Reason Morning Links: FBI Cheating Scandal, Chavez Loses Seats, Obama Talks Education

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  1. Kathleen Sebelius: Health Insurers Finally Get Some Oversight

    There’s a long history of special interests using similar attacks to oppose change. In the mid-1960s, for example, some claimed Medicare would put our country on the path to socialism.

    Those evil “some” and their claims. Thank goodness they were wrong, or we might have ended up with an effective takeover of the health care system by the federal government.

  2. 4,100 Students Prove ‘Small Is Better’ Rule Wrong

    One school’s shocking discovery: Focus on reading and writing actually works; Turns out to be much more important than school size.

    Emboldened by their breathtaking success, the school will next focus on something even more radical: Arithmetic. Can it work? Only time will tell.

    1. I am Johnny Longtorso.

      1. Needs more caps, vowels, and exclamation marks.

        Still good though.

        1. When the hell did I supposedly start w/ the all caps thing?

          1. I was referencing “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” since “Spartacus” wrore “I am Johnny Longtorso.”

            1. Still lame. Go home.

    2. Linking to page 2 is wrong wrong wrong

      1. A mistake. It happens.

    3. Brockton’s performance is not as stellar in math as in English language arts, and the committee has hired an outside consultant to help develop strategies for improving math instruction, Mr. Perkins said.

      I bet the math stuff fails. They figured it out for english, why do they need a consultant for math? Answer is simple and same as for writing – incorporate math into all the classes, including gym and english.

      1. If I had one Heisman trophy, and then had one Heisman trophy taken from me because it was determined I was actually inelgible when I won it, how many Heisman Trophies would I have?

        1. Ok, I chuckled at that one…

      2. Cube: Math and Gym in one class.

        1. I like that the backstory is that the whole Cube complex was built by thousands of engineers each designing some insignificant part. Sometimes at work, I fear/hope/dream that I’m designing the Cube.

    4. Back in the late 1980s they did a study of all of the educational studies on class size. Out of something like 110 studies not a single one ever found a statistically significant correlation between class size and academic achievement. A good number of them actually found a negative correlation and the vast majority of them found no statistically significant correlation either way.

      Yet, politicians and media nitwits continue to repeat the mantra about the importance of class size. Whenever you hear some liberal know it all pontificating about class size just substitute the term “teacher union featherbedding” every time they say class size.

      1. That’s called a “meta-analysis” and I’m betting they’ve had some more of those since the 1980’s…

        I agree though, in many subjects it really shouldn’t matter much. For some subjects though I’m betting class size should matter (I’m thinking Spanish or Composition).

        1. I only know that one because that was back when I was majoring in economics and followed that kind of stuff. And yes I bet there have been others. If any of them had definitively confirmed a correlation between class size and academic achievement, I am quite sure the teachers’ unions would have made a big deal about it and we would have heard about it.

          1. “If any of them had definitively confirmed a correlation between class size and academic achievement, I am quite sure the teachers’ unions would have made a big deal about it and we would have heard about it.”

            Unless, perhaps, a person happened to get their news exclusively from sources with an ideological bias against teachers unions…But that would never happen!

            1. Or if they get their news from sources with an ideological bias for teacher’s unions, perhaps?

              1. That would be stupid too. And now you know at least one reason my liberal self reads Reason.

            2. Every major network and newspaper in this country is biased for teacher’s unions. They all run the at least four or five in depth stories a year that is the same recycled “struggling schools need more teachers” bullshit.

              If such a study existed, it would be a big deal. None such exists because the correlation doesn’t exist.

              1. But perhaps, a la Palin, many just ignore such “lamestream media” sources?

              2. If such a study existed, it would be a big deal. None such exists because the correlation doesn’t exist.

                John’s wielding Occam’s Razor…

      2. In theory it should help to have smaller class sizes, since teachers can then afford to give each student more individual attention.

        Unfortunately, this theory implicitly assumes that teachers give a fuck about their students, and will use the extra time to work with students individually rather than devoting extra time to smoking and grabbing ass in the lounge.

        1. The class size stuff is obviously bullshit as far as academic achievement is concerned.

          I think where the teachers unions really angle for smaller class sizes is in having to spend less time in discipline of the disruptive students.

          Still, the union knows the disruptive students will never be disposed of properly and the union purposely makes no meaningful suggestions to solve the problem.

          The answer is reform school, not school reform.

  3. Everyone knows as soon as we force federal law enforcement to play by the rules, it will only be a matter of time before the terrorists win. Or whoever it is the FBI investigates.

    1. So can we get them investigating the American people and then enforce the rules? Thus, making us the winners?

      One can dream.

  4. Yo peeps. Hope you’re all well.

  5. Clergy Gone Wild

    NRO: Exchequer vs. Economist
    …Socialist or otherwise, all states finally rest on force: You decline to participate in whatever is the Netherlands’ version of serving the community through the instrument of the state long enough, they send a guy to your house with a gun to seize your stuff or haul you off to jail; resist and there will be violence. That’s what states do, and it is not necessarily illegitimate.

    The resort to violence is what makes the question of what kind of things it is legitimate for states to do an important moral concern. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to stop him murdering, raping, or robbing. It seems to me entirely unreasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to extort from him money to fund a project to get monkeys high on cocaine. …

    1. “But I would like to make it clear that I am not indulging in a figure of speech: I think it’s a pretty useful heuristic: If you’re not willing to have somebody hauled off at gunpoint over the project, then it’s probably not a legitimate concern of the state.”

      1. Sheesh, I don’t think even Lonewacko posted under different handles in the same thread and replied to himself…

        1. It was another quote from the same article. Care to respond to what the author was saying?

          1. I too am opposed to using guns to extort money to get monkeys high.

            1. And what about transfer programs and the like? Willing to put a gun in someone’s face to make them pay into Social Security?

              Oh yea, you’re in record as being willing to enslave any doctors necessary if your kid gets sick. Sorry, you’ve already admitted to being a thug.

              1. No, no, not slavery for doctors.

                Indentured servitude dude.

                1. Whoever wrote that article owes me and MNG a credit.

                  I am perfectly happy to have the state use a gun to get this for us.

            2. That drug — it’s made from monkey cum, you know. They lock them in their cages all day and force them to jack off. Oh yeah, they show them this animal pornography, like bats having sex with pigs and stuff, real wild. And then they take the cum and make the drug from it.

      2. Or as PJ O’Rourke put it: Would you kill your mother to pave I-95?

        1. I-95’s gotta get paved, I ain’t waiting around for the Capital One North South Superhighway…

        2. I’m not killing Mom to pave I-95. I’m killing Mom to demonstrate I get what I want when I want it, which feeds my left wing ego. I kill for the trill of making others submit to my desires.

          Mom is expendable when my giant left wing ego is involved.

        3. Implausible ticking-bomb scenarios: not just for pro-torture conservatives anymore.

    2. Piss off!

      *snort, snort*

    3. You decline to participate in whatever is the Netherlands’ version of serving the community through the instrument of the state long enough, they send a guy to your house with a gun to seize your stuff or haul you off to jail; resist and there will be violence.

      That was beautiful. I did not know it was possible for something so sensible to appear in the NRO.

      and it is not necessarily illegitimate.

      FFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

      1. Read on, fool:

        It seems to me perfectly reasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to stop him murdering, raping, or robbing.

  6. I’m actually awake early enough to see the morning links before about noon. Employment rocks.

    1. awesome! internet high five! (place hand on screen)

    2. Let me be clear … as you are. Heh.

      You’re welcome.

    3. Did you and your brothers get the band back together?

  7. Obama says he wants a longer school year

    Why should this be news? As libertarians, don’t we all assume that Obama, or anyone, should have as long, as short, as deep, as wide a school year as that person wants?

    So long as you’re not interfering with anyone… Oh, wait.

    1. I never would have clicked on that had I known it was a link to Salon. Do you mean he hates the poor because he wants to force them to pay $8 for a light bulb, or because he wants them to put $8 light bulbs in their houses that expose their families to mercury if they break?

    2. I didn’t get past the headline.

      “The Republican plan to save jobs: Return to the laissez-faire policies that lost them in the first place.”

      Yeah it was laissez-faire policies that caused all of our problems. If only smart people like Andrew Leonard were allowed to run everyone’s lives, things would be perfect. I really hate people like that guy.

