Who really supports the arc of Western civilization?

“All that is real in the universe is an infinity of void space, and an infinity of primary particles in random and everlasting motion. Such is the physics of Epicurus…The Epicurean idea of an infinite universe of matter and space, indifferent to human hopes and concerns but whose workings can be understood, is the predominant scientific idea with which we now live. We have fellow feeling with the importance Epicurus attaches to happiness in this life, with his desire to diminish pain and overcome irrational fears, and with his attempt to understand and come to terms with death, the frontier we shall all reach but not cross as the individuals we now are…

The one world realism of Epicurus is made sharper by the principles 1. No thing is ever created out of nothing by divine will; everything happens according to natural laws without the aid of gods. and 2. No thing is ever put out of existence: natural laws resolve each thing again into its primary parts.

…This would commonly be taken as a contradiction of the Genesis story which forms the foundation of Jewish, Christian and Islamic credos about God creating ex nihilo.

But there is an ambiguity. The first two verses of the Book of Genesis may mean either (a) ‘In the beginning God created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth and (when he had done this) the earth was without form and void…’ or (b) ‘In the beginning the earth was without form and void and (from the pre-existing condition) God created the heavens and the earth…’

The first time that meaning (a) appears unequivocally in the Hebrew canon is in Maccabees 7:28. Generally Christians have preferred (a) and Muslims (b)” (Gaskin, John. 1995. The Epicurean Philosophers: ix, xxiv, xxvii.).

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US Tentacles in Ugandan Homo-murderous Law

Bush-regime evangelical clientelism propelled Uganda to the homosexual hate hysteria it currently stews in.

The Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian, went undercover for 6 months in Uganda, to witness and report that US evangelicals, who thanks to the Bush regime wield enormous power in Uganda, provided the legitimacy and facade of expertise for the promotion of homophobic hysteria in Uganda and the country’s institution in 2009 of a death penalty for gay people.

With the turnover in US leadership, American conservative evangelicals, a major client of the Bush regime, were assured by the Obama administration that they would not face reduced public funding of their “social service” activities, which include campaigning against human and civil rights for gays, and proselytizing for their religious sects in countries like Uganda.

The recent relevation that conservative evangelicals (Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, and Don Schmierer) have spurred murderous state policy in Uganda strengthens the case against ending remaining clientelistic relationships between the US state and the Republican clients, as conservative evangelicals had attempted to hide the nature of their activities in Uganda, presenting a more moderate face in the US. It is now much more difficult to see where “compassionate” conservatism ends and barbarous conservatism begins.

But for all their US-side claims to civility, as missionary Scott Lively blogged proudly, his campaign was ““a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Or a nuclear bomb against human rights, more accurately.

Modern Primitives

In the context of high inequality, all the money and technology in the world can’t buy you rationality. We have never been modern.

On how the Southern religio-fascist right (along with rightwing Zionists and Mormons) steers politics in the US):

Silverstein, Ken. 2007. “Making Mitt Romney: How to Fabricate a Conservative.” Harpers, November: 33-40.

If there were more than 8 or 9 progressives in all of the US, they would look at history and realize the crucial importance and effectiveness of going out into the countryside (and now suburbs) and organizing rural people into a Red-Green coalition. But since there are not more than a handful of progressives in the US, the country has instead fashioned rural idiocy (in its Greek sense):

From P. Mancus:

“I call to your attention that the commander in chief believes armageddon to be inevitable and believes himself to be appointed by god to lead the united states to protect israel against the antichrist, which evangelical christian ministries have, ‘interpreting the bible’ –a supposed non-possibility amongst fundies–singled out as coming somewhere from the arab/persian middle east; ahem, iran. global warming is just more self-fulfilling prophecy to the likes of schmucks who get their counseling from billy graham.

so, under such an expectation of god’s judgement as an inevitability, is it any wonder that news stories like the one below are taken as good signs(?): the world is in climate meltdown and jesus is coming back to rapture the faithful, woo hoo! after all, why do anything about life, or the planet, the natural wild, or scarce resources, when it all belongs to the ‘prince and power of the air’, mr. satan himself. if you truly believe that nature is fallen, then its not worth saving, is it? think about that one for a moment.

and if you think that this is some fringe element mentality, consider the following: between cottage grove, oregon and coalinga, california, on a trip i just took, i found the dominant ‘left’ of the fm dial radio broadcast to be evangelical, bible-thumping, armageddonish, zionist, christian programming. SRN, for example, which stands for ‘salvation radio network’ gives news broadcasts that sound eerily like CNN until the part about jesus as lord and savior comes simmering into your eardrums. only one section of I-5 did i find absence of religious ideology passing as ‘public radio.’ more often than not, i found more than one (at one point, 3) stations pumping out the same crap at the same time, between 87.9 and 91.1 on your fm dial. i’m talking about shit that would have been laughed out of the room back in the 1970s and 80s and has now come to be one of the multiple, necessary to respect perspectives on cultural and political discourse. at least among sociologists. do i need to say these developments reflect the current means by which the dominant power structure maintains its hegemony?

