FFrF Radio: Mike Christensen; Archive: Emily Lyons & Scopes II: Alvin Harris

Podcast Link.
July 26, 2008Mike Christensen, Seattle “Imagine No Religion” Billboard Booster

Gershwin’s Summertime introduces the show, followed by a clip from Letting Go of God.

Theocracy Alert. Lieberman courting the religious right, Grassly bounced by them.

Mike Christensen sponsored an “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Seattle. He changed his definition of agnostic, and that’s why he’s now an atheist. Sounds familiar. It’s interesting to hear from a member of a younger generation on a thoughtful subject; like the impact of religion on the world.


“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”Steven Weinberg

2007 Archive episode.
July 28, 2007Emily Lyons, survivor of religious antiabortion terrorism

Theocracy Alert. CNN YouTube debate snippets and related editorializing. This is how the hosts always get in trouble, and they do it again. One of the question dealt with candidate support for “public” schools, which Annie Laurie lamented were being robbed of funds by “parochial schools” in rigged voucher systems.

I’ve said this several times before, but it bears repeating. They aren’t public schools, they are government or state schools; not much better than prisons in their current form. The alternative to government schools isn’t religious schools (as Annie Laurie has implied more than once) it’s competition for the best education to be had for the least amount of tax burden. The alternative to a top down Soviet-styled federal education bureaucracy (what we have now, or are moving towards) is a real education marketplace.

Far more important than establishing godless money (the question that followed the school question) is establishing a separation of school and state.

Echoing Steven Marsh’s question;

Am I wrong to fear the dogma of the left/socialist as much as I fear the dogma of the right/fascist? Why can’t we throw out all the dirty bathwater, and just embrace American liberty? Take all the funds from the overfunded government schools, and force them to compete in an education marketplace, let the best educators win.

While I am concerned (as the hosts are) about the religious test imposed by the public on their candidates; I’m more concerned with the imposition of outdated state structures on today’s youth. (more school related rants)

Emily Lyons was injured in a clinic bombing by a Right-to-Lifer (how can one kill and support a “right to life”? It’s an unsupportable conflict, and no counter-arguments will be accepted) terrorist, Eric Robert Rudolph. Truthfully, the interview is hard to listen to, for me. I have an almost uncontrollable rage response when it comes to people who are willing to kill for their peaceful religions.

Raging Grannies sing, and then loving messages from christian fans closes out the show.


“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.”Blaise Pascal

2006 Archive episode.
July 26, 2006Scopes II: Alvin Harris

Theocracy Alert this week features a listing of theocracies advances, counter pointed with theocracies defeats (they ought to try this more often) The verdict in the Andrea Yeats trial is discussed, along with the impact on someone else who hears voices in his head, George Bush.

Alvin Harris’ interview revolved around his representation of FFrF in a case concerning Bryan college and the legacy of the scopes trial (FFrF vs. Rhea County School System) Evangelicals who wish to promote their religion in the government schools should remember the lessons of the founders, and their experience with state mandated religious education. What happens when the government adopts a flavor of christianity that you don’t agree with?

Dan Barker performs I Ain’t Afraid

So, Joe, what was B5 going to be, originally?

…and the word is finally out.

From TrekBBS and thanks to chrisspringob for condensing the arc. I’ve read the outline in the Scripts book 15. couldn’t afford a copy myself. This is pretty close to what is there.

***This thread includes huge spoilers for the entire 5 year arc of Babylon 5, including the details of JMS’s earlier draft of the story, as of the start of production on the series.***

OK, doing this in reverse order: I’ve already written the rest of this post (so my fingers are getting rather tired), and am now writing this, the lead paragraph. I have in my possession Babylon 5 Script Book #15, but I’m too exhausted to explain what that is for those who don’t already know, so read this thread if you want to know:

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=50006

And here is a shameless plug for all of the B5 script books:

http://www.babylon5scripts.com/

The most talked about feature of Script Book #15 is JMS’s 7 page, single spaced synopsis of “the original story arc”, with Sinclair in place during the whole story. It’s a bit of a misnomer to call this the “original arc”, as there were in fact earlier iterations of the story, before it got to this point, but this is where things stood in JMS’s head at the time Season 1 was going into production (but after “The Gathering” was filmed). He wrote the document as sort of a memo to himself, so he could keep the big picture straight. The arc was written out in much greater detail on over 100 3×5 notecards, and on an encrypted file he had on his computer. But this was his summary.

