October 11, 2007

Message To Future Canadian Politicians: Don't Try To Blur The Line That Separates Church & State

For the first time in my life I felt the need to vote. Oh, I've always voted, but this time it actually had meaning for me.
Just before 7:00 PM last night, me and the Mrs. walked into the gymnasium of a PUBLIC SCHOOL (now that is symbolic), and saw a security person and 4 people sitting behind desks. We were the only voters in the joint.
I went first, and voted for our Liberal candidate, and I also voted to keep the current system on the referendum issue.
I put my votes in the ballot box and then whispered to my wife who to vote for. She agreed with me 100% on the faith funding issue but she doesn't pay much attention to Party names. We didn't discuss the referendum issue, but I told her to check the first box on that ballot (she usually goes along with anything I say as long as it has nothing to do with sex).
When walking out of the school, even though I had a pretty good idea that the Liberals would get a majority win, and I knew my vote wouldn't matter as far as getting the Liberals to win and the PC's to lose, I actually felt proud and even a little euphoric.
I told my wife as we seated ourselves in the car that we just sent a message to future politicians to not even think about blurring the line that separates church and state.

Yes, I realize we still fund Catholics schools, but at least now it will be much easier to fade out that funding in the next 20 years perhaps. If Tory won, it would be impossible.

Every time I heard Tory say that it is a matter of fairness, my bullshit detector went ballistic. There were three options: the status quo, fund all faith based schools, or fund no faith based schools.
The majority of Ontarians felt the latter was the most fair, but Tory didn't give that as an option.
When voting for a realistic candidate (one with a chance to win), I had two choices: the status quo (the Liberals) or fund all faith based schools (the PCs). Oh, I know that Tory backed down a week ago and said he would have a free vote after a test period, but I just didn't trust him and didn't feel the need to trust him because he didn't back down on what he wanted to do which is fund all faith based schools. I didn't even want this to even be an option in the future.

I did email the PC candidate in my riding a couple of weeks ago to tell him he lost both mine and my wife's vote because of Tory. He emailed me back defending the platform...blah blah blah, bring the 53,000 kids into the public system...I replied telling him that wasn't my major concern. My main concern is separation of church and state, and I also realize that we were not talking just 53,000 kids because what would stop a large amount of kids in the near future from going to faith based schools. Yes, it would create a lot more segregation and take a lot more kids out of the secular system eventually(I don't know why this wasn't made to be a big issue by rival candidates. It makes me wonder just how smart? politicians really are not to be able to see this. Lawyer James Morton figured it out though). I didn't get another email back.

Next, we need a referendum to phase out Catholic school funding in Ontario. We are now closer to that reality.

October 8, 2007

My 500th Post: Dawkins anti-semitic remark, Pat Condell, and Bye Jake

I can't believe this is my 500th post. This blog has been alive for just around 2 years and 9 months. Quick calculation: I make a blog post once every 2.24 days. Most posts take me around half an hour to compose, though some take 5 to 10 minutes (especially when they are about a certain Youtube video). I've had a few take over an hour to do. Those are the ones that require extra research. I try to cover as many angles and fill as many holes as I can before I post. I learn a lot when I'm doing research. Lots of trivial stuff. I probably could hold my own "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader" by now.

I figure I might as well do some odds and ends since I'm posting today.

First, I wanted to comment on Richard Dawkins recent quote in The Guardian:
"When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious Jews anyway - than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place."

I have lots of thoughts on this issue, and I have posted most on RichardDawkins.net.
It would be denying reality if one ignored that Dawkins has become the equivalent of a Jerry Falwell for atheists, though not too many atheists including me believe that we need a spokesperson who speaks for all of us, because we all differ so much when it comes to our opinions on crime, state, politics, etc.
But when Dawkins talks, he gets attention. Unfortunately, he is not perfect, as seen by the above quote. He has swallowed the Arab and anti-semitic propaganda about the Jewish lobby. I think it is a cultural thing in Britain, and Dan Johnson agrees with me in this article, "Suppressed Scholarship."
Dawkins apologists on the Dawkins Forum point out that he meant the comment as a compliment. That a small amount Jews are organized enough to monopolize US foreign policy. The thing is that is not a fact, and comments like this have led to dead Jews in the past. That is why it is a bit disturbing that he even thinks it.

