Really? You’re really going to go there?


I shite thee not.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pastor Ken Hutcherson:

Many reading this may not understand where I came up with this concept of calling Christians “the new Negro.”

The reason is because there are undeniable similarities. Jim Crow laws were passed to keep me from having my constitutional rights and my rights under the Declaration of Independence of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even though the Constitution gave me those freedoms, man was smart enough to be able to keep me from living those freedoms by saying I was “separate but equal.”

Today, my constitutional right of freedom of religion is being eroded again by laws such as the Hate Crimes Bill and repeated attacks by the politically correct crowd. Threats that came along as a result of an African American wanting to get out from under Jim Crow laws were formidable and scary and designed to keep African Americans quiet. The same thing is happening to Christians today.

Yeah, really. He went there.

See, the thing is that I’m just not sure how it happens this way. Who am I, after all, to lecture a man of his credentials on civil rights?

But I just feel the need to point out that for the vast majority of people, equality is a step up. When one is of the privileged class, as Christians have been pretty much from the outset in the American endeavor, one sees privilege erode. More often than not, this is what I find at the center of this entire “oppressed Christian” genre in the United States. Yes, when one throws their lot in with fellow oppressed folks like Carrie Prejean and Sarah Palin ….

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Nazi grinches


Oh, those evil Nazis. I mean, to the one, it’s hardly surprising. To the other, The Independent‘s tale of a very Reich Christmas is still fascinating.

Holiday postcard, 1914

The Nazis were not the first Germans to screw with Christmas, as this 1914 holiday postcard shows.

Sixty-five years after Germans celebrated the last Christmas of the Third Reich, a new exhibition at Cologne’s National Socialism Documentation Centre offers, for the first time, an insight into the elaborate propaganda methods devised by the Nazis in their campaign to take the Christ out of Christmas.

The exhibition contains selected items from a vast private collection of Nazi Christmas memorabilia, including swastika and Nazi SS tree decorations, Aryan department store catalogues featuring presents for boys – toy Nazi tanks, fighter planes and machine guns – and music for carols that have been stripped of their Christian content.

“The baby Jesus was Jewish. This was both a problem and a provocation for the Nazis,” explained Judith Breuer, who organised the exhibition using the items she and her mother collected at flea markets over 30 years. “The most popular Christian festival of the year did not fit in with their racist ideology. They had to react and they did so by trying to make it less Christian.”

The regime’s exploitation of Christmas began almost as soon as the Nazis took power in 1933. Party ideologists wrote scores of papers claiming that the festival’s Christian element was a manipulative attempt by the church to capitalise on what were really old Germanic traditions. Christmas Eve, they argued, had nothing to do with Christ but was the date of the winter solstice – the Nordic Yuletide that was “the holy night in which the sun was reborn”.

The swastika, they claimed, was an ancient symbol of the sun that represented the struggle of the Great German Reich. Father Christmas had nothing to do with the bearded figure in a red robe who looked like a bishop: the Nazis reinvented him as the Germanic Norse god Odin, who, according to legend, rode about the earth on a white horse to announce the coming of the winter solstice. Propaganda posters in the exhibition show the “Christmas or Solstice man” as a hippie-like individual on a white charger sporting a thick grey beard, slouch hat and a sack full of gifts.

But the star that traditionally crowns the Christmas tree presented an almost insurmountable problem. “Either it was the six-pointed star of David, which was Jewish, or it was the five-pointed star of the Bolshevik Soviet Union,” said Mrs Breuer. “And both of them were anathema to the regime.” So the Nazis replaced the star with swastikas, Germanic “sun wheels” and the Nordic “sig runes” used by the regime’s fanatical Waffen SS as their insignia.

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Cool science stuff


So, anyway, I was impressed over the weekend at how many people asked me whether I had heard about the octopus and the coconut. It’s one of those nifty things science brings us from time to time. Dr. Julian Finn, to the one, told BBC’s Rebecca Morelle he “nearly drowned laughing” when he first witnessed the behavior. But I admit I like Brendan Kiley‘s description for Slog:

An octopus goes for a walk.Octopuses continue their long tradition of freaking out human beings—now they’re using tools, excavating buried coconut halves (discarded by humans), tucking them under their … undersides, and “stilt-walking” them away to use as shelter ….

…. They escape from their aquariums, they grab birds from the land and into tidal pools, they solve puzzles, they recognize human faces, they occasionally attack divers, and now they build little houses for themselves.

Maybe the Haida were right all along: Octopuses are the people of the sea.

I just think it’s cool that we can add them to the list of tool-using animals. But, as with the crows, there is something a little unsettling about an animal that both uses tools and remembers who you are.

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A caption worth a thousand words?


Okay, just take a look at this Irfan Khan photograph that ran with Charles Duhigg‘s New York Times story on water quality.

The caption to the photo reads:

This Los Angeles reservoir contained chemicals that sunlight converted to compounds associated with cancer. The city used plastic balls to block the sun, but nearby homeowners asked why, if the water didn’t violate the law.

Am I … you know … the only one?

Happy Winter Feel Good Time


And there is this, last week, from Monica Guzman for SeattlePI.com’s Big Blog:

They say Seattle is a secular city, but not everyone here agrees with the statement on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s latest Seattle bus ad.

Photographer Josh Trujillo spotted this alteration on a Metro bus last week. The full message? “Yes, Virginia … There is no God.”

Metrovangelization: December, 2009.Freedom From Religion is no stranger to controversy — even here. Last year the group stirred up trouble in Olympia when it placed a sign alongside a Christian Nativity scene in the Capitol announcing calling religion “myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

This year’s holiday-themed message is a bit more tame, but no less stern, said foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“The main purpose is to express something that’s true that doesn’t get said very much — there is no god — and it shouldn’t be a taboo,” she said. “If people are mad about it, it’s because it’s true.”

And she also put together a lovely little capsule timeline of the last twenty-five years of Washington state’s blithering and dithering over religion.

Happy Winter Feel Good Time! May these days, and all others, too, treat you well.

Hefty, hefty, hefty ….


This is worth a note. Dennis Overbye reports for The New York Times:

An international team of physicists working in the bottom of an old iron mine in Minnesota said Thursday that they might have registered the first faint hints of a ghostly sea of subatomic particles known as dark matter long thought to permeate the cosmos.

The particles showed as two tiny pulses of heat deposited over the course of two years in chunks of germanium and silicon that had been cooled to a temperature near absolute zero. But, the scientists said, there was more than a 20 percent chance that the pulses were caused by fluctuations in the background radioactivity of their cavern, so the results were tantalizing, but not definitive.

Gordon Kane, a physicist from the University of Michigan, called the results “inconclusive, sadly,” adding, “It seems likely it is dark matter detection, but no proof.”

Dr. Kane said results from bigger and thus more sensitive experiments would be available in a couple of months.

Apparently this is a big deal. Dr. Kane described “a high level of serious hysteria” at the Kalvi Intitute for Theoretical Physics, in California. I mean, you know, a bunch of geeks getting hysterical at something that is … er … well beyond my context.

So, yeah. Sounds cool.