Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

The Exodus Of Exodus

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

I could hardly have been happier when I first read that Exodus International was closing its doors.

They were on a fool’s errand right from the very beginning. What is deeply tragic – so I am pleased to hear a sincere apology from Alan Chambers – is the amount of hurt that they caused over the last 30+ years. Shaming gays and lesbians when prayer alone didn’t “cure” them of their natural attractions. Chambers also admitted that he continued having same-sex attractions over the years.

Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist dealt with this story.

This is an on-going change and something that is making us more civilized as a species. To fight against it is to (try to) drag humanity backward. You are on the losing end of this fight; so come around to reasonableness and be a better human being.

The Progress Of Equality

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

I am very late in posting about these events. Sorry.

On May 6th, Delaware became the 11th state to legalize marriage equality. Minnesota followed and we now have nearly one-quarter of the United States that recognize that the LGBTQ community deserve equality rights. I love how Mark Morford put it in his article:

Minnesota is, of course, also home to the Tea Party’s twitchiest nutball, its most flagrantly insane hood ornament, one Rep. Michele Bachmann, a goofy homophobe of epic proportions who once dragged a squadron of conservative “prayer warriors” into senate chambers to ask God to help smite the evil gays.

And lo, it would appear God has finally responded to Michele Bachmann, and the nation’s right-wing homophobes in general. Can you see it? Why, it looks like a very large, very bright, very unmistakable… middle finger.

One day the rest of the States will become civilized and catch-up with so much of the rest of the world.

Great Job New Zealand!

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

On Wednesday, the parliament of New Zealand voted to legalize marriage equality. It is the 13th country to do so and the first in the Asia-Pacific region (seriously Australia, get your act together and follow the Kiwis!).

Everyone else; you do realize that you will fall on the wrong side of history if you wait. Stop listening to the terrified, old men that run your church! The world will not end if two men or two women can express their love for each other in the same way that a man and a woman can. This is about basic human rights, not about your faith.

The Waning Hours Of 2012

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Here it is. December 31st 2012.

What a ride! The silly Mayan stuff. A terrifying American election. Horrific tragedies (followed-up with spectacularly stupid ideas) and personal failures and extraordinary pride and world-beating accomplishments.

There were many big changes in my own life this year too:

  • I left Microsoft for Azaleos.
  • Only to have Azaleos begin a morph into Avanade.
  • In health, my weight seems to have plateaued again between 216 and 220 pounds; but my body fat percentage has dropped and I have definitely become stronger than ever.
  • Early in the year, I dove into the 3D art world with Carrara and toward the end of the year, I began to continue that journey with LightWave.

Of course, now Americans (and us ex-patriots living here) now have to face the so-called Fiscal Cliff. I think the CBC’s Washington Correspondent Neil Macdonald described it perfectly:

What other democratic nation’s leaders, after all, would deliberately design a fiscal disaster and aim the country’s economy straight for it?

And then stand back, holding news conferences, double-dog-daring each other to step over some imagined line, chanting the political equivalent of nana-nana-boo-boo?

My own thoughts about the Fiscal Cliff? I hope this country plunges over that cliff. Yes, that will hurt me…it will hurt everyone. But the United States cannot carry on mortgaging its future and it has been doing that for so long that ending the cycle and recovering from it will hurt. Taxes should be raised. Spending in the military should be cut. Spending should shifted to building up infrastructure – especially building several new nuclear power plants (like military spending, this creates jobs for tens of thousands of people for several years and will cut pollution and foreign oil dependence).

So what happens tomorrow? In about 18 hours, I’ll start to find out.

The World Breathes A Sigh Of Relief

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Congratulations President Obama!

I am so glad for these results, that rationality and sanity won out (albeit not without some setbacks – Pete Stark lost his seat in Congress). What a huge gift it was to hear that Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Richard “Rape Is God’s Will” Mourdock lost their campaigns. It is also great to see more women representing this nation – 18 female Senators is an all-time high. Tammy Baldwin is also the first openly gay Senator.

I am also excited to see Elizabeth Warren win her Senate race. I’ve long been a fan of her work and advocacy of commercial reforms.

Maine, Minnesota, Washington and Maryland all approved marriage equality laws. More progress towards becoming a civilized nation that respects humanity in all its diverse forms.

Progress! Slow – often painfully slow – but sure progress.

I definitely feel better about continuing to live in this country.

The 35th FFRF Convention

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

This post is a week late – things got really crazy at work! Sorry! I’ll also post about the travel hiccups that I had later.

I had a great time at the latest FFRF Convention! This was only the second convention that I have attended but it will definitely not be the last. As a Life Member of FFRF, I’ll be aiming to attend every annual convention from here out.

After registering, we had group bus tours through the Columbia River Gorge. The Pacific Northwest had been experiencing an almost unheard of drought of over 80 days without rain. Unfortunately, this was the day that the drought broke. The rainy weather could not drench my enthusiasm though. This was an informative tour with some spectacular views. The tour made stops at a salmon spawning river, Horsetail Falls, Multnomah Falls and Wahkeena Falls.

My Flickr set of photos of the gorge trip is here.

On Friday evening we were given updates on Jessica Ahlquist’s and Max Nielson’s situations. Their stories have fallen out of the ADD-ridden news media; but they are not yet over by a long-shot. I wish all the best to both of them and look forward to successful conclusions.

A major highlight of this year’s conference was hearing Richard Dawkins acceptance speech of FFRF’s The Emperor Has No Clothes award. It was really two speeches in one. The first half examined the excessive use of metaphor by “sophisticated theologians.” The fundamentalists in America appear to honestly believe the things that they say they do; but the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury (who both believe in the correctness of evolution) often speak about Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden like they were real places. No doubt, their less sophisticated congregations are not picking up on the use of metaphor and are believing this material literally.

