Sunday, June 30, 2013

Atheist Manifesto (Somewhat of a Book Review)

There must be an enormous amount of people who, like me, don’t really believe in the existence of a person with a long beard sitting on a cloud, passing judgment on everyone. They just don’t go about telling everyone how they feel. The ones that do are the activist atheists, the ones that speak for the rest of us.

Authors like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are explicitly FOR atheism, just like I am for animal rights. But their rational, often passionate arguments pale compared to Michel Onfray’s total destruction of religion in his book: ‘Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam’. Onfray sets out to dissect the Koran, the Bible and the Torah with the precision of a surgical procedure, leaving behind little piles of brittle bones, proving that the bulk of these texts were fabricated, not too different from the fraudulent texts of scoundrels like Joseph Smith. They were written by ‘too many people over too long a period of time’ to be historically correct.

This is not the first book I read about atheism, but it definitely made me stop and think hard about my own views. My thoughts go something like this: Read more...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Edward Snowden: Hero or Traitor?

By Tom Kando

What a mess! Opinions range from admiration for Snowden to loathing. Some worry about the potential harm he has done, while others are ecstatic about America’s worldwide embarrassment.

First, let me disqualify the sadistic anti-Americans who are orgasmic about the US government’s current troubles. They are the same knee-jerk zealots who danced in the streets on 9/11, arguing that 3000 American deaths pale compared to the dozens of thousands who die every month in the Middle East, in Africa and elsewhere. As if one made the other right. Americans do not dance in the streets when thousands of people are pulverized in a foreign country.

Now don’t get huffy. I am no right-wing apologist for the increasingly Orwellian practices of the US government. All I am saying is: Please! Can we look at this in a nuanced fashion?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Dry Spell

For a while now, my Muse has been on strike, stubbornly refusing to do her job of inspiring me to write. I go through the motions, poking my brain, trying to stimulate the writing reflex, zilch, nada.

I am sitting at my desk, frustrated, watching the birds go about their much more sensible business of waiting their turn around the birdfeeder, the squirrels madly chasing each other in the grass, their tails jerkily going up and down, trying to keep up with their owners’ frenzied activity.

The alarm on my electronic calendar rudely jars me out of my reverie, reminding me that National Grid is coming by to change our gas meter. I have five minutes to comb my hair, wipe the boogers out of my eyes and put some clothes on. Whoever shows up at this ungodly hour will have to suffer the consequences of morning breath and body odor.

I am in the kitchen making coffee, looking at the clock to see if I have time to go out and check on my newly planted seedlings. I feel a slight irritation brewing as I stir my coffee. My precious morning ritual of stepping into the dew covered garden in my p.j.’s to inspect the new growth has been disrupted. Read more...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are Beauty Queens Stupid?

By Tom Kando

Like many husbands, I am often made to watch beauty pageants by my wife. The recent spate of hilarious moments has made it worthwhile, not the least because I am a social psychologist. I have been mesmerized by the brain shut-down process that takes place.

For example, on June 16, 2013, Miss Utah embarrassed herself in the Miss USA contest. In 2007, Miss teenage South Carolina’s performance was even more embarrassing. 

We could attribute these laughable moments to the inferiority and shallowness of American culture and education, or we could engage in stereotyping and dismiss these women as dumb bimbos. But that would not be adequate.

I bet you that miss teenage South Carolina has no trouble coming up with the necessary words when she gets into a vicious verbal fight over a boyfriend. I believe that the problem is situational. Answering a question intelligently, ANY question, is within anyone’s grasp, no matter how uneducated about facts one is.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Should We Abolish The IRS, And The Government As Well?

By Tom Kando

As I said in my previous post, among the explosion of (alleged) Obama administration scandals, the IRS scandal is probably the most damaging. As everyone knows by now, the IRS discriminated against conservatives by raising the bar higher for groups such as the Tea Party when it comes to granting them tax exempt status. This action by some rogue elements of the huge IRS bureaucracy was incredibly stupid. I assume that the White House had nothing to do with it. Furthermore, it’s being blown vastly out of proportion. Rush Limbaugh compared it to the Holocaust!

What is most unfortunate about this scandal is that it feeds the already widespread anti-government frenzy of the past several years. Over the past couple of decades, the American plutocracy has succeeded - with its enormous unfairly acquired wealth - in brainwashing a majority of (white) Americans into a deep-seated conservatism bordering on anarchism. Read more...

Monday, June 10, 2013

How Badly Are Things Going For Obama?

By Tom Kando

I just returned from vacation. Although I did keep up with the news, I refrained from commenting on it. This was healthy, but frustrating. Now, it’s time for me to get back into politics. There is so much bad news. Where do I even begin?

A warning to conservative readers: I am as pro-Obama as ever. Let me just touch upon a few random recent events:

1. June 7: Another mass shooting, this one in Santa Monica: More blood on the hands of the NRA and all those opposed to stricter gun control. Meanwhile, the president’s gun control legislation is going nowhere.

By the way: the murderer was shot dead, as often happens in such cases. But here is my stance on this, as well as on capital punishment: Death - whether it’s suicide-by-cop or the gas chamber later on - is way too soft a punishment. To be sure, whenever the safety of law enforcement and of the public dictates killing the mass murderer, there is no choice. However, it would be better to keep these animals alive. They should be forced to suffer, deprived of freedom, living in a stinking cell for the rest of their days, constantly aware of and confronted by their monstrous actions. That would be true punishment.