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Weekend links

  • Australia’s oldest man, aged 109, still … um knits sweaters for penguins. (H/T jed)
  • In your face: The Inaugural Muhammed Art Exhibit and Contest. Big prizes. Great poster illustration. 🙂
  • Charles Manson deserves this. He deserves much, much, much more than this of course. But he deserves this.
  • The double lives of Hasidic atheists.
  • Violence against Jews doesn’t exist in the strange crevasses of Obama’s mind.
  • First thought (quickly suppressed): If only it were true. Wouldn’t want it to come to that pass. But am glad to see politicians fearing it.
  • So which country in the world demands the most data on everybody? Russia? Venezuela? China? North Korea? Go ahead. Guess. I’ll wait.


  1. E Garrett Perry
    E Garrett Perry February 14, 2015 5:56 am

    Might wanna look into the organizers of the “art exhibit” a bit further. Pamela Geller is a Grade-A loon, a shill for religious collectivism which happily veers closer to genocide every week, and a lying shitbag all the way around. The page you link to is one long parade of lies, particularly the bits dealing with the previous demonstration held at the same site. What Geller refers to as the “Stand With The Prophet rally against Islamophobia” and as demanding restrictions on free speech was nothing of the sort- despite her insinuations that the Muslim (and other) demonstrators were supporting the Charlie Hebdo attackers, the rally was in fact an act of solidarity with the VICTIMS. What she refers to as a “free speech rally” was a howling mob of religious-collectivist loons who did everything they could short of gunfire to attack the (again: peaceful, anti-islamist, pro-Charlie) free-speech rights of the Muslim demonstrators, including acts of physical violence. My favorite was the woman I’ve taken to calling Kanye White, who rushed the stage at the Muslim rally and stole the microphone in order to screech her religious invective.

    This is classic Geller- she asks “When will Muslims stand up to the terrorists and denounce their actions?” Then, when Muslims -do- denounce the actions of violent terrorists, Geller and her Useful Idiots reply by turning that denunciation on it’s head, denying that said denunciation ever occured, declaring that said denunciation was all a ruse even if it -did- happen and so therefore doesn’t count, and so on. Nothing short of the physical expulsion or extermination of all Muslims will ever be good enough for those people. Nothing. They are bloody-minded ethno-religious nationalists whose genocidal fantasies grow more brazen by the day, and the only reason they haven’t gone full Daesh already is because they know that they can’t quite yet get away with it. The minute Pam Geller or her followers think they can get away with herding people into Mosques and burning the building down, they will.

  2. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty February 14, 2015 5:58 am

    I can truly sympathize with the atheist Jews. I stayed in the church for a long time after I stopped believing the teachings, for much less compelling reasons than these folks talk about. I had little other social involvement there in Calif., so it was convenient. When I moved to Wyoming, the strings were cut and I formed new associations.

    I no longer can even pretend to accept the teachings of any organized religion. I’m an agnostic, and I’m content with that.

  3. RustyGunner
    RustyGunner February 14, 2015 6:54 am

    The penguin story was cute but all the birds on display in the photos are stuffed plushes, which makes me wonder if the Daily Mail is having one over on us, or has been had themselves.

  4. Claire
    Claire February 14, 2015 6:59 am

    Thanks for the comment, E. Garrett Perry. I’m neither that familiar with Geller nor the organizers of the original “Stand with the Prophet” conference. However, I looked around after reading what you posted and came away saying, “A pox on both their houses.”

    I have no use for “bloody-minded ethno-religious nationalists” but I also see not a shred of evidence that “Stand with the Prophet” was in favor or free speech or any other freedom-related value.

    It appears to have been simply an event designed to get more favorable media coverage of Islam.

    Mainly, I’m totally in favor of the poster illustration as a clever and funny take on Norman Rockwell. And I think anybody who tells others what they can and can’t say-draw-think-write about their religion deserves to be pilloried — non-violently, but mercilessly.

    Although if I had to take sides on Islam I’d be more inclined to side with the reasoned criticisms of Ayaan Hirsi Ali over the fury and snark of Pamela Geller, I really only side with free speech.

  5. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty February 14, 2015 7:29 am

    Those penguin dolls were adorable. I have always loved stuffed toy animals and would love to have one. I did keep looking at the pictres to see if there were little sweaters on any real penguins… and wondered. Given a realistic number of penguins, probably even just in one small area with the oil stuff… and the speed at which any number of elderly people can knit (very involved patterns in fact)… doesn’t seem at all practical. 🙂 But cute story.

  6. Joel
    Joel February 14, 2015 7:38 am

    I’ve seen with my own eyes people living double lives within a deeply religious community, and they can be sad, unfortunate creatures indeed. Maybe due a dollop of sympathy.

    But how a Hasidic Jew goes from “My traditions make no sense” to “There is no god” with no intervening steps and still call it an exercise in critical thinking, I really don’t understand. In general (as I, a non-Jew, understand it) Orthodox Judaism ‘builds a fence’ around the laws of the Torah by surrounding it with a fog of niggling Talmudic regulations so thick that by obeying the regulations it becomes theoretically impossible to break one of the actual laws. So a general prohibition on ‘boiling a kid in its mother’s milk’ evolves into a requirement to never mix meat and dairy at all, and in theory no observant Jew has ever tasted a cheeseburger. It’s easy to understand where a guy might start thinking the sidelocks and phylacteries and special shoes on the Sabbath might be, on sober reflection, a little silly. But these guys seem to have leaped from “the Talmud is nonsense” straight to “The Torah is nonsense, and therefore there is no god.”

