Uncommon Sense

June 1, 2023

We’ve Had No True Christians™ for Millennia

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:01 am
Tags: , , ,

It was shortly after the first century CE that people began writing about Christians who weren’t Real Christians™. This has come down to us as the No True Scotsman Fallacy, but began well before it was employed with regard to Scotsmen. Basically, if anything about a person in your group is something you do not like, you state that they were a “true” whatever/member of the group. I follow the blog of a former evangelical pastor who lost his faith and people regularly go on his website and declare him to have not been a “Real Christian,” not having ever met the man or even bothered to real the man’s blog posts explaining his loss of faith.

Christians writing in the early second century, wrote about Gnostics and Valentinians and Marcionites as not being “True Christians.” This strategy is employed to expel people from your in group and to diminish their group while fortifying yours. At the same time they were fighting to make their opinions of what Christianity was the “true version” of the religion. (There has not been, nor will there ever be, such a thing.)

Politicians declare people as not being “True Americans.” Republicans declare other Republicans as being Republicans in Name Only (RINOs). And modern day Christians declare other Christians as not being “Real Christians™,” willy-nilly. Evangelicals don’t consider Catholics to even be Christians at all, let alone just being slackers in the faith.

So, what started out as a tool in the wars for supremacy between the myriad versions of Christianity developing in the second century, has been the tool of choice for thousands of years for people to bolster their faith.

But when you think about it, what are they really saying? I remember when kids didn’t want to hear something they would place their hands over their ears and chant “La, la, la, la, . . .” The flinging of the “not a Real Christian™” claim seems to be of a similar ilk. It is a turning away from dealing with something that might be unpleasant and is childish, if not deviant behavior.

May 29, 2023

We Need to Get Rid of the Elites

What a mistake! In our pre-history we allowed certain people to assume authority over the rest of us. It wasn’t just as war band leaders, but that was part of it. We created priests and potentates and then they ruined our lives.

Those early elites established the pattern for those to follow them. They assumed an air of superiority and we, gullibly, accepted their superiority and therefore our inferiority.

Their first step was to absolve themselves from having to work for their living. Their efforts—to organize society, to interact with the gods, etc. meant that they had to be supported by the rest of the people. But their leisure and “important work” they adopted as their own lead them to feeling that they were special. From that point onward, these “elites” were driven by the sense that they were better than everyone else. And so thousands of years has passed and the same attitude has been in play. Today’s elites still think they are better than we are because their lives are provided with ease, wealth, opportunity, etc. In most cases that was inherited, not earned.

But what have they actually done for us?

They established the hereditary inheritance of power/money. So, their bairns became entitled little twats (see British royal family), learning the mantra of “We are better than the hoi polloi” with their mother’s milk (or at least their wet nurse’s).

They created caste systems/perpetual poverty. Since the castes act as cultural enforcement agencies, they made sure the poor stayed poor. In that way, the rich could ensure they stayed rich.

They even established a class system in the U.S. Americans assume they have a classless society, but that is just propaganda. Look around and you can see the classes of Americans quite easily (there are books available for more detail).

The elites gave us snobbery. By establishing rules of behavior, often nonsensical ones (we call them etiquette or manners), they were able to signal who was in and who was not, easily. Eat with the wrong fork—clearly you are a barbarian. Not pass the salt when asked for the pepper, clearly you are uncultured. Wear white after Labor Day? Oh, my heavens, what a maroon!

Invented mythology of the “self-made man” and others.

Embraced and adopted capitalism, based upon the unbridled greed of rich people, and called it “good” for all. (They considered the fact that capitalism puts no limits upon greed as a feature, not a bug.)

Invented mass slavery, bondage, serfdom, and marriage as ways of labeling people as property that they might own them. Note that is not owning the right to their labor, but their actual bodies, too.

I am sure I could come up with a list of the services elites provide, but no matter—whatever they are they are just too expensive. We need to find another way.

I am not advocating exterminating the elites, but modernity gives us better, more humane ways to eliminating their influence. We need to stop paying homage, for one. They do not deserve the respect they claim they are due because of their valuable service, as job creators and other imaginary “good things.” Ignoring them instead of praising them is a good start. But we need to pay close attention to them because of the dangers they pose. For example, calling Elon Musk and Donald Trump paragons of business is not only untrue, but feeding their egos to get them to do more and more outlandish things. And then we need to tax away their fortunes. Money is power, they say, and we need to strip them of their power. There are other things we can do, but stripping them of their actual capital as well as their social capital would be a good start.

