Content Advisory

Content Advisory: Whereas: this blog occasionally employs "colorful language," may also occasionally contain implicit and explicit references to tobacco, alcohol, and other substances, as well as sexuality, and favors logic over dogma, any or all of which may offend some,
therefore, be it resolved that:
this blog is intended for mature readers. However, this blog is not age-restricted.
My YouTube channel, on the other hand, is rated 18+.







Friday, September 4, 2015

Sandwich Experiment



The results from my latest sandwich experiment are in!

The Raw Data:
______________________________________________

Sandwich Type:  Panini

The THRONE:   One slice, medium-sliced white Italian bread (Pepperidge Farm), buttered (Hiland salted butter) on the bottom
The MEATS:  6 slices, Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast (Oscar Meyer) + 2 slices, Cherrywood-Smoked Ham (Hormel Natural Choice) + 1 pinch, crumbled Hickory-Smoked Bacon (Oscar Meyer)
The CHEESES:  Swiss, shredded + Mozzarella, shredded + Sharp Cheddar, shredded (all Sargento)
The VEGGIE:  Dill Pickle Relish (Heinz!)
The CONDIMENTS:  Pizza Sauce! (my basic homemade using San Marzano tomatoes with basil, sea salt, black pepper, and onion powder) + Yellow Mustard (Heinz!)
The CROWN:  One slice, medium-sliced white Italian bread (Pepperidge Farm), buttered (Hiland salted butter) on the top
The HEAT:  George Foreman Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing, Grilling Machine
______________________________________________

The VERDICT:  Too much for one meal, but cut in half, this yields:
Two Foodgasms.



Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 4, or Republican Hypocrisy in the News




A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 4,

Or, "Republican Hypocrisy in the News,"
by Giovanna, la Succuba Suprema




(Disclaimer:  The following is not my general style of composition, but I'm currently too sleep-deprived and far too annoyed by all of this shit to be polite about it.)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413186/-Missouri-senators-resign-after-scandals-Republicans-propose-fix-modest-dress-code-for-interns?detail=email

Because, yes, blame the woman instead of admitting your own responsibility.  Doesn't James I:14 say "each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire"?
His.  Own.  Desire.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of men trying to control what women wear, let's start early and enforce a ridiculous dress code in high school, because girls shouldn't wear clothes that reveal their collarbones (!!!), lest the boys engage in sexual harassment ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413216/-Facebook-post-exposes-ridiculous-high-school-dress-code?detail=email
I cannot make this shit up.

Why not just go all the way and institute Christian Sharia Law so we'll have to wear burqas, lest we somehow manage to entice males, who are apparently pathetically weak when it comes to ethics and self-control?  Because it's our fault, right?  We females?  Well, not according to James, but hey! that's not a very convenient passage for those who want a scapegoat so they don't have to admit that they are responsible for their own wrongdoing.

After all, women shouldn't (couldn't possibly) be equal to men, should (could) we?  At least that's what some people believe:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413545/-U-S-Army-takes-Facebook-trolls-head-on-after-two-women-make-history

On the other hand, there are women like this, who embrace the Right Wing's nonsensical economic theories and have a past as "successful" CEOs ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413047/-Public-service-reminder-Carly-Fiorina-was-one-of-the-worst-CEOs-in-tech-industry-history?detail=email
or, you know, maybe not so successful after all.

Speaking of the military, ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413372/-The-Biggest-Scandal-in-US-History-That-We-re-Still-Not-Talking-About?detail=email
Remember this one.  It's important when considering all the Republican (and especially Neocon and Theocratic) opposition to spending money on anything but the military.

Oh, by the way, since we were talking about education, did you know that Moses was one of the Founding Fathers of the USA?
Texas public schools are leading the way in presenting that bit of "education," and there are plenty of other examples of Republican ideas of how to rename indoctrination as "education":
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/11/1392299/-The-Republican-war-on-education

Oh, and let's discourage people who might be good teachers from even trying to become teachers by making their working conditions even shittier:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413565/-Gov-John-Kasich-If-I-were-king-in-America-I-would-abolish-all-teachers-lounges?detail=email

Let's talk more about education, shall we?  Specifically, sex education:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413445/--Sex-is-like-pre-chewed-chewing-gum-Is-that-what-you-want-to-present-to-your-husband?detail=email
Because, you know, it's perfectly acceptable to invent "facts" and spew religious views in a public school under the guise of "education."
And of course, you can't ask fair questions that might include answers which suggest the possibility of having positive feelings after having sex.  Because ... sex is bad?  Really?  Never gonna convince this Succuba of that, ya pompous and pseudo-pious jackasses, especially in light of the dossiers this Succuba has on your own interesting sexual escapades -- but we'll come back to that anon (but without the anonymity many of you hoped for).

Hey, I know!  Let's review the record on education of some of the glorious candidates for the Republican nomination for the office of President of the United States of America.  That will surely shut this "virago" Giovanna up.

John Kasich:
First budget as Governor of Ohio cut $250 million from Ohio colleges and universities.
Cut half a billion dollars from Ohio public schools.
Tried to strip teachers of collective bargaining rights.

Scott Walker:
Made massive funding cuts to the University of Wisconsin system.
Decreased per-pupil spending at one of the highest rates in the nation.
Actually stripped teachers of collective bargaining rights.

Jeb Bush:
Oversaw a nearly 60% tuition increase while cutting public university funding.
Left Florida's graduation rate dead last after two terms as Governor.
Had his prized education reforms suspended by the Florida legislature.

And the clear winner in Republican hatred of education?
Ted Cruz:
Promised to abolish the Federal Department of Education.

Hmm, that's only the tip of the iceberg, and I'm not encouraged to shut up by this, boys.
No, I think I'll just shake my little tush on the catwalk instead,
and continue with this dizzying array of writings on the wall, so that you can read clearly:
"M'nei m'nei t'qeil u-pharsin."

Speaking of Christian Sharia Law, ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/20/1413850/-Woman-claims-she-was-fired-from-KS-sec-of-state-office-for-not-attending-prayer-services?detail=email
Because people who don't attend prayer services or church don't deserve jobs, right?

And of course, some who do attend prayer services and church don't either, if they aren't attending the "right" sort of church and came from elsewhere in search of a better life where drug cartels don't murder people constantly, but should instead be made into slaves:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/20/1413938/-Crazy-Republican-wants-to-turn-immigrants-into-slaves-Forget-the-13th-Amendment?detail=email
Because, you know, Republicans are all about Murka fer Murkans!  And brown people should be slaves in the Republican utopia, regardless of what the Constitution says.  But don't the Republicans talk a lot about how they love the Constitution and want to "restore" it and such things?

Well, as it turns out, the 13th Amendment is not the only bit of the Constitution of which Republicans do not seem to be very fond ...
The Daily Kos (from which most of these stories come) has a reputation for being a "liberal" news source, but Forbes magazine is a bastion of the Right Wing, and guess what they revealed?
Go on, guess.
No?  Alright, I'll tell ya.  Donald Trump believes that the 14th Amendment is unconstitutional and doesn't agree that a new amendment would be necessary to overturn it, because, of course, in his pea-sized brain, the Supreme Court can just declare the Constitution unconstitutional (to which I reply:  "... wat?"):
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2015/08/19/trump-throws-constitution-and-14th-amendment-under-the-bus/

Oh, and it gets "better" (worse) ...
Didn't you know?  People who support Trump are so passionate about Murka that hate crimes are excusable:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/20/1413904/-Trump-on-supporters-who-beat-Hispanic-man-People-who-are-following-me-are-very-passionate?detail=email
and racist slogans are acceptable:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/22/1414429/-They-Yelled-White-Power-From-the-Stands-at-Donald-Trump-s-Alabama-Rally
and if you think that was just one guy, think again:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/24/1415069/-Meet-Donald-Trump-s-base?detail=email

I mean, damn.  This guy is one of the three FRONT RUNNERS in the current campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.

