I've Gone-a-Viking; find out where!

They're After Our TV's!

Environmentalism impacts our lives in many ways - sometimes unexpected. We many of us recycle - some more than others, with it being understood that different communities can hinder or advance efforts at recycling. It can be particularly difficult in apartment buildings, as I've discovered. Where I am now, recycling reduces my garbage output by a good 33%. It makes a noticeable dent in what I throw out, even being limited to type 1 and 2 plastics.

We're also all familiar with the need to not leave all our lights on, and vampire-energy and so forth, and the evils of big SUV's and other gas-guzzlers.

But now they're after our TVs. I just read on Saturday that "California assails TV power usage" and that a "one-third cut" has been mandated by 2011.

The problem is that the big new flat-panel TVs, though lighter and easier on my back, suck up more power than the old fashioned cathode-ray tubes of yesteryear. TV's account, they say, for 10% of household electrical use if you include "related devices" like digital recorders and game consoles.

Egads, they'll be after our games next, and my gods' given right to record programming for later viewing. The Consumer Electronics Association, as might be expected as an outfit representing manufacturers, disagrees with the 10% figure and says 3% is more reasonable.

Personally, I'm more worried about my back than the power.

Even so, I wasn't consulted and California has decided that there be limits on TVs over 58 inches wide.

So they're shooting for a one-third reduction by 2011 and a one-half reduction by 2013. Those that can't meet the standards won't be allowed in CA. I wonder if they'll stop you at the border when you're moving into the state and make you throw your TV into the desert if it's too big.

And that's not all. Washington, Oregon, and Massachusetts, along with Canada and Australia, are considering similar measures.

My biggest TV is 42 inches. Just upgraded from 27. So I'm set even in California, but it's not about me.

Well, okay, it's about me, but it's about a lot of other things as well - where do we draw the line, for instance, between consumer rights and the needs of the environment? What becomes necessary? And how much can we justify in the way of government interference?

The environment is a precious thing. We only have one. I'm a Heathen - a Pagan if you will - and Pagan religions are nature religions, as all original religions were. We have a good healthy respect for the environment. That's perhaps natural when you understand that we live in a world filled with the divine.

As such, I try to be careful. I try not to drive when I don't have to. I don't leave unnecessary lights on. In short, I follow Solon's advice: Nothing in excess. Or, as it is put in the Icelandic Sagas, "A wise man does all things in moderation" (Thorkel in Gisli Sursson's Saga).

If everybody lived according to these rules, we could go a long way towards voluntarily resolving some of the problems we are now seeing legislated against. As we go on, we may see more extreme measures taken to protect the environment.

And they will likely be necessary. The problem is, most of the burden falls on the individual in this country. Very little in the way of regulations control what industry does to our environment. They have power lobbyists in Washington. They practically own members of Congress.

So industry pollutes and we lose our big TVs.

Now being a moderate guy, I can probably live without a TV bigger than 58 inches. Honestly, I don't have the wall space for more than that unless I finish my basement.

Will that be next? You can't finish basements because the construction process pollutes? Or will it harm some heretofore unknown microbe that dwells in the cracks of the concrete.

Excess, you see, can go many ways, not only in individuals who might be careless environmentally, or in businesses which remain unregulated, but in governments - even environmentalists, who resort to extreme solutions where moderation might suffice.

I'm not trying to discourage California. After all, they've always been at the forefront of environmentalism. Environmental Heatlh Perspectives (EHP) tells us that
According to a 2006 survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), a San Francisco–based research organization, 65% of Californians don't think the federal government is doing enough to combat global warming.

That certainly seems above the curve, and I applaud them for that.

I'm just saying I've seen some crazy things over recent years. Crazier even than wanting to take away our TVs (and you don't see an NRA-like group protecting our TVs do you? If they come to take them, are we just going to throw them at them, and wouldn't that be counter-productive?).

I would just like to see common-sense, moderation prevail.

I don't think that's too much to ask, or to expect - from all sides.

First Tea Parteitag der GOP

Palin, Bachmann to headline Tea Party convention
CNN reports that
Sarah Palin will be the main attraction at what's being billed as the "First National Tea Party Convention."

Tea Party Nation announced Wednesday that last year's Republican vice presidential candidate will serve as keynote speaker for the conference, scheduled to take place in Nashville, Tennessee February 4-6. A representative for Palin has not confirmed the former Alaska governor's speaking role at the gathering.

The group also announced that Rep. Michele Bachmann will be speaking at the gathering as well. The Minnesota Republican has become a hero among many in the conservative movement. A representative for Bachmann confirms her speaking role.

