FFrF Radio: Susan Jacoby & Rita Swan

Podcast Link.
March 29, 2008Special Guest: Author Susan Jacoby

The show starts with excerpts from Richard Dawkin’s television special The Root of All Evil(?)
A title Dawkins goes to great lengths to disavow every time the subject comes up. His words? “Religion is the root of a great many evils, but it’s not the root of all evil.” I think I’m quoting accurately. The program can be purchased from the FFRF online store; this was announced three weeks ago during the broadcast of Dawkins’ interview on Freethought Radio.

The Pagan pulpit deals with Bible passages that slander the unbelievers. Sticks and stones…

Susan Jacoby is a very engaging speaker. She was interviewed concerning her latest book, The Age of American Unreason. Her opinion is one that I generally find interesting, even if I don’t agree with it. The same mass media that she decries, I find very useful for informing myself. It’s all in what you watch and listen to, and how you filter it (for instance, if you think Rush Limbaugh is a news source, you’re one of the problems; if you would rather watch Dancing With the Stars instead of Dirty Jobs, you are also one of the problems) I was listening to infotainment on my Treo when I was listening to the Freethought Radio podcast while out on my walk. Yes, the dumbing down of America is disturbing. Yes, media has something to answer for in this. No, denying children access to television and their iPods is not going to remedy this situation.

[The Montessori school that my children first attended had a hang up when it came to technology. They were certain that children should not be exposed to screens. Television screens. Computer screens. It was a constant point of controversy between myself and the school. I have a word for people who are irrationally afraid of technology. I call them Luddites. This, of course, did not go over well at the school]

Her example of the attacks on Barack Obama by Clinton and others because he “speaks too good” are very telling points when it comes to the dumbing down of America (I blame the government schools) what to do about it remains an open question.

“Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.” -Abbie Hoffman

2007 Archive episode.

March 31, 2007Religious Dogma that Kills Kids

Rita Swan was the guest. Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty is her advocacy group. Over 40 states have laws on the books that give exemptions to parents and religious advisers who allow children to suffer and die because of religious belief.

Rita Swan’s story of why she is involved in this issue is worth the 40 minutes of time it takes to listen to this podcast.

The episode of Babylon 5 named Believers took up this issue several years ago. I bring this up because the subject is not nearly as clear cut as one might think. It’s related to many other issues surrounding the subject of children, and it really amounts to “how do you protect children from their own parents without turning the state into everyones parent?” I think the route suggested by Rita Swan is probably the proper middle way approach. Hold the parents accountable for a child’s death due to medical neglect. Render unto Caesar applies to these situations; whether your child dies because of your imperfect faith, or because diseases really do exist, your failure to do you duty by your child should be your responsibility.

Dan’s Sunday Morning Blues rounds up the episode on a lighter note, and Freethinkers Almanac brings it to a close.

Mary Ruwart for President

A woman I would be proud to cast a vote for.

“Libertarians have been waiting for a candidate who can change the tone of American politics,” says campaign manager R. Lee Wrights. “Dr. Ruwart is that kind of candidate. She’s a unifier and a motivator who can communicate our message of freedom and be heard.”

Running on a theme of “Healing America,” Ruwart — a Ph.D and former Assistant Professor of Surgery with a background in pharmaceutical research — proposes to withdraw US forces from Iraq, drastically reduce federal taxes and spending, and deregulate health care to increase access and quality.

“Only liberty can heal the rifts that divide and impoverish America,” says Ruwart, 57. “Freedom breeds compassion, tolerance and prosperity. Coercion breeds conflict, fear and poverty.” In Healing Our World and Short Answers to the Tough Questions, she propounds a caring, rather than combative, approach to promoting the Libertarian Party’s political agenda.

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FFrF Radio: Steven Pinker; Archive: Priest Abuse of Children

Podcast Link.