Maybe the Republicans realize how little support they actually have, though, and that's why they keep trying to redraw the voting regions ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/17/1412973/-Virginia-Democrats-punk-Republicans-saying-no-to-gerrymandered-maps-and-conservative-judges?detail=email

After all, with nonsense like this, they can't really hope to retain power much longer ...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/18/1413068/-A-Texas-Conservative-Openly-Call-For-Violence-Against-LGBT-People?detail=email
Because, you know, killing people who are different from you is such a moral act ...
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, nor even the most outrageous or most blatant ...
http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/03/24/395070728/calif-lawyer-proposes-ballot-initiative-to-kills-gays-and-lesbians
But who exactly is this lawyer?
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/matt-gregory-mclaughlin-kill-all-gays-california
Apparently, information about him is somewhat scarce.

But perhaps instead of looking at those whom some would consider a lunatic "fringe" in the Religious Right, we should look at how some of the other, more "mainstream" and "sane," Republicans who are "guardians of morality and decency" are so adept at practicing what they preach ...
Remember my earlier reference to dossiers?  Well, it's that time.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/17/1412848/-Michigan-State-Rep-Todd-Courser-takes-to-Facebook-to-Jesus-splain-away-his-disgusting-actions?detail=email
That story right there is the most amazing one of the lot.
This guy, a Tea Party Republican and Michigan State Representative, who is married, who advocates for "family values," has an extramarital affair with another Tea Party Republican who is also an advocate of "family values."
So when he finds out that the story is about to break, what does this "brilliant" man do?
He arranges for someone to accuse him of having hired a male prostitute, because ...
Yeah, I got nothin'.  What the hell was that supposed to accomplish?

Oh, hey, look at this fine example of practicing what one preaches:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/19/1413635/-Bwahahaha-Josh-Duggar-had-an-Ashley-Madison-Account-or-Two?detail=email
And there's more!
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/21/1414136/-Louisiana-GOP-head-says-he-used-Ashley-Madison-account-for-opposition-research

"Guardians of morality and decency" are often like this, though, so I'm not sure why anyone is surprised.  More relevantly, I'm not sure why anyone allowed themselves to be deceived by the rhetoric.

After all, there's quite a history of this sort of thing ...

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/26/prostitution_scandal_has_still_not_gotten_david_vitter_down/

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/23/us/illinois-senate-campaign-thrown-into-prurient-turmoil.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-0406260116jun26-story.html

Notice the mention of Dennis Hastert in that last story?  Well, guess what? ...
http://www.salon.com/2015/06/04/gops_obscene_sex_cop_hypocrisy_dennis_hastert_hillary_clinton_and_the_absurdity_of_the_clinton_impeachment_partner/

But we're not done yet.

http://www.salon.com/2007/08/28/craig/

http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/another-republican-revealed-as-sex-pervert-gop-fundraiser-and-husband-of-dancing-with-the-stars-contestant/686-another-republican-revealed-as-sex-pervert-gop-fundraiser-and-husband-of-dancing-with-the-stars-contestant

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/13/256969/-Country-Music-Star-files-for-Divorce-from-GOP-Sex-Fiend-Hubby

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/05/tennessee-republican-who-pressured-mistress-to-have-abortion-votes-to-restrict-them-for-other-women/

Oh, no, we're far from done.

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/08/the_gops_demented_family_values_from_the_duggars_to_david_vitter_again_and_again_the_social_conservatives_have_horrifying_hypocrisy_problems/

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/07/11/356373/-GOP-Family-Values-Hypocrites-The-Complete-List-Updated

Bernie has a few words for these fakes:
http://www.forwardprogressives.com/bernie-sanders-republicans-family-values/


See, there are Republican politicians from the past that I think did some good and were decent people, and at least generally devoid of hypocrisy.  But blessed Diana of the Ephesians! the Republican politicians these days seem to be drawn from the local asylums, or are so clueless, corrupt, and/or hypocritical they shouldn't be trusted with any sort of authority.  Mind you, I'm not condemning them for their sexual escapades.  I'm condemning them for their efforts to legislate their morality while not even living by what they're trying to impose on the rest of us.

I mean, seriously, you have Mike Huckabee, who seemed to have a conscience back when he was a pastor in Pine Bluff and even challenged the judgmentalism of the then-still-growing and not-yet-dominant Fundamentalist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention by preaching a sermon based on the XIVth chapter of Romans to a group of (mostly ministerial) students in Berry Chapel on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia in the Spring of 1985, but after attaining some fame, he was seen jamming on his Fox television show with Ted Nugent (who has songs about rape and sexual predation and sex with underage girls), and now regularly engages in fear- and hate-mongering, catering to the ignorance and prejudices of those from whom he seeks support in his bid for the Republican nomination for President by spewing the same sort of judgmental nonsense he himself condemned in that very sermon.
What?  You didn't think anyone knew about that, Mike?  How you handed the Fundamentalists their own asses for being such asses toward those with whom they disagreed?  Surely you remember the sermon?  Others certainly do.  You were right then;  the sermon was exactly what those students needed to hear, whether it sank in for all of them or not (it unfortunately did not, but anyway, at least you said what you should have said).  You're wrong now.  You may have been a good preacher, but you have made a lousy politician.  Maybe you should be still and listen for a while, to find if you have a vocation or not, and to what.

You have Ted Cruz, who is quite possibly the stupidest fucking person to ever draw breath and who frequently affects a pitiful facial expression in order to seem ... what?  Pious?  Worthy of sympathy?  I'm not entirely sure what he's trying to do with those eyebrows in that position, but it's definitely an affectation.  He's not intelligent enough to have read and understood Machiavelli, but yeah, he's up to something with that facial expression.

You have Scott Walker, whose "brilliant" economic theories as governor have fucked his state.

You have Donald Trump, who made the compassionate (not!) expression "You're fired!" into a television show, who expresses sexist and racist views, and who may be even more of a verbally obnoxious douchebag than Chris (Republican Governor of New Jersey and Presidential wannabe) Christie.

You have Ben Carson, who pisses and moans about use of fetal tissue in medical research, yet who did the very thing he's now condemning and even published an academic paper about it:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/13/1411768/-Ben-Carson-Used-Foetal-Tissue-in-Research-and-Published-Paper-about-It?detail=email

You have Rand Paul, whose first name was given in honor of Ayn Rand, the "philosopher" who was so weighted down by emotional baggage over her family being persecuted in the USSR that she couldn't come up with a rational philosophy or take an honest look at the fact that the USSR was never remotely Communist, and so instead came up with the nonsensical, illogical, and, frankly, anti-Christian "Objectivism," which declares greed a virtue.

And yet, all these "Christians" (perhaps more accurately, pseudo-Christians) of the Protestant Fundamentalist variety are running around sucking up her idiocy because although of course they insist that the bible is the "inerrant word of God," they're nevertheless willing to completely fucking ignore three chapters out of Matthew (V-VII) because those chapters are where the biggest chunk of Jesus' ethical teaching is found, and that chunk of teaching is almost pure socialism by today's economic standards, and that good Mormon crybaby Glenn Beck told them that the social gospel is something invented by modern Leftists.  You know, the Mormon?  Most Protestant Fundamentalists view Mormonism as a cult, or at least they did until a few Mormons decided to become well-known Republicans and/or "Objectivists."
Oh, and that's the same chunk of Matthew where Jesus said that praying in public was a bad idea, too, but these same jackholes want to make laws to require public-led public prayer in public schools.  And of course, those aren't the only "inconvenient" passages in their "sacred" book that they ignore, but let's save that for another discussion.

I am totally at a loss as to how these people can in any seriousness consider themselves American OR Christian.



