Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If By Whiskey...

I came across this recently while doing some research on logical fallacies. I really get a kick out of it. It is a excerpt from a 1952 speech given by Mississippi lawmaker, Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat Jr. The speech rose out of a debate on whether or not Mississippi should continue to prohibit alcohol.

I have no idea what this guy looks or sounds like, but I can see and hear him perfectly. Try to imagine a southern gentleman with a name like Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat Jr. from the "great state of Mississippi" heralding his cause as his slow, chosen words echo through the halls and columns of a legislative building. Ha, I love it.

Anyway, here it is. Check it out.

"My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crisp morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mojave Cross (Salazar v. Buono)

This is pretty interesting. I like that it's located here in our backyards. I know the family of Henry and Wanda Sandoz pretty well, and I feel badly for them. I've read the oral arguments and I really don't see any way the Supreme Court could overturn the decisions of the lower courts. As much as it upsets me to think how devastated the Sandoz's will be, the cross has to come down.

I'm interested in some open debate about this. What are the LEGAL issues at hand? I wonder if we could use our armchair attorney skills to reduce this case to its basic legal questions.

Some things to think about: Do the attempts to reclassify, protect, transfer ownership, etc. made by the government remedy the Establishment Clause issue? Could those attempts in themselves be classified as extraordinary? Would the government have taken those steps to protect the cross if it had been a Star of David? A Buddha? A swastika? What about the reversionary clause in the land transfer agreement - does that serve to allow the government to retain legal control of the land even after the ownership transfer?

My favorite question from the oral arguments was from Chief Justice John Roberts. He asked, "What if the government sold simply one square foot, or whatever the area that the base of the cross is -- is resting on the ground? Would your argument be the same?"

Cool stuff. What do you think?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gay Marriage Debate Put to End

The man in this video is Philip Spooner. He is 86 years old and a lifetime Republican. He is a living hero. He is quite possibly the bravest man I've ever witnessed. I am privileged to live in his time and in his country.

By the way, he just put an end to the gay marriage debate. As an attorney would say, the question is repetitious - "asked and answered" - 65+ years ago. If you don't believe so, re enroll in a U.S. History class. You may have missed something.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is that D-Money?

This dude has obviously had a bad day. He really needs a drink.

Two great things about this video: 1). I think I've done a similar "loopdy-loop" thing while opening a door at a liquor store. Thank god for large handles. 2). I am reminded of the plight of the desert tortoise when I watch this guy try to flip over to his feet.

Also, I've seen Ken Hofeldt ride a mechanical bull - and it is WAY more graceful. I'm just saying.

Drunkest Guy Ever Goes for More Beer - Watch more Funny Videos

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Obama Facebook Poll: "Should Obama Be Killed?" Pulled From Site, Secret Service Investigate - UPDATED (PHOTOS)

Obama Facebook Poll: "Should Obama Be Killed?" Pulled From Site, Secret Service Investigate - UPDATED (PHOTOS)

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Wow! This sort-of goes along with some thoughts I've been having about social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, etc..

Over the last few weeks, I've been thinking about the affect these sites have on society. I was worried that online networking sites were taking the place of society for many people.

Remember, Thomas Paine regarded society as a "blessing". Are we really doing society justice through sites like Facebook and MySpace? I know many readers of this blog will differ, but I will attest that social networking sites are, in fact, detrimental to society.

Over the past two years, I assumed incorrectly that membership to social networking sites would naturally curtail as the era of grandiose bragging diminished. In other words, is it still cool to flash fake gang signs with your "homies" out front of the Bellagio while your car was being repo'd and your house was in foreclosure? Evidently, it is.

How more apt are you to go online and join a blog or networking site than go out to city council meeting? Are you more likely to go online and learn about people of the world sharing a different viewpoint than yours or to find people who think as you? The crux of my argument can be summed-up as this: IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN TEN FRIENDS ON YOUR (FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, ETC.) PROFILE AND YOU DO NOT KNOW THE NAMES OF YOUR NEIGHBORS, F@#& YOU - YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

That's right. I'll say it again, F@#& YOU - YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

I say this because I am 36 years old (albeit going on 15), and I can remember a time when my family knew everyone on our street. I don't just mean the people's names and which house they lived in but really knew them. How differently would you think about social issues if you knew everyone on your street?

Think about it.

Would you be more tolerant to opposing religions if you discovered the guy from down the street who often brought-in your trashcans was a Muslim?

Think about it.

Would you be more tolerant to issues of individual rights if you knew that the nice kid from down the street came from homosexual parents?

Think about it.

If you weren't wasting your life getting to know people from your kindergarten class, you may have found out your neighbor was hoping someone would help him with his campaign to change America.

Or, he was Timothy McVeigh.

Think about it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jon Stewart Has His Way With CNBC

This is great. It's a clip from March 4, 2009 of Jon Stewart ripping CNBC. If you haven't already seen it, please check it out. His response to "Sir" Allen Stanford is prefect.

Side note: Why do I feel like I get better news from Comedy Central than all the cable news networks out there? Also, if you "get it", the entertainment over at Fox News is pretty damn funny. If you don't "get it", see you at the next Tea Party.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNBC Financial Advice
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Banana Man's Buddy Touts the Bible Again

I don't really know where to start with this little diddy, but it's just too good to pass up. Christians sure hate those pesky Darwinians don't they?