Somehow or other, I volunteered to write out a detailed synopsis of JMS’s 7 page story outline, and post it here for your benefit. That’s what this thread is. I haven’t quoted any of the outline directly. Just explained it in my own words. AFAIK, my synopsizing of JMS’s synopsis is not in violation of his wishes. But if anyone wants to argue for why I should edit / delete this post, I’ll hear you out.

A few things about the synopsis:

I do not actually believe that this is what the show would have looked like if O’Hare had stayed on. There are too many divergences from the story we got that have nothing much to do with Sinclair/Sheridan, that I think JMS decided to change certain things around for reasons having nothing to do with the identity of the lead character, and that would have happened just as easily if O’Hare had stayed.

The story is so big, that there’s a lot left out here, and I’m sure some of the “missing” story elements were in fact included in JMS’s huge pile of index cards. Most of the 7 page synopsis focuses as much on the big picture as it does on the individual characters. The only characters mentioned by name are: Sinclair, Garibaldi, Delenn, Londo, G’Kar, Kosh, and Catherine Sakai. (Notice a trend? Excepting Sakai, all of these are characters who appeared in “The Gathering”, and continued as main characters in the series. It’s possible that this was written when JMS knew that the actors who played Takashima, Dr. Kyle, and Lyta were going to be unavailable, and he hadn’t yet figured out how the replacement characters would fit into the story.) The characters of Santiago, Clark, and Sinclair/Delenn’s son are mentioned, but no names are given for them.

One of the weirdest things is that the series seems to end on a cliffhanger, and the last page and a half of the synopsis details the storyline of a potential spinoff series, Babylon Prime, which resolves most of the major plot threads. The events in the outline seem to be in quasi-chronological order, though it’s sometimes hard to tell, as there’s a lot of jumping back and forth between the various threads. I’ve split up my synopsis of JMS’s synopsis into four parts: Seasons 1 & 2, Seasons 3 & 4, Season 5, and Babylon Prime.

Here we go:

———————————————————-
SEASONS 1 & 2

Much of the stuff on the first two seasons matches what we actually saw on screen, including:

-Sinclair trying to figure out the hole in his mind from the Battle of the Line
-The “Babylon Squared” story
-Santiago assassination and Clark taking over
-Delenn undergoing transformation
-The Shadows slowly making their presence felt, and Londo allying with them, and Londo using them to gain influence with the Centauri
-Kosh revealing himself to all when he saves Sinclair’s life at the end of Season 2

Main divergences from what we saw on screen:

-Sinclair stays on, and remains commander of the station throughout the series
-Unclear exactly when this is revealed, but the secret behind Sinclair & the Battle of the Line is not that he becomes Valen (Valen is never mentioned in this outline), but that he is the person who has been prophesied to save the Minbari from dying off. In order to fulfill the prophesy, Delenn must transform to become human and mate with Sinclair. Their son will be some kind of chosen one who will save the Minbari race from extinction(???). Some of the Minbari (warrior caste?) interpret prophesy differently, and think that Sinclair will actually lead the Minbari to doom.
-Not 100% certain on this, but it looks like the Centauri conquest of the Narn doesn’t happen until early/mid-Season 3. It’s also not completely clear whether there is even a Narn/Centauri war as such. The Shadows aid Londo’s ascension by secretly staging a number of incidents, but does this involve a full blown Narn/Centauri war that lasts a season? Not clear. Rather, some time by mid-Season 3, the Shadows help the Centauri conquer the Narn homeworld and decapitate their empire, but I’m not sure if that’s actually the culmination of a lengthy war.

SEASONS 3 & 4

-The Centauri conquer the Narn Empire with the help of the Shadows.
-After the Narn surrender, G’Kar briefly stays on B5 and tries to rally allies against the Centauri, but it doesn’t work. So he returns to the Narn homeworld to join the resistance.
-Catherine Sakai is “mind-raped”, and all memory of her relationship with Sinclair is erased, and this crushes Sinclair. [This seems like some early iteration of the Anna Sheridan / Z’ha’dum story, but there’s no explicit indication of how this happens to Sakai, or who’s responsible.]
-Sinclair & Delenn become romantically involved, and Delenn is pregnant by the end of Season 4.
-Garibaldi returns to drinking, and resigns as chief of security. During Season 4, he’s a mercenary operating out of B5, but there’s no mention of the Psi Corps sleeper / William Edgars / Lise Hampton story.
-There is no mention of an overt war between the Shadows & Vorlons. But they are fighting each other by manipulating the younger races. There is no mention of an order vs. chaos ideological conflict between the two. Just that the Vorlons manipulated the younger races throughout history, and the Shadows rebel against that, and try to set themselves up as rulers of the galaxy.

