It seems Tim Tebow has taken a bit of time out from whatever it is he does with a football to hit Cubby Tees with a cease and desist letter over one of their shirt designs. Tebow's attorneys say the shirt, "makes it appear as if Mr. Tebow actually endorses Cubby Tees and its products." The shirt in question?
Apparently Mr. Tebow, no longer content with merely loving Jesus, has now assumed his identity.
There's been a lot of discussion the last couple of days about Obama coming out in favor of marriage equality.
Good on him. Seriously. Regardless of what else is discussed, his views are just and ought to be praised.
Much of the discussion, however, hasn't centered around what the president said, but rather what his motivation was in saying it. I'm no stranger to politics, I've been at least a quasi-activist since my teens, I've acted as a delegate more than once, and I've co-managed a local congressional campaign. I'm under no bizarre delusion that Obama made his pro-equality statements without first consulting a dizzying array of campaign strategists. Like it or not, that's how politics work and I'm not going to give him a hard time for considering his political career rather than "standing on principal". Principal doesn't do a politician a hell of a lot of good if it burns their podium to the ground and resigns them to their living room.
Just to be clear, I absolutely agree that president Obama said what he said, when he said it, as a strategic political move (I also happen to believe that he meant what he said, and probably has for some time now).
Most of the comments I've stumbled upon discussing his strategy seem to believe that this was a move intended to sway progressive moderates into supporting the president's re-election. With that, I disagree. I think Obama's statements were a calculated offensive strategy designed to push Romney into saying this:
"I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name."
Preaching to the choir, which is essentially all that Obama did, is one thing. Making a clear and obviously discriminatory statement, especially immediately following the anti-equality vote in North Carolina, is something else entirely. Why beg progressive moderates for support when you can make them shrink with revulsion from your opponent instead?
Sorry, doomsdayers - it appears that another Mayan calendar has been unearthed from the Xultun ruins, and it includes dates some 7,000 years in the future. Two years ago, archaeologists discovered a small residential room that had been partially exposed by looters. Utilized by an ancient scribe, the room contained murals and hieroglyphs that correspond to a 260-day ceremonial calendar, the 365-day calendar, the 584-day sky track of Venus, and the 780-day sky track of Mars.
Weird. I guess Pinchbeck must have heard Quetzolcoatl wrong
A Giles County public school recently found itself in federal court over a Ten Commandments display. The school district, predictably, claims that the Old Testament commands are simply part of a larger historical display and have no religious significance.
Frankly, I'm getting more than a little bored with this repetitive shell game. Government agency features display related to a single religion. Citizen sites unconstitutionality of said display. Government agency fails to respond or responds negatively. Citizen files suit. Government agency defends display as "traditional" or "historical" rather than an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Court sides with plaintiff. Display is removed. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Apparently Judge Michael Urbanski, who presided over the Giles County case, is just as bored with it all as I am. Before turning the case over to mediation, he made a rather interesting suggestion:
"Remove the first four commandments, which are clearly religious in nature, and leave the remaining six, which make more secular commands, such as do not kill or steal..."
Remember that story about King Solomon? Two of his women were arguing over which one of them was actually the mother of a particular baby boy. Rather than going through the bother of attempting to prove maternity, King Solomon suggested that they simply cut the baby in half and share it. One of the women, horrified at the thought of the baby being murdered, quickly gave up the fight and allowed the other woman to claim him as her son. King Solomon, of course, declared the conceding woman to be the baby's real mother based on her willingness to give up her own rights in order to secure the baby's safety.
That's what judge Urbanski is doing with his suggestion that the commandments simply be abridged to remove religious language, he's pulling a King Solomon.
“If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn’t it make sense for Giles County to say, ‘Let’s go back and just post the bottom six?’ But if it’s really about God, then they wouldn’t be willing to do that.”
Well, Giles County? You gonna' cut that baby in half, or not?
