A lengthy Hitchens quote

June 30, 2012

I think maybe I will take a few minutes just to to say something that
I find repulsive about especially monotheistic messianic religion.
With a large part of itself, it quite clearly wants us all to die. It
wants this world to come to an end. You can tell the yearning for
things to be over whenever you read any of its real texts or listen to
any of its real, authentic spokesmen not the sort of pathetic
apologists who sometimes masquerade for it. Those who talk – there was
a famous spokesman for this in Virginia until recently – about the
rapture, say that those of us who have chosen rightly will be gathered
to the arms of Jesus, leaving all of the rest of you behind. If we’re
in a car it’s your lookout, that car won’t have a driver anymore. If
we’re a pilot, that’s your lookout, that plane will crash _we_ will be
with Jesus and the rest of you can go straight to hell.

The escatological element that is _inseparable_ from christianity: if
you don’t believe that there is to be an apocalypse, that there is
going to be an end, a separation of the sheep and the goats, a
condemnation, a final one, then you’re not really a believer, and the
contempt for the things of this world shows through all of them. It’s
well put in an old rhyme from an english exclusive brethren sect that
says that

We are the pure and chosen few
and all the rest are damned.
There’s room enough in hell for you;
we don’t want heaven crammed.

You can tell it when you see the extreme muslims talk. They cannot
wait. They cannot wait for death and destruction to overtake and
overwhelm the world. They can’t wait for what I would call without
ambiguity a _final_ solution. When you look at the Israeli settlers,
paid for often by American tax dollars, deciding if they can steal
enough land from other people and get all the Jews into the promised
land and all the non-Jews out of it, then _finally_ the Jewish people
will be worthy of the return of the messiah. And there are Christians
in this country who consider it their job to help this happen, so that
Armageddon can occur, so that the painful business of living as humans
and studying civilisation and trying to acquire learning and knowledge
and health and medicine, and to push back the frontiers, can all be
scrapped, and the cult of death can take over. That to me is a
hideous thing in escatological terms, in end times terms on it’s own -
a hateful idea, a hateful practice and a hateful theory, but very much
to be opposed in our daily lives where there are people who
_sincerely_ mean it – who want to ruin the good relations that could
exist between different peoples, nations, races, countries, tribes,
ethnicities, who say, who openly say they love death more than we love
life and who are betting that with God on their side, they’re right
about that.

So when I say as the subtitle of my book that I think that religion
poisons _everything_, I’m not just doing what publishers like and
coming up with a provocative subtitle. I mean to say it _infects_ us
in our most _basic_ integrity. It says we can’t be moral without big
brother, without a totalitarian permission. It means we can’t be good
to one another without this. We must be afraid. We must also be
forced to love someone who we fear, The essence of sadomasochism, the
essence of abjection, the essence of the master slave relationship,
and that knows that death is coming and can’t wait to bring it on. I
say this is evil.

And though I do some nights stay home, I enjoy more the nights when I
go out and fight against this ultimate wickedness and ultimate
stupidity.

###

From a debate “Does God Exist?” between Frank Turek and Christopher
Hitchens at Virginia Commonwealth University, September 9, 2008,
hosted by the United Secular Alliance at VCU.
###
Note that I manually transcribed this from youtube, I have
no idea if I’m violating copyright. I did type everything at
least.  GD


2012

January 7, 2012

Looks like I’m up to one post a year with somewhat fewer actual readers.  I haven’t actually publicized this thing, since I’m not all that sure I like having everybody and their next door neighbor rooting around in my cerebral cortex.  So I didn’t go home over the holidays this time, just stuck around the ponderosa.  My daughter stopped in twice, once with her new french boyfriend.  Seems like a nice kid.  Brother John did make it back to Colorado, and Mom’s sounding pretty good, almost over that broken hip last August.  Today I’m rather listless.  All week in fact I haven’t been able to motivate myself to do anything at all.  All those new year’s resolutions, but then no resolve when push comes to shove.  It is hard spending all my time working on other people’s projects.  The wife’s started on a suicide mission to remodel the basement room.  This has necessitated my intervention for all heavy lifting and any critical wiring.  Most of the drywall’s up, but I must confess that I could give a shit about the whole project.  It’s supposedly to improve the marketability of the house, but considering that there is no market the whole exercise seems pretty pointless.  I feel no sense of ownership in this place and have spent the last year being resentful of being enslaved by a piece of property that I don’t want, in terms of expense to the tune of $38k per year for mortgage, property tax and insurance, plus endless hours doing yard care, home repairs, and now this downstairs room project.  I haven’t done something productive that was my idea for over five years it seems.  At work or at home.  So instead of doing anything about it I’m spewing stream of consciousness onto this blog that no one will ever read.  Unfortunately that’s how I feel about publishing anything resembling science.  No one’s ever going to read it so fuck it all.  I do believe that the death of my father followed this past December by a favorite author of mine has done something to me, not in a good way.  It appears I need to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  So this particular post is just one of those things that I don’t know why I’m even doing it.  Then I read about all the bad stuff happening in the world, which should cheer me up, since my situation isn’t exactly dire.  It is easy to see how things could be much much worse.  I suppose the emotional isolation I’ve had for most of the past eleven years isn’t helping.  I can count the number of people that I can carry on a meaningful conversation with on one hand.  Maybe I’ll go on a bike ride and try and snap out of it.  dammitall.  gd


An evening’s thought

January 18, 2011

Well, here it is 2011 and I as usual totally ignored this site until Michael rediscovered it. I have no idea how he found it. I must have gotten all of a view per month the past year.