Friday, August 14, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 3



A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 3,

or, "Abusive ad Hominem in Partisan Politics,"
by Giovanna, la Succuba Suprema





Earlier this afternoon, in an internet chat group which I founded, someone criticized something based on the source of the something.  To him I replied, "Even Hitler did one or two good things, [REDACTED NAME]."

After some preliminary reactions, I continued (the following has been expanded for this blog post, but most of these points were covered in my discussion):

Nobody here denies that he was a horrible, horrible person, and did all manner of wrong.  What I'm saying is that the source of the request shouldn't matter, if what they call for is a good thing.  Kinda like how when the Democrats do something the Republicans would have liked if a Republican had done it, if it's good, it's good, regardless of who did it.

Remember all the hell they gave Clinton over Bosnia?  But if Reagan or Bush the Elder or Bush the Lesser had been CiC at the time and got American troops involved, it would have been another great example of Murkans wavin' our dicks in ever'one's faces, because MURKA!

And look, they elected Mitt Romney to be their candidate for President last go around, and he's the guy who did Obamacare before it was 'Obamacare.'  And even though popular opinion is against them on the question of the Affordable Care Act, they continue making the untenable claim that 'most Americans' are opposed to it, and they continue to waste time trying to overturn it.

And that's not all!  If you order now, you also get the dying gasps of inequality, in which they claim that they would use the military to prevent women from exercising freedom of choice guaranteed by the Supreme Court, call for laws to enable citizens to shoot anyone they merely suspect of being Gay, and gerrymander voting districts in an effort to disenfranchise minority voters, while praising the fascist bully boys for shooting yet another unarmed kid who happened to be non-Caucasian.

And they'll also throw in a bonus of astoundingly anti-American theocratic rhetoric and posturing, in which they argue that they have a "right" to decide what individuals in their communities can and cannot do (in spite of the evidence that so-called "dry counties" do not prevent residents from purchasing alcohol elsewhere, and in spite of the evidence that the same situation actually promotes driving while intoxicated), attempt to legalize discrimination under the guise of "religious freedom," advocate (in direct violation of Jesus' teachings in Matthew VI, 1-6) for public-led prayer in public schools, and pretend that science is a lie from the devil, so that they can justify allowing the petroleum industry to continue destroying our lives, prohibit the teaching of evolution in public schools, and continue to ignore the evidence which says, 'Yes, Virginia, Homosexuality and Transsexuality are no more matters of choice or alternative lifestyles than Intersex conditions are.'

And the list goes on, and on, and on.  I'm not sure if they actually believe the lies, irrational horseshit, and blatant insanity they're spouting or are merely engaging in showmanship in an effort to win more support from the ignorant and prejudiced, but that ship has sailed.

But they're still fighting FDR over Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security, 80+ years later, all because FDR was a Democrat who did the things that their sorry asses would not do because they were too busy pimping the citizens out to the corporatists.

'AMG, Soshulizm!'  Yeah, so?  It saved your beloved Capitalism from dying the death it so richly deserved, after it attempted suicide in the 20s with all the voodoo economics, anti-labor policies, tax breaks for corporations, encouragement of bubble economies, opposition to any help for the workers, and so on.  The same shit, by the way, which the Republicans have been trying again ever since Reagan.  Verily, Santayana was right.

More to the point, the so-called 'socialism' which FDR brought to the table was the right thing to do for the people, whether he were Democrat or Republican.

But even causes which the Republicans embraced in the past have now been abandoned by the Republican Party, because Democrats got on board.  Teddy Roosevelt and Ike Eisenhower believed in protecting the environment.  Ike Eisenhower opposed racial inequality.  For Mike Huckabee to speak of using the military to prevent abortion is an insult to heroes of the nation like Ike.  I like Ike.  (Hell, I'm even somewhat fond of Barry Goldwater, Dick Nixon, and Gerry Ford.)  I loathe the Right Wingnuts, Would-be Theocrats, and Social Reactionaries, just as I loathe ignorance, prejudice, superstition, and irrationality.


Friday, June 26, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 2



A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 2,
by Giovanna, la SuccubaSuprema






TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
FROM GIOVANNA

We want a choice, not between two options which are both right of center and more authoritarian than libertarian, but between two distinct options.  We want you to stand up straight and proud, and fight head on against the irrationality, the ignorance, the prejudice, the superstition, the Machiavellian false show of religiosity, the fear and hate mongering, the pimping of us out to corporate interests, the greed.  We need Logic instead of rhetoric.  We need people who will stand up for authentic American values instead of theocratic tyranny.

We need people with a conscience, people with intestinal fortitude, people with spines.  We need you to fight for the people, and not for the wealthy.  We need you to expose the crass hypocrisy, and not join in on it.  We don't care what your religious beliefs are;  the way to beat the nutjobs is not by going on the defensive with claims like "I'm a Christian, too," but rather with explanations of why the separation of church and state is a good thing, and why false piety is worthy of condemnation.  We need you to face the impetus for a return to the dark ages and defeat it.  We need you to stand up for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, women, people of color, the LGBTI community.

We need freedom, and not the promotion of ignorance.  We need education, not indoctrination.  We need you to stand up for veterans, and not for spending more on senseless imperialistic penis-waving militarism;  take care of those who have served, rather than wasting money on $640 toilet seats, $7,600 coffee makers, $436 hammers and other overpriced spare parts used by the military.

We don't want to see another second wasted on futile feel-good legislative efforts like attempts to make the burning of flags illegal.  We need more money for education, and less for law enforcement;  address the causes of crime first, and deal with the symptoms secondarily.  We need those who understand honor to serve as our police, not those whose first inclination is to pull out a pistol and empty it into a citizen.

We need you to tell Texas that Thomas Jefferson was a hero of the nation, and not someone who should be written out of our textbooks.  We need you to tell Texas and other states that a woman's right to choose should not be subverted.  We need you to tell Texas that truth is greater than fiction, that a scientific theory is not simply a baseless speculation.

We need you to fight for liberty, justice, and equality for all, including LGB and Trans and Intersex persons.  Do not assume that the American people are too stupid or unsophisticated to distinguish between a good argument and fallacy.  We need social liberalism and more left-leaning economic policies.  We need you to stop running away from names like "liberal" and "leftist," and instead wear them proudly, educating the people as to why these are not "evil" words, why knee-jerk reactions based on propaganda from the 20s and 50s and 80s with its simplistic bifurcation fallacy are anything but beneficial.

We need Democrats to be Democrats, and not scared little children trying to fit in with a gang of bullies.

This is why I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary, and hope that Power to the People (instead of useless bloated leeches who are still getting fatter and fatter on our lifeblood) can be realized.

Stand for the people, for our liberty, for our equality, for our justice.  Give us progress, not regress.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? (Part 1)


Dea Libertatis

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 1,
by Giovanna, la SuccubaSuprema


On Wednesday, 1 April 2015, Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room" on CNN discussed the diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Among those he spoke with was freshman Republican Senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton.  In the course of the discussion, Wolf Blitzer asked Cotton about the RFRA bill in Arkansas, which occasioned the following comments from Cotton (source here):


I also think it's important that we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay. They're currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities our country faces right now. And I would say that a nuclear armed Iran, given the threat that it poses to the region and to our interests in the region and American citizens, is the most important thing that we'd be focused on.


More recently (3 April 2015),. The Wall Street Journal published comments (article by Reid J. Epstein) made by former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina (who is reportedly considering "a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination"), condemning Apple CEO Tim Cook as "hypocritical" for expressing his opposition to the RFRA bills in Indiana and Arkansas.  From the article:


CEOs like Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, who publicly objected to the Indiana law, have engaged in “a level of hypocrisy here that really is unfortunate,” said Mrs. Fiorina, who was CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005.

