Uncommon Sense

April 25, 2023

The Dumbest Story in Scripture (Texas Votes to Affirm)

The Texas Senate passed a bill Thursday requiring each public school classroom to display a copy of the Ten Commandments.

This is clearly against God’s wishes, so apparently the Antichrist has taken over Texas!

In the Hebrew Bible there is the story of the Ten Commandments, which were reportedly written on stone tablets. This small set of rules formed the basis of a new covenant between the Hebrew people and the god Yahweh. The deal was “Worship me, follow my rules and I will have your back, signed <Yahweh>”

So, these rules were very important and every Hebrew was to follow them, so what dies Yahweh do? He provides an exact description of and plans for an “ark” to store the tablets away. Plus rules like “anyone who touches the box dies” and “be sure to cover the box when you move it around so no one can even see the ark,” let alone touch it. And to make his point Yahweh killed one of the bearers of the ark who was trying to prevent its fall into possible ruin.

So, the all-knowing god’s marketing campaign was to hide away the evidence that the tablets even existed and make sure that no one read the tablets, to be able to learn the rules, to be able to comply with them. Considering all of the competing stupid stories in that book (e.g. the Great Flood, Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.) this stupidity elevates this one to the top if the list of stupid stories in scripture.

I wondered why Yahweh didn’t impose a gag order on Moses so that only he would know what the heck the rules were.

What a stupid story. And this was supposed to foster undying support for the carver of the tablet?


And then Texas wants to post these rules in every state school classroom, clearly something Yahweh was dead set against. Possibly this is just a case of stupid stories appealing to stupid people.

April 14, 2023

Generational BS

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Reason,Social Commentary — Steve Ruis @ 10:30 am

I am coming to really dislike studies that group people by “generations.” A recent study included the following “generations:”

Silent Generation 1925-1945
Baby Boomers 1946-1964
Generation X 1965-1976
Millennial Generation 1977-1995
Generation Z 1996-now

Okay, first there is the problem of how many years a generation is. According to these numbers (using the difference in start-end years) these generations last this many years:

Silent Generation 20 years
Baby Boomers 18 years
Generation X 11 years
Millennial Generation 18 years
Generation Z 27 years

Do you see a pattern here? I don’t. Maybe there is a Generation High Command in a bunker in the mountains of Colorado that makes such decisions, but there seems not to be any order involved.

And why hasn’t there been a new generation announced to follow Gen Z. Even if you use the longest period in the above array, 20 years, Gen Z should have ended in 2016 or so. So, are we lumping in Generation Afterthought responses with Gen Z responses in these surveys? Or maybe they deliberately shorted Gen X to pad the numbers in Gen Z. Is great puzzlement!

This is an idiot way to stratify people. Is there no better way?

The Empire Desperately Needs to Strike Back

People wedded to a formal religion are shrinking in numbers, so much so that in the U.S. Just thirty-five percent of them say that they are Protestant or Catholic. Forty-nine percent say that they are atheist, agnostic, or have no religion in particular. It’s clear here that “the nones” outnumber the Protestants and Catholics. So, what can the religious do to stem this tide?

Here are the recommendations of David Gamble, one of my favorite writers on Medium.com:

What Can the Religious Do?
Here are some helpful tips to guide the deeply religious …
• Keep Using Religion as a weapon to harm the most vulnerable people in society.
• Vigorously promote homophobia and be very vocally anti-Trans. Also make sure you double down on demonizing drag-queen story hour because we just can’t have kids hearing stories in libraries (oh the horror).
• Make sure that everybody knows you deeply love Trump as your Lord and Saviour and that you are willing to lay down your life for him.
• Remind everybody that even though there is no actual evidence, you have “faith” that the election was stolen and that you embrace this deep down inside your heart as “truth”.
• Don’t forget to ban lots of books that you do not approve of, especially The Handmaids Tale, and 1984. You should also strive to keep well away from “Woke” Disney and Bud Lite.
• Work hard to remove basic reproductive health care and ensure that we get as many godly babies churned out as possible. Make sure you label any who are Pro-Choice as Nazi’s guilty of genocide.
• Advocate for AR-15 gun rights. It is obvious to all that AR-15 gun rights trump any human rights, so promote the “truth” that we need lots more guns. If any elected representatives suggest sensible gun regulations, then please do make sure they get tossed out of their elected seat, especially if they are black.
• Please also, I’m begging you, make sure you oppose science and instead exclusively cite • Focus on the Family, Answers In Genesis, and The Institute for Creation Research, as beacons who have an exclusive monopoly of light and “truth”.
• Oh, and don’t forget to also garish this offering with the “truth” regarding Jewish Space lasers, and keep explaining to all that Satanic Vaccines that hook victims into 5G will cause people to mysteriously die.