I can't imagine why this argument remains central to Evangelicals. I can't even imagine having this argument. What else can we argue? The earth-centric view of the universe? Any other ideas from the Stone Age? This ship left the dock eons ago. And really, it wasn't much of a big deal until the Protestant Reformation when future television evangelists decided that a literal interpretation of the Bible made sense. I guess they felt the expanse of knowledge brought about by the recent Scientific Revolution gave cause to tighten the belt a little - else the coffers become leaky.

The Creationists are always quick to point out that evolution is only a "theory" (with finger quotes next to each ear). Ahhhhh, enlighten us - should we be skeptical of all theories? Like atomic theory? Or the theory of electricity? I wish Creationists were on the forefront challenging Newton's Gravitational Theory.

What is the hang-up with the Origin of Species? Charles Darwin certainly wasn't the first to come up with the idea of evolution - he himself traced it back to Aristotle and even earlier Greek philosophers - more importantly, he wasn't the last. For the 150 years since it's publication, it's been been expanded-on by numerous scientists and has become the cornerstone of all life sciences. All knowledge of biology, physiology, genetics, and a host of other life sciences that I don't know enough about to mention are furthered and explained through evolution.

It's no wonder Evangelicals are still fighting over the legality of Obama's election and whether or not he's a Christian. Hell, nine or ten months is nothing to someone fighting this 150 year-old dilemma. Be proud Evangelicals - you've earned your place right there with the birthers, flat-earthers, moon hoaxers, and the Sasquatch searchers.

I really enjoyed the presentation from Cameron and his accomplice. The reference to Hitler is a classic staple of Right-Wing nonsense. Evolution = Hitler, Obama = Hitler, okay I got it.

My favorite part though has to be the references to all the scientists "who believed that God created the universe." The argument is fallacious in itself - that one would suppose evolution is false because one believes in a Creator. The Deist come to mind (which incidentally Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Nicolas Copernicus all claimed to be). In fact, of the seven scientists mentioned, only one, Michael Faraday, claimed to be a Christian. Moreover, he's the only one mentioned of the seven that could even remotely be considered a contemporary of Charles Darwin. Given that Roger Bacon lived nearly 600 years before the Origin of Species was published, it's not overly baffling why he didn't agree with it. Johannes Kepler's works of planetary motion was so scandalous in the 1600's that attempts were made to have his mother tried for witchcraft! And Louis Pasteur, he invented a process for making beer and wine safer to drink - without which this blog wouldn't exist - so he isn't so bad.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

9.12 Project

I just started reading a book by Rick Shenkman, Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter. It's interesting and frightening. He basically makes the point that we Americans are just too ignorant for democracy. He believes that we'll fall for any myth put out there by media, members of government, churches, etc.

During George Washington's farewell address he spoke about the need for education in a democracy. He said,
"Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."
In other words, in order for a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" to succeed - it ought to in the very least be an informed people.

The people in this video are really upset about something, but I'm confused at exactly what it is.

Dad, Why Do We Have A Constitution?

My first post for the new Church of Mind blog. I am choosing to reprint an editorial I wrote for the local Hi-Desert Fishwrapper during last year's election. It was published on October 22, 2008. At issue, was California's Proposition 8 - A proposal for a Constitutional Amendment banning homosexual marriage. It's my first attempt at editorial / political writing, and it felt like a logical first post. I am very proud of it.

The issue of gay marriage is interesting to me because of the number of questions and subsequent issues it evokes. Why would states want to limit rights of marriage to heterosexuals? What interests do states have in any marriage? Do people often confuse weddings with state-granted marriages? What does the Bible say about gay marriage? Or marriage in general? When do churches lose non-profit status when donating to special interest?

In my local community, and pretty-much across the state, it felt as if citizens were looking to their church or the Bible for the answers to these questions. I wanted to address it through the basic ideas of individual rights.

Also, why do I feel like messages of hatred are always followed by quotes of scripture? I don't understand it. I've read the Bible many times. I never got that from it. Come to think of it, I didn't get much from it.

Dad, why do we have a Constitution?

As a parent, I look forward to questions like the above with great delight. Nothing makes me feel more American than answering questions about our country's greatness and the greatness of the men and women who've made it so. Incidentally, nothing bores a 5- and 10-year old (not to mention their mother) more than their father's tedious answers to seemingly simple questions. So, to spare my family, I present to you the following.

Thomas Paine once wrote, "Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil." It was because of similar cautious outlooks of government that our founding fathers created our nation's first constitution.

Constitutions are written to protect citizens from governments. Our basic rights and freedoms (speech, assembly, voting, etc.) are guaranteed by our constitution. In other words, our rights are not defined through public opinion. They are guaranteed through virtue of freedom and its principles as protected in our constitution.

It is rarely a good idea to regulate social conditions through constitutional amendment - regardless of how personally approved or not approved you feel. One would not need to turn back many pages in American history to see failed attempts at this. Issues facing voters today are fundamentally the same as those of past generations. Issues of religious persecution, racial intolerance, gun-ownership rights, etc. are only solved through strict adherence to the rights of individuals; Equal Rights.

Constitutions should only be amended with the intent of preserving rights of individuals. It is, therefore, our duty to vote disapprovingly of any attempts to amend our state or federal Constitution with the intent of taking away the rights of any law-abiding individuals.