From Wikipedia:

Jewish lobby is a term referring to allegations that Jews exercise undue influence in a number of areas, including politics, government, business, the media, academia, popular culture, public policy, international relations, and international finance. [1][2][3] It is used most commonly by the far right, far left, and Islamists.[4]

The expression is commonly associated with antisemitic aspersions.[5] Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates, an American research group that tracks right-wing extremists, writes that it combines the classic elements of anti-Semitic stereotyping and scapegoating, and is part of the discourse of conspiracism.[2]

Sometimes the term "Jewish lobby" is being used to refer to Israel lobby,[6][7][8] but according to Mitchell Bard, director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), such usage "is both vague and inadequate."[9]


For centuries, a key element of antisemitic thought were conspiracy theories that the Jews, as a group, were plotting to control or otherwise influence the world. Vijay Prasad described The myth of the "Jewish lobby" in India's magazine Frontline:

The idea of the "Jewish lobby" is attractive because it draws upon at least a few hundred years of anti-Semitic worry about an international conspiracy operated by Jewish financiers to defraud the European and American working poor of their livelihood. The "Jew," without a country, but with a bank, had no loyalty to the nation, no solidarity with fellow citizens. The anti-Semitic document, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," is a good illustration of this idea. The Nazis stigmatized the "Jew" as the reason for poverty and exploitation, and obscured the role played by capitalism in the reproduction of grief. The six million Jews in the U.S. do not determine U.S. foreign policy; nor are they united. Jews in America, like other communities, are rent with division, not united behind one agenda.[3]

I am not saying Dawkins is anti-semitic (he is not known for any other anti-semitic slurs), but what he said was anti-semitic, though I blame it on him being a victim of the British culture.
About the Jewish lobby: There are plenty of lobbies in the US that have as much if not more influence on foreign policy than Aipac does. The oil lobby for instance. US foreign policy takes Saudi Arabia and China into consideration way ahead of Israel in my opinion.
What Dawkins said about the Jewish lobby is similar to what Christians say about the Atheist lobby. Think about it. Courts are ruling for gay marriages, against pro-lifers, taking the 10 commandments out of government buildings and prayer and creation out of school. But all these things are happening not because of the Atheist lobby (Dawkins said we need a lobby in the article), but because it makes sense to separate church and state in order to have freedom and freedom of religion too. Common sense makes the laws, not atheists. In fact, common sense makes atheists.
The US supports Israel and does things that appear to help Israel so much because Israel pretty much the same ethical values and goals as the US. Of course, it is a little more complicated than that. The US also supports Israel to keep Israel in check. They try to make sure Israel doesn't respond as the US would respond if the US were in Israel's shoes. This keeps the Saudi lobby content.

Respectful Insolence is a must read if you are still interested in this topic.

I'll also note that one commenter (Tim) was banned because a moderator didn't like the inference that Dawkins might be anti-semitic. Even though it was clear to me that all Tim was saying that what Dawkins said was obviously anti-semitic. What is with moderators? See previous post.
Tim left a comment on my previous post saying that Dawkins did email him back when he inquired about the ban. Dawkins stated that he was misquoted, but there was nothing to back it up according to Tim.

OK, now for some levity. Pat Condell's latest video on the Christian love he has been receiving for his previous videos. Great points about the "historical Jesus" too:

And finally, on a sad note. My "other" dog Jake had to be put down on Saturday.