“When Tim Cook is upset about all the places that he does business because of the way they treat gays and women, he needs to withdraw from 90% of the markets that he’s in, including China and Saudi Arabia,” she said Thursday afternoon during an interview with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors. “But I don’t hear him being upset about that.”


In both of these comments we see the same idea expressed (and rather explicitly), namely, the idea that injustice in foreign lands is a more pressing concern than injustice in our own nation.  Both of the people making the statements have attempted to appeal to Protestant Fundamentalists and Protestant Evangelicals (who have unfortunately become more like Protestant Fundamentalists over the past few decades), and also to Catholic Credalists.  Evidence of Cotton's efforts to exploit the religious beliefs of others in order to gain political power for himself have been well documented.  See, for example, this piece at The Washington Post.  As for Fiorina, the same piece from the WSJ quoted above has this to say:


Mrs. Fiorina, who made her name as a glass-ceiling-busting corporate executive, is fashioning herself a social conservative as she prepares to enter the 2016 race. She is staunchly opposed to abortion rights and has sought to own the religious liberty issue in recent days.


The Bible which both purport to be defending contains a number of statements which would be uncomfortable for Cotton, Fiorina, and numerous other far right wing extremists, social reactionaries, and would-be theocrats.  One such passage (I Timothy V, 8) relates directly to claims that the American people ought to be more concerned with injustice in other countries than in America itself, that injustice in America is somehow irrelevant due to foreign injustice:


If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.



Ms. Fiorina, who is being hypocritical?  Someone like Tim Cook who publicly speaks out about injustice in his own backyard, or someone like you who ignores the teachings of the religion she supposedly wishes to defend?  Mr. Cotton, who is the one who espouses Christian faith only when it is convenient for, or beneficial to, him?  Someone like Mark Pryor who understands that the Bible is capable of diverse interpretations and recognizes that legislation intended to impose one such interpretation on all is not only un-Christian, but also un-American, or someone like you who imagines that he is worthy to judge the faith of others in direct defiance of Romans XIV, as well as Matthew VII, 1-5, and goes on to subvert his own nation's interests in favor of the interests of his political party, the interests of those who financed his campaign, and/or the promotion of war?

Do you not realize that presuming to condemn the injustice of others, while wallowing in one's own injustice, is exactly the subject of Jesus' words in Matthew VII, 1-5?  Do you not understand that Christianity teaches you to be humble enough to recognize your own faults and mind your own business, since, as Romans XIV states plainly:


Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. ... Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God ... So each of us shall give account of himself to God.  Then let us no more pass judgment on one another ...


Indeed, to be so presumptuous as to go around the world meddling in the affairs of every other nation on Earth in the name of justice, and yet doing nothing to address injustice in America, is not only hubris, but blatant violation of the teachings of your own faith.  Hypocrisy?  Woe unto you, for yours shall be the greater damnation.

Liberty is not something an unfree people can export.  Until liberty, justice, and equality are extended to all in America, efforts undertaken in the name of America purporting to spread those values to others cannot succeed, for the seed of a corrupt plant cannot produce a perfect fruit, no matter what soil it is planted in.

Or at least these are the implications -- if not the explicit statements -- of the words of the Bible you both wish for others to believe that you follow.

(To be continued ...)

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Plea to the Governor of the State of Arkansas to Veto HB 1228


Governor Hutchinson, Please Vote for Liberty, Equality, and Justice for All

by Giovanna (SuccubaSuprema)


The following is the complete text of a communication which I sent to Governor Asa Hutchinson of the State of Arkansas, sine my full name at the end:


Governor Hutchinson,

I will thank you in advance for reading this missive in its entirety, in spite of its length, and giving it due consideration.

I am writing to you to ask you to veto HB 1228, the euphemistically named "AN ACT TO ENACT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT TO BE KNOWN AS MARY'S LAW; TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR RELIGIOUS PRACTICE AND TO PROVIDE REMEDIES AND PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING OR ABUSING RELIGIOUS PROTECTIONS; TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES."

Many reasons exist for opposing this legislation.  Economic reasons may actually be more of a motivation for some than ethical and Constitutional reasons, but religious reasons also exist.  These latter I intend to discuss here at some length.  I will also be employing the academic discipline of Logic in this discussion.  I urge you to read this communication in full and give due consideration to what I will here state.

To begin, regardless of claims to the contrary, this legislation will allow discrimination, primarily directed at the LGBTI community, already marginalized, disenfranchised, and downtrodden for a considerable amount of time, under the guise of "religious freedom" or "conscience."    Such a law flies in the face of the very principles of Americanism, which philosophy advocates liberty, justice, and equality for all, and which philosophy originated in part due to religious dissenters who left Europe with its various state established religious sects.  Indeed, the doctrine of the "separation of church and state" used to be regarded with great respect by the majority of Christian sects in America, because it protected them from government-imposed religious requirements, and allowed them the free exercise of their religion unmolested by government-established sectarianism.

Laws ought never to deprive citizens of freedom, but only increase personal liberty, while protecting the rights of other citizens simultaneously.  Legalization of discrimination fails completely in the latter consideration, and violates many Biblical teachings, such as Romans XIII, 10, which proclaims "Love does no harm to its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."  Again, I John IV, 20 states "If any one says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."  Further, Matthew XXV, 31-46 records Jesus speaking at length about the manner in which people treat other people, saying such things as "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." Moreover, Romans XIV, in its entirety, tells the believer, in rather verbose style, to mind his or her own business, and describes those who are "offended" by the behavior of others as "weak in the faith."  In addition, Philippians II encourages many virtues, including love, affection, sympathy, and humility, while discouraging selfishness and conceit, and goes on to tell the believer to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Matthew VI, 1-19 has something to say about pretending to be something you are not in order to have the approval of society, which, I believe, has strong implications for the LGBTI community and how others view them;  to pretend to be heterosexual, to pretend to be cisgender, to pretend to be anything one actually is not, in order to win the favor of other humans, is hypocrisy.  Jesus may have condemned nothing more often than hypocrisy.  Regardless of the teachings of this or that sect, scientific and medical authorities have found more than sufficient evidence that sexual orientation and gender identity are innate, and not the result of social conditioning, peer pressure, the way in which one was raised, or any other such thing.  The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the British Psychological Society, and similar organizations in the civilized world have been rather plain on this.  The Intersex (that's the I in LGBTI) are undeniably as they are due to biology, and not because of alleged choice.  Trying to paint any of these situations as "choice" or "lifestyle" is irrational.  Claiming that one particular interpretation of the Bible trumps the scientific evidence amounts to nothing less than superstition and willful ignorance.  Arkansas has a long and undeserved reputation as a backwards state, filled with ignorant, superstitious, irrational, and bigoted citizens.  This (largely Yankee, but not exclusively so) bias toward our state is not true.  While this HB 1228 is evidence that the state of Arkansas still has citizens afflicted with such vices, not everyone in the state is so unfortunate.  For the state of Arkansas to favor the ignorant, superstitious, irrational, and bigoted interpretation of Biblical teaching would not only violate the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment, it would also be a state action which I would view as substantially burdening my freedom to exercise my religion.  It would further demean and defame the reputation of Christianity.

(I will add parenthetically, as it is off the topic of this missive, but occasioned by my reference to Matthew VI, that Matthew VI, 1-6 ought to be indisputable evidence that Jesus would not be pleased with efforts to legislate public prayer in public schools -- at the least.)

The excuse of "religious freedom" or "religious liberty" has been used in the past in efforts to justify racism.  Those attempts were not motivated by religion or faith, but by fear and hatred.  The same is true of these RFRA laws, but in these instances, the fear and hatred is directed at a different kind of "other," namely, people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Intersex.  Rhetoric which denies this is simply disingenuous or misguided.  The truth is rather transparent to many who are watching Arkansas and other states as they attempt to pass laws in order to excuse so-called religious persons who wish to vilify, abuse, or even kill other people.  If any "Christian" uses the Bible to harm another or to justify harm to another, then that "Christian" is misusing the Bible.  As noted above, "Love does no harm to its neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law."  The hate and fear emanating from supposedly righteous persons these days is nauseating.  It is not remotely Christian.  Legislation which claims otherwise would *itself* be a "state action which substantially burdens the exercise of religion" for me and many others.