The American Family Association is once again up in arms over another company's refusal to "stay neutral" (i.e. - openly discriminate against teh gayz) in the culture wars. It seems that Campbell's Soup has offended their delicate sensibilities by sponsoring last week's Equality Forum in Philadelphia. Working hard to bolster their ridiculous image, AFA Pennsylvania president, Diane Gramley, complains, "When I think of Campbell's Soup, I think of the Campbell's Soup kids with their advertisement that portrays a pro-family, a family-friendly company, which is what they want to portray to the public."
Topics discussed at the forum include marriage equality, same-sex adoption, and anti-bullying measures... which all sounds pretty damn "pro-family" and "family-friendly" to me. Unless, or course, you're a family of bigots.
The AFA is, as usual, dropping teasers about the possibility of a boycott and encouraging their rabid horde to contact Campbell's by visiting their website and barking their godly disapproval. Might I suggest adding visiting the website yourselves and giving them a bit of kudos for supporting ALL families? I'm sure they'll appreciate a few kind words interrupting the chorus of hate.
As those of you who follow the blog regularly know, our family includes a few members of the "exotic pet" variety, and I'm generally supportive of the right to adopt exotic animals as long as they can be cared for properly. That support is tempered, however, with more than a hint of reservation based on the belief that many first-time exotic caretakers don't know what they're in for. In fact, the vast majority of posts on the topic that I have already written, and plan to write in the future, are at least partially cautionary in nature. My intention isn't to discourage people from adopting exotics, though I can understand why the occasional reader might get that impression; my intention is to help new exotic caretakers avoid the stress, frustration, and discouragement that leads to so many exotics being relinquished to rescues every year.
To that end, I want to talk about one difficulty most exotic caretakers experience at one point or another: worry. Even the most dedicated and knowledgeable caretaker will deal with sickness in their animals eventually, and sickness in exotic animals presents some special challenges:
Behavior: When my dog isn't feeling well, the whole family knows it; he gives us all the cues we need to provide him the help he needs. Exotic animals hide sicknesses really fucking well. In the wild, signs of weakness have negative consequences, so sick exotics are often on death's door before their caretakers even realize that something is wrong. Some exotics are more fragile than others, of course, and will show physical symptoms much sooner than stockier species, but it still takes an observant eye to catch an illness in its early stages.
Knowledge: We know a heck of a lot more about caring for domestic pets than we do exotics, simply because... well... they're domestic - we've been caring for them for a very long time. Dogs have been with us long enough that we've affected each other's evolution. Cats have been household pets since the ancient Egyptians. Pythons? Geckos? Axolotls? Not so much. Even if you have an exotic animal vet readily available, you run a better chance of coming across a stumper of a situation with an exotic pet than you do with a domestic one.
Ability: Finding a surgeon to remove or biopsy a growth on your cat? No problem. Finding a surgeon able to remove an impaction in a reptile or amphibian? Yeah... not so easy. I've run across more than one exotic animal caretaker that had no choice but to place their pet in the hands of a vet who had never before preformed the procedure their animal needed. Even a procedure as simple as drawing blood can be a challenge for some exotics.
Availability: We've yet to run into a situation where a needed medication couldn't be found within 30 miles of our house, but some exotic owners aren't so lucky. Some medications can be purchased online, but I've also chatted with caretakers who were only able to obtain what their pet needed by joining forces with a local zoo... and it wasn't exactly a cheap option.
Looking over these differences, I realize they can seem trivial. It's easy to assume that one won't run across any type of illness in their exotics that stimulates more than casual concern, but having difficulty diagnosing and treating a seriously ill exotic is a nightmare that many caretakers have experienced, myself included...
Remember the axolotls we adopted a while back? This is Piggy:
Piggy - April 7th
Piggy, February 12th
... and this is Gir:
Gir - April 7th
Gir - February 12th
It doesn't take an experienced axolotl caretaker to notice a dramatic difference between the two. Piggy is HUGE when compared to Gir. Piggy's gills are full and fluffly, Gir's have been reduced to barren stumps. Behaviorally, they're just as different; Piggy is alert and curious, while Gir is listless and timid. So what happened to Gir?