As you can see David is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek atheist.


April 13, 2023

Wow! Free Education!

Filed under: Education,History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:18 pm
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A commercial for Hillsdale College has been popping up on my TV screen of late. They are offering a free online college course, The Constitution 101. Their glassy  advert lays a foundation for this gift in the claim that we are more polarized than ever before and that a return to “constitutional values,” might save us a great deal of grief.

Hmm, I thought, Hillsdale College. My memory tells me it is a small, Christian, private college, so I went looking for more information. The Internet states that:

Hillsdale College is a Christian school with an earnest and vibrant spiritual life. The College has always welcomed anyone to study here regardless of their faith tradition. For that reason, we do not have an institutional statement of faith to which all students must submit, nor do we have a required chapel service.

Wikipedia states that:

Hillsdale College is a private conservative Christian liberal arts college in Hillsdale, Michigan. It was founded in 1844 by members of the Free Will Baptists. Its mission statement says that liberal arts curriculum is based on Western heritage as a product of Greco-Roman culture and Christian tradition. Their website states that they are open to all students regardless of sex, race, or whatever.

Their demographics reinforce their stated goal, at least for students able to afford the $30,042 annual tuition and fees.

Anyway, the advert was slick . . . but it was a bit telling. All of the faces shown were white. All of the voices were white. All of the names mentioned were white. So, their message was at least subliminally targeting white folks.

Next, I looked up the course on offer and got this from their Website:

Learn the meaning of the Constitution and the principles of American government in this new version of Hillsdale’s most popular course.
The United States Constitution was designed to secure the natural rights proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. Signed by Constitutional Convention delegates on September 17, 1787—Constitution Day—it was ratified by the American people and remains the most enduring and successful constitution in history.
In this twelve-lecture course, students will examine the political theory of the American Founding and subsequent challenges to that theory throughout American history. Topics covered in this course include: the natural rights theory of the Founding, the meaning of the Declaration and the Constitution, the crisis of the Civil War, the Progressive rejection of the Founding, and the nature and form of modern liberalism.
Join more than one million Americans who have taken “Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution” by enrolling in this free online course today!

In this blurb, a couple of things stood out. First, the “natural rights theory of the Founding.” The other was “the Progressive rejection of the Founding,” and the third “the nature and form of modern liberalism.”

Natural Rights Theory of the Founding
Natural rights, possibly oversimplified, refers to rights imbued by nature, just for being human. So, this was a bit of a surprise when I thought they would be pounding the drum for “Judeo-Christian Principles” being the foundation of the Constitution. Natural Rights are not “god-given rights,” at least not unless you are Catholic. The Catholics look to Thomas Aquinas (surprise, surprise) for the argument “the light of reason is placed by nature [and thus by God] in every man to guide him in his acts.” So, for Catholics, rights bestowed by nature are god-given rights, and since Hillsdale College is a generic Christian college, maybe this is the approach they are taking.

The Progressive Rejection of the Founding
This claim is often based upon the small-government v. big government debate. Progressives, they claim, attempted to modify the Constitution’s structure of government and to expand the national government’s powers far beyond the framework created by the Founders.

This is nonsense, of course, as the Founders didn’t state any of the ways the government was to express its powers. So, for example, the government was empowered to impose tariffs. The Constitution does not state whether it should set tariffs high or low, use them to raise revenue, or just to protect American industry.

