Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

This is from Amazon Prime Video. Full disclosure, I picked this for Bad Move of the Week based on title alone. I mean, Prime Target? Wikipedia does not have an entry for  this, so I pulling details from IMDB. This came out in 1991 from Hero Films and stars David Heavener as free-range cop John Bloodstone, a Dirty Harry remake. In fact, that’s how this one starts out.

Some really bad people have been cornered by the law, and they have some hostages. They want a helicopter, or they will start killing hostages. They do.

Bloodstone is called. He is the only one with the attitude to take on a situation like this. He is given a car and, significantly, a blow torch. He rams the truck through the sheet metal wall of the building where the crooks are holed up and turns the blow torch on them. The situation is quickly settled.

primetarget-01

But not for Bloodstone. He is hauled onto the carpet and suspended from duty (and pay) for his bloodthirsty ways. The only assignment he can get is transporting a critical government witness to give testimony at a trial. Bloodstone has to take the job, because he is in dire straits with his mortgage. Officials offer him a large sum to take the job. He asks for $25,000. They agree. Something is wrong. Viewers are beginning to think said officials don’t expect Bloodstone to successfully complete the mission, so it doesn’t matter how much they offer him.

primetarget-02

Bloodstone goes to a secret government facility to pick up his cargo. Whoa! It’s Tony Curtis. Not really Tony Curtis, but Tony Curtis playing mobster Marietta Copella, prepared to sing to the jury but doubtful he will ever make it to the courthouse.

primetarget-03

Copella is mostly right. The fix is in. A trusted agent drops by the secure facility and guns down those guarding the place. And he uses a gun he has pilfered from Bloodstone’s house.

primetarget-04

I have yet to figure out why the hit on the facility after Copella has been  carted away, but it doesn’t matter. The shooter next catches up with Bloodstone and Copella on the highway, disguised as a motorcycle cop. He stops the car. Checks Bloodstone’s license and registration, steps to the front to examine the plate, then opens fire.

To no effect. Bloodstone is wearing his ballistic vest, and when the “cop” steps around to finish off Copella, Bloodstone nails him.

primetarget-05

The bullets that killed the government agents are traced to Bloodstone’s gun, and an alert is put out on him. When he stops at a service station a news-wise civilian calls the sheriff, who arrives and puts the arm on Bloodstone. Just then two government agents arrive. They gun down the sheriff and the civilian. Bloodstone, unarmed, turns the tables, grabbing a gun from one of the agents and putting both of them away.

primetarget-06

Copella and Bloodstone hole up in a motel where, in the adjoining room, a comely lass is taking a shower, for the benefit of all the men watching this movie.

primetarget-07

How does the buxom bimbo fit into the plot? When Bloodstone figures two more hit men are coming his way he steps next door, pulls the winsome lady into bed, and under the sheets pretends to hump. When one of the rogue agents breaks into the room and prepares to finish off Bloodstone and the babe, Bloodstone shoots him dead from beneath the sheets.

Then Bloodstone steps into the bathroom, aims carefully, and kills the other agent in the adjoining room with two shots through the wall.

On the run, Bloodstone and Copella encounter two hot-blooded souls making out by a lake side. They take the canoe and make their escape.

primetarget-08

Bloodstone arranges with his one trusted pal at the police department, Captain Leo Tompkins (Isaac Hayes), to get him and Copella to the courthouse safely. They show up at a meeting, where an armored truck awaits. Also a policeman to arrest Bloodstone. When the cop starts the truck to drive it around, it blows up. Tompkins is appalled. Bloodstone figures he is going to have to do this one on his own.

primetarget-09

Obviously an ambush is arranged at the courthouse steps. But the sniper on the roof misses with his first shot, hitting Copella in the arm. Bloodstone takes out the sniper and confront’s the crooked commissioner and his henchmen. One goes for his weapon, and Bloodstone ices him. Tompkins take the second under tow. That leaves the crooked commissioner, who grabs Bloodstone’s pretty wife as a hostage.

primetarget-10

You guessed it. At a pre-arranged signal, the wife tells Bloodstone to  go for it, and he puts three slugs into the bad guy.

There is a lot wrong with this. Too much of it is beyond belief.

Forget about the blowup over the opening hostage situation. We have a bunch of professionals who can’t handle the standoff and allow hostages to be killed while they vacillate, so they call in a rogue cop. Then, after said Dirty Harry has settled the matter without additional loss of innocent life, they lower the boom on him? Only in speculative fiction.