March 22, 2008Guest: Harvard Prof. Steven Pinker

As a salute to the Easter Holiday (which roughly equates to the Vernal Equinox) Dan discusses the origin of the word Easter, which is a corruption of the name for the goddess Ishtar-Astarte who later became more widely known as the Greek goddess Aphrodite. The Vernal Equinox heralds the return of spring, so the festivals of Spring naturally include fertility gods and symbols of fertility (like eggs and rabbits) since Spring represents the re-birth of the world from the death of Winter (at least in the far northern climates) The translator of the King James version of the bible substituted the word Easter for the word passover, and so popular celebrations of the day, which were pagan in nature, entered into the bible as a christian holiday.

Theocracy Alert contrasts the posturing of Obama’s pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright with the fundamentalist pastor, John C. Hagee, who endorsed John McCain. In that light, it’s pretty hard to figure out what all the fuss is about. Why don’t politicians’ keep their religious lives personal, here’s a good reason to stop wearing religion on their sleeves; a sentiment voiced by Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Freethinkers Almanac features a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke, who died this week. The end of another SF era is upon us. So long, Arthur.

Steven Pinker has been on the show previously. The Stuff of Thought is his latest book. His interviews are always thought provoking.

As an authority whose testimony has been requested by the Council on Bioethics, Steven Pinker has a personal insight into the problems with the anti-science views of the Bush White House. Most troubling is the trumping of rights with the concept of dignity; as in the dignity of human stem cells, trumping the rights of scientists to explore the possibility for cures held within these special types of cells, and the rights of patients to receive treatments involving stem cells or transplantation.

The report Human Dignity and Bioethics produced by the council is especially problematic, producing what can only be seen as a religious test when it comes to perceptions of dignity.

“Nothing with gods, nothing with fate; weighty affairs will just have to wait.” -Stephen Sondheim, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

2007 Archive episode.

March 24, 2007Priest Abuse of Children

Every copy of Freethought Today, the newspaper of FFrF, features a blotter sheet on Black collar crime, which frequently involves children. Annie Laurie Gaylor was one of the first publishers in the modern age to bring attention to the crimes of men of the cloth (although in previous generations freethought publications were known for this) because, as the leader of FFrF, she received letters from individuals who were suffering at the hands of their religious leaders. After she realized how many such stories she had in her files, she decided that it was necessary for someone to publish these stories.

Joe McGee was the guest. His chronicle, No longer Catholic, No longer Quiet was published in the March 2006 edition of Freethought Today. If you want to know the details of what Joe went through at the hands of his priest (and also his family. His father was a devout Catholic who denied his family basic needs in order to be able to tithe larger amounts to the church) you’ll have to read the article or listen to the podcast. I’m not going to paraphrase any of it here. This was a hard episode to listen to. As the father of two children myself, the stories of child abuse were almost more than I could stomach.

Mercifully, the episode ends with one of Dan’s pagan pulpits. Dan fillet’s Paul Campos’ article Why there are almost no genuine atheists, starting with the observation that he might have been more enlightened on the subject of atheism if he had bothered to talk to one before writing his article. It almost gets the bad air of priest abuse of children out of the ears. Almost.

Philip Appleman reads Exegesis as the show ends. Definitely apropos.

Richard Dawkins speaks at UT

Instead of a reasonable title, like mine, the Statesman ran with the far more predictable (for Texas) rabble rousing title Atheist author draws impassioned crowd for their article. Leaving open to question just which direction the passions trended.

dawkins sold out inquirers were told to stand in line and perhaps there would be tickets. Am I the only one who sees the humor in telling a dawkins fan they should wait and have faith?

ALD Silver Will Move Up, So Get it Back From the Feds

It looks like ALD will indeed move up on March 23rd. $50 an ounce after that date, from $20 an ounce at current prices. I only wish I was in a better financial position so that I could carry more silver across the Move Up.

At least we may still be able to get our silver back from the thieves who stole it; the thieves who were wearing FBI jackets when they confiscated the silver at the Liberty Dollar head office and Sunshine mint. Read on for that info.

Monday March 17, 2008

Dear Liberty Dollar Supporters:

WOW!!! The Liberty Dollar will definitely Move Up to the $50 Silver Base rather serendipitously on Easter Sunday, March 23. With the 30 Day Moving Average at $18.40 there is no alternative. And of course the fools at the fed are meeting on Tuesday to douse more gasoline on the inflationary fire of their own making.