Jake is the dog on the couch in the above picture.
We took him in almost exactly a year ago. He had very bad back legs. And my brother, who took him in two years previously (because his former owner moved to an Old Folks home), move from a farm to a place with lots of stairs. Jake could barely make 3 steps tops because of his infirmaries. So he was sort of pawned off on us. We have a very good sized main floor with a couple of three step accesses to a very large backyard. He never did see the upstairs of our house.
I never really bonded with Jake, but he loved my wife. He would walk around the house looking for her all the time. Why not? She fed him and took care of him like a king, cooking him and Daisy chicken almost every morning.
He was probably 11ish based on the information I have. On Saturday, he fell right after drinking water in the kitchen. My wife called me, I saw his eyes moving up and down and he wouldn't get up. He couldn't get up. His back legs finally gave out.
My sister in law came over with her friend (who is very knowledgeable about dogs). The friend was pretty sure it wasn't a stroke or a heart attack. We called vets. But in a small town just after noon, it was impossible to get immediate help.
We waited a couple of hours. Jake refused food for the first time ever. He was always like a disposable garbage can when it came to scraps. Instead he threw up a couple of times.
He wasn't improving at all. And he tried to get up but couldn't.
We made the decision to euthanize him. We found an SPCA that was still open though 20 minutes away and lifter him into my brother's truck (he weighed about 90 pounds), in the front seat.
My wife and I were to attend a wedding at 3:00. I told my wife to go without me, I'd make it for the reception. My wife tearfully said goodbye, to Jake and I went with my sister in law and her friend on his final road trip.
They wouldn't let anyone in with him at the SPCA after they took on a stretcher to the death room, which was fine with me (though I wouldn't have minded the option). I don't like watching an animal die. From the front desk at the SPCA I heard Jake bark a few last times. Then I didn't hear anything.
The vet told us that he most likely suffered a blood clot in the hind and that it caused his main functions to shut down. We did the right thing. And remember, this is a long weekend. If we waited, we would have probably had to wait until Tuesday morning.
We took Jakes body back to my house. My wife was back from the wedding and we had a couple of hours to kill before the reception. We spent it digging Jake's grave and then burying him wrapped in one of his favorite blankets.
Bye Jake.

October 5, 2007


I recently got banned from the Blogging Tories Forum. It is supposed to be a political forum first and foremost. I started posting there because of the John Tory platform to fund faith based schools. I was upsetting quite a few Christian Conservatives with my militant atheism and my perceived arrogance. I found out that there were quite a few evolution deniers and even YECs on that board. It is hard not to get confrontational when atheism is called a religion by the ignorant, and when idiots spew that it takes faith to be an atheist.

So one of the kiddies on the board started a subject called Atheism Kills (later renamed Does Atheism Kill because one of the moderators on the board didn't want to give lurkers the "impression" that the PC Party hates atheists).

I would have expected to get a lifetime ban if I started a topic called "Christianity Kills." And of course, this illustrates the double standards on the forum.

The start of the thread had all the old crapola about Stalin killing all kinds of people, and some Youtube videos blaming atheism on mass murders from the start of Christianity to today.

Then Lafayette chimed in with this:

It is to laugh. One of the first thing militant Atheists like to point to is how religion has killed so many people. Then, in the same breath it seems, they deny that the same yardstick can be applied to them. Well it can, and you measure up quite well in the infamy department.

Pol Pot is one of you. Stalin is one of you. Deal with it. Atheism, as a belief system, has been used to justify its share of death, and no amount of equivocation, prevarication, or denial will change that.

I'm not sure if I left a "reputation message" after this comment or after this one:

I think this is a prime example of what happens when you attack a man's religion. BEAJ has basically gone ape shit all up in here. It is slightly amusing, in a 2 year old tantrum sort of way.

This whole thread just goes to show the point that Atheism is just another religion. BEAJ has defended his faith with as much vitriol and what not as the most ardent Muslim, Christian, or anyone else. I am curious to see just how far he will go.

Either post deserved my comment (see below):
Craig (a moderator and one of the founders of Blogging Tories) PMed me (private message on the BT Forum)
Subject: Personal insults Quote message
No place for them here...

"Dumber than a rock. And I don't mean to insult rocks."

