Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sounds Like A NewAge Of Common Sense To Me!

"Rape-rape". O.K., yea, that's a really bad example, but slowly, yes,...slow-ly,...much too slowly,...reality is making an inescapable comeback. I can see it in more and more places, in articles on too many subjects, like this MSN Health & Fitness quote, that begins with a reminder of what is:

"In reality,...lemon juice is not a meal, and taken to extremes, cleansing is anything but healthy. Nor is it an effective way to drop pounds for good. To reach this contradictory healthy-skinny ideal, L.A. ladies have developed some disordered techniques that cross old-school self-starvation with New Age mind-body rhetoric. And these techniques will probably land in your town soon—if they haven’t by now."

Reality vs. NewAge. Whoda thunk it? That writer, Janelle Brown, might be on to something.

So how real is this new real? Real enough that it ain't moving out the way for our NewAge con man, so you can guess it's pretty real:

"The White House is a risky place for on-the-job training, as Barack Obama and the rest of us are learning. But the president doesn't deserve all the blame for the installation of a handsome but unprepared matinee idol in the toughest job in the world. The adoring cult, the 53 percent of the giddily oblivious electorate that took a flyer on Election Day, deserves most of it.

Matinee idols only do what matinee idols do, look pretty and inveigle softly with practiced seductiveness. Trouble arrives when the matinee idol and his public confuse role with reality. Reality arrives with the surprise and impact of a lemon-cream pie in the face."

-- Wesley Pruden, who, despite the fact I'm sour on it, is not - I repeat: Not - leading me to some kind of lemon-inspired anti-NewAge speechifying; at least, not without mentioning The Washington Times.

And let's not forget the only French president I've ever thrown my support behind, Nicolas Sarkozy (of all people) lecturing our president Presto/Change-O that "we live in the real world, not in a virtual one", huh?

If you ask me, this whole Realityfest is all adding up to something,...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The "Arrogant Approach" Finally Gets An Answer

"SYDNEY — A husband and wife were jailed Monday for the manslaughter of their baby, who died after they chose to use homeopathic remedies rather than conventional medicine to treat her severe skin disorder.

Thomas Sam, a 42-year old college lecturer in homeopathy, and his wife Manju, 37, of Sydney, were convicted in June of the manslaughter of their nine-month-old daughter Gloria, who died of septicemia and malnutrition in May 2002.

The Indian-born, university-educated parents had faced a maximum penalty of 25 years each in prison if convicted. Instead, New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Peter Johnson ordered Thomas Sam to serve at least six years in jail, with a maximum sentence of eight years, and Manju to serve at least four years in jail with a maximum of five years and four months. The couple wept as they were sentenced.

Johnson said it was clear homeopathy wasn't sufficient for dealing with Gloria's severe eczema, and said there was a 'wide chasm' between her parents' approach and the action a reasonable parent would have taken.

Thomas Sam's 'arrogant approach' to his preference for homeopathy and Manju Sam's deference to her husband led to their daughter's death, he said."

Homeopathy can't cure a simple skin disorder, but idiots are using it as a treatment for cancer and malaria? Throw the whole lot of them in prison - for stupidity. I say we post a series of wardens in front of all the Whole Foods locations and just lock the doors behind them. That's my idea anyway. That's the kind of "humble" guy I am.

Shit, leave it to me and I'd have this whole cult problem wrapped up in no time,...

Two Dummies - Female Type - One With A Ph.D

We're doomed. Doomed, I tell you, doomed! No republic can stand with a citizenry that's this stoopid. It's impossible. That's it: For now on, all TMR posts are going to be written from a secure location. That's right - I'm getting me a flashlight and crawling under the bed. Waaay under. And not because I'm scared:

I'm embarrassed!

Well Said (You've Got To "Believe", Right?)

"We put little stigma on bad choices, bad judgment, bad luck or bad behaviour. We are tolerant."
-- Libby Purves, commenting on the post-Baby Boom world of divorce, AKA the ultimate underhanded means for female advancement - "nobody need admit or prove fault" - and one of our most salient symbols of The Times.