Progressives didn’t reject the principles of the Founders, in fact they embraced them. The Founders were very cognizant of not wanting to hog tie future generations and so allowed for modifications as time went on. Even Jefferson, the primary force behind the small federal government approach, argued that laws and institutions should progress with changing economic and social circumstances.

This claim is typically made by “small federal government” advocates.

The Nature and Form of Modern Liberalism
And, what has this to do with the Constitution?

According to Wikipedia:

Modern liberalism in the United States, often simply referred to in the United States as liberalism, is a form of social liberalism found in American politics. It combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a well-regulated mixed economy. Modern liberalism generally opposes the interests of corporations, opposes cuts to the social safety net, and supports a role for government in reducing inequality, increasing diversity, providing education, ensuring access to healthcare, regulating economic activity, and protecting the natural environment This form of liberalism took shape in the 20th century as the voting franchise and other civil rights were extended to a larger class of citizens, most notably among African Americans and women.

I know, terrible, isn’t it.

I am not taking the time to take this twelve-part course, but if one of you do, I would appreciate your take on it. I would be shocked if “Judeo-Christian values” didn’t come up, and “a preference for small government.”

April 12, 2023

Hacks That Make You Hack

Filed under: Blogging,Entertainment,humor — Steve Ruis @ 11:00 am
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The Internet is chock-a-block full of various DIY hacks that are supposed to make your life easier. As a former magazine editor, however, I have a keen eye for when the photo accompanying the “hack” is out of line with the text. Here are a few examples.

The Potato Hack
Back when we had incandescent light bulbs, the thin glass used had a tendency to break and then only razor sharp shards of glass were protruding from the bulb base, so the question was how to get the broken bulb out. The hack offered was to use a bar of hand soap or a potato, which you could impale on the glass shards and then use as a handle to remove the broken bulb. But look at the photo offered to illustrate this hack:

The bulb they chose for their “photo shoot” is a compact fluorescent bulb which has a substantial ceramic base. Just grab the base and twist, idiot!

The Spray Cooking Oil Hack
If you have a squeaky hinge, one quick fix is spraying the hinge with WD-40. (Note—this is a quick fix but not a good one. It is best to tap the hinge pins up far enough to apply a suitable grease and then reseat them; this will last much longer than a “penetrating oil” will.) But If you just ran out of WD-40 and your party is scheduled to start in an hour, what is a DYI home owner to do? Just use a cooking spray as an alternative to WD-40. The cooking spray I use is a combination of Canola oil and a propellant, which would work, but look at the photo they used!

That is spray on butter! It will not (a) penetrate, (b) lubricate, and (c) come off of the wall paint without leaving an oily stain.

The Caulking Tip
Here is the text for this “hack.” “An experienced handyman once told us that you can use painter’s masking tape to get a crisp, clean line. Just make sure to remove the tape before the caulk dries fully.” But look at the “illustrative” photo:

For one they don’t show the use of the tape for caulking, but for painting, its primary use. The DIY painter is also making a bloody mess of things but I have to ask “since the base molding paint color seems identical to the wall color, why was masking even employed?” The idea is to keep one color of paint off of another or caulk off of a surface you don’t want it on.

April 11, 2023

Character Analyses from the Wheel of Time

Filed under: Entertainment,writing — Steve Ruis @ 12:23 pm
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I am grinding my way through the Wheel of Time series . . . again. And I am recognizing more than just a spirited story. I am recognizing the author’s shortcomings and biases. We see these in the character traits of the main characters in these 14 books.

The author of the Wheel of Time books . . . which may explain a lot.

The Aes Sedai The main characteristic of the Aes Sedai, which in the Old Tongue means “Servant of All” is that they are servants of none. They lord it over everyone they meet and brag about how kings and queens tremble in their presence. Humility is not a trait anywhere in evidence. Their predominant exposition is of an overbearing Matron who insists on receiving all of the niceties but balks at giving any of them. And they judge social standing in their little club by how powerful each sister is, because, well, might makes right, no?