I have no fucking idea.
His symptoms started with a shrinking of the gill feathers, typically caused by water issues, so I took extra measures to make sure his water was kept well within safe parameters. Next symptom was a drop in appetite, then came an associated drop in body mass, then came red coloration in the extremities, then a shrinking of the gills themselves, then floating, then refusal of food all together... The symptoms just kept coming; as each one was addressed a new one popped up, eventually popping up before the last symptom had been resolved. After consulting vets, experts, and other axolotl caretakers, I believe he's currently suffering from a fairly serious systemic bacterial infection. He's been treated with a stay in the fridge, he's been offered a veritable smorgasbord of foods, his water has been kept meticulously clean and cool, he's been treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic... and treated again with the same antibiotic at double strength (under the advice of experts at a large scientific axolotl colony). He's eating... but he'll only eat frozen brine shrimp, which is essentially the "fast food" of the axie world, and only enough to barely sustain life. I'm worried, and I'm going to stay worried until he either gets better... or dies.
I will admit that this particular illness is a somewhat unusual case. Typically, the difficulty comes in treating an exotic, not in diagnosing it; but the "weirder" the exotic, the more likely a caretaker is to run across a situation similar to this one. Knowing up front that special attention must be paid to the health of an exotic animal, and that there may be hoops to jump through in getting an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, just might be the difference between a triumph and a tragedy.
I thought I had set this post to publish last Saturday, but I somehow managed to muck up the scheduling. I'm pleased to report that Gir is doing much better. He's happily gobbling up the bits of earthworm we offer twice a day, he's put on a bit of weight, and his gills are beginning to show slight improvement. We still have him quarantined, but I'm cautiously hopeful he'll make a full recovery.
Stop for a moment, close your eyes, and picture someone you love in flames. Picture their skin bubbling and bursting through waves of intense heat, picture it blackening and shrinking as they fall to their knees, their screams gurgling up from scorched lungs through their blistered throat, bursting from their charred lips to pierce the fetid air.
Now, imagine yourself picking fresh fruit in an abundant field, a joyous smile upon your face, cool grass beneath your feet, the air thick with floral scents and laughter. Sweet nectar clinging to your lips, you stop to run your fingers through the mane of a majestic lion before setting upon the golden path to your personal mansion, the lilting sounds of abundant water and generous praise wafting on the gentle breeze.
Now, imagine what kind of person you would have to be to happily flit about picking fruit and petting lions KNOWING that your loved one was burning in agony; KNOWING that their torture would last for all of eternity, without even momentary relief. Imagine that the powerful being responsible for both the realm of torment and the realm of pleasure is accessible to you, seated on a golden throne in the center of a perfect city. What kind of monster would you have to be to choose living blissfully through that eternity over exhausting yourself at the base of that golden throne, day and night, begging that your loved one be set free from their torment?
We're not done yet - "narrow is the path of righteousness", so up the scale. The idealic world you inhabit is populated with, perhaps, several thousand other individuals who enjoy the favor of that powerful being, while BILLIONS of others suffer his wrath. What possible justification could free your conscience of their torment? What conceivable distraction could force their pain from your mind? What unconscionable madness could be imposed that would twist your sobs of grief into songs of worship for the being that holds court over such an insane perversion of justice?
This is the essence of the doctrine of heaven and hell - that compassionate, loving human beings can exist for all of eternity in peaceful bliss knowing without doubt that people they know and love, compassionate and loving human beings themselves, are spending that same eternity in insufferable torment. For heaven to be a place of unending joy, the individuals inhabiting it would have to be wiped clean of every last trace of their humanity.
Somehow, I fail to find the message of hope in that vision.