      1. John
        Can you at least understand why people might think that? There were several much-ballyhooed drives for what was packaged and labeled by the proponents as “deregulation” that seem to be implicated in our financial problems. I realize libertarians argue it wasn’t really regulation, but the ire should be focused on those who falsely labeled their “goods” thereby giving actual deregulation a bad name…

        1. “There were several much-ballyhooed drives for what was packaged and labeled by the proponents as “deregulation” that seem to be implicated in our financial problems.”

          The only major financial deregulation we have had in my lifetime that I can think of was the one in the late 1990s. Since then, we had the major re-regulation of SARBOX. We have an FCC and thousands of people make their living doing nothing but interpreting financial regulations. There is just no rational way you can call what we have “laissez-faire”.

          Yes, the truth of how the financial collapse happened is very complex and long. But, saying “laissez-faire” policies caused it is about as intelligent as saying “US Communism” caused it. Since we have neither communism nor laissez-faire, neither of them are the cause of the problem. Leonard, in blaming a set of policies that didn’t exist anywhere but his own imagination, is no different than a typical Bircher. The only difference is no one takes the Birchers seriously or gives them a column in an allegedly serious magazine.

          1. I agree with the first sentence of your second paragraph. As to your first paragraph, do you deny that many loudly proclaimed they were deregulating stuff during the Clinton and W administrations? Remember, I’m not asking did they actually deregulate, I’m asking did they claim to be doing so?

            1. We deregulated under Clinton when we repealed Glass Stegall in the late 1990s. But what did W deregulate? The only major financial bill ever signed was SARBOX. The truth is what it is. Bush may have been a Republican but he was hardly a de regulator.

              And beyond that, whatever minor de regulation Bush did, its contribution to the financial collapse is dwarfed by things like the CRA, Freddie and Fannie, and the Fed’s money policy.

              1. OK, this is the third time I ask this question:

                Did many Congresscritters and administration officials claim to be engaged in deregulation during W’s terms?

                1. Not really.

                  The most substantial rounds of deregulation happened under Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

                  W didn’t accomplish much deregulation because that would have conflicted with his ALL POWER ALL THE TIME SUBMIT SUBMIT SUBMIT agenda.

                  1. Can you at least understand why people might think that?

                    BTW, this subthread is disingenuous on its face, because whatever we may think about why “people” think things [and I will concede that W tricked many people into thinking he advocated limited government, namely his entire voting bloc] that does not help us explain why a Slate writer would think the same thing.

                    If you get paid to write about politics or economics, you never get a pass based on “what people might think”.

                2. Did many Congresscritters and administration officials claim to be engaged in deregulation during W’s terms?

                  Yes, and they also claimed to be protecting us from terrorism when they invaded Iraq. The fact that you lefties don’t take that claim at face value, yet proceed to take the claims of deregulation at face value, shows you’re being disingenuous.

          2. The Dems running Fannie and Freddie (it served as a source of Dem jobs between Dem admins) ramped up the lending and MBS activities to buy the political support they needed to survive their accounting scandals.

            That’s who helped push us over the cliff. That ain’t deregulation.

    3. The Republican plan to save jobs: Return to the laissez-faire policies that lost them in the first place

  8. Robotic Vaginas… with bonus orifices.

    1. That noise…

      And let’s be honest. The Robo-gina is not shocking. There is no point in building a robot unless you can fuck it.

    2. At first I thought “finally, a robot useful to the common man.” Talk about a bastardization of a good idea.

    3. WTF is going on over there?!

    4. Any video that randomly flashes the bold text “ARTICULATED BABY” is alright by me. Awesome that it “delivers” in the doggy-style position, do some women do that?

      1. I want to say that I’ve seen something where an at home delivery was done like that in a bathtub but can’t do so for certain.

        1. I was watching some show about sex on, I believe, TLC. It was about a woman who claimed that she had an orgasm(endorphine rush?) during the delivery of her first child. For her second child, she decided she wanted to try and have another orgasm during birth. She went the home delivery route and was ass up in the bathtub when she popped her little unit out. Sadly, there was no orgasm. One of the more disturbing things I’ve ever seen.

          1. Imagine the first kid growing up and seeing that program on TV… I know I would be horrified to think I’ve ever brought my mom to orgasm.

  9. Cop stages fake arrest of the 15 year old boy who was banging cop’s 14 year old daughter.

    Whatever happened to just shooting him in the leg and pretending it was an accident?

    1. Good, he needs to be thrown on the registry.

    2. Punk, I hope you realize that inappropriate behavior with my daughter can lead to hard time. Uh, let me rephrase that, it just slipped out. SHIT!!

    3. Kid didn’t have a dog to shoot?

      1. Predictable, but still funny. Cop shooting dog jokes are like chimps in suits, always funny.

        1. If that isn’t sarcasm, you are beyond all hope.

          1. Chimps in suits are always funny.

            “Looks like you blew a seal!!”

        2. like chimps in suits, always funny.

          Except when those chimps hold public office. Then it’s just tragic.

    4. How about he tell his slut daughter to close her legs? Unless he raped her, it is just as much her fault as his. I hate the whole “blame the boy every time two teenagers have sex” bullshit. Is the boy not a minor to? Maybe the boy’s father ought to go have the girl arrested for corrupting his son. If she kept her legs closed, his son wouldn’t be risking getting someone pregnant.

      1. “I hate the whole “blame the boy every time two teenagers have sex” bullshit. Is the boy not a minor to?”

        +1

        Two cases immediately come to mind: that case in Georgia where the poor young man was imprisoned for oral sex with a girl, a charge that applied to the male only iirc, and the SCOTUS case Michael M. where the conservatives on the court ruled OK such f*cked up laws…

      2. To be fair, he used up the fake stage arrest with his daughter when she was six and left her rollerskates it the driveway.

        Which is exactly why she’s attracted to bad boys now.

      3. What makes her a slut, asshole? 14-year-olds are horny and want to get banged; it doesn’t make them slutty for succeeding at it. And what is the “fault” here. Asshole dads who want the contrary should recognize the futility of resisting that. He could ground her though.

        1. I was kidding when I said slut. I don’t know if she is or is not. The point is that she is just as responsible for anything that happens as the boy is. The dad ought to worry about his own kid rather than terrorizing someone else’s.

          1. I completely agree–she was a horndog too.

    5. It’s almost as if some cops think their power of arrest is a perk of the job that they can use whenever they feel like it, like a basketball player getting front row tickets for his high school buddies.

  10. Of course Obama wants a longer school year. It’s that much more that the young are in the government’s hands, and that much less that the young are with their own families. The assimilation goes so much easier that way.

  11. Farm work is hard!

    1. Not really. There sure is a lot of it though.

    2. I’ll do it for half the price!

      1. We still talking about farm work?

  12. The idea of a longer school year is a total non-starter in the US. It will never happen. And given the quality of our teacher’s union controlled education mill, that’s probably a good thing.

    In any case, I wonder if Obama has thought about what one month more of school would do to the vacation and leisure industries (ask Disney World how they feel about the idea)? To school budgets? To highway and traffic costs (buses on the road for another month)? To teacher pay and benefits?

    Yeah, put me in the “don’t hold your breath” camp.

    1. Good points.

      Given that the abolition of mandatory “education” will also never happen, how about a compromise? *Shorten* the school year and teach only the basics. This would help with several “issues”, including the teacher “crisis”, energy savings, and student boredom. Haven’t figured out the babysitting part completely, but it seems there’s a “save or create jobs” in there somewhere.

      1. Teens will babysit the kids, just like they do in the summer now. Or illegal immigrants.

    2. As much as I resent all of those little turds now, summer vacation was the best thing ever and it would suck not to have it. Education is important, but kids need to see that life is not all structured like school and learn to find shit to do that is not assigned to them.

  13. Blame Men For Republican Surge

    ThatOne
    09/27/10
    As we all know, even small genetic anomalies can cause serious disabilities, and MEN ARE MISSING 1/4 OF A CHROMOSOME! It’s not their fault- they were made that way! We should feel pity for them and their genetic shortcomings. Considering that has made it easier for me to understand and deal with the generalized stupidity disorder I witness men exhibit every day.

    1. I don’t understand what she’s trying to get at?

      1. If you had that extra amount of chromosome you would.

        1. Less chromosome > Bleeding for five days and not dying.

          1. Bleeding for five days and not dying > bleeding for five days and dying

    2. I have genetic shortcomings? This sounds like another one of them feminist ploys to assert gender superiority. She’s asking for it.

