Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crawling farther under rocks

Our base of knowledge as humans has grown exponentially over the past 2,000 years, but some organized religions are doing their best to continue living in the dark ages. A few recent examples:

– The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, when it comes time to choose a new leader, typically selects the fellow who had been vice president of the group. But not this year. Why? According to church observers, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, who held the No. 2 post, was thought to represent the more liberal “social justice” wing of the church. Kicanas, according to a story in the New York Times, has favored dialogue between Catholic liberals and conservatives. The bishops weren't going to have any of that. They broke with tradition and instead chose New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is much more reliably old-old-old-school.

– Southern Baptists in South Carolina voted to approve a resolution this week calling on pastors to do more preaching against homosexuality, while also urging Christians to be compassionate toward gay people. I'm guessing a sermon might go something like this: “The lives you gay people are leading are vile, sickening and horrifying in the eyes of the Lord ... but do join us for punch and cookies in the social hall after today's service."

– This is my favorite one, and I swear that I'm NOT making this up. Those forward-thinking Catholic bishops I mentioned earlier held a conference on how to conduct exorcisms because there just aren't enough priests who know how to perform the rite. Seeing as how this is 2010, not the Middle Ages, I was a bit taken aback by this. Leaders in the Catholic Church, in the 21st freakin' century, still believe that people can be possessed by the devil or some other assorted demon. How 1452 of them. My first inclination is to laugh at them, if this weren't so sad.

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On America’s political right, it’s all the rage these days to be deliberately stupid. Witness the many Republicans and tea party advocates who believe that Barack Obama is 1) a Kenyan; and/or 2) a Muslim. Village idiot Sarah Palin (she would be the idiot in pretty much any village in which she chose to live) made up a lie about "death panels" in Obama's health-care program, and the masses of blithering simpletons who see her as some kind of hero to the common man – rather than the pandering font of ignorance she is – slurped it up like manna from heaven. Now comes a new poll showing that a majority of Republicans – 53 percent – don’t think there’s any evidence – NONE – of climate change. That's just plain dumb. It was only three years ago that nearly two-thirds of Republicans believed in global warming. Why the change? It's pretty clear that it's politically driven. Obama is in the White House, and anti-intellectual dolts like Palin are now worshipped by a significant segment of our populace, so if scientists say something is true, they're not to be trusted because they are “elitists.” In real English, that means they're smart, and we sure don't want to trust smart people. The truth is, as long as the big energy companies own a fair number of our lawmakers, especially on the Republican side, there will be no shortage of climate change deniers. Some of them are smart enough to know that truth is not on their side, but some are just dumb sheep who believe anything they hear from serial liars like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Palin. Just for the record, about 80 percent of Democrats and a majority of independents still believe global warming is real. So, unless the Republicans and tea partiers want to admit that their ignorance is deliberate, I'll just have to assume that there are fewer brain-dead fools among the Dems and independents than among the GOP/teabagger crowd.

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On the local front

Some thoughts on a few local stories:

– An enterprising young fellow at California University of Pennsylvania are firing up a website designed to allow students interested in “hooking up” with other students to avail themselves of a sort of online free love clearinghouse. It bills itself as “safer than Craigslist and cheaper than bars.” My guess is that the vast, vast majority of those signing up will be horny male students doing some wishful thinking.

– Police in Charleroi have charged a local man with cruelty to animals after finding two pit bulls that had starved to death in cages in a home the man formerly lived in. One can only imagine the suffering those animals went through before they mercifully died. I'm hoping that a judge will make an example of 24-year-old Stanley McDonald and give him as much jail time as the charge allows, provided he is found guilty. I saw a friend or relative of McDonald's on TV claiming that McDonald thought a friend was going to take care of the dogs. Count me among those who think that is bull@#$%.

– I'm rarely surprised by anything Washington City Council does, but I was still puzzled by the story about the hiring of Ron McIntyre, a city police officer disabled in a fall during the 2006 fire at the George Washington Hotel, as the new city code enforcement officer. It's not that I have doubts about McIntyre's ability to do the job. It's the rate of pay for the duties being performed. The old code enforcement officer, Mike Behrens, made $41,000 a year. McIntyre will be making $35,000, but city solicitor Lane Turturice says his duties will only be about half that of Behrens. The solicitor says McIntyre will primarily be involved with rental registrations, while the action code enforcement will be done by fire Chief Linn Brookman and someone from North Strabane Township. Can someone explain to me why McIntyre will be paid nearly the same as Behrens for only half the work? That's a great job if you can get it.

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