BT Forum allows you to give members reputation points and comments. The above is what I said about Lafayette.
I replied:
Re: Personal insults
I hope you are being equal and informing Lafayette too. He said I'm acting like a two year old, etc.
I'll bet you didn't send him/her a reprimand. Am I wrong?

Craig diplomatically replied:
None of your business. End it or be gone.

I replied:
Wow. I get it, and I think I totally understand you now. Not very impressed either. In fact I'm totally disappointed in your reply. I will comply with your hypocrisy, but I will write about this on my blog later this week. OK Craig? No more insults from me. I'll just take the insults without defending myself.

I made one or two posts after that, and then I found out I was banned. Then I found out my IP was banned, but I can still view most of the posts using anonymous.org.

One post was directed at Craig on a different thread:

Craig wrote:
I've never understood how someone could call themselves an atheist. Nobody knows why we are here so at the very least you should call yourself an agnostic. You don't have proof as to why we are here so how can you absolutely discount one possible option?

I replied:
An atheist can be simply someone who doesn't believe in God. Again, as pointed out on another thread, one can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist.
I see no evidence God exists, and the same evidence exists for my invisible man under my bed, so why consider either?

Now, apparently I am banned temporarily (after this post, maybe permanently). I've emailed three of the mods (including Craig). One moderator said that he is keeping out of it. The other said he would look into it and has now says that Craig wants an apology because I apparently personally insulted him.............WHEN AND WHERE?

If Craig is thinking that I should apologize for my email I sent him after I got banned, although it is consistent with how Craig seems to work, it should have no bearing on why I was banned in the first place.

I sent him this (he didn't reply):

You banned me?

I told you I would comply.
Seriously, are you a grown man? You are acting quite childish. You
gave me a warning and I said I would comply. You represent the
Blogging Tory community. I didn't realize that the PC party was into

I can still view the pages btw even though you banned my IP, so I can
make my case to other bloggers, using your words and my words.

The big thing here is that it is obvious that Craig treats the God fearing members of the board differently than atheists. He is so biased that he can't even recognize it when an atheist is insulted by an ignorant Fundy, or maybe it is a cultural thing that atheists are allowed to be called names once they admit to being an atheist.
Either way it reeks of hypocrisy, and it sure isn't the first time I've experienced a moderator like Craig.

I did receive this from a very sane member of Bloggging Tories:

It appears that Craig wants you to apologize for the personal insult:

I'd like to have you back as you've got a balancing perspective, and
that can have the effect of generating more activity on the forums by

Unfortunately, anonymous.org doesn't allow me to open the link above, so I don't even know what it is I'm supposed to be apologizing for.

Many PC supporter are Libertarians (I am close to Libertarian myself), because of all three major parties in Canada, the PC's platform has the least amount of government interference (that is another reason why John Tory's faith funding platform bothered me. It was totally NDPish) . But I also like the platform against terror, and realize that many people can't be trusted to completely govern themselves. I'm a strong social liberal with the exception of being strong against terror like crimes).

So alienating secularists like me (all I want is complete separation of church and state when it is all said and done), is a very bad move by a Forum like Blogging Tories. They aren't going to win too many elections if they just suck up to religionists.

Can you believe a 46 year old has to go through this nonsense in the year 2007?

October 3, 2007

Evolution Meme: Not The Evolution That Scares The Bejeebus Out Of Creationists

I was tagged by Stardust Musings to do the Evolution Meme. A good description of what I'm supposed to do can be found at Tangled Up In Blue:

The idea is that I list five old posts that I think are reflective of the evolution of this blog (which happens to be named Evolution, so this could get confusing). In addition, I am to “tag” (”meme?”) five other blogs and they must do the same thing else suffer the usual dire consequences.

1. This is my 498th post. My first post was my shortest post. As you could see, I had no direction or goals:

January 16, 2005
Now I have a blog

And my life hasn't changed one iota. I know I should give it some time, but I'm impatient when it comes to life changing experiences.
This might be my last post on this board. I'm getting bored already.