With regard to Article 2, § 24, of the Arkansas Constitution, which asserts that "[N]o human authority can, in any case or manner 10 whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience” as some supposed justification for HB 1228, this claim ignores the ruling in the Supreme Court case "Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon vs. Smith," 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which decided that the First Amendment does not grant the right to violate the law on supposedly religious grounds, with Justice Scalia declaring "We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting the conduct that the state is free to regulate."

One of the motivations for this legislation is a supposed Christian view of marriage as a sacrament, and opposition to the growing Marriage Equality movement.  On the contrary, the vast majority of Christian sects do not teach that marriage is a sacrament at all.  One of the largest sects in the state of Arkansas is the Southern Baptist denomination, which teaches that only two sacraments exist, one being baptism, and the other being "the Lord's supper" (the eucharistic meal).  Those Christian sects which do teach that marriage is a sacrament invariably refer to this sacrament as "Holy Matrimony."  While "Holy Matrimony," or what some might refer to as "sacramental marriage," is indeed a type of marriage, it is by no means the only type.  Assertions that "Christian marriage" is between one man and one woman overlook both Biblical history and the history of Christianity.  The practice of polygyny among the Old Testament patriarchs is well known.  In early mediaeval Ireland, Christian polygamy was legal under Brehon Law, based in part on the practice among the Old Testament patriarchs.  To assert, then, that the only form of marriage, or even the only "Christian" form of marriage, consists of a union between one man and one woman is not only dogmatic, but also inconsistent with the Bible itself and with the practices of Christians in the past.  I have proposed occasionally that all instances of Holy Matrimony are well within the category of Marriage, but that not all instances of Marriage are within the category of Holy Matrimony.  This can be easily demonstrated with a pair of Boolean circles.  To express this in the language of Predicate Logic, one would say "for any x, if x is Holy Matrimony, then x is Marriage, and, there is some x such that x is Marriage and x is not Holy Matrimony."  To deny this is to be ignorant of history, inconsistent with the Bible, and, frankly, out of touch with reality.  No matter how much someone may dislike the idea of same sex marriage, it does exist, and refusing to refer to it as "marriage" betrays ignorance of even sectarian teachings, since, as I have stated, few Christian sects teach that marriage is a sacrament, and those which do have a special name for marriage which in fact distinguishes this "sacramental marriage" from other types, that being "Holy Matrimony."

While I could continue to enlarge this communication with additional Biblical evidence, logical argumentation, historical facts, and the like, I believe that what I have here stated ought to suffice to demonstrate to you that HB 1228 is not Christian, nor American, nor just, and thus ought to be vetoed as licensing acts which are un-Christian, un-American, and unjust.

Sincerely,
[REDACTED]


I have no idea how the Governor of Arkansas will feel about this, nor if he will even read it, but I have done what I could to promote liberty, equality, and justice for all citizens of the State of Arkansas by composing and sending it.  Let us hope that Arkansas will not be on the wrong side of history again, as the state was when President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent a different type of discrimination.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015, He Lived Long And Prospered



Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations -- Something not to be feared, but to be celebrated.


The Spock of the Mirror Universe with his sexy goatee.


I do not remember a time before Star Trek.  I was very young when the series made its debut.  I do not remember the debut.  But by the time of my earliest memories, Star Trek was here, and it never went away for some of us.  Watching "The Enterprise Incident" as a young girl, I wanted to do two things when I grew up:  be the Romulan Commander, and marry Spock.  As I grew up, I realized neither was likely (alas).  I always hoped to meet Leonard Nimoy, but that event never occurred.  Now it's too late.  My heart is doubly heavy today, with my father having passed very recently and Leonard Nimoy having joined him today.  I'm sure my dad will let Mister Nimoy know something of how much Star Trek, and Spock, meant to me.  Two of my heroes (Dad and Mister Spock) have left this life.

Leonard Nimoy has gone to the Final Frontier.  May he rest in peace.


See:
The New York Times - Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83

The BBC - Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek's Mr Spock, dies at 83

Huffington Post - Obama Mourns 'Star Trek' Icon Leonard Nimoy: 'I Loved Spock'

The White House on Twitter - "I loved Spock."  --  Me too, Mister President.  Me too.

Star Trek Online | Arc Games - Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)






Monday, February 23, 2015

Dad, 1927-2015, Requiesce in Pace, Musica, et Amore


Asleep with his guitar back in September.  I love you, Dad.  Rest in Peace, in Music, and in Love.

This photo, taken on 1 September 2014, was the last photo I took of Dad.  Later in September, he started a series of stays in hospitals, the nursing home, and a physical rehabilitation facility which continued until the middle of February.  He passed from this life at home, as was his desire.  These past several months were often miserable for him, and his last day was agony even to watch.  When it happened, though, it happened very quickly.  He is at peace, and no longer suffering.  I can take some solace in that.

In the casket, he looked more peaceful than he had in a long time.  For the past three years, I have done my best to take care of him, and we were almost constant companions.  Now the house is empty except for me and the cats.  I made sure that there were flowers from the cats, as well as from myself.

I'm not sure what the future holds for me now.  Mom passed four years ago, and until Dad passed, he was my protector, my defender, my helper.  Now I am alone but for the cats, and not certain how to proceed.  Fortunately, I have friends whose advice I have already sought out and I will be listening to them.  But it's a frightening prospect to lose the person who was one's stability.  Snow has covered the land.  The community is still.  I suppose that the thaw will bring new responsibilities to me that I have not had to deal with in the past.  I will endeavor to be prepared for the challenges, in the hope that he will be proud of me.




Dad in healthier times, when Mom was still alive.









Saturday, February 21, 2015

Some Musings Regarding LGBTI Discrimination


Some Musings Regarding LGBTI Discrimination
Directed to Proponents of Discrimination on the Alleged Grounds of "Religious Freedom"
by Giovanna, la SuccubaSuprema


In the article, "Kansas Guv Endangers Thousands of Gays," V. Gene Robinson writes:

It is an astounding and horrifying phenomenon when rights are actually taken away from citizens. It is the overwhelming tradition in our democracy for laws, acts of Congress, and the Constitution itself to give and protect its citizens’ rights, not take them away.

I keep affirming this idea just as Robinson has done.  The Constitution should never be amended to restrict rights, but only to extend them.  America is about Freedom as preferable to Control -- especially preferable to Control by some religious sect.

If I didn't know better, I would be tempted to argue for establishing a Senate Unamerican Activities Committee which could try unamerican twats like Bareback ... uh, Brownback ... on trial for disloyalty to the ideals of Americanism.  But such committees, like Puritans and Pilgrims in New England, tend to go on witch hunts, imagining that the bogeyman is behind every tree and under every rock, and a lot of cute and furry animals get hurt in the process.  (Try not to get lost in my extended metaphors.  It might hurt your brain if you can't find the key to get back to literal and figurative prose.  Then again, too many people seem to have lost the key to get into the figurative and metaphoric expressions and are stuck in literality, with serious psychological dysfunction being the rather obvious result.)

But this guy doesn't need to be entrusted with any authority over any citizen or group of citizens.  He's a crackpot, to put it mildly.

What I find most astonishing in all of this hoopla from the Sanhedrin of the present is the notion that discrimination is acceptable.  Woe unto you, busybodies and self-righteous ones, for you neither enter in nor suffer others to enter in.  Woe unto you, for you swallow camels in your credulity, but cannot let go of a turd that is of little or no importance to you, due to your anal retentiveness and compulsion to mind everyone's business but your own.  I can understand the desire you have not to look into the mirror -- the reflection must be akin to the picture of Dorian Gray.  You will eventually look at the reflection;  the act is unavoidable.  Best to do so consciously, willingly, and for an extended period.