Spent my “holiday” helping my brothers, sister and mom to help my dad die at home. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, it certainly was memorable. To say that dying sucks is a huge understatement, especially when done up close and personal like we were doing. To die at home either takes a lot of money to pay a full-time nursing home staff, or three brothers. Mike (different from Michael) has worked at or managed nursing home type places for 30 years, so he knew everything about everything, without which the entire endeavor would have been impossible. I got there about 12 days after Herm fell and broke 5 ribs, and brother John showed up that night. John and I alternated nights sleeping in the bed next to Herm so Mike could sleep, since we were waking him up at night anytime something went wrong anyway. For myself I almost killed Herm one night by accidentally cutting off his oxygen supply for four hours. He kept working harder and harder breathing until I finally realized there wasn’t any noise coming from the canula, woke mike up and got it fixed. In the end, breathing the last 24 hours or so was so much work for him that his body just quit. His right lung was useless and filled with blood from the broken ribs, and eventually the other lung got congested so bad, and he didn’t have the energy to cough it up, that basically he suffocated (or drowned if you will). So Herm being Herm, he died both on mom’s birthday December 26 in Colorado and my anniversary December 27 in Chicago, at 11:35 PM 12/26 Colorado time. But the nurse came out and officially pronounced him dead at 0058 12/27/2010. Interesting also was that one of Herm’s cousins died the afternoon of the 27th, and both obituaries appeared one above the other in Herm’s hometown newspaper.
This whole business was particularly hard on Mike who has been living close to the folks the past 10 years or so, taking care of business and doing any heavy lifting that needed doing. While he did this sort of stuff for years and years, it is a different kind of thing altogether when it’s your dad. Mom sat us all down a week before Herm died (we all thought he would be gone any minute) and told us straight up that no way was she going to let us do this kind of thing when her time comes. A nursing home will have to do for her thank you very much. Indeed it was a very ugly business, but we were all I think (except mom) glad we were able to do it for the old bastard. He really could be a stubborn son of a bitch if he wanted to be.
I was looking at all the pictures we scanned in for after the funeral and I must say he was a lot better looking man than any of us turned out to be I think.


2010

February 7, 2010

Here it is a whole decade gone since 2000, and I’m still hanging around.  It amazes me that there is so much fear and loathing of unbelievers, that something could be that deeply rooted in people’s psych that they think and do such irrational things.  I went to the museum this week, went to the fetus exhibit.  Can’t say I’m all out pro abortion, fortunately no one is, which is why things are cast in such politically correct language.  I can’t help but feel that all of the misery in Haiti has been compounded by the teachings of the catholic church on birth control.  So many people in such deep poverty, largely needlessly so.  Can’t help but think that it’s probably all America’s fault way back in the past.  The sort of thing where I barely know anything at all about the country or its history or people.  My only contact was with a missionary couple associated with the church I used to go to.  Still get the newsletter since technically my wife is still a member.  She doesn’t go because she doesn’t have any one to drive her there.  She watches a tv preacher, a skinny old rancher from oklahoma who’s got it all figured out.  My wife received a piece of literature for toilet reading.  It’s all about the evil people trying to build a one world government / economy and how that will usher in the end of the world, rapture and all that nonsense.  These people really believe this crazy stuff.  6000 year old earth on top of everything.  I suppose I’m getting to be like George Carlin philosophically, not sure I like it, but reality is what it is.  And I’m too damn tired to be writing on this thing.


A day in the life

August 28, 2009

Well it has been quite some time since I started this blog.  Interesting that in the last two years since its inception, all of 2 people other than myself have looked at it (thanks ebon muse for taking pity), with zero comments.  It is clear that I’m not quitting my day job to make a living on the internet any time soon.  But since I did go to all the trouble of setting this thing up so long ago, I think I’ll go ahead and start making some entries.  I think a lot of my reticence about doing more advertising has to do with the fact that I’m not quite ready to “come out” to the whole wide world with regard to my lack of religious beliefs.  So this blog exists, but it’s sort of like letting the whole world read your private email which makes me a bit squeamish.  Sort of like facebook, which I did end up setting up for my genealogy research.

