Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saudi Arabia Haiti Aid

As I suspected, Saudi Arabia, one of the richest countries in the world has sent NO aid to Haiti. Here's an article showing who has and who hasn't. OK, so there's no law that says you have to but I'm suspicious that the response might have been different if the earthquake had affected some Muslim country.

From the LA Times. . .

Saudi King Abdullah, meanwhile, has sent a message of condolence to Haitian President René Préval.

In an unrelated story we find that a 13 year old girl in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 90 lashes for a confrontation (admittedly physical) with her head mistress.

Hey! Saudi Arabia - nice little country you got going there. I was most surprised to read that you were even allowing girls to GO to school. When did that happen?

I guess what really bothers me is how America has to suck up to shit can countries like this and China. Nobody treats their people worse than China (except maybe Mississippi) but we HAVE to play nice because China now builds EVERYTHING that we used to build. Saudi Arabia? We have to suck up to them and not say anything upsetting about their creepy government because we need their oil.

When you 'outsource' so much of our own workforce you weaken the whole country.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Legion - Movie Review


I never walk out of movies. I would have walked out on this one but there were some large people between me and the aisle. Legion is easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Which is something!

The movie opens with an angel literally falling to earth (from heaven?). Although he seems to be a total bad ass we can tell right away that he's the good kind of bad ass. Apparently he has no super-powers as he begins his earthly visit by stealing about 100 rifles, bazookas, machine guns, and assorted hand guns. This is one pissed off angel!

Switch to a road house in the middle of freaking nowhere. I mean nowhere! This is a common Hollywood venue not unlike Petrified Forest or a loopy movie I really liked - Tremors! The lonely outpost where the good guys are going to have to make a stand against impossible odds. Camera shots show nothing in any direction for miles and miles. Makes you wonder how they get their electricity, phone, and gas. Well it does me. Of course they could run all of that on a generator and propane bottles but then the electricity 'goes out' at some point in the film and I guess that's due to the power company. Weird. Populating this diner is the owner (Dennis Quaid), his son, Jeep, (yeah, Jeep) who's main acting skill is to stare at people with his mouth hanging open, the 8 month pregnant waitress with a good heart who Jeep is in love with but who is not the father of the child but, still, he'd like to help.


And there's the good hearted cook with one hand. Why? Don't know.

Also, stuck in the diner is a mom, dad, and their angst filled daughter. Their car is broken and (ironically) Jeep is supposed to be fixing it but he seems a little preoccupied with having vapid conversations with the waitress and having his mouth hang open.

Finally there is another black guy who is lost and just wants to use the phone.

Enter a nice little old lady who suddenly snaps, says nasty things to the waitress that makes her cry, insults the family, and then bites the dad in the neck when he protests. A pretty good scene here as the other people run, shoot and battle the crazed old lady who can also crawl across the ceiling which is nice. She is finally dispatched by the young black guy (he's got two hands and, like all young black guys in the movies, a hand gun).

What the hell is going on? HA! This is soon answered by the arrival of the bad ass angle (Arch Angle Michael as it turn out). He unloads all his guns and convices the people that they are going to have to make a stand because, get ready, the waitress's baby is going to save the world so they will have to fight to the death to protect it.

"OK! I"ll take the roof! You board up the windows. . . " and so on. Wow, these people did NOT need a lot of convincing! 'Course I think they were still pretty unerved by the granny crawling across the ceiling.

Much gun fighting ensues as legions (get it) of zombie-like humans descend upon the diner. Luckily, as with most zombie movies, the zombies are really mean and ugly but they get around ok and can drive cars but they just can't seem to learn the trick about HAVING THEIR OWN FUCKING WEAPONS!

Well, shockingly the good people get picked off one at a time one way or another and these scenes are separated by really long and boring 'meaningful' dialog between father and Jeep, Jeep and waitress, waitress and Michael, mom and daughter, cook and black guy. Most of these actors were able make a tear come out during their little talks. Nice.

OK, well, I'm not too up on my bible but in this movie it seems that the main battle that the lowly humans find themselves caught up in to is between the angels Gabriel and Michael. Gabriel seems to be supporting God's decision to wipe out humanity because he's just sick of them. I mean let's face it, we can be tedius. Michael still has faith (more than God apparently) and is brave enough to oppose God and Gabiel and somehow knows that the baby is the key. Wow, what a magical, mythical battle this is sure to be. Of course the magical mythical creatures do kung fu type fighting. Michael uses all sorts of guns while Gabriel has this awesome bludgeon that spins like a giant dentist's tool. Wow!