There is a crowd of conspirators involved. This weight would sink even Watergate. Somebody would have spilled before this got two feet.

A professional shooter on the courthouse roof with a telescopic sight misses on his first shot? You have to be kidding me. Besides, what was the sniper’s plan B. After missing, what does he do? He stands up, exposing himself so Bloodstone can drop him off the roof with a single pistol shot.

Nah, I’m not buying much of this. Look for me to review the follow on. Same name, but with a different setting.

Advertisements

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

One of a continuing series

ObamaSyrianRefugeesTerrorists

Who is the most recent politician saying the darndest things? How about Congressman Steve King representing the Iowa 4th District? Here is what he had to say recently:

While chatting today with Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News, Rep. Steve King took issue with the claim that the mounting hostility to refugees is undermining American values. The Iowa Republican said that “the argument that ‘that’s not who we are’ is just one of the mantras that they put out, it’s not supported by logic or rationale.”

“Who we are? We should not be a suicidal nation,” King said. “My wife said this morning, ‘If you had 100 grapes and you knew that two of them were fatally poisonous, would you sit there and eat the grapes until one of them killed you? Or would you decide, I’m not going to take that bunch of grapes at all?’ That’s what we’re dealing with here with the Syrian refugees.”

This is, of course, interesting logic. Pause for a moment to review a bit of irony:

WASHINGTON, March 14 [1989]
Food stores around the country pulled tons of grapes and other fresh fruit from their shelves today as the Food and Drug Administration broadened its investigation of a possible attempt to poison Chilean produce with cyanide.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it had joined the inquiry, which has so far turned up traces of the poison in a small batch of grapes shipped last month from Chile to Philadelphia.

There have been no reports of death or illness from Chilean fruit.

To be sure, Congressman King did not have this particular incident in mind when he made his remarks. It is possible he had in mind the image at the top of this post. That image is from the Facebook site titled Political Correctness Gone Wild.

PoliticalCorrectnessGoneWild

Supposedly all of this is about political correctness, popularized as “PC.” PC is supposed to be a poke at overly ingratiating politeness—specifically, politeness where politeness is not due. What often happens is that opponents of something wholly pragmatic stick on the PC label to knock off some of the shine. It’s apparent in this instance that is what is happening.

A cold look at the matter of the Syrian refugees reveals some inconvenient facts. See additional details from The Christian Post:

  • The vetting process for refugees, including those from Syria, appears to be comprehensive and as exhaustive as can be made.
  • “The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001.” “[T]hree resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities — and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”
  • “About 70 percent of refugees who participate in employment-training no longer need public assistance six months after resettling.

But, back to the poisoned grapes. Can I promise Congressman King that no Syrian refugee accepted under the current plan will commit crimes in this country or even plot terrorism. I cannot, and I do not need to. Further, I will guarantee that based on reliable population statistics, some will eventually run afoul of the law, and some will even be convicted of homicide while living in this country.

Does Congressman King want to keep people out of this country on the off chance, credible or not, they will pose a threat? He needs to think again. Such a restriction would have trapped any number of conservative Americans:

TIMEcoverTimothyMcVeigh

This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff's Office, File)

This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff’s Office, File)

Knock Knock. These were your neighbors.

We are not finished with politicians saying the darndest things. Keep reading.

Candidates Acting Stupidly

One of a continuing series

FiorinaPeopleOfFaithHitler

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. You can count on it. Politicians, especially candidates, are my favorite source when it comes to lessons in foolishness:

“I do think it’s worth saying,” Fiorina declared, “that people of faith make better leaders because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us. And so I think it’s important that we elect a leader of faith and that we elect a leader, as well, who knows that more prayer, not less, is necessary in public life and in all our lives.”

This was not presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s first encounter with the cow patty that is foolish pronouncement. Her path to national glory has already found its way to the warm and moist:

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina won applause in Wednesday’s debate for her vivid description of a live fetus she said was shown in an antiabortion group’s undercover video about Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

But the image she described isn’t in any of the videos released by the antiabortion group. Instead, one video from the group depicts a former employee of a tissue procurement company stating what she says she saw at a Planned Parenthood clinic. There was never any video that depicted, as Ms. Fiorina stated, a live fetus on a table being prepared for organ harvesting.