    3. Somebody should sit her down and mansplain to her, slowly, that women were and are responsible for Prohibition.

      1. You’d probably have to mansplain why that’s a bad thing, otherwise she’ll assume that we could have won the war on likker if it weren’t for the male libertarian dolchstoss.

      2. Yeah, but women were for Prohibition because at the time their husbands could beat and rape them with impunity. Also, the Prohibition amendment was passed before women even had the right to vote–thanks to stupid fucking men.

    4. Commenter “ThatOne”, thanks for demonstrating why women lag in the fields of science and math.

    5. Babe, you’re missing something too!

    6. Being a shitass lezebel, I pretty much blame men for everything already, amirite?

      You shouldn’t sockpuppet there, Sug. It could only lead to bad things.

      The comments there are golden, many mentions of Teh Patriarchy!.

      1. I wish I could reach such heights.

        I am vying to be named Comment of the Day.


    7. BearDownCBears
      12:39 AM

      In a first-past-the post system, you won’t get significantly more progressive in America until you decrease the political power of rural areas. Sorry, that’s the way it is. A good first step is unicameralism; another is popularly elected presidents; a third is the abolition of state courts, replaced with further demarcated federal circuits. Fuck federalism, down with states, big gov’t all the way.

      Oh and ha ha Packers suck.

      Do you see? This is why women need a good beating every so often.

      1. What the fuck. That’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

      2. That stupid cunt.

        The only accurate thing in this entire post is that the Packers suck.

    8. There is such a thing as addition by subtraction.

      Intellectually, that extra 1/4 chromosome seems like the Milton Bradley of chromosomes.

      1. I had a theory once that the logic gene is located on the Y chromosone, but that seemed too cynical. Now my theory is that it is located on the X, but is recessive, so women need logic+ on both for it to work, while men only need it on their one X.

        Seems to explain things better.

        1. I don’t meet very many men or women that are logical though. Doesn’t explain much at all.

          1. Lets say 1 in 4 men are logical. That would mean about 1 in 16 women are.

            Seems to explain things about right.

            1. Your initial premise is the problem. I rarely if ever meet logical men and women. But hey, good luck proving that one.

              1. I know lots of logical women. But I’ve never made a man cry at work. The one crying professional woman cancels out about 20 logical and emotionally stable women.

                1. And the guy who brings a gun to work and shoots his co-workers to death (or injury) cancels out your 20 logical and emotionally stable men.

                  Damn, that was easy.

                  1. Yes, but then I’ve seen about 12 crying women at work. Where are the shooters? We haven’t had even one…

                    I don’t care about the war of the sexes, I just want women to stop fucking crying at work.

                    1. LOL, haven’t had one of those at my work either. And I want that to stop too. But don’t you work at a university? A bunch of pussies in touch with their feelings! I’m shocked there aren’t more male cryers (criers?).

      2. More like an appendix.

    9. CynicalPink 09/27/10

      Women as a whole feel themselves less invested in feminist causes than men feel invested in supporting patriarchy.

      Of course, most people would never think of their votes in these terms. Most supporters of patriarchy are, I’ve seen, actually well meaning but not very self aware. Women, on the other hand, still feel this need to be accepted by patriarchal structures and mimic their language despite the fact that acceptance will never happen. There’s plenty of crossover by both genders, but conservative women tend to be so loud because the louder they support the patriarchy, the more likely they think it is that they will finally share in that privilege. This is false, but it is what it is.

      Conservative men are fighting to not lose their privilege. Not even an inch. It’s not hard to get people to rally to the call of keeping what they feel is rightfully theirs. And they will fight to the death for it.

      Jesus, it’s a motherlode of smug.

      1. So if I don’t agree with feminist tripe, I’m somehow obliviously brainwashed by the patriarchy…right. This bullshit has been said so often I can’t fucking stand it. These women are just as bad as the strawmen they rig up who are restricting my ability to think independently.

    10. I fail to see how the thing that supposedly allows men to control the world and run everything for their benefit can be considered a disability.

    11. genetic shortcomings?

      My paycheck says otherwise!

    12. We traded in that 1/4 of a chromosome for the all-powerful male gaze.

    13. Actually, many genetic disorders (eg, Downs Syndrome) are caused by excess chromosomes (trisomy), so it’s just as likely women are the ones who are fucked up. In particular, a male with an extra X chromosome develops Klinefelter’s Syndrome which is pretty sad.

      1. It’s not sad; it’s fucking disgusting.

        1. Mommy, what does “testicular hyalinization” mean?

          1. “Stop using those filthy words, Jimmy!”

  14. Of course I want a longer school year! They don’t expect me to spend time with my kids, do they? 250 days of school a year, I say. And have them play soccer or something all weekend.

  15. Jezebelles discuss BDSM

    And my favorite commenter talks about what she likes in bed.

    SarahMC
    09/27/10
    Sometimes I think I must be the most vanilla feminist on the planet.

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I say!

    1. I can’t jezebel. Instead I found this.

      The Spirit of Jezebel Rules Over THIS NATION!!!

      The Satanic Power is a hierarchy of ruling evil spirits. … when you understand how The Spirit of Jezebel operates, and for what purpose “she” works toward. …

    2. There seems to be a trend among chicks who claim to be “feminists” and the desire to be roughed up by men in the sack. There is probably an entire field of psychology in explaining why.

      1. It’s the equivalent of sexual hipsterism.

    3. OK, all reason commenters try this, and we’ll tally up the responses. How many women liked it, how many slapped back, and how many commenters are now undergoing breakup and/or divorce proceedings.

  16. Re: the Venezula news
    Seems like Joe (Blessed Be His Name and We Pray for His Imminent Return) was more right about that nation than many here were…Nations that are long lost despotisms rarely have such news…Good news, I hope it gives Hugo sleepless nights and puts him on a path out the door.

    1. Unless and until that vote translates into an actual reduction in Chavez’s power, it doesn’t mean anything. They have elections in Iran to and they had them in the old Soviet Union. They just didn’t mean anything.

  17. MNG, does the fact that W left office voluntarily make you regret any leftist claims he was a violator of civil rights, overstepped his legit authority, etc?

    1. No, but it makes me think his administration was not without political solutions. What joe was reacting against was the meme that Chavez=Hitler and we need to possibly militarily intervene to defeat his evil. Joe’s meme was: Venezula is not lost, give it a chance and time.

      1. Hitler was an aggressive expansionist. Even if Chavez was an outright dictator, unless he started invading other South American nations and building an empire, it wouldn’t be in the interest of the American people to intervene.

        1. Chavez may not invade but he is very much intervening. Columbia has proven on numerous occasions his support and sheltering of the FARC.

        2. You know who else was in favor of aggressive expansion? Yeah, that’s right, The Joker. Wait, that’s backwards, isn’t it? Dammit.

        3. He also threatened to invade Honduras after the so-called “coup” (actually a constitutional impeachment and conviction) if they didn’t allow his fellow caudillo Zumaya back into power.

  18. Just saw an ad where a Dem politician accused the GOP candidate of:

    1. Forcing a controversial vaccine on school kids
    2. Supporting a government takeover or an old folks home (?)
    3. Accepting refurbishment of the governors mansion in a year the government had d deficet

    Gotta love Texas!

    1. Gotta love Texas!

      No, no I don’t, you statist.

  19. Joe Biden is now contributing to Reason? maybe as the voice of Anti-Reason, perhaps?

    1. funny, that’s how I read it too

  20. Atheists know more about religion than believers:

    http://mobile.latimes.com/wap/…..tle=Nation

    Gosh, what a surprise.

    1. There’s a big difference between knowing about religion and knowing religion.

    2. I never thought of myself as an atheist until I read the Bible the whole way through. That was eye-opening.

      “Abraham!”
      “Yes, voice in my head?”
      “Kill your son!”
      “You got it, boss!”
      “OMG JK LOL!!!! ROFL!!”

      1. I think Issac did die, but the story was retconned to a more palatable fable. Abraham is all faithful and feeling blessed now that he finally has a son. God had given him what he truly wanted. God was loved, sure, but God also needed to be feared by Abraham. So Isaac had to die.

        God is a most excellent troll.

        Also, The Believer is a pretty great movie.

        1. Isaac definitely didn’t die. He’s too instrumental to the rest of the text. It would be like saying that Huckleberry Finn secretly died on page 3 and the rest of the story is a retcon.