And, Ayn Rand fans, I am not worried about the collapse of society were we to do this. There are many examples of stupid actions taken, for example when the Chinese were expelled from Malaysia (twice). Each time the economy collapsed and they needed to invite the Chinese-Malaysians back. But then it was the elites (hoity-toity Malaysians) ejecting hard working Chinese, not the other way around. The Chinese-Malaysians were doing vital work that just stopped when they were given the boot. Were the Chinese to have expelled the Malaysian elites, there would have been no effect such as a collapsing economy because those elites performed no effective labors.

Postscript Yes, this is being posted on Memorial Day, a day to remember proles who gave their all to protect the wealth and power of their lords and masters. What better way to teach us to act self-sacrificingly. (And don’t get your panties in a twist. I am not denigrating the heroism of soldiers sent into war (voluntarily or not). I just point out that prior to WW2, in the U.S. the vast majority of citizens wanted no part of the wars being waged in Europe and the Pacific theater. A Japanese mistake (attacking Peral Harbor without declaring war) followed by a German mistake (Hitler declaring war with the U.S.) lead us into both situations. It was the elites causing all the trouble; the people don’t start wars.

May 28, 2023

Christian Nationalists are Trying to Enslave Women!

Those Christian nationalists beavering away in the legislatures of states like Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma, etc. are doing their darnedest to establish rules of law that turn women into property. They are proclaiming as they go that the Bible states that a marriage is between one man and one woman (it does not) and espousing the Bible as a guide to marriage (it is not).

In the Bible it is clear that women are property. First they are property of their fathers, and then of their husbands. Adultery is forbidden . . . for the women, acceptable for the men (as long as it is not with another man’s property, er, wife). Divorce is allowed for the men, forbidden for the women.

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

In the Bible if a woman’s husband dies, one of the deceased husband’s brothers is supposed to marry the widowed wife. (This is what life insurance looks like in the world of the Bible.) Of course, that brother, more than likely, already has a wife but men are allowed more than one wife, women are not allowed more than one husband. Where the “one man, one woman” nonsense comes from, it sure isn’t the Bible.

Any woman who votes for these assholes promoting a “Biblical Worldview” for their state, needs to seek psychiatric help immediately. Desiring to become a slave, actually some man’s personal property, is not a healthy desire.

May 24, 2023

Florida Has Not Yet Gone “All In”

Florida’s current Republican majority has done amazing things so far. (Well, I am amazed anyway.) But they have yet to go all in on their current path. Here are a few things they could do to solidify that path.

Eject Disney World from the State
Clearly Disney is woke and getting woker. There is just no place for such a distorting corporation in Florida’s culture. Evict them. The 300,000 lost jobs and billions in revenue can be replaced.

Declare Florida to Be a Christian State
Stop being wishy-washy about your professed religion, you Floridian GOPers. You know you want it. Gotta have it. Do it. SCOTUS will back you up. When the other Confederate states follow, you will have a basis for a Constitutional amendment to make the whole country a Christian nation. (And you will be a Christian hero!)

Make Owning a Firearm a Requirement
The Second Amendment suck-ups aren’t willing to go this far, Florida can! Yahoo! Make it semi-automatic so the libs heads will explode!

Close All of Florida’s Public Universities
They are just grooming a new generation of atheists and preaching Critical Race Theory. Show them who’s boss. Florida can import educated people if any are really needed.

Convert All Public Schools to Charter Schools
They aren’t as good educationally but those damned teacher’s unions keep voting Democrat, so fuck ‘em. When they lose those cushy public school jobs and actually have to work for a living, they will wise up.

Declare All Interventions to Prevent Coastal Flooding Due to Climate Change Illegal
Since those interventions are wasteful, being based upon scientific hoaxes, we will all be better off.

Declare Florida to be a Democrat Free Zone
Democrats are drag queen loving, immigrant suck-ups that don’t deserve no respect. They need to leave Florida, now! This will make the state easier to run and a happier place.

Come on Florida! We are waiting on you to lead the way to a future full of promise, well, promises anyway. Don’t expect anything good to happen.

May 20, 2023

It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites, But the Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay for It

Interesting headline above. I have seen it now on half a dozen sites.

So, apparently a study determined how much money was needed to clean up just California’s oil extraction and processing sites and that amount of money is near ten times the amount those businesses will reap the rest of their lifetimes.

So, I have a suggestion as to how to resolve this issue. If we, the public, are to be stuck with the cleanup bill, I say confiscate the businesses as being bankrupt and in violation of the law. Nationalize them (state-ify?). The decisions they made to pollute and profit have consequences.

Sell off what parts there are that can be sold and then start the cleanups because they are going to take decades, if only to spread out the costs.

Then go after the parent companies. Bill them for the cleanup. Hound them like their collection agencies hound us if we have a debt we haven’t paid.

