Uncommon Sense

March 27, 2023

The Tower of Babylon and Biblical Sucking Up

I watched a documentary (from 2019 I believe) about the Tower of Babylon last night. The Bible was mentioned on and on, even though other records, records more reliable, exist. As it turns out the tower in question seems to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzar, a ziggurat to be specific. As the narrator droned on addressing various archeologists trying to “research” the topic, the Bible was mentioned quite often. I put research in quotes because the research mentioned had already been done, the on screen archeologists were just pretend researching for TV.

So, the tower was built. The documentary went into how it was constructed, that they had to use fired mud bricks because sun-dried mud bricks were not up to the task. An engineer calculated that a tower constructed as described (in the Bible!) could be as tall as 300 ft. There is no evidence that it was 300 feet tall, but it was referred to as the 300-ft tower from that point onward. (This is an ongoing problem with this entire series of documentaries—assumptions become facts in the mouth of the narrator.) Details of the building process were provided from the Bible! Look, there was an entire group of Israelites in Babylon at the time, due to the conquest of Babylon over Israel, and they were writing the books of the Torah down at that point (including the Book of Genesis, which contains the story of the Tower), having only oral knowledge to rely upon. Details of the construction were hardly secrets. The Babylonians were very proud of their constructions and all of the innovations involved.

So, the construction was addressed in the documentary, including how it could be thought of as being tall enough to “reach the heavens” (river mists made it appear as if it reached the clouds and, as we all know, the clouds are in the Heavens).

The Bible clearly points out that the heavens are much farther up than 300 feet, because every mountain worthy of the name was taller than that and so people could walk or hike up to the Heavens were they that low. But Yahweh gets pissed and instead of moving the Heavens up higher he confounds the workers languages and then blows the tower down with a giant wind. (However, the Tower was finished, so confounding the languages of the workers didn’t prevent that, and no wind knocked it down. I know, details, details.)

Then the documentary pointed out that local historians told how when Babylon was conquered by the Persians, the Persians knocked a hole in the tower! The Babylonian god’s temple was not the Persian’s god, so defaced the tower must be. (Another example of toxic religious thinking: Step 1 Kill or Destroy, Step 2. . . . The Persians could have reconsecrated the temple on top of the tower and then had a magnificent temple for their god, but no.)

Later Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and Alexander dismantled most of the Tower, intending to reconstruct it, but Alexander didn’t live long enough to direct that task and, well, things got complicated. The Iraqi people, being nothing if not pragmatic, saw a huge store of building materials just sitting there so up the wheelbarrows came and away went the Tower’s bricks went with them, to be incorporated into roads and buildings nearby.

So, at this point, one would think that the Bible’s story of Yahweh screwing with the workers and creating a big wind to destroy the tower would be debunked, yes? Of course, no. No mention of the rest of the Bible story being complete fiction was uttered. In fact once they got to the facts of the destruction of the tower, the Bible was not mentioned again.

Now, I can imagine in their production meetings that someone stated that mentioning the Bible over and over would boost ratings and pointing out that the Bible story was wrong could result in a backlash. But the blatant sucking up to religionists leaves one thinking, “So, the Bible was right.” Yes, it was right about the construction of the tower, the facts were clearly available, but dead wrong about the theological parts. Bible thumpers often gloat about all of the truths of the Bible, which validate it. But those truths are not theological truths. They are historical truths available to any witness alive at the time and their veracity does not reflect at all on the veracity of the Bible as a source of theological truths.

Postscript If you are wondering why not “The Tower of Babel,” the word Babel is Hebrew for Babylon.

March 19, 2023

Shucking Old Jesus

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:31 pm
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Note—Since it hasn’t hit midnight yet, it is still Sunday and time for another post on religion. S

Christians are fond of swearing and then saying “No, I didunt!”

I watch a fair number of home improvement shows on TV (get to go through a project with no cleanup) and the favorite exclamation when the rejuv is revealed is: “Oh, my God!” But the Christians will say, instead,  “Oh, my Gosh!”  or  “Oh, my Goodness!” Oh, my goodness? (WTF?) The substitute words for “God” all have the same hard g sound. Gosh is a truncation of an even older exclamation, “Land of Goshen!” Goshen is the embarkation point of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and this makes no sense at all as an exclamation. It is like an American exclaiming “Washington, D.C.” when stubbing their toe.