The Ta’veren The three main characters, all male, grew up in the same village and have the same stupid traits. While the characteristic of being ta’veren means that they “modify” (in uncontrollable ways) the fates of all of those around them, their main characteristic is their infantile maleness. There main fear is not being able to protect the women around them. All three basically swear to never kill or even hurt a woman, even though their major most powerful enemies, the Forsaken/Chosen, include a number of women, all out to kill or enslave them.

The Minor Female Characters All of the female characters seem to believe that males would die stupid deaths while young if females didn’t guide them onto correct paths. And I thought men were arrogant. These women make men look like pikers in the Game of Arrogance.

The Seanchan These folks used to live in the lands of the Wheel of Time, but they left on a wild goose chase and now are returning, with more than a small claim to rule the lands under discussion. They are a matriarchy, which makes sense since the males who could wield the One Power among them went crazy because of the poisoning of the One Power by the Dark Lord. So, men who could wield the one Power had been weeded out and the women who could wield the One Power were not to be trusted, so they were put on leashes. Clearly these are the Republicans of this story. While not misogynists like our Republicans, putting powerful women on leashes is a wet dream in GOP circles.

Sadly, if the Seanchan were a little more democratic, they might have tried to explain their case and be given a way to earn a place back on this continent, maybe by cleaning out all of the Trollocs and Fades from the Blight, thus making empty land for them to occupy, but no, they stomp in, demand people swear fealty to their leaders, and lord it over every one they meet, or at least try to lord it over them. They, like all the rest, have an honor culture that demands that the elites kill those who insult them, like by not lowering their eyes enough when passing by. Sheesh.

The Dark Lord Clearly this character is misunderstood. Represented by flawed characters because of his incarceration, his actions are painted black from the get go. When trapped, as he was for millennia, it would drive any of us a bit mad and lead us to taint the male half of the One Power.

The One Power The author must be a Christian because the One Power is clearly two magical powers. The female version requires practitioners to yield to the One Power to get it to do their will. Call that the New Testament half. The male version requires the practitioners to battle it and force it to do their will. That is, obviously, the Old Testament half. How are these the same power? Plus, the Forsaken/Chosen have access to the True Power giving us a trinity of magical power sources, thus making this a truly Christian work.

What, then, is the point of work?

Filed under: Culture,Economics,Morality,Politics,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:02 am

My favorite author on Medium.com is Benjamin Cain, who recently has turned his razor sharp mind onto the roles of work, technology, and capitalism. In his most recent post he asked the question in the title of this post, “What, then, is the point of work?”

Here in the Good Ole US of A, we have created a pay-as-you-go culture. You can have anything you can pay for is the essence of it. And if you do not have enough money, aka you are one of the poor, you are just shit out of luck.

There are people who use the Bible to support this point of view (of course there are), citing 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “. . . we gave you this rule: if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Note—I found hundreds of Bible citations supporting this point, which do not actually support this point, e.g. Proverbs 12:11 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. WTF? And Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” Again, WTF?

But here is my point: the Bible needs interpreting. One societal interpretation might be that if someone honestly works they are provided with food, a roof over their head, and medical care, etc.

It is only the mercantilist/capitalist mentality that quantifies work and insists that a loaf of bread costs X amount of labor.

When you look closely at this “commandment” of Jesus, we can see in our culture rich people who live entirely off of investments, sometimes investments they inherited and so did no work in making them, and these lazy bastards do no work at all and live very comfortable, even rich lives. They do no work, yet they eat quite lavishly. How does that conform to scripture?

Oh, DeSantis is Going to Be Pissed

I was watching a documentary last night, made in 2021, entitled “Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots.” Middle Florida, I learned, is a region in the Florida Panhandle between the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers. It includes the six easternmost counties of the Panhandle (that’s the westernmost segment of Florida) and the documentary focused mostly upon Leon County of those six.

In any case this documentary explored the role of slavery in building the economy and infrastructure of this segment of the state, with effects able to felt to the present day, not just to the descendants of those enslaved persons, but to the entire culture.