A good friend of mine, YouTuber Richard "The Dick" Coughlan, recently turned the efforts of English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson into an even more spectacular joke than he typically is. On Sunday night, apparently alarmed by a picture of an Arabic looking building on Twitter's home page, Robinson fired off the following tweet:
welcome to twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque. what a joke #creepingsharia
While it may have been enough to simply point out that the raving Islamaphobe had incorrectly identified the Taj Mahal as a mosque, Coughlan went the extra mile by whipping up a YouTube video encouraging users to "fuck with the EDL" by hijacking the creepingsharia hash tag. (Some of the wittier tweets can be found over at Huff Po.) This is how I feel we can best deal with imbeciles, regardless of flavor - point and laugh, my friends. Point and laugh.
*NOTE: Richard Coughlan is not, in fact, a good friend of mine. He's not even a minor acquaintance. In fact, one might say that he doesn't have even the slightest inkling of a notion that I exist. That I may feel the need to prop up my twisted fantasies involving occasionally kinky sleep-over rounds with a stranger from YouTube by claiming friendship shouldn't really be of notable concern.
A while back I put out a couple of feelers to see if anyone would be interested in my writing an article on how Jesus failed to fulfill a single messianic prophesy, in spite of Christian claims that he fulfilled over 300 of them. There was a decent amount of interest, so I started organizing my research and trying to figure out how best to present it. Luckily, every one of the 300+ prophesies offered up as evidence fits into one of three categories: Not Prophesy, Not Messianic, and Not Fulfilled. I felt like starting with a brief explanation of each category would lay an excellent foundation for the rest of the article, allowing me to "bundle" prophesies and avoid giving a detailed explanation for each one. That Christians have split single prophesies into several parts in order to inflate the number supposedly fulfilled by Jesus helps move things along as well - putting them back together, as they were intended to be judged, cuts down the work considerably.
So... why are you reading a post about an article instead of reading the article?
Before I had even really begun writing in earnest, it became clear that, 1 - it would be more properly classified as an anemic book than an article, and 2 - it had such powerful sedative potential that it might actually require FDA approval.
As I see it, this realization leaves me with a couple of options:
Write a Book
By adding in a few refutations of popular Christian apologetics regarding the "prophesies" in question (like the idea that the Jews were just blind to the true revelation of their own prophesies), I could probably bulk this up to proper book length without much difficulty. Including some personal quips, observations, experiences, and maybe a story or two might help transform it into a tolerable read; especially if I formatted it in such a way that the reader could skip around.
Part of me is intrigued by this option... and part of me hates the intrigued part because writing a book like this sounds like doing an awful lot of work in order to create a product that no one may even want.
I could, of course, simply write up a paragraph for each of the three categories (Not Prophesy, Not Messianic, and Not Fulfilled) followed by a list of the supposed prophesies that apply, referencing the chapter and verse. It would only be informative in a pretty shallow way, but it might serve as a good launching point for further study.
The lazy/overwhelmed part of me likes this option almost as much as forgetting about the idea all together. The part of me that remembers using the 300+ fulfilled prophesies argument in my Christian past, and suffers an acute bout of embarrassment tinged frustration every time it encounters the argument in my Atheist present, thinks the subject is important enough to modern apologetics that half-assing it would be committing some sort of societal disservice.
So, what say you, gentle readers? (Or at least the two of you that comment with any sort of frequency *pokes other readers*) Should I put effort into writing a book that no one may be interested in reading? If I actually self-published such a book, and made a digital version available for a couple of bucks, would you be tempted to purchase it? Should I half-ass it and basically post a list of dismissals? Should I just pretend I forgot the whole thing?
The Look'it-Me-Bein'-All-Responsible-For-My-Big-Mouth Disclaimer:
The attitudes and opinions expressed here at Daisies and Shit do not necessarily reflect those of the Denver Chapter of Recovering from Religion, or of the Recovering from Religion Organization as a whole.