My blog was similar to the first life form on earth, a one celled creature, who if it could talk would have said: "What the hell am I doing here and what am I supposed to do now?"

I remember I was inspired to do the blog because I really liked what Elder of Ziyon was doing with his specialty blog.

2. I was getting something like 10 hits a day for quite a few months. I posted whenever I felt the urge, maybe 4 times a month for the first 8 months. Most of my posts were very in depth and pretty much a combination of trivial things along with the odd religious/atheist themed posts as well as a few Israeli conflict posts while I tried to maintain my phenomenal sense of humour. I think a post that pretty much stood out and foreshadowed my current style was one that didn't even receive one comment: EVERY RELIGION CAN'T BE RIGHT
Although I was way more respectful of religion than I appear to be now.

3. September of 05 I started doing NFL predictions. It committed me to do at least one post a week. I started getting more blog hits and this caused me to feel more obligated to post more. By November I was posting more than I do now. I started openly mocking religious belief more with ironic and very valid posts. I also created a Bacon and God comic strip as well. I like this particular post though as it reflected my blog back then: PRAYERS PAY THE SAME INSURANCE PREMIUMS

4. I was starting to attract regular visitors who commented on many of my posts, and I started becoming cognizant of playing to them (writing for them, in a good way). I noticed that I was being placed on many blogrolls, and I of course, reciprocated. But my big breakout post that put me on the map was when I simply linked a Penn and Teller video (it seems like ages a day as Youtube was either in its infancy or not even around). I had just learned how to embed videos, and I've embedded quite a few since. The post: PENN AND TELLER: THE BIBLE IS CRAPOLA wound up getting me a load of comments. I still get the odd one today even though it was posted April of last year. The post was linked by many, but Pharyngula's link wound up getting me an absolute ton. I remember getting around 8000 hits for 3 days.

5. I knew I had more readers, most of whom it seems were interested in (and still are) in atheism and layman's science (evolution and morality related) and religion satire and bashing. I did write a lot about Israel still, dropped the NFL picks, discussed the threat of Islam, usually in back to back to back posts. I found my readers weren't that interested in anti-semitism angle (which is why I think it is valid that Israel exists), so I decided to do a new blog called Judeophobe Watch where I could highlight discussions I've had online with anti-semites (Jew haters for the dictionary impaired).
Today, I like to post 2 to 3 times a week. I focus on layman's science, atheism, religious nonsense (including real history and absence of evidence), and I've started getting more into issues of separation of church and state.

Back in the spring I did a video that answers pretty much why I blog and I put it in this post: God Mysteriously Appears In My Latest Youtube Video

OK, now I must tag 5 bloggers. I'll warn you in advance. This post was harder than it looks.

