Monthly Archives: March 2015

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religious sign

by Reid Fitzsimons

Years ago, as a teenager and young adult, I was a secular atheist. I was from the semi-obnoxious school of atheism as compared to the aggressively obnoxious one, the latter being quite common today. Back in the mid-1970’s it was great fun to get plastered and/or smoke a little weed and stay up into the night with friends watching and mocking the 700 Club or PTL Club or whatever was on. I’m not being facetious- it was fun. Though I haven’t done any doobie for over 35 years and rarely drink, I still enjoy watching and mocking the Christian charlatans on TV, and there are plenty of them.

Somewhere into that coveted 30 to 45 year-old range of robust adulthood and then into middle age I began to see the light, as it was, and converted to agnosticism. Actually there was neither a blinding light nor was I knocked off a donkey, but rather life experience happened and perhaps a little wisdom seeped in. The bedrock arguments of atheism, the truism that many Christians are hypocrites, that many wars have been fought and many have been killed in the name of Christianity, if God exists why is there so much suffering, etc certainly have appeal, but mostly to a thoughtful adolescent pondering the mysteries of life. Eventually, however, if one isn’t too beholden to their teenage worldview and they mature, hypocrisy is found to be pretty universal, there is lots of killing done in the name of other beliefs along with the more base things in life (i.e. money, power, sex), bad things happen because there are bad people, and maybe, sadly, suffering just is an accompaniment to worldly existence. ...continue reading

union angry

by Reid Fitzsimons

I was an employee of New York State from 1986 to 2001 (Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities). New York is a closed shop and employees are automatically associated with one of several public employee unions depending upon their position. My position required that I pay dues to the Public Employees Federation (PEF), the union representing professional, scientific, and technical employees. PEF represented positions ranged from nurses and medical providers to various therapists, educators, and accountants, to name a few. Note that I was not required to join the union, per se, only pay dues, which the state automatically deducted from every pay check. I personally refused to join the union for many years, which meant I was not eligible to vote in elections/referendums.

After a number of years I realized I could receive, as a non-member, a rebate of a portion of my dues, perhaps 20% if I recall correctly. In theory this was the amount that was used for political activism, though I was strongly suspicious of the basis of their calculation. This refund was in no way automatic but rather I had to personally write a letter making the request during a narrow window that occurred only once a year. Eventually circumstances at work compelled me to run for local President (Council Leader), but in order to do so I had to join the Union. I was quite pleased that I won the election by a 2 to 1 margin over the incumbent, this being in 1999. ...continue reading

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by Barry King

The acronyms mean: Liberal White European Nonsense about the Institute Congolais pour le Conservation de la Nature.

Here I sit in Uganda, just back from a visit to the Virunga National Park in Congo. After reading this article in Foreign Affairs  I have figurative steam rising from my ears, like the volcanic smoke from Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. I'd like to offer my observations about it. Disclosure: I advise and assist ICCN with the operation and maintenance of their airplanes, so I may have a bias in favor of the work they are doing with those planes. I'll insert my own comments between quotes from the article, which is a critique of the recent Oscar-nominated film "Virunga", and implicitly, of ICCN.

...continue reading


rodeo us flg

by Reid Fitzsimons

Recently Rudy Giuliani suggested Barak Obama doesn’t love America, and predictable outrage and fireworks ensued. So, was he right or does Barak Obama love America? We can answer that question with a parable of sorts. A sensitive young woman gives herself sexually to an older man. Once he has been satisfied she anxiously asks if he loves her. He hesitates for only a moment then replies, “Of course I love you, now what’s your name again?” To this guy love is part of his thoughts as much as contemplation over whether Pluto is a planet or a lesser body, but he does love what he can take from her. The concept of love of country is more than foreign to progressives like Obama, it is anathema.

Love of country evokes images and feelings that appeal to rednecks and malleable yokels- freedoms and remembrances of those who died defending them, jets flying overhead in formation before a sporting event, patriotic songs. Love of country involves a chill going up one’s spine when the flag passes by and a choked up sensation when hearing the words of the founders when played against the backdrop of certain music. Ronald Reagan, with a lowly bachelors degree from a small regional college, loved America.

Progressives, especially one as sophisticated and nuanced as our president, apportion love differently. While nobody can claim they don’t love their children and perhaps even their spouses as much as anyone, their love is otherwise reserved for higher level entities- elegant dining, fine wine, celebrities, expensive clothing, exotic vacations, power and, of course, themselves. ...continue reading

by Barry King

In certain ambiguous situations of deadly violence, in which a black victim is killed by a white killer but there’s no evidence about whether the killers’ motives included racism, the politically correct thing to say is: that violence was not just “random”; it was an example of (racial) prejudice in action.

On the other hand, in certain less ambiguous cases, in which the motives are clear (such as: “We are Muslims, they were Jews or Christians, and we killed them *because* we are Muslims and *because* they were Jews or Christians), then the politically correct thing to say is: that violence was just “random”; it was not an example of (religious) prejudice in action.

Observations about those situations: 1. Both are different from what you might expect if the position statements were derived rationally from the available evidence, and 2. The premises and logic underlying each position contradict the premises and logic of the other, which is not a situation one should expect if both were derived rationally.
Tentative conclusions: 1. neither of those politically correct positions is rationally determined. 2. One person’s “bigotry” can sometimes be another person’s “righteous indignation”, and that sword can cut both ways. 3. If people are to be invited to get off their “high horses”, that invitation will be most irenic if it is addressed broadly rather than narrowly.