Uncommon Sense

November 28, 2022

Farming Was Invented to . . .

In breezy accounts of human pre-history, agriculture was invented for all of its myriad benefits (or list of other bogus benefits to the farmers). And then . . .

But, really, people started farming in at least 14 different places, independently of each another, from about 10,500 years ago. And that story isn’t complete, since no stories founded in archeology are complete (or possibly even can be).

The best guess is that hunter-gatherers planted small plots of a number of plants that could be harvested before they packed up and left. And most hunter-gatherers didn’t stay in one place for long, so whatever was grown had to reach maturity rather quickly, so forget apple trees, grape vines, and other long duration efforts. Experiments quickly determined which crops could be both grown and harvested quickly and then utilized quickly. Soft fruits would spoil as would soft vegetables. Some roots would last longer, but grain turned out to be the superfood. It grew fast, could be harvested, and then dried and stored.

I can’t imagine any hunter-gather troop going “all in” on grain growing, though. These people were often in quite temperate or tropical environments, without harsh winters with their food acquisition difficulties. They were often on or near rivers which provided both food and transport. And, the hunter-gather diets was quite varied. Why trade a rich diet that included fish and shellfish, small game, fruits, nuts, and vegetables  for one that was almost all grain. (Archeologists have pointed out that as large scale farming took hold, humans shrunk in size and had worse health that before.)

The advantage of farming is that by farming storable surpluses of food could be set aside to provide sustenance in times of need, but that was the primary feature. The primary feature was that agricultural produce could be taxed! And, an “elite” class of people could do the taxing and so not have to do the work associated with food acquisition. As farming became more productive, labor became more specialized with some making clothes and little else, others making wood utensils and furniture and little else, etc.

But farming is labor intensive and farming is far more laborious that hunting and gathering. Many did not want to do the work, so the elites found “ways” to make it so. It is no coincidence that large scale slavery took root around the time of large scale agriculture.

To a hunter-gatherer the idea of plants to be harvested right outside of your hut’s door, rather than miles away, was attractive, hence the small plots and hence the multiplicity of times agriculture was “invented.” But only elites wanted large scale agriculture. It seems to me they go together. No large scale ag, no elites. No elites, no large scale ag. It is interesting the number of stories I have heard about Polynesian cultures in which the “king” could be ignored if he spouted nonsense. Food was available in abundance all around and in the sea. The “king” had no social leverage. For a starving people, an elite with stored grain has a lot of leverage. (Coming up—a look at how this played out in the Roman Empire.)

Postscript Shakespeare stated in Henry the VI, Part 2 “The first thing we do is kill all of the lawyers.” He should have said “The first thing we do is kill all of the elites.” But at that point that ship had sailed, the “kings” had stored up so much grain that they had wealth and armies and mini-me kings galore and Shakespeare needed patrons, so he couldn’t afford to offend those who possessed wealth, and thus the modern world was created.

November 26, 2022

Creating Christ

The above title is a book title (didn’t read) and a documentary title (saw a couple of nights ago on Prime).

In this documentary, the evidence that Christianity was a Roman construction was presented, again. When I taught I used the rule of thumb that to really teach something you needed to address it three different times and, preferably, three different ways. This time, a great many aspects of this conjecture really clicked. The conjecture being, of course, that the Romans shaped Christianity to be a Rome-favorable choice of a religion for rowdy Jews.

I didn’t see a great many new pieces of evidence, just the same things presented as a coherent whole. And, things in my knowledge clicked into place as the doc proceeded. I was not impressed by the quality of the visual presentations as they would use the name of one Roman emperor while showing a statue of another, that kind of thing (the visuals were eye candy way too often, something I dislike). But the arguments were dispassionate and well structured.

A clear distinction was made between the Jews who were the insurrectionists and the Jews who were the cooperative sort (they were all Jews, whether subscribing to the Christian cult or not as far as the Romans thought). The insurrectionists were mercilessly suppressed. The claimed martyrdom of the early Christians is a propaganda tool, Christians per se were not suppressed, but the trouble making Jews were, and it was to the advantage of the Christians of the time to claim they were persecuted for their beliefs. They were not, insurrectionist Jews were punished for their actions.