          I think the story is a folk memory of the fact that Hebrews participated in human sacrifice [there are other traces of this in various parts of the OT] and they needed a story about the moment of transition when El changed his mind and didn’t want human sacrifices any more.

          1. I bet you think Paul McCartney is alive too!

            1. Sadly, I expect he’ll be the last of the Fab Four to die. My god what an ass.

          2. That is exactly what it is. I look at the Old Testament as God slowly revealing himself to the Jews. He couldn’t come out and just tell them what to do. It was a process. It is like explaining something to your children. You start off with some really basic truths that they can understand and then go from there. One of the first things was “stop sacrificing other people”. That is the Issac story. Later we get a little more advanced and get the ten commandments.

            1. Well, it might be like explaining something to your children if your omnipotent ass were solely responsible for their not having the intelligence to understand what you needed them to understand in the first place.

            2. So “advanced” that the children had to be told what to do, or else.

              1. 12 On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

                13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,as it is written in the Book of Jashar.The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

            3. In addition to what John said, it is also forshadowing…in that later there would be a necessary human sacrifice and God would be doing himself what he asked of Abraham. The Jews, via the Abraham/Isaac story would have the necessary background to understand what was going on later on.

            4. John, they were sacrificing people for hundreds of years after that. Elijah had them sacrifice the priests of Baal in the 700s BC, over 500 years after Abraham.

              Plus the story in Judges where one of the protagonists vows to sacrifice to God the first thing he touches on returning home, and his daughter sneaks up and embraces him when he gets home. He then reluctantly sacrificed her to God. Hundreds of years after Abraham.

              The point of the Isaac story is that you should do whatever God tells you, regardless of how insane and immoral it sounds. That lesson has caused quite a bit of trouble down through the ages, hasn’t it?

              1. Ummm….your post Isaac examples are very werid. Human sacrifices were specifically verboten. It is regularly shown as a negative, it was still happening, but it was one of the reason’s Israel was doomed.

                Elijah had the prophets of Baal slaughtered, not sacrificed. Huge distinction.

                There is no positive instance of human sacrifice in the bible other than Isaac (which didnt happen) and Jesus.

                1. Actually, robc, when commanding the annihilation of the inhabitants of Canaan, in the original text the Bible uses the same verb as is used to denote a sacrifice.

                  If we use a literal translation and not one sanitized by fastidious Greeks, Yahweh demanded the lives of every living thing in the Canaanite cities as burnt offerings.

                  1. If we use a literal translation and not one sanitized by fastidious Greeks, Yahweh demanded the lives of every living thing in the Canaanite cities as burnt offerings

                    Except their whores. See Rahab.

                  2. when commanding the annihilation of the inhabitants of Canaan, in the original text the Bible uses the same verb as is used to denote a sacrifice.

                    This is true. However, not used for the prophets of Baal.

                    I guess you could say my human sacrifice comment was wrong, but not my Baal comment. Although I think that word is different than the one used for the child sacrifices, the “passing thru the fire” references.

                    Actually, he didnt demand them as burnt offerings. Just total destruction. Burnt offerings are different. If we are going to be technical….lets be fully technical.

                    The hebrew word means “the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them”.

                    Verse 6:21 specifies “destroyed with the sword every living thing”, no mention of burning.

                2. Elijah had the prophets of Baal slaughtered, not sacrificed. Huge distinction.

                  Not if you’re the choppee!

              2. Jephthah is the one Tulpa is talking about. Doesn’t look God-sanctioned, though.

                1. God didn’t stop him, and the text itself gives no indication that either the author or God disapproved, just that it was tragic that his daughter died a virgin.

                  Of course, it’s highly likely that Judges is actually the oldest book in the Hebrew Scriptures — most of the Torah was probably not written until the time of David, Solomon, and the sedentary priesthood. So it would be understandable if the attitude toward human sacrifice in Genesis is more evolved than that in Judges.

                  1. Jephthah is, I think, supposed to be an object lesson in the risk of taking a rash oath. We’re supposed to say, “Uh-oh, he shouldn’t have promised that. Bummer for him, now he actually has to do it.” It is, however, telling that the story is told from a point of view that presupposes that Yahweh would hold him to his oath, despite its content. The implication is that it would have gone badly for him if he had taken upon himself the privilege of asserting that Yahweh didn’t really want what he had “doomed” to him.

                  2. Judges is old, in many other OT books there are bits and pieces of stories appropriated from the Canaanite culture that Hebrew society either displaced or replaced, depending on what school of archaeological thought you subscribe to.

                    It’s bizarre because in some cases thes stories that have been preserved in that way make no sense in a monotheistic system.

                    Here’s one of the weirdest ones to me: the story of Balaam in Numbers.

                    Balaam is a holy man with the power to bless or curse entire peoples. But by definition in a monotheistic system, if he has that power it has to come from the one and only god. But Yahweh has to go through all sorts of contortions to stop Balaam from cursing Israel, up to and including sending angels to block his path, and getting Balaam’s donkey to speak to him Dr. Doolittle style. But if Yahweh is the only god around, all of this should be unnecessary – all Yahweh has to do is not actually carry out whatever curse Balaam pronounces. The story is pretty obviously a polytheistic story that has been contorted to fit into a monotheistic context, and not very well. It probably started out as a story of how Yahweh defeated the machinations of a priest of another god, but as Judaism became progressively more monotheistic the references to that other god were gradually stripped away and repurposed to be this bizarre self-referential process where Yahweh is simultaneously aiding and stopping Balaam from getting things done.

              3. Elijah had them sacrifice the priests of Baal in the 700s BC, over 500 years after Abraham.

                How the fuck is killing your enemies a “sacrifice”?

                In order to sacrifice you have to sacrifice something. Burning your lawn clippings is not a sacrifice…it is cleaning up the trash.

                1. priests of Baal

                  Also should note that Baal is not a god, but an honorific. Like Lord or Sir or Esquire.

                  1. Also should note that Baal is not a god, but an honorific. Like Lord or Sir or Esquire.

                    Uh, this is so stupid I can barely type this without laughing to death. Christians, Muslims, and Jews rarely refer to their deity by anything but an honorific (Lord, Allah, Elohim), so it can be assumed the case was similar with Baal worshipers.

                2. A common target — probably the most common — of human sacrifice was captured enemy soldiers.

            5. He couldn’t come out and just tell them what to do. It was a process.

              What the fuck was he doing from 10,000BC to 2000BC?

              and don’t tell me the planet is only 6000 years old or I will lose a shit load of respect I have for you.

        2. I think Issac did die,

          That seems to be contradicted by the existence of Jews, unless Isaac reached puberty at a very young age.

      2. Meh. I take the reading that Abraham was actually testing God, not (or in addition to) God testing Abraham.

        A God that truly demanded human sacrifice would not have been a God worthy of Abraham.

        God passed the test, BTW.

        1. The Bible According to Hyperion.

          1. Good catch, Pro L. Although Dan Simmons didn’t come up with that himself.

            1. Just read it, so it’s fresh. Certainly not original to him.

              1. I hate that fucking book!!!

                Worse SciFi ever written.

                1. By the way you guys are confusing Job with Abraham.

                  and it was Satan testing god and god failed.

                  Simsons bullshit is entirely original….original and shitty.

      3. Read Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. It’s an exploration of the Abraham/Isaac story and explains that the external appearance of religious faith is completely irrational, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be true.

    3. Damn it, I was just about to post that link.

    4. I would like to see what questions they actually asked. But it is not surprising. Atheists tend to be more obsessed with religion than your average believer. Atheists are a smaller self selected group. I would imagine if you took all of the hardcore believers and compared them to all of the affirmative atheists the scores would probably be about the same. It takes a lot of thought to fall into either ditch.

      1. I was raised without religion, so I never had any belief to lose. But for years I didn’t call myself an atheist because I didn’t want to seem too scary to decent people. That took some thought to stop doing.

        1. Most people don’t sit around thinking deep thoughts and contemplating the bible. These sorts of decisions are made on a very instinctual level for most people. I am neither surprised nor disturbed by the idea the most people who consider themselves believers couldn’t beat that average hard core atheist at bible trivia.

          I find it interesting though that this says that most atheists are not what I would call Feynman atheist. The famous physicist was raised Jewish but never gave religion much thought. He didn’t believe and didn’t consider it an interesting subject. If I were an atheist that would be how I would look at things. I find it very odd that most atheists seem to be really interested in religion. So much so, they seem to know about the Bible than believers. That is an awful lot of time and effort to spend on a subject they consider bunk.