She adds:
"I suppose the trend had to grow after 1969 and 'no-fault' divorce: many a bitter chap will inform you that it is now possible for a strange man to annex your wife, children, house and half your money even if you never put a foot wrong."
Oh, What A Wonderful World.

So, There's Another One,... (A Serious Man)

Look out, cruel world, but it appears the Cohen Brothers have turned their sights on God, again, which never turns out well - for God or, more to the point, those that believe in the concept (The travails of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", "Fargo", and the ending to "No Country For Old Men", should tell you all you need to know. They've been at this since "Blood Simple", their very first film). So start saving your popcorn money, now, because we're headed back to the movie theatre soon. As you may or may not know, the requirements for these two artist's modus operandi to be effective is the same for believers and atheists alike:

Being willing to take your seat in a really dark place is the main prerequisite for seeing the light.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lesson Learned: No Matter What They Believe, It Takes Quite A Lot To Get Cultists To Reconsider

"He is a liar, a con artist, a physical abuser of women and children, a psychological and emotional abuser of human beings, a thief, a dope pusher, a kidnaper, a child stealer, a pimp, a rapist and a child molester. I can attest to all of these things with my own eyes. And he was all of these things before he was a murderer."
-- Susan Atkins, Charles Manson's once-bloodthirsty, and wild-eyed, killer - who just died in prison - finally determining Mr. Race War probably wasn't such a fun guy, or very wise, on her website (yes, she had a website - and even gave birth to Manson's kid) according to CNN.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's Like That Song That Goes, "If I Was a Boy,..." (Kinda, But Not Quite: That's One Stupid Song)

"Opinion polls suggest every third Republican can be described as a birther. For example, 39 percent,...want more coverage of the issue. Curiously, so do 14 percent of Democrats,...28 percent think Obama was born overseas, and 30 percent do not know. Does that make them birther agnostics?

Needless to say, everyone from Jon Stewart to the New York Times and Huffington Post to Ben Smith have had a ball deriding the stupidity and the extremism of a large section of the conservative movement.

Many on the conservative side have responded to this by suggesting that the Democrats should not throw stones in glass madhouses because the party of hope, change, and audacity has got its own crazy uncle in the basement in the form of 42.6 percent of Democratic voters who do not believe in the official version of events connected with 9/11. These people have become known as 'truthers.'

But there’s something in this mutual 'yo mama' mud-slinging ('Your people are crazy.' 'My people? What about your people?') that does strike me as rather odd, and that’s the assumption of moral equivalence — as if all eccentricities, idiocies, and conspiracy theories were inherently equal. But this is clearly not so. Let us briefly recap:

The birthers believe that Barack Obama lied about the place of his birth so that he could become the president of the United States.

The truthers believe that George W. Bush murdered (by commission or omission) 3,000 of his fellow Americans and caused two trillion dollars worth of immediate economic damage to his country in order to launch two wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, drained another trillion dollars from the Treasury, and provided an excuse to destroy the Constitution and turn America into a police state.

Um, OK.

To put it in fairytale terms (the next closest thing to a conspiracy theory), we are taking here about Pinocchio versus Lord Voldemort on steroids and the stimulus package.

Or to return to uncles once again, it’s the difference between an uncle who wears his underwear on his head and an uncle who sexually molests 6-year-old girls, strangles them, and then buries their bodies in his backyard.

Everything in life, including craziness, is a matter of degrees. That’s why we should be wary of an automatic resort to moral and other equivalence as a debating tactic. To do so risks conceding far too much for the momentary comfort of mental egalitarianism. No country on earth is perfect, true, but the United States has been a hell of a lot better in all respects than the Soviet Union. Democracy (or capitalism) might be the worst system ever invented, as Churchill reminded us, except for all the others. All conspiracy theories are deluded, but not all of them are equally contemptible and dangerous.

The belief that NASA faked the moon landing gave us a few laughs; the belief that the Elders of Zion were conspiring against civilization gave us the Holocaust.