If this doesn't have shades of Nuremberg, I know of no event that does. Just look at the keynote speakers. It's like having Ernst Rohm in a tutu along with Alfred Rosenberg (you decide which is which). If there are two more intellectually void members of the GOP hierarchy, they're remaining well hidden (and there are quite a few contenders!).

If the NSDAP was anti-intellectual, the GOP is giving them a run for their money. Ask yourself: Is this the best they can do?

I would not expect a lot to come out of this beyond hateful hyperbole. To date, neither woman has managed much beyond ad hominem attacks against liberalism in general and President Obama in particular.

The best possible outcome for liberals is that these two manage to boost themselves into the Republican stratosphere during this rousing Parteitag. If hot air and hate are the qualifications (and they seem to be), they should do well, if only because Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck (Rudolf Hess and Joseph Goebbels?), the closest contenders in terms of overall IQ aren't going to be there.

So RAISE THE BANNER Tea Partiers! I can hear the music now as Palin and Bachmann approach the stage!

The flag high! The ranks tightly closed!
Tea Party marches with a calm, firm pace.
Comrades whom the liberals and socialists shot dead
March in spirit within our ranks.

Clear the streets for the brown battalions,
Clear the streets for the stormtroopers!
Already millions look with hope to the swastika
The day of freedom and bread is dawning!

Rollcall has sounded for the last time
We are all prepared for the fight!
Soon hate's flag will fly over the barricades.
Our servitude will not last much longer now!

The flag high! The ranks tightly closed!
Tea Party marches with a calm, firm pace.
Comrades whom the liberals and socialists shot dead
March in spirit within our ranks.

A View From the Idiot

And as long as we're on the topic of Global Warming, I thought we'd look at a little issue of brain cooling: Rush Limbaugh. There is definitely no warming taking place in this joker's head. Honestly, I can't think of a word to describe him, but then he speaks pretty much for himself, doesn't he? So without further ado, this just in from the MediaMatters Limbaugh Wire:
Limbaugh: Climate Scientists Are "Whoring Themselves Out For Money, Abandoning Science"

Published Mon, Nov 23, 2009 4:35pm ET
Rush: Emails stolen by hacking were "leaked" from a "whistleblower"

By Zachary Pleat

Wasting no time as usual, Rush joined Glenn Beck in calling Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) "the most expensive prostitute in the history of prostitution." Rush then claimed that the hacked emails that were reportedly stolen from the University of East Anglia "are the real deal" and baselessly claimed that they were "leaked" by a "whistleblower." As classy as ever, Rush used these possibly illegally obtained emails to continue his long-running claim that global warming is a hoax:
LIMBAUGH: These emails that we told you about last week from that group in Great Britain that formed the basis for the UN's climate change panel and their recommendations, those emails apparently now are the real deal and they may not have been leaked -- well, leaked -- they may be from a whistleblower inside the organization who is just unhappy with what's going on. Now, the bottom line is, the whole global warming -- manmade global warming movement is a fraud. It is a hoax. It's made-up lies.

Next, Rush explained how "[l]iberalism is a lie from top to bottom," then took the opportunity to bash President Obama for having run a campaign on, as he put it, nothing but hope, change, and empty platitudes. During this typically deranged rant, Rush channeled Alex Jones yet again, saying that Democrats "believe in a one-world government." Rush's theme of liberalism being a lie continued throughout the rest of the show.

Our kindly radio host then explained that the congressional members, scientists, and others who are working to combat climate change are "whoring themselves out for money." Still never mentioning that these emails were hacked into and possibly stolen, Rush then compared them to the Pentagon Papers.

Heathens and the Environment

I recently read James Hoggan's Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming (2009) and am about to begin Stephen H. Schneider's Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate (2009). These, and all this talk about the big "Global Warming Hoax" which I wrote about on here has got me thinking about our home: Midgard. In the Heathen scheme of the cosmos, this is the human enclosure, and Asgard is the home of the gods. I will speak of the Outlands momentarily.

Everyone knows that Paganism is earth-centered religion. All original religion (ethnic religion) used to be earth-centered. And no surprise: the people lived very close to nature. Heathenism even has an entire tribe of gods associated with nature: the Vanir, as contrasted with the gods of the sky, the Æsir. The Vanir are distinctly gods of earth and fertility. However, the whole "nature-worship" thing is considered an evil by Abrahamic monotheistic thought. People should, they tell us, be looking to a god outside the world, not gods who are part of it.