Developing Your Web Presence
Simply Jews

Random Thoughts
Gripes Of Wrath

October 1, 2007

The Atheist Jew Goes To Church

Here is the deal: I am friends with a Fundy couple. They know where I stand. They aren't really sure about where my wife stands though. Either was I. I'll get to that later.
The husband is a real handyman. He did a lot of unpaid work for me on my last car. He is retired, so he didn't seem to mind doing it. He did make a request. He and his wife wanted to bring my wife to church a few times as sort of a payback. My wife agreed, though I'm positive she was just being nice (occasionally she is nice).
She's put off going for a few months, and even I was starting to feel guilty about it. So when they phoned saying that their church (a small Calvary Baptist Church) had a guest who had just came back from spreading the Gospel in the Phillippines, and they really wanted her to go, I told my wife I would accompany her. So last night at 6:30 (I SACRIFICED watching the end of the 4:00 NFL football games), I was present for a good hour and a half of Gospel gobblygook.
There were less than 20 people attending the evening service (or whatever they call it). Apparently, they did a morning service too. Not sure how many showed up to that one. I found the people there to be nice, though I didn't get a chance to talk to them much.
The church minister (or whatever he is called) started things off. He told us that someones brother died in the morning, and that a couple of the church members were to sick to show up. He then did a few hymns, and everyone sang along...well except for me. Even my wife sang. Hey, I was a hypocrite too, both my wife and I donated a tooney each (a Canadian two dollar coin) to the donation plate.
Then the young guest preacher/minister from the US got his shot. He didn't win any points by humbly admitting that he had a grade 7 education (what a shocker!).
He was accompanied by 3 of his kids. They had talent. They could play multiple musical instruments. I especially enjoyed listening to the 10 year old girls piano playing. But mostly, all I could think of is how much brainwashing these kids have had in their short lifetimes.
OK. I have had a very strong feeling that Preacher dude knew he had an atheist Jew in the Pews. Why? He started talking about the Old Testament and Jews and how the NT "proved" that Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for (something to do with Jesus being born in a manger and wearing whatever he supposedly was wearing). Was I little paranoid? Nope.
He then said that he was going to talk about "simple things" tonight because the church was really small in members, but THE LORD told him to change the sermon for tonight. It reminded me of the old saying "when you speak to God it is called praying, but when God speaks to you, it is called insanity."
When he started going into details about Cain and Abel, the only thing that crossed my mind is that the people who are buying into this are buying into a gory fairy tale, what is wrong with these people?
He started talking about the colour red, and how it is "proof" that the NT is better than The Farmer's Almanac when it comes to explaining everything around us.
You see, red represents Jesus' blood, and the "fact" that Jesus sacrificed himself for mankind. And he bled a lot. After Jesus, there was no need to sacrifice defenseless animals anymore.
Quick question: If God is perfect, why did he need humans to sacrifice animals to him? Sounds like he has a bit of an inferiority complex and needs assurance. Why would a perfect God need anything? And if he created man in his image, then why aren't we perfect. Like, what happened to my hair, and why can't I dunk a basketball?
Back to the colour red. Did you know that barns are red because God made red paint cheap to use for poor farmers so that they could remind us that Jesus and all the blood that he sacrificed started out in a manger? Or that Stop signs are red because God influenced man to make them red so that when we stop, we have time to reflect on Jesus and all the blood that he lost before he died? And fire hydrants are red, and they are shaped like a cross. See, the bible proves everything.
I was starting to think that this guy must have at least a grade 9 education to figure out all these things.
So he ended off by telling US that we now had no excuse not to believe. He must have repeated that three or four times near the end. And finally, he said, "I KNOW THAT THERE IS A SOUL IN HERE THAT HASN'T BEEN SAVED " I don't think God told him that, I think my friend clued him in. And he was wrong, there were two of us in the crowd.
Afterwards, we were invited to have some food, but we declined. My wife was exhausted from a bout of insomnia and preparing food for a friend's bridal shower earlier in the day. It was for the best, as I might not be able to keep my militant atheism in check much longer.

Back to my wife. She was an atheist long before I was one. But I just found that out. 17 years ago when I got married, I was pretty much agnostic. And prior to that outside of letting out my secret that I was an ethnic Jew, I didn't talk about beliefs, and I didn't care what my "dates" believed in either. If they liked me, I liked them.
I didn't even talk about my beliefs with my fiancee (now wife). Though she assumed (correctly) that we were to be married in a Jewish ceremony. Tradition was important to me at the time, with family and all. But I didn't ask her to convert, and that posed a bit of a problem because we had to find someone qualified to marry us traditionally. We found someone. Not sure if he called himself a rabbi or not, but his claim to fame was that he once married parrots (I kid you not).

I always assumed my wife was agnostic or perhaps a bit of a theist. I knew she grew up as an ethnic Christian. Just recently I asked her if I was an influence on her becoming an atheist (lately she has mentioned that she doesn't believe God exists). She surprised me by telling my she never believed in God. Never Ever.
Even as a little girl she remembers telling her girlfriends that she thought the bible stories were just that: stories. Though she did tell them that the points of many of the stories were important.

Maybe I should talk to her more, maybe I'll find out other things I didn't know about her:)