But facebook really does suck for antisocial types like me.  I really on ly use it for family stuff and there still remain a small number of close family members which I have not been completely honest with regarding religion, most notably my parents.  So for the time being this blog will exist more as a personal diary than as anything I will ever release to the general public.  Maybe I’ll delete everything and start over with more of a focus than usual, something non controversial maybe.  But that’s probably pissing into the wind.

So nothing here today.  Weather should be good tomorrow and sunday for Argonne’s open house and Cait’s triathlon downtown.  Mom survived the surgery Wednesday so that’s a good thing, and Barb stayed a few days to get her out of the woods, looks like mom’s doing very well.  more later.   GD


The “Truth” about homosexuality

September 4, 2007

I have in my hands a brochure advertising a series of conferences, which have apparently been going on since 1998, and sponsored by James Dobson’s tax-exempt religious advertising corporation called Focus on the Family (FOTF). Among the many treasures to be gleaned from this conference, endearingly titled “Love Won Out – Finding Truth in the Controversy”, for the low low price of $60 a head, is the ability to deal with the terrible dilemma of being “forced to choose between rejecting Christian sexual morals or adopting beliefs that their friends and educators consider homophobic and bigoted.”

The brochure continues: “You’d think all the discussion and debate would eventually bring clarity and truth to the matter. But it hasn’t. Because of the various worldviews competing within our coulture, voices of reason are silenced or maligned – and wherever questions abound, confusion rules.”  Thank goodness that FOTF has this one all figured out. Among the many things you’ll learn for your 60 bucks is how to “respond to misinformation in our culture”, and how to “defend biblical beliefs and prevent your child from embracing this destructive way of life.” Where do I sign up? is all I have to say.

This kind of subliminal fear-mongering is really pretty typical of the whole right-wing fundamentalist machine. Everyone knows that the punishment for homosexuality, right there in the old testament, is death – the same as for working on the sabbath. The unspoken fear of course, is that homosexuality will send those practising it straight to the pit of fire, where the worm does not die, along with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, for all eternity. The fundamentalists have polished their message a lot the last 20 or 30 years, and you don’t so much hear about going to hell as you do about an “eternal separation from god”.

These people are well funded, motivated, and need to be fought. This type of conference exists for one purpose only, to convince as many gay people as possible that 1) hell is indeed a real place, and 2) you’d better ask jesus into your heart right now, or else guess what happens when you die. Oh by the way, it will cost you 10% of every penny you make for the rest of your life.

For those of you masochistic enough to want even more, check out their web site here.

GD


Progress, or more adventures with linux

August 29, 2007

So. Today I came a few inches closer to understanding the linux verb “to mount”. Somewhat obscene but apparently I’ve been working with mount points the past 17 years without even knowing it. It seems somewhat along the lines of the ethereal “pointer” which is so natural to c programmers, but having had to teach myself c with no help from the outside it has been really slow going.

Things I learned today:

2 ways to hack through the firewall at work (probably incorrect usage, since I haven’t a clue what a firewall could be). In any case I discovered that at work there is one computer (unix) and one only that can be connected to with the ssh command, after which I can ssh over to the actual workstation sitting on my desk. Apparently ssh is a verb too. It is a means to connect securely from one computer to the other without the possibility of some nefarious individual picking off your password on the way through. So ssh’ing to the magic computer gets me in and that is method number one, which I sort of knew, but got confused because I can ssh if I’m on the wireless network outside the firewall, but not if I’m on a hardwired connection inside the firewall. In that case I just get a blank stare. I learned that last week and that’s likely what had me so confused since I “knew” it was impossible to ssh to this particular computer from my office when in fact it was just wireless vs. wired.

Method number 2. Another new verb, “to vpn”. Where vpn stands for virtual private network. It was pretty funny because yesterday I stumbled upon the right combinations of commands to get vpn going, but then remained clueless as to what to do next, or what it meant “to have vpn’ed”. Apparently there is another machine, this time a windows machine, through which one can “start vpn” running on say my laptop. But then what? What does it _mean_?? The magical thing I guess is that then I can ssh to anything I want inside the firewall without going through the magical unix gateway.

So, six of one half dozen of the other you might think. An xterm is an xterm and if I can use ls, cd, cp, more, cat, emacs etc. big whoop. But the rather interesting thing I discovered was that after successfully jumping throught the vpn hoops, there is a little program called sshfs, which gives the illusion of having mounted a remote file system locally, on my laptop. In windows vernacular, I can have a folder on my desktop that when double clicked shows the contents of my stuff at work, even if I’m sitting in timbuktu. I’ve had the it group set this up on my windows laptops for some time, but if I wanted it on linux, it’s a do it yourself type deal. So as far as I know I’m the first one of all those linux gurus at work to have pulled this off. With some critical help along the way of course. It helps to know what vpn is for, which I’ve never known – only what the acronym stands for, which is of no practical help whatsoever.

So I’m rather pleased with myself, having done something almost useful. I still have to get this vpn business running on my little xubuntu desktop here at home. Yes I’m easily amused…. GD

070828 2136 CDT


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