I am going to repeat myself, though it annoy me to have to continue to do so on so many different matters in which the obvious ought to be obvious to all without having to be pointed out even once.  As such, I will add more details and allusions, for variety is the spice of life.

A limited number of Christian sects (or, as they prefer to call them, "denominations") teach that there are seven sacraments.  More sects teach that there are two.  Only those sects which teach the existence of seven sacraments hold to a view that one of the sacraments is what they term "Holy Matrimony."  The majority of Christian sects, including the Southern Baptist Convention (so very vocal in the fight against liberty, justice, and equality for all), teach that the only sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharistic ceremony.  In fact, one Protestant sect which still does affirm that "Holy Matrimony" is a sacrament is the Church of England, which came into being in part as a result of an English monarch deciding that his marriage was not such a big thing after all since the wife had produced no heir for him.  In spite of how the Anglican sect came into being, and in spite of the fact of most Christian sects not even teaching the doctrine that Holy Matrimony is a sacrament, a far more relevant prey awaits our hunt in this forest:  semantics.

Some of these opponents to Marriage Equality have suggested that same-sex couples should be "content" with being granted "civil unions."  Newsflash:  all marriages are nothing more or less than social/civil contracts.  That includes even "Holy Matrimony."  You can live anything sacramentally, even the work of digging a ditch.

On the contrary, I have suggested and still continue pointing out:  "Marriage" and "Holy Matrimony" are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!!!!!!!!

Or more precisely, for any x, if x is Holy Matrimony, then x is Marriage, but not every Marriage is Holy Matrimony.  There is no Holy Matrimony which is not Marriage, but there is Marriage which is not Holy Matrimony.  This is called "an A Statement."  Here, I'll show you a pair of Boolean Circles:



         

You'll note that the vesica piscis (the overlapping area of the two circles) there is entirely shaded in.  One of the two circles represents a subject S, and the other represents a predicate P.  This diagram says that all of the members of one exist solely in the other.  Verily, Holy Matrimony is a type of Marriage and all Holy Matrimonies fall into the category of Marriage.  Nobody disputes this.

Were the diagram showing one circle shaded in entirely, except for the vesica piscis area, it would represent "No S are P."  That is "an E Statement."  Since we don't have one here, I won't show the diagram.  Sorry, bigots;  I don't accept your contention that "no same-sex unions are marriages," because I know better, and the entire point of this is an attempt to educate you -- not to indoctrinate you, but certainly not to kowtow to your sacred cows nor enable your willful ignorance and fears.  I will instead show you Boolean Circles illustrating I Statements and O Statements:


The top diagram shows an X in the vesica piscis, and represents "an I Statement," which is a proposition that "Some S are P."  The lower diagram shows an X inside the S circle but outside the vesica piscis, thus graphically representing "Some S are not P," which is "an O Statement."


  • All examples of Holy Matrimony are members of the category of Marriage. (A Statement, All S Are P)
  • Some examples of Marriage are members of the category of Holy Matrimony. (I Statement, Some S Are P)
  • Some examples of Marriage are not members of the category of Holy Matrimony.  (O Statement, Some S Are Not P)


Now, of course (I utter in mildly condescending terms), the rest of us are aware that some of you insist that the world was created in 4004 BCE and that "God," by which of course you mean your God, somehow "instituted" marriage between the (forgive me, but I have no desire to coddle your literalism or irrationality) mythical Adam and Chaivah (or "Eve," if you insist on the English form).  Aside from the fact that your myth also refers to "the other people," and "the men of Nod," which ought, if your literalism were even remotely self-referentially consistent, to at least hint to you that your Adam and Eve were not the first humans, but fortunately, I'm not terribly interested in using your "beliefs" to demonstrate to you that you are inconsistent in the acceptance of what you claim to believe -- at least not presently.  Instead, I would like rather to remind you, once again, of your heritage and the freedom of religion you now have as a result of the activism, tears, sweat, and blood of those who left that heritage to you.

America is not a Christian nation.  Before you stop reading, consider why I say this and what I mean in saying it.

Adherents of many Christian sects migrated to "the New World" precisely to escape nations in which the government was married (you will forgive my further illustration of the equivocal nature of the term, I trust) to this or that sect's clergy and sought to impose the will of that clergy upon the masses, no matter the religious persuasion of the individual citizens.  When they were establishing their communities and governments, they sought to do so in a way which would allow them to believe and practice as they saw fit.  Pennsylvania was ab origine a haven for Jews as well as diverse sects of Christianity.  Puritans and Pilgrims were not the only settlers in Massachusetts.  The Merrymount Colony points to hints of non-Christians having come to these shores seeking freedom to live according to their own lights as well.  The result was eradication by the less tolerant;  in that there is some evidence of early efforts to enforce conformity.  The same can be said of the later witch trials.  Admittedly, this current runs deep in America, but it was rejected early as the constitutions of the states were prepared, before the Constitution of the USA, which proclaims not only that "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise ... [of religion]," but also that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

You may stomp your feet and cry and flail and rage.  You may not deny.  Neither your religion nor mine is acceptable as a source for legislation affecting both you and me.  Why?  Simple.  I don't agree with your religious views, and thus should not be bound by them, and you don't agree with my religious views and should not be bound by them.  Nor should either of us have to contribute financially to the work of the other's religion.  We may agree in some particulars.  Religions and Sacred Traditions do share some common features, and some have more in common than others, but commonality nevertheless exists in all.  These common features, however, should not be emphasized to the point of obscuring the differences.  I should not be expected to abide by laws based on religious teachings which I find ethically outrageous or rationally questionable.  Here, however, let us consider exactly what this means.

Neither you nor I should be forced to pray to Antiochus Epiphanes or his image in some structure somewhere.  You don't view the man in question as at all divine, and I don't view him as any more divine than anyone else, and marred by flaws in addition.  In addition, Antiochus Epiphanes should not set up his image in a structure established for religious purposes by a distinct sacred tradition.  Furthermore, Antiochus Epiphanes, being a government head, should not be promoting any religion in any way, whether it be the religion of megalomaniacal narcissism or something less ... unhinged.  The government over which he sat was a government of a religiously pluralistic society, in which the rights of the minority should also be protected.

What it does not mean, however, is that I or anyone else has the right to impose restrictions on others which I place on myself by adherence to any particular (or universal, for that matter) religious teaching.  We do not.  If you believe that eating pork is a sin, then you are free to refrain from eating pork.  If you believe that the use of certain words is something you should avoid, then you are free to avoid using those words.  If you believe that your God would condemn you for marrying a person of the same sex, then you are free to refrain from doing so.  If you believe that having an abortion would displease your God, then you are free to refrain from having one.  Pork is not exactly my favorite meat, but I do eat swine flesh on occasion, and have no religious qualms about it.  You do not have the right to prevent me from doing so, no matter how wrong you believe the act would be for yourself.  I have very few taboos with regard to the use of language, and I do fairly often use words which others believe to be somehow forbidden (few know the origin of taboo words in English, nor how the cause thereof was anything but religious or ethical, but the information is not hidden), nor should any legislation impose a prohibition upon me with regard to those words based on socio-economic snobbery and cultural prejudice -- or the teachings of any religion.  In the same way, no law should prohibit the representation of your God or the supposed name of that God in print or art, except a religious law binding only adherents of that religion.  If I chose to have an abortion, I would not do so lightly or frivolously, but it would nevertheless be MY choice based on my reasons, and not your denial of such choice to me based on your views of what your religion teaches.  Your religion is yours, not mine.  I am not bound by its teachings, nor should I be forced to abide by the teachings of your religion any more than you should be bound by the teachings of the sacred tradition of my people.  If I fall in love with another woman and she falls in love with me, and we connect on such a deep level that we would like to marry, that will be OUR choice based on our feelings and our reasons and our beliefs.  It is NOT your right to deny us OUR rights, and all the more so is it not your right to deny anyone else their rights based on your religion, even if they share your religious views.  You may encourage your own fellow sectarians to abstain from exercising all their rights;  certainly most Baptist clergy discourage the exercise of the right to consume alcohol as a beverage, but the point is that even the members of their congregations still have the legal and civil right to purchase alcoholic beverages and consume them as potables, no matter the teachings of their religion on the act.  Freedom of religion does not mean that you can impose religious restrictions on others, nor that you can discriminate against others in a free society.  The very idea that one should defend a supposed "right" to do so is beyond shocking, and far from what we find in your own sacred texts (e.g., the epistle to the Galatians, which proclaims:  "There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.").