One thing that had always bothered me is the Romans, taking the lead of Alexander the Great, developed a highly successful approach to pacifying conquered peoples. Part of that process was folding in the local gods with the Roman pantheon. Every school child has noticed the one to one correspondence between the Greek and Roman gods, e.g. Zeus = Jupiter, etc. Well, that approach was made general and performed over and over. The Romans had an “Office of Cults” that kept track of these things and checked to make sure that all of the peoples of the empire worshiped “the gods.” They didn’t particularly care which gods. The Jews of the time, however, were very stiff necked about the Imperial Cult in which emperors were worshipped and refused to do so. At one point the pragmatic Romans, trying to keep the lid on the volatile Middle East region, absolved the Jews from that requirement! Ah, such persecutions!

So, in contrast to that keystone of Roman empire administration, in the fourth century CE, Christianity became “an” official religion of Rome (and so was favored, rather than ignored/disfavored) and then a few decades later became “the” sole official religion of Rome. Rome ditched its very successful approach to governing conquered peoples to become monotheistic rather than polytheistic.

This cannot be considered a whim on the part of an emperor. The Romans were far too pragmatic for that, there had to be something in it for them, and that something had to be big, really big. The argument is that Christianity was shaped into a religion that was as pro Roman as a religion could be, and actively so, not just passively accepting as the various mystery religions of the time were. So, this religion was created to be a unifying support for the Empire and it got to be that over time.

Many things are explained by this. For one, why the gospels and Acts of the Apostles were written in Greek, rather than Hebrew, the Jewish language. Why slavery was accepted by an all-powerful entity who could have looked at it as a government usurping the slave’s free will. Why taxes were promoted as well as governments (aka rulers, even pagan rulers) as instruments of “God’s will.”

There is no group of people portrayed more favorably in the New Testament than the Romans. Even the cruel and vicious Pontius Pilate is portrayed favorably.

The Romans took actions to wipe out the insurrectionists/rebellious (John the Baptizer and Jesus were two such) and later attempted to convert the others to a pro Roman religion.

Many people point out that Paul, more than any other, was the creator of Christianity. Who was Paul? Paul claimed to be a Roman citizen and he played that card often and well. He must have had some sort of proof of that citizenship since otherwise, just a casual claim to citizenship would have been made by every miscreant. The Romans saved his life, protected him, treated him well, and for his part, Paul claimed o have many friends in Rome, including in the Emperor’s palace. The Book of Acts leaves Paul’s story when he was in “custody” in Rome, a very comfortable custody, as it is described. So, Paul, he wouldn’t have, would he? I mean he was a persecutor of Christians and claimed to have seen the light, no? He couldn’t have been serving the Romans, could he?

So, fast forward to the present time and we see Christianity is a formidable aspect of the current power structure in the U.S. supporting the status quo, keeping the same people (stand-ins for the rich and powerful) in power. In other words, still supporting the “empire.” The message is still “keep your head down, don’t complain, do your job, your reward will come after you die.” And people still swallow this clearly false message.

November 20, 2022

What Freedom Did We Fight For, Exactly?

The MAGA/Freedom nuts keep referring to the Revolutionary War and the “freedom” that was at the heart of it. And they claim the freedom they want is to get the government off of their backs so they can do what they want, without interference.

Is that the freedom that our American forefathers fought for? I don’t think so.

Phrases such as “no taxation without representation” come to mind and some of the early requests of the American colonists were to have Americans added to Parliament to give the colonies some say, at least an ability to argue, about the policies the British government enacted for the colonies.

The final break was a contest for the ability to govern ourselves, and not be subject to an autocratic king or, for that matter, a parliament in which we had no say.

So, we fought for our freedom to create our own government. And the resulting government is a manifestation of the freedom we won.

So, how could the current MAGA/Freedom nuts get it so wrong? According to them “government is not the solution; government is the problem.” They, in fact, have been polled to be wanting an autocrat, preferably Donald Trump, but any MAGA Autocrat would probably due. They are admitting that they are not freedom loving and that they would rather kiss an autocrat’s ass, than go about the work needed to make sure the government is as we want it to be. They are basically saying “Scrap our representative government, give us a king.”

Appalling.

The Crucifixion Quake

The title of this post is the title of a documentary I found on Netflix. It is about a geologist who felt he received a calling to try to establish that the earthquake mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew (gMatthew) which supposedly occurred when Jesus gave up the ghost on the cross actually happened. (This was partially because of a traumatic event in his life which lead him to read the Bible (for the first and only time). Interestingly, none of the other three gospels mentioned any quake (or the dead rising up from their graves and wandering around zombie fashion, and, and . . .).