Revealed religion, Book religion, that is, Abrahamic monotheism, turned that whole association with nature on its head.

The extreme-conservative Christian-dominated GOP is, not surprisingly, still largely hostile to nature and the environment, as recent statistics demonstrate. A Pew Research Poll from May 2008 illustrates the problem: 84% of Democrats say the earth is warming. The percentage of Republicans is 49%. Asked whether humans are responsible for that warming, 58% of Democrats said yes, a mere 27% of Republicans.

It gets worse when you follow the dollars. Looking at "oil-and-gas industry contributions to U.S. politicians" we see these stood at 60/40 between Republicans and Democrats in 1990; by the time of the Bush Administration they were at 80/20. The picture from the coal industry is similarly bleak: 90/10 between Republicans and Democrats by the middle Bush years (Hoggan 2005:152-153. 169). It is no secret to anyone that the Bush Administration was hostile not only to science in general, but to the environment in particular. We all remember, I think, the ridiculous specter of an EPA that insisted it did not have a mandate to protect the environment.

In fact, statistics show, the same Republican senators who oppose gay marriage and stem cell research also oppose environmental legislation.[1] In May 2000 the Family Research Council actually lumped "population control, economic redistribution and the environment" and called environmentalism a "socialist-leaning movement" and noted with some degree of paranoia that the 30th Annual Earth Day "happens to coincide with communist dictator Nikolai Lenin's birthday."[2]

It gets crazier, believe it or not. In 2000 the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship, a new coalition of conservative religious leaders that offered a "Judeo-Christian" alternative on the environment.
The Council held a press conference in Washington, D.C., April 17 to release a document called the "Cornwall Dec­laration on Environmental Steward­ship." Endorsers include James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, TV preacher D. James Kennedy, the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, Bill Bright of Campus Cru­sade for Christ, World magazine editor Marvin Olasky, Christian Recon­struc­tionist author George Grant and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Conservative Catholics included the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, the Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and the Acton Institute's Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest who spearheaded the Cornwall Declaration.

The religious leaders charge that liberal environmentalists "elevate concern for nature above concern for people." They deny that global warming is occurring, argue that there is no overpopulation crisis and insist there is no evidence for rampant disappearance of species.[3]

It is no surprise then that in the 2007 National Environmental Scorecard the League of Conservation Voters, John McCain, Republican presidential candidate in 2008, received
a score of ZERO. McCain was the only member of Congress to skip every single crucial environmental vote scored by the organization, posting a score lower than Members of Congress who were out for much of the year due to serious illnesses--and even lower than some who died during the term. By contrast, the average Member of Congress scored a 53 in 2007. McCain posts a lifetime score of only 24.[4]

And Sarah Palin is clearly no friend of science; in her anti-intellectual worldview there is room for neither evolution nor human-caused global warming.[5]

But we polytheists realize that live in a world filled with the divine. The gods, the spirits, are all around us, a part of this world we live in, not apart from it, not outside. I don't know about you, but I take comfort from this cosmological scheme. From a Heathen perspective, what is outside of the community is not to be trusted. What comes from outside is a stranger. Those are the Outlands (Utgarðr). Why put your gods in the Outlands? The gods should be part of the community. This so-called Judeo-Christian alternative elucidated above seems to be from the Outlands. The lack of concern shown for the human enclosure (Midgard) is obscene.

But in polytheistic religions, the gods are part of the community.

This is particular true for Heathens, who see the gods as not just deities but founders, originators, even ancestors in some sense. You want to talk about having personal relationships with gods? Not to be too flippant about it, but "we got yer personal relationships right here."

I think it's fair to say that from a certain perspective, the ancients understood nature better than we do. Oh sure, we have science, we understand the science of it quite well. Any high school graduate knows more about environmental science than the wisest of the ancients. But scientists don't generally live among the trees, among the wild that they study. Much of what we read is ivory tower intellectualism, as separated from nature as the god of monotheism is from the world. An academic might understand nature on one level but be completely unable to survive when thrown into it.

I am not denigrating science. Far from it. It is not that science has no role, but that it has its own role. There are some things science cannot explain, things science is not designed to explain, just as there are things religion cannot explain. They each have their own realm, necessary but different, like men and women.

The immediacy of nature is lost to most moderns. I say this every fall, but think of what the fall must have meant to our ancestors? They didn't just pile up wood to have some nice cozy, romantic fires over the winter, but to survive. To stay alive. They didn't go hunting to add some spice to their diet, or because it was a sport. They hunted to survive. I might look at a deer and admire its beauty, its sleek lines. They'd be looking as well at a piece of food with four legs. I don't see it first and foremost as food. I don't have to. I have a grocery store down the street.