Christians use a wide variety of substitute swear words in expressions such has:
Gosh darn it
Son of a gun
Shucky darn

Which I translate as:
Shucks (Shit)
Shoot (Shit, again)
Darn (Damn)
Dangit (Dammit)
Freaking (Fucking)
Crap (Shit, again)
Gosh darn it (God dammit)
Son of a gun (this is an old naval term referring to a bastard child of a sailor so it has no religious twist I can figure out)
Frigging (Fucking)
Shucky darn (???)

Now, the thing I don’t understand is, would this fool an all-knowing god? Instead of saying “shit,” you could substitute the British “shite,” would that fool God? Or if you used the German epithet instead “Scheiss!” (shit in German is Scheisse, and you get the benefit of the Germans capitalizing nouns still (English used to)). Would that fool God?

Do you think that this god would hear you say “Oh, my gosh!” and not hear “Oh, my God” in your heart?

Now the funny thing is, you will also hear Christians shout out “Oh, my Lord!” at some foolishness. Now Jesus is Lord, they say. And even old Yahweh says “I am the Lord,” or more straightforwardly “I am Lord.” And a great many Bibles render the word lord as LORD when it refers to you know who. So, this is common knowledge, no? And this doesn’t count as “taking the LORD’s name in vain”?

Hitler was an Atheist! Hitler was an Atheist!

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:01 am
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No matter how many theists claim this on the Internet, it still is not true. In fact you could quite easily place Hitler’s hatred of the Jews at the feet of Christian anti-Semitic propaganda.

Most people trying to debunk the “Hitler was an atheist” claim point to the SS belt buckle which stated “Gott Mit Uns” which transliterates to “God With Us” or in the vernacular “God is On Our Side.” I think it is more telling to show the personal oath Hitler demanded from every one of his soldiers.

The previous oath of German soldiers was:

I swear loyalty to the Constitution and vow that I will protect the German nation and its lawful establishments as a brave soldier at any time and will be obedient to the President and my superiors.

But Hitler need a bit more personal approach. The oath he crafted was this:

I swear by God this sacred oath, that I will render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich and people, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and will be ready as a brave soldier to risk my life at any time for this oath.

Now assuming that Hitler really, really wanted to bind his soldiers to him and make them obedient to them, it had to be a strong oath, no? And it begins “I swear by God this sacred oath . . .” whereas the former soldier’s oath didn’t mention “God.” Now Hitler could have cynically being using his troops faith in their god as a tool here, but if Hitler didn’t believe in the same god, that oath wouldn’t mean as much to him either, would it? Plus there would be no personal impetus for him to include that opening phrase.

Hitler’s statements about his religion are a bit contradictory.

In 1928, Adolf Hitler said: “We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity. Our movement is Christian.

Hitler privately assured General Gerhard Engel in 1941 that “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.”

In a speech in the early years of his rule, Hitler declared himself “Not a Catholic, but a German Christian.” The German Christians were a Protestant group that supported Nazi Ideology, but Hitler could have been speaking non-specifically, that he was German (actually born in Austria but Austria was gobbled up during the war) and he was a Christian. Himmler was hell-bent on forming a religion based upon Nazi principles and I am sure Hitler would have embraced that.

That Hitler might have been confused about his beliefs was rather normal. That he could adapt his beliefs to meet his political goals was definitely part of the man’s character. Considering that Hitler was a man of his time, were he to have been an atheist, that is not a believer in a god, would have been very, very unusual.

In Christian apologetics the math is simple: Hitler was a very, very bad man, so he couldn’t have been a Christian. And the worst of the worst in the world are, to Christian apologists, atheists, so Hitler must have been one. They worship a god whose nickname was “logos” but they are hardly logical. And, trust me, they are not stating the above to smear Hitler. They are smearing atheists.

March 16, 2023

What Do Conservatives Want to Conserve?