Well, Gabriel kills Michael and that's sad while Jeep and the waitress and the baby (oh yeah she went into labor and spit out the baby in about 45 seconds!) escape in a car (its not a Jeep). Skip to the end where Gabriel is about to finish off baby and waitress and WHAT? You don't say! Michael is not really dead. He's back and with WINGS. He must have just gone to heaven, strapped on some wings and returned to earth to finish off Gabriel. But no, he shows mercy and both him and Gabriel fly up to heaven while the son, waitress, and baby are told to just "have faith".

Movie ends with the new little make-shift family driving down a long highway in a station wagon jammed full of guns.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Asking the Big Question

I'm going to use Haiti since it is current but you can think of any number of similar examples.

A woman gets saved (by other humans) after days of being trapped in a collapsed building. This woman then reports that she just prayed and prayed and thanks God that she was saved. If someone would point out to her that others who were praying just as hard (and maybe harder) perished and ask her how does she explain her own miracle I'm guessing she would say that she doesn't know about that (or care) but just 'knows' that HER prayers were answered.

A couple of things here. On one hand this sort of non-logic is just an example of our ego-centricity. "I prayed so I was saved and don't confuse me with any questions." We see the world in terms of me, me, me. This kind of thinking is along the lines of, "I jump up and down three times and it rained so jumping works".

I wish I could ask the following question of this person (but it would be rude): Tell me what you think the chaos of Haiti would look like or how it would look different if there was NO God instead of the one that saved you and ignored other's prayers? In a random world where events unfurl in a natural way can you imgine some people being found and others perishing? If so, how can you attibute your salvation to a god rather than luck?

Of course this all comes back to the neat loop that you CANNOT understand why some were saved and others not and this just PROVES the magic and incomprehesibility of God.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti and Education

I offer this comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

What does this have to do with Haiti? Some facts. . . First of all, a deal with the devil centuries ago did not cause the earth quake. Earth quakes are caused by very understandable actions between the tectonic plates that make up the earth. That's just that TV guy being funny, right? How many Haitians were taught about plate techtonics - standard fare in junior high science in the US and elsewhere?

More importantly, Haiti was a miserable place before the earth quake. Why? The history is interesting and what is shows is that Haiti has suffered through a number of 'governments' that were primarily interested in lining their own pockets rather than do anything for the people such as, libraries, streets and sanitation, and education. Education is the key.

Ignorant people can be controlled with violence and religion. Organized religion is a great way to keep the general population ignorant. If people are allowed and even encouraged to attend church and learn their catechisms ONLY then they won't know what they're missing in the form of real education, critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry. A totalitarian government goes hand in hand with keeping the people ignorant and religion can only help that government.

Would an educated and reasonable people build such fragile buildings? If the country had universities, scientists, and engineers and a government that supported free thought for the betterment of the people they would also have had some building codes. Would they also then have some structure to their civilization that included heavy equipment, fire departments, police, hospitals, and so forth. We've seen now that other countries have had to bring all of that to Haiti not just support what was already there.

Like most Americans (Rush Limbaugh being the exception) I feel real sorry for the Haitians. I feel sorry on a couple of levels. The obvious is just the huge hunk of suffering that is going on right now. Of course. On another level I'm saddened by the Haitians either thinking that God is punishing them or somehow saving them while killing their friends and neighbors. I was saddened by the woman on CNN who said that while she was entombed for 50 some hours she just prayed and prayed. I wondered how much more quickly she might have been found if she had hollered for help once in a while. I'm always amazed by the human ability to see their prayers as being answered while others are apparently not and them not wondering why that is or making the big leap that maybe prayers had nothing to do with any of it. You can't have that thought without being educated as to the reasonableness of the natural world. Effects have causes that are understandable but it takes an education to know that and it takes religion to NOT know that.

Money is going to be flowing into Haiti now for years to come. If they want to truly pick themselves up and join the 21st century they will funnel as much of that money as possible into real public education and not leave that to the Catholic church but if they have to, leave it to the Jesuits!

This just in from CNN. . .

Many observers have a simple explanation for what makes Haitians so devout.

"Because in all poor countries, you have to believe in something," said Agnes Pierre-Louis, the Haitian-born manager of her family-owned hotel. "If they don't have that, they don't have anything."

Added Diederich: "They leave everything in the hands of God. When you have so little, what else can you turn to?"

