Richard Dawkins line from the NY Times


Aren’t the theologian’s questions — Why are we here? Is there something larger than us? Why do we die? — central to the human project?

Professor Dawkins shakes his head before the question is out. His impatience with religion is palpable, almost wriggling alive inside him. Belief in the supernatural strikes him as incurious, which is perhaps the worst insult he can imagine.

“Religion teaches you to be satisfied with nonanswers,” he says. “It’s a sort of crime against childhood.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/science/20dawkins.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1&hp

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Line from “of Human Bondage”


Besides, religion is a matter of temperament; you will believe anything if you have a religious temperament, and if haven’t it doesn’t matter what beliefs were instilled into you, you will grow out of them. — W. Somerset Maugham

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Tuscarora- Big Blue Trailhead from US 340 near Bentonsville, VA


Really hard to find.  It is up a private driveway with no trespassing and no parking signs.  But the blue trailhead is on the same pole as the signs.  I chose to to interpret the signs as meaning that I should not veer from the straight and narrow path.  It is across the street from an archery club.  There is only room for one car to park there.  Behind the private home, there is a big set of railroad tracks.  The trail goes through a very old tunnel under the tracks.  Very cool with hundred-year old pavers.  About a mile in, I saw a bear.

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Davy Depp for Pirates V

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My girls braided my beard for the premier of Pirates IV.

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Hitch 22


I just finished reading the memoir of Christopher Hitchens.  I really loved it.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from it.

“As time progressed, it was the bogus refulgences of Kahlil Gibran and the sickly tautology of the The Prophet.”

“Both he and she [his mother] were now devotees of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: the sinister windbag who had brought enlightenment to the Beatles in the summer of love.”

Referring to the reverend who officiated at his mother’s burial: “…I couldn’t feel any more dislike and contempt for him and his sickly religion than I already did.”

Regarding the freemasons; “… mafia of the mediocre…”

Regarding Martin Buber: “…pious old hypocrite, the author if I and Thou…”

“Most boys decided quite early on that, since their penises would evidently give them no rest at all, they would return the favor by giving their penises no respite in return.  The night was loud with the boasts and groans that resulted from this endless, and fairly evenly matched, single combat between chaps and their cocks.”

“That is why whenever I hear of some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland  banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch.  Sooner rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn knees in some dreary motel or latrine, with an expired Visa card, having tried to pay well over the odds to be peed upon by some Apache transvestite.”

“… were as rare as rocking horse droppings…”

On the Mormon revelation of the 1960s(?): “…as lovely as Utah was, with its main church having only just had the needful ‘revelation’ that black people might have human souls after all, it was slight relief to cross the frontier of Nevada and breathe the bracingly sordid and amoral air of Reno and Las Vegas.”

On Reagan: “The Leader of the Free World was frequently photographed in the company of ‘end-times’ Protestant fundamentalists and biblical literalists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson; tethered gas balloon of greed and cynicism…”  “He was married to a woman who employed a White House astrologer.”

On Ayatollah Khomeini: “…verminous religious fanatic…”

Pointing out that State of Mississippi did not ratify the 13th amendment to the constitution (abolishing slavery) until 1995.

“I know I am not the only one who did not mind in the least if religious delusions were ridiculed, but if I had been the only one, I still wouldn’t have given a damn.”

“The idea of ‘Reds for Bush’ might seem incongruous, but it was a very great deal more wholesome that ‘pacifists for Saddam.'”

“It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one’s every day life as if this were so. Whereas if one sought to define meaninglessness and futility, the idea that a human life should be extended in the guilty, fearful, self-obsessed propitiation of supernatural nonentities … but there, there. Enough.”

“… I have always detested religion…”

“Without the stern joyless rabbis and the 613 dour prohibitions, we might have avoided the whole nightmare of the Old Testament, and the brutal crude wrenching of that into prophecy-derived Christianity, and the later plagiarism and mutation of Judaism and Christianity into the various rival forms of Islam.”

“… religious barking and mania.”

Quoting Azar Nafisi: “Living in the Islamic Republic” … “is like having sex with someone you loathe.”

On imagery from The Pilgrim’s Progress: ” … and indeed mainly designed like much of religion for ignoble purpose of scaring children.”

“We are forcibly made familiar, usually from febrile tenth-hand accounts of religious visionaries and other probable epileptics and schizophrenics …”

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Rally to Restore Sanity


The Rally to Restore Sanity was kind of a mixed bag. The crowds were friendly and well behaved with many funny and satisfying signs, but Comedy Central, Metro and the DC police all made woefully inadequate preparation for the rush of visitors. Metro was awful, but once we made the effort to get down there, it was really disappointing that were not enough jumbotrons and speaker towers. We were at 7th Street and could basically hear and see nothing. The main state was our blocks away on 3rd Street, and I think the closest jumbotron was still 2 blocks away. They should have had things set up all the way down to 12th Street. The crowd was huge! Then for the last half hour of the program when the crowd had thinnned out enough so that we could get close enough to sort of hear it, the DC rescue crews started to run sirens during the program!!

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Why do the republicans hate teachers?


There is a sign across my street in my neighbor’s yard that asks me to boycott the Apple Ballot. That is a preferred slate assembled by local teachers. A big part of the 2009 stimulus funds went to prevent the firing of teachers. Republicans seem upset about this. Do they want teachers to be fired? Do they hate public schools? Do they want everyone to have to pay private tuition to send their children to schools where there is no discussion of evolution?

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