That's not to say they objectified the animals they killed. Nature was part of their grand narrative, a narrative inseparable from their own. They understood the role of the deer in nature. They thanked it for giving its life to feed them. That early humans, pre-monotheistic humans, gave a lot of thought to what they were doing when they hunted, the careful rearrangement of bones on the altar, shows that they understood things on a level lost to most of us. Life taken for life to continue, and a return of that life force to the gods who provided that life in the first place.

They say, based on the literary evidence, that ancients did not admire the beauty of nature in the same way we do. I suppose we will never know for sure what the common folks thought about it. After all, unlike the wealthy city-dwellers who wrote most of what survived, they didn't leave us any written testimony. But it seems reasonable when you're trying to eke a subsistence-level existence out of nature that you wouldn't have time to sit around admiring it.

I say this because I've read some of the letters and diaries written by early Minnesota settlers, folks, as it happens, who were mostly from Sweden and Norway. I remember then talking about the swamps and the mosquitoes and the other hardships the land put in their path, but beautiful as the country is, they didn't have as many words for that aspect of the scenery. Mostly they dwelt with its harshness. This might or might not provide evidence for the scholarly position.

But at the same time, you won't find the modern home-owner or contractor apologizing to a tree before he cuts it down. There aren't many laws (outside of the California Redwoods) regarding cutting down trees (that I'm aware of), unless it's some neighborhood/community standards thing.

Nobody is worried about religious associations in nature any longer. Nobody but modern Pagans. And what Heathen does not know that the oak is sacred to the Thunderer? Or that Yggdrasill is an ash? Or that it was an elm and an ash that gave birth to the human race?

For most, trees, if they are loved at all, are loved for their beauty, or for the shade they provide. Their religious associations are mostly lost. How many sacred groves do you see on your local city map? But once there were Groves of Thor. Bad things happened to those who violated such places. Look to the example of Þórir and Karli, who ransack a Finnish grove dedicated to Jómali (Óláfs saga helgi). Their greed in violating this sacred grove results in their eventual downfall (DuBois 1999:7).

It would stand to reason then that where environmental issues are concerned, whatever ones feelings about Anthropogenic Global Warming, that a certain heightened level of concern about the environment, will be visible among Heathens. Heathens will not objectify nature. They will not set themselves apart from it but will in some sense try to accommodate themselves to nature.

It makes sense, doesn't it, given the tale of Aksr and Embla? As I noted above, in Heathen mythology, the first people were made from trees, which scientifically speaking, has a great deal more to say for it than the idea that we were made out of lumps of dirt, or just conjured up out of thin air. As Carl Sagan noted in his series Cosmos,
We’re virtually identical to trees. We both use nucleic acids as the hereditary material; we both use proteins as enzymes to control the chemistry of the cell and most significantly, we both use the identical code book to translate nucleic acid information into protein information. Any tree could read my genetic code.

I don't know about you, but when the oil and coal industries start paying lobbyists, journalists, and various non-climate specialist scientists to tell me that C02 emissions are good for me, or worse, that DDT should be a "food group" and that its liberal application over the face of Midgard can save the human race...well, I'm just a bit suspicious of their motives.

I'm more inclined to believe the scientists who actually study climate for a living - and who aren't being paid by big oil and big coal to toot the company line (remember those tobacco company studies promoting the completely healthy effects of smoking?). I don't think it takes a genius to figure out that big oil and coal are not thinking about our best interests as humans, or the religious associations of nature and of the things in nature. They don't care that my tree is sacred to Thor.

But I do.

I have long argued that whether you accept Anthropogenic Global Warming as a fact (I do), we should still be showing some concern for our environment. This for religious as well as common-sense reasons. You don't have to think of the planet itself as a goddess (Gaia) to see it as part of the divine. Everything around us is part of the divine. It is part of the human enclosure (Midgard). Would we treat our own homes like we treat the world around us?

And everything, literally everything we see in nature is part of something bigger, that "circle of life" thing you hear so much about. Every object in nature has some purpose that does not include humans. Pluck it out, and everything changes. Some creatures adapt, some do not. Usually, humans adapt. But at some point, even humans might fail to adapt. Blind faith that "god" will take care of everything, that "he" will see to it that everything is okay, is worse than absurd. It's reckless.