I think this makes my point very well. "You HAVE to believe in something" - sure when you are completely uneducated. It is completely understandable that people with nothing including no access to variety of thought, science, nor critical thinking will inevitably turn to religion as the answer to everything. Is this a good thing though? Is it taking them anywhere? Will it make Haiti a better place in the future?

I'm a little bothered by the portrayal of the spontaneous religious ceremonies and singing on CNN as if it were something cute or miraculous. Maybe in the case of Haiti it is a sad thing since they have nothing to balance their outright submission to religion and these demonstrations are really just another example of their abject ignorance and lack of education.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti, God and CNN

I never watch CNN or any other TV news but the reports and images from Haiti via CNN have been riveting. As an uncommon viewer of CNN I have some observations.

- CNN is about 1/3 reporting, 1/3 advertising, and 1/3 telling us how great they are with their "people on the ground". By this they mean people in Haiti who are not filled with helium apparently.

- A woman was rescued after being entombed for 50 some hours. At first she could hear people below her but then all went quiet and not for a good reason. After rescue she said she just kept praying and never stopped. I can't get on people for this kind of thing with my usual snarkiness. In a scary situation (living in Haiti WITHOUT an earth quake for example) whatever gets you through the night. And, if prayer and faith helps the survivors get through the next several YEARS as they rebuild so be it.

Two very cool technology things:

1. The guy who shows the before and after pictures using google earth on a huge touch screen. He's like a maestro!

2. You can give money by texting to various numbers. You text in a number and boom, $10 goes to help. This is a great! Millions of people lobbing in a lousy 10 bucks turns into, well, TENS of millions of dollars. How great is that. Praise be to Google/Gates/Intel/AT&T/etc.

Speakng of numbers. . .

China has donated 1 million dollars. There are more than 1 billion people in China but let's say it's a billion to make it easy. That meas that China donated 1/1000 of a dollar for each citizen. I think maybe America should do the same. there are about 250 million Americans at 1/1000 of a dollar per person... OK, America donates $250,000. Seems fair but, wait no, America has put up 100 million with no doubt more to come. hey China. . .BITE ME!

Who the hell are the crazy orange suited guys from, of all places, Iceland! They were there instantly and have rescued people out of the rubble. They're like super heroes. Iceland? Maybe they are just happy to be in a warm place!

I'm standing by waiting for similar rescue squads from Saudia Arabia, Iran, North Korea, etc. (See China for my opinion of these countries).

Next time you feel like complaining about building codes. Don't.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Government Models

It occurred to me that with all the chest thumping and street screaming about how Allah is good and great and all that, and therefore so is Islam and we need death to the infidels (America) and so on and so forth. . .well, I thought, "What is the model you are striving to achieve"? Show me the Islamic country that is leading the world in . . . anything. If you're living in Bumblfuckistan and you have a particle of brain and two shekels to rub together do you want to send your kid (that would be your SON by the way) to the local university (terrorist camp) or get him a student visa and send him to a university in the infidel state known as the USA? Well, look at the state of foreign students getting advanced degrees in the US.

Interestingly and maybe not all that suprising most are from China (there are more than a billion Chinese) and as I look at the pie chart I cannot find any of the most popular (infamous) Muslim countries although I'm not sure what 'East Asia' means. What the hell? Does this mean no one is getting educated at all in the Muslim countries? Really?

Now I'm actually for free dissemination of knowledge and it probably is the best thing for all of us if foreign students do get their education here. That only makes for better relations and more understanding even if it does screw the curve in math class. But the fact that you simply cannot become an engineer, doctor, or physicist of any regard and go to school in your own shit hole, Muslim indoctrinated country should say something about your said shit hole!

So, here's a link to mainly Islamic countries and you tell me, where do you want to move to?

Ironically, it is right in the heart of Islam where I was taught was the "Cradle of Civilization". Right there at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Islam invented the number 0 and alphabetized the letters. This is big stuff! Now? Well, it's been a rare thing when anyone from any Muslim country has won a Nobel in a science. The only one I can find is Ahmed Zewail an Egyptian, in Chemistry in 1999. Oh but wait, here's his education. . .

Click on his name and see that this guy is totally at Cal Tech and not a real product of any Saudi higher education.

Speaking of how great Islam has become as a model for civilization we now have the firebombing of churches (wait, are they empty?) in Malaysia because the Christian churches (their invisible guy is named Jesus) is using the word Allah (one of the names of the invisible guy's dad) and THAT WORD is reserved for Muslims only. Jeezus, who didn't know THAT? So anyone who thinks that religion doesn't make this a better world, just look to Malaysia and maybe not vacation there anytime soon. Like we know where that is anyway.