All of this is much like the French Revolution as the wise, good men of Paris engineered the Reign of Terror. In the beginning Mirabeau and other idiots who favored fiat paper money insisted that patriotism would lead people to keep the money. Later Cambon insisted that the assignat currency was perfect. Ultimately everything was tried to keep it together. In the end the Committee of Public Safety butchered over 1900 people in one month! Most of them were merchants who refused the damn worthless currency! The people started complaining that they couldn’t buy food… because the merchants were dead! Then Napoleon came to power.

Now there are a bunch of high-minded idiots in charge of the US dollar… and we will all suffer. Not just American but the whole world. Get out of the US dollar while you still can. Sell asap and buy silver. Of course not many people will do that. It was the same with the hyperinflationary German mark before Hitler came to power.

The same hyperinflationary cycle occurred in China after World War II and Mao came to power. Click HERE to read “Inflation through History.”

Our national idiots know not what they are doing or else they are traitors. It matters not unless America’s rises to the occasion and Liberty lights the way out of the monetary quagmire. Without this beacon, t! he unfortunate outcome will be that the stupid masses will cry out for order and a new tyrant will come to power.

Yes, you can buy silver cheaper than the Liberty Dollar. Yes, silver will cover your ass but bullion will do nothing to solve our great country’s monetary problems. We need a value based currency. That is why the Liberty Dollar was specifically designed to function on a one to one basis with the US dollar – regardless of how low the US dollar goes or how high the silver goes… the Liberty Dollar was designed to be there.

Ten years ago when silver was $5 per ounce, the Liberty Dollar was introduced at the $10 Silver Base. Of course some idiots argued that the Liberty Dollar was a rip off at “twice the price of silver!” Those same one ounce 1998 Silver Libertys are now selling for up to $700 on eBay!

Now, silver is flirting with $25 ounce and the Liberty Dollar is Moving Up to the $50 Silver Base… sure enough the same idiot intelligentsia still don’t have a clue. God help us!

This is your last notice to get the Liberty Dollar at the $20 Silver Base. Please do what is right for yourself and our country. Please support the Liberty Dollar. Get some today! Deadline is Midnight, Saturday, March 22, 2008.

Please be aware that AlertPay on our shopping cart is total trash! You cannot spend over $100 unless you are approved and that is a very painful experience. Your BEST option is to send check, money order, or wire if over $5000 to Liberty Numismatics… or simply made out to “LIBERTY” as we have a new bank account.

Liberty Numismatics
225 N. Stockwell Road
Evansville. IN. 47715

Wire funds to:
Integra Bank
21 S.E. Third Street
Evansville. IN. 47708
ABA Routing NO: 086300025
Account NO: 7810349683

Please bear in mind that I am the only person here… calling is the last thing you want to do. All funds must be initiated before midnight and may be declined due to market conditions.

Please do not let the US Government Steal Your Property
If you have at least one paper or electronic Liberty Dollar, I encourage you to write US Attorney Thomas Ascik who is in charge of the forfeiture and auction of your property of Liberty Dollars that was seized by the FBI on November 14, 2007. If you do not want to lose your property, I strongly urge you to send the attached letter or something very similar to it to the US Attorney. There is no need to be abusive… “He is just doing his job”… but he needs to know that there are THOUSANDS of people like you that want to be kept informed by being placed on the government “service list”. So please US mail your letter to US Attorney Thomas Ascik ASAP. No need to send it Certified… but if you want to add your personal note… keep it brief… as it will be a waste of your time… as he will probably not even read it… such is “our” !@#$#@! government!


Thomas Ascik, Esq.
Assistant United States Attorney
100 Otis Street
Ashville, NC 28801
Phone: 828.271.4661

Dear Mr. Ascik,

I understand that you are in charge of the forfeiture and auction of the material seized in the Liberty Dollar investigation.

Please know that I am a holder of Warehouse Receipts and/or electronic Liberty Dollars and you are in possession of my lawful property.