Yes, species go extinct all the time. And many without any involvement from humans. They've had their chance and blown it. They couldn't keep up with the changes. This used to happen all the time before there were any humans to affect the balance. But that doesn't mean we should willy-nilly help them along. If we get too careless with nature, rather than managing nature, we might find nature managing us. Not a pretty picture.

I want to go back to polytheism. I don't want to go back to the 9th century to do it.

[3] Ibid.
[5] On the issue of Anthropogenic Global Warming, On the issue of evolution,
[6] For health risks associated with DDT, see "Public Health Statement for DDT, DDE, and DDD" by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,

Quote of the Day

Here is a great quote I found in the New York Times relating to the stolen data mentioned in my previous post:
"Science doesn’t work because we’re all nice. Newton may have been an ass, but the theory of gravity still works."
GAVIN A. SCHMIDT, a NASA climatologist whose e-mail messages were hacked by global warming skeptics, contending the stolen data proves little except that scientists are human.

I would wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Schmidt's perspective of the incident.

A Big Day for Deniers? Not so much...

The climate denier community thought they scored big today with a hack-job of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). According to the conservative spin machine (see Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'? for some typical hysteria) the great global warming hoax has been exposed. Has it? No.

A few cherry-picked, out of context emails make up the denier argument. These supposedly betray a super-evil conspiracy that is somehow meant to financially benefit Al Gore and scientists while completely exonerating the denialist community - and by extension, the real conspirators: big oil and coal.

For a good, unbiased report of the incident see the BBC piece, Hackers target leading climate research unit

But as usual, the spin bears little resemblance to the facts. The fix is in, ladies and gentlemen, but the fix comes from the deniers, not from the world of science. For the best examination of the CRU "scandal" please visit Kevin Grandi's blog at, here.

If you want to know more about the denialists own methods of propaganda, distortion, and outright dishonesty, please read James Hoggan's Climate Cover-Up (2005). I've read it. You won't be disappointed; you will, however, be disgusted.

Thor Protect You, Barack Obama

I have seen some pretty low and reprehensible things in my time. Christians, and Christianity as a whole, have been responsible for some of them. But this recent development is so disgusting that it makes you wonder why people aren't being hauled off to jail:

Christian Conservatives Pray for God to Kill President Obama

Psalm 109 is not a happy Psalm. The prayer is not one for Obama's health or for his continued long life. It is a prayer for his death:

"Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

The article encourages you to read on when you come to this Psalm, and for good reason:
6 Appoint [a] an evil man [b] to oppose him;
let an accuser [c] stand at his right hand.

7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.

8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven [d] from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.

14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

Where is the Secret Service in all this? You have to wonder. Laugh as somebody might that their god could strike somebody down if asked to do so, the people who came up with this scheme, the people who buy the t-shirts, think that it will work. Worse, they want it to work.

I hope the consequences for their actions will not be happy ones.

Meanwhile, if you are on Facebook there is a Boycott Cafe Press group. Join this. And there are other things you can do. The following is taken from their FB page:
Cafe Press originally pulled their product but replaced all of it within 24 hours, stating that they believe it is typical political commentary - the likes of which they have sold for years.

We disagree. Given the current state of race relations and the growing number of hate groups in the U.S., we believe that allowing such merchandise to be hosted on Cafe Press' website amounts to tacit approval of the potential for violence against the POTUS.

It is not appropriate for us to remain silent on this. Should something actually happen to the president because of the hatred being fanned, wouldn't we all bear some responsibility?

1. Boycott Cafe Press until they pull the products.
2. File a complaint with them letting them know that you will no longer be shopping with them.
3. Let them know you're going to pass the word.
4. Do it.

File your complaint with Cafe Press here:!PAGETYPE?VisitorProfile=cafepress

Call to lodge your complaint:
Mon-Sat, 9:00a til 9:00p EST

And by the way, this hasn't been the first prayer for Obama's death:

Rev. Wiley Drake Prays for Obama's Death

And another,

The Baptist pastor who prayed for Obama's death has been interviewed by the Secret Service

For Rachel Maddow's condemnation, see here. Her comments on this subject come about four minutes into the broadcast, so don't give up.