Now what is really going to piss off Governor DeSantis is the opening splash screen of agencies that helped make the documentary. Here they are:

Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs
FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights
Florida State University President’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion

Wow, Florida state institutions promoting Critical Race Theory! DeSantis’s mind will be blown.

April 10, 2023

If You Think Pascal’s Wager is a Good Argument, Think Again

Filed under: Philosophy,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:44 am
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Note—This may be an Easter hangover, but whatever the case . . .  Steve

I have written and many, many others have written about the illogic of Pascal’s Wager. If you are unfamiliar with Pascal’s Wager, Blaise Pascal argued, in summary, that if you believe in God, whether God exists or not you win (or at least don’t lose), but if you do not believe in God, and it does exist, then the results are catastrophic, so it is better to believe in God.

I have read some accounts of Blaise Pascal’s life so I assume he was more than slightly acquainted with gambling, which brings up a flaw in his God Argument that I haven’t heard before. Allow me to move to the current day, however, to make my argument.

I remember my first engagement with gambling in a casino. Everything happened so fast it seemed as if I had no time to think, barely enough to breathe, and then I went broke. (Note—When I gamble I set a limit to how much money I will put as risk and when it is gone I am done, not official “broke” but broke for the day, so to speak.)

So, why was that experience and all of the ones I have had since so fast? The answer is simple: the casino doesn’t make money until the bets are called. Basically, if you are winning, you want to play more and more hands, if you are losing, fewer would be better. And the casino always wins, so their process involves turning hands as quickly as possible. Find out whose wager wins and whose does not and shut up and deal.

Now, here is a major flaw in Pascal’s Wager. Say I am a Born Again evangelical Christian and I die and show up smugly at the Pearly Gates to find out my fate. St. Peter isn’t there; he is a busy man, so one of his underlings is manning his station. The PG Clerk is reading your file as you step to the counter and he says “I see here that you adopted Jesus in your mind but not your heart.” He reaches for a lever, pulls it, and as you fall through the trap door, on your way to Hell, you hear him say “Next.”

The Catholic Church recently ruled that baptisms said incorrectly are invalid, even if it is just one word that is “off.” So, even minor failures in rituals could result in the trapdoor being sprung under you.

The next person in line steps up and the Clerk says “I see here that you are a Jehovah’s Witness . . . hmmm, wrong god.” The lever is pulled and “Next” is all the JW hears as he plummets. You see this problem with Pascal’s Wager is that you are automatically “all in” when you place your bet. Win and you win everything, lose and you lose everything . . . and the casino sets the rules for the games. Oh, and you get one play, only one play.

This is a little like walking into a casino and placing a betting coin that has “All In” stamped on it, on the craps pass line or anywhere else you get close to 50:50 odds (the best you can get in a casino). If you lose, you lose your job, your house, your wife and kids, your retirement account, your citizenship . . . everything.

Is that ever a good bet?

The flaw I am pointing out is that Pascal’s Wager doesn’t allow you to set the stakes or the rules of the game; you are playing blind. And you only get one roll of the dice.

April 9, 2023

Republicans Take Up Their Cross, Crucifixions Hopefully Ahead

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, on Friday ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, on Friday ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval.

The FDA first approved Mifeprex (mifepristone) in September 2000 for medical termination of pregnancy through seven weeks gestation and this was extended to ten weeks gestation in 2016.

So, how does a federal court judge have the power to overrule a decision of a department of the federal government? Unless the ruling is unconstitutional, the court doesn’t even have a say. Can you spell separation of powers boys and girls?

This is the Donald Trump Effect, in my opinion. The approach is just simple: lie through your teeth, then claim you have the power to enforce the lie.

How can a “hold” be placed upon an approval made 22+ years ago? Is that not a done deal? Republicans have indeed gone mad and are carrying ideological crosses around with them. Let us assist them in their desires, help nail them on and then prop up those crosses, so they can achieve their aims. Just vote “No to R” and all of this idiocy goes away.

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