March 30, 2007

Fun Friday

A horrible movie, but a great scene. The amazing Don Rickles doing what Don does best.

March 28, 2007

God's Dupes

An all around fanatastic editorial from the L.A. Times by Sam Harris.......God's Dupes.

Reading the line "There is no question that many people do good things in the name of their faith — but there are better reasons to help the poor, feed the hungry and defend the weak than the belief that an Imaginary Friend wants you to do it." brought an enourmous smile and nod from this non-believer. This is just all around good stuff.

Thanks Sam.

PETE STARK, a California Democrat, appears to be the first congressman in U.S. history to acknowledge that he doesn't believe in God. In a country in which 83% of the population thinks that the Bible is the literal or "inspired" word of the creator of the universe, this took political courage.

Of course, one can imagine that Cicero's handlers in the 1st century BC lost some sleep when he likened the traditional accounts of the Greco-Roman gods to the "dreams of madmen" and to the "insane mythology of Egypt."

Mythology is where all gods go to die, and it seems that Stark has secured a place in American history simply by admitting that a fresh grave should be dug for the God of Abraham — the jealous, genocidal, priggish and self-contradictory tyrant of the Bible and the Koran. Stark is the first of our leaders to display a level of intellectual honesty befitting a consul of ancient Rome. Bravo.

The truth is, there is not a person on Earth who has a good reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead or that Muhammad spoke to the angel Gabriel in a cave. And yet billions of people claim to be certain about such things. As a result, Iron Age ideas about everything high and low — sex, cosmology, gender equality, immortal souls, the end of the world, the validity of prophecy, etc. — continue to divide our world and subvert our national discourse. Many of these ideas, by their very nature, hobble science, inflame human conflict and squander scarce resources.

Of course, no religion is monolithic. Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief. Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death.

Outside this sphere of maniacs, one finds millions more who share their views but lack their zeal. Beyond them, one encounters pious multitudes who respect the beliefs of their more deranged brethren but who disagree with them on small points of doctrine — of course the world is going to end in glory and Jesus will appear in the sky like a superhero, but we can't be sure it will happen in our lifetime.

Out further still, one meets religious moderates and liberals of diverse hues — people who remain supportive of the basic scheme that has balkanized our world into Christians, Muslims and Jews, but who are less willing to profess certainty about any article of faith. Is Jesus really the son of God? Will we all meet our grannies again in heaven? Moderates and liberals are none too sure.

Those on this spectrum view the people further toward the center as too rigid, dogmatic and hostile to doubt, and they generally view those outside as corrupted by sin, weak-willed or unchurched.

The problem is that wherever one stands on this continuum, one inadvertently shelters those who are more fanatical than oneself from criticism. Ordinary fundamentalist Christians, by maintaining that the Bible is the perfect word of God, inadvertently support the Dominionists — men and women who, by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin's Geneva. Christian moderates, by their lingering attachment to the unique divinity of Jesus, protect the faith of fundamentalists from public scorn. Christian liberals — who aren't sure what they believe but just love the experience of going to church occasionally — deny the moderates a proper collision with scientific rationality. And in this way centuries have come and gone without an honest word being spoken about God in our society.

People of all faiths — and none — regularly change their lives for the better, for good and bad reasons. And yet such transformations are regularly put forward as evidence in support of a specific religious creed. President Bush has cited his own sobriety as suggestive of the divinity of Jesus. No doubt Christians do get sober from time to time — but Hindus (polytheists) and atheists do as well. How, therefore, can any thinking person imagine that his experience of sobriety lends credence to the idea that a supreme being is watching over our world and that Jesus is his son?

There is no question that many people do good things in the name of their faith — but there are better reasons to help the poor, feed the hungry and defend the weak than the belief that an Imaginary Friend wants you to do it. Compassion is deeper than religion. As is ecstasy. It is time that we acknowledge that human beings can be profoundly ethical — and even spiritual — without pretending to know things they do not know.

Let us hope that Stark's candor inspires others in our government to admit their doubts about God. Indeed, it is time we broke this spell en masse. Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain — from cosmology to psychology to economics — has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture.

Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music.

March 23, 2007

Fun Friday continues.....

The great Calvert DeForest as Larry "Bud" Melman on Letterman. Hot towels for folks in the port authority in New York. RIP Larry.