Now then, which end of the egg do you open?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Shot in Church?

Of course this story comes from the south . . .

And it's very sad and of course ironic. For all the blathering on that people do about how God is their protector, savior, and font of all that is good here we have a kid getting shot in the head while in church. Makes you think. Well, it SHOULD make you think.

Tons of examples like this. When a tornado hits a small town there is usually someone to interview who will say that they only survived via the grace of God. Really? What about your poor dead neighbor? Or, better yet, how about not sending the tornado down on you in the first place?

I know, it's just a test. God likes to test your faith by knocking off a few of the faithful (in spectacular fashion) and then seeing if the rest will still pony up at collection time. Assume this previous sentence is true. What would an all powerful creator get out of doing such a thing?

Or. . .

Is this all not better explained by natural phenomena with nobody at the controls. Anybody can just be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Look at the dinosaurs. I guess the idea of nobody at the controls is scarier to most people than to have a murderous psychopath at the controls.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Catholics come home dot com

I was innocently watching tv and was then surprised by a nice little commercial for

Really. And below is a little hunk from that site . . . with my snarky comments inserted. How could I resist?

Moral Issues

Making moral choices in our modern world can be confusing and difficult.

Actually it's not that hard if you have a freaking brain. Be nice to people. Share. Admit when you're wrong. Say, "Can I help you with that" a lot, Move on.

With so many temptations and influences pulling us in all directions, and the pressures of life driving us toward the seemingly "easy" path, it is comforting to know that Jesus Christ, through His Church, has blessed us with clear moral framework to guide us toward a happy, fulfilling life.

Where to start. . . Why do I have to accept the premise that I am necessarily being driven to an "easy' path. Really? Now, if you are comforted to know that a guy who lived 2000+ years ago "blessed" you and that then somehow figures it all out, well ok. God (!) knows it gets lonely and scary at night. On the other hand, if you read the bible I'm not sure you'll find the framework all that clear. Happy? Find me one happy person in the bible!

It makes perfect sense that our Creator,

Gee, do you think that anything has been assumed here?

who made us and designed us to work in a certain way,

Huh? I'm guessing that that 'certain way' doesn't include gay people.

would know what’s best for us.

Based on WHAT? Like volcano eruptions are best for us? How about the holocaust? Plane crashes? Abductions of children? Oh I could go on and on. . .

Fortunately, He gifted the Church with His advice on how to live our lives in such a way that we could be free and happy.

Sure, if you're white.

By giving us a roadmap, Christ gave us the ability to be freed from the negative effects of immorality and unhappiness, because true freedom allows us to live fully.

Hmmm...seems strange then that some very religious and Christian people get into some messy business! Plus, it's easy for them to free us from the negative effects of immoraltiy when you also get to define what it is to be immoral. Circular argument?

The Church never forces anyone to believe what she teaches.

She? Who let the freaking nun in here? Whasn't this Christ's church a few paragraphs ago?

Faith itself must be free (CCC 160). But to help guide us to choose what is best for ourselves, according to the way He made us, He gave us the Church and all her moral teachings.

Somehow I'm not feeling so good. I'm being guided to choose? Is this like 'Work makes you free??

In this section you will find many valuable resources explaining the Catholic Church's teachings on matters of ethics and morality. Please consider the reasonable and beautiful truth found in the Catholic teachings regarding these important issues in our culture:

If this was a book report in a freshman english class it would be a D and I'm an easy grader.

What if. . .

I wonder. . .

Tim Tebow, by all accounts, seems to be a good guy. He's helped the poor, carried groceries for old ladies, visited at the children's hospital, fed the hungry, etc and so forth. But what if he had done exactly what he has done in his life but put this message on his eye black patches instead of the obscure (Ephesians? Really?) bible references?

I think it's safe to say that he would be considered to be a 'wise ass'. He would be pilloried for trying to make a political or philosophical point via his status as a ball player. Headlines would shriek. Editorials would be written for those 8 people in Florida who still read 'the paper'. The president would probably have to step in. It would be bigger than the Tiger Woods deal. Think about it. It really would.

But Tim can put his belief in invisible beings on his face (used to be on people's sleeves) and he is considered to be a 'good guy' by default. I have no problem with Tebow himself, although the whole public display of one's religious beliefs has become a little passe, but am troubled once again by the weird double standard of elevated status given to those public displays and the derision given displays of rationalism or common sense.