Please be informed that I am most definitely an interested party and hereby request that you keep me informed as to every step of the process to forfeit and auction any of the material seized as required by law regarding the Liberty Dollar investigation.

Therefore, I hereby request you add me to the government’s ‘service list’ for all pleadings and all other developments filed regarding Liberty Dollar forfeiture action.

I further demand you return all material seized at Sunshine Mint immediately so I can redeem my Warehouse Receipts and/or electronic Liberty Dollars and enjoy my property.

Please confirm receipt of this letter.


(your name AND address)


Thank you during these difficult times. For it is only by banding together and adopting a free and independent currency that provides us with “just weights and measures” will we be able to throw off the yoke of a manipulated monetary/tax system and generate a peaceful and prosperous society.

Thanks for all your efforts in returning America to value – one Liberty Dollar at a time!

Bernard von NotHaus
Monetary Architect/Editor

* PS: If you have not read “Fiat Money Inflation in France” by Andrew Dickson White… read it! Very short, powerful, timely book of only 112 pages!

My letter is heading out as I post this.

Apache Tears – Hardcore History 20

Dan Carlin in his latest Hardcore History talks at length about the Apache Indians. I don’t want to be too critical here, but if the Apache were acting like your average highwayman (OK, super average highwayman) I’m not surprised they were nearly wiped out. You be the judge, go by the site and have a listen. Or pick up a copy of the reference works he cites, listed here. He had high praise for the works of Eve Ball, you might want to start there.

For myself, I have a passing interest in the subject. I’ve read Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, and I’ve read several accounts of Custer’s Last Stand, one or two from the native perspective.

If you are lazy, don’t think you can just watch the HBO film, Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee and get the cliff notes version of the book. The movie is a lame adaptation of the book that tries to make a linear narrative out of the varying stories contained in the book, told from what is essentially one native’s point of view. There were several scenes imposed on the storyline that were meant to assuage the guilt of the white eyes, but they just end up sticking out like sore thumbs.

I have more of an interest in the architecture that the natives left behind (as you might imagine) consequently I’m more interested in Pueblo Indians than I am in nomads like the Apache. Still, a line from a podcast I listened to recently keeps echoing in my head, a lamentation that we had the misfortune to stumble across the last vestiges of a stone age culture, at a time when Western society was ill equipped to do anything other than destroy it. So much insight into our shared history could have been gained if we had only taken the time to study the American natives, instead of pursuing the genocidal goal of converting or killing them.

Mukasey’s Paradox is Just a Sign of the Times

A dose of Common Sense (120) via Jonathan Turley and the LA Times, and Dan Carlin:

The problem for Mukasey was that if he admitted waterboarding was a crime, then it was a crime that had been authorized by the president of the United States — an admission that would trigger calls for both a criminal investigation and impeachment. Mukasey’s confirmation was facing imminent defeat over his refusal to answer the question when Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suddenly rescued him, guaranteeing that he would not have to answer it.

Once in office, Mukasey still had the nasty problem of a secret torture program that was now hiding in plain view. Asked to order a criminal investigation of the program, Mukasey refused. His rationale left many lawyers gasping: Any torture that occurred was done on the advice of counsel and therefore, while they may have been wrong, it could not have been a crime for CIA interrogators or, presumably, the president. If this sounds ludicrous, it is. Under that logic, any president can simply surround himself with extremist or collusive lawyers and instantly decriminalize any crime.

However, this is only half of Mukasey’s Paradox. The other half occurred last week when Mukasey refused to allow contempt charges against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers to be given to a grand jury. Bolten and Miers stand accused of contempt in refusing to testify before Congress in its investigation of the firings of several U.S. attorneys in 2006. Mukasey wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that their refusal to testify could not be a crime because the president ordered them not to testify under executive privilege.

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Dan laments the failure of the balance of powers to fix the problems apparent in the Democrat leadership (Schumer and Feinstein) confirming Mukasey to the Attorney General position, even though Mukasey’s answers to the waterboarding question should have been a red flag to anyone interested in seeing justice done within the current lame duck administration. But the failure of the balance of powers happened long before the confirmation hearing, long before the current administration even.

