would make me want to stay here?” I asked.

“There is continued existence.” The voice said. It sounded impatient now. Demanding. “You will not cease to be and will continue on as you are now. Choose.”

I surveyed my existence. I couldn’t really see. There was little to hear other than the voice. What feeling there was was vague, but not unpleasant. It was a feeling like the edge of sleep. I could go on dreaming like this forever if I wanted. Surveying the landscape of my past life, possibly glancing other times and worlds. “Is this all that there is here?” I asked.

“Choose.” said the voice. It was definitely impatient now.

I wanted to see Terry again. I wanted to see her and Susan and Bill. To see them and their kids. I wanted to see mom and dad again, though they have been dead for years now. Now? What is now anyway? Eternal presence? I wanted to see my grandparents again, lost to me so long ago that their faces are blurred by time itself. I wanted to live, but living was over. Living was not a choice that I had now.

“Let me go,” I said.

“The choice has been made.” said the voice.

There was a blinding light. I blinked my eyes. There was a field in front of me. In the distance I could see Terry and the kids, and their kids in front of them. Behind them was mom and dad and their parents and their parents, parents waiting. Waiting in a field of flowers.

I had made the right choice. I ran to them with open arms and they opened their arms for me in anticipation. “I’m free,” I thought. “I’m fr…”

Afterword

This is the kind of thing that sprouts up in your head after you’ve spent a solid 36 hours straight turning other players and non-player characters into zombies during the pre-patch event for Shadowlands. Featured image is a screencap from the Shadowlands cinematic trailer.

Relatability

Carl Sagan always used to say that when he was trying to explain something to someone, he would go back to that time when he didn’t understand it, and then he would retrace his thought steps so that he could make it absolutely clear, and that’s one of the infinite number of things I learned from him.

Ann Druyan

hat/tip to SGU #787. I found an alternative version of the quote here.

Point of Inquiry Has a New Host

I’d like to Welcome Leighann Lord to the legion of hosts that have been heard on Point of Inquiry since I first started listening to the podcast way back at the dawn of time (2010ish) I first mentioned the podcast on the blog in The Ethics of Brain Death where I reference Lindsay Beyerstein’s interview with Arthur Caplan. But I was listening to the podcast when Indre Viskontas was first brought on as a host, and I followed her and Josh Zepps on to their next endeavours (Josh to We the People Live and Indre to Inquiring Minds) so my listening to the podcast predates that blog entry by several years.

The show had been on hiatus for quite awhile recently, but has come out strong again with Leighann Lord interviewing Ian Harris On Comedy, Skeptical Audiences, And Atheism. I first heard her working on Startalk when the Son and I would listen to that podcast driving to and from his high school. She’s great, and I look forward to hearing more from her and Point of Inquiry for awhile. Please?

Point of Inquiry – Ian Harris On Comedy, Skeptical Audiences, And Atheism – May 7, 2020