          1. I think he was raised by at least terrible Jews, and possibly by atheist Jews. But Feynman’s view of religion is pretty much my own.

            For lulz, find the chapter of one of his books where he tries to discuss religion and physics with rabbinical students. He didn’t get too far.

          2. It’s a personality issue, John.

            If you were surrounded 24/7 by large numbers of people who thought that cats had six legs, and wouldn’t shut up about it or concede their total wrongness when you confronted them with the indisputable fact that cats have four legs, you would probably:

            1. Become something of an expert at cat anatomy

            2. Also accumulate a large collection of bad arguments that purported to prove that cats had six legs.

            1. But you are not surrounded by that. We live in a totally secular society. I never have religious conversations with people. The subject of religion rarely comes up. Indeed, that is why people are able to float through life as agnostics. You really don’t have to give the subject much thought in this society.

              I am sorry but I am not buying the “we are so oppressed we have to defend ourselves excuse”. If this were the 16th Century and religion were more prevalent in society maybe. But not now.

              1. Sorry, totally wrong on that. Perhaps mass culture is secular, because it’s run by corporations that don’t want to offend anyone to maximize profits, but many local communities are drenched religion.

                1. No way. I live in a large city and no one talks to me about religion. It’s just not there.

              2. Like I said, it’s a personality issue.

                I find myself surrounded by religious content and religious assertion all the time. You would probably argue that I’m putting myself in situations where the question will arise, or provoking situations where the question will arise. Even if that’s the case, the question arises.

                I did not say I was oppressed. I said that people in error are refusing to concede that they’re in error. The implicit second clause of that sentence is, “…and I find that intolerable.” If you have the personality type that is disputatious, believe me, the disputes are there to be had.

                Ever stand in a room where people who have no idea what they’re doing are trying to accomplish some technical task, but for one reason or another you’re not supposed to intervene? When I’m in that situation I either have to intervene anyway [and offend people, usually] or I have to leave. It’s torture for me to watch people do things poorly. The frustration I pick up by osmosis is more than I can bear. That’s just my own personality defect.

                1. “I find myself surrounded by religious content and religious assertion all the time.”

                  Either you live in Amish country or you imagine such content where none exists. Yeah, if you are an asshole and worry about every person you see wearing a cross or star of David or drive by a church, I guess you are surrounded by “religious content”.

                  I don’t mean to be an asshole here, but I think you are on crack. I don’t believe you for a minute when you say that.

                  “Ever stand in a room where people who have no idea what they’re doing are trying to accomplish some technical task, but for one reason or another you’re not supposed to intervene?”

                  Ah yeah. Maybe what is going on is none of your business? Jesus fluffy you seem to be a serious meddler and worrier. If you are that concerned about how other people live their lives and that much of a busybody, why aren’t you a liberal?

                  1. Dude, I think we’re talking about different kinds of surrounded.

                    On my desk there is a magic box that when I turn it on and type some letters into a window, it brings up page after page of people talking about God.

                    You can say, “You wouldn’t be surrounded if you would turn off the magic box,” but as I already admitted above my own personality defect is that I can’t. I see the box, and know that it is full of wrongness, and that must be corrected.

                    Ah yeah. Maybe what is going on is none of your business? Jesus fluffy you seem to be a serious meddler and worrier. If you are that concerned about how other people live their lives and that much of a busybody, why aren’t you a liberal?

                    I don’t even have to consciously think about it. Just proximity to stupidity is good enough to get me. What bothers me, actually, is not meddling.

                    I’m not a liberal because liberalism is one of the errors out there that requires correction. And those fuckers are going to hear about it, too.

                    1. You can say, “You wouldn’t be surrounded if you would turn off the magic box,” but as I already admitted above my own personality defect is that I can’t. I see the box, and know that it is full of wrongness, and that must be corrected.

                      You are a bigot, and your bigotry is more irrational then thinking cats have 6 legs.

                      Can you be a biggot and still remain a libertarian?

                      mostly yes

                      Can you believe in six legged cats and be a libertarian?

                      Yes and even more so then a bigot can.

              3. John|9.28.10 @ 10:19AM|#
                “I never have religious conversations with people.”

                Never?

          3. I, like Warty, was raised with no religion. Not atheism, but rather an agnosticism. In my teens I discovered that religion, in its various forms, is really important to people, and feeling like I was missing something decided to investigate religion. Perhaps finding one that seemed logical to me.

            I have read the fucking gamut; Aleister Crowley to Hal Lindsey, and have found one general thing about all religions; that is a top down, one size fits all approach to human affairs. One thing that really stands out though is people confusing dogmatic behavior with ethical behavior. A lot of the time there is overlap, but not always.

            As I learned more I began to see the myopic vision of religion. A human race locked in a maze, as a rat, scurrying to and fro, attempting to find the “secret” path to redemtion. Your morality isn’t guided by reason, but rather fear.

            A man who murders children is saved because he believes, while the atheist, regardless of his good works, is doomed to an eternity of suffering. Ever wonder why there are so few atheists in prison?

            I see this as an unethical way of thinking, and therefore deny its truth.

            1. the atheist, regardless of his good works, is doomed to an eternity of suffering

              The bolded part has things backwards. It is the sins that doom the atheist.

              Salvation thru grace is a hard concept, it implies a mercy that goes beyond justice. You have to start with the concept that by justice ALL of us are doomed. The good works of the atheist doesnt make up for his sins, they doom him, just like with the murderer. If you dont accept that, then of course the rest doesnt make sense.

              The concept of weighing a person’s soul, the good v the bad and that determining a person’s afterlife is a bad concpet. By that measure, everyone fails.

              So, it isnt an unethical way of thinking, unless you value justice as the highest value. I think that on Earth, perfect justice should be the goal and an asymptote that we can never reach but should strive for. On the other hand, I think that is a lower bound asymptote for God and fortunately he goes above it.

              1. I used to think this way, but now believe that everyone is saved.

                1 Timothy 4:10 (New King James Version)

                “10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach,[a] because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe”

                What if one turns that into kindergarteners? If one says, “I love all kindergarteners, especially those in Mrs. Perry’s class.” One is not saying they hate all of the kindergarteners that aren’t in Mrs. Perry’s class.

                Same with the verse from Timothy. Chist’s death and resersction saved all people, especially those who believe on him.

                That’s why people who preach fire and brimstone should be taken out and shot.

              2. ” You have to start with the concept that by justice ALL of us are doomed”

                This is a horrible, vicious concept. If this really is your core belief, you are already living in hell.

                1. Nothing horrible or vicious about it at all.

                  Lets set some premises (these can be disagreed with, but this is my theology, deal with it). Heaven is a state of eternal connection with God. Hell is a state of eternal separation from God. In life, we experience lesser degrees of the same two states. Sin isnt specific acts, but a state of being, the state of sin being this lesser separation from God. Salvation, thus, is the lesser connection to God. Within those states, there are substates – the saved may be doing evil and thus experiences some separation. The unsaved may be doing good and experiencing some connection. In life, the states arent as absolute.

                  Eh, thats my belief structure, have at it.

              3. ” You have to start with the concept that by justice ALL of us are doomed”

                This is a horrible, vicious concept. If this really is your core belief, you are already living in hell.

              4. I shouldn’t have even posted. I am quite content to let John, and Fluffy, argue these things.

                I do ken the meaning of salvation, though I would probably argue the intent of religion pursuing that line of thought.

                Having a theological debate doesn’t really interest me, though. Here and now, on earth, I get to go about my life while the murderer rots in jail. The events of our post-existence don’t really hold much interest as I think that we will both be worm food, regardless of what we profess.

                Which dovetails nicely with my presumption that turning your back on god is not the worst thing that a human can do.

              5. The bolded part has things backwards. It is the sins that doom the atheist.

                Salvation thru grace is a hard concept, it implies a mercy that goes beyond justice. You have to start with the concept that by justice ALL of us are doomed. The good works of the atheist doesnt make up for his sins, they doom him, just like with the murderer. If you dont accept that, then of course the rest doesnt make sense.

                Sounds like you missed that logic gene on the X chromosome. This paragraph is so much drivel I can’t even contemplate it. Probably because I don’t think Jesus Magic makes up for deeply evil acts and I do think some people’s good deeds over-compensate for their sins. God is a butcher with his hand on the scale.