As remarkable as was Fiorina’s stance on the non-existent video, her latest is no measure of poetic license. Some dissection will illustrate:

[F]aith gives us humility.”

Let’s see how that works. Here is a snippet from what I gather to be Fiorina’s handbook on faith:

Zechariah 13:3 King James Version (KJV)

And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.

Be we be ever so humble.

“[F]aith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us.” For example:

Jeremiah 50:21-22 King James Version (KJV)

21 Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the Lord, and do according to all that I have commanded thee.

22 A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.

“[E]ach of us are gifted by God:”

Deuteronomy 13:6-10 King James Version (KJV)

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

“Faith gives us empathy. ” See above.

“And faith gives us optimism:”

Revelation 20:11-15 King James Version (KJV)

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

I am really looking forward to that. In truth, rather than people of faith, I enjoy a world populated by people with good sense. People of faith give me a pain.

Not yet

Not yet

** FILE ** President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President George W. Bush and a certain veto.  On the fourth anniversary of the president's "Mission Accomplished" speech, Senate Majority Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that Bush "has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed."  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

** FILE ** President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President George W. Bush and a certain veto. On the fourth anniversary of the president’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, Senate Majority Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that Bush “has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Junior Varsity Team

From Wikipedia: ISIS territory as of 24 August 2014

From Wikipedia: ISIS territory as of 24 August 2014

Here’s what the President had to say about ISIS:

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

That looked like a sizable opening for some:

Christians are being “butchered” in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State and we knew this was coming starting last year, but President Barack Obama called ISIS “junior league or something JV,” said Rev. Franklin Graham, adding that the president “absolutely” must be more vocal and speak out in defense of Christians being persecuted in the Middle East.

That was from the notable expert on international military balance of power the Reverend Franklin Graham. There have been others:

Yes, truth is the first casualty of war and the Obama administration certainly wouldn’t be the first to fudge the numbers. But there is a line between propaganda to confuse the enemy and lies to confuse the American people. And this administration is guilty of some real whoppers.

That post did not directly address the President’s assertion that ISIS is junior varsity. The fact remains that he has gotten a lot of heat over this assertion, so it may be worth an assessment. Is ISIS (ISIL, Daesh) big league or not.

I did that already months ago:

All right then. We have all seen the videos. We have all studied the news reports of atrocious behavior.The threat “We will raise the flag of Allah in the White House,” has caught our attention. What then to make of this new face of religious fundamentalism?

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel lightly put it “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything.” He is speaking of ISIS, Islamic State in Syria, which can most generously described as a bunch of frat boys with Kalashnikov rifles.

And that should have just about taken care of that. Not only does the President of the United States consider ISIS to be junior league, I do, as well. And I have the last word here. Here’s a little skeptical analysis:

If ISIS is not JV, then who is? Here are the facts about ISIS:

  • No firm control over defined geography
  • No significant industrial base
  • Dependent on external clients for financial support
  • Fluid or weak bureaucracy
  • Ill-defined legal structure
  • Weak technological and intellectual resources

Besides all that, they are starting at the bottom rungs of military ratings. What they have going for them is an energetic, dedicated fighting force. What they do not have is a lot of depth in their military organization. They have some top generals and a bunch of committed fighters. They do not have the seasoned command structure required of a modern fighting force.

They lack the weaponry of a modern fighting force:

  • Limited or no air defense radar
  • No high performance aircraft
  • No military air transport
  • No navy
  • No long range missiles
  • No way to deliver heavy military ordnance
  • Primitive intelligence gathering capabilities.

Let’s compare ISIS to a modern, but not first tier military, Egypt:

  • F-16 fighter jets
  • One of the most powerful air defenses in the world
  • National military academy
  • M1 Abrams tanks
  • Electronic counter measures aircraft
  • Modern naval fleet, including submarines

And much more. In all of this there is not much left for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh but junior varsity. I really hate it when the President and I are on the same page with something.

Posted on Facebook

Posted on Facebook

Keep reading.

Stranger in a Strange Land

ReligionReplaceCommonSense

I have this cell phone, but I think it’s only for emergencies. I seldom get any call unless they’re from Rachel. But on Tuesday I got a call from my friend Zack. Zack’s a religious guy, and he was calling me up to find out if I planned to watch the CNN special report Atheists, Inside the World of Non Believers. I told him I was, and I was going to record it. And I did.