I'll point you also to the sixth chapter of Matthew, which can teach you many things, if you allow it to do so.  Directed prayer in public schools, for example, is rather discouraged by Jesus in this chapter, along with pretending to be something you are not in order to improve the way others think of you (like the fake "Ex-Gay" personalities and all others who pretend to be straight in order to conform to the expectations of society).  In fact, Jesus rather strongly condemned such hypocrisy.

You were slaves in Egypt.  It's time to take the chains off, and use them for something more humane, rather than to simply perpetuate the cycle of abuse.




In other words, ...

Grow up and get over it.









Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mephistopheles: A Possible Etymology


Mephistopheles:  A Possible Etymology
by Giovanna (SuccubaSuprema)


I recall reading Faust when I was 13, in a delightful edition which had the original German on one page, and the English translation on the facing page.  Within a year, I had come across some source (I believe it was Richard Cavendish, 1967) claiming that the name "Mephistopheles" was derived from "Lucifuge Rofocale," which I thought dubious, even back then before I was a language geek.  Over the years since then, I've encountered assorted other claims for an etymology of the name, some of which were also dubious, while others had a semblance of greater credibility.  Suggested origins for the name have included Mefitz-tofel (K.J. Schröer, 1886), Mephitis ("Philologos," 2010), Megist-Ophiel (Julius Goebel, 1904), and others.  I must admit that I've not actively sought out these discussions, and have actually done very little investigation, because the origin of the name "Mephistopheles" has not been a fascination for me, and I would only encounter such discussions incidentally as I was researching other matters.

As might be supposed (by someone familiar with the folklore and legends of southern Europe) from the handle I use here ("SuccubaSuprema"), I do have an interest in the pre-Christian myths and legends of the Italic peoples concerning those beings who started off as woodland spirits, became spirits of the field, then night spirits, and finally dream spirits known as "Incubi" and "Succubae" (before the Church came along and perverted the legends into the idea that a "Succubus" was actually an Incubus in false female form, because, in the patriarchal view of the Church, of course no spiritual being could possibly be female ...).  These dream spirits naturally were said to be involved in the wholly natural phenomenon known as a "wet dream."  When the Church came along, this association was predictably seized upon as evidence that the spirits in question were "evil" and so on.  Having already distorted the original meaning of the Greek word "daimon" into a concept of "fallen angel," this Latinized term "daemon" was (also predictably) applied to the Incubus (and the very existence of a Succuba was denied, except insofar as an Incubus was, according to the Church, able to engage in deceptive illusion in order to appear female).  As such, when researching these folkloric beings, the student or scholar will encounter references to other beings alleged to be "demons" by the Christian religion.

As I have also made plain several times in the history of this blog, I am not only a language geek, but also a gamer.  I started playing RPGs in the late 70s, when the hardback rule books for the first edition of AD&D were still being published.  With the newer editions and expansions and so on, the mythical aspects of what is now D&D have been expanded, including the "Powers" (Gods, Demigods, Devils, Demons, etc) of the "Outer Planes."  Three or four years ago, I came across a mention of the "Succubus Queen" in D&D (who didn't exist when I started playing, or at least had not been named or implied by the literature available then), known as "Malcanthet."  I did a little research on this character then, and filed it away for future reference.

This afternoon, I was talking with a friend and referred to Shendilavri (the home of Malcanthet), and this occasioned my revisiting the information I had already collected about Malcanthet, as well as looking around to see what new information I might find on the internet.  In the process, I noticed that her current consort is named as "Mastiphal the Hunting Sovereign."  Many of the names found in what was once The Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia were based on (or taken directly) from actual real-world myths and legends, so I thought to see if this "Mastiphal" might have some such real-world origin.  After some digging around in search engines, I eventually came to a pdf file of the 1902 translation by R.H. Charles, D.D. (Professor of Biblical Greek at Trinity College, Dublin) of a text (generally regarded as apocryphal) known as "the Book of Jubilees" or "The Little Genesis," which, quoted by the 11th century Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos, was supposed to be the origin of the name "Mastiphal."  On searching the text of the work, however, I could find no instance of that name.  A less precise search provided the reason for the lack.  Somewhere along the way, someone had apparently mis-rendered the name as given in Syncellus and Kedrenos ("Mastipham" or "Mastiphat," and called "the archon of the demons") as "Mastiphal."  The Ethiopic text from which Doctor Charles made his translation gave the name as "Mastêmâ."  In his note 8 at page 80 of the text proper, Dr. Charles states:

Mastêmâ.  In the Latin version this name appears as Mastîma, and in the Midrashic Book of Noah as [Hebrew letters which read ShR HMShTMH, that is, Sar ha-Mastemah, or "Prince Mastemah" -- although more likely intended as "Prince/Ruler of Mastemah," since "Mastemah" as a name would be a feminine name].  Hence the form in which it appears in Syncellus and Cedrenus as [this next is my rendering into Latin characters of the Greek letters:  Mastipham, ho archOn tOn daimoniOn, meaning "Mastipham, the Archon of the Demigods" the latter word which most will incorrectly translate as "demons" -- which is probably what Dr. Charles understood it to mean, and almost certainly what Kedrenos intended], or Mastiphat is less accurate.  Outside the Jubilee literature, as Römsch has remarked (p. 418), this word is not found as a proper noun except in the Acts of Philip (ed. Tischend., p. 98):  [more Greek I'll render into Latin characters as:  ho de MansEmat, tout' estin ho Satanas, hypeisElthen eis ton Ananian kai eplEpOsen auton thymou kai orgEs, which means something like "the  Mansêmat, which is the Satan,  entered into Ananias and seized him with wrath and anger"].  As a common noun it is found twice in Hos. ix. 7, 8 in the sense of "enmity."  The word appears to be the hiphil of [Hebrew letters which are ShTM (= ShTN)], i.e. [Hebrew letters MShTIM], and is therefore the equivalent of [Greek letters ho Satanas] in point of meaning and derivation.
   [Boldface floral lavender notes inside square brackets are mine, including the transliterations from Hebrew and Greek into Latin letters, as well as the translations given from Hebrew and Greek into English. -- Giovanna]

While reading all of this, the idea of a connection with the name "Mephistophiles" did not occur to me until after I had sorted and made some sense of the Hebrew and Greek and began then to wonder how "Mastiphal" had come about from these references.  I looked more closely at the name and these references, and decided that the spelling "Mastiphal" was most likely a Latin scribal error for "Mastiphat," and suddenly the connection hit me.  "Mastiphal" might be confused with some kind of Greek shorthand by someone who knew no Hebrew and was reading Syncellus or Kedrenos in Latin.  From that, "Mastiphiles" could easily be chosen as the probable name intended, which would mean "friend of scourges" or "lover of scourges."  Transposition of letters being an intentional practice when dealing with alleged names of spirits has a long and not unfamiliar history, and so "Mastiphiles" could naturally become "Maphistiles."  From that name, the change to "Mephistophiles" is rather obvious.  Many variants of this name have shown up throughout history, including (but not limited to) Mephistopheles, Mephistophilus, Mephistophilis, Mephostopheles, Mephisto, and Mephastophilis.