The truth, more often than not, tends to be quite prosaic. On August 4, 1961, Barack Obama was born at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, of an American mother and a Kenyan father. On September 11, 2001, nineteen al-Qaeda operatives, without prior knowledge by any government (bar that of Afghanistan), used four airplanes as flying bombs against targets in New York and Washington, D.C.

The polls tell us that many, too many, on both sides of politics think otherwise. Personally, however, I would be much more concerned if large sections of my party’s base believed a president to be a mass murderer rather than a con artist. All men might be created equal, but how they choose to pursue their inalienable right to craziness separates the harmlessly eccentric from the dangerously deluded."

-- Arthur Chrenkoff, noticing one of the biggest differences between NewAge liberal, and those notoriously-Christian conservative, crazies - the liberals are "contemptible and dangerous" - which the mainstream media misses (and dismisses) every day, since they're card-carrying members, and not a part of Pajamas Media.

Wicca 101: Stay Stupid

"We started by learning some basics about energy.  First how to see it around your own hands, which most accomplished on their first try. Then we explored one way to feel it, which I explained in this blog earlier. Almost everyone, I think everyone, could feel it rising off the top of another's head.   
More interestingly for the skeptics, almost everyone could feel when a person passed their hands rather far over the top of their head. These exercises demonstrated better than any book could that we are enmeshed in fields of energy that come from everyone and every thing."

-- Gus diZerega, a Wiccan who don't need no stinking "books" - he thinks "some things just need to be said" - which doesn't even make sense after he's said it, on A Pagan's Blog.

Sending Out All The Right Signals

"Shut your fucking mouth, you hypocritical, disgusting fuck bag."

-- April Winchell, who, I'm convinced, is flirting with me - her tags are "Assholes", "Bad Behavior", "Celebutards", and "STFU" - by sending sweet nothings to Suzanne Somers, on April

Hat Tip: Demented Tidbits

A Spiritual Being Going Through A Physical Experience In The Most Spiritual Place On Earth

"Julia Roberts has upset locals by surrounding herself with 350 security guards while she films in India.

Villagers say bouncers are barring them from their temple at a Hindu retreat where Eat, Pray, Love is being shot.

One disappointed worshipper said: 'It's the holiest time of the year and we must not be stopped from visiting our own temple.'
But a cop said: 'Nobody can breach the cover. We have strict instructions.'

Julia, 41, has also been given a bulletproof car to travel in with her three kids.

She is staying in Pataudi, an hour from Delhi."

-- The Sun

Another Situation Where Prayer Ain't Helpful

"In this anniversary year, the polls are depressing. More than two thirds of Egyptians have never heard of evolution and almost half of all Turks think that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time."

-- Steve Jones, reviewing a new Richard Dawkins book - "The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution" - and making it seem hopeless that the modern world will ever become,...well, "modern", but will leave humanity stuck in the age of The Telegraph.

Tear NewAge Apart - And It Just Comes Apart

"Ms. Hazleton has a tendency to romanticize, especially in her depiction of Muhammad's wife Aisha. And perhaps because Ms. Hazleton has practiced as a psychologist, she is also given to mind­reading."

-- Eric Ormsby, reviewing a book about the Shia/Sunni split in Islam - "After the Prophet," by veteran Middle East journalist Lesley Hazleton - and busting the author for assuming typical NewAge biases (along with those never-present supernatural abilities) in The Wall Street Journal.

Just Say "NewAge" And Get It Over With

"Hatred of the USA is uniting leftist and Islamist leaders. Anti-Semitic propaganda and conspiracy theories are part of the way they see the world says Wolf-Dieter Vogel in his essay."

-- Ron Walker, translating from the German - so I don't have to - for a piece appropriately called "False Friends" on Quantara.

One Place Where "Break On Through To The Other Side" Might End Up Being Good Advice

"It has recommended one doze of the medicine daily on empty stomach for three days. The dose should be repeated after one month by following the same schedule in case flu like conditions prevail in the area."