So here is what I found out. It’s an hour long, and it’s about how atheists get along in a world that’s wall-to-wall believeniks. It starts off with the story of a middle-age couple who are deeply religious. Christianity is the foundation of their lives. The problem is their college-age son is an atheist. Not only that, he heads up the atheist group at his college.

Of course the parents are devastated. They still love their son, but they are sure he is lost. That’s lost in non-recoverable, not just missing action. He’s going to Hell. They will never see him again after they die. Family meetings are strained. Conversation is limited. Religion can do that to people.

There’s also the case of the preacher, quite successful at conveying the good word to his flock, who has read more from the Bible than he should have (that’s dangerous). It came inexorably to him that Christianity was a big hoax. There is no magic sky person. Furthermore, nobody, but no body, is going to Hell. He carried on for a while, during which time he learned some useful skills. Then he resigned his position, moved to another town and entered legitimate employment.

There is also the case of the practicing pulpiteer who no longer believes. He gets up in front of the congregation Sunday after Sunday and issues forth reassurances. And other days besides. And he gives good advice and tends to the spiritual needs of his people. He’s a good pastor. He feels he’s helping people. But it’s all based on a lie.

You can’t cover atheism in a whitewash world without including Richard Dawkins and David Silverman. Dawkins is a world class biologists and an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford. He is the author of numerous books explaining biological evolution in language for the masses, and he is a vocal spokesman against religion of all stripes. Wikipedia says this about Silverman:

David Silverman (born August 13, 1966) is the current president of the American Atheists, a nonprofit organization that supports the rights of atheists and the removal of expressions of religion in public when possibly interpretable as governmental endorsement, in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

There’s that and a lot more, and it’s all about people of good sense living in mind-locked society. It’s about how they cope and how society views them.

I look around me, and I see a lot of that. There’s an aspect of atheist activism that is all wrapped up with how society treats atheists. How atheists need to be accepted and recognized as worthy citizens. I’m not like that.

My problem is I’m not all that concerned about people’s attitude toward me. I long ago learned that a chunk of what people accept as truth is an inch shy of reality. If I end my existence stepping on a land mine, it’s not going to be because I trusted somebody’s phony mine detector.

And that’s why I’m not out there with a bunch of others clambering for acceptance. I’m stuck enough on myself not to need it. Whoa, you may say. Aren’t you going to miss out on a passel of worthwhile relationships? Not likely. People who do not accept me tend to be those who sell phony mine detectors. I’ve had my feet for a long time, and I plan to keep them.

Primary Colors

This is so cute. Some students from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma were having a pleasant night out. Just having fun. Exactly what you would expect for a college fraternity. There are some details.

It was Saturday. The students were on a bus, heading for a party. A nice night out. Meet some girls. Maybe have something to drink. Good college fun. And there was a video. That’s the problem. There was a video.

From Yahoo News

From Yahoo News

Allow me to translate:

You can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me… …there will never be a nigger SAE.

“Hang him from a tree?” Hang whom? There will never be a what [at] SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon)? I had to check my calendar. Yes, this really is the 21st century. I need to check again.

I need to take another look at something else, as well. These aren’t young men on there way to careers cutting your grass, right? These people are not headed toward jobs that involve asking, “Do you want fries with that?” That was also my conclusion. These people are what?

These people were—maybe not now—headed for positions in society that would manage our businesses, sit on the bench in our courts, make decisions affecting foreign policy. These were supposed to be the cream of society. It it possible a mistake has been made somewhere?

A chilling possibility is this is not the entire story. It’s possible this is merely the shadow of a rot that permeates our society. It is possible that somewhere, right now, somebody is pushing a broom after hours in a school building who should, instead, be working out plans to increase industrial productivity. Worse, it is possible that somewhere someone is helping write laws for all of us to live by—someone who should instead be picking up trash along the interstate.

Death Explained

normal_starbirth

Have you ever gone to a big time sporting event of great importance, one that featured the top players, one that decided a critical championship? The competition was intense, and the outcome was in doubt. Interest was high.

Then something unexpected came up, and you had to leave the game before it was over. And later you never could learn the outcome of the game. Maybe people you asked would not tell you, but more likely you could never find anybody who had attended the game or possibly anybody who ever heard of the game. And you never found out how the game ended, and it always remained a mystery to you.

Death is not like that.