I'll give you some of the highlights here: Rachel Maddow spoke to Patience With God author and Huffington Post blogger Frank Schaeffer and asked him if the citation of this Biblical text "means something less threatening to people hearing this in a Biblical context. Schaeffer responded that this is "trawling for assassins":
SCHAEFFER: No. Actually, it means something more threatening. I think that the situation that I find genuinely frightening right now is that you have a ramping up of Biblical language, language from the anti-abortion movement for instance, death panels and this sort of thing, and what it's coalescing into is branding Obama as Hitler, as they have already called him. And something foreign to our shores, we're reminded of that, he's born in Kenya. As brown, as black, above all, as not us. He is Sarah Palin's "not a real American." But now, it turns out, he joins the ranks of the unjust kings of ancient Israel, unjust rulers to which all these Biblical allusions are directed who should be slaughtered, if not by God, then by just men. So there's a parallel here with Timothy McVeigh's t-shirt on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. He said the tree of liberty had to be watered by the blood of tyrants. That quote, we saw at a meeting where Obama was present carried on a placard by someone with a loaded weapon.

What we're looking at right now is two things going on. We see the evangelical groups I talked about in my new book, Patience With God, enthralled by an apocalyptic vision that I go into in some detail there. They represent the millions of people who have turned the Left Behind series into best sellers. Most of them are not crazy, they're just deluded. But there is a crazy fringe to whom all these little messages that have been pouring out of Fox News, now on a bumper sticker, talking about doing away with Obama, asking God to kill him. Really, this is trolling for assassins. This is serious business.

It's un-American. It's unpatriotic. And it goes to show that the religious right, the Republican far right have coalesced into a group who truly want American revolution. If it turns out to be blood in the streets and death, so be it. It's not funny stuff anymore. They cannot be dismissed as just crazies on the fringe. It only takes one. You know, look at the Boston Globe article from a few weeks ago that says the threat level faced by the Secret Service has gone up 400%, higher than any other time in 52 years, for any president, Democrat or Republican. These are no jokes.

Schaeffer added, "Look, this is the American version of the Taliban... this is the Old Testament Biblical equivalent of calling for holy war."

Take it seriously, my friends. The Religious Right is a terrorist organization, no less so than the Christian radicals in the Roman Empire. They have declared war on our system of government, on American democracy. They could not make their feelings or their intentions more plain.

As Schaeffer points out, the moderates do not speak out. Where is the outrage? Or as he says, "Where the hell are you?" I join him in this. We're always told most Christians are moderates, but let's see their outrage. As Schaeffer says, "this is serious stuff" and I'll add this: Time to decide which side you're on. You may not want to have sides, but sometimes they're forced upon you, and as Schaeffer warns, "There are not many steps left on this insane path."

I will add a prayer of my own: Thor protect you, Barack Obama.

(Cross-posted on A Heathen's Day and Restitutor Orbis)

Intellectual Dishonesty

What we increasingly see from the Right is a complete lack of intellectual honesty. In place of carefully reasoned, structured, and supported arguments, we see instead a repetitious series of talking points, endlessly repeated and trotted out at every opportunity.

No sources are cited to back up the arguments made, no appeal to scholarship on the subject, or indeed to any source at all. What we get instead are bald-faced lies presented with the same vigor a missionary might witness the gospel. And this IS a gospel for these people.

And like the gospel it is a fabric of belief, not of documented facts.

If presented with a carefully researched and reasoned article, scrupulous in its citations, well-foot-noted and anchored in solid scholarship, the Right will respond with their usual blanket statement that you are stupid, silly, childish, etc, insults to answer Reason, a display of anti-intellectualism to rival anything we saw during the 2008 political campaigns.

The inability to argue rationally and to support these talking points with some scholarship makes that intellectual dishonesty breath-taking in scope. "You're wrong" is not an argument, not any more than is it's opposite, "it is." We have a right, I think, to know why something is, or something is not.

The Right will not give us this. In all honesty, they have nothing to give, but they can't be honest enough to admit it, to confess that their answer derives entirely from a dedication to ideological demands and not from anything found in an evidence-based world.

They have no actual data to back up their claims, but data is an alien concept in a world not founded in reality, where facts are mere inconveniences to be dismissed with talking points. The Right does not respond to facts; it talks PAST them. And disdainfully at that.

If it cannot be proven that 2+2 do not equal “5” then the answer will be an insult. The answer is "5" they will insist, but they will not demonstrate how this can be so. Apparently, they believe that if they repeat themselves often enough that lies will become truth.

The problem for the intellectually dishonest is that 2+2 will never equal "5." The answer will always equal "4", and the blind insistence, without evidence of any kind, that it equals "5," will never convince anyone other than other intellectually dishonest ideologues lost in a fantasy land of “should-have-beens.”

The world will move on by and leave them to their childish fantasies. And good riddance.

The Tyranny of State Legislatures

In 38 States Being Gay is a Terminable Offense I was horrified by this example of how allowing the States to "protect our rights" is a meaningless statement.