Dawkins then deviated into the political, what with the impending Presidential election. He opined that a candidate’s religious views should be put under scrutiny just as much as their economic or social views. Of course, Mitt Romney provides the best example of this. He allegedly believes provably false ideas (Israelites in the Americas!) and racist ideas. If he wants to be the most powerful man in the world, he ought be accountable for these ideas.

Of course, I had Professor Dawkins sign my copy of The God Delusion and I thanked him for throwing me the first life-line toward reason.

During Saturday’s Non-Prayer Breakfast, I was able to speak to Sean Faircloth about his excellent book, Attack Of The Theocrats. No matter what views you have on religion, this book is a must-read.

Saturday was a busy but interesting day. Katherine Stewart discussed how the Good News Club slimes its way into public schools. Rather chilling and something I’m going to watch for in my school district. FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel gave an excellent presentation about debunking the myth that America is a Christian nation.

We heard from “graduates” of The Clergy Project. This is an important initiative; one that I hope sees many more graduates in the future. I suspect that there is a large population of atheist pastors, priests and such that are forced to live a lie.

The convention ended on a high note for me personally. I won one of the raffle drawings for “clean money.” These are American currency bills that were printed before the 1957 law that tainted them with “In God We Trust.” I won a $20 bill printed in 1934 – a thing of beauty!

I hold on to a vision of a world that is not choking under the stranglehold of religion. The human race deserves to rise to fullest potential without being dragged down by a past that it is growing out of.

Heading To Portland, Oregon

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In a couple of hours, I’ll be flying out to Portland, Oregon to attend the 35th FFRF National Convention.

I loved last year’s convention in Hartford, Connecticut. This year’s will be every bit as wonderful. All the more so if I get a chance to meet Richard Dawkins!

Once I return, I’ll post more about the event.

Disappointed With Australia’s Marriage Equality Vote

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Last Wednesday the Australian government voted against marriage equality. That depressed me since polls show that a majority of Australians support equality.

I suspect that much of my disappointment stems from trying to understand Prime Minister Gillard. I am thrilled that an out atheist is the head of a major country. I was impressed when she cancelled speaking at a Christian group when they made statements equating being gay with the health hazards of smoking. Wow! I wish American politicians had a commitment to reality like that.

Yet, Gillard does not support marriage equality. I don’t understand it.

Of course, atheism does not automatically equate with certain social issues. We are seeing the emergence of so-called Atheism + that tries to tie atheism to these social issues. Once I became an out atheist, I almost immediately began supporting rights and equality for LGBT people. Simply put; I realized that all the arguments to supress the LGBT community was entirely religious – I could not think of a single purely secular reason. Since I rejected religion, I had to reject the idea that fellow human beings could not be permitted to marry those that they loved.

I’d love to chat with Ms. Gillard about that.

In the mean time, several more states in the USA have marriage equality votes pending as part of their participation in the November federal election. I am hoping that more of this country sees the light and removes the pointless barriers that block fellow human beings from happiness.

Thoughts On The Chick-fil-A Fiasco

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Last week, every time that I began to write about this something new would crop up. The brouhaha seems to have finally calmed down. Of course; any one who knows me already know which side of the argument that I am on.

At first I applauded when the mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco stated that they didn’t want a Chick-fil-A store in their cities. However, I am glad to say that reason returned to my mind. It was wrong to politicize this issue (though it was important for political leaders to speak out as they did, it is preferable to allow the free market to deal with it). I owe a nod to Matthew Paul Turner – a Christian writer – who wrote 5 Reasons Why The Church Failed Yesterday about the failure of the politicization of this issue:

People felt hate and we ignored that. At the end of the day, regardless of whether or not your Christian understanding of scripture harbors hate or not, a large group of people felt hated…

Yesterday’s hoopla surrounding CFA did nothing to prove that Christians don’t hate gay people. Oh I know that most Christians will say, “I don’t hate gay people!!”

But did supporting CFA Appreciation Day prove that?

As a humanist, I want the best for everybody. If two people love each other and want to marry, they should have that as a right. Religion has often (always?) been at the forefront of supressing people’s rights. In spite of this, we humans have slowly moved forward and made life better.

There was a time when a group of humans with some genetic differences that gave them larger breasts, wider hips and even a different way of peeing, were regarded as inferior to the rest of the humans. These humans were treated as property for far too long. That slowly changed. There is another group of humans with some genetic differences that gave them darker skin; these humans were also seen as inferior and treated as property for too long.

Those struggles still continue to a certain, sad, extent. Today, we have a group of humans with some genetic differences that give them a predilection toward the same gender. This group is often marginalized and treated as inferior or broken. Yet, in time, they too will win out.

I can hardly wait for that day to arrive.

Congratulations NASA on landing Curiosity!

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I was so very pleased to wake this morning and read about the successful landing of the Curiosity Mars Science Lab. What a fantastic achievement! But to immediately follow that up with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter capturing the Curiosity decent – a thousand levels of awesome.

Bad Astronomer Phil Plait said it perfectly:

The news these days is filled with polarization, with hate, with fear, with ignorance. But while these feelings are a part of us, and always will be, they neither dominate nor define us. Not if we don’t let them. When we reach, when we explore, when we’re curious – that’s when we’re at our best. We can learn about the world around us, the Universe around us. It doesn’t divide us, or separate us, or create artificial and wholly made-up barriers between us. As we saw on Twitter, at New York Times Square where hundreds of people watched the landing live, and all over the world: science and exploration bind us together. Science makes the world a better place, and it makes us better people.

Then Dork Tower came out with a great take on news today.

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