The big time sporting event is the Universe and everything that happens in it from way before you were born until way after you are gone. All you can ever learn about the Universe, the world, is what happened right up until the time you die. And when you die, for all purposes, the Universe ceases to exist. What happens in the Universe after you die is of no consequence to you, because you no longer exist. In any form.

It’s not like this, either:

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

People get the wrong idea. They get many wrong ideas. “After you die you go to another place.” No. You don’t go to another place. Then, if you don’t go to another place, you spend the rest of eternity in complete darkness, devoid of any stimulus, any interaction with others or with any thing. No. You don’t.

So, what’s it like when you die? You ask that question, but you already know. You know the answer, because you’ve been dead before. You may ask me when was it you ever dead before. I respond, “Where were you in the year 1753?” You say you weren’t even born then. I say that’s true. You were dead. How did it feel? You don’t know, because you weren’t there then. I tell you it’s going to be like that again after you die.

Do you think I’m telling you that you should not fear death? Yes. Do you think I’m telling you that you should not respect your own life? No. You should not be careless with your life, and you should not forfeit it casually. Think of the consequences.

If you allow yourself to die needlessly, you will not suffer. Others will. You are part of a society of people. You have friends and family. You have other members of the community that may depend on having you around. Generally, if you die you will be sorely missed. If you give up your life for little profit you will disappoint people you care about.

But, you now conclude, once you are dead the effect on others will be of no concern to you. Nothing will be of any concern to you. You will be dead. You will not exist. You will not feel anguish for the pain of others.

Think again. Right up until the moment you die you have an empathy for others in your life. During this time you will feel concern for the consequences of your death, even if not after. Even if you carry rational thinking to the extreme, this concern will prevent you from deliberately moving toward your death.

Concerning suicide, the needless killing of yourself. Of what consequence is this? Those who care for you will be sorely disappointed in your action. They will fell hurt that you have chosen to reject their company and to leave it permanently. They may think bad thoughts of you. But you will not feel anguish over this, because you will be dead. In many instances it is the contemplation of these consequences that keeps many from ending their lives needlessly. It’s frightening to consider that faulty thinking is what’s keeping so many of us alive.

Concluding that all of the foregoing is true or even makes sense, what is it that keeps people alive? What installs in a person the desire to preserve his own life? There are a number of explanations, only one of them has any basis in fact.

The primal motivation to preserve life is that death is fearful. Burned into our brains is a dread of dying. Where does this come from? It comes from millions of years of biological evolution. Members of a population that have little regard for preserving their lives tend not to reproduce. This is often up to the point where the individual exits the gene pool. Consider the black widow spider. The male mates with the female at the sacrifice of his own life. Up until that point the male works to preserve his own life, avoiding predators to the best of his ability.

Animals, to the best of their ability, generally strive to avoid predation. See a bird pecking at seeds in your back yard feeder. Try to approach and grab the bird, and it will fly away. Birds lacking this reflex soon disappear from the gene pool. The converse is observed. Birds that evolved on remote islands, such as the Galapagos, do not suffer predation from other animals. There is nothing there that eats them. They have lost this reflex. Researchers studying the famous finches can reach out and pick one up to put a band on its leg.

So that explains our lust for life in terms of the natural Universe. What about in terms of the mystical Universe? People have made up explanations. Catholic priests will remind followers that suicide is a sin. If you kill yourself you will be damned to Hell. People who kill themselves are denied a Catholic funeral service. It works the other way around. Some religious followers believe that killing oneself to further a cause earns rewards in another life. Supposedly 72 virginal young women is one such prize. So, the religious view of death can cut both ways.

If death is inevitable and not all that unpleasant, then what’s the purpose of life? This may not be a Douglas Adams quote, but it should be: “Your job is to have a good time.” If you actually have a duty in life that duty is to enjoy it while you can. You’re not coming this way again.

This should not be construed as a prescription for launching upon a hedonistic lifestyle. To the contrary, I add naively, a hedonistic life may not be all that enjoyable. If it’s the admiration, respect and the good company of your fellow beings that you crave, your best fit will be as a cooperative member of society. Before this gets too far along the road, please be reminded that religion is not the answer. For affirmation take a few minutes today to switch on the television news.

Anyhow, you’re alive, which goes without saying. Where do you go from here? Allow me to be the most recent to inform you that you are going to die. What until then? Advice is free.