James Madison, author of the Constitution, wrote that the federal government's purpose is to protect the people from the tyranny of state legislatures. Here we have a perfect example of why a strong federal government is essential.

If it were left up to the states, we'd still have slavery - at the very least segregation. Women would not have been given the franchise and, well...yes, you see it here. Gays and Lesbians don't have the full rights guranteed them - indeed, promised them, by the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I don't see any exclusionary clauses there, "Except...." Please, do show me where they are, if you are going to argue that some of our citizens should have fewer rights than others.

It is hardly a coincidence that the people supporting the withholding of these rights are now the ones attacking the Obama Administration as taking away rights, of imposing a totalitarian form of government on our Nation. Sadly, the rights these people most want to protect are the rights they claim to withhold rights from others.

Remember that Nazi Germany made gays and lesbians - yes, and Jews and Pagans - second class citizens. Given it is the Republicans who now argue that gays and lesbians are second class citizens, who do you really think are today's Nazis?

It isn't the liberals. They got thrown in concentration camps too.

The same arguments were used to keep African Americans as second class citizens. The same arguments were used to keep women "in their place" as are now being used to diminish the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. And what argument is that?

God. He just doesn't want it. Do this and you violate his will. Do this, and 9/11 happens. He smacks you down with righteous fury and makes you his bitch.

The constructed other. The politics of fear. Epic fail.

Time to say "Whatever," folks.

Let's do the right thing.

Let's fix this, America. Is the Declaration of Independence, are the words of Thomas Jefferson, a lie?

Note: Cross-posted at A Heathen's Day (

Liberals: The Children of Liberty

Here is my new article, published in ProgressiveNation today: Liberals: The Children of Liberty.

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It is a lovely day. The sun is shining, the sky is almost without clouds, and it's a balmy 54 degrees. Can't ask for much more than that in mid-November. We haven't seen snow yet, and barely even frost. Growing up in Minnesota, I've been snowed in by this point in the year before, even if it did not typically last.

I was invited to pen a piece for ProgressiveNation and I've spent the morning writing about liberalism and today's conservatism. As usual, my ideas have run away with me and it's ended up a bit on the long side. Hopefully not too long. Anyone who knows me knows I like to cite my sources and provide examples (in context) in order to support my arguments. I did not want to simply write a flat-out opinion piece. I like how it turned out. If it's too long I'll find a use for it elsewhere or see what I can do to put together an abridged version as well.

It always feels good to write. Fighting with the flu has given me some time to do that since I haven't been up and around much and a laptop offers so much flexibility. I'm getting used to Microsoft Office 2007. WORD is a little different than the old version I was using and nothing is where I expect it to be but that hasn't slowed me down terribly, and I'm gradually getting the hang of it and of the new keyboard.

I've been doing a lot of reading as well, including some very interesting Neoplatonism by Edward Butler. I've always said it doesn't get any better than Plato, but this is not strictly true as it leaves out Plotinus and Proclus. I've never seen a better cosmology than that supported by Neoplatonic thought. Polytheism lives very comfortably in its bosom, which is why you will not find the ancient philosophers calling for an end to the traditional cults. On the contrary, the traditional cults were supported.

I've also pretty much organized my new desk. It's slightly larger than the old, still fits snugly in the corner but has a couple of handy (if not too-strong) shelves for little things that no longer clutter the area where my mouse roams. I'm very comfortably ensconced and it's not too much of a burden to unhook and move to another room. Targus makes a very nice folding lap-desk for laptops which when deployed on a desk-top can position the computer at an angle suitable for typing. It was only about $20. I highly recommend it. It has holes in it and keeps the laptop breathing, which is essential - while keeping your lap relatively cool. I haven't had to use my old fan yet.

Now that I'm fully locked onto the 21st century, I'm going to get back to writing in order to offer some resistance to the 13th century the Republican Party is so eager to impose upon us.

Thor protect you all.

Some Rambling Thor's Day Thoughts

A nice, balmy, 30 degrees this morning. Frost on the car. On the leaves, which are still on the grass and un-raked. The H1N1 hit this week and I'm probably going to have to fight frost (hopefully not snow) to get the lawn raked before the city comes to collect the leaves. They were tardy about it last year, which may work to my advantage this year. I'm a bit chilled, sitting in front of my laptop. Usually this is the warmest room in the house, but I can tell when it's colder than normal outside.