We have an imperial President. We’ve had one since Lincoln forced the Southern states to return to the Union. With secession removed as the ultimate threat to union, there is no real threat that can be used to bring the federal government to heel in events such as we are facing today. Illegal wars, illegal use of police power, etc, etc, ad nauseam.

But it’s not just the lack of real power from the states. There also isn’t any real voice for the states at the federal level. The senate was intended to be the representatives of the several states in Washington; but that representation went away when the Senators became just another set of beauty pageant winners, like the President himself. The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution makes them just another popularly elected office, subject to the same forces as the President, and aspirants for that office.

As presidential hopefuls they will bend over backwards to shield the president from criticism (so that they will one day be shielded in turn) as popularly elected officials they will pander to the media and to special interests so as to insure their reelectability. This is a theory advanced by more knowledgeable people than myself. Stumbled across this tidbit while researching this post:

the primary purpose of having state legislatures elect senators was to give the states a constituent part in the federal government, thereby appeasing the anti-federalists, protecting the states from federal encroachment, and creating and preserving the structure of federalism. Senators were seen as, and acted as, the states’ “ambassadors” to the federal government, representing the states and their interests.


[The Seventeenth Amendment] was primarily a rebellion of emerging special interests against federalism and bicameralism, which restrained the ability of the federal government to produce legislation favorable to those interests. Changing the method of electing senators changed the rules of the game for seeking favorable legislation from the federal government, fostering the massive expansion of the federal government in the twentieth century.

(from the Independent Institute)

So, the separation of powers has been subverted by the popular vote and those seeking favor from the federal government.

This yields things like what we are seeing today. Presidents that declare war without legislative approval. Presidents that write the treaties that they want without consulting the Congress. And Congress remains silent because Congress doesn’t want the responsibility; Congress isn’t profited by being responsible, elections frequently hinge on their being able to claim that they were not responsible.

Thusly, irresponsibility becomes something to champion, and decadence becomes something you pay extra for. Apparently, irony and paradox aren’t far apart.

Even if there is no exception to the president ordering crimes, there is no crime because the president ordered it. Perfection.

So, once again, this comes down to the structure being broken on purpose, and those who profit from the current broken system not being willing to fix it. How many different ways can you say “not sustainable“?

Opulence: Decaying Decadence?

I’ve seen several advertising campaigns that promote the decadence of this or that luxury item over the years. Decadent jewelry, decadent chocolate; images meant to appeal to the prurient nature in us all, I guess, because I can’t think of a positive reason for buying something marked by decay.

The root of decadent is decay; marked by decay, in decline, falling or sinking. Basically, when someone wants you to buy something decadent, they are asking you to waste your money on something frivolous or meaningless, something that is in transition to a lower order of things.

Opulence, on the other hand, is the word that most people confuse with decadence. To be opulent is to have the trappings of power or authority. To possess those things achieved through work and success. Opulence can be ostentatious, but it’s never decadent.

So, the next time your tempted to buy rotting chocolate ice cream, just say “no thanks”. Decay is not a good thing to invest in. You can spend your way into decadence (the federal government is proving this truism as I type) but decadence never turns into opulence. It just turns into more fertilizer.

FFrF Radio: Being Good Without God

Podcast Link.

March 15, 2008Being good without God

A lengthy Theocracy Alert this week, with W. acting like the average buffoon that he has come to represent, warning about re-introduction of the fairness doctrine (amongst other things) which Annie Laurie Gaylor lamented loosing. Dan Barker at least made a stab at illustrating the reason that the fairness doctrine is nothing of the kind, dictating to someone what they can do with their property is hardly fair. I daresay that their station would not want to give equal time to Republican views, which would also be required under the fairness doctrine.

John C. Hagee of the Cornerstone church in San Antonio has endorsed McCain. Another good reason not to vote for McCain. Barak Obama was also caught pandering to the evangelicals, resulting in a re-airing of JFK’s moving speech on religion.

Dan’s Pagan pulpit highlights the reason that torture and violence are acceptable to the devout, reciting several passages from the Bible.