In any case, this geologist set out to see if he could verify a quake happening at about the right time to confirm at least that aspect of the story. He did this at great personal cost to himself. And his search involved stratigraphy, carbon-14 datings galore, pollen grain studies, dust grain studies, and of course our boy wasn’t a seismologist so he had to do a lot of retraining.

Many good points were covered along the way about things that could not be determined, even up to linking the earthquake to the execution, which was a good thing, but as you might expect, the religious nuts won’t look at the fine points. They’ll just say, “See, see, I told you it was true!”

But much of the story was left out. While several mentions of gMatthew being mostly an embellishment of gMark, and those embellishments always injected more and more supernatural interpretations and events into the story line, they didn’t mention that gMatthew was written well after 70 CE, probably after 80 CE, and these events were supposedly placed in the early 30’s CE. Clearly the author of gMatthew was someone who could take a muddled account of their being an earthquake around that time and just link it up to the crucifixion. Where would he get an accurate date and time for that earthquake in any case; none of the accounts of the time we have available date it exactly? The author could have gotten an oral account of the earthquake, but considering the 50 year gap in time, it would probably be a story of the “I remember my grandfather telling a story . . .” type.

But then the shark gets jumped. Even though most of the experts are saying, on screen, you can’t do this, they take clues from the four gospels, and sleuth out a date for Jesus’s death. The only two people saying you could included a Catholic priest. The other expert likened the four gospels to being like four eye witnesses accounts of the same event, and their testimony would be expected to differ in the details. But eyewitnesses are there to see what happened at the same time. The writers of the gospels are writing ca. 70 CE (gMark), ca. 80-85 CE (gMatthew), ca. 85-90 (gLuke), and ca. 90-110 (gJohn). (Those dates are just educated guesses, of course.) None of them name their sources, a common practice of historical writers of the time, so we don’t know where they got their information, except that both gMatthew and gLuke contain extensive amounts of gMark text, verbatim, and have the same structure as gMark (order of events, etc.).

The “researchers” then take their Biblical clues and make assumptions as to how they could have happened scientifically. gMatthew mentions that the Sun when dark for three hours after the death and a speculation that a severe dust storm could have done that so they look for evidence of such a storm in the strata. And gMatthew also mentions a “blood Moon” which was interpreted as being due to a lunar eclipse. Since Passover is on a day on which the Moon is full, and full Moons rise exactly at sunset, why didn’t someone suggest that the dust that caused the Sun to “go dark,” also reached higher elevations and so was responsible for the Moon appearing to be red? (Rising moons always appear to be redder due to atmospheric refraction.)

The calculable dates for lunar eclipses, full Moons appearing on a Friday (the day Jesus died, according to the stories, etc. gave them a date for Jesus’s death of April 3, 33 CE at 3 PM.

Oh, the ironic part? The earthquake, the one called the Crucifixion Earthquake, the one this geologist was vilified for pursuing, was scientifically dated to from 26 CE to 36 CE, not exactly a confirmation of the earthquake that supposedly occurred to announce the death of Jesus.

 Some Science Questions
There are a few science questions one may ask to see if anything here links up at all. Here are a few I would like answered.

  1. How frequent were earthquakes felt in Jerusalem (especially first century Jerusalem)?
  2. Is there an earthquake fault that is the source of such quakes. (I would find it more miraculous if there were no fault. An all-powerful god wouldn’t need one, no?)
  3. Why were so many scientists and academics dancing around these questions? (I think I know the answer. Anyone who publishes anything going against the current story lines will get a 16 ton weight dropped on their heads, as did this geologist.)