Fun Friday

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March 20, 2007

Orson Welles roasts Dean Martin

Orson during a more sober moment roasting the great Dean Martin. His reading of the lyrics to "That's Amore'" is just plain funny.

March 19, 2007

Drunken Orson Welles

Oh how the mighty have fallen.....

The first great film of 2007

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Either you KNOW David Fincher's movies or you don't. What's surprising about his new film ZODIAC is that it's so different from ALL of his previous works. Gone are the flashy camera moves, digital special effect touches, and dense characterization. Gone!

In his latest Fincher goes for 1970's straight ahead storytelling. He unfolds the tale of San Francisco and the town's panic in the grip of a serial killer who's identity was never discovered.

Pacing the story over nearly 3 hours, Fincher takes the time to look at every angle possible. Starting with the killings themselves, then moving slowly into the newspaper and local media's reaction to the communications the killer sends (along with coded messages) then slowly again morphing the media story into the police investigation and then finally doubling back again to the media and finally to one lone man's obsession with discovering the killer.

The film's pace is flawless. Moving from one aspect of the crimes to another and covering almost 20 years of story Fincher never amps things up and gets falsley dramatic or bogs down. His focus on the group of men who are at first curious and later obsessed and haunted by the killer's identity is never lost.

March 16, 2007


Nobody I know is watching LOST anymore. Everyone has either become frustrated with the program for moving too slow and not revealing any of the grand mysteries.

I'm still hooked. There every Wednesday night. Leaning forward looking for clues and ideas relating to the 'grand scheme' of the island and The Others that inhabit it.

Absolutely fantastic ending for last week's episode featuring the "search party" and their quest to bring Jack back home to the "beach camp".

Loved our heroes stumbling upon Jack to believe he's running toward them.....only to find him playing FOOTBALL with weird Tom! Genius! Jack apparently is NOT going to be in a hurry to leave.

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Locke gets stranger every episode. I'm thinking along these lines.....ever since his faith in the "button" and the computer was shattered along with the implosion of the Hatch....he has a new mission in mind. That is to STAY on the island. Locke believes that the island is the reason he is walking and therefor he is on a mission to blow up any and all means of rescue and getting off the island.

Seeing that preview of next week with Locke holding Ben at gunpoint!! Holy crap! AND we finally find out how Locke ended up in that wheelchair!! Is it Wed night yet??

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March 13, 2007

Jim Rome

This is just plain funny. I love a good television fight.

The greatest news ever.....

Congressman Holds No God-Belief

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) is first Congress member in history to acknowledge his nontheism

For Immediate Release
Contact: Lori Lipman Brown,
March 12, 2007

There is only one member of Congress who is on record as not holding a god-belief.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), a member of Congress since 1973, acknowledged his nontheism in response to an inquiry by the Secular Coalition for America. Rep. Stark is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Health Subcommittee.

Although the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, the Coalition's research reveals that Rep. Stark is the first open nontheist in the history of the Congress. Recent polls show that Americans without a god-belief are, as a group, more distrusted than any other minority in America. Surveys show that the majority of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president even if he or she were the most qualified for the office.

Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America, attributes these attitudes to the demonization of people who don't believe in God. "The truth is," says Silverman, "the vast majority of us follow the Golden Rule and are as likely to be good citizens, just like Rep. Stark with over 30 years of exemplary public service. The only way to counter the prejudice against nontheists is for more people to publicly identify as nontheists. Rep. Stark shows remarkable courage in being the first member of Congress to do so."

In October, 2006 the Secular Coalition for America, a national lobby representing the interests of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheists, announced a contest. At the time, few if any elected officials, even at the lowest level, would self-identify as a nontheist. So the Coalition offered $1,000 to the person who could identify the highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States.

In addition to Rep. Stark only three other elected officials agreed to do so: Terry S. Doran, president of the School Board in Berkeley, Calif.; Nancy Glista on the School Committee in Franklin, Maine; and Michael Cerone, a Town Meeting Member from Arlington, Mass.

Surveys vary in the percentage of atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists in the U.S, with about 10% (30 million people) a fair middle point. "If the number of nontheists in Congress reflected the percentage of nontheists in the population," Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition, observes, "there would be 53-54 nontheistic Congress members instead of one."