Be productive. Do good things for other people. Your life will be more enjoyable as a consequence. You regret not being able to live forever? You can to the next best thing. You can prolong your existence. Produce some lasting works. Have a child. Give good advice. Invent something. Post something on the Internet. Posting something on the Internet is like carving it in stone. Or at least writing it in ink:

Erica Albright: It didn’t stop you from writing it. As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared. The Internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink.

In the mean time, stick around. The game’s not over yet.

Reasons to Believe

 

Jesussins

Facebook can (possibly) be a significant medium for the exchange of ideas. And sometimes not. However I do appreciate those times when I encounter somebody who is willing to continue the dialogue, to advance a personal position, rather than just breaking off the exchange by hitting the unfriend button. Here is a recent exchange. I have deleted insignificant verbiage supplied by Facebook.

Jenelle Wilcox shared Jim Davis‘s photo.

September 5

I was a bit surprised at myself being hesitant at posting this. So I read it again and decided if I didn’t post it what does that say about me and my faith. Here it is. Now it’s time to read John 13:38 — with Sue Keller and 9 others.

ReasonToBelieve-01

John Blanton “I will deny you in front of my father at the gates of Heaven. ” This is supposed to be a serious threat?

Jenelle Wilcox You know what John : ) I would rather take my chances believing it, than to find out later I should have believed it. And there is a comfort in believing Heaven is there, and that my four babies I miscarried along the way, maybe there to meet their mother…my brother and sister were killed in a train wreck before I was born and I like the belief that one day I will meet those children, our daughter recently passed away, it is comforting to believe we may see her again one day, then there is my mother I adored and went to soon, she was my best friend…so see I have reasons to believe what the Bible tells us. If you are offended please that is sad, but you don’t have to read my posts…..I do wish you a really good day to day and ask the Lord bless you with a peaceful spirit. Also, I would not want to be denied at the Gates of Heaven. Have a Blessed Day.

John Blanton My apologies if I sometimes sound too sour a note. My problem seems to be that I am constrained to live in the real world where actions have real consequences. I sometimes forget there are many who do not share my affliction, but I should not. I have lived years past 70 and have observed too many occasions when tragic results have come from actions based on fantasy. Many of your other posts seem so bedded on solid thinking and reflect a real concern for others. Occasional lapses should be overlooked.

Jenelle Wilcox YOU ARE SO FUNNY! I REMEMBER ONE TIME WHEN A GENTLEMAN WHO HAD ACTUALLY SERVED AS ACCOUNTANT AND EXECUTOR TO THE FORD ESTATE….. FOUND WHEN I TOLD HIM I HAD A HARD TIME BELIEVING THAT A MAN ACTUALLY DID WALK ON THE MOON, EVEN THOUGH I COULD SEE IT, BUT I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST AND HIS FATHER OF WHOM I CANNOT SEE….JOHN (THE EXECUTOR) FOUND THAT MYSTIFYING : ) HE PASSED AWAY, HE WAS A WONDERFUL FRIEND AND TUTORED ME FOR TWO YEARS IN BUSINESS ACCOUNTING IN MY SMALL BUSINESS BACK IN THE DAY. I PRAY HE WILL BE IN HEAVEN ONE DAY ALSO. FAITH FOR ME IS USUALLY A VERY PERSONAL THING AND I RARELY DISCUSS ANY OF IT, FOR I DON’T BELIEVE IT IS UP FOR ARGUMENT… I DO ALSO BELIEVE THAT WE ARE EACH GIVEN A FREE WILL TO CHOOSE WHAT WE BELIEVE AND THAT IS EACH OUR PRIVILEGE. WHAT DID YOU DO FOR A LIVELIHOOD PRIOR TO YOUR RETIREMENT. ALSO, HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT PARTICIPATING IN BLANTON FAMILY DNA PROJECT? DO YOU KNOW WHICH BLANTON BRANCH YOU DESCEND FROM : ) WITH DOCUMENTATION AS PROOF???? WE ALL HAVE TO SUPPLY THAT IN ORDER TO TEST IN MY PROJECT : D

As you can see, I was immediately taken with the threat, “I will deny you in front of my father at the gates of Heaven.” I was thinking, what kind of threat is that? The implication is that after I am dead I will still be concerned that somebody will deny me. After I am dead I will still be meeting people. This is serious? Can’t be. After I am dead I will be dead and will no longer be walking and talking, let alone working my way through a performance review. This is zombie movie plot stuff. So I called into question the significance of the threat that is not a threat.