If the Muse has breathed in me as a result of these (admittedly somewhat cursory) investigations, then the mysterious "Mephistopheles" would have his name from "Mastiphiles" ("lover of scourges"), which in turn was derived by erroneous reading of "Mastiphat," itself an inaccurate rendering of "Mastêmâ," Hebrew for "enmity" or "hatred" and considered to be another name for ha-Shaitan, "the Adversary," originally viewed in Iyov (the book of "Job") as the Hebrew God's Prosecuting Attorney.




Copyright 2014 by Giovanna (SuccubaSuprema).  All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Right Wing and Allegations of Treason


The Right Wing and Allegations of Treason

by Giovanna (SuccubaSuprema)




Representative Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, joins a long list of Far Right Wing Extremists in branding with the "traitor" label those perceived as "liberals":

GOP's Duncan blasts Feinstein as a "traitor"

There’s been far too much of this sort of garbage rhetoric. The week before, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said of the torture report, “[I]t’s almost treasonous, and it borders on treasonous.”

Remember, these far-right lawmakers aren’t concerned about torture; they’re concerned with the Senate Intelligence Committee publishing a report documenting torture.

... Duncan was more direct in calling Feinstein a “traitor” – all because she had the audacity to work with her colleagues from both parties on a report documenting U.S. activities.

Duncan, by the way, is the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s oversight panel, and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s panel on counter-terrorism.
After World War I, liberals and leftists were accused of treason by Far Right Wing Extremists in Germany.  These allegations were also embraced by a certain Far Right Extremist political party in Germany, known as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or, in brief, as the Nazi Partei.  The Nazis had a lot in common with the Far Right Wing Extremists in the United States today:

  1. Intense nationalism
  2. Pro-capitalism
  3. Anti-communism
  4. Glorification of War
  5. Appeal to Patriotism
  6. Appeal to the Middle Class
  7. Appeal to Traditional Values


Note those last three say "appeal to ..." for a very good reason, one we can find in various writings of Niccolò Machiavelli.  In Il Principe (or The Prince), he states rather plainly that it is important for a leader to seem to be religious, and says:  "Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are."  Elsewhere, he offers an observation which is astounding for its accuracy:

... perché lo universale degli uomini si pascono così di quel che pare come di quello che è: anzi, molte volte si muovono più per le cose che paiono che per quelle che sono.
-- Niccolò Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Libro Primo, Capitolo 25.

My translation:

... for the general mass of men are satisfied with appearances, as if they exist;  indeed many times they are most moved by the things which seem to be rather than by the things that are.
-- Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on the first Ten Books of Titus Livius, Book 1, Chapter 25.

Something similar is attributed to Jesus in the sixth chapter of Matthew, verses 1-21, wherein is stated that those who pretend piety publicly in order to win the respect of other humans have only the reward of such human respect, but those who are pious in secret will have a heavenly reward.

Making an appeal to patriotism is not the same thing as being patriotic;  it means that the one making the appeal is exploiting the patriotism of those he or she seeks to influence.

Making an appeal to traditional values does not necessarily mean that the one making the appeal agrees with those values, but rather that he or she is willing to exploit the beliefs of those who do in an effort to influence them.  Accompanying this tactic is a not-very-subtle insistence that anything which challenges those beliefs is somehow disloyal and should be silenced, which is of course a practice antithetical to any free society.

Promising tax relief to the middle class while giving massive cuts to the upper class -- well, we need not even point out that the small cuts in income tax were subject to compensation by other taxes on the middle class, nor point the finger at the absurd government bailouts of mega-corporations and mega-banks which began, it must be stressed, under the administration of George W. Bush, even though Obama is subjected to the blame game by these Far Right Wing Extremists who never admit that their own party is equally guilty, and in fact endorsed such acts until they were done by a member of an opposition party (which, you know, is kind of par for the course;  Republicans railing against Democrats for things they themselves have done, or would have done in the same position -- and vice-versa, let it be stated, for the Democrats have likewise contributed to this fallacious polarization in the American political climate, albeit not so eagerly as have the Republicans).  Let me just say that the Far Right cares nothing for the middle class, except insofar as they can exploit the emotions, values, and needs of the middle class in order to obtain, or maintain, political power.

Tied into many of these features is the practice of scapegoating as a means of misdirection.  Blaming homosexuals for an alleged "moral decline," blaming Jews for economic woes, blaming immigrants for "taking jobs" (usually jobs nobody wants), blaming labor unions for economic woes, blaming "liberals" and "leftists" for publicizing the criminal acts of Far Right Wing Extremists, ... the list goes on.  And of course, always with the intent of diverting the attention of the public from issues which are actually relevant and important.  "Let's make an amendment to the Constitution in order to 'protect the flag', a symbolic gesture easy to rally the masses, rather than addressing issues which are more challenging to solve, and more pressing."  Or "Let's try President Clinton for getting a blowjob in the Oval Office instead of taking on the more challenging and more important business of making laws to better our nation and improve the living conditions of our citizens."  Or "Let's sue Obama for making health care insurance available to all, rather than addressing the appalling state of education in the nation."  Or any of a number of other examples.

Indeed, to accuse a patriot of being a traitor is the most outrageous of such obfuscations.  While I disagree with Senator Feinstein on many questions, her actions in bringing this information to the public, while embarrassing for American citizens, is the act of a patriot, and not a traitor.  Anyone who loves America ought to be tenacious in rooting out the rot which would turn our Democratic Federal Republic into what it has historically fought with the blood and tears of our people.  Our nation took part in prosecuting those guilty of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials and on other occasions.  Such crimes ought never to besmirch the reputation of America, but if they have been committed by Americans in the name of America, then we must admit as much to the world, and those responsible need to be held accountable in our own legal system.  Such admission and prosecution are the only way forward.  Those who would put their party or their ideology above the good of the nation are themselves far more worthy of the appellation of "traitor."  I'm talking about you, "Representative" Duncan.



See further:

Fascism Anyone?

If conservatives really, really hate being called fascists ... #5

I got slimed by Rush: The real story of how Stephen Colbert schooled Limbaugh on U.S. history, patriotism

Stab-in-the-back legend

Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince and the Political Utility of Religion

Platform of the National-Socialist German Workers' Party (1933)
(Note point number 23 in particular, wherein the Nazis say:
"We demand laws against trends in art and literature which have a destructive effect on our national life, and the suppression of performances that offend against the above requirements."
It does sound very familiar, does it not?)



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Khaaaaaaan!!!




On this 25th day of November in the year 1920, Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino (known to the world as Ricardo Montalban) was born in Mexico City.

He went on to attain fame as an actor in movies, television shows, and commercial advertisements, roles far too numerous to list here.



Some of those roles for which is is most well-known are Khan Noonien Singh, first in "Space Seed," a first-season episode of Star Trek (The Original Series, or, as I like to call it, "Trek Classic"), and again in the cinematic film Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, the mysterious host "Mister Roarke" of Fantasy Island, and the spokesman for the Chrysler Cordoba.



He was also a co-founder, and the first president, of the Nosotros Foundation, which advocates for Latinos and Latinas in the television and cinema industry.



On the 14th of January 2009, Ricardo Montalban passed from this world;  the cause of death was congestive heart failure.  He is remembered fondly by many who knew him and many more who were familiar with his work.



To learn more about this legendary actor, please see the Wikipedia article here, check out this article about him at Memory Alpha, and see a listing of his television and movie roles in this entry at the Internet Movie Database.




No copyright or trademark infringement challenge is intended in the use of the images or video presented here.  I believe they meet the standards of Fair Use as laid out in Title 17, Section 107 of the US Code.