The Major Theological Question Receiving No Attention
But the big issue is left out completely. If I were to grant that Jesus were a real, historical person and managed to get himself crucified, that is no big deal. Tens of thousands of Israelites got themselves crucified by the Romans, probably hundreds named Jesus/Yesua/Joshua. Roman records claim they ran out of wood to build crosses on, for Pete’s sake. But having Jesus crucified as an insurrectionist is overkill in any case. He could just have easily fallen under a Roman sword or spear in the Garden, an ignominious death for someone who qualified to be King of the Jews, no? His crucifixion and any shenanigans that occurred around it are basically irrelevant to modern Christianity, because modern Christianity isn’t built upon the embarrassing death of “the Christ” but upon his resurrection. And about his resurrection, there are no fancy miraculous weather or geologic events, no ballyhoo at all. He just walked back and said a few words and then fled the scene. (As I have mentioned, this is a grievous marketing error.) So, why did “the Father” do all of these miraculous things when Jesus died, when less than two days later, he was going to be resurrected. If you think the guy wanted to make sure people knew he had been killed, you’d think he’s also want to make sure people knew he was raised from the dead.

November 14, 2022

Ancient Apocalypse

Ever since I gave up on the Ancient Aliens show every once in a while I get me the feeling for some good old fashion scientific muckraking. And Netflix obliged by dropping a series called “Ancient Apocalypse.” The host is an author of myriad books on his conjecture, namely that there existed in our past an advanced civilization that was capable of great feats, feats beyond what more recent civilizations were capable of. Think of super Egyptians, back in or before the last ice age.

What is clear from the get-go is the host has a hard on for “academic archeologists” who have not given enough attention to his conjecture. He constantly bemoans the fact that the academic archeology community isn’t investigating the sites he thinks are telling.

I have only watched the first two episodes, in Indonesia and Mexico, but the pattern has been established. The two sites he says have been ignored by archeologists were discovered by archeologists and at least to some extent, investigated by archeologists. Apparently they just didn’t do it right.

The host keeps using phrases like “academic archeologists have turned their backs on this new evidence” and his conjecture is “extremely threatening to mainstream archeology,” his conjecture would “undermine the current paradigms the academic archeologists have invested their careers in.” That kind of stuff.

Now I haven’t gotten very far in the series, but it should be clear to anyone who understands how field sciences work and that is that archeologists who have found an interesting site to investigate spend years seeking funding to support those investigations. So, just because some academic archeologist wants to do a study is almost irrelevant. He needs to find a supporter who will pay for the process. So, really, if someone out in the general public wants an archeological dig to take place, all they need do is raise several million dollars and put out a request for proposals and they will have archeologists crawling up their ass.

If the Mexican or Indonesian governments want those sites excavated, all they need do is pony up some cash and they have archeologists in country that will be drooling to do that work.

But no, these sites aren’t being investigating because archeologists are turning up their noses on the possibilities. Archeologists are known for turning their noses. Or, maybe, just maybe there is personal animus between the academic archeology community and the guy who constantly excoriates them.

Now, as to the content. I can believe that in spots around the globe an isolated culture managed to marshal the manpower to perform amazing feats of construction. After all we are still arguing about how the pyramids were built, and Stonehenge, etc. and we haven’t discovered all of the sites in existence.

The show host uses pyramids as an example of why he believes that there was a global advanced civilization involved. I mean, look at the similarities! There are pyramids all over the planet, often oriented to the stars in much the same way. There must have been a global planning element involved! Oh. really?

First of all, pyramids are clearly symbolic and artificial mountains. They get the priests involved closer to the sky and certainly far above the hoi polloi down on the ground. In every case so far, the pyramid builders started from a sacred site, often a source of water in the form of a well or spring. Since water is needed for life, it is easy to see why such would be “sacred.”

Then a smaller construction was formed, then larger ones, often on top of the smaller ones. Gosh, do you think some of those priests were ambitious?

And, the question is asked in the show “How could a hunter-gather culture create such things?” Well, hunter-gathers have a lot of free time. Hunting and gathering take far less time to support a group than does farming, which is far more labor intensive. So, having far less time, they would just need to have leadership . . . oh, yeah, the priests. And then, people learned as they went. The history of pyramid building in Egypt showed how it was learned how to build a stable pyramid of their favored type. The task itself taught the workers and leaders how to do the task. Heavy materials were brought in from far afield. The tasks led to the creation of methods to perform those transport tasks. Oh, one of the similarities needing explanation is the connect of the pyramids with religions. (Really?)

As to the orientation, the host of the show pointed out (in the first two episodes at least) that the primitive cultures of the times were knowledgeable about the night sky and the repeating patterns one can observe regarding the positions of things like the Sun and Moon and various “constellations” of stars with various times of the year.