Note—Yes, I know George Will has asked and answered this question but he got it wrong, so . . . S

U.S. politics has changed dramatically during my adulthood. When I was in my political infancy, for example, both major parties had conservative and liberal wings. In the current Republican party, you’d be hard pressed to find even one moderate, let alone a liberal.

The two parties broke down fairly simply, back then. The Republicans were, by and large, the party of conservatives. Conservatives wanted to conserve the status quo in that Republicans were largely people who had it made already: bankers, lawyers, successful businessmen. That they tended to be old, white, and male was not at all surprising. Tradition was important in so far as it represented the way we have always done things, and things were good for that group of people.

The Democratic party was the liberal/progressive party. While the Repubs wanted no change to the status quo, the Dems wanted “progress,” which meant positive changes. And while each party had its token liberals or conservatives, the two parties were quite distinct, but they weren’t that far apart that they couldn’t cooperate. Both believed that a stable society was all for the good and so favored sound institutions: public schools, courts of law, colleges and universities, sound businesses. Businesses were different back then, most had goals involving being a good member of their communities, instead of just increasing shareholder value.

Today’s political parties look nothing like those parties of old. The Democrats have abandoned labor unions, which used to be a pillar of strength for them, as well as working class people as a whole. Their support of people of color is a pale ghost of what it was in my youth. The Republicans have thrown any social institution under the bus if it is in the way of some business making profits, pfft, public schools, who needs them? The Postal service? There’s money to be made there. Prisons? Better run by private interests.

So, what happened? It seems that the ideologies of the parties of Eisenhower and Kennedy have disappeared, to be replaced by . . . what?

It seems that the leadership of both parties are now conservatives, focused solely on the ability to get things done or preventing them from getting done. They seem solely focused upon conserving their own political power. The ideology of the parties has become the ideologies of their leadership groups.

For example, a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives was exposed as to having lied about, well, every part of his background: his education, his military service, his accomplishments; they were all lies. And he got elected. In my political youth, the fellow would have been drawn and quartered in public, ousted from his position and replaced post haste. Now? His congressional seat is a needed token of power and the Republicans are apparently fine with his lying since it meets their goal of preserving their power in the federal government. In the last session, the Dems controlled the House, now the Repubs do and if they lose this guy and a Dem gets appointed to replace him, their power slips a notch, so he stays.

Conservatives now, both Republican and Corporate Democrats, want to conserve their own political power, nothing else.

The SVB Madness

The “collapse” of the Silicon Valley Bank is typical of today’s economic issues: much ado about nothing. The basic story is that the SVB experienced a bank run, which turned into a panic, and federal regulators stepped in and froze the bank’s assets and business.

Ideally, since the “bank run,” aka depositors rushing to remove their funds because they think the bank was in trouble, was based upon gossip, with a little time for things to settle down should have calmed the tribes and allowed normal business to continue.

The “problem” gossiped about was that the SVB had invested in large quantities of federal government bonds and mortgage bonds, long term. Were interest rates to stay at the historic lows that they have been, these would have been good very good, almost no risk investments. Since the Federal Reserve Bank has decided to raise interest rates for no good reason, then those investments are going to realize much smaller gains than predicted. Basically, those bonds will sell, eventually at a profit, just smaller than predicted. The SVB will lose predicted profits, but the question is how much? And could SVB cover those lost gains. We haven’t heard yet, but I suspect that they could.

So, the “depositors,” many of who deposited millions of dollars, knowing full well that the FDIC account insurance only covers deposits up to $250,000, are now clamoring for the federal government to step in and cover their entire deposits.

Too bad, so sad, this is what the Republicans have always referred to as “vagaries of the market.” Do something stupid, and you pay a price. But that attitude was really the attitude of the Republicans of old. Today it is “socialism for the rich, social Darwinism for the non-rich.”

So, if the U.S. government steps up and “insures” the entire bank accounts of all depositors and pays those depositors off, it would then own the SVB. Its assets are not insubstantial and it may get most or all of its money back.

But the motive for guaranteeing those deposits seems to be “to restore confidence in the banking system.” Gosh, all of my friends could be in that position: millions on deposit and not insured—not! What would actually restore confidence would be for the chips to fall where they may and ordinary citizens would see that the government didn’t exist to just bail out the rich. What ordinary citizens think now is that banks are scum sucking, double dealing sons of bitches that will foreclose on your house at the drop of a hat but run for cover the minute rich people are involved.