                1. Probably because I don’t think Jesus Magic makes up for deeply evil acts

                  Neither do I. THATS THE FUCKING POINT OF GRACE. The point being you can make up for your sinful state. Period. Grace/mercy is required.

                  1. CANT CANT, cant make up.

                    Typing hard.

                  2. You’re arguing semantics. Jesus Magic/Grace/Mercy makes up for evil acts by getting you into heaven. Good deeds, no matter how much more impactful they are than one’s sins, don’t get you into heaven. You are confused by thinking “makes up for” means something other than being heaven-bound, what exactly would that be?

                    1. I’d like to note here that claiming salvation by grace alone would not cut it for Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. It’s mainly a Protestant concept.

                      The problem is that if it’s true, then not only is justice not the highest value, it’s no value at all.

                      It’s also a Catch-22. If our acts of immorality or morality are irrelevant to the outcome, then why are they sins to begin with? Sins can’t simultaneously doom us, and not matter.

                    2. I’d like to note here that claiming salvation by grace alone would not cut it for Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. It’s mainly a Protestant concept.

                      True. Im not qualified to discuss Catholic or EO belief systems.

                      If our acts of immorality or morality are irrelevant to the outcome, then why are they sins to begin with?

                      Irrelevant to what outcome? Even if they have no affect on the afterlife, they do in life. And we wouldnt be here if that wasnt important.

                    3. See my “state” premeses above. Jesus/Grace/Mercy gets you a connection with God, because you have requested it. Separation is the “natural” (due to original sin) state. So there is only one state change operation. You “start” (in quotes due to question about starting point, whether it is from the beginning of life or at age of reason, but not worrying about that here) as a 0 and can change to state 1 via grace.

                      The we can have fun with predestination vs free will. As that state change preordained or is at a conscious choice?

                    4. Right. Exactly.

                      There’s only one state change possible.

                      And it can only be achieved by grace.

                      But that means that all the sins in the “system” aren’t relevant.

                      You’re saying “Sin separates you from God” but simultaneously saying that sin doesn’t matter to your relationship with God, only grace does.

                    5. Fluffy,

                      I made 3 separate (hah!) references to sin separating you from God.

                      1. Eternally
                      2. In life
                      3. In life as a subset of 1/2.

                      Original sin causes the initial separation that only grace “overcomes”. Inidividual sins are at level 3, the believer has temporary separation from God (I hate to mention it, its so cliche, but see Footprints poster. Ugh, I think I threw up just a little.). It may not even really be a separation, it just seems that way. A little taste.

          4. The reason why I find religion interesting is that there are a lot of people who are apparently quite intelligent and reasonable who believe in what I consider to be (in your words) “bunk”. So I see it as something about people that I really don’t understand very well. It seems like there must be some interesting reason why otherwise apparently reasonable people believe in fairy stories.

            1. lot of people who are apparently quite intelligent and reasonable who believe in what I consider to be (in your words) “bunk”.

              Most poeple here believe in the big bang theory which claims the universe created itself out of nothing.

              Nothing became something.

              Furthermore no one here can explain the evidence that supports the Big Bang.

              Furthermore Evolution, which actually has a shit load evidence is accepted by many, and it has been my experience that most evolution believing people’s knowledge of the evidence is nonexistent.

              1. Note I am an atheist and a devout believer in evolution.

                Big bang…not so much.

          5. I find it very odd that most atheists seem to be really interested in religion. So much so, they seem to know about the Bible than believers. That is an awful lot of time and effort to spend on a subject they consider bunk.

            I think you’ll also notice that libertarians spend an awful lot of time talking about the state, and nobody more so than anarchists. If you think people might use an idea as an excuse to violate your rights, you tend to worry about it. Whether the theists are as much of a threat as the statists is, of course, debatable.

            1. “Whether the theists are as much of a threat as the statists is, of course, debatable.”

              No, it is not.

              The theists are not any threat, until they control the state, and thus are statists.

      2. It’s not necessarily a case of being obsessed, just that somebody who openly refers to himself an atheist has probably given it some thought, and is at least somewhat prepared to defend his position. Otherwise you just go with “agnostic” and catch a lot less shit.

        1. “Agnostic” is the moral coward’s way out.

      3. At work, the atheists — there are more than a few — have a contest with our fellow Judeo-Christians to Isaac Asimov’s Quiz when the topic is the Bible: the Christians stopped playing cuz they were gettin’ their Holy Asses handed to them (one was caught cheating too).

        1. Dude, it’s not even about “bible trivia” which John likened the study to. 19% of Protestants didn’t know one of the core tenets of their sect! That’s not trivial.

          1. Be careful with statements like that, especially around congregationalists. Core tenets is a touchy concept.

            1. I feel like this is supposed to be funny but I’m too ignorant to understand it.

              1. No humor, just you grouping protestants together and thinking they have the same core tenets. One of the core tenets of congregationalism is that core tenets are decided at the congregational level.

                And, yes, I realize the contradiction there.

                1. Are there any Protestants that don’t believe they are saved by grace and works have absolutely no impact on being saved? Because that was the core tenet only 19% knew about.

    5. I think that the article authors are being just a bit too polite by deliberately excluding one obvious possibility here:

      There are broad sections of the holy texts and the dogma of the various Judeo-Christian sects that are, in a word, absurd. Many “moderate” believers gloss over the contrast between the social comforts of religion [which they want to keep] and the absurd content [which they cannot accept] by simply not looking at it. It’s hard to do well on a test when you’re deliberately avoiding the source material.

      1. Oh bullshit. The judeo Christian tradition is not Islam. It does not view the bible as the actual “word of God”. That is how Islam views the Koran. It is not Mohammad writing what he heard or saw, it is actually God talking through Mohammad. That is why Muslims get pissed off when people burn the Koran. The text and book itself is considered sacred.

        Jews and Christians view the bible as a divinely inspired human document. That means it is not the perfect word of God. People got things wrong. Indeed, the entire premise of Christianity is that the Jews didn’t understand the first covenant and what was expected of them. That is what the Sermon on the Mount is about. It is mostly a list of how the Jews had fucked up and didn’t understand the rules. And it is why Christ was a heretic to the Jews.

        Christians have been fighting about these issues since the religion began. The fundamental question that divides Catholics from Protestants and Orthodox is the question of who gets to interpret the bible. Can any person read it and is everyone entitled to their own interpretation or does the Church get the final say.

        To say that Christians and Jews just ignore this stuff is profoundly ignorant. There is thousands of years of scholarly debate on these things.

        1. John, the history of close examination and heady disputation of the text is not relevant here.

          All that’s relevant is the modern experience of how your contemporaries are actually living their religion.

          And if you don’t think that many religious people are deliberately avoiding topics that might unsettle or embarrass them, I think you’re kidding yourself.

          The Catholics in the survey scored poorly on the Transubstantiation question. And I think we have to consider the very real possibility that this is due in part to the fact that one way to stay Catholic is to deliberately look away when bizarre theological concepts are up for discussion.

          1. Isn’t this usually where Episiarch comes in, and he and John have a tedious cat fight?

            1. Fucking christ, stick with a name, you tiresome passive-aggressive nothing.

          2. “The Catholics in the survey scored poorly on the Transubstantiation question.”

            I didn’t RTFA, but that’s really sad. It’s one of the central tenets of the faith. I guess it’s one of the aspects of Catholicism that really appeals to me. I suppose it sounds crazy, but no more or less so that any other aspect of the faith.

            1. Pretend theo-cannibalism never really appealed to me but hey, whatever floats your boat.

          3. But that is an indictment of those individual people not that faith at large. You act like no one has ever thought of these issues or tried to solve them except busybody atheists like yourself. Yeah, most people don’t know much of anything beyond what they need to get through the day. No kidding. That is true of any subject. Newsflash, most basketball fans don’t understand the difference between charging and blocking.

            1. Most basketball fans don’t think David Stern is an almighty being who created the universe and infuses it with meaning and value.

            2. Yes, John, people have tried to solve them. And most of the people who came up with solutions other than “it’s a mystery” or “because the Bible says so” were forced to renounce their solutions and/or burned at the stake.

            3. It is impossible, and has been impossible for the last 40 to 50 years, to get confirmed as a Catholic without either attending Catholic school or taking CCD classes to learn the catechism.