May 19, 2023

Milch Madness

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 10:36 am
Tags: ,

This headline seems normal now: “This LA teen is suing her school district — and the USDA — to promote nondairy milk” (Source: Grist)

Granted, in this case, this teen is fighting back against government overreach. The dairy lobby got an exclusive contract to sell cow’s milk in the nation’s schools, through the usual route (bribing our representatives).

I notice this on top of a scene in a movie I was watching in which a teenager went upon a rant to her father about the evils of cow’s milk and ended with “Mom always bought me oat milk” with a smug look on her face. (I know this was supposed to make the character irritating . . . it worked.)

Oat milk, soy milk, almond milk . . . there are myriad brands of synthetic milk . . . why? No adult mammal needs milk. If you cannot digest cow’s milk or have some other problem with it, just stop drinking it. There is no need.

And while these “alternatives” to cow’s milk (or goat’s milk, or . . .) are touted as “healthy” alternatives whatever happened to the advice to avoid heavily processed foods? In drought-wracked California, huge amounts of precious water are used to grow almonds to make almond milk, for no good reason. And what happened to the complaint of hormone-like substances in fermented soy products?

This is what capitalism does, it takes a non-need and creates a market around it. Do you have celiac disease? If so, you can’t eat foods that contain grains with gluten in them, or you will pay the consequences. (Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.) But less than 1% (1 in 133) Americans have celiac disease, so why are so many people demanding gluten-free dishes on restaurant menus and gluten-free products in grocery stores, etc?

Gosh, do you think people want to avoid gluten to feel special, or avoid a possible risk, or . . . other reasons that have nothing to do with having that disease? With people who actually do have the disease, God forbid we ask them to give up pizza! Or that teenagers needing “alternative milk products” would be expected to bring them from home. No, they have to be able to buy them in the school cafeteria!

May 18, 2023

The War on Tenure Wages On

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:15 am
Tags: , ,

This attack upon the concept of tenure for university professors is not new, but the Republicans, with their lock on numerous governors and state houses have raised it to new levels.

Of course, they are waging their efforts based upon lies. One common one is that university professors “get summers off.” Well, if you mean as in “laid off” you are correct. Can you imagine getting laid of for two months out of every year with no salary? My last college district was so kind as to work out a plan whereby they distributed your pay over 12 months instead of 10, but that was something we could have done for ourselves, by setting aside twenty percent of each paycheck but it was a convenience to not have to do that. And what about your health insurance premiums not being paid over those two months? Good thing we had a union to negotiate 12 month coverage.

Then there’s the “can’t be fired” lie. The Repubs claim professors can’t be fired for any reason, which is hardly the case. Tenure means that you can’t be fired without cause. If you are incompetent, abuse students, violate college rules, violate laws, etc. you can be fired in a trice. You can be fired for not teaching the content described for the courses you teach. How many professors have you heard of who lost their jobs for some reason or another? It is not just a few. And as to tenured people getting fired, the due process takes quite some time and if it looks bad for the professor, they are encouraged to retire or change professions before being “fired for cause” goes on their record. (For every one who does get fired, my estimate is that there are nine or more who quit, retire, etc. rather than get fired. This is the classical “You can’t fire me; I quit!) The setting aside of being fired solely for political reasons is to curb assholes like Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, who thinks that all state officials can be fired, by him, at will. Elected, non-elected state officials . . . doesn’t matter to DeSantis. He fires ‘em! for reasons personal to Ron DeSantis, and often enough fictitious.

University professors have tenure for a reason, so that they can say things that are politically uncomfortable to current leaders. This has a catchphrase common amongst people of this persuasion: speaking truth to power. What university professor would want a job in a state in which you say something that offends a politically powerful person (or a friend of a politically powerful person) and Boom! you just lost your job.

Now there are some people who argue that, hey, I can be fired “at will” why can’t they? In your case, the owner of the business, or his/her designee, can fire you at any time for any reason . . . well, for any legal reason. That is because that person owns the business. The politicians or school boards do not own those businesses. They are merely trustees for the public. They are called public colleges and universities for a reason . . . they are owned by the public. The college president, state superintendent of public instruction, governor, or whatever, do not own those businesses, so they cannot fire people in them “at will.”

Now, this doesn’t stop those Republican gubernatorial machines from passing laws eliminating tenure and quite a few are in the process. Those states are going to find out quickly what they are finding out right now that they have criminalized abortion procedures. Doctors are fleeing those states because they can no longer do what is best for their patients. Those who are staying are dropping OB-GYN as a concentration from their practices. Soon, when professors get fired for political reasons, you will see a profound exodus of professorial talent from those state universities. (I have reports that applications for positions of university professor in Florida, Texas, and other states have dwindled.)