SEASON 5

-The Minbari warrior caste overthrows the Grey Council, and orders the resumption of hostilities with Earth. They also want Sinclair and Delenn dead.
-The Centauri try to move in on B5’s sector of space.
-Londo & the Centauri’s longtime involvement with the Shadows is publicly revealed.
-The Shadows destroy a huge Vorlon ship (hundreds of miles long) which contains a large segment of their population.
-The series ends with the Minbari attacking B5 and destroying it. Sinclair & Delenn escape with their newborn baby. Everyone in the galaxy is after them for one reason or another….including Earth, which has been given info which makes them believe Sinclair is a traitor.

BABYLON PRIME

-Sinclair, Delenn, and their allies go back in time to steal Babylon 4, pulling it into the future in order to use it as a base to build a new alliance (army of light?). B4 is renamed Babylon Prime. B Prime can move through space like a starship, and they go off on a mission to clear their names and build the alliance to bring peace to the galaxy.
-The time traveling causes Sinclair, Delenn, and their baby to age rapidly. (I’ll call the baby David, even though his name is never mentioned here.) David grows all the way to adulthood within a few years.
-Londo is Emperor, but controlled by a Keeper, as in the actual show.
-Londo & the Centauri capture Sinclair & Delenn, and are supposed to turn them over to the Shadows, but Londo rebels against the Keeper & the Shadows “at terrible personal cost” (doesn’t say exactly what that cost is).
-David becomes a revered religious symbol.
-Conclusion of the story: B Prime and the Army of Light defeat the Shadows (but there’s nothing about the Shadows leaving the galaxy). No mention of what happens to the Vorlons. Earth defeats the Minbari, and Sinclair’s name is cleared. Delenn leaves Sinclair, in order to return to the Grey Council. David becomes the leader of a new interstellar alliance. Final scene is Sinclair, retired, alone on an otherwise uninhabited world….fishing.
———————————————————-

Plot points that are noticeably absent:

There is no mention of an Earth Civil War, or B5 seceding from Earth in Season 3 (though obviously, a lot of that storyline is transplanted into Babylon Prime). While Clark is said to be controlled by the Psi Corps, and Psi Corps is said to be a nefarious group at odds with Sinclair and B5, there’s no mention of the Earth Alliance being transformed into some kind of Orwellian police state. There’s no mention of the Shadows working with Psi Corps or anyone in EarthGov. There’s no mention of any larger teep/normal conflict, beyond Psi Corps just wanting power for itself.

There’s no mention of Sinclair going to Z’ha’dum (and in fact, no mention of Z’ha’dum), and dying there. (Though, as I speculated earlier, some of this storyline may have been there as part of the Sakai mindwipe story, but there are no details given.) There’s no mention of Lorien or any other First Ones beyond the Shadows and Vorlons. There’s no mention of Kosh mentoring Sinclair, or Kosh sacrificing his life. There’s no mention of Marcus, or Morden, or Bester, or any other characters who I haven’t already mentioned.

Still, just because something wasn’t mentioned in this synopsis, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist in some form in JMS’s lengthier treatment of the series that he kept to himself.

The Revolution Evolves: Happy (Belated) Cost of Government Day

Knew I was wrong.

Ron Paul’s revolution has morphed into the Campaign for Liberty. The 16th was the Cost of Government Day.

Congratulations, dear reader. Cost of Government Day was last Wednesday, July 16th. This means that after slaving away for over half the year to pay state, local and federal taxes, you’re finally working for yourself.

This year’s Cost of Government Day fell four days later than last year’s, and sixteen days later than in 2000. Ironically, the biggest increases in government spending took place during the “conservative” administrations of George Bush 41 & 43.

It’s up to us to take back what it means to be “conservative” once again. A good place to start will be our upcoming rally in Minneapolis!