              Part of the catechism is the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

              We’re not talking about people who have never been exposed to the doctrine. They were deliberately exposed to it by church officials or lay people who wanted them to learn it in order to undertake one of the religion’s sacraments. If they are failing to get the test question right, they at some point blanked the data out.

              I just think it’s pretty likely that people are “blanking out” the parts of their individual religions that make them uncomfortable. And that this makes it likely that they’ll get questions wrong on tests about their religion. That’s all, really.

              1. Part of the catechism is the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

                And who enforces the teaching of that doctrine? Answer: nobody.

                In case you couldn’t tell, I was raised Catholic, and was a decently bright kid in grade school, and I had no idea that the Eucharist was literally the Body and Blood of Christ until I was in my 20s. They taught us that it was a symbol, and this is a common way of teaching it.

          4. All that’s relevant is the modern experience of how your contemporaries are actually living their religion.

            I believe in soap. I use it to keep clean. I have a rudimentary understanding of how it is created from the chemistry i took in college and from watching and reading Fight Club. I could get a more full understanding of how it works but i do not. My interests have tended to take me in other directions.

            Am i an idiot? Am i irrational?

            I enjoy the soap i use. It gets me what i want. Why am i less of a person if i do not examine its reality thoroughly and only simply use it blindly?

        2. 23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

          1. Are you saying Chavs dont deserve to be mauled by bears?

            1. This is what people did before TV. It was truly a savage age.

          2. When I was teaching Sunday school back in my believer days, the religious ed director told me to present those verses to the class that week and explain that they mean kids shouldn’t talk back to adults, and any kid who did so was living on borrowed time.

            I didn’t follow his advice, because I couldn’t imagine those words coming out of my mouth at the beginning of the 21st century. A few weeks later he got shitcanned for touching a male student inappropriately. Don’t talk back, indeed.

            1. That was rowdy story for you, Tulpa!

              1. I’m saving the really juicy ones for the autobiography.

        3. I agree, John – but (and I wish I had the stats behind this!) in the US, there are many more people who self-identify as Christians than the subset who actually regularly study the Bible or attend church or in some way learn about/practice the religion. I daresay the same is true about American Jews. Maybe Muslims, too. Oh, and there are fundamentalist Bible Baptists who definitely do believe that everything in the Bible is the word of God (not divinely inspired, but literally so).

        4. Oh bullshit. The judeo Christian tradition is not Islam. It does not view the bible as the actual “word of God”. That is how Islam views the Koran. It is not Mohammad writing what he heard or saw, it is actually God talking through Mohammad. That is why Muslims get pissed off when people burn the Koran. The text and book itself is considered sacred.

          Jews and Christians view the bible as a divinely inspired human document. That means it is not the perfect word of God.

          Depends on your preacher, John.

          I’ve heard more than one soap box stander tell me that “the Bible—the whole Bible—is the Word or God”. No equivocation. No nuance.

          They avoid preaching the tougher parts of the Old Testament in public, but if you sit near their “study group” in the local coffee shop you can listen to them telling each other how, after they get people on the Right Path they can introduce the harder disciplines.

          Sure, most of the Christians I know take a rather more relaxed approach, but then most of the “Moslems” I know are the sort who don’t go to church. Only it’s a mosque they don’t go to and they don’t go on Friday; still, they remind me an awful lot of the lapsed Catholics I’ve met.

        5. “That is why Muslims get pissed off when people burn the Koran. The text and book itself is considered sacred.”

          And to Muslims, pages from the bible are considered acceptable paper for wiping one’s ass.

        6. Christians have been fighting about these issues since the religion began.

          Oftentimes, to the death!

      2. Possible. I know in my more conservative, religious teenage years, I tended to compartmentalize heavily — like, I read enough of the Bible to understood that the story of Onan was based on God enforcing an alien social moral obligation, that of carrying on the lineage of a sibling through sister(in-law) fucking. And I just sort of accepted the moral premise in order to consider the question, in true cultural relativist fashion. And got annoyed with people who thought it was about God smacking someone down for jerking it. Of course, as a teenage male, that last bit was personally offensive. And I understand that the story of Soddom and Gommorah would have more relevance to the American prison system than Elton John. But it took a while to realize that if you’re considering your religion through a purely hypothetical lens, you don’t really actually believe in it.

        That said, plenty of myths and fairy tales have been sanitized and purged of bits that are out of sync with the current moral climate. The only thing unique about religion is that some people claim to really believe in it in a fundamentalist fashion.

        1. The story of Soddom and Gommorah wasn’t about gay sex; it was about hospitality.

          1. “Rape my daughter but for god’s sake don’t rape my guests!”

            1. There is a similar story (in Judges?) where they do send out their daughters, who are then gang raped to death.

              1. And women are still more religious than men. Confounding!

          2. I always figured it was about roving bands of gang rapists being a bad thing, but eh.

    6. Oh, the joy of the last paragraph…

      For comparison purposes, the survey also asked some questions about general knowledge, which yielded the scariest finding: 4% of Americans believe that Stephen King, not Herman Melville, wrote “Moby Dick.”

      1. In response to that, I think King should write his own version of Moby-Dick. With hundreds of pages on whaling.

      2. I expect that number to increase as the number of people who do not remember there always being a shelf dedicated to King decrease. Ask again in 2040 and that number will be 24%.

    7. Atheists know more about religion than believers:

      Probably for the same reason people who eat mass-produced chicken know less about the chicken production industry than people who refuse to eat it.

    8. Having taken the test, I’m actually not surprised at all (FWIW, I missed one, and only because I second-guessed myself, which I guess gives me mad atheist cred or something).

      Really, assume a Christian (for the sake of argument, call him a protestant) who is very devout, and very knowledgeable about his religion, theologically speaking. Less than 10 questions on the test reference this knowledge. In general, it’s hard to take this test to mean that religious people are ignorant about their own religion — at worst, it means that they are ignorant about everything outside their own religion. Take a test of religion-specific theological (not historical) knowledge and pit adherents of that religion against atheists, and you might get a different result entirely.

    1. What a great album

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  22. On the religion issue, but couldn’t find a good place to put it…

    Aristotle was of the opinion that you could think about science and “reason” your way to scientific truth – a kind of scientific dialectic.

    This led him to such conclusions as: More dense objects fall faster than less dense objects; creating a vacuum is impossible; there are four elements and they are earth, wind, water and fire; etc.

    Then civilization spent the next several hundred years refuting all of his claims.

    Point being: Reality doesn’t make sense(you know, truth is stranger than fiction). That’s why you can’t just sit there and think about things and reach scientific truth – reality is non-intuitive(and that argument on science is actually from my quantum mechanics professor).

    Assuming religious faith has some realistic basis, why would you be surprised that it is also non-intuitive?

    I’m not looking for an argument, just offering a counterpoint.

    1. If you could apply experimentation to religion, you might be on to something there. But…no.

      1. You can’t apply experimentation in a quantifiable way, no. But you can compare your experience or observation with reality to the doctrines or teachings of a particular religion.

        Math attempts to describe what actually happens in reality – and is supported by continued observation.

        Religion, ethics, philosophy, or a person’s worldview can do the same: attempt to describe some aspect of reality and then it can be supported by observation.

        Note: I’m not saying religion or ethics is competing with science, merely that religion, philosophy, what-have-you is qualitative and science is quantitative.

        And science is really no better. Scientific proofs rely on continued experimentation. Once an experiment is repeated thousands of times and confirm a particle hypothesis, then that hypothesis is considered a viable representation of reality and can then be used to predict FUTURE behavior.

        When I drop a pencil, I can almost assure you that it’s going to fall towards the ground. However, there’s NOTHING that says that it CAN’T fly towards the ceiling.

        Meaning, there’s no principle, rule, or law (scientific, philosophical, or otherwise) that says the laws that govern reality are not going to change.

        So, how is assuming that the next time you drop a pencil it will fall to the ground(considering it takes a certain amount of faith to assume that just because it’s happened an infinite number of times, it’s going to happen infinity + 1 times) any different than having faith in a deity?

        1. First of all, science doesn’t prove anything. Only math proves things.

          Second, this:

          it takes a certain amount of faith to assume that just because it’s happened an infinite number of times, it’s going to happen infinity +1 times

          isn’t what faith means. Faith means belief without evidence. I have a good deal of evidence to suggest that gravity exists; I have none whatsoever to suggests any gods do.