If you build an artificial mountain and it is round, it can’t have a particular orientation, so since we have eyes in the front of our head, we naturally orient things as being in front of us, behind us, off to the left and off to the right, thus the four points of the compass stem from the placement of our eyes in our heads. Building artificial mountains with four sides allows them to be oriented to the positions of things in the night or day skies and so they were. And it didn’t take global coordination for this to happen.

There is one thing I am really looking forward to in this series. Anyone arguing for a global advanced civilization has to explain how that culture was able to travel to all of the other spots on the planet. The Ancient Aliens people had either the aliens doing the information spreading or providing the transportation. So, aliens solve this communication problem, but create an even larger problem, you know, aliens.

And, if Indonesian people went to Mexico to teach them pyramid building and other advanced technology (or vice versa), the host country would want to show their benefactors a good time, no, so I expect a lot of fucking to have occurred during these visits, so DNA studies will show the mixing, no?

And while the host clearly needs no ego boosting, he did have a “celebrity” join him on the first episode for support . . . Joe Rogan. Joe Fucking Rogan? That was the best he could do? You know Joe Rogan, who blithely uses the n-word on his podcasts, denies the effectiveness of vaccines, and well, he doesn’t claim to be an expert on anything, but has an opinion nonetheless, on everything. His endorsement means nothing, except in that, like the Kardashians, he is popular and nobody quite knows why.

But Steve, surely this is harmless good fun. I wonder? Such shows denigrate the scientific establishments, portraying them as far more conservative than they are. Scientists, too. Most scientists I know would throw their grandmothers under a bus to prove their colleagues wrong in even a small way. And archeologists aren’t ignoring a tantalizing site because they have a stick up their asses, they may not be able to raise the funds, or they find working in some countries to be too arduous. Take, Israel for example. As long as you are supporting the company line, you will get decent service from the Israeli antiquities bureaucracy. But the minute you undermine the company line, they will get you fired from your university job and try to make sure you never get another one. (In Israeli, the company line is the one that supports Israel’s claim that their state was the proper territory of the Israeli people back in history, so that they have a right to that land. Undermine that in any way, and well I warned you.)

October 12, 2022

The Great Leap Forward . . . to the Eighteenth Century!

Voltaire used to joke scathingly of the eighteen century French aristocrats. They didn’t know how to read or write or know things. They could hire people to read, to be expert, to be uncertain; they themselves had all they needed: power and certainty, both of which stemmed from their “divine right to rule.” Their illiteracy was considered a badge of office for them. Fast forward 250 years or so and the modern Republican Party has embraced the ruling mentality of those French aristocrats. Things are true because they say they are true. Election results are what they say they are, the heck with actual counts. And elections aren’t over until they say they are over.

The bizarre statements of Republican office holders and candidates for office are manifold.

  • Laura Loomer believes it’s “obvious” that “ the FBI works with the Democrat Party to carry out mass shooting false flags so that they can actually push for gun control.”
  • And which Church does Donald Trump go to? (The Church of the Nineteenth Hole?) When asked, Mr. Trump was unable to quote a single bible verse, yet DJT is their “Anointed one” even equated to the second coming of Jesus.
  • Former Ohio state legislator Candice Keller says “Right now there are two parties in this country: the party of Trump, and the other party is called We Hate God.”
  • Leah Svensson claims that the founding fathers “knew Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior,” which is quite amazingly bizarre.

We are in need of a new Voltaire, or squad of Voltaires, who will savagely satirize these new aristocrats, who are claiming divine right to rule and possessing some power already.

October 7, 2022

I Am So Tired of the Confusion of Gender and Sex

The Latin roots of confusion are basically to “melt together.” And its meaning of “to mix things that should be kept separate” dates back 500 years or so. Sex and gender are quite different and should be kept separate.

I got interested in this topic when investigating competitive categories in my sport, archery. I would read things like “the competitive categories are separated by gender,” and I would think, surely that is not right. It isn’t, they are separated by sex, but our prudish society avoids the word sex, especially around youths, as it evokes thoughts of coitus.

The word sex refers to biological sex of which there are two. People arguing that there are more than two are blowing smoke. Where it gets confusing is in the messiness of nature. Human beings are usually born as female with XX sex chromosomes or males with XY sex chromosomes, but there is a tiny fraction (0.018%, maybe, not counting those created via diseases) of births where there is a mix-up. People are born with three sex chromosomes, XXY, for example. I remember one case in which a person had two distinctly different DNAs depending on where the sample was drawn from. Apparently, she had starting out to be twins, but the two zygotes fused together early on. Strange things can happen when the occurrence of something like births is very frequent and ongoing.