Cost of Government Day is sponsored by Americans for Taxpayer Reform, which is led by Grover Norquist.

I hate to break this to the revolutionaries, but this is what comes of defining yourselves with a term as mutable as Conservative (I’m sure that Senator Goldwater is rolling in his grave seeing what his idea of Conservatism has come to) which has no real meaning politically other than “resistant to change”.

Time to break the mold, reinvent the system.

SBOE Approves Bible Course Guidelines

Gotta love this. The Leg, not satisfied with simply raping the Texas State pledge and making her say god during newly mandatory daily pledge recitations (god twice, if you count the mandatory federal pledge recitations. Could be even three times if you choose to pray during your mandatory moment of silence. I don’t like pledging, in case you hadn’t heard) has also decided that Texas students need more indoctrination into the already pervasive christian religion; so they have passed a law that all but mandates bible school classes be offered in Texas public high schools.

…And the SBOE, run by ID supporter Don McLeroy has dutifully passed guidelines, clearing the way for these courses to be taught.

Board members approved the new class, which will be in some high schools this fall, even though officials are awaiting an opinion from the attorney general on whether the state law authorizing the course requires all school districts to offer it.

The board adopted general guidelines for the course on a 10-5 vote, disregarding the advice of several members of the House Public Education Committee who urged approval of more specific requirements to head off the possibility of constitutional violations and lawsuits.

“It’s better for us to go ahead and do something now,” said board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. “We have met the requirements of the legislation. We don’t want to stifle what they [school districts] are doing in classrooms.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott has told the board that although the state standards for the Bible class appear to be in compliance with the First Amendment, his office can’t guarantee that the courses taught in high schools will be constitutional because they haven’t been reviewed.

Critics contend that the standards – based on old guidelines for independent studies in English and social studies – are so vague and general that many schools might unknowingly create unconstitutional Bible classes that either promote the religious views of teachers or disparage the religious beliefs of some students.

Earlier this year, the Ector County school board agreed to quit using a Bible course curriculum at two high schools in Odessa that the American Civil Liberties Union said promoted Protestant religious beliefs not shared by Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and many Protestants.

However, state board members supporting the Bible course rule adopted Friday said such lawsuits are rare and should not be a problem for most school districts.

Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who voted against the proposal, said teachers of the course would be given far less direction from the state than they receive in most other subjects.

“We need to do more work on this instead of jumping off into the abyss,” she said.

The course is supposed to be geared to academic, nondevotional study of the Bible, and cover such things as the influence of the New Testament on law, literature, history and culture.

read more | digg story

So, we in Texas can look forward to turning out students who erroneously think that murder is illegal because the Ten Commandments say you shouldn’t do it. How long before they start teaching a nondevotional course on the Qur’an or the Talmud? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

For me, the solution is simple. Take the Bible Class Challenge.


read more | digg story

If the schools know that they are going to face hostile students in these classes, very few of them will want to offer them in the first place. If the schools offer the classes, and don’t respect the contrary opinions, they can be shut down through lawsuits. It’s an expense we the taxpayers should not have to face, but then we elected these idiots to do this to us, apparently.

FFrF Radio: Webster Cook; Archive: Brian Flemming & George Daly

Podcast Link.
July 19, 2008Webster Cook, student senator and non-eater of communion wafers

Sarah Braasch returns to talk about prayer imposed on senior citizens. If I was restricted to use of federally funded services, I think I’d take exception to being forced to pray in order to eat. Which is what Sarah’s report was about. FAQ at FFrF.org

Dan waxes poetic on the subject of reincarnation.

Webster Cook attended a mass recently because a friend was curious about what actually occurs during a Catholic mass. During the mass, he received communion but failed to eat the wafer (he was, in fact, raised Catholic) He’s now being charged with a hate crime, and possible expulsion from school. Go figure. It’s hard to imagine how anything more ridiculous could have evolved out of this situation.

Excuse me if I find this entire subject laughable. I’ve talked to several Catholics over the years who have told me that they never eat the communion wafers. “You never know where those things have been”.


2007 Archive episode.
July 21, 2007The God Who Wasn’t There

The episode opens with a tribute to the Harry Potter stories. The seventh Harry Potter book was released at midnight the day of the broadcast. I was out there with the rest of the fans, myself.