I've been working on some art-work for the Helhest Captain's Log, a portrait of Najet Boulemi, Moroccan captain of the ship. I sketched her with my mechanical pencil, scanned her into a jpg and then tried working with her on my Wacom. I did not prove adept at this so I resorted to my mouse (strange that a mouse would be easier to draw with than a stylus). I think she turned out decently. I'm not 100% satisfied but as a first effort I'm quite happy. I may fiddle with the image some more before all is said and done. Here is an "artistic" rendering of her. I've put another up at the Helhest blog (

It's an interesting way to "do" art. I used to draw a lot as a child. My mother went to art school and painted in oils and acrylics. I tried my hand at oils and at acrylics and the results were not promising. I was more comfortable being able to erase. I think that helps me with drawing pictures on the computer. I can save as often as I want, use the "undo" feature real life so sadly lacks, and have another go at it until I get it right. And of course, adding a layer...oh, need another layer! is nice too. You can fiddle endlessly, blend, blur and anything else you want. The mosaic version of Najet Boulemi was interesting.

I want to try to do a ship image too. I'm already working on a sort of sun-wheel symbol to use as the signet of the imperial house (and on the imperial flag). I will probably create a background for her that utilizes the sun-wheel over one shoulder and the ship's own symbol (a stylized helhest) over the other, maybe with a motto and the hull number. It's a nice creative process and it helps generate ideas for background material in my head as I work. One thing leads to another, as they say....

I've been slowed by the flu and going to bed early so I haven't gotten much actual writing done. I find inspiration dries up when I feel like death warmed over. I'm fortunate I'm old enough that I haven't gotten as sick as my son, but then he got Tamiflu, which seems to be some sort of miracle drug, it acts so quickly. I hope now that he's been exposed (at least once, possibly twice) he develops some immunity and that he won't have to deal with it again, because there is a long school year ahead and he's already missed two weeks, not to mention every Tuesday for his Gaucher treatments.

Finally, there is Thursday night football. I love NFL Network. Watch it more than any other and I don't have to worry about my favorite shows being canceled. I've got my fantasy rosters set (I think). My bye-weeks were mostly weeks 5 and 6 and I've had far fewer gaps to fill since then. I have three teams among my 10 bound for the playoffs barring a late-season collapse, a couple so far behind they can never catch up, and several that are middle-of-the-pack. We'll see how it all turns out. I'm not cut-throat about it. I want to win, certainly, but it's just for fun and I have fun either way. I know what I'll be doing tonight as I recline beneath my Baltimore Ravens blanket with my feet up, laptop in my lap, and a mug of hot apple cider in my hand.

A Television Wasteland

Once again we see evidence of the lack of commitment television networks have towards quality programming. If it's not cheap and flashy, they don't like it.

I'm saying this because one of the best shows on television, Dollhouse, has just been canceled by FOX (yes, yet another reason to hate FOX).

Perhaps the networks aren't entirely to blame. Ratings were admittedly low, but networks are famous for making sure shows they for whatever reason take a disliking to fail - changing the schedule around, putting them on at unfavorable times, poor promotion, etc.

I haven't seen enough about this latest slap in the face to know the details but having just added Summer Glau to the cast makes this especially tragic. Here she leaves the canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, comes over to Dollhouse just in time to get canceled again. And she's a brilliant actress. I was looking forward to seeing a lot of her on this brilliantly written show.

At this point, I'm about ready to swear off network television. They put on a show, let you get hooked, and then cancel it. Why bother in the first place?


Can you believe it? "V" is back. I loved the original back in 1983. It was a nice change of pace from your typical space opera fare. The cast was great, particularly Jane Badler. I'm looking forward to seeing Morena Baccarin (Firefly) take that role and run with it. The only downside is that we get to see only four episodes, all in November, before the series goes on hiatus until March. I hope they repeat the first four episodes before picking the story up again. By March I'll need a refresher. Seems a strange move to make - build up momentum and then abruptly kill it, but then the decisions of television networks have never made any sense to me (or to producers and directors from the things I've read).

Still, it's a good season for Firefly alumni - Baccarin in "V" and Summer Glau joining "Dollhouse." You won't find me complaining too much. And of course we've got Nathan Fillion in "Castle." Still, I'd give all this up to have "Firefly" back.

A Perfect Day for Football

The sun has finally come out. The rain, for today at least, is a thing of the past, and just in time for some football. Nothing fits the fall weather better. I'm sitting in bed with the laptop in front of me and the TV set on NFL Network while they talk about Brett Favre. 've got my fantasy rosters set and all that's left to do is to decide whether to take a chance on Vince Young, newly promoted to starter against the leagues 31st ranked pass defense. It doesn't get any better than this.