Confidence in the banking system, my ass. Show me that it works as described and I will gain confidence. Until then, it is the same old shuck and jive from the plutocrats running the government for their benefit and we can go suck eggs, if we could afford them.

March 6, 2023

The Origins of Cancel Culture Panic

It seems as if the GOP has lost what little mind it has left over things like Drag Queen library readings and the “cancel culture.”

These distractions are in a stream of idiocies including trigger warnings and blasphemy laws. It seems that college students get as far as they have without growing a spine. They seem to want to be warned whenever a topic might disturb them emotionally or relate to personal experiences they have had, or . . . God forbid, ideas that challenge their religious beliefs because, well, I guess, God forbids.

Back when I was in college, students were a fairly passive group. But then the Student Movements began: initially, college students protested against social injustices like poverty, the unfair treatment of African Americans, and freedom of speech on college campuses. They later shifted their focus to opposing the Vietnam War, aka the anti-war movement, which greatly offended “conservations” (so much so they got revenge by preventing student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy).

So, now when a speaker is invited to a campus and holds beliefs opposed to what many students hold, students will protest and speakers engagements get “cancelled,” hence the “cancel culture.” This has expanded to hiring and firing job scenarios, political campaigns, entertainer performances, and whatnot.

Republicans especially object to “Woke cancel cultures” because they are focused upon racial and social justice issues. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis (FL) has declared his state as the place where “woke goes to die.” This is a strange position for a party which has based many nationwide political campaigns on what are called the culture wars, in which the GOP is the Russians invading everyone’s else calm states.

So, the cancel culture panic? Fostered by the egregious Fox (sic) News, this is an elevation of a trivial movement to Armageddon-like status. At the most recent CPAC meeting, Nikki Haley, a GOP presidential candidate, stated “Wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.” (Quick, shoot it! And I will bet their “cure” will involve neither masks nor vaccines.))

Apparently, the Republicans are following in the steps of precious college students who cannot handle the emotional or intellectual stress of having their ideas challenged. And like those students, who are ignoring a major reason for going to college is to have your ideas challenged, the GOP does not want any opposition to its politics, worldview, or actions. The truly alarming thing is that they are using fascistic tools to enforce their way by canceling whole swaths of our culture. In Florida, you had better not be caught teaching Black History, of with the book “Jennifer has Two Daddies” in your school library. And whole groups of people are being denied official acknowledgement of their existence; Florida is even considering banning Democrats!

The students adopted a culture of canceling activities they didn’t agree with. The GOP has moved the dial up to 11 by cancelling whole swaths of their culture they don’t agree with.

Ah, how terms evolve.

March 5, 2023

Florida the Sunshine State Becomes the Snowflake State

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:58 pm
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Trigger Warning—If you are Governor of the State of Florida, or any of his pussy administrators or other state politicians, you may not want to read this. Contains scorn, insults, and mockery.

Apparently legislators in Florida have introduced a bill that would require bloggers who write about Ron DeSantis or his cabinet or legislators to register with the state. This is yet another indicator that Florida’s governor is the state’s biggest snowflake.

Comedians say that when they were very good in performance, that they killed. This is apparently a threat to those Florida politicians large enough to require registration. Funny, in Florida, guns that actually can kill are not required to be registered with the state. Huh!

The basic operating principle seems to be that making harsh comments about the governor makes Mr. DeSantis sad.

Trump is going to have a field day with DeSantis as the nicknames keep piling up, how about “Thin Skinned Ron,” or “Don’t Make Me Sad DeSantis”?

And this asshole wants to be president of the United States.

March 3, 2023

It Is Never Ending

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:05 am
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Cartoonist Scott Adams (Dilbert) has gotten into hot water, deservedly, for telling white people to stay away from black people because they, well, aren’t grateful enough for all that white people have done for black people. He had to twist the knife a bit, calling black Americans a hate group and portraying white people as victims.

So, black people are supposed to be grateful for centuries of slavery, followed by centuries of institutional racism that have disadvantaged them significantly (and which continues today)?