None of this information was available to use culturally when we made up the terms for our language to refer to men and women, boys and girls, etc. We only had simple observations. We are 95+% a species of two sexes, which we call male and female. People who want different pronouns to be used because they do not “identify” with either sex are confused. They are confused by what we call gender.

If you compare any physical, mental, or social parameter of men and women, you will get two Bell curves which overlap substantially. Let’s take height as an example. In the U.S. the average heights are 5 feet 4 inches (163 centimeters) for women and 5 feet 9 inches (175 centimeters) for men. But if you have ever seen a WNBA basketball game, you are aware that many of the players are women who are taller than the average man. The Bell curve distributions for height of the two sexes overlap substantially. There are men shorter than the average height of a women and women taller than the average height of the men. But, on average, men are taller than women. Too many people equate this to “men are taller than women” which isn’t true and can cause social problems.

Now, the two sexes, men and women, also display what we call genders. Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. For example, we train little boys to not cry and that pink is not pretty. We teach little girls that wearing dresses is important and the color of pink is pretty. (Pink was not always a “girlie” color. Gainsborough was famous for a painting called “Blue Boy,” showing a boy dressed in blue finery, but also painted a similar boy in pink finery (called, of course, “Pink Boy”).

So, in the two sex categories, we have always had effeminate men, that is men who displayed the social characteristics of women, e.g. comedian Eddie Izzard (a favorite of mine) and women who displayed the social characteristics of men, e.g. actress Katherine Hepburn (also a personal favorite).

At the other end of those two spectra we have “macho men,” men addicted to excessive displays of “manliness,” and “wilting flowers” women who display outsized gender characteristics. We tend not to notice these two categories much as they are conforming to society’s gender characteristics. The people who stand out are men who act like women and women who act like men.

There seems to be an effort ongoing now to characterize a number of gender categories, to which I say “Why?” I think this stems from people who have been ostracized for their lack of fidelity to how society says it wants men and women to act wanting to belong and not feel that they are alone. So, having such a gender category says two things: these folks are not unique and are recognized.

But having dozens of different genders makes a Holy Ned of a mess of our society. For example, back when I was a classroom teacher I typically had three or four lab sections of 20-25 students joined together for a single lecture section, which meant I could have 70-100 students sitting in each lecture class session. I struggled mightily in learning their names (the first sign of respect in a student-teacher relationship). If each of those students were to have their own set of pronouns that they preferred, I would have been overwhelmed. There was no way I could remember those. (Realize that every four and a half months, the group was replaced by another group of different students and the process would start over.)

I think a better solution would be to just accept people for who they are. If Butch wants to wear dresses to class, it shouldn’t be worth even a comment.

If Butch wants be referred to as “she,” however, well Butch is confusing me with someone who cares. Butch should maybe try his friends. They might agree to do that. I prefer to spend my efforts on things that really matter.

Postscript BTW, you cannot get an operation to change your gender. Sports categories are determined by sex, not gender, and the critical factor is whether you had your trans-sex operation before or after puberty. If the operation was after puberty, you would still have the frame and musculature of your original sex and should not be allowed to compete against athletes in your new sex, as it is largely cosmetic.

I suspect that the fireworks will begin now, but then not that many people read this blog, so maybe I am thinking to much of myself.

October 4, 2022

Our National Motto

As many of you know E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) is the traditional motto of the United States, appearing on the Great Seal of the United States (its inclusion on the seal was approved in an act of the U.S. Congress in 1782). While its status as national motto was for many years unofficial, E Pluribus Unum was considered the de facto motto of the United States from its early history. Eventually, the U.S. Congress passed an act in 1956 (H. J. Resolution 396), adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.

As you probably also know “In God We Trust” was promoted by President Dwight Eisenhower to combat godless communism. Well, anybody see any communism around any more? No? Apparently that campaign worked and it is time to go back to our original national motto. (Hey, maybe we can get the Supreme Court to chime it! They are big fans of “history” and “original intent.”)

