Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Promote the Meme "Neo-Theo"

I invite you to join in propagating a new meme: "neo-theo".

Despite its obvious resonance with "neo-con", the term "neo-theo" more closely parallels the rebranding that the creationist movement undertook after getting repeatedly slapped down for making its religious motivations too visible. They went back into their burrows and emerged again as defenders of "academic freedom" (religious zealots have a free-speech right to indoctrinate school children about "evilution") and "intelligent design" (a pseudo-scientific label for the laffably named Discovery Institute, which operates no labs, runs no experiments, publishes no papers, and has never discovered a damn thing). The legal, academic, and scientific false fronts they put up are mere sham, of course, but they help to preserve the legal facade of not being religiously motivated.

It's the same deal with the neo-theos. Instead of being repackaged creationists, they're gussied-up dominionists. In their heart of hearts, they believe the United States should be (and probably all along was intended to be) a theocracy, but they've learned from bitter experience that they can't come right out and honestly say so. Instead, they take refuge behind nominally secular legal concepts, such as the idea that corporations are people (which gained legal credibility after the eye-opening Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC) and thus entitled to "human rights", such as conscientious objection.

There's another case currently headed for the US Supreme Court, in which the newly minted "person" known as Hobby Lobby claims its conscience has been shocked by being required to provide the same kind of health-care coverage for its employees as, say, General Motors or Microsoft. In fact, while the fundamentalist owners of Hobby Lobby may have just such an attitude (the same way that the owners of Chick-fil-A are opposed to gay marriage), the corporation itself, not being a human being, is devoid of opinions on the subject. And the law applies to the corporation.

Just as with the "academic freedom" claims of the creationists, the neo-theos are attempting to put a smiling secular face on their ludicrous claim, wrapping it in shiny colored paper with a ribbon, a bow, and a label reading "religious liberty". Well, "corporate personhood" (either as such or in its guise as "church personhood") is as much an oxymoron as "intelligent design" and deserves to be exposed for what it truly is: dominionist dogma rebranded for secular consumption.

I believe that identifying its proponents as "neo-theos" (which has the added advantage of rhyming) will help to do that.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Remember how breezy it was yesterday in Madison? Steady winds of 12-15 MPH, with gusts up to 20-25? Flags standing straight out from their poles?

In the Philippines the winds were 10 times that speed.

It was like being in a 100-mile-wide tornado that went on for hours.

I wonder if there might be something to that global-warming stuff.

= = = = = =
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

— Bob Dylan, American singer-songwriter, Blowing in the Wind

Saturday, November 02, 2013

My Offensive Trash Bins

To: Marsha Rauls
Building Inspector
City of Madison

Dear Inspector Rauls:

I am in receipt of your official notice about my trash and recycling bins being stored in the front of my house. Indeed they are, and have been since I received them X years ago. This last summer I went to considerable effort and expense to install a nice patio — colored patriotically in Badger cardinal and white — for them to hang out on. As you can see from the attached photos, the bins are both unobtrusive and conveniently located.

If you look closely, you can also see a trail of elegantly rustic flagstones leading from the front of my house toward my back yard. That is my sole means of access to the rear of the house. At 69 years of age, I am not prepared to go hauling 2 trash bins over that kind of rugged surface, especially thru several feet of snow, 52 times a year, nor to have to make the same trek every time I need to empty a trash can or recycling basket from inside the house. The recycling bins are right exactly where I want them and where they should be for ease of use and brevity of hauling.

I see that you have given me until November 10 to correct this violation or pay a fine of $75. This is your official notice that you don't have to wait until the 10th. I'm not gonna do it, and I think that it's idiotic that anyone would expect me to.

I realize that you are just doing your job and aren't responsible for the stupid ordinance you're being expected to enforce, so I am forwarding a copy of this message to my alder, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, and to George Dreckmann, the city's recyclilng director, who has always seemed to me like a practical kind of guy who can probably understand why citizens wouldn't want unnecessary obstacles placed in the path of their recycling efforts.