The major portion of the show was devoted to the discussion of morality in the absence of religion. Dan again outlines his minimize harm philosophy, which is good as far as it goes. I prefer the Golden Rule, as I state below (the previous episode, this week last year, also dealt with the subject of morality) I’ve also written a letter to a local representative on the subject of morality and religion entitled It’s called Philosophy.

Freethinkers Almanac honored Albert Einstein, who was born on Pi day.

The world is my country, to do good is my religion. -Thomas Paine

2007 Archive episode.

March 17, 2007Paul D. Boyer, Nobel Laureate & Atheist

Pete Stark came out and admitted he had no belief in god. This takes great courage, because Pete Stark is a congressman who represents a portion of California, and a majority of Americans have stated unequivocally that they would not vote for an atheist. Thank you, Mr. Stark.

Paul D. Boyer had some pointed things to say about Intelligent Design; things like people who believe that aren’t very intelligent. I liked him almost immediately. Here’s the link to his article in Freethought Today.

This episode marks the first time I heard a response to the weekly “Ask an Atheist” blurb, in which Dan and Laurie give out an e-mail address and phone number, so that the curious out there can ask questions that they might have about atheism.

Not surprisingly, a good portion of the mail they get is pretty vitriolic. They read several of them. They also read a legitimate question, probably the most common. “How can an Atheist be Moral?”

Contrary to popular belief, the Golden Rule isn’t a christian creation. I consider it one of the highest moral principles around. Their answer was different, arranged around the concept of harm, but it boils down pretty much the same way. I’ve heard this question many times myself, and the idea that you need religion to be moral is such a foreign concept to me that I almost never have a good answer when the question is asked.

Freethinkers Almanac this episode also featured Albert Einstein.

Philip Appleman reads Karma Darma and Dan performs Gods Grandeur.

Elfquest: Even Real Men Read It.

I’ve been a comic book junkie for as long as I can remember. If I had a nickel for each time I heard “this isn’t a library” while reading comic books at the local grocers, I’d be a rich man (if I’d taken better care of the comic books I did buy, I’d also be a rich man) Id’ lay down right under the rack and read as many of the books as I could before they would kick me out.

The Marvel stories were my favorites, with the occasional venture into DC and Batman (I never will understand the attraction of reading stories about an invulnerable flying alien. The wife is a Superman fan, so I can’t be too critical of the guy. Don’t blame me if I root for Luthor) I could never get enough of X-Men, Fantastic 4, Iron Man, etc. Stan Lee presents was pretty much all I had to see, and I was off.

I kicked the addiction at about 30 years of age, newly married and with a child on the way, but not before discovering the specialty comics shop, and the wider assortment of stories that could be found there. Stories like Elfquest.

Marvel published what came to be known as The Grand Quest story arc a few years before I stopped collecting, and I picked up the original bound collections for that series as one of the last comic purchases I ever made.

I was almost instantly hooked. Beautiful flowing artwork, engaging characters, an original storyline, what wasn’t to like about it? Maybe it was the Tolkien fan in me, or maybe I just have always had a weakness for elves; whatever it was, my attraction to the stories has outlasted all of my other comic book habits, including the X-Men.

The daughter stole the collections from me for awhile, and she bugged me for years to get Kings of the Broken Wheel (which I finally did get) only to discover there was even more story that I hadn’t even heard of.

Consequently I was overjoyed to hear from Richard Pini recently, that all of the past issues of Elfquest will be made available online over the course of the next year.

Welcome to the Complete Elfquest Online project. There’s over 6000 pages coming throughout 2008, so if you’re new to the Elfquest universe, or if you want a refresher course on the overall story timeline, go here first. Then check out a comprehensive guide to all the different Elfquest print publications. (A number of the collected print volumes are still available too.)

Check back every Friday, or better yet, join the Elfquest forum and Yahoo’s Elfquest news group for news and announcements.

Original Quest #1-5 has been posted today, as well as a whole host of other storylines I’ve never heard of.

So I can direct the son to the website when he wants to take down the (now rare) collections and read them. Which is good, I think. Although I may have to buy hard copies of some of the stories just so I can have them on hand when the web is down…