-- The Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH), a state-run research wing in India, giving it's never-changing recommendation ("Arsenicum album 30") for how to approach an illness - in this case, the influenza A (H1N1) virus, AKA "the pig flu" - though it's running rampant throughout the homeopathy-crazed countryside, according to

Carry On My Wayward Son

"It's like this: science requires a tolerance of failure. If your shiny, happy hypothesis fails to stand up to rigorous scrutiny, you drop it and move on. If instead of a true, disposable hypothesis, you have a fixed belief that will not change based on the data, you are delusional. Boosters of alternative medicine prefer the term 'maverick' to 'lunatic' but in the two are often the same.

It is nearly impossible to get someone to abandon a belief in alternative medicine, no matter how strong the evidence against it. Study after study has failed to validate homeopathy as anything other than bullshit, yet it's strongest supports hang on hoping, perhaps, that someone will find out that we were wrong about physics and chemistry all along (you know, regional changes in physical constants and all that). Not all alternative medicine boosters are cynical thieves. Some really do believe that they are doing science, when in fact they are deceiving themselves about the meaning of data. When this type of thinking occurs in medicine, rather than leading to a paper retraction, it leads to quackery and sometimes death."

-- PalMD, surprising even me with this straight talk - it's so rare - though, I guess, that's what should be expected from The White Coat Undergroud.

Thank Goodness Everybody's So Spiritual!!!

"Charlene Williams of Sacramento lured six teenage girls and four young adults to their deaths as her husband demanded the perfect 'sex slave.'

Michelle Lyn Michaud, also of Sacramento, customized curling irons to help her boyfriend torture and murder a 22-year-old student abducted from a Pleasanton street.

In Utah, Wanda Eileen Barzee was accused of helping her husband kidnap 14-year old Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City bedroom so that he could secure another 'wife.'

Now along comes Nancy Garrido of the Bay Area. Like the others, Garrido is accused of teaming up with a male partner — in Garrido's case, her husband of nearly three decades — and allegedly committing unthinkable crimes against other women and children.

The arrests Aug. 27 of Nancy and Phillip Garrido revealed a stunning story about the 1991 kidnapping of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, snatched off the street near her home in Meyers. Authorities say Jaycee, now 29, had been living for 18 years in the Garridos' backyard near Antioch and is the mother of two children fathered by Phillip Garrido.

While attention focuses on Phillip Garrido's history of sexual assault, his reduced prison term and evasion of parole oversight, the case also raises haunting questions about what role his wife may have played."

-- The Sacramento Bee

The World's Most Important Job - And You Failed

"'Nurtureshock' is an explosive new book which has already sparked a fierce debate in America by challenging many of our most basic assumptions about children and parenting.

At its heart is one of the most fundamental questions of our time: why, after decades of caring, progressive parenting and education, do we have so many social problems with children and teenagers from all backgrounds?

Based on a massive review of the latest scientific studies, authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman  -  who are established writers on social issues  -  insist that much of what we think of as being good parenting is actually wrong.

They argue that many of our strategies for nurturing our children are backfiring because we haven't properly understood the science of how children think or develop.

This isn't, they say, a stick to beat well-meaning parents with, but an opportunity to change family life for the better.

While they are not advocating a return to Victorian parenting, with children seen and not heard, or beaten when they're naughty, what they do argue is that the touchy-feely brand of modern parenting, where parents are too weak to criticise and discipline, will actually damage our children in the long term.

One of the biggest failures of modern parenting, say the authors, has been our belief in the importance of instilling high self-esteem at all costs. We praise our children constantly and indiscriminately. A simple drawing is 'brilliant'; getting a few ticks on their homework earns a delighted 'you're so clever'.

We have 'star charts', where children earn rewards for good behaviour. At sports days, no one is allowed to come first, so other children will be protected from feeling like a failure.

The theory is that this will build confidence and self-esteem in all the children  -  attributes which have been linked to happier, more successful lives and relationships in later life.