remember when lebanon was being bombed by israel and the fundies were celebrating, hoping that armageddon was coming and the rapture was nigh? with people like this deciding foreign policy, global warming and the increasingly rapid and violent firestorms we are seeing (not only southern california now, but recall what greece went through this summer) will be cause to jump for joy. the only two historical agents in their melodrama are god and satan, and of course the self-appointed faith-based ‘leaders’ with their militarism, patriarchy, nationalism, and religion…a boiling cauldron of self-righteousness and destruction.

so, the big question: what makes religion any different than religious fundamentalism, if it tells you that someone else is in charge (i.e., you are not the historical agent) and the events that unfold are part of a divine plan (whether that plan be love or vengeance)?

and why, oh why, must we tolerate fascists whose cosmology personifies existence with a deity who has the worst traits of a spoiled 2 year old brat (‘worship me, i demand it, or i’ll punish you’) and whose ‘faith’ tells them that there’s someone up there (in the corporate boardroom or the heavenly towers?) who must be appeased? what kind of god-the-parent would abandon its children, or desire that they stay in servitude their entire lives? the kind whom you must fear or else, and the kind whom is acceptable, standard american fare, from bill o’reilly to the mighty dollar bill.

so, you think your immune? trying turning on your public airwaves tv, using your antenna and not your cyborg cable cable company, and conduct a simple exercise of content analysis: how many stations have religious fundamentalism affiliation out of the ones you can get in eugene? count them: 3 out of 9, or ONE-THIRD! you too, if you are a grad student or someone whose too poor to afford cable can watch the following claptrap:

channel 23: the one-and-only pat robertson selling his latest product along side his religious ministry, on a station that uses covert dramatic programming about good girls and boys against bad boys and girls.
channel 36: some dude from white horse media telling us about israel in prophecy who cautions us to “be ready for armageddon.”
channel 59: “bible prophecy revealed with grant jeffery” … just ask grant what the bible means and he’ll tell you!

oh yeah, that and 5 stations other with cop/crime scene/detective shows ‘reminding’ us how corrupt, dangerous and dastardly the world is (arousal) paired with commercial programming (tension reduction): won’t that all new gooey cookie dough make you feel better? how many guns, karate fights and antagonist one-liners do i have to endure?

and then there is opb, increasing colonized by the right wing, but still there…

meanwhile, the really, really, really concerned news anchor on abc is telling us about that great refuge for the evacuees down south. its name: QUALCOMM stadium. disaster capitalism in full force–chalk one up for the not-so-stealthy advertisers: cha-ching!

you will be assimilated… unless, of course, you resist.”

–P. Mancus. November 25, 2007.

finding God

In kleptocratic, corruption-capital Nigeria, oil state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha is suspected of siphoning millions of dollars in cash and buying an oil refinery in Ecuador along with several houses in London, California and South Africa.

Mr. Alamieyeseigha (pronounced al-uh-mess-EE-ya) was arrested in London on Sept. 15 and charged by British authorities with three counts of money laundering. He was released on bail but was forced to surrender his passport.

His next court date was scheduled for Dec. 8, but on Nov. 20 he mysteriously materialized in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state, telling a crowd of supporters who assembled outside the governor’s mansion here on Nov. 22: “I cannot tell you how I was brought here. It is a mystery. All the glory goes to God.”

Asked for further clarification, his spokesman, a former environmental activist and human rights lawyer named Oronto Douglas, repeated the governor’s assertion.

“He told me God brought him home,” Mr. Douglas said, sounding a little dazed. Asked if he believed the governor’s story, Mr. Douglas said, “As a Christian I believe in miracles.”

God manifested Himself when Mr. Alamieyeseigha fled money-laundering charges in Britain by donning a dress and a wig to match forged travel documents.

From Polgreen, Lydia. 2005. “As Nigeria tries to fight graft, a new sordid tale.” New York Times, November 29.

Science methodically deploys a null hypothesis, is probablistic

Under the title “Kansas redefines science”, the New York Times has published an obfuscating, horribly written article today. It’s nice that they give employment to communications professionals who have heard of Bruno Latour in the way that a good cocktail party guest has heard of Dorothy Parker.
Since even the NY Times literati seem to be hopelessly lost in the theological model of causal explanation, let’s spell out what distinguishes a scientific claim from a theological claim from a postmodern claim.

While both scientific method and theological explanation are collective endeavors, where truth claims are adjudicated by disciplined, socialized collectivities, there are significant logical differences between the scientific method and theological methods of causal investigation.