Theocracy alert deals with a disruption during the Senate invocation prayer. (Why we as taxpayers pay for Senate chaplains is beyond me. I thought they were all sworn to poverty?)
and a discussion of the sad state of affairs when it comes to Catholic priests and child abuse.

(Why not advertise Trojans on TV? Can’t be any worse than ED treatments or female hygiene products)

Brian Flemming produced “The God Who Wasn’t There“.

I’ve seen it (and I won’t go see the Passion of the Christ. Talk about Torture Porn) I hate to say this, but I think the interview was better than the film. I haven’t had the chance to watch the entire DVD, but I understand that there is more information on the DVD than is included in the film itself.

The film inspired the Blasphemy Challenge (I first heard about this on FTL) which has 1509 video responses as of this writing; 508 of whom signed a ticket to hell (unless they have one of these; I have a whole box of them) and didn’t even get a DVD.



2006 Archive episode.
July 22, 2006“Gideons and Guantanamo”

For legal buffs, George Daly represented FFrF in their objection to a bible distribution day. He has also represented clients held at Gitmo.

[It’s frightening to think this was two years ago, and they have just now granted that these prisoners have a right to a hearing under US law. These prisoners will be waiting at least another year before they even get their hearing, and it could be another couple of years before any of them could be released. That’s over a decade of imprisonment for some of these guys, some of them simply swept up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 3650 days versus one day for a US citizen accused of a real crime. What a joke our laws are]

Pagan pulpit and Dan’s Battle of Church and State close out the episode.

Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders

I don’t think I could have said it better myself. We are all immigrants here, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere.

The wife and I get into the occasional heated discussion concerning immigration. She rightly points out the depressed nature of commerce in border areas, as well as the impact of an oversupply of labor throughout border regions, like most of South Texas as a problem with immigration. But that doesn’t go far enough. It is an effect of state interference in immigration; it is an effect of illegal immigration, and the restrictions placed on legal immigration; not a problem with immigration itself.

Jason L. Riley defends the rightness of allowing all immigrants who want to come to the US to work, to do just that, in his book Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders and in this CATO event. (right click here and “save as” for the audio) One by one, he takes on and shoots down all the objections that the Dobbites in the US raise when it comes to immigrants and their effects on the US economy. Here’s a shorter video version:

Immigrants are statistically the smallest group when it comes to measuring their presence in welfare roles and prisons. Immigrants have always been treated as pariah’s in the US, and blamed for all manner of social problems. The Irish, the Germans, the Chinese and the Italians were all discriminated against, unnecessarily, when their immigration numbers were the highest (the story of the plight of the Irish escaping the potato famine is quite moving) and they have all gone on to either integrate themselves into the American society, or they returned (like a good portion of the Italians) to their country after they had made their fortunes.

I posted this today because I caught the Dobbs-O-Meter on The Daily Show yesterday.

People should learn to laugh at their irrational fears; or the rest of us will be laughing at you when you display them.


On the other hand, the comments from Michael Barone that follow up Jason Riley’s presentation show the naivete of the average person when it comes to centrally established state controls, and the reasons they pass laws. Whether or not they intended their actions to have the effects they had, the effects are the only way to measure the harm that immigration quotas have caused. Continuing quotas on immigration is nothing more than pointless.

Barr on Fannie/Freddie Bailout

The more this guy talks, the more I like him. The wife has gone into several uncharacteristic rants lately, concerning the unfairness of taxing us for other peoples inability to actually read their mortgage documents (she drove the mortgage brokers crazy and read every page before signing off on all our mortgages. I can’t even begin to read that fast) before signing them.

Check out what Bob Barr has to say on the subject:

You won’t catch Obama or McCain sounding this type of note. The federal government doesn’t have any business bailing out private businesses that break the basic rules of good business. The mortgage industry should be left to hang in the breeze.

This all comes of legalized theft (codified as Fractional Reserve Banking) which is what modern banking systems are based on.

Maybe the Beer will Finally be Drinkable

InBev’s offer to buy Budweiser was accepted today. If I hear one more person tell me how this is a sign of weakness in the American economy, and that it must be prevented, I think my head will explode.

What this is a sign of is how many dollars are out there in the world in circulation that need investing; and how much faith Europeans have in American’s love of beer.

…and who knows; with a Belgian company in charge of Anheuser-Busch, they might finally produce a beer that’s worth drinking…