    It doesn’t seem to follow, is all.

  7. Claire
    Claire February 14, 2015 8:07 am

    “But how a Hasidic Jew goes from ‘My traditions make no sense’ to ‘There is no god’ with no intervening steps and still call it an exercise in critical thinking, I really don’t understand.”

    I very much doubt that there are no intervening steps. My take is that the article just simplified its descriptions of the process (for instance, focusing on AHA! moments when in fact there may have been years of growing doubts, reading, and thinking involved).

    I don’t know much about ultra-Orthodox Jewish doubters, but I’ve heard hundreds of former Christians describe their deconversion process, and it tends to be a very complex process, though sometimes framed in a simple narrative.

  8. Joel
    Joel February 14, 2015 8:18 am

    Valid point, I suppose…I went from “Maybe there is a god” to “I’m pretty sure there isn’t, at least not as depicted in the Bible, and I’m glad because if there were we’d have to be enemies” and it wasn’t a brief or simple journey.

    But I can tell you Richard Dawkins was not influential in the process.

  9. Claire
    Claire February 14, 2015 8:41 am

    LOL, Joel, about the same here. And not only no Dawkins, but no atheist writers/thinkers played any part in my transition. (Far from it, religious writers and writings played a serious role, and I’ve since heard a lot of former Christians say that sitting down and actually reading the bible from cover to cover was the AHA! moment in their deconversions.)

    These are different days, though. Heck, back when you and I were trying to find peace in and with our religions, how many atheist authors and speakers were even getting public hearings?

    I would say, “God bless the Internet for that!” Except … well …

  10. Pat
    Pat February 14, 2015 11:18 am

    It sounds to me like the Hasidic Jews might be in the middle of an agnostic dilemma — or at least giving an agnostic response. After all, they’ve been pretty sure of their beliefs (and their religion) as Jews, now they’re wandering in the desert again — spiritually-speaking.

    What they aren’t doing is trying to find a substitute. It’s not enough to throw off the old, but to replace it with a new and workable philosophy (or religion). But they’re stuck in the same group-think, still looking for answers among their own religious base.

    It doesn’t seem to occur to them that if they found questions in science or secular knowledge, they may also find answers there. They may never find satisfaction (or the strength to come out of the closet) until they look elsewhere for spirituality.

  11. jed
    jed February 14, 2015 12:18 pm

    I noticed the toy penguins right off, but I suppose it’s easier to get photos of them, than the real thing — which I think I have seen pictures of. Other than that page you linked to, Claire. And I did remember that coverage.

    I have Tux sitting on my desk here – have for years. Buck nekkid, he is — no cute little sweater.

  12. Laird
    Laird February 14, 2015 1:33 pm

    Interesting article on Hasidic atheists. As an atheist living in the Bible Belt I tend to just keep my head down and just avoid the subject of religion (I lost interest in religious debates about 40 years ago anyway, so that’s no problem for me). But I can see how difficult it would be for people whose whole life and culture are bound up in their religion. I feel for them.

    So a bunch of Congressmen and Senators are concerned for their own personal safety? Good; that’s the way it should be. As Jefferson said, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” V (in V for Vendetta) said something very similar: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

    I was amused by Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) comment: “Think of the damage that someone could do in the U.S. Capitol with 30 rounds.” Funny, I was thinking how much good such a person could do. The last two sentences of the article summed it up perfectly: “The bills, between them, have 125 sponsors and co-sponsors. Clearly, the American people must have access to 125-round magazines.”

  13. Laird
    Laird February 14, 2015 1:47 pm

    Oh, and as to the Muhammad Art Exhibit, I really don’t care in the least that the organizers are themselves bigoted religious nutjobs (assuming that what E. Garrett Perry says is correct; I have made no effort to either refute or corroborate it). All religions deserve a healthy and regular dose of ridicule, Islam more than most. Anything which figuratively pokes a finger in their eye is a Very Good Thing. There should be more such events.

  14. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau February 14, 2015 6:47 pm

    That article about Manson reminds me a bit of our Oregon governor’s foibles. Governor-for-life Kitzhaber, who got elected by being a cowboy-boot-wearing Democrat, finally had to resign because of all the financial shenanigans with his young scheming wife. I suspect she will divorce him soon now that he’s no longer able to deliver the insider deals. All the media was frantically telling him to resign because the scandal was getting worse by the day, while I was privately saying, “Hang on Kitzhaber” because the scandal was getting worse by the day. 🙂 It was hugely entertaining.

    It’s almost as good as when former governor Goldschmidt got in trouble for having a 14 year old girlfriend.

    Oh, I definitely think people are arming against the government. Or more accurately, they are arming against an uncertain future, which of course includes the possibility of the government going full Stalin. Remember a while back when so many AR15’s were bought, when the press was on to ban them altogether? People didn’t pay those inflated prices for the privilege of handing the things over.

  15. LarryA
    LarryA February 15, 2015 2:12 pm

    The penguin story was cute but all the birds on display in the photos are stuffed plushes

    Well obviously under the Aussie version of HIPPA taking photos of the actual distressed penguins would violate their privacy. 😉

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