But new research from Dr Carol Dweck at Colombia University, who studied groups of children over ten years, indicates that the opposite is true. It suggests we are producing a generation of brats and 'praise junkies' who can't cope with the inevitable set-backs and failures of everyday life.

There is no evidence, say the authors, to show that high self-esteem has any effect on improving academic performance, or reducing anti-social behaviour.

In fact, over-praised children become more unpleasant to others and make poorer team players. Their prime goal becomes a kind of image maintenance, and they will do whatever they can  -  including criticising and dismissing others  -  to make themselves look good.

While parents who can't or won't be tough on their children when it's required come under attack in Nurtureshock, there is also an unpleasant surprise for all those men who think they are doing the right thing in being very hands-on dads.

Over the past two decades, there has been a huge rise in progressive dads - the kind of man who is an active presence in his child's life from birth onwards, who has no truck with traditional gender roles, and who is just as likely to wash and dress their child or to take a day off work when their child is sick.

This has generally been considered an overwhelmingly positive thing, and the kind of 'new' parent that both women and children want.

However, new research from parenting expert Dr Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan shows that while 'co-parenting' has some benefits, it also leads to more arguments over parenting decisions, and to more conflict in the marriage.

Progressive fathers rate their marriages as less happy, and rate their families as not functioning as well as those with traditional fathers where gender roles are more defined, and where the father is the main earner/protector and the mother the main nurturer.

Progressive dads are also weaker at setting and enforcing family rules. They are very clear about ways they don't want to discipline their children (such as hitting or shouting), but confused and inconsistent about what to do instead.

As a result, the children of progressive fathers who are proud to be hands-on are almost as aggressive and badly behaved at school as the children of fathers who are either absent from the home, or play very little part in their children's lives.

Research shows that teens who have moderate conflict with their parents enjoy better relationships with them generally, tell fewer lies, and are better adjusted.

Many of the findings in Nurtureshock are not what we parents expect or want to hear, but we have to hear it. The authors, one of whom admits to being a softlysoftly parent, and who says they have made all the same mistakes, believe we have, quite simply, become scared of our children.

We need to take back our authority, stop being friends with our children, and re-think everything we thought we knew about what's best for them, and for society in general."

-- Maureen Rice, once more being called on to deliver the great news - that those "nice" NewAgers have blown it again - but, if there was any justice in the world, we wouldn't need these items because that fact would be scrawled on every piece of The Daily Mail.

The Good Life

"In 2007, Peter and Sarah Robinson explained to BBC News how they get up early in the morning, but refuse to put the lights on. They open the curtains just enough to let sufficient daylight into the room to help them navigate their furniture safely, but not so much that too much heat escapes. In the dark mornings of winter, they see by the borrowed light from a streetlamp fortuitously placed outside their window. They own no television and their children are allowed to watch DVDs only on the weekend and only if the brightness control is turned down.

Most evenings, the family spends its time in the kitchen in order not to have to switch ‘more lights on than necessary’ in other rooms. Mr Robinson’s Obligatory Carbon Doctrine started after he visited a prison with a group of psychology students. He noticed the repetitive routine that warders used to unlock and secure doors and he was lulled into performing his own rigorous lock-down activity at home. Because of OCD, the Robinsons have turned their home into a personal prison."

-- Austin Williams, on what the cultish "greening" of the planet leads to - self-imposed restrictions on everything - making you wish the Kool-Aid was Spiked.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Gotta Be Able To Make The Tough Calls

"It’s very difficult to explain some things to people who do not believe."

-- Moshe Lefkowitz, who is merely getting an Understatement Of The Day-level of recognition around here - no tag for Moshe - even after slicing close to the heart of the problem (and you're going to have to read this article, which presents the phrase "circling of live chickens over the head" - without the literary equivalent of eyerolls - to understand that phrasing) because, foolish fellow atheists, I thought anything more and, once again, you might get the impression some "shit was going down" in "SpirituaLand" man, like somebody was getting inspired, even long after you've read it's coming from LoHud.

And I just couldn't let that happen.

Not me. Not on my watch.

Now get outta here.