Science:
Science is distinguished by a) the methodical testing of the null hypothesis (there is no relationship) and b) its findings are probablistic, so acknowledge the existence of relationships beyond our knowledge.

  • Tests a theory, in the form of an alternative hypothesis, whether H1: A is caused by B, where both A and B are social or natural phenomena. That is, they must be observable with either human senses or with built tools that are designed to augment those senses. The scientific method always contains, as the main hypothesis, the null hypothesis, H0: A is not caused by B.
  • Causation is provisionally confirmed by time order, correlation. The null hypothesis is rejected.
  • No causal relationship indicated by analysis of data?: We fail to reject the null hypothesis, H0. That is, we fail to reject the hypothesis that there is no relationship between A and B. The logical conclusion: If not B, then not B. Propose next step: Eg. test whether A is caused by C, where both A and C are observable social or natural phenomena, and where the relationship between A and C is suggested by theory.
(Variant: Dialectical historical materialism allows for and investigates the possibility of interactive causation over time between A & B, and non-linear emergent effects of their interaction under specified conditions.)

Drawbacks: 1) Continuous testing process until causation probably indicated.
2) The probability that the tested relationship is representative of the universe of such relationships is usually mathematically indeterminate. So politics, theory continue to be required to argue the existence of a relationship. 3) In a high-inequality social configuration, anti-scientific political claims can be made that technocratic deployment of scientific method is sufficient without politics, re-examination of theoretical assumptions.
Strengths: 1) No skip in logic. Logical rigor is secured in the scientific method by testing the null hypothesis. 2) Lack of human omniscience is addressed in scientific method with probability, repetition.

Theological explanation:
  • Main hypothesis is HG: A is caused by G, where G is the unobservable supernatural.
  • No causal relationship indicated between A and G?: HG fully confirmed, by faith.
  • Can (allow for) test as to whether alternative hypothesis H1: A is caused by B, where A and B are social or natural phenomena. There is no null hypothesis. Main hypothesis, HG: A is caused by G, where G is the unobservable supernatural.
  • No causal relationship indicated between A and B?: HG fully confirmed. If not B, then G, where G is the unobservable supernatural.
Drawbacks: 1) Human lack of omniscience is ignored as a problem for adjudicating contending truth claims. Megalomaniacal skip in logic. 2)  Dogma, doesn’t acknowledge the persistent necessity of theoretical competition, politics. 3) Anti-natural  and anti-social causes bias.
Strengths: 1) Biased toward assuming that social and natural phenomena are caused by the supernatural, supernatural will is knowable by human elites. 2) In a highly inegalitarian society, allows non-elites to use megalomaniacal quasi-logic corresponding to authoritarian elite causal logic (“Invisible Hand causes B because I say so, and I possess/am in the service of wealth/power/omniscience.”) 3) Efficiently strips decision making and determination of truth claims down to unmediated social power.

Nice Postmodernism:
  • The choice of the particular observed social or natural relationship tested (A and B) is directed by the political-economic commitments of the social power funding the testing.
  • Therefore, other possible social and natural relationships are not adequately tested, and it should never be claimed that the confident but provisional confirmation of causal relationships obviates other, inadequately-tested, potentially-observable relationships. 
  • Underscores that scientific causation can only be provisionally confirmed, never fully confirmed by faith, due to the fundamental role of observation in science. This emphasis was made by postmodernists because this important aspect of science, provisional confirmation, can be omitted when scientific findings are discussed in a political or economic social context where the application of findings is paramount. This omission can be used tyrannically. 
  • Unlike theology and neoliberal postmodernism (which abandons ontology and science), Nice postmodernism  is not opposed to the unique and valuable utility of scientific rules and practice to potential democratic practice. 
Drawback: Offensive to social power in its Nice Postmodernist variant. Anti-Enlightenment, dogma-adjunct in its neoliberal postmodernist variant.
Strength: Nice Postmodernism can clarify particular problems scientific method faces, with reference to social context of science.

mind-blowing hypocrisy & corruption: Bush’s IRS

From Democracy Now! (http://www.democracynow.org)
Tuesday, November 8, 2005

IRS Warns Church About Anti-War Sermon
The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California’s largest churches it could lose its tax-exempt status because a priest gave a sermon criticizing the Iraq war two days before last year’s presidential election. The IRS has sent the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena a warning that the federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections. The IRS has issued warnings to other non-profits, including the NAACP, for issuing statements deemed critical of the president.

Um, has Bush’s IRS subsidiary heard of this holy rolling snake oil salesman/political consultant named Pat Robertson? What about these religions called Baptism and Mormonism? They’re pretty fucking political. What the hell is their tax-exempt status about?

WHY is this whole fucking country the feudal property of the fucking Bush family?