It was with gratitude that I obtained a follow-up on my response, said response being even more interesting than the original post. Of course I was dismayed to read of the personal tragedies in Wilcox’s life. These are not something we can wish on anybody. Past all that I could not help but pick up on a thread of her argument: “I would rather take my chances believing it, than to find out later I should have believed it.”

Yes. That’s something I have seen a lot of. It goes like this: If it is true, and you don’t believe, then by the time you find out it was true all along, then you are screwed. If it’s true, and you believe, then when you ultimately can confirm that it’s true you are safe. You have not done anything to screw yourself. Left unsaid in the foregoing is that if it’s false there was nothing to be concerned about either way. The conclusion of this line of reasoning is you should pick door number one labeled “Jesus.” Believe it’s true, and you have covered all your bets.

Really?

Let’s extend this logic. Suppose somebody promises that if you believe in Jesus, then you will be rewarded with everlasting life and happiness, even after you are “dead.” According to the foregoing argument it’s best to pick door number one.

Now let’s suppose there is another door. This door is labeled “Believe in Bob.” The promise is that if you pick the Bob door, and Bob turns out to be real, then not only will you received everlasting life and happiness, even after you die, but you will receive a new car.

Now you may think that receiving a new car is small change compared to the additional reward of everlasting life and happiness, even after death, but keep in mind that you have nothing to lose by picking the Bob door. So why pick the Jesus door over the Bob door? Jesus never promised you a new car, and there is a good chance that if you pick the Jesus door you will not receive a new car after you are dead and living your everlasting life.

Wait, there’s more.

There are also Alex, Doris, William, Ben and Jerry doors. Each one offers and additional reward for believing over that of the previous one. By now the Jesus door is beginning to look all the less attractive.

This may seem bizarre at first reading, but it is a natural consequence of Wilcox’s argument, namely it’s better to be safe than to be sorry. None of the situations described above offer any reason to believe in Jesus, Bob, Alex, Doris, William, Ben and Jerry. By now you should be wondering why a thinking person would ever put forth such a silly argument.

Once again I was gratified that Wilcox posted a response to my response. Despite what appears to be a stuck all-caps key, a particular excerpt seems reasonable and also something with which I can wholly agree: “FAITH FOR ME IS USUALLY A VERY PERSONAL THING AND I RARELY DISCUSS ANY OF IT, FOR I DON’T BELIEVE IT IS UP FOR ARGUMENT… I DO ALSO BELIEVE THAT WE ARE EACH GIVEN A FREE WILL TO CHOOSE WHAT WE BELIEVE AND THAT IS EACH OUR PRIVILEGE.”

It really is a matter of faith and not a matter of fact, which has always been my position.

Heartland Headed Nowhere

I forgot all about Heartland Institute. Yes I did. The last time I paid them any attention was back in 2012. What I stated then was that Heartland Institute appears to use money rather than actual science to counter inconvenient facts of science.

A big deal with Heartland Institute was global warming. I highlighted the phrase because, as all know by now, it has a special meaning. The term has come to represent the apparent fact that human activities are causing a precipitous warming of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. More specifically, the burning of fossil fuels is causing an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to more effectively trap solar energy. The consequences range from melting of polar ice, which will result in a devastating rise in sea levels—not so devastating maybe to Orlando, Florida, which promises to become a seaside resort—to possible crop damaging climate change. Mitigating action seems to indicate reduced use of fossil fuels, an action opposed to those who own stock in the industry.

Heartland Institute to the rescue. To counter the findings of researchers in the field Heartland engages in various practices to dissuade the voting public from accepting these findings. Desmoglog obtained pilfered internal Heartland documents and heartlessly exposed the contents:

Tue, 2012-02-14 13:13 BRENDAN DEMELLE

Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more.-Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. [Update: Apparently even the Koch brothers think the Heartland Institute’s climate denial program is too toxic to fund. On Wednesday, Koch confirmed that it did not cut a check for the $200K mentioned in the strategy memo after all. A statement released on KochFacts.com and the charleskochfoundationfacts.org states that “…the Charles Koch Foundation provided $25,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2011 for research in healthcare, not climate change, and this was the first and only donation the Foundation made to the institute in more than a decade. The Foundation has made no further commitments of funding to Heartland.”]