“Out of many, one” speaks volumes. It refers to the states welded into a country, the United States. It speaks of the myriad different voices in this country, which are mixed together to make one voice. And myriad peoples: Protestants, Catholics, Germans, Irish, English, men, women, Black, White, and Brown and on and on merged into one body politic.

“In God We Trust” is idiotic. If this were so, would we expect this God to protect us? (Think about how well it did for the Jews during the Holocaust.) If so, we could dismantle all of the armed forces. Think of the money we would save! Do we expect this god to unite us? Which of the 45,000 sects of Christianity would become “the One”? (Actually, there aren’t that many in the U.S., only several hundred.) Can we expect this god to protect us from predatory capitalists? If so, it is doing a shitty job of that. Just what can we “trust” this God for? Anything? Apparently not. It doesn’t even protect His Christians from the rampant persecution claimed by the evangelicals in this country, how can we expect it to protect us all?

October 3, 2022

The Ur-Father of the GOP

I was reading a post on the Vridar web site about the linkage between the Genesis account in the Bible and Greek philosophy when I encountered this:

Plato taught that in an ideal government philosophers should rule and oversee all aspects of education from infancy to adulthood. The curriculum for the young had to consist of myths that fostered “good” behaviour. These myths needed to be attractive to all ages, especially the young, and hence were to be relayed in songs, poems, theatrical performances and public readings at festivals. Existing myths that told of gods were useful but first had to be censored by the philosopher rulers to remove from them every negative and immoral act of the gods. Nothing bad about the gods was to enter the minds of the citizens. Education was to encompass the whole society, from mothers telling infants nursery rhymes to entertaining performances (singing, reading, acting) for the young and adults.”

Plato . . . the Father of the GOP.

All of the GOP’s education statements and actions are based on getting control of our education system so as to shape it exactly along the lines that Plato recommends.

“Some natural philosophers taught that the sun, moon and stars were inanimate bodies of rock or fire and moved according to physical processes. Plato saw those teachings as a threat to morality because they were the first step on the slippery slope towards atheism.”

Neil Godfrey, the author of this post went on to state:

For more formal education in the home and school settings Plato permitted the teaching of astronomy but with a caveat. Some natural philosophers taught that the sun, moon and stars were inanimate bodies of rock or fire and moved according to physical processes. Plato saw those teachings as a threat to morality because they were the first step on the slippery slope towards atheism. The general population needed to be taught that these heavenly bodies were divine and moved as divinities would — in perfect circles. The sphere was the perfect shape befitting a deity because it could move while remaining in the same place. The detailed philosophical reasoning behind this astronomical knowledge would only be taught to those able to attend higher education. For most people all that was necessary is that they be taught “the facts” without the rational arguments for them. The proposed curriculum was thus an ancient form of “creation science”. Instructors were to possess the authority that came with a reputation for high morals and deep knowledge and above all to learn to teach with persuasive eloquence.

Sound familiar? I didn’t know the Repubs were so erudite, so versed in ancient Greek philosophy, or maybe it is just their drive for power leading them.

September 30, 2022

Follow-up to “Hopes and Prayers, Baby, . . .”

Remember Hurricane Sandy, the Superstorm which devastated parts of New York and New Jersey in October 2012? Remember the flooded subway stations? Remember the devastated seaside resorts and homes? When Congress finally got around to  passing the Sandy aid package, two and a half months after the storm, 180 representatives voted against it. (Governor DeSantis was whining about relief being slow before Ian left Florida’s shores.)

Oh, among those 180 were many “fiscally responsible” Republicans, including Republican Bill Posey, who represents Florida’s 8th Congressional District, which stretches from Vero Beach to Titusville and includes the Kennedy Space Center. And Republican Ron DeSantis, who then represented the Florida 6th, which covers the state’s Atlantic coastline just north, including Daytona Beach and St. Augustine. DeSantis was also one of 67 representatives to vote no on the smaller, earlier Sandy relief package.

“Florida, good luck with no more hurricanes,” said New Jersey Republican Frank LoBiondo at the time. “Who are you going to come to when you have these things? We need this, we need it now. Do the right thing, as we have always done for you.”

So now, let’s send DeSantis hopes and prayers and make him wait two and a half months, says Captain Petty (Me!). Oh, and blame the delay on DeSantis’s politicking.

 Mike Luckovich for 9/30/2022

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