It isn’t mentioned often but the churches have supported much of that discrimination and still do. Adam’s church for example, Latter Day Saints, aka Mormons, has a long history of excluding blacks from their religion., for example. For example, during the New Deal’s efforts to offset the impact of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt’s administration came up with the idea of giving money to the poor who were out of work. Laws were passed, people hired to dispense the money, but the progress was glacially slow. Roosevelt sicced his trusty troubleshooter, Harry Hopkins, on the problem. Hopkins quickly found out that the dispensers of the money, instead of filling out forms and dispense the cash were spending a great deal of time ensuring that those with their hands out felt guilty about needing charity, as if they weren’t embarrassed enough already. (Some left before going through the process because of it.) When that idiocy was nipped in the bud, the money flowed.

In all of these cases, good Christian people were at the heart of it all. If the Christian Nationalists want to make a case for the nation being formed a Christian nation and having been a Christian nation all these years, they need to acknowledge their support for slavery, racism, and prejudice against the poor. How the heck they can tie all of those behaviors to Jesus, I just don’t know, you know the “blessed are the poor” guy.

March 2, 2023

But . . . God Loves All People . . .

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:52 am
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Sorry I couldn’t wait until Sunday to post this. S

I have been reading post after post claiming that the Christian god is love incarnate and that it loves all people, etc.

Apparently these people are fans of Bertrand Russell (a flaming atheist if you didn’t know), who said:

Atheism is what happens when you read the Bible. Christianity is what happens when somebody else reads it for you. (Bertrand Russell)

I think these “God is love” people had others read the Bible for them.

Consider the following quote:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7, 1:6)

Apparently Yahweh didn’t love the Hittites.
Apparently Yahweh didn’t love the Girgashites.
Apparently Yahweh didn’t love the Amorites.
Apparently Yahweh didn’t love the Canaanites.
Apparently Yahweh didn’t love the Perizzites.
Apparently Yahweh didn’t love the Hivites.
Apparently Yahweh didn’t love the Jebusites.

Yahweh apparently decided even the Israelites were beyond redemption, too, and wiped out all but eight individuals in the Great Flood. And drowned all of the plants, land animals, and sea animals while he was at it. Apparently, all of that was “not good” for some reason.

So, this god selected one people, just one of the myriad peoples, including the Chinese, Indians, Mesoamericans, etc. to . . . how does it go again? Oh, yeah “The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

To be “his people,” “his treasured possession.” All of the other are fucked.

Tell me again, Christian apologist person how you god “loves us all.” Oh, and when did it change its mind about that?

Hey DeSantis, If You Can’t Take the Heat . . .

The GOP of Florida has introduced a bill to outlaw the Democratic Party in Florida and their Secretary of State is encouraging other states to do the same.

Now, the GOP is notoriously pro-business and their spiel for decades has been to glorify competition. Apparently the Florida GOP has noticed that every really big business is working hammer and tongs to establish a monopoly over their sector, and so to eliminate any competition. The logical conclusion, at least for Florida’s GOP, is one party rule in their politics.

Apparently they missed the lesson in civics class about that being un-American. Imagine, NFL football games, played by just one team, with no opposition. The team on the field would score on every possession. Then they would kick off.  and either recover the ball on the field and score again or, if the ball bounced into the end zone, the “other team” would get the ball on the 25 yard line and after four delay of game penalties would lose possession to the team on the field which would score again. Would anyone pay to watch such a debacle? Would anyone watch for free?

Even idiots know that having a loyal opposition makes one raise their game to new levels. This means that Florida’s GOP cannot even rise to the level of being considered idiots.

There is and old saying in war and politics “when your enemy is busy destroying themselves, don’t interrupt them.”

Carry on, Florida GOP, carry on.

Addendum It occurs to me that if they actually did delegitimize the Florida Democratic Party, all of the state’s former Democrats could then register as Republican and that state’s GOP would have the largest liberal wing of any red state. And former Democrats would be on ballots with an (R) after their name and people would vote for them unknowingly. These faux GOPers would then be able to sit in on all of their caucus meetings, maybe even be elected to positions prominent in their party. Oh, the horror!

Be careful what you ask for!

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