          1. First of all, science doesn’t prove anything. Only math proves things.

            Tell that to Bertrand Russel, Whitehead, and Godel…

            I have a good deal of evidence to suggest that gravity exists; I have none whatsoever to suggests any gods do.

            Right, but you don’t have evidence that suggests the rules can’t change.

            1. If nothing else, math can prove what things can and cannot be proved.

              1. I suppose, hadn’t thought of it like that before.

                I just think of it as a system can’t inherently prove itself.

                Russel and Whitehead attempted to remove all recursions from fundamental mathematical logic only for Godel to come along and prove that in order for you to prove the fundamental laws of logic, you have to be removed from the system you’re trying to prove.

                On a fundamental level, even the basics of mathematics rely on assumptions that must be taken for granted.

                1. Let’s put it this way. Using math, you can prove that, given A and B, then C.

                  Using science, you can say something like, in the presence of conditions A and B, we observed a statistically significant (p<0.05) increase in the frequency of C.

                  With religion, you better fucking say that C is correct because, well, fuck you, and if you don’t believe in C, I’ll burn down your city and rape your daughters.

          2. From M-W, the closest definition to faith that I could find that matches yours is:

            firm belief in something for which there is no proof

            I will take M-W over yours. Faith isnt belief without evidence, it is belief without proof. BIG difference.

            Anyone who suggests someone belief something without any evidence is a scam artist. And while you will find some of those pushing religion, its pretty rare and easy to spot.

            1. From M-W:

              Definition of FAITH

              1
              a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
              b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
              2
              a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
              b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
              3
              : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
              ? on faith
              : without question

              I think the “without question” definition is closest to mine, tell you the truth.

        2. Math attempts to describe what actually happens in reality – and is supported by continued observation.

          Math is done for it’s own sake.

          Later it turns out there is almost always some math that conforms to the observed behavior of the world, but the mathematicians don’t care.

          Case in point: linear algebra. First developed as a unified discipline in the 19th century. ‘Round about the 1920 some physicists rediscovered it (They wrote long papers on the “new math” they had developed to describe quantum mechanics), and eventually a mathematician came along and say “Yeah, we know about that. We call it ‘linear algebra’.”

          1. Ditto imaginary numbers.

            And set theory.

            And lots of other mathematical “wanking” that ended up having practical applications.

          2. What were the practical applications of the structure of the atom in 1900 again?

            What was the practical application of general relativity in 1912?

            What was the practical application of quantum mechanics in 1923?

            Pure science is just as “wankish” as mathematics is.

            1. Actually, Gen. Relativity in 1912 explained the descrepancy between the observed and predicted positions of mercury. Quantum mechanics and the explanations discovered therein opened the door for fission development.

              Far better to ask what practical applications exist for postulating what happened “before” the Big Bang, or what exists “outside” the Universe. Those are what pure science wanking looks like because they are unobservable, and therefore unfalsifiable on face.

          3. I hate to agree with the noted cuntsicle Tulpa on anything, but the only reason people think math is more wankish than physics is because the average person can read the abstract of a physics paper and sometimes sort of know what’s going on. Whereas with a math paper….well…no.

            1. I make no claims that pure science is less wankish than pure math. Just that mathematicians aren’t working for us…they do their bit, and we sometimes find it useful. And they’re generally ahead of us, so some of their….ehm…emmissions…are there waiting when we need them.

              I don’t think I’m going to pursue this metaphor any more. It’s making me a little queasy.

      2. You can apply experimentation to the faithful. By judiciously applying great suffering or great triumph to various religious peoples we can learn much about their faiths. This is what I expect God does all day. We are His porn.

        1. I refuse to be a troll in God’s Hit & Run.

    2. Point being: Reality doesn’t make sense(you know, truth is stranger than fiction).

      Reality makes sense after you get rid of your misconceptions.

      The “heavy things fall faster” misconception almost certainly came from the observation that heavier things are harder to lift and cause more damage when they fall on something. In the first case, Aristotle confused acceleration with velocity, and in the second one he simply shut his brain off and ignored the direct effect of mass on collisions…the Greeks clearly knew about this since they didn’t use arrows with clay tips.

      1. Right, but at some point every misconception was considered truth.

        So how do you know which accepted truth, is going to be the next misconception?

        See, Newtonian vs. quantum mechanics.

        1. But the examples of misconceptions you give are the result of sloppy and faulty reasoning. Careful and rigorous thinking is all that is necessary for you to identify misconceptions.

          Now, arriving at physical laws is harder and requires experimentation. But any reasonable person should have been able to see that Aristotle’s pronouncement about heavy objects falling faster had no rational basis.

          …and Newtonian mechanics was not a misconception. It works fine at speeds that humans encounter (aside from space travel) and length scales down to much smaller than the width of a bacterium.

          1. do more religious or non-religious believe heavy things fall faster?

          2. This is more point. Careful and reasonable thinking are not all that is required to expose misconceptions(thought it can happen) because reality is non-intuitive, and science is based on observation of reality, not on musing about reality.

            And it was a misconception that Newtonian physics applied universally. Who knows what new set of laws we have to discover to describe reality under a different set of conditions?

      2. And speaking of misconceptions. I love discussions like this precisely because they expose my misconceptions.

        Reason number 876 why I don’t like the fundamental Christian establishment.

  23. Well my classes are canceled today because so fuck head decided to shoot up the school. Lets take this moment to acknowledge the complete disregard of the 2nd amendment on school campuses (public ones only obviously) that lets the maniacs go about unopposed. Could someone point to which part of the 2nd amendment that says “except at schools despite them all being adults who can legally own weapons.”

    1. You’d think Dickface could at least uphold tradition and shoot from the clock tower.

    2. My friend’s brother goes there as well. Thanks for the heads up. Told my friend to give his brother a call.

    3. My husband works at UT in the Communications Bldg. His building is locked down. They are escorting students out of the Library area now. He’s been told to stay put until they can be escorted out safely.

      Supposedly there is a second gunman so they aren’t taking any chances.

      1. That building isn’t even close to PCL.

        1. Yea it’s blocks away, but they have all of campus locked down. I assume it’s because there is a possible 2nd gunman. The news just said they’re searching the buildings for explosives although there are no indications there are any.

          The early news reports were pretty bad. First they said the shooter had an AK47 and now they’re saying it was a hand gun. I also heard on the radio there were 7 dead and then I heard only the shooter was dead.

          1. I’ve only heard that the shooter is dead.

            1. Yea, that’s what I heard initially too. Then later I heard on the radio that 7 were dead. I’m relieved that was wrong.

              Lock down is over. Hubby has been told to go home.

              1. Glad he’s okay!

  24. Obama Barbie: Change is hard!

    Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be “inexcusable” and “irresponsible” for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.

    “People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

    Obama expresses plenty of disappointment over how Republicans made a tactical decision from the start to oppose him, but also offers some “grudging admiration” for its political effectiveness in keeping the GOP united. He said the resulting slog between Republicans and himself ? legislative delays and political fighting reminiscent of the Washington he ran against ? has worsened public skepticism of government and eroded the feeling of hope that surrounded his election.

    The president said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises and that he has met, by his account, about 70 percent of them.

    Almost makes one wonder how the Bushites were able to destroy America despite never having more than 56 votes in the Senate.

    1. Throw off the lethargy is right. People of all parties and creeds should get off their duffs and remove the current set of assholes from office before they permanently screw up the country.

    2. How long did the GOP even have 56 votes in the Senate?

      I know I could google, but you seem to have the answer at hand.

      1. I believe they had 56 votes between the 2004 and 2006 elections.

  25. Fluffy|9.28.10 @ 9:40AM|#

    Atheists know more about religion than believers:

    http://mobile.latimes.com/wap/…..tle=Nation

    Gosh, what a surprise.

    MOTHER FUCKER STOLE MY THUNDER!!!

    Joshua Corning|9.28.10 @ 2:16AM|#

    off topic but the funniest thing i have read all month.

    In a study about general religious knowledge:

    Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.

    http://dailycaller.com/2010/09…..-religion/

    Fluffy of course will read way to much into this….still it is funny.

    https://reason.com/blog/2010/09…..nt_1924267

  26. FYI, farms are exempt from paying minimum wage to crop pickers. I know, because I researched it when I was considering it as a career option. My current plan is to spend a couple of years in Israel as a migrant construction worker. I calculate that my salary there will be double what I currently make as a writer and the manpower companies provide free housing (dormitories with up to 6 people per room).

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