Now, you could say, so what? Who needs a bunch of useless eggheads? Quite some time ago, my home state, California, did an in-depth study to see whether the monies being vested in the state university system was worth the cost. Many thought there should be a great belt tightening and the funds provided the state universities and colleges significantly reduced. The study found that for every $1 spent on that system the state got $11 in return. The returns on investment (ROI) for state universities is immense. Graduates pay higher taxes (on greater earnings). Businesses flock to states with well-educated workforces, paying corporate taxes. If you have ever seen a competition for a new state college/university, they are fierce. Communities fight very hard to get such an institution in their region. Then, you will see businesses sprouting up and not just pizzerias to feed those ravenous students, but businesses that want to tap into the competence of the university staffs. Housing sprouts up, raising property tax revenue for the community.

So, Texas, and Florida, etc. are sinking their future economic prospects in a tide of ideology, ideology that is steeped in bullshit, too. Can you name a current element of Republican ideology? Let’s see, there are anti-immigrant stances, anti-woke efforts, anti-Disney efforts (I know, WTF Florida), anti-gay rhetoric (the liberal bias of the news has slacked off somewhat since it was found that Fox News lies like a rug). Anything come to mind that has to do with things affecting the quality of your life? Are you a software engineer fearful of a Guatemalan refugee crossing the border and taking your job? Are you afraid that the Drag Queen story hour that occurs in your local library every few months will turn your kids into Democrats?

How about healthcare? (The Repubs are against it in their states, even when the federal government is footing the bill.) What about job security? (The Republicans don’t want your jobs to be secure (their paymasters don’t like that) and they certainly don’t want some private party, like a labor union, fighting for it on your behalf.) What about solid public health efforts? (Florida passed a law making masks or vaccinations required during the epidemic against the law.) What about Social Security and Medicare, etc.? (The Repubs have adopted policy statements endorsing the elimination or the privatization of these services because, well, someone should be making a profit off of all those old and sick people.) What about freedom of religion? The Repubs do not want freedom from religion, they have endorsed the U.S. being made into a “Christian Nation.” And the Christianity they mean is not yours.)

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the university professors, and I did not speak out—because I was not a university professor.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
(Adapted from the famous quote by Martin Niemöller)

Postscript I have had people saying to me “I can be fired for any reason, so why should “they” only be fired for cause? My response is “Would you like your job to include the provision that you could only be fired for cause? And they think about it and then say “yes.” And I respond, “You want it and because you don’t have it, you think nobody else should either? Have I got that right?”

BTW A cause even university professors can be fired for is “we don’t have the money to pay you.” In universities, this comes down to “we don’t have enough students wanting your classes.”

May 16, 2023

Wait, Walgreens Guards Have Guns?

Surveillance footage from a Walgreens in San Francisco shows the moment a private security guard killed a young transgender man accused of shoplifting. The footage captures the guard tackling and punching Banko Brown, 24, on 27 April before fatally shooting him as he exited the store.

What the fuck is on sale at Walgreen’s shitty little stores that is worth a man’s life?

We need to stop this madness. Lethal force should not be an option for offences that don’t trigger the death penalty.

What’s next? Jaywalking (walking while Black)? Littering? “Authorities” allowed to wear guns as part of their duties need to be taught that they cannot fire their weapons for any offence that is minor. Get a taser. Buy some mace. But guns should not be used for minor infractions (and that includes resisting arrest by a private security guard).

May 15, 2023

Trump and the Republicans Are in the Bible! (It’s true!)

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:18 am
Tags: , , , ,

For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:29–30)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as Christ’s apostles. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:12–15)

But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. Many will follow their immoral ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned. In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old doesn’t linger, and their destruction will not slumber. (2 Peter 2:1–3)

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)

Can scripture be referring to anyone else than Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans? They claim to be Christians but don’t follow the teachings of Jesus. Scripture tells us to pray in private, yet the MAGA Republicans want to post the Ten Commandments in every school room. And Ron DeSantis! How can he be anyone other than one of the many Antichrists?

May 7, 2023

Even Texans Don’t Believe the NRA Bullshit

Filed under: Culture,Morality,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 8:08 am
Tags: , , ,

The National Rifle Association (NRA) proudly proclaims that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is, as we all know, self-serving bull shit. The NRA has only one goal and that is to increase sales of gun and ammunition, because those manufacturers are its largest financial supporters. The state of Texas has the loosest gun laws in the U.S., stopping just short of requiring its citizens to own a gun.

In the latest gun atrocity, a gunman opened fire in a shopping mall just outside of Dallas, TX, and killed at least six people, maybe more. And not one Texan “Good Guy” returned fire! Now I happen to know there are more than a few “Good Guys” in Texas, and not one of them was packing the day of this incident? Unbelievable . . . the NRA, that is.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.