Greenpeace’s Koch reports show the last time Heartland received Koch funding was in 1999.

That link is critical not so much for its negative finding of Koch support as for its links to the purloined Heartland documents. Here is a typical excerpt:

January 2012
Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy

Given the increasingly important role the Heartland Institute is playing in leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming, it is useful to set priorities for our efforts in 2012. This document offers such a set of priorities. I propose that at this point it be kept confidential and only be distributed to a subset of Institute Board and senior staff. More details can be found in our 2012 Proposed Budget document and 2012 Fundraising Strategy memo. In 2012 our efforts will focus in the following
areas:

Increased climate project fundraising

Our climate work is attractive to flinders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 – about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012 – see the 2011 Fourth Quarter Financial Report. We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up
their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.

Development of our “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms” project.

Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.

It’s difficult to read through this without getting the idea that Heartland has left the field of public relations and image building and has entered the realm of advocacy. The problem with advocates of a flawed cause is they can come to believe their own stuff. Another danger is that when you abandon science and reason you no longer have science and reason working for you. That is apparently what happened with Heartland and is the root to a disastrous campaign they launched in early 2012.

Heartland Institute compares belief in global warming to mass murder

US thinktank launches poster campaign comparing Unabomber and Osama Bin Laden to those concerned about global warming
Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

It really is hard to know where to begin with this one. But let’s start with: “What on earth were they thinking?”

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based rightwing thinktank notorious for promoting climate scepticism, has launched quite possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns.

I’ll let its own press release for its upcoming conference explain, as there’s simply no need to finesse it further:

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world’s most notorious criminals say they “still believe in global warming” – and ask viewers if they do, too…The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).
These rogues and villains were chosen because they made public statements about how man-made global warming is a crisis and how mankind must take immediate and drastic actions to stop it.
Why did Heartland choose to feature these people on its billboards? Because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the “mainstream” media, and liberal politicians say about global warming. The point is that believing in global warming is not “mainstream,” smart, or sophisticated. In fact, it is just the opposite of those things. Still believing in man-made global warming – after all the scientific discoveries and revelations that point against this theory – is more than a little nutty. In fact, some really crazy people use it to justify immoral and frightening behavior.

But then comes the best bit:

Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants.

Don’t bother trying to follow the link to the Heartland press release. It is long since void.

My point: When you abandon reason, reason is not available to you when it can best benefit you.

This has been out since early 2012, but I only caught sight of it this week on somebody’s Facebook feed. When I saw this I blinked twice and responded, “Does Kaczynski still believe in gravity?”

Others have not been so kind. The reaction was swift and deadly. Other billboards were crafted, if not actually erected. Some were humorous:

PalinBilboard

Some were right out of Comedy Central:

HeartlandBillboard-07

Some were classics in irony:

HeartlandBillboard-04

Some were a tad cruel:

HeartlandBillboard-03

Some were excessively cruel:

HeartlandBillboard-02

The fallout from Heartland’s disastrous billboard campaign may have been fatal:

The ultra-conservative Heartland Institute admitted it was in financial crisis on Wednesday, with the flight of corporate donors making it difficult to pay staff or cover the costs of its annual conference aimed at debunking climate science.

In a speech at the close of this year’s climate conference, Heartland’s president, Joseph Bast, acknowledged that a provocative ad campaigncomparing believers in human-made climate change to psychopaths had exacted a heavy cost.

However, Bast also attributed Heartland’s current problems to his weakness in financial management.

“These conferences are expensive, and I’m not a good fundraiser so as a result I don’t raise enough money to cover them. We really scramble to make payroll as a result to cover these expenses,” Bast said.

People who know me know that I am an advocate of the science behind global warming. It makes sense, it’s based on serious research conducted by professional scientists, it’s the consensus of scientists working in the area, it’s solid science, it’s factual. Conversely, the supposed science detracting from the scientific consensus is misbegotten, fatally flawed, erroneous, deceitful, conceived in malice and largely purchased by people with political or economic interests. Heartland Institute is the exemplar of the opposition to the scientific consensus. Where they are not devious they are then clueless. Do not deceive yourself that you can deny the science of global warming without signing onto the likes of Heartland Institute. Opposition to the scientific consensus has nothing going for it besides Heartland thinking and other barren fields of human endeavor.